Is my room doomed? Pic

For a discription of room dimensions and equipment you can click my system's page.

While the system is pretty new, I'm having a hard time getting it to sound anywhere as good as the dealer/distributor using very similar equipment (outside the preamp). Is it my room?

The center image is good but the soundstage height/depth is not what I know these speakers are capable of. The depth of the layers in the soundstage is also shallow. I have no sidewalls, and the speakers are firing into floor to ceiling windows (but I do draw the curtains).

Any suggestions? Pull the speakers out more? Toe in more?

It would benefit from a nice Oriental rug.
Yeah I will add a rug but I don't think it will affect the sound by a lot. I had a big thick rug before but it sucked out a bit too much low end.
The picture could be misleading, but your speakers seem very wide apart.
The speakers currently are 3m apart tweeter to tweeter, 1.5m from the back wall (tweeter to wall).

I have tried pulling out the speakers almost to the middle of the room (about 2.5m out from the backwall of a 5.5m length shortwall), as well as pushing it almost all the way to the wall. The room just kinda sounds dead and muffled. On a scale of 1-10 if the dealer's showroom is a 10, mine is about a 5. The fullness, depth, detail/transparency is just not there. I have also tried covering up the big TV in the middle of the wall with a thick towel but that only muffled the center image a bit.

I keep suspecting it's the lack of sidewalls, and that everything in my room is a softer material (wooden floors, backwall/ceiling is made of wood which is kind of hollow when I knock on it).

Both digital and analogue have the same problems.
I agree with Onhwy61. What is the angle between the speakers and the listening position?
Does the sound get better with the drapes closed? That would be my first concern is the speakers firing at a reflective backwall. As close as you appear to sit from the speakers it may be your speakers are too big for your room.
Actually I don't think the drapes made much difference. I thought it would, but it actually doesn't for some reason.

As far as speakers too big for my room, well my room's volume is quite big if you consider that it's a semi-open floor plan (about 14 meter x 5.5m x 2.8m, but not completely rectangular so minus some volume). If the speakers are too big I would imagine that there would be too much energy, i.e too bright, too forward? That is certainly not the case. It just sounds veiled, with a soundstage that is between the speakers only. As far as depth, it does get deeper as I pull the speakers out, but it does not get more layered and more detailed. The decays on Diana Krall's voice (the "hhhhaaaaaa") is very short as compared to the same speakers/amps (but diff preamp) at the dealer.

I'm getting a bit skeptical here because on a scale from 5-10, if the dealer is a 10 and I'm a 5, I don't know if it's possible that tuning/tweaking/speaker positioning can lift it up to a 10 when most of the equipment is here. I'm using a borrowed Orpheus Two preamp until the Wavac PR T1 arrives. Yes everything's not 100% broken in including cabling, digital, analogue, speakers, but can that make THAT much of a difference to lift it from a 5 to a 10? Also I do not have any power conditioning as everything plugs straight to 3 dedicated 20amp lines into the wall.

The dealer of course says it will get great with time and maybe switch around some cabling. He probably just wants my money (which he already has a lot of).

Should I wait 3 months for everything to break in, keep tuning/tweaking the speaker placement, etc and hope the sound quality can do quantum leaps?
Enzo618, yr lack of side walls will primarily result in the lack of LF energy. this tends to be the case with very "open" setups (you may want to consider getting subwoofers at later on to supplement yr Rockports). 1st you gotta sort out some fundamental set up issues.

i'm assuming you've placed yr speakers close to the front wall for bass reinforcement. this is fine, but straighten yr speakers (i.e. no toe-in), then try to move yr listening position closer to your speakers (you're getting too much reflection off the rear windows - which causes the muddy sound). there should be a position where bass, mids & HF becomes well balanced (i.e. neither is more prominent than the other). you should also start getting better image depth at this pt. this is most likely the ideal seating distance based on the interaction btw yr speakers & room. next, try moving the speakers closer to one another (still pointing straight ahead) until you get a nice sharp/solid image. it's all abt fine tuning fm this pt. on... experiment with toe-in, speaker tilt, etc. until you're happy with tonal balance, left-right imaging (this should not be a problem for you cause you hv no side wall reflection), & front-back imaging.

since this is not a dedicated listening space, you've also got to be able to live with this layout (if layout isn't acceptable, then you've prob gotta make some compromises in sound quality).

i agree with some of the other posters abt adding an area rug (this will reduce floor-ceiling reflections & also make yr system sound less muddy).

anyway, i think Rockports are really good speakers, so i really hope you manage to get it to work. good luck & try to hv fun when experimenting.
It's the room my friend. You are not crazy. I wouldn't say it's doomed but there are some things you will need to come to terms with. Unless you plan to invest in tuning that room to work better with those speakers, the magic is likely not going to happen. If I were you and were able I'd return the speakers ASAP and begin to investigate speakers that are designed to work better in a room like yours. Also start doing some research on acoustics and basic speaker design to get a better idea of what is feasible in your situation.
I think you can easily jump from a 5 to a 10 with room treatments or DRC. Break in will get you nothing in my opinion as for the most part it is a bogus term. The only thing breaking in is your ears to the sound.

Sounds like your dealer is awful too btw.

If I am you I am going to look at digital room correction and see what that does. Even if you just try it as an experament. Room correction can have a huge impact on the sound- especially when trying to clean up muddy midrange and bass. It will also do level balancing between channels and since you have no side walls should dramatically improve imaging. The rear wall must have a huge impact on sound so I would make sure the curtains you are using are heavy enough to properly damp that reflection. This is where your "layers" are most likely getting lost.

You could also do acoustic treatments but your room is so nice and minimalist I would want to see what DRC did first before bringing ugly treatments in.

You have way to much invested to have anything but spectacular sound.
Looks like side firing woofers. Are they facing each other or away from each other? Might be better facing each other with no side walls.
That looks like a room that you want to leverage and not fight.

If all else fails with what you have, you might want to consider a pair of omni design speakers like mbl, OHM , dueval, Morrison, German Physiks, or perhaps even Mirage.

A good omni design will best fill a room like that with sound in a natural manner. More directional designs will have sound waves bouncing all over creation in that room in a more destructive than constructive manner IMHO, no matter what else you do to try and tame it.

You may also need to place something more solid underneath the speakers in order to prevent them from interacting too strongly with the wood floors and delivering bass that is too fat and undefined.
Maybe double-check that the speakers aren't out of phase? I know it's obvious, but you never know...
mbl has some smaller monitors that are largely omni and sit on stands that I could envision being a nice fit to a room like that. Mirage may also for much lower cost.

Monitors on stands would help keep the floors out of the equation. The more wide dispersion or omni the monitors, are the better.

Floor standing OHMs would be a possibility as well. A smaller pair might work well in that room. These are bottom ported though so you would have to be careful about not going overboard with the bass as they interact with what appears to be lively wood floors.
I would say it's 70% room / 30% set up. The room is a wide open space with little boundary reinforcement, it may be better suited to an omnidirectional radiator. The back wall (being a hard flat surface) won't help any with the soundstage. Actually, every surface being hard and flat isn't helping. Lastly, I think your seating position may be too close to the back wall.

I really wanted to post to say that if you laid out this kind of money at one dealer, they had better get over to your place and help you find a position you are happy with. It's one thing for a dealer to sell you a $1000 pair of speakers and say "have fun"; but when you buy a precision instrument like this system, the dealer has a responsibility to make sure it is performing to your expectations.
"It's one thing for a dealer to sell you a $1000 pair of speakers and say "have fun"; but when you buy a precision instrument like this system, the dealer has a responsibility to make sure it is performing to your expectations."

I agree with that!
Beautiful room and system, congratulations. If it were mine, I would try a couple of the Diffuser panels from Acoustic Revive . They are more versatile than many of the room tx's and do many things depending on where you place them. I would try them on the sides, behind and also on the backwall and see how each position effected the sound. It could give you an idea of where the issue is too. They can stand on their own or be hung and are not too out of line with your decor. Furutech also makes some.

Maybe I missed it but were the cables and power treatments the same in the dealer's system?
Enzo...I would say 2 things. First, i totally agree that your dealer should be in there helping you dial-in the setup and particularly the speaker placement relative to seating position to get a result that approximates what you heard at the dealer's showroom. If he/she is incapable of helping you out (then I would stop doing busines with that dealer), I would call Andy Payor at Rockport Technologies and ask for his advice (you can email him pics of your room along with dimensions). he is very customer focused and always willing to help. He will also be interested to know that a dealer of his is not able/willing to help Rockport clients get the optimal performance out of their speakers. Finally, i would spend $30 and get Jim Smith's book "Get Better Sound" which has a very detailes and meticulous description of how to determine speaker placement in a room. Much of what 11flat6 said is described in much more detail in there. However, i would first get the dealer in there to make adjustments and go from there. Good luck and beautiful system. I think Rockport speakers are phenomenal and we know that Ansy Payor loves to pair them up with Gryphon amplification, so you have a synergistic system there. Finally, one of the other comments above suggested switching the speakers so that the side firing woofers are pointing in towards one another instead of firing outwards. I think that is worth a try to see if it improves anything for you. Good luck.
I would guess the side firing woofers and lack of side walls is the major part of the problem. Wrong room or wrong speakers, take your pick. An omni like MBL or Duevel would certainly be an option. In that space, you could also do a large planar like the Magnepan 20.1 or high quality stand mount 2 ways and a pair of subs like the Wilson Benesch Torus. You have a beautiful living area.
Nice gear!!!

I'd try switching the speakers so the woofers fire at each other instead of away. Your lack of sidewalls is probably the biggest issue, compounded by side-firing woofers.

You should be honest with your dealer and make him/her work with the system until it performs closer to what you heard in his/her showroom. That's how he sold you, so you have a right to demand comparable sound.

You might want to try turning the system 90 degrees so the speakers have sidewalls to work with (a window and a wall). It might mess with your living room arrangement, but a nice L shaped couch with the sound system on one side, and the TV on the other could work.

I'm not sure MBLs would have enough space behind them to sound right in your room. Your best option is make an agreement with your dealer to get you great sound, and if he can't, then get a dealer who can. All high end luxury items should have this type of personalized attention. If your stuck with your purchases, then tweaking speaker positions and room tuning devices are your next best bet. Look into the Lyndorf DRC if your open to digital correction. I think the 90 degree turn would be a positive change.
Lots of good thoughts above, and most likely several of the factors that have been mentioned are contributing.

But I would single out the short distance from the listening position to the windows as likely to be the most major contributor, despite the fact that closing the curtains/drapes does not help significantly. I would go so far as to say that I would be surprised if having a reflective surface like that so close behind the listening position did NOT cause the kinds of problems you are describing.

Basically what you are hearing is the direct sound from the speakers plus a lower amplitude version of the sound delayed by several milliseconds (as well as altered in frequency response, both by the reflective surface and by the fact that our ears respond differently to sounds arriving from the front and from the rear). To the degree that the reflected energy is strong enough to be significant, that results in comb filtering, with a lot of it being right in the mid-range based on the distances involved. My understanding is that that kind of effect would correlate subjectively with a general lack of clarity, or what you are describing as a veiled and muffled sound. There would also obviously be effects on imaging.

If moving your listening position forward, as was suggested, doesn't lead to a satisfactory resolution, I would look into the possibility of some sort of large sound absorbent panels that could be put in place in front of the windows during listening sessions, and put away at other times.

-- Al
You would think closing the drapes would help if the windows behind the listening position were the major factor, but the OP indicates that closing the drapes did not make much difference, which is not encouraging.

"Is my room doomed?"

Never fear, the Audiogon acoustic hit squad is here!

Your name is not Smith and you are not a Doctor, are you?
An aside: waiting for 'breaking in': if the sound is not basically 90% or more there straight up, it's NOT going to magically arrive with breaking in.
It IS true some benefit from use arrives after a bit of time, and the many gushing: "at first it sucked, but after 100 hours it became perfect.." are typical audiophile nervosia exaggerations. If it sucked to start, it STILL is gonna suck afer breaking in, anything else is dealer bull#hit to stick you with something you do not really want.
The sound upon arrival should be really good, then with 'break in' it can become fantastic.
Somehow "breaking in" has become the magic bullet cure all phrase to stall the instantanious reaization that it is crap and you know it, and want to return it immediately.
I KNOW this is going to bring out a dozen stories how "I didn't believe, BUT..." but those mask the ten times greater stories "I got screwed because I waited... hoping.. and finally gave up.. sold it a year later and got what i wanted"
Waiting and hoping for a miracle is only benefiting the dealer. If it isn't right in your place, take it back.
(If you can't take it back, perhaps this diatribe will benefit others in similar situations)
Break in is real in many cases. A

But also in many cases, you are screwed with no recourse if you wait for it to happen and it still doesn't meet your expectations.

Not sure what your exact contingency options are with the seller (hopefully there is some kind of satisfaction guaranteed policy) but do not loose the opportunity to return if you have it as a result of waiting for break in.

This is crazy, having people draw conclusions based upon a single photo of your room. It is a beautiful space, by the way. Do not despair.

I am having a very hard time appreciating the actual distances based upon that photo. Could you put some more pictures on your systems page? If the speakers are too far apart, the image may be thin. Too much toe-in with speakers too far apart can make it even more thin. You just need to start moving them around to know what is right.

Equipment break-in is very real, especially with full-range speakers. It can take several months of continuous play before the bass is appropriate. Without the break-in, the speaker can be very disappointing regardless of room and equipment.

Lastly, have you tried any other amps? I know many people like Gryphon, but the amplifier-speaker synergy is really key. I also know that many will advocate for the Rockport-Gryphon connection. However, I believe what the designer uses and shows with his speakers should be the start and not the end of your amplifier search.
Why are people recommending omni type speakers? If anything, assuming different speakers are even needed, I would think a controlled directivity design would be a better option. Just curious.
yes..doomed, but enjoy.
"why omnis?"

See my first post above. Omnis will project the sound more evenly and naturally throughout the room. They require fewer room treatments in general in larger more difficult rooms than more directional designs. That's why I have landed on them in my difficult L shaped room where box designs and planars just could not cut it.

You can make a tough room work for you rather than trying to fight a losing battle taming the room to accommodate the speakers.

Omnis like OHMs will also enable serious listening from mostly any listening location in the room equally, even including outside of the speaker locations if needed. They also tend to produce a deep sound stage (with good amplification) mostly behind the speakers that extends past the rear wall which will help create a deeper perceived room depth.

I'd try to get things clicking with what you have first, or switch to different speakers that the dealer might offer if the Rockports cannot cut it in that room. If all that fails, OHM, as an example, does offer an extensive in-hone trial on their speakers that eliminates most all the risk (save shipping) if their speakers do not work out. The audition period is long enough to allow proper break-in as well.
Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions. Over the next few days/weeks I will try them all.

Cmalsk: FYI the dealer is being helpful. He's been here to try and tune the system and I will have him back you can be sure of that.

Richard Stacey - Cables are almost the same (Transparent on the preamp/amp/speaker except I used Reference line and he has MusicWave Ultra, and Argento on the digital front end) while I don't have any power conditioning and he does.

As far as DRC, that could help quite a lot and I will try that later if all else fails.

Rob/RTN1 - hey it's Isaac BTW (changed emails so changed login). I will take some more photos and put them up no problem. What I know for sure right now is I'm very far away from the Rockports I heard in 2 different rooms (one at the dealer, one at the distributor) running Gryphons/Transparent. I highly doubt it's the Gryphon's just because I listened extensively to them in both these rooms on the same speakers and they were fantastic (very transparent, liquid, detailed, dynamic, great soundstage, etc etc).

I will play around more with speaker positioning, listening position, switching the speaker L to R so the side firing woofers face either, and also borrow some acoustic panels/traps. I'm still skeptical as to how much all this can help if I'm not 70-80% there already. Stay tuned!

Again, thanks for all your guys's help.
After you try 11flat6 advice, if i doesn't help I'd agree that omnis are the way to go. You might only reach an 8.75 of your dealer perfection of 10 - but you'll never reach 10 with the room as it is now. 10's are only for treated rooms in my opinion.

Still with Dueval or MBL (only omnis I've heard recently) you can be glued to your seat and be really satisfied with music (which is what we like to pretend it's all about, right). I grant you that it's hard to change direction if you feel that Nirvana could be yours after all your work to build this system; but you've got a mega-system in a compromised setting, so it might be better to recognize that doing justice to the room is more important for satisfaction than putting together good equipment. Particularly since you are working at an extremely high level of equipment matching and it's not making you happy.

did you hear the Gryphon/Rockport combo with a tube pre-amp prior?

That particular SS amp with a tube pre-amp is suspect for me along with the room due to its relatively low input impedance in combo with a tube pre-amp. An impedance mismatch between SS amp and tube pre-amp might account for some of what you describe you are not hearing that you did prior if SS pre-amps were what you had heard prior, regardless of the quality of the individual units.
Mapman, no I heard it with the Gryphon Mirage or the Gryphon Sonata Allegro preamp. I have borrowed the Mirage in my system before. The Wavac is actually not in my system right now but I'm borrowing an Orpheus Two to get by. I can't say 100% it's not the preamp causing this, but with the borrowed Mirage unit it's better but still far away from what I heard at 2 rooms with almost identical equipment.

Anyway you are right I should eliminate the preamp as a main reason for the sound. However I have been down this route before, ie buying equipment to eliminate variables.

Previously I had Gamut L5 speakers mated with the ML 326S preamp and 432 amp. The speakers were too small for my room and didn't have any bass no matter where I moved it. So I bought the Rockport Aquila after hearing two fantastic setups all running the "formula" of Gryphons mated with Rockports, and also a third room with Rockport Mira Grand IIs and Gryphons. The sound was MUCH improved when the Aquilas came into my room, but of course still far away from the two dealers and distributor. They said it's the MLs and cabling not matching the Rockports so switch cabling to Transparent and amps to the Gryphons. Another great improvement. But the huge soundstage width and depth And sense of ease at the dealers was not replicated. And that's really myajor goal with this system.

Anyway.... I hoping for quantum leaps here with more tweaking. I'm at the point of no return so I might as well make sure I buy the right preamp too. If my system identical to the dealer then they have no excuses. But they'll have my money already.
Your room is an echo chamber period. You need at least a large area rug and probably more. There are way too many hard surfaces and not enough compensating absorptive ones. All of those hard surfaces accentuate higher frequencies making the sound thinner and brighter than it should be. Also imaging is bad because of all the reflections blurring things. Depth is lost for the same reason.

Do the following:

1. Get a LARGE area rug
2. put sound treatment absorption/diffusion on the wall between the speakers where the TV is. Your best bet would be a cover over the TV that is easily removable.
3. Experiment with some small treatment that would at least diffuse (possibly absorb) reflections from the window right near your head.
It looks like a nice big room in the photo. I find it hard to believe you don't hear a huge difference when you close the drapes behind the sofa. If the drapes are made of light weight material you may want to find something heavier. Drapes can make good room treatment too and you can open and close them at will. The wall of windows is an obvious problem. The louder the volume the worse it gets.

I found a photo from CES 2008 showing Rockport speakers with woofers firing to the inside. I know it can be harder to get side firing woofers to work with your room.
Perceptually, a sense of "envelopment" is heavily dependent on reflections coming from the sides. Since there are no sidewalls to speak of, these reflections would have to be synthesized and reproduced through small speakers (which need not begin to approach the Rockports in capability). In other words, this might be a case where it makes sense to consider a multichannel system. Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like some guidelines (don't worry I have no intention of selling you anything, but would rather not post my ideas on the subject here).

I think your ears are way too close to the back wall/windows.
Move the sofa into the room a bit. Get your head at least a meter away or more from the windows. Put up wooden blinds and keep curtains closed.
Try a carpet.
Work on some acoustic treatment for the ceiling reflections.
Try moving the bass speakers inside.
Get your speakers and ears equal distance apart.
You have a lot of great suggestions to try. Cmalak's suggestion to email some pictures to Andy and talk to him by phone is a great idea. Seems like you need to definitively settle the issue of the side-firing woofers in that room before you start chasing your tail in an endless pursuit.

Here is the disturbing thing about tweaking. I have found that in a highly resolving system, the seemingly most inconsequential change can make or break the system. I have experienced this repeatedly. Even if you are 95% there, it is ALWAYS about that last 5%. Right now, I am almost afraid to make a change.

I'm waiting for the delivery of my own pair of Aquila. I noticed in photos of various systems on Audiogon that there is no consistent pattern as to how people set up their RT speakers with side firing woofers.

I asked Andy Payor about this and he said that the woofers should ALWAYS be facing towards one another.

I suspect this is your problem. Hopefully I'll be able to compare notes with you soon.

Ken Golden
Rtn1, Almost afraid or very afraid?

Yeah let's definitely keep in touch on how your Aquilas are going. I just moved the side firing woofers so they point each other to try it out. I think there was a definite improvement on tighness and punch as well as overall balance. I still have to do some more careful listening and playing around with speaker positioning and see how it works out.

My theory on the lack of great hall space is the lack of sidewalls, i.e the lack of time delayed reflections that gives you the sense of space and depth. I'm going to try some diffusion on the front wall behind the spakers to see if it helps.

RTN1 - agree it's the accumulation of small changes that will make a huge difference over time. We'll see I guess.

The idea to use Omni directional speakers is an intersting one. I may explore that if all else fails.

Has your dealer been involved in your speaker setup or offered any suggestions?
Enzo....I am so sorry to inform you that your room is in fact should box up your system immediately and ship it off to me for storage.... :-)

All good advice above, but maybe look into an acoustic engineer who could look at the space and advise you...with a system like yours, it would seem to be a reasonable investment...

Best 1K I ever spent was a Rives Level 1 consult. I freely admit that I spent much more on the solutions but my "Rig" reached levels that were hard to comprehend.

YMMV but I am a very satisfied Rives Audio customer.
Can you build some sidewalls?

To really nail this, you're going to need to bring in an acoustics expert. With a Rives level 1, just be aware that the only deliverable is a blueprint, the actual results are a shot in the dark. If the results are up 20DB here and 15db down there, you are on your own to figure it out. To do it right is an iterative process based on measurements and listening.
Enzo – Let’s see if we can diagnose before we perscribe; here is what I heard you say your problems were:

1) “I'm having a hard time getting it to sound anywhere as good as the dealer/distributor using very similar equipment (outside the preamp). Is it my room?”
2) “the soundstage height/depth is not what I know these speakers are capable of. The depth of the layers in the soundstage is also shallow” “But the huge soundstage width and depth And sense of ease at the dealers was not replicated.”
3) “I have no sidewalls”
4) “speakers are firing into floor to ceiling windows”
5) “room just kinda sounds dead and muffled” and “It just sounds veiled, with a soundstage that is between the speakers only”

Let’s take them one at a time:
Point 1) Above
• Identical equipment in different rooms will always sound different (unless they’re identical hotel rooms which’ll sound equally dreadful)
• Expecting your room to sound as good as the dealer’s isn’t realistic IF the dealer has a well acoustically treated room, and maybe using multiple bass sources and EQ to ensure near-perfect bass response, has good room dimensions, and side walls which you lack in the current configuration.
• Conclusion: yes it’s your room as you surmised.

Point 2) Above
• The depth of the layers in the soundstage is shallow because the soundstage depth is shallow so naturally everything is compressed. Soundstage depth needs distance between the front wall and the speakers – try 7 feet or so. Failing that put lots of broadband absorption centered on the front wall starting 2ft above the floor and extending to the ceiling. The absorption will significantly attenuate the reflections coming back towards you which will trick the brain into thinking the front boundary is farther away than it really is.
• Soundstage width is a function of side wall reflections at 1st reflection points that are less than 80ms and within the band of 500Hz-2KHz which add image broadening and hence your soundstage width you seek. Your absence of side walls isn’t helping matters. Dr Floyd Toole in his latest book debunks the popular notion that side wall 1st reflections are bad; they are bad IF you are a musician mastering his/her music or a reviewer trying to compare stereo components, but for all other purposes the side reflections are positive aspects of enjoying music by widening the apparent sound source width and reducing the Inter-Aural Cross Correlation coefficient.
• “Sense of ease” as you wrote may be interpreted that the balance of direct-to-indirect sound is off balance and you’re listening to too many of the latter, especially reflections off the glass windowed back wall in your current arrangement. The rear windowed wall is the perfect bass trap while it reflects higher frequencies so the sonic balance that you paid dearly for in those expensive speakers is being thrown off kilter at your ears.

Point 3) Above
• Side walls, as said above, provide much needed reflections for apparent source width and listener envelopment. Within Toole’s book listener’s highest preferences were when side wall reflections came at 60 degrees (if looking ahead at the speakers is 0degrees and over a shoulder is 90degrees).
• While it’s true that very stiff walls that keep most of the bass inside the room suffer terrible bass modes, the opposite is also problematic in that very thin walls (you’re your windows) won’t keep enough bass in the room which is the spatial domain of “listener envelopment”
• Reflections coming from the rear wall aren’t perceived as coming from the back wall but add a pleasant sense of envelopment

Point 4) Above
• Front and rear walls should have treatments that are broad enough individually or combined to cover as much of the freq spectrum as possible. If you only absorb the high or low frequencies then you’re also skewing the sonic imprint of the reflected sound (or indirect sound) that you also listen to thereby muddying or possibly veiling the sound.
• Bass trap absorption of the resistive type (i.e. fiberglass filled) must be a minimum of 4” thick and leave at minimum of 6”-7” air space behind it. Obviously the thicker the trap the better and the larger the air space distance the better affect absorption to lower levels. You want bass absorption to work from about 300-500Hz on down as low as it can go.
• From 300-500Hz on up you should consider diffusion or reflection. Absorption can be used if your room is overly reflective and bright sounding, otherwise reflection at 1st side wall points and diffusion in other areas will be beneficial by attenuating damaging reflections like flutter echoes between hard parallel surfaces which might be occurring between your front and back windowed walls in the current layout. Diffusion must be a minimum of 8” depth if of the QRD or Skyline type or 12” radius depth if of the hemi-cylindrical type so as to work down to 300Hz. Ideally you want the diffuser depth to be 50% of the 300Hz wavelength which equates to 22.5” but 8” will suffice at 300Hz but not nearly as effective as the longer lengths.

Point 5) Above
• Again “dead and muffled” could be due to a host of reasons not least of which is too much of the acoustical energy is being lost outside the primary listening position due to no side walls and the windowed back wall trapping all low frequencies.
• Soundstage between the speakers and presumably not extending to the outsides of the speakers is most likely due to the absence of side wall reflections.
Possible Solution:
• I’d recommend rotating your system and listening configuration 90degrees to use the windowed wall and wall with TV as the new side walls.
• (You can always mount your TV on an automatic stand attached to the ceiling that will drop down when in use or fold up parallel with the ceiling when not in use)
• Symmetry is usually pretty critical so if the windowed wall will always be the perfect bass trap then you’ll likely want some bass traps on the floor-wall corners on the TV wall to match.
• Side wall 1st reflections points can start off as bare and reflective as per Toole’s recommendations but if you find that the centre image is being pulled towards the TV wall because those reflections are stronger than those off the window (because they’re going through the window) then you could try absorption on the TV wall or both side walls. Thick drapes work best for absorption.
• The large deep space behind the speakers should act as absorption and thereby create a much deeper sense of soundstage depth than the current configuration
• With the new sitting position now equidistant between the tv wall and windowed wall you’ll also have what appears to be sufficient room behind the listening position for possible diffusion to be hung on the back wall of the new layout to attenuate reflections enough to help create envelopment
• You may need a pair of subwoofers to help boost the bass due to what’s being lost through the windowed wall.

Lastly, consider professional acoustical treatment consultation, OR get a damn fine headphone-based system ;)
Kevinzoe - thank you very much for your very thorough response. I greatly appreciate that.

I'm going to be trying a few different things over the coming weeks. I've defintely thought about turning it 90 degrees and may even do that if all else fails. With that setup though, I'll have sidewalls but no front and back walls. Would that be a problem?

One question on how the windows suck out the bass (because I do feel like I lack some bass - and nobody has ever questioned Rockports on bass... it's usually one of their strengths). Why do thin windows act as an absorber of bass?

I'll be trying some diffusion on the frontwall (where the TV is mounted now) this weekend, and maybe switch to thicker curtains. I heard diffusion should be in the center of the front wall for best performance so I'll put it in front of the TV for now just to try it. If it helps dramatically I'll get rid of the big 60" Pioneer plasma TV and install a projector instead (I don't watch TV much anyway).

I've already switched the side firing woofers to face inwards but have not listened to it long enough to draw any conclusions yet.

Professional help is an option (i.e Rives) but I have access to resources to try out (diffusions, absorbers, etc so I might as well try it first instead of getting someone to send me a theoretical drawing. Without sidewalls (building them is not an option), there aren't THAT many variables. I can adjust speaker position, listening position, thicker curtains, diffusion/absorption on the front wall, and diffusion/absorption on the ceiling, or maybe a thick carpet.

Anyway, thanks for all the help again. Will keep you guys updated!
Another thought if you have not already done so is to post this thread on Audio Asylum in the Rives asylum. Lots of helpful people over there.

". . .I'll have sidewalls but no front and back walls. Would that be a problem?"

The side wall lateral reflections are beneficial - particularly in stereo - since they can produce greater apparent source width and spaciouness, while the front/rear reflections can decrease these attributes since they come from the same direction as the direct sound and thereby increase the Interaural Cross Correlation Coefficient (IACC) which is a bad thing. So in short the situation of having side walls with no front/back wall is preferred over the opposite situation. Have you considered mounting some diffuser panels (DIY or store bought) on a moveable stand with wheels that can be moved to the side out of the way when not in use or put behind your listening chair for critical listening sessions? Just a thought.

"Why do thin windows act as an absorber of bass?"

Windows don't technically absorb bass unless they're loosely installed and their vibration back and forth acts like a diaphragmatic bass trap . . . As low frequencies have long wavelengths they don't "see" the window and easily pass through it; if they pass through it then they can't be reflected back into the room so therefore the windows function more like a bass trap/absorber. Higher frequencies with much shorter wavelengths will in fact "see" the window and reflect off of it. The biggest problem with the windows is that it's too good of a bass trap and allow too much bass energy to be drained out of the room while maintaining the higher freq energy and therefore acts like a high-pass filter throwing off the timbral balance which you hear. So diffuse or absorb in front of the windows to attenuate the higher frequencies.

I don't know your ceiling height but you could experiment with reflection, diffusion, or absorption at 1st reflection points there to see which you like best.
Thanks for all the help guys.

I've added some diffusion to the corners of the front wall, switched around the speakers so the woofers now fire inwards, pulled out the speakers even further (now about 2.2m into the room from front wall to tweeter), and moved the speakers closer so they aren't so wide apart.

The sound has vastly improved, maybe from a 5 to a 7 (if the dealer was a 10 in his properly treated dedicated room), and I expect I can get it maybe up to an 8-8.5 max with more diffusion on the front wall, maybe get rid of the TV in the middle, a bit more speaker placement adjustments, and a better preamp.

The soundstage depth is finally there, the sense of reverb/echo sounds more proper, the bass tighted up with more SPLs, and now the weight of the notes finally sound like Rockports.

My complaint has drastically decreased, but right now the biggest issues are probably 1) soundstage height is a bit too low and 2) I still want more overall bloom in the soundstage (envelopment from up down left right).

Does anyone know how to get more soundstage height? Seems like width and depth are the easier ones to get but height is really hard. Should I tilt the speaker more forward or backwards (by adjusting the footers)?

Anyway, thanks again for all your guys's help. I'm finally getting happy with this system after spending all the money and it just goes to show you proper setup is SO damn important. I was adjusting centimeters with speaker position when I should have been adjusting them in much bigger gaps. I had to basically pull the speakers 1/2 way into the room (guess I bought too big of a speaker!!) and space them much less far apart. I'm happy that the Rockport's tweeter/mid/bass integrate fast between the drivers or else it would be a bigger problem to deal with running out of room space.
Enzo618, thanks for updating your situation. So many people asked questions, get tons of advice and then they never report back what worked, or didn't work. IMO your feedback is a critical part of the forum process.

Good luck with future adjustments!