There’s a bit of a discussion going on the Ambisonia Yahoo list…. should Ambisonia offer Stereo decodes or not? Might seem like a simple question, but it touches on the heart of what Ambisonia is about … I guess it is a ‘Mission Statement’ defining question.
There are lots of different possible stereo decodes, and one of the empowering things about Ambisonics is that an Ambisonic recording can yield all of them. We could do UHJ, Blumlein fig-8’s at 90, back to back cardioids, ORTF, spaced cardioids etc.
But some contributors are arguing that offering stereo will ‘dilute’ the site a little. I agree. On the other hand, it will expose lots more people to the contens of the site…
Here’s an email I posted on the Ambisonia Yahoo list:
I’d like to keep this discussion going a bit because I think Ambisonia is reaching a point where it it will need a clear definition of what it is about. This whole stereo discussion really nails the identity issue, I think.
Again, I’m thinking out loud …
One of the issues with ‘Surround Sound’ is that it rarely stands on its own. Its never a ‘must have’ its always an ‘optional’, or a ‘nice to have’… there’s always a “you can listen to this (DVD) in stereo if you dont have a surround sound system at home”. etc.
There are no movies which depend on Surround for plot-critical development.
A lot of music is ‘post-produced’ in surround … not ‘produced’ in surround.
And there’s not much material which is _only_ available in surround sound…. exclusively surround.
All this really produces a kind of ‘undermining’ of surround.
A while ago I was having a conversation with Paul D about how a ‘true’ surround composition would be a composition which had a different (higher?) meaning/communication/worth in surround than when cut down to stereo.
For Ambisonia.com to say “here, download it in stereo”, continues this undermining. And that’s bad. Ambisonia could represent that ‘exclusivity’ of surround. “Surround Sound isn’t stereo with a bit behind, its something else altogether”…
But offering stereo also dramatically increases access to the content on the site. And that will pull more people who might then go on and upgrade to a proper surround system.
This is one of those difficult product management questions … reduce the purety of the product, or compromise a bit to pull more people in …
.. and I think answering that question can only be done by defining what Ambisonia is about … what it’s mission statement is.