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Does it REALLY Matter Where You're Speakers Are?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by jpo, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. jpo

    jpo
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    OK, OK.. I KNOW it matters.... but... Given that I, like many I suspect, have to fit my obsession with surround sound into the 'Living Room', there are certain practicalities/respect for others that have to be taken into account. Net result always appears to be that if you're lucky, maybe one person might be sitting in the 'ideal' position to appreciate your surround sound baby. So, on the basis that the whole thing is probably an audio compromise in any case, how much difference am I going to 'appreciate' if I change my current speaker placement?

    I'm happy with the front speaker placement, they are all where they ought to be. The rear left/right, and the single rear centre effect speakers are however oddly placed, according to the instructions in my Yamaha receivers manual. The l/r rears are about 3ft off the floor mounted on the wall (They are Eltax Chroma's - HT2 bi-polars). The single rear effect is a Gale Symphony Centre, mounted about 2ft off the floor on a window sill.

    According to the book, these things should be about 1.8M off the ground. I'm also considering changing the single rear centre to two rear effects. Given that achieving a speaker height of circa 1.8M means re-routing cables and digging cable routes into a stone wall, I'm wondering if it's worth the pain and the domestic disharmony that may be caused? i.e. Is the difference likely to be so marginal as to not be worth the pain?

    Hope this makes sense!

    Peter
     
  2. MikeC

    MikeC
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    Peter
    very few rooms are perfect so most setups are a compromise.

    Personally, I believe that positioning of speakers is far more important that concerns about buying the same make etc.

    Question: How does it sound ?
    If the system sounds ok, then don't worry unduly. If the bass is boomy, treble muffled etc, then yes, you have a problem ;)
    In this case, I suggest you re-position them until they sound better.

    Some general advice is to avoid putting speakers into corners unless they are specifically designed for this.
    Also putting speakers at certain positions can cause room frequency nodes to get excited and the sound will not be so good. :thumbsdow
    Re-positioning by 6 inches can have a dramatic effect. However all rooms are different so this is all down to experiment.

    HTH

    Mike
     
  3. ancientgeek

    ancientgeek
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    Hard walls act exactly like mirrors for sound, creating a "virtual speaker" where it would be seen if the wall were a mirror.

    Because sound travels slowly, there is a varying delay between the signals from the real and virtual speakers, so particular frequencies are boosted or cancel at a given listening position.

    This can make an enormous distortion of the frequency respone of a speaker. Identical left and right speakers can have completely different frequency responses at the listening position.

    I agree with MikeC that this is much more significant than differences between different well-designed speakers.

    So if you care, keep your speakers away from hard walls, especially hard corners, and get as much curtain, sofa, and carpet etc as you can in your listening room to absorb reflected sounds. (Do you like tapestries?) Then get an amp which can balance the timing and frequency response of your speakers using a microphone at the listening position. eg Pioneer AX5i, AX10i. Any AV amp will have adjustments for overall level and timing using a tape measure and your ears or a sound level meter.

    This set up process is a good reason for sticking to digital inputs to the amp.

    Finally, do your best to forget the whole thing or you won't enjoy the performance.
     
  4. Londondecca

    Londondecca
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    In broad agreement but primary reflections are useful. To take your advice to extremes, a highly dampened room is not going to sound that great.

    100% agreement
     
  5. jpo

    jpo
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    Folks - Thanks for the various replies... On balance, it seems a little experimentation may be worthwhile. Will investigate once I find some suitable secondhand speakers to use as rear effects.

    Peter
     

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