Audio reinvented–what improvements need to be made to the audio industry

1. Audio mastering needs to be improved, but for this to happen it needs a steady target to aim for (rather than having to cater to everything from mono boomboxes to car stereos to audiophile systems in one recording).

2. Accordingly, a new audiophile music standard needs to be put forward that segregates the responsibilities of audio mastering and audio playback correctly; for a start dynamic compression needs to be specified as a standard playback parameter that can be switched on and adjusted on the playback end to cater to different playback equipment capabilities and listening environments. Equalization and room correction capabilities need to become standard so that mastering engineers can simply aim for the best sound in the studio environment (which should also be standardized), while the wildly varying end-user listening setups can intelligently do their best to match the studio sound, rather than the other way around.

3. A 2nd version of all albums, mastered for binaural (headphone listening) ought to become standard. (I’m sure all head-fiers can get behind that!) For old albums mastered for stereo only, headphone listening systems ought to be updated with speaker system virtualization software that goes beyond the presently common primitive crossfeed options. Darin Fong’s OOYH software is a good start. http://www.head-fi.org/t/689299/out-of-your-head-new-virtual-surround-simulator Here’s my own humble attempt: http://www.head-fi.org/t/555263/foobar2000-dolby-headphone-config-comment-discuss/810#post_12496793

4. A whole industry of consumer-oriented audio engineering needs to be built from the ground up. For loudspeaker systems it entails proper room setup and speaker calibration by trained professionals rather than end-users all trying to do their own thing. For headphone systems it entails widespread adoption of HRTF measurements a la those done for the Smyth Realiser: http://www.head-fi.org/t/418401/long-awaited-smyth-svs-realiser-now-available-for-purchase

The latter would be an alternative to (3) and Smyth Realiser is in the High-End audio forum for good reason. Most every Realiser user would tell you it makes a joke of all talk of headphone “soundstage” and “realism” on conventional headphone systems. Individual HRTF measurements are necessary because of the wild acoustic variations between individuals when wearing headphones.

5. Audiophile headphones should come standard with compensation curves for arriving at a neutral reference. For (4) the HRTFs should be recorded as deviations from the KEMAR dummy head reference, so that corrections can be applied to the compensation curve to arrive at the studio-intended sound for every listener, using whatever headphones. Software to apply such corrections should come as standard on any audiophile music player for portable use.

But as you can see, every point involves sweeping changes to the audio industry, I’m not sure there’s any money to be made from it, and it seems obvious that the majority of the target market won’t even appreciate the reasons behind such changes if and when they are proposed. It needs to be proposed as a whole new system for everything from recording, mastering to playback. Everyone would have their own slightly different version of the underlying ideas and it would be very difficult to arrive at a universally adopted standard.

About Joe0Bloggs

joe0bloggs.wordpress.com Member of head-fi.org (Joe Bloggs)
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One Response to Audio reinvented–what improvements need to be made to the audio industry

  1. Pingback: Improving audio – Music & Audio Appreciations

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