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Audiophile Pornography Or See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me...
by Steven R. Rochlin
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  As most of you know, i love photography. The Tube Lust, Turntable Lust, and Speaker Lust pages on the Enjoy the Music.com Classic website speak are proof of my deep devotion for the visual arts. In fact representatives from Nikon, Olympus, Fuji and others have e-mail me over the years asking about my techniques. Like being a mastering engineer in a music studio, there is no one magic formula for great results. Each individual photo has needs unique unto itself. This is where art and science collide. Auditory and visual perception may be well understood, yet the art form itself is far from fully understood as it also relies on one's feelings and interpretation. Still, both art forms have many parallels in quite a few ways.

While talking to my dad about photography he made some great comparisons of it to audio. You see, my dad also loves photography. He has a few Leica cameras and is a very impressive photographer himself. While not a paid professional, his photographs always had that extra something special which set them apart from those usual family photos many people grow up with. Was it the composition? The color balance? The contrast? The focus? Yes, no, well... Like a musical inventor, a photographer can use their art to express themselves. While a musician needs an instrument, possibly a microphone and definitely something to record their musical art on, a photographer basically needs a camera, film and to have to developed. Sounds simple, right?

In reality most of the more popular music we hear goes through a process. The musician plays their instrument into a microphone(s). It goes through a mix board, possibly some sound effects modules and then eventually to tape. The final tape goes to a mastering engineer who uses his own "magic" to better focus the sounds for (hopefully) better sound. This new master goes to the pressing plant to make the production CD/DVD/vinyl. Photography also has a process. The photographer has his subject he wants to photograph. The choice of lens is made. A filters or two may be used. Then shutter speed and aperture are chosen. Finally, the image is recorded on film. The film is then developed using a chemical process. If it is a print negative, a choice of paper is made and technique to expose the paper results in the final printed artwork.

Why am i going on about this? Because they are both art that the human body perceives as waves. While the ear hears the lower frequency waves, the eye perceives those of higher frequency. In a way, you could say we are antenna receiving signals at various wavelengths. i also am trying to show that art is just that art! Over the years many people of my generation seem to be appreciating art less. Could it be the abusing of the term just as right now MTV is making every female a "diva"? Possibly. Could it be those wonderful marketing folks desensitizing the public through their constant abusing of various terms and phrases. Most definitely! Let's get back to the photography verses music art. Below is my own perceived comparison of how the audible and visual art are very close to one in the same.

Music Photography
instrument subject
microphone choice Lens choice
effects modules shutter speed/aperture/filters
mixing/mastering developing/printing

While the above table is very over simplified, it shows some of the parallels to the steps in the process. During the developing of the film, there are various chemicals used which can be altered from the norm, or fine-tuned for a certain result. The same can be said about developing a print negative to paper. There are exposure and developing times which can greatly affect the final visual result of the paper print. In music we can compare this to equalization and the use of sound effects.

Maybe our music reproduction systems are like the process used for photography? Could it be that each components gives it's own effect which eventually gives us our final result? Could it be that the choices we make are those that we personally perceive as the what we feel the audible art should be from our own person interpretation?

To further demonstrate the parallels, in music each microphone has a personality. Anyone with the Stereophile Test CD 1 can easily hear this is action. In photography the same can be said about the choice of film or developing/printing process! Kodak, for example, makes the same speed of medium-format film with different personalities. For those who enjoy the finer arts of photography, they usually use at least the medium-format film (with all due respect to the much lower resolution 35mm format). Kodak makes their new Portra 160 speed film in either the NC (normal color) or VC (vivid color) film type. This gives the photographer a choice of "visual tonality". Of course other manufacturers such as Agfa, Fuji, Ilford, and others have their own "visual tonality" too. The point being that some photographers might find a situation where the more vivid color of Kodak Portra VC might better serve their art than the Portra 160 NC. We have not begun to compare B&W film to that of monophonic music! Do not get me on a roll.

i am offering two large photos showing the frequencies (cycles per second) of both visual and audible waves which can be seen below. In light, the eyes see in the many thousands of waves (light waves) while the ears hear much lower waves (sound waves). i have also chosen to leave the "corrective filter" chart on the light waves photo below to show how light, like music, can be "equalized". 

 Light Waves

Sound Waves

The great thing about photography is that you can make adjustments during the film developing or the printing process. You can change the visual tonality to some degree for either your personal preference or to better suite the perceived accuracy of the final product. You can also make adjustments in your music reproduction system through various tweaks such as power filtering, Vibrapods, tonecones, room acoustic modification, etc.

So to feebly try to wrap this up before i go over the deep end about how 35mm "resolution" is like lossy Minidisc compared to medium (or large) format which is more like "master tape" resolution. The point being is that a true artist has many choices within their art form to be made. Light waves and sound waves are much in the same, yet different all the same. Maybe by understanding both art forms it can help broaden your appreciation for them both. As always, what really matters to me is that you...

Enjoy the music,

Steven R. Rochlin


Side note: Sadly, here in America the governmental funding for music and visual arts is severely limited. We are on the verge of losing a generation of classically trained artists/musicians. Please help out as you can through either financial or personal time donations to your favorite charities accordingly.













































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