Speaker performance in a not ideal listen room/area


If my listening room (basically family room) with distance from left wall to left speaker is about 20ft while the right side is about 6ft to the right wall and about 50ft to the back wall from speakers.

Is it true that regardless how much acoustic treatment or how much you change to it or how good or expensive the speakers, they will not perform to its fullest in this type of irregular room? Basically a $1000 and $50000 speaker will be about the same due to the room?

I am trying to upgrade the speakers but then wonder if I will ever get the same feel I get from the dealer's audition room, even using the same amp and cables. Last thing I want is to upgrade to expensive speakers and then cannot listen to the best of it!

Thanks for advice.


sautan904
So they basically have no side wall reinforcement and the wall opposite them is 50ft?  How far is wall behind the speakers?

That's a big room!   There will almost always be a difference in how a system sounds going from the dealer to your home, even if your room weren't that big and even if it were more of what you'd consider an "ideal" room.   And there are plenty of dealer rooms that are set up poorly, where your system will actually sound better in your own home than in the dealer's facility.   The goal, generally speaking, is to match the speaker and system to the room - you obviously wouldn't try to fill that big room with a pair of small monitors, but you can put together one heck of an amazing system for $50,000 or even less.   And yes, there will be a huge difference between what you can create with $1000 and what you can create with $50K.   Don't let yourself be restricted by the fact that the room maybe isn't what the speaker designer intended, or isn't "ideal".    Very few of us have perfect spaces - we're all dealing with challenges, from tiny rooms to odd-shaped rooms to having too many windows or tall ceilings etc.   Your challenge happens to be trying to fill a big space - it's not perfect, but don't let that stop you.  Don't aim for perfect - just aim for great.
I think a room like that would need both an interior designer to place the furniture and an audio dealer to set up the speakers, if you are not up to the task. (BTW-you didn’t mention the ceiling height).
For a room as large as you are dealing with, I personally feel you have lots of options, but need to focus on creating a living space that will allow you to incorporate high end sound without giving up an attractive and livable environment in order to support a high end stereo set up. I hope this makes sense, because I have seen too many rearrange their rooms for a stereo set up and ignore what it look like visually. Sorry if I offend anyone, but I think good design and taste should work with stereo placement.
@ Dave B. Speakers are placed about 18" from the wall. On the left side is walkway. Right side has window and sliding glass door. This is a family room that in the back is Kitchen, so not really that big.




Actually the room is not that big cause it share with Kitchen in the far end. Ceiling just normal 8' 
You should change your approach of trying to fill the room with sound. Rearrange the listening area and use a near-field setup for listening to music.
Try to get an equilateral triangle listening position...having less immediate room reflections and reinforcement can be a Godsend!  If you need bass enhancement get an REL S2 to lay a foundation.  Wilson's can sing in a space like that...I had a home with similiar layout and vaulted ceilings and my Wilson WP 6's completely filled it!
I have an oddly shaped living room and my radial speakers work very well in it.

If you use speakers that have very little sidewall interaction at midrange and treble frequencies, then it won’t matter much whether there’s a side all there or not at those frequencies. Long wavelengths will interact with room boundaries, but if you use ported speakers, it might be possible to tune them each differently to compensate for their different nearby acoustic environments.

If you use speakers that have a very uniform radiation pattern though the midrange and treble region, the tonal balance won’t change as the listening distance changes. You see, when you change the listening distance, you are changing the direct-to-reverberant sound ratio. But if the reverberant energy has essentially the same spectral balance as the direct sound (which is accomplished by having a uniform radiation pattern), then the tonal balance doesn’t change significantly as the direct-to-reverberant ratio changes.

So some speakers will sound very good in your room, but not all speakers. An example of a speaker that would sound very good in your room is the JBL M2 when set up correctly (strong toe-in to avoid early sidewall reflections). No, I don’t sell them.

A grand piano would sound great in your room, So would a string quartet, or a singer with acoustic guitar. My point being, it’s not your room that’s the problem - it’s that most speakers are not designed to do what needs to be done well in a room like yours.

Duke

dealer/manufacturer

Answers to OP's questions:

"Is it true that regardless how much acoustic treatment or how much you change to it or how good or expensive the speakers, they will not perform to its fullest in this type of irregular room?" True; but this is the case with all but exceptionally few people in this hobby. You need far better than most peoples' rooms, even very dedicated listeners, to get a system to perform optimally. My advice is to accept the limitations and move ahead, using room tuning if you need. 

 "Basically a $1000 and $50000 speaker will be about the same due to the room?"  This is one of the most uninformed comments I have seen here in a long time. I suggest the person who said this knows precious little about audio systems, and/or they have an agenda to sell you their product and are trying to dissuade you from looking elsewhere. Trust me, some audio sales persons will make ridiculous statements to sway you toward their products. 

To the community: I strongly suggest you ignore anyone who says the room so influences the system sound such that; A. an average rig can sound state of the art if placed in a fine room, or B. a poorer room renders differences between speakers/systems null. The room obviously is a large contributor to the sound one hears, but it is nowhere near omnipotent over systems. Having built hundreds of audio systems, and having used them both in less than ideal living room and in ideal purpose-built dedicated listening room, I would not put the influence of the room over a system even at 50%. One should be able to hear distinctions between even speakers costing as little as $1-2K even in much less than ideal rooms. With vastly more expensive, and far different construction, driver complement, and genre of speaker the differences between low cost speakers and these are huge, again, regardless of the room.  

If you take the advice you posted you will be dumbing down your listening experience. You will have accepted mediocrity for no good reason. 

There is WAY too much nonsense in the industry and hobby regarding the influence of the room, as though it is the predominant factor. That is like saying the predominant factor in cars is the road; just ignore the car itself, because obviously all of them drive the same if the road is poor. The insipid nature of such advice should be clear.   :( 
Doug, I think you misinterpreted the progression above.  The "comment" about a $1000 speaker and $50,000 speaker being the same due to room wasn't a comment by anyone responding on the thread.  That was the actual question posed by the OP.  Nobody responding actually said what you think was said - only the OP made that comparison, and in the form of a question, to find out if people felt that way or not.  From all of the responses so far, nobody here is trying to sell the OP on that sentiment.
Dunlavy speakers are designed to basically take the room out of the equation. They are extremely directional so wall/ceiling reflections are much less a factor than just about any other speaker. Now out of production, they represent (perhaps) the biggest bargain in High End audio.
Get help from your dealer....he's set up your speakers in a number of rooms and understand how they react.  If he doesn't you bought from the wrong dealer.
A near field system would be best.
I second the equilateral set up. Also toe in the speakers to minimize sidewall reflections and place the speakers at least three feet from the back wall.

Speakers perform to their "fullest" in an anechoic chamber. Everywhere else the room becomes the second speaker enclosure and the in-room frequency response is seldom, if ever, to the specs. Any speaker you audition in your room will have a "base-line sound" due to boundary interactions but the differences above that (i.e., sound stage, dynamic range, transient response, etc.) that will be readily clear based on the quality of the design. 

My philosophy is the amplifier makes the system. That is what brings out the best in speakers, not the room.
bcgator, yes, I understand that the comment about $1K/$50K speaker did not originate on the thread; perhaps I should have indicated that. It seems, however, as though the OP heard this somewhere, or perhaps is using an extreme illustration based on his perception of the influence of the room. 

However, the idea entered sautan904's mind, it is way off base. 
Sautan904,
I feel that Duke of Audio kinesis  provided you excellent advice and wisdom. Search for speakers that suits your room environment. Your room can actually be an asset 
Charles, 

"Speakers perform to their "fullest" in an anechoic chamber."

Live music is neither performed nor recorded in anechoic chambers - but rather ideally in rooms that support a rich, enveloping reverberant field that decays fairly evenly across the spectrum.  

An anechoic chamber is a measurement tool, not a preferred listening environment. 

If a speaker requires complete absorption of its off-axis energy in order to perform to its fullest, I would question the designer's priorities.

Duke




Sautan904, often irregular rooms like yours are preferred to reduce hotspots. My issue is exactly the opposite... my dedicated listening room is 8.5' x 12.5'; too small for my floor standing speakers to perform without resonances, even with much acoustical treatment.

After trying many options including those discussed by the above respondents, the only thing that made a significant difference to reduce (not eliminate) all of the interference patterns and to widen the listening sweet spot was to use a decent (31 bands in my case) graphic equalizer. The sound quality gained in such a small room more than offset the negatives of inserting more electronics inline. Not sure if it would help your situation, however.

The better answers for me of course are smaller, focussed speakers or a larger room! - Andy

PS I listen mostly to classical music which is particularly tough, especially with larger orchestras. Many harmonics!

Been a way for a while and got many nice feedback. Thank you all. I am ready to strike a deal and upgrade my theater equipment and I want to get your opinion on my other post in Theater Forum
I'm not 100% sure that I've got a good mental image of the room, but if the issue is speaker position vis a vis the side walls, the OP might consider dipoles.   They typically produce a cardioid dispersion pattern features a null to the side.  It won't be perfect (there will be side reflections generated as sound propagates forward and out), but it should help minimize the issue.  Magnepans come to mind.  Given the total room volume, one or more subwoofers might be a good idea, too.