Fine Tunes #1 Page 2

And amusingly, perhaps due to the uniquely human nature of musical taste, high-end neophytes begin talking the talk almost by instinct. Take Robin Hirschberg—please—who delivered this gem when last seated in the Ribbon Chair chez 10: "Well," she said, "these speakers are certainly more involving than the last ones I heard. They're more, I don't know...emotional."


Diagram of optimal speaker setup from the Cardas web site.

Toeing the speakers in toward the listening position also gives you a greater ratio of direct to reflected sound bouncing off sidewalls and floor. If this slightly delayed signal reaches the listener too soon after the direct sound, it can muddy the sonics and confuse the imaging. There are a number of ways to find first-reflection points and deal with them, and I'll be sure to cover that soon. I don't want to exacerbate well-rutted stereotypes, but if the exigencies of life put a coffee table in front of and between your speakers, try to make it wicker or some other natural fiber without a reflective glass top. I know, it's asking a lot. If you take your espresso on a modern chrome-and-glass table, that's going to compromise imaging and frequency response. It's a bit obsessive, but you can always throw a comforter or rug over the table for serious listening or when your audio buds visit. I know someone who drops a huge blanket over his big-screen TV when listening to music. It definitely helps.

In the meantime, here's your homework assignment: Walk around your listening area while clapping your hands. Listen for slap-echo and how the reverberant quality of the sound changes as you walk about the room. This is probably best done when you are a-lone. (If you're an audiophile, everyone already thinks you're crazy. Let's not feed the flames.) Measure out your room and try to make sure no speaker drivers are equidistant from side walls, floor, or ceiling. Check for good triangulation of your listening chair with the speakers—even a small distance out can ruin the magic. Then, if you have Internet access, aim your browser at . There you'll find a cogent article by George Cardas on speaker placement that includes a lot of the math you'll need to know about.

In the end, as Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio pointed out as we talked about speaker positioning, "you just gotta use your ears." And that, ladies and gents, is the whole story in a nutshell.

Until next month, I am Yours, Etc....