I'd ask Terry Cain directly, Bill.
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Terry is wonderful and I will continue to talk to him. I wanted to ask other Cain owners also as they have experience in various home/room settings etc. Gmood! makes a great point and I am starting to think he is right.
When I stand back against the back wall - no problem. But, several feet closer and its back. May be this simple. Man, I love these speakers and hope to work it out. Not an issue at lower volumes. I do like loder music at time however.
I could stuff a small pillow's worth of Dakron in each top horn, but I would think that is not best. I have noted that the more Dakron I place in the top horns the better the situation. Downside is I lose some of the speakers lively sound.
The Cardas speaker placement has always worked very well for me, but it recommends that the speakers are further from the rear wall than from the side walls. There's a simple formula for calculating the distances at www.cardas.com under one of the sub-headings.
The only drawback I've found is that the speakers end up quite far into the room, which can cause some friction with SWMBO.
I had a similar problem with my Lowther drivers in my Voigt Pipe cabinets.
The fix was to use a set of SP-004 Sistrum Platforms under them. Like magic. Boxy sound gone, smear eliminated. I've posted this numerous times in the past, and also emailed several people about it who experienced similar problems. It is even written into the Voigt Pipe construction plans that appear on the Lowther America website. I know the Double Bens are not Voigt Pipes, but I know about this problem.
Yes, I'm the Sistrum internet sales rep, and yes it really did work as I said.
As someone said earlier, try moving the speakers a little. It's cheap and you can do it immediately. I've read the worst place for a speaker is when it's placed the same distance from the side & backwall. I know you wrote 3 - 3.5 feet on one of your measurements, but sometimes even a few inches can matter, so try increasing the ratio. If you ever want to try another cable, I just got some Cardas SE-15 that Terry recommended for up to 12 feet. Great synergy with SET/single driver combos. Good luck.
It's a combination of your speaker location and your listening position in the BIG problem called, your ROOM. As you mentioned, when you are against the wall (at a boundry) the problem goes away. So if possible, consider re-arranging your room so your listening position is AT the rear wall.
If rearrangement is possible, also consider placing the speakers across the 24' wall. If that is doable, start with bringing each speaker 6' from the side wall to the center of the driver. That will give you 12' between the speakers.
Locate them mid-way into the room and your listening location against the rear wall. Be sure your ears are ABOVE the back of the chair/sofa you are using.
Start there and move your head forward and backward and notice the difference in the soundstage and imaging. When you find the point that sounds best, place your seat so that you are AT that point when you sit naturally.
Also, play with the toe-in on the speakers. A $20 laser level is good for proper alignment there.
Do this with the Dakron stuffing removed from the Cains.
You'll know it when you find the magic spot!
There's more you can do with cheap tweaks to the room, but this will be a good start to "work with what you've got".
Good luck and let's hear back from you with the results?
Here is an update. After reading yours post and talking to Terry at Cain & Cain this is what I have done.
1) Changed my seating position as well as speaker placement.
I am now 14 feet back from the speakers and the rear wall is 1 foot behind me with Echo Buster wall treatments on the wall. The speaker is 4.5 feet from the front wall and 3 feet from the side walls. 90% of the mid-bass/midrange colorations are gone - like magic. Combination of now being far back away from the speaker and pulling them into the room more did the trick.
2) Replaced big dollar silver/copper speaker cable with Paul Speltz anti-cable. This was the single best improvement folks. Opened up the sound and the boxy personality is gone.
3) replaced cheap PBJ IC with Tara Labs Air 1
4) replaced EH 6ns7 Wright amp tubes with RCA NOS's
I am nearing the sound of my dreams with a SET system. I have Fostex HP soud reflectors coming in today. They are made to be placed in the mouth of the upper and lower horns. Terry says this will eliminate the remaining mid-bass/midrange colorations and peaking. I am placing 2 of these 6 inch discs in each horn. I also have a Cardas Lightning digital cable coming to replace my silver/copper one. Terry says that copper is far better throughout my system with these speakers. So far everything he has said is right and thus I move on in faith!
I will let you know how these new tweaks turn out.
Thanks for all your help Agoners. I am learning that larger horn speakers can be difficult to set up. With patience they can sound so good.
My sound is big, warm, full of body and so beautiful. The music flow effortlessly and just engages the listener.I find the treble energy very good and really dont feel the need for a supertweeter. Speaker cable is very important to this aspect of the sound. The Paul Speltz anti=cable is a must for Fostex horns folks. They cost me $40 new! Ha! Beat the sound of $800 cables by a long mile.
Have you also tried the gain switch on your preamp? I don't know if yours works the same as on the Wright preamp that we had. Switching the gain down on our Wright WLA12 preamp worked much better in our room. With the gain up, our horns sounded 'overblown'.
Glad to hear this is coming together for you.
I'm also glad it is working out for you Bill. I love the Fostex sound. I'm a true convert from multi-driver speakers and planars to the fostex. Too me there's nothing like a crossoverless speaker..when it comes to naturalness and timing in the music. The neutrality of these speakers are great too. They allow you to hear even the smallest changes made in a system.
Sometime when your feeling adventurous..try severely towing your speakers in. Tow them in to where they cross infront of you, instead of behind you.You will be surprised at how good they sound like this. It tighten up my soundstage but the soundstage remained the same size..unlike multi driver speakers. It also made the speakers completely disappear.
I also discovered using copper through out the system had positive effects. I don't use expensive hybrid cabling anymore.It isn't necessary with speakers like these.
After all most of the time the speaker's internal cabling is stranded copper anyway.
Boa2, Yes, I use the low gain setting also. The Fostex HP sound reflectors work great. I put two of them in each lower bass horn and 2 in the top horns also. No need for Dakron and these dont deaden the sound like Dakron.
I also am running an Origin Live Ultra Kit turntable with modified rega 250 arm and Grado reference cart now. Starting in on LP's! Liking the SET sound so much guys.
Horns have been tamed and they are also alive with sound!
Sorry for the lame question, but are the speakers under discussion here the ones listed on the Cain & Cain website as the I-Ben? there doesn't seem to be a IM-Ben listed?
can any one contrast the sound of these large speakers with the smaller Abby, apart from bass extention is there much difference in the sound?
The bass extention was the only difference I heard between the Abbys and the Ben. Other than that the sonic signature was the same. I actually prefered the Abbys . It was just the speed this speaker seems to posses I suppose. The soundstage and layering is terrific on the Abbys as well.The Bens were just a tad bloated in comparison IMHO.Maybe this was the cabinet I was hearing?
Just wanted to post on the joy this system is giving me. I am hearing Van Morrision for the first time in my living room. Ha! The combination of Wright Sounds amps, preamp and the Cain's is magical as I have read on AA.
I want to encourage anyone who wants to go the SET system route after owning big $$$ conventional systems. This is the best sound I have had in my room. It takes a little set-up effort, but the results are so beautiful.
I just found that the high gain setting is much better on the preamp in my system. I did not realize this until recently.