Potential downsides of bi-amping? - AVS Forum
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I run a Pioneer SC-1522-K which allows for bi-amping. I'm awaiting delivery of a pair of Polk LSiM703s, and am considering bi-amping them. I will also be running a subwoofer... Currently I'm using a Polk MicroPro 2000.

I've heard it said that if bi-amping is not executed correctly, it can actually negatively affect the performance of a speaker. As I understand it, this is dependent on whether or not the crossover frequencies are set correctly... Leading me to think that this is largely an issue that can arise when using two separate amps?

Since I'm not using two amps, but two channels of power from the same amp, these are not issues I should run into, correct? That is, the crossover frequency should automatically be correct, being that it's the same receiver... Right?

As the LSiM703 already goes very low for a bookshelf (lower than some standers), and I will be using a sub as well, the intention behind the bi-amping would be to achieve even cleaner, more transparent, and detailed mids and highs...

Thoughts? Advice?
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:23 AM
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There really isn't a downside to passive biamplification. There isn't an upside either. It is basically a useless endeavor but won't hurt anything. Go right ahead.
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:36 AM
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Doubt you'll notice it on a av amp bi-amping. Nice speakers, I'd try a amp with proper amplifier stages (generally AV amps sound poor compared to a similar priced 2 channel integrated)

Downside of biamping is extra cost. I'm biamping my Hi-Fi speakers, it's worth it but probably best if you get a single, highr quality more powerful amp in the first place.

The whole point of bi-amping is spltting power supplies, since your av amp shares the same PSU it doesn't make any difference.

Ignore FMW "all amps sound the same" rolleyes.gif

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Old 02-22-2014, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by fatbottom View Post

Doubt you'll notice it on a av amp bi-amping. Nice speakers, I'd try a amp with proper amplifier stages (generally AV amps sound poor compared to a similar priced 2 channel integrated)

Downside of biamping is extra cost. I'm biamping my Hi-Fi speakers, it's worth it but probably best if you get a single, highr quality more powerful amp in the first place.

The whole point of bi-amping is spltting power supplies, since your av amp shares the same PSU it doesn't make any difference.

Ignore FMW "all amps sound the same" rolleyes.gif

I don't tell people that all amps sound the same so I would appreciate your removing the quotation marks. I don't want people to think that I ever said what you have between the quotations. Thanks.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:21 AM
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You get hardly any improvement from passive bi-amping. To get an upside you need to do active bi-amping which includes an active crossover. As an example Linn speakers provide this addition as for an extra charge they will add an active crossover to their speakers. Bottom line is you need to go active to hear any improvement.smile.gif
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:41 AM
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Don't listen to fatbottom, he's got a fetish for integrated amps smile.gif and everything he listens to sounds different, even two of the same.

Passive biamping doesn't employ a xover, full signal sent from each 'amp', It's marketing bs don't insult yourself.

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Old 02-22-2014, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starter View Post

the intention behind the bi-amping would be to achieve even cleaner, more transparent, and detailed mids and highs...
And that's what you get when the signal is split into high/low bandwidths before being separately amplified, and there are no passive crossovers in the speakers. But so-called 'passive bi-amping' doesn't do that, so it's just a waste of wire.
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Starter View Post

to achieve even cleaner, more transparent, and detailed mids and highs...

Thoughts? Advice?

It's not worth the effort.

Even if the claims associated with such practices were entirely correct (which they're not), they pale in comparison to the other areas* to focus on that will subjectively and measurably elevate the performance of your system. That said, focus your efforts were they'll impact the listening experience in hugely significant ways, not with passive bi-amping.

*optimizing the speaker/room interface, lessen decay times in the LF (bass traps), lessen the impact of early/first reflections (treatment panels), address potential SBIR effects, remove very early reflections/diffractive elements around LCRs, reduce modal influences in the sub range by careful sub placement


Bass traps tighten the subjective quality of the bass and smooth the low freq FR, treatment panels clear up the spatial image and smooth the FR, addressing SBIR fills in nulls and smoothes FR, lessening the modal influence reduces peaky one note bass ... smoothing the FR



All too often enthusiasts skip right over well vetted well understood measures that can measurably impact the quality of the experience.

The broadband FR smoothing allows the listener to hear the recording with harmonic integrity, reducing the early reflections allows the listener to hear deep into the soundstage, and as I stated above the bass damping subjectively tightens things up the presentation, assuring the decay occurs as fast as possible relative to the next LF element in the mix.


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Old 02-22-2014, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by fatbottom View Post

Doubt you'll notice it on a av amp bi-amping. Nice speakers, I'd try a amp with proper amplifier stages (generally AV amps sound poor compared to a similar priced 2 channel integrated)

Downside of biamping is extra cost. I'm biamping my Hi-Fi speakers, it's worth it but probably best if you get a single, highr quality more powerful amp in the first place.

The whole point of bi-amping is spltting power supplies, since your av amp shares the same PSU it doesn't make any difference.

Ignore FMW "all amps sound the same" rolleyes.gif

The more i read from you the more i think you are troll. Care to share pictures of all the hi-fi gear you say you own?

 

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Old 02-22-2014, 09:33 AM
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I do agree with FOH that speaker/room interaction should be the 1st step in increasing real and easily perceived improvements in performance.
It's really not that much work but sometimes WAR-wife acceptance ratio is low and may not be practical. biggrin.gif

IMHO bi-amping when done right makes a substantial difference. When I say done right it's using the same make model and power output for the high's and lows. Using two different amps is possible but you would need an active x-over, some expensive test gear and most importantly knowledge.

The benefits from a technical standpoint are the following: by removing the jumpers on the speaker terminals you eliminate low frequency contamination of the high section of thespeaker. This can also be achieved to a lesser degree but still audible from bi-wiring even if the amplifier side is the same set of terminals. Speaker amplification is not a one way process. In simple terms think of it more of a loop. Power that is sent to the speaker is certainly converted to energy in the form of acoustical energy in movement of the drivers as well as a massive loss inside passive x-over. But a large portion of that power is also continuously feedback to the amplifier. It is this feedback that travels across the jumpers that contaminates the x-over/speakers and ultimately effects performance.
The benefits of bi-amping take this a step further in that the high & low frequencies return paths are completely separated as you have two different amplifiers.
You also increase the gauge of the speaker wire(s).

I can clearly hear the benefits of bi-amping and even bi-wiring. It's easy enough to do.
I'd say give it a shot I think you be pleased by the results.
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by trans_lux View Post


The benefits from a technical standpoint are the following: by removing the jumpers on the speaker terminals you eliminate low frequency contamination of the high section of thespeaker.

Huh? Frequency contamination?
Quote:
This can also be achieved to a lesser degree but still audible from bi-wiring even if the amplifier side is the same set of speaker terminals.

You would have a hard time proving that one.
Quote:
Speaker amplification is not a one way process in simple terms think of it more of a loop. Power that is sent to the speaker is certainly converted to energy in the form of movement of the drivers as well as a massive loss inside passive x-over. But a large portion of that power is also continuously feedback to the amplifier. It is this feedback that travels across the jumpers that contaminates the x-over/speakers and ultimately effects performance.
The benefits of bi-amping take this a step further in that the high & low frequencies are completely separated as you have two different amplifiers.
You also increase the gauge of the speaker wire(s).
I can clearly hear the benefits of bi-amping and even bi-wiring. I'd say give it a shot I think you be pleased by the results.

The reason you hear a benefit from passive biamplification is that you failed to compare it with a level matched bias controlled test, not because of anything in the equipment itself. I'm all for the fellow giving it a try. He just needs to do it with accurate information.
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:46 AM
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:53 AM
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Yes, I know. I've read the Vandersteen article before. He actually knows better so I find this article inexcusable. I can excuse audiophiles who don't know any better but an industry icon is either incompetent or a liar if he writes this kind of stuff. It has been disproven time and again. I don't think Vandersteen is incompetent because he designs great speakers. But thanks for posting.
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by trans_lux View Post

I do agree with FOH that speaker/room interaction should be the 1st step in increasing real and easily perceived improvements in performance.
It's really not that much work but sometimes WAR-wife acceptance ratio is low and may not be practical. biggrin.gif

IMHO bi-amping when done right makes a substantial difference. When I say done right it's using the same make model and power output for the high's and lows. Using two different amps is possible but you would need an active x-over, some expensive test gear and most importantly knowledge.

The benefits from a technical standpoint are the following: by removing the jumpers on the speaker terminals you eliminate low frequency contamination of the high section of thespeaker. This can also be achieved to a lesser degree but still audible from bi-wiring even if the amplifier side is the same set of terminals. Speaker amplification is not a one way process. In simple terms think of it more of a loop. Power that is sent to the speaker is certainly converted to energy in the form of acoustical energy in movement of the drivers as well as a massive loss inside passive x-over. But a large portion of that power is also continuously feedback to the amplifier. It is this feedback that travels across the jumpers that contaminates the x-over/speakers and ultimately effects performance.
The benefits of bi-amping take this a step further in that the high & low frequencies return paths are completely separated as you have two different amplifiers.
You also increase the gauge of the speaker wire(s).

I can clearly hear the benefits of bi-amping and even bi-wiring. It's easy enough to do.
I'd say give it a shot I think you be pleased by the results.

Is it best to match amplifier output per amp?

I'm using the same make and brand of amp, but for the bass driver I have swapped over to a 100W model, with 60W for treble driver. They're the same input level,

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Old 02-22-2014, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by trans_lux View Post

I do agree with FOH that speaker/room interaction should be the 1st step in increasing real and easily perceived improvements in performance.
It's really not that much work but sometimes WAR-wife acceptance ratio is low and may not be practical. biggrin.gif

IMHO bi-amping when done right makes a substantial difference. When I say done right it's using the same make model and power output for the high's and lows. Using two different amps is possible but you would need an active x-over, some expensive test gear and most importantly knowledge.

The benefits from a technical standpoint are the following: by removing the jumpers on the speaker terminals you eliminate low frequency contamination of the high section of thespeaker. This can also be achieved to a lesser degree but still audible from bi-wiring even if the amplifier side is the same set of terminals. Speaker amplification is not a one way process. In simple terms think of it more of a loop. Power that is sent to the speaker is certainly converted to energy in the form of acoustical energy in movement of the drivers as well as a massive loss inside passive x-over. But a large portion of that power is also continuously feedback to the amplifier. It is this feedback that travels across the jumpers that contaminates the x-over/speakers and ultimately effects performance.
The benefits of bi-amping take this a step further in that the high & low frequencies return paths are completely separated as you have two different amplifiers.
You also increase the gauge of the speaker wire(s).

I can clearly hear the benefits of bi-amping and even bi-wiring. It's easy enough to do.
I'd say give it a shot I think you be pleased by the results.

Some of the benefits you describe would be true if you are talking about a system using an active crossover.

Without an active crossover there is no benefit. None at all.
However there is a slight chance by using bi-amping can yield some sonic improvement with a weak amplifier design that could not cope with the current draw from the speaker in full range operation to begin with.
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:58 AM
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I can clearly hear the benefits of bi-amping and even bi-wiring. It's easy enough to do.
I'd say give it a shot I think you be pleased by the results.

You only hear the benefits because you expect to hear them, not that they are really there.

It's been proven countless times that passive bi amping does nothing more than use extra wire.

But as long as you're happy that's all that counts.

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Old 02-22-2014, 10:00 AM
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I have to wonder those who say biamping makes no difference have actually got two amplifiers to see for themselves...you aren't going to notice it on a AV amp and low quality speakers.

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Old 02-22-2014, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbottom View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by trans_lux View Post

I do agree with FOH that speaker/room interaction should be the 1st step in increasing real and easily perceived improvements in performance.
It's really not that much work but sometimes WAR-wife acceptance ratio is low and may not be practical. biggrin.gif

IMHO bi-amping when done right makes a substantial difference. When I say done right it's using the same make model and power output for the high's and lows. Using two different amps is possible but you would need an active x-over, some expensive test gear and most importantly knowledge.

The benefits from a technical standpoint are the following: by removing the jumpers on the speaker terminals you eliminate low frequency contamination of the high section of thespeaker. This can also be achieved to a lesser degree but still audible from bi-wiring even if the amplifier side is the same set of terminals. Speaker amplification is not a one way process. In simple terms think of it more of a loop. Power that is sent to the speaker is certainly converted to energy in the form of acoustical energy in movement of the drivers as well as a massive loss inside passive x-over. But a large portion of that power is also continuously feedback to the amplifier. It is this feedback that travels across the jumpers that contaminates the x-over/speakers and ultimately effects performance.
The benefits of bi-amping take this a step further in that the high & low frequencies return paths are completely separated as you have two different amplifiers.
You also increase the gauge of the speaker wire(s).

I can clearly hear the benefits of bi-amping and even bi-wiring. It's easy enough to do.
I'd say give it a shot I think you be pleased by the results.

Is it best to match amplifier output per amp?

I'm using the same make and brand of amp, but for the bass driver I have swapped over to a 100W model, with 60W for treble driver. They're the same input level,

As long as the have the same input level you should be good.
How does it sound?
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Old 02-22-2014, 10:22 AM
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I have 4 amps in my system and in the past I experimented w/passive bi-amping. Tried it w/my Aerial CC-3 center and also my front Aerial 6's no real audio improvement. I was using modified Threshold T-50 Amps which give me 100wpc in Class A. However when I went to my dealer he had a pair of Linn speakers w/active crossovers and the same pair w/out I could tell the difference. For years I owned Thiel speakers and if you notice they all have only 2 terminals in the back. The late Jim Thiel never believed in bi-amping felt it was a waste.smile.gif
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Old 02-22-2014, 10:34 AM
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I have to wonder those who say biamping makes no difference have actually got two amplifiers to see for themselves...you aren't going to notice it on a AV amp and low quality speakers.

Yes, I spent two years doing bias controlled listening tests. While we did use expensive audiophile gear, we learned that the tests are just as valid with lower range equipment. What is audible is audible. What is not is not. In many cases what is not audible becomes audible in the mind of the audiophile. Some well conducted bias controlled tests clear these things up every time.
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Old 02-22-2014, 10:37 AM
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Thiel speakers and if you notice they all have only 2 terminals in the back. The late Jim Thiel never believed in bi-amping felt it was a waste.smile.gif

That is a matter of marketing rather than audio. When one speaker manufacturer does something that sells units, others follow. Whether they actually matter or not has little to do with business.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:16 AM
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Some of the benefits you describe would be true if you are talking about a system using an active crossover.

Without an active crossover there is no benefit. None at all.
However there is a slight chance by using bi-amping can yield some sonic improvement with a weak amplifier design that could not cope with the current draw from the speaker in full range operation to begin with.

There is another potential benefit from what trans_lux was describing.

When the coil of a driver moves backwards and forwards through its magnetic field, it creates a back current. Having a separation of the drivers back to the amp or amps stops that back current feeding into the other drivers as the amp dampens the back current.

You need to keep in mind that a lot of people that actively post in these forums as if they are the ultimate authority on everything still may not necessarily know what they are talking about. For example FMW here as of only a few months ago didn't understand basic crossover design and thus didn't realise there could be a complete separation of power delivery to the individual drivers.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:33 AM
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My contention, even if it did make a difference, its minuscule compared to the well understood and easily measurable area of the speaker room interface.

I mean peaks and dips of 20dB-30dB! Room acoustics is where the gold is ...

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Old 02-22-2014, 11:39 AM
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My contention, even if it did make a difference, its minuscule compared to the well understood and easily measurable area of the speaker room interface.

I mean peaks and dips of 20dB-30dB! Room acoustics is where the gold is ...

Of course. I fully agree.

It doesn't make the two things mutually exclusive though.

Someone can still bi-amp their speakers and also work on ironing out those peaks and dips.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:54 AM
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Of course. I fully agree.

It doesn't make the two things mutually exclusive though.

Someone can still bi-amp their speakers and also work on ironing out those peaks and dips.

True

Realistically, moving from an avr, to a passive biamp scenario, would take four amp channels, so $1k minimum.

Take that subjective or measurable product up against $1k in bass trap and one panel per sidewall ... treatment.

Thats why I suggest even if gains could be had with passive biamping, the effort is relatively misplaced.

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Old 02-22-2014, 11:59 AM
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I have to wonder those who say biamping makes no difference have actually got two amplifiers to see for themselves...
I probably own as many amps, and speakers for that matter, as you do shirts. And pants. Probably socks too. smile.gif
And I have one of these:



Do you? rolleyes.gif

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Old 02-22-2014, 12:18 PM
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I probably own as many amps, and speakers for that matter, as you do shirts. And pants. Probably socks too. smile.gif

I doubt that.

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Old 02-22-2014, 12:23 PM
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I doubt that.

I don't. When an experience speaker designer tells me that, I believe him. LOL

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Old 02-22-2014, 12:23 PM
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Bi amping is suscecptible to a lot of issues that are often not worth dealing with unless you REALLY know what you are doing... Not just randomly throwing amplifiers in there without a specific goal. I would much rather a manufacturer perfect the speaker interaction between drivers with a coherent strategy of crossovers, etc.

Active mulit-amping has definite benefits in theory but most likely if the manufacturer sells you all the amplifiers with multiple digital crossover networks and DA conversion at the end.

There are a few manufacturers that do this more or less... Meridian comes to mind.

The likelhood is low that the end user can accomplish better results without being an avid speaker builder / DYI person. There is a community for this if you are hardcore tweaker and have a great ear for these details.

Blazar!
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies... Seems like this is a hotly debated topic, ha ha. Right now I'm leaning towards giving it a shot simply because I have an extra set of cables lying around, and from what I'm gathering, the worst-case scenario is that it's pointless, but doesn't hurt anything. Best-case, perhaps I experience a small-to-negligable advantage. Muddling around behind the setup is always good for a fun few minutes anyway...

Looking at the several replies concerning speaker/room interface, I can say that this is something that has long been on my mind... Unfortunately, it is what it is. The girl is a designer, and she likes that vintage 20's industrial thing... Lots of tobacco leather upholstery, distressed wood and metals. Tables made from repurposed factory carts, etc. etc. So hard surfaces abound. Google "Timothy Oulton", you'll get the idea. Not optimal.

But the space itself is I think the worse offender in terms of speaker/room interface. The entire lower floor is an open space design, 30 foot ceilings, and polished cement floors. Roughly half of one wall is a roll-up glass garage door, the other half is mostly fixed glass. Then there's open loft-type criss-cross suspended stairs going up four stories, meaning all those levels are somewhat open to the lower area as well. Top it all of with massive sheets of suspended glass every little bit up the stairs. The interior is a nightmare for sound design... I've had little luck. But I would be very grateful for suggestions from guys dealing with similar spaces/issues...
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