What is soundstage?
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spkrs01

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Sound stage is the recreation of the recording of a musical event in the x, y, and z axis. (w, d, h) be it in mono/stereo.
 
The x axis is the easiest to reproduce, the z hardest. In large home systems you are really entering deeply into diminishing returns to get that height.
 
Best recordings to identify sound stage easily is to choose a well recorded orchestra such CSO, LPO etc. and see where the wind, strings etc. sections and see if you can identify the section according to the arrangement of that orchestra.
 
Imaging is whats placed within the sound stage. Here you should be able to pick up the individual characteristics of the said instrument, its size in relation to the others in the sound stage. ie a piano should sound much larger than a violin etc.
 
 
 
 
 
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spkrs01

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Adding to my post above......two songs illustrating x, y and z in sound staging:-
 
Bodyguard OST , I have nothing - (x and y) huge width and depth in this recording.....beautifully layered, the timpani drums are miles away right at the back of the stage/studio. Very good recording showcasing huge theatrical sound staging. With the right equipment, there's no sibilance nor sharpness.
 
Chris Botti in Boston, Hallelujah - (z axis) you can clearly hear his trumpet head and shoulders above the guitar accompanying and the orchestra....with IEMs/headphones the guitar and orchestra is below ear level while his trumpet emanates above eye level.
 
 
 
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TMRaven

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Modest Mouse's Bukowski has a neat little effect that you'll only get with headphones and not speakers.  You'll hear a voice that appears to be behind you, but that's moreso a psychoacoustic thing and the placement of the headphone drivers relative to your ears.  On speakers, the voice is behind the speakers, of course.
 
Corinne Bailey Rae's Till it Happens to You has a nice center image for her vocals.  Open backed headphones do a better job of separating that center image from the rest of the layers in the soundstage, while speakers do the best job.
 
Pink Floyd's Time does a good job at showing how sound can move between a pair of stereo speakers in a virtual space with its intro.
 
When it comes to headphones, half the game is just that-- psychoacoustics.  Headphones can't properly convey as good as a pair of speakers unless the recording was a binaural.
 
Googling naturespace and youtubing virtual barbershop on youtube will get you some good results to truly test the soundstage of your headphones.
 
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Iniamyen

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I think we have a winner:
 
Quote:
It's an unquantifiable subjective term, thats what it is. 

Even though you can explain to someone what soundstage is, everyone has their own take. And lets face it, with headphones, you've usually got 2 drivers to work with. Sorry, but you aren't going to be able to give any up/down or in/out cues with just the properties of the headphones, you can do left/right because you have left & right drivers. Any other spatial cues are from the recording, and describing them (i.e., describing the recording) usually ends up being pretty subjective.
 
 
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kiteki

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If you think you can hear soundstage with one ear at a time, then a microphone should be able to record that and transfer it to a 3D graph.
 
 
If you think soundstage is a subjective stereo illusion, then you will have to program your subjective stereo illusion into the computer software in order for it to transfer that to a graph.
 
In either case, it's quantifiable, it's not like measuring an emotional response from music, which is unquantifiable.
 
 
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SixthFall

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Quote:
Sound Stage is defined (in my own words) as: The ability for a sound system (headphones, speakers, etc) to create the sense, or illusion, that different instruments are placed around you at different angles and different distances.  Essentially, a sound stage allows a user to visualize the location of certain sounds in a given recording.
 
Terms used with sound stage that describes it:
  1. Width: Your left to right is the width of the sound stage. 
  2. Height: Your up and down is the height of the sound stage.
  3. Forward/backward: Your front and back is this part of the sound stage.
 
Your in the sound science section, so I'm going to give you my ideas on how it actually works.  Please note that these ideas are 100% accurate, they are just generalizations based on every pair of headphones I've ever put on (from IEMs, to actual headphones, to earbuds).  I believe that it is based on the actual frequency curve of the sound system.  As you know, the way we actually determine distance is through the loudness of something.  So if a certain frequency is softer than another on a pair of headphones, it'll create the illusion that it is further away.  What also seems to follow is that most headphones that have really great sound stage are not neutral or flat (normally are never close to it either). To add, it seems that on just about every headphone that I've heard have sound stage, it almost always had a V/U shaped curve to it.  This allows layering in the mid-range which makes some things sound really close, and some others really far.  Again, this isn't 100% concrete.


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EddieE

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In terms of recording it a combination of the stereo mix and how far the instrument/vocalist is from the microphone. Various digital filters and trickery can be used to augment this or simulate it as well, but the old-school way is actual real world distance and then stereo trickery.
 
If you have a singer five meters away from the microphone and you put that recording entirely on the left channel, it is going to sound like they are a distance away to your left.
 
If you have them sing close-mic and put it equally in both channels, it is going to sound like they are right in front of you (or in the case of headphones – right inside your skull).
 
Then there are binaural recordings, where two mics are placed inside a dummy head where the ear drums would be. In this instance (with headphones on) the music should sound to the listener to be coming from wherever the instrument/vocalist really was in relation to the dummy head. You can get much more realistic (almost spooky) soundstage effects with binaural recordings played back on headphones.
 
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kiteki

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Quote:
 You can get much more realistic (almost spooky) soundstage effects with binaural recordings played back on headphones.

Indeed you can, and all that is correct... until you assess soundstage in a HP or IEM as a mono signal.....
 
 
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EddieE

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Quote:
Indeed you can, and all that is correct... until you assess soundstage in a HP or IEM as a mono signal.....
 

The different distances from the mic that the various instruments would play in a mono recording, plus your minds own "ordering" of things would mean that there would still be a soundstage with mono. You can get greater directional placement with stereo.
 
 
 
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Some of you might find this review of the Omega II interesting. It explains things like headstage and soundstage pretty well in my opinion. It's quite a long read though.
 
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john29302

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Sure up and down is heard and proccessed.. the barbershop is in a room and the ear trains the brain to take the reflective sonar type data and can store like a hard drive.blind people are much better than us at this. but you sound as if you have made your mind up. its very similar to running in the woods, some can read terrrain faster than others and adjust at a rate of 2,000 decisions a minute and some are less or more, therefore they fall less and have more speed. if you can tell the left and right then the up and down is possible, actually the perception of the waves is read by the brain. maybe one cant pinpoint but like me i am a slop artist and proud of it. no anal know it all can touch this.
 
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JefferyK

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To me, soundstage is directional placement and image is the holographic thing.
 
I have never experienced imaging with headphones, only speakers. Which is fine with me.
 
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kiteki

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To me sound-stage or more accurately soundspace imho (in a headphone, not the recording) is the X/Y/Z space in which you hear the music.  If you envision that space like an onion, the layers are the layering.  Imaging is the movement of sounds within this space, imaging can be fuzzy, or precise, like a hazy left-right sound, or a marble floating through the air.
 
To me this soundspace is completely seperate from the recording / stereo image, since you can still hear it in one IEM or headphone cup at a time, as evidence.
 
The Audio Technica CK10 introduced me to imaging, at which point headphones started to sound lackluster.  The Shure SE425 is a good example of imaging too, I haven't heard speakers sound that precise, but the sound-field is much more enveloping of course, and you need to take room acoustics into account.
 
A speaker junkie will use cross-feed to emulate speaker sound in headphone's or IEM's.
 
Afaik there is no technology or software which can measure the soundspace, layering and imaging characteristics within an IEM or headphone, those Brüel & Kjær dummy heads only measure frequency response (volume balance) and square-wave response is not sufficient, clearly evidenced by data like this (two extremely different sounding IEM's)
 

 
 
To me, this is one of the reasons I find audio fascinating, it's an inexact science, still unsophisticated in relation to what we hear, and there is no speaker system yet which is 100% transparent, i.e. they are all coloured in a sense.
 
There are some scientists which like to purport that audio is a complete and finalized field, but then I don't see why there is such an extreme amount of controversy, compared to a field like video cameras, or mathematics.  Audio is more like medicine to me.
 
 
 
 
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hey just wondering, you guys have other song suggestions that illustrate soundstage?? just fun to listen to them using different headphones :)
 
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