What is a “virtual” loudspeaker? Part 2

#91.2 in a series of articles about the technology behind Bang & Olufsen

In Part 1, I talked at how a binaural recording is made, and I also mentioned that the spatial effects may or may not work well for you for a number of different reasons.

Let’s go back to the free field with a single “perfect” microphone to measure what’s happening, but this time, we’ll send sound out of two identical “perfect” loudspeakers. The distances from the loudspeakers to the microphone are identical. The only difference in this hypothetical world is that the two loudspeakers are in different positions (measuring as a rotational angle) as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Two identical, “perfect” loudspeakers in a free field with a single “perfect” microphone.

In this example, because everything is perfect, and the space is a free field, then output of the microphone will be the sum of the outputs of the two loudspeakers. (In the same way that if your dog and your cat are both asking for dinner simultaneously, you’ll hear dog+cat and have to decide which is more annoying and therefore gets fed first…)

Figure 2: The output from the microphone is the sum of the outputs from the two loudspeakers. At any moment in time, the value of the top plot + the value of the middle plot = the value of the bottom plot.

IF the system is perfect as I described above, then we can play some tricks that could be useful. For example, since the output of the microphone is the sum of the outputs of the two loudspeakers, what happens if the output of one loudspeaker is identical to the other loudspeaker, but reversed in polarity?

Figure 3: If the output of Loudspeaker 1 is exactly the same as the output of Loudspeaker 2 except for polarity, then the sum (the output of the microphone) is always 0.

In this example, we’re manipulating the signals so that, when they add together, you nothing at the output. This is because, at any moment in time, the value of Loudspeaker 2’s output is the value of Loudspeaker 1’s output * -1. So, in other words, we’re just subtracting the signal from itself at the microphone and we get something called “perfect cancellation” because the two signals cancel each other at all times.

Of course, if anything changes, then this perfect cancellation won’t work. For example, if one of the loudspeakers moves a little farther away than the other, then the system is broken, as shown below.

Figure 4: A small shift in time in the output of Loudspeaker 2 cases the cancellation to stop working so well.

Again, everything that I’ve said above only works when everything is perfect, and the loudspeakers and the microphone are in a free field; so there are no reflections coming in and ruining everything.

We can now combine these two concepts:

  1. using binaural signals to simulate a sound source in a location (although this would normally be done using playback over earphones to keep it simple) and
  2. using signals from loudspeakers to cancel each other at some location in space as a

to create a system for making virtual loudspeakers.

Let’s suspend our adherence to reality and continue with this hypothetical world where everything works as we want… We’ll replace the microphone with a person and consider what happens. To start, let’s just think about the output of the left loudspeaker.

Figure 5: The output of the left loudspeaker reaches both ears with different time/frequency characteristics caused by the HRTF associated with that sound source location.

If we plot the impulse responses at the two ears (the “click” sound from the loudspeaker after it’s been modified by the HRTFs for that loudspeaker location), they’ll look like this:

Figure 6: The impulse responses of the HRTFs for a sound source at 30º left of centre.

What if were were able to send a signal out of the right loudspeaker so that it cancels the signal from the left loudspeaker at the location of the right eardrum?

Figure 7: What if we could cancel the signal from the left loudspeaker at the right ear using the right loudspeaker?

Unfortunately, this is not quite as easy as it sounds, since the HRTF of the right loudspeaker at the right ear is also in the picture, so we have to be a bit clever about this.

So, in order for this to work we:

  • Send a signal out of the left loudspeaker.
    We know that this will get to the right eardrum after it’s been messed up by the HRTF. This is what we want to cancel…
  • …so we take that same signal, and
    • filter it with the inverse of the HRTF of the right loudspeaker
      (to undo the effects of the HRTF of the right loudspeaker’s signal at the right ear)
    • filter that with the HRTF of the left loudspeaker at the right ear
      (to match the filtering that’s done by your head and pinna)
    • multiply by -1
      (so that it will cancel when everything comes together at your right eardrum)
    • and send it out the right loudspeaker.

Hypothetically, that signal (from the right loudspeaker) will reach your right eardrum at the same time as the unprocessed signal from the left loudspeaker and the two will cancel each other, just like the simple example shown in Figure 3. This effect is called crosstalk cancellation, because we use the signal from one loudspeaker to cancel the sound from the other loudspeaker that crosses to the wrong side of your head.

This then means that we have started to build a system where the output of the left loudspeaker is heard ONLY in your left ear. Of course, it’s not perfect because that cancellation signal that I sent out of the right loudspeaker gets to the left ear a little later, so we have to cancel the cancellation signal using the left loudspeaker, and back and forth forever.

If, at the same time, we’re doing the same thing for the other channel, then we’ve built a system where you have the left loudspeaker’s signal in the left ear and the right loudspeaker’s signal in the right ear; just like a pair of headphones!

However, if you get any of these elements wrong, the system will start to under-perform. For example, if the HRTFs that I use to predict your HRTFs are incorrect, then it won’t work as well. Or, if things aren’t time-aligned correctly (because you moved) then the cancellation won’t work.

on to Part 3

What is a “virtual” loudspeaker? Part 1

#91.1 in a series of articles about the technology behind Bang & Olufsen

Without connecting external loudspeakers, Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Theatre has a total of 11 independent outputs, each of which can be assigned any Speaker Role (or input channel). Four of these are called “virtual” loudspeakers – but what does this mean? There’s a brief explanation of this concept in the Technical Sound Guide for the Theatre (you’ll find the link at the bottom of this page), which I’ve duplicated in a previous posting. However, let’s dig into this concept a little more deeply.

To begin, let’s put a “perfect” loudspeaker in a free field. This means that it’s in a space that has no surfaces to reflect the sound – so it’s an acoustic field where the sound wave is free to travel outwards forever without hitting anything (or at least appear as this is the case). We’ll also put a “perfect” microphone in the same space.

Figure 1: A loudspeaker and a microphone (the circle) in a free field: an infinite space completely free of reflective surfaces.

We then send an impulse; a very short, very loud “click” to the loudspeaker. (Actually a perfect impulse is infinitely short and infinitely loud, but this is not only inadvisable but impossible, and probably illegal.)

Figure 2: The “click” signal that’s sent to the input of the loudspeaker.

That sound radiates outwards through the free field and reaches the microphone which converts the acoustic signal back to an electrical one so we can look at it.

Figure 3: The “click” signal that is received at the microphone’s location and sent out as an electrical signal.

There are three things to notice when you compare Figure 3 to Figure 2:

  • The signal’s level is lower. This is because the microphone is some distance from the loudspeaker.
  • The signal is later. This is because the microphone is some distance from the loudspeaker and sound waves travel pretty slowly.
  • The general shape of the signals are identical. This is because I said that the loudspeaker and the microphone were both “perfect” and we’re in a space that is completely free of reflections.

What happens if we take away the microphone and put you in the same place instead?

Figure 4: The microphone has been replaced by something more familiar.

If we now send the same click to the loudspeaker and look at the “outputs” of your two eardrums (the signals that are sent to your brain), these will look something like this:

Figure 5: The outputs of your two eardrums with the same “click” signal from the loudspeaker.

These two signals are obviously very different from the one that the microphone “hears” which should not be a surprise: ears aren’t microphones. However, there are some specific things of which we should take note:

  • The output of the left eardrum is lower than that of the right eardrum. This is largely because of an effect called “head shadowing” which is exactly what it sounds like. The sound is quieter in your left ear because your head is in the way.
  • The signal at the right eardrum is earlier than at the left eardrum. This is because the left eardrum is not only farther away, but the sound has to go around your head to get there.
  • The signal at the right eardrum is earlier than the output of the microphone output (in Figure 3) because it’s closer to the loudspeaker. (I put the microphone at the location of the centre of the simulated head.) Similarly the left ear output is later because it’s farther away.
  • The signal at the right eardrum is full of spikes. This is mostly caused by reflections off the pinna (the flappy thing on the side of your head that you call your “ear”) that arrive at slightly different times, and all add together to make a mess.
  • The signal at the left eardrum is “smoother”. This is because the head itself acts as a filter reducing the levels of the high frequency content, which tends to make things less “spiky”.
  • Both signals last longer in time. This is the effect of the ear canal (the “hole” in the side of your head that you should NOT stick a pencil in) resonating like a little organ pipe.

The difference between the signals in Figures 2 and 4 is a measurement of the effect that your head (including your shoulders, ears/pinnae) has on the transfer of the sound from the loudspeaker to your eardrums. Consequently, we geeks call it a “head-related transfer function” or HRTF. I’ve plotted this HRTF as a measurement of an impulse in time – but I could have converted it to a frequency response instead (which would include the changes in magnitude and phase for different frequencies).

Here’s the cool thing: If I put a pair of headphones on you and played those two signals in Figure 5 to your two ears, you might be able to convince yourself that you hear the click coming from the same place as where that loudspeaker is located.

Although this sounds magical, don’t get too excited right away. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, reality tends to get in the way for a number of reasons:

  • Your head and ears aren’t the same shape as anyone else’s. Your brain has lived with your head and your ears for a long time, and it’s learned to correlate your HRTFs with the locations of sound sources. If I suddenly feed you a signal that uses my HRTFs, then this trick may or may not work, depending on how similar we are. This is just like borrowing someone else’s glasses. If you have roughly the same prescription, then you can see. However, if the prescriptions are very different, you’ll get a headache very quickly.
  • In reality, you’re always moving. So, even if the sound source is not moving, the specific details of the HRTFs are always changing (because the relative positions and angles to your ears are changing) but my system doesn’t know about this – so I’m simulating a system where the loudspeaker moves around you as you rotate your head. Since this never happens in real life, it tends to break the simulation.
  • The stuff I showed above doesn’t include reflections, which is how you determine distance to sources. If I wanted to include reflections, each reflection would have to have its own HRTF processing, depending on its angle relative to your head.

However, hypothetically, this can work, and lots of people have tried. The easiest way to do this is to not bother measuring anything. You just take a “dummy head” -a thing that is the same size as an average human head (maybe with an average torso) and average pinnae* – but with microphones where the eardrums are – and you plunk it down in a seat in a concert hall and record the outputs of the two “ears”. You then listen to this over earphones (we don’t use headphones because we want to remove your pinnae from the equation) and you get a “you are there” experience (assuming that the dummy head’s dimensions and shape are about the same as yours). This is what’s known as a binaural recording because it’s a recording that’s done with two ears (instead of two or more “simple” microphones).

If you want to experience this for yourself, plug a pair of headphones into your computer and do a search for the “Virtual Barber Shop” video. However, if you find that it doesn’t work for you, don’t be upset. It just means that you’re different: just like everyone else.* Typically, recordings like this have a strange effect of things sounding very close in the front, and farther away as sources go to the sides. (Personally, I typically don’t hear anything in the front. All of the sources sound like they’re sitting on the back of my neck and shoulders. This might be because I have a fat head (yes, yes… I know…) and small pinnae (yes, yes…. I know…) – or it might indicate some inherent paranoia of which I am not conscious.)

* Of course, depressingly typically, it goes without saying that the sizes and shapes of commercially-available dummy heads are based on averages of measurements of men only. Neither women nor children are interested in binaural recordings or have any relevance to such things, apparently…

on to Part 2

Beosound Theatre: Virtual loudspeakers

#90 in a series of articles about the technology behind Bang & Olufsen

Devices such as the ‘stereoscope’ for representing photographs (and films) in three-dimensions have been around since the 1850s. These work by presenting two different photographs with slightly different perspectives two the two eyes. If the differences in the photographs are the same as the differences your eyes would have seen had you ‘been there’, then your brain interprets into a 3D image.

A similar trick can be done with sound sources. If two different sounds that exactly match the signals that you would have heard had you ‘been there’ are presented at your two ears (using a binaural recording) , then your brain will interpret the signals and give you the auditory impression of a sound source in some position in space. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that the signals arriving at your ears are completely independent using headphones.

The problem with attempting this with loudspeaker reproduction is that there is ‘crosstalk’ or ‘bleeding of the signals to the opposite ears’. For example, the sound from a correctly-positioned Left Front loudspeaker can be heard by your left ear and your right ear (slightly later, and with a different response). This interference destroys the spatial illusion that is encoded in the two audio channels of a binaural recording.

However, it might be possible to overcome this issue with some careful processing and assumptions. For example, if the exact locations of the left and right loudspeakers and your left and right ears are known by the system, then it’s (hypothetically) possible to produce a signal from the right loudspeaker that cancels the sound of the left loudspeaker in the right ear, and therefore you only hear the left channel in the left ear. (Of course, the cancelling signal of the right loudspeaker also bleeds to the left ear, so the left loudspeaker has to be used to cancel the cancellation signal of the right loudspeaker in the left ear, and so on…)

Using this ‘crosstalk cancellation’ processing, it becomes (hypothetically) possible to make a pair of loudspeakers behave more like a pair of headphones, with only the left channel in the left ear and the right in the right. Therefore, if this system is combined with the binaural recording / reproduction system, then it becomes (hypothetically) possible to give a listener the impression of a sound source placed at any location in space, regardless of the actual location of the loudspeakers.

Theory vs. Reality

It’s been said that the difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, whereas in practice, there is. This is certainly true both of binaural recordings (or processing) and crosstalk cancellation.

In the case of binaural processing, in order to produce a convincing simulation of a sound source in a position around the listener, the simulation of the acoustical characteristics of a particular listener’s head, torso, and (most importantly) pinnae (a.k.a. ‘ears’) must be both accurate and precise. (For the same reason that someone else should not try to wear my glasses.)

Similarly, a crosstalk cancellation system must also have accurate and precise ‘knowledge’ of the listener’s physical characteristics in order to cancel the signals correctly; but this information also crucially includes the exact locations of the

loudspeakers and the listener (we’ll conveniently pretend that the room you’re sitting in does not exist).

In the end, this means that a system with adequate processing power can use two loudspeakers to simulate a ‘virtual’ loudspeaker in another location. However, the details of that spatial effect will be slightly different from person to person (because we’re all shaped differently). Also, more importantly, the effect will only be experienced by a listener who is positioned correctly in front of the loudspeakers. Slight movements (especially from side-to-side, which destroys the symmetrical time-of-arrival matching of the two incoming signals) will cause the illusion to collapse.

Beosound Theatre gives you the option to choose Virtual Loudspeakers that appear to be located in four different positions: Left and Right Wide, and Left and Right Elevated. These signals are actually produced using the Left and Right front-firing outputs of the device using this combination of binaural processing and crosstalk cancellation in the Dolby Atmos processing system. If you are a single listener in the correct position (with the Speaker Distances and Speaker Levels adjusted correctly) then the Virtual outputs come very close to producing the illusion of correctly-located Surround and Front Height loudspeakers.

However, in cases where there is more than one listener, or where a single listener may be incorrectly located, it may be preferable to use the ‘side-firing’ and ‘up-firing’ outputs instead.

Keep your needle clean

One of my jobs at Bang & Olufsen is to do the final measurements on each bespoke Beogram 4000c turntable before it’s sent to the customer. Those measurements include checking the end-to-end magnitude response, playing from a vinyl record with a sine sweep on it (one per channel), recording that from the turntable’s line-level output, and analysing it to make sure that it’s as expected. Part of that analysis is to very that the magnitude responses of the left and right channel outputs are the same (or, same enough… it’s analogue, a world where nothing is perfect…)

Today, I was surprised to see this result on a turntable that was being inspected part-way through its restoration process :

Taken at face value, this should have resulted in a rejection – or at least some very serious questions. This is a terrible result, with unacceptable differences in output level between the two channels. When I looked at the raw measurements, I could easily see that the left channel was behaving – it was the right channel that was all over the place.

The black curve looks very much like what I would expect to see. This is the result of playing a track that is a sine sweep from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, where the signal below 1 kHz follows the RIAA curve, whereas the signal above 1 kHz does not. This is why, after it’s been filtered using a RIAA preamp, the low frequency portion has a flat response, but the upper frequency band rolls off (following the RIAA curve).

Notice that the right channel (the red curve) is a mess…

A quick inspection revealed what might have been the problem: a small ball of fluff collected around the stylus. (This was a pickup that was being used to verify that the turntable was behaving through the restoration – not the one intended for the final customer – and so had been used multiple times on multiple turntables.)

So, we used a stylus brush to clean off the fluff and ran the measurement again. The result immediately afterwards looked like this:

which is more like it! A left-right channel difference of something like ± 0.5 dB is perfectly acceptable.

The moral of the story: keep your pickup clean. But do it carefully! That cantilever is not difficult to snap.


I was listening to an episode of People Fixing the World on the BBC today and learned for the first time about The Student Refugee Program. Turns out that, since 1978, it has supplied placements for refugees to come to Canada and study in universities across the country. It’s primarily funded by students as a small surcharge built into the tuition fees, so it’s not contingent on governmental budgets and therefore passing trends in attitudes about immigration.

Listening to the interviews with participants and the organisers made me proud to be Canadian…

More information at wusc.ca.

How clever are you?

N.B. I updated this page on 2023 04 05 based on new information from our suppliers…

We have two cars. One is a fully-electric car, and the other is a diesel.

Originally, the plan we had with our electricity supplier for the electric car was a flat fee per month, and an “all you can eat” plan. This made the choice of which car to drive a no-brainer: take the electric car whenever possible.

However, due to the rising price of energy, our supplier is changing their plan to a new pricing structure. The new price will be

799 DKK per month flat fee + kWh * (average electrical price – 0.89)

The reasoning behind this pricing is explained on their website – I won’t bother getting into that.

Note that they define the “average electrical price” as the average monthly price for both DK1 and DK2 (Denmark is split into two regions for electricity prices). The calculation is done on a charge-by-charge basis, where the month that’s chosen for the calculation is the month when you unplug the cable at the end of charging your car.

Our problem is that it made the decision of which car to drive (looking at it from a purely economic point of view) complicated. If we park the electric car, it still costs us 799 DKK / month + the price of diesel in the other car. On the other hand, if we drive the electric car, it costs us something that’s difficult to calculate when you’re heading out to the car in the morning with only one cup of coffee in you…

One thing that makes it even more complicated is the fact that, if we charge the electric car at home, we first pay our normal electricity supplier for the power we used, and we then get reimbursed by the electricity supplier for the electric car by some amount per kWh.

The way the electricity supplier for the electric car calculates this reimbursement is also complicated: They use the average monthly electricity price between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. including charges. That number changes but it’s currently defaulting to 1.33 DKK / kWh on this page – look for the “Tilbagebetalingssats” amount in the sidebar on the right called “Tilbagebetaling”. (Note that this value is difficult if not impossible to determine using the NordPool information. The webpage linked above calculates it from the “forventet indkøbspris” that you can change yourself on their calculator.

It turned out that figuring out this problem was the most interesting math that I did this week. I ran the calculations first in Matlab, and then duplicated them in Excel (for compatibility’s sake) to find out how to deal with this.

The variables are:

  • Electrical supplier for the electric car:
    • Flat monthly rate for our subscription
    • The amount that they subtract from the average Danish price, per kWh for charging the car (currently 0.89 DKK)
    • The amount that they pay us back to cover a portion of the electrical costs when we charge the car at home
  • The price we pay for electricity for the house
  • Average electricity price in DKK / MWh
    (available from this page. Select the DK1 and DK2 prices for the month of interest. The Excel spreadsheet finds the average of those two values, and adds 25% tax. shown at the bottom in cell B17 in DKK/kWh)
  • Fossil fuel Price in DKK/litre (in my case, that’s diesel)
  • Consumption of the two cars
    • Average consumption of the electric car in kWh/100 km
    • Average consumption of the fossil-fueled car in litres/100 km
  • Total number of km driven per month

The result is two plots:

  • The one on the left shows the price of driving each car individually, based on the total number of km driven in the month, as a function of how many of those km are driven in the electric car.
    • The green line shows the cost of driving the electric car if we charge it at a station away from home
    • The red line shows the cost of driving the electric car if we charge it at home
    • The black line shows the cost of driving the fossil-fuel car
  • The one on the right shows our total price, as a function of how many of the total number of km driven are driven in the electric car.

So, as you can see in the plots above, at the current prices, and using the average consumption values for our two cars, the more we drive the electric car, the more money we save, and we’ll save a lot more money if we don’t charge at home.

Looking at the plot on the right, if we park the electric car (0 km on the X-axis) we’ll spend about 2700 DKK per month. If we only drive the electric car (2000 km on the X-axis) and charge away from home at charging stations, then we’ll spend less than 1000 DKK (green line on the right-hand plot). Quite a savings! If we charge at home, we’ll spend about 2200 DKK (red line on the right-hand plot) – still cheaper than the diesel, but more than double the price of NOT charging at home.

In case you are in the same position as we are, and the little Excel calculator I made might be useful, you can download it here. However, I make no promises about its reliability. Don’t send me an email because I screwed up the math – fix it yourself. :-)

2023 05 19 update: We switched to “spot pricing” for the house electricity. So, this calculation has become dependent on the time of day when we charge the car. As a result, I’ve given up trying to understand it…

Beosound Theatre: Spatial control

#89 in a series of articles about the technology behind Bang & Olufsen

There are many cases where the number of input channels in the audio signal does not match the number of loudspeakers in your configuration. For example, you may have two loudspeakers, but the input signal is from a multichannel source such as a 7.1-channel stream or a 7.1.4-channel Blu-ray. In this case, the audio must be ‘downmixed’ to your two loudspeakers if you are to hear all components of the audio signal. Conversely, you may have a full surround sound system with 7 main loudspeakers and a subwoofer (a 7.1-channel system) and you would like to re-distribute the two channels from a CD to all of your loudspeakers. In this example, the signal must be ‘upmixed’ to all loudspeakers.

Bang & Olufsen’s True Image is a processor that accomplishes both of these tasks dynamically, downmixing or upmixing any incoming signal so that all components and aspects of the original recording are played using all of your loudspeakers.

Of course, using the True Image processor means that signals in the original recording are re-distributed. For example, in an upmixing situation, portions in the original Left Front signal from the source will be sent to a number of loudspeakers in your system instead of just one left front loudspeaker. If you wish to have a direct connection between input and output channels, then the Processing should be set to ‘Direct’, thus disabling the True Image processing.

Note that, in Direct mode, there may be instances where some input or output channels will not be audible. For example, if you have two loudspeakers but a multichannel input, only two of the input channels will be audible. These channels are dependent on the speaker roles selected for the two loudspeakers. (For example, if your loudspeakers’ roles are Left Front and Right Front, then only the Left Front and Right Front channels from the multichannel source will be heard.)

Similarly, in Direct mode, if you have a multichannel configuration but a two-channel stereo input, then only the loudspeakers assigned to have the Left Front and Right Front speaker roles will produce the sound; all other loudspeakers will be silent.

If True Image is selected and if the number of input channels and their channel assignments matches the speaker roles, and if all Spatial Control sliders are set to the middle position, then the True Image processing is bypassed. For example, if you have a 5.1 loudspeaker system with 5 main loudspeakers (Left Front, Right Front, Centre Front, Left Surround, and Right Surround) and a subwoofer, and the Spatial Control sliders are in the middle positions, then a 5.1 audio signal (from a DVD, for example) will pass through unaffected.

However, if the input is changed to a 2.0 source (i.e. a CD or an Internet radio stream) then the True Image processor will upmix the signal to the 5.1 outputs.

In the case where you wish to have the benefits of downmixing without the spatial expansion provided by upmixing, you can choose to use the Downmix setting in this menu. For example, if you have a 5.1-channel loudspeaker configuration and you wish to downmix 6.1- and 7.1-channel sources (thus ensuring that you are able to hear all input channels) but that two-channel stereo sources are played through only two loudspeakers, then this option should be selected. Note that, in Downmix mode, there are two exceptions where upmixing may be applied to the signal. The first of these is when you have a 2.0-channel loudspeaker configuration and a 1-channel monophonic input. In this case, the centre front signal will be distributed to the Left Front and Right Front loudspeakers. The second case is when you have a 6.1 input and a 7.1 loudspeaker configuration. In this case, the Centre Back signal will be distributed to the Left Back and Right Back loudspeakers.

The Beosound Theatre includes four advanced controls (Surround, Height, Stage Width and Envelopment, described below) that can be used to customise the spatial attributes of the output when the True Image processor is enabled.


The Surround setting allows you to determine the relative levels of the sound stage (in the front) and the surround information from the True Image processor.

Changes in the Surround setting only have an effect on the signal when the Processing is set to True Image.


This setting determines the level of the signals sent to all loudspeakers in your configuration with a ‘height’ Speaker Role. It will have no effect on other loudspeakers in your system.

If the setting is set to minimum, then no signal will be sent to the ‘height’ loudspeakers.

Changes in the Height setting only have an effect on the signal when the Processing is set to True Image.

Stage Width

The Stage Width setting can be used to determine the width of the front images in the sound stage. At a minimum setting, the images will collapse to the centre of the frontal image. At a maximum setting, images will be pushed to the sides of the front sound stage. This allows you to control the perceived width of the band or music ensemble without affecting the information in the surround and back loudspeakers.

If you have three front loudspeakers (Left Front, Right Front and Centre Front), the setting of the Stage Width can be customised according to your typical listening position. If you normally sit in the ‘sweet spot’, at roughly the same distance from all three loudspeakers, then you should increase the Stage Width setting somewhat, since it is unnecessary to use the centre front loudspeaker to help to pull phantom images towards the centre of the sound stage. The further to either side of the sweet spot that you are seated, the more reducing the Stage Width value will improve the centre image location.

Changes in the Stage Width setting only have an effect on the signal when the Processing is set to True Image.


The Envelopment setting allows you to set the desired amount of perceived width or spaciousness from your surround and back loudspeakers. At its minimum setting, the surround information will appear to collapse to a centre back phantom location. At its maximum setting, the surround information will appear to be very wide.

Changes in this setting have no effect on the front loudspeaker channels and only have an effect on the signal when the Processing is set to True Image.

One last point…

One really important thing to know about the True Image processor is that, if the input signal’s configuration matches the output, AND the 4 sliders described above are in the middle positions, then True Image does nothing. In other words, in this specific case, it’s the same as ‘Direct’ mode.

However, if there is a mis-match between the input and the output channel configuration (for example, 2.0 in and 5.1 out, or 7.1.4 in and 5.1.2 out) then True Image will do something: either upmixing or downmixing. Also, if the input configuration matches the output configuration (e.g. 5.x in and 5.x out) but you’ve adjusted any of the sliders, then True Image will also do something…