Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers

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DavidS

Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« on: 19 Dec 2016, 09:06 pm »
I have a bad listening room.  It is small 12x13, nearly square, has lots of glass, and has an open fireplace.  For years I have been battling the room - my pattern has been one of swapping speakers, selling amps, buying new cables all in an effort to have music sound good in this small room.  A long list of speakers have come and gone through the room - always thinking that the next speaker will solve the issues (am I really this dumb).  I have ditched the room on several occasions going to a larger shared living room system and using little Audioengine speakers on the desktop with a high quality headphone system in the room.  Still not satisfied.

My latest speakers are Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S open baffles - probably not the best choice for a small room.  In the room they sound big, great bass extension, really good at low volume, but not really clear especially with more complex music.

Talking about my latest speakers the suggestion was made to do some room treatment behind the speakers.  I put heavy fabric over the windows, closed off the fireplace (behind the speakers), and moved my listening chair away from the wall - hmmmm the difference was interesting.

Last week I got talking to Bryan Pape - he said what I know that the listening room is not great especially with these speakers.  He recommended polyfusers for the corners, bass traps behind the speakers, and diffusers on top of the traps.  So rather than buy new speakers or a new amp, or more cables I purchased the first two items on Bryans list - not cheap with Canadian dollars.  A new frontier for me - and not likely going to solve all my problems, but a new direction.  Going to be interesting playing with this new gear (yeah to new gear!) 

Will let you know how it goes....


jtwrace

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #1 on: 19 Dec 2016, 09:23 pm »
Actually if you treat the room properly you will be amazed at how well those speakers (CD) will do even in that room.  If you're willing to invest in some measurement equipment and learn it you can even take the results much farther to satisfaction.  These speakers are pretty sensitive to placement so be sure to play around with them and document each position so you know how to go back. 

G.Michael

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #2 on: 20 Dec 2016, 02:16 am »
In my experience, box-shaped rooms, even if they're cube-ish, are the easiest to treat acoustically.  Rooms with extra corners are a pain acoustically, and require a lot of extra acoustical treatment.  Speaking of corners, that's a good place to start.  Corners generally act as distorted sound sources (think megaphones), so if you can control the sound in the corners, you'll go a long way acoustically.  If you take a look at the RoomTunes product pages on the MusicDirect website, you'll see in the illustrations the typical corner locations that should be treated.  Further, you can educate yourself in a hurry just by putting on some music and holding pillows, sweatshirts--most anything acoustically absorbent--in the corners and along the walls, and listening to the effect.  Then you'll know where you most need treatments.  Even without all the acoustical theory, you can become an expert on your own room. 

As for me, I've been successful in multiple rooms with GIK (the highest WAF, btw), RoomTunes, TubeTraps, and some other treatments.   Different products and approaches, BTW.  All have worked.  Placement has consistently been an important factor.  All that said, seems to me that you are on the right track.

ebag4

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #3 on: 20 Dec 2016, 02:43 am »
I have a room a bit smaller than yours, I have found OB to be the best alignment to use in small rooms, in particular OB bass.  Treatments can allow you to get very good sound even in a small room.  With OB in a small room you will be listening near field by the time you pull the speakers out into the room as well as the listening chair, this works great for me.  What I haven't had to deal with is the glass, some of the treatments will cover the glass partially I would imagine.  Below is what I have and where with regard to treatments.  I have full control of this room, so no limitations on treatments.





Good luck!

Best,
Ed

JWL.GIK

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Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #4 on: 20 Dec 2016, 05:34 pm »
It looks like you are definitely on the right track! Bryan will take good care of you for sure.

It's amazing how many people spend years on the gear upgrade cycle.... only when they treat their room do they realize the problem is not -- and never was -- their gear. Acoustic treatment is a fantastic investment because it makes whatever gear you do have maximize its sound potential. This is a great thing for everyone, especially the listener.

Let us know how things go!  :thumb:

-------------------------
James Lindenschmidt
GIK Acoustics

Wind Chaser

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #5 on: 20 Dec 2016, 08:35 pm »
No matter how you slice it or treat it, the reality is a small room is a small room. As illustrated above, Ed/ebag4 makes the best of a very tight situation, and that is essentially what David (the OP) will have to do to. Position the speakers away from the walls a sit close (very close) to them. Even without room treatments this will give him an idea as to what the presentation will be like. Room treatments will help a lot, nonetheless, the arrangement of the speakers and your position in relation to them is critical, especially in a small room. But as Ed has said and shown, it is possible to make something respectable out of a small room.

Most people would be inclined to sit further back, but that's not the answer. The distance between you and the speakers should not exceed the distance between the speakers, while keeping them as far as possible from the front and side walls.


DavidS

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #6 on: 21 Dec 2016, 04:59 pm »
Ed - my room is very similar to yours even down to the location of the desk.  I have more windows and a fireplace behind the speakers and equipment rack but very similar layout.

GIK's communication is great - my treatment gear ships Friday so will likely be new year and post all the Christmas music when it arrives and I get to play with it. 

Appreciate all the positive feedback everyone - this approach is making more and more sense even if diffusers are not as sexy as a new dac.  And loving my new Spatial speakers as they approach 200 hours.

JWL.GIK

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Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #7 on: 21 Dec 2016, 08:39 pm »
No matter how you slice it or treat it, the reality is a small room is a small room. As illustrated above, Ed/ebag4 makes the best of a very tight situation, and that is essentially what David (the OP) will have to do to. Position the speakers away from the walls a sit close (very close) to them. Even without room treatments this will give him an idea as to what the presentation will be like. Room treatments will help a lot, nonetheless, the arrangement of the speakers and your position in relation to them is critical, especially in a small room. But as Ed has said and shown, it is possible to make something respectable out of a small room.

Most people would be inclined to sit further back, but that's not the answer. The distance between you and the speakers should not exceed the distance between the speakers, while keeping them as far as possible from the front and side walls.

Actually, I was surprised to learn a while ago that this isn't always true; sometimes putting the speaker as close to the front wall as you can manage flattens out peaks/nulls associated with SBIR. This article explains SBIR in more detail:

http://www.gikacoustics.com/speaker-boundary-interference-response-sbir/

But yes, you are quite right, time spent experimenting with various possible setups in a room usually pays huge dividends.

--JWL
James Lindenschmidt
GIK Acoustics

ebag4

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #8 on: 25 Dec 2016, 02:53 am »
Actually, I was surprised to learn a while ago that this isn't always true; sometimes putting the speaker as close to the front wall as you can manage flattens out peaks/nulls associated with SBIR. This article explains SBIR in more detail:

http://www.gikacoustics.com/speaker-boundary-interference-response-sbir/
I am certain you are correct with regard to monopole speakers, however the OP is running OB speakers which of course require a minimum of 3' from the front wall and in my experience more is better.

David, please do follow up and let us know what the treatments do for your sound, I believe you will be happy with the results.

Best Regards and happy holidays!

Ed

SFDude

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Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #9 on: 25 Dec 2016, 07:21 am »
I have a similar situation to yours DavidS, down to the speaker brand (although I have the 3s instead of the 4s). Will be interested to see how your journey takes you. I've only got a pair of curtains to cover the windows and carpeting on the floor. I've been mostly playing around with seating position relative to the speakers and having an equi-distant triangle configuration has sounded the best so far.

GL!

JWL.GIK

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Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #10 on: 26 Dec 2016, 05:02 pm »
I am certain you are correct with regard to monopole speakers, however the OP is running OB speakers which of course require a minimum of 3' from the front wall and in my experience more is better.

David, please do follow up and let us know what the treatments do for your sound, I believe you will be happy with the results.

That's true.... I don't have a lot of practice with OB speakers. I imagine they are even fussier about placement and low-end accuracy than more conventional designs.

Definitely let us know how the setup & testing goes!

DavidS

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #11 on: 6 Jan 2017, 08:33 pm »
My panels arrived yesterday.  Much bigger than expected.  4 pieces in total - two corner diffusers and two square bass traps.

I have played a little - they certainly have smoothed the sound out a bunch.  In some places the bass traps almost deaden the sound too much.  My room is small and not a lot of options for placement - have the two diffusers behind the speakers in corners.  One bass trap is behind the left speaker, unfortunately not enough room with current setup for 2nd bass trap behind the second speaker so for now along wall just in front of the speaker. 

Better sound came from moving speakers back about a foot.  Have more trial and error to do.  There is a photo in my gallery but can't seem to load it into this message (maybe wrong format?)

JWL.GIK

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Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #12 on: 10 Jan 2017, 04:45 pm »
Great news! Glad to hear they are doing their thing for you.

Regarding the "almost too dead" thing.... give your ears time (at least a week) to adapt. It's very common for people to get some treatment installed and find the difference is striking -- almost jarring -- because they've gotten so used to the untreated room. After they give their ears time to adjust, they realize that they can hear so much more detail in the music, that what they first perceived as deadness actually sounds a lot better.

That said, getting the high frequency balance right is a key part of our strategy.... using the diffusors (and other products, such as the scatterplates and the FlexRange Range Limiter) can help quite a bit with that.

DTB300

Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #13 on: 11 Jan 2017, 02:04 pm »
Regarding the "almost too dead" thing.... give your ears time (at least a week) to adapt. It's very common for people to get some treatment installed and find the difference is striking -- almost jarring -- because they've gotten so used to the untreated room. After they give their ears time to adjust, they realize that they can hear so much more detail in the music, that what they first perceived as deadness actually sounds a lot better.
+1 Very good post for those just getting into treatments....

SFDude

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Re: Small Room and Open Baffle Speakers
« Reply #14 on: 16 Jan 2017, 09:03 pm »
DavidS, how is your room treatments and experimentations on placement coming along?

A picture would be great to see how it's set up. When I get the time, I'll likely pull the trigger on getting one of the GIK acoustics package. I'm going to also get https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00N4Q25R8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00N4Q25R8&linkCode=undefined&tag=roomeqwizar07-20&linkId=11cec2339d26c67de40e894f38f2fbd7 and use REW to measure these changes as well. It's time I stop trusting my ears a little (I'm getting old and for some reason, one side doesn't hear high-pitched frequencies as well as the other) and rely on measurements as well.

-dave