Lena you mentioned -
"You can get a bigger soundstage, in the sense of is it a 3 piece band (like) Vs orchestra (like) spread out and full, - when the recording is bad."
"-An effect will pan from center then L/R then to the surrounds. (A 3 stop movement to audibly track)"
It seems like you prefer to have the center speaker sort-off 'disconnected' from the mains though which is counter to what most people try to do... to blend the center so that it's seamless into the mains (though that's often tough to do for many reasons).
Maybe I misunderstand what you meant, but it kinda sounded like that?
What I hear with my phantom center is one soild soundstage. If something's recorded dead center that's what you hear, BUT (I think this is what you're asking?)...If it's recorded slightly left of center that's where you hear it.
It doesn't sound like it's coming from the center, nor does it sound like it's from the left speaker because the right speaker is playing some of that info.
When a soundtrack is cut-up into 5.1 tracks, the left right and center aren't totally sepp. tracks. All three have sounds constantly panning left/center/right. I just skip the center, but the panning is exactly the same, and none of the info is lost, or shifted in it's imaging.
It just doesn't work well when you're sitting far off center of course, but I never am, and then you can't get around the fact that your speaker levels will be off and your view of your screen will be on an angle. So center or none, sitting off-center is a poor spot anyway.
In fact w/ my mains being a few feet in front of my screen, even when I'm WAY off center (like past my left main speaker, the angle I'm sitting at from the screen still makes the center info (which then comes much more from the left than the right) line up w/ the center of the screen.
Was that too confusing they way I wrote that?
About your speakers you wrote -"But how much more detail can you hear than when a lip catches as singer breathes???"
You might be suprised. Having already had my Newforms for a couple years, and the 950 for several months, I tried the eARTwo digital amp, and found the improvement to be as big as when I replaced my old speakers for the Newforms. And the Newform ribbon is one of the best reproducers of micro details like the breating you mention.
Might want to try the Acoustic Reality eAR amp. It's costly, but you'll hear even more detail than you do now, and from day one (though it does break in over a few months). And if you don't hear a diff., send it back and get a full refund. Next to no risk to hear for yourself.
NO WAY I was gonna send mine back though.
And yeah, just like you mentioned... all this was still just what the 950 was outputting. Though I don't think the 950's one of the best, it's better than most people are probably hearing it. (I thought I might send the amp back because the 950 held it back, but the improvement was BIG).