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February 2020
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Is Being An ImmersivephileTM The Next Evolution In Musical Bliss?
We live in a world that bathes us in sound from all directions.
Thought For Food (Strike That, Reverse It) By Steven R. Rochlin


Is Being An Immersivephile The Next Evolution In Musical Bliss?


  Wikipedia says that "Modern stereophonic technology was invented in the 1930s by British engineer Alan Blumlein at EMI, who patented stereo records, stereo films, and also surround sound."

Many of us agree going from single channel mono to stereo brought forth many aural / spatial benefits. Two ears, two speakers; seems very simple on the surface doesn't it? It also meant there was a bit more effort involved by the home listener going from mono to stereo in achieving the very best from this new 1930's audio playback format. Naturally the music loving press followed along.

Stereo is the oldest German hi-fi magazine (established in 1973), with their web-based English language publication STEREO Magazine, one of Enjoy the Music.com's partners, also has the name 'stereo' in it. On this side of the pond, Stereo Review was an American magazine first published in 1958. While the stereo (two-channel) format will be around for decades to come, one can't help but wonder what will all magazines with the name 'stereo' within their title going to do in the age of being an ImmersivephileTM?


Is Being An Immersivephile The Next Evolution In Musical Bliss?


Already getting plenty of cyber-ink, with Sony's 360 sound format being one of the newest formats, we are now at the very beginnings (commercially) of true immersive sound. One could argue that short-lived multi-channel DVD-Audio (DVD-A) format back in 2000... or perhaps we could give a nod to legendary rock band Pink Floyd as in 1967 they performed the world's first 'surround sound' concert at "Games For May" via custom quadraphonic speaker system. Or we could think about three-channel classical music recordings that went to stereo LP many decades ago. German's are incredibly creative as back in the 1950s composer Karlheinz Stockhausen experimented / produced electronic compositions including Gesang der Jünglinge and Kontakte, the latter using "fully discrete and rotating quadraphonic sounds generated with industrial electronic equipment in Herbert Eimert's studio at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)" according to Wiki.

Yet forget the old one, two, or a mere four channels as Edgar Varese's Poeme Electronique was created for the Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. What is so special about Poeme Electronique is that it employed spatial audio with a staggering 425 loudspeakers, which benefited World Fair visitors as the sound 'moved' throughout the pavilion. While I somehow doubt that you want to install 425 speakers within your 3500 sq/ft home, perhaps 9 or 12 within your listening room will do quite nicely. The future of stereo might become a romantic past memory 20 years from now, just like mono was back in the 1960s, as immersive seems to be a hot key word for many modern music lovers and journalists alike in 2020.


Is Being An Immersivephile The Next Evolution In Musical Bliss?


Musical Artist
Let's also remember that musical artists are just that, artists. While I personally hate that commercialism has greatly diminished the 'pure' meaning of the term musical artist, especially as in 2020 it may today refer to certain DJs, singers that heavily rely on auto-tuner, etc, imho the word artist can not be stressed highly enough! Perhaps it is time for a new term, such as SoundScape CreatorTM, to better define this new frontier into 360 enveloping aural delights. As a musician and writer, I can't help intrinsically knowing that each day I wake up and start with a 'blank page'... or pure silence. Nothingness. And from that nothingness am Creating (typing, etc) something that fills this empty void (page). It is the same with music.

As a SoundScape CreatorTM, have waited decades for this moment when a commercial format allows musical expression to reach far beyond just stereo. If you've seen pic of my percussion / drumset, there's more to the equation that you've seen, yet am not willing to show my entire 'hand' (poker reference). Some of my loyal readers may be tired of reading my love and praise of Roger Water's Amused To Death album, yet that stereo recording gave a tiny glimpse of what could truly be possible. Are you yearning to expand your aural delights from being only an audiophile to expanding that to include being an ImmersivephileTM?


Is Being An Immersivephile The Next Evolution In Musical Bliss?


The Ugly Truth
The first massively big obstacle immersive music lovers will have to overcome is the commercial interests who all want to pown the licensing rights to whatever immersive sound format becomes a consumer standard. Look at the nightmare and confusion caused by 'Hi-Res Music' and 'Hi-Res Audio' when a certain proprietary lossy music format comes along years too late as they tried to wiggle into the scene. As a man who worked retail for many years, one of the worst things you can do is confuse the customer. For it is only when you truly know the subject matter intrinsically / deeply that you can explain it in the most simplest of terms imho. If someone needs 'too much' time to explain it, you know it may be either bullshit, or scam-like entity. Think of it along the lines of financial suicide via derivatives, NINJA loans, repealing Glass-Steagall, and CDO / CDO-Squared (to name a few).


"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
-- Albert Einstein (yes, another German reference within this article).


If I may humbly add my own quote:
"The shit should just fuckin' work (right out of the box) and stupidly easy to understand."


My above quote means that music lovers need not hunt for a new codec or whatever, if the consumer electronics and music industry truly wants us to enjoy immersive sound, they had damn well better get their shit together so it just fuckin' works (once setup / installed / whatever). Of course there might be early growing pains, like self-driving automobiles (insert automobile company name here so I avoid a messy lawsuit) that seem to have occasional errors. Fortunately, the growing pains of immersive audio 'errors' won't kill you, unlike (insert name of self-driving automobile company here). Of course early adopters of today know there can be hiccups as we flirt with 'bleeding edge' tech. To be fair, am sure early users of the then new invention 'chain saws' had a few 'accidents' too.


Is Being An Immersivephile The Next Evolution In Musical Bliss?


Eh hem, before I lose the plot, the consumer electronics industry better quickly find a universal agreed upon format. Hopefully one that is license-free and free to use / encode by creators. Seems to me that the moment Big Money Interests get involved for their VIG, confusion happens. Then starts the in-fighting between conglomerate Company S's format and Company D's format, with small underdog yet started by musicians Company C's being the underdog (usually company C has the best ideas imho, yet don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding due to lack of funding and Washington DC lobbyists payola to election campaigns). Please humbly accept my apologies, have lived the format war too many times to be optimistic about... yet as a SoundScape CreatorTM am always hopeful (yet discontent – note the "New World Man" reference, H/T Rush : ) ).


Where Does That Leave Us Today?
Stereo is a tried and true, and an extremely mature and widely known  technology. It also follows the two ears, two speakers simple logical conclusion... until you move away from that precious 'sweet spot' of course. Sure technology such as the brilliant Dr. Edgar Choueiri with his Theoretica Applied Physics BACCH-S technique is quite impressive (bravo Edgar). It brings me immense joy to know that advanced math finds solutions for sound waves propagation 'problems' for real-world uses. Thankfully we also have 'modern' digital chipsets and processing power that can (re)create aural bliss in 360 (side note: at NAMM 2020 DiGiCo just-announced their Quantum 338 console). How are we mere humans going to bring SoundScape CreatorTM's viable, and easy-to-use, mating of format and supporting gear is the next big hurdle to overcome. When that happens, my many decades-long aural dreams come true. Until then, I, for one, sit here... still waiting on you dear.


Note: The terms SoundScape CreatorTM and ImmersivephileTM are trademarks of Steven R. Rochlin. All rights reserved.


Is Being An Immersivephile The Next Evolution In Musical Bliss?


As always, in the end what really matters is that you...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin






























































































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