On Coherence

On Coherence

I get a chuckle out of audiophiles. They pick up all the buzz words from each other and those words and phrases get etched in the audiophile jargon. Pace, rhythm and timing (I'm not making this up) is a biggie. It is purported that a particular piece of equipment possesses an ability to: "have good P.R.A.T."

Simply amazing.

It beggars the imagination. I have a CD from the shelf of Beethoven symphonies. The first movement of the 1st symphony is marked as 8 min. 20 sec. Does this mean that a good amplifier will adhere to the elapsed time and a bad one will straggle in at 8 min. 33 sec.? Just wondering.

Anyway, one of the favourite hand- wringing phrases of the audio junkie is "coherent." The term can be translated roughly as "reproducing the entire waveform of the signal as regards to its frequency and phase from microphone capsule to speakers" A noble goal to be sure. Here's the rub. Assuming a stereo (as in 2 channel) system. 2 and only 2 microphones can be used. Period. Any additional mic's render the entire chain INCOHERENT. Just like poor old Humpty Dumpty, all the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put it back together again. Any stereo recording using more than 2 microphones is no longer stereo. It is now multiple monaural. A forest of microphones will not save the situation. Only by using 2 will it remain coherent. Now ask yourself "how many true stereo recordings do I have?" The answer maybe 1 or 2. The other 1573 are not.

Vast sums of money are spent on equipment and yet, the sound doesn't really improve until we use a correct recording. With the usual multi mic mixdown of current recordings the net result is just a very exotic P.A. system. An expensive system plays very loud and has the typical "in yer face" sort of reproduction. It still sounds like a P.A. system.