What are your favorite songs or albums for illustrating a deep soundstage?

I’m optimizing my seating position and speaker position in my room and need some new musical selections to use as a reference for projecting depth well beyond the speakers. What are your top choices?

Bonus points if they are available on Qobuz or Tidal, though vinyl record suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance!

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I remember using, for speaker positioning purposes, “Fade into You” by Mazzy Star, “The Golden Age” by Beck and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Elton John for their big, deep sound, but my choice of these tracks I think came down just as much to how dirt simple the percussion is.  
The “centering” and “physical presence” of those snare drum hits (again, dirt simple, just the 2 and the 4 of each measure) was easy to locate and use as a very “visual” centering “fulcrum” of the whole activity.

Holst's The Planets, Sir Adrian Boult conducting The New Philharmonia Orchestra with Chorus. EMI ASD 2301.

Just a reminder, you suggested that I listen to Isolde Lasoen’s album “Oh Dear”.  The track Douce Melancolie is one of the best for extending past the speakers, but doesn’t qualify as new to you.

Brick House by Sara K. (A Chesky recording.)

Overture & March "1776" Composed By – Ives*

Thank you for the excellent suggestions so far. I’m excited to try some of the new tracks late this evening.

@bdp24 I am having a hard time finding that particular album on digital, but I am seeing a compilation that has many of the Planets track with Sir Boult and New Philharmonia. Hopefully that is the same performance. 

@tylermunns I love Mazzy Star and Beck, both good tracks. Will look into Elton.

@tomcarr Also great suggestions. I should also revisit Roger Waters Amused to Death. I never really got to know Supertramp, so this will be my first foray. 

@hilde45 I love Sara K and have that on CD. Will have to give it a shot. Classical examples are also very welcomed. 

More than anything, I am looking for tracks that holographically image well past the front wall between the speakers. I have no issues with my speakers disappearing and having a tall and wide soundstage, about 180-degrees wide or more. But I also envy setups where it feels like there is a really layered presentation in the center as if you can hear performers 20-30ft in front of you. I know a lot of this has to do with positioning and the speakers’ distance from the wall. One thing I’ve noticed is that many systems that have a deep soundstage do not have a wide, enveloping one that goes 180-degrees around the listener. Instead, those deep stages are limited to about 110-120-degrees. There are rare instances, but that’s my experience. I want to attain the best depth while retaining the size of the width and height I am getting. 

@blisshifi Yeah, I found the ability to so easily “see” the snare drum with such a “visual” presence, consistent, steady but minimal (or the opposite of ‘busy’) on “deep sounding” tracks helpful. YMMV, and you might certainly have other tracks you’d prefer in a similar vein.  
That particular minimalism with the snare I found helpful to provide a “centering” base I could work outwardly from.


You write that "Classical examples are also very welcomed." Here’s my favorite (of rather many; I listen to mostly "classical"): Beethoven’s complete incidental music to "The Creatures of Prometheus," performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (DGG 447 911-2). The overture is well known, but the complete music is not. Great "middle period" Beethoven, though.

Track 7 is especially compelling. It begins with a harp on the left in the rear, which is joined by a flute—also on the left, but in front of the harp; then an oboe on the right, which is answered by a clarinet just to the left of the oboe (so, about in the middle of the orchestra). Then, a solo cello comes in on the far right, to the oboe’s left but in front of it. The stability and precise location of all these solo instruments is maintained throughout this movement, even when the orchestra is playing tutti. The realism is really something, as instrumental timbres are very accurately represented as well. And the recording (all digital) dates from 1987! Not SACD, not 20-bit. Shows how important the abilities of the recording engineers is.

My current picks are any of the Boston Symphony  recordings of Shostakovich symphonies by Andris Nelsons. Number 4 is my favorite. Stunning recording quality. You can hear the room. And they are great imaging tests because Shostakovich liked to send melodic motifs back and forth across the orchestra, often pairing two instruments at a time. Good both for lateral imaging and back-to-front. 

Dominique Fils-Aime / Stay Tuned does a fantastic job of projecting depth and width. An added bonus is that her music is extremely yummy.

Female voice: Madonna singing Vogue. Sound comes from behind and left of seating position and goes to right and behind right speaker at the beginning. At the end, "Vogue" repeats 4 times, in front of you, closer, to the left and right of you, then behind.


Deep Forest Walk in the Desert plays with phase to be center stage, in front of the speakers, then beside and behind alternately. Seems to remain independent of speakers altogether, and that was only an mp3 version.


For me sound stage depth encompasses a larger area than my listening space.

"What now my love"   A hipped up, jazzy cover by The Peddlers, Tidal/Masters.

"If You Leave Me Now" (Remastered LP Version) from The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning album. The album artwork has Chicago in green on a brown background. Great detail, separation between the instruments and soundstage. 


Dire Straits-Private Investigations 

Almost any song by Dominique Fils-Aime

Bella Sonas- Enamoured (album) every song on this album has great depth

Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick. It’s one of the best produced albums you can find.

Pink Floyd The Wall. From beginning to end the soundstage moves. Pink Floyd should be you go to for bass test. I still have not found better drum production.

@pharaoh - Madonna's Voque used a processing called "QSound" that, if I remember correctly, was relatively new back then in '89/'90.  It used (essentially) phase cancellation techniques to get that soundstage that you are hearing. 

I distinctly remember discussing this processing back in college at the time during my recording classes and I don't think it was all that popular of a processing technique since few listeners of modern pop would sit behind a decent stereo in the sweet spot to be able to really hear that processing.  I think there was only maybe a handful of albums that utilized this processing.  However, I agree, it's pretty cool.  Check out Rescue Me on Madonna's Immaculate Collection greatest hits compilation for the effect on the thunder in that track.

Listening to some Heart last night I was amazed by the sound stage of Dream of the Archer.  And it is readily available everywhere I imagine. 

Hector Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique, Kojian and the Utah Symphony.  Reference Recordings RR-11CD.

If you want to hear a natural, deep soundstage, nothing beats classical.

Classical music is almost always recorded in such a way, that captures the natural soundstage width and depth of the acoustic space in which is was recorded. And the position of the musicians within the soundstage.

Capturing as much of the spatial cues of the acoustic space, and the musicians within it, is one of the stated goals of good classical music recording. Usually this is done using Decca tree, Blumlein, or other AB or XY mic configurations.

I doubt capturing natural spatial cues even makes on the list of goals of most rock and pop recording engineers.

The vast majority of studio rock or pop recordings, if they have any semblance of soundstage or imaging at all, it is the result of the recording engineer using studio ’tricks’, such as: panning, delay, echo, phase, etc.

In other words, with a classical recording, if the percussionist sounds like they are coming from behind the orchestra, that is because that is where they were when the recording was made.

With studio rock, country or pop recording, if a musician happens to sound like they are coming from deeper than the rest of the musicians, that’s because that is where the engineer, using studio effects, place them in the recording.

I have many classical recordings that sound as if I can get up off my listening chair and walk into the soundstage and among the musicians. I can’t think of any of my rock recordings that create that kind of soundstage.

With all that being said, my tastes in classical music tend toward he atonal, avant-garde, serial, dissonant, and overall, dark and ’thorny’ sounding, so YMMV on any of my recommendations.

Ernst Krenek - Static and Ecstatic / LA Phil chamber orchestra, Varese International label.

Donald Martino - Notturno; Charles Wuorinen - Speculum Speculi / Nonesuch Records

Elliott Carter - Three Occasions for Orchestra / EMI

Augusta Read Thomas - EROS: Goddess of the Dawn / Reference Recordings.

But seriously, I could list dozens of classical recordings with great, deep soundstage.





Pieta Brown - Freeway
Shelter Now

Peter Gabriel 
and I'll scratch yours
Don't Give UP (Fiest, Timber Timbre)

Completely agree with simonmoon. But...there’s nothing wrong with dramatic spatial effects produced by studio tricks in rock music. In previous threads on this site, people have commented on how, with a good jazz recording, the drums are often centered and in the rear, as is typically the case live. So, besides "classical," acoustic jazz is another good source of "natural" soundstage. But having said that, I have no objection to drums spanning the entire width of the room, with a snare on the far left, say, kick drum in the center, high hat and tom on the right. On Tool albums, for example. Not "realistic," but exciting, engaging.

As for "dark, thorny, atonal" contemporary "classical" (and that term strictly means Haydn through mid-period Beethoven; neither Bach nor Mahler are "classical" composers): give Arvo Pärt a try. There’s a terrific recital CD on DGG with Grimaud and Salonen, called "Credo" that includes Beethoven’s "Tempest" sonata, his under-appreciated "Choral Fantasia," and Pärt’s title piece. That last is an amazing trip: from a sublime quotation of Bach, through the most anarchic fff cacophony, and right back to Bach. IMO, a musical evocation of the difference between Old and New Testament ethics (although Pärt evidently had a critique of tyrannical government in mind). The SACD is the best Big Orchestra recording I’ve ever heard.

Pärt’s "Te Deum," on ECM, is another favorite. From his "Tintinabuli" period, it sounds medieval, but is scored for chorus and digitally-amplified aeolian harp and prepared piano! I’ve listened to this gorgeous piece at least once a week for most of the last year. It’s also beautifully, spaciously recorded.

Madonna was an artist whose effort into her sonic production went under the radar, drowned our by her superstar pop status. And yet she was meticulous about her recording quality.

I just wanted to thank everyone so far for providing stellar selections. I’ve finally gotten my system to a place where I have a full 180-degree soundstage AND the depth of the center image can go much deeper than it did before. It was always a toss-up previously but your references helped me out a bit.

As a thank you, I’m building a Qobuz playlist of my favorite soundstage demonstration tracks and will share on this thread as I complete it. 

Feel free to keep the suggestions flowing, and thanks again!

Robbie Robertson, Somewhere Down the Crazy River! Apple Music, Robbie Robertson Essentials. 

Janacek String Quartets, the Mandelring Quartet on Audite SACD.  The instruments frequently sound well outside speaker boundary.  The Haitink Shostakovich Symphony cycle on Decca from the Eighties is an excellent for front to back orchestral depth in an analog recording 

Hopefully, this thread doesn’t end once Juan has his system setup. This has been a great thread with many superb suggestions.

A first for my system was my wife actually sitting down and listening to it. While I was playing Madonna’s Voque she entered the room on her own and sat down, listened until then end and then remarked how great it sounded. Of course, upon leaving she told me that the room was a mess and that I should clean it up. She is especially fond of the idea that I should eliminate all the wires.

I had just returned from the audiologist where I learned that my high frequency hearing loss was moderately severe…then she (the audiologist) told me this was the frequency range occupied mostly by female voice. I bit my tongue, thanked her and left.

Birds, Dominique Fils-Aimé 

NASA, ariana Grande

Late to the flight, Laura Marling 

You go to my head, Julie London 

Take Five,  Brubeck

All on Tidal. Let us know what you find are best!

The Raven that wouldn’t sing, by Steve Wilson, Cognitive by Soen, Lunatic Soul band & album, Stratosfear album, Blackfield album, PFM band, Riverside band, all prog rock albums or names or bands. 

Artist; Mary Fahl
Album: From the dark side of the moon

Specially Track3: On The Run
At the beginning of the track her voice swirls round in circle overhead - you are literally forced to look up to see if you have speakers in the ceiling!

Tracy Chapman - Give me one Reason
Front soundstage is amazing and clearly visualise each instrument's placement.

Buena Vista Social Club “Chan Chan”

The Stimulators “New Years Eve on The Water” from their Unplugged at Kunstalon album

Thanks all for the continued wonderful submissions. I look forward to putting them in the queue tomorrow. It’s been a heavy week for me and haven’t had much time for personal listening time. 

@audphile1 I started this thread because I have always been happy with my soundstage until I recently met a local audiophile whose system was even more holographic. It really impressed me, and it has become my mission to optimize the position my listening chair and speakers. I first had to figure out ways to bring my listening chair further back (which was previously difficult with room constraints) so I fabricated a solution to be able to do so. This allowed me to increase my listening distance from 9ft to 10ft while also enabling me to move my speakers out into the room more, giving them a good 5ft of space. My ceiling is also slanted up to 18’ high behind me, and as a result it is harder to charge the room because of the added volume, and the more I pull speakers from the wall, the more quickly bass response drops. The tracks on this thread helped me better optimize the setup. 

I still have a bit more tweaking, but it’s close now. this is how the speakers in the space: 


Prior to that, I had the T+A Solitaire S 530 speakers set up in the way they are pictured in the thread I created when I evaluated them:


In my preliminary evaluation, I had them very much closer together and pushed a bit further back because of my listening distance. They need a bit more distance from the listener’s ear than most speakers do. By giving them both a bit more room to breathe and also increasing my distance from them, I was able to preserve the exceptional soundstage width and height I already had and was able to get the center image depth even further than what I was previously able. In the process I achieved a level of transparency I haven’t heard in this room, but it’s still not 100% where I want it to be. 

Nice setup @blisshifi !

Glad you were able to squeeze a bit more out of it. Speaker and listening chair positioning is critical. Looks like you got room acoustics covered as well. Very cool. 

I recently stumbled across an incredible live Norah Jones album "'Til We Meet Again (Live)". Several tracks stand out as impeccably recorded songs, certainly for musicianship, but especially for absolutely stunning depth, spatial information, and remarkable live presence. If you want to listen for truly wonderful soundstage acoustics, this is for you. HIGHLY recommend tracks 2, 4, and 11.  I am constantly adjusting things in my system... Won't bore you with lots of details, but I'm using a Nelson Pass Pure Class-A amp and Maggie's, and things sound truly stunning. I think I've reached a new plateau. Those tracks are always top of my go to list for critical listening of any new adjustments. You won't be disappointed, seriously. (BTW the album is recorded live in several different venues, and you can definitely hear the differences between the sessions, which is also fun/helpful.)


What happens to the image when the tweeter array is on on the inside (switching the left and right positions)? I would expect less toe in would be required and a a much better focus of the image but with the narrowing of the sweet spot.


@danager What you suggest is true for Magnepans, which I confirmed when I had them on the floor last year, but I believe these speakers may have different results to the design of the line array midrange drivers inherently having a very narrow dispersion pattern. T+A has recommended not to have the tweeters on the inside. My assumption is that there may be too strong of a treble response and the mids may not properly hit the ears due to the narrow dispersion. I would anticipate the crossover points would also be different, but I haven’t compared. Perhaps when I have some time I will experiment and see!

@danager and @blisshifi: One of the "tricks" with some Maggies (many line source designs, in fact) is to adjust toe-in so that the midrange and tweeter drivers are in phase with each other. In the manual for my Tympani T-IVa's, Magnepan advises how to do it, as that model's crossover does not compensate for lack of driver time-alignment.  

Reference track suggestions:

On by LA Priest from their Fase Luna album. It’s a little psychedelic which is reflective within the soundstage.

Aht Uh Mi Hed by Rahill from Sun Songs.

Bubbles by Yosi Horikawa from his Wandering album, but I think this had been suggested (maybe not?).

This is probably a bit grating and avant garde but I really liked the soundstage when I listened to it on my 20.7s last night. "Ozymandias" off the "Dystonia" album.





This is probably a bit grating and avant garde but I really liked the soundstage when I listened to it on my 20.7s last night. "Ozymandias" off the "Dystonia" album.



Thanks for posting this!

I love atonal, dissonant, and overall, ’angular’ and ’thorny’ sounding classical music, so this sounds right up my alley. I will listen to it more on Bandcamp when I get home tonight.

I am familiar with Thirtwell’s other bands and projects, but have never been too impressed.

Most likely this has been recorded using something like a Blunlein (or some other XY or AB) mic configuration, which would account for the natural soundstage width and depth.

@blisshifi check out Chris Isaak. Have three of his albums. All are audiophile quality recordings.

Carly Pearce - Every Little Thing

The drums being so far back create a nice background to the voice and instruments that are upfront.



Not only are you loaded with the good stuff, but also sporting the uniformity of the silver/wood/black visual aesthetics, all the way down to the actual turntable…damn!! Way to go!!

The good stuff awaits…

Harry James on Sheffield.  Direct to disk and then remastered on CD.  Recordings have the real ambience, not some artificial mix on a console.