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Speaker location and listening position

Smitty2k1

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Just got a new house and listening spot and am auditioning two sets of bookshelves: Elac DBR62 and Alexis Sound Rebecca (Designed by Dennis Murphy/Philharmonic). Will eventually add a center and sub for a 3.1 system. Currently the speakers are 120" apart with the listening chair halfway between and my head about 100" from each speaker, measured to the center of the speaker stand. Not quite an equilateral triangle, but pretty close. I felt I was getting good "centered" vocals, though my wife felt they were slightly off to one side. It was really fun hearing the "soundstage" on certain well mixed tracks, being able to separate the instruments. Because of the height difference between the Elac DBR62 and the Rebecca, the Rebecca's tweeters sit around 5" higher than my ears. Power provided by a Marantz NR1509 AVR and music sources are my Technics 1200 turntable and HEOS streaming from my media server.

I have a few questions for you more experienced listeners for general stereo setup:
1) How wide is "too wide" for bookshelves? Currently at 120" they sound pretty good, I have a little space to move them closer together, but it would actually be beneficial to move them slightly further apart. Is the maximum width of the speakers more a function of volume and distance of the listening position and less a function of the actual separation of the LR channels? When testing this, what cues should I listen for?
2) How high above the ear is too high for a tweeter? Specifically for the Rebecca, as it is not a dome. Some material I read suggests the speaker should be positioned such that the ear is between the woofer and tweeter and some suggests the ear should be at tweeter level.
3) Any suggestions on how to toe-in the speakers? Is toe-in a function of how far the listening position is from the speakers? E.G. speakers are currently 120" apart but listening position is only 100" away, should speakers be toed-in to face the exact listening position or toed-in to form the equilateral triangle?
4) Suggested playlists for auditioning speakers?

I figure my best way to compare the speakers is to get the listening position and speaker position dialed in and then do more A/B listening tests. My current thought is that the Rebeccas sound better and fill the room more with a little bit better bass extension, but the Elac DBR62 sure are pretty and have an easily available matching center channel for future expansion of the system.

Here's a rough idea of the room setup. I'm currently using a blanket in place of a rug while my better half figures out a rug to buy.
20220402_213857.jpg
 

DVDdoug

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I'm really not an expert and I mostly listen to studio-recorded rock so I'm not too concerned with a realistic soundstage. Your angle seems a little wide if you're trying to simulate a concert hall but it should be OK if you are just trying to enjoy the stereo.

Of course soundstage from a pair of stereo speakers is an illusion (including the phantom center) and it depends on the recording, the listener, room acoustics, speakers, and speaker placement. To me the center is always a bit vague no matter what I'm listening to, unless I'm listening to a 5.1 channel recording (on a 5.1 channel system with a center speaker). I assume that's true with most people and most setups... A real center-speaker is probably always more-defined than a stereo phantom center. Since you have a 3.1 setup you should also get a "perfect" center-channel from 5.1 (or higher) recordings. But that's rare for music and you probably won't find any 3.1 recordings.

And you know... We all tend to over-rate our ability to pinpoint the source of a sound until we try to find a squeak or rattle in a car, or something like that... ;)

Rebecca's tweeters sit around 5" higher than my ears.
That's not much of an angle and if you couldn't see the speakers you probably wouldn't notice if someone secretly changed the height by 5-inches. Or, you might hear a change in the high-frequency intensity more than a change in position (because of the directivity of the tweeter).

Is toe-in a function of how far the listening position is from the speakers?
Generally I like to point the speakers at my ears but it's a matter of preference and your speakers in your room.... So whatever sounds best!
 
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Smitty2k1

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I'm really not an expert and I mostly listen to studio-recorded rock so I'm not too concerned with a realistic soundstage. Your angle seems a little wide if you're trying to simulate a concert hall but it should be OK if you are just trying to enjoy the stereo.

Of course soundstage from a pair of stereo speakers is an illusion (including the phantom center) and it depends on the recording, the listener, room acoustics, speakers, and speaker placement. To me the center is always a bit vague no matter what I'm listening to, unless I'm listening to a 5.1 channel recording (on a 5.1 channel system with a center speaker). I assume that's true with most people and most setups... A real center-speaker is probably always more-defined than a stereo phantom center. Since you have a 3.1 setup you should also get a "perfect" center-channel from 5.1 (or higher) recordings. But that's rare for music and you probably won't find any 3.1 recordings.

And you know... We all tend to over-rate our ability to pinpoint the source of a sound until we try to find a squeak or rattle in a car, or something like that... ;)

That's not much of an angle and if you couldn't see the speakers you probably wouldn't notice if someone secretly changed the height by 5-inches. Or, you might hear a change in the high-frequency intensity more than a change in position (because of the directivity of the tweeter).

Generally I like to point the speakers at my ears but it's a matter of preference and your speakers in your room.... So whatever sounds best!
Thanks I'm also mostly listening to studio recorded rock... Which is guess is a pretty broad genre when you think of pop rock vs heavy metal. I think most rock albums are still mixed/mastered such that you should have a soundstage with instrument separation and vocals at center stage, no?
 

dualazmak

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My post here would be somewhat of your reference and interests;
- Not only the precision (0.1 msec level) time alignment over all the SP drivers but also SP facing directions and sound-deadening space behind the SPs plus behind our listening position would be critically important for effective (perfect?) disappearance of speakers: #687

The "best physical setting and listening position" may vary on many many factors, and I believe you need to do intensive try-and-error in your own room with your furnitures; I like to recommend you to have "proper" large carpet for which you also need try-and-error...
 

dualazmak

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goat76

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Of course soundstage from a pair of stereo speakers is an illusion (including the phantom center) and it depends on the recording, the listener, room acoustics, speakers, and speaker placement. To me the center is always a bit vague no matter what I'm listening to, unless I'm listening to a 5.1 channel recording (on a 5.1 channel system with a center speaker). I assume that's true with most people and most setups... A real center-speaker is probably always more-defined than a stereo phantom center. Since you have a 3.1 setup you should also get a "perfect" center-channel from 5.1 (or higher) recordings. But that's rare for music and you probably won't find any 3.1 recordings.

And you know... We all tend to over-rate our ability to pinpoint the source of a sound until we try to find a squeak or rattle in a car, or something like that... ;)

If you find the phantom center sounding a bit vague, the listening triangle is simply too large for the speakers at hand to be able to “lock in” a distinct center image. This is probably the most critical thing to get right setting up two speakers in a stereo configuration, they are supposed to play “one” unified sound together and you don't want “a hole in the middle”/unfocused center image.

Normally I dislike synonyms, but here I go... :)

To get the distance right between the speakers is like getting the correct focus in a pair of binoculars, by moving the barrels closer or farther apart from each other you will find the right image.
1672019054218.jpeg


It’s similar with two speakers that are supposed to play together creating a correct and unified stereo image. When you hear a distinct and fully focused phantom center, you have found a distance between the two speakers that works well for your particular speakers.
When you do this, you should also change the listening position accordingly to keep an equilateral listening triangle with the speakers.

I have made a recording of a single snare drum which is at first panned to the phantom center, then hard-panned to the left, and then to the right.
This recording should make it easy to find a good distance between the speakers. The phantom-centered snare should have the same focus and have the same distinct sound as the hard-panned sounds, it should not sound either wider or blurred-out, and it should not sound less focused or less distinct.

That's my take on the matter. :)
 
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AudiOhm

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There is no magical sauce.

I have moved my speakers all around the room. I have moved them so many times I cannot count.

From one place to another each one sounding better than the last...

Ohms
 
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