Speaker search - difficult loft space - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-25-2014, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
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After a few years of dealing with other priorities, I'm starting to take baby steps toward setting up a surround system in my loft. The condo is a great fit for me in many ways, but it's an awkward fit at best for audio gear -- and my tastes in the past have tended toward things that really need more space than I can give them. So this time, I am intending to work backwards from the room, identify speakers that will work well in this challenging space, and start auditioning from there. I'd really appreciate the voice of some experience as I begin to figure this out.

The room
I've thrown together a diagram of the room (below), with major pieces of furniture and some potential speaker positions identified. The main living space is essentially a large angled "L" with the TV at the end of the short leg. To the left of the image is the rest of the kitchen and the entry hall. The wall behind the armchair is a ~4' knee wall with glass above, which lets light into the room behind; there's a niche beneath one end where my components will probably go.
Ceilings and floor are concrete; ceiling height is about 11' in the listening area. Front and back walls are about 24' apart. This is a room with a lot of hard surfaces; I'm sure I'll need some room correction.
The two biggest challenges I see are:
  • Lack of separation on the front L/R speakers. I have them positioned about as far apart as possible in the drawing. In these positions, I will probably have to move them occasionally for access to things.
  • Very limited position options for side surrounds. I have been thinking this over for years, and the positions where I have drawn the speakers are really the only places where they can go. They are about 120°, which is slightly further back than is ideal. Moreover, there is limited space in these locations; the surrounds need to be small, probably monopole speakers. (Something the size of an NHT Super Zero would be ideal.)



My taste
I have owned a handful of speakers over the years, and listened to quite a few more. My placeholder system is an older Onkyo receiver driving a pair of Vandersteen 1Bs I stumbled into on Craigslist many years ago for a song. I generally like the color of them, but they lack definition. I also ran a pair of small Tannoy bookshelves as a music system for several years.
My only previous attempt at surround was an Energy Take 5.1 system (I think it's what they're selling now as the Take Classic); I bought it for a previous, even more difficult apartment, and was never satisfied with it. It is now doing a good job in my parents' den.
I've always lusted after planars (Magnepans and a few Martin-Logans) but I've never had the room for them, and certainly don't now. I've also been fond of bigger and newer Vandersteens when I've heard them. Oddly, I've heard a few older Klipsch systems I liked. I remember thinking nice things about Linn Tukans, and some Vienna Acoustics systems.

Current thoughts
  • Because of the difficult positioning at the front of the room, I am mainly looking into fairly small speakers with sealed or front-ported designs, and at systems that have inconspicuous surrounds. My current Vandersteens are really too clunky -- though I would not rule out smaller towers.
  • I expect to get a receiver with the best room correction I can; that's actually likely to be my first purchase.

System goals
  • I will probably use the system 75% for home theater, and 25% for music. However, my ear is much more particular about music, and vocals specifically. So I am looking to spend more of my budget on the front channels.
  • I do not need reference volume levels or earth-shaking bass. I want my neighbors to like me.
  • I've drawn a 7.1 system, but I'm not married to that configuration.
  • I don't have a strict budget in mind, though $400-500 each is probably the target for the L/C/R. I would be thrilled to spend less.

I thank everyone in advance for their help and patience smile.gif

-- Dan
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-25-2014, 11:22 PM
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Smaller towers ... look at Golden Ear Triton 7s for the front pair. There is also a center channel speaker (SuperCenter X) that matches them. These are all above your target price, but the good news is the four surrounds (SuperSat 3 / Invisa) are much less, so it evens out..

Here's a review that may help: http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/goldenear-technology-triton-seven-loudspeaker/?page=1

Trying to duplicate the smoothness of the Vandersteen sound is problematic. Perhaps Totem (arrows? dreamcatcher?). They have a similar richness in their sound quality, and will give you more detail, as you described. I don't know what to do about the surrounds .... mites?

Sub?

Also, I would hold off on your receiver purchase until you select your speakers ... just in case the speakers have any special requirements (low impedance, lots of power, whatever).

Difficult environment, to say the least! The requirement for inconspicuous surrounds also eliminates a plethora of possibilities. Hopefully, some other folks will chime in with some additional options.

How much room do you have on each side of the tv (between the bookshelves)? Perhaps some on-wall type speaker that could be moved in and out of the tv cubby with a couple of articulating wall mounts ?
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-26-2014, 06:06 AM
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For surrounds, I would consider an on-wall speaker. Like these:

http://www.aperionaudio.com/speakers-by-type/surround-speakers/intimus-4bp-bipole-surround-speaker

Or maybe go with the NHT on-wall speakers.

I don't know what those cabinets/bookshelves look like (can you post some pictures of the room?) but the room is so compromised, I would put the left and right speakers in the bookshelves. There are several talented speaker builders on this forum who could design a custom size speakers with no baffle step compensation to work well inside a bookcase. And this would allow you to position them farther apart. You could then build a center speaker to match. Again the crossover could be tailored to the positioning.

I just think putting small towers in those locations isn't worth it. They are way to close together and I think having to move them to get into the cabinet will be a pain the the you-know-what. Plus I don't think it will look good. Again, anything you do will be a big compromise sonically, so I would work with the room's setup and aesthetics.

I think aesthetically, unless you're willing to get a new sized/shape couch and get rid of the chair, this would work best.

I agree, buy the receiver last. And I don't think you need to break the bank on that. The speakers are WAY more important.

And then there's the sub. I would consider two and play with placements. You have a lot of options. It would be hard to know without some sort of measurements to determine where to put them.

Good luck.

Little Loft Home Theater
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post #4 of 6 Old 04-26-2014, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies! Here is a lightly (and poorly) photoshopped image of the space. (The TV isn't on the wall yet, and I have some of the floating shelves removed at the moment, but this is what it should look like.) The large cabinets on the left are the source of most of my trouble. I'm also reminded just how much I need to repaint that wall and replace the blinds...

I'm not at all set on towers; I just figured smaller ones might be able to be moved out of the way more easily than bookshelves on stands. I am entirely open to much smaller speakers, though.

The space on the sides of the TV is pretty limited -- about 8" on each side. I may be able to reconfigure the shelves on the right to get that to about 12-14".

I have a decent number of inconspicuous places I could put subs -- two smaller ones is my inclination.

The in-cabinet idea is intriguing -- I could relocate the contents of my liquor cabinet (pictured) and remove those two doors without changing the aesthetics much. The only catch is that the left side speaker would be in a cabinet, and the center and right side speakers not.

(dftkell -- different kind of loft, but I love the looks of your setup, particularly the tulip tables as speaker stands. I have tulip chairs in the dining area.)

-- Dan
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-26-2014, 07:00 PM
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The large cabinet is definitely the source of your problems. And to be honest, it also just dominates the space. Would you consider getting rid of it? This would open up a lot of possibilities.

If not, I would consider getting a sound bar. I don't see any other solution that won't look clumsy and most likely not sound good due to the space restrictions.

Little Loft Home Theater
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-27-2014, 10:56 AM
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+1 ^^^^
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