Soundstage...How to determine what's right?

Have started upgrading my system and will be trying to optimize the soundstage. A lot of reading has me thinking that I really don't have enough information and experience to get there.
Terms like "congestion, width, depth, and height" have me wondering how much is in the recording and how much is introduced by the system? Are there reference type cd's that people use to determine how their system is progressing? I so, could you help with a list of cuts with info regarding the placement of vocals, instruments and examples that contain material that is not congested?
Thanks for any help.
That's exactly how the effect is generated! Carver did that back in the 80's with his "Sonic Hologram Generator" which was an interesting experiment, but otherwise an acoustic nightmare(distroyed any semblance of music). On the CD (Amused To Death) the effects are generated in the digital domain and quite interesting. On the start of one cut a horsedrawn wagon begins clinking and clattering to the left, and over your shoulder and ends it's journey seemingly yards beyond your right speaker. The first cut has a very low level dog barking to the three o'clock of my listening position, which makes it sound like the dog is outside my window in the yard. In 1981 I had a pair of LS3-5A's that I had built with KEF drivers, and all the same OEM British cross-over components as the authentic item, with a few of my own cabinet improvements. My system wasn't nearly as good as what I'm listening to now, but on one of my John Klemmer albums there was a cut with a very pronounced Fender Rhodes solo. It never failed to amuse me when my friends would open the closet door to the right rear of the couch they were seated in, looking for a hidden speaker(or the Rhodes). Don't ask me how that worked. It's not my story or theory. It's fact and personal experience. OH- by the way: Why would a test CD include an imaging test that expects your system to re-create sounds two feet beyond the outside of the speaker's position if it's not possible? Even the 'Max O Man' cut on one of my Fourplay CDs projects someone popping their fingers to the left of my listening position. No fancy phasing, audiophile label or hologram generation. Just a well engineered CD, well tuned system and listening environment. Try those CCa's in your BAT. If the rest of your system/room combination are up to it: you may just find some amazing stuff hidden in your music collection. Of course: if the rest of your system employs tubes: you may have to replace some of those as well. The driver and phase splitter tubes in my SLM-100s are both 6SN7's but I have to use a Sylvania 6SN7W(tall bottle) and a TungSol VT231(black round plate) in each amp to get the sound stage I'm describing(let's not discuss the cost of my cables). None of this has come cheaply, but- it's all very real and brings me that much closer to my ideal: the sounds I hear when I'm mixing the stuff live.
Rodman99999, Note in my test disc recommendation I mentioned the value of the 'out of phase' cut on the Sheffield disc. Unlike other disc's with barking dogs (Ralph on Stereophiles 1st one) used in and out of phase (typically mono signals I believe) this cut is a stereo signal out of phase and a well set up set of speakers can produce sound 'coming from all about the room'. This is so great because you may 'think' that you have already correctly set up your speakers and listening position based on in phase stereo signals (like recorded music). In one set up which sounded just great(!) I thought, when I played the out of phase signals there was a strong shift in the out of phase info to the left wall just forward of the speaker. Moving my chair an inch or so to the right changed the out of phase presentation to equal amounts of sound outside the left and right speakers both behind the plane and in front of the speakers and to a small degree in the area behind the listening position.

That cut as well as the 'walk about' has been very helpful. This may not be a test disc very usable for the original poster but I think it is very helpful if you're really bent on getting the 'best' set up possible.
I believe you may be missing the entire point of my notes thus far. My goal is accurate reproduction of music within the recording venue. The music I am most familiar with is performed on a stage much larger than the 12' between my speakers(except for an occational 3-4 piece chamber ensemble). If that was all the sound stage my system could reproduce, I'd sell it and buy a transistor radio(and another Harley with what was left), then restrict myself to live performances. My room and system are tested, EQ'd, and the subs and mains time aligned by my TacT RCS 2.2X(via FFT) with the reproduction of the original recording venue in mind(not the sound of the music group playing in my listening room). That's the goal, and I'm happy to say that my system delivers as long as the info is on the disc/master tape/record. That's easy for me to verify to my satisfaction, as I do some of my own recordings. Life would be alot easier, and MUCH CHEAPER, had I been a guitar player instead of a sound tech. Then again: I guess 70's American Fender Strats and Genuine Les Pauls aren't all that cheap either, and I'm a picky feller!! Enjoy your sounds.
It's just NOT possible for a stereo system to produce sound, on the plane of the speakers, outside the speakers when the sound from both speakers is in phase AND your speakers are set up properly. (....)
As you've phrased it, s OK:)
Listening within the usual confinements -- i.e. the room -- this can happen. It's an artefact of boundary reflections.

Redman notes:
on one of my John Klemmer albums there was a cut with a very pronounced Fender Rhodes solo. It never failed to amuse me when my friends would open the closet door to the right rear of the couch they were seated in, looking for a hidden speaker(or the Rhodes). Don't ask me how that worked.
Reflections is how that worked, probably. Nice story, btw!

TO my mind, sound-stage is a case of "all that glitters ain't gold". I got outstanding "sound-stage" using a cassette recorder -- i.e., as has been proposed before, "compression is good for sound-stage" or "sound-stage can be proportional".
"Imaging" may be a better word to use.
Well, thanks again.
Shadorne, your explanation of congestion helps a lot. That, along with your examples will give me the direction I was looking for.
Your description on tube miking in order to add harmonics brought up questions. Does the same type effect occur with amplification, processing, etc.? Is this why so many people feel that tubed components sound so much better? It would be very difficult for me to go tubes in my pre and amplifiers due to using them both for 2 channel and h/t. Would there be a significant improvement in 2 channel using a tubed cd player? Funds don't allow the ultra hi end but would like to get a bit closer.
Thanks for taking the time.

Rodman, I really appreciate your effort to share your thoughts, opinions, and experience. I'll have to play a bit and reread this thread several times to grasp all that has been shared.

It's strange and a bit disappointing that there would be such a difference in one disc to another from the same label, etc..

Newbee, once again thanks to you for sharing your thoughts on imaging. You and the others have given me so much to shoot for. Just makes this hobby that much more entertaining.