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Can I Hear Integrated Amps for Around $3000, Bob

 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1193
Registered: May-05
Hello All,

I am looking down the road shortly to upgrading my integrated amp as many of you know and you know I have a Unison Research Unico (80 wpc into 8 Ohms) driving my lovely SalkSound HT2-TLs with an Arcam CD-Diva 92 as source. Right now, the system sounds very nice, has a good soundstage, decent PRaT, is easy to listen to (no listener fatigue) but I can tell that I'm missing some music as I've explained before. (I've been to enough live venues to know I'm not getting a truly "live" type performance although I recognize in some cases it can be the quality of the recording.) I'm enjoying the music more than my original system but I'm looking for more.

Also, you guys know that I live in the audio desert with no decent audio stores in Spokane so I can't really audition a bunch of options and I can't really take the 80 plus lb. speakers on the road. I am likely looking at used gear on Audiogon and I've narrowed the choices to Pass Labs, Conrad Johnson, Classe, Plinius, and McIntosh because I've read a number of reviews and I'm confident that they won't lead my relatively neutral set-up into a really bright and difficult to listen to mess.

Also, I would consider the Wyred 4 Sound integrated but I'm a little concerned about the whole "D" class amp thing, its sound and presentation. Any help would be appreciated as usual?

Thanks, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13965
Registered: Feb-05
My favorite amps in that arena are Sonneteer, LFD, Naim and Sugden and would probably consider Luxman as well.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13966
Registered: Feb-05
It would be difficult to believe that a Class A Pass Labs amp would sound anything but stellar as well.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1236
Registered: Jul-07
The amps that you list Dak all have excellent reputations, but are all very different sounding. Your current amp is a good one, and with your Salks should sound darn good. Are you sure the amp is what's holding you back ? Can you be more specific about what's missing ?

ps I wouldn't get too hung up on the whole "D class amp thing". There are some excellent products (and some not so good) that use that approach.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15892
Registered: May-04
.

If you're already "looking for more", rather than plunging into a new set of electronics, you might think through your set up and system accessories. If you spent half your projected budget on making the present system work better, I would tell you the money spent would be a wise investment in anything you wanted to do in the future. While accessories and small things that go under and on top of equipment will not be nearly as much of an instant gratification thrill as opening a new 60lb amplifier, they can take a system much further along than a simple swap out of gear if what was holding back the original system is still holding back whatever you put in its place. Consider the fact you are looking for a more transparent component if you intend to upgrade. The greater transparency of the higher priced amplifier will also bring with it a greater depence on not having the set up of the system dragging on its performance. I would expect your present system to be capable of indicating the differences between the electronics sitting on a maple cutting block or sitting on a set of halved tennis/racquetballs. It's a pretty cheap experiment and, if you detect a difference between those two set ups, then there's plenty of room for improvement elsewhere. Certainly, if you're still using the cables that were in place with the old system, then new cables will be on the list of upgrades. AC line conditioners do work, if you buy wisely. Running a dedicated AC line with a proper ground works every time.

If I remember correctly, your system is in a space that also must serve as a domestic living area. That sort of constriction immediately places the better system at a disadvantage. Support racks/stands and room treatments of a modest sort would be included in any serious upgrade of any system at your present level and even more so as you upgrade. You don't need big, bulky items but you probably need to help out the current system before you decide to help it out the door. This is all standard fare as your system improves and becomes more capable of showing you the downside of just plonking equipment where it fits and assuming the room has no influence on what you hear. Even a modest system will show its pedigree when you do some work on the ancillaries which support its performance.


Without more of a description regarding what you feel you're not hearing from your present system it's pretty close to impossible to provide real advice on how to get what you feel you should be hearing. But I agree with Chris that your list of prospective new amplifiers is going from ying to yang, light to dark, cool to warm, "needs careful system matching" to "works with d@mn near anything" and back again. That you came up with that list suggests to me you're reading too many reviews and looking for phrases that light up your brain's "I want that" centers. I can assure you a Pass amplifier sounds little like a CJ or a Mac and the equipment that would mate well to the Pass is unlikely to be the equipment that would mate well with the CJ. I would therefore advise you to sit for a moment - or a month - and reflect on what it is your're finding in the reviews which can be put together into one cohesive statement of "I want ...".

You want what? The sound of music playing in your room? We all do.

I will also assure you that chasing "that" down without a real plan other than upgraditis caused by excessive exposure to audio reviews is not the best way to go for someone who has just made some serious improvements to their system and now wants more. Slow down and take a few deep breaths. Next I will advise you that going from a roughly $1k (highly regarded) integrated amplifier to a $3k integrated amplifier is getting into the weeds of diminishing returns.

What happened to this option?

Ok guys,

I realize it's already a done deal and the Unison Research Unico is already up, running and making me pretty dang happy. But, I've already found my next amp. I know, I know, live with this new system awhile and see what it does with the new SongTowers.

Well, in case you're interested anyway, this is going to be my next amp. Amazingly, it looks an awful lot like the Unico.


http://www.underwoodhifi.com/mod_unison.html

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/unison2/unico.html

From the Six Moons review;

"For a measly $400 surcharge, the Level-2 is so good -- and significantly superior to the Level-1 mod -- that serious potential buyers and upgraders should bypass the junior. If you haven't the shekels, beg, borrow or steal the green. Ultimately, the Level-2 Unico should be compared to $4000-$5000 integrated amplifiers. I cannot conceive of anyone not completely satisfied with it. It's definitely one of the best-sounding amplifiers in its price range I've heard this past year."


You appear to be getting flighty, Dak. How many shoes and purses do you need?




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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1194
Registered: May-05
Hello Again All,

Jan, I'd be happy to have you come on up and go through the room with me for room treatments, power conditioners, etc. That said, my lovely wife is not removing the bed so that limits many of the things we could try on the room treatment end. Moreover, the components are in the cabinet shown in my photos on the HT2-TL thread and I might be able to talk the wife into a rack but I doubt it. The cabinet has very good air circulation and I leave the doors open when listening.

The CDP is on isolation feet and I noticed a minor improvement with that. The amp is not. I tried them with it and I didn't notice any change in sound. I do not have a power conditioner and, frankly, I never thought they made much of a difference. The same is true for me of expensive power cords, interconnects and speaker cables but I've got an open mind and maybe I just need to consider those options. (Actually, I had an interconnect form the CDP to the integrated that cost me about $100 and I believe that the Blue Jeans interconnects offer an improvement and I would say the same thing for the Blue Jeans speaker cables over the "Monster Wire" in the old set-up.)

Of course, how does one go about finding the "right" mix of those power cords, interconnects and speaker cables to get the right "synergy" without spending many more times the cost of the amp. Do these manufacturers accept "lightly used" returns if they don't work out? And, who online should I be looking at for such things?

As for what I'm not hearing, it depends upon the CD that I'm listening to and considering. In some cases, the music and voices sound close to spot on but I can tell that the cymbal doesn't have quite the right "ping" or decay or the kick drum doesn't have quite the right "boom" and sustained sound thereafter. In other cases, I'm getting much better separation and air around the instruments but strings especially don't sound right. They're still a little like "strings lite" and muddy. Room treatment likely would help this but as I described many times before, I am still learning this whole hobby.

And, you're absolutely right that I am reading "lots"; try a couple hundred reviews of many different manufacturers and integrateds. I've actually got a grading system that I've been using to figure the positives and negatives about the amps from the different reviewers.

Then, I tried to narrow it down to amps that "might" work with my existing gear. I do believe that the Mcs and the CJs may work better than the Pass Lab but that's really just a hunch. I know that the Arcam CDPs tend to be a little bright and the ribbon tweeters can also move that direction so the Unico seems to keep that in control and it's part of what impressed me with the amp, especially going from tubes to what I suspected would be a more "bright" solid state sound.

I believe that the Mcs and CJs are likely to also moderate any brightness. The Pass Lab amp my be too "neutral" but I also believe it's likely out of my price range, even used so . . .

I haven't forgotten the Underwood Hifi upgrades for this amp and, in fact, it is still a possibility. However, I have talked with Wally, the owner of Underwood, and he highly recommended the Wired 4 Sound STI 500 over spending the money to upgrade the Unico. He is familiar with and has heard my speakers and he believes it might be a good fit. I still don't know, or understand, enough about "D" class amps to know if I should be concerned?

So, Chris, I appreciate you weighing in on that.

Art, I very much appreciate the PM and I am adding your sage thoughts to the mix.

Finally, I got no purses or high heels Jan. My momma was a Texas girl and no son of hers would ever be caught dead in such things.

Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15894
Registered: May-04
.

Is the integrated amp from Wired 4 Sound also using the same B&O ICE chips found in their power amplifiers?

Do you know the brand of tubes in your Unico?



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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2100
Registered: Oct-07
W4S apparently uses B&O ASP series ICE modules....this is a complete amp, from power supply to speaker terminals. Some end users....Bel Canto, among others, will do some mods before selling. Bel Canto, for example, in the 1000 'ref' amp adds some power supply capacitance.
The ASP module has enough extra power supply capacity and outputs to run additional non-power supplied modules... as in Bi/Tri amp speakers or for professional use.

Keep in mind that the W4S is nearly identical (front and rear layout) to my PSAudio GCC series integrated which has a few minor differences from the W4S amp. I'd wager it'd be tough to tell 'em apart, a/b ing them in a single system.

Other sellers of ICE amps? Too numerous to mention.

If you want 'd' amps that are NOT ICE based, check out Spectron, Hypex and a few others.

Just my opinion, but I'd say that ALL the ICE based amps have more in common than stellar differences.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1195
Registered: May-05
Leo,

Hey, thanks for the information on the "D" class amps. It was especially good to know that you have the PS Audio GCC as a friend suggested that I look at it since I was looking at the W4S amp. I have no real prejudice against them, I just don't know much about them. So, is the GCC more solid state or tube-like, if there is such a thing?

Dave
 

Bronze Member
Username: Steve_g

Charlotte, North Carolina United States

Post Number: 33
Registered: Apr-06
I recently auditioned the Luxman L-505U integrated amplifier with my new Totem Forests. The match was amazing. The thing I liked about the luxman was the fact it's equipped with tone controls. Also this integrated packs a seriously powerful 100 watts. As soon as I can sell my krell S300i I will buy it. That's saying something, because I really like the Krell.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15895
Registered: May-04
.

"... the components are in the cabinet shown in my photos on the HT2-TL thread ..."

Sorry to tell you, Dak, such cabinets are built to be furniture and not functional pieces of equipment and they are the antithesis of a good audio rack. As we've discussed in another thread all electronics are to some extent microphonic, most especially any device using tubes will respond to a superior support system. Additionally, any electronic component of quality will clean up its act when the support system is capable of functioning as a drain for internal vibrations created within the unit. Placing the gear inside a wooden box is about the least best choice for getting the highest quality of reproduction from the equipment. Doing so means you've just placed it inside the most resonant area of the room. It's not just about heat build up but more about getting the equipment sited in the best environment vs the worst environment. Look at what works as a good equipment stand and notice how the shelves are decoupled from the open shelved unit; http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/flexye.html

A few years back there was a very simple and quite inexpensive rack which consisted of two uprights leaned against a load bearing wall. Shelves were placed ladder like on the uprights and the diagonal of the support braces provided good isolation when the supports were "spiked" top and bottom to minimize contact area. I'm going to guess what you're showing in your pictures is a fairly non-movable system. In other words, you don't have much flexibility in where and how the system is placed in the room.


" Jan, I'd be happy to have you come on up and go through the room with me for room treatments, power conditioners, etc. That said, my lovely wife is not removing the bed so that limits many of the things we could try on the room treatment end."


If I were to come up there, Dak, the first thing I would say is you have the system set up in a way that doesn't favor its operation. That's just judging what I see in your photo in the Speakers forum. The speakers are wedged in between a wall and the large cabinet which holds the equipment. Rather than elaborate on all the reasons this isn't good for sound quality, I'll just say this is again one of the least best places for the speakers to exist and, if you open the doors to the cabinet while playing music, you've just made it worse. What I see there is a matter of the system going where it fits and, as I've said on this forum, where things "fit" has never in my experience been where they perform best. Do you have the flexibility to try the system on another wall location? Or to change your seating location? Just getting the speakers or your chair away from the space where they now exist is worth the effort. It seems fairly obvious you haven't used any particular speaker set up plan other than "where they fit". Speakers sound very different in the same room depending on which wall they're positioned against and, if the room is on a pier and beam foundation, just the difference in the floor joists running with or against the speakers and equipment stand will make an audible change. These are the things that cost you virtually nothing other than some sweat equity and which can make as much or more of an improvement in the quality of your music than spending money on new electronics which will have to work with the same poor set up. If you need more convincing, send Mike Wodek a PM and ask about the changes we made to his system with nothing more than placement. Mike had more flexibility in his room than it appears you are afforded but the point remains the same, proper set up matters and is at least 50% of what you hear from a system. You have good equipment, I'm fidning it difficult to believe you are not hearing convincing music from it unless you've very much mismatched the amp to the speakers. Looking at the specs for your speakers, that wouldn't appear to be the case.


"The CDP is on isolation feet and I noticed a minor improvement with that. The amp is not. I tried them with it and I didn't notice any change in sound. I do not have a power conditioner and, frankly, I never thought they made much of a difference. The same is true for me of expensive power cords, interconnects and speaker cables but I've got an open mind and maybe I just need to consider those options."


Trying just one isolation footer or just one AC conditioner is like trying just one glass of wine and deciding whether you like wine or not. First, depending on what you pair it with and what your expectations are, you might decide entirely wrong. Accessories are often a "suck it and see what comes out" sort of upgrade. The isolation device which works for a turntable probably isn't the isolation device that will work equally well for a power amplifier. Most importantly, what you expect from the accessory matters immensely. While it's true that accessories can make as much or more of an improvement in a system's performance as would upgrading to more expensive gear, most people are expecting that same change in sound quality to be immediately evident when they use an isolation foot. Probably not going to happen. Accessories are more often a cumulative system of subtle but important upgrades which, when taken as a whole, perform the task of improving the transparency and fidelity of your music. It's not uncommon for the performance of an AC conditioner not to become apparent until you've also provided better isolation for the components or better speaker placement for the system. One adds to the other in a synergistic manner. No one is asking you to use expensive power cords or interconnects. I have neither in my system and I wouldn't suggest them for the level of equipment you currently own. However, good quality doesn't have to be expensive. But, to make the case quite plainly, if you like the sound of your system as much as you seem to with each upgrade you've just made ...

"In the first song on the CD; the first thing I notice with the new speakers is that I was slammed with rhytmic bass drums punching me in the stomach . . . bam . . . bam. . . bam . . . bam . . . and then a cacophony of voice and instruments that presented on a sound stage that was wide, deep and real. These voices and instruments moved around the sound stage, appearing and disappearing like fireflies in a Midwestern night. The "speakers disappeared" and the music took over and I was mesmerized with the sounds that seemed to emanate from far outside the width of my speaker placement.

Then, at about 45 seconds in, softly, faintly, in the background are footsteps. I'd never heard them before. (If you've never heard them before, you need new speakers.) If you can tell me what the footsteps do on your soundstage, you've got pretty good speakers. I can tell you what they did; in fact, I have a mental image of every step of every heel and toe. BTW, it happens again about 3:45 into the same track.

In the second track, the synthesizer seems to create sound, light and darkness in space, jumping around the stage while voices and a very faint guitar can be heard in the distance. Then, skip ahead to "Money" and the clang of the cash register stage left and the old style calculator at stage right alternating until his voice cuts in. Very impressive.

Frankly, it's not the kind of music I would normally get all worked up about because it is so overly processed with instruments and voice that it isn't "real" as Jan would likely say. But, for the pure joy of listening to these speakers reproduce the sounds and movements, it was pretty magical and more than once I had shivers going down my back.

Then, I went for a couple albums I know inside out. Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me." As you may recall, the Altecs actually did jazz pretty well or at least I thought so until now. Listening to this album again, it was like I had purchased a new CD. Her voice was smokier, breath sounds were present that were never there before and passages where her voice had disappeared before found her simply carrying out a note that hadn't been heard.

The piano, bass and guitar were as real as I heard this evening at a concert at our church. Each key strike had just the right note, timbre and delay. The bass was deep and tight and felt right, better than the high school bass player I listened to tonight but give the kid 10 years and who knows."


... what accessories will provide you is a more acute insight into the music you already have in your room. If you like this system, accessories will not change the system, they will only improve on what you have. New equipment will provide a different sound. It's a matter of choice; some people like the idea of a constantly changing the flavor of their system while others find equipment they like and then set out to make it perform to the best of its ability. The issue I would make with you changing gear at this point is the same as I've made earlier, new gear is still going to be working within the same limitations as the old gear if all you do is swap gear. The more transparent the gear, the more likely it is to show up poor set up and to benefit from superior set up.


"Of course, how does one go about finding the "right" mix of those power cords, interconnects and speaker cables to get the right "synergy" without spending many more times the cost of the amp. Do these manufacturers accept "lightly used" returns if they don't work out? And, who online should I be looking at for such things?"


I don't know the best way to answer your question as to "how" you find the right combination of accessories in that it takes a certain sense of first, believing accessories matter. If you're of a mind that footers and AC conditioners aren't going to matter as much as changing equipment, you're almost entirely there when it comes to convincing yourself footers and AC conditioners don't matter. The "no-cebo" is just as effective as the placebo.

Second, much of "how" I go about deciding what to change in accessories comes from curiosity and experimentation. I don't recommend anyone on this forum, given the level of equipment we all have to work with, should spend $1k on isolation feet. While there are exotic materials and precision construction methods employed which are unobtainable outside of the specifcs of some $1k footers, most accessories begin as someone thinking about something and finding a solution that works for them. So a sandbox or inner tube isolation box is not outside the capability of most diy'ers. Filling a large baggie with sand or lead shot or buying a few diving weights is not all that difficult for an experiment. Trying halved racquetballs under your equipment is certainly not impossible even for someone who doesn't know which end of a hammer to hold. Neither is the simple Jenga block under a component. However, you have to have the idea either from your own head or the ability to figure out what the other fella has done that you can copy for less money. Each of the above "tweaks" will result in a different sound when used with different gear. And, to begin with, even the best accessories cannot overcome the problems of basic equipment placement in a good rack or stand and really good speaker placement. That you've heard little difference with the accessories you've already tried doesn't surprise me given the issues of the equipment placement. Tweaking also means listening, listening to the music and not just the system. Figuring out accessoriies often takes reading about accessories rather than reading about amplifiers and speakers. Once again, not as glamorous or exciting but IMO even more important. If you want to try a new AC conditioner, we can provide some suggestions and you'll find most accessories come with a tiral period where you get a full refund if you're not satisfied. The most you'll be out is shipping costs.

I would certainly investigate the tubes used in your amplifier as tubes can have a significant effect on the music's reproduction.


Bottom lining this, Dak, you're free to take whatever advice you care to. And, most importantly IMO, getting too many cooks in the kitchen is bad for the final stew. If you're talking with Wally and you've informed him and sent him photos of how your system is set up, you should pay attention to as little conflicting input as possible. Get yourself one or maybe two gurus and take their advice rather than finding out what everyone here personally likes in equipment. Where I would direct you in that regard isn't going to be the same as would Chris or Art because we all have different preferences to begin with. Buying new gear is fun and buying a racquetball to cut in half really isn't that much fun for most audiophiles. Cruising the hardware aisles to find the right ball bearings to build your own roller block device isn't as enticing as reading about how one amplifier makes a particular thirty second passage in one recording (that you don't own anyway) sound more "organic" than it does with another amplifier. On the other hand buying a new car and disconnecting two spark plug wires and then complaining about the poor performance isn't much fun either. To each their own. But, if I were to come up to your place to provide advice, from what I see in your photo and what I've read from you so far, I'd probably be giving the same advice as I have here.




As to the high heels, living in Big D I would have expected to see quite a few cowboys and would-be weekend cowboys dancing last night in their high heel boots hoping they made their tush look appealing to that "sweet young thang" over against the bar.



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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1196
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Either you're married or you're just plain brilliant. My wife is fine with me buying a new amp if it's "the one" and I'm done for awhile. I told her that would be my preference as well and I've already explained that once I get the amp that I'm going to be happy with for 10 plus years, my next and last upgrade will be going from CDs to a DAC and hard drive for music. That's probably 2 years down the road or so, but I digress.

I asked her to read your post so she could see what I've been telling her about the room set-up, etc. She didn't believe that the set-up, placement of the equipment and speakers had any bearing on the sound. I'd try to convince her otherwise but I have no credentials in this regard. She read your response to my post and said, "ok", you can try and sell the cabinet on Craigslist and she immediately started looking at several "furniture" sites to show me the type of ladder set-up she thinks you're talking about. She had no interest in amps but furniture . . . So, it may be possible to get to a rack set-up after all and that may open up some options on placement that aren't available now.

One of the earlier threads had talked about room treatments, which got me to doing a little research about it sometime ago. I am fairly certain that the wife would go for some minor room treatments but then I ran across this article that sounded quite interesting. With the current set-up, there was no way to move the large cabinet to a space where this might work but with a rack, it would be much easier. So, is this reasonable or bunk?

http://www.decware.com/paper14.htm

If this looks reasonable, it would be fairly easy to configure the room and speakers more along these lines and see what it does to the sound. Once configured, I could start playing more with the types of micro adjustments you suggest. I'm afraid the bed still won't be going anywhere but she has no objection to moving it. If anyone wants to help on potential set-up options, I'd be happy to provide more information on room dimensions, etc. It is fully carpeted and it's on concrete slab because it's in our basement and it's right next to the furnace room, bad, but I've added some insulation in the adjoining wall, good.

Jan, as for some of the ideas you've posed, they were simply not even on my radar. I would never have thought to half raquetballs, I would have looked online for some "store bought" isolation feet. I never even considered "ball bearings" although I've seen you mention them in past threads but I guess I didn't really pay attention to what you were suggesting and I wasn't thinking in terms of "isolation" type situations. The same with "jenga blocks", wood blocks or sand bags. Those are all reasonable concepts; they just weren't even close to on my radar and I have no idea how I would go about putting them together and looking at the effect. I suspect it's trial and error and lots of listening. Gee, there's a horrible thought, since I'm already doing the listening anyway.

As for the too many cooks in the kitchen, I agree but I also have come to appreciate the different perspectives and approaches to music on the site. I don't always follow everyone's advice but I do read and listen intently, weigh stuff and try to consider the advice in light of what I already know about my system. So, I didn't go for the McIntosh amp that you suggested before; in part because I was interested to hear something besides tubes after taking my old amp out of play. That said, I considered Art's advice on the Unico because it was a hybrid and I was concerned that something like a Krell solid state, which was in my price range, might tend to take the Arcam CD, which can push a bit towards bright at times and push it over the edge to where listener fatigue came in.

It turns out that the Unico had just enough "tube" softness to quell any of that while adding enough watts, dynamics and soundstage to really bring the music more alive. I really enjoy listening to music much more than I did before and the system is considerably better than what I had; it also cost about 3 times as much, lol.

In a new amp, I was looking to take it to the next level but I also understand that upgrading just for upgrading sake probably isn't the best idea. However, I still believe that for right now, the amp is the weakest link in my system and it's really not that weak. It was the under $2000 amp of the year for several writers and I recognze that unless I go used and find an incredibly good "buy" or find something a little unique from a direct seller who isn't playing in the retail price range like the Wyred 4 Sound at $1999, I may not actually "improve" on the amp. The Unico is a 10 year old but amp technology probably hasn't changed enough to make the 10 years all that relevant.

I'm certainly willing to slow down a little, sell the "furniture", buy a rack with the proceeds and do a little experimentation. I probably won't buy a bunch of speaker cables or interconnects unless I'm going to stick with this amp, though. I'm not sure it makes sense to blend those to the current amp if I'm going to replace in 3-6 months but I'm certainly open to some experimentation. The one reviewer of the Wyred 4 Sound amp highly praised the MAC interconnects, power cords and speaker cables and they appear to be fairly reasonable so maybe I get those and try them with the current amp knowing if they're an improvement here, they may work for whatever I purchase in the future? Or, maybe that limits where I go in the future, I don't know.

So, guys, please don't write me off and don't quit giving advice. I really do try and read not only in my own threads but some of the others in order to try and learn more about this hobby.

Thanks, Dave
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 966
Registered: Dec-06
Dak, that is a very interesting article. I believe Jim Smith in his book mentioned that when he was setting up gear at various audio shows, and the room wasn't very good (as they often are not), usually setting it up diagonally would help. Or perhaps I read that in UHF. In any case, it all seems quite logical.

I'm already thinking about trying it out myself. My room is kind of tight, but I actually think placing my system diagonally would help me to be able to place my rack in a much more convenient and accessible spot.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1197
Registered: May-05
Dan,

It made sense to me as well but then what often makes sense to me is later proven as complete baloney. However, the diagram showing the reflection points made perfect sense and appears to support his conclusion that such a set-up can avoid the need for a bunch of elaborate sound deadening, which my wife has already told "it's not going to happen because this is shared space" and she's not giving up a guest bedroom so . . . I sure hope it works.

On the bright side, she is already shopping furiously for an audio rack that she may like in that space. Jan, I think I love you . . .

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1198
Registered: May-05
Ok All,

Here's the scoop on the room and I know a diagram would work better but I don't have a working scanner anymore cuz of Windows 7.

The room is almost rectangular but not quite. It's 20'8" on the long wall. It's 14'1 1/2 " on the short wall where the cabinet is located and it's 13' 5 1/2" on the back short wall, due to an 8" wall cut-out for the last 5 1/2 feet or so.

The cabinet is centered on the front short wall and it's 44" x 60" in width and height and it sits 25" from that front short wall.

The speakers are 18 1/2" from that wall to the back and 36" to the front so they sit about 11" out from the front of the cabinet.

There's a 60" inset window on the right long wall as you're facing the cabinet for egress because it's a basement bedroom. The window is covered with wooden blinds that are drawn about 3/4 closed.

The bed is tucked on the rear short wall against that same right long wall and extends 80" down the rear short wall and it goes about 40" into the room. This back wall adjoins the furnace room but I have added insulation to that wall, which blocks almost all of the noise. I don't notice the furnace when it cycles on and off at all.

My listening chair is 80" from the nearest point of the speakers and centered in the room. It is a large covered easy chair about 48" by 48" and it's pushed up against the bed. Occasionally, I listen with the two closet doors open on the left long wall because I feel like the hanging clothes may quiet some of the reflections.

The ceilings are 8'2" and the floor is fully carpeted. If you want pictures, I can take a bunch but the room is pretty minmal otherwise.

Hope that helps some. If not, you're all welcome to come on down and I'll BBQ steaks and we can figure it all out. LOL

Thanks, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15897
Registered: May-04
.

I'll take a few minutes to read the article before I comment. It looks very much like others I've seen on the same topic. Let me provide a few other references you might find useful. As I've said before, if the article is coming from a manufacturer or a retailer, take what's given for free to be just what it's worth. While there is likely to be some valuable information in the article, the intent of providing the information is most probably to convince you of something rather than just to inform you about something.

We'll start with my favored speaker set up routine for most rooms; http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/waspe.html

IMO one specific set up procedure might not always work in any one room. It's best to learn about the theory of speaker placement and then apply one format with the ability to pull for other set ups if you just can't get the results you desire in your room. I have a set up routine that I use but what I'll provide here should get the job done. The most important thing when doing these set ups is to be meticulous about taking your measurements and keeping track of what you hear when you move the speakers "X" amount of distance. You're probably going to overshoot the mark a few times as you bracket the right location so you always want to be able to repeat the set up you previously had that sounded better than where you're at now.

http://www.cardas.com/content.php?area=insights&content_id=26&pagestring=Room+Se tup

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/index.html

http://www.goodwinshighend.com/roomdesign.htm

http://www.soundstage.com/audiohell/audiohell200111.htm

http://www.stereophile.com/reference/1008speaks/

http://www.cognitivevent.com/sandbox.html

http://www.barrydiamentaudio.com/vibration.htm

http://forum.stereophile.com/content/have-you-tried-controlling-vibration-your-s ystem

http://tnt-audio.com/clinica/tweaks.html

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1000/cheaptweaks.htm

http://www.acousticsfirst.com/

http://tnt-audio.com/accessories/vibra_iso_pt1_e.html

http://tnt-audio.com/accessories/glisdome_e.html

http://www.positive-feedback.com/archives_accessories.htm

http://sixmoons.com/archivelibrary/accessories2.html

http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=slv8-hptb5&p=diycable&type=

If you'd like I'll provide instructions for building the cables I use. They are super cheap and easy to build so, if you don't care for them, you're not out much cash. They are rather fragile though and not for the person who is constantly tugging at their cables.


I would investigate new tubes. I notice one of the Underwood HiFi upgrades for the Unico is a new set of NOS tubes. Pre amp tubes can make a noticeable improvement but when reading tube reviews, you'll need to know whether the writer is reviewing for audiophile applications or for musical instrument use. The two uses for a tube are quite different and what the musician wants is not always what the audio listener wants. Also keep in mind any tube will sound different in a different circuit so tube reviews are guidelines to follow at the very most.

http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=slv8-hptb5&p=the%20tube%20store%20vac uum%20tubes&type=



I certainly understand WAF but keep in mind my first sentence in the last post, "such cabinets are built to be furniture and not functional pieces of equipment and they are the antithesis of a good audio rack." Do some research and figure out what you're looking for in a rack to benefit the music. First, heavy is almost always a negative in audio racks. Mass is a double edged sword and mass alone is probably something to avoid. Light and rigid is typically the key, decoupling of shelves must be done properly or not at all. The ideal total system rack in most cases is the one which can both couple the equipment to the stand and also decouple the equipment from the stand. Not easy to accomplish.

Most of these are not good for sound. They are still meant to be "furniture" first and something to support audio gear second. They will probably not be much better than what you already have other than the open stands will remove the box from around the components. They are generally flimsy and still resonate when driven by acoustical or mechanical excitation. Avoid glass or marble shelves as they will typically make the high frequencies hard and less lifelike; http://www.racksandstands.com/Audio-Racks-and-Audio-Stands-C14143.html?refid=G13 234.%22component+rack%22

On the other hand, Ikea has a cheap set up that works well for audio; http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/179442/the-ikea-lack-rack-thread

http://www.parttimeprojects.com/audio/diy/Ikea%20Stand.php







http://sound.westhost.com/jokes.htm




.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15898
Registered: May-04
.

FYI, this is what I use under my amplifiers; http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202310703/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1& storeId=10051&catalogId=10053 Place a halved racquetball (tennis balls and racquetballs do sound different so you might want to try both) in the concave portion of the qwik cap and set the amp on top of the ball. I use tubed monoblock power amplifiers so the caps/balls also rest on layered blocks of MDF/foamboard/MDF/cork/MDF/rubber shelf liner/MDF arranged in a constrained layer damping system of alternating materials with varying resonant/damping signatures (the 65 lb. weight of the amplifiers provides the "constrainment", just layer the pieces together). I use VPI
"magic bricks"; http://cgi.ebay.com/VPI-dB-5-MAGIC-BRICK-BLOCK-DAMPEN-TRANSFORMER-AMP-NOISE-/290529013575?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43a4e0ef47 on my transformers but they're difficult to find nowdays and a less effective but cheaper and easier to find alternative would be five pound lead diver's weights from any diving shop. The Shakti Stone is the modern day VPI brick; http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/edge1/edge1.html The qwik caps and balls sit on top of these blocks on the floor and the blocks rest on halved tennis balls. You can buy a bag of tennis/racquetballs for a few bucks at Target or any sporting goods store. If you want to experiment, just by a few bags of balls and after snugging the bag up to keep the balls from moving around toss the bag as is under your amplifier. Buy a spirit level and make certain the CD player is level.

This is what I use under my (Rega Apollo) CD player;
http://vibrapod.com/ Use the cone type. These too are sitting on a three layered MDF constrained layer block which was actually the plinth to an old Well Tempered turntable; http://www.welltemperedlab.com/frameset2.html You can diy this very easily with the slabs of 3/4" MDF bonded together with GE silicone caulk (you'll need a few clamps to make this work) or just use the thinnest rubber shelf liner which will act as a secure gripping agent/damping material between layers. Woodworkers use this same material to secure their router pieces to the table so once you set something on this material it will stay in place yet provide effective damping between layers. The CD player and pre amp sit in a stand that acts as a suspension system for each shelf.

My turntable is sitting on something similar to the 10" thick AB butcher's block shown here; http://chefdepot.net/butcherblock.htm It was a salvage from a house that was selling and they were going to throw it away because the surface was worn from use. I took a belt sander to it and sanded it down to smooth again then refinished it. Other than fitting spikes to the legs, it's basically OEM and the best turntable stand I've ever used. It weighs about 180 lbs. and, in this, case mass works!


.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15899
Registered: May-04
.

You will need to deal with some room treatments, Dak, but we'll cross that bridge in due time. Work on basic set up first. Take notes as you change things and only change one item at any one time. Make certain you can always identify what it is that has changed and what has effected the change. Doing more than one thing will only obscure what is actually effective. Patience is the key here.

.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1200
Registered: May-05
Jan,

WOW!!! Great information. Ok, so my speakers couldn't be in a much worse position if I had tried. They're way to close to the back wall and side walls. My listening position is more of an isoceles triangle than an equilateral triange and the bed is on the wrong end of the room by all accounts. Other than those problems, I think I made an almost perfect start with my current set-up.

Looking at the articles on room placement, I think I need to move the bed to the wall long wall in the opposite corner so it is sitting behind my right speaker. This should act as somewhat of a bass trap behind that speaker and I can get another large bean bag and put it behind the other speaker. That will be a start on some "room treatment" and my wife won't bug me about it.

Then, I need to move the speakers farther from the side walls and much further into the room. By my calculations the front of the speakers should be at or beyond the end of the bed in its new placement. Also, that will allow my listening position to move to a more ideal location. I think that will make for a very good start on that aspect of the set-up. So, another question. Should the rack be along the back wall near the wall or should it also be somewhat into the room?

Then, I'll start working on getting the "furniture" sold and I kinda like the idea of the cheap diy Ikea rack solution. I'll show it to my wife, though, and if she prefers one of the more industrial looking racks that you have in the first hyperlink, I'll show her several of those. Once, I get to that point then I'll start looking at some of the things you showed in the last postings with isolation and dampening devices. This will be a fun exercise and should allow me to see how much I can improve things further with the existing set-up before I launch a new amp.

I'll report back when I'm further down the road. Much later on this response guys. It won't be next weekend because all the kids are coming in and the bedroom/listening room will be heavily used and occupied. Thanks Jan for all the great links.

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1238
Registered: Jul-07
Dak, I had posted that Decware link some time ago. I was contemplating that setup in my listening room.....not sure why I didn't. I found it interesting that someone who sells amps and speakers was saying that 60% of what you hear is room related. You don't get that often. I've spoken to Steve before and he doesn't try to sell, sell, sell. He tries to work with you to make your music better.

Have fun experimenting with the room. I think you'll find that much of what you are seeking you already have.....hidden away, for now. JMO, but my guess is that once your room is optimized, you will get a bigger improvement out of a source upgrade.....rather than a change of amps.....notwithstanding a tube swap as Jan mentioned. But, one thing at a time.

For what it's worth, another relatively inexpensive isolation device is made by Mapleshade. Just another option.

http://shop.mapleshadestore.com/Isoblocks/products/1/
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1239
Registered: Jul-07
In reading some of the info you've posted Jan, I think I have my amp setup backwards. I have Isonodes between the amp and a bamboo platform, and brass footers under the platform. I think the brass cones need to be under the amp, and the Isonodes under the bamboo platform. When I get my amp back I'll try it the other way.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15900
Registered: May-04
.

" I can get another large bean bag and put it behind the other speaker."

Another Ikea project; http://www.gearslutz.com/board/bass-traps-acoustic-panels-foam-etc/211672-diy-ul tratouch-cotton-bass-traps-broadband-absorbers.html

Once again, it's best to get a little theory of operation in your head and then extrapolate a project from what others have done before you started thinking about how to improve on what they've accomplished. Bass traps or some sort of acoustic treatments are almost always useful in a domestic environment where the intended purpose was not necessarilly to provide good sound. There are multiple points of contention regarding room treatments, two of those points that few would dispute are, first, that using conventional traps will result in broadband absorption of frequencies rather than targeted response in a specific bandwidth. The second is that conventional traps will need to be rather large to be effective at the low frequencies which are problematic in most domestic locations. While anything placed in the corners and first reflection points will likely be better than nothing, a bean bag by itself probably isn't going to be worth the space used when other, more effective methods could be employed for greater benefit. You can buy ready made and preformed insulation rounds or squares meant for going around HVAC ductwork which will be very effective when set up properly. There are plans for the construction of such devices on the web.

An ASC "Tube Trap"; http://www.asc-hifi.com/tube-trap.htm is a circular trap built from compressed fiberglass and then covered with a material to keep the fiberglass from becoming free floating in the environment. (Fiberglass is hazardous and should be treated with some degree of respect. Read about handling and using fiberglass before you commit to any diy project where it will be used.) Most importantly - and something that appears to be misssing from the above project - the trap has one side covered in Mylar which serves as a reflective surface. Without this reflective surface the trap risks being too absorptive to mid and high frequencies which would ultimately make the music appear lifeless and dull. Once in place, the traps can be rotated to provide a tuning of high frequency reflection to bass absorption, in other words, the long waves of the bass signal will pass through the trap and be absorbed while the shorter waves of the upper frequencies will be reflected back into the room to provide a desired amount of "air" to the final product. The traps are open tubes - hence the name - which might have an internal layer of additional fiberglass suspended in the center. As the pressure wave passes through the multiple layers of material, it is the transition from low pressure to high pressure which acts as the "absorption" device. The wavefront strikes the absorptive materials and is converted into heat and taken down in level in the same manner fiberglass insulates against heating or cooling loss in your attic or walls. By placing absorptive materials slightly away from the wall the trap can be made more effective by using the reflection off the wall to redirect the wavefront back through the trap for one more passthrough. Obviously a thirty foot wavefront doesn't care if the trap is two inches away from the wall so experimentation in placement is suggested.

Different materials will have different coefficients of absorption but also higher degrees of difficulty in sourcing and working with, say, fiberglass rolls vs rigid fiberglass panels. The two rules still apply, to be effective at very low frequencies, the traps must have some thickness and, even with the reflective material added, traps are mostly broadband absorption and will begin to take away some of the life in the music if used in excess. Due to the latter effect most people get excited about the benefits of room treatment once they've heard the benefits of a few corner traps and then tend to go overboard at first only later pulling back by taking out the excessive amount of absorption. This means there are always a good number of used traps on the market at decent prices.

You can easily diy a basic trap by heading to the home improvement store to pick up a couple of rolls of fiberglass insulation with a facing material. Working outside and while wearing a long sleeve shirt, gloves and eye/nose protection unroll the insulation to allow the fiberglass to expand which will make it more effective at its job. Next roll the trap back up a bit to form a layered roll that can support the weight of several of these rolls sitting on top of each other. Once you're happy you have a good trap built from a number of rolls at least four to five feet tall, secure the materials together and take a razor knife to the facing material cutting and removing the facing over half the roll, the remaining facing material will be your "reflective" side and you'll begin with this facing out into the room. Lay some paper on the floor to make rotating the trap easier and far safer than should fiberglass threads get caught in the carpet. Place the stacks in the front corners of your room behind your speakers and rotate the reflective side until you are satisfied with the results. This is for experimentation only and you cannot allow uncovered fiberglass to remain in your room. You can cover the rolls in some inexpensive material or a layer of fiberfill but you'll need to do something to constrain the fiberglass and most especially so if children or pets have access to the room. Once you've managed this experiment you'll likely be convinced of the efficacy of trapping a room. How you proceed and to what extent you proceed is up to you.

After the corners of a room, the next point of treatment that any speaker/room interface will probably require and benefit from would be treating first reflections. Once again the ways to go about this are up to you and in reality most rooms will benefit more from diffusion at this location than absorption but you decide which is more appropriate for your set up. You can easily make up a quickie diffusion panel from a large piece of cardboard scored halfway through at irregular intervals and bent to make a series of "WWWWW" cavities. My current speakers are set up as single driver dipoles which have slightly less energy going to the sides than most monopole speakers with wide dispersion tweeters so I tend to take on the first reflection point by moving a small absorptive trap close to the outer edge of my speakers thus performing the absorption right as the energy leaves the speaker baffle rather than waiting for it to strike the outside wall surface and this trap moves in and out when I play the system. When it's not in use, the trap sits off to the side. To the extent possible in your situation, traps and diffusers should be of equal value on both sides of the room to maintain symmetry in the absorption/reflection/diffusion (the three ways to "treat" a room) of each channel. When thinking of treatments, it is almost always the amount of surface area the wavefront encounters that makes the difference. Therefore, if you're thinking about placing a hanging blanket behind your listening position to knock down a bit of a reflection, giving the material a few loose pleats will increase the surface area and therefore increase the effectiveness of your plan. (Diffusion rather than absorption is once again likely to be the superior treatment in the rear of the room.) The same rule applies to all other types of treatments; maximum surface area and moving the wavefront from low pressure to high pressure multiple times are the keys to good absorptive/diffusion treatments. If you're using diffusion systems, they should be somewhat irregular in their pattern in order to have their highest benefits. While more difficult for the average diy'er, diffusion is almost always a better option for everything other than the room corners which will always be the points where bass has its highest levels and, therefore, creates the most problems. Where three surfaces meet is more critical than where two surfaces meet but work as your situation and your budget allow. A good room treatment will, in the end, display not neccessarily flat frequency response - though companies like RealTraps emphasize this as being critical* - but IMO a nice balance between lively, ambient sound and well thought out absorptive qualities.

There are also new methods being employed to treat a room. These rely more on the age old Helmholtz Resonator techniques taken to new computer calculated heights and far less on massive absorption by way of two dozen used refrigerator doors strewn about your room exhibiting broadband absorption of all frequencies. As I said earlier, it is very easy to overdo the absorption effect in a room and literally suck the life from the music. While expensive at this time these new devices strive to allow more music in the room rather than less; http://www.synergisticresearch.com/featured/acoustic-art-analogue-room-treatment / Putting aside the no-cebo effect of those who just don't want to accept anything new in their head, these devices are spouse friendly and have received positive comments from many listeners.


Then, I need to move the speakers farther from the side walls and much further into the room."

Probably, but they don't have to sit there all the time. If a speaker's position creates an impediment to traffic flow through a room, you can move a speaker or speakers in and out of place. Mark the floor with anything from a few contrasting threads woven into the loops of a carpet to mark the location of at least two corners of the proper location or some bits of tape on a hard surfaced floor. You can often substitute a ball type of footer for your spikes if you need to move speakers in and out - more on balls later. Ball type "footers" can be found in the hardware stores where they sell cabinet pulls or in an automotive department where they have accessories, just make sure the threads on the bolts are similar to what you need.

Where you place the rack is up to you. My preference is for the rack to be as far away from the speakers as possible which requires longer speaker or interconnect cable runs. Conventional practice often places the system behind and between the speakers. Suck it and see what comes out is the motto here. Remember as you move towards a wall or corner, the pressure wave is highest at those points and the reflected energy is highest also. Walk into a corner or lean against a wall when you have some bass heavy music playing and you'll hear what you are trying to avoid in placement of your equipment.

The Home Depot orange/black extension cable is still a good all'rounder speaker cable that provides highly acceptable sound quality better than most "real" speaker cables for a fraction of the cost. If you want a dirt cheap cable with some length to play around with, this is a good place to begin. (If you don't understand what I'm discussing here, ask and I'll provide more information.)



One more possible diy isolation device is a sort of roller ball arrangement. It's difficult to find cupped metal saucers and what you might find will typically lack the dimpled surface of the real rollerball devices but you can usually find wooden cups which are intended to be placed under the legs of furniture and meant to take away the marks of the leg in a carpet. These make satisfactory bases for any number of balls of various sorts. You'll usually want three balls in each cup and the materials can either be conventional steel bearings or you might want to try a few of the wooden balls found in crafts stores. A fairly transparent system will indicate which materials provide the best interface between bearings and equipment. You can easily look at any of the commercial products to figure out how to construct these diy rollerballs. Some diy'ers will add a second cup on top of the bearings to provide a flat surface against the equipment or shelf. The essential idea here is a ball will only contact another surface at its tangent (high mass resting on a small point, same idea as a spike or cone) thereby providing good isolation from any vibration - acoustic or mechanical - which might be coming upwards from the supporting shelf. By placing three balls against one another in the cup, you should also have a good drain device for internal vibrations which would be inherent within the equipment from something like a power transformer. Once again the idea is always to couple and to decouple at the same time. As far as numbers go, three will almost always be a better number than four when dealing with support devices. Three points can define a plane and will be largely self leveling while four points can wobble if the supporting surface is not perfectly level. In electronics - not turntables (turntables require entirely different isolation techniques), always begin with one foot under the power transformer and add the other two to make the component stable. Bypass the existing rubber feet on the equipment with isolation or coupling devices.


Good luck and good listening.


*Would I like to take the room treatment further? I'm not sure. I've visited Ethan Winer's main listening room and studio, and my suspicion is that both are overdamped--his living room, which serves as a demonstration venue for every product RealTraps makes, more so than his studio. Maybe it's just me, but in Winer's living room, I wondered if I could detect differences between components, so powerfully was I aware of the acoustic environment. Or perhaps it was the two hours I'd spent on the MTA's New Haven Line getting there that had left me aurally incapacitated.; http://www.stereophile.com/roomtreatments/realtraps_room_treatments/index.html


As a side note here, Winer is the ultimate cynical objectivist who believes measurements tell him everthing and "audiophools" need to be "re-educated" by him rather than by those selling products he "knows" can't have any effect. I've encountered Winer on multiple occasions and he and I do not have similar viewpoints on anything, most especially the value of the other's opinions. Winer's system is comprised of components which he feels measure well and in his opinion are, therefore, as good as anything an audiophile would spend thousands to buy. From several other accounts of the final result, the music is fairly uninteresting as played through Winer's system and in Winer's room. Whether this has to do with the equipment, the room treatments or the way Winer goes about presenting his products is something no one sems to care enough about to consider.




.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15901
Registered: May-04
.

Short a tube swap, you might also consider tube dampers to restrict any microphonics in the pre amp tubes of your Unico. http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue7/halo.htm A search engine will provide numerous sources for such devices. Or you can once again head to the automotive stores or to a shop that sells gaskets to buy some high temperature, ring type gaskets for a fraction of the cost of the audio aftermarket products. As with any damping device, they can be overdone but most tubes are microphonic to some extent and damping can lessen the hard, glassy sound of microphonic tubes.


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1201
Registered: May-05
Jan and Company,

I read the most recent post and I looked at some of the options. I'd love to go down that road but I doubt that the wife will allow the type of room treatment that's shown in some of those links. The near floor to ceiling traps behind the speakers won't go over at all. However, a "wall hanging" absorption type device, especially if she gets to pick it out I think would be doable. I'm walking the fine line between keeping this a multi-function music/bedroom, which needs to be available when we have family come into town.

Some of the other options for isolation and the like would be quite doable once I get a decent audio rack. I would definitely have to get much longer speaker wires to get the audio rack well isolated from the speakers and, again, I don't think she'll go for that. She has no problem with me marking the carpet in some fashion and moving the speakers into the room when listening and back to the wall when it's being used as a bedroom, which happens probably 5-10 times a year for days to several weeks.

On another subject, the Unico uses two ECC83s or 12AX7s. I suspect it might be fun to see what's in the case and then see whether I could find some Mullard ECC 83s and see what they do to the sound? Is that on the right track if I decide to do tube rolling at some point?

Thanks all, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15902
Registered: May-04
.

http://thetubestore.com/12ax7review.html#mu12ax7

http://www.tubedepot.com/12ax7reviews.html

http://12ax7tubes.net/

http://thetubestore.com/12ax70ectyp.html

http://www.watfordvalves.com/cgi-bin/documents/testreport_2.pdf

http://www.ecc83.co.uk/

http://vacuumtube-structure.blogspot.com/2008/02/ei-12ax7-review.html

http://www.tubeman.com/cat8_1.htm

https://www.tubeworld.com/index_high.htm



I could do this all night. Hopefully, you get the idea.


"JAN" = "Joint Army Navy", military tubes typically NOS. Military tubes are not necessarilly better or worse than consumer tubes and may have been built for a specific installation. If that installation was intended to be five miles under a mountain encased in two tons of cement, then you could reasonably expect the tube to be somewhat microphonic in an audio system - or not.

Unless you are using the tubes in a low noise application such as a moving coil pre-pre amp, there's no need to buy "low noise" tubes for line level inputs. There's typically no reason to match pre amp tubes for line sources but, if the cost for matching or burning in a tube for testing is only a few dollars, then it is probably worth the extra cost.

http://www.worldtubeaudio.com/

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/119397.html




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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1202
Registered: May-05
Jan,

Interesting read, even if was only one page of what looks like a few thousand. Are you trying to talk me back to tubes, my friend?

It wouldn't be that difficult if I could just get past the problems I had with the Fisher; it just didn't do a great job with the Altecs. I blamed the amp but now I know some part of it was the speakers.

I know a number of people on the Salk forum site are driving my speakers with relatively low wpc tube amps. Jim Salk said something in the 50 wpc area would drive them to very loud levels. He thought the Fisher was probably a little underpowered for them, though.

I think it may be more fun to play with some tubes in Unico for the time being and see what happens.

Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15903
Registered: May-04
.

Not trying to talk you back to tubes. I think you should first know what you are dealing with when it comes time to upgrade the tubes in your amplifier. Open up the cover and make certain which tubes are used in your amplifier, I'm seeing references to both 12AX7's and 12AU7's being used as the pre amp tube in the Unico. If the tubes are not stamped with Unico's name, then you want to know what brand of tube is being used and gather some information about that tube and its generic sound quality. If the tubes just read "Unison" or something similar, then do some research to find which brand of tube is likely being used in your specific amplifier. That will provide a base from which to judge a future tube purchase. Basically it comes down to not being able to judge where to go until you establish where you are. Knowing what a tube reviewer might say about the tube you currently use can provide some insight into their opinions regarding tubes you might want to consider. As I said, unfortunately for the audio user, most tube reviews are geared towards the musician and not the audiophile.

Buying NOS Mullards is; first, very pricey and, second, possibly not the sound you want to buy. NOS tubes have become very expensive in the last decade or so and it's not that difficult to spend $100-200 per piece on a well regarded NOS tube. If that's where you want to spend that money, as long as you're dealing with a reputable retailer who you can trust to give you what they advertise, then you will probably have at least a good deal of the sound you read about. But there are unscrupulous dealers who will rebrand tubes and sell them as NOS when they are not, so buy from a good dealer. Next, every tube has a signature sound but every tube will also sound somewhat different in every circuit in which it is placed due to gain, noise, microphonics, etc. which are inherent in the specific tube. Additionally, the tube will be influenced by the components both upstream and downstream of that tube and how the tube is used within any given circuit. A tube that is driven hard will sound different than a tube that is driven less hard. While every 12AX7 tube has a spec it should meet, every 12AX7 tube will vary somewhat from another 12AX7 even within a manufacturer's line. If the tube you purchase has slightly higher or lower gain than the tube you are replacing, the result could be sound unlike what you've read about in descriptions of this tube as that change affects the performance of components downstream in the circuit. For example, electric guitarists tend to like a bit of overdrive to add some sustain to the signal and possibly a touch of distortion or what is commonly referred to as "crunch". A higher gain tube would probably provide more of that effect than would a lower gain tube in most guitar amplifier circuits. For the typical audio user overdrive, distortion and "crunch" are not in our vocabularly when it comes to desireable sound qualities. If the tube has slightly greater microphonics or noise, then where the tube is used in a circuit might affect its performance. In general tubes used in new equipment will be chosen for several qualities, not the least of which are reliability and availability. A manufactuer wants to know the tubes they select are going to last as long as possible for the owner and, should the tube need to be replaced, there will be sufficient stock of the same tube to allow repairs without altering the sound of the product. Sound quality often gets third or even fourth place in what a manufacturer is looking at when choosing a tube to use as OEM. Tube rolling has now become common for most tube users and the results can be rewarding or frustrating.

Many of the most popular NOS tubes have been copied and the replicas are available as new tubes at a sharply reduced cost when compared to the NOS original. How closely each tube comes to the original is a difficult question to answer in that the very term "NOS" means you could be buying a tube built between 1930 and 1990 or so for most tubes. (There are also "used" tubes which "test as new" and offer identical performance to the more pricey NOS tube but cannot be sold as "NOS" though they are probably good for one or two decade's use in most pre amp circuits.) Manufacturers changed their production faciltiies over the years and one NOS Mullard/RCA/GE etc. might not sound exactly like another NOS Mullard/RCA/GE etc. Once again, a reputable dealer should be able to provide advice on which tube to purchase. TAD offers replicas of the Mullard 12AX7's; http://www.tubeampdoctor.com/product_info.php?cPath=21_60_63&products_id=1749 and there is a Mullard replica sold as such; http://thetubestore.com/mu12ax7.html Both tubes sell for considerably less than any NOS Mullard or other NOS tube worth considering. And, in my experience, there are a few very nice new tubes you might consider. For now, I would recommend you stick with the less expensive tubes but try several different tubes to find the combination you most prefer - the GE's and RCA's still rank high in most opinions of 12AX7's and among the new tubes there are excellent choices for their price. It's possible to find extremely good sound for not that much cash when shopping for 12 series tubes. In small signal tubes the 12AX7 was and still is a very ubiquitous tube that offers a multitude of variations from which to choose so, in one sense, it's not difficult finding a good sounding 12AX7 and, on the other hand, it can be a gargantuan task to sort through all the possible 12AX7 varieties. When your system has either reached a higher level of transparency or you've decided you really do need to make an upgrade to a new amplifier, then your money for NOS Mullard/RCA/GE etc. might be better spent. By then you'll also have more time to research the possibilities.


" I'd love to go down that road but I doubt that the wife will allow the type of room treatment that's shown in some of those links."


Most people do not have that sort of arrangenemt when it comes to room treatments. For the majority of domestic situations it wouldn't be necessary and can actually risk taking the room to a level where, as WP stated in the Stereophile review, the room is once again actually what you are aware of because it has been so over dramatically treated.


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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15904
Registered: May-04
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If you haven't visited this page on the ACS (TubeTrap) site, do some reading to educate yourself to the theories and application of room treatment devices; http://www.asc-hifi.com/articles.htm
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1240
Registered: Jul-07
Dak, since I'm still waiting for my regular amp to arrive, I decided to reorganize my listening room in the diagonal method suggest in the Decware article. It only took 30 minutes or so. I marked the current position of everything with masking tape and then started rearranging. My room is quite different from yours.....measuring only 12.5' by 13.5'. I left the existing treatments in the same locations. With everything moved around, my listening position is now with my back to one corner.....about 3' out. I have the speakers about 6' apart with the rack in between but slightly behind.....but still out of the corner by a couple of feet.

I started with the speakers toed in as I had them in the normal location....which had them intersecting just behind my head.....but in this new configuration I found that less appealing than having them almost straight ahead. I'll play more with positioning over the next few days to see what changes.

Here are a few very brief observations of the differences;

- Where I would describe the old configuration as creating an 'intimate' presentation, like in a studio, the diagonal configuration made things sound more open, spacious.

- Instruments were still localized, but they lived in larger spaces.

- I would say my initial impression was that transparency was improved. Not sure why, other than perhaps some smearing has been avoided.

- I noted that during one song as the intro was playing....and with several string instruments playing (guitars, banjo, violin).....there was a clear void in the middle of the soundstage. Instruments left and right, inside and outside the speakers, but nothing in the middle in a 2-3 ft window. Once the lead vocals started the middle was occupied, and then filled out more when the bass and drums started. It is the first time I have ever observed this. I'm surmising (and I haven't had a lot of time to think about this) but perhaps my prior setup blurred localization cues enough to always tend towards centering images.

- Soundstage width and depth was increased significantly. Drumming in particular was at times waaaay behind the speakers.

- If I moved my head left or right significantly, Center stage moved proportionaly with it. If my head was in front of the right speaker, center stage was now over the right speaker. Again, this is different than my prior setup.....where center stage would move, but unless you moved a significant distance it would always remain between the speakers.

I was only able to listen and experiment for 45 minutes, so I haven't reached any conclusions yet, other than I enjoyed the arrangement and I think I'll stick with it for a bit and try to refine positioning and treatments to optimize the configuration. The layout is entirely functional in my room as well, so there really is no downside. I'm not sure why I talked myself out of doing it before, other than I might have thought the room was too small to work. I have it layed out in a somewhat (but not precisely) symmetrical configuration currently, and think I might try a slightly more asymmetrical orientation as well, just to see what changes.

Hopefully this is helpful to you.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1241
Registered: Jul-07
Steve noted this in his article.....

"I could move my head as much as 2 feet in either direction and have no shifting of the center image."

I noticed the opposite. However, I see in his diagram he had an asymmetrical layout, with both speakers facing the same sidewall. I have mine more symmetrical, with each speaker pointing at a different wall, about 2 feet up from the corner. I'll try shifting everything left tonight to get both speakers pointing at the same wall. That will put my back closer to the wall....which may be a tradeoff.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1203
Registered: May-05
Chris,

Interesting. You beat me to it. I'll be interested to see what you hear as you experiment. I really can't try this experiment until I get rid of the large cabinet because it really can't "fit" in a corner arrangement.

However, I did use Jan's articles to come up with two slightly different arrangements for the speakers in my room. I used the 2nd article that talked about dividing the listening room into quarters. This put my speakers about 30" further into the room and about 18" further towards the middle. Also, it moved my listening position just a couple of inches forward and created a more intimate "near field" listening arrangement.

The first thing I noticed is a complete transformation in the bass. I played Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" and the entire orchestra had a different sound; most noticeable were the stringed instruments (which I have had the most trouble with from the beginning) and the drums. The strings seemed to have much more separation and air and they sounded much more real. (Goose bumps down the back like real.) I really expected this arrangement to decrease the bass considerably and be less enjoyable. WRONG!! The bass decreased but it picked up a tremendous amount of realism and instead of sounding muddy, it became much tighter and involving.

I was only able to listen for about an hour and I played one song off one of my Norah Jones albums but didn't have enough time to determine how many changes I noted. Her voice was still smokey, I did notice more breath sounds and a much clearer upright bass but I'll need more time.

There are several advantages so far from this arrangement. With the listening chair so much closer to the speakers, volume came down some. There was much more clarity to the instruments, space between them and more enjoyable listening. I believe that it shrank the soundstage somewhat but I'll trade that for the improvement and enjoyment of the music.

More to come when I have more time.

Thanks all, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15905
Registered: May-04
.

Since you've returned to this topic, Chris, let me make a few comments now that I've once again read the Deckert information. First, the article itself; http://www.decware.com/paper14.htm

I've performed diagonal set ups on a few occasions and my reactions have been quite mixed as to how well this works. IMO the specific speakers will largely determine whether a more or less conventional set up might be the best option. I tend to favor symmetry in room set up and, yet, there is another school of thought which suggests placing the system just slightly askew in the room, in other words somewhat off center which then makes for slightly different paths and pathlengths from each speaker to the listener. The idea here is to minimize the comb filtering effect of exactly the same reflected signals/frequencies striking your two ears with exactly the same intensity. With a strictly symmetrical set up, whatever frequency aberrations there are which are induced by the symmetry of the room will be at their highest levels in the immediate center of the two speakers and extending forward and back from that point - which is, of course, exactly where you would want to place your listening position. This results in the broadest deviation from "neutral" available in that specific space. By moving the centerline upon which the speakers are set (up along with the listening position) slightly off to one side you've also shifted those pathlenghts and arrival times for reflections just enough to make for a more evenly perceived "in room response". Does this idea work? It certainly makes a lot of sense and would also minimize the amount of room treatment devices required to adequately dampen a room. Here I have to acknowledge my increasing dislike for the effects of room treatments as IMO they increasingly destroy the musical information contained in the discs I choose to own. Yet most rooms require some form of adaption from domestic living space to a reasonable facimile of a listening space. This is the ying/yang of "traditional" room treatments. To take away the effects of the room you must typically resort to broadband absorption/diffusion/reflection which places the music at a disadvantage if your goal is to hear what is actually on the recording and little else. It is a conundrum to which I have no real answer.

I easily concede Steve Deckert is more knowledgeable about audio than I wll ever be. Other than that I would say we all do listen for various qualities and what I might consider a priority isn't necessarily what Deckert might care to hear. For instance, it would appear Deckert is more concerned with pin point imaging from a system than I will ever be. YMMV.

My intial point of contention with this philosophy of on the diagonal speaker placement has to do with the assumption of a single, straight line trajectory for high frequency dispersion coming from a wide dispersion driver. I can accept that high frequencies become more directional as their wavelength peak to peak length narrows to be shorter than the diameter of the driver, that is something I think no one would really dispute. However, this narrowing of directionality occurs at such high frequencies in most domestic loudspeakers that we are talking about only the highest octaves being affected by this action. The problem with reflections exists, IMO, in octaves much lower than those which Deckert's diagrams would explain. For decades the effort has been made to increase the dispersion of drivers in order to even out the in room power response of a system. As we've discussed in other threads, there are numerous reasons why a driver will have a broader or a more narrow dispersion but, for the most part, today's high frequency dome type drivers have virtually 180° of dispersion at their lowest frequency and their dispersion narrows as the frequency rises. This means much of the energy which is contributed by reflections begins at frequencies well beneath those where they could be traced by a narrow, laser like beam of signals striking one location on the wall. To effectively treat room reflections IMO you need to think of the driver acting not as a laser beam but more as a generally wide focus floodlight spreading signals across the entire front of its surface. If you remember the discussion of the Spica Angelus with its baffle covered in a thick felt blanket to minimize the eventual destructive launch into free space of the high frequencies which are bouncing along the width of the baffle, then I think you'll comprehend the difference between how one speaker designer thinks of high frequency dispersion vs how Deckert portrays dispersion. Certainly, when you read the "proper" way to set about taming first reflection points, the best instructions are to consider not only the shortest distance to the wall nearest and to the outside of the speaker but to also consider the dispersion of frequencies the driver will send to the opposite wall towards the inside of the speaker cabinet and then calculate their location on that wall. It will be at a different distance away from the plane of the speaker than those from the opposite channel speaker. In other words, to effectively tame first reflections from a two channel system you must have two first reflection points on each side wall, one for each speaker. None of this is accounted for in Deckert's thinking.

Next, I would say Deckert is assuming a tremendous amount when he simply indicates the amount of toe in appropriate for any speaker. Obviously, if you provide more or less toe in than Deckert's diagrams show, you will have changed the reflection points of all subsequent bounces into the room. Deckert indicates an on axis signal that passes well to the side of the listener. In my experience this is seldom how a speaker will be set up, either the speakers, say, a Thiel which prefers to be set up without toe in, will be set facing straight into the room or the more conventional speakers will be set up with the speaker axis crossing just in front or just behind the listener's head position. Take a straight edge and diagram how the reflections then occur in your room with the simple laser like beaming of signals as Deckert suggests. While you're at it, take the straight edge to the speaker shown in the second diagram in the decware article. In this case, the signal path shown by Deckert is not on axis but is actually skewed to one side which provides a somewhat different path than had he shown the same straight down the centerline of the speaker dispersion as he indicates in the first "less good" diagram. (I get the feeling Deckert might have worked for the Warren Commission based upon this evidence.) I'm not sure what Deckert is up to here but I get suspicious whenever I see someone fudging their evidence while they are trying to convince me of their efficacy.

I do set ups while taking into account the fact that the signal's level will be diminished by -6dB for every doubling of the distance it travels. This arrangement, first, makes me prefer a more near field seating position which places my ears further outside the immediate path of many destructive reflections and, second, allows for the room to actually work at lowering the level of the reflected energy I must eventually deal with. Using this concept, tweaking a speaker location to provide the longest signal path from reflection point to reflection point can be a somewhat effective way to take the later (weaker) reflection points down in strength and therefore further out of the audibility range. The most obvious issue with that brilliant idea comes back to the fact there are no single, simple straight line paths for reflections in a typical domestic room when using most conventional modern day speakers now employed for listening to high quality audio and home theater. Think not of Deckert's laser beam projectiles and pool ball like richochets as a signal strikes a wall but more of someone throwing eggs at that wall and what the resultant pattern of dispersion would be for that reflection. Now, if your speakers are using a wide dispersion driver, think about throwing not one egg but a few dozen eggs at that same wall and then turning to the opposite wall and doing the same thing. And, of course, don't forget the floor and ceiling too since a speaker does not only broadcast its information along a single line which is level with your ears. This broader concept of how sound travels within a confined space is the thinking behind the more traditional "LEDE" or "live end, dead end" room treatment system. http://www.jdbsound.com/art/art517.html I would suggest anyone starting out with room treatments also do some reading about this theory of room set up by simply placing something akin to "LEDE room treatment" in a search engine.

As with most things audio, each system of room set up will have its advantages and disadvantages along with its detractors and its proponents. The extreme diversity in speakers available to place in the extreme diversity of rooms will mean one system is probably not going to work each time, every time. Therefore, it's best IMO to have a broad range of knowledge about room treatment theories from which to pull as you begin to do basic set up and then final tweaking of placement.



As I've noted earlier my decision for dealing with first reflections is to not allow them to occur. Of course, using my own logic of broad dispersion in most drivers - which actually doesn't occur quite so much in my single driver, full range dipoles - says I can only do so much to tame the strongest reflection points and the rest will have to be dealt with in another manner. Additionally, the single drivers require a fairly straight at the listener, on axis listening position to achieve the broadest and smoothest frequency balance. I have though used the same ideas when setting up other people's speakers and this system would seem to be working well with MW's Gallos with their extremely broad dispersion high frequency driver. Rather than trying to place absorptive or diffusion devices all along the side walls as I feel would be necessary to effectively tame the reflections I use a single absorption (or diffusion) device at the outer edge of the speaker which immediately minimizes the amount of energy which would otherwise arrive at the strongest first reflection location. By adjusting the positioning of this device, I can also adjust how much energy I do want being placed into the room for some control of added ambient information. In the room proper I tend more toward diffusion than absorption and utilize what's available in the room, a bookcase or disc storage system can act as a somewhat effective diffusion device (at least far better than a smooth, hard, flat wall) when properly set up and positioned. Depending on the speaker system, the listening preferences and the room another device might be added either to the inside of the speakers or centered between the two speakers and adjusted fore and aft of the plane of the speakers. And, of course, setting up speakers and treatments for monopole speakers vs bi/dipoles or omni-directionals is all different and requires a good ear, at least a somewhat working knowledge of basic acoustics and lots of patience, measuring devices and note taking. And don't forget the ability to think for yourself and to reason through what is happening or what you are being told. I wish it were so simple as to say, "Do this and all will be perfect", but it's not. I do agree with Deckert that the room is a major and significant contributor to what you preceive from your music system. Because of the importance of its contribution to the final product, the best advice I can offer anyone is, you will get out what you put in. As with anything else you do to improve your system other than merely buying "stuff" without a thought or a plan, patience and sweat equity will pay off and you shouldn't accept nearly good enough. In some speaker set up and room treatment appplications a move as small as 1/4" will suddenly make more difference than would another $1k spent on equipment. Listen to the music, it will tell you where you need to go and do take notes so you don't forget what you have were heard.


Most of all, don't forget the vertical alignment of your speakers. Too many speaker set up guides tend to ignore instructions to get your ears right before you begin moving speakers and furniture. Most speakers have a correct and a everything else is wrong location for your ears in relation to the height of the drivers. Too high or too low to begin with and you will never arrive at a satisfactory improvement by moving your speakers horizontally around the room. Most of the time, placing your ear height at the on axis center of the tweeter will be best. But on other occasions, your ears should be at a virtual centerline between drivers or slightly above or below the tweeter. Know where you should be listening from to start with and adjust your listening position accordingly. (Of course, it should go without saying that sitting in a soft fabric covered chair will provide a different result than sitting in a vinyl or leather covered chair.) A small amount of designers will want the listener to be somewhat off axis of the speaker to achieve a more open sound rather than an on axis sound. Do your research, call the designer if possible and do your experimentation. In short, suck it and see what comes out. Once you've got the best postion you think you can achieve, live with it for awhile and then try moving the speakers again just to make sure you got it right the first, second or third time around.



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Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 967
Registered: Dec-06
The most obvious issue with that brilliant idea comes back to the fact there are no single, simple straight line paths for reflections in a typical domestic room when using most conventional modern day speakers now employed for listening to high quality audio and home theater. Think not of Deckert's laser beam projectiles and pool ball like richochets as a signal strikes a wall but more of someone throwing eggs at that wall and what the resultant pattern of dispersion would be for that reflection.

Not only that, but many of us don't have ideal, dedicated listening rooms, where we can place our speakers anywhere in the room that we like, a chair in front of them, and then treat the room appropriately. I think your idea of taming the first reflection point makes a lot of sense.

In my room, however, I have a wall next to my right speaker and a big desk next to my left. The desk has a big hole in the middle where the chair goes. Much of the sound will hit the chair, much will hit the desk drawers to either side of the chair, and much will go through the hole to the wall on the far side of the room. And probably richochet of the wall and against the two sides of the desk. It will behave differently than the sound waves of the right speaker which bounce off the wall.

In the interest of experimentation, I'm also going to try the diagonal idea. It will allow me to get my system away from the desk and the credenza behind it, and will allow me to place my component rack in a more convenient spot where I can more easily access it. This will all be helpful I think, but whether it will actually help to preserve certain musical cues is to be determined. The speakers will have to be a bit closer to the walls, which may or may not help, but as it is one of them is already quite close to a wall. Maybe it actually helps that one is and the other isn't. Who knows? Just try and find out, right?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15906
Registered: May-04
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Yes, experimentation, listening to the musical values and some thinking things through are the only constants in room set up. You can certainly try a blanket over the desk when you're serious about listening, Dan, just as you would treat a flat screen TV in a HT room.

There are a few tools I use which might make any set up a little simpler to achieve. First, you'll need either a double fold LP cover or a similarly sized piece of cardboard which you can fold in half. Grab a pillow while you're at it. Once you're mostly satisfied with your speaker placement, hold the album cover 6-12 inches behind your head and bent slightly. Listen for how much noise exists in the rear of the room that can be blocked by simply placing the LP cover between your head and the back of the room. If lifting and lowering the cover results a quieter or noisier sound in the room and a more or less confused sound to the music, then you still need to deal with room sounds caused by reflections. How you deal with the problem depends on the problem which exists. You might want to simply try placing a pillow higher in the chair behind your head or you might need to add diffusion to the rear of the room or possibly deal with the intial reflection point that results in the increased noise in the back of the room. Moving the LP cover in several locations around your head and opening it wider or closing it down should give you ideas about how to find and deal with the problem sources. Obviouly, you do not want to hold the cover so close to your head that it becomes a reflection source itself so, initially, jam it close to your head to hear what that sounds like and then move it back as you listen for changes. Check your thoughts by using the pillow behind your head to damp reflected sound. If the music becomes too dull with the pillow in place, then you might want to rethink damping and go with diffusion. Overall, my preference is for diffusion in most locations.

If you have a high backed chair you can move around the room, place a good sized pillow on it's back and experiment with reflection points. The generic way to find these locations is to place a flashlight on the top of the speaker aiming it at your listening position. While you sit in your chair, have a second person move a mirror along the wall at the appropriate (ear) height until you can see the reflection of the light in the mirror. (Alternately, lacking an assistant, tape a stretch of aluminum foil to your wall and then double check the location with a mirror.) At the point where you can clearly see the reflection of the light, you want to treat that location for the first strong reflection point. Mark the spot with some masking tape and move the chair and pillow into place. As you listen to music move your temporary damping device a few inches or so forward and back, up and down while you also use the LP cover to determine where the best location for a damping panel will be. (This is like listening for "flesh and bone", Dan, you might not want to do this when anyone else is in the house to see you.) To the extent that it is possible, do the same procedure with the floor and ceiling. My dogs often sleep in the room where the system exists so I have a few extra large floor pillows that I toss between my speakers and my chair when I'm listening to music.

If you're absolutely short on time to buy fiberglass for a diy trap construction, use some large boxes stuffed with loosely crumpled newspaper. Build up enough height and fit these into the corners to give yourself some idea how a bass trap might improve your music.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15907
Registered: May-04
.

I determine how widely spaced speakers can be by using a stereo FM channel tuned to a single vocalist's voice. NPR works in most situations though talk radio is quickly invading the FM dial too. Place your speakers a few feet apart and facing out directly into the room. Listen for a well focussed voice presentation centered between the speakers. If you can't get that sound, you need to check your speaker connections. Leave the speakers facing directly into the room as you gradually move them further apart a foot and then six inches and then an inch at a time until the voice begins to loose focus. Then start moving the speaker back in toward each other until you arrive at the focussed sound you prefer. That will establish the inner bracket for your placement. Toeing the speakers in slightly, start moving the speakers further apart while trying to maintain that focused sound strictly through toe in. As I've said, most speakers do well when they cross either immediately in front of or just to the rear of the listener's head position. Once you hit the outer bracket and you cannot achieve good focus even with toe in, then you start moving the speakers back together while fine tuning the toe in/toe out. After you have a position you are satisfied with using the single FM stereo source, check your results with music containong a strong center vocal image. By this time you should have an idea in your head what type of focus and image width/depth you are desiring and any further adjustments are likely to be quite minimal.


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Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1242
Registered: Jul-07
I would agree Steve's article takes a simplistic view of reflections (as you put it, it assumes laser beam output from the speakers). The other thing that had me scratching my head is that the right speaker in the second diagram isn't going to produce nearly the same results as the left speaker.....having its early reflections on the wrong side of the room. But, I've had my room setup in the same way for a while now, and it was time to give a new idea a whirl.

I shifted things again last night, to a more asymmetrical setup similar to Steve's second drawing. To avoid having my chair against the wall, I left the speakers closer together (6') and my listening distance a few inches shy of 7'. Trying to triangulate the speaker setup in an asymmetrical configuration was more difficult, as was guaging toe in. With no square point of reference I had to rely on measurements for every adjustment (probably a good thing) so it took me longer when I moved anything around.
With the room this way, I was back to a more "in room" or studio sound, with instruments less ambiguous in space. When I had the two speakers pointed at adjacent walls (instead of the same wall) the sound was more spacious, sounding like I was in a bigger room than I was. Instruments occupied a larger area....and perhaps a little vague. I'm going to continue playing around with positioning, toe-in, etc and see if I can optimize this setup before I decide anything further.

My first reflection point (side reflection) for my right speaker is now in a corner where a bass trap is located. So the reflection point is much further away from the speaker than in the traditional setup. The first reflection point for the left speaker is against a wall with two diffusers and a bookshelf.....and also quite a distance away (6' or so). Jan, you mentioned something that I had read before (also from the Decware site I believe) about having surfaces on opposing walls different (one absorptive, one reflective). The LEDE article you reference suggests a reflective/diffusive front wall and more absorptive back wall to somewhat emulate the acoustics of a concert hall. Of course, with a diagonal arrangement things get a little more complicated, as each wall is either a front/side or back/side wall. I could move my diffusers to the front corner, leave a bass trap in the rear corner and leave treatments on the back/side wall. The side corners I could perhaps split and have the front wall of the corner reflective and the back wall of the corner absorptive. I'll have to think about that some more.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15908
Registered: May-04
.

" Trying to triangulate the speaker setup in an asymmetrical configuration was more difficult, as was guaging toe in. With no square point of reference I had to rely on measurements for every adjustment (probably a good thing) so it took me longer when I moved anything around."


Begin by establishing a baseline from which you can position the speakers. Measure out from your listening position to the distance where the speakers will sit. While not mentioned often, the placement of your chair should probably be the first thing you determine when doing a speaker set up. If you don't place the chair in the correct location to begin with, then you might find yourself sitting in the null location for good bass response and you'll forever be wanting a system with better bass response. Just as you would with a subwoofer, you'll probably want to walk the room listening for the location where you have the "best" bass performance and then make adjustments from there. In most rooms there will be a "correct" location for both the speakers and the chair which are moveable within a few inches and adjusting either forward or back will alter the musical values you desire. I think this is generally covered in the WASP speaker set up I linked to earlier. I generally begin set up using a equilateral triangle for speaker width vs listening distance (after doing the general set up for speaker width as described above) but this is going to change with each set up and hardly ever ends up with those same distances.

Once you have your listening position determined and the distance to the speakers plotted (neither of which should remain fixed locations but rather adjusted in the fine tuning stages of the set up), make certain you have the requisite 90° pendendicular from the centerline and extend some masking tape out along each side from that line marking the tape in increments of a few inches and then narrowing that down to every inch. This is the front plane of the speakers along which they can be moved and always remain equidistant from your ears. Marking the masking tape will allow a certain, repeatable distance in each move you make.

You can rough in the toe in/out by looking at the front of the speaker baffle. When you see nothing but the front baffle, the speakers are aimed directly at your listening position. As you adjust the toe in you'll see more of one side of the speaker. Match up how much of the side panels you see and you'll do fine for initial set up.

After you've done the set up to your pleasure, fine tune the set up either by using an adjustable compass and measuring from your line which defines the speaker plane or by measuring two corners from a known location, either the masking tape line or from your listening position. Alternately, you can use a simple laser pointer set on top of and at the centerline for the speaker cabinet and secured with some tape. Adjust the toe in until you see the pointer crossing at identical locations behind the chair. This is again best managed by using some tape along the back wall and marking it off in increments then adjusting the laser pointer's beam location to match the distance away from the centerline on each side. With the diagonal room set up you might want to use a temporary landmark placed behind your chair to establish this back wall positioning. This will also allow you to check for the aiming of your drivers. If one speaker shows the location of the laser beam slightly higher or lower than the other speaker, you need to adjust your speaker height to make both speakers fire along the same line.



"The LEDE article you reference suggests a reflective/diffusive front wall and more absorptive back wall to somewhat emulate the acoustics of a concert hall."


For the most part LEDE rooms have gone out of favor as acoustic treatments have become more sophisticated. I tend to think of LEDE just as I do vintage audio gear, there was something that was right about the thinking and often the application of the idea. That doesn't mean it can't be improved upon but keep in mind there was something that suggested the concept worked well. What has changed is the design of loudspeakers for one thing. In general they have far wider dispersion over a broader frequency range than in previous decades. Is that a good thing? You're talking to someone who uses a (single) driver technology that is decades old and mostly forgotten as a way to reproduce music. Take my opinion for exactly what its worth with that in mind. LEDE has been replaced by the more "modern" RFZ treatment. You can google "RFZ room treatment" if you like but when I do that all I really get are articles written by Ethan Winer. If you remember, Winer is the owner of RealTraps and his view of treating a room is to go for flat frequency response and then adjust for other values. In my experience and the experience of those who have heard Winer's personal system, this approach can result in either a "truly terrific experience" (if you read the RealTrap ads) or a room where musical values have been sacrificed to the room treatments. Either way, your room will end up looking very much like those you see on the RealTraps website. It's your room and you get to decide how you want it set up.


"Jan, you mentioned something that I had read before (also from the Decware site I believe) about having surfaces on opposing walls different (one absorptive, one reflective)."


In my experience one end of the room benefits from being more lively (usually through diffusion) than the other. The side walls would normally be a combination of absorption or diffusion (you pick) at first reflection points and diffussion towards the rear of the room. But, as I said earlier, my preference for my system in my room and for most of the rooms I've set up tends towards symmetry in the way reflections are dealt with. Lacking a dedicated listening room that's almost always an impossibility in most domestic situations, so you make your best attempts at maintaining what is possible using what's inevitable. In my room I have two decent sized windows to the left and just behind my speakers (which are, if you remember, dipoles so there is direct energy to the rear of my speakers), I have those covered with some relatively heavily pleated drapes which extend to just above the floor. On the right side of the room in the same location away from the speakers I have a large closet with bi-fold doors. So the closet doors get opened to an angle and the closet's contents are another soft surface for the sound. Towards the rear of the room (just in front of my chair location) I have a door that leads to a small bathroom on one side and a CD/LP storage tower on the other - again directly opposite each other in location. So I've set up the tower's contents to be as much a scattering device as possible to avoid hard reflections and I open the door on the opposite side to remove another hard surface. This room has to remain a livable space 95% of the time so, like most of you, I have to make do with the contents of the room and try to make the best out of what's there.


"I could move my diffusers to the front corner, leave a bass trap in the rear corner and leave treatments on the back/side wall. The side corners I could perhaps split and have the front wall of the corner reflective and the back wall of the corner absorptive. I'll have to think about that some more."


Since bass waves are not directional, the corners of any room remain the areas which need to be treated first with bass traps no matter the speaker set up. Remember, where three surfaces intersect is more responsible for bass irregularities than where two surfaces meet. So treat actual tri-corners first, then the room corners. After that, if you're going to continue using other room treatment devices, either absorption or diffusion, you start with the same flashlight and mirror process to determine where the first reflections occur with any particular speaker set up. Once again, treat two locations for each speaker on each side of the room, one for each speaker channel on each wall. If you can take the first reflection point down in level or diffuse it into the room, the subsequent reflection points all become less important as they have lower audibility.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15909
Registered: May-04
.

"My first reflection point (side reflection) for my right speaker is now in a corner where a bass trap is located. So the reflection point is much further away from the speaker than in the traditional setup. The first reflection point for the left speaker is against a wall with two diffusers and a bookshelf.....and also quite a distance away (6' or so)."


"If you can take the first reflection point down in level or diffuse it into the room, the subsequent reflection points all become less important as they have lower audibility."


"I do set ups while taking into account the fact that the signal's level will be diminished by -6dB for every doubling of the distance it travels."


This, IMO, represents the most potential value to a diagonal set up. If you have the ability to provide a longer pathlength from the driver to the reflection points, the audibility of the reflected signal will be lowered. For example, if you had two feet between your speaker and a side wall with a traditional set up and you can increase that to, say, five feet with a diagonal set up, you've lowered the initial reflection by over 6dB. All subsequent reflections will begin from that lowered level and they too will be down in level. If you remember when we were discussing speakers, a -6dB down point is where most designers consider the signal to be out of the audible range. While -6dB in a crossover is not identical to the value of a -6dB drop in reflected energy the benefits are similar. The question then becomes; what is the pathlength change for other direct/reflected signals? If you're raising the reflections behind you in level due to a shorter pathlength, then the result might be a wash as to overall benefits. If you take the decware article as examples of both a traditional and a diagonal set up, the traditional set up actually provides a longer path to the first reflection (of the direct "pool ball" signal) which occurs behind the listener as Deckert has illustrated. On the other hand, the diagonal set up allows about twice as much distance to the first reflection position along the walls to the outside of the speakers.

These same general rules apply when you are considering whether to have your speakers firing into the long or the short dimensions of a room.




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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1204
Registered: May-05
Geez guys,

Great discussion and very helpful information on room set-ups, reflection, absorption and lots of other things I never would have even considered, e.g., the folded album cover or box trick. I see me trying several different room set-ups in the future, including the diagonal set-up just to see what is going on. I've played with the speakers along the imaginary equi-distant line that Jan discusses and I've played with toe-in. It never occurred to me to move the dang listening position or check for reflections behind me. DUH!!!

Keep the information coming - this is one topic that I am happy to have hijacked with very informative stuff.

Thanks, Dave
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 968
Registered: Dec-06
As we've discussed in other threads, there are numerous reasons why a driver will have a broader or a more narrow dispersion but, for the most part, today's high frequency dome type drivers have virtually 180° of dispersion at their lowest frequency and their dispersion narrows as the frequency rises. This means much of the energy which is contributed by reflections begins at frequencies well beneath those where they could be traced by a narrow, laser like beam of signals striking one location on the wall.

So dispersion is generally much broader than the narrow line drawn in the illustrations in the Decware article. How powerful are the many parts of that dispersion pattern? For example, if we view the dispersion as a line from 0 to 100 (left to right), with 50 being the very center of the band and probably where your ears are if you have the speakers toed in so that the drivers point right at them. 0 would be directly beside the speaker (to it's left) and 100 directly beside the same speaker (to it's right). The speaker outputs sound directly to the left (at 0), directly to the right (at 100), directly ahead (at 50) and at all points in between.

Despite the fact that there are sound waves being output across the band from 0 to 100, is it possible that most of this energy sits between, say, 40 to 60? Thus, while Decware's take of a narrow beam is highly simplified, it might still have a good degree of merit.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1244
Registered: Jul-07
Dan, the dispersion patterns are different with each driver. You'll see some evidence of this in your particular driver in the off axis response measurements if you can find them. As Jan stated above, the very high frequencies beam more, and the very lowest are omni directional. As you move off axis (away from 50 in your example) you typically start rolling off the highest frequencies first. At 0 or 100, you're getting reflected sound mostly. Jan can correct me if I'm off here.

"After that, if you're going to continue using other room treatment devices, either absorption or diffusion, you start with the same flashlight and mirror process to determine where the first reflections occur with any particular speaker set up."

I went through that somewhat, although I haven't moved treatments yet. I want to finalize the speaker and listening positioning first, as you've suggested. I did try to identify an appropriate listening position as per the WASP article. From what I can tell, where I have it is ok as the overall frequency balance seems ok. Bass is a bit boomy in the corners of the room still (even with the bass traps, which are just 3 sheets of OC609 together) but where I sit seems fine. I might try building a few of the tube traps and try them floor to ceiling in the corners.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15911
Registered: May-04
.

"So dispersion is generally much broader than the narrow line drawn in the illustrations in the Decware article. How powerful are the many parts of that dispersion pattern? For example, if we view the dispersion as a line from 0 to 100 (left to right), with 50 being the very center of the band and probably where your ears are if you have the speakers toed in so that the drivers point right at them. 0 would be directly beside the speaker (to it's left) and 100 directly beside the same speaker (to it's right). The speaker outputs sound directly to the left (at 0), directly to the right (at 100), directly ahead (at 50) and at all points in between.

Despite the fact that there are sound waves being output across the band from 0 to 100, is it possible that most of this energy sits between, say, 40 to 60? Thus, while Decware's take of a narrow beam is highly simplified, it might still have a good degree of merit."





I think you would find the concept of dispersion and room reflections simpler to understand if we re-arranged your numbering system. Let's take the on axis (aimed right at the listener) signal and make that 0°. In this case 100% level would be what you hear at 0°, in other words the driver will be outputting the highest amount of its energy along the on axis line. The broadest dispersion will occur at the driver's lowest frequencies. From there moving to either side should be considered negative numbers as the level will fall off as the frequency rises. So the extreme right side would be -90°R and the extreme left side would be -90°L. How much energy is lost as a listener moves off axis from 0° to -90° left or right will depend on several factors. Cone type drivers will have less off axis dispersion than do domes or ribbons. Any driver fitted to a horn or a waveguide will have higher directionality as this is a function of the horn or waveguide, to put sound in a specific area within a specific pattern. Ribbons and planars have their own patterns for dispersion. Dipoles and bipoles have distinct radiation patterns as do good omni-directionals. So Deckert's laser beam assumes too much to begin with since the type of driver and the width of the baffle will greatly influence the dispersion pattern of the driver. Even in a low frequency system should you mount the driver(s) in a true infinite baffle the dispersion would be controlled by the baffle and the frequency.

To be fair to Deckert he uses phrases such as, "This is where the most energy of each reflection is located", and, "These black lines represent the center of the higher frequency sound beam", when describing how sound travels in his diagrams. Technically, he is correct in that the highest level from any driver will be on its axis. But he is using this laser beam like path as the only signal to consider and ignoring all others. I find this very strange since you can read his acoustics forum and see that he is extremely well informed about the topic. I also find this odd since he manufacturers and sells both wide dispersion speaker systems and an omni-directional system. His "best" speakers though would appear to be his single driver, full range systems which do have much narrower dispersion characterisitcs than would even a simple two way with a dome or ribbon type tweeter.


Anyway, look at the "Frequency and Impedance" graph of this dome tweeter; http://tymphany.com/files/NE25VTS-04%20Rev2_0.pdf You'll see the highest energy over all frequencies is delivered on axis from the driver's dome center and as the frequency rises from the baseline cut off for this driver the dispersion narrows. The ring radiator style driver has a very different type of dispersion pattern; http://tymphany.com/files/OT19NC00-04%20Rev1_0.pdf somewhat assisted by its smaller diameter at 3/4" (but, if you check the specs against the 1" drivers, you'll see this smaller driver cannot operate down as low in the bandwidth as the larger drivers which would mean the low frequency driver would have to operate higher in the frequency range possibly making it perform with increasingly narrow dispersion of the midrange in which case the in room response of the speaker system would suffer though the speaker might measure well on conventional on axis tests) and then the cheaper drivers just don't have very much in the way of high frequency response let alone dispersion; http://tymphany.com/files/D27TG-35-06%20Rev1_0.pdf How the driver is used on a baffle will also affect its dispersion to some degree. But, in a well designed "audiophile" type speaker there will be significant amounts of energy directed away from the on axis line shown in Deckert's images. (Certainly, as more speakers are being intended to do double duty in a HT/music system, the wide dispersion driver has found broad acceptance as this allows for "good" in room frequency response and a wide sweet spot for decent soundstaging.) These off axis locations are the points, typically referred to as the "specular reflection points", where the first and most prominent reflections are normally treated in most conventional room treatment set ups; http://tymphany.com/files/D27TG-35-06%20Rev1_0.pdf

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/roomacoustics.html

http://www.asc-hifi.com/tube-trap-userguide.htm


The reasoning behind this sidewall treatment is due to the reflected path the sidewall energy will create. This first sidewall reflection point is always going to be in front of the listener and, depending upon the toe in and dispersion pattern of the speaker, is the most likely reflection to actually bounce in the direction of the listening chair. In almost all conventional set ups the first reflection point for the direct, on axis signal will occur behind the listener and will require additional bounces - all of which take distance which will reduce the level of the signal - before it reaches the listening chair. That explanation once again talks about the reflected paths as if the driver were capable of producing a laser beam like signal that only travels in a single or dual straight lines. Obviously, that is not how a dome type driver disperses energy into a room. Depending on the speaker, the room and the budget, you might arrive at a set up more like this; http://www.asc-hifi.com/studio-trap.htm or like this; http://www.realtraps.com/pplacing_mt.htm

So while I agree with Deckert that the highest level of energy will be on axis with any driver, the images shown in his "room without treatments" article just don't make sense to me. When you consider his reasoning, don't forget to consider that a dome type tweeter doesn't just direct signal along a straight line at the listener's ear level but does what it is supposed to do in a 180° pattern which means there are also strong reflections coming from the floor and ceiling in most domestic listening rooms.



"At 0 or 100, you're getting reflected sound mostly."


Right, and it's the mix of direct and reflected energy that you are trying to balance by adding room treatments. Reflected energy arrives at your ears at slightly different times than will the direct energy and the signal reflected from one speaker off the opposite wall will arrive at yet another moment in time which will tend towards 1) a rising frequency response "in room", 2) comb filtering of the frequency bandwidth, and 3) a loss of directional information which establishes what we call soundstage and imaging. Let's finish with another ASC image which shows how to use their traps to make a more directional speaker system in a room and the effects it will have on the preceived sound; http://www.asc-hifi.com/tube-trap-setups.htm

http://www.tubetrap.com/tube-trap-layouts.htm



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15912
Registered: May-04
.

Let's try that Galen Carrol link again; http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/index.html You'll have to scroll down to the room treatment article.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15913
Registered: May-04
.

http://www.asc-hifi.com/studio-trap-user-review.htm

http://www.asc-hifi.com/simple-room-test.htm


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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2108
Registered: Oct-07
Jan,
just read your speaker adjustment/setup advice. Good job and I know it works well.
Without ever reading what you wrote, that is pretty much what I went thru with a few changes.
Panels are not symmetric front/back or left/right. So, after going thru the spacing / toe ritual I also tried tweeters in / out and a rotation to bring the pole piece to the front.
The verdict? Inside edge 30.25 inches and the outside edge 34 inches from the front wall. This is about 11degree toe and crosses several feet behind my listening position. Center image on mono voice? Dead center and stable. Speaker spacing is about 66 inches inside edge to inside edge.
The only possible constructive thing I could add would be to KEEP RECORDS of your adjustments and listening impressions. Just for example, as I look back, I could not get good results tweeter out while the sound dropped right in when tweeters were put to the inside.
Also, if you have a sub, leave it OFF while making all speaker adjustments....add it back in later. I'd even wait for a couple days before doing so and give you and your system time to settle in.
As I approached the final setup I would go longer and longer between adjustments. At some point, I'd realize a nagging feeling which I was able to adjust out. I'm well satisfied at this time.
If I had the time / money / spouse buy-in, the room would get a good going over.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15914
Registered: May-04
.

Along with making each move a highly repeatable process with the masking tape marked off in inches or less, I mentioned taking scrupulous notes with each move. This cannot be sufficiently stressed as to its importance in performing a proper set up with minimal confusion and unnecessary repetition or just plain loosing your way and never recovering "that spot that gave such good sound". And, to repeat one more item, never ever change more than one thing at any one time. It's relatively simple to make an effective "either A or B" comparison even over a few minutes time - made much more effective by good note taking - but it becomes almost an impossibility to make an effective "either A or B or C or A&C or B&A or none of the above" decision.

This one change at any one time approach should be how you go about any improvements in your system. Make the simplest, most repeatable alteration and then make your comparison. Then proceed to making the next change out and make your comparison. As leo and I have both noted, live with a decision for a while and then it's usually a good idea to go back to the previous set up, whether that's a new/old tube/cable/amp/etc. swap or a previous speaker location. As listeners it's too simple for us to mistake different for better when all it amounts to is different.

And take breaks, this isn't a marathon. Your ability to discern subtle changes becomes dulled after a short while spent in "critical listening" mode - whatever that is for you. If a musician is learning a new piece of music or someone is learning a new language or a new skill of any sort, diving into two and three hour long sessions of intense work is proven to have fewer benefits than would tackling the process in short bursts with frequent breaks in between. If you're learning guitar, practicing for 1/2 hour on six days of the week will put you ahead of the player with equal talent and skills who only plays for three hours each day of the weekend. Take this same approach to gettting your listening skills honed and the system responsive to your desires.

Get up and walk away from the system for a few minutes or a few hours, take a day away from the system on ocassion. When you come back make certain nothing has changed in the time away - the equipment (including the speakers which contain voice coils that expand with heat and suspension systems that loosen up a bit with some time spent playing music) should be warmed up and the room is set up in identical fashion, and have another go. For most of us, due to numerous changes in day to day situations, we will perceive slightly different values from one day to the next. As you gain experience listening to music these interior changes will become less important though you can never truly control the exterior influences to the situation. Speakers and some equipment will certainly react to changes in temperature and humidity for example. If the HVAC system is running and you haven't addressed the potential noises intruding on the room through the duct work - or never even thought about them - this could influence a decision regarding high frequency extension or purity or possibly low frequency control issues. You don't need the hermetically sealed Mason Jar approach, or the Mathew Polk white lab coat either, but make the process as similar from one listening session to another.

Possibly, it's a good idea to have a discussion of how to arrive at this point in your listening sessions. First, it begins with being able to shut down your the critical listening mode where you constantly pay attention to what the system is doing and switching into a mental position where you are able to focus on the music without judging soundstaging or how "organic" the piano appears.


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Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1245
Registered: Jul-07
I've left it alone for now. Since I got my amp back it has been running non-stop to get through whatever burn-in is required. I didn't want to judge any room changes with the variable of an evolving component. My sense is I'm going back to the original setup, but with some adjustments. There is just something about the diagonal setup that doesn't sound quite right, and I can't put my finger on it.

My listening room is a mess right now. It's not a particularly inviting place to go, and I need to change that. Once I figure out the configuration that works best I need to do a paint job, get some fabric to cover the bass traps, and put up some pictures. The skyline diffusors I made, although functional, are butt ugly. The place needs some color badly....other than Owens Corning yellow. The carpet needs replacing too.

JV, related to this link.....

http://www.teresaudio.com/haven/traps/traps.html

.....is only one end of the tube trap covered with mdf or plywood, with the other open ? I wasn't clear on that. I found a place locally that sells this pipe wrap for about $20 for a 36" x 12 " x 1" length. They would probably work better than my stacked OC609 sections. Although, I was thinking about trying spacers (1") between the OC609 panels to see if that made a difference.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15918
Registered: May-04
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Both ends of the trap are closed with MDF, ply, particle board or a similar material to allow for attachment to a base or to vertically stack traps one atop the other. In the commercial ASC traps there is a countersunk T-nut in both the top and bottom plate to allow for a good, secure, screw type fitting between stacked traps; http://tubetrap.com/tubetrap-flyer.pdf If there are children or inquisitive pets in the house, this helps keep the entire stack upright when supported on a broad, screwed in base - even more important when the traps are placed on carpetted floors. There's no particular need to finish the bottom of a diy trap that sits on the floor other than to make a more stable system that allows for easier adjustment. If you follow the directions in that article, don't remove all of the paper wrap. It serves the same function as the plastic which the author then uses in place of the paper. Using either paper or plastic the desired effect is to provide a tuneable, reflective surface on only one side of the trap.

You can refer to that same site to judge the approximate frequency range where various sized traps have their greatest, and ultimately, their most negligible effect. A single diy 12" trap will only be effective to around 90-100Hz with its greatest absorption occurring at about 250-400Hz. A larger diameter (larger footprint) will be required to deal with the frequencies where most rooms have their most erratic deep bass problems. Here's where you risk overdamping a room, too much taken out in the mid-bass to midrange frequencies to finally affect those frequencies that are troublesome in the deep bass. If you want to go after the deep bass, however, you can place a few smaller traps together in congregate against a wall or corner to provide the same or even slightly higher surface area to the pressure wave than a single, larger trap would provide. Using traps as room treatments to provide acoustic absorption, surface area is what counts. In the end this congregate stacking becomes the more effective way to deal with low frequency traps though in the commercial traps the cost is higher (packaging is always your first cost in any commercial product, it's why a five pack of gum costs less than five individual packs of gum.) and in any system the space requirements demand a larger total footprint. Your idea of spacing the 703 panels is on the right track and is quite effective at higher frequencies for, say, first reflection points. Unfortunately, the size of the bass pressurewave you're trying to tame is so long that even with a few 1" spacers between panels the effectiveness of the spacing is not much greater than having the panels fitted close together.

It's difficult to relax in a cluttered room, even man caves need some order. In general your experience with diagonal set up is about the same as mine. There is usually some quality that is appealing about the initial set up but over time it doesn't wear well. It could be just the psychological effect that everything about the presence of the room is thrown off kilter but there is typically a sense that the music doesn't fit the right stage dimensions you would expect from a live performance. To change that impression you usually have to resort to the use of room treatments.



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Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 969
Registered: Dec-06
Well, the diagonal set up did not work for me either. I placed some masking tape where my speakers sat in their old position and then spent the better part of yesterday moving things around. Due to the small size of my room, and also limitations with how far from my rack I can move my speakers due to the length of my cables, I don't have a ton of options for placement.

But I was able to set the system up diagonally and I got really boomy bass. There was something else too, maybe what Jan mentioned above - that the soundstage didn't feel right. It wasn't just the boomy bass, something about it sounded unnatural. I couldn't lose this despite trying a few times to adjust the positioning as much as possible. Too bad, because the room itself had a nicer layout.

In the old spot the sound was very balanced, in terms of clean highs, a smooth and detailed midrange, and deep, clean, unboomy bass. Suffice it to say that I moved the speakers back pretty quick. I wasn't going to waste any more time trying to make the diagonal position work.

One positive change is that I moved my big credenza over against the other wall, which allowed me to move the rack to a more accessible spot, pretty much in between and behind my speakers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2110
Registered: Oct-07
You don't have to use 703 as a 'sheet' product.
You can cut a sheet into triangles and stack 'em in corners...framed and covered would look best.

A 2x4 sheet turns into what.....4 triangles? Long side to the room, so that would be about 34" or so. with 2 sides of 24". Short sides to into the corner.
I'd stack 'em with a space between each slice.

Cover to taste.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1246
Registered: Jul-07
Questions;

- Currently the walls of my listening room are only covered on the inside (gyproc). There is no insulation inside the wall and there is no gyproc on the outside of the wall. So basically, it's 2x4's with one side covered in gyproc. Would it be acoustically beneficial to insulated between the 2x4's ? I wouldn't expect this to affect upper frequencies at all, but thought deadening the wall might help with the lower frequencies.

- Leo, what is the acoustic benefit of stacking 4 triangles from a 2x4 sheet of 703 ? It's an interesting idea. I have 3 sheets currently (uncut) just leaning into each corner. So only 2'x4' of facing surface, and about 12" of depth. The triangles would give me 30"x48" facing the room, and 2' maximum depth (tapering to nothing on each side). The total area and mass are the same, so just wondering what the reconfiguration might change.

Dak, apologies for completely sidetracking your thread.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15919
Registered: May-04
.

Gyproc isn't a particularly effective resonator nor is it sufficiently pourous which would allow air waves to pass through its surface, so insulation inside the wall probably isn't going to change very much about what you perceive from the interior of the room. Dollar for dollar what would probably make a larger improvement in bass performance would be to make the walls less able to flex with the pressure wave. Just as a concrete/cement floor will provide quicker release of bass notes than will a floor suspended on a pier and beam foundation, so too will the walls react to the additional stiffness of, say, double sheetrock. Lacking that any form of stiffener added to the gyproc would be beneficial. The average construction techniques don't allow for the best bass reproduction as the unsupported gyproc surface area between each stud is always the same in every instance. This makes for multiples of the same problem occurring at the same frequency.

Even more beneficial would be altering the shape of the room to better conform with the ideal dimensions of a listening room. Finally, the best solution to bass response issues would be to eliminate any parallel surfaces in the interior of the room - then make the walls as stiff and non-resonant as possible. In theory this is what you can accomplish through the use of absorption/diffusion devices, the walls take on what is a virtual irregularity in their dimensions. Looking at the illustrations on the ASC and RealTraps sites you can see this takes numerous treatment devices. Considering the non-linear absorption of the typical bass trap this risks tipping the room into an overdamped quality where music looses much of the ambient clues and subtle dynamic shifts which are often what you've tried to capture with a higher quality system. Midrange and high frequency diffusion (and not just a random scattering of airwaves) is best at preserving the subtle qualities of music but it too can be overdone.


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1247
Registered: Jul-07
Hmmm. I could add 2x4's between the existing studs at irregular intervals. I have to repaint anyway, so other than filling some screw holes that's not much work or cost. Changing the shape of the room is a non-starter. I've attempted to reduce the paralllel surfaces to the degree I can with what I currently have to work with. The room sounds good overall, but I would say the bass quality is something that could be improved upon.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2111
Registered: Oct-07
'Staggering' studs is a good construction technique to help isolation between rooms.
From the TOP view, you have 2 rows of studs. One row faces the listening room and the other row faces the other room. They are not in a row, however. The 2 rows are offset by an inch or more. This decouples the 2 surfaces so sound doesn't couple from room-2-room.
Between rows of studs? A sound insulation material can be woven to further decrease sound transmission. Or, if the 2nd wall is 'exterior, you can stuff it with normal house insulation.

link{http://www.audimutesoundproofing.com/sound-insulation-sound-proof-material- soundproofing-insulation.aspx,http://www.audimutesoundproofing.com/sound-insulat ion-sound-proof-material-soundproofing-insulation.aspx}

I'd also double up on sheetrock if possible.

link doesn't look like it is cooperating.....maybe try 'the old fashioned way?'
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1205
Registered: May-05
Well, I see the corner placement set-up didn't seem to work for Leo or Chris so maybe you guys saved me the effort. And, please don't apologize for hijacking the thread, the discussion has been incredibly helpful and led to my speakers moving to a much more appropriate spot, which solved some of the boomy bass and muddied treble that I was hearing.

I got very close to pulling the trigger on a LFD LE IV amp from Gene Rubin in Oxnard and I may pull the trigger later. This amp and the unique approach and hand built construction intrigues me although I would actually be going backwards on wpc and that is a little concerning.

But, I feel like the advice to slow down (and my wife's demand that I slow down on the spending) will allow me to continue to play with my set-up and get to the point where I can more clearly articulate exactly what is right and what is wrong with my current system, if anything.

Frankly, with the new speaker positions, I've done a lot more listening and had several people do some listening and the clear consensus is that strings, acoustic and electric guitar and drums are right on, which clearly wasn't the case before. The Unico continues to do its job although I've noticed that with my speakers out further, the soundstage has shrunk. Male and female voices sounded great before, but now, thd voices are more real. Interestingly enough, Joan Baez's voice has become a little more raspy, pitchy that made it a little more difficult to listen to while every other voice has improved. (I'm not sure what that means except maybe Joan's voice was benefitting from the muddiness up top?")

I've got some Contak coming to clean all the connections on the back of the amp and CD player and I'll be interested to hear what cleaner connections do to the sound. I'm playing around with some funky bass set-ups in the corners and I'm still playing with slight movements, less than a couple inches in any direction and toe-in changes to see if I can't improve the sound a little more.

I wish Jan had mentioned the "notes" part earlier as I am certain that I've already hit some spots where I've been before. LOL

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2113
Registered: Oct-07
Jan, by 'ideal dimensions of a listening room', are you referring to phi? You should see my drawings for a HT room which I'll never be able to afford to build. Perfect phi proportions, 2x sheetrock, staggered studs on 2 adjacent walls and huge bookshelves along the side opposite the speakers. I designed in about 100ft of shelf, including shelves which only fit paperbacks......32" exterior door from house to addition and a short hall which is intended to have a very heavy curtain at the sound /theater room side.

The triangular bass trap made from 703 is perhaps a better use of that material than as a flat sheet. Even in 8 pieces per sheet.....about 17x17x24 for a 45/45 right triangle, you will get 8 pieces 2" thick and spaced 2 inches apart cover 32" of corner.(height) That takes a LOT of 703 for even a pair of 8' corners. 3 sheets per corner?

I drove myself even crazier before I started writing stuff down. Its DejaVu All over again!
Use Google Sketchup to draw a plan of your room. To drive yourself 100% around the bend, do it in 3-D. You can than make several copies and use them as note sheets as you vary setup. neatness counts.

My panels are NOT generally amenable to corner or asymmetric placement, especially in the room I have. Multiple sides, asymmetric and 2 walls, of 45`, one of which is over 10' tall. The longest single wall, is 8.5' tall and about 3x that in length.....which I suspect helps with the overall single advantage I have, which is reasonably even bass distribution. My sub is on that wall, even and as close to the LH panel as possible.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15921
Registered: May-04
.

The ideal room dimensions begin with the Golden Ratios. You can look these up with any search engine and calculate the room size for any given allowable space. The most important point of good room design being no two dimensions are equal to or common multiples of any one other dimension. Nine and thirteen feet are workable dimensions as would be seventy seven and eighty six feet. In other words, ten and fifteen are poor dimensions while ten and thirteen are workable. Thirteen times 1.66 would give you a second dimension of 21.657 as the "ideal" dimension. The golden ratios provide an ideal that will achieve the best acoustics along with the most comfortable "fit" in that the room will appear balanced in all senses and it will be a room in which you can relax. Most good symphonic halls built before computer animation were based on these ratios. With good room dimensions which evenly distribute the pressure waves as the point from which you begin, if you can then minimize the number of parallel surfaces, the room approaches an ideal enclosure for acoustics. There will always be a need for some fixes when you are trying to fit, say, a fifty seven foot wavefront in a room whose smallest dimension is no more than ten or eleven feet. But those can be dealt with using far less room treatment if all the other dimensions of the room support the basics of good sound reproduction. Like anything else, begin with the best base and build from there.


http://www.axiomaudio.com/roomacoustics.html

http://www.silcom.com/~aludwig/Room_acoustics.html

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/roomacoustics.html

.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2118
Registered: Oct-07
Jan, the ratio is 1.618, not 1.66 but that is minor.
Phi is the product of dividing any 2 numbers in the fibonacci series. And since it is an irrational number, it goes on forever, like another famous irrational number, PI.

It is the only number that when squared equals itself +1 and the square root of itself phi -1, or .618

The rest of your explanation is spot on. No even multiples of L/W/H which I call 'cogging' frequencies.
The room addition I'll never be able to afford starts with a base ceiling height of 9 feet, basic width of just over 14.5 feet and length being a tick over 23.5 feet. Working with a more standard 8 foot ceiling makes the room somewhat too small. For whole number room dimensions, any 3 numbers in-a-row from the series will give good dimensions. Practical in larger sizes? no.
Other dimensions, from the fibonacci series which are 'doable' would be 13h x 21w x 34l. This would be a pretty huge space of over 700 sqft and 9000 cubic feet. A daunting space to equip.
The problem which I never resolved was short wall / long wall setup. My panels like some side space while putting them on the short wall....say 8 feet apart and 3 feet from each side wall will put you sitting in a bad spot...nearly in the middle of the long side of the room maybe 10 or 12 feet away.
Putting the speakers on the long wall...also say 8 feet apart results in being possibly sitting too close to the back wall. Also, additional speakers of a HT setup becomes more difficult, though Magnepan has folding panels which hinge to the wall.
And since I'm not wealthy enough for multiple systems, a TV has to be integrated in this mess as well as seating for as many as 6 persons. I've even found modular sectionals which are not at 90 degrees as for corner placement, but rather open at 60 (120) degrees which is fine for what I have in mind.

As a historical note, the Golden Section or whatever you want to call it appears in Old Kingdom Egyptian architecture as well as Greek (Parthenon) and modern buildings like the UN building in NYC.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1206
Registered: May-05
Ok guys,

Sorry to bring this thread back to the beginning but I finally took a plunge or two. I made an offer on a LFD LE Mark III used on Audiogon. The guy asked me to take my offer up a couple hundred and we could do business. That put the 3 year old integrated with only 60 wpc within a couple hundred dollars of a new Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 with a 3 year warranty. So, I decided to go with the STI-500. I upgraded the power fuses to the PS Audio fuses and the speaker posts to the WBTs, the latter recommended by Wally at Underwood HiFi. I'll likely try a couple of power cords once it arrives. (They're out of the STI-500 I.C.E. modules for a couple of weeks because of Chinese New Years so the amp won't be here until mid to late April - go figure).

I know that I will have enough power with this amp to drive the HT2-TLs without a problem and that was my only concern with the LFD integrated. (Even Wally admitted that it is an exceptional amp and I couldn't go wrong either way as long as it had sufficient power to drive the speakers.)

I'm keeping the Unico for a while longer so I can do a proper A/B and see what I gained with the STI-500, if anything. If nothing, I may eat the 15% restocking fee rather than try to resell the STI on Audiogon. If that occurs, I'll be surprised but I'll know that the Unico is doing the job and then some. However, I'm expecting to hear a significant improvement after talking to a couple guys who are using this amp or its bigger brother, the STI-1000, with HT2-TLs and the larger HT3 speakers. (One of the guys replaced a Pass Labs integrated so that made me feel a little more confident in this decision.) So, we will see. I'm getting to the end of my upgradeitis here, especially after instituting some of the "tweaks" in speaker placement and room treatments mentioned above, which have led to some nice improvements in sound. Thanks all, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14060
Registered: Feb-05
Congrats on the amp! Not the choice I would have made but then LFD and Harbeth are said to be a very special match and LFD doesn't suit every setup. Post pics when you get it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1254
Registered: Jul-07
That's supposed to be an excellent amp Dave. I hope it works out for you. When will you have it ?
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2142
Registered: Oct-07
I would LOVE to A/B your new amp with my identically moduled PSAudio offering.
You're in for a treat.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1207
Registered: May-05
Hey Guys,

Art, I know which way you would have gone and I had an email exchange with a guy yesterday that replaced his STI-500 with the LFD LE Mark III. He stated that they both were great amps but he just felt like the LFD gave him a slightly more "real" sound. I may kick myself down the road but . . . maybe not since he was also driving fairly efficient Harbeths and he was really impressed with the combination. He acknowledged that driving the HT2-TLs might be a different situation for the LFD. I'd still love to hear this amp sometime so go get it and invite me down. Also, I'll post pictures but it isn't the prettiest thing in the world. Looks like an small auto sparkplug tester, lol.

Chris, the amp won't arrive until late April after they get the power modules back in stock and get caught up with orders.

Leo, come on down and bring it along. I bought the amp through Walter (Wally) at Underwood HiFi. I found a GCC 250 on Audiogon and asked if I would do better buying the GCC and getting it modified through Underwood HiFi or buying the new Wyred 4 Sound. He highly recommended I go this route and thought with the upgrades I'd notice even a bigger difference over the GCC. (I don't know but I'd guess he probably makes more on the mods of the GCC than the sale of this amp at factory direct pricing so I kinda had to go with his suggestion.) But, I'd love to be able to A/B the two amps.

As always, thanks again for all the information, recommendations and advice. Much appreciated.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2148
Registered: Oct-07
The Underwood mod'd GCC stuff got very good reviews.
The other suggestion I've heard from different sources is to change the power cord.

I've since found out that the key to all this is Cullen Circuits. Not only does W4S have its roots there, but this is where Paul McGowan comes in. I think PSAudio / Cullen and W4S are related in some fashion. Maybe PS had gear built there? It also seems the W4S amp and the PS offering look 'too alike' to be true. Cousins, perhaps?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1208
Registered: May-05
Leo,

Cullen Circuits and their primary circuit guy EJ Sarmento did a bunch of work on the PS Audio gear. Then, Cullen and Sarmento starting doing the mods for Underwood HiFi when PS Audio took it's manufacturing overseas. Also, when PS Audio went overseas it left Cullen Circuits and McGowan and EJ Sarmento out in the cold. Sarmento was the primary brainpower behind the I.C.E. power module modifications in the PS Audio gear. So, Cullen decided to start manufacturing their own amps and Sarmento is the primary design guy and they have just taken the original PS Audio mods and taken them to yet another level in their own gear. Wally explained that the mods that they do on the PS Audio gear is only part of what they do on the Wyred 4 Sound gear. I have no idea but I figured that since he's right in the middle of both of those operations, he must know what he's talking about. If you ever get over this way, I'd be happy to give you a listen or bring your amp along and we can see whether it's real or all voodoo.

I'm already looking at power cords. Wally recommends a cord he sells and several reviewers raved over the MAC HC cord with the amp. For what I'm saving by not going for a used McIntosh, Conrad Johnson or Pass Labs, I can try a couple cords and send the losers back.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2156
Registered: Oct-07
McGowan sends me a monthly PSAudio newletter. I've traded posts with him and he even sent me a copy of 'Coal to Coltrane'. Some interesting sidelights on Tesla....NO not the group, the INVENTOR.

The main selling point for the PSAudio integrateds was NOT mods to the ICE module but rather the input circuitry, in this case called Gain Cell. The advert calls the amps 'Variable Gain'. Regular amps are fixed gain with attenuation.
The few pics I've seen of the gain cell is that of some kind of potted circuit which makes fixing it impossible.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1209
Registered: May-05
Leo,

You're absolutely right. McGowan stayed with PS Audio, I was mistaken. The W4S integrated also has mods to the gain cell, as taken from their website:

"It all starts with our proprietary fully balanced dual FET unity gain buffers on the front end to welcome incoming signals. Our true resistive-ladder volume control is fed from the FET input stage and offers exceptional tracking. Our line stage that couples the amplifier to the front-end offers a balanced output regardless of the selected input. This offers much better common-mode rejection, and a quieter background." Is that the type of mod you're talking about?

To the rest of you, I have now started down the slippery slope of hifi, I bought my first power conditioner, after-market power cords and an audio rack with isolation legs on each level. Now, I can play with wood blocks, stainless steel bbs and 1/2 racquet balls, tennis balls, and I may try grapefruits and basketballs just for fun.

Yes, I'm still playing with limited room treatments, as the wife will allow, although she has now officially "written off this room except for the occasional guest." She has explained that she will no longer go in there at all. LOL
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14087
Registered: Feb-05
"She has explained that she will no longer go in there at all."

Perhaps the beautiful music and soft lights will draw her in...lol!
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2158
Registered: Oct-07
And now, when you're told to 'Go to your room!' you'll be able to listen to some nice music.
Get a fridge in there with some adult beverages and a couple bags of chips so you'll be ready.

I have no idea of any of the mods done to any of this stuff. The Gain Cells look 'potted' and not candidates for mods. Maybe they use better stuff when they put 'em together?

Sounds like you're having a ball.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1210
Registered: May-05
Art, "beautiful music and soft lights" aren't going to work. It will more likely have to be ropes and a whip. LOL

I am having a ball, Leo, even if I don't know what I'm doing just yet.

So, I get the audio rack, put it together, and I'm told the legs are hollow. So, do I fill with sand or use sound deadening foam or something else?

The individual racks will be isolated but I do and try to decouple the metal on metal isolation pieces, i.e., half racquet balls or something else or is the metal on metal isolation feet and arms part of the plan? Then, how about the individual racks, is there where i start using the various "Jan" methods of trial and error pieces to see what works best.

I'M A NOOB on this stuff !!!!!
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2162
Registered: Oct-07
IF you decide to fill the legs, DO NOT use lead / lead shot. It is difficult to dispose of safely and can be hazardous.
Steel rusts, which is a drag and disqualifies it.
Cat Litter? Who Knows?
Sand? Heavy enough?
None of the shots would seem to add rigidity to the leg, just mass.

If I seriously wanted to fill legs I may want to experiment with somehow potting steel in an epoxy resin. Rigidity of the leg would increase as well as mass. Rust wouldn't be an issue. Problems? Well, just try to UNDO this mess. Fill 'er up!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15942
Registered: May-04
.

Visit the manufacturer's web page for information about filling the legs of the stand or give them a call. Most stands will benefit from an internal dampening system - which is what you accomplish by filling the pipes. Adding rigidity isn't really the purpose of any filler. If your stand is wobbly, either you've invested in the wrong component stand or the designer has a specific goal in mind which would then be obliterated by trying to make the stand more rigid. The idea of filling the legs of a stand is, in almost all cases, to affect the resonance of the structure. The vast majority of stands come unfilled only to cut down on shipping cost which would ultimately be reflected in a higher selling price. There's no reason for any audio buyer to pay for shipping sand across the country.

Lead is a popular filler in that it does add substantial mass to the complete system at a very minor cost. If the stand manufacturer has initially done their part and powder coated the stand to cut down on resonance, however, mass can work against a component in that it tends to hold onto a signal for a longer duration and its resonant signature is in the lowest (most destructive) octaves. When considering resonant frequencies of the system, it is almost always better to have higher frequency resonances which tend to be less intrusive on sound quality than are lower frequencies. The high mass, low resonant frequency of lead filler alone causes any resonant behavior which does finally reach the component to be out of synch in time with the signal being reproduced and to have the largest effect on the component. If the stand is not capable of actually stopping the transferance of mechanically generated resonance into the component - a practical impossibility given the location of most stands, then certainly adding mass will work against you.

For example - and it is one of the very few obvious examples I know of, a stand for a Linn LP12 turntable is preferred to be very light (no or minimal filler) while striving for maximum rigidity. The low mass of the stand made transferance of any signal - which Linn felt was inevitable in a domestic situation - happen quickly while what was occurring at the stylus tip was still very much in synch with what the stand/table system was generating and then sending or reflecting back into the table. The sound quality of a LP12 on a heavy stand can be heard to deteriorate when compared to a LP12 on a very light but still rigid stand.

Now, what's good for a turntable isn't always what's good for an amplifier - remember the simultaneous couple/decouple concept? - but it is worth noting that mass alone isn't what you should be aiming for. You could probably apply a general rule that goes something like this: lighter weight components; Rega tables and clones, many CD players, DAC's, phono pre amps, etc., which have a somewhat higher internal resonance would be adversely affected by the addition of a lower frequency resonance generated by the high mass stand. Keep those components away from a lead filled, high mass stand. A heavyweight power amplifier is more likely to appreciate additional mass to accept its lower frequency internal resonance and vibration. Those are very broad rules and only meant to serve as a starting point in experimentation. For that reason sand is another popular filler and costs virtually nothing when used to fill the legs of the average audio stand. (Make certain the sand is completely dry before adding it to any metal stand.) Sand falls somewhere between lead and the other popular filler, cat litter, in its added mass. There are also fillers sold with the specifically stated purpose of being the "ideal" filler material though these items tend to come off more as the most "ideal" way for someone to make a bit of cash off something all but the most OC consumer could accomplish on their own.

A trend that works for many people is to layer the materials, beginning with the highest mass going in towards the bottom one quarter to one third of the leg (where the power amp is more commonly located), then some sand and finishing off with cat litter at the top (where the table or CD player might go). This not only cuts down on cost but more importantly makes for dissimilar materials which will each have their own resonant signature rather than one monolithic resonance which would be more easily transferred through to a component. In other words, the combination of materials tends to self-dampen its own resonance which then approaches the more theoretically ideal filler material.

I would tend to disagree with leo about the dangers of lead. Unless the material becomes free floating (not an idea you typically associate with lead) or exposed in some way to provide access to pets or small children, lead poses no particular practical health issues when properly handled. (You aren't going to be eating off your equipment stand, are you? If so, forget the lead just to be safe.) It would be unusual - though I haven't checked in several decades - for a shop not to buy back clean lead shot. In this regard you needn't pay any attention to those guys on "This Old House" who are dealing with the removal of old, lead based paint products. Too bad, too! Norm probably could've given some good tips on how to fix up the room and your equipment stand to boot! Norm clearly love his dovetail router fixture.

Other approaches to dampening the resonance of the stand would be things like expandable foam products or the shredded cloth/paper products sold as insulation. You could follow Sound Anchors' idea and fill the stand with cement/concrete. There are spray on materials meant to deaden car panels which you might try. The issues with many of these less common materials should be obvious, what do you do should the experiment prove less than satsifactory? Once in place cement and epoxy resin tend to be a bit more permanent than are sand and cat litter.

Contact the manufacturer or your retailer for more advice specifically related to your stand.


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2164
Registered: Oct-07
What I meant, and wasn't clear enough was that you improve the rigidity of tubular legs...not the entire stand, by filling the legs with something like foams or epoxy.
rigidity of the stand is perhaps more related to how and how well the shelves are coupled / connected to the uprights and materials chosen.
Improved rigidity of the legs may actually raise the resonant frequency.
If you are into CLD, than perhaps a piece of rebar suspended inside the leg and than potted in something. Bury each end of the rebar in a hard rubber ball of the a diameter smaller than the ID of the leg. Add mass and distribute vibrational modes.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2165
Registered: Oct-07
http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/browse/shooting-reloading-reloading-components/_/ N-1100194+4294771255/Ne-4294771255?WTz_st=GuidedNav&WTz_stype=GNU

From a shooters supply house. At 5$ / lb. for the buckshot, that'd be pretty pricy.
Nickel and copper plated also available.

I still don't want anything to do with lead.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1211
Registered: May-05
Jan and Leo,

Thanks for the additional information. I went to the manufacturer's site and they had no information regarding fill for the legs. So, I read a bunch of reviews and different people had luck with different things, e.g., lead, sand and one guy used a sound-deadening foam, which I would think would be exactly the wrong approach but maybe not for his set-up.

I'm going to start with nothing in the legs and see if I get any resonance. It appears fairly important to get the spikes down to my concrete floor to disperse vibrations.

Then, from the reading I did, it appears that lead may have the best character for resonance control but I'm wondering if a combination of lead and sand might also work? I'm not really into the foam, sand, lead or similar foam/something combos because once it's in, you're not getting it out. Same with concrete.

I am intrigued a little with Leo's idea of some type of metal bar, possibly lead with hard rubber bars on the end but not rebar as it will likely create too much resonance from any vibration, although I understand that's the point of the balls.

Also, I think I'm going to look at some type of rubber gaskets to add when I install the shelves too assist with further decoupling and I may look at replacing the mdf shelves with solid maple as some point as this appears to be one of the better woods for isolation and resonance control.

In retrospect, it may have been fun to have one of my buddies who is a welder help me out with a DIY rack but then my wife really would have complained. LOL
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2169
Registered: Oct-07
The rebar won't resonate if potted in epoxy. The leg will than be composed of pieces with different resonant frequencies which unless you are very UNlucky, will not 'cog'. Also, once done, there's no going back! This is a 'forever mod'.
Just my opin, but a rigid tube is more important than simply making a heavy one.
And yes, MDF is generally awful stuff for shelves.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15945
Registered: May-04
.

Dak, which stand did you buy? We can be more helpful only if we have more information. Your ideas for modding the stand might be well intentioned or might be misdirected if the stand is truly meant to function as designed. Rubber gaskets? Depending on the stand a better approach might be to mount the shelves on upward facing spikes.

The point of a spike (no pun intended) serves several functions. First, its job is to isolate the shelf/component/speaker/etc. from mechanical vibrations within the support surface by creating a "mechanical diode" effect. This happens as the extremely small footprint of the spike offers minimal surface area for vibrations to enter (thereby showing maximum resistance to vibration) and then the increasingly larger diameter of the spike acts as a somewhat resistive force to the vibrations that have made their way into the spike. For this reason, it is often more beneficial to use a "TipToe" shaped cone which offers further resistance to the entrance of vibration as the top diameter of the cone has a larger structure. Second, the small foot print of the spike or cone can function in the opposite direction with the spike acting as a drain for vibration within the component. By placing the mass of the supported item on the very small footprint of the spike the effect is to increase the presure per square inch distributed to the tip of the cone. (The same idea applies to women's high heel shoes. The destructive effect of high heels - other than the fact they squish a woman's toes down into the front of a poorly shaped shoe - increases the force of each footstep by focussing the woman's weight on a very small surface area. You've probably seen estimates of more than a ton of pressure being applied with each footstep.) When set up properly cones and spikes can have the virtual effect of bolting the equipment to the surface upon which the spike rests.

In the case of a stand there shouldn't be much vibration to "disperse" into the floor. If the stand allows that much vibration to reach the legs of the stand, there's probably an issue with the integrity of the stand. Most of the mechanical vibration and internal resonance of the components should be dealt with in the individual shelves. Those shelves are typically decoupled from the support structure of the stand by using spikes to support each shelf or by more sophisticated methods such as a suspension system. The spikes on each leg of the stand serve as the mechanical diodes to minimize the entrance of vibration from the floor and to mass load the stand to the surface. However, they do nothing to stop airborne vibration from entering each shelf.

Here surface area is important as will be the capacity for the shelf to trap/release vibration. If the shelf has been properly decoupled from the stand, the vibration can come from airborne excitement of the material reacting to the pressure waves created by the music or from the vibration directed into it by the mechanical resonance of the component.

In almost all systems which exhibit a fair degree of transparency the sound of the support shelf will be the sound you perceive from the component which it supports. In this respect MDF is a reasonable shelf material since it exhibits a fair degree of damping. MDF layered into a composite with other materials is often a good, low cost choice for tuning your system's sound. The typical problem with MDF shelves is they are made too thin and therefore too easily excited by airborne resonances. Keep in mind all woods are not created equal and selecting a solid wood for use as a shelf material willl offer some important choices. For example, maple is considered a premiere tonewood for musical instruments. When either riff cut or quartersawn, the hardness of most varieties of maple will have tremendous abilities to respond to and project vibration with an emphasis towards the "bright" side of all tonewoods. To benefit from maple's potential transparency you need to know how the material has been cut and shaped and which variety of maple you are buying; http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Bodies/Options/BodyWoodOptionsPop.aspx

End cut maple is what you will typically find in a high quality butcher's block. The end cut offers the highest resistance to both wear and, as a shelf material for an audio stand, resonance. When it comes to use as an audio component shelf, maple is best used with a substantial slab under your component. IMO, you should be looking at approximately 2" of thickness in an end cut maple (butcher's block) shelf to make a good, transparent material for audio use. If you can't manage that thickness, I would advise you look to other materials or possibly a composite of materials. Finished butcher blocks can be rather pricey due to the difficulties in cutting and handling the maple wood. Occasionally you'll find a reasonable price on cutting boards - a different item than a butcher block - either on line or in discount stores such as Ross. The difference between a Boos block butcher's block and a discount store cutting board are mostly in the construction of the materials. A cutting board is often just a slab of wood - not always maple - which is riff cut just as you would for use as a tonewood when building a musical instrument. Rap it with your knuckle and you'll notice the signature sound of riff cut maple - somewhat bright (mostly due to a lack of low end response) with good projection and a "fast" attack. Head to the chef's supply house to rap your knuckle on an end cut Boos Block butcher block and you'll also notice the signature sound of end cut maple. In between these two extremes is the laminated maple (faux) butcher blocks. These are built by laying strips of riff cut maple side to side with the top grain being stiffer and more stable - and less expensive to build - than the true, high quality, end cut butcher block. If you have the ability to cut down large chunks of wood, a good source for this sort of material is Lumber Liquidators; http://www.lumberliquidators.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=1472 Your choice of cherry or maple (check the site for the sound of tonewoods as cherry is distinctly unlike maple). An 8' section will provide more than enough material for a typical audio system. Otherwise, don't be too quick to diss the MDF shelves, their high internal damping might still be the best alternative for fine tuning the system's sound. As they say, you've never seen a violin made out of MDF, have you?



As a side note, the same cannot be said of guitars. The famous Danelectro instruments of the 1950-60's were constructed from Masonite, a dense particle-board like material that has certain values not found in any other wood product; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danelectro_U2 Lacking the clear, bell like resonance of a true tonewood the Danelectros offered a sound unlike any other electric guitar on the market; mostly a tending-towards bright, cutting sound that could be made reasonably "fat" by selecting the (single coil) neck pickup; http://www.gear-vault.com/danelectro-56-u2-electric-guitar/ Sold under the Sivertone brand name by Sears Roebuck, the Danelectros were the starting point for many an aspiring player; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLfGHZFtzqI&feature=player_embedded I still have my original which is selling nowdays for about ten times its original $89 retail; http://www.vintagesilvertones.com/forsale_silvertone_1452_10-2008_.html#LARGE Resissues of several original Danelectro styles are available and they all seem to have that same Danelectro voicing; not a Strat and not a Les Paul and certainly not a maple laminated archtop.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1212
Registered: May-05
Jan and Leo,

Here's the link to the stand:
http://www.racksandstands.com/VTI-BL404-VI1001.html

It's on the cheap side but a decent start with good reviews from audio only folks as well as others. I figured rubber gasket or some type of gasket between the shelf and the mdf for better isolation? Am I off track here?

As you suggest, I'll start with the stock stand and see what I hear. It is likely to be improvement on where I'm starting in any event.

Keep the info. coming guys, I'm doing more reading and learning. I may read myself into the abyss, of course.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14107
Registered: Feb-05
Those VTI stands are very poorly built. I bought one for an amp stand when I had separates. It's out in the garage in a box. The shelves are a thin plastic material ior if it's MDF it's the thinnest I've run accross.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1213
Registered: May-05
Oh sure, now you decide to participate, Art. LOL - It shipped on Friday.

On a serious note, I'm taking it that canning the mdf shelves immediately and looking at something else is a must. I can tell you right now that the wife won't let me go any higher up the food chain given how much I've spent in the last 6 months. So, it's either send it back or live with and try and improve upon it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1214
Registered: May-05
Other potential options, if I returned the rack?

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?accsrack&1304117229&/Apollo-Hi-Fi-Soprano -5

or I might be able to go this high on price?

http://http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?accsrack&1301454180&/Bell-'-Oggett i-Stand

Or, I just live with what I bought and see what I can do with it, which is probably where I'm at. I'll just have to play around and it should be an improvement over my current situation, right?

If not, you guys are all invited to make fun of me at your leisure. I'M STILL SUCH A NOOB!!!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1215
Registered: May-05
On the bright side, I would have paid about $400 with shipping had I purchased the rack from the guy on Audiogon and I got it for $150 less online. small woot!!!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15947
Registered: May-04
.

Dak, I have no experience with the stand you've purchased. Once it arrives and you have it in place, you'll have to decide whether it offers the quality of construction you feel is adequate for your needs. If it has any quality at all, I would say, yes, this should be an improvement over having your equipment inside a piece of furniture. Just judging from the picture of the stand, there would seem to be at least a few advantages to its design. There are almost two dozen positive reviews of the rack so, put Art's one negative against all the rest and the stand would still appear to have a positive, mostly favorable review. One issue here is whether the reviews are for the stand's performance as a component in an audio system (and subsequently how that component influences the sound quality of the system for good or bad) or whether the reviews are mostly concerned with physical appearance and ease of assembly. Stands are tough to judge on line or even in a store since there's no easy way to quickly swap an entire system between two racks for audition and not many consumers buy a half dozen racks for comparison's sake.

Here are a few alternatives which I would say are the minimum, basic requirement type stand you should be comparing against at your apparent price range; http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=SMA5

http://www.musicdirect.com/product/52228

If the stand hasn't provided any option for filling the legs, whether you decide to or not, I would tend towards dismissing that stand as more cosmetic in design rather than a serious audio component. The threaded rod Salamander style stand is an obvious exception to that rule. Decoupling the individual shelves is more important to them and their construction favors a leg design which is less prone to picking up airborne pressure waves. As always, there are more than a few workable approaches to anything in this hobby. The Salamander design has been copied as a diy system; http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/flexye.html The threaded rod designs offer virtually infinite adjustment between shelves though everyone who has assembled one can attest to the time consuming process of getting each self level at all four corners.


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1216
Registered: May-05
Jan,

The stand legs can be filled and I've found a link on Audiogon where several users found the stands to be adequate and used fill from sand, to lead to a composite of sand, clay and lead. So, I do believe that you can do some "tuning" with fill, although I'll see what it sounds like out of the box.

The description says the shelves are MDF so I'm fairly confident that they are. I found one guy who just purchased additional shelving and put rubber isolation gaskets between a couple of pieces, glued them and used them in that fashion. So, I don't think I'll be at a loss for options with the rack. We'll see.

OK, I'm a convert to power conditioners, even though this one was cheap and barely adequate with only 2 plugs. It arrived yesterday and I added it to my set-up. I couldn't really A/B with and without the power conditioner because of the current set-up so I listened for about a 1/2 hour without it and an hour with it. I will do a strict A/B once the rack comes and I can get to connections more easily.

I noticed an immediate difference in the amount and quality of bass - both drums, guitar and stand-up. Also, I noticed more realistic sound in the bass and especially in cymbals and higher frequency strings and horns/winds. Very nice.

Thanks all, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14109
Registered: Feb-05
Sorry Dave...I have been engaged in some great fun on the AK board relative to music. Their playlists are great fun and really what this hobby is mostly about to me. Hey, as soon as I saw VTI I responded. Someone else here or at AK just bought the same stands and returned them. They are good about returns, just in case you feel moved.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1217
Registered: May-05
Art,

No problem, I was just kidding you. I'm glad you're enjoying your new system and all the music. So far, just about every change that I've made has improved my sound and I am in a completely different realm than where I started 6 months ago so I am enjoying my music much more as well.

As Jan stated above, even the cheap audio rack should be an improvement over my current set up and, if not, I will return it and look at some of the other options. I don't mind eating the shipping going back if I can get better sound elsewhere.

I am just amazed out much these changes continue to make, from the new interconnects and speaker cable to the new positioning to the power conditioner.

I start to wonder how much of an improvement a new amp will make and whether it will be worth the outlay. We'll see. In the meantime, the next changes will be new power cables and they are scheduled to arrive in a week or so.

Thanks, Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1219
Registered: May-05
Hey Guys,

It's been a few weeks since posting anything because I've been listening a bunch with the new power conditioner added and I just got 3 new SignalCable power cables added to the system.

Well, I am now a convert to the benefits of a power condidtioner. The impact was immediate and very noticeable. Immediate improvement in bass response and tightness, more air around the instruments and improved treble clarity (By which I mean realness to the sound of horns and wind instruments). I was really surprised by the amount of improvement.

Then, I added the new power cables on Thursday. They were horrible. All of sudden, everything was really bright, bass was muddy, music lost part of its soul and I was thinking what a complete waste. Then remembered several reviews in which it was noted that it took these cables 2-3 days to break in and sound decent and a full 30 days or so to get them to completely open up. So, I quit listening and just played music continuously for 3 days while I did other things.

Last night, I had a friend over who is a music professor at a local college, a jazz aficionado (actually has backed Natalie Cole several times, backed Ray Charles and plays clarinet/sax in the Seattle jazz scene for many years). He auditioned the SalkSound HT2-TLs when I first got them and was impressed, before I changed the set-up. Also, he brought along his new "toy", a "Pure i-20" iPod dock, grand total investment $99.

First, we listened to some CDs on my Arcam and he immediately noticed the improvement in sound and commented upon the much more real quality of guitar, drums and stringed and horn instruments, including the extension in bass and treble. What I noticed on first listen is that the brightness and muddiness from the first with the new cables was gone and replaced with a nice improvement, especially in the clarity of voices. Passages that I had trouble hearing before (remember I have bad ears and wear hearing aids) were much clearer and I was hearing subtle voice and instrument sounds that weren't there before. He felt like I had made a substantial improvement in my sound from his first listen.

Then, I learned a couple of things from him. One, I don't listen to music as loud as I think I do. My wife thinks my volume level is loud. He was listening to levels that were easily 5-7 clicks up on my volume level, I mean LOUD!!!! I have an earache today after about 3 hours of listening. I also learned that this little Pure i-20 iPod dock is pretty dang good. We were able to A/B several CDs to his iPod deck. The iPod deck was warmer than my CD player and I felt not quite as true to original but it was probably 90% of what we were getting out of my Arcam, remember it was $1700 when new, versus the Pure's onboard DAC playing WAV files. I could easily make the switch to it for straight digital and play the WAV files and be satisfied with what I was getting if I had to go digital tomorrow. It was pretty dang impressive and with the addition of a separate DAC in the future, I suspect that it might be the direction I go instead of getting heavily involved in a computer and external hard drive.

And for the capper on all this, I got a call from Wally and the Ice Power modules arrived last week and I may have an amp by the end of next week. (Bad news is that they are no longer making the upgraded fuses so I'm going without those but will still get the upgraded connections.) I've been keeping Wally abreast of the changes to my system and he keeps telling me that the Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 will take things to a whole new level. I am finding it hard to believe given the improvements in the last month or so once I started experimenting with the speaker placement and some of the "tweaks" you guys have recommended but I won't be disappointed at all if he's right and I hit nirvana. I'll update when there's more to say.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14181
Registered: Feb-05
In my power cord search I owned the Signal Cables and thought they were horrible. Every other power cord I tried was better, every one. The best is the van den Hul and best reasonably priced one was the Kimber PK10. I'd even bet the $99 Shunyata's are pretty good.

I don't listen loud either, what for.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14182
Registered: Feb-05
BTW I let the Signal cables run in for awhile and although they improved they never were in any sense good. May be they are different now or perhaps they work better in some setups. The best thing about Signal was the responsive service.

Sounds like you are having fun, David, and that is the point. Enjoy!
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1007
Registered: Dec-06
Glad things are going your way, Dak. I like my power conditioner too. I've tried my amp with and without it recently and I think I actually prefer it through the conditioner. Dynamics do not seem stifled at all, a common complaint with these things. In fact, the sound overall just seems a little more vivid.

I'll probably try a power cord upgrade in the next couple of years. I think I'm going to stop buying new components and focus more on these kinds of tweaks. Shunyata is an obvious one. Has anyone here tried Pangea? They seem to be very affordable, but I wonder if they are any good. Before cables though, the next tweak I try will be component isolation. I want to try some edensound products...which in addition to isolation have the added benefit of chanelling static electricity away from your components. Static electricity is a definite problem here in the winter. I often zap my electronics and really hate when that happens.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1220
Registered: May-05
Art,

Once again, you're killing me here. LOL It is interesting so far. I don't notice near the improvement with the Signal power cables as I do with the power conditioner. Once, I get all of this stuff into a rack, it will be much easier to A/B because now I have to wrestle with trying to change everything out while working in this closed cabinet. But, as you point out, I am having fun and things are moving the right direction.

Dan, I won't run without the power conditioner now. That was an easier change as I just plugged the stuff into it or my surge protector and the sound change is quite noticeable. It is staying.

After I get the new amp, I am done, unless it doesn't show a great improvement in which case it will go back and I'll hang on to the Unico. If that were to happen, I might take that money after the refund and purchase a new DAC and the Pure i-20. Once, I get the equipment in the new rack, which is still sitting in the box, I will start tweaking and isolation efforts. Mucho fun.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14184
Registered: Feb-05
Don't remember the forum, maybe Hoffmnan. There is someone posting that says that they have compared Shunyata and Pangea and the Shunyata was superior. Don't know that I believe it or not however everyone I've talked to who I trust has been very impressed with Shunyata, even the cheap one. Pangea,not so much.

I don't used power conditioners but I do use a FIM wall outlet and the results are impressive.

Enjoy!
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1221
Registered: May-05
Dang,

The Wyred 4 Sound integrated showed up early and I've got meetings tonight so I won't get it set-up and operating before tomorrow. I'll report some more after I get some burn in.

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1222
Registered: May-05
It's only been 3 hours and it's not even close to broken in but . . .

The only way anyone will get this new amp away from me is from my cold dead fingers. LOL
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1288
Registered: Jul-07
Glad to hear that initial impressions are good. The amp should get better over the next month or so.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14186
Registered: Feb-05
Sounds like things are going well, David!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4373
Registered: May-05
Glad things are working out so far David.

Regarding the power cords...

I own the Shunyata Venom (last generation, not the current Venom 2) and the Diamondback Platinum. The Venom was $99 and the Diamondback was/is $125 from Music Direct. Both are excellent power cords IMO. They took absolutely nothing away, and made everything sound more relaxed and natural. The system seems to breathe easier with them. Tone has improved a little bit too. At first I thought all they did was soften the sound, but after I got used to what they're doing I'm hooked.

I used the Venom originally on the Bryston integrated, then moved it to the Theta DAC once I got the Diamondback. The Diamondback is on the Bryston. I haven't used the Venom on the Rega DAC because I need an adapter. I'll get around to that one of these days.

The Diamondback does everything the Venom does, just at a bit higher of a level. It's a no-brainer for a $125 power cord IMO.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2219
Registered: Oct-07
Please let me know how the power cord search progresses.
I would love to give one a try.
Given this amp would appear to be 1st cousing to my PSAudio, you may consider a PSAudio power cord. ?

Paul loves his own work and claims his cord to be the #1 choice for his amps.

If I had the $$$ I'd be tempted myself. 'b' stock comes up periodically as does used and the odd sale from PS themselves.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2220
Registered: Oct-07
http://www.psaudio.com/ps/products/detail/perfectwave-ac-3-power-cable?cat=cable s-accessories

The least expensive in the PSAudio line.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1223
Registered: May-05
I'm hanging in with the Signal cords for now to let them break in. At least until then i'll keep them and see how everything sounds, although it will be hard to tell how much improvement is the new amp as it burns in or if it's partially the cords.

I have found some of the missing music that started this whole thread and that was really the point with all these changes and going to this new amp, which shows me pace and rhythm that I didn't know was missing. The bass is levels better than what I was getting and the micro-dynamics and transitions are incredible. Now, drums sound right.

I listened to Holst's Planets tonight and during "Jupiter" when the violin and viola section comes in in full force about 1/2 way in, it literally overwhelmed me because I heard a depth and separation that just hit home as "real", with the bow strokes and the vibrato that I had never heard before. It blew me away. And, this baby isn't even close to broken in.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1289
Registered: Jul-07
Ride the wave dude.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14196
Registered: Feb-05
Yep Stu, those Shunyata's are definitely what I would try if I were shopping power cords.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2222
Registered: Oct-07
Try the Telarc recording of 'The Four Seasons' and let me know.
If you like violin / solos this'll knock your socks off.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1224
Registered: May-05
Leo,

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll add it to my purchase list.

I've got about 30 hours on it so far and it just keeps getting better and smoother. The first ten hours it had a touch of bright but it is getting silkier and silkier with time. I suspect this thing will tend toward a lush, detailed sound with a little tube-like afterglow once it is fully broken in. I just can't believe some of the details I'm getting now and the difference that the added power makes with the pace and rhytym on CDs along with the new found base. I think I can honestly say, "I'm done for a long while."

Once it is fully broken in, I'll give a longer review. Dave

P.S. - Anyone in the market for a lightly used Unico?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1226
Registered: May-05
Well guys,

The Unico sold to a very nice guy in Sacramento area and it is on its way to a new home. I will miss its sweet sound but, in fairness, the new amp is a huge step up and it provides enormous power that has taken the Salk speakers to a whole new level. I have about 70 hours on the new amp and probably 100 hours on the power cords and power conditioner. Every thing just sounds incredible. I can honestly say that I've found the missing music and this system gives me the closest thing to real sound that I've heard in my own home. We'll it's back to listening and I'll post something more real when the amp has hit 200-300 hours, which is "mostly " broken in.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1238
Registered: May-05
Well, I've hit the 100 hour mark and things continue to open up with this amp and the sound just gets sweeter and sweeter. There are so many great changes that it's hard to describe them all. Better highs - check - with much more detail and clarity. Cymbals have the right shimmer, tone and decay. Flutes and horns sound heavenly and accurate.

Midrange smoothness - check. But, the most noticeable difference is the incredible sound of voices and strings. Both are richer, purer and more distinct. Put on the "Best of Peter, Paul and Mary" last night and every voice was placed on a stage with Paul (actually Noel) stage left with his baritone voice; Mary almost dead center with that liquid smooth voice; and, Peter - stage right well to the right of my speaker with that unique voice full of passion. I could have swore they were in the room and the acoustic guitars were dead on.

Bass - double check. I was missing bass with the old set-up but couldn't really tell how much until the new amp went into the system. Now, each drum stroke comes alive and there's a punch to the stomach that follows. I would guess that the bass is easily 5db or more lower, much tighter and more powerful. Everything sounds like live music now and every CD just has a whole, new sound.

In every CD I listen to, I find something that I didn't hear before, like a triangle far behind the strings section, barely audible in the background that pings, hangs in the air for several seconds and slowly decays into blackness. A set of back-up voices that now separate so you can hear each of the three voices meshed together but clearly distinct and standing just behind the bass player.

I still haven't been able to move everything into the new rack, which I'll do in a week or two after I get the furniture sold and moved. I am hopeful that I'll continue to hear improvement in the amp as it continues to break-in because everyone says that it takes a full 300 hours for it to sound its best and I'm only a 1/3 of the way there. Throw in some improvement with losing the furniture and going to a rack, even if it's just a touch, and this system will easily satisfy me for a very long time. In fact, I can't think of a thing that I would do to system now.

So, everyone, I'm done for a long while. My first system lasted a full 25 years and I just hope I last long enough to give this system that long. Thanks for all the advice, help and encouragement.

Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14255
Registered: Feb-05
Good stuff, Dave...enjoy!
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1298
Registered: Jul-07
Terrific Dave. Sounds like you've good a heck of a good thing setup there.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1239
Registered: May-05
Thanks guys.

I couldn't be happier. It's a complete crapshoot when you buy things online with no chance to hear them first.

I figured the speakers would be worth the money but you never know how things will work together and the upgraded Wyred 4 Sound amp has brought them more alive. Throw in the power conditioner and cables and it just all sounds better.

Now, the problem is I get lots of guys who want to come over and listen to my gear. LOL - it's kinda fun.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1245
Registered: May-05
Back from vacation and a friend put another 20 plus hours on the system for me while I was gone.

I've put another 8-10 hours on it since I got back. This amp just continues to get sweeter with play time. Every single CD I put on sounds better than it did before and even poorly recorded CDs are very listenable now.

Linda Ronstadt still sounds like she's in her 20s, slender and hot looking when I play her on this thing, how is that even possible? LOL Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2283
Registered: Oct-07
Just remember, Jerry Brown, the California Governor got there first.

That'll take care of your Linda Ronstadt fantasies.

I heard her at the Del Mar Fair doing an ALL Spanish show.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1255
Registered: May-05
Leo,

That didn't take care of the fantasies, it painted a picture that was seared into my memory and will never leave. Unfortunately, I have Jerry still wearing his priest collar. YUCK!!!

She had an incredible voice in her day. Norah Jones is possibly the closest thing we have to her in this day. May be others but few can produce the tone, range and sexu@l energy of Linda in her prime; Norah comes dang close, though.

Art, yes, I am excluding Jazz since Norah kinda runs in and out of it.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14356
Registered: Feb-05
You have to be excluding Jazz and a few dozen others in Norah's category. I like Norah and own all of her music including where she guests but she doesn't have the range and vocal gifts of several dozen of her contemporaries. However I do enjoy the unique gifts that she brings to the mic.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1256
Registered: May-05
Art, I'd be interested in whose voice you like better? In a straight Jazz category, I'd take Ms. Krall and I have many of her albums. But, I'm looking for some additional female jazz vocalists so hook me up.
Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14359
Registered: Feb-05
Diane Reeves
Lizz Wright
Stacy Kent
Melody Gardot
Esperanza Spalding

Just a couple to start with and these are a mix of genres.

For smoldering Soul/Americana/Jazz give Lizz Wright a spin.



http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=19360 270&m=43001288

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/14/134264895/lizz-wright-tiny-desk-concert
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1334
Registered: Oct-10
Dak, check out Jane Monheight too!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14360
Registered: Feb-05
That would be Jane Monheit. She is good, if a little over the top. I own all of her CD's.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14361
Registered: Feb-05
To my ears the very best jazz singers of all time are very different but understand music in a sense that no others do.

Billie Holiday
Blossom Dearie
Shirley Horn
Sarah Vaughan
Ella Fitzgerald

These are to me the finest.

The ones I listed above really crosss genre and are beautiful singers of a different sort.

For male Jazz vocalists my list is as follows;

Johnny Hartman
Mel Torme
Mark Murphy
Kurt Elling
Gregory Porter (his latest album Water is a tour de force)
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16140
Registered: May-04
.

Alberta Hunter; http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=alberta+hunter&ei=UTF-8&fr=hp-pvdt
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1338
Registered: Oct-10
Yeah Art! I added "gh" to her name! Lol! That's what I get for posting before the coffee kicks in!

Over the top? Jane? Not IMO, but to each his own. I think she's right up there with Sarah Vaughn, Ella, Judy Garland, etc.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1260
Registered: May-05
Guys,

As always, you come through and then some. Thanks, Dave
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14362
Registered: Feb-05
"I think she's right up there with Sarah Vaughn, Ella, Judy Garland, etc."

We must not be talking about the same Jane Monheit.

Do you have the "Rainbow Room" DVD, James?

She's a nice singer with a heck of a set of pipes but she has a long way to go relative to phrasing and swing. I've been a fan since the get go and have watched her develop, still waiting for her ability to communicate to catch up with her voice.

Sample it all, Dave, and have fun!
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1341
Registered: Oct-10
All a matter of opinion & taste Art. No I don't have that dvd. I can't find one thing lacking in her ability to communicate, phrasing, etc. I'd put her up against any of the others mentioned here any time.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14366
Registered: Feb-05
Good luck with that, James.

Good choice, Jan. I love that Amtrak Blues album. That's a woman who can communicate.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1307
Registered: Jul-07
I would have K.D. Lang pretty high on my list. Not necessarily in there with the all time greats that Art mentions (yet at least), but that lady can sing......bare feet and all.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14371
Registered: Feb-05
K.D. is an outstanding singer IMO.

Another non Jazz singer I would add is Shelby Lynne.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2299
Registered: Oct-07
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1_9a6SiroQ

I don't know if Keely Smith is still working.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1342
Registered: Oct-10
I don't know either Leo, but she's great too!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14375
Registered: Feb-05
Does it matter if she is still working...

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Capitol-Collection-Keely-Smith/dp/B000R7HYQ4

I have the above collection and it's a very nice collection of her best recorded work with Capitol.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1308
Registered: Jul-07
An serious up-and-comer. Pretty good already at 17 years old.


 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1344
Registered: Oct-10
Well, I suppose it doesn't matter Art. It's not like any of her fans can accuse her of short changing us.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1285
Registered: May-05
Geez guys,

I get sidetracked on listening to all my new toys and all of sudden I have about 50 CDs I need to buy. I've got a bunch of Billie and Ella and one Lena but not much from the others. Also, I have quite a few CDs of Diana Krall who didn't even get a mention from this bunch, whoa!!!
 

New member
Username: Berniew

Perth, Western Aust... Australia

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-12
Hi everyone,
I've just registered and this is my first post to this forum.
I did so because I can't go on reading without saying this to Dakulis: (and I'm sorry but I'm not very good at being brief)

You absolutely MUST sort out your speaker placement first, before you consider upgrading your equipment. Allow me to give my credentials for saying this:
I've been a live sound engineer, both as a systems engineer and mixer, since 1990, and have been making my living exclusively and full-time in this way for about 20 years. I've also done commercial acoustic analysis and design. Plus some studio recording, and plenty of helping set up all these systems and venues. All my hands-on experience, together with all the knowledge I've gained from colleagues and research (articles, books, software, studies and analysis) tells me that the listening environment is at least as important as the equipment you use in getting the sound you want. In many venues, it's actually more so. You could invest in the ideal system, made of the best-selected components and integrated to the best of anyone's ability, but you'll never get even half of its potential performance if you can't integrate it into the room properly. Consider: the dealer's showroom where you hear that equipment will be quite different to yours. That's why the same equipment you heard there cannot sound "the same" at your place. Wouldn't that mean you need different gear? Then how the hell would you know WHAT to buy, if you have no idea what it'll sound like when you get it home? What's needed, therefore, is a reasonable listening environment to place it in, at least so that you're not letting good stuff go to waste. Acoustic problems will easily ruin the performance of even good quality equipment.
Your wife seemingly doesn't realise this. And why should she anyway? It's a complex issue, and most people have no idea just how important placement is until you actually experience the difference it makes. SHe simply hasn't heard that, and probably believes it's a matter of buying different stuff. It isn't.
Others in this thread make good, valid and wise points about accessories, and how they too place functional limits on the overall performance of your system. That's all absolutely true and correct; those things all represent further possible "weak links in the chain" that is your audio path, from source to speaker. Any of those things can compromise the overall result you get.
But all I know about sound tells me this: place any considerations of which equipment to use and what parts you use to connect and install them no higher than equal in importance to positioning! It's honestly that important.
It's critical to understand: the room IS part of your system, as much as the equipment. The word "system" means every part that works together, and what you're hearing isn't just speakers, but what speakers do to the air in the room, and then how all those things affect sound waves getting to you to listen to. So give priority to integrating gear to room.
Consider: walls reflect sound like a mirror reflects light. A dirty mirror reflects light partially; a wall with some absorptive material on it will reflect sound partially, by which I mean you could imagine two graphs, one of the frequency content of sound before it hits that wall, and one of the reflection from it, and the 2nd graph will show that some parts of the sound have been absorbed.
So what a listening room is, or rather creates, is a system of sound waves. Think of the sound from the speakers in a straight line to your listening position as the "direct" path, and then there is also sound reflecting off every other surface in the room. And also from out the window, off other surfaces, and back in the room. Obviously, given that sound only travels so fast, the reflections from all those surfaces arrive back to you at different times. And sound is a collection of waves, so we get this very (VERY!) complicated pattern of interferences from these waves at all points in the room.
Sound in a space, any cavity at all, resonates at some frequency. So for example, your photo showed speakers sitting on top of a cabinet that has draws and spaces in it. I'd avoid that; the speaker makes those wooden panel vibrate, as does the body of air within a volume such as in a cabinet between shelves, and there will be SOME frequency that just happens to match the natural resonance of that panel, or of any space or surface or object we wish to consider. It'll do that no matter where you place your speakers, and you'll be able to hear (even a little bit) the effects of that no matter where you listen from. So for one thing, I'd advise you strongly to use some stands and get those speakers off that cabinet.
So, you ask, what are some good rules of thumb for avoiding those resonances (which create peaks and troughs in what you hear, given that they cause those waves in the room to interfere with each other when they intersect)? For all the "science" of sound, it's too complex to really analyse a given setup, even with fancy software. But I'll try for some basic advice you can use. Remember it has to be pretty general.
I've already seen some good advice in this thread. Diagonally across the room is usually a good bet. And I'd try for a reasonably symmetrical position, so that the weight of all that reflected sound (or "room sound"; what it actually is, is the reverberant field of the room) is at least about the same for both sides of your head. I would definitely place your speakers on stands, as opposed to resting on cabinets, and these should be good, solid stands, with your speakers anchored to them, and some sort of floor mount. Just imagine the cabinets rocking back and forth in reaction to the speaker cone moving; you won't be able to see that, but you'll know it's wasting the speaker's energy moving the box around, not the cone, and of course it'll be doing that differently at different frequencies, again creating peaks and troughs in the response. And if it's at all possible, give some thought to placing the other contents of the room so that it's kind of evenly balanced. That is, don't have all the soft furnishings on one side, and all the flat reflectors on the other. Just a reasonable spread of the different contents of the room should be good enough. It's also not good to have you and your system on one side of the room, and lots of empty space not covered by the speakers on the other; the reverberant field will be much heavier on the empty side, and you'll definitely hear that skewing your stereo image.
Now, another thing, and a basic principal of acoustics. Are you familiar with the fact that every frequency corresponds to a wavelength? Wavelength = speed of sound / frequency. (Sorry, I'm a metric system guy, so...) Speed of sound is about 340 metres/sec. Because the numbers are easy, let's consider 20Hz. The wavelength is about 17m... over 50ft... huge! SO here's a basic acoustic rule. Considering any given frequency, if you place a speaker within half a wavelength of a reflecting surface (wall or floor), the reflection of that wave bouncing back and meeting the direct sound is essentially "in phase" with the direct radiation from the speaker. It therefore adds to the volume (using the term loosely) at that frequency, and the rule of thumb is, it boosts it by 3dB. So place the speaker back against a wall, and you actually have TWO surfaces to worry about; that wall, and the floor. Place it in a corner, and there's a third surface, being that other wall. So there's 3 reflections, for a total of 9dB boost, for all frequencies below whatever frequency has half its wavelength equal to the distance from those surfaces.
Summary: placing speakers near walls makes more bass. The closer they are to those surfaces, the higher the frequency range that will affect. (ie. placed further away, that bass boost only happens at lower frequencies).
(NOTE: it appears to be a way to get a "free sub!", but it usually doesn't sound like GOOD bass, not like turning up an equaliser. It excites all kinds of acoustic stuff in the room, meaning it's not a nice, clean and even boost below a given corner frequency, and plus you're upsetting the designed response of the speaker. They've tried to design them for an even response; why mess with it? I try to actually avoid that effect by placing my speakers further out in the room. I don't like that "woolly" reflected bass sound.)
Complex, yes? That's a big reason why speaker placement matters. And it's the principal of placing sub's on the floor. It's also why Dynaudio, for example, recommend speakers like my X16's be positioned at least half a metre, or was it a whole metre? from a wall, and on stands.
I went into all this at such length because you mentioned you had a bottom-end problem, with too much "punch". And from the way you describe your original placement, I'm not surprised. Especially with your Right speaker being in a corner like that. Those low frequencies won't sound like they're heavier on the right, because they're coupling (ie. doing what they do within half a wavelength of another body) all across that wall and your floor. Since the wavelengths of low frequencies are so big, bass is basically "omnidirectional" in anything but the biggest rooms; given room reflections, and floor reflection, even outdoors you usually can't place sub frequencies "in stereo". The short version is that, with your speakers hard up to a wall and one in the corner, you'll have too much bass. And a rather asymmetrical sound field, as even the mids are close enough to couple with that corner. You'll be hearing much more of the reflected sound field than you want, and therefore less of the speaker's actual sound. (If you've heard of near, mid and far field response, that refers to direct-to-reflected sound ratio. Near-field means more than half the sound is direct from the speaker; mid- is about half and half, and in the far field, you hear more room sound than direct sound. In your smallish, not-designed-to-be-a-studio room, try to achieve a near field position; do that by following the equilateral (or a little bit isosceles) triangle rule. For "room treatment", that means, just have some carpet and furniture and that should do, as far as controlling that reverberant field.) So, having one speaker hard up in a corner and the other out in the middle by the wall isn't good; the reverberant field is going to be all different left to right, screwing up your stereo image, and you won't be properly in the near field, meaning less accuracy and clarity. Smaller speakers just sound better in the near field, and you're missing that now.
You DO want reflections, hence some reverb, in your listening room. Real music is played and recorded in real venues, which have room sound too. You don't really want to achieve an anechoic chamber to listen to your speakers in (anyway, you can't). That said, I prefer a fairly "dead" sounding room. You'll have heard what it sounds like to compare the same room with and without furniture in it. Small rooms (any room in a house) never sound like a lovely, lush ancient European cathedral because the distances between walls aren't enough to build up that long, slow decay; the little reflections in most rooms are just too short, so the overall sound isn't very reverberant to our perception. What we get mostly is just interference patterns making a mess of the sound field we're trying to achieve.
A room of a house with the usual furniture is about right as a listening room. If it's got carpet on at least half the floor (at least between you and the speakers), a couch, and maybe some shelves and stuff, that'll break up those reflections enough to avoid standing waves, at least to the point where they're not ruining everything for you. By the way, my favourite guerrilla acoustic treatment is a couple of bookshelves about half full of books, records and stuff. DON'T let anyone tell you to use egg cartons! The shelves & contents won't reflect much HF at all, the spaces above and around the books will trap & break up mids, and the larger dimensions, while not actually "stopping" lower frequencies (difficult), will at least break them up enough to help. You just want to avoid standing waves; even a fairly reverb-y room can be ok, so long as it's not causing large peaks and troughs in your response. "Treatments" like this are done to break up the modes that sit there all the time. Just sit in the near-field in such a room and you'll probably still be happy with it.
Without expensive modelling software and A LOT of time and effort, you'll probably never really know the true picture of that sound field in a given listening room. So we live by rules of thumb, and experimenting. Just try to stick to those basic rules - a roughly symmetrical position, with you in the middle of it, with your speakers at about your ear level, coupled to stands but isolated from the floor, and definitely not sitting on any hollow cabinets.
Finally, the REAL way to fix acoustic problems is to experiment: just try stuff. Move the speakers, move your listening seat and move the furniture around, and compare. With a little experience and an open mind (and ears), you WILL hear big differences. And remember, there really isn't a "best" position; just some that you like better than others. But you certainly can get "better", if not "best".
Again, use stands with bookshelf speakers; it gets them off the cabinets (those spaces will resonate in the low mids... yuck), away from the walls, up at the right height and mounted to best deal with vibration. And you'll be free to place them where they work best, and not limited to the position of your cabinets.

I do apologise for going on far too long, about things you've probably already heard . But I did want to draw attention to some of the basic factors (which I've mangled trying to put them in "laymen's terms" as it is), to give you some idea as to how important these factors are. My years of live sound have convinced me, positioning is everything. Get that sorted, and THEN it's time to start thinking about changes to the equipment . From the photo of your setup, I wouldn't be willing to judge ANY equipment in that room without some changes first. You'll be hearing the room more than the gear, and the benefits of better gear would be lost.

Well I hope that was of some use, somehow. I need plenty of advice myself so I'll next go and start my own thread. Best of luck with your system and happy listening.
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