I would put money your rooms are the factor. From my experience(in particular with dipole speakers) the room is just about as important as speaker location. He could have a dirtier power supply which also has a BIG effect on imaging- which can't help electrostats any let alone the other gear.
Have you verified that his speakers are operating in phase?
The speakers are phased correctly, if you mean the positives and negatives are correct on all 4 speaker cables. He is using a Panamax 1500 line conditioner for all equipment, and have tried it, with and without it, with same results.
It's gotta be the room or, of course, a phase reversal somewhere. Check carefully.
Well Steve, other than the comments already submitted, i can see that you have different DAC's and power amps. Both of these can make a BIG difference. Since you say that you can move your speakers all over the place in your room ( which should essentially negate the advantage of specific placement or room acoustics in your system ) and still beat the pants off of the other system in terms of imaging, i would start looking at the electronics. My first guess would be the differences in DAC's and then "possibly" the amps. Try bringing your DAC over to his place and give that a try. I know that there have been more than a few times when i went from one DAC to another and literally "unleashed" tons of imaging and soundstage with the change. If it is the DAC that is killing his performance, don't fall prey to the idea that it is the tubes in your DAC that offers the spatial advantages. I went from tube DAC's to a SS model and picked up a LOT more spacial information, so it is strictly a matter of how well the product is designed, NOT what method is used. Both SS and Tube products can sound good or bad. Sean
I think your friends panels are not playing right. Every thing that everybody has all ready mentioned is going to make a difference in sound but not to the point of extreme that you are telling us. Your image is there and your friends image doesn't exsist at all. There are some differences between components but NOT to the sum of making such a difference that your dac and amp between the difference of your friend's dac and amp should NOT make such a drastic difference... NOW as we all know the ROOM has a PROFOUND effect on the sound but still your friend should be getting a similiar sonic signature from both having the same speakers and components of somewhat equal performance... It seems to me that your friends's panels may have a problem... Now like the others have mentioned about the PHASE... If your friends system is out of phase THERE can be the difference in a nut shell... SOMETHING IS NOT WORKING PROPERLY be it the speakers or maybe a component.. You have different cross overs,,,, Sean has the answer for you,,,, start swapping out the components one at a time and you should be able to figure it out. It can take some work and time but by listening to Sean and trying to swap out pieces you should be able to come to your own conclusion... If you do find the reason please do come back and let us all know. Every body gave a reasonable possible explaination.. To find out real fast,,, just swap out the speakers... I have a feeling that the problem is going to follow the speakers/crossover themselves... Being that those speakers are not easy to transport around and also being speakers that are also not inexpensive I think it would be in your friends best interest to take the TROUBLE of bringing his speakers over to your place TO MAKE SURE that his speakers ARE NOT DAMAGED/FLAWED/WORKING IMPROPERLY.. mike
Hey,,, I'm back,,, LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCES IN THE AMPLIFIERS THAT YOU ARE USING.... mike again
Before you go crazy switching and moving gear around, have your friend check the outlets in his listening room to see if the circuit wires have a reversed hot/neutral. I'm not an expert in ES speakers, but if the speaker (or gear) power polarity is reversed, I believe it screws things up.
There are two kinds of phase problems. Relative phase where one channel has a switched phase relative to the other. This is where you need to check all your connections. The other is absolute phase. This is where the channels are the same but the drivers move in the wrong direction at the onset of a signal (inward rather than outward). Some equipment inverts absolute phase (e.g., AES AE-3 preamp). To check this, you can switch the speaker cable + and - at the amp for both speakers and see if the imaging appears. You can also buy the XLO test CD (Amazon and other places) that has songs in and out of absolute phase for checking the problem before switching cables.
If after playing around like the posts above doesn't do anything, have him bring his speakers to your house and plug into your system and see what happens. That should really tell the tale.
Thanks, for all your good information. The way I understand it is, (1)Ring out the polarity on the speaker cables with an ohm meter, incase of factory error when terminated. (2) try reversing the polarity on each speaker cable, one at a time, then both to see if it makes a difference. (3) check for correct polarity on the line voltage to the equipment, using earth ground as reference. (4)swap out my dac for his, and see what happens. (5) amps. I hope we find the problem before, it gets to a speaker swap out. I dont think its his speakers, they came from a reputable Agon member, and we heard them image beautifully at his home.
I would also like to know, if anyone knows the answer. What exactly is making imaging? Is this something that happens in you hearing or in your brain? Is it when both speakers play the identical thing in perfect relationship to each other? Is imaging being created from the sound coming from the front of the panels, the back, or both? How the heck does it work???
Imaging is created by the brain. The sound is recorded on two seperate channels with mikes placed approximately where the ears would be; you then hear each channel from each speaker. Since both ears can hear both speakers simultaneously, the crosstalk from left speaker/channel to both ears and right speaker/channel to both ears recreates the 3D image.
Assuming nothing wrong with the equipment, hookup and power, the main cause of loss of imaging or center image is: a) unequal distance from ears to speakers, and b) excessive room reverbations (reflections that do not decay). Even the crappiest component will image somewhat with quality speakers as will the crappiest speakers with quality components.
Usually the speakers are a)too close together...B)have something large between them with a highly reflective surface(bigscreen tele)...or are simply incapable of producing a stable "out of box" image....
Well guys, we discovered the problem. I brought all of my gear and cables to my friends, and swapped it out with his. After all that, same problem! We were at least now, at two conclusions, the room or the speakers. To make a long story short, it turned out to be a defective or weak power supply in one of his Innersound Eros speakers. This was causing slightly less volume from one panel, and almost complete loss of imaging. Thanks for all your advice, it helped us get to the root of the problem.
Steve, you must be a helluva guy to help your buddy out by toting all of your stuff over there like that. I'm glad that you found the problem. Hopefully, Mr Sanders will take care of the problem and your friend will be up in running very shortly. Sean