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Loudspeakers and Rooms for Stereophonic Sound Reproduction

Stereophonic reproduction attempts to reconstruct, in the minds of listeners, replicas of the timbral and spatial effects of acoustical events that have occurred at earlier times and other places. It matters not whether the -live- event consisted of musicians in a natural acoustical environment, or a multi-track creation monitored in a control room. In all cases musicians and production personnel presumably heard a stereophonic reproduction that met their artistic and technical expectations. Assuming that the necessary information has been preserved in the recording, a replication can be successful only to the extent that the loudspeakers are capable of reproducing the appropriate sounds, and that listening rooms are capable of conveying those sounds to the ears of listeners. Variations in loudspeakers and rooms create many difficulties in achieving this goal. Although it has been traditional to consider the loudspeaker and room as separate entities, this approach is no longer justified. The loudspeakers, room and listener comprise a system within which the sounds and spatial illusions of stereo are decoded, and they must be considered together. This paper identifies many of the physical factors associated with loudspeakers, with rooms, and with combinations of loudspeakers, listeners and rooms, that are known to influence various aspects of stereophonic sound quality and spatial imaging. By example, it shows some of the measurement methods currently in use for assessing their importance to perceive timbre, directional and spatial impressions.

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