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Advise on speaker selection needed in smaller room

nostra

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Jan 10, 2021
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#1
Hi all,

first of all I want to thank this community for the graet reviews and talks. It is so seldom to see a board on this topic without lots of emontional drama. :)
I am having pot. very basic questions so appologize in adavance if Im taken the wrong forum/topic/description and thanks for all your feedback in advance.

I started my Audio journey some years ago having two Jamo large speakers and a cheap amp. After some years I got bored and wanted to jump on the digitze track and got myself some Sonos Play5 2nd gen.
I was kind of impressed that time by the speakers and later I found out why. They were hanging from the wall around 4.3 meters apart, symetrical positioned in the room and I was sitting 4 meters away. So pretty good stereo triangle (even if its a bit large)
Also as my room is everything else than ideal their integrated DSP with Trueplay helped a little. All of that I had no idea about that time.

Two years ago the time came where I was not happy with Sonos anymore. It all was more PA than Hifi and I missed my cheap but nice Jamo Stero+Amp setup. So I thought lets just buy some stuff and be happy. Like ... well. Just to mention I moved to another flat so the Jamo setup was in a complete other room/flat.
So i bought myself entry Dali Zensor 5 speakers and used a Yamaha AVR amp. However, as my room is bad I could only place them on the floor with 2meters apart, sitting 4 meters away. Also one speaker is in the corner 20cms to the wall, the other is standing free. Anything else than ideal.
As I had no idea about preparing the room, stereo triangles and sweet spots - I fired them up and got my first lesson. Wow. Sounds like nothing. I switched from Sonos to the Dali back and froth. The Zensors were a complete downgrade.

Ok so what do you do then? Yes, throw more money at it! So I went to a local hifi dealer and told them about my setup and what did he do? Of course the told me about the correct setup in the triangle, how much the room has impact on it and that I should think about a DSP if everything is suboptimal.
Except he didnt.
So he sat me into a perfect room, with a perfect stereo triangle and let me listen to Monitor Audios and Dalis. He fired up the first pair of speakers with some Guitar Music+ singing and there I got my "wow" moment. With eyes closed I sat there and the stage was in front of me.
I couldnt detect where the speakers were, the artist stood in front of me and the guitars and other instruments clearly were in the room on a fixed position. I was mega mega impressed and got my "please take my money" moment.
My budget that time was around 1500-2000 Euros for the speakers so after some back and forth listening I decided to go for Dali Opticon 6 - then there was the issue with the amp. I then got recommended a NAD C368 plus BlueOS module to power them. Another 1500. So 3000+ something lighter I left the store.
You can image then what happened at home when I put them into my 2 meters apart, 4 meter listenting non ideal room non symetrical position. A lot of dissappointments.
Also I have to say the BlueOS implentation on NAD is/was really bad. Streaming to it with Spotify/Tidal was always a pain in the backside.
A long jurney then started like buying microphones to messure with REW, optimizing the room as much as it allows but I could never go back to that wow effect. Closest was if I put the speaekers to the mid of the room 2m apart sitting 1.8m in front with lots of room behind me.
Then it was 80%ish what I got in the store but my living room wasnt usable anymore. Whoop.
For 6 months I had to leave my apartment and moved to a friends house. Under the roof of the house there was 100qm room with nothing in it as it wasnt fully built. The walls were insulated and hence it was perfect for music. I put my speakers in 2m apart, sitting 1.8m in front. Wow.
I could turn them louder and louder and it was more fun with every step. Also the bass (and yes Im a fan of hefty bass... sorry) that the Dalis produced was so pushing - without a sub. The insulation was absorbing most of the echo and I spent many hours in the uggliest room of the house.

So getting back home I left the Dalis in the box, sold the NAD C368 and knew from then that I should plan a move :) What I really would try to do in such a room is place some thing like B&W 801 Matrix S2, 2 fat monoblocks and as pream a MiniDSP studio with DSP. But I dont have such a room :)

Since then I am trying to at least get a bit of the wow I had in a smaller scale. And maybe you can help me here. I guess for me one of the issues is that I like to listen to speakers that produce "nice" music instead of "correct" music.

Anyway, I couldnt change my room so I thought if I invest in to headphones I may get the same wow effect. Another set of money spent Beyerdynamics 1990 DT were mine. I bought a kind of proper headphones amp and startet listening.
Yes - its very detailed and very clear. And very boring. Bass doesnt feel like its fun, treble a very clear but very analytical. For me this is a tool for a professional, but nothing to have fun with.

Again a little bit dissapointed from this option I decided that at Corona homeoffice times I sit in a 10 qm room from 7am to 8pm - why not invest real money into small active speakers with a little sound correction.
So I thought about KH80 DSP or Glenlec 8020 (or similar) but was afraid as this is again studio prof. equipment that those could sound to analytical again. Also to drive them with Tidal or Spotify you need additional hardware for streaming (which is not a problem but still)
Hence I bought KEF LSX.

Boy, there are so many manufacturers who can produce great speakers - and some many manufacturers who can produce great software. Why are those people not working together. The BlueOS on the NAD was terrible but the apps from KEF are a whole new level...
Getting them setup in wired mode was impossible, wirless yes but then firmeware upgrade failed and I still didnt manage to get them into the second app. What a mess... I already hate them.
Additionally I dont think they sound very good. Bass is ok ish but on the treble I also dislike them.

So for example if I listen to Parov Stela - Brass Devil they sound ok. There is so much dynamic in the song that I tend to ingore the issues above.
However, my favorute songs to test a setup is Club For Five - Brothers in Arms. The voice from the lady in the mids/treble, the voice of the man very deep plus the dry bass in the background.
There they fail big (in my opinion). The lady voice "rings" and the bass is simple to boring.
Also every small speaker I heared (which are not that many...) was ok/good with music but you could always hear that the voices come from a small speaker. I just like the sound surrounding me so that I can "feel" it. That doesnt happen to much with the small speakers I heard (and maybe makes sense).
Also if I put on Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight. The speakers feel good if you turn them loud. As soon as they are on normal sound level details are lost.

I think the LSX will be sent back 80% because their software is pain and 20% because the sound is not as great as I hoped.

So what to do now? Any suggestions for me and my "taste"?
-I already thought if it maybe make sense to throw heavy money at the Kii Three as they seem to work everywhere anytime.
-Also Bruchards A500 are loved by many it seems...
-Or some Devialet Reactors as they go really deep down in bass for a small speaker?

I could place a sub but the office is not large. So ... hmm it is an option but not my mega prefered one. But certainly I would if takes me where I would love to go.

Thanks in advance for your help!!!
 

Willem

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Jan 8, 2019
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#2
Small rooms create two problems: the first is that the speakers cannot be too physically bulky, and the second is that it is hard to get good bass because room modes will mess up the sound more than in larger rooms.
From what I understand you are now playing in a 10 sqm home office and that will never get you great sound. My own home office is 18 sq but the issues are likely to be similar though to a lesser extent. I use my speakers as desk top speakers. The first thing to do is to make sure that the tweeter is at ear height. The more precise the better. You do not mention if your room is well damped, but to get smooth mid and high frequency response this is important. I have book shelves on most walls. A bathroom sound will get tiring. Finally, you may have to tweak the low frequency response. In my case I was still getting too much bass boost from the proximity of the desk, so I used an REW equalization curve to upload into the (free) Equalizer Apo software on my PC. This can also deal with room modes. Finally, I would be weary of pumping too much low frequency content into a room of that size.
You may want to get different speakers etc, but in your case I think the room is the big issue.
 

Hipper

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#3
Could you please tell us the width, depth and height of your room. A plan of this room would be good too showing where you sit and and where you can place the speakers.

I don't think there is a rule that says you must have an equilateral triangle with you and the speakers. It's just a rough guide. Another way is to use 'The Thirds'. That's what I do as described here:

http://www.barrydiamentaudio.com/monitoring.htm

I use a lot of room treatment to control bass but need an equaliser to complete the job. Using DSP is a good idea (I would say essential), especially if room treatment is not practical. Most recommend only using DSP in the bass region, say 0-300Hz. Above that you could use DSP like a tone control, over a large range of frequencies, but not to micro manage each peak and dip.

What is your source? If it's a computer you can use something like JRiver (a media library management software) to implement corrections to the frequency response that you measure with REW.

For improved headphone sound, some recommend some subtle EQ. There are suitable recommendations for many headphones on here and elsewhere.
 
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nostra

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Thread Starter #4
Thanks for the replys! I will follow up with some more details. On the other hand: What would be your recommendation for a "genereal" small till mid sized room according to what I like? My shortlist would be the Reactors 600 (but really so - so around if they are good), KH310 (mostly overykill but guess thei are really nice?), KEF LS50 .. not really because of the software and even Amir wrote that they dont really fill out without sub....
 
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