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Which part of the frequency spectrum is responsible for "soundstage" and "imaging"?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by sine_wave, Mar 8, 2018.
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  1. sine_wave
    In real life high frequencies are easily attenuated by distance and so having rolled off highs might contribute to a sense of "soundstage." But I could be wrong. I do think that such an effect is achievable in any headphone type if the frequency response can be manipulated correctly.
  2. Glmoneydawg
    i think it might have more to do with phase integrity(in speakers anyway)
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
    TYATYA likes this.
  3. castleofargh Contributor
    you can hardly define a subjective impression of overall space "vastness" with a single objective variable. maybe reverb? but reverb would be to "create" a room, not necessarily to put a sound source at a distance.
    we almost entirely work with patterns. like where we've seen stuff while hearing them so now when we hear them the same way, we assume they come from were we saw them last time. in that respect, what you say about low frequencies having slower attenuation over distance can absolutely have an impact, as we have such experiences in our head already. the issue with only low frequencies is that we can't properly locate the direction(waves a good deal bigger than the distance between ears). for precise position you need some higher frequencies.
    so if you low pass the crap out of the audible signal, you could just as well feel like the sound is right next to you but coming through a wall.:poop:

    one big problem with getting a bigger mental space is that we have many different cues in sound that can all participate to enforce a feeling. but those cues can just as well tell the brain it's all fake and have everything collapsed in our head. frequency response is definitely a major source of information, but part of that information is screwed by default on headphones. and for sound sources at different positions, we would ideally need different FRs. something a headphone isn't going to provide on its own.
    now from a vague subjective intuition, I tend to feel like when a headphone has some real deep low end, I often feel like I'm in a bigger "rumble bubble" all around me. it's not much and doesn't make me feel like everything is far away, but it participates in a sense of space. or at least that's how I often feel.
  4. SilverEars
    Yes, the low-end provides a certain level of warmth and that contributes an ambient feel of sounds. And the mid to upper treble lift relative to the lower frequency spectrum cause airyness.

    Also, the harmonics, or reverb type effect in sounds and people probably hear this with tube amps.

    Also, I believe relative level of the mids causing a sense of distance. Like vocals sounding recessed or further back.

    All this contributes to ambient feel of sounds.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  5. bigshot
    Soundstage and imaging are defined by room acoustics and how the separate channels blend in the space of the room. Headphones have imaging, but that is pretty much what it is... a line through the middle of your head. Left/right separation isn't affected much because the cups are separate.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
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  6. SilverEars
    I've heards sounds located at the top of the cups with certain headphones.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  7. castleofargh Contributor
    yup it's not uncommon for me to get more than a line on ear axis. it makes no sense compared to the same track on speakers though and I wouldn't bet that we all get the same perceived position depending on the actual cause. but I get some kind of dimension in my small "bubble" with specific sounds at specific positions when using specific IEMs or headphones. I imagine we get that when some part of the signature happens to somehow align with our HRTF in that direction? or maybe just some accidental imbalance between each sides that ends up being mistaken for ILD cues? no idea honestly I have a real hard time trying to think in partially correct cues.
    but I've never had significantly more distance, just other directions that had no reason to exist on the master.
  8. bigshot
    I think it's more a matter of our brain struggling to interpret the sound than it is some physical property of the headphones themselves. When I played around with binaural recordings, my brain kept snapping the sound from the back of my skull to right in front of my eyes, then back to the rear again. It was very irritating. When I hear a triangle ding that sounds separate and in front of me with headphones on, I'll go back an hour later and play the same thing, and it doesn't sound remarkable at all. I suppose you could say that LSD might improve imaging in headphones, but I'm not going to try it myself.
  9. Glmoneydawg
    Loudspeakers have the advantage of room acoustics and hearing both speakers with both ears...never gonna happen with headphones..too bad ,headphone driver proximity to eardrum has advantages....imaging will never be one of them:frowning2:
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  10. gregorio
    Your first sentence is correct BUT, loss of high frequencies is only one of several factors and therefore your second sentence is incorrect. Just rolling-off the HF content in your headphones will not create depth/soundstage, it will just make everything sound dull with essentially the same depth/soundstage!

    With distance, in addition to loss of HF there is also some loss of low freqs, plus there is significant more loss of the direct sound relative to it's reflections (reverb) and additionally, it's all relative within a mix anyway. All of these factors needs to be taken into account, not just one or two of them.

  11. sine_wave
    Based on this response, it seems to me that most effects of soundstage are achieved through mastering and processing of the original track. However, some headphones definitely have more "wide" or "intimate" presentations than others. Why is this?

    And as a disclaimer, I know that "soundstage" doesn't really exist for headphones, and that "wide" and "intimate" are audiophile buzzwords that probably trigger a few people here (myself chief among them.) But I think we all understand the idea I'm trying to get across.
  12. 71 dB
    Yes, it's about the correct balance of several types of spatial cues that together make sense to our spatial hearing. To answer OP these spatial cues cover the whole frequency range, but for physical reasons different frequency ranges contain a bit different kind of spatial information.
  13. jgazal
    Why hearing both speakers with both ears is an advantage? Never is such an strong word...
  14. 71 dB
    I think it has to do with how the headphones and pinna interact acoustically together. Also, the sonic balance of the phones must have certain effect.

    I think heaphones can have soundstage, but it's not a trivial thing at all! With proper crossfeed I get miniature soundstage because I believe in it (no LSD needed! All I need is some ILD and ITD :beyersmile: ). Reducing channel difference can give "wider" sound. It can seem counter-intuitive, but it's just a consequence of how our spatial hearing works. Understanding these things helps believing in miniature soundstage with headphones ultimately making headphone listening more enjoyable with crossfeed.
  15. Glmoneydawg
    ok never should have used the word never and i hope i am wrong about this.
    jgazal likes this.
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