Originally Posted by Brent Hutto
Where do most people consider the prime listening location at an orchestra performance? Is being too close more detrimental to hearing the full picture than being too far back?
there's no hard and fast guide as far as I'm concerned. from the pricing structure in different halls, you can often gauge some things about its acoustics, but that's distorted also by prestige - in short, to see AND BE SEEN is why some might plunk down for certain seats. then, your own hearing and your own listening preferences play an important role. some people like full-frontal immersion, others like to hear the room and listen to the situation in context, as it were. not too long ago I was able to catch two sets of the same jazz ensemble back to back, but chose different seats - once up front near the piano, but (my preference) away from the drums (which can become overpowering depending on the room, and one supposes the drummer), and once way back near the bar ;-) and depending on the mood of the room, the latter seat can be just as intense and enjoyable, but with a different emphasis. then, with voices it's probably best to be close - and what a rare pleasure to be up close to a really excellent singer who lets loose! nothing in stereo technology can fully reconstitute that experience. and finally, with classical orchestras, I like to sit where I can observe my favorite section, which in turn depends on what is being played (e.g. some symphonies have the most elaborate percussion deployed and it's great fun to see exactly what they're up to, although they can sometimes be partly hidden in the back left of the stage).