Speakers least affected by room acoustics


i have an acoustic problem, a high ceiling that echos. I don’t want any man cave treatments as I am the W Ain the WAF. Are there any speakers that would minimize this problem?
recordchanger2018
not really except listening in the near field to minimize the effect.....
Google Spatial Audio. Check out the M3 and M4 Turbo S. These are open baffle speakers, not enclosed floorstanders.
They would not need acoustic treatments on the wall behind them or any bass traps. But you should still listen in the near-field.

How large is your room?

12 x 20 with speakers on the long wall
The Spatial speakers look interesting. I talked to Walter Lieberman and he recommended his Emerald Physic’s as they are open baffle too
Our family room is a 20'x20'x20' cube that opens to the kitchen area with some windows near the corners. I have my Martin Logan Aerius i speakers along one of the 20' walls about 13' apart and the listening couch is about 12' away and the floor is covered with a large area rug on hardwood. Contrary to my expectation, I have no echo and the overall sound is very good. Interestingly, the large distance between the speakers to some extent makes up for the inherently narrow sweet spot of these speakers. You need carpet on the floor and the furniture typically does the rest.

Headphones?
Something very directional like Magnepans would decrease the echo but they have a smaller sweet spot.  Any conventional box speaker will have the echo.  Something with a small midrange will have more even dispersion so the echo should be less objectionable.
Don’t compromise.  Look up Vicoustic Flat Panel and Cinema Round absorption products.  Gorgeous looking and very effective.  Oh, and relatively inexpensive for the performance benefit you get not only for sound, but as a living space as well.  If your room is that bad, I guarantee the panels will maks the room more relaxing and less stressful to be in, even if on subconscious level

Using the Cinema Round 2x2 panels in an arrangement like they show on the web site looks like high end wall art in person.  Keep in mind, the images they show on the site have dorky lights behind them.  Having them flush with the wall looks much better.





A heavy rug on the floor would work wonders
I don't think there is a speaker on this planet that is not affected by room acoustics in some fashion.

Sounds like a problem at higher frequencies. Apart from listening in near field, there is only one solution and that is to dampen the reflections.
There are frameless paintable acoustic panels out there that can be adhered flat to the wall surface. They blend in pretty good. And in your case, put high up above normal sightline / above normal decor and wall art, high up in the corners will help with echo... I’m searching for these again myself. I know there out there... 
@recordchanger2018 The guy who designed the Emerald speakers moved on and founded Spatial Audio, which is his current company.  Check them out over on Audio Circle.
Another for " headphones ". Also, I agree with willemj, although I believe it is with all frequencies.
If the main concern is sound reflecting off the ceiling, then either dampen it with some form of acoustic treatment, or get a loudspeaker that is specially designed to reduce vertical dispersion.   Consider something like this:

http://www.daytonaudio.com/index.php/epique-cbt24-line-array-speaker-system-pair.html

There are plenty of alternatives.  Do some research on line array loudspeakers.
Headphones are not vulnerable to acoustic waves but they are vulnerable to RF interference. The headphones per se and the cables and the electronics.


Gradient
Generally, horn, ESL and line sources. All of them control dispersion vertically. 

But still, room acoustics matter. A combination of tight dispersion control plus good room acoustic choices where you can control it is the best choice.

Reach out to GIK acoustics for attractive affordable solutions and good advice. 

Best,


Erik 
This thread is really on the right track. Dipole speakers are the natural solution to your space and acoustics problems.

I was going to recommend Magnepan (I have a pair and love them), but the Spatials are much more compact and probably have a higher WAF.

Emerald Physics and Spatial both come from the same heritage, but it's my understanding that the originator of both now owns and runs Spatial. I notice, however, that Walter also strives to improve the Emeralds and they get good notices at audio shows.

Still, I personally like the looks of the Spatials better, I like that they're passive and don't inject digital signal processing into the signal path, and have a 60-day return period and generous 20-year warranty.

If you decide on Emerald and Underwood Wally, find out their current return policy. When I was in contact with them a few years ago, there was none: once you bought it, you kept it or sold it yourself.
I have a really bad room acoustically speaking.  17 × 15  x 9 with a tin ceiling , speakers must be on the long wall because the sofa has to be on the opposite long wall.  This is because there is a door in the middle of the wall the speakers are on. 

There is also a door and window on each short wall,  2 more large 6' tall x 3' windows on the back wall...  its a tough room

I have owned about 10 pairs of speakers in this house, some sounded pretty good, some not so good.  Large speakers that go deep do worse in this room as opposed to small monitors with a sub.   The room has a nasty room mode that is centered around 40 Hz ...  This was easy to tame with monitors and sub along witha Velodyne SMS 1 to eq the peak.    

Although I never buy on impulse,  I did when I went to listen to a pair of Klipsch Heresy.   I sat down , listened to a bunch of material with the same amp i own and ordered a pair on the spot.  They checked off all the boxes for me, easy to drive with my EL34 amp, compact, 3 way,  sealed and can go close to the wall, dynamic and can rock out when necessary. 

Most importantly they drop off well above the room mode.  I run them full range with the subs x over set low .  My last speaker was the Revel m106 so its quite a departure , and as great as they were for a little speaker, they always sounded like a little speaker.   They just could not pull off a realistic bass guitar or lower piano registers like the Heresy can with the help of a sub of course.  

I think the Heresy's short stature and risers that angle them up slightly really help them work so well in a bad room.
I would suggest something a little different: Larsen speakers are designed to work with virtually any room and sound great.  Larsens are an updated version of the Stig Carlsson designs.  These come in three models, at different price points starting at under $2K.

They are designed to be placed on a long wall in your room, right up against the wall, compared to OB and/or dipoles that require placement several feet out into your room.  I used to sell these (no affiliation now) and I never found a room where the Larsens didn't work.

I sold a pair of Larsen 8s to a gent who had the worst room I ever experienced: 35' wide, 12' deep, 12' high, the front wall was rock and the rear wall (behind the seating position) was all glass.  Think of an enclosed porch.  On top of that, the preferred seating position was offset 2/3 to the right side of the room.  Long story short, after some careful positioning the Larsens sounded great, even in this room.
 
I have speakers in various rooms, including a similar room to yours with similar high ceiling and acoustic challenges and no ability to treat (WAF).

I’d propose fighting the acoustics in a room like that, especially if not able to do extensive treatments, is an exercise in futility.   That has been my experience in my similar room especially in comparison to other more amenable rooms in my home.

In cases like, that, I would propose not fighting the acoustics rather just let the music flow with more omnidirectional speakers that will fill the room with sound rather than attempt and fail at projecting it solely towards you. This will at least give the impression of what a live performance would sound like in that room rather than some artificially echoey mess.

I use OHM Walsh speakers in my room like that. I’ve also tried various more conventional monitor speakers in there as well largely to no great avail but these particular omnis work pretty well.
You may have the best success using digital room correction. Lyngdorf TDIA 2170 looks really nice. I’m thinking about pulling the trigger on one.  
mofojo, good point!

If you are determined to fight the room acoustics, digital room correction is the ticket!

Or just go omni for a "playing live in your room" kinda sound, learn to love your room (its your own unique concert venue after all), and be done with it.   
I own the Lyngdorf 2170 and have been a vocal advocate of this gem. Yes it is the ideal system for your situation. It is amazing amp, preamp, dac, and SOTA room correction system all in one attractive case. It will assure your speakers sound as intended in your room.

I have owned separates of both SS and tube design that cost $20,000 or so combined and the 2170 is better. The room correction is part of the reason. Give it a good power cord, conditioner, leave it on and you will be amazed at the beautiful music you hear.

The key to getting the most out of it is using the internal dac. The synergy and simplicity of the one unit will have you selling that expensive dac you may have. Sell those other power cords and ICs as they are also no longer needed. USB input sounds the best and can do DSD. It only pulls some 20-30 watts while in use and never gets hot. It runs cool. This piece is a no fuss centerpiece of an audio system that is not fussy to use or to make sound right. Set it and forget it while you enjoy music with beautiful tonality and richness.

It flies under the radar here in the states, but it truly is a rare find. The sound quality difference pre and post room correction will be shocking in your room.
I'll second grannyring's system.   I've heard it with the Lyngdorf and it sounds truly beautiful.  Another speaker to look into that sounds great in any room is the Sanders 10e ESL system.  Yes, they sell a system with the speakers and it sounds absolutely stunning.  I've heard it on at least 4-5 occasions at the Axpona in Chicago and it always is a place I can count on to provide beautiful music of all types.  This is in typical hotel rooms with very little to no sound treatment other than the system itself.
I think a old pair of Mirage M1's would do the trick!  Bi-Polar Design that would fill that long wall with a huge sound stage with depth too! Or some new Bi or Omni Polars.


Matt M
Lots of good suggestions. What's your budget? I recently downsized from a 16x24x10 room to a 13x16x10 room. I had Peak Consult Zoltans that I sold and tried my YG Carmels, but wasn't completely satisfied, even with Tact room correction. I read about and listened to lots of speakers and ended up with Raidho D2, which sound fantastic in this room. They're designed to be listened to in the near field and far apart--farther from each other than from you. The D1 should also work well.

At a cheaper price I also really liked the Larsons, which as mentioned sound good up against the wall. Line arrays don't put out much vertical energy, but many would be rather large for your room. I used Apogees in a room your size with good results, but they'd need to be along the short wall. Also consider some ceiling diffusers that are visually benign. Even though it didn't work for me with my Carmels, I think the room correction route is worth a try. Good luck...
I'd rather dig my cochlea out with ice picks than listen to horns, but Eric is right. Horns and line arrays are the solution. Or... ADAMs. Big freaking air-motion transformers have virtually useless vertical dispersion. AMT's sound even better in a dipole configuration. 

Sorry to have to chime in guys, we have owned line arrays, diapoles and most of the kinds of loudpeakers out there.

30 years plus of professional experience here.

If you have a high ceiling there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO, other than use room treatments. Period.

A good rug can help, which will absorb some of the enegy that would bounce up but that is it.

If you hang a treatment off of the ceiling you will eliminate slap echo but you don't want to do that. 

Electronic room correction, diapoles and line arrays will not eliminate slap echo. Electronic rooom correction can tune out frequency peaks and valleys to ensure a flater frequency response, no room correction system unless it was in real time and could identify direct sound vs reflected sound and be able to filter out the reflected sound.

If you have large parallel surfaces sound will bounce off the floor, travel to the ceiling and bounce down, no loudspeaker in the world can eliminate that.

Atttractive room treatment panels like Contuzzi suggested will help to absorb some reflected sound which would help the sound of the room but not fix it entirely.

A diapole will eliminate side to side reflections as a diapole has a figure 8 radiation pattern. Even a speaker with narrow vertical radiaton patttern which is a diappolito array will eliminate sound bouncing off the floor in an untreated room it can help though.

A line arry provides very even pressurization but still will suffer from floor bounce.

Your best case senario use an attractive floor covering with an acoustical matt, and use speakers which are diappolito designs and get the speakers closer to your ears in a nearfield arrangement.

Larson at least works with controlled dispersion if you have the corners free and do sound excellent, however, the floor bounce issue/reflected ceiling will stlll make the room sound too live.

So if you want to do the maximum:

1: Rug with acoustical matting
2: Diapollito speakers
3: Near field listening
4: Room correction to help flatten any frequency issues which would arrise from any of the above.

Good luck.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ




Not all digital room correction is the same and some go beyond being merely a sophisticated frequency equalizer.

For example, Impulse response correction:

http://www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/irc.php

I have not used and cannot vouch for any particular processing solution but I believe it is an approach that might be worth a trial.

Good points overall by Audio Doctor I would say. Addressing floor reflections can certainly help as can isolation stands or pads under speakers in many cases where floors have give and are not rigid (at least with cleaning up the bass) .

If smaller monitor speaekrs are used (not tall floorstanders) placement on short isolation stands like Isoacoustics brand with slight tilt up especially if room is not very deep can help to make for a less offensive situation in regards to a more natural sounding soundstage and imaging.


Finally I would add that I find in very lively sounding rooms, less is often more when it comes to speakers and smaller models (floorstander or monitor) often tend to fit in best.   In my problem room, I once tried a refoamed pair of small vintage Boston A30 monitors  (can be had used for used for well under $100) in there and these might have been the best sound of anything I've tried in that particular room,  including other modern monitors and floorstanders costing well into the 4 digit range..    
Yes all good points made. The Lyngdorf 2170 does wonders in my room with high ceilings. It does in fact help!
The advice that most mirrors my experience comes from audiotroy.   If someone come to me asking me to build a speaker for them and they had a lot of boundry room issues.  I would have recommended one of two.  One was nailed above.  An MTM with a rug covering as much of the floor possible in front of the speakers.  Next alternative would be a speaker with a wide front baffle.  
When we build speakers, we use Baffle step compensation to counteract the effects of the sound that shoots around the cabinet.  The wider the cabinet front the less or no compensation is needed.  With a wide front baffle,  it helps keep all drivers firing in the direction the speaker is facing and stops midrange reflections. Still add the rug to the floor to help floor reflections. I then would add to get a sealed box woofer or a front firing port in this case.  Drape as much of the rear wall as possible.  You should be able to pull in some fairly solid results. 
corner loaded speakers like audio note or klipsch can work well with most any room provided it is big enough and you have the freedom to make it work with respect to room layout and furnishings.  
The living rooms (my main listening rooms) in both my previous house and my current house have very high ceilings - 16 feet. I did not have a ceiling echo in either room. The current room is 24 x 14 with speakers on the long wall. All hard surfaces with parallel walls, ceilings, and floors and no treatments - not even an area rug. If I were you, I would speak to a couple of manufacturers such as Sean from Zu and Duke from Audiokinesis.
There are things one can do to "treat" a room that is compatible with normal room decor.  As Shadorne mentioned, start with a thick carpet, or at least a large rug.  This will reduce the slap echo of sound bouncing back and forth between the ceiling and the floor.  If you have a lot of bare walls, put a decorative wall hanging or oriental carpet on the walls.  Book cases or anything else along the wall will also act to break up reflections.

Listening in the nearfield also helps to reduce the effect of the room because a higher percentage of the sound you hear will be coming directly from the speaker.  This requires that the speaker be reasonably balanced for such listening (speakers sound much brighter when listening close up, so not too bright speakers will help).

The use of tall dipole speakers is also a good idea if you can meet the requirement of locating the speaker well off the back wall (about 4 feet or more is needed).  The height of such speakers means they do not radiate as much energy upward, and because they are dipoles, the front and back signals are out of phase and tend to cancel at the sides; the sound is more concentrated within the area between the speakers.

In rooms that are really challenging, and where placement options are limited, a speaker designed to be very flexible in placement can be a big plus.  For example, I've heard Gradient Revolutions used in some really difficult situations and they sounded quite good.

No matter how bad a room seems to be, there are usually setups that will work.  The challenge is finding them.  It can take quite a bit of experimentation and patience to find the right spot.  This is particularly the case because moving one speaker one inch can make a big difference if the speaker is sitting in or near a node (a place where major reflections are either reinforcing or cancelling a frequency).  I would suggest googling the "Sumiko Method" of speaker setup; it is quite useful with tricky rooms.

Good luck.
To the original poster:
* floor standing, or bookshelfs on a stand and how high is the tweeter/HF driver off the floor
* how close are they to any other room boundaries
* is there a big screen TV between them (audio/video system?)
* is it a high ceiling, or vaulted one and if vaulted, are the speakers under the low, or high side
* dome tweeter, or full-range driver (size of sweet spot)
* is your seating position at, or away from a wall/window...and how far back
* how wide are the speakers apart
* is there a window behind your head
* is your carpet Berber, or thicker...or is it wood floors
* is your listening spot a fully upholstered chair and if you scratch your fingernails on it, is it noisy

The point, is that everything makes a difference. Without lifting a finger for any room mods, moving the speakers further into the room -- closer to you -- and using a spacing of no more than 8', tweeter center to center, will help. Toeing them in so you're directly on axis with the tweeter will also lessen the echo effect. The more you're in the direct soundfield (the nearfield as some have mentioned), the less you're affected by the echo. Notice I said you and not your speakers. Do a bit of research on HRTF and you'll understand why.

So we have HRTF, room impulse and frequency response, potential phase shift of a signal from the electronics and a persnicketty wife. Better pick up a pair of cans. :-D
The problem with most speakers is not always the drivers, ie a 10" woofer or whatever. The problem is usually a result of the cabinet resonance and what frequency it resonates at. High mass speakers have a low resonance point. Bad for your room, sounds good in car stereos especially if you are in the car next to you at a stop light. The whole car resonates becoming a huge speaker. Lighter and or smaller speakers have less and higher frequency resonance, which is much easier to blunt. 
Try a pair of the stand-mounted Elusive Unicorn Monitor MkII, with the newly-improved graphene-treated driver screws.
Whichever speaker you choose you will be compromised. Sound is just air waves bouncing around a room, and if you have a sub-optimal room, no speaker will fix that - just change the dynamics of how/where the waves move and thus what you hear. Have a look around this web site http://www.acoustics.salford.ac.uk. I built a custom audio room to their ratios - magically previously missing bass notes appeared everywhere - sorry, that doesn't help you.

If you like your speakers, I'd spend money on room treatments, or if you're digital, maybe try using a DSP to digitally correct the room, but unsure how it would go with echo issues. Upgrade the ceiling and put some nice panels like these in http://www.decortech.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/stCuths-project-bottom-sideimageV.jpg. or nice rugs on the floor.
The speakers that are absolutely the least affected by room acoystics are Bose 901's, if you can stand the sound at all. I can't.
I'm very intrigued by the Lyngdorf unit, especially by the all digital design. Only wonder if might sound too analytical or too "clean".

grannyring, how do you compare the Lyngdorf sound to something like an all tube pre/amp system? Does it sound as musical and engaging?
Large horns are the least effected by room issues if the fit they will work well. Horns have controlled radiation patterns thus less to reflect off wall floors etc.
I think it helps to distinguish between problems above and below the Schroeder frequency. Above the Schroeder frequency there is little more you can do than dampen the reflections. Below it is different story. Here you are dealing with room modes, and these require different measures: bass traps, multiple subs and dsp room equalization in any kind of mix that you can live with. Anyone interested in the room equalization and/or subwoofer route should now investigate the new DSpeaker Antimode X4 Preamp/DAC/crossover/room eq: http://www.dspeaker.com/en/products/anti-mode-x4.shtml
From what I understand the OP’s problem seems to be above the Schroeder frequency, but I may be wrong.
@recordchanger2018 - RE:...
i have an acoustic problem, a high ceiling that echos.
I’m with @audiotroy on this one
- sound bounces off everything hard in a small space and creates havoc
- higher the room the more it bounces

One of the most effective treatments with minimal impact to the lower portion of the room is hanging "vinyl curtains" from the ceilings.

I would start with one at the listener end of the room and then if required another at the speaker end of the room - you may need one at one side, depending on room shape

Also - if you have high cupboards or bookshelves place a 1" thick layer of foam on top of them

They helped a friend with his concrete condo - with 12 ft ceiling.
- Most of his issues were within 18" of the ceiling.
- We tried a single curtain and it tidied things up a lot
- he got a lot of relief by hanging traps at the ceiling/wall boundary behind the listener.

There is another option
- 12" x 24" acoustic foam cylinders that hang from the ceiling
- more expensive than the curtain approach
- just as effective
- looks kinda interesting - a talking point

Unfortunately, concrete condos are an acoustic minefield

An invisible option that could provide some relief is Acoustic Glue and drywall
- it’s invisible and I would start with the wall behind the listener
- Very High on the WAF!!!
- you hang it using special acoustic green caulking
- you leave a small 1/4" gap (or more) at top/bottom/sides for movement
- tape it and paint it - looks like a wall
- it;s about 3/4" - 1" thick when finished
- you could do the facing wall as well
- all you loose from the room dimension is 1.5" - 2"
- no impact to existing art or furniture

See this video on how to proceed...
http://www.greengluecompany.com/videos/applying-green-glue-noiseproofing-compound

It is not as effective as thevinyl curtains

The simplest solution is to buy acoustic drapes and hang them floor-to-ceiling on the wall opposite the speakers AND use the 1" think foam on top of the high cupboards and bookshelves
- Advantage - you can take the curtain with you if you move

See: http://www.soundproofingtips.com/soundproof-curtains/

Regards - Steve
Several speaker companies design their speaker systems for reduced vertical dispersion in order to minimize room effect from both ceiling and floor.  This characteristic was one of the many design requirements when the team at Lucas Arts developed the standard for THX certification. Some "audiophiles" are under the misconception that the THX program is all about movies.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Sound is sound. The advantages of a well designed speaker system are equally beneficial for all areas of entertainment. Today may speaker companies employ these basic design principles regardless of their desire to apply for THX certification and with a modicum of research you can find a product that will do a very nice job in achieving your listening goals.       
+1 for directional speakers.
Will make a difference.
Electrostats like MLs send less energy toward the ceiling.
If possible, check out Tannoy speakers.  The coincident tweeter is horn loaded, and dispersion is controlled to about 90 degrees.  You get minimal high frequency splash off the ceiling and side walls.  Plus, being coincident, the midrange is coherent in all directions.  The sound does not change with respect to your angle to the speaker.   Tannoy has a new very affordable model, plus their much more expensive lines.  They have a unique sound, but are always fun & musical sounding.  It's a music lover's speaker.
A pair of Kii3 speakers will solve just about any room problems.  Mine made a tremendous difference with my small uneven room.

Leotis, and Mirolab, 

A live reflective space will still be affected by directional speakers, Almost all loudspeakers even with horn loading of the tweeter still throw out an abundance of energy.

If you remember physics energy can not be created or destroyed.

You can turn vibrational energy into heat by absorption.

You can direct the sound of a directional loudspeaker toward the listener however, unless the listener's body is a complete broad based absorber sound frequencies will still bounce off his body, any hard reflective surfaces and the floor, hit the ceiling and bounce back.

If the room sounds live it is called slap echo and you have to use absorbtive materials to combat that. 

Sandydennis, glad to hear they work well in your room, a small uneven room is not a large reflective room, totally different set of problems. 

Bryanbull, did you notice we were saying the same thing the D'appolito configuration was designed to eliminate ceiling and floor bounce however, even a speaker with a narrowed vertical dispersion can't eliminate floor bounced reflections.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ