What is "Near Field"?

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 3211 times.

Saturn94

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 785
What is "Near Field"?
« on: 16 Jan 2011, 03:37 pm »
As I wait for my HT2-TLs to be built, I've been reading about speaker position/placement.

I've often come across the term near field listening but am unclear on what that exactly means.  I thought it refered to sitting a couple feet or so from the speakers such as one might do sitting in front of a computer.  But I often hear the term used when refering to floor standing speakers.  Certainly people aren't listening to large floor standing speakers from a couple feet away (or are they?).

This has me wondering what constitutes near field listening and what advantages it may offer.  I did find this on the Cardas Audio site, but it makes no mention of actual distances;

Quote
In the near field position the speakers and the listener’s head are the points of an equilateral triangle. Near field listening gives the perfect stereo field. It is frequently used in the recording studio to position the microphones and the voice in the mix. The near field listening position is determined by the "center to center" distance of the speakers and the distance to the listener’s head. It does not refer to the room in any way.

Does this mean near field just means the speakers and listener are simply in an equilateral triangle configuration regardless of the actual distances?  Or is there a particular distance range that constitutes near field?  What are the benefits?

I find the above quote interesting considering the setup instructions that came with my ADS L1290s recommended starting with an equilateral triangle then adjusting from there.  Currently the speakers are 6' 9'' apart (center to center) and 8' to the listening position.  My room setup doesn't quite let me set up an equilateral triangle.  The closest I could probably get is 7' speaker to speaker and 8' to the listening position.

Thanks in advance for any feedback my fellow AC members can offer. :)

Wind Chaser

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 3461
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #1 on: 16 Jan 2011, 03:55 pm »
The equilateral triangle thing doesn't work for me.  I prefer my speakers wider apart.  Mine are 12' apart and my head / ear position is a little less than 9' back.  Nice wide life like sound stage with no hole in the middle.  If I could set my speakers wider apart, I would.  It's all done by experimentation judged by the ear, no formulas.

Saturn94

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 785
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #2 on: 16 Jan 2011, 04:50 pm »
The equilateral triangle thing doesn't work for me.  I prefer my speakers wider apart.  Mine are 12' apart and my head / ear position is a little less than 9' back.  Nice wide life like sound stage with no hole in the middle.  If I could set my speakers wider apart, I would.  It's all done by experimentation judged by the ear, no formulas.

Thanks Wind Chaser.  I appreciate the feedback.

If I could move my speakers further apart or my listening position closer, I might try a setup like yours.  I did notice that I can get quite close to my speakers and still not have a hole in the center.

So that doesn't turn into a "best speaker position" thread (there are exising threads for that), in this post I'm really trying to answer the question "What is near field?" and what are its benefits. :)

R Swerdlow

Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #3 on: 16 Jan 2011, 04:52 pm »
To me the terms "near field" or "far field" mean what distance from the speakers did the designer intend a listener to sit.  If you sit too close to a speaker with 2 or more drivers, there is some listening distance where the distance between the woofer(s) and your ears becomes significantly different than the distance between the tweeter and your ears.  The sound from the woofer and tweeter migh then arrive at the listener's ears out of phase and cause dips or peaks in the frequency response.  This, of course, matters only when the sound is within roughly an octave of the crossover point.  And clearly, the driver layout and crossover design have an influence on this.

With the Salk designs, they are designed as far field speakers, that is, there is some distance (roughly 9-10 feet) beyond which distance matters little.

I should also say that this refers to the distance from a single speaker cabinet and the listener.  The Cardas advice is about stereo placement of two speaker cabinets in relation to the listener.  This is different from my understanding of near or far field.

I find most of what Cardas describes about arranging the speaker cabinets relative to the listener is so generalized that it often has little usefulness.

Saturn94

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 785
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #4 on: 16 Jan 2011, 05:38 pm »
To me the terms "near field" or "far field" mean what distance from the speakers did the designer intend a listener to sit.  If you sit too close to a speaker with 2 or more drivers, there is some listening distance where the distance between the woofer(s) and your ears becomes significantly different than the distance between the tweeter and your ears.  The sound from the woofer and tweeter migh then arrive at the listener's ears out of phase and cause dips or peaks in the frequency response.  This, of course, matters only when the sound is within roughly an octave of the crossover point.  And clearly, the driver layout and crossover design have an influence on this.

With the Salk designs, they are designed as far field speakers, that is, there is some distance (roughly 9-10 feet) beyond which distance matters little.

I should also say that this refers to the distance from a single speaker cabinet and the listener.  The Cardas advice is about stereo placement of two speaker cabinets in relation to the listener.  This is different from my understanding of near or far field.

I find most of what Cardas describes about arranging the speaker cabinets relative to the listener is so generalized that it often has little usefulness.

Doing a Google search on near field listening, I found the quote from the Cardas site on a page titled "The Near Field Listening Position and Final Focus" , so I figured it had something to do with my question.

A search on AC didn't turn up much.  Some sitting as far as 12' from the speakers called this "near field" while others described this as mid/far field.

From your description of the Salks, I guess pushing the edge of far/near field at 8' from the speakers.  Dennis did mention that at 8' I'm still OK and shouldn't suffer any ill affects.

It's good to hear from you.  I hope all is well with you and your family. :D

R Swerdlow

Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #5 on: 16 Jan 2011, 05:54 pm »
I didn't mean to say that closer than 9-10 feet would automatically be bad.  There is probably a gradual transition as you move closer and closer eventually becoming too close.  The resulting changes in the sound as you move closer are probably subtle, it won't make Frank Sinatra sound like Barry Manilow!

Everything is fine up here, except the winter weather.

Saturn94

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 785
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #6 on: 16 Jan 2011, 06:01 pm »
I didn't mean to say that closer than 9-10 feet would automatically be bad.  There is probably a gradual transition as you move closer and closer eventually becoming too close.  The resulting changes in the sound as you move closer are probably subtle, it won't make Frank Sinatra sound like Barry Manilow!  Everything is fine up here, except the winter weather.

 :o :lol:

It's been unsually cold here as well.  We're suppose to get a few days of normal temps, then it's right back to well below normal again. :(  Virginia Natural Gas is going love us this winter!

catastrofe

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 786
  • "That's what credit cards are for. . ."
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #7 on: 16 Jan 2011, 06:01 pm »
My SS10s are 92" apart center to center, and my listening position is the same distance measured on a diagonal.  This seems close for such large speakers, but with this configuration the imaging is spectacular.

DMurphy

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1352
    • SalkSound
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #8 on: 16 Jan 2011, 06:33 pm »
My SS10s are 92" apart center to center, and my listening position is the same distance measured on a diagonal.  This seems close for such large speakers, but with this configuration the imaging is spectacular.

Hi   Are they toed in, or facing forward?   I checked the 92" listening distance on my modeling, and the driver blend is fine.  Did you arrive at that position yourself through experimentation, or did someone suggest it? 

Wind Chaser

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 3461
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #9 on: 16 Jan 2011, 10:50 pm »
I could be wrong, but I thought near field had more to do the distance between your speakers than just your mere proximity to them.  The wider the field, the further back you can sit and still be near to the field of sound.  This is my preference.  When I go to a concert, I want to be close to the front, not somewhere in the back.

catastrofe

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 786
  • "That's what credit cards are for. . ."
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #10 on: 16 Jan 2011, 11:57 pm »
Hi   Are they toed in, or facing forward?   I checked the 92" listening distance on my modeling, and the driver blend is fine.  Did you arrive at that position yourself through experimentation, or did someone suggest it?

They're toed in verry slightly. . .there's a 1" difference in distance to sidewall from the front of the speakers to the rear.  This is very close to where I had my Thiels.  Just seems to work in my room as the setup that provides the best imaging.

highfilter

Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #11 on: 17 Jan 2011, 01:23 am »
Everyone has different preferences and the speaker positioning really changes with different rooms.

I consider my setup pretty near-field right now, and I couldn't be happier. I have a smaller room (11.2' x 18.8' x 7.6') and getting the speakers away from the front and side walls is really important to remove the room from the sound. As I moved the speakers further away from the front wall, things improved quite dramatically (better isolation, speakers disappeared more, cleaner and more defined bass, improved soundstage) - and moving the speakers away from the side walls (aka closer together), improved imaging and reflections big time, also seems like the soundstage has more width. Also moving the listening position closer to the speakers, semi-following the golden triangle helped bring everything together and improved that 3D effect / sound coming all around you effect.

Speakers are Salk SoundScape 10s and are currently 5.5ft from the front wall, 3ft from the side walls and have 5.5.ft between the speakers (all measured from center of the woofers). Listening position is about 7ft from tweeter. Speakers have no toe-in. This is so far the best setup I have found for my speakers and room. If I had a larger room, I could have them further apart most likely, but having them close to the sidewalls doesn't help anything, even though I have tons of room treatments. Sitting closer to the speakers also helps eliminate some room interaction with your hearing. It's all room, speaker and preference related, but that's what helped me dial in my sound.

fsimms

Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #12 on: 17 Jan 2011, 02:34 am »

Quote
Speakers are Salk SoundScape 10s and are currently 5.5ft from the front wall, 3ft from the side walls and have 5.5.ft between the speakers (all measured from center of the woofers). Listening position is about 7ft from tweeter. Speakers have no toe-in. This is so far the best setup I have found for my speakers and room. If I had a larger room, I could have them further apart most likely, but having them close to the sidewalls doesn't help anything, even though I have tons of room treatments. Sitting closer to the speakers also helps eliminate some room interaction with your hearing. It's all room, speaker and preference related, but that's what helped me dial in my sound.


I am glad you got your speakers dialed in.  :thumb:

Quote
moving the listening position closer to the speakers, semi-following the golden triangle helped bring everything together and improved that 3D effect / sound coming all around you effect.

It is interesting that you seem to get the sound coming from all over the room like I can.  How far around you does the image appear?  Mostly, I can get the image only coming to my sides.  Once I heard something that I swore was coming from behind me though. 

Bob











highfilter

Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #13 on: 17 Jan 2011, 02:57 am »
It is interesting that you seem to get the sound coming from all over the room like I can.  How far around you does the image appear?  Mostly, I can get the image only coming to my sides.  Once I heard something that I swore was coming from behind me though. 

Bob

It really depends on the recording for the sound stage. A lot of electronic music that is well recorded has the full-on 3D effect, where sounds can pan from way above your tweeters to all away behind your head. A great track that I use for reference on new components and when tweaking my system is: Architect - Fast Lane (Freeze Frame). Link sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgzzlOS0m7o

During the sounds from 0:06 to 0:09, you can really hear the fantastic positioning of the sounds (almost like it's coming from behind you to in front of you, and then the reverse - and then a follow-up wide sound at 0:11). And classical soundtrack-type songs usually have a huge presence and the high notes can really sound like they start at the tweeter and keep rising to above the ceiling almost. Tracks like Hans Zimmer - Time, from the Inception soundtrack etc.

Typical Classic Rock or Metal usually just has good imaging and panning, but nothing that really fully wraps around you. Some sounds can pierce and sound like they go past your left and right ears, but I find that mostly Electronic music tends to fully develop and experiment with the soundstage and sound positioning. I also found that power cords have a significant impact on the soundstage and overall presence of music. That, and your source.  :D

I've noticed more spacial information and positioning since adding diffusion panels in my room as well.

JLM

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 5627
  • The elephant normally IS the room
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #14 on: 17 Jan 2011, 03:40 am »
I use the Cardas nearfield (5.67 ft equalilateral triangle) and golden rectangle room (8 ft x 13 ft x 21 ft).  Depending on the recording, even 8 year olds sit in "the chair" wide-eyed in awe from the soundstage provided. 

The effect is half-way between far field and headphones.  An audio buddy doesn't like it (it took time for me to get used to it too).

Tone Depth

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 310
  • Music Lover, Former Audiophile
    • SRLPE Wheel Works
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #15 on: 17 Jan 2011, 03:53 am »
My understanding of near field is listening to monitors at a close distance, to minimize the effect of room reflections on the sound you are hearing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_monitor#Monitor_vs_Hi-Fi_speakers

Here's another helpful explanation:

"SteveG:- I think you'll find that 'near field' is an acoustic term, actually, and it really does have a specific meaning, and that relates to the acoustic environment. In this context the 'near field' in a room is the area (usually in front!) around a speaker where the response is not dominated by the room. This distance varies somewhat according to the size of the room and the absorption coefficient of the materials in it. In an otherwise indifferently treated room, a knowledge of this distance, and knowing what your 'near field' monitors really sound like can be extremely significant in terms of achieving a decent mix.

This is the problem that most people who do location recordings suffer from. It will also be apparent that all loudspeakers have a 'near field' - whether you can make use of it is another matter though, because the time alignment of large speakers means that it often isn't possible to listen sensibly to them at a close distance, because the drivers are too far apart. With speakers like these, the 'sweet spot' principle becomes more important.

The other thing that might be apparent from this explanation of 'near field' is why sub-bass units just don't cut it in this situation. In order to work, they have to interact with the room - this is the way they are designed. And trying to get any phase-coherent transition from the mid-range to the sub-bass is out of the question, because the positional relationship isn't fixed in space as it is in a conventional drive unit.

So a typical 'near-field' unit most certainly has to guarantee to be time aligned, and present a coherent wavefront much closer to the drive units than large 'main' monitors do. Those are the main things that will qualify a monitor as 'near-field'."

Source:  http://www.audiomastersforum.net/amforum/index.php?topic=7394.0

As I wait for my HT2-TLs to be built, I've been reading about speaker position/placement.

I've often come across the term near field listening but am unclear on what that exactly means.  I thought it refered to sitting a couple feet or so from the speakers such as one might do sitting in front of a computer.  But I often hear the term used when refering to floor standing speakers.  Certainly people aren't listening to large floor standing speakers from a couple feet away (or are they?).

This has me wondering what constitutes near field listening and what advantages it may offer.  I did find this on the Cardas Audio site, but it makes no mention of actual distances;

Does this mean near field just means the speakers and listener are simply in an equilateral triangle configuration regardless of the actual distances?  Or is there a particular distance range that constitutes near field?  What are the benefits?

I find the above quote interesting considering the setup instructions that came with my ADS L1290s recommended starting with an equilateral triangle then adjusting from there.  Currently the speakers are 6' 9'' apart (center to center) and 8' to the listening position.  My room setup doesn't quite let me set up an equilateral triangle.  The closest I could probably get is 7' speaker to speaker and 8' to the listening position.

Thanks in advance for any feedback my fellow AC members can offer. :)

Saturn94

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 785
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #16 on: 17 Jan 2011, 04:16 am »
My understanding of near field is listening to monitors at a close distance, to minimize the effect of room reflections on the sound you are hearing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_monitor#Monitor_vs_Hi-Fi_speakers

Here's another helpful explanation:

"SteveG:- I think you'll find that 'near field' is an acoustic term, actually, and it really does have a specific meaning, and that relates to the acoustic environment. In this context the 'near field' in a room is the area (usually in front!) around a speaker where the response is not dominated by the room. This distance varies somewhat according to the size of the room and the absorption coefficient of the materials in it. In an otherwise indifferently treated room, a knowledge of this distance, and knowing what your 'near field' monitors really sound like can be extremely significant in terms of achieving a decent mix.

This is the problem that most people who do location recordings suffer from. It will also be apparent that all loudspeakers have a 'near field' - whether you can make use of it is another matter though, because the time alignment of large speakers means that it often isn't possible to listen sensibly to them at a close distance, because the drivers are too far apart. With speakers like these, the 'sweet spot' principle becomes more important.

The other thing that might be apparent from this explanation of 'near field' is why sub-bass units just don't cut it in this situation. In order to work, they have to interact with the room - this is the way they are designed. And trying to get any phase-coherent transition from the mid-range to the sub-bass is out of the question, because the positional relationship isn't fixed in space as it is in a conventional drive unit.

So a typical 'near-field' unit most certainly has to guarantee to be time aligned, and present a coherent wavefront much closer to the drive units than large 'main' monitors do. Those are the main things that will qualify a monitor as 'near-field'."

Source:  http://www.audiomastersforum.net/amforum/index.php?topic=7394.0

Thanks for the great explanation. :)

dakulis

Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #17 on: 12 Mar 2011, 12:46 am »
I believe you have already received decent information about what it is.  The real trick is to determine how to set your speakers up in a near field position.  So, I'll give you a couple threads to help you with that:

http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/waspe.html

http://www.cardas.com/content.php?area=insights&content_id=26&pagestring=Room+Setup

These provide two approaches and I just played with them both and moved my speakers until the stereo image and sound stage came together.  Once there, I just played a little with slight movements of the speakers and toe-in until it dialed in to my taste, which might not be your taste.  Good Luck, Dave
« Last Edit: 12 Mar 2011, 07:29 am by dakulis »

geezer

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 386
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #18 on: 12 Mar 2011, 02:44 am »
?

Saturn94

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 785
Re: What is "Near Field"?
« Reply #19 on: 12 Mar 2011, 04:29 pm »
I believe you have already received decent information about what it is.  The real trick is to determine how to set your speakers up in a near field position.  So, I'll give you a couple threads to help you with that:

http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/waspe.html

http://www.cardas.com/content.php?area=insights&content_id=26&pagestring=Room+Setup

These provide two approaches and I just played with them both and moved my speakers until the stereo image and sound stage came together.  Once there, I just played a little with slight movements of the speakers and toe-in until it dialed in to my taste, which might not be your taste.  Good Luck, Dave

Thanks for the links.

Interesting that the first link suggests a speaker to speaker/speaker to listening position ratio of 1:1.1 to 1:1.25.  A quick calculation shows I'm right within that range.

It seems in my limited experience that while the different methods offer some good general advice, ultimately one just has to experiment with their own setup since each room is different.

The speaker position I ended up with came from pure experimenting.  The position I settled on for my new HT2-TLs ended up being almost exactly the same as my old ADS L1290s.  The only real difference was the amount of toe in (Salks are toed in a little more than the ADS).  At least in my case, it also helped greatly that I use a separate sub.  In my room with its setup limitations the best position for bass is not the same as the best position for imaging.

As far as whether my setup could be considered "near field" or "far field", the best I can gather from all the responses here is that I'm probably "mid field". :lol: