I wish I could have you all hear this room, or come to your house to show you how much improvement you can get by adjusting your room. I can’t emphasize this enough! We can fine tune our room to our speakers. I hope I explain this correctly. It’s kinda like using an E.Q., but instead of attenuating the frequencies electrically, we are altering the acoustic waves through absorption, diffraction and diffusion.
I don’t have any so called audiophile records except of course the Sheffield drum record. Yet I have about 13’-14’ of soundstage and it’s all behind the speakers. And I love watching the expression on people’s faces when they lean in 5 feet from the speakers and still can’t tell where the music is coming from. I knew these speakers were pretty good, but I didn’t think they could disappear like this.
I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but “I don’t think I have heard much better.” Alright! Let me be perfectly clear! I am not comparing my stuff to anything else. It is my room that has made the difference period! Can it get better? Of course it can. And it will. But knowing what I know now, I bet I can get similar results with half the money I have here.
It is so rewarding when you improve or create a musical environment you thoroughly enjoy where the music is alive and present for little or no money.
As I mentioned in room treatments I believe dealing with the two sides and two front F.O.R.s are priority. But there are other things we should do. If possible remove or cover anything reflective to the sides or behind the speakers, pictures, mirrors, knick-knacks, etc., or move them way above or below the height of the mid-range and tweeters. The hardest part in all of this is to still have a room your spouse will want to hang out in. It can be done! Bookshelves and record shelves are good things, especially at or near F.O.R.s. Books can be diffractive by staggering or absorbent by turning the pages towards you and slightly open. Stuffed animals are very good for absorption. Use your imagination the possibilities are endless.
I have found for me that using absorption is better for eliminating annoyances like grain, harshness, sibilance, etc. and diffraction is better for adding things like air and spaciousness. The important thing is to experiment. Let me give you an example.
I had a feeling my right front treatment was robbing me of some air (too much absorption?). So I moved it to the right side equal to the one on the left. That opened things up quite a bit. But the hi-hats got gritty again. And here’s a note, most hi-hats should be right of center like looking at a right handed drummer playing cross handed as most do. And I think partially closed hi-hats are the most difficult cymbal to get right. Because within milliseconds of the initial attack are many lesser attacks. And for me, if I can get hi-hats and upper register piano chords right, everything else sounds pretty good.
So I staggered some books on that shelf with some of the pages facing out and things got better but not as good as they were. So I put some stuffed animals right at that F.O.R. and that worked well. The overall sound is more open and alive and those grain issues are smoothed.
What did I learn from this? My original treatment was too large and that right front F.O.R. is a critical area in my room. I guess I will have to make a smaller treatment that looks good for that area. I know some will have doubts but let me refer to “The Absolute Sound.” They report that one of their favorite $140,000 speakers is very critical to positioning and type of room treatments. And I’ll paraphrase, “If there is any hard core rule in high end audio it is that no speaker sounds the same in different rooms.”
But I am confident we can make many speakers sound many times better than their cost. This process takes time. It took me over a year to get it right and I’m still learning. I’m sure I will have to make adjustments when I get the new speakers up here. But the only other option (unless you have a great room) is to buy those expensive room treatments which I assume do work, but I would rather put my money in components or music. And the truth is once you see how good things can get, you might save and buy that component you always wanted.
I hope this information helps. You know you’re getting it right when you hear stuff you never heard before, or that sax sounds like your two tables and a few glasses away and more importantly you just become involved in the music. Because that’s what it’s all about!