Can speakers be too large for a room

The reason I ask this question is I recently moved from a 10 ft x 10 ft home office/listening room with a nearfield setup (B & W CM1 and a CM sub with a Bryston B100SST intergrated amp) Which sounded wonderful to a 11 ft x 18 ft office/soundproof listening room. So I purchased a pr. of Sofia's from audiogon. Although they sound very good. They seem to want more. It's hard to explain. I'm kinda new at the highend music. My new office is built for listening. I have lots of bass traps and reflection panel to help tame the small room. So accoustics are not a real problem. The sound seems to be a little restricted. The amp pushes 200 wpc @ 4 ohm. There is no way to turn the volume past halfway, but the speaker don't really start sounding there best until you turn up the volume. Which gets a little fatiguing after a while. I know these are not technical terms, but i don't know how to explain it.

My question is could the sofias be to much for the room.

If so what would be a good choice for a replacement. I mostly listen to jazz and blues with a little classic rock.

Price range 6k to 10k

Thx Matt
A 10' X 10' room is pretty small and worse, it's square. Very challenging room to get good sound in.

I would first try taking out the acoustic treatments and see if things don't perk up a bit. Add each piece back one piece at a time starting with the corner bass traps. It is possible to overdo it with acoustic damping, which would result in the type of problems you describe.

Try this and come back with your impressions before giving up on the Sophias.
Oops, misread your post. Your new 11' X18' room should work much better. Same recommendation though.
Yes, but it doesn't sound like that's your problem.

I agree with Dlcockrum; 1st remove all of your room treatments and listen. Then reposition your speakers, even if that means trying them in a different orientation to the room, and listen again. Then find your best seting position and listen some more. Finally, start to reintroduce your room treatments (as necessary). Change or add only one thing at a time, and listen carefully between changes.

Once you have optimized your gear, listening position and the room treatments will you know if your speakers and your room is optimized - keeping in mind that it only has to be good enough, not perfect. Otherwise you wouldn't have anything to dream about!
As a Bryston B100 owner (with dynaudio C1's) I would say the Bryston is your problem. Some speakers really need more than the min recommended power to sound their best. Also the Bryston does seem to clip a little past 1 o'clock (in my system) which is where the C1's really start to show what they are.
I know that many A'goners are happy with Wilson speakers in small rooms, but...

While others will disagree, I've always felt that most of the Wilsons I've heard (going back to the original WAMM with Crown electronics)sound like they're "voiced" for large-ish rooms. I haven't heard the newer Sophia iterations, but I have heard the original Sophia. I thought it was a very good sounding speaker with bass a little too ripe for the audition room, which IIRC was a bit larger than yours. My impression was that the bass would probably have been more neutral in a larger room. From that experience, I would guess that the bass from the Sophia would likely dominate in a room with dimensions like yours.

Like I said, others will surely disagree - just, MHO.

Thanks guy's

When it comes to speaker placement. I have worn holes in the carpet moving my speakers. I beleive that I have them where they need to be. I am kind of limited to where they can go.
This is my office for my business not just listening.

I've read a lot of forums about room acoustics before i started this project and they all said you couldn't have to many traps in a small room. I kind of wondered about that. I don't have many panels. I have 4 corner traps and 6 first reflection panels. The corner traps will be hard to remove. So I guess I can try to remove the reflection panels first.

It seems to be the high that I am having trouble with.

Thanks for the replies


It's not the high i have trouble It's the upper frequecies.

The high is easy. LOL


Power doesn't seem to be a problem. I cannot turn my volume past 12 o'clock or my ears will burst. the B100 handles the speakers very well.
11x18 is on the small side for Sofias, but I think it should work. From your description, it sound like your room is pretty heavily damped, so that may be part of why you have to goose the volume for the Sofias to come alive. Maybe you need to pull out some damping and see if it energizes the room more at a lower volume level.

Here's another thing to consider: tube amps seem to have an easier time at resolving minute changes of amplitude and low level detail. I suspect your speakers would come alive more at lower volumes with a high quality, high powered tube amp, such as from VTL or Audio Research Corporation (ARC). The best setups I've ever heard were Wilsons powered by VTL or ARC.
Matt, if the problems you are hearing are a function of your room treatments, the first reflection panels are the most likely culprit. It is very easy to overdampen the midrange and high frequency sound in a listening room. Most rooms use a combination of diffusion and absorption in order to effectively deal with first reflections without sucking the life out of the music.

If you find that the sound gets better as you remove the first reflection panels, you might experiment with diffusion as an alternative to the absorptive panels that were removed.
I removed the walls panel and it did help, but it still needs something at the reflection points. I guess diffusors are my next option.
Do you have any recommendation on diffusors. I built my absorption panels myself, but i think the diffusor is out of my leaque to build. They also seem to be pretty exspenive.


I thought about tubes a while back. My B100 can serve as a pre amp easily with a switch, but the heat and maintenance is more than i want to deal with. I do construction on some recording studio's where i live and the sound engineers all say to go tube. they also say to leave them on 24/7 so they do not need to warm up when your ready to use them.That's a lot of wasted energy,to much heat for such a small room and to much wear on the tube. The studio's have unlimited funds. I don't.
Now that you have eliminated the absorption at the reflection points to positive effect, it would be prudent to try an amplifier with about twice the power of your integrated, say 250w/ch into 8 ohms and then doubles down (doubles the power output as impedance halves). It will probably wake up the Sophias nicely.
Hi I have a similar problem. My room is 13' x 14' with a 14' ceiling A Frame. I can't put any floor standing speakers in that room that go below 40Hz. This holds true of ported designs even more. I had LIving Voice Auditoriums and the Avatars in my room, Vandersteen 2Ci, VonSchweirt Model 3, Athenas, Alon's and many many others over a 3 year period. Only the Alons worked after I purchased a new amp a Odyssey Audio Stratos. I'm a tube guy but that combination was deadly. I got tired of the boomy sounding speakers and opted for a pair of Spica TC60's. I ended up with a pair of Dali Suite 1.2 subs which are acoustic suspension. It has taken some work but finally I have a very good balance.
To be honest it sounds better than it has any reason to.

Because of the price range you have, the sky is pretty much the limit. I would choose Harbeths or Spendors and then the Vienna Acoustics are pretty interesting. I would choose a speaker that have great dynamics and excellent timing. I haven't heard any of the Proacs lately but they have always been one of my favorites. When I am able to move up, the Harbets and the Spendors will be one of my first choices to audition. Why? Because they have excellent balance in the music spectrum and servers many genres of music well. Of course there are other speakers but those two come to mind first. And they are both tube friendly and you should never get bloated bass. I don't know if the Bryston Integrated will be a great choice but I hear is is a wonderful integrated amp. Most of their gear is wonderful.
If your having trouble with the upper frequencies try pointing the tweeters out more. Little adjustments to the toe in with the Sophia make a big difference. Mine point at a spot well behind my head.
Are the tops level? I get best results at 0 degrees cant.
Check 90 degree level on sides and backs to see if speakers are standing straight.
Use door level with a clamped on extension to reach the top of both speakers to be sure they are adjusted to the same height.
All these little checks are essential before playing with the room or the amp.
"Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way."

It's not your room treatments ... bass traps deal with low frequency issues Peaks/Nulls and modal ringing ... first reflection treatments effect sound staging and imaging

If you have High Frequency issues it may be caused by long RT60/decay times, Echo Slap, and Comb Filtering ... but I don't think this is what is troubling you

I think your source is over diving your Bryston's 1 volt input sensitivity not allow you to turn up the volume

Your Bryston has an input sensitivity of 1 volt ... meaning it only needs only 1 volt to be drive to it's maximum output ... 100w 8ohm 180w @4ohm (specs from Bryston site)

Your source is probably out putting 2 volts or better and this is driving your Bryston into distortion when you turn up the Volume

By turning the volume down you keep the Bryston from going into distortion, but can't provide enough watts at this lower setting to drive the room

When you turn the volume up you supply enough watts for the speakers to drive the room ... but because of the 1 volt input sensitivity of the Bryston and the 2 volt output from your source ... your source drives the Bryston into distortion which you perceive as Fatiguing

This link will explain it better than I can ATTENUATORS

I have a couple sets not in use right now ... if you would like to borrow a set to try and see if it solves your problem ... send me your mailing info through the A/gon mailing system and I'll send you a set to try

HTH Dave

You bring up another good question. I've talked to the guy's at Wilson and they told me that the B100 should be plenty af amp for the speakers, But I've heard more than once that I need a larger amp. The is no way that I could make my amp clip without hearing protection. Why would I need more power. Remember I'm a newbie and us newbie's ask dumb questions

I like the Harbeth's I've heard them at a studio i was working on. I did not buy the Wilson's because they sound so great. I bought them because I got such a great deal on them. Money talk's


I've tried every set up known to the internet. One thing I am going to try is to raise the speakers some. This is my office, so my listening position is higher than normal. I,ve read that the tweeters should be about ear level. I am going to try and raise the speakers about 2 inches. When listening the soundstage seems to be a little low. Just another tweak to try.

Thanks guy's

These look interesting. I will look into these. Thanks for the offer.
"I've talked to the guy's Wilson and they told me that the B100 should be plenty af amp for the speakers,"

I use to run a Luxman L580 integrated 105w @8ohm driving a pair of inefficient 86db NHT3.3s ... could never turn volume up past 9 o'clock ... added the Rothwells and could now set volume as high as 1 o'clock restoring headroom and dynamics

Next I swapped the Lux out for a 500w@8ohm 960w @4ohm D500 Phase Linear

I sit 10 feet off the NHT3.3's tweeter's and have listening levels of 92 to 95db with peaks hitting 100db at my seating position

Funny thing is my P/Linear's meters tell me at those DB levels (92 to 95db) I'm only using 50 to 75 watts

If your current system was a quarter mile drag car ... you would be currently operating as if you had a throttle stop on the accelerator cable ... limiting the carb's ability to open up all the way producing maximum usable horse power

Your amp has the power to do the job, you just need to get that volume control operating in its sweet spot and allowing the amp to realize it's full potential for dynamics and headroom

Please accept my offer on the Rothwells ... all it will cost you is return shipping to 06484 CT.
Yes. Hope you have read Floyd Toole's 'Sound reproduction' to assure you have not missed all the issues that could be affecting your sound. The speakers and room are what you are hearing, so it may not be the speakers but their placement, room treatments etc.
I've read through all of this and it's not clear to me exactly what the symptoms are. That's no one's fault, of course, especially considering your statements about being a relative newbie, but I think that a more specific characterization of the problem would bring help that is better focused.

As I understand it, you have no problem driving the speakers to uncomfortably high volumes. But at comfortable volume levels there are problems in the highs. What sort of problems? Are they too weak generally, so that the sound is dull and muffled? Or are sharp transients sluggish? Or are they simply poorly defined and inaccurate. When you say "I removed the walls panel and it did help, but it still needs something at the reflection points," in what way did it help, and what leads you to say that it still needs something at the reflection points?

And what kind of music, among the jazz and blues that you primarily listen to, tends to bring out the problem to the greatest degree? Female voice? Certain instruments?

-- Al
"I did not buy the Wilson's because they sound so great. I bought them because I got such a great deal on them. Money talk's"

I would say this statement pretty much gets to the bottom of your issue. The Bryston is more than good enough and the Sophia's are terrific speakers but they just may not be your cup of tea.
Having owned a couple pair of Wilson speakers. . .

First, 100 watts (8 ohms) of power is generally sufficient for most Wilson speakers - they are pretty efficient. Though I think in general terms that more power is frequently better in general.

Second, I have run various Wilsons in rooms smaller than your with excellent results. I have not owned the Sophia's as I personally like the WP better for my listening preferences. The W/P run in smaller rooms than yours have done very well.

In terms of a replacement, I cannot recommend highly enough the Wilson Duettes. However, perhaps your problem is that you don't like the Wilsons in the first place, then perahps the Duettes will also not be to your liking. I ran the Duettes in both nearfield and regular listening positions with terrific results in both. They are much less susceptable to placement, very good flexibility and have external cross over (included) that allow for tailoring the sound to your room via easy to replace resistors (these are included with the speakers and are no more difficult to change than wiring the speakers from your amp - 5 minutes no electrical experience - no tools - well maybe a screw driver).
A further thought, following up on my previous post:

Among the recordings that you have done the assessments with, are at least a few of them presumably high quality audiophile-caliber recordings, with minimal dynamic range compression, minimal equalization, and minimal processing generally, AND have you listened to them at approximately real-life volume levels, similar to what would be heard in a concert hall or jazz club?

If not, what I'm thinking is that with recordings that are some combination of low quality, inaccurate, overly compressed, distorted, overly processed, etc. there is a natural tendency to listen at lower than real-life volume levels. The more accurate the recording and its reproduction, the higher the volume level that can be tolerated without fatigue.

And listening at lower than real-life volume levels will tend to invoke the Fletcher-Munson Effect, which causes our hearing mechanisms to perceive highs (and lows) at reduced levels relative to the mid-range.

Perhaps that is a factor here.

-- Al

muffled or dull is a good word for it.
When i removed the panel it seem to open up a little.
I don't know that i do need first reflection panels. I put them there because everything i've read about room setups say that the first reflection panels and corner traps were a must.So once i started building the reflection panel and corner traps. I built and installed them at the same time. Thinking this to be a good place to start. And could start tuning the room from there. I talked with a person yesterday on Audio circle that lives in my area that has his own line of diffusors and is going to come by an evaluate my room. I sure he wants to sell me something and he might.

One thing I didn't mention is that my room is built With resileint channels and double layered drywall with mlv between. The walls and ceiling absorb a lot of vibration in the room. Don't know if it makes a difference or not.

As far as the media is concerned. I look mostly for well record music more than genrie and I use the Bryston cdp for most of my listen.

I hear the difference mostly in instuments like the cymbal's.


I know that the Wilson's are good speakers, but aren't for everyone. They are a good starting point though.That was the reason for speaker suggestions. If I get my room set up right and still am not satisfied then I could sell the wilsons and try a different pair. It's rare to run into a (legal) deal like i got.


I was auditioning the duette's at my local dealer when I found the Sofia offer. I liked them very much. Though it was in there showroom and not in mine.

Thanks for all the feedback guy's

Wow, you did a real job on your room. Built as you have described, I'm not sure why you feel the need for the additional treatments; especially if the floor is carpeted.

I converted a 3rd garage stall into a recording studio for one of my daughters and did pretty much the same things that you described. It worked very well - too well in fact; the room was almost acoustically dead. I had to remove some of the carpeting and add wood parquet to sections of the walls and ceiling in order to adjust the acoustics. Figuring out how to un-treat the room properly was much harder than the initial room planning and construction.

I couldn't ask for better sound proofing. No one in the building can hear my music at all not even the bass.
I am a commercial construction subcontractor that specializes in doors and I am a factory certifed sound door installer for several major manufactures. So i have the opportunity to talk with several professional in the soundproofing field.

It helps to know people.

Removing the first reflection panel is about the only untreating i can do. The corner trap aren't built in place, but will make a big mess if removed. I would have to move out of my office to do this and at this time it is not an option. I have considered room measuring software and a mike, but that is something else to learn and i don't really have the time right now.
MWilliams -- Thanks for the clarifications. Yes, dull cymbals would seem to suggest simply weakness in the mid to upper treble. My feeling, though, contrary to some of what has been suggested, is that enhancing that part of the spectrum by enhancing first reflections would be compensating for one problem by introducing another. With the likely result of unwanted side-effects on imaging and other parts of the spectrum.

All I can suggest, if you haven't already done so, would be to take one of your better quality recordings containing cymbal crashes, and play it at realistic "live" volume levels, with the tweeters of the speakers aimed directly at you. If there is still significant dullness, then I would have to think something else is wrong somewhere, although I'm not sure what that might be.

Good luck!
-- Al
One thing I am going to try is to raise the speakers some. This is my office, so my listening position is higher than normal. I,ve read that the tweeters should be about ear level. I am going to try and raise the speakers about 2 inches. When listening the soundstage seems to be a little low.

Matt, you'll definitely want to consider this quote from John Atkinson's review of the Sophia in Stereophile:

In the vertical plane ... the speaker's balance doesn't change much as long as the listener sits with his or her ears below the top of the enclosure. Stand, however, and a large suckout appears at the upper crossover frequency, which appears to be just under 2kHz.

A suckout around 2kHz would definitely have an effect on cymbals, in the direction of dullness.

Also, note the frequency response plot for your former speakers (the CM1's) in this review. If you click on Figure 2 to expand it, you will see that most of the treble is elevated by around 5db relative to the mid-range. That is significant, and perhaps your experience with that speaker is affecting your expectations. In contrast, as noted in JA's review the Sophia's are essentially flat from mid-range through treble, aside from some small and narrow peaks and valleys.

Hope that helps,
-- Al

Al has a great point. Another concern might be tweeter compression (this is certainly a problem with the WP 8, as evidenced by Soundstage Measurements - I have no idea how the Sophia perfroms in this respect). Yet another possibiliity is "JITTER" - this can kill the proper sound of cymbals - making them sound dead and closed in - in stead of open.

Finally, have you considered that he prototypical B&W speaker has a boost around 4 KHz (or a hole between 1 KHz and 3 KHz if you like)- it is possible that all your reflection treatments were helping to tame this. Now that you have the Sophia's coudl you be deadening the room too much?
Hey Almarg,

Great read thanks.

According to the article I should raise my speakers at least 4 inches. I have kneeled down and noticed differences. Thats why i was going to raise them . Just to see. 4 inches is alot. So I will have to come up with something sturdy enough and rigid enough.


I don't beleive I have a big jitter problem. Most of my real listen is done with my Bryston cdp into the built in dac of my b100 connected by a Transparent Reference grade interconnect.

As far as over dampening. I am working on that. On another forum I talked with a guy that has his on line of diffusors that lives within a few miles of me. I was thinking of taking down the first reflection absorbtion panel and trying diffusion.

Trial and error seems to be the only way to work things out.

That and great help from you guy's.

It's very appreciated