Reference Room: Equipment & Room Set Up Tips, Resources, etc.

I’ll prime the pump.

I often refer to Jim Smith’s “Get Better Sound” and keep it handy in the listening room:

Get Better Sound

I would argue that Mr. Smith’s instruction and insight regarding speaker placement is the highlight of this publication. It also includes “reference recordings” and information about what the recordings should demonstrate/sound like if your system is dialed in.

Enjoy the Music and the Journey,


Someone posted recently that upgrading their directstream to Redcloud prompted them to tweak their speaker placement. I happened to have adjusted my speaker placement not long before upgrading to Redcloud the picture’s a bit muddled for me.

This raises a larger question for me. What about taking the sound of the system into account? It makes sense to me that if placement doesn’t impact all frequencies evenly, different sounding systems may benefit from (probably slight) changes in placement. Of course I’m talking about changes beyond what’s always discussed in terms of speaker placement.

Yet, I’ve never read a speaker review that mentioned anything besides the speakers and the room when discussing setup/placement. Am I insane? Is this just adding another branch to the tunnel in our deep rabbit hole of chasing “perfection?”

shaft234, I am not sure if I follow you, I have been reading Stereophile since June 1993. There seems to be two different approaches to speaker reviews.

One the reviewer adds the speakers to his system, and after finding the best placement, listens, then writes the review.

The second approach involves swapping out speaker cables and/or amps, finding the best combination based on comparison to their reference, or their desire to get the best possible sound out of the speaker under review.

In both types of review, they often mention doing some placement changes, after the manufacturer has done their setup, or will comment on the speakers working best in their usual position. That tells me, that they know the room and have found the best location, so that the room isn’t causing major bumps or dips in response. Or they will mention a room related problem, that is not the speakers fault.

I didn’t read the Redcloud reviews and comments, but did make a recommendation in another topic, to try changing toe-in. With the Directstreams, Ted usually posts on what he has improved. I don’t recall any changes in frequency response, other than better bass. I can’t, nor should I be speaking for Ted, but I think in many of the firmware updates he has lowered noise and jitter, found a way to go from 10x to 20x the conversion to DSD. I don’t know if any of his improvements would require changes to the speakers, maybe Ted will correct my simplified description of his improvements.

Now with an equipment change a speaker adjustment, may be required. And on that I speak from experience. I was using a Benchmark Dac2, a very good DAC for it’s price, I had my speakers setup with very little toe in. A friend of mine gave me a Lindemann 825, it is both a CD player and four input DAC. The transport does not work consistently, and at first was to be a long term loan as a DAC upgrade. The 825 is a very high end DAC, but when I installed it, I wasn’t impressed, then it dawned on me to increase the toe in. I was used to the Benchmark which can sound forward, kind of bright. Just changing the toe in the Lindemann went from being a little dull to revealing how good the DAC is. It’s detail and refinement became apparent, and my whole system reached a new level.

I believe the difference between getting the most out of your system, or it being mediocre, is attention to the details. It like tweaks that on their own may do very little, it’s better, but was it worth it? Well I think they are accumulative, all that attention to detail adds up. It can be the difference between a good and a great system.

Here is good place to start understanding room set up considerations:

Cardas Room Setup Guide

Room mode calculator: room mode calculator

Calculator for locating various first reflections:

Acoustic Ukraine First Reflections Calculator