Welcome! Need support, you got it. Or share your ideas and experiences.
So I've noticed certain things, like Peter Gabriel's voice, tend to shift between center and left of center. Until a recent thread, I've always assumed it was a combination of my room layout (left of center) and my imagination (moving).
Here is my apartment layout:
It's the "winslow layout" mirrored. The picture doesn't really give a good idea of the asymmetry, so included are photographs and a rough overhead from paint. I did a lot of experimenting with speaker positioning and haven't found a great one yet. However, I attribute some of my issues to the receiver I'm using to drive the Maggies, so my upcoming upgrades which should help me weed out those issues and find better placement.
Also, my equipment:
1.6s (tweeter out)
Music: Lossless WMA from a PC - digital to the Onkyo
Subwoofer: Mirage FRX-S15 (Sub works surprising well with the Maggies - so long as the crossover is all the way down at 40hz. Really extends the base, but still sounds just as tight as the Maggies alone. Above 40Hz it sounds - literally - floppy)
Replacing the Onkyo with a Marantz SR8500, Bryston 10B-STD XO, and B&K 7250.
Outside of the Rooze type arrangements, I think you would want to setup diagonally with the speakers on either side of the fireplace - assuming you don't use it or can mount the TV over it, and put the rack to one side.
The speakers could then be pulled out far from the walls and give you the depth and image precision you seem to lack. You would need the tweeters to be inside, and the sofa may end up in an odd position for you, but this would deal with much of the assymetries in your room and provide a real chance of having the speakers sufficiently off from the walls, ideally you want 4 feet and up from the front wall.
Thanks for the great feedback all! Unfortunately (I use that word loosely) I got the Marantz today and swapped out the Onkyo. BIG, BIG difference. The short story is it will take some time for my ears to calibrate before I go tinkering. I plan on getting my placement down before I bi-amp the speakers.
The long story:
I hooked up the Marantz and was very pleased immediately. I turned it up pretty loud and noticed the bass was completely out-of-control loud: I had to turn the bass down 5db on the receiver to be reasonable. My rule of thumb is if something sounds bad enough to adjust treble or bass, or a graphic equalizer, then something else is wrong (I don't think I have terribly acute ears for minor EQ changes).
Luckily I quickly identified the issue: the big ol' "bass traps" in the corners. They were absorbing bass, sure enough, but they were absorbing a heck of a lot more higher frequency. With the poor Onkyo barely able to move the woofers, that helped. The Marantz amps actually have some push, so it was not helpful.
I pulled out the TV and laid one of the panels on it's side against the wall behind it, and put the other under the left-hand side window, right next to the woofer. Bingo!
Anyways as I said it'll be some time before I can effectively tinker. Once I have it set up nicely, to the saudering iron for the bi-amp job!
OK it's been a while but now it's time. Some BIG changes since I last posted this. First is the whole new setup: http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/vt.mpl?f=mug&m=186815
I took the big panels down from the corners. I placed one sideways under the window, at an angle to hopefully get bass bouncing out from the corner. I did the same with the other panel behind the TV.
I pulled the TV out to match the speakers. I moved the speakers wider.
Still had some issues. Then the big one (thanks Satie! (I think it was Satie in another thread)):
I unplugged the subwoofer and the woofers. I took a track with just a violin and a piano and, using audacity, deleted one of the tracks. The image was perfectly centered. Then I plugged the woofers back in and unplugged the tweeters. The image was WAAY left. I bumped up the gain on the right woofer until it was centered.
It was like wearing someone else's prescription and then putting your own glasses back on. I didn't realize how smeared the imaging really was. I could tell a little bit, but now I can't believe I was able to stand it. It also explains perfectly why Peter Gabriel would pace back and forth while singing - the image depended on what notes he was singing... the lower he sang, the more he strolled off to the left. Also, ear fatigue went from moderate-low to near-non existent at loud levels. (Neighbors probably won't appreciate this tweak). Last, the background seems a lot "blacker."
So the only issue now, is I'm noticing a lot of the imaging is up above the TV. I don't know if the TV is blocking the reflection at ear level, or if it's the panels at the same height, a combination, or something else entirely. It's mildly bothersome.
Big thanks to you all!
Also fixed - the extremely loud bass I complained about in another thread. The drivers on my sound card were sorely out of date. Not only fixed the bass, but it also fixed a lot of artifacts I was hearing on my highly-compressed death metal albums. I had just assumed it was a problem on the album end. I'm excited now that I know some of my favorite albums aren't unlistenable.
Funny thing: I can pop a CD into my bluray player, and then play the same song (lossless wma) from my computer. Both optical into the receiver. The computer sounds approximate 1E6 times better (like it has life). How to explain? both digital all the way into the receiver. I doubt it's the reader on the bluray - no problems with picture by any stretch. Maybe it's whatever device converts the bits into light for the optical?
I've been far busier than I expected this week and anyway was waiting for your new hardware to get in place. I can see you are having quite some fun!
I need to read your other related postings elsewhere in the forum this weekend and see what to suggest in view of your changes and findings. While I do this, here is something to try on the CD vs PC issue.
1. The sound card software may be processing the audio in any of various effects. Ordinarily, we don't want any of it. OTOH, it may be that you like them, which is just fine. I am pretty sure that Metal music will not necessarily suffer if this is the case. In any event, you may want to make sure that you know where it can be turned off if it is on by default. Most cards do use the effects by default.
2. I don't know which BR/CD player you have but unless it is a well -configured PC (not easy), most good CD players will best a PC. When the time comes that you do want to max-out the PC sound, ask Dawnrazor, Play-mate and the rest of the gang over at the Digital-PC Audio asylum. Done right, many players start loosing the battle vs PC.
3. Assuming you have a decent BR/CD player, I would try these easy things:
- swap optical cables and compare
- swap optical inputs and compare
- get a decent coax cable for the player (it may have been optimized for this, plus it is usually the best choice anyway, though HDMI is getting there)
- if HDMI transfer is available, try it.
- check the player's setup options. You would be surprised at the stuff that may be "off" (or "on") in some models.
- check the player's power cord, if removable. If it is not factory or better, you may have inadvertently used a PC cord (bad thing in most cases). BTW, the same goes for your other audio hardware, mind those power cords.
- borrow another good player to compare
All the effects for the sound card are turned off (which isn't to say it isn't coloring the sound otherwise).
I am 99% certain the issue is the bluray. All the CDs I put through it recently (heavy metal, live country, and a flogging molly album) sound dead and lifeless. I can't say I've experienced an overly compressed album, but that's exactly what I imagine an overly compressed album to feel like. I have to turn up the volume to uncomfortable levels before it starts feeling life-like.
The other reason I'm sure it's the bluray player is, if it isn't, there is SOMETHING else wrong with my system and the soundcard is masking it. And I'm not ready for that emotionally :-)
I'll try what you suggest when I'm ready to accept the consequences of knowing the results.
What did you do about the odd angle in your room? I think the issue is the room with the bass being pulled left. I'd think I'd have even better results if I could balance the room and even out the gains.
What brand/model is the player?
Anyway, later I'll have to annotate this old drawing with comments that may apply in your case but some of it is obvious. You may have seen the drawing elsewhere in the forum.
Notice how I had to even out the corners. I had structural truncation of one. I had to match it with wood at the other end. It doesn't need to be exact but it helps to match the angle. In your case, it is a little more challenging. You can test it with some cheap wood planks and, if it works, make it a pretty-looking design fixture that can be removed later.
Regarding your comment earlier of too high a center image: Not shown here is that my equipment rack has a black burlap double layer cover/smoothed curtain. It was an accidental discovery at first, intended to make the hanging cables and equipment less obvious. It turned out to have a few key advantages. One of them was that the rear imaging became far more level.
I also use clear burlap behind the TV as sound enhancement (& decoration*). I did this after the late Al Sekela told me that he used cotton sheets behind his large TV. In my case, it further improves layering of the image behind the TV to match imaging behind the speakers. It also helped a little to lower the image at the back.
There's more detail to cover but these items above may be useful in your case.
One thing that we need to address in your room is what happens in front of the speakers. The point is, what happens behind the Maggies is always key but what happens in front of them can still be very important.
*When the blinds are open, the sliding glass door behind the equipment makes it all visible to people in the nearby park.
Not that it changes the plan but here's something that may confirm your perception as correct.
This morning I was replying to a post and included the word "SACD" as part of it. This triggered a recollection.
I am not a "fan" of Peter Gabriel. While I do not "dislike" him, I wish he did not have to over-process audio do much. That said, in the early days after I got my MMGs, I could impress some friends by showing that "Surround Sound" could be achieved with just stereo.
One of the examples was Peter Gabriels's UP in SACD Stereo. A friend once challenged that I HAD to be using the multi-channel layer (which I never use). No way could stereo do this, he said. I won a case of beer.
Today, I got curious and drove home to have lunch there. I gave the hardware a few minutes to warm up while I slurped a Double Whopper and large fries (to the tune of brass music). Then I switched to the SACD in question and bingo. Peter Gabriel's "Growing Up" and "Signal To Noise" would give that positional shifting impression at times. But by design.
I am sure that it is his voice that shifts in S-T-N. At that moment, it moves left of center and backward on the stage, as sound engineers engage a psychoacoustical special effect that includes reverb. This also causes his voice to come from several feet BEHIND me.
The effect on "Growing Up" is a voice that may be his, or not. At home, it comes from well behind the right sidewall. This piece is one I used many times. It creates a sound bubble of surrond sound that includes the ceiling. Awesome; and I did not use the subwoofer which adds even more resonance "air".
Lastly, I did a quick check by switching to the CD layer of the SACD. Not as impressive but all the key elements are there. So, if "UP" was one album that did it at your end, you have confirmation.
The best thing to do is to figure out if it is your system or the recording.
I have a few recordings where movement of the vocalist is in the recording.
Can you play the same song on headphones?
If it is not the recording, a good culprit would be that the tweeter distances are too far apart and slight head movements will shift from center to the left or right speakers.
Try moving the speakers an inch or two closer.
Afterwards we discovered faith; it's all you need
Try putting the tweaters to the inside. Should give you better focus
Also the tv might be the source of the problem
The room is 15'2" deep and 15'6" wide. The front wall is 12 feet wide on the far right-hand side and the system is centered on it.
The speakers are 34" from the front wall on the back edge, 43" on the front edge.
The back of the couch is 31" from the back wall. Can't move it back without blocking access to the kitchen.
I'll do your suggestions when it's a decent hour for critical listening. Probably will be a few days - I have a trip this weekend to Whistler.
Cool, I was worried about the space but you have enough. Well...hmmm, would your couch fit in the kitchen? : - ))
I should have something more for you tomorrow evening.
Couple of thoughts before I go to kip.
I used to have tweeters in. IIRC, the sound stage was much more defined, but at a loss of depth. I might switch back that way. I will for a bit, at least so I can remember why I liked tweeters out better.
The room actually feels quite cramped with the big ol' Magneplanars there, so you aren't wrong on that bit. I feel with a couple of extra feet I'd be able to widen up the speakers a bit for a more expansive stage and still improve image resolution. In order to bring them out far enough from the wall, I had to tighten them up together a lot. Before I had them about 2 feet from the back wall.
I doubt the panels I built are causing many issues, but it is a possibility. I realize there is a lot of absorption behind the maggies, but none on the sides. I built the big ones to set in the corners as bass traps. I wonder if I built two more smaller ones for the sides walls, and set the "bass traps" on their sides, angled along the wall for trapping bass.
try listening to the pole piece side. Just as an experiment.
I run that way, tweeters IN.
Too much is never enough
I actually just flipped the speakers for poles facing (tweeters out). Definitely different. Can't say better. Certainly not worse. Funny thing though... before I had all the channels the same level, with the exception of the right woofer slightly higher to bring the woofer image to center.
Flipping-and-reversing the speakers, I had to dial DOWN both right tweeter and woofer to center it. Not what I was expecting.
JBen, the picture isn't loading :-(
Huh, I missed this one. Did the image ever show up? If not, let me know and I'll try something else.
That room is tough especially with the door and the fireplace.
Here are 2 alternate options that might work better:
The sideways setup
or the Rooze
Try the rooze with the tweeters further from you and both panel's edges pointing right at you.
Afterwards we discovered faith; it's all you need
Well, it is just past 3am here and I was about to sign off...so my pistons may be misfiring...
- With the setup here, room width 12' (25'long), the sounsdstage can be larger than the room, in all 3 directions in front of me. The walls can vanish. I use a tweeter-in config but tried tweeter-out for a while just to evaluate. The stage width is just as good with either but tweeter-in is sharper and more focused here.
- Tweeter-in's stage here is deeper. Again, room config and size may play a role.
- We will get to the panels later but I do worry a little about the current placement. My initial thought is that light treatments will be better. The panels, at least experimentally, may turn out to be better on the wall behind you, on the right. Their absorption may help balance against the open space to the dining room. In addition, you could wind up with better dynamic punch. If it worked, a prettier alternative may be mandated later, unless you are single... : - ))
- In the meantime, I have to figure out how you can take advantage of a room feature that we partially share; the truncated corner on one side. In my case, I had to match it on the other side, and it became an asset. You can't fully do so. We'll have to be creative.
And now it is 3:30am...later!
Cool, let us know how it goes.
I have a trip this weekend to Whistler.
To see his mom???
Afterwards we discovered faith; it's all you need
Hey D, good call. I forgot to mention the headphone call. Peter Gabrial is front and center in what I have here but it may be a different recording.
I am not JUST a pretty face. Most likely it is not the recording but we need to rule that out before we go messing about in the room.
It does happen on some recordings.
Are you still a fan of the TV in the middle??
Afterwards we discovered faith; it's all you need
D, "pretty face" did not even cross my mind. LOL!
Yes, actually, I have recordings where there is singer movement. I've kept one in my test music selection because of the awesome imaging it has. The producer wanted to keep some of the "on stage" experience of a Broadway musical.
Well, I am still a fan of "something in the middle" for some situations that may require it. However, the more places I try this where planars are concerned, the more I find situations that would benefit, or at least, offer an optional presentation...given a person's preferences. To be sure, I don't yet know the range of situations this may work on.
Here's an additional perspective. The Minis were designed for the desktop environment. Guess what tends to be on the many desks? Exactly. Which is why I tested it. The Minis with a laptop folded down sound great. But, with the laptop monitor open, they sound more impressive and image better.
And for some tastes & preferences, of course, there the Rooze and variants thereof.
Ok, part one.
I am going try and put some notes on an old layout of my place. There are some broad similarities and some key differences. It may help you understand where I see opportunity at this stage. I may also be able to draw some recs on the layout of your apt. . They did not mention dimesions. Questions: You have 12ft from the speaker wall to the opposite side? Are the Maggies about 3ft away from the wall right now?
On the current hardware you should be fine for now. As you already know, the TX-SR608 is no monster, but it should do fine while you get the other hardware.
One experiment for you to try. Move the TV forward to about the plane of the speakers, note the changes and let us know. This by itself is not a fix. It may be part of one in some situations. When you see my own layout it may make sense.
Thanks for doing it this way (separate), I meant to suggest it.
I am just looking around and thinking for now. The rest of the gang should be around shortly (though it's about midnight Eastern, when just myself and an Australian fella of dubious reputation, like me, show up around these parts : - ))
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