Is Imaging Worth Chasing?

Man, am I going to be torn apart for this. But I says what I says and I mean what I says.

Here’s a long term trend I’ve noticed in the audio press. Specs that used to be front and center in equipment reviews have essentially disappeared. Total harmonic distortion, for instance. Twenty years ago, THD was the start and end of the evaluation of any amplifier. Well, maybe power, first. Then THD. Armed with those two numbers, shopping was safe and easy.

The explanation for the disappearance is not hard to figure. Designers got so good in those categories that the numbers became meaningless. Today, most every amp on the shelf has disappearingly low distortion. Comparing .00001 to .000001 is a fool’s errand and both the writers and the readers know it. Power got cheap, even before Class D came along to make it even cheaper. Anyone who tries bragging about his 100 watts will be laughed out of the audio club.

Stereophile still needed to fill it’s pages and audiophiles still needed things to argue about so, into the void, stepped imaging. Reviewers go on and on about imaging. And within the umbrella of imaging, they write separately about the images height, width, and depth. “I closed my eyes and I could see a rock solid picture of the violas behind the violins.” “The soundstage extended far beyond the width of the speakers.” And on and on.

Now, most everyone who will read this knows more about audio equipment than me. But I know music. I know how to listen. And the number of times that I’ve seen imaging, that I’ve seen an imaginary soundstage before me, can be counted on my fingers. Maybe the fingers of one hand.

My speakers are 5-6 feet apart. I don’t have a listening chair qua listening chair but I’m usually 8-9 feet back. (This configuration is driven by many variables but sound quality is probably third on the list.) Not a terrible set-up, is my guess from reading lots of speaker placement articles. And God knows that, within the limited space available to me, I have spent enough time on getting those speakers just right. Plus, my LS50s are supposed to be imaging demons.

I’ve talked to people about this, including some people who work at high-end audio stores. Most of them commiserate. It’s a problem, they said. “It usually only happens with acoustic music,” most of them said. Strike one. My diet of indie rock and contemporary jazz doesn’t have much of that. “You’ve got to have your chair set up just right. And you’ve got to hold your head in just the right place.” Strike two. Who wants to do that?

(Most of the people reading this forum, probably. But I can’t think of any time or purpose for which I’ve held my head in a vise-like grip like that.)

It happens, every now and then. For some reason, I was once right up next to my speakers. Lots of direct sound, less reflections. “The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads” was playing. And I literally gave a start because David Byrne was standing on the coffee table. Cool.

But, generally speaking, imaging is something I only read about. And if that little bit of imaging is the dividend of dropping more money into my system, I’m not sure that I want to deposit into that account.

I think that I still have a few steps to take that will pay benefits other than imaging. But maybe the high-end is not for me.


you need better speakers. The LS50 aren't very good. Too bright. No bass. imaging all over the place. 

Now, most everyone who will read this knows more about audio equipment than me.

Imaging is everything. If you don't have it in tons, learn how to get it. 

I love imaging desperately. It offers up an intoxicating sense of space and room-filling "there-ness." I revel in it. It's especially wonderful in the opera recordings done by Decca-London and EMI Angel. Singers wander around the stage, front to back, side to side and diagonally. An off stage bell might clang. Crowds spread across the stage, yelling, applauding and cursing. It ain't a gimmick. It brings you to the performance. It's emotional. Not intellectual.

That setup, forced by a small space, is in no way advantageous to provide and enjoy imaging.

I suggest you try headphones.

+1 edcyn.

For me imaging is crucial.  Consequently, I have a dedicated audio room and everything is set up to maximize this quality.  I don't mind sitting in one place to enjoy my music. 

I also do not believe you need to spend "high end" dollars to achieve excellent imaging. Modest systems can achieve this end.  But you have to have a room that allows you the freedom to place your gear and seated position correctly.

Now if those restrictions do not appeal to you I respect your priorities.  Just not sure how otherwise you can achieve great imaging.

Twenty years ago, THD was the start and end of the evaluation of any amplifier. Well, maybe power, first. Then THD. Armed with those two numbers, shopping was safe and easy.

And now shopping is not safe and easy. So things are better now?

I got this. I have a constrained space as well, 9' x 11' room with the speakers on the long wall no less. And, they are LS50's. For a long time I had my speakers 5-6' feet apart and thought they imaged pretty well. Then one day, ignoring the complications it would create, I spaced them out to 7' with about 15 degrees of toe-in. A WHOLE new world of imaging appeared. I can only get them about 10" from the back wall and I am sure the image depth would be even better if I could move them out a bit further, but not to be in this space. I highly recommend spreading them out a bit further to form an equilateral triangle and see if you can improve the image. And if you don't have a subwoofer, get one. 


Twenty years ago, THD was the start and end of the evaluation of any amplifier. Well, maybe power, first. Then THD.

Your timeline is way off. The emphasis on the lowest possible THD goes back to the receiver wars. The launch of Audio Research's SP3 preamp was one of the products that revealed the flaw in that approach, and that's when high end audio was really born. The Absolute Sound was part of that movement and it goes back to the '70s - about 50 years ago.

Imaging is important and you can do it! Pulling speakers from the front wall is critical. There are many guides out there, but you might look at Paul McGowan's youtube channel or Jim Smith's Get Better Sound.

Your speakers are just fine. Good luck!

Try watching a few of these:

Do you like they way your system sounds? Then good enough. Enjoy it.

And, most importantly, ignore the clownish "your speakers aren't very good",

**** Imaging is everything. ****

Wow! Not even close. Tonal truthfulness, rhythmic and dynamic coherence…those sit way higher on the list of important attributes of an audio system. Imaging is great ear candy and certainly fun, but those other attributes are much more important in conveying the musical message.

“Is it worth chasing”?  Only you can decide.  Depends on one’s priorities. 



To get great imaging, it needs to be encoded in the source, So, that eliminates a lot of music..probably most.

To get some imaging value out of your equipment, you need a lot of help from room acoustics.

I don’t listen to a lot of classical, but I do enjoy a variety of pieces with a strong vocal component, or simple acoustic pieces. Imaging is something I notice more with this music, but it isn’t the most important part of the presentation and I have no idea how my experience of the soundstage relates to the live recording environment. I do notice differences in soundstage width and depth, but not height and I do notice localization of some instruments like acoustic guitar, voice, symbols, drums, brass and so on when in a less cluttered musical environment.

For a you are there experience, I think this is more available in home theater, especially with high channel Atmos, but I don’t know that I would call this imaging.

First. Primary emphasis on specifications disappeared because, while not meaningless, they are a distraction and are frequently deceptive. The only reliable way to characterize high end audio equipment is descriptions of sound characteristics.

Imaging is as @frogman points out only one of many characteristics of a good high end system. Some folks consider it an important characteristic, some could care less.

How well your system images is the result of all components of your system, venue and speaker setup.

I would start with What you have. Optimize it, then decide what the next step should be.

The most useful thing you can do, to allow us to help is to put photos of your system and venue. This way we have some idea of what is really going on. There is a place under your UserID to do so, under virtual systems.


Step one will be slow methodical adjusting speaker placement. Get the triangle correct (speakers and chair), wall distances. Your ears need to be at tweeter level for most speakers… these are what are doing most of the imaging. 1/8” difference on placement can make a difference. Toe in is next. The soundstage opens up as you go from the speakers pointed at you to straight ahead…but, too far and the central image collapses) So this is not a quick process.

Then room treatments. If your front and side walls are too reflective then the imaging is confused… you can see my main system to see some of the treatments I have used. The really heavy, thick wool rug on the front wall profoundly improved the imaging in my system. The images go deep into the wall (so, 4’ to the wall and 5’ into the wall), and on both sides of the speakers (so for me the soundstage is about 12’ wide). In special recordings I can hear sounds behind me.

You can find detailed instructions about how to approach the above two activities.


Then there is your system. Top priority is speakers that are known to image well, of an appropriate size for your room. High quality stand mounted speakers can be the easiest to get great imaging out of. Then there is your electronics… in general, the better your equipment the better it will image.

This audio hobby is challenging and that is what makes it very exciting.  The whole point of stereo is to recreate the 3D soundstage of the musicians and singers.  Several challenges precede that goal however.  First, is tonal balance so that the music sounds right- sounds live.  Probably one of the biggest challenges we face is bass response.  Getting that last bottom octave is a challenge not just for speakers but for the room as well.  Then we have Signal to Noise and distortion to deal with. One type of distortion not often discussed is dynamic or responsiveness.  Can the music reach the crescendos and the decrescendos and do it like a live performance.  And when it comes to tonal balance and bass response, there is no right answer.  Just as musicians have their signature sound and the way they make music from their instruments, we audiophiles have our own artistic input into how the music is reproduced on our systems.  If one is fortunate to hear various hifi systems in their lifetime, they will have a handful of stereo systems that are defining moments in hifi for them.  My very first defining moment in hifi for me was a pair of modified Quad ESL's mounted in wooden frames for extra stiffness and powered by a Quicksilver Tube amp with a modified ARC SP-8 and a Sota Star turntable.  It was early 1988 and it was a magical moment for me.  I can still remember the magic of those speakers.  That started me on the "true" hifi journey.  

The best systems can not just meet the "basics" of audio reproduction but they also can paint a wide and deep 3 dimensional sound stage that can make you feel like you are there in the room with the musicians.  The best of these systems will make you feel like the musicians are moving around in the room with you.  It can actually feel creepy or spooky.  Since the day I heard those Quads, imaging has always been a priority for me.

Speaker placement, eliminating as much noise as possible, and room dampening are critical.  In addition, isolation of each component- including the speakers will sharpen and define the images.  The right cables are important too in order to bring the images into sharper focus.  Some level of imaging is possible with just about any stereo system.  Unfortunately, it seems like the more expensive speakers, amps, preamps and sources as well as cables contribute to reaching the pinnacle of imaging.  One other point- turn out the lights when you listen.  It makes a difference.  

Oh, and I did have a neighbor one time get up and leave the room.  He did not like the spooky imaging one bit.  Realistically, imaging is not for everyone.  Some do not even care about it at all.

It’s one of the most important things in my opinion, and the goal of a properly set up space. If imaging and soundstage aren’t important to an individual in this game then why bother with high end, get a soundbar or a cheap set of earbuds and call it a day.


I have complete and utter faith in my speakers.
zlone—Thanks for the tip. Moving the speakers apart is one of the few options open to me so I’ll try that. Toe-in worries me. The only time I’ve ever heard any brightness from the LS50s (which TAS described as a "butterscotch sundae" of a speaker) is when they’re toed-in. But it’s certainly worth a shot.
edcyn—Poetry. A great description of imaging. I think it would be worth a chase to hear the singers walk around the stage. But between the limitations of my room and of my own ability—and desire—to hold my head in one place, I don’t think it’s a chase that I will ever win.

I value transparency far more than imaging.  Couple of reasons.

First, I don't believe the hyper-etched imaging of close miked music to be at all realistic or transparent.  Quite the opposite.  Listening to live acoustic performances the "imaging" is actually pretty soft and laid back.

I also don't particularly think high jump-factor speakers are "realistic" unless you are are on the stage itself. 

@secretguy +1

@frogman +1

That said, if you’re not satisfied with your sound, speakers are the most efficient route to go. Good speakers will have both full robust and satisfying sound - the best also being non-fatiguing, not an exaggerated treble - AND have good to great imaging as well. It’s not a one-or-the-other situation. Even my modest old Epi 100s provide good realistic imaging as well as rich and non-fatiguing sound quality. My new Heresy IV are awesome for the rich and lively, dynamic sound, but they also have good imaging too and are very enjoyable...

Some people make what I believe is a mistake when they go for "imaging is everything" ... especially if that imaging is restricted to a narrow "sweet spot" in some lonely listening room. What about fullness, dynamism, real-music-ness...? What about the livability factor, being able to enjoy the sound without being tethered to one exact spot or listening position. Actually go to a live music show, which is as real as it gets, and are you obsessing over imaging, or are you enjoying the OVERALL presentation, like erik_squires just pointed out?

Just be careful if you do start to audition that you don’t mistake a pronounced treble end as equaling "imaging"... it’s an easy error to make. Go for rich speakers that you’d want to live with in your own environment. (this is why I like the Epi and Heresy that I mentioned... they’re really easy to live with, sound good from anywhere in the room, and then when I do want to sit in the sweet spot with the lights low, they accommodate that ALSO...)

Question…. You are at the symphony… 5th row center… you close your eyes… can you distinctly locate 1. all of the instruments  2.  some of the instruments  3. all of the instrument sections  4.  some of the instrument sections  5. it sounds great but it all blends together except maybe percussion. 

Answer this and you will know how important imaging is to you as you may be able to discern distinct separation better than most. 

**** Imaging is everything. ****

Wow! Not even close.

Without imaging, you just have a sound reinforcement system, not a music reproduction system. IMHO.

+1 @corelli 

​​​​And for @paul6002 

It's not about the equipment, it is all about the room for getting unbelievable imaging. I can literally place any instruments in their specific place without even trying. I mean they can be a foot away from eachother or totally across the room, up and down, forward or more in the background, you name it. It's actually incredible if you pay attention to it, but by now I often just dive into the music and I take all those different sound placements for granted. Bottom line is do not try to achieve this type of imaging with equipment, only the proper room and acoustics will get you there.

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Cleeds, it wasn't the Absolute Sound that started subjective reviews and made low distortion less relevant. It was Gordon Holt in the 50s in a magazine now defunct I can't recall. He began talking about what he heard, not specs. It didn't go over well and Gordon left to work for Weathers, a turntable manufacturer where he also ran a newsletter. He left Weathers and using the news letter reader list started Stereophile in the early 1960s which finally established discussing what was heard as a way to judge audio gear.

if you set them up just right, some of the most basic speakers can do 3D imaging at least in the near or midfield. the real trick, is to make them image over the scope of the whole listening room, i've heard a few [one very pricey, and one not so pricey] that could do this, and once you've heard it there is no going back for it is a grand illusion that makes you lose track of time. and it is not just a few recordings that have this palpable stereophonic character in them, but most that have at least some measurable OOP info on them. 

 Imaging improve with subwoofer, speake with high crossover slope, stiffer cone material, lighter tweeter Material. placement and room accoustics.



Question…. You are at the symphony… 5th row center… you close your eyes… can you distinctly locate 1. all of the instruments 2. some of the instruments 3. all of the instrument sections 4. some of the instrument sections 5. it sounds great but it all blends together except maybe percussion.

Answer this and you will know how important imaging is to you as you may be able to discern distinct separation better than most.

While I agree with you, and I listen to symphonies a lot, at a live symphony you have your eyes. Not something you have sitting ‘behind’ a pair of 2 channel speakers.

Thus, imaging is incredibly important for my listening experience at home, as it is my eyes, my reference, and thus, although not realistic, as you say, provides realism while listening. Thus, yes, spacial imaging, and the instruments being in the correct place, side to side, and front to back, is very important. To me.

Whether or not you value imaging is purely subjective. If imaging is important to you, you pursue it, and it's there to be pursued if you value it. You shouldn't be swayed by some notion that you're not a true audiophile if you don't care about imaging, and you shouldn't expect others to validate your imaging apathy.

Timbral accuracy for acoustic instruments and voices may be more important, but imaging is right up there as one of the best magic tricks a fine home audio system can beguile us with. In fact, "realism" may not be the point, as bkeske seems to say. He quotes snapsc, who asks (rhetorically) whether or not it's possible to precisely locate instruments by ear at a concert. Fair enough; it rarely is. But the veritable auditory hallucination that a good recording played on a fine pair of speakers in an acoustically excellent room can achieve is nevertheless a thrill. For smaller ensembles up to chamber orchestras, it greatly adds to one's appreciation of complex music to be able to pick out individual instruments; one can follow their musical lines more easily in part because you can “watch” them, “keep your eyes on” the performer you're listening to— and yet, your eyes are, of course, closed. High-fidelity audio at its best does for me something that I think no other experience in life does, not even being present at a live performance: music, which is a temporal art, becomes spatial. I can “watch” an acoustic drama unfold without seeingjust by listening.

An example: the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has a recording of Beethoven's incidental music to the "Creatures of Prometheus" that is full of astonishingly spatially specific passages. Track 7, for instance, begins with a harp on the left, which is joined by the violins playing pizzicato, also on the left, and then a solo flute, just to the right and behind the violins. Then an oboe comes in on the right, then a clarinet just next to the oboe on his or her right...and then a solo cello, on the far right of the stage, to the oboe's left and closer to the listener. I very much doubt those precise locations would have been so palpable had one been at the original performance.

This imaging magic has actually led me to appreciate middle movements of symphonies whose first and last movement crowd pleasers had, for decades, stolen my attention. The middle movements in Haydn or Mozart or Beethoven, even Bruckner and Mahler, tend to be more like chamber music, with solo parts for woodwinds. Such subtleties are much harder to appreciate unless your system can make them really come alive.

You should be getting imaging with any system if it’s set up correctly. This is a very basic fundamental result of stereo. There’s no magic, just a byproduct of stereo. It’s supposed to get better as you move up the line with components, and improvements in your system, but imaging is basic. 


You said it much better than I did...while there are situations where imaging may not be so good, with the right music, set up and listening position most systems should produce at least a decent stereo illusion including imaging with location.

If the idea though is that you are not going to actually have a seated listening position as possibly suggested by the are just going to be 8-10' back from your speakers and moving around the room...imaging will be hard to come by....which may then argue in favor of the ohm walsh speakers as a possible alternative.




Cleeds, it wasn't the Absolute Sound that started subjective reviews and made low distortion less relevant. It was Gordon Holt in the 50s in a magazine now defunct I can't recall.

You are right, of course, and I never said otherwise. It was Holt's experience at High Fidelity (a quite good magazine at the time, though not as good as Audio, imo) that led him to create Stereophile. That was the first subjectively-based audio magazine, as far as I know.

But by the early '70s, Stereophile was struggling with content and a very irregular publishing schedule. (And I'm being kind.) Harry Pearson admitted multiple times that he founded The Absolute Sound mainly to goad Holt to get serious about publishing again. Along the way, Pearson discovered for himself many of the challenges of the publishing business and - in the process - helped usher high-end audio into a new era.

@paul6002 Your OP sounds like you're hoping we'll all chime in and tell that it's not worth it, because you don't want to set up your room in a way that will optimize the sound reproduction that your gear is capable of. 

If you go to any decent audio show or good dealer's showroom, almost every room will do a decent or great job of producing imaging. Yes, there's always a best seat or two, but you can usually hear it plenty well in many locations in the room. 

Perhaps consider bringing your partner along. You'll leave excited or non-plussed. After hearing what so many systems/rooms can reproduce you'll be in a better position to decide if this hobby is for you.

number of times that I’ve seen imaging, that I’ve seen an imaginary soundstage before me, can be counted on my fingers. 

If that's true, you have no idea what most of the posters here listen to daily. You've gotta get out and listen. Reading in isolation and toying in isolation without serious effort to set up your room properly is a recipe for disaster. Cheers,


IMO imaging is great when it is dialed in just right. But, I do notice and I don’t like that the mixing done on some recordings is all over the place. The drummer is almost 99% of the time located back center position. This is where I want to hear the drums coming from I do not want the drums moving from right to left and occasionally located in center. I hear some recordings with snare on left and high hat on right. Same with guitar I want the guitar player positioned on stage left to come from left speaker. It’s like the sound “engineer” is trying to give the impression of a studio recording being live snd the musicians are moving about the stage. My question is do they place the drum kit on a wheeled platform? You can do a lot  system dependent twerks on imaging but in the end you are at to mercy of the recording. This could be my set up as well as my speakers are set 10 feet apart and if I did have them at 5 to 6 the mix might not be so noticeable wide. I have tried toe in but I still feel it is more recording mix than set up. Enjoy the music.  

Hmm, where to begin? One of the main qualities of "stereo" is to provide a sense of space and placement. Wiki has a pretty decent article about it:

So in that regard, imaging is rather important element of stereo else we’d all have one speaker and listening monaurally. It certainly is to me as I’ve kept and and enjoyed my Acoustat 1+1s since new. What they lack in punch and absolute definition they make up for in imaging. Their imaging, granted after LOTS of placement/tuning, always brings a smile to my face.

I must say that one thing that helps is closing my eyes. Suddenly a soundstage mentally appears and it’s quite easy to "see" where the performers are. Or, to be more accurate, where the producer/engineer put them in the case of close mic’ed studio recordings. Live recordings are different of course, especially orchestral music.

Now does that mean imaging should be as important to you? No, of course not. It sounds to me that you value other components of a musical performance. Tonal qualities like balance and definition. Maybe it’s dynamics. You mentioned that you had toed-in your speakers once and found them too bright. That implies to me that you value finding a tonal balance that is pleasing versus placement/imaging.

One of the things I find fun about this hobby is tinkering with speaker placement and hearing the different effects it can have. When you can, spend an afternoon or evening playing with just that. Pick a couple familiar albums and see how different your system will sound by moving your speakers a bit.

One thing that somewhat concerns me is you say you have no listening chair. If you aren’t in one spot but up wandering about, you can likely just forget imaging. If you read the article in the link you see why. Anyways, have fun!

Happy listening...🎶

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Of course, with a poorly recorded release, no matter what we do, we cannot achieve the imaging we may desire. The recording technique is very important.

As I listen to a lot of classical, and jazz, locating those musicians in the space, correctly, is important to me. Rock, pop, alternative, even much folk/folk rock, does not often have precise imaging, and it’s a bit more of a spacial excitement not ground in reality. Thus, less important in its authenticity. Nonetheless, important, to me.

I also believe speaker setup is the most important ingredient. Lesser speakers can probably still achieve it with proper setup. Perhaps just not as well defined as a speaker designed with imaging in mind.



sbank says " Your OP sounds like you're hoping we'll all chime in and tell that it's not worth it, because you don't want to set up your room in a way that will optimize the sound reproduction that your gear is capable of. "

(Why is my font so small?)

Is that it, sbank? Am I looking for validation for my laziness?

I've given that question a moment of introspection, perhaps a moment more than it deserves, and decided that I'm doing Okay. God knows that, within the confines of my room, I've spent plenty of time trying to get the best speaker placement. I think that I've done all that can be done, even if my set-up is not ideal. 

I do take some comfort in the number of people taking the "not worth the chase" position. Obviously I'm turning thoughtful, nuanced posts into an easy yes/no position but I think everyone but the pedants will get my meaning. (Another disclaimer I shouldn't have to make.) It makes me feel better about my system.

(And myself? Maybe a little, as strange (and sad) as that might be) be.)

I will walk away thinking that imaging would be nice if I could get it, but it's not the be all and end all. As I said up top, even if I could get the perfect sound set-up, I don't think that I could keep my head still long enough to get everything that imaging could offer.

Thanks to those who are responsible for the comfort I've received. I'm sure that wasn't the cause of your post but it is a welcome effect. Now, I'm going to Whole Foods. During the walk I'm going to think about the my system/myself conundrum. Certainly grist for my next post. Which I'm going to make right now. Whole Foods can wait.

All I know is that with my previous speakers, imaging was minimal at best.

With the purchase of new speakers (ATC SCM19) the imaging arrived in spades.

Because all the associated equipment remained the same and the speaker placement was almost identical, I have to assume that speakers are a major contributor to how any system images.

The second most important factor is the music itself. Listening to early jazz recordings from the likes of John Coltrane, there is great depth, width and such pinpoint instrument placement that one can't help but become immersed in the music.

tony1954—ATC is my dream. I think that I'd go active but, still, I envy you.
tony1954—You probably know that you can ATC for something like half-price in England. There's got to be a way to have a nice trip to London, ship those heavy speakers back to the U.S., and come out ahead. If you have any ideas, maybe we could put together some crowdfunding and start a nice little business

heretobuy"—you shouldn't expect others to validate your imaging apathy."

I was going to say something. But I've decided to rise above it. You post something on this forum and you gets what you gets.

And I've decided to skip the stereo/identity post. That raises fierce questions about the value of material goods in a capitalist culture, a question better left to A. Smith and K. Marx. 

And with that, I shall check out of this thread. Thanks to (most) of the participants If you have further criticism about my system or my motivations, I can always be reached via message.



But I says what I says and I mean what I says.

I think that's "I say what I mean and I mean what I say".

Imaging is the most difficult aspect of Hi Fi reproduction. Very few systems image at the state of the art. Most audiophiles have never heard a system image at this level and are unaware of this level of performance. 

All Aspects of HiFi reproduction are important. The absolute sound requires each one to be performed at the state of the art and cost has little to do with it. Spending a fortune will not guarantee this level of performance. Some rooms eliminate any chance of achieving the absolute sound.

Ignorance is bliss.  

If moving your hear drastically changes the image, something is wrong. Very wrong.

@paul6002  (what happened to @paul6001 ?)


I completely disagree with @mijostyn. Imaging is very easy. In fact, you already found out exactly how to get it,

It happens, every now and then. For some reason, I was once right up next to my speakers. Lots of direct sound, less reflections. “The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads” was playing. And I literally gave a start because David Byrne was standing on the coffee table. Cool.


All good imaging takes is two speakers, with somewhat flat response at the listener position, that are somewhat matched, forming a reasonable angle with the listener (~ 60 degrees is standard), and the most important, an environment free of any competing reflections. There is one other very important aspect. The music must have within it, the ability to be imaged.

By virtue of the age of the users here, most of the music listened to will have been mixed on what are comparatively, by today's and audiophile standards, pretty awful speakers. That was all done near field in the conditions I described above.

Where the trouble comes in is balancing imaging with a desire to use reflections to create some nice ambience in the sound, and doing that in a room that for most is not custom built and may be multi-purpose. It is all about controlling reflections. It really is not any more complicated than that, though doing that may be complicated. It is best to start with a speaker with a flat response and good, consistent off axis response. That will make the rest of the work easier.