Newbie (kind of) seeks expert advice on speaker problems

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
Despite having a separates system for 30+ years I know practically nothing about the subject so would appreciate any help.

On my old Tannoy speakers I had to set the balance control on the amp a little bit to the right to get the stereo sound "right", i.e. so the vocals were bang in the middle. I always assumed it was a speaker problem as they were quite old, I've just replaced them with Q Acoustics 3020i and they sound great.

BUT: the problem persists so it can't be the speakers. Is it the cables, the amp, what? Any ideas? How would I work out where the problem is? It's not normal to use the balance control is it, although, then, why is it there?

Genuinely don't know much so please be gentle with me.
 

Orobas

Well-known Member
Despite having a separates system for 30+ years I know practically nothing about the subject so would appreciate any help.

On my old Tannoy speakers I had to set the balance control on the amp a little bit to the right to get the stereo sound "right", i.e. so the vocals were bang in the middle. I always assumed it was a speaker problem as they were quite old, I've just replaced them with Q Acoustics 3020i and they sound great.

BUT: the problem persists so it can't be the speakers. Is it the cables, the amp, what? Any ideas? How would I work out where the problem is? It's not normal to use the balance control is it, although, then, why is it there?

Genuinely don't know much so please be gentle with me.
Shifting balance to one side or the other, initially, suggests you are not sat in the sweet spot.. ie the speaker placement and you are not right .. and that the balance shift is compensating for this..

Step one.. have you swapped the speakers over at the amp.. not the actual speaker positions.. but the speaker wires.. this should check if the amp balance is off.. as by swapping the speakers over you should have to run balance to the left.. if the amp is ok.

If you are having to put the balance to the left to get the sweet spot.. then a rearrange of the speaker positions will most likely cure this so you can run centre balance again :)

Balance control was exactly for that.. when you had to put one speaker slightly further away or to one side of the other due to room restraints.. so you could then rebalance the sound :)
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
As suggested by @Orobas, coukd be the speakers, coukd be the amp, coukd be the position and unlikely it is the wires (assuming they are connected red to red and black to black).

Swap the speaker cables at the amp, if the bias stays the same then it may be the amp, if it moves from right to left it is the speakers.

If you are sitting off centre or closer to one speaker than the other or one is in the corner and one in the middle of the wall then it could be placement.
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
Shifting balance to one side or the other, initially, suggests you are not sat in the sweet spot.. ie the speaker placement and you are not right .. and that the balance shift is compensating for this..

Step one.. have you swapped the speakers over at the amp.. not the actual speaker positions.. but the speaker wires.. this should check if the amp balance is off.. as by swapping the speakers over you should have to run balance to the left.. if the amp is ok.

If you are having to put the balance to the left to get the sweet spot.. then a rearrange of the speaker positions will most likely cure this so you can run centre balance again :)

Balance control was exactly for that.. when you had to put one speaker slightly further away or to one side of the other due to room restraints.. so you could then rebalance the sound :)
OK. Interesting. Thanks for that. I'll have to wait until my wife or son are available to swap the wires as I'm disabled. My stands are arriving today so they'll probably be around to help with that.

So, if we swap the wires at the amp and the balance problem switches sides...then the amp is ok? Sorry, I keep asking questions as I have ASD and it takes a while to take in information.

Currently, I sit right in the midpoint of the two speakers. Due to a small-ish room there really is no other option for placement. Maybe the stands will help as they'll be at a better height - currently they're just on low tables.

Thanks again for your information and rapid response.
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
As suggested by @Orobas, coukd be the speakers, coukd be the amp, coukd be the position and unlikely it is the wires (assuming they are connected red to red and black to black).

Swap the speaker cables at the amp, if the bias stays the same then it may be the amp, if it moves from right to left it is the speakers.

If you are sitting off centre or closer to one speaker than the other or one is in the corner and one in the middle of the wall then it could be placement.
Thanks for that. Will try the speaker cables swap when I have some help.

I am sitting at midpoint between both speakers. They are well away from walls at either side but behind them is a large single pane of glass window (picture window, I think) probably about 5 inches distance but there's not really anywhere else they can be placed at the moment.

Thanks for your advice. I have a first step to try!
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
Does it matter? If your position is where it’s best to be and the system sounds great then no need to worry.
 

vacant

Member
I've got slight hearing loss in my right ear. Eliminate yourself as the problem! Try swapping the R and L connections at the amp.
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
Is it possible for you to post a diagram with the position of the system, speakers, furniture etc. ?
Wow! I wish I had the technical ability to do that! I've tried the most basic of basics (having never used Paint before!) I'll try and post it. If by some miracle it works, L is the left speaker, R the right, A is a decent-sized armchair, S is my music system, D is door and the rest should be obvious. Picture window is about 5 inches behind speakers. Dimensions are off, L is about 3 feet from wall, R is about 4 feet from wall. I'm embarrassed at my efforts, feel free to laugh! (If it even works)
ROOM.jpg
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
Does it matter? If your position is where it’s best to be and the system sounds great then no need to worry.
Well, that's what I'm wondering! It's just my ASD keeps me thinking of that balance control and being annoyed it isn't centred! And if there's a technical fault with part of my system I'd love to identify it and try to correct it!

Also, when I listen to vinyl through my AUX I have to tweak it a bit more than when listening to CD (I think!) so it's a pain adjusting it all the time.
 

DT79

Distinguished Member
Well, that's what I'm wondering! It's just my ASD keeps me thinking of that balance control and being annoyed it isn't centred! And if there's a technical fault with part of my system I'd love to identify it and try to correct it!

Also, when I listen to vinyl through my AUX I have to tweak it a bit more than when listening to CD (I think!) so it's a pain adjusting it all the time.
It could be a room (or an object/objects within it) effect. I remember a while back there was someone on here with a similar issue and the root cause turned out to be a cabinet located on one side of his listening position.

By all means try swapping the speaker cables, but if nothing changes then it must be a room effect, so carry on using the balance control and don’t worry about it.
 

Onlythesound

Well-known Member
Wow! I wish I had the technical ability to do that! I've tried the most basic of basics (having never used Paint before!) I'll try and post it. If by some miracle it works, L is the left speaker, R the right, A is a decent-sized armchair, S is my music system, D is door and the rest should be obvious. Picture window is about 5 inches behind speakers. Dimensions are off, L is about 3 feet from wall, R is about 4 feet from wall. I'm embarrassed at my efforts, feel free to laugh! (If it even works)View attachment 1683873
Seating position is probably as ‘right’ as you can get it. Rooms have such an impact on sound and looking at the diagram, I suspect the Armchair is having quite an effect on the right hand speaker. I m shouting in the dark here but the chair is probably sonically absorbent and the TV almost certainly reflective.
One thing we all tend to do is fiddle around with our kit rather than just get on with listening - I for one tap my speakers at least 3 times a week (sad!).

Seriously though, I am deaf in my right ear so tend to sit with the left speaker within 2 ft of my left ear. As @MaryWhitehouse said, sit where it’s best for you. Convention be confounded!
 

Flobs

Active Member
At a guess perhaps reflections off the TV (try putting a curtain or cover over it) this of course would be opposite to the the armchair which will absorb.
Then there's the door there could be a 'nice' big resonance chambre the other side of it.
Also the big window make sure you have doubled curtains (of different materials) drawn over it when listening.
The last possibility could be the walls to left and right having different absorbtions reflections other than the arm chair and TV.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Put on some mono recordings, then adjust the speakers. This should help. Good luck.
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
Seating position is probably as ‘right’ as you can get it. Rooms have such an impact on sound and looking at the diagram, I suspect the Armchair is having quite an effect on the right hand speaker. I m shouting in the dark here but the chair is probably sonically absorbent and the TV almost certainly reflective.
One thing we all tend to do is fiddle around with our kit rather than just get on with listening - I for one tap my speakers at least 3 times a week (sad!).

Seriously though, I am deaf in my right ear so tend to sit with the left speaker within 2 ft of my left ear. As @MaryWhitehouse said, sit where it’s best for you. Convention be confounded!
Cheers for that. I don't really understand much about how sound works and I'm amazed that a chair and TV could make such a difference. I presume that if I move the speakers forward into the middle of the room so that the armchair is behind them (can't really move the TV) to test the sound it might make a difference? Then I'll know.

I guess I'll try it once I've done the switched wires at the amp thing. My wife is on long shifts/night shift for a few days so I'll just have to deal with it until then! Thanks again.
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
At a guess perhaps reflections off the TV (try putting a curtain or cover over it) this of course would be opposite to the the armchair which will absorb.
Then there's the door there could be a 'nice' big resonance chambre the other side of it.
Also the big window make sure you have doubled curtains (of different materials) drawn over it when listening.
The last possibility could be the walls to left and right having different absorbtions reflections other than the arm chair and TV.
Interesting. So, are there some types of armchair that would absorb more than others? It's a pretty big, fabric covered chair. Might be replacing it with a recliner some time. Would leather absorb less? I'll have to read up on this stuff!

The room is the main living room so I, sadly, have little say over the curtains! Currently, we have louvred vertical blinds (window shades) that during the day are moved over to be behind the left speaker. I might be able to convince my wife to let us get blackout curtains with the summer coming up as too much light gets through to shine on the TV.

Everyone has given me much to think about so thanks for that.
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Distinguished Member
How are your speakers positioned? Do they point straight into the room or have you angled (toed) them towards the centre of the sofa?
 

Flobs

Active Member
Interesting. So, are there some types of armchair that would absorb more than others? It's a pretty big, fabric covered chair. Might be replacing it with a recliner some time. Would leather absorb less? I'll have to read up on this stuff!

The room is the main living room so I, sadly, have little say over the curtains! Currently, we have louvred vertical blinds (window shades) that during the day are moved over to be behind the left speaker. I might be able to convince my wife to let us get blackout curtains with the summer coming up as too much light gets through to shine on the TV.

Everyone has given me much to think about so thanks for that.
If the sofa isn't 'blocking' you speaker (in the line between the speaker and you) it's not a problem. But if it is in that line move it so it isn't. I reckon absortion outside the triangle can be considered good as it prevents relfections.
Absorbtion is generally governed by materials, the more diverse the materials the more an object will absorb.
For me reflections off the TV will be much more influential (unless the armchair is blocking the speaker). It might be worth moving your speakers closer together see if things improve.
There's also the floor, tiles give lots of reflection and reinforce bass response, floorboards can absorb some frequecies and reflect others then carpets generally absorb. Absorbing is better so rugs and carpets between you and the speakers is better.
Windows and hence TV's reflect these cause muddling and reinforceing of sound (in general but acoustics are very complicated).
At a guess what you are judging the sound levels by is from the lower mids and how they see the environment you are in. All I'm trying to say is that the 2 sides of your listening room are very different.
Also I am assuming that your speakers are both the same distance from their respective side walls. Even so worth measuring to ensure niether is 1/3 or 1/5 of the room width from a wall (that would include a speaker cabinet wall or center of the bass/mid driver. These are positions that activate room resonance and can create very strong balance effects.
 

Onlythesound

Well-known Member
Wow! I wish I had the technical ability to do that! I've tried the most basic of basics (having never used Paint before!) I'll try and post it. If by some miracle it works, L is the left speaker, R the right, A is a decent-sized armchair, S is my music system, D is door and the rest should be obvious. Picture window is about 5 inches behind speakers. Dimensions are off, L is about 3 feet from wall, R is about 4 feet from wall. I'm embarrassed at my efforts, feel free to laugh! (If it even works)View attachment 1683873
Here’s Op’s room diagram
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
How are your speakers positioned? Do they point straight into the room or have you angled (toed) them towards the centre of the sofa?
Tried both ways. The problem persists either way.
If the sofa isn't 'blocking' you speaker (in the line between the speaker and you) it's not a problem. But if it is in that line move it so it isn't. I reckon absortion outside the triangle can be considered good as it prevents relfections.
Absorbtion is generally governed by materials, the more diverse the materials the more an object will absorb.
For me reflections off the TV will be much more influential (unless the armchair is blocking the speaker). It might be worth moving your speakers closer together see if things improve.
There's also the floor, tiles give lots of reflection and reinforce bass response, floorboards can absorb some frequecies and reflect others then carpets generally absorb. Absorbing is better so rugs and carpets between you and the speakers is better.
Windows and hence TV's reflect these cause muddling and reinforceing of sound (in general but acoustics are very complicated).
At a guess what you are judging the sound levels by is from the lower mids and how they see the environment you are in. All I'm trying to say is that the 2 sides of your listening room are very different.
Also I am assuming that your speakers are both the same distance from their respective side walls. Even so worth measuring to ensure niether is 1/3 or 1/5 of the room width from a wall (that would include a speaker cabinet wall or center of the bass/mid driver. These are positions that activate room resonance and can create very strong balance effects.
OK, so this is where you lose me! I appreciate you sharing your knowledge but some of it I don't get because of my lack of knowledge of Hi-Fi and acoustics in general. So I have no idea what 'lower mids' are, for example.

I'm hopeless at estimating distances but I think the side walls are about 11 feet apart. The left speaker is about 3 feet from the wall, the right speaker is about 4 feet from the other wall and the speakers are about 4 feet apart from each other. My listening position is about 6 feet from their midpoint. Can't really do much about that. Rugs on floor between us, though.

Thanks for your help. Will keep working on it!
 

Flobs

Active Member
@Jon Lyttle I presume your speakers are on stands and are angled toward the centrale sitting position.
If they are not on stands what are they on?
If they are not angled toward the listening position (called toe in) then angle them in (so that they point just behind your central head position).
 

Jon Lyttle

Active Member
@Jon Lyttle I presume your speakers are on stands and are angled toward the centrale sitting position.
If they are not on stands what are they on?
If they are not angled toward the listening position (called toe in) then angle them in (so that they point just behind your central head position).
They are not on stands yet, those are arriving this week. I hope this will make a difference but I am disabled and depend on family to set them up and also to switch the speaker wires in the amp which I've still to do.

They are currently just on low tables, the left on a glass surface, the right on wood. My old Tannoys were sat here before with the same problem and also when they were just sitting on the floor for a while.

I have them toed in.
 

Flobs

Active Member
They are not on stands yet, those are arriving this week. I hope this will make a difference but I am disabled and depend on family to set them up and also to switch the speaker wires in the amp which I've still to do.

They are currently just on low tables, the left on a glass surface, the right on wood. My old Tannoys were sat here before with the same problem and also when they were just sitting on the floor for a while.

I have them toed in.
I'd just wait for the stands, get them at the same height and on the same surface.
From what I can gather you have carpets and or rugs so use the spikes with the stand (perhaps with a coin under the spikes (8 2p coins should do). Whilst they are at it tilt the stands by adjusting the length you set the spikes so the speakers point upwards slightly (that will kill multiple possible problems with one stone).
If the problem persists then we'll have to look at distances from the side walls (if with stands you can place them both 1 to 1.5 feet from the side walls and still see the face of the speakers (thinking of the armchair here) do it. (I also reckon those speakers need to be about 1.5 feet from the back wall (depending how much you wish the bass (lower frequencies) to be reinforced.
I am now thinking the problem is the surfaces the speakers are on, good luck.
 

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