Speaker imaging, I'm just not hearing it - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 84 Old 08-04-2013, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I hear about people talking about the imaging or soundstage (are they the same?) of a speaker and how you're supposed to hear voices in the center and instruments spread out in the room. However, I'm just not hearing it.

I personally have a pair of Energy RC-70s and Paradigm Mini Monitors at home, and I've heard of many high end speakers like the Totem Forest (which is famous for their imaging), PSB Synchrony One and Monitor Audio GX200. None of the speakers sounded like the vocals were coming from the center. All of them sounded like the sound was coming from the speakers. There's no "sound stage" where I can pick out where each instrument is located. All I hear is sound.

However, I sat in on Bose's Videowave demo, and they had imaging like what people describe. It threw a sound stage, and I can clearly pick out where the sound is coming from. I was very impressed by the Bose demonstration (what is wrong with me?)

Is there something wrong with my ear, or am I not listening for the right thing?

Here is a picture of my room. Pretend the bookshelf speakers weren't there, and that's my room. My room is perfectly rectangular (if we ignore the hallway entries). I can't take a picture of the back of the room yet, but it is perfectly flat, and it just has a sofa, bookshelf, drawer, and a table.

Yes, I know the center speaker is not in the center. I can't physically place it in the center because a supporting joint is preventing me from placing it center.

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post #2 of 84 Old 08-04-2013, 09:45 PM
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Probably a speaker positioning issue. Describe your room and speaker positioning. Pics would help too. Then we can help you get it dialed in.

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post #3 of 84 Old 08-04-2013, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Probably a speaker positioning issue. Describe your room and speaker positioning. Pics would help too. Then we can help you get it dialed in.

+1

Speaker position and set up.

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post #4 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 06:05 AM
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It took me a long time to hear it for the first time; blew me away! Like you, I had heard many systems before and none of them had ever imaged. My current system images so well you can feel bass strings being plucked right in front of you. Don't give up on it!

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post #5 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 06:27 AM
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It is all about speaker placement. Speakers themselves do not "image." The recording pans input left and right and how and where you place your speakers determines how effective the system is at reproducing what the recording engineers mixed.
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post #6 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 07:08 AM
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Generally in a music recording you have seperation of the left and right channels however vocals come through both channels equally. Sitting in the "sweet" spot it should sound as if the vocals are comming from directly in front of you. If you are not hearing this chances are your speaker placement is incorrect.

Generally a slight toe in on the speakers will help with this.

If one speaker is further away from you than another, if one is cornered into a wall while another is in free space things like these can have an affect the imaging of your speaker.

Proper placement and setting the correct time distance and time delays in your receiver should help with this.

Luckily my placement and room allows for my entire loveseat to be a sweet spot, sitting on either the left right or center in that maybe 4 feet area still allows things to sound as if they are properly comming from the center.. Ive actually contemplated the phantom center idea because of this

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post #7 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 07:19 AM
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Those Energy speakers just do not image well, regardless of positioning. Most of the cheaper brands do not image well, although price is not a prerequisite for speakers that image well, but that is generally how things workout. If you had a better pair of speakers, such as those Totems that you mentioned, and if those speakers were positioned well and playing from a good source such as CD's or basically anything but Mp3's, then I am sure you would get the nice image and soundstage that you have never heard.
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post #8 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

Those Energy speakers just do not image well, regardless of positioning. Most of the cheaper brands do not image well, although price is not a prerequisite for speakers that image well, but that is generally how things workout. If you had a better pair of speakers, such as those Totems that you mentioned, and if those speakers were positioned well and playing from a good source such as CD's or basically anything but Mp3's, then I am sure you would get the nice image and soundstage that you have never heard.

Speakers do not image. Speaker placement affects imaging.
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post #9 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Speakers do not image. Speaker placement affects imaging.
I disagree. The dispersion of a speaker system certainly affects its ability to place voices and instruments in the room. Some speakers appear to have all the sound coming out of the 2 boxes themselves, no matter how you position them. Others really expand the soundstage beyond the 2 speakers.
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post #10 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Speakers do not image. Speaker placement affects imaging.
?

Are you saying any speaker can image? That imaging has nothing to do with the speaker?

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post #11 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 10:17 AM
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Basically yes. The position of sounds in the soundscape is determined by the recording engieer during mixing. He uses something called a pan control on the mixer that sets the level of each track as a percentage of left and right. In effect, that determines where, in the soundscape, the sound appears to originate. What you want to do is to reproduce that in your room. If you spread the speakers the soundscape appears to spread and the opposite is true if you bring them closer together. It is possible to set speakers too far apart and then you get a hole in the middle with lousy "imaging." In that case everything will seem very stereophonic. You fix that by bringing the speakers closer together. That might be difficult or even impossible given the physical layout of the room.

The issue is that differently designed speakers with different characteristics behave differently in different rooms. So if you place one type of speaker where another one was you will get a different soundscape. It isn't because of the speakers. It is because of the placement of those speakers. You can find a placement that will produce the same soundscape you had before but it may not be a very convenient placement. The room acoustics put a big question mark on everything. My point is that "imaging" isn't a very good characteristic to use to choose speakers. If you hear them in a store they are guaranteed to sound different in your living room, for instance. Room acoustics are very powerful in terms of affecting speaker performance. Better to choose dynamics or bass extension or some other characteristic. Personally, I listen near field during speaker evaluations and normally get a pretty good guess for how they might sound in my home. Near field listening, of course, also destroys "imaging" and you wouldn't want to listen that way to a movie or a recorded concert.
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post #12 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Speakers do not image. Speaker placement affects imaging.

Ahhh, this is good to know. Because I thought, all this time, with the different speakers I've owned, that I had heard different levels of imaging. And, all this time, I actually believed a lot of the reviews I've read where professional reviewers have mentioned the different levels of imaging in different brands of speakers.

It's a relief to finally know that the entire industry is wrong and you have shed this profound light to us. Thanks.

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post #13 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 09:23 PM
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The issue is that differently designed speakers with different characteristics behave differently in different rooms. So if you place one type of speaker where another one was you will get a different soundscape. It isn't because of the speakers. It is because of the placement of those speakers. You can find a placement that will produce the same soundscape you had before but it may not be a very convenient placement. The room acoustics put a big question mark on everything. My point is that "imaging" isn't a very good characteristic to use to choose speakers. If you hear them in a store they are guaranteed to sound different in your living room, for instance. Room acoustics are very powerful in terms of affecting speaker performance. Better to choose dynamics or bass extension or some other characteristic. Personally, I listen near field during speaker evaluations and normally get a pretty good guess for how they might sound in my home. Near field listening, of course, also destroys "imaging" and you wouldn't want to listen that way to a movie or a recorded concert.

FMW, a lot of the things you say here are very coherent, and make sense to a "degree", but you are completely discrediting a speakers make up; what about the cross over, does that have anything to do with characteristics of imaging?

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post #14 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 11:05 PM
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My current system images so well you can feel bass strings being plucked right in front of you. Don't give up on it!
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post #15 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 11:30 PM
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I agree with FMW. I can get cheap bluetooth speakers to image well with proper placement. One of the finest imaging speakers I've owned were $300 bookshelf models, but I will concede that imaging is easier to achieve in a nearfield setup. I was going to add the importance of acoustics but he covered that as well.

Long before there was surround sound, long before I could afford decent speakers I've been able to create an enveloping environment by experimenting with placement, toe in and phase.

Imaging is easy - a wide and deep soundstage not so much. For this I believe speaker design plays a more essential part.

Start with extreme toe in, crossing so that the intersection of the two speakers is in front of you by a few feet, then work from my there. Also have good separation between side and back walls. If you can't find a position that produces any noticeable imaging then I think it's time to evaluate your room acoustics.

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post #16 of 84 Old 08-05-2013, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

Those Energy speakers just do not image well, regardless of positioning. Most of the cheaper brands do not image well, although price is not a prerequisite for speakers that image well, but that is generally how things workout. If you had a better pair of speakers, such as those Totems that you mentioned, and if those speakers were positioned well and playing from a good source such as CD's or basically anything but Mp3's, then I am sure you would get the nice image and soundstage that you have never heard.

Not sure what you are talking about. My RC-70's image very well. Placement and a good sound source are key

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post #17 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Geoff4RFC View Post

FMW, a lot of the things you say here are very coherent, and make sense to a "degree", but you are completely discrediting a speakers make up; what about the cross over, does that have anything to do with characteristics of imaging?

Anything in the design of the speaker will affect how it reacts to a room and how the room reacts to it.
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post #18 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by psgcdn View Post

?

Are you saying any speaker can image? That imaging has nothing to do with the speaker?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Basically yes. The position of sounds in the soundscape is determined by the recording engieer during mixing.

...

The issue is that differently designed speakers with different characteristics behave differently in different rooms. So if you place one type of speaker where another one was you will get a different soundscape.

So imaging does have something to do with the speaker after all.

I could never get most speakers to image no matter what I did with them. Or sometimes you have to close your eyes and concentrate, and yeah, there's a hint of imaging. And then again in rare cases the speakers completely disappear from the room, no sound appears to come from them all and there are point source instruments and voices spread around in front of you.

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post #19 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 06:49 AM
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My current system images so well you can feel bass strings being plucked right in front of you. Don't give up on it!

confused.gif

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post #20 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 07:13 AM
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confused.gif

Lol, I almost quoted this and yours to say; "This is "mirror" imaging" biggrin.gif

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post #21 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by LowerFE View Post

I hear about people talking about the imaging or soundstage (are they the same?) of a speaker and how you're supposed to hear voices in the center and instruments spread out in the room. However, I'm just not hearing it.

I personally have a pair of Energy RC-70s and Paradigm Mini Monitors at home, and I've heard of many high end speakers like the Totem Forest (which is famous for their imaging), PSB Synchrony One and Monitor Audio GX200. None of the speakers sounded like the vocals were coming from the center. All of them sounded like the sound was coming from the speakers. There's no "sound stage" where I can pick out where each instrument is located. All I hear is sound.

However, I sat in on Bose's Videowave demo, and they had imaging like what people describe. It threw a sound stage, and I can clearly pick out where the sound is coming from. I was very impressed by the Bose demonstration (what is wrong with me?)

Is there something wrong with my ear, or am I not listening for the right thing?

interesting...i have the rc50's and the imaging is great. slightly toed-in, and it sounds like it's coming from my center channel, even though in 2ch mode.

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post #22 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 04:48 PM
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That is strange, I've got an old pair of Energy Encore bookshelf speakers in my office and when I'm listening to something in stereo it sounds like its coming from the center too and the center speaker can be off or unplugged.

Maybe its the way your room or speakers are oriented?

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post #23 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 05:32 PM
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Op, can you post a pic of how your speakers are set up?

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post #24 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Speakers do not image.

Man, you can read some really ridiculous, uninformed nonsense on this forum... WTH? frown.gif

Yes, the soundstage and image specificity is in the recording itself, but how your speaker translates that information and disperses it is called imaging. Some speakers do this really well, others, less so.

My Tekton Pendragons do this exceedingly well.They have layers and layers of 3D info to share. They are very spooky how they can hang sounds in the air outside the speakers. You not only hear left and right but deep into the soundstage. Their excellent imaging really helps untangle busy mixes and they do pin point location with ease. Sometimes the music sounds like it's coming everywhere but the speakers! You usually have to pay big bucks for those kind of thrills.

Having said that, most speakers that are properly spaced and positioned correctly will image. The phantom center effect is when music tracks are mixed (panned) to the center. This should give the illusion of the sound coming from the middle, separate from the right and left. Most rock/pop recordings mix the lead vocals like that. A solid center image is crucial for stereo and is one of the ways that you know your speakers are positioned correctly.

If you are not getting that, then something is wrong with your set-up. Are you running mono perhaps? biggrin.gif
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post #25 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Geoff4RFC View Post

+1

Speaker position and set up.
That, and the room. Proper imaging requires that you hear what's coming out of the speakers and not what's being reflected about the room. Pinpoint imaging is very easy to realize in a non-reflective room, and almost impossible to realize in a reverberant room. One of the reasons why toe-in generally helps with imaging is that you hear more sound direct from the speakers because less sound is reflected off the side walls.

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post #26 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry it took so long to upload a picture. I still haven't had a chance to take a picture. However, I do have a picture of my system, taken at my listening position. Pretend the bookshelf speakers weren't there, and that's my room. My room is perfectly rectangular (if we ignore the hallway entries). I can't take a picture of the back of the room yet, but it is perfectly flat, and it just has a sofa, bookshelf, drawer, and a table.

Yes, I know the center speaker is not in the center. I can't physically place it in the center because a supporting joint is preventing me from placing it center.

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post #27 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 07:43 PM
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Yep, those towers should be brought out from the wall some and in front of the furniture. As Bill mentioned, reflection points. You have a few 1st order reflections going on there.

Once you have them brought out, toe them in the axes cross either in front, at your head, or just behind you. Try all three and see what sounds best to you.

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post #28 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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What's first order reflection?
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post #29 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 08:18 PM
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From looking at that picture, it appears to be a combination of you setup and the number of reflective surfaces in your room.

1: Depending on the distance from your seating position to the center console, your speakers are likely too close together. Optimally, you want an Equidistant Triangle between your Left and Right speakers and your central seating position. That means, if your seating position is 6 feet away from your Left and your Right speakers, you want your left and your right speakers to be 6 feet apart from each other. After acheiving the Equidistant Triangle, you want to Tow In your speakers so that the tweeters are pointing directly at the center of your seating position so as to have a direct line from the speakers to your ears.

2: You have a ton of reflective surafaces to defeat. You are gettin reflections from the back wall. You need to pull your speakers at least 1 foot away from there. You are getting reflections from the wooden floor. You need a throw rug here to help absorb reflections from the floor. You are getting reflections from the closet to the right of your entertainment center. It is also creating a "corner" which significantly increases the reflections coming from there. That needs to go away if at all possible.

3: Your center speaker needs to go center (which you've acknowledged) and come up. Is there any way your can wall-mount the TV (It looks a little big...what size is it?) so that you can put your center speaker on the top shelf and centralize it?

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post #30 of 84 Old 08-06-2013, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
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What's first order reflection?

The first thing the sound waves will bounce off of, the tall cabinet and the console and the PC tower.

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