Speaker Calibration for Non-Ideal Set-up - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-25-2012, 06:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi All,

I have my system in a second floor condo, in a room that is fairly open and, due to space constraints and girlfriend "input," I am unable to wire a proper 5.1 setup. As a result, I have all speakers at the front of the room. Here is the equipment:


Receiver: Pioneer VSX-820
Right and Left Front: Polk Monitor 40s
Right and Left Rear: Polk Monitor 30s
Center: Polk CS1 Series II
Sub: Polk PSW10

I am wondering how to maximize performance in the current setup. I usually run the receiver in Extreme Stereo mode and the sound is clean and strong. For movies, I'll set it to Pure Direct and this creates adequate separation and a mild surround effect. I always feel, however, that, for the equipment, the sound is not as impressive as it should be. Now, I realize the equipment is not great but I have heard $199.00 HTIB setups with more impact. Is there any kind of modification I can make to the receiver to improve performance with the current speaker placement? I have included a very basic drawing for reference. The two large rectangles indicate the seating positions. The rest, hopefully, should be clear.

Thanks as always! TVsetup.png 11k .png file
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-25-2012, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by wcladley View Post

Hi All,
As a result, I have all speakers at the front of the room.

Why? (...do you have all speakers at the front of the room?) eek.gifeek.gifeek.gif
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-25-2012, 05:21 PM
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due to space constraints and girlfriend "input," I am unable to wire a proper 5.1 setup.

As JF says, "Heres your sign" lol.
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-25-2012, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I have all of the speakers at the front of the room because, right now, there is simply no other option. Due to "girlfriend input," I cannot run wires to the back of the room to mount the rear-speakers, and space constraints prevent the subwoofer from being placed anywhere except behind and to the right of the main speakers and TV. Given these considerations, is there any way to improve the sound beyond its current, more or less acceptable state? For instance, should I be setting the crossover higher or lower in this setup?
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-25-2012, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcladley View Post

Hi All,
I have my system in a second floor condo, in a room that is fairly open and, due to space constraints and girlfriend "input," I am unable to wire a proper 5.1 setup. As a result, I have all speakers at the front of the room. Here is the equipment:
Receiver: Pioneer VSX-820
Right and Left Front: Polk Monitor 40s
Right and Left Rear: Polk Monitor 30s
Center: Polk CS1 Series II
Sub: Polk PSW10
I am wondering how to maximize performance in the current setup. I usually run the receiver in Extreme Stereo mode and the sound is clean and strong. For movies, I'll set it to Pure Direct and this creates adequate separation and a mild surround effect. I always feel, however, that, for the equipment, the sound is not as impressive as it should be. Now, I realize the equipment is not great but I have heard $199.00 HTIB setups with more impact. Is there any kind of modification I can make to the receiver to improve performance with the current speaker placement? I have included a very basic drawing for reference. The two large rectangles indicate the seating positions. The rest, hopefully, should be clear.
Thanks as always! TVsetup.png 11k .png file

You want to listen to Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital True HD, DTS, DTS Master HD when possible. Use HDMI for all of your source's. For the time being, I would disconnect the surround speakers and pack them up. Concentrate on a 3.1 system. Create a good front sound stage, by separating and towing in the left and right speakers towards the listening area. Try to keep the tweeters in the left, center, and right speakers at seated ear level. If you were to draw a circle starting at the center channel speaker, your left and right speakers would be pulled forward a bit and towed in pointing toward the seats. If the "other half" will let you do the subwoofer "crawl test" and place the sub accordingly, perhaps you can get the system kicking.
Can you get the receiver menu up on the TV screen? If so tell it "yes" for left, center, and right speakers, "yes" for subwoofer, and "no" for surrounds. Set the crossover to around 80HZ (redirecting all bass below 80HZ to the sub), and choose "small" for your three front speakers. Set the delay for any speakers that need it. Use a Sound Pressure level meter to balance the volume for all speakers.

Once you get the 3.1 performing like it should, start a new investigation into wireless surround.

Espo77
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-27-2012, 09:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Espo77. That made a difference.
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-27-2012, 12:06 PM
 
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..i don't really comprehend all of what was said in this thread.
i realize wireless speakers are suggested whenever somebody doesn't want to run wires to the rear speakers, but if the speakers are placed on stands in the rear of the room .. they physically exist no matter if they are wireless or wired.

i certainly suggest the rear speakers be placed behind the listening position to get a real 'behind' feel when they play audio.
i've had surround on the sides and i always hated it because my mother was close to one surround speaker and i was close to the other surround speaker and i kept the levels equal for the middle of the room .. and well, i didnt like it one bit that the speaker was blasting audio into each of our ears.
it was like that partially because the couch was on the wall and i didn't raise the speakers up above ear height.
i think if other people share the same problem, they really need to lift the speakers up high.
it should be noted that the rear speakers shouldn't need their volume lowered one single bit (unless the speakers are a magnitude more sensitive than the front speakers).
if you lower the volume of the rear speakers, it doesn't make the listener near the speaker any more happy when they can't hear the opposite surround speaker.
it also doesn't do a single bit of good to lower the volume in the large gap of air between the middle speakers, because the area needs to fill up with sound since listening is the objective.

looking at the picture, it doesn't appear like there is any room for you to place the speakers on the sides.. and that is rather a good thing because of what i said above.
however, the same mistake can happen when placing the surround speakers behind the couch.. the speaker is too close to one listener and it is obnoxiously loud from the speaker they are sitting close to, and the other speaker is obviously not as loud.
it really doesn't amount to a pleasant experience.
the only way to make the problem go away is to place the surround speakers further away from the listeners, that way it gives the speakers some air & distance to blend more smoothly together (in terms of volume).
and the only way to do that is to place them back further, or place them up higher.
if you place them up high enough that the speaker's require being tilted, you should tilt them towards the center of the space between you and the television.. not aimed directly at the listening position as most people suggest.
the reason for that is to help the room fill up with the ambient sounds that the surround speakers provide.
when they are pointed at the listening position, the room can't fill up as much and the ambience is depreciated.
i suggest the same instructions for the front speakers, no matter how far apart they are - they should be pointed at the center of the area between you and the television.
the reason for that is simple.. the speaker's output soundwaves and those waves can add up together to build pressure, and that pressure can help build a stronger stage (not just a front stage, but the entire ambient stage in the whole room).
if you point everything to the listening position, that places you in the mix(in the way) of the pressure, and what the pressure is trying to do gets tripped up on the listener's legs, the couch, and the listeners heads.

it shouldn't be hard to grasp.. if you are pointing the speakers all to one spot, there is going to be a dome of audio.
but what people don't realize is, they aren't to be sitting inside of a 'dome' that resides in the room .. it is an improvement to allow the entire room to become that dome.

although this might be harder to grasp, it certainly needs to be said..
if you are trying to listen from a dome residing in the room, that dome will be a room that is constantly fighting with the other area outside of the dome.
first of all, the pressure isn't strong enough to fight off the bouncing soundwaves from the rest of the room.
second of all, the audio engineering technique is designed to use soundwaves already casted out into the air.
so if you are going by one of the dolby guides for speaker placement, you are allowing the first layer of soundwaves to become beaten and distorted by all of the bouncing soundwaves from the rest of the room .. and when the second layer of soundwaves reaches out to the first layer to combine and create the audio engineered effect .. your results are much lower because of the damage done to the first layer of soundwaves.

the reason why those speaker setup guides look the same (and the reason why they always show the 'allowable' degrees of adjustment) is because of the speaker's phase mixing with the phase of the room.
adjustable degrees of angle means there is an opportunity to move the speakers and adjust the way the two individual instances of phase combine.. and it can be thought of as a phase tweak much like the variable phase knob on the subwoofer amplifiers.
the reason those phase knobs exist is to allow the owner to place the subwoofer wherever they want or need it, and be able to adjust the phase without moving the speaker around in the 'allowable' angle given in their example.

a trained audio installer will suggest one simple thing.. and that is the exact placement, as well as positioning, of the speakers to make the speakers smack into the echo of the room at a precise attempt.
and you can vision that here like this..
picture the room like a donut, the center hole is the dome of audio because all the speakers are pointed to it.. and the ring of the donut is the rest of the room.
what the audio installer looks at is the phase inside the hole, and compares it with the phase from the donut ring .. then they look at their chart and adjust the speakers by moving them sideways a little bit and|or twisting the speaker until the phase in the hole lines up the way they want it to with the donut ring.
it is really a very cheap snake oil trick that costs way more than it is worth (especially considering nowadays the receivers come with distance delay).
the guide is there for a time when there wasn't any distance delay .. and the guide is also there for people who don't know or care about doing something to help the room become one solid piece instead of the two individual pieces in the donut example.

the most common suggestion is to get some sound absorbers for the walls (or put dents in the corner of the room using a triangle panel)
but the other way to do it is in my signature.

and for what it is worth..
those with the triangle pieces in the corners of the room weren't given the whole truth.
yes, those triangle pieces in the front corners do a lot .. but only if the front speaker is there in front of it or off to the side a little bit, because then the sound panel can absorb all the opposite phase from the speaker.
but truth be told.. not all rooms are shaped the same, and when you are looking at the speaker as if there isn't any speakerbox behind the cone .. it makes easy sense that there are reflections back there (they would be opposite phase soundwaves).
but sometimes the room's shape (furniture too) can steer the way the soundwaves bounce around and the phase in the corner isn't opposite and thus not as destructive.

there are pro's that will say something about any specific pair of speakers (talking about their phase, as well as any dips or peaks in the frequency response) ..because once they know that, then they know if the triangle piece is going to help a huge amount or if the triangle piece is a serious waste of money.

now think about this for a second..
the audio is designed to work with at least 3 corners (one for positive, one for neutral, and one for negative).
most people don't know or comprehend anything at all about why they would choose to put triangles in the corner from the wall to the ceiling (vertically) compared to in the corner where the ceiling touches the wall (horizontally).
but i will tell you that reason..
if you place the triangles up where the ceiling touches the wall at a 45 degree angle.. then the ceiling won't be able to fill up with all the nasty sound reflections AND it helps hold the pressure of the room downwards.
...if you are thinking that is the absolute best choice for floorstanding speakers, you are correct.
you put one strip across the entire ceiling in front of you, and then run one strip down the entire wall for the two side walls.
you leave the back wall behind you without a strip because that is where you want the soundwaves to collect .. because you can't hear them as much when your ears are angled forward.

if you are thinking you should put a triangle piece in all four corners from the floor to the ceiling to use with speakers that are on a stand (they are halfway from the floor and halfway from the ceiling) .. you may or may not be correct.
and here is the reason for that..
every corner of the room has the opportunity to smash and grind the soundwaves together to make them cancel eachother out ... but that also means they have the opportunity to make those soundwaves louder.
what does that all amount to?
it means there is a ring above your head making loud noise.. and that noise stretches from one side of the room to the other (as well as from the front of the room to the back).

the triangles in the corner from floor to ceiling can help make it so the noise doesn't stretch the entire length of the room.. but if the person isn't trained to use them correctly, it can actually sometimes make the noise from the ring worse (stretched down the length of the strip more).
(i know because it is a trick to get the audio to sound like it is playing from the ceiling only .. compared to using the triangles on the ceiling that can also make the trick happen, except the triangles on the ceiling can help make the entire roof play audio that is louder and less flat sounding)

and when you take into account the two front corners of the room will have a 45 degree angle cut into each strip.. that little pocket is like a half of a ball and it really does a good job of canceling out the ringing of the room to lower your RT60 time.
(..and yes there are situations where the balls in the corner does the exact opposite, and that comes back to where the speakers are located, and where they are pointed at in the room)

i'm telling you all of this to give you a reason, instead of simply saying 'put cardboard triangles up near the ceiling'
but i think if you put triangles up where the room itself already has a triangle on the right.. you might actually give yourself some unwanted accumulation in that corner.
..but then again, i dont know what that large rectangle is by the subwoofer on the right.. it might help kill reflected soundwaves or it might help grow nasty reflections specific to that corner of the room.
(and i think this is when the room treatment seller gets paid to get in there and learn if it is better or worse)
but any cardboard will do, especially if you've already got some lying around or easily obtainable.

i think maybe you will need to leave the strip out of where the corner in the room is.. or maybe leave the strip off the right wall where the rectangle is .. it should be one or the other, and it could help you get your system sounding better (and that is what you asked about).

if you can see the reason why adjusting the toe in or angle of the speaker location can help or make things worse .. then you know what you are looking for and what you are trying to accomplish.
as you move them about.. the room will sound like it is all ringing and blended together at one end of the scale, and on the opposite end of the scale is, well, the opposite.
funny though, because one pair of speakers might make the room ring and blend together.. but another pair of speakers in the exact same location with the exact same amount of twist could actually sound the most clean.

it is a lot of the reason why people don't ever seem to get good full advice on the forums.. because every single situation is (or can be) different.
there are only a few things that remain consistent from one situation to the next.. and that is helping the speakers interact with the room better .... no matter if it is sound absorbers, an equalizer, inverted impulse responses, the panel in the crack trick, or any mixture in the list.
because other than that.. there isn't anything else to suggest other than better speakers, better amplifier, or better music files.

really..
if you wanted to mentally visualize what the panel in the crack trick does.. imagine being in an empty room without 'em and you hear the ringing of the room and as you listen to the ring of the room it has this twinkle to it (for small rooms without any fabric).. and that twinkle goes away along with a lower RT60 time.
for larger rooms, the twinkle is still there sometimes (depending on room size) .. otherwise the room rings with a belch of bass instead of a twinkle, and those panels make the belch less rich and muddy as it lowers the RT60 time.
(kinda like the difference between today's muddy screaming subwoofers compared to the 12 or 15 inch woofers from the 1960's or 70's)

i wouldn't go any smaller than 7.5ft ceiling = 7inch panel
and you could also experiment with the triangle wood trim (or plastic) that fhey sell to put in the corner .. it is about 1 inch thick.
it could help (or make a bit worse) the treble in the room.


now with that said you can make modifications to get better sound from your system.
if you still need more (and it isn't possible to do those without seeing an improvement, as long as you follow all the options in comas) then you would need to look at the amplifier.
it might be cheaper to take it to an electronics repair shop (should be) and have them upgrade the performance of the amplifier.
doing the equalizer (especially with impulse response files done according to my signature) should help those speakers sound remarkably better.
it is rare and expensive to simply drop in some speakers and the frequency response is already lined up to work with the room to equal a flat frequency response.

sound absorbers are bad when they soak up the soundwave without allowing the soundwave to bounce off of it.
it is more destruction for the first layer of soundwaves, causing the second layer to lose it's grip as the effect grows dull.
but that is explained more in the thread in my signature.
anybody that argues the fact simply doesn't know reason, or they are hiding the truth from you.

that seems to be every single thing of information for you to get better sound (you or anybody else).
but did you say something about hiding the speaker wire under one of those rubber flaps that are made to allow wires to be stepped on?
they make 'em in different widths and they look a whole lot better than wires ran down the edge where the floor meets the wall.. and if you don't care, those strips don't really need to go along the wall unless they are actually causing sound to be heard from the floor (or seriously screwing up the phase of the room, causing it to ring more bringing up your RT60 time again).

i'll probably refer to this post again for other people to take note of what they can do quickly to get better sound out of their system.
it's bothersome when many people openly suggest sound absorbers, but not a single one of them tells you about needing reverb to bring back the 3D audio effects because the sound absorbers made the effect go down.
they care about the 3D effects in the middle of the room? no.. they can't possibly care because the volume that fills the gap can become decreased, and all that is left is what is to the sides of the middle of the room.. nothing in there about audio effects playing on the walls (such as rain) or the volume in the gap.

as far as your crossover setting goes..
you should run a sweep and listen for a gap or too much bass.
there is only one trick .. you want to turn up the subwoofer to get more bottom end, but then the upper end is too high - so you lower the crossover point to make the upper end less loud.
and sometimes if you turn up the subwoofer to get more bottom end, then the cone starts to slap as it bottoms out because the ported box is tuned high.
(the trick here is to allow the ported box to let the cone flap.. because you can get more cone movement with less power .. and just focus on getting the upper end smoothly blended with the main speakers)
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-29-2012, 11:01 PM
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^ ^ ^ Wow.....just wow.
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-29-2012, 11:44 PM
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I have a dedicated 2 ch room that is treated.
A couple of years ago a friend told me about the triangle in the corners....
Had nothing to loose so tried it......still there.
These are dipoles, so all the more reason.

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