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Speaker Placement

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Aussie Mick View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 Dec 2019 at 5:46am
Dear All,
   My summer holiday has started and with it the time to undertake a tidy of the listening room. I had to move my speakers to vacuum, so I thought it’d be a good time to revisit speaker placement. I think I’ve watched around six hours or YouTube videos on the subject, and the results have been very much worth the time invested. 

My room is problematic in that it’s a square. The kind of shape that should be really difficult to get good sound in. Fortunately it’s also a dedicated room, so I can place things wherever I like. Lucky boy. My system has sounded pretty good for a few years, but I’ve always wanted the sound to be a little more free of the boxes with more image depth. 

The two “rules” I kept coming across were the Rule of Fifths, and using the Golden Mean to deal with a square room. Each of these rules improved aspects of the presentation, but together they have been a bit of a revelation!

The Rule of Fifths states that you want the acoustic center of the speaker drivers 1/5 from the wall, and your listening position (your ears) the same. In my room that puts the front of the speakers 1.16m from the front wall and my ears the same distance from the wall behind me. This had the effect of smoothing out room response wonderfully well. In particular there are no more bass bumps to worry about, allowing much more clarity in the midrange. The side to side imaging was very much better! However, it exposed that the treble was running a little hot for my liking.

The next step was to try using the Golden Mean to determine how far from the side walls my speakers should be. Keeping the 1.16m from the rear wall and multiplying it by 1.6 (5:8 ratio) gave me 1.855m from the side walls. Well, what a shock! This change of position removed all treble glare and hotness AND increased the depth of stereo image in a way that is spectacular. To achieve this move I had to shift one speaker 13cm and the other 7cm, both towards the wall. With the speakers further apart I needed to increase the toe-in a little to get the center images focused again.

The sound is now well free of the boxes and the deepest I’ve heard at home. The stereo width is outside the boxes. Well recorded pop is crystal clear and orchestral recordings have gained a sometimes cavernous acoustic. I have a few loudness wars albums like Califonication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and they are now completely listenable without the need to adjust the volume control on my Majestic.

All in all, this zero-cost improvement to my system took around 7 hours to achieve. Most pleasing is that I’m now getting far better value for money from my system. The PMC speakers sound as good or better as I’ve heard them in any dealer showroom, the detail strengths of the RP8/Apheta2 combination are being taken advantage of, and my Slee electronics are showing yet again that they more to give.

I’m a happy camper.
Mick 


Edited by Aussie Mick - 15 Dec 2019 at 5:47am
Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22
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Aussie Mick View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie Mick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2019 at 6:33am
Further to this, the sound has become much more solid and tangible. More present, as if it’s made of matter and not see-through anymore. There is also more “power” in the sound. I’ve been drawn much more into the midrange goings on and voices are on a level I’ve not had at home before. So is solo piano, and jazz quartet, and...perhaps it’s the extra clarity in the midrange, but I’m hearing a great deal more subtlety of phrasing in instruments and voices. But when I listen for it, the bass information is all there and extremely articulate. 
Yowza.
Mick.
Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22
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Graham Slee View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Graham Slee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2019 at 11:52am
Mick, you are so right. This is something I had to learn over the years to be able to properly monitor design results. Without it you're wasting your equipment's potential.
Not simple enough for Google-Bot to understand...
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Aussie Mick View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie Mick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Dec 2019 at 3:16am
Hi everyone,
   An update on this adventure. The music room set up is still bringing joy. I quite like Klemperer conducting the Philharmonia is Bruckner 4 as it’s a wonderful performance. It’s also a wonderful recording and I’m hearing the skill of the engineers properly now. Fantastic depth, width and height to the image, such that when there’s a lot going on you can keep track of each section of the orchestra easily within the wonderful whole.

But that’s not what I wanted to write about today. I’ve dared to venture into the lounge room and start moving things about (my wife is away on a girls week in the city, so it’s just me and the kids). The 1/5 rule isn’t going to work, as it moves the speakers too far into the room for acceptable home harmony. However, the Golden Mean part is showing very promising signs. 

I have scope to move the speakers further apart, so I’m measuring out from the corners in the 8:5 ratio. I plotted points along the floor in that ratio and laid down a strip of masking tape to make diagonal lines out from the corners. I’m simply moving the speakers back and forth along the lines and listening to the differences. Whilst they’re too far apart for any meaningful bass response, the imaging is good and the sound is clear. Again, some depth to the image.

The upshot? Moving out along the diagonal tape marks I found where they sounded their best, and hey presto, it’s bang on the 1/5 measurement into the room. I’m trying to find a way to subtly mark that spot for listening when nobody is home. 

It’s a very modest system (second hand Mission 781 standmounts and an eight year old Wadia PowerDAC Mini (all of my good Slee gear is in the music room)), but the speaker placement effort has brought the same types of improvement. Well worth the effort.

I see there have been 62 views of the original post, and I’m hanging out to hear your thoughts and results of your own experimentation!
Mick.
Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black/Rega Apheta 2 - Reflex M/Elevator EXP - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/Roon - Majestic DAC - Solo ULDE (Focal Elear) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Graham Slee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Dec 2019 at 7:37am
A neighbour of mine was complaining about his floor-stander's being too bassy, and had put foam rubber in the reflex ports in a bid to get better tonal balance. I nipped round for a listen, and quickly realised he was sitting in the area of a strong room mode. I asked him to remove the foam rubber bungs and then lean forward from his listening position, which he did, and I think he was happy about it because of the smile on his face. I then suggested he brought the speakers an extra 6 inches forward, which he did, and there was another smile. Afterwards though, he put the speakers back where they were because the new positions weren't very practical for domestic bliss.
Not simple enough for Google-Bot to understand...
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RichW View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote RichW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Dec 2019 at 8:24am
Convincing width and particularly depth of image, where instruments can be easily located in their
own space in a recording has always been a major goal.
The best I've witnessed was a dealer demo many years ago using a Gyrodec & stand mount Sonus faber speakers. The imaging was truly three dimensional & holographic.
The dealer had spent a lot of time to set up the speakers - they were well out in front of the walls & angled precisely.
I've never managed to achieve quite the same depth of image in my smallish 3m x 5m room with
fairly limited speaker placement options but have managed to find a good compromise.
Your scientific approach has worked well Mick.Smile




Elevator, Accession, Majestic, Reflex M, Solo ULDE, CuSat & Lautus.
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McHolmeM View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote McHolmeM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Dec 2019 at 9:30am
My system is located in the lounge which is also 5m x 3m. Three years ago I experimented with different speaker positions following online research and still have the sketches and calculations. The best balanced presentation put the PMC floorstanders in free space well clear of walls although not practical for domestic harmony. They are now set further back as a compromise but I still have a template of that ideal layout if I feel tempted to revisit. 
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