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Help me systematically get the best sound from my speakers

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
I am trying to piece together an approach to get the best sound from my speakers. Reading through posts and getting feedback from people has led to number of suggestions, but I feel like what I am doing is haphazard and sometimes contradictory. For example, should I toe in speakers or should I get acoustics panels first? How about spacing of the speakers? Get the spacing correct, or the toe in? Should I worry about toe in for compression drivers? Do they have constant directivity? Should I worry about SBIR (Speaker Boundary Interference Response)? What should I address and in what order?

Or should I just plug the damn things in and "enjoy" the sound?

Looking for some suggestions here on the best sequence I can follow to maximize the quality of sound from my (or really anyone's) speakers.

Thanks!
post #2 of 63
IMO the first thing is getting the room acoustically treated as needed (absorbers, bass traps, diffusers) then adjust the angle of the speaker related to get a 60 degree for both speakers related to the listening position.

At least, that's what I did first
post #3 of 63
Spacing. Start with having the L/R as far appart as you are sitting from them. 8 feet back, 8 feet appart. (this is just a generalization. Usually 45 degree angle from LP)
Compression drivers. (horns?) You should aim at the LP. So toe in.
Once those two are done, then you can start looking into room treatments.
Is this two channel or multi channel/HT?
post #4 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asedious View Post

IMO the first thing is getting the room acoustically treated as needed (absorbers, bass traps, diffusers) then adjust the angle of the speaker related to get a 60 degree for both speakers related to the listening position.

At least, that's what I did first

Kind of tough to do room treatments first if the speakers are not where you want them! 60 degrees is a little wide for most. Check out the Dolby or THX site for the placement.
post #5 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlsaudio View Post

Spacing. Start with having the L/R as far appart as you are sitting from them. 8 feet back, 8 feet appart. (this is just a generalization. Usually 45 degree angle from LP)
Compression drivers. (horns?) You should aim at the LP. So toe in.
Once those two are done, then you can start looking into room treatments.
Is this two channel or multi channel/HT?

Two channel for now. Really for a 3.1 system. Currently a 2.1 with a phantom center.
post #6 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlsaudio View Post


Kind of tough to do room treatments first if the speakers are not where you want them! 60 degrees is a little wide for most. Check out the Dolby or THX site for the placement.

20-30 deg each, 60 deg between both, its just 15 more deg than what you suggest, both are good.

Without room treatment the spacing would do little, it'll contribute to a better sound, but RT will complement the correct spacing and bring a whole different experience
post #7 of 63
OK. And don't put the sub in the corner. Somehwere left or right of center. You will have to move it around a bit to get it perfect.
post #8 of 63
You might get away with 60 degrees but, you will run into problems such as creating a "hole" in the sound between the left and right speakers.
post #9 of 63
^^^

karl, you are speaking in "absolutes"... you really should not be, you should be speaking in "generalities"...

for example, your last post simply isn't true...
post #10 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by kma100 View Post

I am trying to piece together an approach to get the best sound from my speakers. Reading through posts and getting feedback from people has led to number of suggestions, but I feel like what I am doing is haphazard and sometimes contradictory. For example, should I toe in speakers or should I get acoustics panels first? How about spacing of the speakers? Get the spacing correct, or the toe in? Should I worry about toe in for compression drivers? Do they have constant directivity? Should I worry about SBIR (Speaker Boundary Interference Response)? What should I address and in what order?

Or should I just plug the damn things in and "enjoy" the sound?

Looking for some suggestions here on the best sequence I can follow to maximize the quality of sound from my (or really anyone's) speakers.

Thanks!

Does your receiver have Audyssey or another type of room correcting software?
post #11 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

^^^

karl, you are speaking in "absolutes"... you really should not be, you should be speaking in "generalities"...

for example, your last post simply isn't true...

I am just speaking from experience. No, the spacing doesn't have to be exactly 45 degrees but spacing them 60 or more degrees appart will put the L/R in the "wides" catagory.
post #12 of 63
^^^

then you should preface your statements with "in my experience in my room with my speakers"... because you are incorrect on several of your "absolute assertions", including the 60 degree one... and fwiw, unless trigonometry has changed since i was in high school, if they are an equal distance apart as they are from the listening position, they WILL be at a 60 degree angle... so the statement you made on "spacing" is incorrect before you even go any farther...

how do i know about your 60 degree assertion being incorrect, you might ask? if you look at the pics in my build thread, you will see main speakers on an equilateral triangle with the main listening position... and i guarantee you there is no "hole" in the soundstage....

you will also note that they are severely toed in (aimed approx 15" in front of dead center).... also you will note that they are NOT compression drivers...

i understand you are trying to help the op, and that's good... just be a bit more careful with your statements....
post #13 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

Does your receiver have Audyssey or another type of room correcting software?

Unfortunately no. Even if it had, I would prefer to start by addressing issues through non-electronic means before moving to room correction solutions. Not sure if that is a bad thing or not, but based on what I have read it is the recommended approach.
post #14 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

^^^

then you should preface your statements with "in my experience in my room with my speakers"... because you are incorrect on several of your "absolute assertions", including the 60 degree one... and fwiw, unless trigonometry has changed since i was in high school, if they are an equal distance apart as they are from the listening position, they WILL be at a 60 degree angle... so the statement you made on "spacing" is incorrect before you even go any farther...

how do i know about your 60 degree assertion being incorrect, you might ask? if you look at the pics in my build thread, you will see main speakers on an equilateral triangle with the main listening position... and i guarantee you there is no "hole" in the soundstage....

you will also note that they are severely toed in (aimed approx 15" in front of dead center).... also you will note that they are NOT compression drivers...

i understand you are trying to help the op, and that's good... just be a bit more careful with your statements....

You got me on the math. Sorry. There are many different configurations to choose from. I just wanted to give the guy a starting point.
post #15 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by kma100 View Post

Should I worry about SBIR (Speaker Boundary Interference Response)?

Yes. The first steps should be to determine where the best listening position for the room will be and where the speakers will be. How much flexibility will you have with that? i.e. are you placing the speakers into a existing room setup or are you placing the room setup around the speaker and the listening position placement?

Will a long wall or short wall setup be the best for your room? Can you get listening position and speakers at 1/3 or 1/5 intersections of the room dimensions? How much of a asymmetrical offset will you have?
post #16 of 63
Some recommended reading and helpful applications for you, if indeed you are interested in getting the best out of your speakers...

Page 8 and on of this... http://www.vandersteen.com/5amanual.pdf

Get this book and DVD... http://getbettersound.com/themanual.html

A useful room calculator to give you a rough idea of what placement can do... http://www.hunecke.de/en/calculators/loudspeakers.html

An easy real time analyser to get the hang of and be up and running with quickly... http://www.trueaudio.com/rta_abt1.htm

And something for more of the fine tuning with toe in etc... http://www.audiophysic.de/aufstellung/regeln_e.html

All of the above has been very helpful to me anyhow.
post #17 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlsaudio View Post

I am just speaking from experience. No, the spacing doesn't have to be exactly 45 degrees but spacing them 60 or more degrees appart will put the L/R in the "wides" catagory.

Quote:


8 feet back, 8 feet appart. (this is just a generalization. Usually 45 degree angle from LP)

Completely wrong, along with your math. An equilateral triangle (8 x 8 x 8) is 60* not 45*.
I've had my speakers spaced as far as 10 ft apart and had perfect phantom center. (It was a very wide room)
post #18 of 63
This site discussing Imaging, placement and orientation might be helpful.
post #19 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

This site discussing Imaging, placement and orientation might be helpful.

Thanks. Will take a look.
post #20 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

Some recommended reading and helpful applications for you, if indeed you are interested in getting the best out of your speakers...

Page 8 and on of this... http://www.vandersteen.com/5amanual.pdf

Get this book and DVD... http://getbettersound.com/themanual.html

A useful room calculator to give you a rough idea of what placement can do... http://www.hunecke.de/en/calculators/loudspeakers.html

An easy real time analyser to get the hang of and be up and running with quickly... http://www.trueaudio.com/rta_abt1.htm

And something for more of the fine tuning with toe in etc... http://www.audiophysic.de/aufstellung/regeln_e.html

All of the above has been very helpful to me anyhow.

Thanks. These look like good links for me to review. Will take a look this weekend.
post #21 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post


Yes. The first steps should be to determine where the best listening position for the room will be and where the speakers will be. How much flexibility will you have with that? i.e. are you placing the speakers into a existing room setup or are you placing the room setup around the speaker and the listening position placement?

Will a long wall or short wall setup be the best for your room? Can you get listening position and speakers at 1/3 or 1/5 intersections of the room dimensions? How much of a asymmetrical offset will you have?

I was hoping to get some general steps so that others could apply the same principles. However to answer your questions: 7 feet apart; 14" from the wall. Left speaker side wall about 5' away and Right speaker side about 15 feet away. Toed in 20 deg. Wall behind speaker is untreated.
post #22 of 63
How did you arrived at that placement though? Did you follow a particular setup procedure? Have you measured the room response in any way? Or were the speakers just placed into an existing room around the TV and furniture?
post #23 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

How did you arrived at that placement though? Did you follow a particular setup procedure? Have you measured the room response in any way? Or were the speakers just placed into an existing room around the TV and furniture?

Yea. Furniture set the framework. It's a living room so not a lot of flexibility. Used a radio shack meter to calibrate. That's about it.
post #24 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by kma100 View Post

Yea. Furniture set the framework. It's a living room so not a lot of flexibility. Used a radio shack meter to calibrate. That's about it.

Then you're not going to get the best from your speakers in all likelihood.
post #25 of 63
What should one do about asymmetrical side walls, where on side the wall is much further away?

I've suggested heavy treatment on the close wall before, but now I wonder. The 15 foot wall will reflect sound that might be 15 to 20 dB down in level, depending on the actual surfaces in play.

I think constant directivity speakers that minimize the splash of sound to the close side wall would help. This is not a room where one can use lateral reflections for the betterment of the sound (while the system-room orientation remains in this config) IMO.
post #26 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post


Page 8 and on of this... http://www.vandersteen.com/5amanual.pdf

Although the recommended section was Page 8, I saw there sure was a lot of words about suggesting passive bi-amp, bi-wiring, and how important selecting the right speaker cable is, because it contributes as much to the sound character as any other component. Ugh.

It was interesting / helpful to read the room dimension / placement stuff though... thanks.
post #27 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by kma100 View Post

I was hoping to get some general steps so that others could apply the same principles. However to answer your questions: 7 feet apart; 14" from the wall. Left speaker side wall about 5' away and Right speaker side about 15 feet away. Toed in 20 deg. Wall behind speaker is untreated.

When you have a good distance from the sidewalls (5ft or more) you will develop a much wider soundstage. Compared to being setup in a narrow room, say 11 ft wide, with the speakers less than 2 ft away from side walls. Even with absorption panels at the first reflection points, you will get a pinched stage.

But even in rooms where you have, say over 5 ft to the sides, can be a problem, depending on the wall construction. Unfortunately, where I live 99% of all structures are 100% concrete. So even with a wide room, absorption is needed to tame the reflected sound.

In your particular case, the reflective sound should not be a problem, especially with the speakers toed-in. The amount of delay from the reflected sound waves would be more than enough that it will not smear the direct waves from the speakers.
post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post

Although the recommended section was Page 8, I saw there sure was a lot of words about suggesting passive bi-amp, bi-wiring, and how important selecting the right speaker cable is, because it contributes as much to the sound character as any other component. Ugh.

It was interesting / helpful to read the room dimension / placement stuff though... thanks.

It has been proven time and again, that passive bi-amp, bi-wire does not improve the sound at all. If a certain speaker requires a lot of power, then you buy a bigger amp. If one has a 110w AVR, then he needs to get at least a 220w power amp, that will provide plenty of head room.

As for cables, IMO, expensive cables are nothing more than a waste of money.
The only time I noticed a difference was when the difference was worse.
In that case I was setting up a stereo system in a second room. I did not have long enough wire, so I went to RS and bought a small roll of Monster, that said it had a center dielectric to improve the highs. That wire made the highs shrill, edgy. I could not stand to even be in the room. Replaced it with 12 ga from BJC and all was good again. And I was using speakers I had for over 20 years, so I know exactly how they should sound.
post #29 of 63
To make things simple, plug them in, listen to various music. If you find that it does not sound right, try a Equalizer. Doing all of this "Treat the room", change the angle of the speakers is pretty much hogwash when you come down to it.

I use a Parametric EQ on my 2 channel stereo, and after a couple of days of listening, I have it dialed in to my liking, and when I look at the RTA app on my iPhone, it is just as it should be. Surprising, my living room is not too bright or dull, it actually has good sound quality. That is really the only way you are going to determine the room as to how it will sound, not using gimmicks to change a room, that you have no clue yet what it will sound like, until you start listening to music, or watching tv or movies through the system.
post #30 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

To make things simple, plug them in, listen to various music. If you find that it does not sound right, try a Equalizer. Doing all of this "Treat the room", change the angle of the speakers is pretty much hogwash when you come down to it.

I use a Parametric EQ on my 2 channel stereo, and after a couple of days of listening, I have it dialed in to my liking, and when I look at the RTA app on my iPhone, it is just as it should be. Surprising, my living room is not too bright or dull, it actually has good sound quality. That is really the only way you are going to determine the room as to how it will sound, not using gimmicks to change a room, that you have no clue yet what it will sound like, until you start listening to music, or watching tv or movies through the system.

You're getting a lot of good advice. This isn't one of them. EQ can help, but it should be your last resort.
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