Position Please

We speak of stage, depth, and performer/instrument position, always.

What are reference-level examples of accurate performer/instrument position?

My interest here is to accumulate reference recordings beyond speaker test recordings that best present what we speak of so much, focus/position of performers and instruments beyond the center and beyond simply a limited number of the performers/instruments on the recording.

Sure, much content demonstrates a trumpet on the left stage or piano on the right stage, etc. Orchestra width is perceptible.

Often it seems that the position is ‘placed’ by the recording engineers/producers, favoring ‘center’ for lead vocal and electric bass. The drum set spread from left to right and special effects positioned across the stage at certain points gains our attention.

What orchestra recordings accurately present violins on the left, violas on the right, bases on the back right, etc? But what about a different positioning of first row violins vs 5th row, or fist chair vs 5th chair front to back in the first row? In my home, I came closest with the Magnaplanar Tympani IV-Ds. At Lyric Hi-Fi with my many hours with the IRS speakers also amazed in this regard…though both were incomplete to the ears of this musician.

Frankly, it seems that position is engineered/produced, often for titillation, rather than accurate or focused for all performers/instruments. Of course, this sounds fine very often, and presents to us the choices that engineers/producers/marketers intended.

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You say titillation like its a bad thing.

In our music to listen to BACCH thread everything we pick is because it has an amazing and normally very pleasing soundstage.


Don’t mean it that way

Long live titillation


Interesting topic and I’m curious what we will put forward as the best natural 3D sounding recording that we consider a realistic spatial acoustical rendering of a live event.
Obviously, with this definition most recordings won’t make it to the list.

Most of us have 2D systems and its basis is stereo ‘make believe’. Many have studied to find a system for natural recording and reproduction in the past. No wonder multiple speaker configurations have since appeared and by seeing continuous development in that field until this day, we’re not there yet.

Hopefully we can come up with real life examples of good recordings that prove the seeming boundaries of 2D can be overcome in our real life systems.
I’ll start listening to my collection with this new (?) approach to find such a gem.

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Thanks much for the thread. I’ve been contemplating the same for several daze and will look forward to folk’s experience and reference selections here and the BACCH thread.
I’m reasonably pleased with the current set up sound stage width, height, and depth behind the speakers. However, it is generally flat and I wonder if that lack of layering has more to do with the set up or recording.
I have found “The Audiophile’s Guide: The Loudspeaker” and associated disc is helpful in describing how selections should be perceived. The 3 depth checks in particular provide a sense of a system’s capability. Even with moderately good results with these tracks most of what I hear is pretty flat so I am left wondering.

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[quote=“akro, post:1, topic:33611, full:true”]
We speak of stage, depth, and performer/instrument position, always.

What are reference-level examples of accurate performer/instrument position?

Hey akro…

You could try these as they give me what I think you are inquiring about…
My .00002

For me these recordings illustrate what you might be looking for





Great recordings for sure…

Best wishes


This album comes with a pdf file that shows where each instrument / performer is positioned on stage. A favourite of mine.


I have heard it this way for quite some time, after all it is an illusion we are attempting to recreate based on the mixing engineer’s choices. The only true to life recordings that immediately come to mind are those of Kavi Alexander.

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all are fine performances

but only Marsalis’ somewhat demonstrates horizontal stage vis a vis instruments reaching beyond the stage center. the others play all the instruments/singers on top of each other in the center

I spent a few hours moving speakers distances and toe-in to try finding stage foci on these albums, but to no avail

try this, which I play via Qobuz…some instrument groups are focused significantly off center stage on the left and right portion of the sound stage. (eg, the trombones appear positioned dramatically on the left in song one)

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If you all want to do it without “guessing” at what the mastering engineer intended, donate a few bucks and get the Audiocheck LEDR test tracks. No guesswork required. There’s a PDF available online that explains exactly what should be heard if everything is set up “correctly”. I put correctly in quotes because all of this is an exercise in compromise.


a couple examples?

(no wonder I found nothing on Qobuz, he is an audio) engineer

indeed, simply because one can hear sound from the speakers or, better yet, behind the speakers does not mean they are getting a wide stage with foci

this presumes the recording/mixing/production engineers produced a song with instruments/singers in ways that they can be pinpointed across the stage (horizontally, vertically, depth)

I find that most content is focused at stage center. Sometimes sound effects appear off center stage. Better yet, sometimes instruments/singers (at least groups of instruments/singers) are off center stage

I initiated this topic to find out examples of what others hear as positioning/foci of instruments/singers off center stage, ie using more of the stage than simply the center focus


Understood, but without anything objective to gauge the “correctness” of speaker placement, this sort of just becomes a talking exercise. The LEDR tracks are, to my knowledge, the closest thing out there to try and asses speaker placement objectively. Once done by someone, then their assessment of a given recording can be taken with some point of reference.


Many thanks for the reference! I plan on being busy for a long while.

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A Meeting By The River Ry Cooder & V.M. Bhatt


Fascinoma Jon Hassell

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Tabula Rasa Jie-Bing Chen V.M. Bhatt Bela Fleck
Kavi Alexander is the Producer and Recording Engineer for Water Lily Acoustics.

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A subtle album but width staging is there

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run, do not walk, and get these test file gems, and until may 15 a 20% discount (https://www.nativedsd.com/specials/)

hear staging in proper action and a fine selection of demo clean, open music (and test tones from 10 HZ to astronomical…I heard from 20 HZ to 12,500 HZ, maybe with higher volume or headphones I would go higher, but 12,500 is very high once you hear its test tone)

warning: you may see the shortcomings of most recordings (although there are plenty of good recordings out there)


Thanks for posting. Seems promising!

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