Speaker Placement, Imaging & Soundstage

For anyone who isn't an expert I came across this video yesterday and thought it worth sharing. I rather wish I'd found it 12 mths ago  (Moderators - I hope it's ok to link to the video? Apologies and remove if not. It's purely instructional.)

I found it incredibly helpful & simple to grasp - once I'd got over the occasional, to-camera 'death stare' of the marketing guy. The revelation was using their recommended Norah Jones track to get my centre image. Mine turned out to be some way off to the left - I never realised. I actually had to move the left speaker closer to its sidewall to get perfect centre image. When I'd done that, a whole new world opened up. Imaging and soundstage are now the way the journo's write about them. I didn't realise what I'd been missing. Try the Norah Jones (e.g.) test and see if you're getting the most out of your soundstage.. 

Moderated Post:  I've removed the link it as it is a manufacturers video 

Original Post

Ok Dynaudio.  Yes some speaker brands need you to follow a protocol specific to their voicing to get the best results. Others give a basic random guestimation of where you should be putting them.

Im not a fan of the guideline of setting up a basic triangle symmetry and then taking it from there with little movements from each speaker to get it right whatever from each other.

I would rather get one speaker sounding right, and then mirror image the other. If that doesn't sound right, then use the other speaker as master and get the other to mirror it.  Eventually you should end up with both speakers sounding as good as each other and with a true symmetrical stereo disposition.

Also factor in the way most recordings are mixed nowadays. Bass is always heavier on the right.    If bass was more heavier on the left it would confuse our left to right reading minds.

Of course it's not always as simple as that.  With many recordings having wayward random bass coming from everywhere to confuse the listener. This is why it's best to position speakers with your music   Playing that sounds right for your own ears.

I rather thought the advice might be a bit more generic than just for Dynaudio, though I'm sure there are exceptions.. The single master speaker location idea is interesting, Tobyjug.

The two things that were of most use to me were 1) your triangle doesn't have to be equilateral - it's ok for the listening position to be a little further than the distance between the speakers - works for me - and 2) how the importance of centre image was highlighted and being given a track to accomplish it successfully. Previously, I'd confined my thoughts to finding best spot to avoid bass boom,/achieve greatest mid/high range clarity and keeping all positions equal and symmetrical. Changing things around to get that centre image radically improved my soundstage. Also, by pure chance, my final positioning isn't a million miles away, either, from their starting baseline which suggests carving the room into fifths - length and width.  

Getting a central image is great if replaying a recording with a strong central image as a reference.

" You look good to me" on the Oscar Peterson album 'We Get Requests' is a well documented account of a difficult soundstage to get right.   You should be hearing the double bass inside right, the piano inside left and the drums mixed oblique centre to far left.   Getting this right in my listening position with the speakers angled from one corner facing another has taken me ages.

 

Arquen, an acoustics company, does a very good guide on this subject: google the company and Room 101. The fact that it is aimed more at the studio environment that typical homes is itrelwvant - sound waves don’t know the difference!  

Of course, unless you are lucky enough to have a dedicated listening room, in a practical domestic situation compromises are usually unavoidable - the challenge is balancing siund quality and practical living, but guides such as these can make it easier, especially if something seems wrong and a complete rearrangement may be needed.

 

eagle3333 posted:

For anyone who isn't an expert I came across this video yesterday and thought it worth sharing. I rather wish I'd found it 12 mths ago  (Moderators - I hope it's ok to link to the video? Apologies and remove if not. It's purely instructional.)

I found it incredibly helpful & simple to grasp - once I'd got over the occasional, to-camera 'death stare' of the marketing guy. The revelation was using their recommended Norah Jones track to get my centre image. Mine turned out to be some way off to the left - I never realised. I actually had to move the left speaker closer to its sidewall to get perfect centre image. When I'd done that, a whole new world opened up. Imaging and soundstage are now the way the journo's write about them. I didn't realise what I'd been missing. Try the Norah Jones (e.g.) test and see if you're getting the most out of your soundstage.. 

Moderated Post:  I've removed the link it as it is a manufacturers video 

..right-oh, not completely unexpected but still a pity as I felt it was generically very informative and didn't seek to promote their products at all; I think there's more product promotion in many of the posts here than in that video! But, of course, I defer to your forum authority.

For anyone interested, a useful part of the video suggests Norah Jones' track 'Little Room', from the album 'Not too Late' as a perfect track for establishing centre image; there is only a guitar and vocal and the vocal should sit right between the speakers. 

I thought there was some useful information in there. I had worked out the bass peak stuff from using the room predictor in REW and I have an isosceles triangle rather than equilateral simply because the room and my wife dictate this layout.

I will however try out the test tracks identified.

btw the Muppet advice worked for me!

 WhaTOBYJUG posted:

Getting a central image is great if replaying a recording with a strong central image as a reference.

" You look good to me" on the Oscar Peterson album 'We Get Requests' is a well documented account of a difficult soundstage to get right.   You should be hearing the double bass inside right, the piano inside left and the drums mixed oblique centre to far left.   Getting this right in my listening position with the speakers angled from one corner facing another has taken me ages.

 

I’m playing this track now and piano is almost central, bass quite right and drums far left. But precision of localization is really surprising!

I don't think there is a meaningful baseline though. For example, some speakers must go flush up against are rear wall with not toe.

Others have toe in greatly affected by how much current the amp has. With much more toe in required for low current amps and little or none for amps with more control.

If anything, I'd say the best baseline rule is to simply consult the manual and the dealer. The dealer often has more experience with how speakers respond to positioning in the listening rooms of the country they operate in and experience with odd phenomenon like the current to toe angle that will never be in a manual. I remember mission speakers were hugely sensitive to this.

I think the studio approach as in the guide I referenced assumes speakers that are designed have a flat response without requiring wall reinforcement, so does not apply to the small proportion specificly designed for, and requiring direct back-to-wall to give a good response.

With other speakers it is a good guide - but only as a starting point, when in-room measurements using software like REW (free) with a measuring microphone facilitates room- speaker-specific ‘tuning’.

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