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Generally Speaking: Bookshelfs or Towers produce better Imaging?

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Generally Speaking: Bookshelfs or Towers produce better Imaging?

Old 07-21-02, 01:48 PM
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Generally Speaking: Bookshelfs or Towers produce better Imaging?

i'm not really up on my audiophile terms, but i'm taking imaging to mean that quality where space seems to altered and specific sounds magically eminate from areas you can't understand (not in a bad way).
this may be what people mean by soundstage too, i'm not sure.

in any case, i'm looking for the opposite of boxy, highly localized sound.
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Old 07-21-02, 02:32 PM
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I would define imaging as the clarity of the content you are listening to. That everything is present and accounted for in the material, nothing is buried in the mix.

Soundstage, in the classic sense, is the perceived sound from your front mains. This is the width and depth of the sound from the main speakers.

For me personally if I were listening to music I would not want the sound to be coming from somewhere I couldn't perceive. That would detract from the music and not allow me to concentrate on what is trying to be conveyed.

Home theater is a bit of a different story because there are several schools of though as to how you should set it up. I live by the school of thought that movie soundtracks these days have specific programming in each speaker aimed at the listener. Others think the sound should be dispearsed so you can't pinpoint the source.

The best way to achieve this type of dispearsion is to use bi-pole or di-pole speakers. The out-of-phase configuration of these speakers will do exactly what you want. However the caveat is placement must be precise and the sweet spot is very small because any movment out of the sweet spot will change the dynamics of what you are hearing and you will lose sound.

Personally, I ike thing so precise I use the same speaker for all five speakers and the speakers use dual concentric drivers. 5 of the exact speaker using those drivers work in beautiful harmony with each other...especially when listening to DVD-Audio. I use Tannoy speakers which are about half the size as towers but much larger than bookshelf.
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Old 07-21-02, 08:13 PM
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You might want to audition some planer and ribbons to get an idea. Problem though is that if you aren't in the "sweet spot" they sound pretty bad.
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Old 07-21-02, 09:32 PM
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From the Stereophile glossary...

imaging The measure of a system's ability to float stable and specific phantom images, reproducing the original sizes and locations of the instruments across the soundstage. See "stereo imaging."

soundstaging, soundstage presentation The accuracy with which a reproducing system conveys audible information about the size, shape, and acoustical characteristics of the original recording space and the placement of the performers within it.


With box speakers, a smaller front baffle generally promotes more precise imaging---hence the trend toward narrow speakers. As a gross generalization small, bookshelf type speakers tend to offer better imaging than large speakers. But many factors influence imaging--time alignment, the crossover, etc.

Last edited by audrey; 07-21-02 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 07-22-02, 10:22 AM
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Originally posted by audrey
But many factors influence imaging--time alignment, the crossover, etc.
I agree and have found that the speaker brand is also a factor.
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Old 07-23-02, 02:34 AM
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In their classic sense, imaging and soundstage, or staging, were coined in the days of "HiFi", prior to the advent of home theater or even surround sound for that matter. They can easily be applied and carry the exact same meaning.

In layman's terms imaging basically refers to the "placement" of individual sound. In respect to a musical audio recording, if a vocalist was mixed at center, a lead guitar slightly left of that, bass guitar on the right, and so on, this is where it should sound like they are if your speakers are re-producing it accurately. When it comes to surround sound, does the car sound like it's moving left to right, or left rear to right front if that's what is happening on screen? Is the dialog coming from where the actor is positioned? Essentially is the sound where the source is?

Soundstage simply refers to the auditory sense of the environment. In a musical recording of a symphony in a concert hall, do you get the full sense of the depth, height, and width of the concert hall itself? In a movie, do you get the sense of being in the environment of the scene? For instance a scene in New York City, on a rainy day, on a busy sidewalk next to a busy street should give you all of those indications of being in that environment.

Ditto to the other postings about performance of loudspeaker designs. Here are some easy thing to listen for though: Close your eyes. Does the sound seem to eminate from beyond the speakers? Can you get a solid sensation of exact sound placement without movement on stationary sounds? Do you have a good sense of sound sources behind sound sources when it should be (example would be a drum set on a musical recording or a busy street behind an actor)? Does the sound extend above, to the sides and behind? And most succinctly, are the speakers transparent? When you close your eyes the speakers should "disappear" from an auditory sense.

Be aware that your electronics also play a role and can limit all of the above.
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