Speaker Help Required


I have a 12'x14' living room with a cathedral ceiling.

My 2-channel audio system is along the 12' back wall. I have a 6.5' audio / video rack which houses all my audio gear (mostly Linn) with a bookshelf speaker (Linn Katan) at each side of this rack (roughly 7.5' apart) sitting on stands (Linn Katan stands). The left speaker is about 3' from the side wall and 2' from the back wall with a powered subwoofer (Linn Sizmik 10.25) between the left speaker and the side wall in the corner. The right speaker is also 2' from the back wall but no side wall since it is an opening to my hallway.

Because of this setup, I’m hearing more of the left speaker than the right speaker. I tried different amounts of toe-in, which seems to help a little but I’m still not 100% satisfied. Some people have suggested that since the Katan are very small speakers, the subwoofer is not only providing the added bass but may be participating in some midrange too which is why I’m hearing more of the left channel.

Since I cannot move things around in my living room nor add a door to the hallway opening, I’m looking for a pair of “full range” floorstanding speakers to replace my bookshelves / subwoofer combo in hopes of rectifying this problem. Also, my wife is totally opposed to any “room insulation / sound proofing” idea since we use this room for entertaining friends and family and the décor is her territory.

What floorstanding speakers would you recommend for a $2000-$2500 budget that will help with my issue?
agiaccio
Before you move to a floor stander, I would suggest that your sub in not adding anything in the midrange. Double check the crossover setting on your sub. If you are at 80Hz or below, theory says it is omnidirectional, meaning you should not be able to tell where it is coming from.

My hunch is that with your sidewall on the left, you are getting reflections, which you are not getting from the right side. Moving to a floor standing speaker will not solve this problem. Does any of your gear have a balance feature?

I would start there. That should help correct your problem.

To prove me wrong, put your sub on the right side of the system and see what happens.
Speakers are not your problem, your problem is the opening to the hallway on the right speaker. You have the right idea, adding a door, will give added reinforcement. Since you can't add a door, how about some temporary free standing room treatment, typically you would use absorption here. You would then need another absorption panel on the left side as well. Just remove them when not listening to music.
S7horton is absolutely correct. Don't change your speakers it won't help.

I partially agree w/SNS, but not sure you need a panel on the right(movable or not). Absorption on the left is key. Take a look at my room photos. I have portable panels on my right side, that would make sense for you, too. Of course if you are going to the trouble, you might as well put them on both sides for serious listening.

There is a company that makes absortption panels that look like reproductions of famous works of art(Chagall, Monet, etc). They're kinda pricey, if I recall, but could be a lifesaver given your situation. Perhaps someone can chime in w/specifics about them. Cheers,
Spencer
Sub woofers crossed over at 80hz, assuming that the cross over slope is at 12bd per octave will still have significant output at 160hz and some at 320 hz the result of which will be an enriched sound from the left speaker in that range and will skew the balance a bit. IF, your problem is NOT related to the left speakers placement near the corner then floor standers might help because the woofer on the left will be operating 3db lower than the sub to get a balanced response with the other floorstander.

As mentioned, for reference only, move your sub to the right side and see what happens to the balance. If you have a SPL meter and a test disc it will be much easier for you and you can run the system in mono on each side to cee the difference in db's between having the woofer on the left or the right, IF there is one.

I'll mention my set up experience experience with floorstanders only to give you an idea of the things you can effect with a little time, an open mind (sonically speaking) and without having to buy any audio acoustic materiels (as opposed to domestically approved stuff). I have the same issue in my room. Wall on the left side, big double door opening on the right side at the speaker location. Room is a bit bigger than yours. Two things have helped me get an excellent sense of width, depth, and balance. The speaker on the 'wall' side is aprox 30" from the side wall and 65" from the back wall. The speaker on the right side is about 12 inches (measured at the tweeter) from the opening where the wall would be, and also 65" from the back wall. The speakers are about 9' apart and I sit about 11 ft from the plane of the speakers. I toe the speakers in so that their axis' cross in front of my listening chair. This minimizes reflections from the left wall, and I believe changes the reflection pattern from the ceiling and helps decouple it from the direct signal. The result is flat +/- 3db except for a small node at 32hz of about 5db. This location took a lot of work and time to find, but it was worth it. BTW, I have pocket doors in the opening and open v closed had little effect on my results.

FWIW. No charge! :-)
For a room like this with more difficult issues in locating speakers, clearly either Ohm Micro Walsh Talls ($1000) or 100s ($1700).

The wide dispersion, more omnidirectional dispersion pattern on these help make speaker placement with good results easier than most conventional box or planar designs.
My guess is that you're getting bass reinforcement between 80ish and 150ish cycles from the left corner and none on the other side since there is no corner. This may well be audible since it can generate lots (app 12db in my room, relative to 80db) of excess energy in this frequency range which is vaguely directional. Any floorstander with enough bass output will create the same frequency response hump, so if this is indeed your problem, that's not the answer.

A $350 bass buster (or app$450 ATC bass trap) is the best solution. These are hemholtz resonators tuned to absorb energy in the octave above 80hz (this is a very common problem). I'm told the ATC version allows some "fine tuning" of the active range. BTW, even if this doesn't solve your stated problem (left leaning sound) you'll probably be very happy with the overall improvement in sound. I sure was.

Good Luck,

Marty
BTW the bass buster is 4' tall and -in cross section - is shaped like 1/4 of a circle (fat wedge of pie). The flat sides are each 9" deep and they snug up to the walls forming the corner. There are about 100 colors available - so you may want to check the echo buster web site before concluding that the wife wil nix the idea.

Marty
Maybe try placing a plant stand or some other item in the corner first to see if damping the corner solves the problem before dropping $350 on a high priced sonic obstacle.
Map, IME it's the rare plant / plant stand that's meaningfully absorptive in
specifically this region (or any region, actually, although they can be effective as
dispersion tools) These devices aren't gimmicks. That most analytical of a-
philes, John Atkinson, has written pretty extensively on why these treatments are
among the most effective tools available to the listener and he details the
physics involved for those who might be interested. OTOH, a plant might do
the trick and there's no arguing the price advantage!

Marty
Hey guys - I think Agiaccio's problem is obvious, even though he is complaining more of balance than anything else.

What does a woofer in a corner do? It booms! In fact I'm ammazed that his compllaint was not about boom, or excessive energy anyway below 100 hz. IMHO it is the worst place for a music oriented audiophile wants a sub. HT is a different thing.

What he notices is the woofers contribution to the left speakers upper bass/lower mid range which creates an imbalance toward the left side. Move the sub woofer out of the corner and the problem will probably disappear and restore balance.

If he can put the woofer on the long wall somewhere, or in the center between the speakers somewhere, or behind the speakers somewhere, I'd bet the bass tightens up and the imbalance goes away. That is a guess based on probabilities, but if I'm right he doesn't have to spend a lot of money on bass traps etc. And if he can't move the sub woofer, I think he is right in his inclination to just put the sub in the garage and get floor standers.

I should have been more specific in my first response. Sorry 'bout that Agiaccio
Hey guys - I think Agiaccio's problem is obvious, even though he is complaining more of balance than anything else.

What does a woofer in a corner do? It booms! In fact I'm ammazed that his complaint was not about boom, or excessive energy anyway below 100 hz. IMHO it is the worst place for a music oriented audiophile who wants/needs a sub. HT is a different thing - those folks like boom. :-).

What he notices is the sub woofers contribution to the left speakers upper bass/lower mid range which creates an imbalance toward the left side. Move the sub woofer out of the corner and the problem will probably disappear and restore balance.

If he can put the woofer on the long wall somewhere, or in the center between the speakers somewhere, or behind the speakers somewhere, I'd bet the bass tightens up and the imbalance goes away. That is a guess based on probabilities, but if I'm right he doesn't have to spend a lot of money on bass traps etc. And if he can't move the sub woofer, I think he is right in his inclination to just put the sub in the garage and get floor standers.

I should have been more specific in my first response. Sorry 'bout that Agiaccio
I have a similar situation, my room is 15'x 13' with catheral ceiling and opening on the right side. I have my equipment setup similarly. The only difference I think is I have about a foot(12in)of wall on the right side before the opening occurs. I'm using floorstanders with excellent results. Is there any portion of wall on the right side?
If not, I'm not sure if floorstanders would help or not. Probably would be a little better but still not ideal.
I have a similar setup but no similar problem, my sun room is 12'x 12' with catheral ceiling and opening on the right side. I have my equipment setup similarly, but no sub. I currently use Dynaudio Contour 1.3mkII monitors on stands there (see picture in my system) and have used Ohm Walsh 2 and 100 floor standers there as well.

I'm thinking just move the subwoofer to balance out the sound better as someone above suggested and see what happens.
Good thoughts Newbie...

Do go lookl at the rives website however too. the info there on what to not do or where problems can occur will be mighty helpful.

how about some really nice heavy drapes on a custom rod with hold backs to overcome that opening. They can add some flair and be pulled back when not listening.... just a thought... and less invasive way to help overcome the suck out that vacant wll is providing.
All, thanks for all the great feedback / suggestions!

I did some quick tests last night, based on some of your recommendations, and below are my findings.

When playing music as is, the image seems to be coming from the left side of the room. That is, I hear more of the left speaker than the right. So as a quick test, I disconnected my subwoofer (which is in the left corner of the room) and as soon as I did the imaging was dead center. Therefore, it does look like the subwoofer is contributing to some of the midrange, which causes the image to shift to the left. Unfortunately, the sound seems a little “thin” without the subwoofer.

So now my project for the weekend will be to first experiment with subwoofer settings. If that does not work, I will see if I can move the subwoofer to a different location (maybe next to the right speaker). If I cannot find a suitable location for the subwoofer to get the imaging right, I may go back to my original idea of trading my bookshelves / subwoofer combo to a pair of floorstanding (full range) loudspeakers.

If I do decide to go with the floorstanding speakers, what would you recommend in the $2000 - $2500 price range?
I hope its not true but you might have a loss of hearing in your right ear?
Same problem, compounded by Magnepan dipole issue! My room even tosses in a few 45'angles!
WAF Institute approved panels are on tap. With the sub x-over at 45hz, i don't think that's an issue and I have yet to detect bass problems....so for now, I'm going to let that one lie.
I have also noted, in late nite, house VERY quiet sessions that much L/R bias seems to be source material related.
Some recordings just seem to be off-center.
Magfan makes a valid point... use a test CD.

Having your sub set to cover a higher range than it needs to will give the effect of fuller sound. However in so doing you might be masking a portion of the bandwidth and losing detail. I've done exactly this same thing, and enjoyed the effect... for a while. when it was revealed to me this was a possibility I checked it out and they were right.

I made the changes needed by getting the components which would provide that fuller sound without overemphasis of some other portion of the freq range. Ultimately, it was a better sub… and better sub placement. I would play with position, x over, phase, and cut off first. A lot.... as tedious as it may be, it'll pay off.

Until you resolve that issue getting other speakers will still leave you in the same boat. I did that too. Bought other speakers before I bought the sub, so I'm not talking out of my hat here.

....if you gotta have floorstanders though... Silverline does a pretty good job, Vienna Acoustic seem to have a good rep, Paradigm and Phase tech too offer great value and very good performance. $2K - $2.5K puts you right into the hot bed of many, many, many good speakers.

Good luck.
Fostex fe138esr in Trasmission line cabinet. Isnt as affected by back wall as most conventional loudspeakers. Drivers are near $1000 pair, a pair of complete TLS is up on audiogon for $2000. Best deal in this range on the gon.
A good way to understand what's happening is play test tones from a test CD, and record the values measured on an spl meter(located where you ears normally are), change the sub settings and/or move the sub & repeat. If you need more details on how to do this, ask.
I finally got around to doing some more tests with my "left" imaging issue.

It turns out that my subwoofer's Internal Low Pass Frequency was set to 120Hz. The three possible settings are: 50Hz, 80Hz and 120Hz. I've changed the value to 80Hz since my bookshelves are rated at 60Hz-20kHz +/- 3dB (Aktiv configuration). After this change the imaging was more centered but still not perfect. Next I moved the subwoofer from the left corner (facing forward) to the left side wall at about 4' from the back wall (facing right). This has resulted in a perfectly centered image (using a Test CD from Stereophile) however the subwoofer placement has resulted in reconfiguring my sofas in a non-ideal setup.

Therefore, I'm still interested in upgrading my bookshelves / sub combo to a pair of floorstanding speakers.
Before you buy floorstanders try moving the low pass to 50hz and move the sub woofer out of the corner as much as you can, towards the left speaker, if possible until it is nearly behind your left speaker, and see what happens. With a sub XO at 50hz and speakers rolling off at 60hz it might be more seamless that the numbers suggest. I assume your sub also has a volume control - using the tet disc you might try reducing the sub output until you get a match.

FWIW.
Does your sub have a phase control?

I've been painting and moving around furniture as the result. leaving it displaced until I've findished up for a little while now. The offset arrangement of my furniture affects my sound stage. Albeit, not so much the imaging.

If you have a phase control on your sub, you've lots more freedom in where you can set it, aside from openings, and furniture constraints. I currently have my sub set in front of my left speaker facing across both speakers firing from one side wall to the other, left to right, about 3 feet and six inches off the side wall. I've done this same thing with a sub sans phase sw, but it had to be much closer to the plane of the speakers. Also placement in my room of the sub sans phase sw would change the depth of the sound stage as well... further behind the speakers, got me more depth, closer to their plane of operation eventually being forward of them, decreased it.

If you run the sub in L+R (stereo).. you've at least a 180 phase conttrol... just reverse the inputs to see if that helps any. Ya never know sometimes until you try things for yourself. G
Good luck.
This summer I bought some Gallo Ref 3.1s and have been very happy with them. While a bit over your budget (I paid $2300 delivered) they are a great music and HT speaker as you can ditch your troublesome subwoofer and just power the second voice coil for earth shaking lows. Granted this will cost you another $500 (used) for the sub-amp, but you can do it next year (after the economy rebounds and before congress raises tax rates :) With the wide dispersion tweeter and the ability to deliver subwoofer bass w/o a separate subwoofer, these speakers will meet both your and your wife's requirements.