Is soundstage DEPTH a myth?

Ok, help me out fellas. Is it a myth or what?

I’m a good listener, I listen deep into the music, and I feel like I have good ears. But I can’t confirm that I can hear soundstage depth. I can hear 1 instrument is louder, but this doesn’t help me to tell if something is more forward or more behind. Even in real life and 2 people are talking, I can’t honestly say I know which one is in front.

The one behind will sound less loud, but is that all there is to soundstage depth? I think the answer I’m looking for has to do with something I read recently. Something about depth exist only in the center in most system, the good systems has depth all around the soundstage.


@mrmb Well said. I frequented a different forum (not ASR) and I kept on getting harassed by harsh words. When I talked about differences of DACs I got bashed on by a few vocal individuals because they think DACS "only do 0s and 1s, either it works or it doesn't". 

Talking about differences of amps, they jumped on me pretty hard too. Their king is anything from Purifi/Hypex. Last week I talked about how system synergy is important and I got absolutely destroyed. I'll never go back there again, it is not a place to voice a different opinion. There's a new generation of people that only rely on graph data + distortion measurements and they are VICIOUS. 

I say all this because I've experienced 1st hand how massively an improvement a component like an amp can be for the overall sound. 

@audioman58 It's crazy how often people in this forum rave about the TA200 (in a good way). 7k is out of my price range for a DAC, and also I've been pulled into the BMC audio dac/amp system.

The answers from you guys are, yes soundstage depth is real. The only question left is would people experience it regularly or with just a few rare pieces of music?

Two track demonstrate depth exceptionally, Lou Reed - Take a Walk on Wild Side, the backing vocals, and try Bobo Stenson - Bengali Blues, you can hear exactly where each instrument is down to each drum and snare. If you cannot try listening via a valve amplifier and very good bookshelf speakers. 

I've mentioned this a couple times on this website, but I have several classical opera LPs where the characters wander around the stage as they sing, moving left to right, backwards & forwards, and sometimes going off stage as well. Choruses are often clearly heard as being behind lead singers. There are chaotic crowd scenes that fill up the stage.  It's totally addicting. My opera CDs aren't quite as 3D, but maybe that's just because I have less vintage/top flight opera recordings on silver discs. As for streaming, unfortunately even the classical streaming sites are more than a tad short on opera recordings.

I didn't want to go to the cost angle.   But yes, to move sonically from mid-tier hifi, one must spend some bucks to enter sonically into the true high end. This isn't dollar value related alone, but is attributable to a certain dollar value.   My decades ago Aragon amp vs Audio Research amp experiences (that I mentioned above) demonstrated the difference between a sonically good, but mid-tier amp and one that was a true high end amp. 

Once one owns, or has heard what a highly resolved system brings to the table, if depth and soundstage isn’t discernable or barely is so, consider yourself lucky, because you can save some bucks.  But for me, soundstage and imaging provide the better the you-are-at-the-performance illusion and the better that illusion, the better the system is and the happier I am. 

For a similar performance, some components are less expensive that others.  Most of us have looked for giant killers.  While a similar sound achievement can be had for oftentimes less money, there are no David’s and Goliath’s There are just some overpriced and underpriced components for the results they provide.

Listen to what some people believe are systems that are doing most everything right and you will get an idea of what to listen for.  But obviously, there is no best of the best, just a mixture of the best of the best components.  Every component has its pros and cons – i.e., what it does well and not so well.  However, at the higher-end of the sonic scale, those variables are generally lessened.   With each component at that level, being more the same than different.  Add those component variables to each of our room variables, our individual components and how they synergize and then the big variable (if you've done enough homework), is knowing and recognizing what your own sonic preferences are.   Those variables are then used when choosing equipment.

After a certain cost point, the cost to benefit ratio does increase exponentially.  Each of us must judge whether we can financially make that move and have learned enough to determine that move is rewarding enough to make.