Good morning. I noticed that Harry's album was recorded with split audio - different audio in the left and right. Sorry, I don't know the technical term for it. I know this was very common in the 60s & 70s, so not surprising he would use the technique, but it it used commonly now it is this unique for the time? Thank you for your insight. 💖
I haven’t had the chance to listen carefully with headphones, so I can’t tell you what I hear on specific songs, but here’s a brief answer, and I will come back again once I’ve heard the songs on headphones.
So, in audiophile terms (at least from my limited knowledge), the reason for splitting the sound between right and left is to image the sound.
High fidelity equipment, with high fidelity audio playback equipment, needs to have the proper room diffusing/ insulation and the proper speaker placements. When one plays the music recorded in a live venue, and with split audio, one can hear the music as if it’s being played in a three-dimensional space. The physics take a bit of time to explain, but it has to do with the pure diffusion of sound from dipole speakers and the way sound waves propagate and cancel each other out in an insulated space. When you go to concert halls and see baffles hung from the ceiling or walls, they are diffusing the sound.
You can actually hear where each musician is standing in the room, like ghost images. Harry in front, guitarist to the right, drummer in back and so forth.
It’s actually eerie to hear music played back like that– like you are in the room with the musicians. It’s a sound hologram– almost as if you can touch them.
Pop is almost NEVER recorded like this. First, the voices are often recorded on a separate track, tuned and then mixed back with the instrumentals. Second, pop uses a lot of electronic effects that are not recorded acoustically but are produced digitally. EDM is almost all digital sound effects. Digitally recorded sound are not placeable, because it isn’t mic’d and doesn’t obey the physics of sound. Listen to any 1980’s Madonna recording and you’ll hear how flat it is.
Jazz is almost always recorded like this. Jazz is recorded as an acoustic ensemble with usually two or three microphones, and imaging can be amazing.
Imaging is best with music that uses little electronic processing– songs with acoustic guitars will image better than songs with electric guitars, for instance.
To get the best sound, you want the best recording medium.
Audiophiles argue, but it’s now agreed that SACDs (high memory capacity CDs) have the same ability to capture high fidelity sound as vinyl. But for decades, vinyl was the medium of choice because most CDs compressed sound (to fit data onto discs). There’s also something about vinyl sound that is warmer and rounder than digital sound, although I’ve done a few blinded hearing tests with high fidelity equipment that showed no difference to me.
If you have the luxury of a high fidelity system, play your vinyl record, and then find the sweet spot to sit and listen (usually in a room, there is only one sweet spot). Again, this is my limited experience.
One way you can do this is to bring your CD or vinyl to a store that sells hi fi equipment– find a store in a big city that has an insulated auditioning room with speakers that cost $10,000 per pair and up. That’s the kind of snobby, esoteric store you want. They will have a system that costs over $50k, and then you can ask to pop in your Pink Album (these stores sell $3k CD players and turntables with cartridges that cost more than $3k, so your CD or vinyl will be well cared for). These rooms sound as if you’re dead, because you literally cannot hear any echoes. The sales people are usually pretty nice. Ask to sit or stand in the sweet spot; they’ll know what you’re talking about. Then enjoy to your heart’s content. You might have the perfect listening experience, Harry and his band playing for you in a private performance, close enough to touch.Addendum: I will add if I hear specific details about the songs. A friend told me that “From the Dining Table” has Harry singing from two different locations, right and left. I’ll have to listen for the artistic reason for this choice. Thanks.