Another soundstage question

There are a couple of soundstage related threads running on the amp/preamp section and they reminded me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask without hijacking those threads. The speakers are Vandersteen 2Ci and the system along with their placement is giving me a real deep and relatively wide soundstage - but not much further to the sides, but I’d like the height of the soundstage be little higher. The speakers are on the sides of a bay window, about 10’ apart and with heavy drapes pulled on either side and about 2.5’ behind the speakers. Much lighter curtains cover the bay windows for privacy. In my seating position that is about 10’ away from each speaker the top of the soundstage is just about the top of the speakers, sort of like I’m sitting at the same level as the musicians. The depth is realistic but I think the height needs to higher to give a better feel for the height of the singer standing in the middle and the rest of the band scattered at different levels within the stage. So having said all this, is the soundstage height mostly a function of the electronics driving the speakers or its the size/shape of the speakers, e.g., speaker height, tilt, etc., the listening placement, or a combination of all of the above. Thanks.

get a tube amplifier.  seriously.   my soundstage went from big screen TV size to wall to wall, floor to ceiling size.  
Thanks. To your point, the realism of the soundstage improved significantly by replacing my SS preamp with even a moderately priced tube preamplifier so I tend to agree with your recommendation. Except I'm not ready yet to take the plunge since I just got the preamp about a month or so ago. The amplifier is a Vincent SP-331 with a tube input stage so I figured that was a reasonable compromise given my power requirements. For now, I may just experiment with speaker placement and see if I can tilt the soundstage up a bit. 
You can experiment by raising the speaker height. You can use some books and place them under the Vandersteens ! BTW, years ago when I owned Vandersteens I had to tilt them real far back for them to work in my room !
IME soundstage height is enhanced with equipment which has good HF resolution  (the low level detail needed is often lost is lesser equipment) but a lot of speakers don't really open up, soundstage wise, at lower volume. I had this experience with both Quad 63's as well as some box speakers with lower sensitivity driven with tubes and SS. At higher volume they became absolutely holographic.

When you are working with set up don't forget to consider ceiling reflections can be as important as side wall reflections, as can proper toe in and listening chair placement. FWIW  I doubt that you will be able to get the height effect just by tilting or lifting your speakers although you can certainly change to tonal response to some degree (not necessarily always a better effect).

Have fun, and take your time.
I have the Sound Anchors. I agree with newbee's comments in regards to the higher music volumes tend amplify the size of the soundstage. As a side note, I had a pair of Magnepan MMGs on Sound Anchors and while I never warmed up to their tonality, narrow sweet spot, etc., I must say they threw a tall and wide soundstage but only if I could keep my head in a wisegrip.  
I heard that Sound Anchors is coming out with a "wisegrip". ;) lol

It seems to me that, while high resolution componentry can help better portray accurate RELATIVE height between instruments/performers (it does IME), the best (only?) way to accurately reproduce realistic height of vocalists while maintaining accurate relative height to instruments is to use speakers that are tall enough and designed to do so. Perhaps one reason for the new craze re: "tower speakers".

If you raise the height of a floor-standing speaker to increase the height of vocals to near-realistic proportion, don’t you also raise the perceived height of the lower-placed instruments above realistic perceived height if the RELATIVE height remains constant? Not to mention the changes in tonal balance that usually result from moving low-frequency drivers farther from the floor. Time- aligned speakers like Thiels (I know) and your Vandersteens (I would think) don’t take well to changes in relative height of the drivers to the listeners ears as their dispersion characteristics are part of the time-aligned design. Better room treatment to dispose of the overly-wrought midbass frequencies that mask detail and resolution will be a better solution IMO as will moving your Vandy's to a more near-field listening position away from the rear wall.

It is certainly possible to better optimize all of these attributes through experimentation by raising speakers with stands, but long term listening will likely reveal the compromises described above.

Kalali, I just re-read your OP. If there is anything that really sticks out re speaker set up that I think might influence the height issue for you, is the distance your speakers are from the wall/bay behind them. I really don't know your rooms dimensions but if possible I'd start with the speakers about 5ft from the wall behind them and adjusting your listening position accordingly, maintaining the equilateral triangle, toe in according to ear, and see what happens. To get the feeling of height (if this information is on the disc, which more than often it is not) is IMO the  holy grail  of audio. I used a test LP/CD called 'Depth of Image' by Opus3 which is just outstanding for obtaining the best soundstage possible. I spent years chasing this effect (and lots of money foolishly)!
To increase vertical soundstage, rake angle of the speakers should be addressed. Tilting the speakers can create a higher and more realistic soundstage.
@kalali - Did you follow the advice/instructions provided in the user manual for the speakers? Richard provides a recommended tilt based on your listener distance from the speaker.
The depth of a sound stage in any of the three axis is best treated in the same dimension. If you want width, improve room acoustics to the sides. If you want depth, improve room acoustics behind the speakers. If you want height, treat the ceiling and floor.

That is in general, but also, adding absorption on the floor around the speakers is often worthwhile. Regular pillows and blankets are a great way to experiment for free.

Also, treatments around the listening location should not be underestimated either. Too much focus is on primary reflections these days, and not enough to overall absorption and tonal balance.

Thanks gentlemen for your very helpful suggestions. I think I need to start with some test tracks, as was suggested, to first establish a baseline and adjust my expectation from my gear. As one of you said, I might be chasing the holy grail of audio and may have hit the limits of what my moderate system is capable to deliver. Taller speakers would definitely help - (did someone say Tekton DI or there’s an echo in the room?!). I’ll also experiment with all the free options you all mentioned and see how much I can stretch the soundstage without compromising all the other elements like imaging, width, etc.

I may give Johnny R a call tomorrow and ask his opinion as well. He’s been extremely helpful in answering all my questions about placement, matching gear, etc., without an even a hint in trying to sell me something. A real class act.

Post removed 
What you really want is the soundstage height to be in line with so to speak the rest of the soundstage dimensions, I.e., the width and depth. In other words the soundstage should approximate a sphere and should ideally represent the venue space of the recording, with great depth, width and height. Not only that but as the system improves you should notice an ever expanding sphere that is the soundstage. As the resolution gets better the subtle soundstage queues such as echo and reverberant decay become more apparent, as well as transparency, coherence, air, etc. If you have to resort to toe-in or tilt-up you’re a long long way from Tipperary. Get the soundstage right and the parameters like tone and detail will follow.
Post removed 
my brother in law has 2ce they throw a very big and convincing sounstage
something in your setup not right...
distance from rear wall effects image depth most
i would check tilt first, then toe in and of course follow the vandersteen instructions.

The soundstage is big and convincing by most accounts but I want to squeeze as much as possible from what I have.  Most of my non- audiophile friends get glued to the listening chair and can't stop pointing out the subtleties they hear in familiar tracks. The resolution as well as the degree of background blackness has helped a lot already. One thing that concerns me in this chase is the degree in which I can compare the recording with the actual performance so I  don't have an accurate perception of what the soundstage height should actually be. My experience with the live events is either way the heck in the back on top rows or on the same level as the musicians in the smaller/club events.

Cables affect the soundstage too. And power cords , especially on the preamp but everywhere.
Lowrider is bang on! I have a pair of Tannoy Berkeley's that are very low speakers. I rake them back a bit and sitting about 6 feet away I can get a termendous Soundstage, height wise as well. Now obviously Tannoy's image and stage a little better than Vander Steen's but the same principles apply. I have to disagree with the cable comments, they make virtually no difference. Maybe cables that handle your very low level signals but don't waste your time with power cords at all because they make zero difference. 
Also another poster recommended Tubes which I heartily agree with! Tubes will give you that holographic image that solid-state can never touch.
Kalali, FWIW, and it has already been touched upon, often much of what folks are willing to accept as 'height' is a result of the design of the speakers which might have no relationship to reproducing what is actually on the disc. For example, planar speakers can create a very full sound stage in all dimensions including height, but unfortunately often what you are hearing has very little to do with accurate reproduction of the size/tone of the instrument/voice etc which is being played.

 Just listen to a solo voice which on panel speakers can occupy the whole stage (perhaps what is were the term 'big mouth' is most appropriate). On these speakers, to compensate for this manufacturers add a ribbon tweeter to bring the high frequencies into better focus.

Then there are omni directional speakers which by design rely on reflective sound to create a large multi dimensional sound stage. They do work well with big orchestral pieces in making them sound like a live performance, both of which have reduced resolution and specificity (unless you sit in the orchestra pit regularly). 

Then there are 'box speakers' which can, if properly designed, set up, driven, etc, accurately portray the music as recorded, if that is what is important to you. Unfortunately a lot of recordings really have no 'height' element in the pits/grooves. The effort is great and the rewards can be small. 

I think that is why so many folks love omni, panel, and electrical speakers. With a few notable exceptions, the sense of a full sound stage is always present and rarely faithful to the recording.

In setting up box speakers to get maximum soundstage reproduction I think you are best served by minimizing the effects of reflective surfaces and the effects of too much bass or treble response (too much bass masks high frequency information, too much upper mid range/HF information gives bright unnatural sound not heard in real life. (Unfortunately many folks think this upper frequency information is evidence of 'resolution' capabilities of their systems, a thought encouraged by a lot of manufacturers/retailers, etc)

I've overstayed my welcome by now. Find a copy of Depth of Image! :-)

I decouple my speakers from my wood floor, and have lifted them to get the tweeter to ear level…I have zero room treatment except the stuff in the room (furniture, rugs, a full sized stuffed Lama) as I simply like the sound of a room…it's a normal sound to me (side walls aren't close enough to be an issue) with a tall ceiling that slopes upwards from the front wall. I'm lucky…and note that the soundstage one might want is listener specific so, again, I simply recommend you move the speakers around until YOU like it, far enough into the room to sound good but not get knocked over by your drunk cousin Shirley.
Great information, thank you.
newbee, you have superbly articulated the overall listening experience and your remarks reflect my personal experience with the various types of speakers that I have had the opportunity to own, particularly the planars and bi-polar designs. I think at the end of the day, it boils down to what compromises a listener is willing to make and the associated tradeoffs. Of course, if cost were no object, I’m sure one could minimize such compromises but the rest of us have to decide which elements are more important and enjoy what we have.
I have Vandersteen 2ci speakers in my basement. Before I moved them there I had them in another room. The speakers were on either side of a computer desk. I also had a Vandersteen VCC-1 in one of the upper compartments of the desk. Several times while I was working at the desk and listening in stereo (so very near-field) I had to check and make sure the center speaker was not on. I clearly heard the sound above my head. I believe the speakers will play what is on the recording.

As others have said, position them as instructed in the owners manual. The speakers respond well to system and placement changes. Good luck!  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The only way to find the *absolute* best locations for the speakers so as to get the very best soundstage - all things being equal - is to use the out of phase track on the XLO Test CD. When the sound on that track is the most diffuse, i.e., when the sound is coming at you from all around the room, from no particular direction. Then you will achieve the best sound (all things being equal) including soundstage, when the sound in IN PHASE. Attempts to obtain correct speaker locations by ear are less effective, it’s like trying to solve X simultaneous equations in X+N unknowns. the best you can usually do by ear is find local maximums.

Another tip: most speakers are too far apart. It's an old wives' tale oft told that speakers should be in an equilateral triangle and or toed in for best soundstage. That’s part of the problem with trying to get a soundstage. The middle of the soundstage goes MIA when the speakers are too far apart. Room treatments go a Long Way towards reinforcing the illusion of the sound coming at you from all around the room on the XLO out of phase track.
Thanks geoff, I'll look for that track. I have a relatively deep bay window between the speakers with thick curtains pulled to the sides behind the speakers, helping to create a nice and relatively deep soundstage. What I'm striving for is to get "right" size height. I adjusted the front spikes and added a little tilt and that helped somewhat. I maybe expecting for too much given my moderate system but experimentation is free and I'd like to exhaust all my options before I consider it done. Thanks for all the guidance.
completely agreed on the tube pre. every system needs tubes somewhere :)...i haven't heard some of the newer ss pre's like pass xp30 or esoteric c03x so maybe those are capable of a similar dimensionality.

i've had good luck widening my speakers a bit and pulling them about 1.5 feet away from the back wall. i am space challenged but found a way to pull this off. i got more depth and width from this. the tube pre (arc ls17se) adds some midrange bloom which sticks the performers in my face
Thanks for the topic, @kalali. I have been working on the same thing. My soundstage is centered about ear/eye level. I don't know why that feels too low; but it does. My speakers are Canton Ergo 1002DCs,  with tweeters about 35" off the concrete floor and mids at 42". My ceiling is a drop type, unfortunately, only about 7' high in most places. Speakers are 7.5' apart, 2.5' from the wall, and I sit 9' back with no wall behind me for 15'. Side wall distances are 3' to left and 20' to right and all walls are broken up with furniture. Canton recommends no toe in; but I prefer 5 degrees.

Raking back made things worse. Removing carpet between me and the speakers actually helped. Recently I raised the speakers about 2.5" and it seems to have raised the vocals about a foot. I would really like to see what removing the drop ceiling would do; but I'll never get away with that, even in the basement. Any other suggestions? Beside tubes.
I actually just bought a tube preamp from Aric Audio - the Unlimited model, about a month or so ago and I'm finally enjoying the so called mid-range bloom that everyone talks about. It makes the soundstage seem noticeably more layered with more air around the vocals and instruments, particularly horns in smaller ensembles. The vocals just sound more live. The height element is very deceptive though since it is very content dependent and could very well be absent to begin with especially since the majority of the music is recorded in a studio setting. I don't know if it's even possible for the recording engineers to "add" height to the recording.  They can add depth pretty good  not so sure about relative height. Maybe someone can give some insight if that is indeed possible. 
I got a bit fanatical about speaker placement geometry a couple of years ago after purchase of a pair of gently used Genesis 6.1s.  These speakers are capable of sounding sublime with proper placement and associated gear but can sound horrible when poorly positioned. After about a year of trying new placement, footers,  room tuning, etc., I was finally getting decent sound from them but no way close to my expectations for what a 10K speaker should do - still not even close to my 25 year-old Snell B's in the same system.  The imaging was supposed to be the forte of these things, but I couldn't get the soundstage nearly as wide or deep as the venerable B's and briefly considered selling them.  

I was desperate for advice other than upgrade my amps, preamp and cabling (all of which I had already done)  when I discovered a white-paper written by Gary Koh, the designer and top dog a genesis on speaker placement.  It seems that Mr. Koh writes as well as he designs speaker systems.  The link below will take you to  "The Genesis Loudspeaker Setup Procedure".  This paper discusses every facet of speaker placement and suggests actual musical pieces that he and his installers use to get their most expensive systems on song in just a day or two - much better than my year or more.  It describes 10 steps to methodically establish the actual adjustments with musical selections tailored for each adjustment. 

Although meant originally for the Genesis product line,  this paper can be used to systematically adjust each parameter while listening to the recommended track to spotlight the changes you make.  It helped me to finally get my system sounding better than I had ever imagined I would hear in my own home.  

but did it beat the Snells ? A fantastic speaker btw imo

also thanks for posting the link
good to learn another approach !!!!

Impossible to say! I made so many changes to my system during the year before I got them sorted out that no comparison to the Snells can be made. I went from a hodge-podge of racking to a new Steve Blinn Super-wide rack that I modified with Herbie's Titanium gliders, Star Sound spikes and Herbies dots to replace the rubbery mini-balls provided by the maker. Then, I was in the right place at the right time when Tweek Geek broke off their distribution deal with Paul Kaplan's Waveform Fidelity and practically gave away his existing inventory of GSIII cables. I also got my phono stage a new set of NOS tubes to replace the factory gold lions, discovered Star Sound platforms, Symposium rollerblocks, upgraded my SACD/CD player from a stock OPPO 95 to a highly modified Sony SACD-1 that finally made digital sound good to me after 30 years of effort. Also, I remodeled the listening room to place the system on a better wall and finally sold the house and started over in an old farmhouse in a smaller but less boxy room.

Now it has been a fine year for system mods as I dialed in the new room. I decided to start here in the smaller digs by reverting back to the Snells and so have not yet tried the Genesis speakers here yet. I have slightly modified the B’s by replacing the front woofers, repairing the surrounds on the midranges, replacing the driver screws with stainless steel (best $2.00 tweak I ever heard), Cardas Patented Binding posts and some aftermarket fuses. I also ditched the spikes in favor of Daedalus Audio’s new Speaker Dids. Every day I think about swapping out the Snells for the far newer and more expensive Genesis just to learn the answer to your question myself. No hurry, though.
Getting back on topic, I did follow Gary Koh’s white paper to set up the Snells here, but it only took a couple of weeks to declare victory and start to just listen to music.

Soundstage is recording specific, so it's a good idea to spend at least half of your listening time adjusting the speakers to the recording…I recommend jury rigging remote garage door openers to the speakers so you can move them around without leaving the chair, and attach the chair itself to rollers that lock into place once you get it right…note you may have to switch it all up for each track so there goes another bit of valuable listening time…but utterly worth it...
Post removed 
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - soundstage height is just another dimension of the spherical 3 dimensional soundstage. The dimensions of that soundstage in a particular system is a function of how much INFORMATION that system can extract from the recording. Which of course means everything matters, from absolute speaker placement, but not toe in or tilt of speakers, correct direction of cabling and fuses, vibration isolation, room acoustics, RFI/EMI and all the other issues that contribute to sound quality, including those unmentionable things that many folks don’t wish to acknowledge, the things that aren’t directed associated with the speakers, the electronics, cables, the house power, vibration or RFI/EMI. You know, things that go BUMP in the night. 😧 In any case the better the resolution you can acheive the larger the ever expanding sphere of the soundstage will be, including height.

When you control the mail you control... IN-FOR-MA-TION. - Newman

"...spend at least half of your listening time adjusting the speakers to the recording..."

wolf, while this might be the ultimate solution, it is really not a practical approach for most people. I had an interesting thing happen last week that changed my view of the soundstage. I ran into someone locally (on A'gon) who was selling a pair of Fostex folded-horn speakers that he had bought as a kit (Madisound BK-16 kit, $500) and assembled it using a Fostex 6.5" full-range driver (FF165K). He was basically giving them away. I spent the weekend and made them look real nice using ebony stain, etc. Lot of work but he had already done all the heavy lifting of assembling it and did a great job at it. Anyway, I made a crude stand, slightly angled front to back, to put them off the ground and set them up right next to my 2Ci so I could switch between the two. One thing that immediately blew me away was the incredible image specificity and the amount of detail coming out of these two drivers. I truly heard things I had not heard before. And depending on the content, especially live recordings, the soundstage was wide, deep and full of activity. The 2Ci has the width and depth but the imaging from these little drivers just places the instruments so well within the stage that I'm now convinced the key to achieving a "good" soundstage is image specificity just like a live event where you can "see" the instruments and that visual cue is what helps in creating the soundstage. In comparison the Vandys sound very matured, warm and relaxed, and of course with more bass. These have decent tight bass but need a smaller room which I'll address when I move them a another room upstairs and put them closer to the corners. The other "downside" is they are way too engaging for casual listening and tend to demand your attention at all times. Some may say they're fatiguing but for now I'm just thrilled with my first exposure to the single-driver speaker world and must say I'm impressed by the shear amount of detail they deliver.
I just realized I hi-jacked my own thread but this was such a cool experience and a revelation for me in the context of how the shape/size of a sounstage can be affected by how well the speakers deliver the imaging. I now "need" a nice low powered integrated tube amp to go with these puppies. It never ends....
What really helped my soundstage (depth, width, height) was when I began including devices made by Audio Magic (ie, PEA's, Blue Dot Disruptor, Pulse Gen ZX, Cable Clarifiers).  All of these devices are made to address noice (RFI, RMI) riding in your gear.  Every time I have added one of these devices, my system 'opens up', and the soundstage becomes bigger, more defined, with a blacker background.  It has made my system go from really good, to really, really good.  Think holographic (and I'm not exaggerating)!
I do not work for Audio Magic, I am just an extremely satisfied customer.  If you want to know more, call Jerry at Audio Magic.  He's a great guy, who can make some recommendations on where to begin.  You won't be disappointed!  I hope this helps!
Note to self: Remember that parody doesn't always work among the often humorless residents of audio geekedom, although slipping the ridiculous into these forums does provide me with a bit of admittedly self indulgent joy.
Great article from the Genesis. Thanks for sharing. One thing that really caught my attention was that raising the back of the speakers actually adds to the soundstage height. Completely the opposite of what I thought. I’ll use the techniques described in the article if I can find the music tracks that were referenced in there. I assume something similar should work as well. 
Hey wolf, we always take what you say seriously....😳
I can certainly understand that certain very tall speakers with high mounted tweeters might have to be tilted downward. But this certainly would not be the general rule for most speakers. As I oft remark the speaker set up track on the XLO Test CD is the scientific way to obtain the best soundstage and the best sound. The old trial and error method of move a little, listen a little is waaay out of date. Another reason soundstage is not fully developed or MIA is simply because the speakers are too far apart. Why do audiophiles often surmise that to get a wide deep soundstage the speakers must be placed far apart and toed in toward the listener? 🙄
He's right. Simply listening to your system to determine what it's doing is a path to the ear splitting ego crushing roar of a collapsing sound stage.
@wolf_garcia , I got the joke and appreciated it.
@kosst_amojan, 'A mic that's low will make something seem high...'
What a revelation! Of course that would be true. As long as my soundstage has a nice vertical field, I'll accept the centering of that field as the engineer's intent and be happy. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I'm done with this non-problem.