Upgrade Time! But... quirky limitations in a large vaulted room

A

AaronDC

Enthusiast
Hi.

I came here just over 4 years ago looking for advice for my first upgrade and was able to act on it and have been happy enough since then. Now, after some family Xmas generosity, I have a little budget for a splurge and am looking for the best upgrade path for an amount not to exceed $2,150. Despite another round of obsessive research, my head is spinning and I haven't come to a conclusion and so I am back to ask for you input! So, here's where things stand as of today:

My first post here after obsessively researching and not really finding an answer. I'd like to improve sound quality in the great room of my house (a small converted church).

Here's some data:
-- Budget for improvements: $2,150.
-- Four Mission M71s LF: 130mm (5.1 in) bonded woven glass composite cone with 25mm (1 in) voice coil HF: 25mm (1 in) sheer Micro-Fibre soft dome with FF cooling. In other words, really little. They're bi-wired to the amp with Blue Jeans Canare 4S1.
-- The Missions are located at opposite ends of 40'L x 19'w great room with 9'-15'H vaulted ceiling hung at about 8' off the ground in the corner with wall mount brackets. I know; this is a problem too. Cubic Feet in Room: 7,980 with a single door-sized opening to another area measuring about 5,000 cu ft. See architectural drawings attached. The Missions are the red boxes on the drawings.
-- Yamaha Natural Sound AV Receiver HTR-3067
-- Hsu Research VTF-2 MK4 connected via a Rocketfish RF-WSW312 wireless subwoofer kit with some a cheapie RCA connector only to SUB in/left (see photo). I'm betting it's not optimized.
-- Sonos Connect running Spotify (320Kbps) as well as streaming radio. I could consider switching to Tidal, but I'd have to convince my wife and daughter to switch our family plan and I do like the music discovery features on Spotify. Also, I tried Tidal with my headphone setup below and couldn't detect a difference.
-- Home furnishings tend toward rugs, midcentury wood, not a lot of soft stuff. We are adding a second couch though!
-- Great room has good height, lots of interfering trusses, and other complicated architectural elements, windows, etc, which I'm gathering might be helpful.
-- My preferred signature is warmer/laid back, I guess. My headphone setup is this: Senn 650HDs on a JDS 02 amp/DAC sourced from a MacBook running Spotify.
-- I play music only and I listen to all kinds.

Important spouse, human and animal factors:
-- I'm married to a person who has no interest in fine audio who doesn't want tower speakers where we most likely ought to put some. Although she is definitely being a sport about the budget!
-- We have three kids who are thankfully now out of the ankle-biting stage, but occasionally tear around the house shooting each other with Nerf bullets. We have a young dog as well who gets balls thrown to her inside sometimes. So, there are projectiles for sure.
-- Most of my more focused listening is in the "living room" portion of the great room, but we play music in the great room while cooking in the kitchen at the other end and during dinner etc.

Some thoughts:
Obviously, I'd love to learn about any low-hanging fruit. Maybe a Maestro electrical outlet for $85 or a Schitt Modi 3 for $99, maybe a DIY REW session for $0, etc. I clearly need to replace the missions at the living room end or simply add some new speakers, maybe?

Given the spousal concern about speaker obtrusiveness, I thought maybe a pair of Magnepan LRSs powered by a Rogue Audio Sphinx might be a good compromise. Given the placement requirements of the Magnepans and what I thought was the best locations for them (or any other floor speakers for that matter) she balked. So, back to the drawing board. We have a credenza behind our couch which I thought might be okay for some near-field appreciation of a pair of KEF LS50s sitting on that (spouse said yes to this location). But given the fact that it's the middle of the room and it'd be best to have something that can provide sound in all directions. I thought that maybe some omni-directional speakers might be the way to go and I learned about Ohm Walsh Omnis. But those speakers are happier up against a wall! But don't the Magnepans send sound out the front and rear? Hmmm... So... again, I'm slowly driving myself crazy with this.

Floor plan and pics are attached. You can see the missions hung on the wall in the kitchen and living room sections. One pic has me pointing at the credenza which seems to be a possible location for some kind of speakers.

So, what say you?? Let me know, I'd really appreciate it!

Aaron
Glen Echo, MD
 

Attachments

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Hi.

I came here just over 4 years ago looking for advice for my first upgrade and was able to act on it and have been happy enough since then. Now, after some family Xmas generosity, I have a little budget for a splurge and am looking for the best upgrade path for an amount not to exceed $2,150. Despite another round of obsessive research, my head is spinning and I haven't come to a conclusion and so I am back to ask for you input! So, here's where things stand as of today:

My first post here after obsessively researching and not really finding an answer. I'd like to improve sound quality in the great room of my house (a small converted church).

Here's some data:
-- Budget for improvements: $2,150.
-- Four Mission M71s LF: 130mm (5.1 in) bonded woven glass composite cone with 25mm (1 in) voice coil HF: 25mm (1 in) sheer Micro-Fibre soft dome with FF cooling. In other words, really little. They're bi-wired to the amp with Blue Jeans Canare 4S1.
-- The Missions are located at opposite ends of 40'L x 19'w great room with 9'-15'H vaulted ceiling hung at about 8' off the ground in the corner with wall mount brackets. I know; this is a problem too. Cubic Feet in Room: 7,980 with a single door-sized opening to another area measuring about 5,000 cu ft. See architectural drawings attached. The Missions are the red boxes on the drawings.
-- Yamaha Natural Sound AV Receiver HTR-3067
-- Hsu Research VTF-2 MK4 connected via a Rocketfish RF-WSW312 wireless subwoofer kit with some a cheapie RCA connector only to SUB in/left (see photo). I'm betting it's not optimized.
-- Sonos Connect running Spotify (320Kbps) as well as streaming radio. I could consider switching to Tidal, but I'd have to convince my wife and daughter to switch our family plan and I do like the music discovery features on Spotify. Also, I tried Tidal with my headphone setup below and couldn't detect a difference.
-- Home furnishings tend toward rugs, midcentury wood, not a lot of soft stuff. We are adding a second couch though!
-- Great room has good height, lots of interfering trusses, and other complicated architectural elements, windows, etc, which I'm gathering might be helpful.
-- My preferred signature is warmer/laid back, I guess. My headphone setup is this: Senn 650HDs on a JDS 02 amp/DAC sourced from a MacBook running Spotify.
-- I play music only and I listen to all kinds.

Important spouse, human and animal factors:
-- I'm married to a person who has no interest in fine audio who doesn't want tower speakers where we most likely ought to put some. Although she is definitely being a sport about the budget!
-- We have three kids who are thankfully now out of the ankle-biting stage, but occasionally tear around the house shooting each other with Nerf bullets. We have a young dog as well who gets balls thrown to her inside sometimes. So, there are projectiles for sure.
-- Most of my more focused listening is in the "living room" portion of the great room, but we play music in the great room while cooking in the kitchen at the other end and during dinner etc.

Some thoughts:
Obviously, I'd love to learn about any low-hanging fruit. Maybe a Maestro electrical outlet for $85 or a Schitt Modi 3 for $99, maybe a DIY REW session for $0, etc. I clearly need to replace the missions at the living room end or simply add some new speakers, maybe?

Given the spousal concern about speaker obtrusiveness, I thought maybe a pair of Magnepan LRSs powered by a Rogue Audio Sphinx might be a good compromise. Given the placement requirements of the Magnepans and what I thought was the best locations for them (or any other floor speakers for that matter) she balked. So, back to the drawing board. We have a credenza behind our couch which I thought might be okay for some near-field appreciation of a pair of KEF LS50s sitting on that (spouse said yes to this location). But given the fact that it's the middle of the room and it'd be best to have something that can provide sound in all directions. I thought that maybe some omni-directional speakers might be the way to go and I learned about Ohm Walsh Omnis. But those speakers are happier up against a wall! But don't the Magnepans send sound out the front and rear? Hmmm... So... again, I'm slowly driving myself crazy with this.

Floor plan and pics are attached. You can see the missions hung on the wall in the kitchen and living room sections. One pic has me pointing at the credenza which seems to be a possible location for some kind of speakers.

So, what say you?? Let me know, I'd really appreciate it!

Aaron
Glen Echo, MD
First of all, I had to look up what a Meastro Electrical outlet is, and it is a hilariously absurd product. Do not buy it, you would seriously be better off burning the money in a fire. It is pure snake oil. The Schitt Modi, while not a bad product, is unlikely to be significantly better than the DAC in your Yamaha. The Rogue Sphinx may well be a downgrade from your Yamaha.

With the way your speakers are presently set up, the soundstage probably sounds like it's coming from pretty high up. The speakers look a bit widely spread apart, but that looks like a limitation of your situation. In order to give your system a more defined soundstage, you would have to move the other pair to ear level height and maybe move them a bit closer together. Until you are able to do that, I don't think any upgrade is worth it. The speakers look OK, the Yamaha receiver is fine, and the subwoofer is known to be a very good one. Better equipment isn't going to do much for you until you can set it up more optimally.

I don't think near-field speakers are a good idea for the way you use your system. It wouldn't be any better than what you have now, in fact, it could be worse since they are right behind you. That would mean it's pretty loud for whoever is sitting on the couch yet not very loud for anyone else in the room. Worse yet, it is behind the main listening position. Maggies in particular would be disastrous; they beam out sound in a tight pattern that has a very small sweet spot. That is the opposite of what you want where you are kind of listening to music everywhere.

Do you have another room that can accommodate a better sound system? Maybe an office or something like that? That would be a better allocation of your funds for the purpose of good sound.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Interesting, stuffed pets are in, tower speakers aren't. I had to look at the Maestro thing, too....now that's funny! I like shadyj's suggestions....
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic General
Great looking house, fun. Now, I’m going to take some heat for this, but what else is new? I notice you are into horns. I see a big one in the corner. Victrola? I also notice some nice mid century pieces. Round it all out with some Klipsch floor standers. They’ll scream into the kitchen and the finish and style will continue the mid century vibe while the grills create a triad with the fireplace. Just a thought. Or, as mentioned, use another space as your listening room. Again, great house.:)
BB221EB6-3A5C-4211-BB9B-07D2A1F37D89.jpeg
C7778D65-9E44-4F10-841E-744B67D98053.jpeg
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic General
Ok, I figured it out. It's a Broadway Vampire Pig. Did you ever lay awake at night and swear you heard Miss Piggy singing "All That Jazz?":eek:
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
Any way to put speakers on sidewalls?

And those ain't your everyday Klipsch
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Aaron – Greetings and Happy New Year.

The biggest issue I see is the size of your room – 40’ long × 19’ wide is large. But equally important, when you listen, where do you sit? On that red sofa? How far away is that from the nearest pair of speakers? If the distance between speakers and listener (on the middle of the sofa) is more than about 12 feet, they will likely sound small and inadequate – like the music is coming from tiny musicians inside those small speaker cabinets, playing tiny instruments. When you’re sitting on the red sofa, how do those speakers sound compared to your headphones?

Your Yamaha receiver is only modestly powered, probably inadequate for such a large room. It is rated at 70 Watts per channel when 2 speakers are being driven (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.09% THD, 2-ch driven). When you play music, do you use two speakers, or all four? When driving four speakers, the available power per channel will be lower.

Live with your vaulted ceilings and wooden trusses as they are. They cannot be easily altered or treated. A vaulted ceiling may not be as much a problem as you think. If the ceiling and floor are not parallel to each other, it can allow better sounding bass that if those two reflecting surfaces are parallel. Replacing your receiver with something more powerful is the best treatment for a very large listening room.

Those Mission M71s are decent enough speakers if they’re in a much smaller room. Do they sound better if you’re in the kitchen than on the other side of the room?

As shadyj already mentioned, those speakers will sound better if they were lower, roughly at the same level as your head. The same is true for most any other speaker.

Ignore the so-called low-hanging fruit that you mentioned, such as that overpriced electrical outlet. They’re a waste of money and time. Similarly, you can ignore bi-wiring speakers to the receiver. That adds complexity to your system without providing any improvement to sound.

With a budget of $2,150, I think you should focus on a new pair of speakers for the sofa side of your room. Keep the same speakers in your kitchen. After that, look for a more powerful receiver or amp.

Your wife’s insistence of wall mounting speakers high above listener’s heads is a major problem. If they are lower and closer to listeners seated on the sofa, there should be a significant improvement. If your wife does not share your interest in audio, then ‘her way and only her way’ is not a reasonable compromise. I leave that up to you.

Have you considered moving the red sofa closer to the speakers?

Larger bookshelf style speakers mounted on stands, take up no more floor space than floor standing tower speakers with a similar foot print. I think that would be a reasonable compromise. There are speakers, as well as wooden stands, available with finishes that would go with your midcentury wood home furnishings.

To replace one pair of Mission speakers, I suggest Philharmonic Audio BMR monitors. They cost $1,750 per pair, are 20" High × 8" Wide × 12½" Deep, and weigh 32 lbs. each. To wall mount them, you would need small shelves sturdily attached to the walls. Floor stands would work better.

The guy who designed these speakers (and others) also lives in Glen Echo, not far from you. Contact Dennis Murphy (see his email address on that web page I linked) to arrange a visit to hear them at his house. He can fill you in on what finishes are now available.
 
Last edited:
A

AaronDC

Enthusiast
Any way to put speakers on sidewalls?

And those ain't your everyday Klipsch
You mean like one on each side of the room? Seems like it could be kind of oddly placed, but whatever works... I think that might be an easier sell, since they're out of the way. But isn't it important to have the speakers moved out from the walls?
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
You mean like one on each side of the room? Seems like it could be kind of oddly placed, but whatever works... I think that might be an easier sell, since they're out of the way. But isn't it important to have the speakers moved out from the walls?
Your speakers now are on the wall in the kitchen and they're on the wall with the french doors. I'm not talking about those walls I'm talking about moving them to the opposite side walls so a they're not 40 feet away from each other and it's a little bit more manageable for an H/T system is that possible is all I'm asking
 
A

AaronDC

Enthusiast
Aaron – Greetings and Happy New Year.

The biggest issue I see is the size of your room – 40’ long × 19’ wide is large. But equally important, when you listen, where do you sit? On that red sofa? How far away is that from the nearest pair of speakers? If the distance between speakers and listener (on the middle of the sofa) is more than about 12 feet, they will likely sound small and inadequate – like the music is coming from tiny musicians inside those small speaker cabinets, playing tiny instruments. When you’re sitting on the red sofa, how do those speakers sound compared to your headphones?

Your Yamaha receiver is only modestly powered, probably inadequate for such a large room. It is rated at 70 Watts per channel when 2 speakers are being driven (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.09% THD, 2-ch driven). When you play music, do you use two speakers, or all four? When driving four speakers, the available power per channel will be lower.

Live with your vaulted ceilings and wooden trusses as they are. They cannot be easily altered or treated. A vaulted ceiling may not be as much a problem as you think. If the ceiling and floor are not parallel to each other, it can allow better sounding bass that if those two reflecting surfaces are parallel. Replacing your receiver with something more powerful is the best treatment for a very large listening room.

Those Mission M71s are decent enough speakers if they’re in a much smaller room. Do they sound better if you’re in the kitchen than on the other side of the room?

As shadyj already mentioned, those speakers will sound better if they were lower, roughly at the same level as your head. The same is true for most any other speaker.

Ignore the so-called low-hanging fruit that you mentioned, such as that overpriced electrical outlet. They’re a waste of money and time. Similarly, you can ignore bi-wiring speakers to the receiver. That adds complexity to your system without providing any improvement to sound.

With a budget of $2,150, I think you should focus on a new pair of speakers for the sofa side of your room. Keep the same speakers in your kitchen. After that, look for a more powerful receiver or amp.

Your wife’s insistence of wall mounting speakers high above listener’s heads is a major problem. If they are lower and closer to listeners seated on the sofa, there should be a significant improvement. If your wife does not share your interest in audio, then ‘her way and only her way’ is not a reasonable compromise. I leave that up to you.

Have you considered moving the red sofa closer to the speakers?

Larger bookshelf style speakers mounted on stands, take up no more floor space than floor standing tower speakers with a similar foot print. I think that would be a reasonable compromise. There are speakers, as well as wooden stands, available with finishes that would go with your midcentury wood home furnishings.

To replace one pair of Mission speakers, I suggest Philharmonic Audio BMR monitors. They cost $1,750 per pair, are 20" High × 8" Wide × 12½" Deep, and weigh 32 lbs. each. To wall mount them, you would need small shelves sturdily attached to the walls. Floor stands would work better.

The guy who designed these speakers (and others) also lives in Glen Echo, not far from you. Contact Dennis Murphy (see his email address on that web page I linked) to arrange a visit to hear them at his house. He can fill you in on what finishes are now available.
Answers:
- I sit on the red sofa 14 feet from the Missions. (those Missions are 17 feet apart, btw)
- On my Senn headphones it's a full and warm experience; it sounds like Steely Dan is in the room. My Missions sound tinny and far away with a really nice fill in on the bass end from the Hsu sub. Mids are severely lacking.
- We always play all four speakers.
- In the kitchen the Missions sound a little better; I'm standing 6 feet from the speakers in there. (these Missions are 9 feet apart)
- With regard to my wife, she is actually quite a champ. After the initial shock of the idea of obtrusive floor standing speakers, I showed her a picture of some smaller towers about 8w x 40h x 12d and she thought they looked okay.
- The sofa needs to remain where it is.
- I might pay Dennis a visit.

Thanks for taking the time to ask all those questions! It really got me thinking... maybe this...
- Take down the four missions and put them all together on stands at ear level in the living room area.
- Un-bi-wire them and use the wire to power two speakers on each side.
- Grab some old Bose cubes I have lying around and put them in the kitchen.
- Use my money on getting a nicer amp with some oomph to power everything.
- Or stick with the original plan of getting some bigger speakers but buy everything used.
 
little wing

little wing

Audioholic Chief
It is a peccary. Also known as a javelina. I didn't kill it. I found it in an antique shop and I had to have it!
Ahh, javelina I get a visit from a family of those every Monday night when the trash goes out. Got locking trash cans, but they figured out how to open them, LOL. Beautiful room by the way, you'll get the right advice here on setup.
 
A

AaronDC

Enthusiast
Your speakers now are on the wall in the kitchen and they're on the wall with the french doors. I'm not talking about those walls I'm talking about moving them to the opposite side walls so a they're not 40 feet away from each other and it's a little bit more manageable for an H/T system is that possible is all I'm asking
Yes, that's doable.
 
A

AaronDC

Enthusiast
Great looking house, fun. Now, I’m going to take some heat for this, but what else is new? I notice you are into horns. I see a big one in the corner. Victrola? I also notice some nice mid century pieces. Round it all out with some Klipsch floor standers. They’ll scream into the kitchen and the finish and style will continue the mid century vibe while the grills create a triad with the fireplace. Just a thought. Or, as mentioned, use another space as your listening room. Again, great house.:)View attachment 43312View attachment 43315
Actually the Klipsch mid-century look did cross my mind. As did Ohm Walshes...
 
A

AaronDC

Enthusiast
Update: I got Klipsch Cornwalls. I just placed an order for a Decware Zen Triode SE84UFO 2.3-watt amp. It's a 5-month wait. So, I ordered a used TubeCube 7 to hold me until it arrives. My Yamaha just ain't doing it for me. Anyhoo, I found some more money and have just about $1,000 for another upgrade. Next step might be a DAC. Given the fact that I'm streaming Spotify at 320k on a Sonos Connect, not sure that's the way to go or jump up to the 6 amp Zen Triode Integrated SE34I.5 for an additional $500 and do a less expensive DAC. Thanks again for any input!

Aaron
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Update: I got Klipsch Cornwalls. I just placed an order for a Decware Zen Triode SE84UFO 2.3-watt amp. It's a 5-month wait. So, I ordered a used TubeCube 7 to hold me until it arrives. My Yamaha just ain't doing it for me. Anyhoo, I found some more money and have just about $1,000 for another upgrade. Next step might be a DAC. Given the fact that I'm streaming Spotify at 320k on a Sonos Connect, not sure that's the way to go or jump up to the 6 amp Zen Triode Integrated SE34I.5 for an additional $500 and do a less expensive DAC. Thanks again for any input!

Aaron
I hope they are better than the newer Klipsch Forte IIIs that I heard. Those Forte IIIs were pretty bad. As for that amp, 2 watts is enough to drive headphones but not actual loudspeakers. The good news is that you don't need an expensive DAC with that amp since any benefits of a high-performance DAC is blown away by the very high distortion levels you will have with an amp like that. Get any DAC you want, it won't matter until you get a serious amplifier. It might not take as long as you think for you to decide to get a real amp; if the poor headroom of that amp doesn't bother you, the maintenance schedule of owning a tube amplifier eventually will. Not trying to sound harsh on your choices, but you bought a bunch of gear of vintage design, and with that comes all the problems of vintage design which were solved many decades ago by better engineering.
 

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