Sounds like a control issue. Nobody is asking you to place your speakers against the wall, and I doubt that anyone is seeking your approval, so what's the problem? Should we all wear the same clothes as you too?
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Lugnut is correct--the Allison One, a classic design that seems to be making a comeback from the Father and Son CES pictures, was specifically designed to be flush with the wall, as was the Klipschorn (in the corner) and one of the speakers that first caught my fancy in the high end, the Snell A III. However, I agree with your point that with some (probably many) high end designs you are defeating the purpose of spending a lot of money on speakers designed to be placed well out into a room by putting them against a wall. In my case, since I don't have a dedicated listening room, I opted for a 4-piece system that has satellites light enough to carry out to the optimal listening spot from where they look, but don't sound, best when I want to listen seriously.
I tend to agree with Phasecorrect, although the wording was a little provocative.
There are SOME designs that will work adequately near a rear wall, but I have never heard a speaker that images anywhere near its full potential when it is near to the rear wall.
The reflex port placement is only part of the issue, and is more to do with whether the speaker produces boomy or excessive bass when placed near a rear wall. To me this is a secondary issue to that of imaging.
So I agree with Phasecorrect on the basis that many people spend a lot of money on their hifi, with one of their stated objectives being to have a good sense of imaging. However putting the speakers against the wall negates a lot of the imaging capabilities of the system, so they really could have spent less money to have achieved the same sound.
For example I think that the spendor s3/5 will sound pretty good when against the rear wall, since it presents a pretty decent tonal balance without boominess. However this speaker would sound much better on good stands out into the room.
I'm fed up watching the soundstage. It's too demanding. I'd rather relax and listen. Last night I moved the speakers alot closer to the back wall to unfocus the image and attain the blur that's closer to the real thing. The darn thing is still imaging! Believe it or not, it still takes good speakers to get a convincing blur.
NHT 3.3's lose their low-end "magic" if they're not within 6 inches of the rear wall. Several other examples have been given of speakers absolutely designed to be placed close to the wall. If I had specific room / placement constraints and wanted the best sound I could get, I'd ask a forum like this the same question.
I wonder how many people spend several thousand dollars on speakers and then severely curtail their performance by inappropriate placement? There probably are a bunch.
Phasecorrect, thanks. I think it's easy to ruffle feathers when asking people why they wasted a bunch of money, even though they are perfectly within their rights to make poor purchasing decisions. Heck I wonder why people here in California buy 4x4 SUVs to drive to work and back. It's a strange world.
Any loudspeaker with side-firing woofers (more common than ever these days), are designed to be coupled as closely as possible with the wall, to reinforce low frequency output. These designs are more commonly narrow in width, but deep so that the mids and tweeters are not close to the wall.
My NHT 3.3's are almost touching the wall behind them, but the face of the speaker cabinet is almost 3' from the wall. The manufacturer recommends this placement, and judging by numerous reviews, the manufacturer might just be right.
But on the other hand, I do see Phasecorrect's (justification) #2 point.... Why purchase equipment that you can't use to their full potential? A Ferrari would sure look good in my garage. But I wouldn't want to own one, if I couldn't drive it on the road.
Who in their right mind purchases equipment not knowing if they can live with it?
If I had a small room I'd rather buy speakers that were designed to be close to the rear wall and sacrafice soundstage depth than compromise driver integration by sitting too close to a speaker. As fortune has it, I don't have that problem. I do agree that near wall speakers don't satisfy (me) as well as those that are designed to be place out form room boundries, but some people have to manage with what they have.
Why buy a fun car if you have to deal with speed limits, stop lights, and traffic? Probably because you'd like to get a bit more fun within your own situation, and knowing that occasionally it s something truly special.
Why ask what speakers work best against or near a wall? Because not every room in my home is dedicated to audio, and for a lot of people, they don't have a choice of their dimensions and situation for their primary room even.
They still like music, they still would like to hear it played the best it can be in their situation.
So let's see.
They enjoy music.
They would like to listen to it in the best manner they can.
They accept the fact that it can't be perfect.
There is obviously a line that has to be drawn. Where they draw it, and where you draw it are two choices.
There are speakers made for close wall placement.
There are speakers made to be as far from a wall as possible.
There are speakers designed in a chamber.
There are speakers designed in a typical room.
So is there only acceptable option to buy the cheapest, most horrible stereo setup?
No, they inquire on what the best they can do with their situation.
I highly doubt you have the exact, ideal room situation. Yet, I assume you do what you have to do to make the best of it. Doesn't matter whether this is setting limits, using room correction, using room treatment, twiddling with placement, trying components.
Same with these folks.
I also forgot -- there is no right way to do anything ...otherwise we wouldn't have 800 different companies making audio equipment we wouldn't have thousands of Audiogon members buying, trading, selling, and swapping...
There really would be nothing to talk about.
There would be 'the way'.
I was one of the people who started a thread. I have another room which dictates placement this way, and I also have a curiosity about putting together a system from a different philosophy.
I am currently not designing blueprints for a new home, where every room follows the golden ratio. There is the possibility where I might want to put a system in another room not specifically designed for audio.
I will not design my kitchen for the best imaging.
I will not factor in room treatment into my bathroom.
I will not have speakers dead center in the middle of my office.
I might design a den for something other than audio.
I might be social and design a room for having people over,
rather than audio, where I'd still like to hear music.
I might even have another person that lives with me that has as equal an opinion as to what happens to my home, that is also a bit more important that a box with tubes, transformers, or transitors in it.
I might like a speaker with great off-axis response, since I can no longer find my neckbrace to keep my head in the perfect spot.
There might even be a chance other people would like to hear music as close to 'nice' as possible.
Is this ideal?
This does happen is real life, where homes are designed for some crazy, something totally outlandish -- they call this "living".
People realize this.
Manufacturers realize this.
Recording labels realize this.
So people do they best they can with what they have.
Manufacturers make products made for ideal situations.
They also make products made for 'typical' situations.
They also make products to help people who have purchased components made for ideal situations, but where they won't work.
Music labels do this all the time -- why do you think compression is even used? Most people's typical system is a car, or a typical mass market stereo.
There are always compromises, and there are always different preferences and situations, and for each, there will be a market.
Every been to an audio show? Talk about horrible room situations to deal with. Think dealers and manufacturers have their equipment setup the way they'd ideally like it?
Ever heard good sound?
Ever heard bad sound?
Still curious to hear it played well?
Still trying to get the best out of the situation _you_ have?
Same with everyone else playing the game.
We have reality, and we'd like to make the best of it.
If you can only accept perfection, and you realize that in most situations you can't reach it, you're missing out on a whole lot of life.
It's not the thinking aloud that is the problem with this post but the statements to the effect of others are wasting their time and money by having different equipment and set-ups. I'm not defensive of my system and invite criticism, but constructively, not just to be told that I am stupid. (see Seandtaylor99's 2nd post)
Well, I'm going to step up to the pump and say what needs to be said. Fire back at will boys.
The essence of the thread as posted is that there are no speakers designed to be placed near the rear wall and anyone that does this should buy their equipment at Radio Shack since they obviously don't know what they are doing.
My non-civilized reply is that the poster doesn't know what he's talking about. I try to be humble about what I know and I certainly can identify those folks who are truely knowledgeable. I also try very hard to be polite but bristle when attacked in such a rude way. It's obvious that a couple of folks in this thread are relative newbies that are way over opinioned. Being new isn't something that is shameful but pretending to be all-knowing is.
Anyone can research the various posts by the offending parties and come to the same conclusion I have. They enjoy conflict for conflicts sake and know very little.
It's easy to be offensive on the internet and get away with it. I believe that this type of activity is compensating for not being able to be that way in person.
As the poster...I have taken some well deserved heat...and if I had it to do over again...would have been more selective with my wording(and to those that were offended I am man enough to offer my apologies)...but since the "cat is out the bag" so to speak..I think a distinction should be made of placement in close proximity to walls(which can be beneficial for small monitors) vs. flush against a flat surface on bookshelves...my point being...placement is often more critical than the equipment itself...for most applications...