We talk a lot about how rooms matter, and the more I hear good and bad ones the more I agree…in fact a poor room setup can ruin a decent hi fi and a carefully adjusted room can make a poor one good. But often it’s discussed as though you either have the good luck to get a good one or bad luck if not. RUBBISH. A few simple rules, a bit of furniture moving and you can easily maximise your chance to make the most of any room you use. Try it and see if you don’t suddenly have controlled tuneful bass, sound-staging, imaging and non splashy treble! Most of the following is a mix of seeing good practice at various demo rooms, and using commonly available websites. It’s NOT prescriptive. Each room will need you to use some of this, maybe all, but if you try this as a start point, then some experimentation should give you a good chance of making a real difference.
The following basic rules always apply first.
• Avoid square rooms to put your HiFi in and cubes are a no-no.
• Always fire your speakers down the long length of the room.
• The amount of damping will depend on your furnishings. An over-furnished Victorian sitting room with big heavy furniture, full length curtains, wall to wall carpets etc will be over damped. A modern studio with glass walls scant furniture and a wooden floor will be under-damped. Somewhere between these two extremes. Most of us live.
So. On the diagram below start as follows.
1. Follow the rule of thirds to find your listening position. That’s 2/3rds of the whole room length, measured from the back (speaker) wall to your ears. Place sofa at 'A' and don’t move it again!
2. Start by placing you speakers so that AB = CD in length. At this stage, the gap from the walls around will depend on room size, but try to make AB/CD more than 7ft and less than 12ft, otherwise imaging can be affected.
3. Toe the speakers in so that they are pointing over your shoulders, to meet about 2ft behind your head.
4. Play music and make judgements. Adjust the speakers first by sliding them along the dotted line axis. Back = more bass, Forward = less bass. Listen for sound-staging and imaging and stop when you have the best compromise.
5. Try some or any of E,F,G and H as follows.
E: First reflection dampers. Look at the mirror image of the room. The dampers are placed where the dotted line drawn from the imaginary mirror speaker D2 and you, comes through the wall. Try placing your wall to ceiling vinyl rack there. Or a curtain.
F: Bass traps. Bass still overpowering? Get cardboard tube carpet roll insides, paint to match walls and place in corners.
G: Rug. Should be halfway between you and the speakers. Get SWMBO to choose it!
H: Sound still bright and splashy? Hang a rug here.
Finally, pour large G&T, sit back whilst friends sit boggle eyed in amazement at the sound and say stuff like, “well it’s quite easy when you know how really”. And “Oh it was nothing, just something I knocked up you know”.