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post #1 of 10 Old Yesterday, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Building a speaker system in a small room (I have no idea what I'm doing)

Budget: $5,000 for speakers, amp, etc.
Interests: Music only
Existing Equipment: Schiit Yggdrasil, Schiit Mjolnir, Sennheiser HD800
Room Size: ~10x9x8, no adjacent open areas
Placement restrictions: Pretty much can only point to one side of room because of windows and doors
Aesthetic or Size Concerns: Nope
Sonic Signature: I prioritize detail retrieval/resolution and neutrality

So I'm thinking of turning an empty room in my house into a dedicated listening room. The problem is that it's a very small square room with wood floors. We're talking something like 720 cubic feet here. Unfortunately, this room is my only real option in my house for a listening room.

Right now, I'm really only into headphone audio. My current headphone is the HD800 with a Schiit Mjolnir. I'd want to get as close to those in perfomance as possible, especially in regards to resolution and detail retrieval. I'm big on neutrality, but I like to avoid treble nasties whenever possible.

My budget for the speakers, amps, and related accessories would probably be in the $5,000 range. I've done some googling, but I'm still not sure what I should be looking at.

Is there any point in pursuing this, or am I so limited by my room size and shape that I should just stick to headphones?

Last edited by evanft; Yesterday at 12:36 PM.
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post #2 of 10 Old Yesterday, 04:29 PM
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I recently went through this same thing in a 10x10x7 room.
I went through 4 sets of speakers before I found a set that works really well in such a small space.
PSB, DT, Silverline, and B&W -
I ended up keeping the Harbeth p3esr. These are sealed British monitor speakers and they are fantastic at both high and LOW volume. Fatigue was an issue with all the other speakers. I have tinnitus and it was aggravated by all but the Harbeth – probably due mostly to the room.
I currently have an NAD D3020 (for sale if you want it) driving them and it works really well and sounds great. I have an NAD C356BEE with DAC on the way for a bit more headroom, but to be honest – I don’t need it in a room this size. Not sure why I’m doing this but that’s what we do… I’m not even sure it will be an upgrade.
I play via an Airport Express or, for lossless files and CDs – via the OPPO 103– This is also a great CD transport and BR player. It supports all of the disk and file formats that I know of and has a network connection for NAS access.
You should be able to do very well for 5K
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post #3 of 10 Old Yesterday, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJK1 View Post
I recently went through this same thing in a 10x10x7 room.
I went through 4 sets of speakers before I found a set that works really well in such a small space.
PSB, DT, Silverline, and B&W -
I ended up keeping the Harbeth p3esr. These are sealed British monitor speakers and they are fantastic at both high and LOW volume. Fatigue was an issue with all the other speakers. I have tinnitus and it was aggravated by all but the Harbeth – probably due mostly to the room.
I currently have an NAD D3020 (for sale if you want it) driving them and it works really well and sounds great. I have an NAD C356BEE with DAC on the way for a bit more headroom, but to be honest – I don’t need it in a room this size. Not sure why I’m doing this but that’s what we do… I’m not even sure it will be an upgrade.
I play via an Airport Express or, for lossless files and CDs – via the OPPO 103– This is also a great CD transport and BR player. It supports all of the disk and file formats that I know of and has a network connection for NAS access.
You should be able to do very well for 5K
Thanks for the reply, but the Harbeth may be stretching the budget a little.

I've ballparked some of my budget:

$600 Amp: Rega Brio-R (used est.)
$300 Windows 8.1 tablet (used est.)
$300 Listening chair
$50 Extension cords
$200 Power stuff (conditioner or whatever, if needed)
$500 Room treatments
$100 Speaker stands
$100 Misc. crap

I'm taking a hard look at the KEF LS50. They go for $1,500 new, $1,000 used. They're apparently right up my alley, sound-wise. I also may need to add a sub, and that's another easy $500.
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post #4 of 10 Old Yesterday, 05:19 PM
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I listened to the LS50 for about an hour when I was demoing the NAD - They sounded great.
I would have bought them before the Harbeth but I wanted to try something sealed. I would not be able to give the LS50 enough space and my Dog lives in my den when I’m at work so the lack of a grill would be an issue too J -they did sound really nice at the dealer and can be driven hard.
Don’t be surprised if you have trouble with a sub in such a small space – I couldn’t make one work and I really don’t miss it. The room is a sub woofer.
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post #5 of 10 Old Yesterday, 05:43 PM
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post #6 of 10 Old Yesterday, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanft View Post
Thanks for the reply, but the Harbeth may be stretching the budget a little.

I've ballparked some of my budget:

$600 Amp: Rega Brio-R (used est.)
$300 Windows 8.1 tablet (used est.)
$300 Listening chair
$50 Extension cords
$200 Power stuff (conditioner or whatever, if needed)
$500 Room treatments
$100 Speaker stands
$100 Misc. crap

I'm taking a hard look at the KEF LS50. They go for $1,500 new, $1,000 used. They're apparently right up my alley, sound-wise. I also may need to add a sub, and that's another easy $500.
I don't know why you want to use the Rega amp, a great deal of that pricing is for phono stage components and you seem to be only using the windows tablet as your source. If I were you, I would get an AVR that has room correction, preferably Audyssey. Since you apparently only have 1 source, you could skip the amp or receiver altogether. By doing this, one thing you could do is buy Dirac Live software, and get powered speakers and a good sound interface for a PC. This will make your signal chain much simpler and help the sound to be much more neutral. If you say you like neutral, well powered studio monitors tend to be neutral. I would be looking at some Mackie HR824 mk2s. Those are very neutral, so much so that they are THX pm3 certified, which means you can use them to produce THX content- a high bar of performance and accuracy. Another good monitor is the Emotiva Stealth 8. The Adam A7x is also quite good.

A couple of other notes: don't buy a power conditioner, that is audiophile nonsense. The only thing I would get for something along those lines is an uninterruptible power supply for the computer. You definitely do not need a $200 one. Also I don't know why you have budgeted out extension cords if your room is as small as you have stated. On the other hand, I do think a good listening chair can set you back more than 300, depending on how comfortable and stylish you need it. I would get a nice big comfortable low back chair for listening. A high back chair will screw up the sound arriving at your ears with a lot of first order acoustic reflections.

If you decide you need a sub, get something better than a $500 sub if you actually do want neutral performance, depending on what you listen to. If you only listen to folk music, you won't need a sub at all with a speaker like the LS50 or Mackie monitor. If you like bass heavy music like electronic music, organ music, hip hop, reggea, etc, you will want a good sub, and I would recommend the Hsu VTF2 mk4 or Rythmik LV12r. If you like your bass loud and punchy, you will want a Reaction Echo 15 or Hsu VTF3 mk5.
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post #7 of 10 Old Today, 12:17 AM
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Check out Golden Ear Triton series (especially the Five, if you can find it). Also consider the Ascend Sierra series (1 or 2). Lastly, look at Chane ARX series (A5?).

As to the sub, I would go with a sealed design in a room that small, or just forgo a sub altogether. A room that size will be problematic, so be sure to budget for some rugs, curtains, and a few on-wall and corner room treatments!

As to the idea that speakers can perform like headphones, sorry to say ... you're just tilting at windmills.

Last edited by RayGuy; Today at 12:43 AM.
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post #8 of 10 Old Today, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post
I don't know why you want to use the Rega amp, a great deal of that pricing is for phono stage components and you seem to be only using the windows tablet as your source. If I were you, I would get an AVR that has room correction, preferably Audyssey. Since you apparently only have 1 source, you could skip the amp or receiver altogether. By doing this, one thing you could do is buy Dirac Live software, and get powered speakers and a good sound interface for a PC. This will make your signal chain much simpler and help the sound to be much more neutral. If you say you like neutral, well powered studio monitors tend to be neutral. I would be looking at some Mackie HR824 mk2s. Those are very neutral, so much so that they are THX pm3 certified, which means you can use them to produce THX content- a high bar of performance and accuracy. Another good monitor is the Emotiva Stealth 8. The Adam A7x is also quite good.
The Mackies are certainly on my radar. The Rega amp is mostly just a placeholder to take up space in the budget. Obviously, if I get powered speakers, I won't get one.

I won't need a sound interface for a PC. I plan on using the tablet to stream music from my main machine upstairs and hook it to the Yggdrasil via USB.

Has Audyssey gotten better? My HR receiver from 2011 has it, but I preferred the sound without the correction.

Room correction has certainly been on my radar, I just don't know where to start with it.

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Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post
A couple of other notes: don't buy a power conditioner, that is audiophile nonsense. The only thing I would get for something along those lines is an uninterruptible power supply for the computer. You definitely do not need a $200 one. Also I don't know why you have budgeted out extension cords if your room is as small as you have stated.
Not all the outlets in my house are grounded. I have a grounded outlet (I had it confirmed by an electrician when I moved in) in a room next to the listening room, so I need an extension cord.

The power conditioner, like the amp, is a budget placeholder just in case. As you said, it's probably not needed.

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Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post
On the other hand, I do think a good listening chair can set you back more than 300, depending on how comfortable and stylish you need it. I would get a nice big comfortable low back chair for listening. A high back chair will screw up the sound arriving at your ears with a lot of first order acoustic reflections.
I'll probably just get something on clearance from a furniture store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post
If you decide you need a sub, get something better than a $500 sub if you actually do want neutral performance, depending on what you listen to. If you only listen to folk music, you won't need a sub at all with a speaker like the LS50 or Mackie monitor. If you like bass heavy music like electronic music, organ music, hip hop, reggea, etc, you will want a good sub, and I would recommend the Hsu VTF2 mk4 or Rythmik LV12r. If you like your bass loud and punchy, you will want a Reaction Echo 15 or Hsu VTF3 mk5.
Added to the list. I was looking at the SVS SB-2000, actually, because of its apparently high price/performance ratio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Check out Golden Ear Triton series (especially the Five, if you can find it). Also consider the Ascend Sierra series (1 or 2). Lastly, look at Chane ARX series (A5?).
The Ascend Sierra Series 2 reference are very much on my radar. I think the Tritons are a little too big for my room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
As to the sub, I would go with a sealed design in a room that small, or just forgo a sub altogether. A room that size will be problematic, so be sure to budget for some rugs, curtains, and a few on-wall and corner room treatments!
Very much so.
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post #9 of 10 Old Today, 09:34 AM
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Buy these - sell off what you don't want. You'll be miles ahead of brand new and they are a fantastic speaker. I know - I own a pair. No sub needed unless you are a bass-head.

When all else fails - RTFM!
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post #10 of 10 Old Today, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanft View Post
I won't need a sound interface for a PC. I plan on using the tablet to stream music from my main machine upstairs and hook it to the Yggdrasil via USB.
What it looks like you can do is run Dirac Live on your upstairs PC. Dirac is supposedly much better than even the highest end version of Audyssey. Here is a thread about Dirac, although it incorporates miniDSP. I think it is worth looking into for yourself. If I were to redo my setup, this is what I would do today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evanft View Post
Has Audyssey gotten better? My HR receiver from 2011 has it, but I preferred the sound without the correction.

Room correction has certainly been on my radar, I just don't know where to start with it.
There are different levels of Audyssey. The lowest version of Audyssey doesn't have the resolution of the higher versions, or all the bells and whistles. The highest version is MultiEQ XT32 with the SubEQ. Another thing is, Audyssey can give you poor results if you don't run it carefully. Here is a setup guide that will help with that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by evanft View Post
Added to the list. I was looking at the SVS SB-2000, actually, because of its apparently high price/performance ratio.
The SB2000 isn't bad, but it isn't an output monster. The Reaction Gamma Gamma 15 or Hsu VTF3 mk5 is waaay high in price/performance ratio. They are less than $200 more, but offer multiple times the performance of the SB2000. The SB2000 is good if you compare it to other brick and mortar brands like Deftech or Polk, but it doesn't compare well against some other manufacture direct brands. Even if you don't need all the output of these 15" subs, there are very substantial sound quality advantages to these larger subs over a little sealed 12". You will have very clean and effortless bass, and the subs will be much less likely to have reliability problems because they will be taxed far less to reproduce the same content. They will also be more efficient, so they will eat up less electricity for the same loudness levels as a small sealed 12".
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