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.


@gosta I would be happy to list some recordings that have good depth but these only scratch the surface. At audio shows the tracks they play nearly always have great depth because that is one of the things they are trying to demonstrate. Here are a few of my favorites.

Dee Dee Bridgewater - Live in Paris
Stevie Ray Vaughn - Couldn't Stand the Weather (especially Tin Pan Alley)
Jazz at the Pawnshop
Doug MacLeod - There's a Time (or pretty much anything from Reference Recordings)
Janis Siegel - At Home
Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side (song)
Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit - Self titled live album
Hugh Masakela - Hope
London Grammar - If You Wait
Paul Simon - Graceland
Sting - Ten Summoners Tales
Malia and Boris Blank - Convergence
The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Dirty Boogie

Regarding my studio recordings, the bands were local to the Portland area and unfortunately none of them made it to the big time. Some of them were very talented though. If you want to hear a few of these tracks you are welcome to PM me with your email address and I'll share a folder with some of my favorite songs.


Visual is a huge part of discerning depth for me, and in general making sense of what I'm hearing. If I can see that I'm in a small room my brain will try to interpret whatever I hear in a way that can fit into that small space. David Greisinger had some binaural recordings on his website that he'd taken in a concert hall. I used his method to calibrate my headphones to my ears and then listened to the recordings. They seemed unremarkable until I also stared at the picture of the orchestra as taken from that seat. The effect was amazing. By looking at the picture I could interpret and make sense of the spacial cues in the recording and the sense of space and depth became very apparent. I really felt like I was there.


Really good perception may not be the best thing for listening to recordings.  An ability to relax and suspend one's disbelief might be more helpful. Really good perception will just make it all too obvious that you are listening to 2 speakers that are hitting your head from just 2 specific directions, creating a bunch of weird phase and interference patterns that don't often occur in nature, and mixing the acoustics of a recording space with the acoustics of your listening space. This will all shout FAKE to anyone who's perceptual acuity can't relax a little. 


Since 99.99% of commercial recordings were made with little or no consideration for sound quality, let alone soundstage depth, it could be considered more than a little irresponsible to advocate upgrading in pursuit of this elusive soundstage depth.

I've heard 1000s of recordings and hardly any of them could be considered as being up to audiophile standards.

None of the Beatles recordings were anything above average recording quality. Some of the Kinks albums, esp their often remastered masterpiece The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society album have bloody awful sound quality. Small, squashed, zero bandwidth, no depth.

It's kind of ironic that one the best recorded albums in my collection is the 1959/63 collaboration between Vera Lynn and Kenneth McKellar, The Wonderful World of Nursery Rhymes.

It's one of those rare ones that has real stage presence, you can easily picture the performers before you.

On any system regardless of price.

Upgrading can certainly give you more bandwidth, more precision, more separation, more detail, but it cannot give you what was never there in the first place.

Not unless you're into analysing exactly what the producers were doing with their 24 track mixing desks to a degree that no one ever intended you to. One that's liable to also induce a headache due to it being so unnatural.

We should remember that one of the very best recorded albums of recent history was also one of the most simplest. Mostly for its exquisite sonics, due more to serendipity rather than intent I suspect, the Cowboy Junkies Trinity Session album recorded on a portable machine in a church has subsequently gone down in audiophile legend.

There are also some very good reasons why the demonstration music used at shows regularly features the likes of Pink Floyd's DSOTM, Steely Dan and tinkly jazz. Engineers and producers operating in a cut throat business are usually far far too busy trying to make money than worry about what a few audiophiles might think about. Bands and artists generally don't seem to care much about anything other than commercial success either.

Selling, not sound quality is the main game in town.

So let's not kid anyone, out of the millions of commercial recordings there's probably less than a 100 that could be said to be of audiophile standard and possessing genuine soundstage depth.

Encouraging folks to engage in an everlasting search for things that do not exist can only do our hobby ultimate harm.

@asctim ive only seen the opposite...over and over and over and over. the more perceptive people really enjoy what a god hifi has to offer, as they can actually hear what theyre listening to, or they are able to listen to what theyre hearing.

the rest cant tell the difference and cant pay good enough attention.

you see, having a poor sense of taste and doesnt help you enjoy food better.