Stereo imaging is how you get a distinct sense of where a sound/voice is originating from. It’s a crucial factor for enjoying music, movies, and plays. Stereo imaging depends on the separation of sounds where each sound makes us hear them as separate objects.
The dirty or noisy sound would lack clarity and would be difficult to enjoy. We have compiled here some guidelines on stereo imaging in headphones and how you can discriminate between various types of headphones based on different factors including bass response, frequency response, and build quality.
What is Stereo Imaging?
Stereo imaging is a way of making stereo recordings sound like they’re coming from somewhere other than your headphones. Instead of being confined to the sides of your head, they can sound like they’re coming from in front of you, behind you or anywhere else. It’s basically a way of tricking your brain into thinking that the sounds you hear are coming from outside your head.
Stereo imaging can be produced in several different ways. One method uses an acoustic phenomenon known as the Haas Effect to make sounds appear to come from outside your head.
This effect was discovered by Helmut Haas and first described in his 1949 paper “The Concept of Sound Localization.” It states that if two identical sounds with a delay between them are played simultaneously, the human ear will perceive them as coming from a single source located between them. For example, if one sound comes from the left ear and another comes from the
How Does Headphone Stereo Imaging Work?
Stereo imaging is a term you will often see when reading about headphones and the best bluetooth headsets. If you’ve ever tried on a good pair of headphones that sounded like the music was inside your head instead of outside it, then you’ve experienced poor stereo imaging.
Stereo imaging is the ability for headphones to recreate a natural sound stage that makes it feel like someone is playing an instrument in front of you, or that the person singing is standing directly in front of you. Some headphones are able to create such a realistic sound stage that they give the impression that different instruments are located at different distances from the listener.
How do headphones create sound?
Stereo imaging is a little difficult to describe, and some people don’t notice it at all. But once you become aware of it and listen for it, there’s no going back. Stereo imaging in headphones gives you the perception that you’re hearing sounds from outside your head, instead of inside them.
When you listen to speakers, stereo imaging is pretty obvious: if a guitar is panned to the right, you’ll hear more sound coming from the right speaker than the left. It’s easy to point towards the source of that sound.
Imagine that same guitar is playing through headphones. The sound will come equally from both earcups — they’re both just miniature speakers, after all — but there won’t be any sense of directionality. Ideally, though, you’ll get a sense that the guitar is still coming from the right side (or at least, from slightly outside your head). That’s stereo imaging.
Stereo imaging becomes even more important when listening to music with multiple instruments or vocalists because it allows you to distinctly pick out each one based on its position in the mix. You can hear everything that’s going on without muddiness or confusion, thanks to headphone stereo imaging.
How do you test for stereo imaging in headphones?
Stereo imaging refers to the placement of instruments and vocals in a song. If you take a track that has been mixed with very good stereo imaging and play it on headphones, you’ll hear the song just as it was intended to be heard by the artist.
A lot of headphones, including many audiophile-grade headphones on the market, have rather poor stereo imaging; so if you listen to songs with good stereo imaging on them, you’re likely going to lose out on a lot of the magic. Some people prefer that there is no stereo imaging at all (i.e., everything sounds as if it is coming from straight ahead), but I personally find that tracks with no stereo imaging sound extremely flat and boring (a bit like listening to music through a laptop’s speakers).
If you listen to EDM music, or classical music, or any other genre of music where there isn’t much emphasis on vocals or where vocals aren’t the main focus, then it won’t matter too much that your headphone doesn’t have good stereo imaging. However, if you enjoy songs with prominent vocals, then it will definitely make a difference whether your headphones have good stereo imaging or not.
Stereo imaging is a term that describes the positioning of instruments and sounds in a stereo mix. It basically refers to the placement of musical elements within a sound field, and when it works, you’ll be able to hear individual instruments and vocals as if they were playing in different locations around you.
Stereo imaging can be created by placing two microphones at an angle with respect to one another and then amplifying each microphone with its own channel on a mixing board or console. The resulting signal is then sent through two speakers that are placed at an angle relative to each other, so that the listener hears different sounds coming from different directions.