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Soundstage in modern (non-classical, non-jazz, non-live) recordings?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I'll cut to the chase here:  I'm wondering if it's practical to fret over soundstage if you never listen to much of classical, jazz or live recordings.  


I would like for people who have cans with good soundstage to tell me if the music I listen to benefits from having a headphone with a large soundstage, or if the recording itself has a narrow soundstage to begin with, so therefore I can focus on headphones with a narrower soundstage.  For what it's worth, I'm leaning toward getting the Audeze LCD-2 which some have said has a narrow soundstage relative to other headphones, but excels in other areas.


I listen to mostly indie stuff.  I listen to rap stuff sometimes, and what some people would call "scene" stuff, like the emo, post-hardcore, hardcore and metal varieties of music.  I've just recently started to get into some 80's post-punk stuff like Talking Heads and The Smiths and stuff like that.


So if any of you are up for it, listen to a bit of my songs and tell me how the soundstage is.  You can listen to one or two, or all of them and just tell me if for my intents and purposes should I be looking for the headphone that has amazing soundstage or whatever.  Thank you.


So some examples from the indie would would be like:

Sufjan Stevens - Chicago 

St. Vincent - Black Rainbow 

M83 - Kim and Jessie 

Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks 



A Tribe Called Quest - Electric Relaxation

Kendrick Lamar - Sing About Me 



Circa Survive - The Great Golden Baby 

Manchester Orchestra - Wolves At Night 

Between the Buried and Me - Prequel to the Sequel 


Here is a spotify playlist with all of them------> head-fi

Edited by RMac - 2/18/14 at 11:36am
post #2 of 3
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by gulm View Post

If you are looking for fullsize headphones like LCD_2 and they offers realy large soundstage but they need realy good DAC/AMPs help to shows there best. Sennheiser HD800, Grado PS1000, Ultrasone headphones also offers wider soundtage with realism.

Well, the question is more geared toward, do I need headphones with a wide soundstage for my music if I'm not listening to a full blown 500 string orchestra, know what I mean?


Of course, I still appreciate your comments and I know full well not to pick a high quality headphone without doing it justice with a proper dac and amp.

post #3 of 3

Forget large soundstage, what's more important is that your system (it's not just the headphone!) can playback a precise soundstage where every instrument is in its proper place relative to each other. I've tried for example the Marantz CD5004 and NAD C545, and they put the drums around my head (with the vocals still inside my forehead, electric guitars on each eye stretching towards each ear, etc). Many on Head-Fi might classify that as large soundstage; I prefer to ask why the hell did (insert band here) hire Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards to hit the drums for them, because obviously that doesn't happen unless Stan Lee and/or Gamma Rays are involved. Some headphones will make the stage wider and deeper but are you willing to spend $800++ more to move everything out by an inch or so in all directions? K1000 doesn't count because I would actually buy that if I can find one.


And then there's the sort of music you listen to. I'm not familiar with those (and I don't have a Spotify account so I can't open the playlist), but for rap I wouldn't bother with soundstage. I mean, what instruments are there? Maybe several vocals but not really distinct spatially,* a drum machine,** and maybe a synth*** or piano, maybe a violin in some hip hop tracks. The best they usually do with rap is a Left - Right bias, not really much in depth or width in, say, the drums (which are synthesized). As long as the system, particularly the headphone, isn't throwing them around the place, it's all good. Heck the few instruments in rap makes Grado great with them if you like raw-sounding vocals enough over thundering bass - BTNH, Coolio, 2Pac, (yeah, sure, I'm old) and local rap artists including my friends on an indie label all sound great on Grados' Prestige series.


For rock and other similar modern music, again, just go for a headphone and upstream components that won't screw around with the soundstage. Unless you're listening to symphonic metal (also power, prog, etc), which while not recorded the same way as audiophile classical music CDs, most are actually recorded well enough but for my tastes still require a headphone that can sort out the details properly. That said, I'm not about to blow $1,000+++ on headphones unless that kind of money is easy enough to come by (speakers, sure, if I have a proper room).



*From what I've listened to only BTNH places some space between each, and it's not much - only when the rest are doing different lines/lyrics in the background while someone else is doing the main verse

**Which sends out its sound through speakers or directly into the console, unlike when you put two stereo mics next to a real drum set; at least when electric guitars and synths are done on rock and metal, imaging becomes essential to separate all the instruments in there

Edited by ProtegeManiac - 2/18/14 at 8:27pm
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