Is 9'x11' too small?

I am considering using a small home office as a dedicated listening room. I could clear out the room and have it dedicated to gear only (and a chair or two and CD racks). This would allow me to acoustically treat the space (as I can't now in my listening room of the living room). The problem is (or might be) and my question to you is; the room is only 9'x11'x8', is this too small?
Its definately small, but you could do well to treat the room and go with some small stand mounted monitors and listen in the near field..pulling the speakers into the room should give some excellent results. The key is to not let the room interact as much as possible and not to overload it with bass from a larger speaker..hence the monitors. I actually had a room similar at 10x12x8 and used a pair of Martin Logan Aerius that sounded great with a Rogue amp and pre amp. Go for it!
Jim- looking at your system after I posted my previous post.. I think you have a great set up which would lend itself well to a smaller space as you mentioned. If you still have the Totems, you should be fine. BTW..Very nicely done on gear and set up!
Kehut, thanks for your response. I would probably stick with Totem, but move to the Arro or Mite if I move to the smaller room. I think they would be less likely to interact with the room of this size than the Tabu.
Not in my experience. I tend to prefer smaller listening spaces. I use a SET amp with JMR Trente speakers in a small room and it's spectacular. Lots of low level details come through at low and on up volumes.
No Way!!! It's a great size - intimate, easy to fill, good bass reproduction. Make sure you take the time to place your speakers and equipment perfectly, and don't be afraid to put lots of stuff on the walls and in the corners. You can make magic in a room that size.
Thanks for your thoughts everyone! I am getting excited about this possibilty now, I was thinking I would be getting an opposite reaction! I drew up a potential floor plan and posted it here:

Any comments/suggestions?
The previous room for my system had exactly that size (9x11 x 8 high) and a very similar setup to the one you are planning. What is the ceiling height? Probably 8 or 9 feet as well. You might have some trouble with the 50-60Hz peak (first room modes) and the 100-120Hz higher harmonics, especially since all modes have about the same length. Moving the speakers out the way you did will certainly help quite a bit. Monitor speakers that roll of around 50-60Hz will help as well since that is the region where the room will reinforce the bass.

I prefer the medium size room I have right now (10x17 x 9). The sound is more balanced and I still have a nearfield setup to avoid coupling to room modes.

The smaller room should work well but placement will be very critical. As long as you leave some room during the planning stage for moving around speakers and for adjusting the listening position you should do fine.

Good luck,

Rene, thanks for your comments. The ceiling height is 8', so I am exactly at the same dimensions as your old room. Did you have you speakers along the 'short' wall as I have shown, or the 'long wall'. At 9x11, there isn't much difference, but just curious.
Well I hate to be Mr. Opposition, but IMHO that might be too small. Small rooms require lots of treament. You'd need bass traps galore and aborption/diffusion at reflection points. The bass traps would need to be able to suck up frequencies below 100 cycles, and I understand that some bass traps won't do this. It's very easy to overdamp small rooms; this will suck some life out of the sound. You'd need the speakers at least a few feet from the back wall, but you don't want your listening position to be too far back. The physical room dimensions will limit the soundstage. How far do you usually sit from your speakers? If you don't mind very nearfield listening and have the means to treat the room well, then it might be OK for you...but I personally like a spacious room to really open things up, even with monitors.

I sit about 9' away from my speakers in my current space. They are about 8' apart and 18" from the rear wall.
Jh2os, I had them on the short wall, about 2 foot from the sides and three feet from the back. The best listening position is probably about 5-6feet from your speakers a little away from the back wall. Actually the wall behind your listening chair is fairly important, it should not be too reflective. Also best to kee your chair away from the backwall a little bit.

DIrty is right in that in will be quite difficult. I prefer the slighltly bigger room as well, but I would take the smaller one anytime if I am less limited by placement restriction.

Also feel free to drop me an email in case you have any more questions.

Again good luck.

One more suggestion: Since you still have them in your bigger space, I would try to place them 5-6 feet apart, toed in, and sitting about 6 feet away. That might give you an idea on what to expect with respect to soundstage and near field listening.

Rene, thanks for the idea. I'll try that in my current listening space to get an idea of what the sound may be in a nearfield condition. Yes, my current space, while larger, allows for little freedom as far as placement goes.
Hi again, I just found this great link to Ultimate AV website (Don't run away because of the V in the titel), which offers an Excel spreadsheat to calculate room modes. The sheat further calculates the frequency peaks and nulls at your listening position.

Excel calculation

All you need to do is enter your room dimensions and seating position and you get all the data you need. Nice way to play around with the seating position.

And the most interesting thing is: I took some measurements of my system/room a while ago using a corrected Radio Shack SPL meter, and I could see all the predicted "nulls" as little dips in the measured spectrum.

This is a really nice way of playing around and given my measurements it seems to work.

AND MOST IMPORTANT: Besides all this theory, don't forget to listen, your ears will tell you the best location. But the calculations might be a good starting point.


And one more comment: The article doesn't mention this but this table also
works for a speaker placement check. The speaker should NOT sit at a
postion with frequency peaks since it will be very easy to excite these room
modes. For speakers "nulls" don't matter as much I think. I just checked my
speaker placement and it is completely fine in my room.

If you need some help or have any questions, please feel free to drop me an

Thanks Rene! I tried the calculator and emailed you a couple of questions.

I recently turned a spare bedroom into a 2 channel listening room. mine was 11x10, and i love it. speaker placement makes a big difference, as will wall treatments. my room only has one window a 48"x48" and my equipment sits right in front of it.

with just the 2" blinds and no curtain i had to tow the speakers in a bit to get a good image, over the weekend i went to the fabric store and bought some "home decor" fabric, fairly thick, and put up my own curtains. this alone absorbed some of the sound, for the better. i had to set my speakers facing forward, no tow, to get the image back, but it seems better than it did before.

my speakers are about 27" from the back wall and 18" from the side walls. and i sit about 12" from the back wall.

next on my list is to build some DIY diffusor/absorbers to hand on the side walls in the reflection points (mirror trick)

with all that said, i love the sound of the room
look at my system :)
That would be the right size for a full Audio Note system! Or a system based on totem or maybe vandersteen 1Cs! But I'd shoot for the best audio note system (CD/DAC, integrated, and speakers) I could afford and not look back!

'Calculator' Results:

Using the potential room layout & dimensions shown here:

The calculator gave me back these results:

Sitting Postion Peaks:
Single Peaks 125.4 / 250.9
Sitting Position Nulls:
Single Nulls 62.7 / 188.2

Seems pretty promising?

If I play with the numbers a bit, I notice that if I position my sitting position 6" off center, there are no peaks/nulls, but I understand this may cause other problems with soundstaging, etc.? Any thoughts/education on these results?

Thanks Rene, for your off-line comments!
Kray, I would have a window directly behind my gear as well, not directly behind the speakers, but close enough. I currently have 2" wood blinds on both windows in the room, but I would consider putting up oversized curtains that actually fill the back wall behind the gear and speakers. I am thinking I could make some homebrew acoustical treatments with Armstrong's SoundSoak Material? I have relatively cheap access to this material and could have corner and wall treatment for the whole room for only about $100!

Spacekadet, nice inherited gear! I would love to hear my Totems on McIntosh gear! That is also inspiring that I can maybe move up the Totem line, while still in a small space.

Aroc, I am basing the system around Totem Arros at this point. Pairing them with a Cairn Fog v.2 and PrimaLuna Prologue Two. As far as AN gear, I used an AN DAC One.1 in my system breifly, but can't say I was overly impressed with it? It may have been the pairing (Classe' CDP.3 and Plinius 8200mkII at the time), but I wasn't wowed. AN may be like Naim in some respects, that it works together better with an all AN system? I've also read that AN is one of those 'love it / hate it' kin of things. While I didn't 'hate it', it didn't stay in my system long. It was replaced with the Cairn Fog actually.
Thanks for the response.
I too am in the this same process. While reading, I hit upon an idea of setting things perpendicular. The speakers coming out of one corner and the listening position in the opposite corner (kitty corner). This was used by a speaker designer that was having a problem with a room and could not tame it with room treatments. I am going to try it. My room is 10x10x8, square is even tougher !
YesSaki70, I would try a diagonal speaker placement in that 10x10 square room of yours.
Saki70, I had a diagonal placement in one of my previous rooms and loved it. Only problem the room has to be pretty much square to do that, which yours seems to be. Only thing that gets slightly difficult in the diagonal placement is to place speakers far enough from the back/side wall.

Good luck!
Thanks for the help guys.
Restock; I have been wondering about that myself. I will be using Soliloquy 6.2's once they arrive and get broken in. Any suggestions ?

I read, on a reply, that an a'goner stated not to place the equipment in the corner behind the speakers. I asked him why but did not receive an answer. Something to check!
The corner will be a bass maxima. Since the bass will be at it's greatest (maxima) in a corner, it's wise to not place anything sensitive to airborne vibration there (read: 'the audio gear will pick up more vibratations if you put them in the corner'). I know it's neat and convenient to do so, but I would put them someplace else if at all possible.

Well, I had some extra time this weekend and I played around with my system a bit.

1. I took up Rene on the suggestion to arrange the speakers and my listening chair at the distances they would be in the new room. Things got a little better, but not incredibly so. If this remained my listening space, I would probably not move stuff around to do 'serious' listening. The benefits were negligible, but it was a worthwhile experience.

2. I drug some of the office furniture out, and moved the system into the proposed room. The soundstage was large and engaging. Deeper than the front wall of the room, and stretching the side walls. In this nearfield listening set-up, the soundstage was also incredibly engaging. The room seems to have great potential considering it was half emptied (although close to what I would have in there if it was a listening room) and no acoustical treatments yet.

I've updated my 'Room Layout?' thread with pictures of both spaces:

Room Layout

Now, to convince the wife. ;)

that's very close to the size of my room that i just finished. take a look at my system, to see my layout. very close to yours
Thanks for the comment Kray! I was pleasantly surprised at how well a room this small sounded! Keep me posted on your 'room tuning' efforts, as I am sure they will prove useful for me as well.
yeah i do plan on adding wall treatments, i am going to make my own DIY, and being wrapped in Burlap fabric they will look really good on the walls. but you're right, it sounds really good in a small room. i moved all the stuff from the a living room like you did and i am really impressed with how good it sounds in such a small room. i have the chair about 12" from the back wall, so i'm sitting fairly close (about 5-6 feet from the speakers), but it sounds awesome.
Jh2os, how is your listening room. I have the same dimensions for my current room. I found your thread here and the useful excel chart. When I entered my data for a listening position using the long length of the room (139 inches) as the width something interesting happened. Calculating my distance from the side wall as a little under half that (65") to account for the distance between my ears, and a little movement, excel showed no nodes were present. I have set my speakers up in this orientation, and the results for mid and high bass were staggeringly good, even with my full range Wharfdales. I’ll be fully testing out this new position over the next couple of weeks.

Just thought you might want to know


That size will work just fine as long as you size the speakers to the room. Some nice two way monitors should work beautifully.
I would second a good set of monitors, or maybe the smaller Totem models.

It can difinately be done, but placement will be more important and room treatment will most likely be necessary - which is a good thing. My old room was 11x12 and I was able to put some decent sized speakers in there.
Ben, I have since moved to a larger space. I consolidated my 2-channel and HT in one 2-channel HT music system. Basically two channel with an added dvd and DLP screen.

The cause of the move was two - after having such a sweet 2-channel system that sounded simply sublime in this small room, listeing on the HT was almost an annoyance. Second, was the 9x11 room didn't allow my wife and I to listen together. There was only one sweet spot, and if you moved from it, the sound changed drastically in such a small space.

Yes, using the excel chart I found ideal speaker and listening postitions and it sounded wonderful! I never had the chance to experiment with room treatments before consolidating and moving out, but was never really overly compelled to from lack of good sound, just mostly curiousity of what it could add and obviously it didn't overtake me.

If both my wife and I could have listened together, I would still have the small room system. It was such an intimate sound. I loved it! Enjoy yours! I am a beleiver that you can make a small room work with the right speakers and careful positioning!!!