What's your experience with Channel Separation?

Channel separation, and crosstalk, are measures of how much a channel leaks into another.  It's expressed in dB, usually meaning how far below the driven channel the other channel which should be silent would remain.

In digital recordings channel separation is infinite.  A 111111 on the left channel remains 0000 on the right. It's at the analog reconstruction or afterwards that channel separation starts to be less than infinite.

I was reading a review of a Luxman integrated which measured around 70 dB of channel separation.  You think, well that's a lot worse than many digital sources, which is true, but, in absolute terms that means that one channel which outputs 1 V would bleed 0.0003V into the other.

Of course, this is one of the alleged benefits of mono block construction.  With separate chasis, power supplies and power cables we assume the channel separation to be infinite, but, honestly, with LP's providing far less than this often, does this value even matter after say, 60 dB? Have you heard this spec matter to you and if so what did you perceive?


When you use atmos channel separation is a moot point because its OBJECT based not channel based

BTW, you can play an atmos object based track with two speakers, its backward compatible 


Have you ever compared a two channel stereo mix with an atmos mix played back on just 2 or 2.1 speakers?

A lot of this reminds me of medical studies.  The baseline chance of developing a certain disease might be one in a million, but if you take Drug X for cholesterol then it might go to 2 in a million.  The media makes breathless proclamations that the risk of this disease is doubled and panics people everywhere.

  My hearing wouldn’t nearly be good enough to hear the level of cross talk that Eric describes in the Luxman.  Do I lie awake at night worrying about cross channel bleeding?  No, there are a few concerns ahead of that in the queue 

Channel Separation is an important specification for Phono Cartridges.

Channel Balance is also important.

Of course, other 'qualities' of a cartridge count, but keep in mind, any 'preferred' sound quality of any cartridge's Imaging is aided by these two 'relatively achievable' characteristics.


Consider that all imaging is Phantom, created solely by the relative volume of L volume to R volume.

Channel separation gives the preamp/amp/speakers help maintaining the intended Phantom Imaging.

Tight channel balance also gives a more precise signal/volume difference at the start. A wider image combined with tight control gives more distinction, sharper perception of particular instrument locations.

When you view a line of cartridges, observe, as price goes up, separation specs get wider, and balance specs get tighter.


I have no idea how to tell crosstalk from a natural part of a stereo mix just by listening  so honestly it’s not something I pay much attention to. Maybe I should? Bad audiophile!


Maybe if a reviewer measures and points out a bad measure for crosstalk I might pay more attention to some extent depending on the severity of the crime.

Phono cartridges are a great example of how little this spec seems to matter, relatively.

I mean, I think the best phono cartridges get to ~ 45 dB, right?? Compared to that almost any preamp will do well.

After decades of experience and careful analysis, I’ve determined that the measurable channel separation of a "typical" audiophile headphone is ... the width of your head.

does this value even matter after say, 60 dB?

That is comforting to know. When is more just a number to throw put there with no real audible value.