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Advice and thoughts sought for room, speaker, system matching...

Joined
May 17, 2019
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Arizona
#1
Good morning all,

I'd love to hear any of your thoughts on my current situation. I do tend to go on for too long about things, but I'll try to make this concise.

I'm in a new home and have decided it's time for a proper modern audio system, from scratch.

I am constrained of course by the limitations of my spot, and paralyzed by over-analysis as to how best approach this.

The files I've attached should give a clear idea of what I'm up against, and for the most part the objects in the photos will need to remain where they are. I can make slight adjustments if you have any clever ideas, but I can't remove the bookshelf or piano (well, I could perhaps ditch the bookshelf...hmmm).

I'm attracted to a variety of speaker systems but worry a bit about buying too much or incorrectly for the room I'm in.

General criteria:
  • Full-range accurate reproduction at proper listening levels (not overly loud, not too quiet) - subjective and mostly unhelpful I know
  • Sources to be all in the digital domain (NAS media server, streaming...a topic for another thread down the road)
  • Active, passive, horns, lasers...open to most anything
  • Quality of imaging and sweetspotting selfishly centered on the sofa, and me (the rest of my family can listen to their mediocre music on the other system)
  • Musical tastes are primarily smaller scale classical, with powerful solo piano requirements, plus most every other kind of music
  • Budget TBD...but let's start with a 'system' ballpark of $5K, with some flexibility. Lower is better, and I love used gear. Budget can be increased if worthwhile.

So, that's me being concise. Apologies. :)

In short, I'd love to hear most anything you'd care to say about the room, the system, the irrationality of the human condition, what to do about those ugly curtains, etc. I don't think I can handle much more of what the other audio forums tend to dispense, so I'm here.

Thanks in advance!

-mitch


Overview.JPG Seating.JPG
Front Wall.jpg Back Wall.jpg
Height.JPG Spill.jpg Sunken.JPG
 
Last edited:

PierreV

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#2
Full range and $5K limit your options somewhat in terms of speakers. I'd look into a pair of small high-quality speakers and a subwoofer. It seems that your room would be subwoofer friendly. I won't name brands because it is the best way to get a thread to expand indefinitely...
 
Joined
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Arizona
#3
Thank you for the reply. I think I used the term full-range in a way I didn't intend. I only meant the capabilities of the system, not the particular format of the speakers. I am open to any configuration, and assumed perhaps some standmounts and sub(s) would be most appropriate. But mostly I just want to listen to what you smarter people have to say, so I'll be quiet for a bit... :)
 

LTig

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Europe
#4
Good morning all,

I'd love to hear any of your thoughts on my current situation. I do tend to go on for too long about things, but I'll try to make this concise.

I'm in a new home and have decided it's time for a proper modern audio system, from scratch.

I am constrained of course by the limitations of my spot, and paralyzed by over-analysis as to how best approach this.

The files I've attached should give a clear idea of what I'm up against, and for the most part the objects in the photos will need to remain where they are. I can make slight adjustments if you have any clever ideas, but I can't remove the bookshelf or piano (well, I could perhaps ditch the bookshelf...hmmm).

I'm attracted to a variety of speaker systems but worry a bit about buying too much or incorrectly for the room I'm in.

General criteria:
  • Full-range accurate reproduction at proper listening levels (not overly loud, not too quiet) - subjective and mostly unhelpful I know
  • Sources to be all in the digital domain (NAS media server, streaming...a topic for another thread down the road)
  • Active, passive, horns, lasers...open to most anything
  • Quality of imaging and sweetspotting selfishly centered on the sofa, and me (the rest of my family can listen to their mediocre music on the other system)
  • Musical tastes are primarily smaller scale classical, with powerful solo piano requirements, plus most every other kind of music
  • Budget TBD...but let's start with a 'system' ballpark of $5K, with some flexibility. Lower is better, and I love used gear. Budget can be increased if worthwhile.

So, that's me being concise. Apologies. :)
Since you play Piano and want to listen to Piano I recommend strictly neutral speakers. My recommendation is an RME ADI-2 DAC and Neumann KH310 active monitors. AFAIK the KH310 goes down to ~35 Hz and due to being a 3 way system should be able to deliver clean midrange eben when the bass chassis has to work hard (less IMD).

This may be a bit higher than your budget and there is no source included, but the RME has USB input so just connect it to a notebook and you're done. The Advantage of the RME over cheaper solutions with similar SQ is its EQ which allows you to compensate the room somewhat.
 
Joined
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Location
Arizona
#5
With a little overnight reflection I've become afraid that my mention of a budget is an unintended distraction. I don't want it to turn into a "what xxx should I buy for $xxxx?" sort of post (though it doesn't seem to be turning into anything - perhaps my question is so uninformed that you wish to remain polite?).

I am mostly concerned with my ignorance of how best to adapt to this new room. I am to be reasonably close to these speakers, with little hope of extending their distances from each other or their surroundings. In some ways the constraints are tight, but it is also all placed into a rather voluminous and varied, oddly shaped environment.

I'd appreciate any general thoughts on an approach, a general design...I think. But, I don't know enough about this to know what to ask...

Thank you, again.
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
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#6
I would be tempted to try your speakers on the long wall with the window, adjusting them to be at equal height relative to your ears, with the listening position somewhere near the hallway to the stairs. This would pretty much kill any rear wall reflections and greatly delay and attenuate sidewall reflections, thus minimizing treatment required. I like Dunlavy speakers because they are very accurate and work well near the front wall. They also tolerate a very wide listening angle without compromising center image.
 

Blumlein 88

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#7
I'd think getting rid of the dark bookcase would go a long way to help. If you can.

I think the Harman designs are made to work in such a situation. As are well designed monitor speakers like the KLH mentioned by Ltig. There are Focals worth considering as well. If you don't want powered speakers (most monitors are powered) maybe one of the Revel speakers.

Just as a general direction, in your space powered monitors probably/possibly with a subwoofer. Monitors are typically voiced for nearfield use, and your distance would qualify as mid-field use at least. Larger monitors would do alright with that.

A pair of these Focals which will run you $3k/pr are worth considering. Leaves plenty for sources of good quality, and maybe money for the sub if you need one. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Solo6Be--focal-solo6-be-6.5-inch-powered-studio-monitor


You have to talk about price at some point.
Otherwise we'd tell you to get some Kii 3 ($12K though everything you need except digital source) or Dutch&Dutch 8Cs (about $13k needing only a digital source). Which would both be about perfect for your situation if cost isn't a problem. Not sure which I would prefer.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/kii-audio-three-loudspeaker

https://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/1270-dutch-dutch-8c-active-loudspeakers
 

andreasmaaan

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#8
I would spend $100-$200 on a DAC with volume control and the rest on active monitors and probably also a pair of subs.

What speakers have you heard/owned/liked/disliked?
 

Daverz

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#9
So you don't have an old receiver that could tide you over?

Acoustically, that looks like a pretty nice space with the high ceilings and open plan. I would put most of the money into the speakers. I would go with floor-standing speakers as they don't take any more floor space than stand mounts (well, if you don't go with giant horns or electrostats). They will image well if you can keep them a meter or so from the side walls.

If I were shopping today I'd start auditions with Revel and PSB speakers. I don't have much experience with active speakers. Perhaps someone can speak to how well, say, the KEF LS50 active speakers do with dynamic piano music in a space like yours.

https://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/766-revel-performa3-f206-loudspeakers
https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/i...&catid=77:loudspeaker-measurements&Itemid=153
https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/i...&catid=77:loudspeaker-measurements&Itemid=153

For the streaming/DAC end, if you don't go with something built in, you shouldn't need to pay more than $400 or so for the state of the art. Check Amir's review matrix. The excellent (if not quite SOTA) Topping D10 DAC with a Raspberry Pi kit for streaming can be had for about $160 total and takes about 30 minutes to snap together and configure. Some DACs have a volume control, which gives you the option of running directly into an amp.

For amplification, 50W @ 8 Ohms/100W @ 4 Ohms is probably fine for that space, but I'd aim for 100W @ 8 Ohms / 200W @ 4 Ohms (strict doubling isn't necessary, but close to it indicates a good power supply).
 

Blumlein 88

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#10
If I were shopping today I'd start auditions with Revel and PSB speakers. I don't have much experience with active speakers. Perhaps someone can speak to how well, say, the KEF LS50 active speakers do with dynamic piano music in a space like yours.
A sub would be mandatory for a KEF LS50 to work on piano music. The PSBs are a good suggestion.
 

restorer-john

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#11
Acoustically, that looks like a pretty nice space with the high ceilings and open plan.
Not in my opinion. High ceiling, lots of reflective surfaces, tiled entrance area with multiple openings to another tiled room (with the photoshopped wall) with high vaulted ceiling and dining with more tiles. Only soft furnishing is a bit of carpet and a few light curtains.

I've lived in houses like that and a 'lively' sound is what you get. Great for organ music only and live concert stuff- forget an intimate acoustic. Plenty of reflections from the rear wall/floor/roof (dining area) and a nice Hemholtz resonator when the kitchen door/butler's kitchen is open. The wife will love it- maybe.

Lower a dirty great big thick tapestry down between the back of the sofa and the dining area like a projector screen...

Cheers. :)
 

Daverz

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#12
Maybe low ceilings just make me claustrophobic. What is the acoustic problem with a high, sloping ceiling?

I think it's better to start out with a too lively room than a dead one.
 

andreasmaaan

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#13
I think it's better to start out with a too lively room than a dead one.
I agree with this personally. But many don't. This is why I asked for some input on your taste in speakers (and rooms for that matter). To try to think about what kind of polar dispersion pattern you might like in a speaker (narrow/focused or wide).
 

BillG

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#14

Soniclife

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#15
If starting again I'd personally strongly consider a minidsp SHD unit as the front end, this gives easy ways to use subs, room correction, streaming all in one neat box.

You need to decide between active and passive speakers, and if going with subs, between stand mount and floorstanding. There is nothing wrong with making these decisions on purely asthetic grounds, or any other reason.

If going passive have a good look at the local second hand market, they make excellent s/h buys.

Give strong consideration to more soft furnishings, and a lot more art on the walls.

Have you worked out where the kit will sit, and where the cables will run? Remember active speakers require power as well as signal run to them.

Do you own any existing kit, or what have you had in the past?
 

BillG

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#16
A pair of these below, a sub if you wish but probably not necessary with those speakers, and the amp I'll list below as well:


https://revelspeakers.com/productdetail/~/product/f36.html

https://www.peachtreeaudio.com/nova300-amplifier-with-dac.html

There's a wifi streaming module that's due to be released soon for the amp, but in the mean time I'd grab a Chromecast Audio to handle that... :cool:
As for Room EQ, if your direct digital source is a computer of some sort, equalization can be applied via the media player without additional hardware. Some Android media players will apply EQ to content streamed to Chromecast dongles as well; Poweramp is capable of doing so. Regarding iOS equivalents, I don't know... :rolleyes:
 

FrantzM

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#17
I think 5K these days should get you a good system. There will be a lot of work involved. Regardless of budget. You won't just plop things in your environment and Voila! great sound!! It doesn't work like that :)
New or used? I suggest a mixture of new and used.
For speakers I'd get used Revel F36 .. See these on Ebay
A pair of Active subs @$1,000 total (Usual suspects, Rythmik, SVS, Parts Express, etc...)
A mini DSP 2x4 HD + UMik + mike Tripod @ @$350
Your current laptop ;)
REW @ 0.00
You can get a more than decent Power amplifier. I like what I read about this amp below..
https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/cart
WORLDWIDE SHIPPING

STEREO AMP UK £15 / USA & Canada £75 / Western Europe £45 / Australia £95 / HK £95 / Japan £95
All amps are built to order. Current lead time is 2 Weeks.
PRICES EXCLUDE VAT ONLY CHARGED TO EU COUNTRIES
ORDERING & DELIVERY INFORMATION HERE
Home / Integrated Amps / Nord One INT-A NC252MP Integrated Amplifier
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You read a lot. You try a lot and in less than a year after acquisition you have a great sounding system ... :D (It takes time ...Experimentation and learning are necessary to makes the system sound great ..)
There are many combination possible revolving around the Revel F36 + pair of subs for a $2500
Toping DX-7 + Hypex DIY amp is a <$1800 affair... for example. Or you can go shrine and power this system with a used Devialet integrated. They go as low as $3500 although that would bring your budget above 6K ...
 
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#18
In my opinion, I wouldn't attempt serious listening of tunes with a piano in the same room. I know you've stated the piano cannot be removed. OK, if you can't remove the piano, can you at least remove the strings from it? If you can't remove the piano and you can't remove the strings, I'd just stick an AM/FM table radio in there and be done. Or, get a headphone only setup.

We used to see how loud we could play the piano without touching it. We'd take turns sticking our heads inside and doing a short shout, then see how long the piano rings. It takes a while to find the best place for the mouth and what pitch to make the shout, but practice could yield sympathetic ringing to last up to 10 seconds. This noise source (the piano) is not something you want in the same room as reproduced music.
 

Sal1950

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#19
I think 5K these days should get you a good system. There will be a lot of work involved.
Wow, a lot of us pointing to a used Revel F36!
Spending a bit more can take a lot of the work out of it.
Shopping will find you a new Anthem STR integrated amp for under $4,000. [email protected], built-in DAC, and ARC Genesis room correction will wrap up just about anything you'll need.
Heard one driving a pair of $35K Paradigm 9H's at the recent Tampa show, the ARC was doing a great job there.
Lots of good active subs to add later if you feel the need.

So many choices. :eek:
 

andreasmaaan

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#20
If the piano strings vibrating is an issue, finding something to stuff in there to dampen them might be a far cheaper and more practical solution than moving the piano.
 
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