Strange Klipsch thing

I stopped by a local shop this afternoon because the guy had recently set up a two channel room. At the moment he's carrying Cary amps - which I use at home - and Klipsch speakers. He had an SLI-80 integrated run through the big Klipschorn speakers placed in the corners. What I heard was an enormously wide soundstage with exceptional image height, BUT, the whole thing sounded like it was being projected onto a perfectly flat wall. Not so much as a shred of stage depth. Is this fairly common with Klipsch speakers? It really seemed like an odd effect. Not my cup of tea at all.
I should clarify. They weren't exactly my cup of tea, but i can understand why someone might like them. The width and height presentation was bloody huge. I'm just wondering if this is the "house sound" or if anyone who uses them in their home experiences the same thing. Also, since someone asked, it seems likely that since it was a demo setup, the KT88s in the amplifier were the stock tubes.
Perhaps it was just due to their particular room setup.
My experience has been, on the couple occasions I've heard them (always in stores), that the big k-horns have fabulous dynamic range and sound very realistic with instrumental music, but poor imaging.
I owned KHorns for about a year and a half. I liked a lot of what they did and some things I didn't like. Image depth was pretty much non-existent. I unscrewed the top hats that house the mids/tweeters and angled them into the room and it helped a little but not much.
They are VERY dynamic, but have their faults as you state. The big corner horn K-horns playing Marche Slave about 50 years ago at a friend's house, made me an audiophile
A horn speaker placed in a corner will lack wall reflections that give a sense of depth. Horns are more directional than other kinds of drivers, so the only depth you will hear is that which is in the recording.
There are pros and cons to every aspect of speaker design. Room reflection is just another variable. It seems to me that I have heard a nice spread of image from k-horns before. It was a long time ago, but I was very impressed by them. I use Forte IIs, not in corners. They have a wide image and some depth, but not with precision of my Swans or PMCs, but the music does have a "live" feel. My Alons present in their own distinct way. Add the fact that different amps change the presentation...

"so the only depth you will hear is that which is in the recording."

If a system is manufacturing depth that is not in the recording then it must be an affect being created by the system which is no different than any other type of coloration.

With Klipschorns and a few other speakers like ESP and a model by NHT with a built-in toe angle it is important to be sitting at the proper distance from the speaker. If you are sitting at the proper distance the speakers should cross in front of you, about at your knees.
Your experience is the same as mine but on the other hand my Maggies fire half of their energy to the back wall. Is that re-creating image depth or just creating one? I like both presentations but some music sounds better on one speaker than the other and vice-versa.
Reflected sound is a personal preference. You have to decide how much reflected sound you like. If you don't like reflected sound, direct radiators will have the least amount of it.
I have a pair of Cornwall III's and for the money these things are amazing. They are pretty much flat against the wall and pretty far apart and fill my room with music. I REALLY like these speakers and think they sound best with tubes.
I would offer for consideration, that having speakers close to the wall compromises their opportunity to present the imaging that is on the recording.
Unsounds right.... hey post enough and you to can get lucky.
Yep, distance from rear wall and associated reflected sound is needed to create imaging depth.

mbl omni's set up accordingly do this to the max.

Reflected sound. So what you guys are saying is that depth is a coloration.
"Reflected sound. So what you guys are saying is that depth is a coloration."

I'm not, but I suppose you could call it that if you are in the camp that says all reflected sound is bad and should be avoided. It's an impossible goal in most any actual room save perhaps an anechoic chamber. WHo has one of those?

Are there speakers out there that can go directly up against the rear wall (or be wall mounted even perhaps in teh extreme case) and also be imaging depth champs? I seldom see any rigs set up with speakers flat against the rear wall or corners that have the option to do otherwise and still sound good. Most all I can think of that are designed to do a deep soundstage are also designed so the drivers (not necessarily the rear of the cabinets) are positioned somewhat away from the rear wall.

BTW imaging depth and quality is all relative. But the best I have heard in terms of depth of soundstage and imaging accuracy within it that I suggest to be the reference standard is the mbl omnis set up with major space(12-15 feet) set up behind them.

I've heard the exact same rig setup at a show way less optimally, and the soundstage and imaging was a shadow of that with the right setup, back with the pack for the most part, so you really have to hear tehse set up properly before you might have a clue what you might be missing.
What I'm suggesting is that the early reflections from nearby walls might mix with the direct sound, and the combined sound might be perceived in such a way as to distort the original recordings sound stage.
And, oh yeah maybe the other thing too. ;-)
The thing is, I do not see how there can be any depth of soundstage without reflected sound. Our choices in general regarding how we locate speakers away from rear walls in order to get depth of soundstage would seem to support this. Every system I have ever heard with good depth of soundstage features speaker placement away from rear walls in particular. The extreme case I have seen that set the benchmark were the omni mbls with lots of space behind and to side walls as well.

In lieu of an anechoic chamber to experiment with, imagine placing your speakers outdoors with no wall behind them. Would you get any perception of depth? I do not think so. Try it and see!

Width of soundstage is a different thing. That you would get in the outdoor listening space. Early reflections were side walls only added could only be detrimental only in that scenario I would envision.

The balancing act comes in that distance from the rear wall also tends to reduce bass coupling and levels at the same time as potential imaging depth increases. So speakers that strive to do depth of soundstage and bass well together have to take that into account.
There is (sometimes) reflected sound on the recording, from the venue in which it was recorded. This depends a lot on the recording techniques and the venue. IME, the venue's contribution is more often found on classical recordings and less often found on pop recordings.
That's not to say it can't be supplemented by the reflected sound in the listening room. The distance/timing of the reflected sound in the listening room can supplement or detract from the recorded soundstage.

For it to work well, the subtle 3 dimensional sound cues are captured in the recording to various degrees (or not).

Then the playback system reproduces them in the 3-D space of your listening room, to the extent that the playback system is accurate and detailed enough to reproduce them. Distance between transducers and the rear wall and adequate proportional levels of first reflection sound off the rear wall is needed generally to accomplish this.

Omnis like mbl do this to the nth degree when set up properly in a large enough room with lots of space behind them and from side walls to minimize early reflections there.

Highly directional, front firing speakers that also rely on coupling to walls or corners for bass like Klipshorn are at the other end of the spectrum.
"Dan_ed; Reflected sound. So what you guys are saying is that depth is a coloration.

I think I am to some extent. Maybe the better word is presentation rather than coloration. To be honest about it, any rear firing driver is there to create (not re-create) a sense of added space. I like this effect but I know it's a derived sound.
Wow! Unsound, we seem to have found a patch of muddy, swampy, common ground. NO PUSHING! ;-)

Bravo, Russ69!

Coloration is NOT a four letter word and every system adds it to some degree or the other. Embrace the coloration your speakers and room create. This is exactly what draws each of us to the choices we make. ALL rooms and speakers contribute to colorations.

That said, I think if folks are always hearing depth from their speakers on every recording that would be a clue to me something isn't right according to MY preferences. But it could be fine for someone else.
No depth is a illusion. It doesn't exist its a trick of the senses like stereo.
"No depth is a illusion. It doesn't exist its a trick of the senses like stereo. "

All of audio playback is an illusion and a reproduction but not "real".

Soundstage depth is no different than any other aspect of good sound. It can exist in the real world and in hifi playback under the right conditions. The rig owner has the power to determine which aspects of the illusion to focus on and enjoy or not with his rig. How the recording is made is a limitation just as it is in all the rest.

I can make a valid argument I think that if the 3-D spatial cues are present in teh recording and they are not reproduced in a 3-D manner accordingly then that is a coloration or type of distortion. This particular kind of "distortion" is inherent in headphone listening for example where an accurate 3-D presentation of spatial cues is not typically part of the game.
Would be a sin of omission not a coloration or distortion. Rooms interact with radiation patterns and can interfere with the illusion of depth. Horns tend to have controlled radiation patterns this can cause image to be more in front of loudspeakers but with less room interaction a dipole e stat etc would have a figure 8 radiation pattern which provides more depth but with more interaction with room. Neither is better than the other but one may have a personal preference. Its not distortion or coloration its just the way different designs control radiation patterns. And there interaction with listening spaces. I have built dipole horns works very well.
"Would be a sin of omission not a coloration or distortion."

Matter of perspective I suppose, but if the 3-d cues are there and not presented accurately, how is this different than watching a 3-D tv picture without the glasses needed to see it properly?

With audio, its less obvious and hence less of a distraction I suppose compared to 3-D images.

BTW 3-d TV has no appeal to me mainly because of the special glasses needed to see it properly and the option to not even have it.

With audio, 3-D presentation does have appeal to me because it is part of what was recorded and is always there in the recording to different degrees by default with no real option to remove.

If all tv were encoded for 3-D viewing, then I suspect we would all want to have a 3-D TV.

Yes, horns are more directional and also seem to lend themselves well towards going close to the rear wall, which can be an advantage, right?

They still play by the same rules of room acoustics as any other speakers though I think when it comes to 3-D soundstage and imaging. Good horns that are also highly resolving lend themselves well to the task from what I have heard, but I do not know if they will ever challenge the better omnis like mbl in terms of being the champs at soundstage depth specifically, if that is what turns you on.
Mapman, headphones introduce their own set of perception peculiarities that compromise your point.
"Mapman, headphones introduce their own set of perception peculiarities that compromise your point."

How's that?
Headphones, typically have greater channel isolation, and don't typically present sound to the outer ear in the same way as speakers do. Without electronic manipulation or unique recording techniques, the sound is typically perceived as coming from within ones head as opposed to from a sound stage.

OK, but how does that compromise my point?

With headphones, the spatial cues are still in the recordings and location is not reproduced like the original. Call that omission or distortion, take your pick.

Here is the wikipedia general definition of distortion:

"A distortion is the alteration of the original shape (or other characteristic) of an object, image, sound, waveform or other form of information or representation. Distortion is usually unwanted, and often many methods are employed to minimize it in practice."

I think this supports my point, not compromise it.
The actual hearing process differs.
"The actual hearing process differs."


So please explain what's the point you are trying to make? I'm not getting it?

Are you saying its our ears fault that the presentation they receive via headphones is nothing like that they might hear via a speaker setup where 3D spatial cues are reproduced more accurately?
Actualy, I think you make a very good point, just that to be fair, it's not quite so black and white. As an analogy, it's a bit like, pushing a spoonfull of sugar deep into ones mouth so that only the back of the tongue is exposed to it, and keeping the spoon there till it's swallowed. Since the tip of the tongue is what is most sensitive to sweetness, one doesn't get the opportunity to taste it as thoroughly, as one typically does.
To Grimace

Yes this is typical to Klipsch vintage horn speakers. As a over 30 yr. owner of a set of Lascala's they do not have a shred of depth.

They produce an enormous sound stage with life size height and width but no depth.

I believe that depth is Audio illusion. Whenever I hear live music I close my eyes and have no idea who is in front of whom! Sounds overlap and are not separated either.

In some audio gear I have owned the higher end pre-amps produced more depth than the cheaper one from the same company.

I use my Klipsch with vintage tube amps and they produce no depth either. The Klipsch can produce depth with a pre-amp designed to create it. The only downside is image is shrunk to create depth. Leading me to believe depth is audio trickery.
My Lascala set up gives me plenty of depth, partly due to them being away from the wall, and also, because I treated the wall behind them to my liking. Not being corner loaded gives the flexibility of positioning them to get the best of everything. My only problem with the Khorn has always been the corner placement. The best Khorn setups I have been involved with or heard are situations where they were not so far apart, versus the listening position. I designed false corners for some clients in the past that brought them closer, and they took on more depth. My opinion about the Heritage series of Klipsch speakers are that for the money, and with some correct modifications, they are hard to beat, at least to my ears.
FWIW: the reason reflected sound can contribute to soundstage is due to the way our ears hear. Our brain makes a copy of an initial sound and compares it to others coming in. If the others are delayed versions of the original, the extra information is used to get a better understanding of where the sound is coming from.

So its not a coloration, and speakers are designed all the time to take advantage of it, and is why getting the speakers out into the room a little can help out the soundstage.
I will have to try that as I am finishing off a basement to get the most out of these speakers. I just take it as a weakness of the horns projecting sound forward.
Volleyguy. I understand that horns have a different projectory pattern, but with proper room set up between speakers and listener, and, room tweaks, they can do it all. On many recorded performances, my system disappears, and I achieve excellent stage height, width and depth......with of course those other wonderful attributes that horns can bring...........later...MrD
I agree with Mrdecibel - I have a pair of Cornwalls, and even against the wall, I have excellent soundstaging. The bass is also quite a bit better when they are against the wall as opposed to out from it a little. Unfortunately, in my room I am unable to try them in the corners, so I can't speak to that. I do have a friend who has a single Klipschorn in a corner for mono listening, and there is definitely no lack of bass or depth of stage in his room, which is not treated.
"Depth" is engineered into recordings. Stereo is not sinply two channels as most already know. Without some degree of reverb voices sound dry and without dimension. Engineers "build soundstage".
On the other hand, sound "lives" in space, An anechoic chamber would make a sad listening room.
Grimace. I would suggest reading up on the subject of room placement without the help of a forum. You will only be disappointed and it will cost you a ton of money. Read articles on the subject from professionals and not audiophiles. Most professionals on these subjects are also music lovers who listen to live music. Notice you NEVER hear an audiophile talk about going out and listening to live music? It's because they don't do it. They spend their lives and money on poor reproduction of music.
^Big Brother?