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dbowker's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
When you "know" too much

I was reminded this week that it's always good to keep at least part of a "beginners mind" on hand when tying to solve a problem. Mine was imaging and depth regarding my speakers (Pro-Ac Response 2s).

Overall, I haven't felt the need to change much in my system for a few years now (shocking I know). After years of gradually getting it "right" I got to a place where it was time to say: "There! It's good enough!" Not perfect, but pretty damn good and with no single flaws annoying enough to really consider changing things up.

So it was all good except one slightly annoying feature, which was I never felt my depth or imaging was nearly as good as it could be. On balance, everything sounded right tonally, and it's not like things sounded muddy, it's just that voices or instruments seemed like they could be more focused. I messed with a number of different setup positions in the room: speakers closer, father, farther apart from each other, more toed in, less toed; you get the idea.

Now I've been into high-end well before I could even afford it, so I've set up many systems, including many friends, so I have a pretty good idea of how to get it all to work. Mostly I figured it was somehow the "room" maybe being slightly small (but at 12x14 it's not THAT small). Anyway, I found that facing 90 degrees definitely didn't work, and though toed in was better, the MORE toed in, approaching not seeing the sides sounded gradually worse. Eventually I settled on something like a 20 degree toe-in and just went with it.

Anyway, this week, I was out sick, sitting at home, not feeling great, but at least getting to listen on my own and have no distractions I got to thinking: what if I actually toed in PAST the front grill facing me mark? At that distance, they wouldn't exactly cross over the listening seat, but it seemed totally against everything I'd ever heard, seen or used as my own guidelines. But in my slightly fevered state I suddenly thought I should try it.

WTF?! It worked! Suddenly everything was like Wham! right in place. Nothing changed as far as the character of the system, but now I got that magic imaging I knew should be there. Actually bass was tighter too. I seriously could not believe it. I started putting on all my favorite records and every one showed that this was the answer.

And lest you think I was just hearing medicine induced improvements, the "magic" has not left in the days since. It was just that weird state that gave me the idea; the solution was real. Somehow I think if I has less experience I would have tried it a long time ago, so let this be a lesson to all my fellow experts. If it's not working quite yet, maybe get the advice of an interested novice.


tmsorosk's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 5 2010 - 12:34pm
Positive toe

Hello d.b. .. Knot to be the one to cast stones , the squarishness of your room may explain the toe orientation . A few years back at an audiophile friends we experimented with toe ect in a room with similar measurements , and found we had to cross the speaker line of site in front , rather than just behind . After much deliberation and wine we concluded that in the previous position the speakers were interacting with the side walls .

BillB's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Joined: Aug 15 2007 - 2:04pm
Good to know..

thanks. Are the speakers kind of close to side walls or is that not an issue?

dbowker's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Probably right

Yeah- as I said, I'm, sure it's something in the room aspect that is the problem. I probably could use another 4 feet in either direction to get the most out of the speakers (and who couldn't?).

Currently they are about 22" off the back wall and 4' out from the side walls, give or take. I'm sure if they were 3-4' off the back wall things would be many times better all around. And if I were a few more feet into the room I'd get less back refections too. All are speculative though as the room's not getting bigger, and I'm not going anywhere. I'm just glad I get a room this size that is essentially mine for music only!

geoffkait's picture
Last seen: 3 min 41 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Have you given any consideration to room treatment?

I suspect everyone wishes his room were bigger, or less square, with higher ceilings and a cement slab floor, etc. Have you ever played around with Live End/Dead End room arrangements, or tried sound diffusers/absorbers, acoustic resonators, corner tunes, tube traps, room lenses, that sort of thing?

Think of it as four differential equations in four unknowns. :-)

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica
Advanced Audio Concepts

dbowker's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Oh, I've thought of them alright

And the next thought is: my wife would object to each and every one on grounds of aesthetics and cost. Room treatments are almost always a non-starter to being married, (and probably getting married as well) and I wouldn't trade them for a second.

If I had the time and energy to really think it through, I could maybe build something that was less obtrusive than most of what's out there, but there always seems to be something higher on the list.

Anyway- the "room" as such is not a big deal now that I found the far simpler solution of the radical toe-in config!

tom collins
tom collins's picture
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 3 2007 - 11:54am
room treatment

room treatment does not have to be fugly. i have 2 nice handmade quilts hanging on the walls of either side of my room. no wife would object. i have two pictures where i bought 2 two by four inch canvasses and had my daughters each paint one then I filled the back with sound insulation. they are then mounted so they are not flush with the walls, but stand out about an inch so they catch waves. if you have leather furniture, see if you can get some afghans to to toss over them. lots of little things that don't sit bad with the wife.
best of luck.


dbowker's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
True that, Tom

In that case, I DO have a few "treatments" up in the form of a double backed wall hanging, an extra thick wool rug on the floor, a cloth sofa to the side, and a few other subtle diffusers and absorbers covertly situated. I have a window behind the system that I covered with 1/4" plexi (which is much softer than glass) and that, and another window, have honey-comb paper/cloth blinds. All in all the room does sound pretty good, but at some point size can't be helped. The thing that is hardest to tame is a 65hz bass bloom you get in this particular room/speaker combo. 90% of recordings are don't show it much, but anything Allison Kraus (with a big bass guitar and drums) seem to really put the spotlight on this frequency zone.

What I'd really like is another 4' behind my listening chair. I think a great deal of room reflections are are happening in the rear reflection area, though I do have a pretty funky 1880's fireplace behind, which due to all it's curves and other decorations must do a little something to break up waves.

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