Soundstage. It’s something that gets tossed around by audiophiles whenever they purchase their next headphones. For the common folk, you must be wondering what exactly is soundstage and why is it so significant when it comes to your entertainment? Well, let me guide you on this wonderful journey into the world of the soundstage.
What Does Soundstage Mean In Headphones?
Soundstage, sometimes known as Speaker Image, is the three-dimensional projection of sound created by a highly accurate stereo speaker system. It will replicate the location of each source of sound while it was recorded, almost as if it is being played right in front of you.
For normal headsets, sounds are usually played in a monodirectional or bidirectional way that plays the sound straight into your ears with bidirectional sound play specific music in either one of your ears.
This is commonly known as mono or stereo audio where the latter is now more prominent in sound systems than ever. Soundstage takes it up to another level by placing you in the middle of where the music is playing, giving you a more immersive experience.
Seems like a very magical experience but I can assure you that it’s all in the headphones. Not all headphones can produce soundstage though due to the limitations in design. Knowing that, how does soundstage work and how is it produced by a headset?
How Is Soundstage Produced?
There is no direct answer as to how soundstage is produced because it is very complex as many sounds work together to create. Many factors work together in order to give you that immersive experience at a stage. Here are some of the factors that go into soundstage as it’s being produced.
This is the most crucial part of recreating that live feeling of being in the heart of the music. There are many ways to capture the sounds of an instrument, but for a soundstage to be made, the mic has to be close enough to the instrument.
This allows the mic to focus on capturing the sound of the instrument while removing all ambient noise and creating a forefronting sound. Then. another mic is set in the room to capture the room’s ambiance to create another dimension in the sound recreated.
The magic then happens with ambient cues during post-process editing. By manipulating these cues, an illusion of space is created in their recordings which are then translated as sound proximity in the end user’s headphones.
There are also other methods at play such as tone, volume, panning, and performance. All of them work in tandem to show the “location” of the instrument in the recording.
Another thing that affects soundstage is the placement of the speakers. For conventional sound systems, the speakers can be moved around to optimize the playback to create the best soundstage possible.
It goes without saying that the speakers in your headset won’t be adjustable since it’s already fitted into the headphones. This is why manufacturers have to pick the optimal driver placement in order to optimize the sound dimension.
Some of the placements that affect soundstage include:
- Distance between drivers to ears
- Size of drivers
- Placement of drivers
- Shape of earmuffs
- The overall fit of the headphone
As previously mentioned, the design of the headphone plays a big role in creating a soundstage as well. It only works with certain headphones with ordinary closed-backs being the worst out of all designs.
This is because the closed-back naturally prevents sound from being able to move freely which prevents sound imaging. Ambient sounds are very important when it comes to soundstage thus isolation makes it impossible.
Open-back headphones are by far the best choice for soundstage and any audiophile worth their salt will not tell you otherwise. It does not dampen or isolate you from ambient noise which creates the perfect environment for soundstage.
It also allows soundwaves to pass through freely, creating a more natural experience with sound.
How Soundstage Affects Listening Experience
If you have ever used soundstage, you will immediately know the difference between the usual audio systems. It creates a natural high-quality sound that some people love while others feel that it’s too ambient.
The importance of it will completely depend on the individual but it does have some practical uses as well for professionals that work with sound. Music producers will usually look for a headphone with soundstage to replicate the most natural sound possible.
It is also essential for sound engineers as they try to create visual stages for every genre of music. It’s also great for people who are craving for the experience rather than just the audio entertainment.
It’s difficult to experience being in the center of a rock concert without actually being in one. I’m sure you’ve always wanted to be at that Panic At The Disco concert but it just isn’t convenient for you to be there.
Soundstage plays the music to you as if you were in the center of the action. Sound engineers have optimized the audio files with the soundstage in headphones to give you an out-of-world experience like no other.
Why Soundstage Matters For Gaming?
Many people have debated on exactly how soundstage affects the gaming experience. Truth is, not all games will need soundstage because audio precision doesn’t help boost performance in all types of games.
Experienced first-person shooters will tell you that soundstage makes all the difference in performance as it accurately allows you to identify the position of every sound in the game to make better decisions.
With a good pair of soundstage headphones, you’ll be able to hear every breath and step your rivals make. This won’t be enough to boost you up to pro performance but it definitely helps a little by giving you more immersion.
Soundstage is an audiophile’s best friend as it creates a natural sound profile that also provides you with an amazing experience. It’s not for everyone though but give it a try and you might find something new in it.
Headphones won’t be as powerful as other sound systems do but many open-back headphones out there will still give you a decent experience with how far audio has come in the past decade.