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.


Soundstage depth is real if it’s in the recording to begin with.

AND - If many other things are aligned in your system and room acoustics

Much audio gear just does not image well, particularly speakers, in the true sense of imaging and depth. A properly time and phase aligned speaker not only sounds tonally correct but exhibits palpable imaging.

The biggest obstacle to attain "real life" palpable imaging will be your room acoustics and speaker placement.

I will tell you now, if you have no acoustic treatment going on just forget it, it just won’t happen. If you look at the very best recording studios in the world, they spend loads of money and design effort on acoustics going beyond the RFZ necessity. Once the room has a sufficient reflection free zone in the listening position (the wider the better) then you can start positioning the speakers for optimal soundstage and imaging. This of course is a bit of the chicken or the egg first situation. Acoustics going beyond the RFZ will help with later reflections supporting the ambience of recordings. This is called RT60 and is the length of time frequencies take to decay in a room. If a room is too dead (or dry), the RT60 will be too short and systems sound lifeless.

So you need the right balance in a playback room as well as the RFZ, and speaker positioning.

Many Dacs are also not great at imaging or creating a 3d soundstage, usually timing issues or jitter to blame. I am full digital with really great Dac’s at my disposal so I enjoy breathtaking soundstage and image depth.

Many audiophiles mistaken imaging with just the sense of space versus feeling like you’re actually at or in the venue. This perspective again depends on the recording itself.

I am both a dealer / custom room designer, and I’ve been designing & building AV rooms for 30 years now.


Who asked you?


The OP asked if there was mythology involved, I accommodated him with the POV of an EXPERT/professional in the field.


My background is in science/medicine. Questioning is second nature for me. We don’t TRUST the science, we test it in the real world.

Now I’m wondering if the folks who forced the executioner’s cup of hemlock upon Socrates were audio fanatics who hated questions.

It's not real its an illusion generated by your mind. If I play back a stereo recording in mono it doesn't have much depth though the mind tries to do so. Stereo is designed to make the mind imagine an image by using 2 spaced loudspeakers ea fed a bit differently. TV also doesn't have a moving image your mind thinks it does as it just looks at nonmoving still images flashed at it. Human senses are easily fooled. Are holograms real no? Its illusion.

soundstaging and in particular, perceived depth of stage is certainly there in spades when a terrific live recording is played on a good, well placed system... i think most here agree with this

but i will add that many multi-track studio mixes, say, of pop music, can also have pretty decent depth if the recording engineer does his job well... this is 'artificial depth' that is engineered into the music, rather than capturing and reproducing the real depth in the actual performance venue, but i think this works pretty darned well, is pretty convincing too, when done expertly

If the soundstage is indeed real then why do we need 2 speakers wouldn't 1 be enough? Why does this real soundstage disappear when not seated centered? If it's so real wouldn't it just always be there?