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How to position your speakers perfectly

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I too am a member of the 'Jim Smith Get Better Sound' fan club. 

 

Jim Smith mentions he keep track of the triangle he ends up with after he has set up speakers for his customers and he's come to an average of I believe an 83% (could be 87%, I don't have the book here) width to distance ratio. So if the speakers are 10m away from you ears, they would be 8.3m apart tweeter to tweeter. This is an average, not a rule.

 

What do you then do with the toe in angle?

Do you adjust them so that they continue to point them to your ears.?

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17 hours ago, vivianbl said:

What do you then do with the toe in angle?

Do you adjust them so that they continue to point them to your ears.?

The answer to that question and probably all questions is 'it depends', because every room is different. That's what I like about Jim's set up method. It's not a magic bullet approach but more a journey.

 

This is an example of toe in in my experience; Same system, two rooms. In my previous living room we had reasonably ok damping on the walls. I had my speakers toed in to cross about half a meter behind my head. Now we're in a larger living room and we're not done yet with room treatment. There's a full glass wall on one side and a kitchen on the other and there's no way to treat those hard surfaces. So I had to deal with slap echo.

 

My solution, after trying lots of positions, was to have the speakers closer to the wall than where I started. This makes the bass a little bit bloated but because they're stand mounts I needed the extra body that the speakers just couldn't deliver on their own.   This way I didn't have to play as loud to get the same impact so less echo. That was a compromise.

 

I toed them in to point right at my head so there was less slap echo compared to the direct sound. It's not ideal but it works better than with slap echo. That is another compromise.

 

I have a timber floor and we can't have rugs so when I really want to enjoy some tunes, I put one of our two couches (the right one) in from of the speaker. The one on the left already sits in that position as it is. That way there's no reflection from the floor. The speakers are high enough to point over the couches to that works quite well. That's probably the most successful thing I've done.

 

I have a Lazy Boy XXL chair. It's quite high and soft so my head just flops into it. That way I don't get much echo from the wall behind me either.

 

So that's my setup. Yours will most likely be very different. The trick is to identify the problems and know what to do to fix them and that's where Jim Smith comes in very handy.

 

My setup is far from ideal. The old living room sounded much better and I doubt very much that I'll ever get this new one to sound great. I'm planning to turn a spare bedroom into a listening room. That way I'll have total control.

 

Hope this helps.


Cheers,

 

Pim

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On 09/11/2019 at 3:45 PM, vivianbl said:

What do you then do with the toe in angle?

Do you adjust them so that they continue to point them to your ears.?

I choose a large toe in angle - my PSE horns are pointed so the throat of the left horn points at the right extreme of the listening couch and vice versa - the axis where they cross is about 1m in front of the listening couch.

This is an approach recommended by Geddes for his speakers, but the theory applies to speakers with a "smooth off axis" response to maintain a stereo image for the listener when they're listening off axis.

 

Anywhere on my listening couch and beyond, I can still hear a stereo image - it just shifts left or right with me...compared to say ESL57's or Martin Logan electros where the stereo image collapses very quickly to one side or the other.

 

I'm not bagging out electros - in their sweet spot, nothing else comes close - Peter Walker was a genius - and don't forget when the 57 came out they were sold as singles because stereo didn't exist...

...the only reason I don't run electros is they're no party proof - I crank my stereo and expect it to survive abuse when someone else grabs the remote and I'm not around...and I've experienced the aftermath next day numerous times when "normal" speakers have also experienced toasted tweeters and woofers etc, but replacing a blown driver is much cheaper than fixing a 57 panel that was pushed to arcing all night long...

 

If I only listened at low SPL then IMHO, the Quad 57 would be the best speaker of all time (adding a suitably integrated sub), and I would appropriate the central listening position and ignore their response outside the primary listening position - at the central LP, they are sublime.

 

cheers

Mike

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I choose a large toe in angle - my PSE horns are pointed so the throat of the left horn points at the right extreme of the listening couch and vice versa - the axis where they cross is about 1m in front of the listening couch.

This is an approach recommended by Geddes for his speakers, but the theory applies to speakers with a "smooth off axis" response to maintain a stereo image for the listener when they're listening off axis.

 

Anywhere on my listening couch and beyond, I can still hear a stereo image - it just shifts left or right with me...compared to say ESL57's or Martin Logan electros where the stereo image collapses very quickly to one side or the other.

 

I'm not bagging out electros - in their sweet spot, nothing else comes close - Peter Walker was a genius - and don't forget when the 57 came out they were sold as singles because stereo didn't exist...

...the only reason I don't run electros is they're no party proof - I crank my stereo and expect it to survive abuse when someone else grabs the remote and I'm not around...and I've experienced the aftermath next day numerous times when "normal" speakers have also experienced toasted tweeters and woofers etc, but replacing a blown driver is much cheaper than fixing a 57 panel that was pushed to arcing all night long...

 

If I only listened at low SPL then IMHO, the Quad 57 would be the best speaker of all time (adding a suitably integrated sub), and I would appropriate the central listening position and ignore their response outside the primary listening position - at the central LP, they are sublime.

 

cheers

Mike

 

One of the advantages of the 57s I use in my listening room is that I can sit about a metre to the side of the centre listening chair and still have a stable image - because of the type of components of the treble panel construction that John Hall used. Can also use higher powered amps and play louder as well.

 

My other pair of original 57s peak at the central point.

 

Currently use a 18wpc PSE 300B mono blocks that give more than enough in my listening room that is “3/4” dedicated to that function. I’m the only one who operates the equipment in that room! In the past I used to set up different speakers and amplifiers if there was a party!

 

I am getting a very wide and deep soundstage and imaging with the front of the soundstage about a 1m behind the speakers, but currently trying to figure out how to bring the front of the soundstage forward without losing the tone and depth!

 

Have experimented with placing the speakers wide - adjacent to the side wall- brought them forward to 1.7m to centre of speaker from back( behind speakers) wall, various toe ins at those positions etc. The difficulty is there are so many variables to contend with, including where the room treatments are relative to the position of the speakers.

 

The room is 5m by 9m and 2.4m to ceiling Currently, the speakers are 1.5m (to centre of speaker) from the back wall and 0.5m from side wall to side of speaker. Centre of treble panel is about 0.75- 0.80m from sidewall.

Speakers are 2.8m apart from centre treble panels and listening chair 3m from centre treble panel.

 

Only making very small adjustments now, but they make pronounced differences to the presentation.

 

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I too am a member of the 'Jim Smith Get Better Sound' fan club.   

There seem to be two camps that I can identify.

1.  Sound stage lovers

2. Tonal colour lovers

 

 

I suppose I am striving to achieve both!

When I first moved the equipment into the listening room and used portable acoustic treatments ( polyester/ Dacron) batts to experiment, I found a sweet spot that did both- it was spectacular to see, feel and hear. I wasn’t using measurement as such just moving things around and listening!

 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing this as systematically as I should have and did not keep a record of the position of speakers, treatments and other variables. I also read and took heed of all the advice on the net about equilateral triangles, equal symmetry and ESl positioning from Quad Gurus etc. and decided to implement that approach, thinking that should improve things even further.

 

To my chagrin I was not able to achieve that and despite attempts to retrace the original position I have not been able to replicate it. What I do remember was that one of the speakers was not symmetrically placed in relation to the other- one was about 5-10cm closer to the back wall and that one had much more toe in than the other; and distance from side wall was also not the same!

 

On a side note, I recollect an audiologist commenting that my ear canal shape in one ear was different to the other and that also affects the hearing. Not sure if this adds another variable to the positioning of speakers for the “sweet” spot!🤷🏽‍♂️

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, vivianbl said:

On a side note, I recollect an audiologist commenting that my ear canal shape in one ear was different to the other and that also affects the hearing. Not sure if this adds another variable to the positioning of speakers for the “sweet” spot!🤷🏽‍♂️

 

 

 

Since you are the person who's listening to the system I can't see anything wrong with adjusting it to suit your ears. 

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This is all very informative. Thank you all and please do keep the advice coming.

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… back again!

 

It was mentioned awhile back about the different effects of room boundaries (SBIR) - what wasn't mentioned was the benefits of using diffusers at some of those boundaries (behind the speakers, for example) and absorbers at the first reflection points on the side walls - this has been mentioned quite a bit elsewhere but it is still worth repeating it again

 

These 2 procedures contribute much more to the 'stereo effect' than anything else - the rear diffusers, if positioned correctly, will increase the delayed indirect sound content (longer than 10mSec) and the side wall absorbers will reduce the shorter indirect sound reflections (less than 10mSec) - these contribute directly to the precision of the stereo image and it's a subject well worth looking into - Room Boundary Effects aren't mentioned much in the hifi press but are a regular discussion in all 'pro-audio' areas

 

As all things are never equal (just a phrase!) there is the reflections off the floor and from the ceiling just to add to the confusion, so just approaching the positioning of the speakers & the listening position by practical moving/turning/tilting the speakers is a lot quicker and you 'learn to listen' rather quickly - actual room test measurements are extremely useful to show how well your system is functioning and to sort out some hidden deficiencies/problems, particularly in the bass/mids area.

 

I've seen quite a few people going to incredible lengths to obtain a reasonably flat freq response (+/- 3dB) at the listening position (particularly via a dsp) but to still find it unsatisfactory for music - controversially, some people (me too!) just prefer a non-linear freq response and this changes with different types of music and also the volume - weird thing, this music reproduction, eh!

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On 02/12/2019 at 12:18 AM, HdB said:

… back again!

 

It was mentioned awhile back about the different effects of room boundaries (SBIR) - what wasn't mentioned was the benefits of using diffusers at some of those boundaries (behind the speakers, for example) and absorbers at the first reflection points on the side walls - this has been mentioned quite a bit elsewhere but it is still worth repeating it again

 

These 2 procedures contribute much more to the 'stereo effect' than anything else - the rear diffusers, if positioned correctly, will increase the delayed indirect sound content (longer than 10mSec) and the side wall absorbers will reduce the shorter indirect sound reflections (less than 10mSec) - these contribute directly to the precision of the stereo image and it's a subject well worth looking into - Room Boundary Effects aren't mentioned much in the hifi press but are a regular discussion in all 'pro-audio' areas

 

As all things are never equal (just a phrase!) there is the reflections off the floor and from the ceiling just to add to the confusion, so just approaching the positioning of the speakers & the listening position by practical moving/turning/tilting the speakers is a lot quicker and you 'learn to listen' rather quickly - actual room test measurements are extremely useful to show how well your system is functioning and to sort out some hidden deficiencies/problems, particularly in the bass/mids area.

 

I've seen quite a few people going to incredible lengths to obtain a reasonably flat freq response (+/- 3dB) at the listening position (particularly via a dsp) but to still find it unsatisfactory for music - controversially, some people (me too!) just prefer a non-linear freq response and this changes with different types of music and also the volume - weird thing, this music reproduction, eh!

Yes, agree with your suggestions and observations. I’ve been playing around with speaker positioning and have got to a reasonably balanced spot where small adjustments of speaker position are making significant difference, but find that I now have to readjust volume controls each time I change CD or Vinyl. Not sure why that is. Unfortunate, have to do this manually- no remote!. 
 

Also wish I could have a remote control mechanism to move/ minor readjust  the speakers to get the best out each recording!!😉😃

Edited by vivianbl

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7 hours ago, vivianbl said:

but find that I now have to readjust volume controls each time I change CD or Vinyl. Not sure why that is. Unfortunate, have to do this manually- no remote!. 

Each mix on every CD/Vinyl/Flac will have a different volume - don't you change the volume on how loud you want to listen? constant volume should be left in the domain of muzak, not hi fi.

 

I do love a remote with EQ adjustment to dial treble/bass up and down.

 

mike

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Yeah, the re-emergence of tone controls plus the 'dialup' added analogue coloration  - it's been a long time coming.  This should evolve into simple or arranged dsp settings, I think - or packages, like in Audio Weaver, for example.

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15 hours ago, almikel said:

Each mix on every CD/Vinyl/Flac will have a different volume - don't you change the volume on how loud you want to listen?

Nope.

 

15 hours ago, almikel said:

constant volume should be left in the domain of muzak, not hi fi.

It should be but we know how that's ended up.

Here's a solution that works well: https://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/Volume_Leveling

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18 hours ago, almikel said:

Each mix on every CD/Vinyl/Flac will have a different volume - don't you change the volume on how loud you want to listen? constant volume should be left in the domain of muzak, not hi fi.

 

I do love a remote with EQ adjustment to dial treble/bass up and down.

 

mike

In the previous settled speaker position there were specific CD/ vinyl which were considerable louder or softer than the standard position of the volume control, but the majority of the sources were okay at the position- so had to adjust on a few outliers. Now having to adjust in most cases!

 

I don’t get accused of listening to Musac, by family and friends! I like to experience a musical performance 😃

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On 04/12/2019 at 1:37 PM, HdB said:

Yeah, the re-emergence of tone controls plus the 'dialup' added analogue coloration  - it's been a long time coming.  This should evolve into simple or arranged dsp settings, I think - or packages, like in Audio Weaver, for example.

talking about DSP how about software like; Sonar works room correction ?

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On 08/12/2019 at 2:42 AM, Rup said:

talking about DSP how about software like; Sonar works room correction ?

I've never tried it, and from their website there's not much info on how it works - but it appears to apply EQ based on multiple mike positions, which is good, but costs around AUD$400, and is targeted at studios running a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), which is likely fine if your source is a PC.

 

DSP (and EQ generally) can do great good when applied well, but greater evil when applied poorly :(

 

For room correction I prefer to maintain a high level of control over what EQ and delay I apply - using old school IIR EQ (parametric minimum phase EQ) but leveraging the convenience of DSP for implementation - delay is particularly tricky without DSP, and trivial with DSP.

 

IMHO DSP/delay capability is an essential tool for achieving great "in room bass" particularly when integrating 1 or more subs into the system...

 

...if integrating multiple subs - providing you have access to EQ/Delay (eg via a miniDSP HD), and a measurement microphone and laptop -  I'd recommend free tools such as REW and MultiSub Optimizer (MSO), before costly tools such as Sonarworks.

 

If you don't have subs, then REW and a measurement mike is still useful to measure what's going on with the bass in your room...

....and will help you make informed decisions on when and more importantly when not to apply DSP/EQ.

 

Mike

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