Just moved - sound destroyed

Hi guys,

Some might remember me from having complained about the sound quality i was getting with a bedroom setup i had while living with a (jerk) roommate (didn't want to leave the system in the living room for fear of what might happen to it). I used to complain about lack of clarity, bass bloat etc. , which i deemed to be a result of the room in which the system was placed.

Recently, I moved to a new condo. I thought that i would really, finally be able to enjoy my system, but I'm soooo utterly disappointed it's not even funny.

This new place is open concept (albeit quite small) and is carpeted (whereas the other room was not... although the other setup had a huge bed as the 'seating position' in the previous room, which stifled a lot of the sound).

The positioning is as follows: room is approx 10x15... system is on a nine foot wide wall, which divides the living room and bedroom. To the right are windows which are covered in vertical blinds. To the left, the room is open. Speakers are positioned so the ports are able to use the rear wall as reinforcement. I've pulled the speakers out about 20 inches or so from the wall.

here's what i get: Muddy, undefined bass or rather, bass without punch (i can still hear the differentiation of bass notes, but there's just no 'wallup' to it). Vocals are veiled in a big way...even the best recordings I have sound mediocre...The highs go from being dull to being too hard...The speakers have lost their 'boogie factor'. Further, the sound has no real depth and can be described as a 'wall of sound'... which i believe is inherent to my speakers anyway.

Further, when i plug my Blue Circle power line pillow into any of the outlets on the same line, it trips the breaker! I don't know why that is... perhaps my system is not getting the proper current required.

Any ideas from anyone? The guy who sold me the speakers is going to swing by at some point to have a look (he's particularly good w/ setup).

i'm sooooooooo disappointed. I need you all to console me.


unico (stock)
neat mystiques
Rotel rcd 971 w/ link DAC III half nelson
Ecosse speaker cables
You need to treat the room with acoustic treatments, the asymetry of speaker positioning is not helping either. Check into Echobusters, RPG, etc.
Dont lose hope ,it took me about 6 months to get everything right with my system,
Loose--your dilemma gets at the heart of what most fail to consider when building a system--the role of the room. In my 25 years in audio I've moved at least 10 times and each time the system was transformed (for good or ill) by the new surroundings. It's gotten to the point where I can tell a good room from a bad one just by spending a few minutes assessing layout, construction materials, etc. When I was going around with my realtor looking at houses when I finally made a purchase she thought I was nuts because there were houses that we saw that met all the "normal" criteria as being a good value but I dismissed because I knew the room would suck soundwise. Having said that you may be able to improve things in a bad room signficantly with time, experimentation and room treatment. Not being able to see the room I was struck by one aspect of your description that caused some concern...."Speakers are positioned so the ports are able to use the rear wall as reinforcement". Condos are notorious for their shoddy construction--the sheet rock is thin the "studs" are typically sheet metal which allows the walls to flex. Ditto for the ceiling. If I were you I would not use speakers that were rear ported and that rely on wall reinforcement for augmenting/tuning the bass. This in my view is a big no no regardless of the room but in your case I'll bet much of your problem lies here. If you are open to a speaker change I would go with something smaller and less full range (I agree with the mantra "big speakers, big problems"). Might I suggest a pair of Harbeth HLP3ES2? There is a pair for sale now on the Agon. Read the reviews and talk to others--this is a great speaker that will do well in a condo situation if placed approximately where your Mystiques are located (i.e. away from the room boundaries). If you are wedded to the Mystiques then certainly be prepared to play around with them in your space (I'd do this first anyway since you will learn somethings about the room that will help if you change speakers). I'd get radical and try different walls with different furniture arrangements. Since it doesn't sound like you have a partner to contend with and have the run of the place go hog wild and see if you can get the sound you are looking for. I've got to believe that you can do better with what you have than the sound you were getting in a tiny bedroom at your other place. Hope this helps.
I believe the last Audiogoner is right on the money. I would also say trying to reinforce your wall structure with added sheet rock might also do the trick, along with pulling up the rug, if your aloud this option by your condo board. And since your tripping your circuit breaker a dedicated line for your system, this will cost you a small amount and will remedy that problem. When most of this is accomplished than you can in my opinion start to use acoustical based material's to fine tune the system.
Just a suggestion, maybe good, maybe not:
Try positioning the speakers parallel to the diagonal of the room, so that when you draw a direct line from L spkr to R spkr, the middle of that direct line intersects w/ its perpendicular line drawn from the corner of the room.
This way, at least the reflection plane will be less uniform and angled differently. In my prev smallish living room (15x17) this positioning gave better result.
What Dodgealum said makes a lot of sense, too.
BTW, I think 20" is too close.
What caught my eye in reading your plea was that the Blue Circle was causing the breaker to trip. For a cheap experiment, buy a long extension cord at Home Depot and plug it into a different circuit, actually get one long enough and try several different plugs and see what happens. Good luck.
Very fine posts. This is the crazy hobbie but the rewards are great. It's funny a couple of yrs. back I bought some JM Lab floorstanders (810 ?)which the bass sounded way too over-blown and muddy in my room. The dealer whom sold them to me came by to listen and said he never got that much bass out of them in the store. I could never get them to sound right even after time. Sold them and I replaced them w/another spk. and now everything is in sonic bliss. You might have to do the same. Good Luck and everything will work out!
you might try bringing the speakers further from the wall to reduce the mud

the open wall on the left will seriously mess with the balance between the two sides

good luck!
Loose, can you put some weight on your speakers? Muddy bass can be tightened with some weight. 25 lb bags of lead shot are cheap (about $15.00 in NJ) and available at your local gun shop.
Be patient is all I can say and experiment as much as you can with your gear and positioning. Intentionly place your speakers in the wrong position so you know what it sounds like, really. Its fun and you really will learn a lot about your equipment and the room its in and where the line is for trade offs (bass extension, muddy sound, room overload, clarity, soundstaging etc...)

Electrical and wiring is part of the room/system equation if you as me. Move everything to one side of the sub panel that has a motor on it or is "noisy" then your system on the other side with dedicated circuits if possible.

Also do some research from the web (Rives, Harmon, Cardas and AA room acoustics thread are all good reads). My current room is certainly less than ideal, but I am now to the point of not worrying about it too much.

I am planning a move in the next 6 months myself and am a bit stressed about the room change. I'll get a dedicated room one way or another, its part of my home buying requirements, but I'm a uncertain about how it will end up. I'm sure I'll figure it out in due time.

A friend has a spectrum analyzer that I hope to try out soon to see just where things are at. Its a great tool to see and measure what your ears are actually hearing. A great tool if you really want to get into the details.
Loose - Good advice from all above. Your room may be overdamped but the first thing I'd do is work on speaker placement. Don't get frustrated....this may take you hours or even days until you're happy with the sound.

First, work on speaker spacing from the front wall (the wall behind the speakers). Place the speakers 8' apart and right up against the wall. What happens? If you get exagerated bass, pull the speakers at least 3-4 feet out into the room. Continue with this until you optimize the bass response.

Second, work on distance from the side walls. You may be getting some of the bass problem from the side walls so moving the speakers away should help.

Third, work on toeing the speakers in until you get a stable center image (make sure to use a good recording).

The thing that gets most frustrating about speaker placement is that fractions of an inch can make a difference. If you originally liked the speakers (you bought them so I guess you must have liked them) it's worth it to put in the extra effort and time to place them just right.

Good luck.
I think it may be a combination of rear port bass aswell as your quality of power, could you demo a higher quality power conditioner perhaps? front ports would help big time IMO and some mass to your speakers may help aswell, I hope you find what makes you happy...sorry to see a move has hampered your music enjoyment.
Thanks tons for your suggestions, guys... i'm going to print this thread out for my dealer to have a 'one-over'. Again, he will be coming over to my place at some point in the near future... he assures me it's all a setup issue. At some point, he demoed the importance of the equipment rack in the equation - and what a HUGE difference equipment racks make!!! i would NEVER have believed it...but setup and tweaking are DEFINITELY the most important factors to good sound (aside from the room).

with respect to what some of you said about rear ports - i am certainly not a fan of rear ported speakers (or ported speakers at all, for that matter), but the mystiques are made for little english dens... i don't think the room's size is the problem. It's my belief that there are many factors involved, but believe me - i'm going to try different speakers in there too!

As far as furniture arrangement goes, the layout is such that I can only put the speakers on that particular wall (yes, the living area is THAT small)

I'm going to try not to worry about it for now, but I am certainly looking forward to having the store owner come over for a look-see.

thanks tons, guys. This hobby is definitely a love-hate thing. You'd think i'd have gotten tired it after so many years... but no such luck!! hahah

I'd suggest to put the breaker tripping first on your list due to safety reasons. Does the Blue Circle do the same in other circuit / apartmentyour work. If the piece is in proper working condition, have your wiring checked ASAP.