How important is it for you to attain a holographic image?

I’m wondering how many A’goners consider a holographic image a must for them to enjoy their systems?  Also, how many achieve this effect on a majority of recordings?
Is good soundstaging enough, or must a three dimensional image be attained in all cases.  Indeed, is it possible to always achieve it?

7c67ab18 c2ce 4b45 9523 fc4a71684ce0rvpiano
  I stay away from words like "always" and "never" but I do listen carefully for three dimensional imaging in recordings and on equipment. I think a 3 dimensional image does sound more life-like. 
First, I think it's important to reset with going to a symphony now and then and closing your eyes.

We rarely get holographic sound in person.

But we may desire it, especially since we cannot see the musicians.

And possible, depends on the recordings, but I will say my experience is that you can improve the holography by improving acoustics in the same plane.

Also, I believe there's serious trade offs. Imagine may be enhanced at the loss of treble, or lower midrange. When I hear cables enhancing the imaging, it seems this is always a trade off.

But always, to your own ears and pleasure be true. "realism" is oversold.
I don’t worry much about it . In the 2k + live classical concerts I’ve been to I’ve yet to be in a concert hall that imaged .
2 were close, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Ordway  in St. Paul .
Very important. Especially for some recordings. I dismiss systems that can't do it well. Not only simply holographic but layering. I've been to a few concert halls as well, including those that were not particularly good. 
I was thinking about this some more. I think there are a couple of things I'd rather have more than holography:
1. Smooth FR. One that does not call attention to itself, but feels effortless in dynamic range and endless to the edges in the bass and the treble.

2. Transparency. To me, what I mean is the aural equivalent of standing on a mountain top, and realizing you can see for miles farther than you ever could.

Both of those characteristics matter a lot more to me than imaging. And imaging is important.

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@ erik_squires

I agree with Erik.

If you emphasize focus and imaging too much, then you may lose top end extension or mid range roundness.

Not all recordings have 3 D imaging.

I found some CD like "Amused to Death" has holographic imaging.
A holographic image is part of the joy of audiophile-ism, no doubt. But ... it's not everything. The main thing to me is tonal accuracy. The instruments have to sound right first. That entails listening to enough live music in order to be able to identify the natural sound of instruments. With good electronics, speakers and proper tweaking, one can attain a very transparent, holographic, seamless, and tonally accurate system. On the best recordings, master tapes, for example, the musicians can seem to be live in the room.  Again ... tonal accuracy first.

I would have to agree with Frank accurate tone and timbre is a must and what I look for first. I don't really care that much about a holographic image and my small room and cramped setup make its pretty impossible anyway. I do like a solid center image however and early stereo recordings that are hard right and left are not my favorites.
Dynamics is king. Everything else is secondary.
That imaging stuff is, IMHO, a parlor trick inside a parlor trick. I don’t hear any of that stuff in the concert hall and don’t want it at home.

Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with those that get musical enjoyment from the effect.
If it ain't holographic it ain't the highest of ends. I want it for serious listening but can enjoy listening without it often as well.
IME... Holographic imaging is one of the benefits we obtain when diving deeper into high end equipment. The degree of such is very dependent on the recording though, as previously stated. On folk recordings, it can be absolute bliss.  
I agree that holographic imaging is very impressive but is it the defining element of an accurate representation of live music.
Or, is it a parlor trick?
Tone is first but then as you move up the food chain a “holographic” soundstage is a must.  If it sounds flat or one dimensional then there is definitely a short coming in your system.  Live music is not like a row of paper cutouts.  There is depth, interaction, perspective, placement, movement and change.  That is music. 
I would agree that dynamics, as it should be and not exaggerated, is a king. But king alone is not nearly enough.
I love the spacial ques, without it, it takes me back to the transistor radio days of the 60's
I sorta regard it, anymore these days, as something of a parlor trick, myself. Don't get me wrong, I love imaging - but mainly only when it is playing on the same page as the sound staging. Hate it when the 2 are disconnected from each other.

I've heard (and have owned a couple) systems of lesser quality where it was relatively easy to get a "dimensional" sound from stage rear, and had pretty good imaging as well (at least across the front of the stage), but as things progressed for me over the years, the challenge has been to get the soundfield to fully fill in all the areas in between the front of the stage and the back and do so believably. 

But, I'd say I'm more of a 'line-of-sight' kind of guy...that to me is more like what I hear when I'm out. I listen to about everything at home. Maybe for some small ensembles, it could be an advantage. With most material, I might even find it distracting...I think it can be overdone.
It's true that a live classical performance is not holographic, but with good acoustics it does sound layered. 
That's why I dislike many modern close mic'd recordings. The imaging is flat; how many orchestras have the brass section seated up front?

At home I do enjoy hearing the concert hall ambience. The 3D image is much more audible when the hall is empty.

I like a holographic image with acoustic instruments, like a properly mic'd jazz combo.
A rock band playing electric instruments would not have a naturally holographic image. So it sounds artificial on some recordings.

I'm OK with it being a parlor trick; I don't care how the effect is produced, so long as it's there.  Generally will settle for good 2D, as stereo systems and height is problematical at best.  But I love it when the soundstage stretches way back beyond the plane of the speakers, sometimes beyond the place of the front wall behind them.  This is especially important in recordings of things like concertos, where you really do want the orchestra behind the soloist.
I agree with you  @twoleftears, I love when the 3D image extends far into the front wall. As long as the soundstage is proportional; width, height, and depth, it sounds great to me.
On my system each recording presents different imaging, which I guess means that I'm hearing an accurate reproduction of the original recording. Accurate, of course, also means good tonal quality.
I believe I have excellent sound staging but not “holographic.”  There is a difference.  Holography to me most often refers to a solo singer suspended in space in front of the speakers.  I’ve not heard that effect with several singers or instruments, as in classical music. In fact, I’ve heard systems where there is a holographic effect with a solo singer but not great soundstaging with an orchestra.
Dynamics are everything.. it will be painful to downsize as I do believe nothing will touch my current speakers dynamics below or at it’s price point... on the suggestion of someone here I put on Roger Water’s Amused to Death album. Wow... talk about holographic. It felt like I was having an intimate conversation with Roger when he began speaking a minute into the track Perfect Sense. What a spooky holographic album. Well if my Jbl 4367 can handle holographic I’m sure many other speakers can. I’ve found holographic to be a neat trick that most speaker can do. It’s more dependant on your room and the recording then anything. Anyway... like Geoff said dynamics are king. They are everything. If you have good dynamics everything will simply come together
concentrate on accurate Tone and Timbre first.  Happy Listening!
RVpiano, d2girls beat me to it, but for the record, if it ain't in the recording it's never going to come out of your speakers, and it is rarely in the recording. Now if you happen to have such a recording (such as Depth of Image by Opus 3) electronics with good dynamics and low level resolution, and a well set up system, you can have what you would like. 

I don't expect to get that level of sound staging in my home and just don't listen for it (anymore) - I just listen to the music. That is why I came to the party in the first place.

The room and recording play such a vital role in obtaining a holographic image, detail, and bass response. A friend and I were talking the other day about how much music we listen to is so badly recorded it makes us sick. 

For me, it isn't a matter of whether or not holographic imaging is heard live; live is one thing, recordings another. If soundstaging is inherent in a recording and your system isn't reproducing it, what else is it missing?

It was Harry Pearson and The Absolute Sound who made imaging and soundstaging a priority, to a degree beyond my desires. I will admit that the first time I heard the great depth in a recording (Holst's The Planets, Boult on EMI, iirc) reproduced by a system (a complete Decca/ARC/Magneplanar Tympani system set up by Bill Johnson), I found the sound of a tiny little triangle being played way at the back of the orchestra thrilling. It actually appeared to be further away than was the wall behind the speakers!

As it is for others, my priority in reproduced music is lifelike timbre, especially that of singing voices. Of them I cannot abide any degree of added coloration. Next is transparency---hearing though the equipment back to the recording itself. The one aspect of imaging important to me is that of instrument size and height, though those are not exactly the same; you can have either without the other.

I neglected to include the following: I very much appreciate and concur with the feelings of Art Dudley and Herb Reichert, that "forward musical momentum", touch, and full color saturation of instrumental timbre is extremely important in the reproduction of music. But of what value are those if Tony Rice’s guitar, Jerry Douglas’ dobro, and Alison Krauss’ vocals have had their color "temperature" (to make a photographic analogy) changed? Or if the sound is so lacking in transparency as to make the instruments difficult to hear? I did however include their criteria of scale (I call it instrumental size and height).

But I left out my number two priority (second only to lack of timbral coloration), that of immediacy. If you’ve heard a direst-to-disk LP and/or Decca/London cartridge, you know what I mean by that. A "startling alive", fully fleshed out, 3-dimensional human being(s) standing right in front of you in the room. So real you feel you could reach out and touch him, her, or them. That’s for small-scale music, obviously. For large scale, it is the massive presence of an orchestra in a concert hall or cathedral, all its members hitting the opening notes of a composition with enough force to knock your head back!

I recall reading Pearson discussing transparency, and was very surprised to see him say about a system that it was transparent in the same way a live instrument is transparent. If you're like me, you might be thinking "Wait, if a live instrument were transparent, you wouldn't hear (see) it". A system, and recording, are transparent TO the original; the original can't be transparent! 

A low noise floor is required for holographic imaging. This  improves dynamics, transparency, depth.
It's true that if it's not recorded that way, it wont play back with holography.

Great example is with Wagner and Strauss, the solo horn in the distance seems to float way behind the orchestra. When performed live, the horn is really standing offstage.
How can some of you call holographic sound a parlor trick? Isn't Stereo sound from high end equipment referred to as an "illusion?"
Yeah, sounds and acoustic space are not two dimensional, but audiophiles' brains can be. What else is new ?



If all of it is an illusion, and it is, then which parts of the illusion are necessary and which, maybe, not so much?


 2018 and no soundstage yet? It's hard (impossible, frightening) for me to entertain the thought of stereo playback without it's soundstage. It's hard for me to imagine not playing fullrange, or having a system that doesn't play, fully, all of my recordings. When I read people saying they have part and not able to get all, it makes me wonder what are they waiting on.

Only getting part of stereo would be torture for me.

Michael Green

I think once you've heard it, it's difficult to go back. Recorded studio music can be frustrating if vocals are slightly off, whereas with live music you have a visual reference and can accept the positioning. Closed eyes and revelling in the positioning of well reproduced music is bliss. 
Is imaging important? The word itself, "stereo" is from the Latin and refers to solid or 3-dimensional. The word itself derives from the ability of two properly positioned speakers to create the illusion of a solid sound source distinct from those two speakers. 

Sound stage, image, focus- all these terms derive from stereo.

Imaging goes right to the heart of why we use two speakers at all.

On the other hand, for anyone who doesn't care about the whole reason this industry exists, you can save an awful lot on speakers! Half off!
"A low noise floor is required for holographic imaging. This  improves dynamics, transparency, depth."   Lowrider

Yes, lowering the noise floor brings forth more bottom end, wider soundstage and more inner detail---a lot more, and in layers not heard before. This is when information pop out to create depth. What has transformed my system can be read about in the thread "Perfectpathtechnologies-Omega E mat".  See my posts on last page.  Read the whole thread---the real deal.  

@jerrysfinger  I agree that once you have it it's hard to go back.But I can enjoy music without it at other people's houses,in the car,etc.Just not at home.It's just thrilling to listen with closed eyes and get lost in the illusion.
Not at all. Downright distracting, if you ask me. As long as the channel balance is reasonably centered, you are ready to enjoy music.
Go listen to some live acoustic music at your local high school, community college, college, church or your friend’s house down the street - “free of charge” usually - so no excuses 😀 If you think holographic imaging doesn’t matter then appparently you listen to arena rock, terribly miked symphonic music or you are deaf.
As I said previously, there’s a difference between sound staging and “holographic effect”. What you most typically get at a live concert sitting in an auditorium is sound staging, not holography.  A holographic effect is produced by microphones placed in a location where few people sit.
Perhaps if you’re sitting in a small setting such as a club where you’re close to the performers you might get something approaching this effect.

"I read people saying they have part and not able to get all, it makes me wonder what are they waiting on."

’I’ve heard (and have owned a couple) systems of lesser quality where it was relatively easy to get a "dimensional" sound from stage rear, and had pretty good imaging as well (at least across the front of the stage), but as things progressed for me over the years, the challenge has been to get the soundfield to fully fill in all the areas in between the front of the stage and the back and do so believably.’

Is that what you are referring to? I may have, through poor word choice on my part, have given you the wrong impression on my own system’s status...I did not mean to imply that it was a ’challenge’ that I did not overcome, but that it was accomplished in stages, by degrees, with varying methods of placement, noise floor reduction, grounding, power factor correction and power treatments. No waiting on anything here, not these days...quite the contrary. But, I can see how anyone might misconstrue what I said.

Just as live, there's also a great difference in listening to a good recording of a jazz trio and an 80-piece symphony orchestra.
On a competent system you can hear the space of the venue of the recording in terms of three dimensions and reverberant decay and echos, that sort of thing. Assuming it was recorded live in a good hall, like say Boston or Chicago or Vienna or Berlin. So in that sense, in terms of a real soundstage, the recording on a good system might be more accurate and revealing than many seats in the hall. Look at the LP or the CD as an archaeological site that requires work in order to extract all the glorious details including soundstage parameters.
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Geoff, well said.

Okay, when it comes to "sound staging," what can we expect from mono recordings? 

I have collected hundreds of mono jazz records from the early 50s. I can honestly say that when listening to the best of them, I could care less about a stereo effect. With the best mono's, the sound is expansive and fills the space between the speakers completely. Granted, there's nothing outside the speakers, but there's a certain "rightness" or "correctness" garnered from mono recordings that's really hard to get from stereo records. Personally, I like both. 

Which is why, for me, the imaging thing is a parlor trick inside a parlor trick. The first parlor trick being stereo and the second being imaging. But more power to those that appreciate these effects. Were all paying good money and should get what makes us engage with the music.
The “parlor trick” is created by stereo microphone placement.
Thank GOD I have it all, even 4D!

Happy Listening
I don’t know if it is that important. I am one that wants to be moved by the music and not so much by the effects. But I do like accoustic music most and the real thing does have a harmonic envelope that includes sounds of the room. So if that is not out of balance I find it contributes to the music in my opinion.