Dunlavy SC-IVa Set up help

I have been playing with various speaker placements for the last several months and just can't seem to get the speakers to sound right. The frequency response bouncing all over. When I get the midrange to sound good, the bass sounds weak. When the bass sounds good, the midrange is lacking. The room size is 12x21 with the speakers on the short wall. Seeting possition is about 17feet from the front wall. I have to use the short wall because the room is also used for HT. My pre amp is an aragon soundstage and my amp is a pass labs x350. CD Player is an Anthem CD-1

Anyone in North Jersey (Rockaway) care to give me a hand ? I will supply the beer and load the grill with dogs & burgers.

You might like top do some research on speaker set up using some of the 'systems' as described on the various sites, such as Rives site whcih has a CARA program, the Cardas System, the Audio Physic's method and the Dunlavy System. Look at the AA forum for further info on these.

Couple of comments though. For these speakers to work on the short wall they are going to have to come out into your room several feet to smooth out the bass, you're going to have to make sure that the 1st reflection points on the side walls and floor are deadened and/or severe toe in to avoid the effect of the side walls, and you're going to have to play with your listening position considerable to get anything close to optimum. Think triangle. I hope you have a test CD and a meter to help you assess the in room frequency response.

I'd also suggest if you want further assistance here that you give a physical description of your present set up (exact speaker and listening position) as well as any limitations you have regarding placement of either.
Hi, I have a pair of SC-V sigs, in a 23 x 14 x 8 room set up on the short wall. Speaker baffle 40" from rear wall 28 in. from side wall. These figures may be of some use, or none at all. It all depends on the surfaces in the room , furnishing, doors, passthroughs, carpet, or hardwood, or concrete floors etc... if you would like, shoot me an email

Dunlavy's like to be seperated by a fairly large margin. Keep this in mind, along w/Newbee's advice.
Nice setup. I've moved my 4a's around a lot and never could get them to sound right along the short wall, however, my room is not as deep as yours.(13X18) The guy i bought them from had them on the short wall with the sidewalls treated and they sounded pretty good. His room was about 24 feet long and he did have them pulled out several feet from the back wall just as newbee specified. Just remember as far as placement goes, these speakers need to be at least 9-10ft apart and the listening position back 10-11ft for everything to come into focus. Toe-in is mandatory. I started toeing them until I could no longer see the wood on the side. From my listening position all I see is speaker grill cloth. Treating the floor is a plus too. even having berber carpet, placing a large rug on top of that really helped things. A couple of things from my manual - It is best not to have the speakers the same distance from the back wall to the side wall and for the most accurate reproduction of bass long wall placement is the best setup. You could try your home theater against the long wall, mine works great set up like this. (see pic) In this configuration you can push the speakers almost all the way to the back wall. Since they are a sealed box design, they dont have the bass overhang problems that ported designs do when close to the back wall. If you go with the long wall setup you probably wont need to treat the first order reflection points but you will need to treat a 4x6 area directly behind the listening position. I hung up a small rug. It looks good too. Hope this helps.
Your short wall is simply too little space for this speaker. With the wide horizontal dispersion from this type of array, you're experiencing side wall reflections. This alters the in-room response and tonal balance. Once you reduce the side wall reflections by moving the speakers closer together and / or toeing them in away from the side walls, you've now lost the room reinforcement that the woofers were designed to work with. Now the bass sounds weak and anemic. You're in a lose / lose situation. That's because Dunlavy's weren't designed for short wall placement.

On top of that, these speakers suffer from severe variations in low frequency response from room to room due to the differences in floor to ceiling height. I made a recent post about how to address this problem in this Dunlavy based thread. This solution has a lot of variables to it and you can make it as pretty and / or effective as you like.

If you can't relocate the speakers to the long wall and impliment the type of baffle reinforcement device that i mentioned in that thread, these speakers will never work nearly as well as they could or were designed to in your specific listening area. Properly designed speakers take into account specific room placement in order to achieve optimum results. These are properly designed speakers and they are telling you that the placement / room lay-out isn't optimized for their requirements. Sean
I used to own SC-V's and had them in a room that was 16' x 26' with a 10' ceiling.
I could never get completely satisfying results out of them in that room. I ended up selling them and getting Vandersteens, actually. I always had better luck with placing absorbant material to the sides of the speakers, and not messing with the front wall too much. I think I usually placed them between 5 to 7 feet from the front wall, but I experimented with every single position, including on the long wall- and nothing ever sounded just right for me.
I came to the conclusion that the bigger Dunlavy speakers are really tempermental about where they are placed, and I would never go through that headache again.
Sorry I can't be of much help, but in a room your size it would seem you may have an even harder time getting them to open up.

I wonder what John Dunlavy or some of the people who used to work for Dunlavy (like Drew Rigby) would say about Sean's suggestions. My guess is that they would be horrified.

I also wonder if Sean has ever owned the Dunlavy SC-IV/A. I have, and the speakers gave me spectacular results -- even when set up on the short (15 feet) wall. I used some room treatments, placed them out in the room about three feet and the sound was very good. Also, these speakers are very efficient and do not require monster amps to sound fantastic.
Sean is correct is his thoughts on bass room inneraction with certain Dunlavy speakers and various ceiling heights. I have owned Sc4's for many years and have sold numerous pairs in the past. Bass cancelation can be minimized by the use of an angled baffle between the top of the speaker and ceiling surface.My experience tells me focus within the stage is also enhanced with the use of this baffle..Tom
9rw: I think that John Dunlavy would agree with my suggestions. The reason that he didn't build the speakers in such a manner probably has more to do with cosmetic appeal ( or lack of it ) and inability to properly package and ship such a product than anything else.

As to your specific short wall installation, 15 foot isn't really all that short of a wall. With that much room, one could very easily get the speakers a good distance apart and still have a couple feet on each side of them.

As to your comments about the speakers not needing "monster amps", that is purely subjective. Having heard these speakers with both "good sized" amps and what most would call an "over-abundance of power", i've always preferred the higher powered installation every time. For that matter, so have the owners of the speakers that i've heard, hence their decision to go that route. Sean
Somehow, I don't think John Dunlavy cared much about cosmetic appeal. That's one reason Dunlavy is out of business. And the owners manuals for his speakers sure don't suggest anything like what Sean is advocating.

Even in my previous house, with a room that measured something like 14x19, I had the SC-IV/A's on the short wall and the sound was spectacular. The bass extended into the 25 hertz range and the speakers vanished better than anything I'd ever owned (including Merlin VSM-SE, ProAc 3.5, Quad, Acoustat, Totem Mani-2 and several others). Before purchasing the speakers, I talked to Dunlavy's Drew Rigby, and he assured me that my relatively small room would not be a problem. In fact, I got much better bass in that room than I got in my 15x24 room. So Rigby was right.

As for amplifiers, one of Rigby's personal favorites for the SC-IV/A was the Rowland Model 2, which is rated at 75 watts per channel. That's hardly a monster amp.
"Somehow, I don't think John Dunlavy cared much about cosmetic appeal. That's one reason Dunlavy is out of business."

Hate to jump into the fray here, but I know why John's out of business, and it had nothing to do with the cosmetic appeal of his speakers.

If Dunlavy's are not setup properly, they suffer like any speaker. They can yield stupendous bass- or suffer from an anemic low end- all based on their placement.
The Dunlavy's take into account room response and driver radiation characteristics. Given that Dunlavy placed the woofer at the bottom, which is loaded by the floor, and other woofer at the top, which doesn't have any loading, the output of the woofers isn't symmetrical even though the cabinet is configured that way. This causes one woofer to produce a lot less output at the bottom end than the other. This problem is compounded when there is a greater distance between the top woofer and the ceiling. Since many rooms have varying ceiling heights, bass response from room to room can vary pretty drastically.

By introducing a "sounding board" into the equation and controlling the amount of loading that the top woofer sees by manipulating the size, shape and placement of the sounding board, one can gain much more consistent low frequency output. This is true regardless of the room size and / or floor to ceiling height. This still won't fix a problem with side wall reflections, which an MTM type array is prone towards.

I'm NOT saying that these speakers won't work in a smaller room on a short wall, what i'm saying is that they are best suited to a larger room on a longer wall. So long as you can get them spaced far enough apart AND far enough off of the side walls, it doesn't matter if they are placed on the shorter of the two walls. Calling the Dunlavy's "long wall speakers" simply means that they need room to breath, both between them and on the outsides. If one has a very large room, the short wall might actually be plenty wide enough to achieve optimum performance. Then again, what is "good enough" for some really isn't "optimum" in terms of producing what the speakers really are capable of. Sean
Danlib1: Please enlighten us.

I know a lot of audiophiles who liked the sound of Dunlavy speakers but hated the fact they were so big. And that's why they wouldn't buy them. And some people thought they looked too plain and wanted something "fancier" for their money.

I also know that there were other reasons for Dunlavy's demise, like maybe Dunlavy wasn't the easiest guy in the world for dealers to work with. And some people thought he should use more expensive and exotic drivers. Regardless, I'm not contending that placement isn't vitally important. I'm just questioning some of Sean's recommendations.
With limited space, a couple of feet can make all the difference in the world with these speakers. Against my 13 ft wall, to get the 4a's seperated enough, they were almost touching the sidewalls. Having another another foot or two would have helped. With only 12 feet, Im afraid you are really pushing the envelope. Just get those sidewalls treated with some thick sound absorbant material and I would get the room corners taken care of as well. I hung up some plants in the corners and that did the trick. Can you other guys describe this baffle you're talking about? Does it extend out past the front of the speaker or does it just go from the front and straight up?
Cm..I think that you and I may have written before about the baffle atop the speaker..My baffle was adjustable for rake angle and extended from the top of the speaker to almost the ceiling.The baffle started at the top front edge of the speaker and extended up and back to the ceiling at 10 degrees.. Tom
I’m sorry to break this, but you will never get the potential of your IVa’s on the short wall! I have spent many years with my own IVa” and helping others here at Audiogon, and it’s just not possible with your room, to make then work well.
I can save you countless hours by telling you to move on to a different speaker, or set up on the long wall and reconfigure your home theater. Home theater should not dictate your speaker placement if you want the potential from the speakers. The speakers must come first.
Sorry, I’m not trying to be flippant here, I just know this as fact. If you care to take my advice I would follow the subsequent guideline. Your room is 12’x21’ due to the limited width; you’ll be forced to set the speakers 1/5th into the room, or in other words 2’-5” from the wall to the center of the tweeter. The side wall should be at least 1/3rd greater than 2’-5”, in other words no closer than 3’-3” from the center of the tweeter to the side wall. This would give you 14”-6” between tweeters. (You could reduce this amount by up to 1’-0”) Now if your seating position is 1/3rd of the dimension into the room, your ear should be 4’-0” from the back wall. This will put your ear approximately 9’-6” from the tweeter. Next you’ll want to look at toe in: for my speakers in a similar room, I can just see the inside face of the speaker, in other words someone looking down the plane of the inside face of the speaker is looking just behind my ear. If you follow this guideline you will be extremely close to magic, from this spot adjustments should be made in increments of 1/8” a time. It will not take long before the image snaps into place and given the above formula all the frequencies should be time cohesive and present in full spectrum.
If you simply can not do the long wall, sell the speakers, they simply were not designed to be placed the way you have them.