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Soundstage Definition

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
What does the term soundstage refer to?

Is it a qualitative or quantitative measurement?
post #2 of 12
Newbie to headphone acoustics but... Heres how I see it...

Its an acoustic "stage"... panorama. An acoustic image presented to the listener. The listener should close their eyes and envision a simulated acoustic stage infront of them. The soundstage should have acoustic center, left, right, distant left and distant right sound sources. Mono should be all acoustic sources equally.

The sound stage should not have any holes either.... "dead spots" between center and right or left. It should be a nice uniform soundscape. Envision a singer singing on a live stage singing a tone. As she walks across the stage you will hear left center right...as she moves.

Thats how I "see" it... Much if my oppinions are based on car audio though. Not sure how much of it applies to phones?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
I always found it hard to detect a large sound stage with headphones. Because the sound is coming from such a compact, localized source, it only ever seemed that the sound was either coming from inside my head (canalphones) or from just outside my head (headphones). But i could never get into sensing any larger soundstage than that. Am i missing something, or is that indeed what people refer to as "soundstage"?
post #4 of 12
let's say you have a band that is recording a song in a studio and a single microphone is in the center of the room:

the drummer is 5 feet from the center of the room in the the back left corner,

the guitarist is 5 feet from the center of the room in the front right corner,

and the vocalist is 1 foot away from the mic standing directly behind it,

in theory, the "soundstage" capabilities of the headphone is to best present these spatial cues to you while listening to the recording. in other words, while listening with your headphones, you should be able to, to some extent, perceive the drummer behind you to the left, the guitarist in front of you to the right, and the vocalist closest to you, sounding nearly directly on top of you.

the soundstage capabilities of a headphone is their ability to reproduce the spatial distance and location from the mic, while ultimately retaining some of the acoustics of the recording environment.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonadam
What does the term soundstage refer to?

Is it a qualitative or quantitative measurement?
http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...ght=soundstage
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonadam
What does the term soundstage refer to?
In it's original sense it refers to speaker audio.
A good speaker rig should create a 4D(respective 3,25 D, the height isn't portrayed well by stereo technology) illusion of a stage in front of you, that's called soundstage.
The speakers themselves should totally disappear in your perception.
Unfortunately the term soundstage is also used in head-fi posts for descriptions of headphone experiences though speakers and cans are portraying the recorded sound differently.
Darth Nut once invented the term headstage.
In case you are willing to learn something about headstage look here. Ignore the reviewed cans, just look for the introduced terminology.
Warning : That's a long and sophisticated post, probably something for long winter evenings.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonadam
Am i missing something, or is that indeed what people refer to as "soundstage"?
You are missing something.
Some listeners are able to expand the headstage to any size which is appropriate for the kind of music they are listening to when they close their eyes.
My main tweak is a sleeping mask (normally used during transcontinental flights).
I have a hyphothesis : Maybe listeners used to meditation/visualisation techniques are more likely to be able to expand the headstage by will.
However, when I open my eyes the headstage immediately collapses.
post #8 of 12
crimsonadam, it is not certain that you have missed anything, but it help to close the eyes while listening. The size of the soundstage / headstage varies much depending on headphone and the quality of the other equipment. With the most basic equipment you don't get much more than something between the ears, and a huge soundstage with really good equipment and a good recording. I beleive that it is depends not only on the mixing of the recording but also on spatial information from the venue and the latter is more precisely reproduced by good equipment.
post #9 of 12

Actual spatial distance to different objects in the perception of sounds while wearing headphones would be more dependent on the method of recording used, such as binaural recordings. I find it concerning when so many people have such a wide varying perception of "soundstage" for the exact same headphones.. In fact if I smoke a joint I swear the "soundstage" (as defined in this post/responses) of any headphones seems to expand immensely. This forum needs a better way to define soundstage, are you just referring to the nice separation that comes from larger drivers?

post #10 of 12
In all honesty, I cannot see how a soundstage can apply to headphones. As mentioned in a previous post, it's a speaker-driven effect, where some models can extract a multi-dimensional presentation. For example, when a DSD file of a Steinway is played back on my system, there's an illusion of a grand piano ~10" away that's well-defined. It's (almost) right there! Headphones, not so much. To reply to the question directly, I have absolutely no idea what a soundstage means in this context.
post #11 of 12

Although I have read many posts suggesting that certain headphones with very high end equipment can produce a convincing soundstage I think the only reasonable answer is dsp. I have been using Tb Isone for a long time and it is the best I've heard at producing a speaker like soundstage using headphones. You can try their free demo it might surprise you. It is a pain to dial it in but once you have it set for your ears the results are worth the effort.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonadam View Post

What does the term soundstage refer to?

Is it a qualitative or quantitative measurement?

 

To add to Kramer's post, here are a few diagrams I've used in other threads to differentiate sources and headphones. All top-down view; triangles-vocals, circles-drums and cymbals+oblong-bass drum, rectangles-electric guitars.

 

Marantz CD5004/6004 on Meier Cantate.2 and HD600 - "wide soundstage" makes it seem like Mr. Fantastic joined Dream Theater after Mike Portnoy left

 

Meier Cantate.2, using internal PCM2702 USB DAC, and HD800

 

Meier Cantate.2, using internal PCM2702 USB DAC, and HD600 - see how close it still is to the HD800 on this DAC? It is up to each person whether the added $800+ is worth it

 

 

 

 

Grado SR225 - loud cymbals on either end, loud bass drum in center, toms and other percussions are softer and pushed to the back between L-C-R

 

My car's soundstage at some point of the audio installation - notice how the shape isn't symmetrical because the car isn't either (ie, I'm not driving a Mclaren F1).

 

 

 

 

 

Take note soundstage can be measurable: plateaus in the response means a range of instruments is louder, so instruments whose notes are predominantly within that region can be pushed forward. However that isn't the whole story since driver placement and angle relative to the ears and crossfeed ciruits (or crosstalk) can also affect the soundstage as much as reflections in a room or a car cabin. At the same time, just because the brain is part of it, does not mean that "it's all psychoacoustics" and you're fooling yourself all the time. Some of my friends' girlfriends/wives are self-confessed tone-deaf (and only half of them can appreciate the difference of Grado's tonality and dynamics vs their Apple earbuds), but drop a pin a relatively quiet room, and they can't pin it down either, while as long as I'm not fixed on anything else, my head will face the general direction (usually wrong, since what I get to hear is the echo).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaffer View Post

In all honesty, I cannot see how a soundstage can apply to headphones. As mentioned in a previous post, it's a speaker-driven effect, where some models can extract a multi-dimensional presentation. For example, when a DSD file of a Steinway is played back on my system, there's an illusion of a grand piano ~10" away that's well-defined. It's (almost) right there! Headphones, not so much. To reply to the question directly, I have absolutely no idea what a soundstage means in this context.

 

It applies, to scale. Ever seen those toys where you have band members that start moving when you play music? Instead of an actual band in the normal human size, you should be able to "hear" something to this scale where each instrument is in its proper place relative to the rest of the band. Outright size is secondary given where the headphone/IEM drivers are (meaning it's impossible). Even a K1000 can't replicate a speaker soundstage size. Hell, not even all speakers can do that - use nearfields (and in car audio), and your band members are still smaller than Hobbits since they will generally be on your desk. Headphones generally recreate a piano - in both detail and soundstage - as closer to the listener playing it, so if a kid's trying to learn to play, I'd recommend the Dad to get good headphones.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 2/3/14 at 5:41pm
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