My Home Speakers, My Car, and Me...The Ballad of What's Going Wrong?


Okay, so tell me what's going wrong.

My new dedicated room is 13x12x8. It's small. Bare walls. Hard tile floor. Windows on the front wall.

I have some loaner speakers in there at the moment while my other speakers are on order. Right now I have Dynaudio Focus 340s. They are 7ft apart from one another, 29" from the side walls, and 19" from the front wall. I am sitting 9.5ft from the speakers with a glorious center image.

I have ran room correction via my Linn KDS/3, called "Space Optimization." It works very well.

Yet, here I am listening, and verything I put on gives me anxiety. Literally a vibratory feeling that sucks.It's maybe half of a song in and I'm feeling this way.

And I think to myself, "When I'm in my car, cranking my music, why don't I feel the same?" I feel fine in the car. Perfect, even.

So, why would I be feeling this way in my room?

I question if I naturally need to sit further back from the speakers (which I can't do: I'm out of space/room). It seems my best speaker experiences are when I'm at a friend's house and either I'm a really good distance away from the speakers, or the room is very large and/or the speakers are much further apart. All of this, of course, is contrary to what I experience in my car.

Then I think, well, let me try some near field listening with my speakers, and I end up with the same anxious feeling. 

There's really only one more thing I can try, and that is to move all of my gear into the parlor, which is a much bigger room. I couldn't leave my stuff there, because the wife wouldn't want it, but at least I could experiment to see if a greater distance from the speakers will be better. However, that doesn't answer my question of why I feel fine in my auto with the music blaring in such a confined space.

Could it be that a sealed up listening space, full of soft stuff, is optimal?

Here is a diagram of my room (if it matters).

http://imgur.com/PC8LyVX


Thanks for nay thoughts. It's driving me batty.
evolvist
I am thinking a few things:

1. maybe the experience of just sitting in a smallish, bare room listening to music just doesn’t do it for you. I know that I can’t just listen to music for any appreciable amount of time and do nothing else. I have to read, look at my computer, anything. When you are at your friend’s place, there is a social aspect that may help the experience.

2. the room is a little too bare and/ or antiseptic. Maybe you need a rug on the floor. Maybe a couch would work better than a listening chair. Maybe those windows are shouting for some drapes or curtains. Maybe a little homeliness would work wonders. I don’t care too much about getting all the audiophile niceties just right, I just want it to sound real good. I also want to feel comfortable.

3. of course, maybe you need a bigger room. Otherwise it is like being sent to your room, like you were a teenager. Push those speakers close to the wall, if you need some breathing room.

Rich

Could be you don’t expect great sound in the car (I don’t), so you’re not worried about it. In your room you have set your expectations higher, which could be creating anxiety.

Or, it could very well be the acoustics of your room. My new room is very warm (lots of high frequency absorption) and dry (not a lot of reflections, and quick decay), and very quiet. I’m loving the quiet, feeling very insulated from the outside world, and relaxed. As rar1 suggested, try an area rug on the floor, and even a blanket on a wall or two. If that helps, you can then get some acoustical panels to prevent all the harsh wall reflections.

rar1 and bdp24 both make valid points and suggestions.  My thoughts:

1.  Curtains/drapes over windows.

2.  An area rug between you and the speakers.

3.  Absorbent panels on the wall behind the listening seat so the music, as you hear it, is not bouncing off that wall to your ears for a second listen.  That can be a very unsettling experience.
4.  When possible, put Roomtune-style treatments into the corners of the room and quite importantly in the wall ceiling corners.

From your description, it sounds like the music, as the untreated room is now, is like listening in a bathroom with sound bouncing all over the place off of all hard surfaces.  Most audiophiles will tell you that getting the room right is as important as your gear.  A great kit in a bad room yields bad sound.  Don't be afraid to experiment!  I went to Walmart and bought a foam mattress topper, cut it into appropriate sizes and tacked it up on the wall in various positions, listening to the effect on the music. Once you figure it out, you can move to a more permanent approach to slap echo and other room issues.  First thing to do, treat the wall behind you with absorbent material.

Best of luck and keep an open mind!


You need a rug and a good book or magazine.
That room is too small for the speakers you are using. What are the new speakers you plan on using? Keep away from rear ported type speakers. You would be better off using a LS3/5A (sealed 2 way) type of speaker for a small room like you have!
Hmmm...thank for the thoughts.

So, even with room correction running in software, it's still could not be defeating real, physical room problems?

You're right. The room is very hard and bare.

My body associates music with relaxation, no matter the style or genre; it's been conditioned over the years to let everything else melt away and escape via sound.

So, it could be a form of shock?

Perhaps I put too much stock in the room correction. One would think that being 9.5ft away from the speakers would be great, especially having a nice even image in the room, despite the speakers, themselves, being less than optimal.

I'll see if I can get some blankets and such up on the walls today and see how that does.

Thanks, again! Any other thoughts are always welcome.
@yogiboy  - But, if one is expecting to get full range speaker quality, with a small room like that, just forget the concept that you'll ever reach the highest of highs and the lowest of lows?

These aren't very big speakers. In fact, once could argue that they are a bit bass shy.

I could be wrong, but with acoustic room treatment and/or correction, with 9.5ft away (which wouldn't be considered near field), and 7ft apart, from speaker to speaker, by all measures isn't that still considered optimal?

Now, we're talking about what, some small floorstanders, and maybe a sub to fill out the rest? 
Have you ever been in a busy restaurant that has hard surface walls and ceiling with no sound absorption? The voices from everyone talking bounce all over the room and make for an uncomfortable cacophony, at least to me. It's hard to relax with all that sound bouncing around. Maybe I'm more aware of acoustics due to this crazy hobby we all share but hard surface rooms with lots of people talking makes me want to leave. Perhaps you're experiencing the same issue in your room despite the room correction. I would echo what others have said, get some room treatment on the walls, floor and windows.    
evolvist -

If you're stuck in the small room, some stand mounted monitors may work better than the floor standers.
I used my old Vandersteen 3A's in a similar situation, without the glass and tile, and the ear fatigue (anxiety) was enormous at any bump of the volume.  I messed with the cables, speaker positioning, curtains and room treatments and that helped some. Not much.  I moved them to a larger room and the only wife acceptable solution was to place them at either ends of the listening couch.  The tone, fidelity,  overall command and Fun of the music so improved that I could not move them back to the small room.  I sacrificed soundstaging for good sound. Definitely give your parlor a try.  
It sounds like your system is out of phase. Try reversing the polarity on one speaker and see if that helps!
room correction software is not omnipotent - I'd buy a $100 calibrated measurement mic and run some free software to test

or... maybe the experience of just sitting in a smallish, bare room w/ or w/o music is the issue

and.. you can always dose up with 'ludes before listening!
I'm going to try out some acoustic treatment tonight. Technically I could pad the whole friggin' room if I wanted to. I have a fair sized rug that I can put between the speakers and myself for now. 

Hopefully this will give me a good idea where I'm headed. 

I'm just thinking that it can't be the loudness, otherwise I would feel strange at concerts or in my ride. I wouldn't think the room would be too small, but maybe it is. 

Anyway, it will be a worthy experiment this evening. 

Have you tried turning off the Linn "Space Optimization" room correction? 

I had the opportunity to work with DiracLive room correction in my system.  It did weird things to the frequency response as well as the phasing.  The result was that the audio sounded like it was right at my head (almost like listening to headphones) instead of far out in front of me.  Sometimes it would cause an effect like one speaker was out of phase (like donvito suggested).  Since you have so much hard wood/wall reflections, the room correction could be over-compensating these reflections and it could affect phase.

In any event, I really tried DiracLive with all sorts of configurations, adjustment levels, mic placement.  In the end, I just did not enjoy the result and found that non-corrected audio just sounded better and more natural.

I'm not saying this is your problem, but it's something you could try.  Maybe in a more treated room, the "Space Optimization" correction could work better?

+1 auxinput    Give the rug a try and knock down the slap echo in the room.  This may take some time and surely patience, but take your time.  Implement an acoustic room change and then listen.  Keep doing that over and over until things start to sound settled with a soundstage developing in front of you. Patience!
a small room will create issues for bass, less so for treble

I suspect it is hard surfaces - treat walls, corners, stuff it full of furniture...

Is there any room that did not benefit from a rug in between the listener and the 2 speakers?

you can also walk around clapping your hands - amazingly more effective than you'd suspect
+++10 guys! 

I'm determined to get to the bottom of this. I come from a world of headphones for 35-years, so I'm not exactly a noobie, but when I changed rooms this totally threw me for a loop. 

My hope is that I find a solution, but also that somebody will come across this thread in the future and it can help them out, too. 

So, I went and and purchased twelve 12"x12" diffusion panels,  twelve absorption panels of the same size, and two small bass traps for my front wall (I kept the receipt). I have a rug. So, I'll see how much I can do tonight. 

One thing about Space Optimization from Linn, it really is quality. The actual SQ is fantastic. I simply think I'm running into issues that software can't cover. 

We'll find out. :-)
also some thought to speakers that work well closer in the corners or close to the wall something like the AudioNote speakers for example they take advantage of corner placement. there are many others out there that do the same. Also maybe someone with more experience with room treatment can chime in but i'm thinking those angled corners just behind the speakers can't be helping much.

I would first look at putting in the absorption panels.  Twelve 1' x 1' panels are not a lot.  A standard size 24" x 48" panel is equal to about 8 of those.  It's better then nothing, though.  It may help cut down some of the slap echo.  Check out GIK Acoustics if you are interested in larger size absorption panels for a very economical price.

Once you have the absorption up, be very careful with diffusion.  Certain types of diffusion panels, such as QRD or skyline, can cause cancelling of some frequencies and boosting of other frequencies, especially when they are mounted very close to you in a very small room.  If they are just generic reflectors (such as the pyramid style diffusion), then it may be less of a problem.

Also, I noticed that your room is almost perfectly square (12 x 13).  A square room is actually the worst acoustic situation because of the equidistant walls creating standing waves in both directions.  A better room would be more of a rectangle shape.  :). Though sometimes we have no control over this.

Standing waves....MHO.

You can change the EQ, but ultimately not how the room responds to certain frequencies.  As noted, 'damping' the room's surfaces will help but not change the fundamentals and the resonances they create.

If possible, run some test sweeps with a generator, running a calibrated mic on an RTA.  Find out where those peaks are, and adjust eq to trim response 'down' slightly at those fundamentals.

The cheaper alternative is to 'do the math' based on the room dimensions and experiment with the results.

It'll beat doing drugs or alcohol in the long run...one tends to forget what and why you're there, and where did I leave that.... :)
I had a similar room at one time.  It may be out of the question, but can you reverse your room where your listening position is in front of the windows?  You really need at least a few feet between you and the back wall.  Of course, as has been mentioned, room treatment is of paramount importance.  I would find a way to cover the glass. Maybe you can make it portable.  A soft surface on the floor and absorbers for side wall reflections.  Diffusers and absorbers work well in breaking up the sound. If you place absorbers/diffusers in back of you, it will make your room "sound" larger. Maybe some QRD-11's or 13's. Check for room nodes and try to compensate.  It will take a lot of experimenting.  Don't forget the ceiling.  You need something up there to break up the sound.  
Keep in mind that "room correction" software only fixes one single point in your room.  Move a few inches, and the sound is now *more* out of whack there, and all other places in the room for that matter.  It does nothing to cure any standing waves, reflections, etc.  It should be used as an absolute last resort, not as a crutch to take the lazy way out from treating a room properly (as many owners of typical home theater receivers do).  
I would echo Handymann's suggestion of inverting the room with the speakers where you now have your sofa and the sofa where you have the speakers..
Hey guys, a theoretical question (on my part), though some of you may know in practice:

If you've clicked on the photo of my room you'll notice to open alcoves on back wall. One leads to a hallway and the other leads to the kitchen. 

Now, imagine that I've made back wall my front wall, so that now my LP is with my back to the windows. 

At almost a 45 degree angle in my room the ports of the speakers are now aimed towards the alcoves. In other words, there is no front wall that each speaker is directly in front of. 

From there, in order to keep an equilateral triangle, my speakers must be 8ft apart, in order to keep the ports in "open air," which also increases my distance from the side walls, although each speaker is now not an equal distance from the side walls. Still, not only would the speakers no longer be firing into a square room, buy also those ports are "free" and not firing into a wall. I got the idea from here:

http://www.decware.com/paper14.htm

Unfortunately, my power went out in Houston, so I couldn't have a listen. 

So, is this sound theory (pun intended) and/or do you think they'll sound good without worrying about bass traps behind the speakers? 
My dedicated room is not much bigger and made me feel the same way until I installed room treatments on all walls including the ceiling, and covered most of the hardwood floor with a thick area rug. Cover all the first reflection points. Jim Smith’s book Get Better Sound is very helpful. Time spent getting the speakers and the listening seat absolutely correct will make all the difference. Keep in mind, the room will dictate 50% of what your system will sound like. 
You shouldn't need to read anything when you’re listening. When your system sounds really good all you’ll want to do is sit with your eyes closed and LISTEN. 

Tom
car audio benefits from synesthesia 
Headphones.
Problem solved.
Just a note, evolvist:  while smaller speakers can be easier to integrate in a smaller room, you don't have to give up on bigger speakers.   If you place them right, and treat the room right,  you can have the glory of full range sound in a small room.  I've been using a big variety of large floor standing speakers in a smallish room, close to yours, for decades and even though I've flirted with stand mounted speakers, I keep going back to fuller range because they sound better and are more satisfying IMO.
..just for the halibut, put a rug in the very front of your speakers....if you don't have 2 small rugs, use overcoats or similar.