Choosing speakers based on room acoustics

T

TankTop5

Audioholic General
Everyone always discusses auditioning speakers preferably in your home before purchasing and ideally that sounds great on paper but not practical or possible for most people. Wouldn’t it be better to choose speakers based the room they are going in? Radiation patter of tweeters for example as most people are constrained by the room, speaker placement and WAF. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take photos and measurements of the room then seek a speaker that will perform best in that environment rather than picking a speaker and trying to get it to perform correctly in the wrong space? I know DSP and room correction has come a long way but I think it it’s applied after the basics are done correctly it’ll have a better fighting chance.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
Everyone always discusses auditioning speakers preferably in your home before purchasing and ideally that sounds great on paper but not practical or possible for most people. Wouldn’t it be better to choose speakers based the room they are going in? Radiation patter of tweeters for example as most people are constrained by the room, speaker placement and WAF. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take photos and measurements of the room then seek a speaker that will perform best in that environment rather than picking a speaker and trying to get it to perform correctly in the wrong space? I know DSP and room correction has come a long way but I think it it’s applied after the basics are done correctly it’ll have a better fighting chance.
Not sure I could begin to do that. My experience is that good speakers are environment neutral. I would say speakers that are fussy about rooms have problems.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Seriously, I have no life.
Everyone always discusses auditioning speakers preferably in your home before purchasing and ideally that sounds great on paper but not practical or possible for most people. Wouldn’t it be better to choose speakers based the room they are going in? Radiation patter of tweeters for example as most people are constrained by the room, speaker placement and WAF. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take photos and measurements of the room then seek a speaker that will perform best in that environment rather than picking a speaker and trying to get it to perform correctly in the wrong space? I know DSP and room correction has come a long way but I think it it’s applied after the basics are done correctly it’ll have a better fighting chance.
WAF is based on appearance, acoustics is about the way energy from the sound and the room interact. There's absolutely nothing about WAF that makes speakers and acoustics better.

Interior decorators/designers don't want to see any part of an audio system but they're concerned with making a design statement than designing a home where people live. Some understand the concept of 'form follows function', but many don't.

I wouldn't pick speakers and expect a consumer-level program to cure acoustical problems.
 
ski2xblack

ski2xblack

Audioholic Field Marshall
While I would agree with TLS that good speakers are environment neutral, it's also the case that you can "choose your illusion" to a great extent in terms of more or less involvement of local acoustics. A system with a higher degree of direct to reflected sound, or vice versa, has ramifications on image specificity versus envelopment.

Consider different circumstances and speakers in order to achieve the desired illusion, whatever that happens to be. A near-field setup will inherently have a higher direct to reflected ratio. A similar effect can be achieved at greater distances using speakers with more narrowly controlled directivity, but the resulting image will be less immersive than speakers with wider dispersion, that necessarily have greater involvement of reflected sound. Neither approach is right or wrong, but a matter of preference. Do you want your stereographic perspective to be that from out in the audience, or from the conductors stand?

Take the Philharmonic BMR monitors as an example, a speaker with a very uniform, broad power response. They are pretty agnostic as to the environment they're in, they're devoid of audible "tells", and do stereographic trickery with the best of them. Yet some folks, particularly with a lot of experience with lots of speakers, prefer speakers with less involvement of the room (I'm thinking specifically about Erin of Erin's Audio Corner, who explicitly prefers speakers with a less broad dispersion than BMRs).

Toole's book is a worthy read to get a grip this stuff.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Spartan
all well and good with 'conventional' transducers but when one is considering a di-pole speaker then the room dimensions , layout, etc really come into play for an optimal presentation.
 
ski2xblack

ski2xblack

Audioholic Field Marshall
Agreed, but even when sticking to direct radiator speakers, room dimensions, distances involved, and general acoustic properties of the room have implications to speaker choice. Speaker sensitivity and dynamic range are critical for convincing realism, often compromised or sacrificed on the altar of WAF or decor considerations.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
WAF is based on appearance, acoustics is about the way energy from the sound and the room interact. There's absolutely nothing about WAF that makes speakers and acoustics better.

Interior decorators/designers don't want to see any part of an audio system but they're concerned with making a design statement than designing a home where people live. Some understand the concept of 'form follows function', but many don't.

I wouldn't pick speakers and expect a consumer-level program to cure acoustical problems.
Interior designers! You have their number. That was an issue with this home build. They create problems over ridiculous issues. For instance ours had a fit over the fact we wanted the compressed air buttons for the garbage disposers, and not a wall switch. So we used the buttons, and now they are code here! She had a fit that we wanted a farm sink in the kitchen. She said it should be under counter mounting. Overruled her again, and now farm sinks are all the rage. She wanted the cook top in front of the window and the sink in the island. We wanted it the other way round and did it that way, which is far more convenient. The she wanted an 90 degree sharp edge on the granite counter tops, we insisted on a bevel.

Then the in wall system in the great room sent her right over the edge. She butted out after that.

But to return to topic, the OP does have a point. Ideally equipment and room should be designed as a single entity. Obviously that is seldom possible and I realize I am one of a very fortunate few.

She was banned from day 1 of having anything to do with the AV room. I worked and supervised the builders in critical areas daily. Fortunately everything turned out fine, and to my relief the AV room tuned out perfectly and with perfect fits. I did make some cardboard mockups to leave less to chance.

I can tell you I was very relieved when it all came together, without having to bodge anything.
 
T

TankTop5

Audioholic General
Interior designers! You have their number. That was an issue with this home build. They create problems over ridiculous issues. For instance ours had a fit over the fact we wanted the compressed air buttons for the garbage disposers, and not a wall switch. So we used the buttons, and now they are code here! She had a fit that we wanted a farm sink in the kitchen. She said it should be under counter mounting. Overruled her again, and now farm sinks are all the rage. She wanted the cook top in front of the window and the sink in the island. We wanted it the other way round and did it that way, which is far more convenient. The she wanted an 90 degree sharp edge on the granite counter tops, we insisted on a bevel.

Then the in wall system in the great room sent her right over the edge. She butted out after that.

But to return to topic, the OP does have a point. Ideally equipment and room should be designed as a single entity. Obviously that is seldom possible and I realize I am one of a very fortunate few.

She was banned from day 1 of having anything to do with the AV room. I worked and supervised the builders in critical areas daily. Fortunately everything turned out fine, and to my relief the AV room tuned out perfectly and with perfect fits. I did make some cardboard mockups to leave less to chance.

I can tell you I was very relieved when it all came together, without having to bodge anything.
I was about to ask why you didn’t forever but it sounds like she handled that for you.

Most every home is “off center” where a listening or even gathering area is. Even homes with beautiful views and huge windows are positioned so that the most convenient seating areas are facing a wall and not the view, doesn’t make any sense.

My room is a long box, home built in 1897 with some additions since like a bathroom… there is still an iron and remains of a community bathroom in the alley behind my house. Then there’s the issue of asbestos in the walls so no in wall wiring for surround so I guess I’m focused on the best stereo setup.

13w9h35l

I’ve been considering the ascends along with maybe the ribbon upgrade but others are saying the bMR’s are more neutral to their environment. I also have glass French doors at my first reflection point. Oh happy days… did I mention the hardwood floors, lol.
IMG_7369.jpeg
IMG_7370.jpeg
IMG_7371.jpeg
 
Bobby Bass

Bobby Bass

Audioholic Chief
I was about to ask why you didn’t forever but it sounds like she handled that for you.

Most every home is “off center” where a listening or even gathering area is. Even homes with beautiful views and huge windows are positioned so that the most convenient seating areas are facing a wall and not the view, doesn’t make any sense.

My room is a long box, home built in 1897 with some additions since like a bathroom… there is still an iron and remains of a community bathroom in the alley behind my house. Then there’s the issue of asbestos in the walls so no in wall wiring for surround so I guess I’m focused on the best stereo setup.

13w9h35l

I’ve been considering the ascends along with maybe the ribbon upgrade but others are saying the bMR’s are more neutral to their environment. I also have glass French doors at my first reflection point. Oh happy days… did I mention the hardwood floors, lol.View attachment 67151View attachment 67152View attachment 67153
It makes sense to narrow your choices based on your room and all the reviews etc.. As you know Both the Ascends and BMRs have good measurements and great reviews. The challenge is you won’t really know how they’ll sound in your room and if you’ll be happy until you buy and try. Buying and returning can be an hassle. Ascend does have a 30 day return policy but you’d have to pay return shipping. I’m considering a pair of Sierra-LX with the matching stands. The BMRs are big with a beautiful choice of finishes but no matching stands. I need matching stands that I can securely attach the speakers to. They will be in harms way and floor standings are out for a number of reasons. That’s why the Mofi 8 and stands are out for me even though they are on sale. what Bookshelves do you have now? How do they sound in your room? Have you tried any room treatments If any are possible in your setup?
 
T

TankTop5

Audioholic General
It makes sense to narrow your choices based on your room and all the reviews etc.. As you know Both the Ascends and BMRs have good measurements and great reviews. The challenge is you won’t really know how they’ll sound in your room and if you’ll be happy until you buy and try. Buying and returning can be an hassle. Ascend does have a 30 day return policy but you’d have to pay return shipping. I’m considering a pair of Sierra-LX with the matching stands. The BMRs are big with a beautiful choice of finishes but no matching stands. I need matching stands that I can securely attach the speakers to. They will be in harms way and floor standings are out for a number of reasons. That’s why the Mofi 8 and stands are out for me even though they are on sale. what Bookshelves do you have now? How do they sound in your room? Have you tried any room treatments If any are possible in your setup?
I think I’d actually go for towers with either. I definitely need some acoustical treatment no matter which direction I choose.

I was running my Dynaudio Contour 20’s with dual SB300’s both in my current space and previous. Funny thing is my previous room was much larger by cubic feet due to 16 foot ceilings and the subs hit much harder. I’m guessing that’s due to a lack of room treatment and my new home and some type of standing waves interfering with Audessey. I had to downsize my system due to a business failure, but things should be correcting themselves soon. Currently running Focal 807 Chorus V with a single PB1000. The Dyn’s were an immense wall of sound in both spaces and the Focal’s are a bit “light” on dynamics but still detailed. They have a little treble peak but that’s tamed with room correction. I definitely want the wall of sound back but also want a soundstage wider than my room while being very detailed. Focals seem to give better 3D imaging than Dyn’s. Know based on a rectangle room I’ll need bass traps, first reflection point and a much larger rug at the minimum.

Edited for content and spelling
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Spartan
tanktop, do not take this the wrong way, but looking at those pics your room is an acoustic nightmare. You mentioned a few of the issues, address them first and then concentrate on speakers
 
T

TankTop5

Audioholic General
tanktop, do not take this the wrong way, but looking at those pics your room is an acoustic nightmare. You mentioned a few of the issues, address them first and then concentrate on speakers
No offense taken and that’s the advice I would give someone else. Definitely will be doing some room treatment with current system before upgrading equipment. I personally believe lower end decent equipment can sound great if the basics of placement and room accustics are addressed. Thanks for your input!
 
highfigh

highfigh

Seriously, I have no life.
Interior designers! You have their number. That was an issue with this home build. They create problems over ridiculous issues. For instance ours had a fit over the fact we wanted the compressed air buttons for the garbage disposers, and not a wall switch. So we used the buttons, and now they are code here! She had a fit that we wanted a farm sink in the kitchen. She said it should be under counter mounting. Overruled her again, and now farm sinks are all the rage. She wanted the cook top in front of the window and the sink in the island. We wanted it the other way round and did it that way, which is far more convenient. The she wanted an 90 degree sharp edge on the granite counter tops, we insisted on a bevel.

Then the in wall system in the great room sent her right over the edge. She butted out after that.

But to return to topic, the OP does have a point. Ideally equipment and room should be designed as a single entity. Obviously that is seldom possible and I realize I am one of a very fortunate few.

She was banned from day 1 of having anything to do with the AV room. I worked and supervised the builders in critical areas daily. Fortunately everything turned out fine, and to my relief the AV room tuned out perfectly and with perfect fits. I did make some cardboard mockups to leave less to chance.

I can tell you I was very relieved when it all came together, without having to bodge anything.
I studied Architectural Engineering in college and still associate with quite a few Architects- the one common nightmare they have is, as one friend calls them, 'Interior Detonators'. I have a customer who's an Architect and Urban Planner- she bought a home and it needed a lot of work, made improvements and additions, I ran cabling throughout and the first time I met the Detonator, I was ready. She had worked for a highly respected Interior Designer (big difference between the two titles) whose projects generally weren't bid and when the design was presented, the homeowners usually said "OK, when can you start", rather than asking about the cost. He had been importing vintage stone fireplace surrounds from Europe before he passed and the Detonator used for my customer's home seemed to think she was responsible for his success, judging by the fees she charged, her general attitude and choices she made that conflicted with what she had been told or what had been requested. She and the homeowner were in the Master Bath when I reached the second floor, the homeowner made the introductions including a comment about in-ceiling speakers and the detonator started to say something. I immediately said "I can get speakers that look like small speakers" and her eyes went wide, asking "How did you know what I was going to say?". I told her "I know who you worked for".

She was ridiculous. Homeowner wanted four outdoor lights over the deck, detonator came up with some that cost $4000 each. A small hammered Copper sink was going in the Butler's pantry, she came up with one that cost $1600. Neither was used.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Seriously, I have no life.
I think I’d actually go for towers with either. I definitely need some acoustical treatment no matter which direction I choose.

I was running my Dynaudio Contour 20’s with dual SB300’s both in my current space and previous. Funny thing is my previous room was much larger by cubic feet due to 16 foot ceilings and the subs hit much harder. I’m guessing that’s due to a lack of room treatment and my new home and some type of standing waves interfering with Audessey. I had to downsize my system due to a business failure, but things should be correcting themselves soon. Currently running Focal 807 Chorus V with a single PB1000. The Dyn’s were an immense wall of sound in both spaces and the Focal’s are a bit “light” on dynamics but still detailed. They have a little treble peak but that’s tamed with room correction. I definitely want the wall of sound back but also want a soundstage wider than my room while being very detailed. Focals seem to give better 3D imaging than Dyn’s. Know based on a rectangle room I’ll need bass traps, first reflection point and a much larger rug at the minimum.

Edited for content and spelling
I would imagine that one difference between the Dyns and Focal is the dispersion and crossover slopes but looking at Stereophile's measurements, 'small peak' isn't the way I would describe the Focal's response.

I would start with speaker placement- don't put them in a corner and work with the toe-in, no bare floor and make sure the walls have some surface disruptions.
 
T

TankTop5

Audioholic General
I would imagine that one difference between the Dyns and Focal is the dispersion and crossover slopes but looking at Stereophile's measurements, 'small peak' isn't the way I would describe the Focal's response.

I would start with speaker placement- don't put them in a corner and work with the toe-in, no bare floor and make sure the walls have some surface disruptions.
In response to the’small peak’ I was being kind to the speaker. If you look at the 2nd photo there’s a PB1000 behind the speaker so you can use that as a reference point for how far the speakers are from the rear and side walls. They are also significantly towed in pointing about a foot behind my head, helps with the small peak.. lol.
 
ski2xblack

ski2xblack

Audioholic Field Marshall
It sounds like your housing is in flux, perhaps moving up to bigger and better things eventually. Is that the case?

Assuming you can add some rugs, bookshelves, art, dedicated acoustic treatments, or whatever, for the sake of acoustics, are you shooting for "end game" speakers, that may be overkill for your current room, or toward something more modest and appropriate for the current situation?

If it's the second option, for smaller form factor towers I might suggest the previously mentioned Ascend Sierra towers, or Phil BMR HT towers. Those would both light up the side walls with high frequencies, but they're also well designed and take to eq very well, so you could impose a gently decreasing house curve easily enough. Alternately, for something that wouldn't spray the walls with treble, perhaps something from the JBL HDI series, which have been highly marked down lately.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
I studied Architectural Engineering in college and still associate with quite a few Architects- the one common nightmare they have is, as one friend calls them, 'Interior Detonators'. I have a customer who's an Architect and Urban Planner- she bought a home and it needed a lot of work, made improvements and additions, I ran cabling throughout and the first time I met the Detonator, I was ready. She had worked for a highly respected Interior Designer (big difference between the two titles) whose projects generally weren't bid and when the design was presented, the homeowners usually said "OK, when can you start", rather than asking about the cost. He had been importing vintage stone fireplace surrounds from Europe before he passed and the Detonator used for my customer's home seemed to think she was responsible for his success, judging by the fees she charged, her general attitude and choices she made that conflicted with what she had been told or what had been requested. She and the homeowner were in the Master Bath when I reached the second floor, the homeowner made the introductions including a comment about in-ceiling speakers and the detonator started to say something. I immediately said "I can get speakers that look like small speakers" and her eyes went wide, asking "How did you know what I was going to say?". I told her "I know who you worked for".

She was ridiculous. Homeowner wanted four outdoor lights over the deck, detonator came up with some that cost $4000 each. A small hammered Copper sink was going in the Butler's pantry, she came up with one that cost $1600. Neither was used.
Just love "Detonator." That describes the breed perfectly.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
In response to the’small peak’ I was being kind to the speaker. If you look at the 2nd photo there’s a PB1000 behind the speaker so you can use that as a reference point for how far the speakers are from the rear and side walls. They are also significantly towed in pointing about a foot behind my head, helps with the small peak.. lol.
I think the Dynaudio Contours are much better speakers than those focals

I don't think you room is that bad. Sure it has windows that will create a first reflection and so do I. It seem to have a dominant dimension along the long axis which is excellent.

What you need, as we all do is a speakers that not only has a nice even response but and off axis response that closely mirrors the axis response. That is always an attribute of good speakers. That way the windows won't matter and actually help.

I am totally against acoustic treatments except for the back wall, which can cause "slap" echo. I prefer to use room architecture rather then ugly acoustic treatment though, which is why, I have shelving at the back and a couple of floor to ceiling bookshelf speakers for my back surrounds.



I am always struck by how well good speakers perform even in very unpromising environments.
 
T

TankTop5

Audioholic General
I think the Dynaudio Contours are much better speakers than those focals

I don't think you room is that bad. Sure it has windows that will create a first reflection and so do I. It seem to have a dominant dimension along the long axis which is excellent.

What you need, as we all do is a speakers that not only has a nice even response but and off axis response that closely mirrors the axis response. That is always an attribute of good speakers. That way the windows won't matter and actually help.

I am totally against acoustic treatments except for the back wall, which can cause "slap" echo. I prefer to use room architecture rather then ugly acoustic treatment though, which is why, I have shelving at the back and a couple of floor to ceiling bookshelf speakers for my back surrounds.



I am always struck by how well good speakers perform even in very unpromising environments.
The Contour’s are definitely a fantastic speaker, a little flawed but I really enjoyed them. I’ve contemplated the gen 1 Contour 60’s but from what I understand they are overkill in even the biggest room. The Contour 20’s are already overwhelming with a pair of good subs.
 

Latest posts

newsletter

  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top