sweet spot hell

It will always drive me crazy that the sweet spot of most systenms is so small. Does that bother anyone else as much as it does me. I can't help it. If two people are listening on the couch invariably one person has it better than the other. That is crazy.
And there is the man in the stereo store hovering behind you as you listen

Here's a list of things that KILL a wide "sweet spot", "imaging" and "soundstage":

(1) Improper speaker placement

(2) Improper listening position

(3) Improper selection of speakers in terms of type or size for that specific listening area

(4) Poor room acoustics / lack of proper room treatment

(5) Poor speaker design

(6) Electronics / cabling that is not well matched

Being able to optimize any / all of these takes a lot of time, patience and room. Trying to work all of the above into a non-dedicated listening room can be quite tough. Nonetheless, getting good results can be obtained if your willing to experiment and learn from others.

As to your comments about the "man in the stereo store", forget about ever hearing "optimum" results at a dealership or audio show. There is just TOO much other gear in the room to allow optimum set-up. Sean
You can try a large toe-in so that the speakers aim at a point about a foot in front of the listening position.

This usually widens the sweet spot but of course will have other effects also.

But, it's free and worth a try.
I have my speakers toe'd in as Aragain suggests. Works for me.
Not that one is better than the other here ( personal preference ), but the more "toe in" that is used in setting up the speakers, the narrower the soundstage. Whether running the speakers "flat faced" or "toe'd in", this also affects the frequency response / tonal balance at the listening position. LOTS to think about and play with on this one. Sean
Actually, as Aragain says, toe-ing in to a point IN FRONT of the listening position has the effect of widening the sweet spot. If you'd like a wider sweet spot, this is the best way to achieve it. Of course it will be suboptimal for the listening position but will be pretty good for your friends too.

The tonal balance is preserved due to the dispersion characeristics of most speakers. For a person sitting to the side, the decrease in dB due to one speaker being further away will be offset by the fact that it is pointed more directly at your guest. Likewise with the closer speaker; the increase in dB is set off by it facing further away. As for the prime position, the tonal balance will be as good as if they were slightly toed in, but the imaging will take a performance hit.
Dear All,

Actually I think both points are view are incorrect.

Firstly if you toe the speakers in, what you are actually doing is moving the focal zone of the speakers forward. i.e. the truely sweetest spot moves more forward. You are then more distal to the true focal zone or sweetspot. At that point the sound waves are already diverging from optimal. (this is called the fraunhofer zone for all you sonographers out there).

Sean's opinion I believe is incorrect also. Actually as the speakers get more and more in focus than the sweet spot narrows more. Any placement of the speakers which widens the sweet spot or faocal zone will cause less sharpness in in that sweet spot. So that if you untoe the speakers for instance the sweet spot will in fact be wider but the focus will not be as sharp.
This bothered me for a bit so I called Avalon (I have eidolons) and asked them abou this. Their answer is that with these speakers the focus is already so sharp that it is a matter of degree. The loss in sharpness is not very significant given to the overall sharpness of the image already. BUT if you were to toe themin more it would increase the sharpness and narrow the sweet spot in the near field.

SO I guess I am going to untoe my speakers a bit.

If I have somebody sitting on the couch with me while music is playing, I'm sure not there for listening....Ooops, almost forgot, of course I'll be listening, what else is there? I'm married.

Never mind.
I would try a different approach. I use the "music" mode on my Krell AV Standard. Using four speakers creates a rather large sweet spot--much larger than with just two. However, if you don't want to go this route Sean said it best: there are a lot of factors at work. If you are serious about solving your problem, give some more information on your system and setup. I am sure you can get some perhaps, more specific advice. Like Sean said, it could be an equipment issue and no amount of playing with speaker placement would help. Just a thought...

Jdwek, please re-read my statements. I said that as you use more toe in, you narrow the SOUNDSTAGE. This is quite a bit different than the "sweet spot".

I would like to thank you for confirming most of my findings though. While every room and speaker interface is different, i normally prefer to run speakers "flat faced" or just BARELY toe'd in and find the optimum spacing for them in that manner. I've been able to get very good imaging out of most speakers in this manner when the spacing between them is correct. When you've got the spacing dialed in, then you play with the distance from the back wall. This alters the tonal balance due to bass cancellation & reinforcement, etc... Since you may have altered the distance from the speakers to your listening position, you may have to go back and fine tune the spacing between them a little bit more, etc... This may take several small adjustements going back and forth in terms of spacing from speaker to speaker and speaker to back wall, but the results are WELL worth it.

This should result in a strong central image, even tonal balance and a wide soundstage that extends well beyond the sides of the speakers. You could never achieve this with a large amount of toe in because the baffle of the speaker is now acting as a "director" or "outer edge" to the size of the soundstage. As such, it minizes the output to the sides while focusing the energy inwards. Whereas something may have been recorded strictly to the left of you, the toe in of the left speaker now forces that image more towards the center, etc.. Imaging and soundstage have now been compromised even though the "sweet spot" ( area where the right and left signal blend together / overlap ) is quite wide.

As a case in point, one of my friends that has "decent" gear from a local hi-end shop had never heard a system "image" before and could not relate to what i was talking about when i used the term. Since i was in the middle of assembling a system for another friend, I slipped on a disc by Ian Anderson ( Divinities: 12 Dances with God ) and picked out a specific tune with excellent spacial characteristics. At one point, you can literally hear a ringing bell travel across the width of the room, step by step. On top of that, it is a good recording and these notes have excellent attack, timbre and decay. He was literally blown away and asked "How did you do that ? I have NEVER heard anything reproduce something with such precise placement". My response was that ANY system can do this if it's set up properly. As a case in point, the system that i showed this to him on consisted of a Sony CD changer, a preamp from the 70's, an NAD 2600 power amp and a set of Klipsch Heresy's. As Everyone knows, horns don't image. Right ?!?!?!

On another occasion, i visited a friend that lives out of state. He had two systems set up, his "old junk" in the basement and the "good one" upstairs. After listening to his basement system for a very short period of time, i asked if i could adjust his speakers. While i was still repositioning the speakers, i heard him exclaim "WOOOOOOOOW !!!" I knew that i had hit something then. I could even hear the difference as i was standing between them, trying to muscle them around. He told me that he had NEVER had imaging like this before in any of his systems. I had simply taken his speakers that were slightly toe'd in and set them up to be "flat faced", moved them closer to the wall behind them by about a foot and widened their spacing by about a foot. The difference was drastic to say the least.

When you aim speakers to cross each other in front of you, you are cancelling some of the stereo effect that is present in the recording while reinforcing other aspects. As such, certain features will become more prominent but you will lose much of the spacial information that is derived out of the time difference between the two signals. This is why it is important to pay attention to both nearfield arrival times and the amount of reflections present in the room. While a certain amount of reflectivity in the room can add natural ambience, it can also confuse our auditory senses. This is primarily due to the irregular amount of time delay due to reflections and lack of directionality or strong localization of the original signal. That is why there is such a fine line between having a room that is "too live" or "too dead". A dead room robs the music of space, ambience, pace, etc... while an overtly live room can sound bright and harsh, lack imaging and detail, sound smeared and lack focus, etc.. Finding a good balance is as much work or more than fine tuning the speakers and entire system. Nonetheless, it is almost mandatory IF you want to really see what your system is capable of doing. Sean

Well said. I apologize for not reading your post before I posted mine. Actually, I had written that post at work during the day and by the time I had time to finish and post it, yours had beaten me to it.

That having been said, I also do not like too much toe in. I have tried to not only not have much toe in but as well like to have them spread apart as much as the speaker and room characteristics allow without losing too much focus.

Please let me understand something though. I agree that with appropriate placement you can get a nice wide soundstage and good tonal balance, but do you think that translates into a wide sweet spot? I have not been successful at that.
My system is comprised of:
Theta transport, theta gen 5a DAC, Spectral DMC 30 and DMA 360 and eidolons. This is the new system that I have just upgraded after moving to a new house. I used to have spectral stuff and ascent Mk II's. With that gear although I am sure there were significant improvements that coudl have been made by one with more experience, it was still pretty good and I remember the distinct feeling of missing out somewaht on the sound if I was not dead center in the listening position.

thanks once again for your post. The dialing in and tinkering is alot of the fun

I have the same problem with my Audio Physic speakers. Immedia told me to move the speakers 2-3 feet off the side walls and to angle the left speaker at the left person's left ear/shoulder and angle/toe the right speaker at the right ear/shoulder of the other listener. Then make modifications from there.
I did that and it helped a little. Definately noticeable improvement, but the center spot on the couch is still the best for imaging purposes.
while there are lotsa walid points being made here, the indiwidual speakers' inherent characteristics also have a lot to do w/this. dunlavys are known to have a *wery* narrow sweet-spot. one reviewer likened them to being "the worlds' largest headfones". thiels' imho, have a wery wide sweet-spot - i have heard them (facing straight-ahead, which is how thiel recommends it) throw a palpable image even when, for example, sitting to the right of the right speaker, & this was w/no special room treatment. the speakers' dispersion characteristics are important in a wide sweet-spot.

doug s.