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How your room impacts how you hear sound

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I hear a lot of posts on the 2 Channel Forum about various amps, preamps, tubes, SS, wires etc. But really IMO the speakers and the room have the biggest impact along with the source signal. (I don't agree with the LP fans but I can understand since the source is right there as well so I did not mention that) Why do we argue about amps, preamps all day, ok this is a Klipsch speaker Forum so there is some implied bias in that regard, but why don't we say " You know what, your room sucks"? It seems strange. I realise knocking down walls is expensive but so is buying an taking apart K-Horns, RF7s, Jubs, Cornwalls or swaping out networks or buying 15 different amps in the past 5 years. How about room treatments? or an addition to house? I think many just love equipment, nothing wrong with that mind you, but I mean there are other places to start to change the sound. Its all about the music still, right?

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First Duke with his sacrilegious (but right on the money) "it will only turn into 18 gauge in an inch or two" statement and now this!

What is happening on this site?!? [:|]

...but to suggest that the speaker/room interaction just might offer a greater source of ROI?

Such sacrelige!

Such insight!

Like Duke, you are Sooo in trouble now! [:P]

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Not in trouble at all AFAIK. The only problem is that whilst generally one can get a vague idea of the sort of sound someone might be enjoying according to their musical tastes and equipment they own, for rooms it is nigh on impossible to get a real impression.

I might be comfortable advising someone on a cartridge, arm, amp speakers etc etc but when it comes to a room it is way too much of a shot in the dark.

In ACA we have the advantage of visiting each other's homes and listening to systems in situ before we make comments and make changes (it is a rare visit that does not result in some item or other getting moved or adjusted).

To do this sort of thing on here would need lots and lots of pictures - descriptions of the room, the perceived issues, measurements, details on construction etc. etc. It is not impossible - just really really tricky and as so much room "treatments" is based on try it and see (hear) it could take weeks if not months to get some results.

Even something as simple as positioning my sub and adjusting the volume and X-over points took me 6 months to get spot on (to my tastes of course) and I AM HERE!!!

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Maxg, I respect your opinion very much, your very open minded (you even responded to this when many will not) as I can tell from reading your posts but if we can agree that one's room has a major impact on sound than how can one get a vague impression/idea on how a piece of equipement sounds like an amp or a preamp since one person's room has such an impacy unless they are with us? I am not sure we can, not that I am saying we sould not express our own opinions on or in context of equipment to our rooms in which we listen, but I think this forum often goes much further.

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mas, for you it goes with out saying I respect your opinion as far as I can understand it. Glad I could catch your April 1st prank sorry I missed the Einstein part of the explaination.

love it lol


I will say this... I've talked to MAS on the phone and found him VERY interesting to talk to. I admire his efforts to explain many of the things he's taken time to explain given the frailties of this (typed) format and (speaking of myself) some of the dunderheads that are trying to comprehend it.

I try to read his comments when ever I see them, even if they are in the stratosphere of my understanding at times.

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"The room has no impact on the sound. "

I would like that... well sorta... I'd miss the room gain down low.

For most though some of the influences of the room are a necessary evil.

Besides speakers themselves the room effects the sound more then just about anything else in ones equipment rack. It is a shame to see some spending countless hours playing with wire and never touching their room.


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"whilst generalizations can be made about the sound of various components."

Kinda sorta maybe... but what if the generalizations come about because of things the room is doing to the sound?

For example comparing two amps to each other. One is said to be 'tight' and one is 'boomy/flabby' in the bass.

Is it that one amp actually is tight and the other is boomy/flabby?

Or is it possible that one is rolled off and the other is flatter deeper and therfor driving room resonance problems?

Same question with two different speakers.


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Yes I agree the room is very important and I will raise my hand high and say I have one room that absolutely SUCKS. I don't know what I'm going to do about it just yet. It is a big nice room that is pretty useless for audio as is...and it is ashame.

As Max mentions it is so difficult to get it right with treatments. I haven't really gone that route yet....but I will eventually have to if I want to keep using it.

Fortunately, I also have a really GOOD room, and I can certainly tell the difference.

I guess I don't know what else to say other than a good room is WORTH A LOT, and fixing a bad one is not easy at all.

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I guess this is one of those things that words are not very good at expressing. I will simply do a rank ordering based on my experiences my Klipschorns. First, let me admit up front that I am "averaging" across a number of different aspects of the sound and just giving an overall result of the impact.

Biggest impact to smallest impact.

1. Placing the Khorns along the long wall & removing some furniture (partly an interaction with some room issues)

2. Making sure the listening chair was at a 45 deg angle to each speaker & and rearranging some furniture (IOW - on axis & also interacting with some room issues since the direct-to-indirect ratio of sound is now increased as well as a better high end due to the dispersion of the mid and highs. Incidentally the sweetspot is also larger and more stable, this was also helped by the center channel)

3. Adding a Cornwall as an additive center channel speaker (the gain needs to be tweaked to get the best out of it & this is partly a room issue since some of the room nodes were probably altered, this also improves the stability and size of the sweetspot)

4. Sealing the cabinets snuggly into the corners (bass improved - technically a "room issue")

5. Refreshing the caps on the AA crossover (very high end of the spectrum was improved, mostly an increase in gain. The difference was noticeable but not profound)

6. Swapping around various SS amps (comparably priced and roughly similar topologies). Mostly differences in the tightness of the bass and the noise floor

7. Cleaning & tightening the contacts on the speakers wires (both ends) and interconnects (more solid bass since one of the contacts was intermittent)

So I very much agree with the original observation that the room should be the target of most of your efforts. It played a role in # 1, 2, 3, & 4.

Good Luck,


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Its very simple; making improvements in your sound based on the room is a very specific scenario whilst generalizations can be made about the sound of various components.

BUl!SH!T, pure and simple they all interact together, perhaps one of the stupidest things ever posted.

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Interesting points are already coming into this thread and I wanted to just touch on a few.

Before I start I am going to make one outrageous claim. Sorry about that - but I will attempt to explain it having launched it out there.

OK - the claim:

"I can filter the room out of the sound when assessing a system."

Actually - whilst I am on a roll - I fix rooms without using audiophile room treatments too....[^o)]

Sounds nuts when I write it like that but there you have it. Essentially what I am saying is that I can listen to a given system and assess how it might sound it the room issues are sorted out, or in another room I know. I do use a number of tricks to do this which include:

If you want to eliminate a room from a system:

1. The most useful quick and dirty way to assess any system beyond the room issues is to go nearfield (within the limits of the speakers you are dealing with). You really can cut out a lot of the crap from the room this way (not all, no, but enough to get a really good idea of what is going on). It does sometimes create issues of its own but once you get an idea of what to look for, again these can be largely filtered out.

If, for example, you are listening to a rather large speaker with widely spread drivers (usually vertically) this can make nearfield listening quite bizzare. Speakers designed like this (like the B&W 800 Matrix I heard just a few weeks ago) are made to be listened to from distance but it can still give you a very good impression of the individual driver performance (if not the sonic integration). It actually makes X-over issues easier to spot - but that is another story.

2. MOVE. Don't ever just sit where the owner (or you) think is the sweet spot. I cannot tell you how many houses I have been to where someone has placed me in the sweet spot totally incorrectly. I was at a house on Friday of last week and the guy thought his sweet spot was central to the speakers (generally good) but within 2 feet of the rear wall. I moved forwards about 4 feet and the sound change was dramatic - for the better. Now this is a guy with a 200,000 euro system (about $260,000) and I just made a bigger change that his cables did (I am fairly sure) spending nothing.

3. Continue to move - go off-axis, go into an adjoining room (with the system playing at sufficient volume), stand up, sit on the floor, get as far away as you can and as close as you can.

When you do all of the above and a few more little loony tricks - if they don't cart you away in a little van you can start to build a picture of how the sound changes and from that the effects of the room as a whole. If you figure out what the issues are - you can then start to eliminate them from your assessments. I am assuuming here, by the way, that you want to assess the equipment and not the room.

Fixing a room without audiophile room treatments.

To be fair I dont think you can fix all room related issues this way - but you really can gain massive improvements.....

Wonders can be achieved with curtains, furniture, carpets, rugs, paintings, wet washing and a blanket. All but the last 2 of those can be permanent treatments to unruly rooms that pass WAF if done cleverly.

A single oil on canvas can cut the reflections from a bare wall to the point you cannot "see" it with your ears when listening to the system. The rest is fairly obvious - simply drawing the curtains can eliminate reflections from those dreaded balcony doors, rugs dampen down solid floors (especially marble - believe me - I go through this every year when my wife takes the carpets up for summer.)

Oh yes - wet washing...tee hee....I found out quite by accident that if you have an adjoining room through a large archway or somesuch putting a wet washing on a clothes horse in the entryway almost elminiates that room from the sonic picture - try it if you do not believe me.

Finally the blanket. How many of us have large screen TV's in the middle of our speakers? I know I do (part of the compromise of having a single location for TV and audio). Get the heaviest blanket you can find and throw it over the TV (with it switched off of course) - cover the screen as much as you can. Now listen to the system. Notice anything?

Now actually that blanket does have another use. If you think carpets (rugs) might help your sound but dont have one to hand use the blanket - you can drag it all over the listening room seeing what difference it makes. When you find the best place for it then get your carpet to fit. The only tricky part is explaining to SWMBO why you think the Persian looks good overlapping the rear wall at an angle of 30 degrees and climbing a foot up. Obviously compromise is key here....

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Forgot something - and this is the nuttiest of all folks so enjoy before they carry me off in a nice jacket with arms that tie at the back.

In moderate to large rooms for speakers that do NOT require corner placement I have noticed over the last 6 months or so that most audiophiles place them too far apart.

After a lot of playing (in 12 houses to date) I have found that the best sound comes....wait for it......when the speakers are......here we go.......6 foot 9 to 7 foot 6 apart measuring centre of the tweeter to centre of the tweeter.

No - I do not know why. Yes - it does appear to be almost independent of room and listening distance (from 6 to 15 feet anyway). It would be nice if some of you could check this out and report back. Like I said - I am batting 12 for 12 on this one thus far - but I have not tried it on heritage speakers yet (Scalas, Belles etc). Worked BRILLIANTLY for a pair of RF7's though. Worked on my own speakers too, and a pair of 802's, some Martin logans, Spendors, Triangles......

Does anyone else think I am losing it?

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Its very simple; making improvements in your sound based on the room is a very specific scenario whilst generalizations can be made about the sound of various components.

BUl!SH!T, pure and simple they all interact together, perhaps one of the stupidest things ever posted.

Perhaps reading what I wrote and not what you infer would help you. I didn't say they didn't interact together genius.

Tell me specifically what I can do to improve my room right now. You haven't a clue. However, you could tell me whether a Klipsch speaker would sound better than a Bose cube. You can tell me if a set of VRD's is a good choice for amplification vs. a Radio Shack stereo receiver. With components you are expressing an opinion on the potential of that item to sound good; it reaches that potential based on the room.

You can not make generalized statements with regards to my specific room nor anyone else's. End of story.

Suggesting improvements to a room with no specific data is about as meaningful as suggesting someone who wanted to improve their car stereo should buy another new car first.

sfogg - If I place those speakers in an open place or the equipment for that matter, I eliminate the room. I can still make a judgement about which amp or speaker or whatever else sounds good. If I move them from room to room, it will become readily apparent how the sound if affected by the room and I can still make a general assessment of the potential of one component vs. another. If my speakers sounded tight and crisp and suddenly are loose and boomy, I can pinpoint the reason and take steps to address it. Does this address your point?

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You haven't a clue, I am not suggesting room improvements to you or anyone, as I have never heard music in your room my point was the room matters more than an amp or preamp or interconnets. Since the room has more impact than an amp, preamp, wire etc, then how can one make generalizations how some piece of equipement will sound to someone else where they will listen to it. You can't, you can express your opinion regards to your experiance in your room, but generalizations? people here go way beyond generalizations. Perhaps one needs to move thier system outdoors to truely hear/isolate the impact of the amp/preamp/wires etc from the room.

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I am not suggesting room improvements to you or anyone. my point was they matter more than an amp or preamp or interconnets. Since the room has more impact than an amp, preamp, wire etc, then how can one make generalizations how some piece of equipement will sound to someone else. You can't, you can express your opinion regards to your experiance in your room.

They use objective criteria to describe the potential of the amplifier and how it sounded to them. A Denon, in general, will sound warmer than a Yamaha regardless of room. There I just did what you said I couldn't. No one can state how anything will sound to someone else regardless of room - that is subjective and personal. They can describe a components properties and those don't change. Folks can change components very easily, they can't readily change their room. Oh, yeah, and some of us have more than one room so we can speak about how equipment sounds and in my experience - some 100+ rooms - I disagree with your claim that the room matters that much unless it is an unusual or unique room and the room treatment will be to optimize the sound not define it.

You assertion is analogous to someone asking for an opinion on a model of car and your response is to ask which tires they are going to be using. Or to use a cliche, advocating putting the cart before the horse.

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You assertion is analogous to someone asking for an opinion on a model of car and your response is to ask which tires they are going to be using.

Cars are bad examples unless you want to draw an analogy between a single box audio system, which we are not talking about. So to still use the analogy of automobiles and typical multple component audio system people own on this forum, then lets say car manufactorers sold car bodies, suspensions, tires all as mix and match components. Well you can talk about the quality of the leather on your seats all you want, but the tires and suspensions will contribute much more to the cars handling ability.

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