Most speakers are designed with the emphasis on good on-axis response, with the expectation that they will be listened to from close enough that the first-arrival sound will dominate over the reverberant energy as far as tonal balance goes.
But in a very large room, assuming you listen from fairly far away, the reverberant energy will dominate the tonal balance. In that sort of situation, the speaker's power response (summed omnidirectional response) will matter more than its on-axis response. Far more.
My first sobering encounter with the importance of power response in a large room came back in the late 80's, when I took my killer homebrew speakers to a small-scale dance that was held in a back room at a church (about twice the size of your future room). I was very excited about showing off my talent. The speakers had a 15" woofer, 7" midrange and 1" dome tweeter. Well, they sounded like crap in that room! I was truly horrified, and had no explanation (the concepts in the first two paragraphs above were unknown to me at that time).
The answer would have been speakers with good radiation pattern control. That's one of the reasons prosound speakers are configured the way they are (big woofers, big horns) - not only does that give high output, but it gives decent radiation pattern control, and that's what works in a big space.
The Sunny Cable speakers you mention are like high-end variations on a prosound-ish theme. They almost certainly have a much smoother power response than conventional direct-radiator speakers, mainly because horns do a good job of radiation pattern control - which relates directly to the power response - which relates directly to the tonal balance in a very large room.
There are other ways to get good power response, but a high quality horn-type system is among the front-runners for a very large room in my opinion.
I too have a large challenging room 18 X 31 with 12 ft peak open beam ceiling, tile floors over concrete, lots of glass, plus an open stair well up/down.
If possible, position the speakers along the short wall. If not, then midway (or less) and fire towards a wall, not into the room. Alas, I have to fire into the long wall.
I found big speakers (lots of radiating area) to couple best. Currently biamping Magnepan 3.5Rs with Wyred4Sound multichannel amp, plus a SVS powered sub.
Getting great sound will definitely keep you busy, but hey, it's a hobby
I think horns would be just about your only choice in a room like that. Otherwise, power requirements will really get out of hand. I personally prefer small rooms because you can load them just right without having to resort to anything crazy. I hear great things about top-end JBLs, but they sure aren't cheap.
I used ATC SCM 20 and a sub in a room with space for a complete badminton court, hot tub and large ornamental fig tree. Approx dimensions were 50 feet by 36 feet with 11 to 18 feet vaulted ceiling. No problem at all to fill this space (but I absolutely needed the sub) and I like to listen extremely loud - everything was wood with windows along two sides...not the best of acoustics due to the reflective gymn floor.
So if you get speakers with very wide and even dispersion that play at pro SPL levels with low distortion then they will fill any space well (won't fix reverberation issues but will fill the space evenly).
Without naming names (and upsetting owners), my experience with these small ATC bookshelf speakers compared to several other brands of consumer speakers (big well known names) caused me to radically change my opinion about non pro designs with non-pro drivers. Today I would not use anything but a pro design in a large space.
I agree with Aball, I think horns are by far your best choice in a room of that size. You could come up with some other set-ups that would work, but the horns will be much more energy efficient.
Aball is correct.I heard the top JBL's he mentioned at Ears Nova only a few blocks from your door
Large rooms are great in general. Gives the speakers more room to breath and express themselves.
A big room can deliver a big sound as well, but it will generally cost more to do it than a small room. Larger speakers will be needed and more power to drive them, in general.
The ideal situation would be to have a small listening room with a small tube amp and small high end efficient speakers for an intimate music setting- jazz, blues, vocals and a large room with large speakers for Rock, big band and classical.
I think I just came up with a new project- and another couple of years being poor...
I agree. Its nice to have a large and small room to provide different diametrically opposed listening experiences, if possible.
Room size is a componenet of your system, no less important that any other piece of equipment. Even the best stereo will sound awful in the wrong room. this topic is almost always ignored in discussion threads on "what is better, this speaker or that" etc. I suggest you research the archives on "listening room", or "golden ratio". It explains the relationship quite well. If you're serious about "balancing the room" you will want to add some form of treatments in and around the immediate "critical listening position". I have a very comfortable living room, about 26' x 17' x 9', but the size is all wrong. Hence I added large portable (calapsable) absorbers behind my chair which essentially cut the room in half. Put a thick rug in front of the speakers and greatly improved the sound. Cara makes a free software program that analyzes your room properties and tells you how to fix. not sure of the web address right now, but I'm sure a google search will find it for you. Best of luck.
Hey emalist, this is a site that can give you a little technical edge.
Clements system does sound better than mine. Perhpas having less to do with room size and more to do with the fact that he is using the behold digital crossover and tri-amping the speakers (2 behold amps!) He is also using the 18" inch to my 15 inch version.
On to room size. The main difference i have come to grips with is with intamacy.
smaller rooms seem to allow for deeper focus into the nooks and crannies of the sound field. boundry walls, if properly treated create a re-enforcement or containment which adds to the ability to render micro focus.
The one area i feel i may have it over the smaller room is with scale.given the right recording, I can achieve near perfect sense and impact of a live performance as far as imaging, sound staging and dynamics are concerned.
Not all big rooms are created equal of course. My room is 33x60x14. An 20x24x10, which was my old room size was nearly perfect, embracing the best of both worlds. Best of luck, Greg
I think you nailed the room size issue pretty good. ITs pretty straightforward really.
Large rooms, properly utilized provide a grander sense of scale. Smaller rooms provide a more intimate listening environment where you can focus more on details and listen into the "nooks and crannnies" of what's going on in the recording.
The Goldilocks room?
Very small rooms = bad. Period. There is no such thing as a great sounding very small room. Good or Bad is possible with "small" rooms but never great. Too many close reverberations give a highly cluttered sound and listening in a near field position (less than 3 feet from speakers is only a wee bit better than headphones). Besides finding a sitting position away from a wall becomes a challenge. A diagonal speaker set up with the listener closer to the center of the room (but obviously not precisely at the center) usually works best in a very small room (get the listener and reflected speaker sound as far away or delayed in time from walls as possible). This is the same reason why open headphones always sound better than headphones with acoustic isolation (cups).
Large domestic rooms/spaces can be great to good but are very rarely bad (again a lot depending on dimensions and reflectivity of the surfaces will determine how great it is) Up to 50 foot dimensions seem to work well. Then long delayed echoes can start to be a headache.
Giant rooms can sound good to awful - again depending on the space. For example, a low ceiling in a large space sounds terrible and highly reflective surface in a very large space can lead to deeply disturbing long time coherent reverberations from any large flat surfaces - such as an auditorium, gymnasium, or double story windows in a giant North American style open living room (as much as possible sound should be directed into the room away from the windows and listening position well away from windows in this case).
A small room being better than a large room is extremely rare. This is because sound travels and loses energy with square of distance(6 db drop in intensity with each doubling of distance). Furthermore a better separation in time will help inteligibility of sound.
The Goldilocks room is actually not too big and not to small - it is just right - but then you probably guessed that! FWIW - Thick Carpet is as near as dammit the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to any room!!
All other things aside, I'd say I prefer a larger room for sure, so size does matter.
But there are so many other factors that come into play that size alone is certainly no guarantee of good sound.
The fact is your room is part of your system and you should treat it that way. If you do, you can achieve spectacular results in many cases without spending yourself into oblivion.
Actually, some of the best sounds I've ever heard coming out of a stereo system were no rooms at all, ie with speakers set up outside on a porch or landing with only a single wall behind them.