Help - new house - new setup?

I have just moved house and the new room is about 20x18 with 28 foot ceilings and glass/openings on 2 of the walls.

My system was CAT SL1 with spectron musician amp playing through VS VR4jrs. Front end Michell Orbe and Oppo 105.

I went all HT and got Halo A51 and JC1 monos with a Marantz 8802.

I was expecting a big improvement but the sound is lost in this room and sounds poor.

Someone suggested JL audio fathom to take the weight off the VR4rs so I got a 212 which has improved bass substantially but SPLs are still weak.

I feel I need to upgrade the JR4s and would like to spend up to 10k on some new speakers or Albert is advocating 5k to upgrade the JR4s.

Any suggestions would be most welcome as I live in the sticks and my nearest decent dealer is 250 miles away.

I am considering ML Montis/Summit, Revel Salon, Wilson Sophia 3, Thiel cs 3.7 and Legacy Whispers among others.

My main concern is having a speaker that will give the SPL level necessary for this room.
there are others on these pages with vastly more expertise in this area, but before you drop 10k on new speakers, i'd look very critically at room treatment---you have a very large room and reflections, resonance, placement, etc. may be affecting sound very significantly
The main issue is that you don't have a preamp. If you still have your old one, try it. Its hard to go from something like a CAT to a HT processor. You may need to do some work in other areas as well, but trying a different preamp would be the first thing I would do if it was my system.
Man, that's not a room, that's a cathedral! 28 ft. ceiling? I suspect getting an acoustician out there to take measurements and make suggestions would be a wise move. You are trying to pressurize a pretty large space, it's gonna take some serious grunt and a well-tuned room...

Agree, you are in dire need of room treatments. At this point
you can't tell what your system really sounds like.
+1 Rlwainwright, this is a major undertaking.
Your post is unclear. How many VRJrs are you using? Also, exactly how loud are you trying to achieve? Since you have a very large room it's possible that none of the loudspeakers that you are considering will meet your loudness requirements. Additionally, with the tall ceiling and glass walls you probably have a difficult acoustic environment and it is not clear that higher SPLs with actually result in the sound not getting lost in the room. You could just end up with louder, poor sound quality.
Thanks for the responses so far.

I am looking at acoustic treatments but as there is nobody in my area I may well have to take advice and get it done myself.

Besides the 2 front VR4jrs and Fathom 212 I have a pair of Vs ts150 rears but it is mainly the stereo side and room acoustics I am concerned about.
When I moved from New Jersey to Arizona, it took me about a year to get the system sounding as good as before. ..the joys of being an audiophile
You said it Stringreen.

I thought buying better quality amplification would improve things but it is back to the drawing board.
I agree with Zd and RW.

Your home theater processor isn't doing the sound any favors. However, nothing short of something the size of a Wilson Grand Slamm is going to fill a room with 28' ceilings. That is your real culprit.

The ceiling may not be that bad. Is the room like a big box, or is the ceiling sloped?
The ceiling is flat.

It is basically an open floor above the living room and also has a balcony room adjacent to that open space so it is a double whammy.

I cant put ceiling traps in because there are two large fans hanging from the ceiling.

I have 400wpc running at 70%+ at the moment.
So your room has the same floor dimensions as my living room but the ceiling is three times higher? Hmmmm...
For more bass reinforcement, try a Martin-Logan Descent sub.
For more speaker SPLs (and bass) try an Eggelstonworks Andra III.
Although I hear the Wilson Sophia can play cleanly at insane levels.
What about Wilson WP 7's there are three pair here for sale ? They are well under your 10k limit, can play at high db levels and leave money for a sub/subs to help load the room if needed.
I'm not as convinced as some of the others that the high ceiling is a main contributor to the problem. If the relevant specs of the speaker (89 db/1W/1m efficiency; 6 ohm average impedance; 300W max "music power" capability) are reasonably accurate, they should be able to generate peak SPL's of around 105 db at a listening distance of say 4 meters (about 13 feet), even in an infinitely large space. And I wouldn't expect reflections off of the ceiling to be major factors either at most frequencies, given the lengthy delay in the arrival of those reflections relative to the direct sound arrivals, and also the attenuation that would occur along the way. Certainly wall reflections could be significant factors, though.

Some questions:

1)When you refer to having both A51 and JC1 amplifiers, are you biamping the VR4Jrs with them?

2)If so, what outputs of the 8802 are you connecting to each of them? If you are by any chance connecting RCA outputs of the 8802 to one and XLR outputs of the 8802 to the other, that might result in a 6 db volume differential between the two sections of the speaker, even though the two amps have identical gain specs.

3)When you say "I have 400wpc running at 70%+ at the moment," how do you know that the amp is running at 70%+?

4)Can you describe the positions of the speakers relative to the nearest walls, and the location of the listening position relative to the speakers and to the nearest walls.

-- Al
thanks for your response.

I have the system balanced from the 8802 to the A51 and JC1s and to the Fathom 212.

The A51 is driving the centre and rears so does not really come into play on 2 channel.

I have each JC1 biwired to the VR4jrs.

The 8802 shows the %age of volume and it has run from a minimum of 50%(quite low) to about 75%(reasonably high but not rocking levels).

The speakers are about 4 feet from the sidewalls and front of the speakers about 4 feet into the room 11 feet apart and about 12 feet from the listening position toed in about 15 degrees.

I had them in this position in the old place and they sounded really sweet.
I would recommend: Usher BE-10 or BE-20, Revel Salon 2. With the usher BE-20's you probably won't need your subwoofer, but with any of these speakers, you will need a good amp with power to drive the woofers.
Good luck
MusicalAl, thanks for the additional info.

Based on info provided in the 8802 manual, especially on pages 192, 142, and 335, and on the specs for the JC1, it appears that with the "channel level adjust" settings of the 8802 at their default value of 0 db, and assuming you are using the DAC function of the 8802, it can be calculated that at the 75% setting of the volume control you referred to the amp would be driven to just a bit more than 30% of its power capability on the peaks of recordings which are mastered to reach "full scale" (the maximum possible digital value), and somewhat less than that on recordings which are mastered at lower levels.

So it seems to me that you can get significantly higher SPLs simply by turning up the volume control, and/or increasing the "channel level adjust" settings, which can go as high as +12 db as described on page 142 of the manual. Raising the channel level adjust settings would of course give you added volume for a given setting of the main volume control. Obviously, though, don't turn things up to the point where distortion becomes apparent.

Regarding sound quality, it sounds like the listening position is probably only about 2 feet from the wall behind it, which will result in a substantial suckout (reduction) in frequency response in the vicinity of 140 Hz, in the bass region. Using a room treatment product at that location would seem to be in order, and of course quite possibly elsewhere as well.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
Having reviewed and owned the VR4SR MkII for a while, I suggest that you move to a more sizable speaker, one which is physically larger and with more prodigious bass drivers. You will only get so much presence from the VR4Jr - this is not a sleight to the speaker, it would be true of any such speaker.

To get a more commanding performance you will need a larger speaker. I suggest you consider one of my longer term favorites, the Wilson Maxx 3 (not sure what you could get it for used, but worth a look), the legacy Whisper (I reviewed and own the custom DSW version I wrote up for or Aeris, or consider a prodigious panel such as Sound Lab or Kingsound King III (also reviewed and own). The panel might be a winning idea, as you have good subwoofer action now, and the panel will throw a huge soundstage. If you are not so concerned about dispersion for off axis listening, then I would suggest you seriously consider that option. I think the panels could sound fabulous in such a room. :)

My one concern regarding panels is that you seem to drive the speakers pretty hard. My colleague, Larry Borden, felt the King III couldn't be driven to such high levels as the Sanders hybrid ESL, but I've never had an issue where the King III isn't satisfying at pretty high SPL. But, I don't attempt to make myself go deaf when listening, either. :) You would want to get a second subwoofer if you go that route. You may not even need to listen at the same SPL level with big panels to enjoy the experience more.

Perhaps you should also consider Montana speakers by PBN, and you could probably find a biggie used as well. I would avoid any speaker 4' and under if your goal is to fill the space well and get a prodigious SPL experience. There is no replacing proper sized drivers when that is a primary goal; the nature of the low end is fundamentally different in experience than through an array of smaller bass drivers.

I do not wish to debate my suggestions; I'm simply offering my experiences.

One more thought; if you are currently passively biwiring I suggest you use the "vertical" biwiring method, keeping one amp per speaker, versus the "horizontal" method of splitting the amps' use between speakers. I find the vertical to be a bit better.
"One more thought; if you are currently passively biwiring I suggest you use the "vertical" biwiring method, keeping one amp per speaker, versus the "horizontal" method of splitting the amps' use between speakers. I find the vertical to be a bit better."

I know you don't want to debate your answers, but I think you meant vertical biamp and not biwire.
I could be totally wrong, but I don't understand why many people are recommending mid to low sensitivity, wide dispersion, direct radiating loudspeakers. At 10,000+ cubic feet, the listening space is huge. The OP implies that he listens at very high sound levels and I just don't see how loudspeakers with 8-10 inch woofers are going to provide sufficient low frequency response in such a large room. Almarg makes a point about reflected sound possibly not being a problem, but I think a controlled directivity loudspeaker would lessen the problem even further.

Again, I ask the OP to indicate how loudly he desires to listen.
"I know you don't want to debate your answers, but I think you meant vertical biamp and not biwire."

He never wants to debate what he writes. Nothing new here.

06-04-15: Onhwy61
Almarg makes a point about reflected sound possibly not being a problem, but I think a controlled directivity loudspeaker would lessen the problem even further.
To be sure it's clear, my point about reflected sound possibly not being a problem pertained ONLY to reflections from the ceiling.

Best regards,
-- Al
MY OP may have misled you all.

I actually prefer to listen to music at low levels but that projects clearly and transparently in 2 channel with power and dynamics when it is called for in the music not just by turning the wick up..

However for movies I do like to step it up a bit but do not count that as audiophile sound just good effects.

MY main issue is the 2 channel does not come across at all like I have been used to with what was considered inferior electronics so either the space and layout are too much for the VR4s or I need serious room treatment.

Probably both. But one of my questions is would I be better getting the VR4jr upgrade for 5k which Albert says makes them compete with 20k speakers or am I better getting some used top line speakers which are capable of higher SPL.

I know what I like in a speaker but am not that good at room acoustics or speaker specs.
There is one thing you can do that will help you figure this all out. Set your system up in a different room that's more like the one you used to have it in. You should be able to tell almost immediately how much of an impact the new room is having. I know I sound like a broken record, but I still think removing your CAT preamp had a larger impact on SQ than you may think.
Zd you're right; I was thinking he was using two stereo amps. Tough to biamp with a pair of monos!
Don't think of your room as a problem, think of it as an opportunity to try some stupid big speakers. :)

I like a couple of Douglas' suggestions: the Montanas and the Legacy Whispers.

If I had a huge space, I might very well do Montanas. There's a lovely pair of XPSs here for 8k (no connection); those and good subs would make some some big music. (I'm pretty sure Peter designed the XPS with HT in mind, btw.)

"06-04-15: Jdoris
Don't think of your room as a problem, think of it as an opportunity to try some stupid big speakers. :)"

At least someone here is thinking clearly. For a moment there, I thought we were fresh out of audiophiles.
My thinking is that the best system is the one that sounds the best to you. I can't get overly concerned about the high ceiling absent that issue, the guy just wants to build a system he will like. I say start with whatever loudspeaker you like that is appropriate for the floor dimensions given there being open adjacent areas balconies and a vey high ceiling. Then buy an amp or amps to drive them that you like and then get a really nice pre-amp. Decide what sources you want to use possibly before the pre if you are going to want to use a built in phono stage. Happy hunting, auditioning and system building, it may take a while.
First things first. No matter how nice the speaker placement in your previous home was, it is entirely irrelevant to what will work in the new place. You need to experiment quite a bit with speaker and listening chair placement. This could be random trial and error or use of some systemmatic methodology (google "Wilson" or "Sumiko" method). If you go with some kind of placement calculation, you will still need to actually do a lot of experimenting.

A room with a nearly square floorplan tends to be problematic, and the high ceiling makes it worse. High ceilings tend to suck the life out of the sound. Still, I have heard very large rooms with high ceilings sound surprisingly good when the speakers were properly placed.

In rooms like this, multiple subwoofers make sense. The use of two or more subwoofers is not to get more bass (most subwoofers can deliver excessive quantities of bass to almost ANY room), but to achieve more uniform bass coverage.

I am less enamoured with the idea of going with bigger speakers for higher sound pressure levels. While I am a fan of big speakers (I like certain horn systems), I particularly enjoy listening at quite low sound levels. Quality, not quantity matters most to me. If you try to overcome the dead sound of your setup with higher volume level, you could make the contribution of destructive room reflections and resonance worse. I would try moving the listening seat closer to the speakers (and move the speakers farther away from the side walls), to make the setup more of a near-field setup; this decreases the contribution of the room to the sound. It is a "free" experiment.

Good luck and I hope everything works out.
Have you tried running the Audyssey speaker setup software that comes with the Marantz? I suggest that you run the setup on full auto and then analyze the results to look for any clues or anomalies it finds as it runs thru the various tests. If possible, try to find a PC program to help the analysis. There are many on the market that can help you understand your room better based on the setup data. What you learn can then be used to guide you towards making the right decisions rather than just throwing money at it.

Understanding your new room's acoustic properties could make it your finest "component". I would love to have that room!
thanks for that advice.

I will certainly try that.
thanks for that advice.

I am trying different speaker and equipment positions this weekend and will then rerun audyssey.
My system is in the family room that measures 21'x33'x15'. Speaker on the short wall and are not close to any walls so no boomy bass or reflection problems. It's a lively room and don't need much room treatment. I'm using a tube amp and have no problems filling the room with high volume. I much prefer a large room with high ceilings.

When I 1st moved in, my Gallo speakers were too small so I gave them to a family member. I'm not familiar with VS VR4jrs so can't comment. I think you just need to move your speakers around until you find a good spot or buy new bigger speakers.
Thank you for all your responses.

Have decided to buy VS VR5 anniversary mk2 and get room treatment done.

Any advice on top end speaker cable would be appreciated.

VR 4 Jrs and VS1 sub are going up for sale.
If it is feasible, you should hold off selling any subwoofer until after you have set up the new speakers, broken them in, and tried different room arrangments. It might be the case that you could still use the subwoofer. Often, a subwoofer helps with tricky setups even if there really isn't a need for more bass. They can help even out room response. You would, in effect, be keeping around one more tool, just in case.
What was your last room like(size)? Was it small? Maybe you had a bass node that you grew to like. How far from the front and side walls are your speakers now compared to where they were in your old room?

Also have you thought about trying a near-field setup to make the room less of issue.