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dog_or_man
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List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Room is roughly 9' across by 16' deep by 8' high and made entirely of different kinds of concrete, with hardwood floors. DIY bass traps help, but the room is problematic with or without. System is Arcam FMJ-CD23 player, Naim AV2 pre-pro, Naim Nait5i (gain matched) for power, and, currently, Linn Ninkas. The Ninkas sound good -- decent PRAT with adequate microphonics and well-controlled bass, but conspicuously lack in the imaging and soundstage department.

Choices for possible replacement must have great PRAT, great microphonic resolution, lean and taut bass notes, and make a much more convincing soundstage. Also, amp is rated 50wpc into 8 ohms and (not surprisingly) sounds small when running 85db/4ohm speakers.

Finalists: Joseph Audio RM7si-mkII or RM22, Spendor s5e, DeVore Gibbon3 or Gibbon8, Reference3A MM DeCapo, something by Meadowlark, or stick with the Ninkas.

New candidates are welcome, but more helpful replies would narrow the list from here, rather than widening it.

Thanks, everyone.

RGibran
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

You didn't mention what else (besides bass traps) you have done to try to tame all those hard reflective surfaces. All that concrete is worse than sheetrock and the wood floor needs some absorbtion as well. If the ceiling is concrete...well you've got your work cut out for ya.

I doubt changing anything in your system will yield improved results if the room issues aren't addressed, to some extent.

RG

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

It might not be quite as bad as I made it sound: one long wall of the room and a good chunk of the back wall are both exterior, and by that measure made of brick. The house sits on a poured concrete slab (it's Florida) and that's really the only true concrete surface in the room. The rest is plaster (not drywall). The floor has an area rug but not carpet, and the long wall is broken by a big window with a puffy curtain. On the other hand, there's a *huj* plasma TV sitting in-between the speakers. Ugh.

One quick and easy thing I could do is set the entire entertainment center on an area rug. The upper corners will be tougher, especially now that you can't just buy "corner tunes" anymore.

Still, the rig seems to sound pretty good except for soundstage -- am I hearing you say that soundstage is the big thing that suffers in a lively room like this? I always thought the principal problem would be bass-boom.

Yiangos
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Whatever you buy,there is absolutely no way you'll get away with excessive treble energy unless you treat your room accordingly,plus,the afformentioned treble,will make your system sound a bit anaemic in the bass (psychoacoustics).

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Changing speakers will not fix your room problem. You'll probably find more improvement with a nice thick rug, some side-wall treatments and some difusion on the back wall. Your amp should have plenty of power into 4 ohms in that room, although "more power" never hurts. Ugh.

Placement of your speakers in that room will be super critical, even after you've made it more absorbant. Do you have them at the narrow end? If so, then moving them a fraction of an inch will change the image and bass. The long wall is where they'll work best. If you can get them about 8' to 12' apart toward the middle of that long wall, then you'll have a stable image and you can focus on getting the bass right. I'll tell you roughly how Sumiko gets it right:

Start with the left speaker and turn the right speaker out away from the listening area so you won't hear it too much while you're working with the left speaker. Start with the speaker close to the rear wall, listening to music with a lot of bass content and a solo voice (Rob Wasserman's "Duets" album "Ballad of the Runaway Horse" is what Sumiko uses). Move the speaker out in small increments until the bass bloat goes away but the bass is still solid. Move it out and back in small increments to confirm that placement and accuracy of the bass. Next, listen for the mids in the vocal. Is the bass muddying the vocals? (Very likely) If so, then you'll need to move out a little more, trying to find a compromise where bass is solid, without messing up the most important mids. Use a level to make sure the speakers are perfectly level (repeat leveling throughout the process). When you've reached the "right" compromise on the left speaker start on the right speaker.

Swing the right speaker forward and do the process just as you did on the left. DO NOT assume that the speakers will be the same distance from the back wall and side walls. Most rooms are NOT perfectly semetrical, so measurements simply do not work. Your goal is to get equal energy and SPL from each speaker.

Next, listen from the sweet spot, focusing on coherance. You can sometimes hear it when standing at the speakers, but it's something you're probably not used to listening for. The objective is to get the speakers firing absolutely as-one. This requires micro moves of the right speaker, up and back 1/4" or so until you hear them lock in. Remember, keep checking the levelness.

Back to the listening position, toe-in the speakers so that you see only a sliver of the inside edge. Check level and listen from the sweet spot. The image should have depth and stability.

Finally, with help, have someone slowly tilt the speaker back as you listen to the image. Usually in the first 10-degrees or so you'll hear the image open up and grow. That'll tell you the rake angle for best image.

Ok, easier said than done. i doubt that you'll achieve nirvana on the first try, BUT you'll have a better idea of your speakers' and room's potential after you've done this. Sumiko has a three-day course for their dealers to learn this. It took an hour and a half for my very experienced dealer to do this in my room, so don't expect to do this in twenty-minutes.

The results, when done right, are stunning. You'll greatly reduce intermodulation distortion between the speakers and room, improve bass performance, improve midrange performance. At the same volume settings, your speakers will sound less "noisy". You'll be able to turn up the volume another 25 to 33% without strain. Listening fatigue will be a thing of the past.

Good luck with your search.

Dave

dog_or_man
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

I gave you guys way too much information. My intention in mentioning the room in my OP was that people wouldn't spend a bunch of their own time coming back with recommendations for Audio Physic Calderas or something equally unsuited to the space.

You're all absolutely right about the room being the weak link in the system right now, and I'm working my way through the room issues on a parallel track, slowly but surely, and at considerable expense... But I've already confirmed that the room issue isn't obscuring speaker performance to an extent that merits abandoning a speaker search. I've had the chance to audition of lots of different gear in lots of different spaces, and the Ninkas don't stage quite as well as I'd like, regardless of room. They do other things very well, but they don't stage very well at all, no matter where they're hooked up.

Of course I mean no lack of gratitude intended for all the effort in these replies (some of which were obviously substantial efforts indeed--thank you!!!), but what I'd really like to know is: out of the Spendor s5e, the Joseph Audio RM7si-mkII, the Joseph Audio RM22, the Reference 3A MM de Capo, and the DeVore Gibbon 3 or Gibbon 8, which pair will toss the best soundstage (in a small and lively room), powered with 50 watts of Naim electronics, with great detail and PRAT?

All replies are self-evidently helpful, but answers to that specific question are the *most* helpful replies, at this stage.

Thanks again.

dog_or_man
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

By the way, dcstep, a special thank you -- that was a lot of effort to think about and type, and I don't want my insistence that there might be room for a speaker upgrade to gloss my appreciation. You wanna come to Gainesville for a weekend and help me through all of that stuff you wrote?

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

OMG, I didn't notice that you are a Gator. As a Nole I may need to amend my advice!

Just kidding. I grew up in Jax and get down there once or twice per year. I doubt we'll meet, but we all be interested to hear if you have an satisfaction wrestling your speakers in your room.

Plan on taking several passes at your speaker set up. It's not easy, but when it's right you'll be amazed with your system.

Unfortunately I don't know ANY of the speakers you're considering. I'm using Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Baby Grands, which I highly recommend, but you're trying to narrow the choices, not broaden, so I'll say no more.

Dave

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

I just looked up the V-A Beethoven Baby Grands, and they've definitely caught my attention. Do you think they'd be too big for my room? (My Linn Ninkas are almost too big for my room, and they seem a lot smaller.) Otherwise, I was impressed with the write-ups. Reviewers seem to be complaining about too much microphonic detail, which I didn't think was possible. How are they at throwing a stage?

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

If you have an interest in the Meadowlark loudspeakers (now defunct), I would also suggest narrowing your choices down to the Vandersteen 2Ce Signature II. The loudspeaker to come closest to the unadulterated, unfatigueing sound of the Meadowlark Blue Heron IIs or Kestrels I've heard are the Vandersteens.

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

I don't think the 'steens will work in my atrocious room:

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room


Quote:
I just looked up the V-A Beethoven Baby Grands, and they've definitely caught my attention. Do you think they'd be too big for my room? (My Linn Ninkas are almost too big for my room, and they seem a lot smaller.) Otherwise, I was impressed with the write-ups. Reviewers seem to be complaining about too much microphonic detail, which I didn't think was possible. How are they at throwing a stage?

I think that the VA Beethoven Baby Grands will work nicely in your room, particularly along the long wall. They don

linden518
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

You mentioned soundstaging, and out of the ones I've heard, and for the room your size, I don't think you can do better than the Devores especially if you care about soundstaging. Another pair you might like that might work are ProAc 152. Or Zu Druids.

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Ok, I see the problem clearly thanks to the picture. The correct position for the speakers, for serious listening, is probably in the traffic path to that door on the right.

Consider what I do. I place the speakers much as you have them for casual listening or when not in use. When I listen seriously I move them into their ideal position, using a lazer and tape measure to get them within 1/8" repeatable. They actually end up in the traffic path, but it's not usually a problem because I do most of the serious listening when the wife is out.

Yes indeed, almost any speaker will overpower the room with that placement. (You're getting both corner reenforcement and rear wall, producing some giant humps in the response). I think you'd gain from different speakers, but bass nodes are going to screw up the midrange and bloat the bass at key points unless you can move them around. The good news is that they can work at that end of the room, but you'll have to move them in and out of position for serious listening.

Dave

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room


Quote:
Ok, I see the problem clearly thanks to the picture. The correct position for the speakers, for serious listening, is probably in the traffic path to that door on the right.

I would at least give Dave's sugesstion a try. I was very impressed with the Ninka's in audition and would have purchased except my room is twice the size of yours. The Ninka's look the perfect size for your room and I suspect can deliver the performance you desire if you experiment with placement and additional room treatment.

Hopefully that door on the right is a closet?

RG

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Gosh you guys are terrific -- why didn't I register in here sooner? The door on the right is (brace yourselves) the main door into and out of the entire house. The long wall to the right of the picture is unusable as an alternative for the full setup because of a couch, the door, and an important window that would be completely obstructed by the television.

As for moving the rig out into the room, this is surprisingly easy because the TV-stand is on felt sliders, so I can almost put it anywhere I want. The trouble is that there isn't very much room to pull the speakers out into, either: the picture I took was standing in an adjoining room, behind the listening chair. If I pull the Ninkas out far enough that the back left corner of the left-side one is flush with the corner of the wall, then the front baffles will be less than seven feet from my head, which is probably way too close for a floorstander, yes? Meanwhile, the right-side speaker will be adjacent to the corner of the couch, which means it could get clawed by one of my three cats.

Make no mistake: I've no qualms about repositioning things when I'm doing serious listening. It's more than worth a try -- I'm *going* to try it. ...But in the meantime I could use a little more guidance.

dog_or_man
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

dcstep, you are uh-MAY-sing. I just idly pulled the whole rig out, til the left speaker wasn't *quite* flush with the front corner of that left-side notch. I kept the toe-ins the same, and left about 4" of recess for the front of the TV-stand, which means more like 9" of recess for the surface of the TV.

And it sounds *INCREDIBLE*. Way more improvement than new electronics, maybe even more improvement than the last time I got new speakers.

And this, mind you, was just a series of hunches; I didn't do any of this scientifically.

THANK YOU. ...Is there a small software application out there that will help me do this a little more accurately? I seem to want to remember hearing about it once before, but I might be imagining that.

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room


Quote:
dcstep, you are uh-MAY-sing. I just idly pulled the whole rig out, til the left speaker wasn't *quite* flush with the front corner of that left-side notch. I kept the toe-ins the same, and left about 4" of recess for the front of the TV-stand, which means more like 9" of recess for the surface of the TV.

And it sounds *INCREDIBLE*. Way more improvement than new electronics, maybe even more improvement than the last time I got new speakers.

And this, mind you, was just a series of hunches; I didn't do any of this scientifically.

THANK YOU. ...Is there a small software application out there that will help me do this a little more accurately? I seem to want to remember hearing about it once before, but I might be imagining that.

Wow, thanks for the feedback.

Sitting 7' from the speakers is NOT too close when the speakers are that close together, in fact that's about how close I am.

Unfortunately you can't measure your way to correct speaker placement, but it sounds like you're on the right track. I think there's a software program out there that claims that, but other than giving some general rules, all of which you're breaking, it's useless. My dealer, with Sumiko's blessing, is hoping to put tother a self help DVD about how to do this. Unfortunately that's at least a few months away from production. I'll be the first to post here when the aid is available; otherwise we're on our own.

You know, the industry in general is not too keen upon arming audiophiles with a way to improve their systems four-fold without spending any money. My dealer friend, Rod Thomson of Soundings in Colorado has been in the business 30+ years and just got frustrated with trying to help people enjoy their systems. Over and over people would spend big bucks and then have an unhappy result. Almost always it's due to faulty speaker placement. Since he learned to do this Master Set it's been a boon to his business and self-image.

With some work this weekend you'll improve your system even more. It's important to take careful measurements so that you can get the speakers back into their exact sweet spots. Your ears will get spoiled and you'll really dislike when the speakers are not properly placed. Also, keep in mind that each speaker design will require different placement because they all have different acoustic energy signatures. Always start at the wall and move out, bass first, then midrange, then firing together and lastly the rake angle.

Dave

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

What does everyone think of this listing for four bass traps, on the 'gon? They are sixteen inches in diameter by forty-eight inches tall, which would seem to be exactly what my room calls for, and the seller claims to have made them to Jon Risch specifications. He wants 580 for the set, and claims that they would cost 640 each if you bought them new. I think that's a bit far-fetched, but on the other hand the materials will cost me the thick end of 580, and then I'd have to wait for my friend to build them.

Reactions are appreciated.

listing for four bass traps on the 'gon

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Get out your tape measure and make sure you really have room. Those are big traps. I think that you probably only need two, but they should be helpful, particularly when you move up to the Vienna Acoustics.

After all, they're right down the street from you. The gas cost would be way less than the shipping cost, assuming you have a large enough vehicle.

Dave

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

I had an asylum member write back to say, "That's *WAY* too much money."

To me it seemed more like "a little too much money."

What do you think, Dave?

PS: The other two are "supposed" to go behind the listening chair.

jackfish
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

You could get four GIK Tri-Traps for less than that. Good product.

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Well, I just spent the better part of a day tweaking the placement of my existing speakers to contend with bizarre room resonances, and the setup I've ended up with... well, it looks completely dorky. But we don't buy all of this stuff because we want it to look good, now do we. (Note the left-side speaker actually firing *AWAY* from the listener. Don't ask me why this works, but it does.)

I guess the lesson in this is one that many of you were trying to tell me all along: there's no sense in buying new speakers until you've done what you can with room and placement. Call me stubborn. And grateful.

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room


Quote:
I had an asylum member write back to say, "That's *WAY* too much money."

To me it seemed more like "a little too much money."

What do you think, Dave?

PS: The other two are "supposed" to go behind the listening chair.

I'm worried about how huge those things are. If he's selling at less than half of retail, then it's probably a "fair" deal, but only you can decide if you'll pay that much. Look at prices for smaller traps on www.audioadvisor.com and then consider if you still want to make the purchase.

Dave

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Now that you've gotten to that point, there's more to be gained. If you move back toward the rear wall you can gain the bass without losing the midrange; HOWEVER, it's hard. You'll hit nodes that put the bass through the roof and ruin the mids, but if you really work at it I think that you can gain a TON of controlled, coherant bass.

Make note of your current settings so that you can always revert, but start again back at the wall. Remember, start with the left speaker, etc., etc., etc. I predict a sweet spot about two feet from the rear wall and about the distance you now have from the side walls, but don't let that influence you too much.

You've come a long ways Grasshopper...

Dave

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

You must have gotten a big kick out of the asymmetrical placement? Somehow it's working, but I dare say the science behind all of this would say that it couldn't possibly.

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room


Quote:
You must have gotten a big kick out of the asymmetrical placement? Somehow it's working, but I dare say the science behind all of this would say that it couldn't possibly.


It probably works because the room itself is asymmetrical - plus there are hirsute sound-absorbing felines which inarguably have an impact.

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room

Someone in another forum sent me a link to an outfit called GIK Acoustics. (He wanted me to see that I could buy something similar, retail, for less money.) The thing I noticed was that this particular outfit makes free-standing panels which, if they worked reasonably well, would spare me from having to reconfigure the whole room to accommodate four, 16" tubes, four feet high.

I know the panels won't work as well, but I'm wondering if the group thinks that they'll moderately well, and if for that reason I can tell my friend to stop building the tubes for me and just buy the panels?

dcstep
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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room


Quote:

Quote:
You must have gotten a big kick out of the asymmetrical placement? Somehow it's working, but I dare say the science behind all of this would say that it couldn't possibly.


It probably works because the room itself is asymmetrical - plus there are hirsute sound-absorbing felines which inarguably have an impact.

Yes, it's clearly an asymetrical room. It's a very unusual room that'll have the speakers in a symetrical placement in optimal performance.

Dave

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Re: List narrowed to five speakers for tricky room


Quote:
Yes, it's clearly an asymetrical room. It's a very unusual room that'll have the speakers in a symetrical placement in optimal performance.


That's been my experience as well.

I have never had a perfectly symmetrical room to play with. In such a room symmetry has got to be the way to go, but this would be quite a luxury.

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