You get it! Nothing can sound great in a room that does not allow it to do what it is designed to do.
The thing is, it does nto require a huge cash outlay to address many of the basic room issues. $1000 (which is a lot of money) will go a long way to fixing a rooms annoying characteristics. It may not result in 'studio quality sound' but it's still a lot cheaper than a $2000-4000 pair of speakers.
As your system continues to grow, whatever you put into that room is going to continue to sound that much better. You might also be surprised how much better your current system sounds in a good room. Detail, soundstage, clarity, and frequency response can all be much improved. Some of these may be exagerated now, while others of them will be muted. Just fixing that will change the basic charateristics of the system.
If you are even a little handy there are a lot of things you can do yourself.
Another very important factor in your speaker/monitor equation is your choice of speaker stands. Stands are major extensions of your speaker. Putting a quality pair of monitors on poor stands is as bad as putting your speakers flush up against the wall, or actually putting them on bookshelves ( if you could find shelves that could support that weight). Many audiophools think they are saving money chosing the small speaker (monitor speaker) route, not taking into consideration the cost factor of excellent speaker stands. A great pair of monitors atop killer stands, with an acoustically minded room, can be shear audio nirvana. I have it. I could do better with some room treatments, however. I'm working on it. peace, warren
what does one do, then, if the room absolutely can not be treated and the speakers must be positioned as closely as possible to the wall behind it? must that mean one sacrifices sound and quality? is one forced to get a portless speaker and a sub? i have yet to hear a speaker that can perform exceptionally well in an untreated room and against the wall. any advice?
Mizrachi, It all depends on what you expect to achieve with your system. As a pratical matter, if you do not/cannot set your speakers up to their best advantage and compensate for you room's acoustics I wouldn't spend much money on my equipment or speakers - you will never hear it to its best advantage. If you value neutral tonality, you'll never hear it. If you value soundstaging you'll never hear it. If all you want is to hear music and are not interested in the stereo artifacts I would get some small floorstanders, place them against the wall where convenient and buy an equalizer to adjust the tonality to compensate for your preferences, sit back and enjoy.
Nrchy's comments are right on point. If you can bring your speakers out into the room away from the walls and treat the first reflection points as needed you can get excellent sonics from mid-priced components. Room treatment can be done at low cost using ordinary domestic stuff - furniture, rugs, plants, hangings, books/cases etc. If you want to use small speakers, use stands, to bring the speakers up to ear level, but you don't need to spend big bucks here either unless you have high quality components and an excellent room that will allow you to hear the difference.
True, room treatments will have significant influences on your system. The most important speaker factor, way before room acoustics, is their positioning. If you didn't do a thing to treat your room, but could position your speakers perfectly, you'd be way ahead, rather than an acoustically perfect room with speakers flush against the wall, or the like. Placement AND room tweaks/treatments? Audio Nirvana. Or, the inherent maximum from your system. Newbee and Nrchy speak zee truth.
I would check out the products by Eighth Nerve.
It baffles me why putting up these pillow looking things makes such a difference, but it does. They are relatively cheap, easily reversible, and work.
Some speakers are meant to be up against the wall. Maybe not many, and I don't know which, but I'd check those out...I recall Art Dudley saying that Moth Chicadas or something like that were supposed to be positioned not only against the wall but in a corner and they did work best that way. So, all is not lost. And even if you don't hear the system to its "best" advantage, you can hear it to a good advantage... good luck
newbee, you are correct in pointing out that sans treatment you 'll never get the most out of your rig. However, my room is in dire need of treatment, and some areas just ain't gonna get it for money or WAF reasons, but my quality rig still sounds a lot better there than a low or mid budget rig. You gotta take what you can where ya can. As you indicated, getting the speakers away from the side walls, and to a lesser extent the rear wall helped a lot.
Piezo, I didn't mean my post to sound like a put down, just a call for someone to really start thinking about what they were trying to do. Some things are possible (with help from experienced folks) and others are not. I know of folks who chase a lot of money after the ultimate sound stage but have to have the speakers against the wall - well you can get some frontal spread for sure but you will have zero depth, even with speakers "designed to be placed there". They then find the design being for nothing much more than to provide a better, more even, bass response- you get the idea. By the way, if you have trouble with wall reflections (not bass reinforcement) you can play with toe in a lot more than most do - try crossing the speakers axis in front of you - this will go a long way to eliminate those side wall reflections. You might also find better focus in the center as well. Works great in small rooms. Just a thought.....
I didn't see your comment as a put down but rather as suggesting that high end gear may not be worth considering when that gear may still gain you benifits...though in no way the benifits that would be gained in a nicely appointed room...and still be worth consideration
I agree with you totally about people needing to think about what they want to accomplish (and this applies to a bunch of dealers rooms as well unfortunately) but i guess i'm emphisizing that you need not give up on high end as long as you recognize the limitations of what you have to work with. What may be needed though is a def of high end...chasing the elusive 5% with a $100k rig forget it! You are 200% correct in saying that it's a waste of time and money but 90% is probably attainable with good gear ($15-$20k rig) and proper set up even with room limitations
is it reasonable to say that no matter how wonderful a pair of speakers might sound in the store there is a very likely possibility that these same speakers will not sound as good in your untreated living room?
but dont kid yourself, the diff in a 700$ and a 4k set of speakers will be easily audible even in the least ideal situations (no room treatments, running a junker cdp and a receiver)
If money is an issue, there are always DIY options that can be made and if you take the time they can look very nice too....
lots of good info about room acoustics here: