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obonillaf
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better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Hello there. I wish I could find a proper explanation about this situation. With some basic tuning devices (like Stereophile Test cds) I have achieved with my stereo the "virtual" center channel a good stereo imaging is supposed to provide. The effect is clearly there and when hearing a cd one could swear there was a center channel where the voices come out. BUT the thing is that I don't know why, if I move my chair slighty to the right and thus the voice sounding also slighty to the right I experience a very nice? hearing sensation, like some SRS effect. I hear the guitars, the drums, the synths come alive like if I was in a 3d sound room. In other words, the music comes alive. When I move my chair to the first position where the voice is exactly in the center of both channels, the sound is nice of course but I don't experience the "magic" sound SRS a like experience I'm talking about. Sometimes I could swear the room was full of speakers because the sound seems to come from everywhere: a guitar at the left, a synth at the far left, a trumpet at the right etc etc but the voice not completely centered...

My system consist of a NAD PRE + NAD AMP + NAD CD and Triangle Antal? (I don't remember...) ESW speakers...

Any insights for this music-lover will be greatly appreciated.

obonillaf
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

I am sorry for posting such a "nonsense" post. I made some additional experiments today at my chair position and now the voices are almost 98% at the center (that is at the same equidistant distance between the two speakers) and I am still getting the same "magic" "3d" sound. By the way, I have found that two excellent cds that are also incredible to test your equipment are Incognito's "Tales from the Beach" and Sting's "The Dream of the Blue Turtles". In this last one, it's incredible to find all the instruments positions in a song such as "Love Is The Seventh Wave". Well anyway...

Buddha
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Hi, Obonillaf!

That was not nonsense at all!

One of my favorite things about Hi Fi discussion is learning what others are hearing!

It would be cool to have a thread in which people all described their impressions of the same recording - where sounds cam from, what was centered, what was not...you raise a very interesting subject!

One of my favorite things about Stereophile's equipment reviews is reading about how reviewers are hearing recordings.

I don't have the discs you mention, but perhaps I can hunt them down and we can compare!

Cheers.

Jan Vigne
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

From what you describe could you possibly have your speakers wired out of phase? Double check to be certain each "+" connection is made to a corresponding "+" connection. If you have any further doubts, you can test the wiring of each speaker with a dry cell battery. Disconnect the speakers from the amp and connect a two conductor cable - a short piece of lamp or zip cord will do - to you speaker terminals. Touch the other ends of the cable to the "+" and "-" terminals of the battery. When the polarity is correct, "+" to "+", the woofer should move forward. If you don't know how to follow the polarity of the two conductor cable to assure you are connecting the "+" leg, ask and we can explain how this is done.

It's also possible you have your speakers too far apart. Have you done a proper speaker set up such as the Wilson "W.A.S.P." placement program? Or did you place the speakers where they fit in the room? I would suggest you try a stereo source with a mono-like signal, something like NPR with a FM announcer's voice is a good beginning. If you do not hear a centered, narrowly defined vocal image, then you have to do some work on your system. If you feel this might be the cause of the problem, move your speakers about 4' apart and listen to the effect. Gradually move your speakers further apart until the center begins to fall apart when you move your head.

Another possibility is the dreaded "comb filtering". This is a room dependent effect and will require some work on treating the reflection points in the room itself.

ethanwiner
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


Quote:
Sometimes I could swear the room was full of speakers because the sound seems to come from everywhere


I agree with Jan that the core issue is likely comb filtering. Do you have any room treatment? I'll guess no. That's where you should start, especially with absorption at the side-wall reflection points. If you can manage more absorption at the ceiling reflection points, all the better. That will do more to improve imaging and clarity than pretty much anything else you can do.

--Ethan

obonillaf
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Thank you for all the posts. Actually, I was talking about the "sound coming from everywhere" a a GOOD THING and not an effect that I should one to remove. That "sound coming from everywhere" was my best way of talking about the "effects" the producers wanted us to hear in records such as Pink Floyd's "Pulse" album or Roger Water's "Amused to Death" album. I mean, you can clearly "see" that the voice is in the center, the lead guitar on the left, etc, etc., but other "voices" you can swear comes from behind or from far left or far right. I was talking about the "3d" "holographic" sound all good records (sound imaging) should have. This is what I call "magic 3d sound" as a way of showing my friends that with a "simple" stereo sound and the proper speaker positioning you can hear music coming from "imaginary" additional channels.

ethanwiner
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


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Actually, I was talking about the "sound coming from everywhere" a a GOOD THING ... records such as Pink Floyd's "Pulse" album


There are two issues:

1) When the reflection points are treated, the sound stage becomes wider and more 3D because the early reflections actually inject a "small room" sound into whatever spaciousness may be embedded in the recording. So absorbing those reflections is a Good Thing.

2) I'm not familiar with that Pink Floyd tune, but I know on others they use 3D effects. Sort of like the 3D effect built into some sound cards. Those work by manipulating the phase differently on the left and right channels. The result is sounds can seem to come from outside the speaker's actual width, or even go up and down.

--Ethan

obonillaf
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Uhh okey. Of one thing I am sure tough: I won't buy any acoustic treatment "traps" for my room.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


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Uhh okey. Of one thing I am sure tough: I won't buy any acoustic treatment "traps" for my room.

Why?

Kal

obonillaf
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Mmm never mind I was just being a little sarcastic. You see it's not the first time Mr. Winer comes into a discussion and no matter what you say or try to explain, he will always start talking about "reflections" and "filtering" and insist doing that. When you add that to the fact that his business is selling "traps" for acoustics "treatments" then you feel you are talking to the typical audiophile bs seller in the "high end" store selling esoteric cables and stuff. I know Mr. Winer makes important contributions to this forum and I am not necessarily suggesting his very high priced "traps" are a scam or a fraud but I don't feel comfortable at all getting always this linear responses about how much I REALLY NEED these acoustic "treatments". You could have my room full of these acoustics "treatments" and spend $10000 that if you don't play with the positioning of the speakers you will not get any good sound. I am a firm believer that speakers positioning is one of the most REAL, IMPORTANT AND ESSENTIAL "non esoteric" TWEAK everyone should do in their listening room.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


Quote:
Mmm never mind I was just being a little sarcastic. You see it's not the first time Mr. Winer comes into a discussion and no matter what you say or try to explain, he will always start talking about "reflections" and "filtering" and insist doing that. When you add that to the fact that his business is selling "traps" for acoustics "treatments" then you feel you are talking to the typical audiophile bs seller in the "high end" store selling esoteric cables and stuff. I know Mr. Winer makes important contributions to this forum and I am not necessarily suggesting his very high priced "traps" are a scam or a fraud but I don't feel comfortable at all getting always this linear responses about how much I REALLY NEED these acoustic "treatments". You could have my room full of these acoustics "treatments" and spend $10000 that if you don't play with the positioning of the speakers you will not get any good sound. I am a firm believer that speakers positioning is one of the most REAL, IMPORTANT AND ESSENTIAL "non esoteric" TWEAK everyone should do in their listening room.

i agree with your point that positioning is essential but, imho, room acoustics are equally so. As for Ethan, he is a straight-shooter and, business issues aside, really stands behind his statements.

Kal

Jan Vigne
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


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When you add that to the fact that his business is selling "traps" for acoustics "treatments" then you feel you are talking to the typical audiophile bs seller in the "high end" store selling esoteric cables and stuff.

tom collins
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

in ethan's defense (actually i am sure he can speak for himself ) , unlike a magician, ethan gives away his secrets. if you would visit his website and read his articles, he will tell you how to make your own room treatments. you can choose to buy from him if you have more money than time and i am sure his products are excellent, but you will get quite an education on the issue if you will give it a try. speaking from personal experience, i have invested about $300.00 in treatment and the difference is much more noticable than that amount of money spent on anything else.
good luck.

ethanwiner
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


Quote:
no matter what you say or try to explain, he will always start talking about "reflections" and "filtering"


Yes, because it's the truth.


Quote:
I am not necessarily suggesting his very high priced "traps" are a scam or a fraud


Very high priced? That's a joke, yes? "Very high priced" is $16,000 TARA Labs cables mentioned on page 31 in the current issue of Stereophile. "Very high priced" is $3,000 for these ridiculous "room treatment" products:

http://www.synergisticresearch.com/

In the grand scheme of things, given the value of most audiophile systems, $2,000 to $4,000 for a full set of RealTraps room treatment is a bargain. But I'm not here to talk up my company, or explain that the data on my company's site proves it's not "audiophile bs" as you put it. Hell, I tried to help you as best I can, and never once suggested you buy anything from me.

Here's a free tip: Take two large bath towels, fold them over two or three times, and tape them on the walls at the reflection points. Hear an improvement? Good. Now you know.

--Ethan

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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

"Ethan Winer, dealer of snake oil and audio voodoo". That has a nice ring to it.

I tell you, this is a new one on me... comparing Ethan with the real voodoo pimps..

anyone that dismisses room treatments outright has a lot to learn about sound.

obonillaf
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

I don't "dismiss room treatments" that would be, as Sting says, "such an ignorant thing to do". Again, I just feel uncomfortable having someone insisting that I have a problem and providing a solution that as a matter of fact he sells.

Jan Vigne
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


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I just feel uncomfortable having someone insisting that I have a problem and providing a solution that as a matter of fact he sells.

You're uncomfortable with the idea you have a problem? Or that Ethan sells stuff?

Really, just about everybody has some sort of problem. And lots of people sell stuff. That they happened to collide in mid-air in your thread is just coinky-dinky. Pilot error.

What if he gave you some stuff?

Oh, look there, he did!

ncdrawl
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

id bet my life on the fact that you do have acoustic problems in your rooms. everyone does, hell its a matter of fact..

Ethan is pointing you towards acoustic treatments, but id bet that he wont be offended if you use another merchant like GIK Acoustics, ASC or the ilk(though im guessing auraluxx isnt too popular with him as they well..nevermind)

obonillaf
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Actually you know what is funny? That Mr. Winer is mentioned in this article http://mixonline.com/recording/mixing/audio_emperors_new_sampling/index1.html in this way: "Winer points out that in a typical room, moving one's head or listening position as little as four inches can result in huge changes in the frequency-response curves one is hearing. What could be a 10dB dip in one spot at one frequency could be a 6dB boost a couple of inches away. These wide variations are caused primarily by comb-filtering effects from the speakers and from the various reflections bouncing around the room, which are present no matter how well the room is acoustically treated.".
That was what I was trying to say in my original post. I don't know the audiophile jargon I just KNOW that in my "experiments" once I set the speakers in the same direction, both are X centimeters from its respective wall and X centimeters from the back wall toward me in the famous triangle way, then as curious as it may seem and after many hours and days and years! actually trying to find the right position, my sweet spot in my current chair, is 146 centimeters from the left wall. I use the also famous "Fender Bass Guitar in phase" audio sample of Stereophile to "see" the fender bass right between my two speakers. Move the chair farther or closer and you won't get the "magic 3d sound" I was talking about. Sure, it still sounds pretty good to all my friends, my wife, etc. but I know what I mean by "magic 3d sound" or sound imaging. If I move the chair JUST ONE centimeter closer to the left wall (145 centimeters) the magic is almost gone and more variations and then the magic is gone. I guess that is what is called the sweet spot. Once you reached the sweet spot, it is my believe that if you have a decent system (not outrageous snake oil priced) you have reached almost the zenith of the good sound everyone try to achieve. Now that I have recently found the SWEET SPOT I love to "play" with my music. I close my eyes and like a 3d movie, I "feel" I can touch the drums cymbals at my left, the piano at my right and touch the face of the Diana Krall who is just singing right in front of me.
I am looking forward to hear the new BLU CD technology from Sony, hoping it will sound better than the much expected SACD but I will always play it (like I do with SACD) in 2 channel only. I think the magic is gone and there is no merit if all the effort you have achieved to make this 3d magic with only 2 speakers is cheated by having actual multiple speakers doing the job.

P.S. Please excuse me for using centimeters as I don't live in the USA and english, by the way, is not my native language.

Buddha
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Wow, 146 cm.

Do you have to hold your head exactly in the same spot while sitting in the chair?

Can you move your head and keep the effect?

For one centimeter, I'd have to buy a head brace to keep from having my posture affect the magic 3D effect.

Maybe Ethan was also pointing out that room treatments can make for a much larger sweet spot.

ethanwiner
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


Quote:
Maybe Ethan was also pointing out that room treatments can make for a much larger sweet spot.


Exactly! In an untreated room the response is all over the place, and it's a crap shoot what sort of imaging you'll get at any location.

Even with absorption at the refection points you'll still get some response variation as you move your head, but that's due mainly to the different arrival times from both speakers for sounds coming from both speakers. The more damaging comb filtering is caused by reflections off the walls and ceiling, especially if those surfaces are close to you. That is, a narrow and/or low room. When those reflection are tamed, the sweet spot becomes a large area - how large depends in part on the size of the absorbers.

--Ethan

obonillaf
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


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Wow, 146 cm.

Do you have to hold your head exactly in the same spot while sitting in the chair?

Can you move your head and keep the effect?

For one centimeter, I'd have to buy a head brace to keep from having my posture affect the magic 3D effect.

Maybe Ethan was also pointing out that room treatments can make for a much larger sweet spot.

Well, it's a shame here in Costa Rica, Central America there is no one specialized in room treatments well at least no one REALLY SPECIALIZED in room treatments. I would to do business with a company here in Costa Rica offering good room treatments with a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. I would pay even $3500-$4000 for treatment under the condition that my sweet spot in my small listening room would be identically replicated in a much longer space, that's it that I could move several centimers to the right or to the left without losing a bit. But I know no one here will give me that money back guarantee and I can be crazy as hell in perfection matters. I don't think most people (well, non audiophiles that is) can be as crazy as I am to spend nights just measuring centimeters to get the sweet spot. Well enough complaining, at least in my country I have bought my Triangle speakers, my NAD components and there are others vendors who sell Jolida, Project, Martin Logan, Kef uhh and that's it and may I tell you, they are having VERY HARD TIMES keeping the business up because the amount of audiophiles here is very very very small.

ethanwiner
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center


Quote:
I would pay even $3500-$4000 for treatment under the condition that my sweet spot in my small listening room ...


Why don't you just try the bath towels as I suggested above? No money back guarantee necessary!

--Ethan

SAS Audio
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Re: better "sense" of sounds with the voice slightly off center

Hi Obonillaf,

One can also try multiple large pillows or even whole rolls of R-19 fiberglass insulation (if it is available there) in the corners and midway along the walls to help with bass problems if necessary. There is a variety of relatively inexpensive products to try in your location without large expenditures to get a feel of how the sound changes.

Another simple, inexpensive test is to purchase a few 2' x 4' acoustic tiles and place them midway, along the wall and standing upright, between the speakers and your listening position. Only $3.50/tile here and see how it affects what you are hearing. Only good down to approximately 500hz, but you should hear a difference, get a sense of what has changed.

Hope this helps and good luck.

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