Proper Speaker Placement

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Sheilajeanne
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Sheilajeanne » 05 Dec 2011 15:18

Having finally got my system up and running, I am looking into the issue of speaker placement. I have a largish rectangular living room. It is sunken 3 steps down from the kitchen, and is separated from it only by a railing. It is also open on one side to a 'sun room' with a wall that is mostly windows. A fireplace at one end of the living room limits options for speaker placement even further. It's my main source of heat at this time of year, so I can't place speakers too close to it.

As for placing speakers out from the wall, I have 3 large dogs, who sometimes get clumsy when they're playing. My 1970's vintage speakers have survived 40 years without any major dings in them. I'd like to keep it that way, thank you.

Like Buddy Holly says, "Ya' does whut ya' kin." (Thanks to Whitneyville for the quote!) :)

MonkeyBoy
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by MonkeyBoy » 15 Dec 2011 17:47

Sheilajeane, if the railing separating is in a spot where sound would normally reflect you might consider putting up a screen of some sort, perhaps an Oriental type screen. It isn't the railings that are the problem, of course, but the open space going into the kitchen. That way you can fold up the screen when you don't want it in the way and put it back when you do.

Fortunately there are several different layouts for speaker placement and one of them is bound to be a good starting point for enjoyable listening.

mysticfred
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by mysticfred » 27 Dec 2011 04:53

I read somewhere that you should place your speakers in the main focal point in a room i.e. where you would put a TV or fireplace to get the best sound, also remove all the china ornaments and anything that can rattle, and add anything such as closed curtains, bookshelves or shelves full of records to disperse reflecting sound waves - impossible to do in most situations due to living space restrictions, though the old "triangle" arrangement works well in most cases. :D

rewfew
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by rewfew » 06 Jan 2012 18:55

Wayne Parham of Pi speakers is a wealth of information for speakers in general, but primarily his own corner horn and horn loaded bass reflex speakers. http://audioroundtable.com/forum/index. ... goto=53033 The Theater 4 Pi speakers I have really sound best in this configuration.

19981

Budd
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Re:

Post by Budd » 14 May 2012 12:14

LicoricePizza wrote:

one should experiment with speaker placement until it sounds good to those who are listening therein.
Surely this is about as much as anybody needs to know.

Tako
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Tako » 15 May 2012 12:24

I have tried dozens of these "speaker placement guides", and always found them completely useless: Room acoustics is much to complicated to deal with in a "general" online guide (IMHO). They always assume you have a perfect rectangular room: I don't know how houses are built in other countries, but in the Netherlands 95% of living rooms has an irregular shape, and most houses also have doors and windows in places that a lot of these guides want you to put your speakers. They never take in account the height of the room, or the materials the room is built from: A plasterboard wall or a large window will behave more like a bass absorber for example, should you place your speakers at 1/5 (just an example) of that plasterboard back wall in your living room, which is basically non-existant to the low frequencies that cause the most problems with standing waves? Or should you count 1/5 from the concrete outer wall in the room next to it which is the REAL cause of your standing waves?
If by some miracle you have a room that does meet the demands of a speaker placement guide, chances are you will STILL end up with massive standing wave issues, even when following the guide perfectly. This could again be a cultural/building material issue, since most Dutch houses are solid concrete boxes, they could have much more serious standing waves issues than the the average American living room. The Audio Physic speaker placement guide wants you to put your listening seat against the rear wall, because "that's were the bass is", now I love me some bass, but try that trick in a concrete room and all you will hear is BASSSSSS, even with a tiny bookshelf speaker.....

andyr
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by andyr » 15 May 2012 12:37

Tako wrote: The Audio Physic speaker placement guide wants you to put your listening seat against the rear wall, because "that's where the bass is", now I love me some bass, but try that trick in a concrete room and all you will hear is BASSSSSS, even with a tiny bookshelf speaker.....
Thank you Tako, for confirming that seat-against-the-back-wall means your ears are in a place of increased bass. That's what I had always assumed - but haven't previously seen anyone confirm that. :)

However, I appreciate that this statement might be more relevant to a room with concrete-block walls (like my current "listening room"). I am hoping that in a room with stud walls/plasterboard, the "bass problem" may not be as much - as I am in the process of designing the listening room in our next house, and masonry walls are not an option. :(

Regards,

Andy

Tako
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Tako » 15 May 2012 12:59

andyr wrote:
Thank you Tako, for confirming that seat-against-the-back-wall means your ears are in a place of increased bass. That's what I had always assumed - but haven't previously seen anyone confirm that. :)

However, I appreciate that this statement might be more relevant to a room with concrete-block walls (like my current "listening room"). I am hoping that in a room with stud walls/plasterboard, the "bass problem" may not be as much - as I am in the process of designing the listening room in our next house, and masonry walls are not an option. :(

Regards,

Andy
In my experience, low frequency standing wave problems are MUCH more severe in concrete houses than in houses made of wood or other lighter materials.
A typical Dutch living room (small/medium sized concrete bunker) is an acoustic nightmare, keeping most of the low frequencies in the room reinforcing and canceling each other out in different spots of the room, and causing spikes and dips of 15dB or more. These problems typically happen below 80hZ, which makes them almost impossible to combat without filling your room with giant tube traps. (and even with them the effect is limited: a 15dB peak at 40hZ is effectively "untreatable" with acoustic measures)
My experience with a wooden construction is limited (they are rare here), but ging from this limited experience I would say that putting your listening seat up against a wooden or plasterboard wall could work very well: The very low frequencies that cause that characteristic pounding, hammer-like bass near concrete walls will go right through a wooden wall.

Black Stuart
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Black Stuart » 13 Jun 2012 12:22

A very interesting thread this, as I have just brought back into use my speaker based system after listening through cans (Senn 650s) after nearly 5 years.

We are renting an old house here in France until I can find a farmer that will sell us a piece of land in a good position. It has all the classic negatives of an old stone built house, including sloping wooden floors and internal walls made of the awful cavity red clay blocks - 2.5 inches/6cm.

KlausR says that he had an extension built and then complained 'that he knew it would be a nightmare to set up his sound rig' :!:

KlausR why did'nt you research building materials as deeply as you researched room acoustics or did you just accept what the builder chose :?:.

Tako is the only poster to mention building materials and even he does'nt really know what materials are used in Dutch construction - I worked for a Dutch company in Rotterdam in 79/80 renovating old houses and on new build as well, I am a qualified builder with lots of experience in both old and new construction and know well construction methods used in most European countries.

The OP presented a lot of possible ways to deal with setting up speaker systems but totally failed to address this most important point - what are the floors/walls and ceilings made of in the listening room.

KlausR - why did'nt you specify - aercrete blocks - de Jong (or used to be) Netherlands; Durox (Tarmac) UK; Xella International - Germany/France/Spain.

These blocks are thermally very efficient, so much so that on the Xella sites it featured one man using a blow torch against one of these aercrete blocks with another man whose hand is against the other side of the block. Now the bit that should interest all those who want to maximise their listening experience - they are acoustically superb.Each block contains millions of air pockets which explains their lightweight but also load bearing ability. They also are impervious to insect attack and wil only absorb around 3% moisture.

Xella also make aercrete flooring and roofing beams - I intend to use all three products not only for our personal listening/sanity centre rooms but for the whole house and guess what - the materials maybe more expensive than crap traditional materials but it actually costs a lot less to build a house because the whole process is so much quicker. The irony is that they were invented by a Swedish architect :shock: and this in 1924.

For those not familiar with construction in mainland Europe and for Europeans who blindy accept what builders or architects :evil: specify:

Dense concrete blocks, solid or cavity - soak up water like a sponge are very heavy and with only a finish coat of plaster - thermally useless and will give a hard cold dead sound. With the new planning regs that came into force this year here in France - to acheive a sufficient U value, these rubbish blocks need a 4 stage process, which includes using plasterboard and a skim coat of finish plaster - resulting in an awful acoustic performance as well as costing a lot of money to create ( great for the builder).

Cavity clay blocks - these are used all over Europe for internal walls and are the principal cause along with re-inforced concrete (dense concrete again) floors covered with ceramic tiles for the awful ringing that is the norm with homes on mainland Europe. These homes offer zero privacy for those that live in them.

So, KlausR you could have specified aercrete materials for the floors/walls and roof of your extension - be far warmer in winter/cooler in summer. battened the flooring beams and used tongue and groove pine or oak as floor covering.

There is no rational reason to use any kind of plaster finish on aercrete blocks - they can be painted directly - do not use vinyl paints of any kind, they are all very carcinogeric, in Denmark there is a recognised condition known as 'painter's dementia'. Or, as in the UK - lining paper (1200 grade) which I may or may not use. I shall decide after initial listening tests. I may use tongue and groove wooden panelling for the walls upto approx 4ft/120cm. I aim for a neutral sound rig but with a warm vibrant room - it's all about personal choice.

Quite frankly if you have rooms with stud and plasterboard walls - don't bother get into using cans and h/amp.

If as a European you are contemplating having a house built - there is only one material to use - aercrete blocks and don't let any builder use anything else other than 'the thin joint' system.

If you own an existing house you should be able to take down any internal plasterboard walls and put up aerecrete walls instead - they are so easy to use that anyone can use them.

So here I am having to do the best I can in this rented house with two external walls made of local stone - very deep and p/poor insulation - hot in summer and bloody cold in winter and two other cavity clay block walls.

I'm sure that experimenting with the various methods expounded by the OP and others I maybe able to get rid of 'congestion' that happens sometimes in the upper mids but I will never acheive a result that satisfies me because of the materials used in constructing this house.

As so often in the hi-fi world, very few actually start at the beginning - imagine even attempting to build a house without proper foundations - room acoustics start with the materials used in the room construction - everything should follow from there.

Jonti
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Jonti » 14 Jun 2012 02:19

My house is a largely wooden construction. It sounds like an instrument! :D

Tako
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Tako » 15 Jun 2012 12:06

Black Stuart,

You are right I am no expert in various types of concrete, but any form of concrete, either the heavier, more dense stuff used in 70's Ducth houses (the kind of houses you'd have to rent an enormous drill whenever you wanted to hang a painting) or the lighter blocks used in the outer walls more modern houses are an acoustical nightmare, even the lighter stuff does not absorb enough low frequency sound and causes extreme low frequency standing waves.
"Good acoustic properties" for building materials generally means is blocks a lot of sound, while the same term in audio mean just the opposite.

I am also a bit surprised by your statement about plasterboard being hopeless: A lot of acoustic experts actually advise putting up plasterboard "floating walls" in front of concrete walls (with a little space between them) to help absorb low frequency sound. (A technique also used in studios for example) As long as the plasterboard is secure enough not to rattle , I'd KILL for some plasterboard instead of "concrete" (whatever the type) .
I don't know what aercrete is, but if it is anything like the blocks used for the load bearing walls in a typical dutch house, I would never replace my "plaster" block inner walls (probably not the right word either, i think it's called "cellenbeton" in Dutch: white blocks that are so soft you can drill a hole in them with a screwdriver) with it: Iner walls made of light and "flimsy" material are often the only thing in a house that actually absord low frequencies (Along with large pieces of furniture).

Might be wort mentioning that I am unsure about the correct English term for "outer" and "inner" wall: With inner wall i mean the dividng walls between say, a kitchen and a living room, not the inside part of the "double" outer wal (whic is what I am calling "outer wall" if that makes any sense :) .

PeterW.
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by PeterW. » 15 Jun 2012 19:25

[quote="MonkeyBoy"]Proper Speaker Placement

This is a guide to help those who have the space so they may place their stereo speakers in such a manner as to enable them to get everything out of the recordings they have.

Massive Snippage.

Thank you! Excellent post for (at a guess) about 30% of what is out there and their users. Good post for about another 20%. Possibly difficult post for the rest of it (and them) were the user of said data to follow it slavishly.

Back in the day, when Acoustic Research was the paragon of speaker technology, they included a little white-paper with their speakers that pretty much ran as follows (distilling about 30 pages into a single post):

Place speakers on the LONG WALL of the room. The woofer center should be at least one and one half (1.5) woofer diameters (hereandafter know as WD) from the floor at the quarter and third points from each corner, but no less than six (6) WDs apart), compromising the 1/3 point before the 1/4 point, and no less than two WDs from any corner. Place against the wall to start and move out no more than on WD if bass is too extended/overpowering when against the wall.

This will give the widest possible sound-stage, resist standing waves and resist excessive bass. This was also specific to acoustic-suspension technology.

I keep AR3as and I keep Maggie MG-IIIs, substantially different speakers, both amenable to a wide sound-stage and broad sweet-spot yet both easily able to convey orchestral and voice placement (or at least as-mixed). I find that the long-wall placement obtains for both of them but the Maggies DO want to be away from the wall quite a bit - almost 30" ideally. The 3as want to be right against the wall and about 10" above the floor to their base.

I also cannot abide by the concept of a 'sweet spot' that is defined as a few dozen inches cubic. That is not how we experience natural sound whether music or otherwise, we should not be forced into that mode when listening to it being reproduced. That is *JUST AN OPINION* and applies only to me. I try to place my speakers to maximize the sound-stage and allow the most natural listening possible. When Mozart is playing the cats find their sweet spots. When it is Emmylou Harris, both dogs find theirs, the cats remain fairly indifferentn but do listen. But they are the never the same each time but are always within the same general area - and they both hear better than I do. Our listening room is 16 x 24 x 10 (feet) with three glass french doors and one solid wood french door. One fireplace, hardwood floors, plaster walls, and bookshelves built into the two short walls.

Put another way - it depends. On the speaker, the intended result, the starting point, the nature of the room and many other things. No one-size-fits-all is appropriate.

Peter Wieck
Melrose Park, PA

Black Stuart
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Black Stuart » 16 Jun 2012 11:19

Hi Tako,
your right about plasterboard - it does absorb low frequencies - it kills bass completely. Most new houses are built down to a price, so very rarely are walls or ceilings double boarded, which would go some way to alleviating the life being sucked out of the bass.

I used to know a guy who lived in Brabant who hassled all his neighbours/buren into giving him all their cardboard egg boxes and he used these to line the walls of an old salmon cannery, to turn it into a recording studio - it worked.

Having lived in two apartment blocks in Spain, which had re-inforced concrete floors, topped with ceramic tiles, you got plenty of bass but it was a hard unnatural sound and the walls constructed of the thin cavity clay blocks with a skim coat of finish plaster made for serious ringing if music was played at anything like a reasonable level.

This is what I get now in this old house - it only happens at specific frequencies but is very annoying.It would probably be terrible if it was'nt for the two outer walls being massively thick stone and rubble.

Like others have mentioned - I don't live or want to live in a 'reference' room. I want to enjoy my music within a comfortable environment. Yes I want to maximise my sound rig but 'hair shirts' are not part of it.

I used to live in an old house in the UK, built, circa 1880 and the lounge was about 25 x 15 x 10ft. Two walls were structural, so one and a half brick thick. The front wall was triple bay windows down to 1 metre/3ft. one internal wall was lathe and plaster and all plastered walls first had a really thick coat of 'bonding plaster' ( never seen it anywhere in mainland Europe) which contained lots of horsehair, then two coats of finish plaster. The room also had a massive marble fireplace and one entrance/exit door that was really sturdy and properly made (check out most modern doors - crap, unless you pay a lot of money). The floor was suspended wood/wooden joists and as is normal in most UK homes, a fully fitted carpet.The ceiling was high as in most old houses and was plastered and with a very big decorative plaster rose - the sound was marvellous.

PeterW - very good post. I once owned AR 3as and that's exactly as I used them, brilliant bass but the treble not so great, what a shame they did'nt use ribbon tweeters - esta la vida.

A hardwood floor is what I want - it will depend on how much oak t&g costs at the time, failing that pine t&g.

Also could'nt agrre more about a tiny sweet spot - what happens when friends come round to listen as well.

Re. windows - I want lots of light, which means that I will design the personal rooms with windows in two walls - reflections, no worry when using internal wooden shutters with internal insulation. When listening during the day just have the shutters at an angle. The ceilings will be angled from front to back, 15% approx. - most concert halls (that have good acoustics) have either a domed ceiling or as above.

In conclusion, thanks to the OP for all the info, great to use as a basis. As PeterW said no one size fits all - happy listening.

Black Stuart
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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by Black Stuart » 21 Jun 2012 09:24

Jonti,
I meant to include reference to your comment in my last post - there was a marvellous all wooden auditorium in East Anglia(UK) which unfortunately burnt down - it's acoustic was marvellous.

In Den Haag there is the Congressbouw ( I saw Weather Report there) I think the designer intended it to be a no-nonense enormous 'reference room' - he succeeded. Problem is it also creates a totally sterile environment which is not conducive to listening to music. By contrast the Concertebouw in A'dam is incredible.

So, no response from the OP or KlausR.

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Re: Proper Speaker Placement

Post by MonkeyBoy » 27 Jun 2012 01:58

PeterW. wrote:
MonkeyBoy wrote:Proper Speaker Placement

This is a guide to help those who have the space so they may place their stereo speakers in such a manner as to enable them to get everything out of the recordings they have.

Massive Snippage.

Thank you! Excellent post for (at a guess) about 30% of what is out there and their users. Good post for about another 20%. Possibly difficult post for the rest of it (and them) were the user of said data to follow it slavishly.

Back in the day, when Acoustic Research was the paragon of speaker technology, they included a little white-paper with their speakers that pretty much ran as follows (distilling about 30 pages into a single post):

Place speakers on the LONG WALL of the room. The woofer center should be at least one and one half (1.5) woofer diameters (hereandafter know as WD) from the floor at the quarter and third points from each corner, but no less than six (6) WDs apart), compromising the 1/3 point before the 1/4 point, and no less than two WDs from any corner. Place against the wall to start and move out no more than on WD if bass is too extended/overpowering when against the wall.

This will give the widest possible sound-stage, resist standing waves and resist excessive bass. This was also specific to acoustic-suspension technology.

I keep AR3as and I keep Maggie MG-IIIs, substantially different speakers, both amenable to a wide sound-stage and broad sweet-spot yet both easily able to convey orchestral and voice placement (or at least as-mixed). I find that the long-wall placement obtains for both of them but the Maggies DO want to be away from the wall quite a bit - almost 30" ideally. The 3as want to be right against the wall and about 10" above the floor to their base.

I also cannot abide by the concept of a 'sweet spot' that is defined as a few dozen inches cubic. That is not how we experience natural sound whether music or otherwise, we should not be forced into that mode when listening to it being reproduced. That is *JUST AN OPINION* and applies only to me. I try to place my speakers to maximize the sound-stage and allow the most natural listening possible. When Mozart is playing the cats find their sweet spots. When it is Emmylou Harris, both dogs find theirs, the cats remain fairly indifferentn but do listen. But they are the never the same each time but are always within the same general area - and they both hear better than I do. Our listening room is 16 x 24 x 10 (feet) with three glass french doors and one solid wood french door. One fireplace, hardwood floors, plaster walls, and bookshelves built into the two short walls.

Put another way - it depends. On the speaker, the intended result, the starting point, the nature of the room and many other things. No one-size-fits-all is appropriate.

Peter Wieck
Melrose Park, PA
I know. Some manufacturers advise placing their speakers very close to the rear wall, etc. It was never meant as a one size fits all guide, but it should help for probably a majority of people here. Unfortunately, it doesn't take into account building materials or room treatment which are subjects that deserve their own threads with a lot of information. A lot of it is meant to deal with standing waves, etc. It certainly helped me a lot just researching it. I just wish I had the financial oomph to build what I want instead of having to rely on what I can afford to rent.

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