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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I will first admit that I am new to the audiophile world and my question is more about speaker principles rather than any specific brand of speaker.


I suspect that when purchasing speakers to fill a big home theater room, large floorstanding speakers clearly surpass bookshelf speakers in utility given the area.


As room size decreases, do the advantages of floorstanding speakers disappear? I am considering creating a 2ch system in my new office for music, but it is about the size of a small bedroom and I was concerned that floorstanding speakers would be a bit much. Thought it might be a waste of money, like buying a full riding mower for a tiny front lawn.


It also has hardwood floors instead of carpet. Should that affect my decision too?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCoast02 /forum/post/18265810


I will first admit that I am new to the audiophile world and my question is more about speaker principles rather than any specific brand of speaker.


I suspect that when purchasing speakers to fill a big home theater room, large floorstanding speakers clearly surpass bookshelf speakers in utility given the area.


As room size decreases, do the advantages of floorstanding speakers disappear? I am considering creating a 2ch system in my new office for music, but it is about the size of a small bedroom and I was concerned that floorstanding speakers would be a bit much. Thought it might be a waste of money, like buying a full riding mower for a tiny front lawn.


It also has hardwood floors instead of carpet. Should that affect my decision too?

In a small room (depending how small) performance may be overruled by practicality. While large floor standing speakers may have better specs on paper, if you can't place them in your room the added performance is moot. It sounds like you may be better off with some smaller monitors and a subwoofer. That will give you placement flexibility without sacrificing performance at all. There are a bunch of small bookshelf and monitors that can image really well in close quarters. As long as they can get down to the 80Hz neighborhood, you should be able to cross them over to a good sub for a nice full range sound. And the lower sensitivity of the smaller enclosures won't matter much in a small room especially if you're sitting in the near field of the speakers.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCoast02 /forum/post/18265810


I suspect that when purchasing speakers to fill a big home theater room, large floorstanding speakers clearly surpass bookshelf speakers in utility given the area.

Not always. Dynamics of the speaker is determined by the size of its drives and not whether it is floor standing or bookshelf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WCoast02 /forum/post/18265810


As room size decreases, do the advantages of floorstanding speakers disappear? I am considering creating a 2ch system in my new office for music, but it is about the size of a small bedroom and I was concerned that floorstanding speakers would be a bit much. Thought it might be a waste of money, like buying a full riding mower for a tiny front lawn.

The advantages of larger drives will be a function of your preferred volume and your listening distance. The louder you like to listen, the more you need efficient speakers with better dynamics. Similarly, the farther your listening distance from the speakers is, again the more dynamics are important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WCoast02 /forum/post/18265810


It also has hardwood floors instead of carpet. Should that affect my decision too?

A hardwood floor is a reflective surface and it makes a poor acoustical choice. That being said, hardwood floor should not impact your choice of speaker.
 

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It's not only the size of the room and speaker, but the desired SPL. Many higher-end full-range floor standers can sound pretty bad in a smallish room at high levels, but will sound OK at moderate levels. Room treatments are critical in all cases.


The more cubic feet you have to fill, the more power and bigger speakers you will likely need. But again, it's all about the desired effect, levels and response. A lot of the bigger full-range speakers don't really reveal their true sound till placed in a big room with appropriate treatments and pushed hard. For lower level, less demanding listening a smaller speaker may well suffice even in a bigger room. However, a bigger room will almost always demand more in the way of sub-woofers and/or LF response.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCoast02 /forum/post/18265810


As room size decreases, do the advantages of floorstanding speakers disappear?

Valid question, and the answer depends on the details of the specific design more than on the overall speaker size (though as a broad generality, big speakers are voiced for big rooms and small speakers for small rooms; I'll come back to what I mean by that in a minute).


Here are the two main challenges that a small room presents, along with possible solutions:


a) Early onset of reflections is undesirable, but virtually inevitable in a small room. Early reflections tend to color the sound, degrade clarity, and degrade imaging. We can minimize this by using narrow-pattern speakers and aiming them carefully; by diffusing or absorbing energy at the early reflection zones; and by using speakers that don't generate especially nasty-sounding reflections.


b) The bass response tends to be lumpy and unnatural-sounding in small rooms, and the room itself tends to boost the bass quite a bit which just makes it worse (I can explain these in more detail if you'd like). The most obvious solution is to use speakers that don't overdo the bass when placed in a small room. Proximity to the walls will increase the bass reinforcement and therefore plays a big role; the amount of in-room bass can be changed significantly by moving either the speakers or listening position or both relative to the walls. In my opinion it is better to err on the side of too little bass rather than too much, as the latter is usually more distracting.


Now the greatest challenges that big rooms present are achieving satisfactory sound pressure levels and subjectively adequate bass power and authority. Both generally call for big speakers. So many (though not all) big speakers are voiced for big rooms, and most small speakers are voiced for smaller rooms because they simply can't meet the SPL and bass requirements for a big room (I'm doing some generalizing and oversimplifying here).


Now this is where the specifics comes into play. Going back to the early reflection issue, a relatively narrow, uniform radiation pattern can be beneficial in a small room (in my opinion anyway). Such radiation pattern constrol is more likely to be found in a large speaker (though it would be the exception rather than the rule even then). A highly adjustable bass system (like a built-in powered subwoofer or variable-tuning ports) is more likely to show up in a large speaker, and such adjustability can facilitate integration into a small room. Also since high efficiency trades off against bass extension, a relatively high efficiency large speaker is more likely to have small-room-friendly bass characteristics than is a low-efficiency large speaker.


An example of a large speaker that works well in small rooms is the discontinued Altec Model 14 .
 

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Why is early reflections undesirable? The research i have seen seems to indicate, that at least form the side and for normal listening situations (not monitoring and similar), early reflections sees to do more good than harm.


AtW
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie /forum/post/18266549


Not always. Dynamics of the speaker is determined by the size of its drives and not whether it is floor standing or bookshelf.

would you mind explaining a bit more about what you mean by this? How can i look a speaker specs and tell what the size of the drives are?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCoast02 /forum/post/18269960


would you mind explaining a bit more about what you mean by this? How can i look a speaker specs and tell what the size of the drives are?

Just check out speaker specs. If you want reference level volume and dynamics in a mid to large room, you want 10" drivers. Stay away from anything smaller than 6" for the most part.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeL /forum/post/18269381


The most obvious solution is to use speakers that don't overdo the bass when placed in a small room. Proximity to the walls will increase the bass reinforcement and therefore plays a big role; the amount of in-room bass can be changed significantly by moving either the speakers or listening position or both relative to the walls. In my opinion it is better to err on the side of too little bass rather than too much, as the latter is usually more distracting.

Actually the best solution is to separate the bass from speakers via use of multiple subwoofers.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor /forum/post/18269603


Why is early reflections undesirable? The research i have seen seems to indicate, that at least form the side and for normal listening situations (not monitoring and similar), early reflections sees to do more good than harm.


AtW

Early reflections (within roughly 10 milliseconds of the first-arrival sound, corresponding to a path length difference of about 11 feet) tend to degrade imaging, especially depth.


If an early reflection arrives first in the same ear as the original sound did, it will color that sound through comb filter effects, and color it even more if its spectral content is significantly different from that first-arrival sound. Now if the early reflection arrives first in the opposite ear, the ear-brain system interprets it as ambience and doesn't pick up coloration from comb-filter effects; however its spectral content will still influence the perceived timbre.


My recollection is that the coloration imposed by a given reflection peaks at about 2 milliseconds and holds up pretty well out to about 5 milliseconds, after which the coloration effects decrease.


Strong, distinct early reflections are the worst offenders. That's why diffusion or absorption in the first-reflection zones is usually beneficial. On the other hand a well-energized, diffuse, fairly late-onset (after 10 milliseconds) reverberant field is subjecively pleasing, so we don't want to overdo the absorption or else we end up with a dead-sounding system.


Reflections in general tend to degrade clarity and speech intelligibility, even the subjectively pleasing late-arrival ones. Even in recital halls, there is a trade-off between clarity and rich ambience, and the good ones have a nice balance; going too far in either direction is usually undesirable.


Duke
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie /forum/post/18271731


Actually the best solution is to separate the bass from speakers via use of multiple subwoofers.

Hd_newbie, you made my day! You are absolutely correct, and I had started to put something about multisubs in my original post but then decided it was beyond the scope of the original poster's intent.


The reason you made my day is you are the first person to correct me by suggesting a multisub system. You see, I think I was the first manufacturer to go to market with a dedicated (four-piece) multisub system based on Geddes' concept (and with his permission), back in 2006. Back then it was a crazy uphill battle to get people to consider that a bunch of smaller subs could sound better than one ubersub, but now it's becoming widely accepted as the ideal approach. My focus was on two-channel so I'm an unknown here, but in that arena I was an early advocate.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCoast02 /forum/post/18265810


I am considering creating a 2ch system in my new office for music, but it is about the size of a small bedroom and I was concerned that floorstanding speakers would be a bit much.

Is that an office you will be working in or doing serious music listening? If the former or the music is just for background listening, get yourself a pair of small bookshelf speakers (Polk Monitor 30s can be had on the Polk Ebay store generally for around $85 incl shipping.) Doesn't make sense (to me anyway) to spend a lot of money on speakers for casual listening unless money isn't a consideration.


My free advice, worth what you paid for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by lmacmil /forum/post/18273079


Is that an office you will be working in or doing serious music listening? If the former or the music is just for background listening, get yourself a pair of small bookshelf speakers (Polk Monitor 30s can be had on the Polk Ebay store generally for around $85 incl shipping.) Doesn't make sense (to me anyway) to spend a lot of money on speakers for casual listening unless money isn't a consideration.


My free advice, worth what you paid for it.

I would like it for as serious music listening as possible. It's probably not an ideal space for that, but it's what i've got to work with until I get a bigger house.
 
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