General Speaker Advice and Recommendations

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by shotgunshane, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. MyPetSasquatch

    MyPetSasquatch Friend

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    Positioning is by far the best initial solution. Room treatment will help some, especially at first reflection points with decent treatments (i.e. not just acoustic foam, some decent fiberglass-based panels with a good thickness to absorb low frequencies). Bass is the hardest to tame in a smaller/mid-sized room, even with good bass trapping in the corners. However, coming from someone who went through 3 different sets of speakers and multiple component changes trying to "fix" the sound in my room, let me emphasize that you simply can't escape the limitations of your room without resorting to digital room correction.

    I'm using a miniDSP Dirac module between my preamp and power amp along with a decent amount of room treatment from GIK Acoustics (who are local to us, btw), and after taking measurements and letting Dirac do its thing, the results are nothing short of shocking. The biggest difference was in how much it evened out the bass response with all the modes and nulls in my room, which is probably what you're dealing with. If you want, since I'm in Atlanta as well (I go by Spamateur over at Head-Fi, and I know we've PM'ed before about headphone-related things) I can bring by my miniDSP DDRC-24 or DDRC-22A and the measurement microphone so you can see the differences for yourself if you'd like. Coming from the headphone world, I had no idea how much room interactions can screw up the sound of a good 2-channel setup, but Dirac saved my sanity and my wallet.
     
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  2. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    That would be very cool! I'll happily take you up on that offer. Also, I had no idea GIK is local. Those are the panels I'm considering.
     
  3. MyPetSasquatch

    MyPetSasquatch Friend

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    GIK is great. I use a ton of their panels and traps in my listening room. Take advantage of their free consulting. They'll ask for pictures of your room and give you advice. They're great about working with a budget, too. Unfortunately their location isn't super convenient to you (they're right off the Spaghetti Junction area in Doraville/Norcross from what I remember) but it beats the cost of shipping if you can make the drive up to their workshop.
     
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  4. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    GiK is great and who I'll be ordering acoustic treatments from when I finally buy property. In case people didn't know, they do free personal acoustical room advice via online submission form in addition to the articles and guides they post here: http://www.gikacoustics.com/acoustic-advice/. Bryan Pape (their Lead Acoustician) was the person who responded to my requests, and we hashed out a plan for my old living room. Unfortunately we moved before implementing it, but I had a great experience with them.
     
  5. MyPetSasquatch

    MyPetSasquatch Friend

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    Bryan helped me out too. The free consulting is pretty impressive, especially since Bryan was super quick to get back to me and we had a double-digit email chain going after awhile. He never tried to get me to buy their most expensive products and actually recommended some of their cheaper products. In general, GIK also has 3rd party measurements to back up their claims and products unlike a lot of other room treatment companies I looked at. Not trying to be a shill for them, but I was just very impressed with the level of customer service and the general quality of the products I bought from them. Prior to going with GIK I was using Auralex wedgies acoustic foam panels (I had an absurd amount of foam in my room) which did nothing for the bass, but the GIK panels and traps really made a significant improvement.
     
  6. jhaider

    jhaider Acquaintance

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    Or it will completely mess things up. I find that one's reaction to mucking with the first reflection points is inversely correlated to the speaker quality. Poor quality speakers have midrange dispersion disruptions. They will benefit from absorptive panels at the first reflection points, because those reflections sound so different from the on axis sound, and thus they color the overall timber of the system. But good speakers have smooth off axis response, and especially smooth dispersion through the crossover point. So the reflections sound like the on axis sound, and killing sidewall reflections robs the acoustic scene of richness and palpability.

    There are some room treatments worth doing.
    Diffusion, especially on the back wall, is useful to make a room sound larger.

    There's a good case for maximizing absorption, and minimizing diffraction, up front. That includes putting one's equipment anywhere but between one's speakers. A clean initial wavefront can make imaging more precise.

    I agree that, for a single seated listener, good digital room correction and full-range speakers can make very satisfying and natural-sounding bass.

    But I actually think you can escape the limitations of your room without resorting to digital room correction, if you have the flexibility to place open baffle speakers way into the room. Do did you go to AXPONA a couple years ago when it was here in Atlanta? From my recollection, the best-sounding upper bass by far was in the Linkwitz room. The Linkwitz Orions' midrange and highs did not move me, but the midbass was really impressive.

    Combine speakers that have open baffle drive-units playing up to the statistical region with a midrange/treble section engineered to not have a dispersion disruption, and that's the end game for most rooms. Come to think of it, I just described the Gradient Revolution! If only they were prettier.

    I'm also very intrigued by the Lyngdorf solution, which is a 4-piece (two bass bins, two tops) configuration with a higher than usual crossover and specific placement contstrraints. In a lot of ways Lyngdorf updates Roy Allison's thinking.

    How high do you use Dirac?

    I'm currently evaluating a much simpler and lower-cost integrated that has low-end room correction and automated subwoofer blending. I haven't had the opportunity to do any deep listening yet, but on first impression it works well.
     
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  7. MyPetSasquatch

    MyPetSasquatch Friend

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    I am kicking myself for missing AXPONA. I actually had just moved to Atlanta around that point and didn't have a job for a few months, so it's probably better I didn't go :).

    Unfortunately my room is tiny (14x10 feet-ish) and my placement is limited due to a desk, a bit of furniture, and a weirdly placed closet door and main door. I have yet to try open baffle speakers, but my understanding was that placement was key to getting good sound with dipole speakers. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that. I've heard nothing but amazing things about the Orions as well as all other Linkwitz designs for that matter.

    The panels on my rear wall use some sort of "FlexRange" technology (essentially feels like a hard surface mounted on top of the absorptive material) that absorbs bass but not much of the high frequencies. It helps a lot more to keep some of the room ambiance than the acoustic foam I was using previously that killed any high-frequency reflections directly behind my listening position but made the room feel really dead like you mentioned. GIK recommended that product as sort of a halfway point since I was limited in placement options.

    Over at the audiophile subreddit we've had a lot of discussions about correcting only up to 1kHz or lower seems to provide 90% of the benefits without losing any high-end detail and dynamics. Personally I've tried that, but found I need correction in the mids as well as my room results in a hump between 1-2kHz that makes the sound very forward.

    Would love to hear more about this product! I know the Lyngdorf TDA integrated has a well-recommended room correction feature as well as Arcam's stereo receiver with Dirac. Unfortunately they're a bit pricey. A lower-priced integrated with active bass management and room correction would be stellar.
     
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  8. jayeshrc

    jayeshrc Resident Crash Test Dummy

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  9. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    That's my set up.

    The miniDSP box with Dirac correction was very impressive. We took 9 measurements with the supplied microphone at the seating position the program calls for. The resulting frequency response was just what I had been describing earlier in this thread: Plenty of sub bass in the 30's boosted by the room; then a subsequent suck out in deep and mid bass, followed by a sizable peak of shout between 2k and 3k. My current location for the speakers was an improvement over the previous two locations and I'm thinking the suck out and peaks were bigger at those previous locations.

    We accepted the auto correction, which looks like a B&K type target. However you can manually adjust and save up to 4 different targets/corrections into the box. The first obvious difference was in depth of stage. The stage went from flat and all on one plane pre-correction, to impressive depth with very noticeable imaging improvements. You're able to switch it on and off, while maintaining volume matching, and the difference was easily noticeable, and for me, a substantial improvement.

    The second thing I realized was just how impressive the bass of the Mini-2's can be. The miniDSP fixed the sub bass bloom and filled in the mid bass suck out. Bass was tight, articulate and exquisitely linear and extended. I was pretty mesmerized by the bass texture and articulation. Getting the bottom end tightened up, and reducing that Ety shout peak gone wrong, really let me focus on how clear and transparent the midrange is. Crystal clear with excellent resolution. Now that everything wasn't so in your face, you could really hear vocal and instrument placement within a 3-dimensional field.

    I think I'd like to manipulate the auto correction just a little bit in treble. The diamond tweeters are not only highly resolving but also a hair hard edged perhaps. Hard to explain but they can cause a bit of long term fatigue with all the hard/sleazy rock I listen to.

    Anyway, I was impressed enough to place my order for the miniDSP box. I feel the cost isn't too bad, considering how much more expensive most of the other components cost. I was concerned about adding this extra conversion into my system and negatively affecting sound/tonality but it seemed pretty transparent to me, especially after being able to toggle it on and off. The results relieved that concern for me in my particular situation.

    I do plan to add some acoustic treatments to the room from GIK in the future, but I need to wait and find out if a job move to Florida is in my future. If it is, I need to wait and see what kind of inevitably smaller space I wind up in and purchase for that instead. I also know I'm not going to take the massive Usher's to Florida either. Everything I've seen while searching the housing market there shows me these speakers would dwarf any space I'll have there. All that aside, the miniDSP is a godsend for the massive room troubles I've been experiencing.
     
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  10. MyPetSasquatch

    MyPetSasquatch Friend

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    Yup, the OP in that was me. I can't stress enough how awesome the potential in his setup is.

    Btw, @shotgunshane is the nicest damn guy on the face of the planet and I had a blast. I forgot how much fun it is just to chill with fellow audio nerds and geek out over this hobby. Thanks again for letting me come over and show you miniDSP!

    Btw, hope you don't mind me sharing that over at /r/audiophile. That board loves Dirac and digital room correction, plus those gorgeous speakers so I figured they'd find it interesting.
     
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  11. richard51

    richard51 Mr. Sorbothane

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    Immediately after i have read your remark, i was curious because i have never think about that problem of interference and diffraction between high sound waves from the tweeters before your observation.... Hence i decide to experiment it on the spot with a dense foam i have, i put it around the tweeter of my Mission Cyrus 781 speakers... Wow immediate improvement of the soundstage, and imaging, more 3-d presentation... It takes me 30 minutes to implement it, but the reward is great, there on the internet they are plenty of articles about that problem.... By the way inexplicably,even if my tweeter only is treated by this surrounding foam, everything is better, even the bass...Less negative resonance i think... I want to thank you by reporting my experience inspired by reading your observation, in our hobby communication is the key... I must insist and say that the difference is not slight, but huge and for me incredibly irreversible... This tweak is one of the most simple to make and the difference astounding, but foam is only beginning and i think felt will be better.... Best regards.

    UPDATE: A Dense and thin sheet of felt is better than foam, the 3-d effect is there like with the dense foam but without darkening effects.......

    Post-scriptum: I must say that my speakers are already very damped with load, sorbothane, crystals and stones , hence this added foam around the tweeter is immediately perceived by me , not like a slight improvement... For speakers not already prepared nor damped, perhaps the difference will be less spectacular... In audio , the price paid for a product is no more for me a warrant of audiophile quality per se...All audio products even TOTL one are plague , at different level, by EMI, and mechanical vibrations... We must clean that before buying anything new to upgrade...
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  12. jhaider

    jhaider Acquaintance

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    Unfortunately, you're right. Many of us, myself included, just don't have rooms or lifestyles conducive to open baffle speakers. But conventional speakers with multiple subwoofers and DSP can get similar results in a more room-friendly package. Big speakers with DSP can get there too, if you only care about a small listening area.

    Also, I have yet to be convinced by any fully-dipole speaker, including the Orions. Open baffle bass seems to have potential for big benefits, but open baffle midrange and treble seems to cause more problems than it solves.

    Hmm, that's cool. The best way to do absorb bass is to do whole floating walls with channels and CLD glue between them. The "FlexRange" looks like a variation of CLD panel that hangs on the wall. Too bad they're too thick for my wife to let me try them!

    The first rule is, whatever works, works. :)

    However, I do not like to use EQ based on far-field measurements even to 1kHz. I like to stop at 200-500Hz, depending on the size of the room (bigger = lower). The reason is that way the DSP is only correcting room problems, and leaving the speakers' voicing untouched. I deal with the speaker sound by picking high performance speakers in the first place! Unfortunately, speaker quality is still so uneven. Most reviewers don't provide consumers with the information they need to determine good speakers from bad, such as polar maps.

    All I can say right now is that I turned in the preview to SECRETS, so that should be on the website soon. The room correction does not go as high in frequency as you might like, though.

    Arcam I would stay away from for now. They have a big flaw. The bass management signal flow is inverted. Hopefully they can fix it with firmware, but until they have a fix in the field I cannot recommend.
     
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  13. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    Anyone heard the Hsu Research CCB-8? Seems like a LS50 for cheaper without the steel sound.
     
  14. Mystic

    Mystic Mystique's Spiritual Advisor

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    I'm finally moving into a nice sized house and have decided to put together a speaker setup. The only reason I haven't already is townhouse living isn't exactly speaker friendly.

    I am reading and reading, but need some help. I will not be using a sub. I am okay with buying used.

    Power amp:
    The Vider looks like a top candidate, or maybe a used Anthem MCA. I don't want to spend anymore than $700. Apparently the Anthem may sound better according to a couple people earlier in the thread?

    Preamp:
    Saga or Freya, can't decide which. Maximum to spend: $700. Though I may just get the Saga anyway to save some money for eventual room treatments.

    I already have a pair of Sierra-1 speakers, but I will probably want to upgrade to something bigger in the $1.2-1.8k range sometime next year. My Gungnir Multibit will be used in the system too.

    I'm a bit out of my element here as I've always been a headphone guy due to necessity. Advice is much appreciated!
     
  15. JeffYoung

    JeffYoung Friend

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    @Mystic, as a start I'd find out if I liked bipolar (open baffle or planar) or unipolar (standard box speakers) first. You might find it somewhat difficult to audition open baffle designs, but planars (such as Magnepans) are common enough.

    If you like box speakers better, some other things to try are sealed vs. ported and "monitor-ish" vs. "big-sound". You can sometimes do sealed vs. ported within a single manufacturers range, which might help remove other variables.

    Good luck and have fun auditioning!
     
  16. Mystic

    Mystic Mystique's Spiritual Advisor

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    I'll be checking out as many speakers as I can. Probably not enough due to speakers being a lot more expensive and hard to move around unlike headphones.

    My main concern right now is finding the right amps.
     
  17. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    You shouldn't pick an amp until you pick your speakers. Same with headphones. <3
     
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  18. Mystic

    Mystic Mystique's Spiritual Advisor

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    Well I've got the Sierra-1 now. I won't be getting any new speakers for 6-12 months, if I do at all. I'm interested in trying the BMR or Ascend towers at some point I think. Not sure, got a lot to try out.

    At this moment, I've got literally nothing to power my speakers I have.
     
  19. Pyruvate

    Pyruvate Friend

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    You haven't even properly amped them and you're already thinking of new speakers. I have the Sierra-1s too. They're actually very fine speakers and you'd really have to spend to get more.

    You cannot do wrong with a Saga and Vidar, it's a good starting point. Actually, it's something you can probably live for a long time. I just put the Saga into my rig and it's a phenomenal piece of work. As for the Vidar, I've yet to truly sit down and extensively demo it, but from what I heard and what others are saying, it seems like the real deal.
     
  20. Mystic

    Mystic Mystique's Spiritual Advisor

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    I'm only thinking of new speakers in the long run, due to changing circumstances (I will want bigger speakers for a larger room, without the use of a sub). I plan on using my Sierra-1 for awhile and then try and hear a pair of Philharmonic BMRs and others.

    The only reason I even mentioned new speakers was in regards to my system changing in a year or so, to take into account the amp and preamp I'll be buying.
     

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