Sound stage of studio recordings

I have felt that in live recordings it is easy to pin point the location of musical instruments. However for other recordings it is a hit and miss. Also for vocal solo with some instruments, the center imaging is also a hit and miss. In some songs the vocals appear to be in center. In other cases, it feels like coming from both speakers and circling around etc. 


Anyone though about this topic.. 


So many live recordings are multi-mic'd just like many studio recordings that I find the imaging is often just as bad.

This is why many people like preamps with a balance control and phase inversion switch.



So many live recordings are multi-mic’d just like many studio recordings that I find the imaging is often just as bad.

Agreed! With multiple microphones the the end result can be all over the map (Figuratively and literally).



this somewhat depends on the era of the recording. and the musical genre.

prior to the mid 60's most studio recording processes were more simple, and it's more likely that performers are where the recording places them, and that minimal or no manipulation is done. going forward from then, most jazz or small combo classical continues to be recorded more simply, with minimal manipulation. but studio pop is almost always assembled from multi track recording any result is possible. or it's recorded in someone's basement from pieces recorded at different times.

hifi systems also have a contribution to the degree of imaging and the perception of the sound coming directly from the speakers. non musical distortion locates the sound directly from the driver, as opposed to the music which is located in the soundfield.


I really like simple trios, quartets. When you go to a live show and the piano is here, the bass is five feet to the left and the drums are in the middle. But like you said, when they mike every cymbal and drum, the mix usually has the drum kit appearing  to be as wide as the stage. Or if they use several mikes or a stereo mike on the piano, it’s the same thing.  The piano sounds like it’s as wide as the stage.