I guess I was a little tired when I posted this.
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your observations don't surprise me at all...soundstaging is a delicate thing. i've seen dramatic changes in depth, height and width by changes various components, especially amps and preamps.
as for what gives a sounstage height, i'm no expert but i suppose it's just very low-level detail, e.g. reflections off the recording studio floor and ceiling?
You introduced at least TWO variables into the equation. Obviously, the amp was one and the interconnect was two. Where you had power feeding the amp from might be variable three. If the amp had not been used in a while or had fully settled in would be #4. The total combination of these things ( changing just one of those parameters ) would be variable #5. With all of that in mind, you really do need to experiment quite a bit when changing components. Just because product A, B, C, & D liked being set up one way does not mean that E will work optimally under those conditions. You might have all of the "right stuff" to make things tick, but you just don't have them configured optimally for THAT specific component. Sean
With all the interesting opinions that you will hear here, this should be as good as a cable thread. I am not an engineer or an audio professional of any sort, so I ask questions of people who are, or I read what they write. For example, one noted and technically competent reviewer with whom I have exchanged emails from time to time says simply that there is NO height information in a stereo recording. You can't get up and down from left and right. (You can get width and depth - if you think about it, it's not hard to understand.)
Writing in the May 1993 issue of Stereophile, Jack English said "many engineers hold that it is not possible for a stereo recording to contain height information." In the August 1993 issue of Stereophile, J Gordon Holt explains: "Although our ears can locate the height of sound sources in front of us, stereo microphones and reproducing systems are not usually configured to handle height information. (Only a full Ambisonic system is inherently capable of it.) I've read something of this sort in TAS also.
I think I get more of a sense of height from some recordings than from some others, but never a difference on the same recording through different equipment. Also, I used to think that I perceived more height from lps than cds, but I am not sure about that anymore.
You may be reacting to a difference in size resulting from a difference in loudness. Every recording, I am told, has an ideal playback sound pressure level, and I notice an apparent increase in size, and therefore height, when I turn up the volume sometimes.
Paul brings up some interesting points. Depending on the type of microphone used and the placement of each mic, i DO think that a sense of "height" is possible in recordings. This has to do with the polar pick-up pattern that the individual mic displays. Outside of the frequency response, output level and maximum spl capability, this is one aspect of a mic that most recording engineers have to familiarize themselves with.
Since each mic design has different "capture angles" or polar patterns, the amount of "height", "width", "depth" and level of "ambience" courtesy of "direct vs reflected" sound can be drastically altered by the type of mic used and where it is located when recording. Combine this with the acoustics of the individual hall or studio used to make the recording, and you have a pretty drastic variation of why / how some recordings sound SO different from each other. How much of that information makes it through all of the mixing, equilization, compression, mastering, etc... is another story. Sean
Is the huge room filling "bloom" that some gear creates the same as "height"? I've gotten this huge "bloom effect" with an amp, 2 power cords, and two different sets of tubes in my pre-amp. But I don't like this-- un-natural to me-- effect, and always go back to the more conventional strong centered stereo image with good width and depth, but a pretty constant height. I gather that some audiophiles actually seek the huge diffuse bloomy character? Just an observation and thought. Cheers. Craig
Recently a friend and I were comparing speaker cables in a high resolving tube system with electrostats, with both CD and vinyl sources. Several advantages we had: a very high ceiling height in his dedicated listening room and pretty sophisticated room treatments . Here is a rather simple test we use in comparing soundstage height: the listener in the "sweet spot" closes his eyes during a certain repeated passage, then points with a straight arm toward the particular instrument or vocals, usually in the centerstage. (We found several well-recorded percussion pieces were best to use for this experiment). After holding your arm/pointing for 10 to 20 seconds, open your eyes and visually mark ON THE REAR WAll the height/location of the image you ARE STILL pointing towards. Then, make the equipment or cable switch,replay the same passage with eyes closed, and point your arm at the same image/ instrument. The resulting change in your direction/height of pointing can be dramatic and unexpected. This is a weird,subjective experience because with your eyes closed while pointing, it seems more difficult to perceive a difference in image height in the A/B comparison. When you actually verify the comparison by visually marking the diffences on the rear wall, you may be in for a surprise. One caveat, I've never done this experiment in a room with ceiling less than 10 feet high. Damn, we do some weird stuff with this hobby...I hope my wife never walks in on me doing these experiments.
i'm not sure whether the posts so far are based on a common definition of "soundstage height." when i hear this term, i think of the perceived height of the "stage" on which the performers stand or sit. thus, if the image requires you to look "up" to "see" where the performers are perceived to be, you have a "high" soundstage. if you look "down," as from a balcony, you have a "low" soundstage. this phenomenon is, in my experience, affected foremost by speaker design, tho it may also be affected by other components, including wire. and, yes, i agree with sean that at least some recordings themselves vary soundstage height. i had always thought this had more to do with mic placement than design, tho i do think sean is onto something with capture angles. -cfb
For the most part I believe Height is changed by the the amount of information being put out, volume, the dynamics of the recording and room reflections. Change any of these and you may hear a different size sound stage. If you would like to try somthing for fun. Get a couple of sheets of stiff foam board 2' by 8' about 1.5 to 2 inches thick and stand them up between your speakers. Then move them around between your speaker. Then cover them with a blanket or sheet and do the same thing. When you move it in a front to rear movement from the wall see how the sound stage changes (height). Get it to where you hear somthing you like then change the volume. Next change the surface (add the sheet or blanket or remove them).
Initially, after this post, I had in the back of my mind a feeling that there was a slight possibility of myself being flamed to death....hmmmm, another surprise. The responses so far have been extremely informative.
Sean, I must say, many aspects of your response do fit. The ss amp hadn't been used in a while and obviously, another set of interconnects was added into the mix. The feed from the JoLida came from the sub out which is what I consider to be preamp out, while the ac power stemmed from a conditioner. But, at the time when I first switched from the ss pre/power setup to tubes about a year ago is when I noticed a huge increase in the size of the stage.
As far as phase goes, I can switch it with my cd player, and I have a few times just to see the effect. So far I haven't noticed any changes including stage height. By the way, "Amused to Death" is the most involving cd I own, almost hypnotic. I imagine phase mods do play an important part in the dog barking from behind, the submarine captain's activity descriptions coming from my IMMEDIATE left, and the horse-drawn wagon coming from the left rear, across in front, and away to the right rear. I love it, I use it as a reference for system and listening position setup. Is it possible that there is some phase trickery in the output section of the JoLida? It seems pretty well focused.
Volume level. I know things get larger when the sound gets cranked up but the level seemed to be the same in my comparisons. But I didn't check it with my Radio Shack toy.
Bloom. Is this the answer? Is this what I'm experiencing? I've heard the term but never understood what it meant. Till now? How do you get bloom?
The engineering involved in the recording doesn't seem to apply in this case. It's more about the equipment I think.
Finally, S2k dude, you made me think. Does our brain subconsiously recognize sounds that only come from ceilings and floors and somehow calculate size from that information? Therefore, equipment with very high resolution has the ability to pass this virtually inaudible info on to us to create the illusion of height. Is it the resolution?
Try tilting your speakers slightly forward or back.
Verity suggested that I tilt their Encores FORWARD slightly to elevate the soundstage. This was counterintuitive, but makes some sense to me in that the tweeter's arrival time is slightly shortened vis a vis the midrange below it.
The psychoacoustic effect is a change in stage height. Cool.
Experiment with your listening axis, too. Adding a cushion to your chair, or taller stands, may do wonders! Have fun.