Music for Dummies Question


What is imaging and soundstaging? And why is it desireable?

I assume it is a personal preference if you place one or both of these items on the top of your speaker qualities list when shopping? How much difference is there between speakers when talking of these qualities?


Silver Member
Username: Geekboy

Post Number: 209
Registered: 12-2003
Anon: I'm trying to make this simple. I'm sure someone will jump in and give the complex definition.

Soundstage: imagine yourself (yeah, tie in with imaging, but I'll get to that in a minute) in front of a stage, where there is activity going on and voices, music, whatever. So everything that comes with that... proximity (are they towards the front of the stage or back of the stage), direction (are they stage right or stage left or center), and intensity (the volume and pitch ot the sounds). The more a speaker and electronics allow the listener to feel everso present and absorbed into the production, the better the soundstage is said to be.

Imaging: the ability to reproduce the audio as close to the original live production as possible. The better the imaging, the more real it seems. Imaging is like being there. (People will also refer to stereo imaging as well. The ability to reproduce a stereo affect -- a rather importatnt aspect of hi-fidelity systems.)

Usually, you'll here both these terms when someone describes a speaker/electronics setup. "The soundstage was large. The imaging was right on the mark. It was like I was there. I could hear Oletta Adams lung filling with air..." (Okay, ignore the last sentence... that's just someone going crazy!)

So, imaging and soundstage as attributes to compare speakers/electronics by? Yes, you can, but it can be so subjective! That's why we always say... listen for yourself.

And, yes, there are some tradeoffs. If you're looking for perfect sound reproduction, you'll be like the tens of millionaries who spend $100K on a room designed perfectly to not resonate any sound and be the perfect anechoic chamber! Or, you'll find the right system for the right price -- your budget -- that sounds good to you -- your ears.

Depending on your listening behavior (movies vs. music), I'd say that it can make a difference. People who lean more to music will want a more defining system. Because they, generally, listen to stereo more, the soundstage is much more difficult to reproduce. That is because in Movies -- Dolby Digital and DTS and other formats -- have discrete audio which is driven directly to a particular speaker. When trying to recreate a concerto or concert experience in your listening room, doing so in Stereo is much more difficult than the multi-channel formats (probably why SACD and DVD-A may become more popular).

I'm ranting... sorry... I'm sure someone will fill in the rest.

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