Originally Posted by artur9
Jim, I don't recall seeing the process you go through to maximize your soundstage solidity et al. Did I miss that?
Clearly, level matching L+R is part of it. You also did mention setting toe-in. Are there test tones you use?
Originally Posted by AustinJerry
I follow the same general guidelines you mentioned. I place a piece of cardboard approximately two feed behind the MLP with a vertical line representing the midpoint between the left and right speakers. I then use a laser pointer to adjust toe-in so it is on the center line, crossing just behind the MLP.
Analyzing the soundstage is a topic that I have struggled with for quite some time. My ability to analyze audio depends on being able to devise A/B tests that I can toggle back and forth. I can't, for example, listen to a music passage, stand up, adjust toe-in, sit down and listen to the same music passage, and assess audible changes to the soundstage attributable to the change. I don't know why this is difficult for me, but it is.
So, for those of you with Golden Ears, walk me through how you assess a system's soundstage. Do you have a particular piece of music you are very familiar with? What exactly do you listen for? Is your audio memory good enough that you can adjust something and immediately assess the impact of the change?
If someone were able to coach me through how to optimize my soundstage, I would be forever indebted. Wouldn't this be good advice for anyone reading this thread?
I don't think I answered either one your inquires properly, so let me unpack my thoughts a bit more.
For me, it does start with a lot of careful listening. What I listen for is several fold:
1) That middle is middle
2) A balance of images over a range of different listening material in terms of equal amounts of image locations from extreme left to extreme right
3) Clarity and/or definition of images through different frequency ranges
4) The relationship of depth vs width of soundstage
This is my starting point. Over the previous months and years, there have been points where either the left or right seemed biased in terms of amounts of perceived images and/or there locations. Getting this right in terms of perception is tricky certainly. But evenness and balance from a perceptual point of view I think is the ultimate goal.
Let me speak a little more about each of the above:
1) The two items that I find most to dominate the exact middle are vocals and bass guitar in rock music. While this is certainly not always where these items appear, its fairly easy to tell when they are supposed to be in the middle vs those occasions where they obviously are supposed to appear elsewhere.
2) People have mentioned source material where a sound moves or is panned from extreme right to left. Where the sound first appears and disappears gives some sense of your extreme L & R image boundaries and how smoothly the sound mitigates across the soundstage. I find that I must listen to several of these for how far L & R they begin and end is not always the same in every recording, or intended to be.
I also listen carefully to middle left, middle right, far left and far right. When things are a bit off, there is a tendency for most images to appear either left, right or middle, with few to no images appearing elsewhere. Toe-in and speaker to speaker distance both seem to have some effect on this. Addtionally, at least on my system, there seems to be some trade off between the soundstage width and clarity of image location. The wider I make the stage, the broader the image sizes. A reduced width seems to help image localization and pinpoint location.
3) related to 2), I like to listen to how say, cymbals (treble) vs voices (midrange) vs drums (bass) pan or locate themselves across the stage and how defined they are. In my experience, the lower the frequncy of the instrument in question, the broader the image and less defined the location is in space to a certain extent.
4) The most affecting factor to this seems to be the shape of your speaker to speaker to LP triangle. In terms of room treatment, ceiling and floor seem to more affect depth, where sidewall treatment most affects width. Contrary to many folks recommendation, having your speakers right up against or very near the front wall reduces depth in my experience. The argument against me most cited is that soffit mounted speakers dont suffer from depth deprivation. I cant explain this apparent contradiction. Furthermore, I have never heard a soffit speaker mounted system.