I will be moving into a new audio room in the near future. It measures 14'W x 18'L x 8.5'H and will be a dedicated room with moderate acoustic treatment. Three walls are ICF concrete (insulated concrete forms - concrete with 2" foam covered by sheetrock) and the rear wall is standard 2"x6" construction. Is the space sufficient to support the low frequency of a full range speaker such as the Revel Salon? Should I consider a monitor or a smaller speaker with a sub to increase placement flexibility? I am concerned about overloading the room and ending up with boomy bass. I am upgrading my current system (mid fi) so options are open. Thanks for your input.
Boomy bass in a room like that is a very legitimate concern. The ideal answer is to experiment and compare, but that isn't always feasible. If you have a chance; why not borrow some high quality monitors with a bit of bass to them, and see how close they come to filling your room adequately. Possible candidates, if available; Reference 3a Dulcets, ProAc Studio 110s, Neat Motive 3s, several Dynaudios, Monitor GR 10s. I've gone back and forth over the years in a room that's a little smaller, but I always seem to come back to the monitor approach as better overall.... happy hunting -paul-
that room is close to the size of one of my rooms (it's 13 x 21 x 8), and I have used various full range speakers in it, never had a problem with boominess. I'm currently running Von Schweikert VR4 genIIIs which go to 16Hz, and they perform wonderfully.
I've used smaller speakers and a sub in that room too (Totem Sttaf with a Rel Storm III), and you're correct that placement may be easier, but integration may suffer IMO. I haven't had difficulty optimizing placement of my VR4III's
Given your room size, you can still accomodate a full-range floorstander. The only question is how large can they go. I had no problems previously with Sonus Faber Grand Pianos in my smallish 11'W x 17'L room. However, in one review by John Atkinson in Stereophile, it was suggested that stand-mounted mini-monitor loudspeakers may offer the best chance of sounding good in the widest range of moderate-sized listening rooms compared to their larger counterparts. Two-way minimonitors hold the advantage of being preferred in the broadcast industry as a nearfield monitor as they emphasized definition and intelligibility over extensive dynamics and subterranean bass response which made them better suited to studio applications.
Having that said, I still feel your room would be able to accomodate moderate-sized floorstanders easily. I reckon many would recommend floorstanders over standmounts as the advantages of the former outweigh the latter in the long-run, given your room size. Getting to know which won't sound boomy would be tricky and may need a bit of research unless you can try it out in your room yourself.
FWIW rooms which are dimensionally challenged are not always more of a problem for full range speakers than monitors. It depends on where the nulls and nodes appear in your room and where you end up placing the speakers. Some rooms can have substantial peaks in frequencies at 60hz and above, a range common to most speakers but the smallest of monitors.
Panderso's advise is good. But, I would also suggest that you get a pair of speakers with bass output down to 32 hz to test your room and using a SPL meter and a test disc see what your frequency response problems might actually be. You can, if necessary, probably get by with speakers which are flat at 40-45 hz as you can still tell if you have bass problems at 32hz. There would normally be large stand mounted speakers.
After you do this you will have a good understanding of what type of speaker will work best, a full range floor stander, a large stand mounted with sub, or small monitors with a sub.
The fact that your rear wall ( behind the listening position ) is not concrete is a fantastic bonus....concrete is very reflective and will not leak out energy and consequently you may get overly long reverb times. The best place to have a "leaky" or less reflective surface for bass frequencies is the wall behind your head. Since it is concrete you may want to use more acoustic panels/carpets and wall hangings to absorb than usual... but you may be pleasantly surprised at how good it may sound (even with full range).
I would consider that room big enough to work with all but the biggest floor standers. I think the more important question is: do you prefer the sound of monitors or the sound of floorstanders. Where do you come in budget wise? That may play a more important role in the situation.
I believe it is smart to question the characteristics of the room like you have, though.
Doesn't part of the answer depend on the type of music you prefer? For example, if you listen to primarily classical or small group chamber music, you might be more sensitive to overemphasized bass than if you primarily listen to rock...which can benefit by a bass boost.
Full range floorstanders can work in a room of your size.
Integrating subs is difficult, but if you get it right you're not going to believe how wide, deep and tall the soudstage will be!
Three things come to mind:
1) use a proper *stereo* electronic crossover. There are NO compromises allowed here. Driving monitors full range is a bad idea and defeats one of the main advantages of a sat/sub setup: liberating the mini monitor's woofer from deep bass.
2) make sure the woofer and subwoofer materials have similar sounds. Snap the cones w/ your fingers and find out if the sound is alike.
3) set the subs somewhere along an arc intersecting the monitors and extending no more than 30 degrees to the outsides of the monitors. The subs could sound better inside the monitors or outside, depending on room acoustics.
If you cannot ( or are unwilling to ) do the above stick to 'full range' speakers. It took me years before I could do this move, but now that I did it there's no turning back.
I bought a Marchand X9 Deluxe electronic crossover w/ Cardas RCA's and had Dan Wright modify the power supply and send the boards to cryo treatment. This was done to follow a Channel Islands passive pre-amp and get the clarity of a passive pre and the dynamics and constant output impedance an active pre-amp can deliver. The electronic crossover drives four monoblock amps: 30W class A Marantz Ma-5 Esotec for the mini monitors and 125W Kenwood L-07M high current amps for the subs. Speakers are Dan Wright modded Swans M-1 mini monitors and NHT SW2-Si subs.
Like I said, it took me years to get here--but there's no turning back.
You have the full plate of options with that room...a dedicated room which allows use of bass traps without putting you in the dog house is a major plus also...I suggest both front corners as a good start.
There also is many floorstanding speakers with smaller drivers, that can give you that adaquete bass, without overloading the room. I found sticking with a small tower with 2 6 1/2 drivers and FRONT ported, is a nice compromise. If I use monitors, I however like to run my speakers full, and augment them with a sub. I find something missing if I filter the lows out.