Multichannel music (and video) urban loft living room system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-07-2013, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's a little bit on the system we're currently running in our condo. Said condo is a faux-loft on a top corner of a midrise building, with a large common area (about 60'w*15'd*12'h) that folds back to a hallway on one end, and has balconies on the left and back walls. The interior floor surface is poured concrete, and the ceiling is corrugated metal. The internal walls are either standard American drywall/stud, or milky plexiglas on studs and isolated with rubber washers.

The four overarching goals of the system were:
1) a spacious-but-not-smeared acoustic scene reproduction, with good-to-great image focus;
2) sufficient dynamics to cleanly reproduce big orchestral pieces at the listening position;
3) smooth spectral balance, especially in the upper bass; and
4) minimal aesthetic intrusion without building anything into the walls, as we will likely be buying a more permanent larger abode in a year or so and I'd like to just be able to pack up the system;


Video was not at all a priority. Nor was bass extension below 20Hz or so.

The primary seating area is a Herman Miller Goetz sofa with ebony sides and "tea" colored Royal Hide leather coaming/cushions. (See above pic for the left side of sofa.) The sofa is a bit more than ~3' from the back wall and a hair under ~2' from the bookcases on the back wall. A daybed on the right side (see above) serves as additional seating, but sound quality there was not considered in calibrating the system.

"Room treatments" consist of ordinary living room furnishings, such as two tall fully-loaded Ikea pine bookcases on the back wall. To damp the floor a bit in the listening zone is a bespoke wool rug from Pakistan framed by a large off-the-rack ivory wool shag rug that sits over a felt rug pad. Additionally, and admittedly mostly to keep my wife from wanting a coffee table, there is an ottoman, upholstered in orange herringbone microfiber, between the loudspeakers and the listening position. No room mutilation products (fiberglass panels, "corner traps") were considered, let alone used!

Enough words, here are some pictures:

Electronics

Bang & Olufsen Beogram RX2 turntable with B&O MMC3 cartridge


Rane PS-1 phono preamp


Anthem MRX300 used as pre-pro, Oppo BDP-83 SACD/DVD-A/etc. player, AppleTV3, Roku3


miniDSP 8x8 in miniDSP case, ATI AT2007 mains amp, ElectroVoice CPS8.5 multisub amp (rack ears massaged to fit in our BDI Cirrus TV stand)


46" Sony LCD TV ca. 2008, compromised center channel placement, see top pic.

Speakers and Multisubs

LCR: "Tens"* DIY mains

*Named shortly after Rob Jackson's glorious 4th quarter Romoception in last year's Week 17 Redskins-cowboys (i.e. "NFC East Championship") game, when I realized that the great RG3's number was also one of the name of my all-time favorite albums. HTTR!

Mains cabinets hold Pioneer EX S-IW691L in-wall speakers with 5" magnesium/ceramic-graphite concentric driver and two 7" midbasses. The left and right speakers sit on "flanking subs," each with an inside-bottom firing Aurasound NS12-794-4A in a Qtc~0.65 closed box, with a perforated 16AWG steel grill from Reliable Hardware protecting the driver. Top cabinets use CLD construction for baffle frame and back wall, and 12mm Baltic Birch for sides/top/bottom lined with vinyl floor tiles. Bottom cabinets are 19mm Baltic Birch, braced with 1"x2" oak dowels. Veneer is quarter-sawn oak, stained to match our TV cabinet. Blu-Tack balls adhere tops to flanking subs.

Because the cabinets were bespoke, I could use proper Speakon connectors on the speaker end. (Binding posts are such a kludge!) On each side, the flanking subs and mains speakers are fed via a 4-pole Speakon. The wire for the mains speaker runs through its flanking sub/stand, and there is a separate pigtail connector between sub and mains speaker.

(Connectors are color-coded per the applicable standard, CEA-863B.)

Corner sub:

M-Design Eleganza Godfather (Aurasound NS15-992-4A) in vented/TL/BLH pie-wedge.

Surround side left/right (left shown) and auxillary sub:

KEF R800ds atop VTI DF36 stand, Aurasound NS12-794-4A in 65L DIY closed box

Surround back (left shown), and high-mounted sub:

KEF Q100, Aurasound NS10-794-4A in 15L DIY closed box. Sorbothane feet under all three boxes.

Wiring

Interconnects (not shown) are cut-to-length 24AWG, with silver-plated conductor and braid. HDMI cables (not shown) are generic whatevers, as is the optical lead from TV to AVR.

Speaker cables for mains are twisted-pair mil-spec 16AWG silver-plated copper in Teflon for tops, twisted-pair mil-spec 14AWG silver-plated copper in Teflon for flanking subs.

The speaker cables are terminated with Audioquest silver-plated spades for the mains amp end, and Phoenix connectors for the multisub amp. Connectors have no impact on sound quality. I just like the way these spades look, and bananas would make the amp too deep for the back panel of the TV cabinet to slide over.

Speaker cables for back subs (not shown) are twisted-pair mil-spec 10AWG silver-plated copper in Teflon. Speaker cables for surrounds are Esoteric Audio Isopath 14AWG solid-core copper in Teflon with PVC over-jacket. Speaker cables for surround backs (not shown) are twisted-pair mil-spec 14AWG silver-plated copper.

(Note: I prefer silver plated wires simply because I dislike the look of oxidized copper. There is no sonic benefit - or detriment - from using silver-plated wires. Or tin-plated wires. If you solder anything, tin-plated wires are a PITA, though. Silver-plated wires are much easier to work with.)

All speaker wires are sleeved with light grey Techflex where they are visible, except for the pigtail leads for the mains, which are in black, and the center channel wire, which is "Ogre" (green/black). Sub wires are sleeved in purple Techflex on the amp end for easy at-a-glance ID.

All cabling runs to speakers and subs around the room, as well as interconnects from phono pre to AVR, are contained in channels. I don't remember where I found them.


Channels were simply cut at roughly the speaker positions, to let the speaker wire out.


Planned changes (summer 2013):
-Experiment with felt to mitigate diffraction. (See D. Ralph.)
-Subwoofer aesthetics + performance upgrade: scrap the MDesign sub, harvest the Aurasound NS15, use it for auxiliary sub with cabinet to match the other speakers, replace corner sub with Aurasound NS18-992-4A in ~100L closed box finished like the other speaker cabinets. Also maybe have a combined cabinet built for the surround back speakers and the high sub.
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post #2 of 4 Old 09-12-2013, 06:32 AM
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Just a few comments and questions. You did a nice job with those mains. They look good in the room with the finish. I would love to hear them.

So how do you think you did on the 4 goals of your system?

Does the rear shelf mounted sub take care of room modes for you? Does it rattle the shelf?

How are the Summer 2013 updates going?

Will you do a projector in your next room?

What kind of orchestral music do you listen to? And do you have it in multichannel when you listen or in 2 channel?
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post #3 of 4 Old 09-15-2013, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments. To answer your questions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimastergrant View Post

So how do you think you did on the 4 goals of your system?

1) a spacious-but-not-smeared acoustic scene reproduction, with good-to-great image focus; spaciousness in a room like this basically requires expansion to multichannel, because the sidewalls are so far away. Going 7.1 helped more than I expected it would. So did going with the KEF R800ds bidirectional (mostly) out-of-phase surrounds instead of standard monopole surrounds. The R800ds have very wide and even coverage. There are probably equally good cheaper options, but I wanted to use concentric drivers all around, and the cabinet finish made me favor the R800ds over KEF's Q800ds.

2) sufficient dynamics to cleanly reproduce big orchestral pieces at the listening position; 100% met. I was a little surprised, considering my last system used 96dB/W/m mains, 92dB/W/m surrounds (5.1 channel) and an AVR that benched ~220W/8Ω/2ch and ~175W/8Ω/5ch. True, the ATI AT2007 is as powerful as a Class AB amp can be on a 15A circuit, but the speakers are almost 10dB less efficient from 150Hz up....

3) smooth spectral balance, especially in the upper bass Accomplished, with an assist from the sheer volume of the space. Truth be told, the setup is a bit slipshod. Calibrating multisubs is hard, and it's 90% of the way there just because of having multisubs and ARC. It will be better when the new sub cabinets get here, simply because I'll take more care in the setup. That's when I'll post measurements smile.gif

4) minimal aesthetic intrusion without building anything into the walls, About as well as I could, given the physical size of the stuff. Will be better when the M-Design pie-wedge leaves the corner, and is replaced with a rectangular sub that matches the mains and the TV cabinet.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimastergrant View Post

Does the rear shelf mounted sub take care of room modes for you? Does it rattle the shelf?

It does help with the floor-ceiling mode, but it might be optional. I'm going to try without it when the subs come in.

I have the sub on four Sorbothane hemispheres of the right durometer and size for the sub's mass. They work surprisingly well, though they were expensive. Also, the level of the sub is very very low. You can barely hear it working when you put your ear up to it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimastergrant View Post

How are the Summer 2013 updates going?

Felt: bought a roll from McMaster-Carr. Haven't had time to do anything with it. Project before that is to build a polar measurement turntable.

Subs: Have at the NS18 for a few years, but my DIY cabinet is not acceptable for display in the front corner of our living room. Found the right artisan, deposit sent. If I'm lucky, they'll be here in October. I had a surprising number of issues (things not done according to spec, issues with finish quality that required them to pick them up and refinish, oh and they were also six months late from a promised two-month turnaround) with the local custom furniture builder who built my mains and flanking subs. So I wasn't about to give them business for the subs. I found someone with a good reputation, though, and though I'd rather have worked with someone local second best is someone in the same time zone known for quality speaker cabinets. (I've had good experiences with remote collaboration in the past, and if Nathan Funk were in the SE USA he would've gotten the business for all my cabinets if he wanted it. But the cabinets I commissioned from him build for my old Tannoys were much smaller and lighter than these cabs.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimastergrant View Post

Will you do a projector in your next room?

Never say never, but ultimately I don't care much about video so the only reason I'd do a projector is if the new laser ones are bright enough to use in a room with lots of natural light - I'm not into living in a cave - AND I can improve my mains placement by doing so.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimastergrant View Post

What kind of orchestral music do you listen to? And do you have it in multichannel when you listen or in 2 channel?

Big orchestral stuff mostly: Mahler, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Bruckner, that sort of stuff. Also, does Radiohead count as "classical," yet? smile.gif

Except for the 3-channel Mercury Living Presence SACDs, which my MRX 300 won't expand, I generally expand everything to 7-channel, with DPL2 Music being my default choice. AnthemLogic doesn't do as good a job with the center channel, and the DTS offering just doesn't seem as natural as DPL2.

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post #4 of 4 Old 09-15-2013, 08:20 PM
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Very slick, DS. Always been a fan of your collection of gear.

Cute kitchen, btw. smile.gif

My Dual 18" LLT subs 120dB down to 10hz

 

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