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Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense (Read 2725 times)
Dave1210
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Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
08/29/14 at 13:10:08
 
Background:  Many of us have our speakers pulled out a few feet from the front wall.  When listening to music we are most likely staring at the front wall, artwork on the front wall, or a television.  

Key Question:  To what degree is our audio image depth perception influenced by or visual sense and can you improve 3D imaging and depth perception by muting or ‘tricking’ your visual sense?  

I have pulled my speakers way out into the room (10 feet or more from the front wall) and have experienced fantastic depth and 3D imaging.  When moving the speakers back to a ‘livable’ position, the depth is still there, but harder to perceive, especially with ‘eyes wide open’.    

Has anyone placed a 2D image on the front wall or on the television that conveys great depth. For example, a digital or 35mm photograph that was taken out in the middle of the woods, where one can ‘see into the forest’.  An illusion of depth.  Does it now become easier to perceive depth in a soundstage when staring at this picture while listening to music?

If one had a piano, located two rooms behind the plane of the speakers, that you could see while listening to solo piano music, would you perceive the music to be coming from the piano?  

I was finding it difficult to be fully drawn in to the soundstage the other day and I grabbed a sleep mask from the nightstand.  Completely blocking out any visual stimulation allowed me to relax, gave me a heightened sense of hearing, and allowed me to better visualize instruments within the soundstage and perception of soundstage depth.  I was no longer constrained by my physical surroundings.

Maybe what you see, or can’t see, is just as important as what you hear, when listening to music.  Is this the obvious reason why late night listening sessions are so special?  

If your significant other or friends already think you are crazy for ‘just sitting and listening to music’, wait until they see you listening to music with a sleep mask on and pointing to instruments within the soundstage.
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will
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #1 - 08/29/14 at 15:31:24
 
My favorite listening environment is near dark, which does not typically happen in my room until "late night." With little light passing through my eyelids, and listening/feeling the primary perceptions, the subtle nuances of music and space are definitely heightened. It is not complicated by the dominance of sight.
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Lord Soth
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #2 - 08/30/14 at 02:48:25
 
Hi Dave,

I too find that by shutting down one of the senses ( sight) , the auditory sense is heightened.

I believe that there should be some scientific research papers out there which provide support for this view.

In my setup, i'm using it for TV viewing too so I prefer to turn off the TV and just float in the music.
I become more acutely aware of the spatial soundstage when I close my eyes.
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marky
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #3 - 08/30/14 at 11:01:54
 
Dave,
as well as just closing my eyes I also find myslf gazing and not registering what I`m looking at. Staring into empty space is what I think it`s called. Also, to stop looking at instuments, or wanting to hear/see the whole picture and savour, I find that a point around 6ft high, centre stage, is a default position that I`m fond of. There, hanging down so it`s in front of the window is a round stained glass disk with a kind of wheel pattern. I`ll look at it (nothing trippy happens...yet  :) ) and sometimes start the `staring into space` thing.
Yeah, near field, low lights in the latter part of the session when the amps are so sweet. Well cosy, and the room is starting to feel `tuned`.
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Palomino
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #4 - 09/02/14 at 22:09:28
 
+1 on listening in the dark.

I also have the ability to quickly change my depth of soundstage.  I have a office/listening room in the basement with a door into a furnace room.  This door is between the speakers.  My speakers are only 4' out into the room, but open that door and the soundstage depth increases dramatically.  Its a similar setup to what Steve has at one end of his listening room.

Only downside is when my wife gets irritated when I turn off the heat or air conditioning for extended listening sessions ;)  Also, this weekend she called my listening room an "audio freakshow" and compared the room to the guys basement in the Silence of the Lambs  ;D.
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Lon
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #5 - 09/02/14 at 23:23:24
 
I don't do listening in the dark very much. . .because my time to listen is also my time to read, and rather than either/or I do both often.

And I am listening less and less analytically as the only place I can put my main system is in a far from optimal setting, and I know it, so I just have it set up so that as much as possible of my source material sounds good, and rather than sweat things like soundstage (which I know from my last room, more fitting and sonically pleasing, can be mind-bendingly good with these components) I have the most accurate and natural tonal balance I can get, as much depth to the sound that I can get, and just relax into the listening as much as I can. As my listening time has been more than halved when I moved here to Ohio, I try to spend less time critically listening and enjoying the sound, escaping into the music, as much as I can. One day I'll be in even better sonic shape in a better room, etc. and my system will totally overwhelm me, as it did in Texas. I have no idea WHEN that will be, I just keep the faith.
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« Last Edit: 09/02/14 at 23:29:20 by Lon »  

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Dave1210
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #6 - 09/04/14 at 01:01:54
 
Pal…is it simply opening the door changes the reflections in the room, expanding the soundstage, or do you think it's more than that?
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Lon
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #7 - 09/04/14 at 14:45:21
 
Okay, here's a supposition. . . I think that it may be my journey for purer power and better power cords that has led me to the listening that is "transcendental." Right from the start of my journey with PS Audio power conditioning/regenerating products (which have included P300 Power Plant, Duet and Dectet, and Power Plant Premier) just having these in the sytem has led me closer to the music itself somehow, and soundstage and imaging have increased in "visiblity" incrementally as I went up the chain with these. And then my experimenting with power cords also opened up a lot of insight into the plane of the music and the tonal naturalness. I was reminded of this again yesterday when I added to My Audio Cable "Burly" power cords to the system at my Dad's house. They were languishing on components I don't much use in my second system at home, so I put them in place of Decware Silver Reference power cords in the system at Dad's, one feeding the PS Audio Duet and the other the Torii Mk II. (This was a few hours after I had added a CSP2 preamp into the system, which was a decided improvement.) The change in power cords seemed to cause the music to be more enveloping and energetic and the strengths of the changer in the system (clarity, dynamic contrast) became even more evident than before. My Dad noticed the change too. Today we're listening and we're just sort of wrapped up in the music, even the housework was done with one bit of my mind grooving to Beethoven solo piano pieces, and even in another room I noticed how pronounced the presence of the sound was, and how easily and naturally the sound moved from soft to loud. This is the sort of thing that makes me sink into the sound for that almost "mystical" listening. I think power treatment and cords have been a big part of the foundation for that sort of listening enjoyment and marvel in my systems.

Of course I'm a strong believer in "everything is everything." Of course Decware components and speakers have the raw material for power treatment and cabling to bring out the glory. And interconnects are also important in allowing the music to flow and in my opinion for that last inch of tonal integrity and character. All contribute, but the power treatment and power cabling really catalyzes the ability of the system to move you into that mystical listening world.
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« Last Edit: 09/04/14 at 15:34:05 by Lon »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #8 - 09/04/14 at 16:19:17
 
Quote:
Pal…is it simply opening the door changes the reflections in the room, expanding the soundstage, or do you think it's more than that?


I'm positive this is what it is. Typically there is something like 50 bounces just front to back alone before the sound energy is really diminished and it doesn't effect your listening experience. If you can throw a bunch of that out, it helps clean up your image, getting more into the spacial retrieval in the recording. It could also help with the bass somewhat, as it allows the bass to stretch it's legs a bit, considering wavelengths are typically bigger than your room.

My personal preference though is to keep that energy in the room and use diffusers, with some absorbers. But if you can simply open a door and change the soundstage, then go on with your bad self!

Back in the day, I use to make bets with friends, that my simply standing in different places in the room (not directly between the speaker and listener) would change the sound field in the room. Just me standing in a corner could change the bass of the room. Me walking to different positions in the room (blocking/absorbing/redirecting), would change the sound field that even non-audiophile would be like woah.

To use one of my favorite phrases from Star Trek - "ugly bags of mostly water" make good absorbers.

Quote:
Of course I'm a strong believer in "everything is everything." Of course Decware components and speakers have the raw material for power treatment and cabling to bring out the glory. And interconnects are also important in allowing the music to flow and in my opinion for that last inch of tonal integrity and character. All contribute, but the power treatment and power cabling really catalyzes the ability of the system to move you into that mystical listening world.


I'm agreeing with you more and more on power being a factor. My current setup is the best it's ever been...I know I lost something when I went to the DirectStream. Some of that Foot Tapping went away when compared to my Oppo. I gained all that detail and depth, and especially separation of voices and instruments, but I lost some toe tapping (how exactly do you quantify that?!) It wasn't the DirectStream's fault, but the fact that I switched my streamer from the OS built into the Oppo, to a Mini-PC. This was painfully apparently when I put my modified industrial linear power supply on the mini-PC. Suddenly all that PRaT came back with reinforcements!

The P10 had a small impact, power cords very small impact. Replacing the PSU on the PC, huge improvement. That was the proof I needed that a PSU on a digital device really makes a difference.

Honestly, I still think the big caps on the ZMA do so much for the sound, that all these fancy/expensive regenerators and power cords are less needed. Still, I'm sure they bring in a couple extra % improvement. And they still help everything else in the chain.
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Lon
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #9 - 09/04/14 at 16:25:36
 
I'm sure the power supply in the ZMA does make it very independent of the rest of the power system. Still, Steve said the same thing about the regulation stages of the Torii Mk III and I am here to tell you that though those probably do clean and improve the power supply but cords and regeneration make strong and steady improvements. I wish I had a P10, maybe one day, but my PPP just took my whole system up a notch. Really so very noticeable and has allowed me to evaluate all other changes with more certainty.

To be honest Eric. . . perhaps you should look into auditioning interconnects? They may be holding you back. I like the Decware Silver References for the money. . . but I don't own any any longer, and have found quite a few others that allow more dynamics and "body" to flow with the music.

Interesting about the PC and power supply etc. When I went to the DS from the PWD Mk II, both fed by the HDMI I2S connection, that PRAT thing didn't diminish, it probably increased. I'm lucky I guess as if that were to decrease I'd be feeling something was missing as I think you may as well. And I'd hate it and be hellbent on fixing it.

Everything is important, but I'm beginning to think the power foundation may be where it starts. And after that, interconnects make a BIG difference, the final sealing coat.
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« Last Edit: 09/04/14 at 16:30:05 by Lon »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #10 - 09/04/14 at 17:14:17
 

Yeah, I did absolutely feel something wasn't right, but I thought it was more of a mood thing, being stressed about work and what-not. But now that I've found it again, and I know *why* it came back, it's obvious how much I lost. I suppose had I bothered to put the Oppo directly to the ZMA again, I might have spotted it sooner. It's been driving me nuts...with as much as I gained, I *knew* something was off. I'm starting to wonder if I even need a preamp now...but I'm still going to give one a try!

As for cabling - I sent an E-mail to Cable Co. about their lending library, and so far only got a form letter back. So I guess I might need to call them.

I just can't afford $1000 cables right now honestly. Even if it did make an improvement, I'm still over-extended for a while.  :)

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Lon
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #11 - 09/04/14 at 17:18:34
 
Cool. I only buy 1000 dollar cables used, I couldn't otherwise. . . but I'm glad I have bought them, they've given me what I was lacking and made me far less "restless." I hope that building up your power supply gets you closer to where you need to be. My DS has more than 400 hours on it now and man it sounds great! My whole system is saying "don't fuck with me now, just sit back and enjoy."

Listening to an old favorite, Albert Ayler's "Spiritual Unity" and it sounds amazing.
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Dave1210
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #12 - 09/04/14 at 18:49:03
 
I don't think I'll ever forget the first time I listened to my system with a Powerplant.  At that time I was feeding the SuperZen with the PWT/PWD combo.  I was listening to Destroyer "Kaputt" and I was connected to the music, foot tapping, massive soundstage, in a way that I had not experienced before.  It was a transformational moment for me.  



I'm still not sure where I stand on cables, because I haven't done a lot of experimentation.  I tried to participate in the The Cable Co lending library, but they pretty much ignored me.  Not sure if that's totally fair, but they responded to my online request and then said they would contact me about getting the lending started and...crickets.  I sent a followup note, and again when it came to getting started...crickets.  Maybe the price point I was exploring they could care less about.  I probably should have just called.  
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« Last Edit: 09/05/14 at 00:04:37 by Dave1210 »  
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will
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #13 - 09/05/14 at 01:57:57
 
This is an interesting segue....power, power treatment, cable quality, power supplies, ICs, pre-amps, and lets not forget vibration, aside from the primary components. All of these define the signal quality by how well they carry it, and/or how they protect the signal from noise. The common denominator of each is to help hearing more of the pristine signal without distorting grunge, which in turn can make the sound more natural in tone and dynamics...and the cleaner signal clarifies the soundstage.

Then there are Palomino's room changes with the door open...a different matter atogether, though as Pal has said elsewhere, this improvement is supported by the rest.

As I imagine all this, depending on the quality of power to begin with, and then on all that uses the power and passes signal, the way each of us approach each area creates system-to-system, and room-to-room variables.

I think your saying, Lon, that "everything is everything" might be the concept that does not vary. Oddly, in my case, getting into PS Audio regeneration was a really difficult transition, helping in some ways and hurting just as much in others until I sorted it out. And it did not help my already excellent soundstage.

Well before this the soundstage was brilliant with balanced and natural feeling tone and dynamics...enough so to feel indescribable captivation by the music. I did have decent power though, with a Brickwall, some Alan Maher filters, and a Kemp Schumman Resonator, followed by some decent power cords (many homemade), the MKIII, tweaked Mac Mini/Tranquility, adjusted MG944s, Silver reference, decent MAC ICs and Styx. My sound was very much like real music, enough so to forget about thinking it was one way or another and to just get sucked in, in awe of the beauty.

In that system, explorations with cables and vibration were easily heard, making notable differences in realistic musical refinement, but the magic was there without further refinement. I believe this points to something. For whatever reasons I was getting a balanced and complete enough presentation to prevent exaggeration or masking of micro detail and micro dynamics across the very musical spectrum. So I could hear everything including sweet body and weight.

Then I hear of LRs difficulties over time, with really good power treatment and gear, great source, quite decent cables, and a lot of room treatment.....baffling really. But I agree that ICs could help. I have really enjoyed Decware cables, but finally I find the Silver ICs tend to a sense of thicker bottom with some muddle below, and crisp clarity above. Also, in this system, compared to a number of twisted style cables, Styx have a similar tendency as the Silver Reference ICs...less defined below, and quite clear above. So I can at least imagine that a more balanced yet revealing tonal representation could be brought on by cables, and might help the DS do its thing???

Anyway, here, as I improved power, cables, and vibration more, the music continues to refine, but it was quite good enough to be captivating before. I should say though that even though my cords did not cost a great deal for what they are, they are very good cables. I like my DIY ICs better than Grovers (considered by many to be among the best regardless of price), and many others. And I prefer a few of my power cords over the PSA AC-12. And finally, my power is funky, but I guess I am lucky that it sounded really good other than voltage shifts. So though I got there in different ways than Lon and Dave, I agree that a clean signal can really contribute. But Raven has done a lot of this.

So I wonder.....why has my system been so good at the sense of real instruments within a great soundstage for so long, and for a long time with Styx and Silver Reference cables?

My intense interest in tuning with tubes is definitely a factor. The MKIV is the first amp I have gotten where I liked the sound with stock tubes Steve used, getting the best he can based on reasonable costs and availability. But....after playing around, none of the tubes are stock, and I like the sound way better. What I like is defined by natural complexity and natural tone and timbre across the spectrum, with effortless speed, and without holes or excesses anywhere. I think complexity of micro detail within rich smoothness, and extended balance are where a synergistic set of NOS tubes can really contribute. And tuning to our very different systems and rooms just can't be done at Steve's listening room. I have much preferred OB3 here over any OA3 I have tried for example. Also, here and in my Toriis, many PCC88/7DJ8s rise to the top...And 50's RCA 5U4G-STs...they are varied, but just really nice...My room, system and tastes, but this is the point.

Also, not a small thing here, my speakers are adjusted to have what I find to be a notably more refined, dynamic and complex presentation bottom to top, for me, contributing to musicality.

But probably more, as I learn my setting, I guess that room might be as big or a bigger factor here.

My adobe walls, the ceiling, and floor, are all very irregular (very little plumb or level even in a one sq ft area). So except some aberrant bass frequency buildup in a few areas, the reflection patterns are not really patterns functionally...a whole bunch of the room being a diffusor. I also have several segues into other spaces (also irregular), solving many reflection issues. And it is mostly massive...plaster on adobe and brick on sand. With this foundation, it was not hard to get a very real/alive feeling sound with way less treatments than most rooms would need to reach this level. I was lucky without knowing it, and always wondered why more people did not describe their sound to be as complete and engulfing as mine has been to me.

Now that I can measure the room, I understand it better. I can even up the peaks and valleys with minor EQ adjustments, narrow Qs, with the least being 4-6 Db, and the majority being 1-3 Db with this tube set. But a Db or two in the right places make a big difference toward the refined nature of the whole. This can take the sound from truly amazing to exquisite here. That said, the MKIV adjustments alone, with no EQ, make for a very, very captivating and magical sound here.

But to the point, that this room was truly alive and natural feeling is telling, and without EQ, without the CSP3, and without the more refined power treatment, gear and cables I have now. Speaker adjustment and a lucky room with the right treatments are the best I can come up with?

That said, all of my parts are good enough to help the other components create a whole that is better than the parts. Without this, the "everything is everything" effect would be missing something that could seriously compromise the feel of real music and the all-important soundstage.
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« Last Edit: 09/05/14 at 02:01:09 by will »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: Soundstage Depth & Visual Sense
Reply #14 - 09/05/14 at 08:38:36
 
Quote:
But to the point, that this room was truly alive and natural feeling is telling, and without EQ, without the CSP3, and without the more refined power treatment, gear and cables I have now. Speaker adjustment and a lucky room with the right treatments are the best I can come up with?


I would agree that you're room has a lot to do with that. It sounds like it would be amazing to listen to! Which is lucky, because the downfall of irregular rooms, is that it's difficult to correct with sound treatment if it needed it. If you can't easily (mathematically) predict what's going on, it would make a lot of it guess and test to correct.  

I for sure have room issues - I've said before, this big L-shaped room helps with the bass, but mucks up my soundstage. It's a wonder I get as much as I do, and I can only attribute what I have to good speaker placement and my abundance of room treatment. It would be *so* much easier for me if I simply had a common rectangle to work with. Hell, it would probably be easier for me if I had a dreaded square room!

I'm also a picky bastard, with really high expectations thanks to hearing one of Steve's listing rooms some 16 years ago. I've heard what a good room could do with a budget system - so in my mind, having spent the equivalent of purchasing a small car, I should have surpassed that sound by now....

I also appear to be sensitive to distortion and spacial cues - so bad recordings, odd order harmonics, and time smearing (from equipment or room) detract from my enjoyment. It could be a  $200k system, if it's distorting or in a room full of windows - it's probably ruined for me. Whereas I've heard a budget PA system at a guitar store sound captivating simply because they accidentally had it setup in a wonderful spot in a huge room.

I'm rambling again - the short version is everything is everything, and we all have our own personal likes. And some of us are picky bastards.  :)  (seriously, I think I'm the only person on the planet that turned down a set of HR-1, and probably *the* most beautiful set of HR-1 at that!)
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