Set up question

I am looking for more (separation or air) in my sound stage between instruments. If that makes sense? I feel they should have more focus than they do currently. I have a very tight and stable center; the vocals are unbelievable but say if a horn or a shaker comes in off to the side it is not as focused as my vocals… How do I achieve this? Is this done with equipment, speaker set up or room treatments? Or D all of the above?!?

I would fill in answer D. However, it really depends what you’re working with. A focused center image really isn’t that hard to achieve. Speaker placement can be pretty lazily tossed together and the center image can be rather apparent. Getting a more airy sound will certainly get better if you put good effort into finding the sweet spot for the speakers.

Components can certainly help with this as well. The two upgrades that helped me with this the most was a regenerator and a better DAC. The sense of space and focused sound was significantly improved when I installed the P15 and DSJ.


Your equipment description would be helpful and the setup / distances of your speakers.


are you certain it’s not the recording(s)?


sure…another option…we know too little

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I agree with all of the comments above, so far.

One thing I can recommend (even given the details vacuum in this thread at this point) is that you purchase “Get Better Sound” (the book or the video discs) by Jim Smith and add it to your set of Hi-Fi tools.

Mr. Smith’s stated purpose (which he fulfills nicely, IMO) is to help readers/viewers get the most out of the equipment and room that they already have. This resource is the best “bang for the buck” investment I have ever made in my system. Highly recommended.


Notwithstanding the excellent comments already proffered, I had one really ‘Ah-hah!’ moment a couple of years ago. This was due to something one P McGowan wrote or said. I had always thought that correct speaker toe-in was mandatory but to my pleasant surprise changing to zero toe-in in my situation markedly improved what you’re seeking. Don’t know if you’ve tried it but if you haven’t, give it a go.


Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Pre Amp
2 M700s
Stellar Power Plant 3
Marantz ND8006 Stramer / CD
KEF R11 For Loud Speakers
The Room is 14’x16 Speakers 1/3 in from the side walls 40" away from the back wall. The distance between the speakers is 90" and 98" from the seat and are toed in slightly back wall is open no acoustic treatments … IMG_8459|375x500 IMG_8458|375x500


To start with, move the speakers so the are equal distance to your seat. Second, move the seat (or speakers, but seat tend to be easier to adjust) so it’s the same distance from the speakers as the speakers are set apart. (equal triangle)

What a lovely system, setup and house!


Nice space! I can’t see left and right sides, but

  1. Make sure you’re handling primary reflections on side walls and ceiling/floor. Those will muddy the sound arriving at your ears, making placement of periphery sounds muddy. I see sunlight, so make sure windows have drapes.
  2. Experiment with toe in starting from no toe in. The further you sit away, the less toe in you should need.
  3. Start with an equilateral triangle of distances between your seat and between the speakers.
  4. Pull the speakers further away from back walls. You have subwoofers that should stay where they are and speakers can breath more. A rich/emphasized center imagine can be caused by wall boundary interactions. Also turn the subwoofers off while you’re dialing in your mains. Your subs should be crossed over reasonably low given those speakers.
  5. Use tape and measuring tape on the floors to find precise distances. Sometimes wood floor planks running in a horizontal direction serves this purpose as well.
  6. Use a test playlist that is known to have periphery sounds. For example, these songs:

Good luck! Let us know how your experimentation goes.


I have done that, but when I do I can start hearing the sound coming from the speakers and lose phantom Image… Maybe the speaker being toed-in is causing that…

One suggestion: Lock in that stereo imaging and phantom center you like again and then: 1. Move your chair so that it is (your ears are) about two thirds of the rooms’ sidewall length from the front wall; and 2. Treat the first sidewall reflection points from your “tweeters” with absorption materials. FWIW, I like the Auralex 2” ProPanel B224 wall panel in Sandstone. ($162.99@ at

This video helped me. I hope it helps you too

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I would definitely experiment with speaker placement. My gut instinct would be to move the speakers slightly more forward into the room and add a little more distance between the 2 speakers. Then experiment with toe-in, trying both more toe-in and less toe-in.

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Understand that room modals have nothing to do with your speaker selection, but is based on frequency in the space itself, using modeling software to know where the modals are, is the first step in knowing how to place them. (distance from front and side walls, which will affect distance to seating) KEF recommends primary balloon to be in direct alignment with seating position. (toe would be whatever angle that places the tweeter in direct alignment with your ear)

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Recording can sound horrible or fantastic on my system. It’s a shame but inevitable with separate recording technics, etc, etc.

Thanks Tim, how does your problem change if you pull speakers 3-6 feet from the wall?