Change the rake angle of the speaker by tilting them back a few degrees.
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Do you have a rack of equipment between the speakers? That will affect center image and height placement of a singer. The components will reflect sound to your ears, anchoring the vocals at their level. If you don't, then good, use that center space to tune the imaging with acoustic treatment. Not just absorbant treatment, but diffusive, or a combination of the two. Check out Michael Green's "Room Tunes" products for an example.
Onhwy61, Pickiy, Picky, Picky! :-)
But what the hell, that's why we are here. The voice is, frequency wise, mid-range centered. So mostly it comes from the center of the speaker, i.e. the driver covering the mid range. If the recording has high frequency information it will come from the tweeter at the top of the speaker and it creates a larger sense of space. In a good set up with a good recording there will be a good blend between the two drivers and it will lift the height of the voice some or a lot.
Of course it could be that your room & set up kills a lot of the critical high frequency info leaving nothing but the mid-range.
Try raising your speakers until the mid-range driver is ear height and see what happens.
My speakers are NHT M100. It has a 25cm driver at the bottom, 2.5cm tweeter in middle and a 16cm driver on top.
I've tried sitting it on the floor- even lower.
Will try tilting the speakers.
Ya my equipments are in the center of the speakers- will try moving them away.
Maybe my room & set up kills a lot of the critical high frequency info leaving nothing but the mid-range, how to fix this?
Try raising your speakers until the mid-range driver is ear height - the midrange is already on top of all the drivers.
Whatever you do, don't try tilting the speakers a couple of degrees. Tilting them back a bit might actually shift the perceived center of the soundstage upwards, which would be horrible -- especially as that is exactly what you're looking for. Or, crazy of crazies, you could try tilting them forward -- which with my speakers actually seems to shift the whole soundstage about two feet upwards. Daffy, but true. But, like I said, I really don't recommend trying it, even if it does work, because it is totally not cost effective. Besides, what are you going to do if it doesn't work, just put'em back?!? That's just crazy talk.....
Maybe my room & set up kills a lot of the critical high frequency info leaving nothing but the mid-range, how to fix this?I have found by listening to test tones that there is a range of frequencies in the mid to upper treble which is perceived as coming from a point considerably above the height of its actual source. I don't recall the numbers exactly, but I think it roughly encompasses the 6 to 10 kHz area, which would affect female voice significantly.
So if those frequencies are being reproduced too weakly at the listening position, it would have the effect you are describing.
Possible causes of weak reproduction of those frequencies:
1)Listening at particularly low volume levels, as a result of the Fletcher-Munson Effect. If that seems like a possibility, turn up the volume and see what happens!
2)Dead tweeters. Are you sure they're working?
3)Room acoustics, as you indicated. Hard to say how to fix without knowing a lot of detail about the room.
4)A mismatch between amplifier output impedance and the speaker's variation of impedance as a function of frequency. I doubt that is the problem here, but can you indicate the specific amplifier model, and whether it is tube or solid state?
5)Improper phono cartridge loading, if you are using a vinyl source. If you are using a moving magnet cartridge, load capacitance in particular.
6)Listening off axis or with improper toe-in, as was pointed out.
I doubt that the low power rating of your amp, relative to the rated permissible input of the speakers, is a factor, unless it is preventing you from using reasonable volume levels (which seems doubtful for female voice).
Don't mean to be a smartass, (sometimes it just comes by accident). But, yea, I'd move the speakers around. Like, as much as possible, and see what it does for you. Tilt them, move them, raise them, lower them. Experiment. You'll be surprised. Some things will sound much worse, others may well sound much better. And unless you have a magic, acoustically perfect room, designed from the ground up for exactly your speakers (which, of course, no one does) then each and every spot you try a speaker will involve a longer list of compromises than you would care to count. There is no "right" answer or perfect place. If you start applying acoustic treatments, then you have to start over because it will change the variables. But don't think there's a place or configuration that the speakers are "supposed" to be in (unless it's interior-decor-driven, which, by mathematically probability alone, will be virtually impossible to be where they sound best).
Apologies if this has shaded into the rant-ish. I just think it's valuable to be methodical and start with the fundamentals -- particularly when it's free. A $25k amp with enough current to light up a small town wont move your speakers into a better spot. Positioning is make-or-break in terms of a soundfield, and changing it can change virtually everything. And if you DO go start changing electronics, or wires, or the room profile -- then you have to start over with positioning.
If you really want to go off the deep end, get ahold of some room measuring software and hardware (home theater shack's REW is free and great) and you can visually plot out exactly how your room is interacting with your speakers in any given position, across the entire frequency range and over time. Very enlightening (depressing as hell, but enlightening). An insidious can of worms, to be sure, so be careful when/if opening. Ive more-or-less got the compromises weighed in my room along the current wall. Could get better center-fill and definition with more to-in, at the expense of width. Flip the woofers (mine can actually do a 180) and get better slam and coherency at the expense of pinpoint imaging within the soundfield. Raking the speakers a couple degrees forward raises the soundstage (plop a laser level on top of the speakers, and point it at the same spot on the wall by the listening position, which requires very different leveling of each speaker, because my 170-year-old floor is not even vaguely level itself). Move the whole bit back where they look like they belong and where the wife insists they live most of the time and it all goes to hell and sounds way, way worse. So the whole speaker assemblage yea, actually have a stack of seven layers of isolation and other bits under each monitor; crazy indeed lives on acoustically-treated sliders that let me move them about, no fuss, no muss. And I do. A lot. I also know if I scrapped the whole setup, rearranged everything to fire along the short wall instead of part of the long wall where they are now, Id have to start over will a whole new trial and error set, and that the potential to sound better would be much greater. Ideally, thats where it belongs. But, cause I share the space with the No. 1 Special Lady Friend of the Legal Variety (i.e., aforementioned Wife), thats not an option. Compromises, etc.
Again, apologies if I appear to be flogging the positioning thing with messianic and/or irrational zeal, but well worth it in my experience. So much so, in my humble opinion, that futzing with other stuff before youve got this fundamental dialed in can be a waste of time (and certainly money). Just my two cents.
Thanks for all the great advices.
1)Listening at particularly low volume levels - will try with higher volume.
2)Dead tweeters - they're working.
3)Room acoustics - can't really fix it, my room is sort of a U shape room, need to do too much to fix the problem.
4)A mismatch between amplifier output impedance and the speaker's variation of impedance as a function of frequency. Blue circle BC2 class a.
6)Listening off axis or with improper toe-in, as was pointed out - that means by changing the toe-in we can fix the problem? Definitely will try this.
It helps to try all sorts of placement. Proper location of a speaker is largely a random hit or miss thing and even a movement as small as 1/2 inch can make a huge difference if you happen to be moving into or out of a strong mode.
For your particular issue, I would suggest working with the rake angle first (the backwards tilt). Many speakers are not actually meant to be heard with the tweeter at ear level. It may be the case that the ideal position, for both correct frequency balance and image placement is on a different axis.
It might seem counter intuitive, but, the ideal placement may be with the speaker lowered in height and tilted back a bit. That often raises the height of the center image. I am not saying that is going to be the answer, rather, I am saying try everything, including lowering the speaker to raise the image height.
10-25-12: Timrhuyou know, I almost wrote a post yesterday (10/25/12) with the same advice!! ;-)
I looked at it a bit more & decided that it would not make sense because the tweeter is in the middle (with the midrange above & the woofer below). it would have made sense had the tweeter been the top-most. Then turning the speaker upside down would have made the speaker time-aligned & would have accounted for the various acoustical centers.
My advice was going to be to lower the speaker such that the midrange was at ear-level.
In a speaker system that has minimal phase distortion & where the drivers are placed tweeter-mid-woofer going from top-down, then the vocals should come from just below the midrange. In such a speaker this would end up being about mid-speaker.
I tried to near my speakers to 6 feet apart from current 8 feet, the vocals raised a bit. Will try 7 feet and 9 feet later.
My listening chair is 9 or 10 feet from the speakers.
I'm more keen to try tilting the speakers up and see what will happens, still trying to find something to slot under the front spikes.
Will update result.
Thank you for all the great advices.
Many, could even say most, speakers have a forward lobe that tilts downward. Imagine an axis where all drivers combine (sum) perfectly, most speakers that axis is not straight out but slopes down toward the floor. You can't change it without a total crossover redesign, but what you can do is raise the speakers and/or tilt them backward. Both have been suggested, and are what I'd try.
Put something about 1/2" thick under the front edge of the speaker to tilt them back, that should be around a 3* tilt, and isn't enough to change any frequency balance. But might be enough to raise that forward lobe up to ear level.
Also try putting a slab of wood under the stands, something 1-2" thick, just to raise them a bit.
Report back with your findings!