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.



Some legendary vintage speakers produce sound stage depth very well.

Quad ESL57, Tannoy coaxial speakers from 50x-70x.


Well, yes but only with the right well recorded music.

It was the almost 3D imagery of the Quad Electrostatic when playing back some opera (LP) through some vintage Quad amps that sold them to me. That's probably still the closest I've been to that elusive 'reach out and touch' feeling in audio.

However, when I got them back home and put on Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits CD, none of that imagery or depth was present. Neither was it on any of my other CDs or Minidiscs. You could call that a watershed moment in my audio journey.

The recordings matter the most.

My current speakers, the dual concentric Tannoy Berkeley’s from 1978 fall into the the same boat. The imagery is sometimes there, but only with the very best recorded albums. Albums recorded live with exquisite bandwidth, and usually minimal processing.

Joni Mitchell’s Travelogue from 2002 and Both Sides Now from 2000 certainly fall into that category, but they are rare examples. Incidentally, I would strongly recommend both of those orchestral re-recording albums to any fan of Mitchell’s.



Could you please cite you sources, for the above figures/information?

Well, in all of the numerous articles/interviews I’ve read with engineers and producers neither the subject of sound quality nor soundstage has ever appeared.

When you also take into consideration the fact that virtually every single recording since the early 1990s has featured often heavy use of compression (the so-called ’loudness wars’) and realise just how extremely rare uncompressed recordings are, it’s hard not to come to the sad conclusion that the industry just does not care about sound quality.

If you were to scan through the Guinness Book of Hit Singles / Albums from the 1950s to the 2000s+ I think you will have to search hard and long to find many audiophile standard recordings amongst all of those thousands of hits and top 100 entries.

My exposure to "image" or "Soundstage" has mostly been achieved through the development of high performance cables.

I thought I had a reasonable image, but as my cables developed and became more refined, so did the overall quality of my image.

  • details that were never there before, such as the micro details of the venue acoustics (tiny echoes and reverberations), which provided a more holographic and realistic presentation
  • an improved isolation of instruments
  • more seperation (air) between performers
  • greater front to back seperation

All of this was achived by building cables that

  • used the best quality wire, like OCC copper and OCC silver
    • which improved details and dynamics
  • use the best dielectric available
    • which improved clarity and details
    • and lowered internally generated noise
  • advanced cable geometry
    • which again lowered the noise floor of the cable
  • excellent connectors

And you need to address ALL CABLES in a system, not just interconnects OR speakers cables - Mains cables play a huge role, especially on source components.

If DIY is not your thing, take a look at these cable brands, which adopt many of the design priciples mentioned above

  • Audio Envy - great Bang for the Buck
  • Zavfino - their TOTL cables are very good
  • InAkustik - top perfrmers
  • HIJIRI - perhaps the best cables on the market, but pricey
  • There ar many more, but you have to know what to look for

Once I had my cables sorted, the image fell into place on live performances and also studio recordings that are impecably engineered

Until you get the cables sorted you are wasting your money chasing component upgrades and room treatments.

My system is modest...

  • Bryston B135 interated amp
  • Bluesound Node 2 streamer
  • Simaudio Moon Phono stage
  • Custom Turntable with Denon 103 (with Soundsmith Mods)
  • Gershman Acoustics

But it has a more holograpohic 3D presentation that I have not even heard from the most pricey systems in high end audio stores.

BTY, I also have a $300 minisystem outfitted with great cables that also has an amazing sound - so it’s not all about a component’s price

Just something else in this hobby to ponder

Regards - Steve