Soundstage - when wide is too wide


Although I'm often not confident in my understanding of the meaning of audio terminology as used in many posts, I do have some feeling for what the term "soundstage" implies, at least to me. When listening to orchestral presentations I appreciate a "wide soundstage" with some sense of where the strings, brass, kettle drums, etc are located across a real stage. In some recordings of small jazz ensembles postioning of drums, say, are at stage right, especially in older recordings where stereophonic effect is often somewhat exaggerated.

Here's the issue. A lot of what I listen to is solo guitar so the way I'd rather hear it is as if the guitar was played directly across the room from my listening position with a soundstage, then, centered and only a couple of feet wide. That, however, is not the way I hear it especially since I recently made some significant changes to my system.

To set the scene, the two changes that I made include replacing my Martin Logan Odyssey speakers with The ML Ethos. The other is the inclusion of an Equalizer to compensate for personal hearing and room acoustics issues. I know from over 25 years of using curvilinear electrostatic speakers that postioning is a significant issue so I've paid attention to this factor. I'm still working on that and believe that it still may be a big part of the problem.
broadstone
Play a mono recording of vocalist with sparse accompaniment. You will need to adjust your system to get a tight center image on the voice. If you then play the guitar music and it still has an unrealistically big sonic image, then it's the way it was recorded and mixed.
"then it's the way it was recorded and mixed."

+1
"12-21-14: Onhwy61
Play a mono recording of vocalist with sparse accompaniment. You will need to adjust your system to get a tight center image on the voice. If you then play the guitar music and it still has an unrealistically big sonic image, then it's the way it was recorded and mixed."

An excellent suggestion, but there can be other factors as well. Given the OP's description of the problem, it sounds like his speakers could be wired out of phase.

Try reversing the speaker cable connections on just 1 speaker at the binding post, and see how it sounds. (black to red and red to black.). Try it even if the connection appear to be correct. I've seen several pairs of speakers that were mislabeled from the factory.
Sometimes I get this with acoustic guitar and singer when you know the singer is also playing the guitar. Annoying to say the least. Before I had a very revealing system I would not notice. Resolution can point out bad mixing for sure
The way it was recorded crossed my mind mainly because not all of my recordings suffer this phenomenon to the same extent. On the other hand, and somewhat off-thread, I'm just learning how to set up the equalizer, an exercise not as straightforward as I anticipated, so I'm dealing with a compound set of variables. The final variable is the new set of speakers (Martin Logan Ethos) which I read would be easier to position than the Odysseys because of their smaller size panels. I've not found that not in any way to be the case and I'm still working on it.

Anyway, the idea of using a monaural source to better evaluate what's going on, makes a lot of sense but I only have the capability to play CD's so where would I find something with a mono source?

I very much appreciate your responses but I think I started this thread a bit prematurely before getting more comfortable with my speaker positioning and proper use of the equalizer.
You can simply rip any CD as mono and you are set to go.
Buy mono recordings or a preamp that has mono switch...from your tastes and sonic preferences...mono recordings would be your cup of tea...strong center image without the severe L -R panning early stereo releases had...although not all mono recordings are equal. Beatles, Hendrix, Dylan come to mind.
Play a mono recording of vocalist with sparse accompaniment. You will need to adjust your system to get a tight center image on the voice.

This is some of the best advice I have seen on this site for setting up the speakers to get good phasing and sweet spot.
You do not mention what EQ you are using, but the Behringer DEQ 2496 has a stereo width function that allows you to make the soundstage wider or narrower. For the most part, you are at the mercy of how the source material was recorded.
yes, good advice!
"I've seen several pairs of speakers that were mislabeled from the factory."

Sorry. It should be:

"I've seen several pairs of speaker cables that were mislabeled from the factory."
Agreed. I'm excited to try this at home tonight!!!
Definitely check your speaker cable polarity on both speakers and the amp end. I know it's "basic" suggestion but when swapping speakers, it's something that can easily happen.

I know because I nearly drove myself insane trying to fix an imaging problem only to discover that I had misconnected one speaker out of phase. Yes, I felt like an idiot. . .but got over it quickly when I realized I hadn't made a major purchase error and how good everything sounded properly connected.
What? You don't want a six foot wide guitar? ;)

Significant changes to the system, including speakers, call for significant reproaching system setup, including speaker placement.
Yes, this is all good advice and I will use it in the continuing pursuit for a better setup of my "new" system. To answer the question of which EQ I'm using, I have one DBX 1531 set in mono for each speaker providing 31 band per channel control.

The advice given to pay attention to phase issues was high on my list especially since the addition of the pro type EQ where there is no polarity designation on the xLR to RCA adapter cables and the preamp and EQ are on different shelves. I have that issue in hand, though, but I've read that the equalizer itself can introduce phase problems. I don't understand why that would occur but it remains a question.

The suggestion that using a preamp with a mono/stereo selector would make troubleshooting easier but I'm pretty happy with my current preamp/ amp setup (Peachtree Audio) and would be reluctant to consider that significant a modification at this point. Besides, I've never even seen such a thing. As far as buying music recorded in mono is concerned, wouldn't it depend on how it was recorded? For example, one of the guitarists that I listen to, Adrian Legg, does much of his recordings in concert and it sounds good but with no sense of a centered stage.

Anyway, I'm taking a short vacation from this quest because there is a Christmas tree partly in front of my right speaker.