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What is 'Imaging' - Page 2

post #16 of 45

Speakers are difficult and expensive, and can be near impossible with the wrong room and with the wrong housemates, but if you aren't an absolutist sort of person, meaning you aren't afraid to make intelligent compromises, you can get close enough to nirvana that you put your headphones in a drawer or move them to the bedroom. It's taken me thirty years of trial and error and assembling the proper Frankenstein monster to get to that point.

 

I was watching an interview with Bob Carver where he was talking about soundstage when it opens up bigger than the spread of the speakers. I've experienced that in my own system and it beats the pants off of headphones, which are internal and tightly focused- not expansive. I like headphones for examining details in noise reduction or editing, but for listening, I much prefer speakers myself.

post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperears View Post


I've pretty much given up on speakers and room acoustics, as it's an expensive, messy, ultimately uncontrollable listening environment.

There is so much NOISE these days, be it sirens in the distance, dogs barking next door, airplanes overhead, traffic and horns nearby, HVAC systems turning on and off, inside or out, washing machines, dishwashers, electrical hum, people talking, computer hard drives whirring, children shouting, neighbors arguing, pets scratching their behinds, rain, wind, etc. etc. that I'd just as soon eliminate all that with a good pair of IEMs and at quieter moments, headphones, and be entirely with what I'm listening to in my nearly silent sound cocoon.

And that's at home. smily_headphones1.gif

So one can go on forever about speaker refinements, near-field, etc. and I simply won't care.

 

I haven't given up completely - I've got floor plans for my dream house and it includes an ambitious plan for the audio room. It'll be a room built inside another room and the surrounding antechamber will be used for storing and displaying stuff like CDs, HD discs, HDDs, hard copy book collection, my Hotwheels, Gundams and Transformers, etc. Isolated listening chamber will be acoustically treated inside against reflections, etc, and will use a quiet, 1hp inverter AC (with the kompressor outside the room) that runs full blast for 15mins then goes into quiet mode. Power wiring in the house will be done from the outset so the outlets in that room gets its own wiring to the fuse box instead of sharing with other outlets on that floor, but mostly to prevent interference from other stuff in the house.* The overall floor plan is adaptable for both a suburb subdivision-style two storey house (with a roof deck grill and gazebo) or as a large flat in case the suburbs get too far from work and I get lucky enough to convince investors (ie, high school-college buddies who might want to live in the same building and have our own village to make party coordination really easy) to fund a building where lower floors can be rented out for businesses, upper floors for residents, and of course I'm just below the solar farm, cilantro and chili garden, and maybe a brick oven/grill and gazebo on the roof (which works better because I can hook up a separate battery bank and hook up my audio system to that).
 

And while working to get that, I'm taking some "shortcuts" - like the lottery  :tongue_smile:
 




*In some houses here, switching on the washing machine causes hiccups in some HT systems, so I'd try and prevent anything like that. However given I plan to live pretty much alone save for a housekeeper+cat sitter(feeder and litter cleaner), and the chances of the washing machine running while I'm listening is probably too slim given climate control has cut down on my laundry (when I was a kid, there'd be a mountain of clothes just from me and my brother).


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 11/26/13 at 7:26pm
post #18 of 45

When I got my house, did some of those things you are planning. Other things I had to compromise just because of the house itself. But you're on the right track. Even if you get half of that, you'll still have a great system.

 

The antechamber idea works great. I have my record collection in a long wide hallway leading to the theater. There's a toy wall in there too. Perfect setup. I put in two dedicated circuits... one for lighting and one for the system. The AC is on the other side of the house with in and out ducts that are about 50 feet from the main unit. Quiet as a mouse. Instead of chili and cilantro, I've got tangerine, guava, orange, cumquat, lime and grapefruit!


Edited by bigshot - 11/26/13 at 7:34pm
post #19 of 45
Lol thanks for the laugh!

And big shot, I understand, have been there myself, but I guess I get more annoyed by the externalities than you do. I'll give up the speaker advantages for the undisturbed peace and quiet, any day. Plus invariably when I've wanted to turn it up, others have wanted it turned down, which is yet another factor.

Still, constantly edging around big, heavy speakers is good exercise.....


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post #20 of 45

I often wonder if some high-end portable amps and/or DAC have unadvertised mild crossfeed built-in, to make the "sound-stage" seem "larger".

 

A crazy theory? 

post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by White Lotus View Post
 

I often wonder if some high-end portable amps and/or DAC have unadvertised mild crossfeed built-in, to make the "sound-stage" seem "larger".

 

A crazy theory? 

 

I've always thought crossfeed made the soundstage smaller, but the image just gets more precise. "Unadvertised crossfeed" is more likely "not much channel separation" if it makes it smaller, or "a lot of channel separation" if it makes it wider.

 

-----------------

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

When I got my house, did some of those things you are planning. Other things I had to compromise just because of the house itself. But you're on the right track. Even if you get half of that, you'll still have a great system.

 

The antechamber idea works great. I have my record collection in a long wide hallway leading to the theater. There's a toy wall in there too. Perfect setup. I put in two dedicated circuits... one for lighting and one for the system. The AC is on the other side of the house with in and out ducts that are about 50 feet from the main unit. Quiet as a mouse. Instead of chili and cilantro, I've got tangerine, guava, orange, cumquat, lime and grapefruit!

 

I thought up the antechamber because I wanted to isolate the room, then realized it has to have some other use. Five minutes later I got the idea to use it to store media, then also display other stuff. That LG, Samsung and Panasonic have quiet inverter ACs for around $400USD now really made it feasible for the climate here. I'll really have to build it from scratch because I'm planning to give my house, plus the cars and bike, a good chance at surviving floods. Also, I need to make the whole house energy efficient (like a glass dome or wall to let sunlight into the main areas where I read or meet people indoors, but with a water feature on the roof deck next to a cooling tower with an intake fan blowing fresh air into the house.* I jsut need to be able to close that intake when I'm grilling up there.

*Saw that in World's Greenest Homes in AZ

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperears View Post

Plus invariably when I've wanted to turn it up, others have wanted it turned down, which is yet another factor.

 

That's why I'm planning on living with only my cats, the housekeeper staying in only when I'm away for several days or more, unless my brother moves in (ideally we'd be on two different countries so vacations will be easier on all relatives and friends). The cats at least will always be locked out of  rooms with electronics, save for the HT system I'm putting in the living room  but I already have tricks for that. Like DIY omni speakers with marble panels on the cabinet, then bolted to the floor. Omni diffusers keep the drivers protected and on top of the speakers, marble/granite protects it from rescue cats that were neutered late so I can just disinfect and clean their spray without either damaging the cabinets, and the finish and some kind of sculpture on top of the cone diffuser can make them look like statue stands.

Then wide spaces to the left and right of the living room to keep the speakers' sound from bouncing off the walls too much and needing diffusers. Kitchen should ideally still be otherwise not separated by walls, but large (stray-cat invasion/pet cat escape-proofed) windows plus an exhaust can deal with the smoke off the indoor grill when I lay down a flank or sirloin.

post #22 of 45

Correct me if I'm wrong but I always saw imaging and soundstage(ing) as two slightly different terms/meanings.

Soundstage: The percieved "virtual 3D space". Soundstage can be large or small, generally open headphones tend to recreate a more spacious soundstage.

Imaging: The accuracy of placement of the percieved instruments/sounds within the soundstage. On some headphones it's more clear, on some it's more diffuze; difficult to pick which direction and how far away it is, it is sounding like coming from front or back? etc.

I'm pretty sure that's how most audiophiles use these terms.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 11/27/13 at 12:13am
post #23 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post
 

On some headphones it's more clear, on some it's more diffuze; difficult to pick which direction and how far away it is, it is sounding like coming from front or back? etc.\


I'm always really confused about how people detect "behind" or "in front" with headphones. Even with binaural recordings, I often have trouble trying to determine if something was "behind" the dummy head of "in front" of it.

 

So what REALLY confuses me, is when people say that a certain IEM sounds like it's "ten rows back" from the stage, compared to a second IEM, that instead might be "three rows back".

 

Can someone please clear this up for me?

post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by White Lotus View Post
 


I'm always really confused about how people detect "behind" or "in front" with headphones. Even with binaural recordings, I often have trouble trying to determine if something was "behind" the dummy head of "in front" of it.

 

So what REALLY confuses me, is when people say that a certain IEM sounds like it's "ten rows back" from the stage, compared to a second IEM, that instead might be "three rows back".

 

Can someone please clear this up for me?


I have experienced this "front row" vs "7th row" or whatever sound too, while the 7th row usually leads to nicer more large orchestra-like soundstage I tend to prefer a more forward 1st seat experience, because I find it much more engaging to listen to and I listen to music to be engaged with it, get the feeling I have to sing along, tap my feet, maybe even dance (EDM music), that's when I get the ideal enjoyment. The backseat experience again while sounding impressive from a soundstage point of view, tend to leave me bored, I don't get the same kind of engaging more up-front listening experience. This is obviously a personal taste thing.

It's about the percieved distance to the "center" of the soundstage. With some headphones it can sound as if the singer is 3 meters away, maybe 5 meters to the guitarist etc. while with another it may sound like he's standing just 1m away and the guitarist maybe 3 meters away from you.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 11/27/13 at 1:34am
post #25 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post
 


I have experienced this "front row" vs "7th row" or whatever sound too, while the 7th row usually leads to nicer more large orchestra-like soundstage I tend to prefer a more forward 1st seat experience, because I find it much more engaging to listen to and I listen to music to be engaged with it, get the feeling I have to sing along, tap my feet, maybe even dance (EDM music), that's when I get the ideal enjoyment. The backseat experience again while sounding impressive from a soundstage point of view, tend to leave me bored, I don't get the same kind of engaging more up-front listening experience. This is obviously a personal taste thing.

It's about the percieved distance to the "center" of the soundstage. With some headphones it can sound as if the singer is 3 meters away, maybe 5 meters to the guitarist etc. while with another it may sound like he's standing just 1m away and the guitarist maybe 3 meters away from you.

 

Hmm.. I just wonder though - with IEMs, it's pretty much a driver (or multiple drivers) sealed into your ears. How is it theoretically possible to decide which has a larger "sound-stage"?

 

I have experienced similar feelings before, and even then I questioned how it was possible. Perhaps the angle of the nozzle makes a difference?

post #26 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by White Lotus View Post
 


I'm always really confused about how people detect "behind" or "in front" with headphones. Even with binaural recordings, I often have trouble trying to determine if something was "behind" the dummy head of "in front" of it.

 

So what REALLY confuses me, is when people say that a certain IEM sounds like it's "ten rows back" from the stage, compared to a second IEM, that instead might be "three rows back".

 

Can someone please clear this up for me?

 

You know how sound gives you a clue as to where it came from, like a cat swinging its ears around like radar/sonar, you pull the pin on a can opener then it turns its head towards your direction before it even smells it? It's kind of like that. From my ears and limited experience with IEMs I haven't had an experience of anything that 3D on IEMs, but for more general illustrative purposes, here's a few very rough diagrams of what I was hearing when I went to local Hi-Fi stores with my HD600 and Meier Cantate.2, a review unit Burson Soloist, and the stores' various CDPs. For context, here's the review of the Soloist.

 

Around 75% of my test tracks were progressive and power metal, but for simplicity I only accounted for the vocals (triangle), guitars (rectangular, and rectangular with rounded corners), and drums (circles - numbers not representative of actual numbers of drums, but perception of where each hit, particularly in a roll, are coming from). I omitted the orchestra (including some jazz instruments), choir, and keyboards as I did all these just now. Given they're electric guitar, they aren't recorded with strong bias towards left or right, as the sound being recorded isn't coming out of a the guitar itself but from an amplifier in the same room as the recording mic, whose dispersion pattern will make placement matter less. Whether a large or small venue, the dispersion patterns and number of amplifiers will still affect the left and right imaging anyway.

 

I. HD600 and Meier Corda Cantate.2 (using its USB input) : Relatively small soundstage, but notice how each instrument is generally in their proper place.

 

 

II. HD600, Cantate.2/Soloist, Marantz CD5003 :Drums are powerful but are too far forward relative to other notes; vocals are so "upfront" it sounds like it's coming from towards the back of my head; guitars are generally in the proper place but on some notes they're emphasized as coming from the far left and right, and louder than average when it does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

III. HD600, Cantate.2/Soloist, NAD C545 : Drums are all over the place all around my head, which some will describe as "more 3D" but personally it doesn't follow the accurate placement*

 

 

 

 

 

 

IV. HD600, Cantate.2, Cambridge 540C : Drum impact is strong and perception of their place is very, very forward - as in more forward than the vocals - with strong cymbals at either end of the soundstage. Otherwise, left-right panning of the drum set is generally correct.

 

 

 

 

 

V. What I understand "Front row" descriptions to be, because that's what it sounds like for electric guitar music events I've been to: Guitars interspersed in the middle but sometimes a strong L or R, vocals up front and loud, drums easy to pick out behind (well, most venues don't amp these, so it's easier from the front) but I can feel the bass drum on my chest. Nth row means to me that generally you push these farther out from the head.


 

 

 

*I myself was so wowed by soundstage size before I didn't care about accurate imaging - I could hear drum rolls throughout my dashboard for example but the guitars don't image wider than that, which by now feels like the band hired Mr. Fantastic to hit drums floating around the stage, with gigantic cymbals (circles near the mirrors) that at some point hurt my ears. My current system compresses the drums towards the center, notes seem "smaller" spatially but that's because they're not trying to go, "look at me! look at me!" in terms of loudness, and the cymbals back along the same plane. When I had a sub that got the response of the low bass up, the bass drum would be around where the handbrake on the center console is (not good either).


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 11/27/13 at 2:53am
post #27 of 45
I generally think of soundstage as simply the ratio of direct to reflected sound in the reverberant field excited by the transient attack of a note. Any good digital reverb unit on a synthesizer with one built in gives you plenty of opportunity to play around with how this all works.

And a digital reverb is basically a variant of a delay.

So, ideally, no reproduction transducer adds reverb to the recording, but of course they all do, to varying degrees.

I'm theorizing IEMs are the least offenders in this category, as they are only having to deal with the acoustic properties of the ear canal which, granted, is still a reverberant field.

Imaging has to do with how precisely a sound source can be located in the sound field; the more transient the sound, the less reverberant echo, the more precise the location will be. That's why it's easier to place drum attack transients and plucked string transients than it is to place a pipe organ's note in the low register, unless, of course, there is a noticeable transient produced by the wind in the pipe upon first strike.

Although the other side I dimly recall is that without any reverb, we lose the ability to locate a sound, since it's the mix of direct/indirect sound that determines the location.


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post #28 of 45
I understand your aspirations, ProtegeManiac, and wish you the best of luck with it!

Be sure to also reserve some thought for room treatment, be it Auralex or other sound damping components (bass traps, etc.); they can really help bring a room into focus.
Edited by Copperears - 11/27/13 at 6:18am
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperears View Post

Imaging has to do with how precisely a sound source can be located in the sound field; the more transient the sound, the less reverberant echo, the more precise the location will be. That's why it's easier to place drum attack transients and plucked string transients than it is to place a pipe organ's note in the low register, unless, of course, there is a noticeable transient produced by the wind in the pipe upon first strike.

 

Just to add - these happen in the playback and the recording. If the recordng is done with the mics in their proper position, part of what makes imaging is their reverb in that (engineered) recording chamber.  If the playback introduces enough of its own (ie, room modes and reflections), or for the most part doesn't (most notable example - headphones smack on the ear canal and left ear can't hear right channel, vice versa), it can affect the imaging perceived by the listener.
 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Copperears View Post

I understand your aspirations, ProtegeManiac, and wish you the best of luck with it!

Be sure to also reserve some thought for room treatment, be it Auralex or other sound damping components (bass traps, etc.); they can really help bring a room into focus.

 

Thanks. Yep, the room will still be treated inside on top of being in another room. This is because, realistically, it will still be a relatively smaller room (unless I hit the jackpot on the lottery or something), but I'd prefer a well-isolated room with reflections managed well and use the best 2-way, 2-driver standmounts or towers that I can afford than a regular roo managing reflections but isn't as isolated as what I was planning. Right now I'm thinking it might have to be Aurum Cantus since I really like the output of the ribbon tweeters but who knows, I'm still far off from it :tongue_smile:

 

Then again, I could just find a guy who can do a nice cabinet, use an active crossover (like my car's processor, hooked up to a car battery) to prototype a passive crossover, and I can use an Aurum Cantus ribbon tweeter along with a Focal 7" Polyglass driver (like the 6.5" I have in my car).

 

 

---------

 

ADDENDUM : Forgot a little detail. In terms of car audio, imaging is the same, but "staging" refers a lot to stage dimensions, most importantly height but also width and depth. The reason for this is, again, the challenges in overcoming cabin acoustics. For example, to avoid having the tweeters too close to the driver's head (and screw up time alignment) as well as reflections off the windshield, some will install the tweeters in the kickpanels (some cars do this straight out of the factory). The problem then is if they aren't angled right or there are more obstacles to overcome down there (like the center console, the driver's legs, the steering wheel) you might hear the soundstage happening lower than the dashboard, which is where the stage should be if not eye-level. Tweeter angle anywhere can also reduce width, and not managing reflections well enough (even if you avoid time alignment and sharp treble it causes) can reduce the depth. I've listened to a Toyota Vios (Yaris Sedan in other markets) that, because of its more symmetrical dash design, didn't need as much time alignment and hassles in installing the tweeter, and the end result still is that the drums sound like they're coming from on top of the hood, not the dash.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 11/27/13 at 6:29pm
post #30 of 45

the problem in a car is to decide if other passengers matter or not ^_^.

 

 

about definitions, to me soundstage is "how big it is?". as width is usually the biggest dimension with headphones, I end up talking about soundstage to say how wide the sound is. to my knowledge one easy way to get a huge soundstage is to have a lot of sub bass.

where imaging is about placement in space and will depend on loads of stuff.

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