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What Are The Biggest Challenges To Your Listening Room Setup?


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Some people are gifted with a listening room with superb room acoustics. Their room shape, size and building materials complement the room setup, and getting their stereo to sound great is much easier for them, as they probably don’t have to work so hard to get great sound quality.

For example, one of my friends has a 1960’s rancher, with the front and rear walls,  all floor to ceiling glass windows, and a sloped ceiling that peaks at around 20 feet. I would have guessed that it should sound poorly, but in reality room acoustics are excellent for his surround Ninkas, Trikan and Katans.

‘One of the guys here has a listening room with 18 foot ceilings, floor to ceiling glass for his right wall and rear wall, and concrete ceiling and floor. It should be a real challenge, but room acoustics are surprisingly very good. His Akurate 212’s and Melodik sub, fill the 24 foot by 18 foot room superbly.

‘My listening room is a challenge, with concrete floors and ceiling. My right wall is mostly floor to ceiling double pane glass. My internal walls are mostly gypsum board on metal studs, and my outer walls are probably partition with steel studs, using the definitions for SO provided by Linn. My room is 12 feet deep, front to back, and would probably benefit from being at least a couple more feet deeper, so there is more room behind my sofa and the rear wall. I also live in a high rise, and the power supply is relatively polluted. Because of these encumbrances, I have had to work much harder to get great sound quality.

‘What are the challenges your listening room faces for HiFi setup?

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Before this gets further out of hand, perhaps we should provide advice and comment on ONLY those things we have first-hand experience with. So, if you have actual tried product X, please discuss; if y

My plan is to move the TV and speakers to the left, and through 90 degrees, so they are facing the piano, firing left-to-right as it were as per the photo. It's a big, blank wall with nothing but powe

I think acoustic panelling is very interesting and can make a big difference but I believe needs to be done very carefully and subtlety I went to one professionally set up and built cinema room and th

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I have an asymmetric speaker layout as a compromise as the only way to sensibly fit in two sofas. Something that is currently rather redundant giving visiting restrictions but in the long run will hopefully be useful again!

For many years my biggest restriction was having neighbours than meant I couldn't listen at a decent volume. The best HiFi upgrade I've ever made was buying a detached house. It was also by far the most expensive!

Edited by MartinC
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I have an asymmetric layout where the left wall is “missing”. Before I tried I thought this was deemed impossible. But it works. The rescue is a bookshelf from floor to roof on the right wall. I think this bookshelf gives some beneficial absorption and diffraction. I don’t perceive any skewed soundstage due to this asymmetry.8DB67EAD-7EB1-4436-8A61-DA3C56BDBF80.thumb.png.bef31db96fb33807aff233da3cf52136.png

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I've got an L-shaped room as well, far from ideal, though if you have the option you can place the speakers so they have symmetric sidewalls, for example with @HansBertil room you'd put them on the east wall firing down the length of the room.

not an option for me sadly, my next best place would be on the south wall firing north.

I've just had to live with things for now however I should be able to start building my listening room some time in April/March which will sort everything out.

Still going to have a lot of compromises but i think practically you need to make these to help make the room livable.

@Paulssurround the glass isn't ideal but the view more than make's up for things imho!

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13 minutes ago, Phobic said:

I've got an L-shaped room as well, far from ideal, though if you have the option you can place the speakers so they have symmetric sidewalls, for example with @HansBertil room you'd put them on the east wall firing down the length of the room.

not an option for me sadly, my next best place would be on the south wall firing north.

I've just had to live with things for now however I should be able to start building my listening room some time in April/March which will sort everything out.

Still going to have a lot of compromises but i think practically you need to make these to help make the room livable.

@Paulssurround the glass isn't ideal but the view more than make's up for things imho!

Thanks Phobic. I do love a view. 😊

I have added curtains to the right wall with the glass patio doors to the balcony, and open the curtains up about 1 meter, near the first  reflection point to get a bit of reflection off the glass. It helps balance the left and right channels.

‘I look forward to reading about your progress building your new listening room.

Edited by Paulssurround
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24 minutes ago, Phobic said:

I've got an L-shaped room as well, far from ideal, though if you have the option you can place the speakers so they have symmetric sidewalls, for example with @HansBertil room you'd put them on the east wall firing down the length of the room.

Well, the bookshelf is site built (DIY) and I’m not so keen on tearing it down. And I think a solid back wall is preferable from a performance perspective. Furthermore the speakers as they are right now is surrounding the TV set which in turn has a lot of cabling in a built in channel in the wall. So, I consider myself stuck with this arrangement. But the sound and soundstage are good in the listening position and decent elsewhere  :) The bookshelf make wonders for the whole room as an absorbent and has taken down the reverberation time. Your idea has touched my mind before but it would require putting up an inner wall towards the kitchen in the north end of the sketch. Maybe one day.

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I suppose I'm pretty lucky with my room - its a good ratio and no significant irregular shaped bits. (Actually, "lucky" is probably the wrong word, the shape and size of the room was one of the key house selection criteria...)

But the main challenge is the multi purpose nature of the room - it has to serve as an office, the home cinema room and as the family lounge in addition to music listening. I'd love to be able to ditch the desk, TV, centre speaker, rear speakers, subwoofer, additional racks required for video sources and the extra amps required. Just focussing on stereo with the home cinema stuff elsewhere.

But it really is a minor niggle compared to life's other challenges!

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3 minutes ago, sunbeamgls said:

I suppose I'm pretty lucky with my room - its a good ratio and no significant irregular shaped bits. (Actually, "lucky" is probably the wrong word, the shape and size of the room was one of the key house selection criteria...)

But the main challenge is the multi purpose nature of the room - it has to serve as an office, the home cinema room and as the family lounge in addition to music listening. I'd love to be able to ditch the desk, TV, centre speaker, rear speakers, subwoofer, additional racks required for video sources and the extra amps required. Just focussing on stereo with the home cinema stuff elsewhere.

But it really is a minor niggle compared to life's other challenges!

You have a really great listening room indeed.

I don’t recall if you have any bass traps or room acoustic treatment?

I would also like a dedicated listening room that is more rectangular. I am very pleased with the sound quality as it is, but what a journey to get to this point.  😊

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I enjoyed an almost perfect listening room in my log house in a small village a 20 min walk from a natural beach at the Baltic Sea. Basically, that house was a dream come true. But apparently, my Karma was not well-balanced? My late wife passed away on the day she moved in back in 1999. A couple of years later, I found myself in a new relationship, we had a little son, and my partner was working 80 km away from the house. The village's Kindergarten was not suited to take children of working parents. We decided to move away, closer to her workplace.

The house we found in a hurry was a compromise. So my listening room is L-shaped now as well. To make things worse, the foot of the L, aka the extension to the 4m something by 5m rectangle has almost similar lengths between 2m something, and 2,50m in all 3 dimensions, making it the perfect resonator at a mode of the main space. Originally I had placed an open bookshelf into this extension which absorbed and diffracted the sound-waves quite a bit. But the boss did not like that. As this is our living room, and the resonator extension is the dining space, I had to give in. More complications are doors on opposite sides of the L's top part, both opening into the room. This is limiting the practical furniture positions. Placing a sofa between the doors is impractical, so this wall is the one to place the speakers. But you don't want to slam a door into a speaker, so the practical position is limited. I really struggled with this room, until I bought the KRDSM and engaged with sound optimization. I never felt like I needed a DSM. I had my LP12 and the marvellous 5103 system controller as preamp. To spin a CD occasionally, my trusted Madrigal CD2 was good enough. Then Kay (my dealer) talked me into trying the KRDSM. Soundwise, it was not like night and day - until we started to play with SO. It made my day and pretty much tamed the awkward room resonances. An easy sale for Kay, who knows his clients well 🤗

Screenshot_20201229-194515_Chrome~2.jpg

The listening position says 'YOU', but actually the cat has chosen this seat on the sofa as her favourite place 🤔

Edited by TooManyCatweazles
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This is something that I frequently ponder. In my listening room the placement of the LP12 and record collection is fine, although the speakers are far from optimal. They are too close together, slightly off centre (although not too badly) from the listening position (which is too close) and one is too close to the TV (the manual says leave at least 60cm to a TV set - this would make them even more unbalanced and virtually right next to each other.

I am limited in options to move things around due to the need to create a liveable space with the furniture and the overall layout of the room. Moreover it is my girlfriend's house. We've been together a couple of years, I've been here for a year or so. She has been here for ten years, previously, with her three sons. There is actually an optimal position that would accommodate the TV and speakers in a perfect position, however pride of place in that section of the room is her piano (and, in fairness, in the context of the room it fits very well there).

So, the question I ask myself is - given that my set-up is pretty low-grade (at least compared to most of you guys) is there any value to me in spending time and effort to adjust positioning within the limitations to a millimetric level of position? Or just accept the limitations, place it reasonably as possible and enjoy it within its context?

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50 minutes ago, TooManyCatweazles said:

I enjoyed an almost perfect listening room in my log house in a small village a 20 min walk from a natural beach at the Baltic Sea. Basically, that house was a dream come true. But apparently, my Karma was not well-balanced? My late wife passed away on the day she moved in back in 1999. A couple of years later, I found myself in a new relationship, we had a little son, and my partner was working 80 km away from the house. The village's Kindergarten was not suited to take children of working parents. We decided to move away, closer to her workplace.

The house we found in a hurry was a compromise. So my listening room is L-shaped now as well. To make things worse, the foot of the L, aka the extension to the 4m something by 5m rectangle has almost similar lengths between 2m something, and 2,50m in all 3 dimensions, making it the perfect resonator at a mode of the main space. Originally I had placed an open bookshelf into this extension which absorbed and diffracted the sound-waves quite a bit. But the boss did not like that. As this is our living room, and the resonator extension is the dining space, I had to give in. More complications are doors on opposite sides of the L's top part, both opening into the room. This is limiting the practical furniture positions. Placing a sofa between the doors is impractical, so this wall is the one to place the speakers. But you don't want to slam a door into a speaker, so the practical position is limited. I really struggled with this room, until I bought the KRDSM and engaged with sound optimization. I never felt like I needed a DSM. I had my LP12 and the marvellous 5103 system controller as preamp. To spin a CD occasionally, my trusted Madrigal CD2 was good enough. Then Kay (my dealer) talked me into trying the KRDSM. Soundwise, it was not like night and day - until we started to play with SO. It made my day and pretty much tamed the awkward room resonances. An easy sale for Kay, who knows his clients well 🤗

Screenshot_20201229-194515_Chrome~2.jpg

The listening position says 'YOU', but actually the cat has chosen this seat on the sofa as her favourite place 🤔

Sorry to hear of your tragic loss. Unfortunately, I went through a similar loss, and the journey back was difficult. Life can take us on unexpected paths.

‘However, in her honour I strive to help as many people as I can.

Like you, I have put a lot of time and effort into listening to my music and improvements to my Linn. All good now.

3 minutes ago, Andyt916 said:

This is something that I frequently ponder. In my listening room the placement of the LP12 and record collection is fine, although the speakers are far from optimal. They are too close together, slightly off centre (although not too badly) from the listening position (which is too close) and one is too close to the TV (the manual says leave at least 60cm to a TV set - this would make them even more unbalanced and virtually right next to each other.

I am limited in options to move things around due to the need to create a liveable space with the furniture and the overall layout of the room. Moreover it is my girlfriend's house. We've been together a couple of years, I've been here for a year or so. She has been here for ten years, previously, with her three sons. There is actually an optimal position that would accommodate the TV and speakers in a perfect position, however pride of place in that section of the room is her piano (and, in fairness, in the context of the room it fits very well there).

So, the question I ask myself is - given that my set-up is pretty low-grade (at least compared to most of you guys) is there any value to me in spending time and effort to adjust positioning within the limitations to a millimetric level of position? Or just accept the limitations, place it reasonably as possible and enjoy it within its context?

I always find that it is well worth the time and effort to try to get the best out of my HiFi system.

It sounds like you are a dedicated music lover and anything that can get you closer to the music is icing on the cake.

‘Perhaps some pictures of your room and setup may be helpful to get input from the forum?

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29 minutes ago, Andyt916 said:

the manual says leave at least 60cm to a TV set

I'm wondering whether this advice still holds with modern TV panels. In the old days of CRTs, it made perfect sense, as the CRTs had strong magnets to deflect the rays, in order to 'write' on the screen.

But these days are probably over. Has any one here better knowledge, if and why we still need to keep a safe distance to TVs?

Edited by TooManyCatweazles
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12 minutes ago, Paulssurround said:

Sorry to hear of your tragic loss. Unfortunately, I went through a similar loss, and the journey back was difficult. Life can take us on unexpected paths.

‘However, in her honour I strive to help as many people as I can.

Like you, I have put a lot of time and effort into listening to my music and improvements to my Linn. All good now.

I always find that it is well worth the time and effort to try to get the best out of my HiFi system.

It sounds like you are a dedicated music lover and anything that can get you closer to the music is icing on the cake.

‘Perhaps some pictures of your room and setup may be helpful to get input from the forum?

Thanks @Paulssurround, I appreciate the input. I will try to post a picture (I think I tried to do that once on a previous thread and struggled to get on within the size limit :-))

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3 minutes ago, TooManyCatweazles said:

I'm wondering whether this advice still holds with modern TV panels. In the old days of CRTs, it made perfect sense, as the CRTs had strong magnets to deflect the rays, in order to 'write' on the screen.

But these days are probably over. Has any one here better knowledge, if and why we still need to keep a safe distance to TVs?

Good point. I'd always assumed that it was to avoid it being positioned too close to another speaker ( I do recall advice from 1980/90's HiFi magazines that for optimal sound only one set of speakers should be in the room). Maybe I'm mistaken and it was due to magnetism; I'd be intrigued to find out forum members' up-to-date views. 

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36 minutes ago, Andyt916 said:

So, the question I ask myself is - given that my set-up is pretty low-grade (at least compared to most of you guys) is there any value to me in spending time and effort to adjust positioning within the limitations to a millimetric level of position? Or just accept the limitations, place it reasonably as possible and enjoy it within its context?

Except some lucky ones with dedicated listening room the setup in a living room is always a compromise. (Right now my youngest is playing FIFA on the TV with no sound and I have to play a little softer than I want to.) A good pair of headphones can take you to audio nirvana without fiddling around with speaker placement.

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