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    Can a sound stage be TOO big???

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    Laminarman

    Posts : 110
    Join date : 2009-12-30

    Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:31 pm

    On day two of my SP14 and ST70 with my Tannoy speakers and the change in the music is just incredible. But the sound stage is huge and this "air" around instruments they talk about does exist. However, can it be too open? I'm listening and having trouble localizing instruments/vocals..etc. It's as if I'm in a huge concert hall and sound spreads out well beyond the speakers without pinpoint precision. Almost like I have to re-position everything like speakers and change my room to refocus things. I have two questions about this. First, will it change as I put hours on the system. The pre amp has about 6 hours on it, the ST70 about 80+ so they're not quite burned in if that even really exists. Also, will this change much in the future with tube swaps or if I go to a good dedicated DAC? I'm just plugging my 5 CD Marantz player into the SP14 now without any high end processing. Don't get me wrong, it's very appealing and non fatiguing but just very different than my SS pre amp was. Warmer for sure.

    Bob Latino
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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Bob Latino on Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:01 pm

    I think that this is the first time that I heard someone say that their soundstage is too large because of their VTA amp or preamp ..

    Seriously, you are on the right track when you mention about repositioning your speakers and/or your listening position. Sometimes excessive echos from back or side walls can "homogenize" the music so that picking out individual instruments and/or vocalists within the soundstage can be difficult. I would experiment with moving your speakers in or out from your rear and side walls. You may also want to alter the distance between the two speakers - either further apart or a little closer together. You may also want to try sound treatments on the back or side walls to cut down on echos or excessive treble ..

    I am sure if you experiment with speaker or listening position you can come up with better location of instruments and/or vocalists within the soundstage.

    Bob

    Laminarman

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    Join date : 2009-12-30

    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:04 pm

    This is really strange Bob, I have NEVER had a piece of equipment make as large a difference as this (except for speakers.) Usually I try a new pre amp or amp, and say "Yeah, that was better..I think." This is profound. Seems very sensitive for lack of a better word, in that it is now unforgiving of poor recordings if that sounds right. As for the room...yeah...it's an 18' foot tall ceiling in the living room, with hard walls on three sides (one is windows and the drapes are off being altered so I basically have GLASS on the left wall) and the fourth side opens into a large, 18' tall ALL TILE foyer. There is very little sound absorption and it didn't matter quite as much with my prior pre amp. I suspect I have some bounce-age going on! This will eventually be moved into a finished basement with 8' foam tile ceilings, smaller rooms with big couches..etc. That should help.

    Bob Latino
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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Bob Latino on Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:03 pm

    Check out this place online for acoustical foam for killing echo sounds in "hard" rooms with no carpets and flat walls .. I have bought some myself and it works well ..

    The Foam Factory online ...

    Bob

    sKiZo

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by sKiZo on Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:55 pm

    I killed a killer reflection off the ceiling by tacking up a couple memory foam carpets ...



    Local big box had these on sale for $12 each, and I figured what's to lose? I did the pendulum trick, then tacked them up using those Command fasteners. The carpets are quite thick, weigh next to nothing, and do a very nice job of deadening the reflection. Ultimate test was Norah Jones - Was shrill on impact, now very civilized and smooth. I also changed the center driver to a Telefunken ECC82 that had previously been too bright with outstanding results.

    PS ... the pendulum trick - tape a weighted string to the ceiling about where you figure it should go and release it from the listening position towards the speaker - it should stop and swing back right about the front of the speaker. Repeat as needed. That will indicate the center position of the primary reflection.

    In answer to the original question - I suppose there can be such a thing as too much sound stage. I used to run my Carver C9 holographic on the "theoretical" setting, which worked fine with the solid stage amp. Changed out to the ST120 and ended up with a hole in the middle and instruments scattered to the four winds. Switched the C9 to "normal" and got the wOw without the wHoa!

    Laminarman

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:28 am

    Thanks Skizo. Not sure I'm getting the pendulum trick, and I'm sure as shinola NOT getting up 18' to tie a string to this ceiling! Your description of instruments scattered to the four winds is apt! I used a Stereophile test CD and I'm trying to localize the instruments to their description...no such luck, not even close. They sound amazing, I just can't seem to find them. I think maybe room setup is more important than I imagined, but I'll move this eventually to where it is much better once that space is finished.

    Alan-14

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Alan-14 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:11 am

    Have you done a "phase" test of your system to ensure that it is electrically in phase?

    What you describe as a huge sound stage without being able to localise instuments is similar to how an out of phase sytem would sound.
    When a system is out of phase you will loose bass response and the sound will be like it is presented in surround sound and all around you.

    There are a number of test/demo CD's that have these types of test tracks.
    Chesky Records "10 Best" CD has a phase test track as well as other test tracks.

    The very first thing I do if firing up a new amp or speakers or anything that I have built is to run left/right chanel verification checks and run a phase test.
    If those two fundamental things are wrong no amount of speaker or room re-organising will help.

    What to look for when doing a phase test is a complete black/white difference between the in phase and out of phase test.
    Out of phase will have a sound stage as you describe ... all around you.
    In phase will have no sound stage and everything focused directly in the middle of the two speakers.

    Recheck all your electrical connections and speaker connections for correct polarity first.

    Good Luck :-)

    Enjoy your SP-14 ... it's a cracker of a preamp!
    I would put a couple of hunderd hours on it first before doing any critical listening ... it will only get better ... as will your ST-70

    Captain Coconut

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Captain Coconut on Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:58 am

    sKiZo wrote:I killed a killer reflection off the ceiling by tacking up a couple memory foam carpets ...

    PS ... the pendulum trick - tape a weighted string to the ceiling about where you figure it should go and release it from the listening position towards the speaker - it should stop and swing back right about the front of the speaker. Repeat as needed. That will indicate the center position of the primary reflection.

    The same thing but easier: Measure the half way point between your listening position and the plane of your speakers. Grab a plumb bob (or a string with some weight on it), and while standing on a stool, move it around on the ceiling until it's plumb over the point on the floor.

    Laminarman

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:39 am

    Captain Coconut wrote:
    sKiZo wrote:I killed a killer reflection off the ceiling by tacking up a couple memory foam carpets ...

    PS ... the pendulum trick - tape a weighted string to the ceiling about where you figure it should go and release it from the listening position towards the speaker - it should stop and swing back right about the front of the speaker. Repeat as needed. That will indicate the center position of the primary reflection.

    The same thing but easier: Measure the half way point between your listening position and the plane of your speakers. Grab a plumb bob (or a string with some weight on it), and while standing on a stool,  move it around on the ceiling until it's plumb over the point on the floor.

    So Captain, this would be the center point above you creating a reflection, is that the idea?

    Laminarman

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    Join date : 2009-12-30

    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:44 am

    Alan-14 wrote:

    What to look for when doing a phase test is a complete black/white difference between the in phase and out of phase test.
    Out of phase will have a sound stage as you describe ... all around you.
    In phase will have no sound stage and everything focused directly in the middle of the two speakers.

    Recheck all your electrical connections and speaker connections for correct polarity first.

    Good Luck :-)

    Enjoy your SP-14 ... it's a cracker of a preamp!
    I would put a couple of hunderd hours on it first before doing any critical listening ... it will only get better ... as will your ST-70

    Alan, thank you, I have NOT done that. How dumb. I do have a Stereophile test CD with phase tests on it, so I'll do that later. Also, the comment about burning in the preamp is what I was looking for, I hear some folks say it doesn't matter, some say a few hundred, my impression after letting it play overnight is it's clearly better with the 20 hours on it that when first turning it on. It will play most of the weekend, then the Schiit Bifrost arrives around Wednesday Smile

    MarcVBelgium

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    Sound stage too big

    Post by MarcVBelgium on Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:10 pm

    Hello to everyone, I'm rather new to this forum. Reading since december, but I have not posted anything untill now.

    The question of "laminarman" is intriguing and I do like the fact that he is listening to Tannoy's, as I am. .
    Tannoy has a reputation of having a large soundstage, their Dual Concentric's being famous for that.
    Their literature states that the best balance is reached when the axis of both speakers crosses some 40-50 cm in
    front of you. Depending on the listening position, that could mean some serious "toeing-in". Please try it (after
    the suggested phase testing) , it could surprise you :-))
    My "Dynaco" system consists of a VTA-ST120 with Tannoy Glenair 10. Preamp is a McIntosh C-38 and between them
    is a Roomperfect processor by Lyngdorf. Source is an OPPO BD-105.
    Room acoustics are indeed a very big part of what you are hearing.
    As my listening position is against the back wall, there is a 1,20 x 1,80 m (3,9 ft x 5,9 ft) acoustic panel that helps (a lot)
    in absorbing first order reflections (the 3-4 ms type) which, combined with the roomprocessor, results in a marvellous detailed,
    organic, dynamic and precise sound.
    The VTA-ST-120 is BIG FUN ! Depending on the tubes used, one of the best and most engaging amps that I know of. (I started
    out as an "audiophile" in 1970.....at age 17)
    So yes the tubes can make a big difference. I have a set of Tung Sol 6550's that I do not particularly like (rather dull with a
    5U4GB TungSol NOS USA made rectifier). The Tung Sol KT-120 are a completely different matter...
    While I'm writing this, I am listening to Eliane Elias through the system mentioned, with the KT-120 + Sylvania 5U4G NOS USA made
    rectifier. I did start out with a Sovtek GZ-34...... which was greatly OK, but I like the bigger tubes better. Biasing is no problem.
    Sound is MAGIC!

    I will not easily look for another power tube, the KT-120 being so fantastic. But other rectifiers I still have to figure out
    are the GZ-34 Genalex Gold Lion, GZ-34 Mullard (newly produced in Russia, so not NOS), and I just laid my hands on a
    NOS "Winged C" Svetlana 5U4G/5U3C..... I'm rather curious to see what these will do in the amplifier.
    These will all have to burn in and I will give some feedback (I noticed that Bob asked about experience with the new Mullard GZ-34
    on which I will inform in a couple of weeks)

    It is nice being part of a large "family" :-))

    All the best.

    Captain Coconut

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Captain Coconut on Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:36 pm

    Laminarman wrote:
    Captain Coconut wrote:
    sKiZo wrote:I killed a killer reflection off the ceiling by tacking up a couple memory foam carpets ...

    PS ... the pendulum trick - tape a weighted string to the ceiling about where you figure it should go and release it from the listening position towards the speaker - it should stop and swing back right about the front of the speaker. Repeat as needed. That will indicate the center position of the primary reflection.

    The same thing but easier: Measure the half way point between your listening position and the plane of your speakers. Grab a plumb bob (or a string with some weight on it), and while standing on a stool,  move it around on the ceiling until it's plumb over the point on the floor.

    So Captain, this would be the center point above you creating a reflection, is that the idea?  

    Yes, as Skizeroo said: the midpoint of the primary reflection. I'll probably be doing the same thing soon.

    sKiZo

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by sKiZo on Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:11 pm

    Rule of thumb is to deaden either one of a pair of surfaces at the primary reflection points. If your room is carpeted, the ceiling usually isn't much of a problem, but the operating word there is "probably". In my case, I have a very hard semi-gloss finish there which I'm sure added to the reflection. Popcorn ceiling is probably a good thing for an audio room.

    I also had a killer standing wave front to rear at around 160hz that would flat out rattle the room. Solution there was insulated fiberglass curtains along the entire back wall. I also had some weirdness on the back wall, which is really an arch joining to another room, and solved some major echoes there with the addition of Auralex acoustical foam.



    Stuff works, but it does tend to suck the light out of the room. If you look close, you can see one of my ambiance speakers blending in with the black, so maybe it's not all that bad, but if I get ambitious, I plan to build a baffle box to cover that area and pretty it up some.

    I also had a bit of strangeness in the area behind the big box speakers on the front channels.  I cured that by adding the acoustic foam to the back of the speakers - no more reflections there anymore, except the good ones that you need for proper imaging from behind the drivers.

    There's actually some science behind my hardscaping, but that's not the end of it ... Once you take care of the big lumps, software EQ can be your friend too ... plots, waterfalls, impulse responses, isolation, sine sweeps, phasing, convolution filters, the infamous "Q" ... but that's another thread or three ...

    MarcVBelgium

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    pictures

    Post by MarcVBelgium on Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:33 pm

    Can somebody explain to me how to include a picture in the messages ?

    Thanks.

    Laminarman

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:37 pm

    Now I feel like a total moron. I'm ready to bang my head against the wall or put it through the wall. I did the phase test on the CD and I'm CLEARLY out of phase. Don't you think finding this should be easy??? I CANNOT FIND IT!! I really thought the only thing I had wrong was the center pins on the source/selector knob, I clearly had those reversed but it didn't change anything. I swapped the black/red on one speaker and it was in phase but I want to find where this is happening. I've been checking this for over an hour now and am becoming cranky.

    Alan-14

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Alan-14 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:03 pm

    Laminarman wrote:Now I feel like a total moron.  I'm ready to bang my head against the wall or put it through the wall.  I did the phase test on the CD and I'm CLEARLY out of phase.  Don't you think finding this should be easy???  I CANNOT FIND IT!!  I really thought the only thing I had wrong was the center pins on the source/selector knob, I clearly had those reversed but it didn't change anything.  I swapped the black/red on one speaker and it was in phase but I want to find where this is happening.  I've been checking this for over an hour now and am becoming cranky.  

    Hey Laminarman,

    This is why I always do a basic left/right and phase test first thing to confirm the basics are correct.

    Now you need to find out what is causing your system to be out of phase.
    This will be a process of elimination.
    However since the newest component is the SP-14, remove it from your system and re connect your old preamp and try the phase test again.
    If all is well ... then you have an internal wiring issue with your SP-14.
    If the system is still out of phase then you will need to look at other components in your system.

    Don't let it frustrate you ... you will get there Smile

    Laminarman

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:45 pm

    Alan,

    Thank YOU! Sometimes just a person to say "hang in there" helps. I found it. And it's so @#$@! stupid I have to tell what happened. I took my ST70 out of the system to tighten the input jack and put it back into the system, no problem. Black to black, red to red on both the speaker cables and the input. HOWEVER, I somehow forgot that on one of my hand build speaker cables I soldered a red banana to the black and vice versa. For about five years now I know to look at the CABLE color and NOT the banana clip. I never unsoldered it because I thought I'd never forget to do that. Guess what I'm doing next??? Smile

    By the way, THIS is the first since I've built the SP14 that it's set up correctly and NOW this is just one hell of a preamp. It is clearly better than I anticipated. Thank you everyone, now that I feel like the biggest dork on this forum.

    Alan-14

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Alan-14 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:20 pm

    Great news Laminarman!!

    Such a simple thing in the end ... LOL
    Don't feel bad ... we've all done things like that at one time or another Smile

    Keep putting more hours on the SP-14 as it will only get better the more hours you put on it.

    Now comes the fun part of "rediscovering" your music collection all over again!

    Laminarman

    Posts : 110
    Join date : 2009-12-30

    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:56 pm

    Absolutely ready to rediscover. Finally sitting down with, of all things, an INCREDIBLE glass or three of wine (a Shiraz from your stomping grounds!) and I'm listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Voodoo Child" and it's just better than I've ever heard it. Thanks again.

    Alan-14

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Alan-14 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:05 pm

    Fun times ahead indeed Smile

    Enjoy your Shiraz Andy!

    sKiZo

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by sKiZo on Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:30 pm

    I'd nominate this for the dOH! moment of the week ... 'bout time somebody else had a crack at it.  geek 

    Drag out Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here if you want to have some fun imaging to enjoy while you're sipping the grape nectar ...

    Laminarman

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:42 pm

    sKiZo wrote:I'd nominate this for the dOH! moment of the week ... 'bout time somebody else had a crack at it.  geek 

    Drag out Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here if you want to have some fun imaging to enjoy while you're sipping the grape nectar ...

    Yup, I feel pretty stupid, but hey, it won't happen again right?

    Wish You Were Here coming right up after a bit of Norah Jones, the new Robert Cray Album and the incredible "No Plan B" by Van Morrison. Can't wait to get the Bifrost into the system and see if that makes a difference.

    frank

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by frank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:10 am

    [quote="Laminarman] now that I feel like the biggest dork on this forum. [/quote]

    Nope, never fear, I think that's still me.

    Laminarman

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by Laminarman on Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:23 am

    fswidecki wrote:
    \"Laminarman wrote: now that I feel like the biggest dork on this forum.  

    Nope, never fear, I think that's still me.

    You can't have the title dude unless you tell what you did that was more idiotic than me..

    sKiZo

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    Re: Can a sound stage be TOO big???

    Post by sKiZo on Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:11 am



    Although I'd still like to keep my hat in the ring for Dork of the Year. I just turned a rather expensive LED flat screen tv into a brick playing around in the service menus. Finger musta slipped, and I saw the dreaded WRITE flashing on the screen ... Went to restart, and no pic or sound.

    I'll play around with it for a bit, but I predict a visit from the Geek Squad is in my immediate future. They'll end up plugging their fancy Sony diagnostic thingie into the port, clicking one button, and charging me a couple hundred for the service - slap up side the head optional ...

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