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How do we perceive “soundstage” and “imaging”?

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#1
So, engineers, scientists, and psychoacoustic specialists:
How do we perceive the spaciousness of a recording and how do companies, like headphone or in-ear makers, help create that sense of space?
 

Kal Rubinson

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#5
How do we perceive the spaciousness of a recording and how do companies, like headphone or in-ear makers, help create that sense of space?
I have not yet read the replies to your initial post but I question whether any headphones or in-ear phones actually can create or, rather, re-create a sense of space.
 

LTig

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#6
So, engineers, scientists, and psychoacoustic specialists:
How do we perceive the spaciousness of a recording
First you should ask how you can perceive the space surrounding you in real life. Short answer:
  • delay between arrival of a sound at the ears
  • change of frequency response by the head and the ears; see HRTF (head related transfer function)
 

majingotan

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#8
For speakers, room acoustics have a significant effect on sound stage and imaging. For IEMs like my CA Andromeda, some frequency tuning along with their custom acoustic chamber (TAEC) provides wide soundstage and imaging / sense of space. Other factors such as output impedance of an amp can affect the perceived sound stage due to frequency response
 

Doodski

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#9
MY Sennheiser headphones use a angled driver to aim into the ear.

"The “secret” behind the immersive sound of the HD 598SR is a special Sennheiser invention called ’Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement' technology – or E.A.R. It stands for specially positioned transducers inside the ear cups that channel audio signals directly into your ears. Resulting in a more realistic, spatial or ‘in room’ listening experience."
https://en-ca.sennheiser.com/headphone-home-audio-hifi-stereo-hd-598sr
 

PaulD

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#11
Hey I know Ville Pulkki! He does great work, his PhD is about VBAP, vector based amplitude panning, where you have a large array of speakers (say, 8-64) in a 2D-3D space and use triplets of speakers with different amplitudes. Sort of like normal stereo panning but in 2D with at least 3 speakers.

I do not really understand the OP questions... but to understand how humans perceive space then you could start by reading the wikipedia articles, explaining ITD, ILD, pinna effects and so on:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_localization
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perceptual-based_3D_sound_localization
There's plenty more info on the net where that came from.

Most recordings use volume and reverb level to "fake" a sense of space, unless it is a stereo mic'd recording where you get the natural ambience and space of the original ("live") performance. See https://www.dpamicrophones.com/mic-university/stereo-recording-techniques-and-setups
 

VintageFlanker

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#12
So, engineers, scientists, and psychoacoustic specialists:
How do we perceive the spaciousness of a recording and how do companies, like headphone or in-ear makers, help create that sense of space?
RTINGS has an interesting approach when reviewing headphones: https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/sound-quality/soundstage.
They are ones of the few with a proposal to measuring soundstage, while imaging seems a lot easier: https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/sound-quality/imaging

About speakers, I tend to believe that cohesive Off-Axis Response and tweeter dispersion are the keys.
 
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#15
I have not yet read the replies to your initial post but I question whether any headphones or in-ear phones actually can create or, rather, re-create a sense of space.
That’s one of the things I’m curious about. We always hear people talk about soundstage and imaging depth whenever they describe the sound signature of an IEM or HP. How is that accomplished and how do we hear that sense of space when the drivers are literally in our ear or just outside it?

Reverb and decay? Waiting for professional input. This topic interests me too.
I’ve seen those techniques used in music production to enhance the wideness of an instrument in a recording or recording itself. I wonder to what extent and how that effect influences our perception of the space?
 

Darkweb

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#16
I have not yet read the replies to your initial post but I question whether any headphones or in-ear phones actually can create or, rather, re-create a sense of space.
I have limited experience with headphones, but have some decent semi-open ones and electronics (Denon AHD-7000 and Fostex HP-A8). They do ok with soundstage width, but DEPTH is totally un-convincing with them. Recordings that throw off nice deep soundstages on my 2 channel rig just kind of sound weird on headphones. Like the performers are sort of behind my head, or vocals with depth just sound slightly lower in level.

Would be nice if some open-back guys with the sennheisers could chime in.
 

solderdude

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#17
There is a BIG difference between headstage (headphones) and soundstage (depth, 3D)

With speakers look into multichannel.
I have always had some extremely directional phase coherent speakers and always had an extremely pin-pointable depth in sound reproduction (only at 1 particular listening position spot in a conditioned room) which I could never achieve with non-directional speakers.
I have also heard a horn speaker that was quite directional in a large space that could recreate a large and stable soundstage, seemed room dependent with that one.
Just my experience. It may well differ from those of others.

With headphones there are many headphones around with mediocre headstage (left to right and in between) and a few decent ones that actually have a more spatially 'narrow' instrument separation so that instruments (when well recorded/panned) get a specific spot in the headstage and are easier to follow and stay on the assigned 'position' in the stereo image.
IME the angled drivers, especially those a bit further away from the ears perform best. Most likely because they make use of a bit more Concha effects.
To me the undisputed king here is HD800(S). When EQ'ed this pin-point effect does not diminish, hyper detail is less obvious though.
This tells me pinpointability (headstage ?) isn't necessarily FR dependent (within reason of course, it should be O.K.).

Binaural is fun for demos but music does not do it for me as it does for some others so also seems to be personal.

Have not heard the realizer but wasn't impressed with all the digital and analog 'trickery' that is out there and auditioned. It does some things well but screws up other aspects so tend to not use it. Others may find it great though.

Then there is dynamics which also differs in headphones which also helps in 'realism'.
I don't think it measurable with standard measurements. I also think the effect is 'personal' which is not helping either.

IME different amplifiers and DACs never seem to change anything in these aspects. Differences (to me) are transducers and acoustic space/positioning rather than signal (unless deliberate trickery is used).

Rtings wanted to rate it and thought pinna activation is key (from their HATS) and created a number based on measurements with and without pinna and took 2 headphones they felt had a good stereo image and made the average between those the 'target'. There is something to be said for this as I also believe Pinna activation is important (angled drivers at a distance) but don't think the 10kHz dip their specific HATS has is the key part here. But in my conversations I had with them they found correlation and rate on that aspect. A choice governed by the demand to be able to rate. There are some headphones with decent stereo image to me that score poorly and vv.

After all it is the brain that recreates the 'image' inside the head depending on its input of the many haircells and as different as humans can be and head/ear/earcanal shapes as well as training there will also be folks that do not perceive the same as others yet hear the same soundwaves. These just arrive slightly different and are not processed exactly the same either.

As always my findings and as perception is subjective my experiences may differ from those of others.
 
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Juhazi

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#18
I don't know if Pulkki helped Genelec, but they do have this software now (500€)
https://www.genelec.com/aural-id

Aural ID computes how your head, external ear and upper body affect and colour audio arriving from any given direction. This effect is called the Head-Related Transfer Function (HRTF), and is totally unique to every user. Aural ID models your personal head and upper torso features to calculate your own individual HRTF, delivering a file to you that then can be integrated into your audio workstation via a growing number of third-party plug-ins including those from Sparta, Noisemakers, SSA and Harpex. You’ll find your headphone listening experience becomes much more truthful and reliable, with a far more natural sense of space and direction.

After you upload a 360 degree video of your head and shoulder region from your mobile phone camera, Aural ID builds an accurate and detailed 3D model scaled to exactly the correct dimensions of your head and upper torso. From this, your personal HRTF is formed and delivered to you as an internationally recognised SOFA file format, which supports 44.1, 48 and 96 kHz sample rates and contains data for both ears in 836 different orientations.

https://assets.ctfassets.net/4zjnzn...f262c3/aural_id_user_manual-2019-05-14-v3.pdf
 

LTig

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#20
Sure but there are too few of those to be significant. I have some hope for the ATMOS/Sony 360 efforts.
I know but just wanted to state the fact that a very convincing soundstage experience with headphones is certainly possible. IME it's more convincing than 2 channel stereo via speakers.

I have to admit though that this works very good with radio dramas but not with music - at least I haven't heard yet a good dummy head recording of music.
 
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