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Soundstage Vs Imaging:what is the difference

Discussion in 'Acoustics' started by TitaniumTroy, Oct 10, 2010.

  1. TitaniumTroy

    TitaniumTroy Well-Known Member

    Could someone please explain to me the difference between the two terms, imaging and soundstage? They seem to have some overlap in definition, but I am not sure where that begins or ends. :?
  2. DIYer

    DIYer Well-Known Member Famous

    Here are what I understand as.
    Soundstage: perceived width, height and depth of sound.
    Imaging: perceived placement of instrument or voice of sound.
  3. Zing

    Zing Retired Admin Famous

    I believe imaging is when the sound just eminates in front of you rather than definitively coming from a particular speaker. Soundstage is the ability to "place" the instruments' location during the performance/recording.
  4. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    The two overlap a ton.

    I always used the term "Imaging" in a more literal sense. Imaging is how the sound blends between the speakers and extends beyond the speakers.

    Soundstage, to me, is more figurative. It is the depth, height, complexity, resolution of the placement of all the performers.
  5. soundhound

    soundhound Well-Known Member

    Soundstage and imaging are used interchangeably by many, and I don't think there is a written-in-stone definition of the two. I would think of soundstage is the width and breadth of the perceived image or virtual space projected by the speakers. Imaging would be the specific placement and accuracy of placement of instruments within the soundstage.

    Its worth noting that the imaging we get from recordings is generally much more specific than we hear in nature. Listening to a symphony orchestra concert, even from the front row, you would not get the sharpness of placement that you would in a good recording. Recordings are like 3D pictures in this sense; 3D images are not really lifelike at all in the sense that they duplicate exactly what we would see. 3D images exaggerate the front to back placement of objects in ways that do not match real life.
  6. Vinyl

    Vinyl Active Member

    That would be my definition also – key word is within.
  7. jomari

    jomari War Never Changes Famous

    this is deep man. i totally learned something today.

    a LOT.

    thank you folks.
  8. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    Very good loudspeakers, careful placement ot those speakers, and acoustic room treatments will provide top soundstage & imagery

  9. Aaron German

    Aaron German Active Member

    It seems to me that where the sounds are placed creates the stage. No sound, no stage. If no sounds are placed wide, then the sound stage is narrow. No sounds placed deep, then the sound stage is two-dimensional.

    All of this to say: it seems to me that "sound stage" and "imaging" are two ways to refer to the same phenomenon. You can't talk about one without talking about the other.

    But are you talking about the other when you talk about the one? I'm not sure. To talk about the sound stage, you need to talk about the placement of all the sounds.

    But can you discuss the placement (or imaging) of just one sound, without reference to the others? I suppose you could talk about the placement of a sound relative to features of your room. But this wouldn't be discussing it's place in the sound stage. So, maybe they are just two terms for the same phenomenon.
  10. soundhound

    soundhound Well-Known Member

    But you are ignoring the random phase reverberant field present in nearly all recordings picked up by either the microphones or added electronically. There is no "imaging" in this field, and it is this room sound which gives the sense of spaciousness heard as a projected soundstage. In a good recording, you can hear the sound of an instrument start at a point source (imaging), then hear that sound expand to fill the virtual soundstage.

    This soundstage can extend well outside the boundaries of the physical speakers, and the ear can sometimes hear this virtual space even when there are no instruments making sound (in recording jargon, this sound is called the room tone).
  11. soundhound

    soundhound Well-Known Member

  12. TitaniumTroy

    TitaniumTroy Well-Known Member

    Ok, I have a follow up question regarding soundstage and imaging, how do these concepts relate to the main types of speakers? Dynamic, compression horn loaded, omni-directional and planer/dipole. Specifically contrasting their different dispersion characteristics vs the soundstage and imaging you hear in the sweet spot.
  13. soundhound

    soundhound Well-Known Member

    Generally speaking, you will get the best imaging from a recording with all of the sound from each speaker reaching its corresponding ear, with no room reflections or crosstalk from one speaker to the other (almost like headphones, only with speakers). You might want to try a simple experiment. Get a boom box and play a recording with pretty good imaging, and place the boom box in front of your face, just a couple inches from your nose so that each speaker plays past its intended ear with very little intermixing between the speakers. You will probably notice pretty incredible imaging and a great soundstage.

    That's the one extreme, and horns would get the closest to this ideal since they have the least spillover outside of their directional pattern to the walls of your room.

    As speakers get more omnidirectional (or bidirectional), depending on the acoustics and liveness of the room, you are going to get more contribution from the room in the form of "spaciousness". This spaciousness is however completely a product of the room, and not the recording. It is not "imaging" and it is not "soundstage" that is present in the recording, but completely synthesized by the acoustics of the room. It can be a pleasing effect, but it is not what was in the recording.

    The sweet spot is dependent on the acoustics of the room and the dispersion of your speakers. Horns will have a more focused and predictable sweet spot than more omnidirectional speakers, which will have a more diffuse and room-dependent sweet spot.

    Hope this covers it for you.
  14. TitaniumTroy

    TitaniumTroy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the answer SH. New question, what is the minimum and also the optimum distance to listen to horn speakers like the the La Scalla and the Cornwall?
  15. soundhound

    soundhound Well-Known Member

    I've never used either of those, so I can't give a solid answer. It also depends on the size of your room and its acoustics to a large degree. In my room, with my Altec A7-500s, I've found that 12' with the horns aimed directly at the ears gives the best imaging and soundstage, but the La Scalla and Cornwall have considerably smaller horns, mounted lower so YMMV.
  16. Coytee

    Coytee Member

    I can give an opinion. I think this is my first post here, seems I had a PM on another forum (forget which lol) and it was 9 weeks old... soooooo, pardon my late entrance!

    Back to topic:

    I've owned LaScalas for over 30 years. I still have them (bought new in 1979). I have also owned Khorns however, they're now gone. They were my DREAM speaker to own ever since I bought the LaScalas.

    My experience that I quite literally, stumbled onto was... I had a single LaScala outside to see how it would sound. I walked around the field for 30 minutes or so while an entire CD was playing.

    I loved it.

    As I was walking back towards the house, I got to be 25/30 feet from the speaker and realized it had a different sound to it. By sound, I mean coherence.

    To cut to the chase, I noticed this 'one voice' and really liked it. No way I could experience that in my home since my room isn't that big.

    Change to my Khorns which were in my living room.

    One day, coming down the stairs and turning left, I stood right in line with the left speaker (right speaker hidden by the lay of the walls).

    I just stopped and marveled.... my Khorn sounded significantly BETTER here. I actually measured it and it's 30' from speaker to stairs.

    Several years later, I replaced the Khorns with the Jubilee's. Soon after, I went to that 30' spot by the stairs to hear how much better the (already incredible) Jubilee's would sound at this 30' distance.

    Much to my dismay, I did not notice ANY difference in coherence.

    I was confused & stupified.

    Long story short.... (sorta :eusa-whistle: ) I have now learned the big benefit of going to a 2-way speaker and dropping an entire crossover.

    If you want to vastly (and I chose that word specficially) improve not only the sound of your LaScalas but also make them more coherent much closer to their faces, then dump your K400/77 and buy either the Klipsch K510 or the huge K402 and turn them into 'JubeScalas'. They would end up as a fully engineered Klipsch speaker, biamped with aligned signals.

    You will chop multiple feet off the distance it takes them to congele their sound into 'one voice'.

    If you are ever near Knoxville, TN, you are more than welcome to come by my place and I can set up a stock LaScala next to a JubeScala and let your ears hear it for themselves.

    Honest offer.
  17. PaulyT

    PaulyT Behind the Curtain Staff Member Administrator Moderator Superstar

    Welcome Coytee, great to see you!


    Man, I wish I lived a little closer, I would so love to year your setup. Maybe someday... Anyone in the TN/KY area want to host a GTG? :)
  18. Coytee

    Coytee Member


    My wife has told me I "could" (should) have a weekend get together during the warmer months.

    I'd have some logistical issues if more than say 3-4 people showed up for an overnight stay unless they liked the idea of camping under the stars or sleeping on the floor or (ugh) driving 15/18 miles into town for a hotel.

    I know it will never happen but I daydream about acquiring 4 more MWM stacks so I could put on a surround movie out in the field in front of me.

    Not only would I personally love to do that, I think it would be a real mind trip to drive out here....though the woods... break into the open where my house is and have 5 stacks of MWM's setup in the field.

    No doubt you'd know you're in for a unique experience.

    Alas.....where would I store them.....
  19. TitaniumTroy

    TitaniumTroy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input and the offer Coyote, I would really like to hear the Jubliee horns. I bet they sound awesome :text-welcomewave:

  20. yromj

    yromj Well-Known Member

    First off, :text-welcomeconfetti: to the fray!!

    You'd better be careful. A lot of people in this group will read that and think either (a) COOL! I get to sleep under the stars or (b) 15-18 miles to a hotel ain't bad (c) Sleeip on the floor? Nah, I'll just pick up an air mattress on the way from the airport.

    John - Who loves to go to Nashville

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