Jazz And Speaker Placement

Inspired by the purchase of a new pair of speaker stands (custom made for my LS50s, whatever good that does), I just went through a painful reevaluatIon of my system’s speaker placement. A lot of reading—particularly into the SBIR phenomenon, along with KEF’s own literature—and even more experimentation. Two guidelines: No rules and no big money on footers.

The last time I tried this, I wound up with the speakers on spikes, 4” from the speaker wall, with socks stuffed into the ports. (Some members of this forum may not have heard: I’ve done away with the terms “front” and “back” walls, along with the confusion and explanations that always accompany then, in favor of the terms speaker wall and listener wall. Please use these terms going forward.)

The first person to hear this setup asked, “Where’s the bass?” He was right. The sound had been tightened within an inch of it’s life. Bass and drums were staccato, with plenty of black space audible. But that’s not the way bass sounds, nor a kick drum. They are soft instruments, with lots of attack and decay. They are not “transients,” at least not in the way that I understand that word. (To me, “transient” has about the same descriptive power as ‘postmodern.”)

This was “audiophile bass,” to borrow Paul McGowan’s phrase, and it had to go. The socks had been long gone by the time the new stands arrived, now, following the advice of McGowan and our own MillerCarbon, I got rid of the spikes and replaced them with a dot of poster putty. Played around with the positioning but kept them in the SBIR-friendly spot close to the wall.

“Miss You” by The Rolling Stones was my reference bass sound during all of this. Great bass line and it now sounds glorious. But I’m still new enough at this game to question my own ears. So allow me to ask the jazz lovers on this forum a question:

Bill Evans’s famous stand at the Village Vanguard has been issued on two albums (probably more). The Paul Motian-heavy “Sunday At” and the more normal sounding “Waltz For Debbie.” In my new setup, I’m “Waltz,” Motian and LeFaro are as loud in the left channel as Evans does in the right. (I may have the channels reversed.) Is this how it’s supposed to sound? In the old days, Evans dominated. Now the famous interplay among this trio is more clear.

It sounds good but it’s definitely a change. Is this how it’s supposed to be?

Worried in Williamsburg.
"If stereophile said it's a problem then it must be"...

See, that in itself is a problem. Too much credence given to the media. Not uncommon, however.

Ozzy, somehow you seem to have missed the sarcasm in that statement. Not an easy thing to do given that it was as subtle as a sledgehammer. 
when i had the LS50s it was very important to bass response to have solid stands.  i used skylan stands filled with cat litter.  make sure stands make rigid contact with floor, spiked or spiked on discs.  
make sure you use the isolation dots that KEF provides, i have tested them and they are tuned extremely well.  
the stands should be no more than 24 in high.  KEF specifies this for proper floor reinforcement and smooth voicing at the listening spot.  if the tweeters are ear level they will have an exaggerated treble response.  
finally avoid using the plugs and pull them out from the wall behind them at least 24 inches.  
they can sound impressive when setup correctly.  
Paul, I highly recommend Mezzrow, it’s basically across the street from Smalls, just not well known, hence not as crowded. I believe you can pretty much walk in snd pay $25 at the door for a good show. Check the calendar prior for set times. Basically you can go anytime.
If you wanna hang out in the FG area, I’m game but there’s no jazz club there currently I believe. Across BAM there was La Caye which I don’t know if it’s still there, they had hood live jazz. Karasu sounds great, may have to check that out.
Paul, just wanted to mention, BRIC jazzfest is this week from 21 to 23, at Fort Greene. It's at the BRIC cultural center. This is a good opportunity for you to catch up on some jazz. I may swing by Thursday (because of  Cecile McLorin Salvant) or Friday night.