Best speakers for a small reflective room?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 75
Registered: Nov-05
Hello,
I have a small (10'X14') fairly reflective room. I just bought a pair of Dali Ikon 6 speakers which sounded great at the dealer showrom, but terrible in my room. Bass is almost non existent, trebble very fatiguing. I've tried numerous speaker locations and listening positions, but can't get any significant improvement. Can anyone recommend speakers that excel in small rooms, near field listening (5'-6'), and that are not terribly reactive to the room. They also need to work well close to the rear wall (about 12"-16") I prefer a full range floor stander if possible but at this point will take anything that will give a more natural and ballanced presentation. Is this possible? Or am I wasting my time trying to get good sound in this room? Presently running NAD C162/272/542. May switch to tubes in not too distant future. Just hoping I don't have to swithch to headphones only. Thank you for any help you can provide,
Bill
 

Silver Member
Username: Gavincumm

New York USA

Post Number: 685
Registered: Feb-05
Bill,

can you use a sub?
 

Silver Member
Username: Gavincumm

New York USA

Post Number: 686
Registered: Feb-05
sorry bill...

if you can use a sub, take a look at these speakers here. They are from Ascend acoustics, which have a huge cult following in the forums. The model is the HTM-200. It has a sealed enclosure, which will allow it to work very well where you need it to.

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/htm200/htm200.html
 

Silver Member
Username: Gavincumm

New York USA

Post Number: 687
Registered: Feb-05
I would also reccomend taking a look at Cambridge Soundworks subwoofer / sat speaker systems. The sats are the newton series, and are surprisingly good for the price.

I feel myself that the ascend speakers above would be a better decision, but Art and myself own CSW radios, and I own CSW PC speakers. If the speakers are as good a value for the money as the radio and PC speakers, you will be golden.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 76
Registered: Nov-05
Thank you for the reply Gavin. I listen only to two channel music. No plans for surround or home theater. Never liked blending a sub with two channel. Haven't heard one that sounds natural to me. I've heard that low frequencies require distance to be reproduced, therefore may be difficult to do in a small room. I actually have an old pair of CSW Model 6's that I picked up at a yard sale. They are bookshelf speakers and don't really go too low. I don't know if there are speakers designed to provide decent bass extention in a small room. I'd like a well ballanced speaker that excells in musicality, preferably under $1500 but will go higher if necessary to get quality sound. Thank you,
Bill
 

Silver Member
Username: Timn8ter

Seattle, WA USA

Post Number: 786
Registered: Dec-03
http://www.us.alegriaaudio.com/Aria.htm
 

Silver Member
Username: Davidpa

Portland, Oregon US

Post Number: 130
Registered: Nov-05
Bill, from experience I can tell you that if you add a good sub to two channel, and spend the time to integrate it correctly (crossover setting and placement) you will notice a fuller, richer sound that even the best floorstanding speakers will not give you. It is definitely not a plug and play scenario, you have to spend the time to get the proper settings for seamless integration. There are many nuances in the music that a good sub will add, one example is lower notes in a male voice become more distinct and full, adding to the listening experience. There are many more I could give as an example but the list is long. A sub isnt just for what the average listener wants(deep bass, boom boom etc.) it actually has a purpose within the confines of the music, and done correctly can add a whole new level to listening. JMO though. BTW I do actually own some fairly decent floorstanders that do sound incredible w/o the sub(s) but the subs still add to the enjoyment for me. It is possible that the setups youve listened to werent integrated properly. once again, JMO
 

Silver Member
Username: Gavincumm

New York USA

Post Number: 692
Registered: Feb-05
Tim,

Bill noted that the speakers have to be right up against the wall. Can you put a rear ported T/L bipole enclosure that close to the wall? I thought that would be a "strike 1, strike 2" type of combination when you had to have them about a foot away from the wall.

correct me on this if I am wrong...

I am assuming that the speakers are ported in the rear as I don't see the T/L outlet in the front.
 

Silver Member
Username: Timn8ter

Seattle, WA USA

Post Number: 787
Registered: Dec-03
Bill stated "They also need to work well close to the rear wall (about 12"-16")". Had he said they would be flush against the wall I wouldn't have recommended them. If he hadn't expressed a desire for a floorstander I may not have recommended them either. One owner of the Aria uses them in a "live" room and enjoys them immensely. The bipole/TL configuration is for acheiving flat bass response in a narrow cabinet, not for creating a omni-directional speaker. The absence of a tweeter is a plus for near field listening.
These are my wife's favorite speakers and a pair are currently in use where she does oil painting. The room is 11.5'x12.5'x9' and is void of furniture except for the oversized easel, supply cart and one chair. The speakers are 14" from the back wall, about 6' apart and about 6' from where she works. Small rooms are always problematic but they seem to do well in there.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gavincumm

New York USA

Post Number: 693
Registered: Feb-05
my apologies... I worded that very badly!

have to be right up against the wall and needing to be a foot away are two different things.

what I said and meant to say were two different things.
 

Gold Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 3647
Registered: Mar-05
Bill,

look into the Wharfedale Diamond 8 or 9 series at audioadvisor.com --- these will pair up really well with your NAD gear esp. if you're leery of "brightness." That site has the Diamond 8.2s for $150 shipped a pair which is a bargain. They're not a floorstander but throw a huge soundstage.
 

Silver Member
Username: Timn8ter

Seattle, WA USA

Post Number: 788
Registered: Dec-03
Fuhget aboud it. I knew what you meant and you were right to question it. It just so happens the Aria don't need as much room as you might think.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gavincumm

New York USA

Post Number: 697
Registered: Feb-05
cool!

what would be the optimum placement in such a room though? would it REALLY be so close to the wall?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 78
Registered: Nov-05
Hello Timn8ter,
Thank you for responding. The Arias sound really interesting. What is the ideal distance from the rear wall? Are they intended to be toed-in? Are they tube friendly? If so how many tube watts are necessary for effortless sound? I listed to mostly late-night type jazz and soft blues. Would this be the best speaker in your line for those purposes? The reason I stated floorstander is because I would like to get as close to full range sound as possible. I like to hear the acoustic bass in my jazz recordings. is there a different configuration you would recommend that would be as good or better in my small space? Speakers will be placed along the long wall about 6' apart and about 12-14" from the front wall. Listening position will be 6-7' away, up directly against the rear wall. Also, is there anywhere in the Boston area where your speakers can be auditioned? Sorry for all of the questions! Thank you,
Bill
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 79
Registered: Nov-05
Hi David,
Thank you for your advise. In the event I do go with a sub, what would you recommed? I've heard that there aren't many that are very musical. Thanks,
Bill
 

Silver Member
Username: Davidpa

Portland, Oregon US

Post Number: 133
Registered: Nov-05
Bill, my personal favorite right now is the DD series from velodyne, sounds like youd be able to get a DD10, and it would integrate nicely. They tend to be on the pricier side as subs go, but I thought musically they were better than the highly acclaimed aerial SW12, hard to believe, but to my ears true. When I recover from christmas and my own recent upgrade, I will be purchasing 2 DD15s, unless something comes along that will outdo it within a reasonable price range, and I just dont see that happening. Also if the DD series is not in your range I would also look into NHT (although I cant comment on their newer stuff) as I own a NHT sw12i w/SA2 amp, and it is much more musical than the paradigm servo15 I use as well, the NHT stuff can be found easily on audiogon, or ebay for very decent prices. You will also hear of SVS, and I cannot comment on those either, but have heard complete opposites on said performance, but is apparantly a "bang for buck" product.
 

Silver Member
Username: Timn8ter

Seattle, WA USA

Post Number: 790
Registered: Dec-03
Bill-
The reason I responded is because the situation you described was nearly identical to my wife's painting room. As I said, 14" from the wall works fine. Yes, they work better toed in. They are very tube friendly as long as the amplifier has 4 ohm taps. The amp my wife uses is a 8 w/ch unit and it has no trouble driving the Aria. I recently sold a pair to a fellow in Florida that is a stand-up bass player living in an apartment and is more interested in quality bass than deep bass. Aria was a good fit for him. If you had not specified a floorstander I would have recommended Rosa.
http://www.us.alegriaaudio.com/RosaLCR.htm
Rosa started out as a HT speaker but plays music so well I suggest it for certain 2 channel applications as well.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Eld

Texas

Post Number: 52
Registered: Dec-05
Bill,

If you haven't gotten a chance to listen to the Dynaudio Focus 140 bookshelf, I think you should check them out as well. Goes very low and have a nice fill in a small room, and definitely not bright.

For floorstander, the ProAc 130 is pretty nice and they are bottom ported.

I would check those out along with the other suggestions.

Good luck.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7650
Registered: May-04


What we have here is a failure to communicate. Or, at least, to understand the problem. Just because the room is reflective, the solution is not to shut down the frequency response in the upper ranges. The better solution is to not allow the high frequencies to bounce around the room.




Bill, what Tim has recommended would be my first recommendation to you. Tim knows his line better than I do, but if not the Aria then the Rosa or the Ling. I think with the current driver in place, the Single Ling might even suit your needs. Tim can better advise you on that issue.



What you seem to be getting recommended otherwise are speakers which various members like and consider "less bright" than some other speakers like an Ascend. "Less bright" is not really the answer in your situation. If the room truly is as refelctive as you suggest, your best bet is to simply not put much energy into the side walls. If you cut down the energy of the first reflection, then all subsequent reflections will be lowered also. That is the principle behind both speaker placement and room treatment devices In your case, minimzing the first reflection should go a long way toward solving your room problems.


Tim's designs with single driver technology will be exceptionally beneficial in this regard. The single driver will virtually insist the enclosure be toed in toward the listener as the characteristic of this design is a narrowing of dispersion at the highest frequencies. If you choose to incorrectly direct the speakers straight ahead into the room with a single driver, you will loose some h.f. content at the listening position because of this dispersion characteristic. This "problem" is easily solved by toe in with the enclosure pointed directly at your chair (which means you do not see the side panels of the speaker enclosure when you listen). In your case, this also works to minimze room problems since the first reflection of the highest frequencies from the driver will be behind your listening position instead of in front as it would with a conventional dome tweeter design.


With all the speakers mentioned so far other than Tim's designs, any speaker with a dome tweeter carrying the signal from 2500Hz upward will very typically put plenty of energy into the room at an almost 180° angle in all directions from the baffle front. Even with toe in, this will likely result in first, second and even third reflections (from the walls, ceiling and floor) arriving at your ear with a fair amount of strength; of course, all these reflections will be out of phase with each other and the direct signal from the speaker. The less reflective the room, the more this type of design will add "air" to the sound, increasing until the room becomes so reflective as to cause high frequency smear, frequency response abberations and eventually listening fatigue.


Tim's designs should work well to mitigate room problems in a lively, reflective room. They have a fairly classic "BBC curve" to the frequency response so they also fall into the "less bright" category the other suggestions point to, yet accomplish much more than the other designs in your situation. I've yet to hear the Rosa or the Aria, but having auditioned two of Tim's speakers (http://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/products/reviews/47077.html), I can tell you they excell with the music you listen to and are tube friendly in the extreme. They are a very easy impedance load (the single drivers have no crossover induced phase angle problems for the amplifier to deal with) and, while not "Klipschorn efficient", they do not suffer from the frequency response problems of most high efficiency speakers and can easily fill your room with a thirty watt tube amplifier. Additionally, you cannot find a better built speaker for anywhere near this price. Give Tim's speakers a listen and I think your problem will be mostly solved.




 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 81
Registered: Nov-05
Hello Jan,
What you've said makes a lot of sense. The Dali's have a wide dispersion dome/ribbon tweeter which I think contributes greatly to the difficulty controlling reflections in the room. They also are supposed to face staight ahead with no toe-in which also seems to add to the problem with reflections. I presently have the speakers in front of the long wall to get them further from the side walls and have furniture along the side walls to diffuse the reflections somewhat. I will be adding drapes and wall hangings as well. My room is a real echo chamber! The way I determind the "best" and "second best" locations was by using two different methods as starting points. One was a mathematical formula, and the other geometric. I had come across these a while back but never put much thought into using them. I have to admit however, that they did make a positive difference. Not perfect, but improved. these methods are geared toward either reinforcing or cancelling bass. I used them out of desperation to try and compensate for the excessive energy in the high end. The position with the most reinforcement that almost ballanced out the sound tended to over emphasize certain low frequencies in an unatural way. But the "second best" position produced a more natural ballance in the low end but still somewhat light compare to the exaggerated higher frequencies. What I then did was deviate from what the formulas indicated and experimented with the sound. So far, the best solution has been a combination of the two methods. The geometric for low bass and the mathematical for the mid. Could all be a buch of hooey, but it did result in better sound. Could just be coincidence. I think the ultimate solution though is to do as you sugested and controll the reflections as best I can and switch to a speaker such as Tim's that would be more suitable for a room like mine. The following sites explain the methods that I used to start with.

http://www.immediasound.com/Speakersetup.html
http://www.audiosold.com/cardiscal.htm

Bill
 

Silver Member
Username: Timn8ter

Seattle, WA USA

Post Number: 791
Registered: Dec-03
Several things going on here.
Small room dimensions are tough to work with.
1-Major "room gain" resulting in boomy bass.
2-Early and mulitple HF reflections.
3-Near field listening position.
Solutions include:
Highly directional speakers.
Diffusion panels.
Absorption panels.
Bass traps.
Single driver speakers tend to be highly directional and many have limited bass response. Diffusion panels can take the form of bookshelves (with books).
Absorption can mean soft furniture (leather is best) carpeting and/or cloth covered fiberglass panels. Curtains definitely help but to truly be effective they need to be heavy. Drapery would be better.
Bass traps unfortunately must, by nature, be large. They need not be unattractive though. Typical construction would be a wire cylinder covered with cloth on the outside and lined with fiberglass on the inside and a mostly hollow interior. Bass traps are most effective in the corners of the room.
Please don't take this to mean you should "kill" the room. An overdamped room can sound worse than a "live" room. It may not take much to tame reflections.
I would have suggested the Ling Single except for the bass cutoff around 60Hz. This may or may not be enough for you. With room gain the perceived LF response would be considerably lower than 60.

 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7652
Registered: May-04


Those are starting points for placement, Bill. Have you researched the Wilson "Wasp" placement technique? The key to speaker placement is to find what works in your room, for your speakers and your taste. Each method of placement provides different results and what might sound good to one person might be less desireable to another listener in the same room with the same system. Difficult to balance rooms also sometimes benefit from a diagonal placement of the speakers/listener in relation to the room boundaries. The longer reflection paths and longer delay times take advantage of the Haas effect and lessen the noticeable artifacts of room reflections. (Admittedly, this size room doesn't have much to go on considering the Haas effect rests upon fairly long delay times.) If your room is suitable to this type of set up, you can research speaker placement and find the instructions on line.


http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/waspe.html


http://search.yahoo.com/bin/search?p=haas%20effect


 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 85
Registered: Nov-05
Jan,
Thank you for those links. I'll experiment with them and see what improvements they can bring. I actually did try the diagonal placement, and although it was an improvement over my initial placement, the current placement sounds better. I'll keep trying however. Given that my listening position is now about a foot away from the back wall, do you think Tim's speakers toed-in directly toward me will be a problem? One of the links I provided in my last post seemed to indicate that listening close to the back wall was beneficial due to the fact that the signals coming from the speakers and those relaecting off the wall behind me were too close in time to be detectable or differentiated from eachother. Do you think this is the case? thanks,
Bill
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 86
Registered: Nov-05
Tim,
Thank you for the feedback. When you speak of fiberglass pannels, what are you refering to? Also, what type of fiberglass would you line the bass traps with? I'm interested in learning more about the Arias. Can you direct me to a link that details what they do best as well as what sacrifices are made to obtain the most beneficial qualities? Also, is there anywhere in the Boston area where I might be able to listen to them? I foolishly bought my last pair of speakers at considerable cost w/o trying them out at home first, and now I'm regretting it. Don't want to make that mistake again. Thank you for all of your help,
Bill
 

Silver Member
Username: Timn8ter

Seattle, WA USA

Post Number: 792
Registered: Dec-03
I'm referring to Owens Corning 705 semi-rigid fiberglass panels. They form the core of most acoustic panels that you see on the market. Covered with burlap or some other fabric that allows sound to pass through they can be reasonably attractive. Here's a link where this is discussed from a do-it-yourself point of view.
http://www.geocities.com/jonrisch/a1.htm
There's also a company called Rives Audio that specializes in small room acoustics. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Chris Huston their Vice President of Acoustical Engineering. These guys know their stuff and even if you're not going to avail yourself of their services their website contains alot of good info.
http://www.rivesaudio.com
My products are available Internet direct. There is no storefront or dealers. I do offer a 30-day trial period. If you would like more information please send an email to Info@AlegriaAudio.Com and I'll be happy to answer all your questions.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7659
Registered: May-04


Placing your listening position close to the rear wall will make the reflection time shorter but make the reflections more obvious in intensity. I would suggest a usual position several feet from the rear wall and treat the wall with a diffusion panel or a few semi-circular ASC Tube Traps to break up the reflections off the back wall. Test the difference by simply placing a soft pillow behind your head. Better with the pillow, needs some diffusion on the rear wall. Same with the pillow, don't bother with the rear wall at this point.

The first reflections from Tim's speakers off the rear wall will be essentially the same as any other speaker. What will be missing with Tim's designs will be the second and third reflections which have already bounced off walls, ceiling and floor to arrive at the rear wall out of phase. The less an overly lively room is excited, the better your chances of getting good results.


If you wish to experiment with bass traps and diffusion panels, you can make some temporary traps out of cardboard boxes stuffed with crumpled newspapers. Stack them up wherever you want to try a treatment and listen for an improvement. These are not going to treat low bass problems, as a trap needs to be physically very big/deep (lots of surface area) for anything beneath 80Hz but these will give you an idea of what can be achieved by treating your room. Most commercial traps will provide a semi-reflective side which can be used to compensate for deficiencies in the high frequency "air" in the room. How much you stuff the box and use the direction of the box in the room can give you an idea of what treatments might be useful to start. Corners are the most obvious problem areas in rooms and using a bookshelf diagonally in the corner can help diffuse the bass energy which collects in right angle intersections. If you read the articles on the forum in the "Accessories" area, you will see that absorption is just one method to bring a room around. Diffusion and controlled reflection are also useful when treating a room.


 

Bronze Member
Username: Bcollins

Rockport, MA United States

Post Number: 87
Registered: Nov-05
Jan & Tim,
Thank you for all of the info. I'm going to first try and control the HF reflections. I've seen a couple of types of foam core pannels at the local hardware store. One seems to be made of a light styrofoam type material, and the other a heavier more rigid porous foam core material with a foil type paper covering the sides. Would either of these be effective for HF absorbtion/diffusion? Would you need to remove the foil paper from the heavier pannel? Also, would a thin cotton fabric be ok to cover them with? The other material I saw was the foam rubber padding that is used under carpeting. It's about 1/2" thick and consists of particles of foam rubber of various densities blended together. thank you,
Bill
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 7660
Registered: May-04


Styrofoam is too dense and the foil will only add to the reflective nature of the room. Why buy something only to remove part of it? When considering absorptive materials keep in mind anything that is so tightly woven/constructed that light will not pass through the material (look at your speaker grill covers) will probably be more reflective at certain frequencies than absorptive. This will result in an uneven absorption/reflection rate which can often be worse than no treatment at all. You can easily suck out the midrange and still allow the high frequencies to bounce around the room. You want to exploit the concept of "controlled" reflection/absorption. Not not underestimate the value of diffusion along with all your other plans.


If you haven't looked at the articles on acoustic treatments on the forum, do that first. While more expensive than DIY treatments, the purpose built products offered to the audio community are more effective for the dollar spent. Absorptive panels such as Sonex are open cell foam with a varying density throughout the thickness of the panel. This allows the signal to enter the material, where it strikes more densely packed fibers, and then it cannot find its way back out. A sonic lobster trap! You cannot find this sort of material in Home Depot. Spending money for a product like this will get better results with less material in the room and, in the long run, less money spent for the final results you desire. Mounting absortive panels a few inches away from the wall will allow whatever passes through the panel to reflect off the wall and pass one more time through the absorptive material, further dampening the reflection.


Bass traps are a bit easier to duplicate and you should find some helpful ideas in the Accessories area of the forum.


 

Bronze Member
Username: Armyscout42

DUGWAY , UTAH USA

Post Number: 44
Registered: Sep-04
after listening and following the recommendations of mr. vigne, in regards to speaker selection on small rooms, there are so many very good manufacturers. I like ohm's myself because it's 3 dimensional and sweet spot is not as big of an issue as it is in other types of drivers. Anthony gallos, orb, mirage, elac, oem and possibly eminent technology if you are into planars. you can also use in-walls for small rooms which customized ht systems use. I've installed plenty of in-walls on small rooms from mansions to penthouses when I used to be an installer for high end theater systems. Room treatment as described by mr. vigne is definitely worth the time and effort.
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