Master Set Revisited - 2019

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stvnharr

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Master Set Revisited - 2019
« on: 12 May 2019, 11:54 pm »
Wow, 10 years have gone by since I wrote about Master Set speaker positioning. In these 10 years I have had opportunity to do Master Set many times for various reasons and it’s given me a lot of valuable experience in positioning speakers in a room, especially in a non symmetrical room.

I have done a lot of reading around and there is certainly now more information on speaker set up than when I did my write up. I have found two You Tube videos that are quite helpful.
One is Dave Wilson’s 2016 video on the Wilson Audio setup procedure, which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOI8py0DAC8
The most important point to me is the Zone of Neutrality. The prescribed method actually works quite well for getting the minimum distance out from the wall behind the speaker for initial setup. I was actually quite surprised that I heard the voice change so easily.
The other video is Bob Robbins 2014 RMAF talk on his version of Master Set. The video is a little long, at just over one hour, but he does describe the Master Set steps well. Here is Bob Robbins talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Pf0ycbyBM

I have now simplified my own version of Master Set, and it’s now down to just a few steps.

INITIAL STARTS:
1. Long wall/short wall. Long wall is easier. Short wall is difficult because of possible sidewall reflection issues, depending on room dimensions. For DIY, long wall is far preferable.
2. Determine distance between speakers depending on flexibility afforded by the room. Wider is better, but not too wide. Try to have speakers evenly spaced from the acoustic center of the room.
3. Determine the minimum spacing out from wall by Wilson Audio Zone of Neutrality voicing. Place one speaker out into the room just short of that minimum distance. Place other speaker up against the wall facing 45 degrees out.

BEGIN:
1. Set the speaker already out in the room with the usual Master set procedure using the Ballad of a Runaway Horse. Make sure the voice is strong in the one speaker. Do the best you can at finding the position for “Best and Smoothest Bass”. Mark the position with masking tape and leave speaker in place.

2. Bring the other speaker out into the room until the voice centers in the middle. Now slowly move this speaker out in small increments paying attention to the voice in the setup song. Keep moving the speaker until the voice gets real real strong. Note this place with some kind of mark. Keep moving the speaker out until the voice begins to fade a small amount. This should give you a small area within which the magic spot of best sound will be found.
Then back the speaker up in very small increments until you find the place with the strongest voice. Mark this position with masking tape.
This is now your start point for the fine tuning.

3. Fine Tunings
First fine tune is to adjust toe-in, if you need to do any. I always like to use a little toe-in as I set the speakers in steps 1 and 2. Once toe-in is settled, mark each speaker in place with masking tape. Note the distance out from the wall behind to a notable place on the front baffle, for reference purposes.
Second step here is to install the spikes, if removed when moving the speakers around. After installation of spikes and setting speaker at same place as masking tape, check the front baffle distance out from the wall to be sure it is same as earlier measurement. Check speakers for level.
Third fine tune is to do a sound check to be sure sound is the same as before installing the spikes. Adjust as necessary.
Fourth fine tune is to move a bit to the side of the adjusting speaker and note if sound stays in place or moves with you.
Sound staying in place is good. Sound moving with you is bad. A small little move of the voice is adjusted by moving the speaker in towards the wall a small amount, like 2-3mm or 1/8th inch. A large move of the voice requires going back to step 2 and finding strongest voice position all over again, but within the limits already found and marked.
Once you get the sound to stay in place with a small move of listening position, all is done.
Fifth fine tune is to adjust the rake angle, if you wish and have the means to do so.

4. Listen to music. Assess how you find the sound and the stereo image. If something does not seem quite right, just go back up to step 2 and repeat everything as many times as needed. You will know when it is right as you will no longer have the urge to change anything.

5. Notes:
This is a real simplified version, but really contains all you need to know to do this yourself. Step 2 is the critical step and you may have to do this one a few times. Just keep listening to the song and finding cues to where the voice is strongest. This will come to you. The point of strongest voice is where the two speakers are most perfectly aligned to each other to give the perfect illusion of a single voice in the middle from the two sound sources. The voice should be strong and tight. The more you listen for this, the more it will become apparent to you.
Take breaks as you feel necessary. There is no rush or hurry. Some times you need to give things a short rest and then start in again.

6. How do you know when you have it Right?
Well, unless you have heard speakers set by Master Set method, and have heard what the end result can actually be…………. you don’t really know when you have it right other than the music sounds good.
Some cues to listen for are the contained in the fourth fine tune step. If you get that one then you are really close to right.
Talk and listen to your voice while music is playing at normal to above normal loudness level. The music should not cover up your voice. Your voice should be clear, as it became when you moved from the wall in finding the Zone of Neutrality step.
And there is always just the sense that everything just sounds right.

Letitroll98

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #1 on: 13 May 2019, 12:21 am »
Thank you, now I think I understand what the Master Set procedure is getting at.  I tried before and couldn't make sense of it, much appreciated.

stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #2 on: 13 May 2019, 03:00 am »
To simplify even more............
One speaker is set as a Reference, in the Zone of Neutrality.
The second speaker is positioned so that it is in perfect phase with the reference speaker.
That is the gist of the whole thing.
Perfect phase sound is what you get with just one speaker playing. You can get the same perfect sound with both speakers playing, but it's tricky. That is what the simplified second step is all about.
Perfect sound is clean, clear and unmistakable.

jhm731

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #3 on: 13 May 2019, 04:33 am »



stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #4 on: 13 May 2019, 08:27 am »
Is your post something that you do?
It has nothing to do with what I posted and do.

jhm731

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #5 on: 13 May 2019, 11:01 pm »
Is your post something that you do?
It has nothing to do with what I posted and do.

It's the dealer worksheet for the Wilson Audio setup procedure - WASP, that you talked about in your post.


stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #6 on: 13 May 2019, 11:24 pm »
I have watched the linked Dave Wilson video and read a couple of Wilson Manuals and didn't see anything like your drawing. The drawing looks like some kind of toe-in measure. From the video and manual it seemed to me that Wilson mostly does set up by ear and subjective sound. The manuals I read both state that Wilson speakers are designed to have perfect phase when toed right at the listener. So it must be. I'm not aware of any other manufacturer who states any such thing.

Perfect phase is what you are after in speaker positioning. Master Set in one way to get there.

jhm731

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #7 on: 14 May 2019, 01:52 am »
I have watched the linked Dave Wilson video and read a couple of Wilson Manuals and didn't see anything like your drawing. The drawing looks like some kind of toe-in measure. From the video and manual it seemed to me that Wilson mostly does set up by ear and subjective sound. The manuals I read both state that Wilson speakers are designed to have perfect phase when toed right at the listener. So it must be. I'm not aware of any other manufacturer who states any such thing.

Perfect phase is what you are after in speaker positioning. Master Set in one way to get there.

As I posted, it's a dealer worksheet for the Wilson Audio setup procedure, so you're not going to see it unless you're a dealer or a Wilson owner.

I've watch a top Wilson dealer do the WASP two times. Wilson trains their dealers to perform this procedure.

FYI, when you buy Wilson speakers you don't get the extended warranty until a trained* Wilson dealer does the WASP and submits the worksheet.

BTW, how do you know Master Set gets you to "Perfect phase," have you taken measurements?

*Wilson Way Session 14 Dealer Training:


• Mike Rose of Excel Audio
• Ray Benza of Entertainment Technologies
• Adam Golden of Crescendo Fine Audio
• Michael Klein of Audio Concepts
• Scott Ross of Atlanta Home Theater
• Ron Czarnik of Paragon Sight & Sound
• Huy Le of iconic.systems
• Chris Romine of Audio Advisors
• Paul Sandquist of Sound Xperience

stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #8 on: 14 May 2019, 03:19 am »
Perfect phase with both speakers..............
Listening is everything.
Or as Dave Wilson mentioned in his video about where did the other clarinet come from if there is only one clarinet playing.
Perfect phase is easy to hear as it is totally natural sound.
Perfect phase is listening to one speaker, as all the drivers are designed to be in perfect, or as near as possible, phase. It's harder to get when you put the second speaker in the room, but it can be done.

You mentioned measurements. Well, what measurements? What would you measure?

Furthermore, W.A.S.P. is great. Wilson speakers are great. And if you can afford Wilson speakers, the dealer comes with the trained set up guys and it gets all done for you.  There is some useful information in the procedure for people setting up their own speakers.

This thread is not about W.A.S.P.

jhm731

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #9 on: 14 May 2019, 05:00 am »
"This thread is not about W.A.S.P."

It is now. ;-)

stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #10 on: 14 May 2019, 05:10 am »
Well, I had hopes of staying on topic, but if you wish to post about or discuss WASP, go for it in a positive manner.
« Last Edit: 15 May 2019, 10:23 pm by stvnharr »

jhm731

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #11 on: 14 May 2019, 08:11 am »
Sorry Sir, but no it is not!

Without the addition of the WASP, your Master Set, just like it was ten years ago, is worthless.

Have a nice day.



stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #12 on: 14 May 2019, 08:36 am »
Point No. 3 of Initial Starts incorporates the first point of the WASP procedure, as I think it pretty worthwhile.
Okay, fair enough.
« Last Edit: 14 May 2019, 10:22 pm by stvnharr »

Letitroll98

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #13 on: 14 May 2019, 11:41 am »
All members will refrain from dictating where and what another member will post unless they are quoting from the guidelines.  stvnharr has edited his post above to comply, we hope this doesn't occur again.
« Last Edit: 15 May 2019, 04:47 am by Letitroll98 »

stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #14 on: 15 May 2019, 02:58 am »
Perhaps some further background information could be helpful here.
In the 1990’s Sumiko Importers of Berkeley started a training program for their dealers called M.A.S.T.E.R.S., which is an acronym for Modal All Simplified Training Electronic Retail Salespeople. It was never for public consumption and graduates were sworn to keep it a secret. And that has pretty much happened as Google searches still give no hits for the term.

The term Master Set was coined by Rod Tomson of Soundings HiFi in Denver Colorado. I have no idea how closely this follows the actual MASTERS training. However an insight to the actual MASTERS methods can be found in a post on diyaudio: https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/the-lounge/318975-john-curls-blowtorch-preamplifier-iii-1665.htm, go to post #16648.
Stirling Trayle is the former owner of Sumiko and started the MASTERS program along with John Hunter. He now sets up speakers and audio systems as a business. He gave a talk at the San Francisco Audio Society the past March 2019, which is where the notes originated.

Rod T. started Master Set and has incorporated that into his audio business. I first heard speakers set up in this manner in 2007 at RMAF. Over time I learned the basics of the methodology and eventually have been able to get the desired results.

What I do bears some resemblance to Rod’s Master Set, but I simplify things a whole lot and like to include the Zone of Neutrality idea, as it’s pretty helpful. I just wanted to share my experiences with that. It shouldn’t really be called Master Set Revisited, but it is nonetheless.
What I do is completely DIY, doesn’t cost anything other than procurement of the set up song. It is easy to do but hard to get perfect. It’s no better than any other methodology that gets the same results, sound from two speakers as a single sound source. An added benefit is that the sound thus obtained does not restrict the listener to one single listening spot. What I do can be done with any box speaker in any room.

I would suggest that if anyone has questions about M.A.S.T.E.R.S. they contact Stirling Trayle thru his website.
If there are questions about actual Master Set, then Bob Robbins, the 2014 RMAF video guy would be the best contact, again thru his website.

There is no reason for any of this to be contentious at all.

stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #15 on: 18 May 2019, 11:27 pm »
I thought it might be good to do a short comparison of how I have set my speakers and the W.A.S.P. set up procedure, as I understand it. The two procedures are actually quite similar in some respects, which is why I included a bit of it in my write up.

Both procedures set the speakers in the area of least interaction with the room boundaries, which Wilson calls the Zone of Neutrality. Both procedures set the speakers by ear with a specified reference recording and using specific audio cues from the recording to set the speakers in place. Both procedures do not require a perfect room, but are adaptable to the actual room dimensions and conditions. The end results should be similar, though there are some differences.

The different end result is that with the way I do it, the speakers are set in perfect phase with each other, with the set up of the second speaker in the spot of perfect phase to the first speaker. This allows the listener a choice of listening position as the sound is perfect in more than just one spot. This is what drew me to the Master Set method when I first heard it in 2007.
According to the Wilson speaker manual, the one I read was for the Sasha, Wilson crossovers are designed so that when the speaker is faced toward the listener, the sound will be in perfect phase. To me this makes the procedure pretty much exclusive only to Wilson speakers as only Wilson speakers will have Wilson designed crossovers. This also gives the listener only one place for preferred listening, which I find to be quite limiting.

The way I set speakers works easiest if the speakers are set along the long wall of the room. Short wall placement leads to sidewall issues that would have to be addressed. The Wilson procedure seems to be designed for short wall placement, and the speaker manual addresses the sidewall issues.

The way I set speakers is completely DIY, can be done by one person, and is fairly simple in procedure though it does require much attention and focus to get the desired result.
The Wilson procedure is not really DIY friendly unless one is trained by Wilson in the procedure and knows the specific audio cues used to set the speakers in the desired position.

The procedure I use can be done for any box speaker and in any room. The Wilson procedure is for purchasers of Wilson speakers.


timind

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #16 on: 19 May 2019, 02:36 pm »
Very interesting. I think I understand the process you're using which sounds like the main thing is getting a strong/proper center image.

Couple questions:

1. Which version of Ballad Of  a Runaway Horse do you use?

2. Any recommendations for speakers set up in a diagonal configuration?

Here's an experience I had a few years ago. I thought my system was sounding very good with all of the audiophile superlatives except one. With certain female vocals it would sound raspy, not smooth, like I'm sure it was recorded. I found changing toe-in could help, but after reading your method, I think I should've gone with more adjustment.

BTW, I can't imagine why using the Wilson method would only work with Wilson speakers. I think any well designed speaker will give correct phase at the correct distance. Hard to imagine getting decent imaging without it.



jhm731

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #17 on: 19 May 2019, 05:55 pm »

BTW, I can't imagine why using the Wilson method would only work with Wilson speakers. I think any well designed speaker will give correct phase at the correct distance. Hard to imagine getting decent imaging without it.

+1

stvnharr

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Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #18 on: 19 May 2019, 11:09 pm »
Very interesting. I think I understand the process you're using which sounds like the main thing is getting a strong/proper center image.

Couple questions:

1. Which version of Ballad Of  a Runaway Horse do you use?

2. Any recommendations for speakers set up in a diagonal configuration?

BTW, I can't imagine why using the Wilson method would only work with Wilson speakers. I think any well designed speaker will give correct phase at the correct distance. Hard to imagine getting decent imaging without it.

The version of Ballad of a Runaway Horse that is used is the one on the Rob Wasserman Duo album. I think it is also available in a file version. There is just the singer and the bass player, though towards the end there are some background singers singing some notes. The Duo version works so well because it is so simple. The voice is perfectly centered and easily heard. The bass player is plainly heard as well.

Your second question is interesting as I have no idea. I suppose you could try and see what happens. It's just that you have to have the speakers in the Zone of Neutrality, or decoupled zone out from the wall behind.

As to the Wilson method working with other speakers, I don't know. Wilson promotes their method as part of the sales package and not some consultancy service or for DIY purposes.
But you could certainly try it if you think you know how to do it. You would have to be able to do everything exactly as they do. You would have to determine the limits of the Zone of Neutrality. You would also have to be able to hear and know all the audio cues they use on that Flim & The BB's cd. And then you would have to be able to find those same cues with your speaker(s) when you move them around trying to find the cues. It's likely a lot harder than it looks.

Remember that Master Set and Bob Robbins promote what they do as good for any speaker in any room. And my simplified procedure is good for any box speaker, as that is all I have experience with, in any room.

Good imaging can be achieved by just sitting in the center between the speakers. Perfect imaging requires perfect phase and close is not the same.
« Last Edit: 20 May 2019, 06:05 am by stvnharr »

rwolters

Re: Master Set Revisited - 2019
« Reply #19 on: 20 May 2019, 03:20 am »
This sounds great. I recall being at RMAF years ago and hearing the demonstration you mentioned. I was amazed at how good things sounded and that enjoyable imaging didn't require me to be in only one seat in the room.

However, something that I've always wondered about when it comes to this method, is whether the position of the speakers in the room is more dependent on the room or the actual speaker itself. So, if I have someone experienced in this method set up my speakers using this technique, but then purchase new speakers, will the new speakers work well in the old locations? Or am I going to need to restart the process over again from scratch? I'll make a couple of assumptions here for my question. The listening seat would not be moved and the type of speaker would at least be similar. In other words, both direct radiating, rather than mixing in a dipole and direct radiator.

Thanks.