Stereo Imaging Refinement, and How To Disappear* Speakers?

msgmsg Posts: 4,987
(*that title was a bit of a joke - I never knew one could use the word disappear as a verb with object - the magician then disappeared the card...) but I've heard it a few times recently and it makes me laugh

I think I've discovered an area of hi-fi I'm not sure I want to be aware of.

A couple of weeks ago I had my first experience with speakers disappearing.

A little background...

I've not been able successfully setup a full size system and experience profound stereo imaging. By profound stereo imaging, I mean these experiences where you can place the players on the sound stage in front of you. In lesser experiences, that placement is in 2D. Most of the time, I can get a strong center image, and I'll hear stuff channel-specific when it's obvious.

In the better imaging experiences, there's a depth element. As I understand it, one can even experience height in this as well.

Another area I've read about and not experienced is this report of sound-stage expanding past the outsides of the loudspeakers. I've only had that here and there, otherwise mostly inside.

So, a few weeks ago I started playing around with a set of Audioengine HD3 powered monitors I picked up from @markmarc . Set them up with a sub, and connected over USB to the Macbook Pro I use at my small desk in my main space for both work and play, along with a small Sunfire SDS8 sub to fill in the bottom.

I have never experienced imaging like I am with these little speakers. I sometimes hear sounds out past the side of the speaker, and from a point deeper in the room, as I mentioned on @Clipdat 's PS Audio amp review thread, sounding almost like voice thrown. Arresting is the word that comes to mind when this happens, because it literally stops me, and I look over to that area where the sound came from, and then I realize what's happening. It is a level of stereo enjoyment all new to me.

The speaker disappearing thing - that was strange and completely new, and unfortunately, a bit accidental. I've never experienced that before. I was sitting there enjoying the music one night in the early days experimenting with this setup, and it occurred to me that I couldn't locate the speaker. I was staring right at it, but there was no sound coming out of it! I had to actually lean in and put my ear to it to confirm that it was playing. I sat back and just shook my head, and remembered that that's something I've seen Skip talking about over the years, and I couldn't quite understand what it meant.

This is all great, but the problem is, it was sort of an accident, I can't quite seem to replicate it.

How the heck can a speaker disappear?
And are there any tricks to achieving this level of performance?
Can it only be had with certain levels of equipment, or can anyone with a decent setup get there?
Is it due to the channel separation in the system?

This setup is super modest right now. Basic USB cable out of the MBP into the HD3s' DAC. Cheap RCA to the sub. HD3s are sitting on some foam monitor pads (I think the height and angle here is what was getting me to that level of imaging, because I don't think I've had it again since adjusting the angle and height when I added the Audioengine "stands" on top of the foam)

I have questions.

Last side note here - have any of you headphone listeners ever experienced anything like this? I've never had any of this imaging sensation with headphones. Is it possible?
I disabled signatures.

Comments

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,990
    Verbing weirds language.

    3ja6uvbn6l8t.png
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,987
    @verb ^^^ haha
    I disabled signatures.
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,165
    IMO, speaker placement and acoustic treatments. Do room sweeps and adjust/treat until you get the midrange frequency response as flat as possible in your room.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 16,115
    Everything matters. However, the biggest influence is the speaker itself. Some do it well, others don't, and some others have moments.

    Suffice it to say there is a legitimate reason there is a market for five figure monitors.
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 21,321
    I have that every time I turn my system on. Imagine 6 foot tall, two foot wide boxes disappearing. I swear David Copperfield lives inside my stereo somewhere.
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with Pass Labs Xono Phono Preamp, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Goldfinger Diamond v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X0.2 three chassis preamp, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Pioneer Elite SC-LX701, Oppo UDP-205 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds.

    Saying that it's "too hard" to pursue your dreams is no different than admitting to yourself that you are too lazy to achieve them.

    “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
  • codycatalistcodycatalist Posts: 2,535
    edited March 6
    I get this with my 2Bs quite often...granted obviously they throw a huge soundstage. In my small room I RECENTLY (after some tweaks and additions) started getting depth, I have always had a wide and tall soundstage but the depth was something new. Everything got pulled back a little...and I like it.

    Have I ever thought to myself "Can I tell where the speakers are"...meh sometimes but nothing substantial. Headphones I always have great imaging and soundstage but I can't wrap my head around how they might disappear, you know besides me wearing them so long I forget they are on my head but I digress.

    What have I found that matters? Like Skip said...everything. Once I got a tube buffer* into my system the depth came in, the soundstage got wider and music just plain more enjoyable. I can't attribute it directly to the buffer*, it just is the combination I have going on right now. Crossovers finally breaking in, nice tubes that are broken in, my amp just so happens to mesh well with my Denon Pre. I'm...just...happy and content. There are things I want to improve but I am not at the point of being so critical of my sound all the time.

    As to what you can do to get that experience back, I think you answered your own question. Placement, that is the only thing that changed. Mess around with them, it's not like they are 200lb beasts. Experiment with placement from the back wall, toe in, angle them facing up or down. Just have fun, the rewards will come in time.

    *Tube buffer has a little gain so really more like a preamp but whatever. The external linear power supply helps i'm sure over the wall wart. I just haven't ever plugged it in with the supplied PS, I went straight into something better.
    Just a dude doing dude-ly things

    "Temptation is the manifestation of desire which equals necessity." - Mikey081057
    " I have always had a champange taste with a beer budget" - Rick88
    "Just because the thread is getting views don't mean much .. I like a good train wreck doesn't mean i want to be in one..." - pitdogg2
    "Those that don't know, don't know that they don't know." - heiney9
    "Audiophiles are the male equivalent of cat ladies." - Audiokarma Member
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,238
    That’s why I love my Dahlquist DQ-30i’s and DQM-9C monitors - they image like a mother and the soundstage is absolutely huge. They completely disappear.
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,987
    Thaaaat's what I'm talkin' about.
    Speaker manufacturers need to start putting lines like that in their marketing materials.
    I disabled signatures.
  • Joey_VJoey_V Posts: 7,072
    msg wrote: »
    (*that title was a bit of a joke - I never knew one could use the word disappear as a verb with object - the magician then disappeared the card...) but I've heard it a few times recently and it makes me laugh

    I think I've discovered an area of hi-fi I'm not sure I want to be aware of.

    A couple of weeks ago I had my first experience with speakers disappearing.

    A little background...

    I've not been able successfully setup a full size system and experience profound stereo imaging. By profound stereo imaging, I mean these experiences where you can place the players on the sound stage in front of you. In lesser experiences, that placement is in 2D. Most of the time, I can get a strong center image, and I'll hear stuff channel-specific when it's obvious.

    In the better imaging experiences, there's a depth element. As I understand it, one can even experience height in this as well.

    Another area I've read about and not experienced is this report of sound-stage expanding past the outsides of the loudspeakers. I've only had that here and there, otherwise mostly inside.

    So, a few weeks ago I started playing around with a set of Audioengine HD3 powered monitors I picked up from @markmarc . Set them up with a sub, and connected over USB to the Macbook Pro I use at my small desk in my main space for both work and play, along with a small Sunfire SDS8 sub to fill in the bottom.

    I have never experienced imaging like I am with these little speakers. I sometimes hear sounds out past the side of the speaker, and from a point deeper in the room, as I mentioned on @Clipdat 's PS Audio amp review thread, sounding almost like voice thrown. Arresting is the word that comes to mind when this happens, because it literally stops me, and I look over to that area where the sound came from, and then I realize what's happening. It is a level of stereo enjoyment all new to me.

    The speaker disappearing thing - that was strange and completely new, and unfortunately, a bit accidental. I've never experienced that before. I was sitting there enjoying the music one night in the early days experimenting with this setup, and it occurred to me that I couldn't locate the speaker. I was staring right at it, but there was no sound coming out of it! I had to actually lean in and put my ear to it to confirm that it was playing. I sat back and just shook my head, and remembered that that's something I've seen Skip talking about over the years, and I couldn't quite understand what it meant.

    This is all great, but the problem is, it was sort of an accident, I can't quite seem to replicate it.

    How the heck can a speaker disappear?
    And are there any tricks to achieving this level of performance?
    Can it only be had with certain levels of equipment, or can anyone with a decent setup get there?
    Is it due to the channel separation in the system?

    This setup is super modest right now. Basic USB cable out of the MBP into the HD3s' DAC. Cheap RCA to the sub. HD3s are sitting on some foam monitor pads (I think the height and angle here is what was getting me to that level of imaging, because I don't think I've had it again since adjusting the angle and height when I added the Audioengine "stands" on top of the foam)

    I have questions.

    Last side note here - have any of you headphone listeners ever experienced anything like this? I've never had any of this imaging sensation with headphones. Is it possible?

    It’s the room

    You experienced nearfield listening.

    The majority of what you hear in your main system are reflections.

    Any speaker can potentially disappear to varying degrees.
    Joey's Gear:
    Current Gear:
    Torus RM15 -> Emm Labs DAC2x and TSDX Transport -> Cary SLP-05 preamp -> Boulder 2060 stereo amp (w/ Audioquest WEL Signature) -> new speakers
    Rotel RA1592 Super Integrated -> Sonus Faber Olympica 3
    Rotel RC1570 preamp -> Rotel RB1582 amp -> Focal Kanta 2

    Old Gear:
    Speakers: BW PM1 (3.5/5), CM10s2 (3.75/5), BW800D3 (5/5), Rockport Aviors (5/5), Sonus Faber Stradivari (5/5), BW 802D2 (4.5/5), Martin Logan Summits (4.25/5), Martin Logan Vantage (4/5), Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor (3.75/5), AV123 Strata Mini (3.5/5), ML Mosaic (3.25/5), Onix Ref1 (3/5), Sonus Faber Concerto (2.75/5), SF Concertino (2.5/5), Axiom M22ti (2/5), Polk LSi9 (3/5), LSi7 (2.9/5)
    Source: Squeezebox 3 -> PS Audio Digital Link III -> Cary 306/200 CDP -> Cary 306 SACD -> EMM LABS DAC2X/TSDX
    Preamplification: Rotel RC1070 -> Rogue Perseus -> Cary SLP98 -> Cary SLP98F1 -> Cary SLP05 (sold and then repurchased)
    Amplification: HK AVR330 -> Rotel RB1070 -> Rotel RB1090 -> Plinius SA102 -> Cary 211FE -> Classe M600 -> Boulder 2060
    Subwoofer: Infinity Entra2 sub -> SVS 25-31PC+ sub
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,990
    Joey_V wrote: »
    ...
    Any speaker can potentially disappear to varying degrees.

    Naaah. There are (i.e., there have been) some profoundly opaque (i.e., the opposite of transparent) loudspeakers foisted on the buying public over the years.

    Canonical examples, IMO, include virtually* every monkey coffin Realistic loudspeaker sold by Radio Shack in the 1970s and 80s.

    ________________
    * The weasel word virtually being added, of course, because all generalizations are false -- including this one. Like monkeys with typewriters, even Radio Shack, perhaps accidentally, turned out a couple of monkey coffins without their signature, opaque, coupla bumpy-thumpy boxes sound.


  • Jim ShearerJim Shearer Posts: 367
    I agree that EVERYTHING matters, but IME, the most important item in the chain is the speaker. This is my experience, so YMMV: the two most important things are the diffraction signature of the speaker baffle (driver placement, baffle size & shape, grills, etc.) and the transient response of the XO. A nearly transient perfect XO makes a huge difference, and there are a lot of very expensive speakers that fail in this regard.

    The cheap & fun way to experiment with this is to make some DIY single driver speakers--some times referred to as 'full range drivers', but they are in fact only wide range drivers.

    For about $30 you can put together a pair of Cornu spiral horns using Vifa (Tympani) TC9FD drivers and some foam core board. See at the giant thread:
    https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/full-range/225622-building-cornu-spiral-horn.html
    They have some terrible flaws--and don't expect any real bass, but what you get when you hang a pair of them on a wall is pretty amazing!
    A day without music is like a day without food.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,990
    My hifi certainly sounds much better to me with speakers than without.

    I have heard the lams (laminations) on output transformers sing, but the SPL is pretty low and the bandwidth fairly limited.

    B)
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,440
    If any of you need your speakers to disappear, call me...be happy to accommodate everyone. :)

    Glad you were able to finally experience it. Sometimes it's just a matter of everything being right at the same time. Other times, no matter what you do , you can't seem to make it happen.

    In my experiences, if you don't start with the right speakers that are capable, like Skip suggested, you won't get there no matter what you do otherwise.

    Placement, room conditioning, even lighting and ambiance, mood, play a roll. So many variables, little time. When everything is right though, you just never want to stop listening. You know that tomorrow when you turn on the system, the magic will be gone.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • codycatalistcodycatalist Posts: 2,535
    tonyb wrote: »
    Placement, room conditioning, even lighting and ambiance, mood, play a roll. So many variables, little time. When everything is right though, you just never want to stop listening. You know that tomorrow when you turn on the system, the magic will be gone.

    So true, too often I have had a great listening session just to come back the next day like what is this I am hearing, nothing like before. Other days I come back and the magic returns.

    Gotta love audio.

    Just a dude doing dude-ly things

    "Temptation is the manifestation of desire which equals necessity." - Mikey081057
    " I have always had a champange taste with a beer budget" - Rick88
    "Just because the thread is getting views don't mean much .. I like a good train wreck doesn't mean i want to be in one..." - pitdogg2
    "Those that don't know, don't know that they don't know." - heiney9
    "Audiophiles are the male equivalent of cat ladies." - Audiokarma Member
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 1,336
    I noticed my system takes about an hour of playing to get the magic to happen
    Home System:
    SDA 1C's - Full mod with the help by Dave...
    1000 Va Dreadnought- w/ WireWorld Mini-Eclipse cables
    WireWorld Mini-Eclipse 7 speaker cables
    WireWorld Silver Eclipse IC's
    Cambridge Audio Azur 851N - DAC/Streamer
    B&K Reference 50 Pre/Pro
    B&K M200 Sonata Monoblocks
    BLE-Design 16mm Power Cables
    Denon DVD 2900

    Barn system:
    SDA SRS 2.3's Full mod done by myself
    Carver C-1 pre
    Carver M1.5t
    BluDenso - Bluetooth receiver/DAC
  • ALL212ALL212 Posts: 1,127
    Hmmm....
    One of my requirements for a speaker in my main rig or any serious setup is that it gets disappeared. My main setup disappears itself without effort. I can look right at the speaker and swear that the sound is not coming from it. The imaging is somewhere either between the speakers or around the speakers but not seeming to come from the speakers even when looking right at them. Placement of voices and music making devices should be located easily and specifically.

    Speakers, room treatments, toe in, height, spikes, cables, humidity...pick something and it all matters. Some to a greater degree than others.

    Until recently I hadn't experienced this with headphones but the ZMF's have done it on a couple of selections.
    Aaron
    Enabler Extraordinaire
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,003
    If you really want to hear speakers disappear, take them outside with zero boundries, and listen. Best if you can do it on a very calm (non-breezy) day.
  • cvccvc Posts: 65
    Make sure your ears are at tweeter level.. Most people sit to far away.. Move in close.. Get in there for stereo listening!.. 5' to 6' close..

    Listen in the dark, with your eyes closed and it will ALL disappear..
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,570
    I have that every time I turn my system on. Imagine 6 foot tall, two foot wide boxes disappearing. I swear David Copperfield lives inside my stereo somewhere.

    But your "true stereo" speakers are specifically designed to "disappear". ;)
    msg wrote: »
    I've not been able successfully setup a full size system and experience profound stereo imaging. By profound stereo imaging, I mean these experiences where you can place the players on the sound stage in front of you. In lesser experiences, that placement is in 2D. Most of the time, I can get a strong center image, and I'll hear stuff channel-specific when it's obvious.

    Experiment with toe in and distance from the front plane of the speakers. The LSiM 707s in my home theater project sound images up to 4 feet in front of the speaker plane, up to 3 feet from the speaker sides, with up to 6 feet of front to back depth.


    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,454
    The Lsim’s were very good for me when hooked up. It’s surprising how well the imaged. I just didn’t like them for critical 2ch.

    The Elacs throw a great soundstage but are delicate enough for beautiful nuances in the quietest of classical. Been quite happy.

    Reading through this thread I realized something. After the addition of the AQ Niagara, the times that I turned on my system and it didn’t sound good (which was frequent previous to that addition) all but disappeared. I have to wonder if the issue of inconsistency with systems is power related? Has to be right?
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - Parasound P6 - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61
  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,887
    First time I heard speakers that disappeared were focal Aria, I Actually went up to the speaker to see if it was playing anything. I’ve found several factors that can affect stereo imaging, and the ability for the speaker to disappear. The speaker itself is one, and equipment. Speaker positioning, first and second reflection points, and that bare area in the center behind the speakers. Speakers pulled out away from the wall, and no equipment stacked higher than the tweeter and midrange, this is a huge one, as it destroys imaging. I think I’ve spend at least 100 hours playing with speaker position, seems like anything near your speaker will kill imaging. As far from the back wall as you can without killing bass response. And of course get some tubes in there somewhere.
    2 channel:
    Bryston 4B3, Bryston BDA3, Cary SLP05, Shanling CDT1000SE with parts conneXion level 2 mods, Nottingham analogue ace space 294, soundsmith Carmen MKii, Zu DL103 MKii, Ortofon MC 20 MKii, Dynavector XX2 MKii, Rogue Audio Ares, Core power technologies balanced power conditioner, Akiko Corelli power conditioner with Akiko Audio HQ power cable, Nordost heimdall 2, Frey 2, interconnects, speaker and power cables, Focal Electra 1028 BE 2, Auralic Aries Femto, Black diamond racing cones, ingress audio level 1 roller blocks, JL Audio E110 with Auralic subdude, Primacoustics room treatments.
    Theater:
    Focal Aria 926,905,CC900, SVS PB ultra x2. Pioneer Elite SC85, Oppo BDP93, Panamax M5400PM, Minix neox6, Nordost Blue heaven LS power cables.

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