What does nature tell us?
Are you sure that serious listeners recommend listening up to the sound stage as you would do in the cheap seats right down at the front of the auditorium? That's completely misguided. Conceptually wrong. Most permanent auditorium (concert halls, cinema, theatre etc.) are designed on a raked basis, seats higher up at the back - hence looking down onto the performers - and seats often below the performers or even the stage at the front. The best and most expensive seats are usually somewhere in the middle, where you are level with or just above the performers themselves - as you suggest. This is considered to be the most natural viewing and listening position. What do we mean by 'natural'?
Originally Posted by STHLS5
Let's take a step back to nature and evolution, which defined our visual and auditory systems. Sound sources above our heads suggest a lurking danger especially associated with higher screeching noises (from a tweeter?) as we associate only flying reptiles (birds) with high frequencies above our heads. So, to be listening to speakers where their HF seems to emanate from above us arms our subconscious to a potential predatory threat as we sit cowering under those gigantic speakers. That's not what I call a natural, involving musical experience at all.
Always try and relate sonic experiences back to evolution - remember: the first musical instrument appeared only about 35,000 years ago. Our ears have been under development for perhaps 10,000,000 years. In evolutionary terms, musical appreciation is an irrelevance as our entire hearing system was designed for an entirely different purpose - survival from predator attack. Anything that reminds our subconscious and automatic nervous system of the potential of danger will divert attention from the enjoyment of music.
Empathy with evolution is at the heart of a great, fulfilling listening experience as we know well here.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK