Soundstage and image height, does it exist?

On another site, there is a discussion on soundstage, and there are a few people clamming, that, since there is no vertical information encoded on stereo recordings, that soundstage height does not actually exist. It is a product of our minds filling in missing information. 

Are they correct?

Please explain your position, with as much technical details as you feel needed.



I run Acoustic Zen Crescendo speakers.  Transmission line design. There is clearly the impression of height in the soundstage.  Sometimes it's actually annoying to hear an instrument that appears to be several feet above the rest of the band.  I put in down to the upper postion of the midrange and tweeter.  They are a couple feet above my ears in the listening position.  I just close my eyes and picture a two tier stage.  Works for me.  

If you can hear it, and I think most of us can, then it (perception of height) exists. It's not just speakers. Years ago, I had an Apt Holman amplifier and a McIntosh 2105 and I tried them in the same system with the same music. The Apt Holman had a very squat height and the McIntosh much taller comparatively. With speakers I guess it's all about the way the drivers disperse the sound. With electronics, I'll leave that to better minds.

My friends and I have tested this by trying the same gear in different rooms. Our conclusion is that image height is a function of ceiling height and position of the drivers. Canting the speakers fore and aft can change the image height as well. Give it a try. 

the human hearing mechanism encodes height information based on frequency contouring caused by the shape of the ear. there is a tone map in the brain that instantly "translates" certain directional sounds as "higher" or "lower." SOME stereo music recordings contain enough of this information, a FEW of them. i have heard it demonstrated on the LEDR [Listening Environment Diagnostic Recording] on a Chesky test disc, with the synthetic cabasa rising above one speaker and sailing across the ceiling to the other speaker, as well as sailing backwards. 

The brain always fills in information and creates illusions that are not real. Close your eyes and listen to vocals, they invariably appear to be dead centre, but there is no speaker there, its an illusion created in your brain, you hear two separate signals one in each ear, your brain processes that and informs you its from the middle, its not is it. Soundstage is the same, some systems give much wider soundstage, more often how they placed is more important.