Soundstage in headphones represents the spatial sound image presented to a listener. It mimics a real-life stage experience with center, right, left, distant right, and distant left sound sources. It recreates a sense that acoustics are coming from different directions.
Imagine a live singer walking left and right on the stage. If no sound system is involved the singer’s voice will change depending on position.
If you closed your eyes and just listened to singer’s voice you could always determine where on the stage he/she is.
The same is true for the guitar players, drums and any other instrument. In an orchestra you can determine where each group of instruments are positioned just from listening.
Headphones that produce sound where you can distinguish positional accuracy and get a defined acoustic image are considered to have good soundstage.
Why Should I Care about Soundstage?
Good soundstage in headphones is important for a couple things:
- To determine where your enemies are in competitive shooter video games, plus more immersive experience for all other genres (best gaming headphones).
- To recreate the most natural sounding audio which is crucial for producing and mixing (and in studio headphones).
- If you want to enjoy the most natural sound with headphones possible. Whether it’s at home or somewhere else, expansive soundstage always brings the best out of songs.
What Headphones have Better Soundstage?
Generally, open-back headphones come with bigger and better defined soundstage than closed-back headphones.
Closed headphones are better at passive noise isolation (blocking ambient noise and keeping music in) but soundstage suffers because of it. Closed cups don’t allow the sound waves to travel freely thus change your perception.
On the other hand, open-back headphones don’t have much noise isolation at all (high sound leakage, don’t block the background noise) but come with better reproduction of spatial sound (soundstage) which is valued by audiophiles and casual listeners alike.
Due to open design the sound waves travel more freely around your ears so you perceive them more effectively.