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Neumann KH310 in a small room (+subs, MA1, absorbers, AVAA)

wisechoice

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I would tend to agree on the hypothesis that it may be the reduction of certain beneficial reflections too much that's limiting your satisfaction. I find it even likely the case in my room where I have mainly 4" thick acoustic foam absorbers scattered around in the walls. Which is why, far often than not, I prefer to have some kind of upmixing set in place to artificially bring back some semblance of this synthetic, room-induced sense of envelopment -- but the advantage here is it is also controllable with DSP, so I can vary the strength/amount I want without having to physically move acoustic panels around.

*try adding in a pair of KH80s as optional surrounds you can experiment or A/B with.
This is my theory about surround and immersive formats. In a small room, they may help to mask reflections even if the surround/height channels are only being used for reverb. But I have no hard evidence of that, just a hunch that the direct sound from the surround speakers is likely to arrive before the reflections, and at higher energy.
 
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DJBonoBobo

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This is my theory about surround and immersive formats. In a small room, they may help to mask reflections even if the surround/height channels are only being used for reverb. But I have no hard evidence of that, just a hunch that the direct sound from the surround speakers is likely to arrive before the reflections, and at higher energy.

By the way, in the meantime i moved, but my new room is only a little bit bigger than the old one and the problems pretty much remain the same although the sound is different. I think it´s beneficial that i don´t have a window in the front wall anymore, and my listening distance is a bit higher. Without altering too much of the equipment, stereo imaging seems better in the new room. I don´t know why, maybe the window-thing...
I plan to update my passive absorbers, but did not find the time to do so.

But i actually bought another pair of KH80 in the meantime and tried the upmixing-thing. I am still experimenting, but so far my impressions are very mixed. Some recordings sound better with some upmixing, but most of the time i stick to stereo. I also tried a third KH310 as a center, but that did not fit and was not needed - in every case i tried it sound better with a phantom center. I plan to put a single KH310 (right) on for sale soon ;-)
 

wisechoice

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By the way, in the meantime i moved, but my new room is only a little bit bigger than the old one and the problems pretty much remain the same although the sound is different. I think it´s beneficial that i don´t have a window in the front wall anymore, and my listening distance is a bit higher. Without altering too much of the equipment, stereo imaging seems better in the new room. I don´t know why, maybe the window-thing...
I plan to update my passive absorbers, but did not find the time to do so.

But i actually bought another pair of KH80 in the meantime and tried the upmixing-thing. I am still experimenting, but so far my impressions are very mixed. Some recordings sound better with some upmixing, but most of the time i stick to stereo. I also tried a third KH310 as a center, but that did not fit and was not needed - in every case i tried it sound better with a phantom center. I plan to put a single KH310 (right) on for sale soon ;-)

Let me know, there's a chance that I might snag that!

How close are you to the speakers now? I could be easily persuaded that the three-way design of the KH310 takes a bit more distance to achieve coherence or integration (not sure which is the right term).

A possible issue with integration of the KH80 with the larger speakers is the higher latency (2ms vs 0ms) and phase difference. There is supposed to be a lower latency mode, but I haven't figured out how to activate it for my KH80 center channel. If you're using DSP, you can try adding a 2ms delay to the KH80s the KH310s, if you haven't already.

With my KH120s, I finally found a decent stereo image (though not by any means perfect) in my living room with the speakers 2m apart and 2m from the listening position. I'm against a back wall and have 2" fiberglass panels behind my head to catch those first reflections. I have another dozen panels on the way. So begins my own room treatment journey with Neumann loudspeakers…
 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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Let me know, there's a chance that I might snag that!

How close are you to the speakers now? I could be easily persuaded that the three-way design of the KH310 takes a bit more distance to achieve coherence or integration (not sure which is the right term).

A possible issue with integration of the KH80 with the larger speakers is the higher latency (2ms vs 0ms) and phase difference. There is supposed to be a lower latency mode, but I haven't figured out how to activate it for my KH80 center channel. If you're using DSP, you can try adding a 2ms delay to the KH80s, if you haven't already.

Triangle base width is 1.90 m now, listening distance appr. 1.75 m. The KH310 are connected to a KH750 DSP as well, but the KH80 are closer to me (around 1.4 m), so i have to use a delay (11.5 ms, i think) anyway. I used the MA1 automatic alignment for front and surround seperately, but not together (because the software does not support it). That´s possibly not ideal because the software does not "know" about the added latency and did not match front and surround.
I tried Dirac as well, but that did not work with movies because of latency. Not enough time to test all the variants properly...
 

wisechoice

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I'm also using KH120s now for my rear side speakers in a surround setup, and I've noticed a big difference in having them matched with my front pair (as of about ten days ago). Sounds are much more cohesive and seem to establish a much more continuous space around me with surround mixes, even within the limitations of my room -- and even off-center. But they're almost all equidistant, too (the KH80 center is a bit closer to make up for the delay). Granted, my previous surrounds were Genelec 8010s -- now height speakers in a 5.1.2 setup -- which have a very different tonality, but I can also hear the difference between the KH80 and KH120, so I also wouldn't discount that as a factor.

The difference between the KH80 and KH310 must be even greater. You have KH120(s) in your gear list. Have you tried up-mixing with them, instead? I would bet that they're a closer match to the 310s than the KH80 is. I'm a bit out of my depth with this stuff, though, and it's possible that your 310s + 80s in a treated room would beat my KH120s very handily in a comparison, if one were possible.

As a filmmaker, I'm trying to think of the analogy of the stereo "image" with a real image. I think for effective up-mixing, you would need to have a properly calibrated quad or 5.1(+) system first. And the up-mixed stereo image would ultimately begin somewhere to the left of the L speaker, and end somewhere to the right of the R speaker, which means the coherence (?) of the two fronts would be altered, so your KH80s would actually be doing some of the work of representing the original recorded stereo image, not just duplicating or synthesizing part of it. And I'm afraid the KH80s are going to be badly outmatched even by the KH120 in that department, let alone the KH310.

There's an additional question about whether it makes sense to do this kind of up-mixing at all, instead of just widening the distance between the front speakers. Because in the end, what you're getting by widening the image like that is something more akin to the soundstage presented by a pair of open back headphones without much crossfeed, and with relatively uncontrolled tuning. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but if you're "blowing up" the stereo image (on analogy with visual images), then you would need a highly coherent sound field to properly represent it. You would also need to think about the vertical dimension.

If you think about an in-room stereo recording, you have two microphones that encode sound information for two point-source speakers. Mess with that, and you're likely to hear various kinds of weird effects depending on the space. I'm guessing that's why Atmos versions of older live jazz are generally just presenting room effects, with the sound stage squarely in front and represented by the front speaker pair. My theory, as I've said elsewhere, is that such recorded reflections could mask the reflections in the listening room, because they arrive earlier and with more energy. But that is very different from wrapping (smearing?) a stereo image that was meant to be perceived frontally, around you in a rectangular room.

Even perceptually, our focus can't comfortably shift in the same ways when an image is too big. Think about sitting too close to the screen in a theater. [EDIT: And now think about wrapping the image not across a 180° curved screen, but projecting a third of it onto each wall.] I think we're often fatefully front-oriented with our senses, including hearing. So that may have something to do with your disappointment with some recordings. Maybe it's inevitable, to some extent. I would probably just calibrate a surround system and seek out recordings in Atmos. Rendered to quad on a Mac can sound pretty good in my experience. And do the upmixing when it works for stereo recordings that you just want to sound "big".

By the way, I'm not even sure how you measure soundstage. Has anyone found a way?
 
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wisechoice

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Re center vs phantom center image (and here I mean a natural by-product of the stereo image, not a synthesized one), I'm really persuaded that a center channel is best for helping to localize the center of the image for listeners who are off-center, the way two people are when watching a film. That requires an actual speaker. And there are probably lots of good reasons why music is often kept mostly to L&R, while dialogue and on-screen effects get mixed to the center. Conversely, I position my center speaker in front of my TV for music listening, at the same height as my L&R, and when the stereo image finally snapped into focus a couple of days ago, neither me nor my girlfriend could believe that Bob Marley's voice wasn't actually coming from the center speaker. It was stereo.
 

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DJBonoBobo

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Phaz

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Hello
Very interesting thread.
I have the same speaker configuration. Acoustically, my studio has been specially treated by an acoustician. But whatever the environment, there are always a few points for improvement, which can most often be learned by our brains. Don't underestimate the incredible power of the brain ;-)

I have a question about your HP configuration.
I also have 2 KH 750s and 2 KH 310s.
With the KH 750 and the Neumann MA 1 mic and app, I do an eq correction. The EQ are stores in the KH750s.
But the MA1 system works only if the 2 KH750 are coupled. This means that the low end is mono below 80 Hz. This is a problem for me, as I'd like to have 2 distinct channels over the whole spectrum.
How do you use your 2 KH 750s? Coupled or stereo?

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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Hello
Very interesting thread.
I have the same speaker configuration. Acoustically, my studio has been specially treated by an acoustician. But whatever the environment, there are always a few points for improvement, which can most often be learned by our brains. Don't underestimate the incredible power of the brain ;-)

I have a question about your HP configuration.
I also have 2 KH 750s and 2 KH 310s.
With the KH 750 and the Neumann MA 1 mic and app, I do an eq correction. The EQ are stores in the KH750s.
But the MA1 system works only if the 2 KH750 are coupled. This means that the low end is mono below 80 Hz. This is a problem for me, as I'd like to have 2 distinct channels over the whole spectrum.
How do you use your 2 KH 750s? Coupled or stereo?

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
I use the 2 subs in a mono configuration. This is the only configuration directly supported by the MA1.

There is a workaround from an older version of the manual for stereo subs, posted here:

The upper part (mono) is outdated, but the second part (stereo) should be possible still.
 

holdingpants01

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There's only so far you can go with nearfield setup in terms of stereo field. I had KH310 and now I'm using coaxial 8351B but when I'm too close to them the stereo fragility is about the same as with Neumanns. The biggest help was removing as much desk as possible, now I have a very small one that barely fits keyboard, mouse and a volume controller and it's great. On the picture I can see mostly empty desk, it could be half as deep and still work the same. The second thing was the screen, which I moved behind the line of the speakers and didn't angle it down at me, it's rather big in my case and was messing up my measurements and phase response above 1k, which should be a flat line with my monitors and now actually is.
 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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There's only so far you can go with nearfield setup in terms of stereo field. I had KH310 and now I'm using coaxial 8351B but when I'm too close to them the stereo fragility is about the same as with Neumanns. The biggest help was removing as much desk as possible, now I have a very small one that barely fits keyboard, mouse and a volume controller and it's great. On the picture I can see mostly empty desk, it could be half as deep and still work the same. The second thing was the screen, which I moved behind the line of the speakers and didn't angle it down at me, it's rather big in my case and was messing up my measurements and phase response above 1k, which should be a flat line with my monitors and now actually is.
Since i made the OP i moved and have a slightly bigger room and a bigger listening distance now. Because of this, the desk has become less important, but the ceiling has become more important. My "cloud" has much more effect in my new room than in my old.
Also, i think now that the KH310 are probably not the best choice for such a small room. They are 10 years old now and i am thinking about getting the KH150 instead (because of the more smooth horizontal directivity). I´ll probably wait until a KH310 II is released, though, and see how they can be improved.

Edit: The desk is only 1x0.5m - the smallest i could find. I need the depth, because sometimes i have pieces of paper on it, too... And regarding the display: I tried endlessly every possible location for it, but every position is a compromise. In the end i choose the most ergonomic of the better positions.
 

holdingpants01

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Since i made the OP i moved and have a slightly bigger room and a bigger listening distance now. Because of this, the desk has become less important, but the ceiling has become more important. My "cloud" has much more effect in my new room than in my old.
Also, i think now that the KH310 are probably not the best choice for such a small room. They are 10 years old now and i am thinking about getting the KH150 instead (because of the more smooth horizontal directivity). I´ll probably wait until a KH310 II is released, though, and see how they can be improved.
1.75m is still very much nearfield, the ceiling is obviously important but I just assumed the cloud is still used so I didn't even mention it. KH150 is interesting, 2 way monitors pushed to and beyond most 3 way designs, could very much sound better than KH310 up close
 

Phaz

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I use the 2 subs in a mono configuration. This is the only configuration directly supported by the MA1.

There is a workaround from an older version of the manual for stereo subs, posted here:

The upper part (mono) is outdated, but the second part (stereo) should be possible still.
Thank you for the link :) and the infos.
 

ozzy9832001

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I have a tiny desk as well. Just big enough for the keyboard, mouse and a cup of coffee.

I found the best spot for the monitor is behind the center line for the speakers. Ideally, I think it was best when I had it wall mounted about 4" from a 4" front wall panel. Those reflections off the front wall behind the monitor were really killing my stereo image. If I wanted to do that now, I'd have to get a bigger monitor and that might throw things off a bit more.

Windows are another story. They have strange behavior lol. I have 4 of them and can definitely see them causing issues. They resonate around 300hz and the cavity about 200hz. So, I feel your relief not having it in a critical spot.
 
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