An illusion of immortality

A couple of weeks ago I had a deep insight about why high quality audio offers listeners such a compelling experience. It goes like this:

“Since man is mortal, his deepest desire is immortality. 

As a result, to witness an illusion of immortality can evoke a deep emotion of consolation.

Written language helped mankind a major step forward towards virtual immortality. Everyone still knows Plato. Painting and sculpture depicted it in an artistic way. In the 19th century, the invention of photography, sound recording and film offered an even sharper illusion of immortality. You could now almost touch these mortals.

Humans communicate via stories and emotions. Emotion is expressed stronger through sound and music than through image or text. Audio recordings therefore offer the most involving illusion of immortality. 

When audio is played without images the imagination draws a mental picture that distracts less from the illusion than a real picture. This is especially true for stereophonic reproduction, with a ‘phantom’ 3D image floating in the space between the speakers.

The more realistic the presentation becomes, and the better the emotion is depicted by the artists and engineers, the greater the impact of the illusion becomes.

The goal of sound engineering is therefore to get out of the way, to become ‘invisible’. And that goal also applies to the technology itself. This requires striving for perfection because a small mistake betrays its presence. Since perfection is unachievable, it is a never ending journey that one walks step by step.”

Just one day after I wrote these words, we had a presentation of our new MU2 music player to the Dutch dealers and hifi press in the Artone Studio in Haarlem. I could not resist to talk about this insight in my presentation, before offering some background info about the MU2. Jaap Veenstra of Alpha Audio made a video of it, and if you like you can enjoy it here on Youtube.

Eelco Grimm

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