I'm not a horn man, but the more space between speakers and the wall behind them, the better, the deeper--as a rule...
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Bipolar speakers like Definitive Tech speakers produce a fantastic soundstage, even when located within a foot of a rear wall, however, imaging seems to suffer, instead of that dead-on imaging you get more of a general imaging. I would definatly say speakers and placement have a big impact on soundstage
I say speakers 1st most important, room 2nd most important.
If your room is all up to snuff, and yer speakers arent, it aint gonna help much
Get better soundstage with great speakers and a crappy room than with crappy speakers and a great room.
Im probably gonna get pelted with rotton fruit on that one, but all the room accoustics in the world wont help a crappy system, however, an excellent system still sounds excellent in a crappy room, it might not "Shine" but still sounds excellent.
(excellent using relative termonology, im not talking about the best of the best of the cream of the crop. Ive always felt that somone who things a 20k system sounds bad, even in a bad enviornment, has lost touch with reality. it still sounds good, but may not live to its fullest potential, and if that is considered "bad" as in "Not good" then you need a break from this hobby to get things back in perspective ;)
From my experience with a 300B SET amp and Klipsch La Scala horns, NOS tubes made a big difference with the soundstage. But nothing has made a bigger difference, particularly with the depth (front to back) of the soundstage, than putting a Michael Wolff carbon PC on my CD player. I know I'm going to start sounding like his pet monkey, but I cannot say enough about the immense difference this cord has had in expanding the sound, and making everything come off as being played live.
And as Warren said, bring out the speakers into the room, if possible. The music will fill in the space behind them.
Speaker placement (within your room, of course). That's where the "soundstageing comes from. It also comes from the recording & mastering -- but you can't do anything about that!
Try placing yr speakers further into the room and asymmetrically to the side walls -- i.e. at an angle to their back wall.
I may get disagreement here, but this is my view on soundstage. Side to side soundstage is enhanced by fewer drivers or more of a point source (i.e. old Tannoy speakers.) They can still be excellent provided that the drivers are in a single vertical line for each channel, although I think you get a bit of smear from the room because it will reflect back from more than a point source. We are basically looking at recreating the point source of microphones, correct?
Front to back soundstage is enhanced by dynamics, partly by how much louder the close material is compared to the rear instruments. You tend to hear less detail in the further instruments. But the main character of depth is the result of transients that recreate a 'space'. Close instruments are heard more directly with reflections taking a back seat, whereas farther instruments have reflected sound competing more with the direct signal recorded.
I think any part of the system that can reproduce these transients more clearly, will help resolve the front to back soundstage. The room can, of course, interfere. In fact, I often find that havings the speakers a few feet from the back wall creates more front to back.
Perhaps everyone here will have a different perspective as to which part of the reproduction chain will make the most difference. I say whatever the weak link in the system, that's what will provide the most improvement.
If you have the 811 horn in your Altecs, it is not time aligned. I think that speaker placement affects standing waves in the bass which can affect your ears sense of depth.
I think mainly, however, that electronics can greatly affect soundstaging. After you have heard the H-Cat P12 line stage you too will be a believer in this.
For the last ten years I have used nothing but horns and had very good as well as poor soundstaging.