Fun with speakers and small children.


Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 54
Registered: 02-2004
For the past 10 years I have used the same stereo gear. This is nothing fancy, just some NAD amps, Rotel CD player, and a Paradigm passive sub/satellite set-up. In the past few years I have "shared" this setup with a wife and (at last count) 2 small children. The latter, in particular, have led to some interesting experiences, which I share here just in case anyone finds them entertaining or educational.

What's that hole for? On the back of my Paradigm Atoms is a bass reflex port. Out of idle curiosity one day I shone a flashlight in the port, and was surprised to see something red and plastic poking up behind the tweeter. It turns out that my young son had discovered the joys of inserting small toys into the speaker! It took some effort to get everything he put in out, but I got there in the end. My dear wife, who is ignorant of such things as bass reflex design, suggested that I just cover over the holes to prevent this from happening again. I protested, but as a stop-gap solution we have done exactly that, and even she can hear the difference in the bass performance, and now better understands why the holes are there in the first place.

Rigidity is key! For most of the past decade those Atoms have stood upon their stands day in and day out. Until the kids started knocking them off, that is. Several tumbles to the ground and minor cosmetic flaws later, I decided that enough was enough. Being 10 years old and slated for replacement, I had no qualms about using hardware to attach them, and several screws and small angle brackets later saw them affixed firmly to the stands. The bass improved immensely! This is nothing new of course, but I never before appreciated just how much better it could get. I should have done this years ago.

Size matters. The Atoms on their stands reach 36" in height. This brings me to my major point here. How high should a speaker be? I estimate the height of my eyes above the floor at 39.5" when seated in my favourite sofa; my ears are then about 1.5" lower. This clearly puts the tweeter in the Atoms, which is a couple of inches below the top of the cabinet, well below ear level. I actually have to kneel on the floor to get the tweeters at ear level, which experimentation shows to be clearly the best place for them. However, kneeling on the floor is not a good solution.

Here's my problem: when I look around at options for new speakers, many floorstanders at my end of the market (hint: not the deep end) are no taller than the Atoms on their stands, and a good many are shorter. Granted, I am on the tallish side (6'4"), but I wonder why there are so many floorstanding speakers as short as 30" or so tall. Surely nearly anyone would need stands for these diminutive speakers, so why make them "floorstanding"?
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