How wide should I expect my soundstage to be?

How wide should I reasonably expect my soundstage to be? Often in Paul’s videos I hear him say that the soundstage is very expansive with certain equipment. How far to the right of the right speaker and to the left of the left speaker should the soundstage extend? I have a limited listening area, with my Aperion Verus II Grand towers about 7ft apart with a very slight toe-in and 6.5 ft from my listening chair, which makes for about a 40 deg spread right and left, for a total 80 degree soundstage. That is already a pretty nice sound stage at my listening distance, but should I expect one even wider? Seldom do I perceive the soundstage to extend outside the width of the speakers. The towers are driven by PSA Stellar Gain Cell DAC and S300 amp. Sources include vinyl via an Audio Technica 1240 turntable with a Nagaoka MD-150 cartridge and Schiit Mani preamp, streaming via Tidal or Audirvana to a Denon 4300 AVR with pre-outs to the Stellar units, or CDs via a Samsung BDJ-7500 BRP digitally to the Stellars. For the most part I love the sound I get, but wonder if is reasonable to expect more from the soundstage and what I could do to achieve it.

Thanks, and great question. It really depends on the music, of course, some has almost none but otherwise are as wide as a barn door. On my system and on the right recordings, the soundstage extends beyond the sidewalls and deeper than the front wall. On most wide recordings that illusion extends 4 to 5 feet (seemingly), but definitely extends beyond the sidewalls, and that is what counts. So, in summation, on the right recordings the soundstage should extend beyond the side walls.

An 80 degree soundstage is spectacular. If there are no holes in the soundstage from center to all the way left and right, and instruments and voices are evenly distributed with good tonality, you have achieved more than the vast majority.

Plus, very few recordings capture a soundstage even beginning to approach this wide. Even an orchestral conductor hears a tad less than 90 degrees as the musicians are a bit in front of him.

I agree…just when listening quite nearfield 90 deg is not unusual…and with some Q sound phase tweaked stuff nearly 180 deg :wink: Extension beyond sidewalls happens rather behind the speakers I’d say except for the Q sound and maybe few others. or when having larger distance between speakers and listening place.

Transparency and kind of holographic/spherical imaging within the 80-90 deg is most fascinating imo.

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Much depends on the width, symmetry and free space sideways of your room as well as room reflection control, so you shouldn’t bother if you have a normal non-treated room. It’s more important what happens between the speakers as ELK said.

In my case I’m listening rather nearfield roughly in a triangle and I have an average 110-120 degree angle with good recordings I’d say and around 3-4 feet extension sideways.

Close your eyes and open again later to verify with a really spacious recording and you’ll perceive better that it extends than with eyes open all the time. And be aware that many recordings don’t extend.

Extension behind the front wall is more common imo and usually the same distance as wall to speakers.

Just to be clear, the 80 deg stage I referred to is from speaker to speaker, not from center to one speaker. For reference, below is a pic from just behind my listening chair and a diagram of the whole room I am dealing with. It’s definitely not ideal, but it is what I have…

I have a similar challenging space. I find that by pulling the speaker closest to the boundaries forward and away as far as practical only improves the soundstage illusion.

Your left speaker pulled towards you as you see it in your seated spot, same angle simply 2’ closer.

I find that two, 2’x4’x2" panels from GIK will help with the upper frequency reflection of the glass cabinet door and the display. Place them for more critical listening sessions otherwise stash under couch.

These two things have transformed my listening space. I’m fortunate I have a old fashioned coat closet to store my treatments, you might have to get a bit more creative.

I have a hard time believing this. I would like to hear a technical explanation of this.


You have a hard time believing the soundstage on my system extends to beyond the walls of the listening room?

Why is that so hard to believe? You have to remember the entire thing is an illusion in the first place.

Most systems aren’t setup well enough to take advantage of this illusion which requires a combination of electronics, cables, speakers and setup.

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And the room needs to support good sound reproduction. First order reflections mask many of the subtleties of reproduction in the typical home system.

Here’s an interesting TAS article that might add to the discussion.

All good advice.

The reference to our ability to discern vanishingly small differences in timing is of course why Snowmass’ improvement in phase is readily obvious to us.

I expect it is most apparent when listening to speakers with first-order crossovers (such as Spica, Thiel, Vandersteen, and Dunlavy) as these crossovers leave amplitude and phase unchanged, with superb time-coherent impulse responses.

Agreed. I have to thank Paul for reminding me to close my eyes which is something I used to do, but somehow forgot to practice over time.

Just to add a little refinement to my setup, below is a pic taken directly from my seated listening position. Although there is some slight distortion due to the wide angle effect, it shows better exactly how the width of the speakers appear to me. Also, after reading the TAS article, I made a couple slight distance changes which seem to have made a slight improvement, but maybe it’s just wishful thinking… I guess only more critical listening will tell. I’ll keep trying for improvements. BTW, what recordings and what format seem to exhibit the greatest soundstage. Perhaps I can get them and get a basis for comparison.

Given the asymmetry of your speaker placement (in a corner, immediately next to the walls on the left, open to the right), all of the reflective hard surfaces (TV, glass faced cabinets, concrete back wall, etc.), cabintet between the speakers, you are going to have tremendous difficulty improving the sound stage.

I suggest either finding a new room or, better yet, put on your favorite music and just enjoy. :slight_smile:


Two suggestion for you to try when you want to listen “seriously” (audiophile style)/try to improve imaging, soundstage etc.:

  1. Move your speakers as far out into the room as you can tolerate and play with moving them back and forth and toe them in and out until you find a spot (and toe if applicable) that sounds better to you.

  2. Throw blankets over your TV and equipment cabinet when sitting down to 2-channel stereo. (Actually, do this first.)

If you find that you have improved things a bit (and its worth the trouble), mark the new speaker locations with a bit of inconspicuous tape and keep the blankets handy (draped over your chair/couch or in a nearby cabinet). That way, you can move back and forth between your current set up and your “audiophile” set up with ease. :blush:

Recommended homework: Buy “Get Better Sound” by Jim Smith. This is a great common-sense, easy to follow reference that you will dog-ear in no time by frequently flipping through it.

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FYI: Get Better Sound Jim Smith

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Thanks, I’ll give those things a try. So, you think the TV could have a serious effect even though it is 1.5 ft behind the speakers? As for the equipment cabinet, I can open the glass doors to almost any angle to aim any reflections away from me, but I’ll try covering it also. Looks like I’ll have some things to try as I get a chance…

I can hear glare and bass interactions with my flat screen 4’ behind the speakers, but it’s much better than the old tube that I couldn’t get less than 3’ behind the speakers. When I really want to hear well I put some 4" thick sound deadening panels in front of the screen.

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