Huge sound stage

As I mentioned in another post, I'm very pleased with the huge soundstage my system now has. Sounds are coming from completely "outside" my speakers. I now know what they mean about your speakers "disappearing". Music is coming from the left of my speakers, from the right of my speakers, from behind and from in front of. It truly is "goosbump" moments for me. (Please excuse my newbie enthusiasm :)
Now for my question. How much of this increased soundstage is do to my new CDP and how much is due to my new Pre. I upgraded both in my system at the same time, so I didn't get to do any A - B comparisons after each piece was added. My system is as follows.
CDP: Musical Fidelity A5
PreAmp: Pass Labs X-1
Amp: Musical Fidelity a308cr
Speakers: Spendor S9
All cables & interconnects: Analysis Plus Oval 9

Your opinions are appreciated, Thanks!
Since you didn't ID your old stuff its hard to answer your question except in general terms, but you did say something which I'm not sure I have ever experienced in a properly operating system (not to throw water on your experience).

In a general sense, the most likely candidate for soundstage improvement is the source - you've got to get it out of the pits. So I would nominate the CDP. The pre-amp should be able to pass all of the infor on to the amp without commentary, which the Pass should easily be able to do.

However, your description of your sound seems either over the top, or you have something hooked up wrong.

In a properly set up system (including speakers) the only sounds you should hear outside of your speakers (on the same plane as your speakers) should be 'out of phase sounds'. While there is out of phase sound on many recordings it is not the type that should draw much attention unless the recording engineers wanted to create a special effect.

The in-phase sounds should appear to come between your speakers and a mono signal should be heard exactly mid point between your speakers. Only sounds recorded out of phase should appear to come from more vague places such as to the left or right of your speakers.

It sounds to me as if you may have your channels set up out of phase. The result of doing this will give the immediate impression of having a huge soundstage. This is easy to check - play a recording with a vocalist - you should get a very defined image of the voice in one specific place. Obviously, check your cable connections to insure that each set is properly connected to amp and speaker - that you have not accidentially reversed one set.
"In a properly set up system (including speakers) the only sounds you should hear outside of your speakers (on the same plane as your speakers) should be 'out of phase sounds'."

I might respectfully disagree with this. I think very good drivers/tweeters have a dispersion angle that is quite wide.
I regularly get sounds/instuments beyond the outside and above the boundaries of the speakers (ACI Jaguars with high end Scanspeak tweeters), as well as a soundstage that is quite deep.
The vocalist and instrument pinpointing is there as you suggest and my connections are all correct.

Maybe we are talking about two different things, or I could be confused.
The Sterophile Test CD is also a great source to test phase.
You didn't mention if your room is treated or what size it is, you may be the one luck guy in a million who has an almost perfect room with out even knowing it. I have to believe that your set up if not out of phase is just right for your room.
If so... luck is a good thing.

I didn't mean to confuse you.....

The key here is 'properly set up' meaning that you have, for example, minimized your reflection points and are hearing the direct sounds from the speakers from the sweet spot. When you have set up your speakers and have not delt with the reflection points sufficiently then speakers which have a fairly flat output well off axis will in fact be bouncing in phase sounds off the walls, ceilings, floor, etc, and create are larger BUT more diffuse sound stage. That is exactly why so many folks pay such strict attention to room acoustic's and treatment, or some folks like omni's.

Another thing I have found is that when folks say they are hearing sound outside of the speakers, and its not out of phase sound from the recording itself, they are referring to sounds that are appearing well beyond the plane of the speakers (behind the speakers) but when you draw a line from the listener to the speaker and beyond to the wall, the sound still appears within the triangulated area.

It is inherrent in the stereo process that in-phase sounds heard thru speakers which are accurate reproducers, typical dynamic point source speakers for example (not omni's etc which are designed to put out a signal in many directions) will only be heard between the two speakers.

However, properly set up speakers, in a well treated room, will at the listening position, allow you to hear all of the recorded information, including out of phase information which is what give the impression of sounds beyond the sides of the speakers. If you don't set up your speakers exactly and treat your room accordingly, you will loose a lot of the very subtle out of phase info on the recording and you will only have sound between the two speakers.

This can easily be played with by using a test disc with in-phase and out of phase sounds. Using one of these disc's when playing out of phase you should not have a centered image at all, and if you are properly set up the sound should sound as if it were coming from all about your room - which, BTW, is a very tough condition to recreate! Its easy to get a vague sound in the part of the room with the speakers, but getting it to sound as if its coming from everywhere equally is a real challenge. And, as you might suspect, the better you can reproduce out of phase info the better your inphase (and overall) sound will become.



Well, your knowledge base is quite advanced on these elements. I have kind of learned along the way by trial and error.
I have worked fairly dilgently on speaker placement with respect to the listening triangle, toe in, height, coupling to stands, and basic room treatments (mostly absorption at first points of reflection, but overall room also).

When I got these ACI Jaguars-it literally took me a month of playing around in their placement with respect side and back walls and listening position. Ihad a tape measure out and was moving them a coupel inches at a time. It was interesting to hear how much speaker placement effects soundstage and presentation.
Of course, I also have a subwoofer that had to be re-integrated with the new monitors.

There seems to be part science and part art to this speaker and room setup thing.

It sounds pretty good most of the time and really good-sort of like "you are there" on very good recordings.

In answer to the first poster-I am a big believer in starting with a good source, but everyhting matters in this hobby. Everything.

Have fun!


Congratulations on your system! It seems you have found your Audio Nirvana (at least for the moment!).

As far as which component did what, I would not venture a guess (except that whatever components you replaced did not work in your system). From your description it seems the sound from your new components have created a synergistic effect. Sit back and enjoy the music!

In response to Newbee, is it possible Tgyeti's system is out of phase? Yes. Probable? No. If Merry Clayton is singing to your neighbor, the Atlanta Symphony is doing a wandering minstrel act or Gene Simmons is standing behind you licking your neck (err, scary thought!), I would have a problem. But if everything seems normal (at least to the recording engineer) and the system does what it is supposed to do, the soundstage can be as small as one person or as huge as an orchestra (or bigger!). That is just my interpretation of Tgyeti's statement. FWIW

In terms of which component contributed the most, I would say the one that replaced the weaker link. While Newbee is correct in his assertion that if the source doesn't get the info off the disc, it can't be reproduced, it is also true that a weak component anywhere in the chain can lose that info. I have only carefully auditioned a handful of pre-amps, nad have always been amazed at how much they can change the sound. It seems like they have an easy job, but it's difficult to find a good one.

regarding the phase issue, if you have good bass, you probably don't have any phase problems (unless you are bi-amping). I have heard the effect Newbee describes in car audio, if I had, say, the two midranges out of phase. It sounds sool for a few minutes, then just wierd.
The Musical Fidelity A5 is great at the big 3 dimensional soundstage. I know this was an area of considerable improvement when I added it to my system over a stock Denon 2900. Of course, this element was improved upon with the addition of a tube integrated amp as well.