I've seen this said several times in this thread... that soundstage and imaging information is in the recording. I have no doubt that, if the imaging information doesn't exist in the recording, it can't, (and shouldn't) exist in the playback. Yet, IME, when imaging and soundstage information does exist in a recording, different speakers portray that imaging information quite differently. Some will sound like all the "images" are emanating directly from the speakers, i.e., like the speakers are the actual sound sources. Others will sound like the soundstage is huge, but the placement of individual instruments is vague and imprecise. Others still, will have "pinpoint" imaging of individual instruments, groups of instruments, and voices. In those systems, the soundstage is usually more compressed.
Sounds that are recorded in "dual-mono" will portray sonic "images" that sound as if they are originating from a point directly between the two speakers, (given the pre-conditions that the speakers are equidistant to the listener, level-matched and that the listener is precisely located at the central listening position.) If those conditions are met, the central image can be an uncanny point source... or it can be an excessively wide and imprecise image that sounds like the singers mouth is 10 feet wide... and this distinction is very much dependent on the speaker system.
In all these instances, when the exact same material is reproduced on different speakers, the SPEAKERS portray the imaging differently. I have listened to dozens, maybe hundreds, of speaker system in my 65 years of life and they all image differently. When I want to evaluate the imaging capabilities of a system, I will use one specific recording to do so, Chant
, by FourPlay.
The very first note is a powerful strike of a floor tom. The apparent "size" of the note tells a lot about the imaging. Then there is a left to right pan of a set of bells. On some systems they "jump" from the left side to the right side. On other systems they smoothly pan between the speakers, as if the percussionist is swiping the bells from left to right. And on some other systems, the bells don't pan at all, the whole string of bells just "exists" in the front of the room. There are vocals and multiple other instruments that take up space in the recording, and their apparent "images" can be precisely located or imprecisely indistinct, depending on the speaker system involved.
In any event, IME, there is way more to it than just having the information available in the recording, and the speaker system is the primary determinant of the quality of the imaging, (when the information exists.)