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Imaging and Three-Dimensionality

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  • Imaging and Three-Dimensionality

    Recreating that illusion of a real three-dimensional, radiating huggable body is often one of the elusive and hardest qualities to capture. Bringing that image just like with a camera lens from fuzzy object into sharply defined focus. Creating in the "mind's eye" a sharp edge that delineates the singer or instrument from the intervening space or surrounding space. Establishing also a sense of image height so one doesn't think they are listening to the Lilliputian State Symphony Orchestra. Most of all, a the object possess a feeling of density and presence (a function of the amount of information) by coloring in the outline of the instrument or singer (something that reel-to-reel tape does like nothing else!). Not unlike comparing today's digital photo scans against the earliest digital scans. Simply more dots to fill in the image.

    Next to upper midrange brightness/distortions or a lack of midrange, nothing turns me off faster than flat images on the soundstage canvas (somewhat akin to today's 3-D movies). For example, those pancake flat images oh-so typical of early solid-state solid-state electronics or digital playback. While imaging is certainly an audiophile thing, it's a quality that really brings the music to life. (always remembering that the microphone is not our ears nor where we normally listen.) Instruments and singers do have a sense of body and resonance and aren't paper thin. Nor are they diffuse or amorphous either or feel like ghosts are onstage. Perhaps even that's why I do find myself gravitating at times to closer miked, more intimate type or smaller scale recordings at times. Or even judiciously done multi-miked recordings.

    So many factors contribute to capturing and recreating that feeling of three-dimensionality. Obviously recreating that solid image, in particular the center image, is extremely difficult without proper speaker set-up and room treatment (as needed). Different types of tubes/brands and circuit design definitely impacts the feeling of instrumental dimensionality. Among the best that I've heard at recreating that essential body are triode or single ended circuit designs. Out of all the output tubes I've heard, the 211 tube is the best I've heard at recreating a wrap around image. It all begins when it comes to analog playback with cartridge geometry. Then toss in a side order of interconnect and speaker cables just to make things interesting.

    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor,

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
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  • #2
    This is a very interesting topic to me Myles more so because I think there is a huge range of preferences at play. In my case I don't really like razor sharp image outlines and my preference is for a walk in soundstage. A good analogy would be that I love the look of movies shot on film better than movies shot at 1080p or 4K unless the subject is a nature documentary. I like focus and detail but there is a point at which one might lose the faces for the pores borrowing from the forest and trees thing.

    I think the vast majority of the people I know like recessed/deep stages and width is not as big a deal. Height is something I think universally desired. These preferences have led me over the years to make specific decisions. As far as the room goes, the decision was to use the room a part of the final outcome as opposed to making it dead. Speaker choice has been for some time now between dipoles or super cardiods, the latter being ultimately my favorite because of the wider lateral spread. Lesser Omnis I find too diffuse, some speaker's directionality too restrictive of listening position and thus while great sounding, sometimes physically uncomfortable over extended periods.

    In geek speak I think it's a question of finding the balance between localization triggers, the inter aural time and level (ITD and ILD) differences between our ears and the melons we have between them that give us the aesthetic effect that we ultimately prefer. It dovetails into the "they are here" slanted towards ITD, and "you are there" slanted towards ILD. Find Goldiilocks and you get a chance of having both depending on the recording.

    It's been thrown out there that subtle microphonics in tubes can add a reverb like effect to the music. I don't know if this has actually been tested much less proven. As a consumer whose goal is simply that of enjoyment as opposed to someone who say might be doing archival work, for as long as the outcome hits the spot, I'm good with that.
    Last edited by JackD201; 04-04-2016, 12:54 AM.


    • #3
      in broad terms speaker positioning and a well treated room are key. I've heard large system perform the hat-trick of reach out and touch type imaging, superb depth and a layered 3-d effect. For the average listening room (what most us have) its hard to beat LS3/5a/ProAC Tablette/Raidho x-1 type speakers and listening in the near field. Since the Quad ESL are so 'beamy' you get much more direct vs. reflected sound and they emulate what mini monitors do so well.