It also has nothing to do with the way that music sounds in the concert hall.
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Well, I have dipoles and my sound stage is either a little forward of....or, in line with the speaker plane......depending on which of my last two preamps I used.
My Audioprism Mantissa (tubed) placed the forward part of the sound stage in line with the speakers, and my Monarchy M-24 (also tubed)....extends the forward part of the sound stage a foot or two beyond the speaker plane.
I'd say it's the preamp, and speaker setup........although in my case the speaker location did not change (but I think you need to change yours?.....yikes!....7 feet behind the speakers?....something is wrong!).
I agree with Elizabeth. I'd bet that if you swapped the negative and positive speaker leads on each respective amplifier channel your presentation could move more forward. You might want to try that to see which way your recordings sound best to you... Be sure to do the swap on both channels or you will get an out-of-phase result that won't sound right.
I prefer an image behind the speakers in an (ultimately futile) attempt to create the illusion of sitting in a concert hall, with the performers some distance away. I generally sit mid-way or 3/4 of the way back in a hall, and I want the performers to seem to be an appropriate distance from me.
It may be entirely psychoacoustic in nature, but I position my speakers about midway along the length of my room so there is a space behind them for the musicians to "occupy." I want my ears to tell my brain something that it is impossible for my eyes to tell my brain. Crazy, no? But it works for me, and it works with a variety of different speakers.
Elizabeth... does that mean you switch your speaker cables depending on what recordings and types of music you're playing?
Both my amp and DAC feature polarity inversion on the fly, so I have no problem pushing a button on the remote to get the preferred presentation for a given recording. Too bad the majority of equipment manufacturers don't include the polarity invert feature as standard. They apparently think it's inconsequential, but I disagree based on listening to many recordings both ways.
Huh, interesting. Completely unscientific, but just monkeying with my phase invert switch (which I have otherwise ignored) to more result than I suspected. Normal phase, my soundstage is generally centered 4-5 feet behind and 2-3 feet above the speakers (to the extent of "centered" bits, such as a centered vocal track), with lateral extension out to a couple of feet beyond the speakers (left/right), and identifiable depth separation range running about 4-5 feet(ish) (from the energy center of "centered" bits behind the speakers forward up to between the speakers, and then to a generally lesser extent, extending further back from the center track). On deeper and wider recordings, such as orchestral bits, often extends both deeper and wider, pretty much in a cone back from the listening position, although estimates gey impossibly more impressionistic and hazy very quickly. But, generally, mine lives up and back from the speakers (and listening position).
With the few tracks I just experimented with, phase inversion seemed to flatten any depth of the soundstage considerably, while at the same time moving it forward several feet, almost up to between the speakers. Speakers are generally very "laid back", but the phase inversion made them much more forward -- not a lot, mind you, but definitely more so.... Interesting.
The room is 22 X 14, the speakers are 7 feet from the back wall and 16 inches from the side wall. Since it's impossible to measure an invisible illusion precisely, maybe it's 5 feet.
In regard to your statement on electronics, I get quite agitated at the overemphasis people put on "speakers", without realizing how important the source and electronics are.
I am confused by the statement the sound stage is 7 feet behind the speakers. Do you mean at its maximum depth, the drummer (for example) sounds like he is 7 feet behind the speakers and the other musicians in front of the drummer being closer to the speakers or even infront of them?
To me, a proper set-up results in the sound stage have a degree of depth. Also, very dependent on the recording. But assuming polarity is correct, with many recordings, I expect to and frequently do hear a sound stage that starts in front of the speakers and extends well behind the speakers.
I have a test CD (Stereophile?) with a track called the wondering audiophile (I think) in which a group of marching musicians coming in from the back of the room corner and progresses forward past the speakers to my sitting position, even going behind me and circling around before returning to the opposite corner behind my speakers.
If I close my eyes, I swear I can almost get the sense of musicians actually walking past and around me. When I have others sit in the sweet spot, they always turn around and look for speakers behind them (of course there are none there).