Speakers for a “cold” room

I have a terrible room 16 x 18 two bay windows (I do use heavy drapes in front of them). Partially hard wood floors, and plaster walls.  8 foot ceiling.   I have acoustic zen adagio and want to upgrade.  I am also going to upgrade the electronics.  Jolida tube pre into emerald class d amps.   I love the zen’s but find the upper mid’s a bit harsh.  Bass is nice an punchy.    So......  what would be a upgrade for a cold room.  I was thinking golden ear triton 1’s due to build in sub.    Thanks much in advance

Before any upgrades in equipment,I would first acoustically treat the room. It sounds like you have room issues,not equipment issues.
Hi mlapenta, before turning your room into a ragamuffin I suggest you go listen to a pair of Magnapan 3.7i's. Dipole loudspeakers have one very major advantage over standard boxed speakers. They send very little sound to the sides, up or down. Standard speakers bounce sound off of everything, dipole line sources do not. The only room treatment you will need is some damping on the front wall right behind the speakers. You can add subs down the line. If you are into fine detail the Magnepans have arguably the best tweeter ever made. Since you have a squarish room you will have a standing wave problem in the bass. You could use multiple subs like many in this forum suggest or just move your listening position back and forth a few feet till you get the bass right. In just a few feet you will go from no bass to too much bass. 
Love the panels will cure everything argument.

The reality of a diapole is that half the sound is out of phase with the front wave and adding subs doesn’t compensate, also Mijostyn not everyone loves the giant disemobodied sound that a Magneplaner makes. 

A diapole’s real advantage is that it has a figure 8 dispersion pattern which helps with rooms where side wall interactions are an issue.

Mijostyne we have a lot of panel experience with Quads, Quad ESL 63 and even Magneplaners.

With that being said, if this gentleman loves the bass of the Adagios then a speaker with even better bass the Golden Ear Tritron 1R would work very well.

They actually throw a very big soundstage, and have both good resolution and a very nice tonal balance and the bass response is fabulous.

The OP should be looking at the Tritron 1R which are way better than the older Tritons.

We used to sell the Adagios’ so yes the new Golden Ear Tritron 1R would be a very nice upgrade.

As per electronics there are a ton of great electronics for the OP to look at.

What is the buget? We are getting fabulous results with our Triton 1R with the new Krell K300i a 150 watt Class A integrated and the Naim gear.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Golden Ear dealers

The Triton Ones will work wonders in your room.  
Harsh upper mids is a classic sign of needing to treat first reflection points.  I am in the camp of doing some room treatment first.
Have you listened near field with the speakers pulled out into the room? If so, any differences?
Room acoustics matter a great deal, so of course, do as much as you can there.

If you cannot, wide baffle / wide surface area speakers are your best answer, followed by horns.

Mlapenta wrote: "I have a terrible room... acoustic zen adagio... I love the zen’s but find the upper mid’s a bit harsh."

Here is what may be going on:

There will be a significant radiation pattern discrepancy between the single 1 5/8" ribbon tweeter and the two 6.5" midwoofers in the crossover region. You’ll have a lot more off-axis energy at the bottom end of the tweeter’s range.

The midwoofers will be beaming (especially in the vertical plane) in the 3 kHz crossover region, while the tweeter’s pattern will be very wide in that region. So off-axis you will have a LOT more energy above 3 kHz than below. The ear is most sensitive in the 3-4 kHz region. I think this excess off-axis energy is reflecting off the room boundaries and "coming back to haunt you".

Imo room treatment may not be the answer because it won’t target that specific frequency range. Absorption which is effective down to 3 kHz will be far more effective at higher frequencies, so the net result may be a bit less harshness but a lot less liveliness.

In my opinion a fairly reverberant room is not necessarily detrimental! For example, I bet an acoustic piano would sound great in your room!

If you have speakers whose off-axis energy is spectrally correct (which is the case for the piano), ime they can sound very good in a room like yours.

There are many ways get the off-axis energy to be spectrally correct. Maggies were suggested, and that’s one way to do it - their backwave energy has the same spectral balance as the front wave. Maggies and other dipole speakers typically image best when you have about five feet (or more if possible) space between them and the wall behind them, so that the backwave bounce arrives after some time delay.

Designs which minimize the radiation pattern discontinuity in the crossover region(s) are imo candidates for your room. Amphion and Gradient and Dutch & Dutch come to mind (and something like this is the approach I use in my designs). If you are into DIY, you might consider PiSpeakers. Also, a three-way or four-way that avoids having major size increments between the drivers covering the mid and high frequency regions can minimize the off-axis discontinuity in the crossover regions.

Some designers deliberately put a dip at the bottom end of the tweeter’s on-axis response to compensate for its increased off-axis energy in this region. Imo such a speaker could also be a candidate for your room, but this is something you can’t tell just by eyeballing the speaker - you’d have to find out about it some other way.


Duke an austute summation but there is no way to know what is causing his problem with the Addagios.

Many years ago we sold that speaker and when setup with good electronics they sounded quite good for the design of the time we dropped them as the Dali Helicons were a far better loudspeaker.

We don't know what cables the gentleman is using, what is the quality of the source, as well as the fact  many digital amplifiers don't have the liquidity in the midrange that a good class A/B amplifier has. 

Reverberent rooms tend to sound shouty and echoey so it is hard to know if this gentleman has slap echo or not, where maybe adding a pile of pillows behind the speakres would be a cheap and effective fix or adding an area rug or other acoustical fixes.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

@audiotroy wrote: "Duke an austute summation..."

Thank you!

"... but there is no way to know what is causing his problem with the Addagios."

Perhaps not, but what mlapenta describes (upper-mid harshness) is consistent with excess off-axis energy at the bottom end of the tweeter’s range as heard in an unusually reverberant room. I think there is a very good chance he has correctly identified the problem as a speaker/room interaction issue.

Circling back to "Speakers for a cold room", at the risk of over-generalizing: The more reverberant the room, the greater the role the reverberant field plays, and therefore the more important the off-axis response becomes. Not that this is the only thing that matters, but imo it's one of them.

Audiotroy, you have a wide range of experience in the industry. What are your thoughts on "Speakers for a "cold" room"?


Duke we take a systematic approach which has been honed by having tons of gear incomming and outgoing.

There are the intrinsic attriubtes of the product and then there are the issues in matching the one product to the rest of the products and then then the room.

The issue here is to figure out is it the room, the combination of this set of speakers with the OP's particular set of matching products. 

Sometimes it is a simple fix, we setup our Blades on one side of our big showroom opposite another set of reference speakers at the time, and the Blades sounded horrible, the space was too live in that part of the room, went to Pier One and bought a boat load of different sized pillows which we then piled up behind the loudspeaker and boom the hardenss that was the room feeding back went away completely. Not exactly the look we wanted but the system sounded good.

We have used this trick at Audio Shows as well. 

So for the OP he has a few options one try a different set of speakers in the same space with the same gear and see if that is moving in the right direction, then to try a match with different electronics, digital and cabling and of course room tuning.

Without seeing pictures of the room and knowing exactly the matching gear we are both firing blindly here.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Therefore, and the reason for my earlier recommendation to listen with the speakers pulled out and nearfield...to eliminate the room and diagnose whether it is system related or not.
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@audiotroy , thanks for your detailed reply.

"we take a systematic approach which has been honed by having tons of gear incomming and outgoing."

That makes sense. All parts of the chain matter. But I think the place where problems are most likely to arise is the speaker/room interaction, so imo that’s a good place to focus attention. I see speaker + room as a "system within a system". (Actually imo it’s amp + speaker + room = "a system within a system", but this thread isn’t about amps).

To put it another way, some speaker designers build the best speaker they can and then it is up to the user to fix any room interaction issues. That is not my approach. I try to take the room into account from the beginning.

For instance, you mentioned using a bunch of pillows to fix "the hardness that the room was feeding back". I highly doubt the room took smooth reverberant energy and altered its frequency response such that it became "hardness". Imo it is far more likely said "hardness" was already characteristic of the off-axis energy, and the room was reverberant enough for it to became objectionable.

What if the speaker’s off-axis response had been smooth? In that case we’d be in pretty good shape whether the room reflected back a little or a lot of reverberant energy. We wouldn’t need room treatments to fix a problem that originated with the speakers. If we don’t need room treatments to fix the speakers, we can use them to improve imaging and spaciousness and timbre, which would call for a different approach (emphasizing reflection management and/or diffusion rather than absorption).

I am well aware that different rooms sound different, so I build an unusual amount of user-adjustability into my designs, rather than expecting the end user to fix the in-room sound with room treatments and/or equipment changes.

You mentioned using the pile of pillows trick at multiple audio shows. I haven’t needed anything like that to fix the room. A veteran manufacturer who first showed with us a year ago said that ours was the first room he had ever shown in where "we weren’t fighting with the room for the whole show."

So I do respect your systematic approach of taking everything into account. I haven’t described everything I do here but I think mine is a systematic approach as well, just with emphasis on a particularly problematic system-within-the-system.


There’s a couple pair of usher be20 dmd’s listed now. I don’t know about the modified xover but stock they’re warm with a wide and deep sound stage. My go to warm speaker is about anything from Vienna acoustics. If you want to go nuts get the 7200’s or 8000’s that can be had for a song on ag.
I can't thank you all enough for all the thoughtful and intelligent feedback. I will try some room correction but i find it not the bang for buck it delivers. I am still taken by the triton 1 r given their setup, price and reviews.  I have spoken to the gentleman at audio doctor and will go down and check stuff out.   On top end, i have a  BIG bias towards tube preamp and would love a PrimaLuna coupled with some could A/B SS.    I still think class D has huge potential, but maybe only inside the amp for bass.  

thanks all!!!!!