Are you ready for a small soundstage experience? Let’s get started!
You are in a small theater enjoying a musical concert; a few rows from the front and at the center, seeing the orchestra perform on stage. You can notice the strings located in short proximity to the conductor and projecting outward from the center stage through to the wings. The woodwinds carefully positioned at the center and arranged in two rows a little further behind than the strings. The combined tones are sounding towards the stage front from the back. Close your eyes now, listen. Are you still able to recreate the visuals of the concert with the sounds of the string and drums? If yes, then you have succeeded in creating a soundstage image.
Some audiophile headphones are very good at reproducing this king of soundstage experience you normally have at the opera! The best Bluetooth earbuds like xFyro can help you create such 3D images even from the comfort of your couch. So, what exactly is Soundstage?
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Table of Contents
- What is Soundstage?
- How does Soundstage work?
- When is Soundstage important?
- Why do headphones have better Soundstage?
What is Soundstage?
Soundstage otherwise called Speaker image is the creation of an imaginary three-dimensional space by the reproduction of sounds from a stereo speaker system with very high accuracy. The Soundstage enables the listener to perceive through his auditory organs, the location of musical instruments at different areas of a stage as he listens to a given piece of musical notes.
Soundstage ascertains the environment and space of sound, as produced by audiophile headphones. That is, it aids in figuring out the perceived size and location of sound and its sound field itself. The sound image thus formed determines the size and location of the objects found in the sound field. Soundstage in headphones and audiophile earbuds depicts the spatial sound image made available to a listener. It mimics the center, right, left, distant right, and distant left sound sources of real-life stage experience. It recreates the idea that sounds are converging from varying directions. Soundstage, therefore, is the spatial cues and localization not naturally part of the music. The audiophile has to create the Soundstage and not reproduce them. This is different from the sound imaging.
Headphones and Bluetooth earbuds that can produce sound where you can differentiate the positions of instruments with high positional accuracy and, at the same time, perceive acoustic images are said to have quality soundstage.
How does Soundstage work?
There are no simple answers to this question. Several factors are always interacting with each other to produce a Soundstage. These factors influence the Soundstage of both stereo speakers and audiophile earbuds differently. Some of these factors include
The production of sound and creation of Soundstage is influenced by the external environment where the headphone or stereo speaker is located. When an instrument is played, or a group of instruments is combined to produce a melody, the listener can determine where the musical equipment is played in the room. The positions of the different instruments, in combination, can also be visualized. The reflection of sound off walls and other surfaces can aid in visualizing where and how these instruments are played.
Ambient cues are used to determine where an instrument was played. It indicates the location of an instrument. If an instrument is louder than others in a mix or combination, the instrument is perceived to be closer to the listener. The delay in sound production for a particular instrument can also make it be perceived farther away by the listener. Other things like sound effects and volume can also influence how we perceive and visualize a soundstage.
For headphones, the room environment is the ear. The perception is determined on how open or closed the headphone cups are designed.
Sound source, speaker and amplifier design
These factors are as crucial in the production of a quality soundstage. How a sound is produced, and the source of the sound can determine its degree of intensity and, in turn, reflects on the Soundstage's perception. The quality of a speaker can also influence the production of good quality soundstage. The constructions and designs of the speaker’s cabin are also crucial to the performance of the speakers. There are a lot of cabin designs to choose from in the market, depending on what quality and perception the listener wants to achieve. The transformers, power amp, and preamp components, driver materials, etc. can also significantly affect the ability of speakers to reproduce sound and create quality soundstage.
Speaker angles and placement
Speakers come in different sizes, with different sound producing power and different ways of tuning. The optimum performance of these speakers in producing a good soundstage depends on their interaction with each other. Sounds produced from speakers travel around from left to right, diffusing into the air to give a sonic sensation. There are a lot of dimensions affecting speaker to speaker interaction experience. They are as follows
- Horizontal angles of the speakers
- Vertical angles of the speakers
- Height of the speakers in relation to the ears of the listener
- Distance between the speakers
- Distance between the listener and speakers
- The distance of the speakers from the surrounding walls
The study and understanding of all or some of these factors can help avid audiophiles to have a knowledge of how Soundstage works. To enjoy the interaction between speakers, you have to find the “sweet spot” for the set of speakers. It is a task that could be lengthy, twisty, and dark, but once it is found will bring an astonishing listening experience.
All of the dimensions mentioned above will have a significant impact on the final soundstage output and the entire listening experience.
The imagination of the listener can also be a strong factor that influences the visibility and quality of a soundstage.
When is Soundstage important?
For individuals looking for high-quality sound production in their stereos and headphones. Below are some of the moments where speakers with Soundstage are important.
Studio audio mixing
You can recreate audios that have a natural sound when reviewed by the ear. This is essential as sound engineers have now become essential in creating visual stages for different genres of music. For example, when you are at a rock concert, it is extremely difficult to get the hang of where each musical instrument is located at different ends of the stage. This is because the sounds are produced from speakers that are far from the singers and instruments, creating artificial audio. A sound engineer can help put all these fragments together in his studio to create a better sound quality.
Different headphones have their varying soundstages. Some of them sound closer, while some of them sound farther. For better gaming, you might want a headphone that sounds far out. The reason is that it covers a lot of space in all directions creating better imaging by creating a 3D effect reality.
In most shooting games, it helps the gamer identify where his competing rival is shooting from and at what range. Sometimes, using headphones with good Soundstage, you can hear the heartbeat of attackers, thereby detecting when they are close by. Although relying on it alone does not get you many levels, for avid gamers, quality soundstage production devices give better immersion and improve the gaming experience.
Why do headphones have better Soundstage?
Basically, headphones and audiophile earbuds with open-back come with quality and better-defined Soundstage than the headphones and audiophile earbuds with close-back. Close-back headphones are better at noise cancellation and passive voice isolation by blocking ambient noise and keeping the music within the ear region. This makes it difficult for sound staging. Compact cased audiophile earbuds prevent the sound waves from traveling freely, thereby not making it possible for sound imaging.
Contrary to closed-back, open-back headphones don’t possess noise cancellation features at all; hence, there is high sound leakage, and ambient, and background sounds are not kept out. The flip side is that it comes with better production of Soundstage (spatial sound). Because of its open design, the sound waves are not restricted but travel more freely around your ears, thereby leading to the sound waves perceived more effectively.
One of the best Bluetooth earbuds in the market is the Audiophile and noise-canceling earbuds, xFyro. They have a simple, small, and sleek design. It has a little extended arm on the earbuds, which helps them to fit comfortably in your ears without falling out. You do not have to worry about sound quality here; the earbuds deliver perfect sound. Because of its shape and size, it is impossible to keep ambient noise out, especially that they are noise-canceling earbuds. This makes it a good Bluetooth earbud for the production of Soundstage and sound images. It has an added advantage of a long-lasting battery. You also get to enjoy a stable connection to your device with the Bluetooth 5.0
The Soundstage is still relatively unknown to most music listeners; a lot of people pick headphones without even considering it. For the very keen listeners, giving in to the speaker's image will have some unparalleled sonic gains.
Although headphones are not at the same level as a stereo speaker in soundstage production, there are still a lot of open-back audiophile earbuds like xFyro that are recommended to do a decent job.