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Yep, I have some non-audiophile friends and they LOVE that set up.
They feel it produces an immersive sound field. You loose all sorts of audiophile goodies, but they have fun that way.
I also sometime thing about experimenting with rear facing speakers. In other words, just adding small 2-ways and have them face the rear wall.
I have a two channel preamp and run one channel through a McIntosh MC302 amp and the other channel through a Bryston 4Bsst2 amp. One amp is connected to a pair of Pardigm signature S8V3 speakers and the other through vintage JBL L150 speakers. I have the right channel/left channel speakers pretty close together and spacing between the pairs of about 6 feet. This is an odd setup, mating more efficient modern Paradigm speakers with vintage less efficient JBL's so I adjusted the gain on the Bryston amp to match it better. I do like the sound of this setup, but sometimes go with individual pairs depending on the constellations or horoscope or something like that...
Not exactly the same thing but my AV receiver has a mode I think called "5 way stereo" or something like that. Essentially, you tell it how many speakers you have and it spreads the stereo image among all of them.
I have some very nice L/C/R speakers - Hales T1 monitors and a big Hales Transcendence Center channel. I'd spread the stereo image among the L/C/R and it was super enjoyable. Mostly it seemed to had a big thickening "heft" to the stereo sound, it just all sounded more solid, weighty and substantial.
Been following but never joined in, until now. I run a pair of Klipsch Khorns, a pair of LsScalla's and a pair of Heresys (mounted up high) in the corners of the listening room.I use 3 Mcintosh MC252 amps and 2 Mcintosh C52 preamps to control everything. It is set up as a 2 channel system and sounds amazing. The standard 2 channel 2 speaker system was always my go too, but when you have Klipsch speakers everywhere, you kinda want to use them. It is absolutely worth trying the multi speaker layout. Have fun with it and forget about the labels.
I used to run Klipsch Chorus II on the bottom with Klipsch Forte II on top of them turned upside down for HT and karaoke parties. The fun was unparalleled as the sound was huge and there’s something about tall sound.
But sure I might have given up some "audiophile" goodies but those don’t exist in 99% of systems due to bad rooms even though the listener often thinks they’re hearing them.
I’m glad to see this topic, so this is my story. I’ve been building my system over the past few years, when I began with Magnepan 1.7i and Odyssey Audio amps/Candela preamp. I then auditioned Focal Sopra 2 and Electra 1038BE2’s of which I preferred the 1038’s over the Sopra2. On to Pass Labs X250.8 and Pass Labs XP-20 preamp. Then I purchased all Acoustic Zen cables (Absolutes and Hologram 2’s). Also Mutec’s MC-3+USB and their master clock Ref 10. The 1038be2 were performing beautifully, in fact I didn’t think I could be happier as the imaging, soundstage and ability to give me all the emotion of a performer/performance as possible, was giving me everything I had dreamed of in a high end system.
But there was one thing which was bothering me and didn’t sound perfect. It was with vocals. They just sounded slightly restricted, somewhat truncated, or not naturally expanding in space. I tried repositioning etc. to no success. I was convinced it may have had something to do with the size of the speaker cabinets. Nothing would convince me otherwise and it was bothering me. Yet these speakers sounded fantastic across so many different types of music. Precise imaging and sound which would soar wide and high. There was one other issue too, now that I think about it. I wanted to hear the instruments larger and more life sized.
It was November when I saw the ad for Upscale Audio and the 1/2 price of perhaps the last pair of Scala Utopia 3 being sold new in the US. I couldn’t resist. After putting around 1000 hours on them (as well as installing isolation feet), I was very impressed with the scale of instruments and vocal reproduction was just sumptuous. But...
Songs which used to move me didn’t quite give me the same reaction as did on the 1038be2. Nor did they go as wide. Were these wonderful new speakers just too laid back? Then depths of the sound stage reach was much deeper and the sound was so refined, but I found myself playing them louder than the Electra’s hoping to extract some of the characteristics I enjoyed with the Electra’s.
I took my Electra’s back out of their boxes and placed them just outside of the Utopias (separated by a scant inch and slightly ahead (approximately 2”-3”) to compare the sound. I was pleased once set up, as the tweeters lined up almost perfectly. Both gloss black, they looked like good friends next to each other. One, a touch shorter and wider, the other a bit taller and slim.
Yes, the 1038’s performed as before in all aspects. So I pulled out my Odyssey Amp and just for curiosities sake I ran both speakers at the same time through the two different amps. (Both pre-amped through through the XP-20).
Oh I was on to something! First tracks I tried were female vocals and the problem of the 1038’s alone (somewhat restricted vocals) was gone, both sets of speakers were acting as one, but better and bigger. Perhaps with the signal split between the Odyssey and the Pass labs, they were not in perfect harmony, but it was very close.
So I ran spades from one Focal and banana plugs from the other into the Pass Labs X250.8 alone.
A revelation. I was now listening to One speaker with eight drivers per side, working in absolute harmony. A speaker greater than the Scala alone, big, bold, precise, natural and delicate if called for. The laid back character of the Scalas was completely gone with the Electra’s pulling them into a now engaging, emotional, complete presentation of sound.
The similar DNA of the two, (Beryllium IAL tweeter, 3rd generation “W” cone mid and bass drivers, yes the crossovers are different as are the “flower power” driven mid of the Utopia) can only benefit these two speakers working as one.
What surprised me too is how well the Pass Labs performed driving these two speakers. Perhaps because there is so much more energy produced, the amp stays in Class A much more than it did when I was running the Scalas alone at higher volume. (Played together they need not be driven as loud to create such a satisfying and complete soundscape..) This says as much about the Pass Labs amps as it does the Scala/Electra combination. In my opinion, based on my experience, this is a phenomenal combination of great products, in which the whole betters the sum of its parts.
I feel fortunate to have been able to experiment as such, and would advocate others to do the same. You may be very surprised at the results as I was.
At one time I ran a pseudo quadraphonic setup with four speakers. The speakers are wired to simulate quad by wiring them to utilize out of phase information. The details are probably available on line somewhere. It’s pretty cool. I also ran four speakers with the digital time delay unit I had for a while.
jamnov, congratulations on the exploration! It is terrific fun to explore/experiment with systems! You are doing a "stacked" speaker system variant, and with same brand speakers I'm sure it does sound very good. You have put many of the variables in your favor to have a good outcome.
Pretty amazing, eh, when you work from a consistent amplification on such setups. A real eye opener. Make sure you pay attention to aftermarket cables, including power cords. The system would love that stuff. If you have not yet done that, you have a lot of improvements to come, and you would not be close to your best sound yet. :)
While what you are doing is not considered by most to be a severely compromised audiophile setup, I get it. I have done similar things in the past, and the fact is that certain aspects of audiophile sound improve with such a setup while others diminish. It's a matter of taste which ones you prefer.
What you have done is similar to a Line Source speaker, a popular genre of speaker that utilizes many drivers of various sizes. No wonder you feel the sound is great.
What's nice is that you can swap back to the "purist" speaker setup with one or the other anytime you want. You have a variety of "best of all worlds" going at the moment. Kudos! Keep trying different amps, power cords, placement etc. because it all can be dialed in much more than you may suspect. If I had that setup I would try turning the smaller speakers around to fire backwards, just to see what the result would be. I would position the front baffle of the smaller speakers in line with the back of the larger speakers, so that it would be a quasi-dipole effect. I'll bet it would offer yet another interesting result. If I had the time and inclination I would try the smaller speakers turned backwards first outside of the larger, then inside of the larger speakers. Of course it's not "audiophile approved" system building, but there are no audiophile police who will knock at your door. :)
It's always great when you can experiment without cost. You also will learn much about the nuances/effects, good and bad, about such systems. You are one of the very few people who have the creativity and boldness to try such setups. It's obvious why you feel you are being rewarded. But, do not be shocked at this prediction; I suspect that over time (years) you may gravitate back toward a more purist approach with an even better single speaker and electronics. Perhaps you will turn into a hard-core panel speaker fan, as they have a lot of the openness that you are hearing. Lot's of directions to go! It's pure fun for me to see someone with an open mind and the will to be a system explorer. An audio system can be a play land that brings immense fun and joy.
Glance at my Virtual System to see my enjoyment of variety and some alternative placement.
Doug, thank you so much for your compliments, insight and positive feedback. I was worried I’d receive the equivalent of an (audiophile) public stoning!
Yes, I’ve upgraded to acoustic Zen’s Gargantuan power cords. They did make a big difference. ( Mr. Lee let me demo them first and once installed their effect on the sound was obvious, otherwise I would have returned them). I appreciate all of your suggestions and will continue to experiment.
I did look at your many incredible systems and I am floored! And I thought I was fortunate! If only you lived in Upstate New York, I ‘m certain we could be best of friends.
Thank you again.
Years ago, many systems had an A B speaker choice. It seems that faded ( no pun) with the times, but not for me.
I have stayed with two sets of speakers for the fronts and find it flexible based on recording and music types. Volume levels too.
The secret sauce here is the P7. When switched to the surround mode (actually stereo) it is wired to deliver to the two sets in the front ( JBL and Tektons) . Using the remote - front to back fade, you can send more or less volume to each set of fronts.
It gives a choice to the amount of influence each set provides, but almost always the setting is close to split for best sound. As you raise volume, or have older rock playing, the JBL’s win out. Bass is tighter with the Pendragons with more live sound.
Sound is much better when speakers are combined usually.
It seems to work for me.
Everything is dissimilar. The "unified theory" is still yet to be proven. MOST speakers (in an enclosure) are assembled from "off-the -shelf' drivers from the few manufacturers who mass produce them. Who defines (and decides) what is "similar?" Virtually most speakers enclosures with their drivers that are commercially available aren't designed to be assimilated into speaker "X." I've heard systems far into stratospheric price levels with 2 sets of top-drawer speakers driven reference components (every piece $10,000 and above) that were highly satisfying. Paul McGowan of PS Audio has more than once lamented about the arrogant, opinionated and narrow-minded rantings of some in our hobby. You can disagree and still be polite and civil.
Pairs of dissimilar speakers? No. Pairs of matched speakers, sure. Double Advents are well known as are double pairs of KLH-9's. Double Quads are another well regarded option. Ever consider that Acoustat 2+2 are really doubled 1+1? Nobody thought that was odd that I remember.
Personally, I run two pair of VMPS Tower II at the same time and have for years. They're side by side thank you and sound wonderful.
Anytime you see "Purist" in this hobby watch out. That's the snob side of things leaking out over the experimenter side. There's no rule that says that two pairs of speakers, similar or dissimilar will sound one way or another. If you have such and want to play about, keep in mind that you might find something you like for little or no cost.
That's how discoveries are made.
I switch to 7 channel stereo for casual listening at lower to mid-level volume, then to 2 channel for more critical listening at higher volume levels. Speakers are somewhat of a hodge podge at the moment with ESS AMT's for the front L/R, Martin Logan FX2's for the rear L/R, polk center and 2 velodyne subs (15" and 12")… Mostly used as home theater, but the ESS AMT's can rock pretty well in 2.1 channel.
I like the additional speakers at lower volume levels.
I wish one speaker set could do service to all the different quality and types of mastering out there. My audio collection is spread from the late 50’s to present. Many of these recordings have distortion, require mid bass enhancement and a “forgiving” tweeter. These qualities are better accomplished with a speaker design which has these qualities.
This same speaker will not deliver the tight bass and ultra clarity that better recordings offer. Another speaker with higher resolution and flatter response will deliver these goods better!
Hence, two speaker sets ( fronts) could expand your appreciation to a broader range of music. Especially when you have contrasting types of speakers.
Comparing music playback quality is challenging for most people with their “music memory'. For me, it must be A-B immediate to really “see” the diff. After a couple years of using the two set speakers as either fully on or off, I acquired the Parasound P7. It offers a way to do it all. Set A, Set B or any individual volume of the both together. Tone sounds full and complete.
Have not noticed time delay issues or muddiness, though both speakers are precisely measured to ear distance.
Just imagine Hendrix cranked up on ribbon tweeters and 6.5” woofers…. Could a vintage JBL sound better?
There may be some losses to this type of set up. It has been better for me.
In the 1970's, I ran stacked Advents with a Phase Linear 400. Later, I ran stacked B&W DM14's with this amp, and later with Audire electronics. Eventually, I had some Acoustat electeostatic panels which I paired with the DM'14's. All were good in their time period, but now I use B&W 803's, interestingly stacked on my 10" subs that I drove with a second Audire amp and preamp, until recently, when a botched repair, a shorting accident killed my electronics. I am searching for an Audire Diffet 3 (maybe Diffet 2) and Audire Forte or better to pair with my Bryston amp and preamp. Anyone?
I run several 2-channel systems and have multiple speakers in two of them that I listen to simultaneously (the speakers, not the systems). My favorite actually has three sets of speakers....ADS L-570s, an ancient pair of Genesis Physics 1s, and a pair of Totem mites. The amp is an Adcom GFA-555ii with a DH-110 preamp. The little Mites are the real secret in this mix, as they are somewhat laid-back/recessed to my ears, while the ADS and Genesis are really in your face comparatively. But the mixture works really well, no matter which two pair are being engaged at the time.
The other system is a B&K 125.2 amp/Cary Audio SL-100 combo, mated with Energy C-2s and a small pair of M&K K-5s that are floor-mounted at the base of the C-2 speaker stands. Both systems also employ powered subs.
I started with one pair of Bose 901, but that was only 18 speakers. So then when the new Bose 901 came out I added a pair of those. 36 speakers! Yet something still was missing. The sound was coming at me from all over but mostly in front and way too similar. Some recordings I could still tell were different from others. So I kept adding speakers. B&W, ML, MBL, JBL, REL, got a good deal on some Klipschorns that filled in the corners real nice, set of Quads left and right side walls, half a dozen Totem bookshelf, was almost there and good thing too starting to run out of wall space! Yet something was missing. Then it hit me- the ceiling! In-walls to the rescue!
That left only the floor. Which it turns out is mostly wasted space. Only a tiny amount of floor is actually doing anything. So now except for a foot path and enough to support the rack and chair its all speakers.
Imaging? None! Immersion? TOTAL!