Please, suggestions for the weak link in this system?

ryanwigginton

Active Member
Hi,

I've spent a fair bit of money now an AV equipment. All components have good reviews but I'm still not happy with the sound quality, mostly with music.

I'm running all the kit as below. Discs are played in the Arcam DV137, which then goes to the amp, an Arcam AVR350 via a set of good quality phono leads. The Roksan speakers are bi-wired and bi-amped with 8VS Kimber cable. The room is of average size but has a wooden floor and windows account for about 30-40% of the wall surfaces. I'm wondering if the glass and wood are adversely affecting the acoustics.

I'm happy with the higher frequencies (acoustic guitar and vocals generally sound great) but the bass is lacking and there's little richness/warmth to the sound.

I'm fairly new on the scene when it comes to high-end AV kit. Can anyone with more knowledge spot anything obvious that should be changed/swapped out? Any suggestions on setup of any of the kit?
 

paulst10

Distinguished Member
Hi, IMO you have a very good system there :thumbsup:

Do you have a 5.1 system ? a decent sub would solve any lack of bass :smashin:

I can move this to Subwoofers if you would prefer :)
 

ryanwigginton

Active Member
Thanks, but can we leave it here a little longer... I'm not convinced it's purely the need for a woofer. A good full range speaker should be exactly that, full range. Also, adding a seperate woofer is the last thing I want to do once I know all other possible causes have been eliminated.
 

paulst10

Distinguished Member
No problem :)

Have you tried positioning the speakers elsewhere in the room ?? moving them closer to corners could enhance bass a little :thumbsup:
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Here is a link the the Roksan Caspian FR-5

ROKSAN: Speakers

And the Arcam AVR350 is rated as 'This award-winning AVR350 is Arcam's highest performing receiver to date'.

And it is not cheap @ about £1200

ARCAM DIVA AVR350 RECEIVER at hifix.co.uk

So, there is no reason why this system shouldn't sound good.

My first thought, is that, like so many speakers today, they are rear ported. How close to the wall is the back of the speaker cabinet? It is generally recommended that rear port speakers be out away from the wall some distance. They typically recommend 0.5 meter to 1.0 meter. But a foot or two is probably enough. Six inches...not so good.

Next, the room, it sounds pretty harsh, with lots of reflections, that can cause standing waves and dead spots or bas nulls. Recently someone posted and had a vertical bass null. When he sat down, the bass went flat and dead, when he stood up, it was strong and full.

So, put on a favorite song with some fair bass in it, and move around the room listening particularly to the bass, and see if you find places in the room where the bass sounds better.

I was doing some frequency sweeps to compare my old speakers with my new, and I would hit certain frequencies and think, ...well, I expected more that that. Then I discovered if I move to a new position in the room, the same apparently weak bass was enough to shake my chest.

Next, check your speaker wiring and make absolutely sure that everything is wired in phase, that all the (+) to to all the other (+). If something is wired backwards, that is going to cause a huge dip in the response.

Beyond this, I think some type of room treatment is in order. Something to absorb and diffuse reflected sound. Though that is difficult if you have an apartment with lots of tall glass windows.

Steve/bluewizard
 

ryanwigginton

Active Member
Ok, it seems I'm going to have to start moving things around a bit before I can start pointing the finger at any one piece of kit. The system is in my lounge and I admit to positioning things more with asthetic balance rather than acoustic quality. The speakers are rear ported and the installation manual suggests a rear space of 200mm. I've attached a picture of my AV setup, you'll see how I'm limited.

dscf2038shx0.jpg


Also, I'm going to try the system in my bedroom which has a thick carpet and much less window surface.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Also, a photo taken from the postion of the TV and facing toward the sofa. It is the back wall that is usually the reflective wall and is causing problems.

Keep us informed.

steve/bluewizard
 

iainsilvester

Active Member
A good full range speaker should be exactly that, full range.

This is unfortunately very rarely if ever the case. How full range your speaker needs to be depends on your musical tastes, your system won't do organ music justice, or the special effects in movies. Don't take this the wrong way, your system is very fine but few stereo pairs are genuinely full range, ie 20Hz to 20Khz in human hearing terms.

Your speakers are described with words like clarity, dynamic, speed, attack all of which are highly desirable attributes but put another way they would not be described as overblown, woolly, soft, slow, or just simply rubbish. It may be you need to get used to their presentation. There isn't a lot of warmth or deep bass in a lot of music, most speakers with this presentaion are just not accurate.
 

ARNOLD AKIEN

Well-known Member
The equipment is probably O.K. ... always provided that it has had long enough to settle in. Speakers can take longer than you might suppose to reach their optimum performance level.

The problem is probably the room itself. You have lots of reflective surfaces, no curtains on your windows and a shiny wooden .. laminate ? .. floor so I'm inclined to suspect that your rear wall 'reflects ' :devil: the rest of the rooms decor.

When I replaced the curtains in the bay window of my 1930s built semi I left music playing on my Arcam CD player through my Denon2808 Receiver and into my B and W speakers ... not a 'cold ' system but the sound without the curtains became much harder and less full of Bass, and this in a room that has lots of leather furniture but also painted plaster walls and a wooden floor with a large Persian carpet and a rear wall covered by Billy bookcases that have glazed doors except for the bookcases that hold my rear speakers.

You may well be facing a clash between your tastes in interior decoration and your taste in music. I suggest that you experiment with temporary hangings on the windows more rugs on the floor and similar such sound softening measures.

From your description the acoustics of your bedroom will be totally different to those of your living room so I'm not sure what you would gain in trying the system out in the bedroom. Any acoustic experimentation is best done in the room in which you have the problem.

Get hold of some of those removable 'vacuum' hook thingies and use them to drape old curtains over the window area and maybe over the walls here and there. More rugs on the floor and maybe pillows from the bedroom on the furniture .... nothing permanent you'll note. :D

If the room conditioning works then I'm afraid that you will have a different sort of problem wont you? Taste V Taste .. and may the Best aesthetic Win!
 

Gordab

Active Member
It really depends what your expectations of "bass" are.

Here are the quoted spec for those speakers
Frequency response 32 Hz – 20 kHz (in room response)
43 Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)

Take "in room response" with a pinch of salt. At those quoted figures (43hz>), the bass is unlikely to be warm and full in the sense of what I take that to mean. I specifically budgeted for a sub in my setup as I know that I was unlikely to get the sound I wanted without paying a LOT of money on top of the range floorstanders. In fact many of the reviews of the Roksan speakers praise the mid range performance but do mention slightly dry bass.

As long as you eliminate environmental issues, a sub may well be the way to give you the warmth you are looking for.
 
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philofcas

Active Member
Hope I can help with a brief history of my findings over the years.
Quite a number of years ago I had an AR Legend turntable (still in loft gathering dust), this was used with various amp/speaker setups, the likes of: speakers, original Wharfedale Diamonds/Heybrook HB1/Rogers LS6s, amps original Mission Cyrus one, original Audiolab 8000a, Exposure X, I then moved onto CD (Rotel 865) and downsized my speakers to Mission 780's. Basically, and here is what I think you are experiencing too, I had a good bass response when I had vinyl and larger speakers, real nice at the time, very memorable, since moving to CD and getting smaller speakers I've never really recreated what I'd had, not bad, but just not the same low end ability.
I've always struggled a bit with CD, I've now got a budget Denon setup but a recent (chance) addition has suddenly given me hope, this has been the addition of an old Yamaha sub., I kid you not, it has transformed everything about the sound, from treble to bass, i can totally believe all that is written about subs lessening the load on your amp which in turn simply free's up the sounds quite startlingly. It's a strange phenomenom but it's as though my dinky little (Denon branded) Mission speakers are now much larger full range speakers, I'm not kidding myself in thinking it's top quality but on certain tracks it really is quite surprising, the neighbours would have a fit if they'd have heard last weekends thuds/bass (I saw them go out and thought, hey, let's just see :devil::D ).

So, sorry for going on a bit, but i think you'd be surprised at what can be achieved with a good sub., certainly I'm now looking forward to the day when I can upgrade (though for now i'm honestly happy).

Try one, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, let us know how you get on :smashin:
 
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HiFiRuss71

Distinguished Member
Thanks, but can we leave it here a little longer... I'm not convinced it's purely the need for a woofer. A good full range speaker should be exactly that, full range. Also, adding a seperate woofer is the last thing I want to do once I know all other possible causes have been eliminated.
Looking at the size of the volume you're driving, I'd move a subwoofer up your order of priorities.

With the lack of bass reinforcement available through room gain, plus the reflective nature of the room, I'm not surprised your sound is lacking warmth.

A subwoofer will be far more able to drive the volume and fill in the missing bottom end and don't think they're boom tuneless boxes, because these days they're not. It is of course quite possible to set them up badly and make them sound that way, but as long as youre dealing with only moderately sized floorstanders in a room that size, you don't have much choice.

Russell
 

ryanwigginton

Active Member
Thanks for all of your replies. I'll do a little reading up on matching a sub to speakers and take a look at whats on the market.

As always a pleasure using the forum and always very helpful advice from it's members.

I'm out the UK at the moment but I'll post back when I get some kind of result.
 

ryanwigginton

Active Member
...well, it's time to order but after reading through heaps of info on the forum still having a hard time choosing between the SB12 Plus and XLS300/PR. It's mostly to compliment the loudspeakers when playing music.

The SB12-Plus is smaller (size matters for me).

The XLS300/PR is cheaper by more than a £100 and has better ultra-low bass.

Looking at this chart...
http://personal.inet.fi/private/zipman/shootout5/cea-2010_rms_2m_round_4_and_5_low_bass.png

I know the Monolith is a great sub from reading many opinions. When comparing this to the two smaller subs I noticed it's low-bass isn't that much higher. It seems the big subs are a leap in ultra-low bass though. On this basis (and I'm not sure if this is good logic) I'm leaning towards the XLS300/PR as it comes closer to the Monolith in the ultra-low bass department.

Any thoughts. Also, moderators, you may wish to move this thread to Subwoofers now.
 

ARNOLD AKIEN

Well-known Member
...well, it's time to order but after reading through heaps of info on the forum still having a hard time choosing between the SB12 Plus and XLS300/PR. It's mostly to compliment the loudspeakers when playing music.

The SB12-Plus is smaller (size matters for me).

The XLS300/PR is cheaper by more than a £100 and has better ultra-low bass.

Looking at this chart...
http://personal.inet.fi/private/zipman/shootout5/cea-2010_rms_2m_round_4_and_5_low_bass.png

I know the Monolith is a great sub from reading many opinions. When comparing this to the two smaller subs I noticed it's low-bass isn't that much higher. It seems the big subs are a leap in ultra-low bass though. On this basis (and I'm not sure if this is good logic) I'm leaning towards the XLS300/PR as it comes closer to the Monolith in the ultra-low bass department.

Any thoughts. Also, moderators, you may wish to move this thread to Subwoofers now.

Its mostly a question of Physical Size ..... the Monolith more nearly resembles its namesake from ' 2001 A Space Odyssey ' whilst the 300 is easier to tuck into some handy corner or other.

As for music ..well, it depends. :D

If you plan, say, to source your music from am Arcam CD player and then feed it to a Denon 2808 Receiver via Analogue interlinks and thus to your B and W 704 Front left and Right Speakers as Pure Direct ... Stereo ... then you wont Need a Sub for Music but you Will need it for Home Cinema and the ' ... the ultra-low bass department. '
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
I'm inclined to think the room is far more of a problem than the absents of a Sub.

Even with a 43hz low end the speakers should have clear, distinct, and full bass. If they do not, I'm inclined to think you have a problem with standing waves. If sound reflected from the back wall collides with sound coming form the speaker, you can get full or partial cancellation of the bass signal.

Here is a quick and safe test you can do.

Down load these test tones and burn them onto a CD.

RealTraps - Test Tone CD

The CD consists of test tone tracks that span 10hz in the low range. 10hz to 19hz, 20hz to 29hz, 30hz to 39hz, etc..., up to 300hz.

Place this in your CD play and with the volume at MODEST levels, start with track 3 (30hz to 39hz) and play through track 5. Each track takes about 1 minute and 45 seconds, so you have plenty of time to walk around the room and listen for nulls and peaks.

There is also a 15 second Pink Noise track. If that is track 1, it will sound like 'hissing', then play tracks 4 through 6 to get 30hz to 60hz tones.

As I ran the test track standing at my amp, which is located between the speaker along one wall, I would hear frequencies that seemed to drop down to nothing. At first I thought it was a problem with my speaker. Then I started to walk around the room. I heard spots when the bass was barely audible, and in other spots where it literally rattled my chest.

In a room with good acoustics, these nulls and peaks still occur, but they are much lower; the peaks are lower and the valleys are higher, bring the response closer to flat.

If you get a Sub, and it seems to solve your problem, it is probably going to have more to do with the placement of the Sub, than any real improvement to your speakers. It is also possible that adding a Sub, will make the problem worse, since it is a single point source for all frequencies below 80hz, where are your current speaker represent two distinct sources of those frequencies.

MODEST TEST VOLUMES - this is important because these sustain tones generate a lot more heat than dynamic music. Play a music CD and set the level to modest comfortable casual listening levels and use this as your reference level setting.

I use my DVD player so my TV volume comes into play, but on my system, I have the amp volume at about 1/3 of a turn of the volume control, and that is typical of modest casual listening levels during my normal use.

There will be a temptation to turn the volume up, as at higher volumes, bass notes are easier to hear, but that completely invalidates the test. Since the tone are recorded at consistent levels, you must play them back at consistent levels to really understand the frequency response.

At frequencies below 30hz, you will see the woofer moving, but you are not likely to hear anything at these volume levels. In my room, with my hearing as the frequency came close to 30hz, I could hear a faint drone, has it rose above 30hz moving toward 40hz, it became louder and more pronounced.

Again, these sustained tones generate a lot of heat. Keep the volume modest, and take a break now and then to allow the speakers time to cool.

I say, if the speakers don't sound right without a sub, then they are far less likely to sound right with a sub. However, if you do get the sound right without a sub, then you have the potential to make them sound better with a sub.

As a side note, it is possible to get Vertical nulls as well, meaning voids in the sound between the ceiling and the floor. Recently someone posted that with their system, the bass sounded good standing up, but completely dropped out when he sat down.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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ryanwigginton

Active Member
Thanks Blue Wizard. Having read your post, I'm now inclined to put the sub on hold and experiment more with the speakers and positioning. I'll report back at a later date...
 

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