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Speakers that produce astonishing soundstaging/imaging?

ZolaIII

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I think JBL L100 (and L100 Classic) would do nice (as possible) regarding mentioned.
 

Schollaudio

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The purpose of the thread is to narrow down the search. He'll likely buy used locally and audition first. Maybe I'll go with him. No way he'll buy 100% based on what I'll tell him and I explicitly told told him not to fall in love with some model. It's easy to go down that rabbit hole.

Now, I never posted about my experiences. A few random ones.

I remember when I visited my last audio show. There was this room where some Sonus Fabers were playing. Can't recall the model except they were black, narrow, relatively small floorstanders and one of their cheaper models. It was the only room where I heard wow soundstage and imaging in that show. And that in a hotel room.

Another time was with Dynaudio Contour bookshelves, at someone's house. There was sound clearly emanating from outside the speakers. Typical rectangular, relatively empty living room with no treatment. But the owner said he was only able to achieve that with very careful placement, in his words a few centimeters would make a difference. That sound emanating from outside the speakers was present only with some songs, that obviously doesn't exist in all songs.

There is a distant memory from a B&W dealership that some of their upper range bookshelves were able to achieve a very credible sense of space compared to some of their much cheaper models but the memory is very blurry.

Some large Raidho speakers at someone's house. The space was far from ideal, being an attic. What surprised me was lack of real bass but that's likely because of the space. But they were able to project the sound very credibly, they gave the sensation that sounds were floating in the air and there was a definite notion of size to them.

The most expensive system I've ever listened to was comprised of some top of the line Triangle speakers with Accuphase electronics. I'd say about EUR 100k new total. Interestingly, soundstage wasn't the best I've heard but it compensated in all other areas.

Now for my speakers. I was never able to achieve that outside the speakers effect but the sound never seems to come from them, it's clearly detached from the box, it's as if it's coming from behind them mostly. And depth is there with the songs that have it. Imaging is very good, it's as if I can point a laser beam to where sounds are coming from although the sound is never in your face. Never achieved this sound with other speakers I've owned. I'd guess it's what audiophiles call not sounding boxy.

Oh and my PC speakers are some small, crappy bluetooth Edifiers. They do present some spatiality. I once tried them in the living room just for giggles and was surprised that they can sound half-decent. I can't understand why a lot of people watch movies using the crappy built-in TV speakers and complain about the sound in reviews while such things as the wireless Edifiers exist and are far better. OTOH for some people their phones are Instagram devices and they ask for directions when they get lost. I guess that's why most people aren't audiophiles but I digress.

Others aren't worth mentioning because the auditions were too hurried to draw conclusions or there's not much to tell.

Overall, what would I choose based on my experiences? The Raidhos but with fixed bass. I was close to buying some of their small siblings once but changed my mind. And there's definitely something about those Sonus Fabers. Unfortunately that was the single SF model I've ever heard but based on what some people I like to trust said they are among the best speakers out there, especially the ones from the Franco Serblin era.
A person buying used doesn't have a specific choice, they have to choose from what comes on the market locally or pay to ship.

the BLUF is... good on axis, off axis and phase response which is easy to do with a decent small two way that's well positioned in the room, as well as proper listening position. The same things talked about for decades, nothing new, nothing special, no need to be ridiculous. Although being ridiculous can be fun.

Find a decent small two way with stands or tower, add a cheap subwoofer if desired and be done. Look at the reviews here or go to Parts express for cheap decent choices.

that said, some of the best SS&I I've heard was with giant 1930s RCA horns in a large room. I hear wonderful SS&I with my 15" plus horns and in a three way with 6.5" mids and 30mm tweeters (esentally a small two way with big bass driver).
 

DanielT

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....that said, some of the best SS&I I've heard was with giant 1930s RCA horns in a large room. I hear wonderful SS&I with my 15" plus horns and in a three way with 6.5" mids and 30mm tweeters (esentally a small two way with big bass driver).
Speaking of horns, I like how he ends the text of the ad::)

The speakers are now for sale as I want to try something else that also takes up space.
Lol.
(I do not know the seller)


There's something special about horn. Regardless of the sound quality (which of course varies), it's that visual impression.:p
 

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BenB

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In my opinion (as a longtime dipole owner & dealer and bipole loudspeaker manufacturer) if the backwave arrives too soon, clarity is degraded. Imo you typically want dipole speakers to be at least three feet out from the wall, and preferably five feet or more. If that's not possible then you may need to aggressively treat the backwave with diffusion or angled reflectors or (imo as a last resort) absorption. Aggressive toe-in can also help as that correspondingly toes-out the backwave energy thereby increasing the effective reflection path length, but not all dipole speakers work well with aggressive toe-in.

Imo the primary advantage of a good, well set-up dipole speaker is that extra dose of relatively late-onset, spectrally-correct reverberant energy contributed by the backwave. (I dislike using absorption on the backwave energy as then it is no longer spectrally correct). The backwave energy can improve timbre and soundstage depth and even help tip the spatial presentation towards the venue cues (on the recording) being perceptually dominant, as opposed to the small-room cues (of your playback room) being perceptually dominant.

Another way to make the venue cues dominate the cues of the playback room is to remove or drastically reduce the early reflections in the playback room. However, if you remove all those reflections, you'll be left with something that's rather unsatisfying, and has an unnatural, narrow soundstage. That's just a limitation of stereo sound.

In my experience, the best compromise is to remove reflections that don't benefit our sense of soundstage and envelopment, while keeping the ones that do. Horizontal reflections from the side-walls will typically subjectively improve the listening experience assuming they are well balanced and not too early (less than 5 ms delay). The only benefit to floor and ceiling reflections is a slight darkening of the perceived spectral balance. Basically they keep things from sounding too bright. However, the manufacturers could build in a small spectral tilt to the sound, or users can EQ to taste, to compensate for that. The reflection off the front wall (behind the speakers and in front of the listener) can add a sense of depth, but they are covering up (or competing with) any cues in the recording.

The best speaker I've ever heard for allowing the venue cues to effectively transport the listener to another space are my own on-wall line array speakers, which I call Radicals (Reflection and Diffraction Controlling Loudspeakers). As line arrays, they drastically reduce the floor and ceiling reflections across a very broad frequency range (basically from Schroeder frequency up to the limits of human hearing). Since they are on-wall speakers that incorporate the wall as an extension of the baffle, they have no delayed front-wall reflections. All the drivers have wide dispersion over the frequency ranges they are used, so the sidewall reflections are well balanced spectrally.

The result is incredibly detailed sound, with a wide soundstage, as well as a very natural presentation. The extent to which the room disappears and the venue cues take over is quite substantial. In fact, it can be a bit jarring jumping from a recording in one venue to a recording in another venue, because it takes our hearing a few seconds to get used to effectively being in another space. Also, transient aspects to music, such as hammer strikes on a piano come through without the dulling effect that early reflections typically add.

Here's excerpts from a review that Dennis Murphy posted after auditioning them:

Dennis Murphy said:
After listening to my own Philharmonic Audio test CD, I was convinced that the basic sound signature of the Radical was as neutral as any I had heard, and I also sensed a more immediate presentation of the recording venue, be it a studio or concert hall. The sound was simply cleaner, with superior differentiation of individual instruments and voices.

...

I had a much greater sensation that I was listening through the Radicals into the recording venue. Unlike my experience with so many controlled directivity speakers with wave guides or horns, I never sensed a constriction of the sound stage or any coloration.


Unfortunately, there's nothing on the market currently that combines these attributes the way my speakers do. That's something I'm trying to address.

Edit:
I try not to be negative, but I'll add a couple things to be cautious of. Don't assume that absorption treatment makes a reflection go away. As others have mentioned, they typically only absorb the higher frequencies. Also, don't assume that a horn speaker makes reflections go away. They are typically only effective over a limited frequency range, and even in that range they often have a dispersion that is too wide to reduce floor and ceiling reflections substantially.
 
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DanielT

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Another way to make the venue cues dominate the cues of the playback room is to remove or drastically reduce the early reflections in the playback room. However, if you remove all those reflections, you'll be left with something that's rather unsatisfying, and has an unnatural, narrow soundstage. That's just a limitation of stereo sound.

In my experience, the best compromise is to remove reflections that don't benefit our sense of soundstage and envelopment, while keeping the ones that do. Horizontal reflections from the side-walls will typically subjectively improve the listening experience assuming they are well balanced and not too early (less than 5 ms delay). The only benefit to floor and ceiling reflections is a slight darkening of the perceived spectral balance. Basically they keep things from sounding too bright. However, the manufacturers could build in a small spectral tilt to the sound, or users can EQ to taste, to compensate for that. The reflection off the front wall (behind the speakers and in front of the listener) can add a sense of depth, but they are covering up (or competing with) any cues in the recording.

The best speaker I've ever heard for allowing the venue cues to effectively transport the listener to another space are my own on-wall line array speakers, which I call Radicals (Reflection and Diffraction Controlling Loudspeakers). As line arrays, they drastically reduce the floor and ceiling reflections across a very broad frequency range (basically from Schroeder frequency up to the limits of human hearing). Since they are on-wall speakers that incorporate the wall as an extension of the baffle, they have no delayed front-wall reflections. All the drivers have wide dispersion over the frequency ranges they are used, so the sidewall reflections are well balanced spectrally.

The result is incredibly detailed sound, with a wide soundstage, as well as a very natural presentation. The extent to which the room disappears and the venue cues take over is quite substantial. In fact, it can be a bit jarring jumping from a recording in one venue to a recording in another venue, because it takes our hearing a few seconds to get used to effectively being in another space. Also, transient aspects to music, such as hammer strikes on a piano come through without the dulling effect that early reflections typically add.

Here's excerpts from a review that Dennis Murphy posted after auditioning them:




Unfortunately, there's nothing on the market currently that combines these attributes the way my speakers do. That's something I'm trying to address.

Edit:
I try not to be negative, but I'll add a couple things to be cautious of. Don't assume that absorption treatment makes a reflection go away. As others have mentioned, they typically only absorb the higher frequencies. Also, don't assume that a horn speaker makes reflections go away. They are typically only effective over a limited frequency range, and even in that range they often have a dispersion that is too wide to reduce floor and ceiling reflections substantially.
Yours, I suspect:

15006 (1).png


then it becomes a ..
 

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gn77b

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Old Infinity Reference series used a large vertical array of tweeters and mid drivers, but not in dipole arrangement. Never heard speakers from that line but it's something that's always intrigued me. I once listened to some model from the Kappa series but the surrounds had been replaced so I don't know if what I listened to was the original model or a tweaked version of it.
 

audio2design

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As line arrays, they drastically reduce the floor and ceiling reflections across a very broad frequency range (basically from Schroeder frequency up to the limits of human hearing).

Effective range is related to line length. With typical room heights and hence speaker height, about 2.5m, the effective frequency range where the vertical dispersion is reduced is from 400-500Hz and up. That's not a hard line.
 

BenB

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Effective range is related to line length. With typical room heights and hence speaker height, about 2.5m, the effective frequency range where the vertical dispersion is reduced is from 400-500Hz and up. That's not a hard line.
The interesting thing about line arrays in rooms is that they don't necessarily follow free field propagation. The virtual sources below the floor and above the ceiling can work to effectively extend the array. I've measured the frequency content of the reflections arriving at the listening position from the floor and ceiling, and found they appear to be suppressed about 7.5 dB even at 200 Hz. I also extensively simulated the dispersion characteristics, with floor and ceiling reflections as an important part of the optimization scheme during the design process.
I am curious about your last sentence. I'm not sure what you mean by a hard line in this context.
 

audio2design

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It's a soft transition from spherical radiator to cylindrical radiator not a hard transition. 7.5db seems very high in a typical room at 200Hz. How far away were you? I have done a lot in the past with line array for professional but not for home. You probably know but for others, always definitely need room EQ but I do not see that as a detriment.
 

gnarly

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I think the length of a floor-to-ceiling straight line array is a function of how close to the ceiling does the line extend to, and how truly reflective are the floor and ceiling, to help make the mirror reflections that supposedly create the "infinite line length".

My 7ft TC9 DIY lines definitely held vertical pattern to a lower frequency in an 8ft high room than in a 11ft room. Sorry i can't give the numbers, been a while since i built/played with them.



As far as the opening topic, what speakers excel at image and soundstage.......
I personally believe imaging and soundstage are kinda opposing phenomenon's.

I think best imaging comes from direct sound, from point-source type speakers;
and expanded sound stage/ ambiance, comes from multiple sources/arrivals, either from the speakers themselves and/or from room reflections.

So for me, the more omni a speaker is, the greater it's soundstage.
And the more point-source a speaker is, the better the image.
A single well designed point source like a MEH, makes the tightest image I've heard.
Next, in terms of maintaining tight imaging but expanding the size of the image, is two such MEH's, both running stereo summed to mono.

And then go to stereo, where in effect multiple sources come into play, and soundstaging begins .

On my remote, i keep the ability to switch between stereo and dual mono.
It amazes me how tracks typically sound better one way or another. And it usually comes down to does higher clarity sound best (dual mono), or does ambiance thrown in sound best (stereo).
Well made stereo tracks are a real treat imo (and rarer than i'd like).
If i want absolute clarity, i take a single speaker outdoors.
 

MattHooper

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I think the length of a floor-to-ceiling straight line array is a function of how close to the ceiling does the line extend to, and how truly reflective are the floor and ceiling, to help make the mirror reflections that supposedly create the "infinite line length".

My 7ft TC9 DIY lines definitely held vertical pattern to a lower frequency in an 8ft high room than in a 11ft room. Sorry i can't give the numbers, been a while since i built/played with them.



As far as the opening topic, what speakers excel at image and soundstage.......
I personally believe imaging and soundstage are kinda opposing phenomenon's.

I think best imaging comes from direct sound, from point-source type speakers;
and expanded sound stage/ ambiance, comes from multiple sources/arrivals, either from the speakers themselves and/or from room reflections.

So for me, the more omni a speaker is, the greater it's soundstage.
And the more point-source a speaker is, the better the image.
A single well designed point source like a MEH, makes the tightest image I've heard.
Next, in terms of maintaining tight imaging but expanding the size of the image, is two such MEH's, both running stereo summed to mono.

Having owned a variety of speaker designs, from di-poles, to omnis (MBL) and regular "box" designs, I see the point you are making. Though I found I could get the MBLs to image very close to a "normal" speaker in terms of image focus, while maintaining their lead in a sense of 3 dimensionality (I have good control over the reflectivity of my room).

That said, thinking about your image specificity/soundstage size dichotomy: The best combination I've ever had in my room came from my previous Thiel 3.7 speakers - Jim Thiels final flagship. Those speakers simultaneously could produce just about the largest "room melting away" soundstage I've heard in my place - when the source allowed, not as a default - yet also had the most focused, dense, specific imaging of any speaker. Like you could reach in and pick up the instrument itself.

I only got rid of them because they were slightly too big for my room. The slightly smaller Thiel 2.7s I replaced them with do a very large soundstage, with very specific, dense imaging too, though don't quite "disappear" as sound sources to the degree I got with the 3.7s.

Joseph Perspective speakers, which I also own, are well known for casting an enormous soundstage with excellent imaging. However, in direct comparison with the Thiel speakers the sonic images of the Josephs are slightly less focused, but also less corporeal less dense and "solid." But that's the case with most speakers I compare to the Thiels.

The imaging from most speakers, to my ear, has a sort of ghostly "see through" quality - like holograms I can see "through" and wave my hand through like a ghost. Whenever I switch to the Thiels from any other speaker it's like being at the optometrist getting my eyes checked, where the lenses slowly click the chart letters in to a more precise shape. The Thiels seem to organize and line up all the sonic information to it's right place, clicking in that final bit of precision and clarity. The result also seems to be a sonic density to the images, like they occupy real space. It's kind of tempting to attribute this to the time/phase coherent design, but I'm aware of the controversy over the relevance of that, and frankly I have no idea what exactly is responsible.
 

Miker 1102

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I am a fan of mirage line of speakers. I sinh the praises of the omd line especially the fives everywhere. Fins me a better set if surrounds than those.
 

Kvalsvoll

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The imaging from most speakers, to my ear, has a sort of ghostly "see through" quality - like holograms I can see "through" and wave my hand through like a ghost. Whenever I switch to the Thiels from any other speaker it's like being at the optometrist getting my eyes checked, where the lenses slowly click the chart letters in to a more precise shape. The Thiels seem to organize and line up all the sonic information to it's right place, clicking in that final bit of precision and clarity. The result also seems to be a sonic density to the images, like they occupy real space.
This is what I find so difficult to describe so that it is possible to understand; images that has a solid body.

Many speakers can create precise images when placed properly in a decent room, but usually there is a lack of solidity to the images, they are, like you describe it here, more like ghosts. When images appear like solid objects, realism is on a different level.
 

Snarfie

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Vandersteen model 1. When i bought them i was not realy impressed than i followed the fu..ing manual an spends some hours to place them correctly. Suddenly the soundstage imaging apeard miraculous. Since than their was no comparison/competition with other speakers that i could compare that produce such soundstage imaging as the Vandersteens did.
 
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beagleman

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I have one HUGE issue with the term or thing called "Soundstage" or "Imaging"


Yeah I get what it means and so on and have heard various speakers in various rooms sound different......BUT...

What constitutes HOW it should actually sound? I see guys raving about big soundstages and this and that and deep soundstage and so on, but is it PART of the actual intended sound or just a speaker OVER emphasizing some aspects?
 

beagleman

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I only got rid of them because they were slightly too big for my room. The slightly smaller Thiel 2.7s I replaced them with do a very large soundstage, with very specific, dense imaging too, though don't quite "disappear" as sound sources to the degree I got with the 3.7s.

Joseph Perspective speakers, which I also own, are well known for casting an enormous soundstage with excellent imaging. However, in direct comparison with the Thiel speakers the sonic images of the Josephs are slightly less focused, but also less corporeal less dense and "solid." But that's the case with most speakers I compare to the Thiels.
So are you saying a LARGE soundstage is preferable in a subjective way, OR, are you saying that is more accurate to the original recordings intention?
 

Snarfie

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So are you saying a LARGE soundstage is preferable in a subjective way, OR, are you saying that is more accurate to the original recordings intention
I have one HUGE issue with the term or thing called "Soundstage" or "Imaging"


Yeah I get what it means and so on and have heard various speakers in various rooms sound different......BUT...

What constitutes HOW it should actually sound? I see guys raving about big soundstages and this and that and deep soundstage and so on, but is it PART of the actual intended sound or just a speaker OVER emphasizing some aspects?

There are several interviews with John Atkinson from Stereophile were he try to explain sound-stage imaging around minute 13,10.


I had the experience using for the first time Vandersteen speakers (who are phase coherent build) as John Atkinson describe it is like a Veil is lifting a clear window where u almost can see the band. I would describe it as it got almost intimate you don't listen to the band you experience the band. However it was a pain to place them correctly took me a week. Most important addition was to correct them with DSP (Mathaudio Room EQ) for my horrible room acoustics. Curious thing is i did measure an correct several comparable column loudspeakers who where not build phase coherent but where corrected by the DSP (so phase coherent behavior must be restored) still they did not come close to the Vandersteen regarding imaging.
To give you an idea regarding my room acoustics i had to deal with here under my frequency response. There is so much hiss between voice an instruments that any imaging is hard to find.



5urblEV.jpg
 
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pseudoid

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The best combination I've ever had in my room came from my previous Thiel 3.7 speakers - Jim Thiels final flagship. Those speakers simultaneously could produce just about the largest "room melting away" soundstage I've heard in my place - when the source allowed, not as a default - yet also had the most focused, dense, specific imaging of any speaker. Like you could reach in and pick up the instrument itself.

I only got rid of them because they were slightly too big for my room. The slightly smaller Thiel 2.7s I replaced them with do a very large soundstage, with very specific, dense imaging too, though don't quite "disappear" as sound sources to the degree I got with the 3.7s.
I am saddened and you are the cause.:mad:
As I was reading your comments about Thiel(s) ownership, and I remembered that Thiel was a respected brand that I always kept in mind in case I became unhappy with my choice of speaker brands.
I said to myself: "Yeah! Whatever happened to Thiel?" and ended up reading this sad "audieulogy" about the brilliant mind of Jim Thiel.:(
 
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