Why do some components have a better soundstage?

April 19, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

11 comments on “Why do some components have a better soundstage?”

  1. This question goes right to the heart of the high end audio paradox. Audio reproduction is not the most complex technology in the world, and as an engineer I’m inclined to think that audible differences should be measurable, given an adequately sophisticated measurement method. Most of us have experienced clear and repeatable differences when swapping between DACs or CD players or amplifiers. These differences are not explained by manufacturers or reviewers basic measurements of linearity or frequency response, since most components appear to be flawless on the basis of those measurements.

    Paul explains how topology and feedback in an amplifier affects its sound. Clearly this isn’t indicated by THD. because almost always increased feedback reduces THD. Either we’re all fooling ourselves and the psychological effects like confirmation bias are way more significant than we thought, even when we’re actively trying to counter them, or we’re just measuring the wrong things.

    I do wonder if manufacturers would really benefit from having reliable measurements. If we had measurements that correlated with subjective experience, would there be a race to the bottom, with low cost manufacturers creating cheaper designs that met the new criteria?

  2. LOL, getta life. Amplification is only that, amplification, it doesn’t move sound around magically. But, gotta admit, I wish that I had your ears and listening skills – however, it’d cost me a lot more $$$.

    1. Whew!
      I was tossing around the cra-cra idea of trading my M1200s up to BHKs, but thanks to this new insightful tidbit of experience, knowledge, research and wisdom, I’ve quickly curbed THAT idea. I’m off to the thrift store to find a cheap ole receiver. Does Lloyds still make stereos? I’d probably fork out fifty…. no – SIXTY bucks for a NEW Lloyds….
      An old Webcor or Citizen or Yorx will drive Magnepans won’t it?

    2. About a year ago i bought a new Outlaw Audio RR2160 Amp. It had great reviews on youtube. I listened to it for 6 months. I thought it sounded great. Last September a friend suggested i try a tube Amp. I found a good deal on a used [ almost new ] Decware Super Zen Triode, which by the way has zero feedback. In the first 15 minutes of listening to it , couldn’t believe what i was hearing. The sound stage was huge. The music seemed to fill the room well behind and above the speakers. After two weeks i boxed up the RR2160 and sold it a a $200 loss. There was no comparison, and they were both just Amplifiers.

  3. My experience with most every manufacturer I had interacted with was at best dismal!
    Manuals are v poorly written
    Equipment is sold with defective components and acknowledged by the company with no resolve
    Calling tech support on repeated tries results in different information on same issue

    I think the word is out !
    Maybe this field should disappear?

  4. I love my Creek 5350se integrated amplifier. Nice precise soundstage and purity of tone. Very liquid and smooth. No brightness or harshness no flattening of the soundstage. Just beautiful musical sound coming out of my NHT 2.9 speakers. I have no reason to upgrade. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it or you could end up worse than before or have to spend a considerable amount of money time and research trying to get back what you lost. You might have to buy back what you just sold at a higher price.

  5. I have found this to be true as well. I have an old Pioneer VSX 21 5.1 HT receiver that is less 3D than my other 2-channel system. but if I listen to MC SACD through it is it better, but that is because I can control the output of the 5 channels. There is still more front depth in this set up with MC SACD.

    On my 2 channel system I have all the 3D I could want, but it is not on all my discs or LPs as much of this has to do with the recording engineering. I have found that with the upgrade to a DSD capable DAC that this depth of field has improved on my digital sources to a good extent. It has also helped with my headphone listening as I have the second, same DAC on my headphone station.

    What is also interesting is that on the Octave Records 2-channel releases the images are deep and higher than the speakers sit, so I know that I am getting good performance from the great recordings. Instruments are positioned and stable.

  6. I own a Jolida JD-1000P all vacuum tube power amp.
    This amp started out in life with 8 EL34 tubes in it.
    But at the same time, before I placed an order for that amp, I listened to my music throo an Eastern Electric M-520 integrated amp that used a quod of EL34 tubes.
    IN spite of the fact that I tried other EL34 tubes in that amp, I still wasn’t too happy with the kind of sound I was getting.
    So when I contacted Michael Allen, I told him that I wanted a really powerful amp, but I didn’t want anything to do with the EL34 tubes.
    He made the suggestion to me, the Jolida JD-1000P amplifier.
    He told me up front, that it came stocked with EL34 tubes in it.
    But however, I can modify it to take the 6550/KT88 tubes.
    I told him, if you do that for me, then you got yourself a deal.
    And as for the slew rate, my amp cranks out 120 volts per microsecond.
    But it has a very huge sound stage.
    Nothing sounds out of place when I’m listening to music throo that amp.

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