LCR Speaker Alcoves - Right or wrong idea? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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LCR Speaker Alcoves - Right or wrong idea?

I’m building a dedicated theater in my basement. I’m in the electrical stage and will be bringing in the dry wall guys in a couple of weeks. Before they get here, I want to pass by a design question to this group.
While building the wall for my front speakers / screen, I put alcoves in the wall to hold my speakers. Now I’m wondering if that was a genius move or an exercise of an uninformed mind.
Let me explain the “alcoves”, why they are there and my intentions.
Disclaimer. I’m a smart guy but know nothing about theater design or sound waves. If these alcoves are going to ruin my sound, I’ll try to figure something else out.
I’ve included a picture which is hard to understand since you can see right through the studs. I’ve also included two drawings. One top view. One front view.
I built a wall to section off the two halves of my basement. One half will be a beautiful finished Home Theater. The other half will remain an unfinished basement that I will use for a gym. I wanted to make the theater as big as possible so I built the wall right up next to the Window of the gym. In other words, I can’t move the wall any further back into the gym because there’s a window there (Figure 1).
After I measured the room, figured out where my seating was etc, I was worried that the first row would be a little too close to the screen so I thought about how I could put the screen as close to the wall as possible while still having the speakers behind the screen. That’s where I came up with the idea for the alcoves. If I made alcoves in the wall, then the speakers wouldn’t take up any room in the theater and I could have the screen as close as 4” from the wall. This would give an extra 12”-16” of distance between the screen and the first row of seats.
Figure 2 is shown as if you were in the seats, facing the screen. You can see that while I was building my alcoves, I also raised them up off the floor a bit to help the sound get over the first row and because the second row (MLP) will be raised 14-15” off the floor on a platform.
As you can see from the diagrams, each alcove is:
• 14” off the ground
• 15” wide
• 18” deep
• 75” high

Please let me know if you think this will work. If I’m just an idiot for doing this, I’d rather try and do something to fix it now though the thought of completely tearing down the wall makes me want to cry.
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post #2 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 10:16 AM
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You can make it work and makes perfect sense to maximize your space. What speakers are you planning on using?

If the speaker is smaller than the alcove the excess gaps should get stuffed with something
if the speakers are rear ported, you're fracked
you should cover the entire area behind the screen and around the speakers with acoustical absorption
The wall should be made as rigid and resonance free as possible, A single layer of drywall on 2x4 construction isn't.
you may need to do some electronic equalization of the speaker frequency response unless the speakers were designed for inwall mounting.

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post #3 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 11:08 AM
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Mounting speakers in a wall alcove is the general idea behind a baffle wall.

If it is rear ported you should stuff the port with a foam bung. It will change the response but with a home theater the change isn't usually a bad thing. The baffle wall will increase bass output. With very small speakers the port can be an important excursion control mechanism and so blocking the port reduces peak output. The solution is a higher crossover point. Only very small speakers or those with very little xmax have problems with this if using something like an 80hz highpass. If using larger speakers then in many cases you could plug the port and use no highpass and still be fine.

If you are using a speaker with a passive radiator that is mounted anywhere other than the front (like Def Tech) you might be in trouble. If so please share pictures for suggested solutions.


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post #4 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 11:08 AM
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If the front of the speakers are flush with the wall, you have essentially built a baffle wall. Do a search to learn more. http://www.acousticfrontiers.com/2013322baffle-walls/

I would not recommend recessing the speakers into the alcoves any further than this, otherwise you will get reflections off the sides of the alcoves that will cause all sorts of reflections and comb filtering problems.
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post #5 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
You can make it work and makes perfect sense to maximize your space. What speakers are you planning on using?

If the speaker is smaller than the alcove the excess gaps should get stuffed with something
if the speakers are rear ported, you're fracked
you should cover the entire area behind the screen and around the speakers with acoustical absorption
The wall should be made as rigid and resonance free as possible, A single layer of drywall on 2x4 construction isn't.
you may need to do some electronic equalization of the speaker frequency response unless the speakers were designed for inwall mounting.
My plan was to use the Klipsch RP-280F or 260F towers for all three LCR.......read ported.

Would it help if I tore down the dividers between the alcoves? i.e make one big (almost wall sized) alcove for the speakers? In other words, the "alcove" would go from the existing left of the left side alcove to the existing right of the right side alcove.
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 12:03 PM
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Going way back to my competition car stereo days of youth, if you had all 3 speakers sharing the same enclosed (or even exit ported) airspace, you'd be creating a variation on a planar isobaric enclosure. With synchronized sound that might work ok, but I'm thinking across 3 potentially distinct channels of sound, you'd be setting up some crazy funky resonance. I'm thinking you'd want to bung the ports at mpoes12 mentioned, and adjust your cross rates to get sounds.

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post #7 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
You can make it work and makes perfect sense to maximize your space. What speakers are you planning on using?

If the speaker is smaller than the alcove the excess gaps should get stuffed with something
With what?

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post #8 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 01:41 PM
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Left over insulation, acoustical treatments, beach towels, old underwear (wash first). Anything that keeps the gaps from resonating or coloring the sound. I'd keep the alcoves, you get the advantages of a baffle wall.
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post #9 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
Left over insulation, acoustical treatments, beach towels, old underwear (wash first). Anything that keeps the gaps from resonating or coloring the sound. I'd keep the alcoves, you get the advantages of a baffle wall.

I Agree, but would maybe suggest using something that has some other positives. It's actually rather important that the speaker have a flush and smooth transition between the speaker baffle and wall baffle. Since that's often not possible, diffraction can be partially mitigated through use of something that is acoustically absorbent. You also want to isolate the speakers from the alcove to the extent possible. Acoustic foam (solid not convoluted) is ideal for this. 1" to 2" you foam and is readily available online. Fiberglass works too but should be rigid and could be itchy and dusty.


I repeat my earlier statement. Keep the alcoves but plug the ports. The speakers will still work, bass extension is slightly compromised. Between the advantage of the baffle wall and the subs, it won't be a problem in practice.


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post #10 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 10:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
You can make it work and makes perfect sense to maximize your space. What speakers are you planning on using?

If the speaker is smaller than the alcove the excess gaps should get stuffed with something
if the speakers are rear ported, you're fracked
you should cover the entire area behind the screen and around the speakers with acoustical absorption
The wall should be made as rigid and resonance free as possible, A single layer of drywall on 2x4 construction isn't.
you may need to do some electronic equalization of the speaker frequency response unless the speakers were designed for inwall mounting.
OK. I'm not oposed to re-framing before the drywaller gets here to get the right sound. Here are three proposals.

Figure 6 (Option A). Just drywall straight accross and forget the idea of the alcoves. This pushed my screen closer to the seats than I would like and may make the speakers kind of squished between the screen and front wall, but it gets rid of the alvoces.

Figure 7 (Option B). Brake away the dividers between the alcoves and the raised platform (if advised) turning the alcoves into a recessed wall. At almost 9 feet accross, you can't really call it an alcove anymore. Will the fact that the door didn't move cause me that same kind of issues that the small alcoves have now if the front of the speakers is in line or in front of the door?

Figure 8 (Option C). Brake away the dividers between the alcoves and the raised platform (if advised)AND move the door back at the same time. This is my least favorite option since moving the door is a tremendous amount of work which includes building more soffit, rewireing some things in the gym and moving canned lights. But if it's the only way to get good sound with the rear ported speakers I've chosen, I'll consider it.

What are the acoustic implications of each option?
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post #11 of 21 Old 10-03-2017, 11:15 PM
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Personally, I'd keep the alcoves. As Mpoes12 and others have said, your speakers will still work. Bunging ports is a recognised way of altering the bass response of speakers, so you shouldn't feel that you are compromising sound quality here. Your subwoofers will be doing the heavy lifting anyway, very little (relatively speaking) bass will be produced by your LCR - which is why the majority of HTs are built using sub-sat systems.

As an aside, have you considered DIYSG speakers? You'll get much more bang for your buck, they're not rear ported, and many are designed to perform well within baffle walls.
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post #12 of 21 Old 10-04-2017, 03:19 AM
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I would get rid of the alcoves, or choose different speakers.

I like your wording re "an exercise of an uninformed mind" and yes, that is exactly what you have done. You will definitely
compromise audio reproduction.

Your speakers will also timbre shift with the 4" distance between speaker and screen, ideally that number is 6" off the
backside of a woven screen, so the resulting full range timbre shift effect is no longer in effect.

My vote would be for option B. How big is the room?
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post #13 of 21 Old 10-04-2017, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Personally, I'd keep the alcoves. As Mpoes12 and others have said, your speakers will still work. Bunging ports is a recognised way of altering the bass response of speakers, so you shouldn't feel that you are compromising sound quality here. Your subwoofers will be doing the heavy lifting anyway, very little (relatively speaking) bass will be produced by your LCR - which is why the majority of HTs are built using sub-sat systems.

As an aside, have you considered DIYSG speakers? You'll get much more bang for your buck, they're not rear ported, and many are designed to perform well within baffle walls.
I was actually very interested in building my own Subwoofers. Do you know if these kits are comparable to the recommended Subs talked about in these forums? I know that with speakers, each has it's own voice and you have to listen to know if you like it or not. I assume that Subs are different. A Sub (more than a speaker) can be judged on its specs. I feel confident in my building / wood working capability. Can I really get good Subs from the DIYSG?
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I would get rid of the alcoves, or choose different speakers.

I like your wording re "an exercise of an uninformed mind" and yes, that is exactly what you have done. You will definitely
compromise audio reproduction.

Your speakers will also timbre shift with the 4" distance between speaker and screen, ideally that number is 6" off the
backside of a woven screen, so the resulting full range timbre shift effect is no longer in effect.

My vote would be for option B. How big is the room?
The room is 25 X 15 with the first row approximately 13' from the screen and the second row approximately 19' from the screen.

If I go with option B (which is my personal preference) do I still keep the riser so that it compensates for the riser under the second row of seats (where the MLP is)? In other words, do I still build a platform about 14" off the ground for the speakers to sit on or to I tear that out as well and just have the speakers on the floor?
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post #15 of 21 Old 10-04-2017, 11:22 AM
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You do have a little wiggle room then. I still would go with option B though, but Option A is a possiblity.

Why do you need to raise your tower speakers? Why isn't row 1 the MLP? You can build a platform, which would simply be a "stealth" stage when
it's behind an AT screen wall. So why not a stage, if you actually need to raise the speakers?
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You do have a little wiggle room then. I still would go with option B though, but Option A is a possiblity.

Why do you need to raise your tower speakers? Why isn't row 1 the MLP? You can build a platform, which would simply be a "stealth" stage when
it's behind an AT screen wall. So why not a stage, if you actually need to raise the speakers?
Row 1 isn't the MLP because my wife will want to sit on row 2 and I'll be sitting back there with her. Stealth stage? Not familiar with that term but I believe it just means that i take out the riser and carpet the area. Then build some type of plywood stage to whatever height I need once I need it. Is that about it?
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post #17 of 21 Old 10-04-2017, 03:18 PM
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OK. I'm not oposed to re-framing before the drywaller gets here to get the right sound. Here are three proposals.

Figure 6 (Option A). Just drywall straight accross and forget the idea of the alcoves. This pushed my screen closer to the seats than I would like and may make the speakers kind of squished between the screen and front wall, but it gets rid of the alvoces.

Figure 7 (Option B). Brake away the dividers between the alcoves and the raised platform (if advised) turning the alcoves into a recessed wall. At almost 9 feet accross, you can't really call it an alcove anymore. Will the fact that the door didn't move cause me that same kind of issues that the small alcoves have now if the front of the speakers is in line or in front of the door?

Figure 8 (Option C). Brake away the dividers between the alcoves and the raised platform (if advised)AND move the door back at the same time. This is my least favorite option since moving the door is a tremendous amount of work which includes building more soffit, rewireing some things in the gym and moving canned lights. But if it's the only way to get good sound with the rear ported speakers I've chosen, I'll consider it.

What are the acoustic implications of each option?
Uninformed minds must think alike, because I literally had the same idea to make little alcoves and framed it as such, though my alcoves were much smaller/shallower and there was no way they were fitting decent speakers. Rather than making the alcoves bigger and face similar accoustic challenges, what I ended up doing was something similar to your figure 7. I hated having to do the rework, but now that I did I am very happy I did, as another thing to think of, for me at least, was the room could be used as a general purpose room instead of a dedicated theater in the future, and if/when I go to sell the house those alcoves would look kind of funky, where as a solution similar to your figure 7 just gives the wall character.

Just my 2 cents and what I decided for mine, I am still in the framing stage so I cant give any incite into how well it worked. I didn't have a door to contend with like you do, but I felt like I needed to share my experience as it was coincidental to me that you had the same idea I did.

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post #18 of 21 Old 10-05-2017, 08:16 AM
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I was lucky enough to have 2 window wells and a non-functioning in-wall heater. They lined up perfectly and allowed me to rotate my room 180º. Without these alcoves, I wouldn't have had the depth, since there is a door on each side of my screen.

I've had many people with much nicer theaters than mine, people who've spent exponentially more on construction and sound treatment, and people in the industry in my theater and not a single one has not been blown away by the sound I've been able to achieve.

More pics in my build thread, but here are a couple, and of course they are showing upside down. Lined all sides of my alcoves with Linacoustic. Filled in the bottom of my false wall with extra carpet and padding.
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post #19 of 21 Old 10-05-2017, 04:14 PM
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The issue is the speaker of choice, isn't designed to be mounted in an alcove. Now that doesn't mean you
couldn't select suitable speakers and utilize those cubbies for a baffle wall design. But you have options
with the 25' room length.

Sometimes the answer is to look at the budget and decide if there's wiggle room to allocate funds, to buy suitable speakers. Waterfall Audio just posted a baffle wall build. As for the door, that could simply be an extension of the baffle wall. Visually, it could be hidden by a black door handle, and the use of fabric
matching the screen wall.

Does the Mrs have any experience with projection? That "massive" screen she sits 19' from, won't feel quite so massive, once she gets used to it.

A "stealth" stage is the use of a stage, only behind the acoustically screen wall. It isn't seen in the theater. One can also build some simple sand filled MDF boxes, with a simple flat black finish, to raise speakers. BTW, you also don't want shiny finishes behind an AT screen. Might be another reason those Klipsch aren't a good fit.
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post #20 of 21 Old 10-08-2017, 05:56 PM
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Does Klipsch still have the sharp treble as they had some 10 years ago due to the horn construction?
Then I would consider another brand, but that's me.

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post #21 of 21 Old 10-10-2017, 09:00 AM
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I love how a baffle wall will assist with bass. I have put old minibus 7s behind my AT screen with a baffle wall. Doing the audessy setup with my system I got a report back of the results of having the minimum 7s crossed over at 80 hz. The same speaker being used as wides without a baffle behind them were reported by audessy as crossing over at 100 hz. The 100 hz is more in line with the actual performance of these old but still good performing speakers.

With my room being only 13x17 I find I don't need speakers any larger than what I am using. With the IB subwoofer system backing up the small minimus speakers I find my theater isn't missing a beat on producing great sound from my LCR channels.

Mitsubishi 3800. Marantz 8802A Sound ably handled with Minimus 7 LCR speakers in a baffled wall behind AT screen. Surrounds are Paradigm in wall speakers. Overhead speakers for Atmos and DTS:X are minimus 7. DIY IB sub system. Two pairs of Dayton 15 inch in separate manifolds. Power amps are Harman Kardon Signature 2.1 doing basic 5 bed channels. Kenwood KM-X1 6 channel for L/R wide and four overhead speakers. Kenwood Basic M1D doing Subwoofer work. Sound is 9.2.2.
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