Direct speaker sound/room reflections

I may be leaving the living room and move to a smaller room upstairs to be used as audio room.
This room is approx. 5,50mtrs x 4 mtrs. I will be sitting much nearer to the speakers.

Will a more direct sound do any good regarding soundstage ?

Always recommend near/mid-field setups to minimize room effects and in which monitors work best. Don’t know your current or proposed setups or speakers. In my near-field setup with single driver speakers the 3D effect was most pronounced but only in “the” chair, however soundstage was smaller. Many speakers don’t work well near/mid-field (drivers don’t mesh into a coherent sound, or they are simply too ‘forward’ sounding to allow the soundstage to form at those close distances).

Hi jlm,

Thanks for your remarks! My current system PWT, DSDdac, Michell Gyrodeck, Krell222 pre - BHK250, Vienna Acoustics The Kiss. At the moment I am more than happy with the SQ, but the speaker placement in our living room is not what I think would be best (my wife however does…!),
I gues there is maybe more to win in sound stage/deepness with a more ‘standard’ positioning.
That’s why I am thinking of a move upstairs. Good to know you have positive experience with more near/mid field set up’s.

My setups have kept speakers well away from walls to reduce excessive bass gain and higher frequency reflections. Hopefully you can move the speakers around temporarily and determine if you might prefer near/mid-field listening.

The listening distance will probably be something like 2 - 3 mtrs. Whereas the speakers, which are now perhaps 4-5 mtrs apart will in the new situation be approx 2 meters apart and 1 meter in front of the back wall and about 1 meter out of both side walls.
In my living room I had them once on the short wall - thereby blocking the view to the garden (meh!).
Never had the full set up as described positioned like that though.
Now I have the speakers placed along one of the long walls with (gasp!)a flight of stairs going upstairs in the middle (!). This looks awkward (to me).

If possible avoid equal distances from front/side walls, as echo will be doubled at that frequency. Floyd Toole, author of “Sound Reproduction” and others recommend keeping all possible distances/room dimensions in ratios following Fibonacci theory: 3/5, 5/8, 8/13, etc. or in accordance with ancient Greek “golden rectangle” of 5:8. Currently my speakers are 35 inches from side walls, 55 inches from front wall, and in an 84 inch equilateral triangle.

Thanks agin. I will keep that in mind. The only thing I hate is to bring up all the gear upstairs… When fiddling and fine tuning I will think of your remarks.

Take care and if needed, please do rent a hand truck or find a strong friend.

Having set your speakers along the longer wall you may not have any problems with side-wall reflections. Worth locating (e.g. with a mirror) where the primary reflection is. If possible avoid having a hard-surface reflection there - you could put a rug / curtain / chair there to absorb the incident sound. In my room this action improved image definition noticeably, however I should add that some folk like the spurious ‘spaciousness’ created by adding the music delayed by the reflection. Have a listen (and enjoy the music!)

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The set up now is along the long wall, which gives enough bass, but the total image stays relatively flat (although better than ever and I can live with it) Still if moving upstairs may improve matters who knows?

I agree totally that speakers should be set along the long wall to push out the side walls… however I don’t agree that this eliminates side-wall reflections. What this does, is elongate, or delay, the echo… a very good thing… get it to be as delayed as you can. Your brain processes short term vs long term reflections differently (I forget the value, but there is a delay threshold in milliseconds where this transition occurs).

Paul noted in one of his videos that your brain ignores these echos (or diffused noise)… this is not accurate (sorry Paul), but is actually used by your brain to amplify details.

In my opinion, one of the best things anyone can do to improve imaging is put refracting treatments on the side walls. You can by RPG diffusers or other such things, but really, book shelves with chatzkas and whatevers work pretty well. The diffracted sound is actually used by your brain to improve localization of sound. Google “Stochastic Interferance” and “sound localization”… lotsa cool stuff out there. BTW, this is why dipoles like Magnepans or speakers that have a rear-firing tweeter can be amazing imagers. I always thought that the rear-firing Magnepans well… would muck up the sound and image as there is literally, another speaker firing another sound source into the back wall madly bouncing around the room. How could this be good? Well it is … amazingly good. Again, stochastic interference.

BTW, music producers use these “echos” for effect all the time… slap echo… wet vs dry… etc. Studio tools have all sorts of variable parameters to inject (and reinject) echo into the stream… including time delay among many. All for creating depth, ambiance, artistic effect etc… and your walls in a room or a tool in a studio can either be pleasing or annoying… YMMV so you should put some effort into this.

Dicking with your side walls and other aspects of your acoustic environment will have a way bigger affect on music presentation and enjoyment than Snowmas V1 vs V2 or any of the other microscopic changes folks spend tons of money on. All while ignoring the most satisfying and effective influence on music (and can be done for FREE!).

Bruce in Philly


Curious re your ideas moving to smaller room.

I have made the measurements, and done the calculations, and for my main system just over a third of the sound I am hearing is reflected. Thus changes in room conditioning and speaker placement would have a significant effect on what I hear. There are overriding considerations which mean that I am not going to change anything, but I am a believer in the real value of room changes.

This is the approach I use with good success with a couple of caveats: you want your seating position to be where you have the most even bass response - whether that gives you an equilateral/isocoles triangle in the end depends more on the room resonances and where standing waves are. I use a laser measured to get things measured exactly right. Toe-in of your main speakers will impact the soundstage - how much is needed depends on brand/design along with some subjective assessment. Regardless, you want the speakers to disappear when listening. Cardas has a simple room calculator which works nicely - other good info there as well.
Good luck!

Appreciate all input, but my question is:

Maybe… have fun.

Bruce in Philly

Most advise a narrow wall setup (if room is big enough). “Big enough” means that side wall reflected sound travels at least 11 feet further than direct sound to the listening position. That distance allows enough delay for the listener to separate direct from reflected sound and thus clarify what is heard. Pointing the speaker towards the listener also helps mitigate side wall reflections due to the wide off axis angle from the speaker needed to produce the first reflection off the side wall. This where controlled directivity speaker design comes in handy.

In-room bass acts like waves, and piles up along walls and in corners, thus the narrow wall setup prevents bass exaggeration from speakers (or listener) being too close to the front/back walls. Paul’s room/setup is a good example of best practices in this regard.

“Pointing the speaker towards the listener also helps mitigate side wall reflections due to the wide off axis angle from the speaker needed to produce the first reflection off the side wall. This where controlled directivity speaker design comes in handy.”

This. You get it. Most misunderstand the value of toe in. Most think the tweeter and drivers pointing at you is better because the drivers are communicating more accuracy to your listening spot. Actually, it is the lessening of side reflections that is biggest influence. Speaker makers work hard to provide for the widest dispersion possible from their drivers… most used to show SPL graphs that brag about their 180 degree abilities.

Bruce in Philly

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So, it may be worthwhile to try and listen to more direct sound coming from the speakers - keeping them less far apart let’s say 2 meters. And toe-in to cancel out most of the wall/roominterference? I may lug my gear upstairs and just try it.

As always YMMV… you just have to try it out. I will say, because I am typing away here… that I never got good imaging by putting speakers close together. Now what is close? Here things break down. But a general rule of thumb that works well for most speakers is keep moving them out until you get a hole in the middle, them move back in some. That is usually 90% correct. Usually.

Dipoles… well… you have to start with beer. Then a magazine… then some TV. Then get up in the morning and start again.

Paul noted in one of his vids, the Carver sonic holography system… I owned one!.. and what he was trying to address… the issue with all speakers is that sound from the right speaker enters your left ear and visa versa. Putting speakers closer together makes this worse. DIpoles, with their creation of a 2nd signal firing from the rear, can help you brain filter non-relevant sound out… stochastic interference (and the resulting Haas effect). But again, I never had good imaging putting speaker “closer”. together.

You may want to consider what you value. For me, it was always imaging and midrange purity first. Bass was always last on my list. … important but last.

Bruce in Philly