Speaker Imaging – What kind of magic is this?


Thought-provoking (and funny-bone tickling) question from member Zavato:

Considering my speakers definitely image better when I am not wearing my glasses leads me to conclude imaging ain’t really real but relies on the power of suggestion. Sort of like some folks who prefer to listen with the lights off. Any comments?

I have heard most of the speakers on the market. I’ve recently changed some things in my own system. I have Proac SuperTowers that I’m selling and I can PROMISE you that it’s not in your head. My speakers disappear as good as most out there. It’s about set up and your room too. Some speakers do some things right, but never disappear. I changed to a DAC and Niagara balanced cables into my Ayre integrated and the sound is MUCH wider and deeper than it’s ever been and I have run NAD integrated (also selling off) and Quicksilver Silver Mono’s what stage and image as good as most tubes out there (again selling, lol) and I didn’t expect my new system to be as ‘large’ as the tube stuff, but I was wrong. That’s not in my head (actually it really is in our heads).

Go listen at a brick and mortar store and you’ll hear the differences.

By that same logic, it’s a recording, so none of it is real.

The only thing that really matters is what you hear. Imaging is a big part of enabling a stereo setup to deliver the best sound possible.

It’s like going to the movies these days. 3-D done well can add a lot to the enjoyment of certain movies in particular. Or some might not bite and prefer standard 2-d. Neither is real, but both are differing imperfect renderings of reality, to different extents.

…and your mind IMAGINes all manner of things about how great you can hear. 😦

“…and your mind IMAGINes all manner of things about how great you can hear.”

That’s probably the key ingredient for good sound!

If your mind is happy…. :^)

There are reasons why things sound different without lights or glasses, etc., and they’re real. Your conscious brain reacts to things automatically all the time and if you remove a stimulus like lighting or ambient noise you will hear differently…to a degree…I’ve found for years that late night listening has value because personal focus changes. There is a meditative state I can get to with my eyes closed that makes music fairly intense, as long as I don’t open my eyes to find I’ve wound up handcuffed to a sink in a Cuban hotel room surrounded by aggressive spider monkeys…I hate that…

I hate every-time it happens too (hate spider monkeys), but change can be also caused by other factors. It might be not the amount of light in the room but the fact that radio stations are required by law to lower stations power at about 6PM (propagation is better at night) reducing electromagnetic pickup.

Image is not the power of suggestion because on many records I hear sound of instruments coming from particular locations while I have no idea where they should be located. As for the glasses I suspect that when you have them on you can see your system and it makes you worrying how much money you have spent on it – that might be worse than spider monkeys.

No distractions=serious listening.
My Jack Russell Terrier is a pain sometimes, but I hear Spider Monkeys are the worst!
Don’t Think…feel! – Bruce Lee

AH- The essence of Jeet Kune Do! Let your ears be like water and flow with the music. Especially those liquid midranges?

Maybe I need to clarify. My speakers do disappear and some things are more to the right and other more to the left and other things are dead center. But I usually so not perceive a stage wider that the separation between my speakers unless I’m not wearing my glasses or unless I fool around with an old Shure test record with material deliberately recorded out of phase. What I’m saying is that if I can clearly see my speakers the soundstage is no wider than my speaker set up

Eyeglasses lenses reflect and diffract higher frequency sounds into your ears, a form of noise that overrides much information, including some soundstage-width information.

Listen to a recording with horns and one with tambourines with and without glasses. Also, the “S’s” and “T’s” of the female voice are affected by glasses.
Best regards,

I’m Gonna Come At You Like a Spider Monkey!

It’s quite simple really… your brain has an easier time seeing and hearing things that don’t actually exist when there are fewer cues in the environment that suggest the hallucination isn’t real. Reduce those cues (by removing light, taking off glasses, closing your eyes, etc.) and you will get a more “intense” image.

I agree with the guy above.

Also I just happened to try this the other day. Except I closed my eyes first, and then took off my glasses. Sounded exactly the same. So the sound wasn’t changing. Taking them off while still open blurs everything visually, doesn’t change the sound at all, but does seem to allow the brain to believe more that it is closer to really being there.

I suggest not wearing any clothes

Another issue is the nose…it’s rarely mentioned that some sound goes up your nose while listening and there has been very little research about where that sound ends up. Trapped in the sinus cavities? Does the lower midrange battle with the nose hairs? Can you recover the sound lost to the nostrils? Try listening with and without a large moustache, or simply stick earplugs in your nose when seriously listening to see what I mean…it is an issue requiring further research.

Plastic Surgery may be in order for the TRUE audiophile.
Look good, hear great…..
When the women start flocking around though, to hell with this silly hobby!

Other factors changing the sound, for me, include
Getting a haircut, placing a different piece of furniture in the sweet spot, vacuuming the carpet before a listening session, treating (wiping) the walls with anti-static spray.

Well, I do need a haircut. Will report after the haircut.


So, Audiogoners, have you noticed a difference in your speaker imaging between eyes open and closed? With spider monkeys and without? If imaging is really all about perception, does that explain why your system sounds so good to you in your room and why your friends offer suggestions on how to make it sound better?  Comment below!

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