• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Speakers that produce astonishing soundstaging/imaging?

gn77b

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2020
Messages
72
Likes
61
I'm posting this for a friend who's in the market for new speakers but currently doesn't have the time to research as much as he'd like.

A bit of background, he has some mid priced (~about EUR 2k new) floorstanders made by a company that's completely obscure to me, I can't even remember the name right now except that they're made in the Netherlands. They sound detailed but IMO lack bass (especially for the size) and I'd characterize the staging as a wall of sound. Especially no depth. We listened to them in a few different rooms with different electronics but the signature remained unchanged. Definitely not something I would prefer, especially over my speakers. A friend of his who used to work for a radio station and has presumably some exposure to quality audio visited and said the same thing, which finally made him want to upgrade.

Now, this may be controversial to some but in my limited experience spatial qualities of sound are an intrinsic quality of the speakers. Positioning helps to a point and electronics can blur the stage, especially at higher volumes. But I've never had an experience where speakers were transformed beyond recognition by electronics.

Since my days when I used to have the occasion to listen to various systems regularly, visit audio shows etc are a distant memory, I can't recommend him anything, especially since he's willing to spend a few thousand euros. But his willingness to upgrade made me want to post this for him, since I happen to think spectacularly spatial sound is the one thing that misses in most audio systems. This doesn't need to be about this specific recommendation (although I hope that it can help narrow the search) but anyone willing to share about their experiences with this is welcome.
 
Last edited:

eddantes

Senior Member
Joined
May 15, 2020
Messages
389
Likes
649
I am sorry to disapoint - but these qualities, soundstage and imaging, are very much a result of speaker-room interaction. Electronics will have little to nothing to contribute to this conversation - as good electronics will simply transparently convey whats in the recording.

I recommend you peruse @hardisj website for his speaker reviews, he has two rooms one of which is a dedicated theater room and one a more normal domestic environment - and from what I gather from his "subjective" reviews (as well as my personal experience) is that a speaker can convey dramatically different portrayal depending on it's environment and speaker directivity.

In the end - a good speaker will perform well in both managed (sound treated) and natural environments.

If you are in the "fuck around and find out" camp, as I am - I recommend getting your hands on three types of speaker: open-baffle (or some di-pole), old fashion big full range (parasitic cone), well designed modern controlled directivity speaker (like a revel) and compare.
  • Dipole/Open Baffle - tons of reflections (will sound different in a live room or a treated room)
  • 8-12" dual cone/parasitic cone - will beam like lazers, forget reflections - if you get any they will be of a completely different tonality
  • Modern design - both direct and reflected sound of uniform tonality
Once you get a taste of all three - then you'll know what you prefer... After 40+ pairs of speakers in my house - I now use Revels (I still keep some others for the occasional fun factor or nostalgia).

P.S. Having said that - I am on the hunt for some reasonably priced Mirage M1s - just cause... :)
 

DanielT

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
2,657
Likes
2,079
Location
Sweden - Слава Україні
These are quite extreme when it comes to spreading the sound.I have never heard any omnis but I can imagine that they would be fun to plug in every now and then, when you want that sound.:) Maybe good for home theater?

Planets-gruppe-2017 (1).jpg



Attached pictures show how the sound ideal changed over time. Speaker manufacturer Stig Carlsson's models. His speakers got more of a more direct sound over time.

Nowadays, waveguides are popular in tweeters, so sound preferences obviously change over time.:)

Attached photos:
Sonab OA-5 Type 2 (with four tweeters in each speaker), from the early 1970s. Sweden's best-selling speakers of all time.

Carlsson OA-52.2, from 1996.(one tweeter )

Edit:
Of course subwoffer, but it is in the nature of things how the low bass frequencies are spread out in the room. :)
 

Attachments

  • Sonab-OA-5-Typ-2-46738-(2) (2).jpeg
    Sonab-OA-5-Typ-2-46738-(2) (2).jpeg
    92.9 KB · Views: 80
  • Sonab-OA-5-Typ-2-46738.jpeg
    Sonab-OA-5-Typ-2-46738.jpeg
    154.1 KB · Views: 87
  • OA522-1 (1).jpg
    OA522-1 (1).jpg
    22.3 KB · Views: 90
Last edited:

DVDdoug

Major Contributor
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
1,005
Likes
1,221
And... Since soundstage/imaging is an illusion, I assume different people experience it differently (I NEVER get a good soundstage with headphones) and different listeners may not agree that Speaker-A has better imaging than Speaker-B (even in the same room).
 
OP
G

gn77b

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2020
Messages
72
Likes
61
I am sorry to disapoint - but these qualities, soundstage and imaging, are very much a result of speaker-room interaction.
For one, I listened to my speakers in 4 different rooms/houses. These rooms are as different as imaginable, ranging from my small typical European living room where they are placed against the long side (not ideal at least theoretically) to a large, non-rectangular room in a house where they were placed far from any wall or piece of furniture. I'm sure I could recognize my speakers in any of those rooms. I suspect that somehow our brain is capable (to a point) of extracting the spatial information even in non-ideal environments. And we tested my friend's speakers in my house once, no dramatic change compared to his house. Mine do soundstage and imaging better, period. Hell, I once heard very good soundstaging in an audio showroom located in a mall where our seats were placed against a friggin glass wall. I'm not saying the room doesn't play a role but there seems to be definitely something intrinsic to the speakers which I guess has to do with the directivity pattern.

As for electronics, with speakers of low sensitivity and misbehaved impedance many amps crumble at high volumes and that becomes obvious especially in terms of spatial information. This was clear as daylight during a listening session where the only amp capable of driving some 83 dB W/m speaker was the one where the transformer filled half of the case. And most if not all manufacturers fail to provide the relevant details as max output current. With the typical audiophile speakers of low sensitivity and sometimes weird impedances output power in a resistive 4 ohm load means nothing.
 

ROOSKIE

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
1,246
Likes
2,194
Location
Minneapolis
I have used and tested many speakers.
You must listen in your room.

That room geometry and speaker pairing is really what you are listening to.
Plus two ears and a brain (and a likely a lot of biases and imagination)and so some real differences can occur in how this all adds up.
Some speakers will sound sound dull in one room and bright in another, which very much affects staging/imaging.
Some rooms have speaker placement that requires they are close to walls and other have much more space.
Some folks like a laid back vocal, other want very upfront vocals.
Some like a huge diffuse sound, others laser focused.

You said no wall of sound, so maybe you are heading toward more pin point imaging and maybe narrower directivity.
KEF R3 or similar? Maybe KEF reference 1 if in budget.

The wall of sound is somewhat popular these days, I think.

Maybe try some dipole models as suggested previously, which I don't think have ever been tested here.

I recently moved and one speaker in particular that I loved for it's spatial qualities and overall presentation of a "stage" in my old room sounds very different in this new room. So different I no longer really care for it. Again just food for trying a few options one you have made some educated guess as to where to start
Another example is my JBL 4309 set. Something about they way they present sound and they way they engage my room makes me so happy and excited to listen and they sound so "real". Yet they do have a bit of that wall of sound style. While my KEF R3 set has much more pinpoint imaging and more layering and I deff enjoy that differently. They don't sound quite as real to me though, more like a superb recording playback device while the JBL set sounds more like passion/live music. In any case both speakers sound very very good yet very different spatially.

I am not sure how the electronics "blurred the stage". Perhaps, likely the amp was clipping, the speakers starting to distort/compress/overload or/and the room was overloaded. It may also be that at some SPL you began to realize the speakers or the recording just don't actually sound that good.
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
14,646
Likes
23,725
These are quite extreme when it comes to spreading the sound.I have never heard any omnis but I can imagine that they would be fun to plug in every now and then, when you want that sound.:) Maybe good for home theater?

View attachment 178784


Attached pictures show how the sound ideal changed over time. Speaker manufacturer Stig Carsson's models. His speakers got more of a more direct sound over time.

Nowadays, waveguides are popular in tweeters, so sound preferences obviously change over time.:)

Attached photos:
Sonab OA-5 Type 2 (with four tweeters in each speaker), from the early 1970s. Sweden's best-selling speakers of all time.

Carlsson OA-52.2, from 1996.(one tweeter )

Edit:
Of course subwoffer, but it is in the nature of things how the low bass frequencies are spread out in the room. :)
I'd like to see what sort of spin-o-rama those would produce!
 
OP
G

gn77b

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2020
Messages
72
Likes
61
I am not sure how the electronics "blurred the stage". Perhaps, likely the amp was clipping, the speakers starting to distort/compress/overload or/and the room was overloaded. It may also be that at some SPL you began to realize the speakers or the recording just don't actually sound that good.
We tested a few amps with the aforementioned speakers (not mine, not his, just some other speakers). With 2 amps they sounded just ok. With the 3rd one the sound was simply layered and that was too obvious to attribute to imagination. Four people were present and all agreed in a matter of seconds. Like I said that amp had a huge (for its size) toroid. Likely not a coincidence. Oh and one more thing. At high but not ear bleeding volumes, the thermal protection kicked in after 10 minutes. That's how I know about the toroid, we removed the top of the case to cool it off so we could go on with our listening tests,

Look, believe anything you want but I'm not your kilobuck cable loving type but I know what my brain tells me. And both me and my friend agree that, unlike my speakers, his sound detailed but don't convey spatial information very well. They have a distinct signature.

DSP... I'm not against it, the typical audiophile BS of leaving the signal pure is just that, BS. But since I never tested one of those Dirac Live or whatever room correction systems... who knows. After all they just want to sell you something, just like any other audiophile BS company does. And since we're in a science-based forums I hope everyone agrees that not everything can be corrected with DSP.
 

mightycicadalord

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Nov 10, 2021
Messages
542
Likes
499
I mostly end up with box speakers, and have determined that the biggest difference in imaging with most comes down to the whether they have a waveguide or not. I really like how non-waveguide or very shallow waveguided tweeters sound.
 

fordiebianco

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
203
Likes
363
Location
Essex, UK
What about Larsens? They are made to stand next to the wall and use it to improve soundstage. Heard them once: quite impressive.
 

skymusic20

Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2020
Messages
47
Likes
26
Isn't that soundstage and imaging also have a lot to do with this or that particular recording?
 

DanielT

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
2,657
Likes
2,079
Location
Sweden - Слава Україні
What about Larsens? They are made to stand next to the wall and use it to improve soundstage. Heard them once: quite impressive.
That's right, Larsen. Disciple to Stig Carlsson mentioned in my first post in this thread. You can see where he got his inspiration from.:)


Another in the gang around Stig Carlsson is this person,
Peter Bremen, who now makes these:

 

Attachments

  • larsen_9 (1).png
    larsen_9 (1).png
    183.2 KB · Views: 71
  • shot_2022-01-13_21-14-50.png
    shot_2022-01-13_21-14-50.png
    2.2 MB · Views: 75
  • OA58-2.jpg
    OA58-2.jpg
    179.6 KB · Views: 73
Last edited:

DanielT

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
2,657
Likes
2,079
Location
Sweden - Слава Україні

Schollaudio

Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2021
Messages
58
Likes
28
A under 7" two way crossed 2Kish to a wave guide tweeter properly positioned. Attributes like good dynamic range and low distortion are desirable.
 
Last edited:
OP
G

gn77b

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2020
Messages
72
Likes
61
Isn't that soundstage and imaging also have a lot to do with this or that particular recording?
I'm assuming it goes without saying that we're comparing apples to apples. Like in testing with the same recordings.
 

tvrgeek

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 8, 2020
Messages
1,017
Likes
538
Location
North Carolinia
Flat and lack of space are sometimes a slightly depressed midrange. Might look very carefully at that before swapping.
As far as imaging, there are two sets of factors in my experience. Coherence of the speaker, management of diffraction etc. And the other is reflective surfaces within two feet. After doing some treatment in my last house, I about jumped when the first sound came from OUTSIDE the width of the speakers. The speakers were nothing special, just some RS series Daytons and soft dome Seas tweets, LR4 acoustic @ 2200. No special attention to offset.
 

ROOSKIE

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
1,246
Likes
2,194
Location
Minneapolis
We tested a few amps with the aforementioned speakers (not mine, not his, just some other speakers). With 2 amps they sounded just ok. With the 3rd one the sound was simply layered and that was too obvious to attribute to imagination. Four people were present and all agreed in a matter of seconds. Like I said that amp had a huge (for its size) toroid. Likely not a coincidence. Oh and one more thing. At high but not ear bleeding volumes, the thermal protection kicked in after 10 minutes. That's how I know about the toroid, we removed the top of the case to cool it off so we could go on with our listening tests,

Look, believe anything you want but I'm not your kilobuck cable loving type but I know what my brain tells me. And both me and my friend agree that, unlike my speakers, his sound detailed but don't convey spatial information very well. They have a distinct signature.

DSP... I'm not against it, the typical audiophile BS of leaving the signal pure is just that, BS. But since I never tested one of those Dirac Live or whatever room correction systems... who knows. After all they just want to sell you something, just like any other audiophile BS company does. And since we're in a science-based forums I hope everyone agrees that not everything can be corrected with DSP.
I would try your speakers in his room.
It will give you a feel for how the two rooms affect a well known sound source.

I don't overuse DSP and it won't do anything for dispersion which is something that affects the soundstage/imaging drastically.
DSP will help clean up the in room sound especially below 300hrz which may help with imaging and stage particularly in the sense you won't be distracted by the roughness/resonances and free to focus more on imaging ECT.

I use mainly class D amps now so due to efficiency they don't usually have the heavy parts.
What amplifiers did you use and which one did you find exelled in special presentation.

I really appreciate stereo effects and when they are presented well in a good recording, so I do understand why you want to maximize such elements.
 
Top Bottom