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a cautionary tale


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23 replies to this topic

#1 of 24 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted June 20 2004 - 08:20 AM

We all know the rule book on good audio practice. High on the list of commandments is to put your speakers on stands. However, what the book says and what your ears tell you can be two different things.

A couple of days ago we had to replace our TV and we got a nice looking LCD set and a new base for the set. With this new arrangement the home theatre speakers on stands seemed out of place - visually they dominated the new TV set (the old massive CRT set made them look slimline and inconspicuous). Anyway, my wife asked what would happen if we took them off the stands. Going into typical aggrieved male mode, I thought I'd demonstrate to her the inadvisability of taking speakers off their stands. So off they came, and to guarantee disaster, I did the following:

(i) front L and R pushed close either side of the set.
(ii) centre speaker put behind the TV.
(iii) rear speakers join the sub-woofer behind the sofa.

Admittedly the new set-up looked far better (practically nothing to see) but it should have been a recipe for audio disaster. So to prove my point I tried a couple of DVDs and was utterly amazed at the improvement in sound quality. Clearer treble, midrange unaltered, bass all there but more controlled than before, better imaging and spatial positioning. I'm pleased, and wife delighted because the room now practically devoid of wires and 'obvious' bits of hi-fi.

The reason for mentioning this is not to say that everyone should jetison your speaker stands, etc (I think there are acoustic oddities about the room which make the new system work better) but don't slavishly follow the rule book. What works in an acoustic perfect room won't necessarily be right for you.

#2 of 24 OFFLINE   StephenHa

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Posted June 20 2004 - 12:20 PM

trial and error always works best

#3 of 24 OFFLINE   Drew_W

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Posted June 20 2004 - 06:43 PM

Quote:
What works in an acoustic perfect room won't necessarily be right for you.


Audition rooms are even rarely that. But I'm glad you didn't overlook something that is oh so fundamental and often overlooked, and I hope you enjoy the benefits! Best thing about that is it didn't cost anything. Posted Image
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#4 of 24 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted June 20 2004 - 08:20 AM

We all know the rule book on good audio practice. High on the list of commandments is to put your speakers on stands. However, what the book says and what your ears tell you can be two different things.

A couple of days ago we had to replace our TV and we got a nice looking LCD set and a new base for the set. With this new arrangement the home theatre speakers on stands seemed out of place - visually they dominated the new TV set (the old massive CRT set made them look slimline and inconspicuous). Anyway, my wife asked what would happen if we took them off the stands. Going into typical aggrieved male mode, I thought I'd demonstrate to her the inadvisability of taking speakers off their stands. So off they came, and to guarantee disaster, I did the following:

(i) front L and R pushed close either side of the set.
(ii) centre speaker put behind the TV.
(iii) rear speakers join the sub-woofer behind the sofa.

Admittedly the new set-up looked far better (practically nothing to see) but it should have been a recipe for audio disaster. So to prove my point I tried a couple of DVDs and was utterly amazed at the improvement in sound quality. Clearer treble, midrange unaltered, bass all there but more controlled than before, better imaging and spatial positioning. I'm pleased, and wife delighted because the room now practically devoid of wires and 'obvious' bits of hi-fi.

The reason for mentioning this is not to say that everyone should jetison your speaker stands, etc (I think there are acoustic oddities about the room which make the new system work better) but don't slavishly follow the rule book. What works in an acoustic perfect room won't necessarily be right for you.

#5 of 24 OFFLINE   StephenHa

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Posted June 20 2004 - 12:20 PM

trial and error always works best

#6 of 24 OFFLINE   Drew_W

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Posted June 20 2004 - 06:43 PM

Quote:
What works in an acoustic perfect room won't necessarily be right for you.


Audition rooms are even rarely that. But I'm glad you didn't overlook something that is oh so fundamental and often overlooked, and I hope you enjoy the benefits! Best thing about that is it didn't cost anything. Posted Image
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#7 of 24 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted June 21 2004 - 06:23 AM

Well, I’m a little confused. The front and rear speakers particularly – they were small enough for stands, now they’re on the floor? And that sounds better?

Both rear speakers are now on one sub behind the sofa, and that sounds better??

Hopefully I'm missing something here!

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

My Equipment List
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My Tech / DIY Articles and Reviews

#8 of 24 OFFLINE   ScottCHI

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Posted June 21 2004 - 06:51 AM

if you have bookshelves on the floor, try tilting them back a few degrees, too.
"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."

#9 of 24 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted June 21 2004 - 01:20 PM

I'm a bit confounded as well. It doesn't make sense to anything I've experienced, but, if you heard them sound better this way, I believe you. Maybe our wives have known better than us all along.

#10 of 24 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted June 21 2004 - 01:47 PM

My center channel speaker is really hard to hear when I put it behind my TV Posted Image

I think the primary purpose of stands is to A: raise the tweeter to ear level and B: leave no extra room for people to set drinks, food, newspapers, and other debris on.
"Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it's too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable."

#11 of 24 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted June 21 2004 - 02:44 PM

Andrew,

Are you sure you're not a Stepford husband? Posted Image

#12 of 24 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted June 21 2004 - 05:07 PM

Much of the speaker-placement theory comes from years of experience with 2-channel music reproduction.

Trying to create a 3-dimensional image with 2 speakers has long been the goal behind placement rules for music.

But a HT system with 5 descrete speakers is:

- A lot more forgiving of placement
- A lot less information per second
- More about impact (the subwoofer) than the L/R speakers

I suspect if you had some favorite CD's and tried the placement your results would be different. Parts of the music/reproduction would have been lost.

When playing with speaker positions for HT, try this:

- Fire up a scene with lots moving sounds (Sci Fi or adventure movies are good for this).

- Turn OFF the TV. This forces you to focus on the sound. (you often let your eyes over-ride your ears for placment clues).

Good Luck.

#13 of 24 OFFLINE   Brian OK

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Posted June 21 2004 - 06:18 PM

Perhaps you were "listening" to your new TV..... focused on the image and oblivious to the sound......

Sounds great with crystal clear imaging with "deeper bass black levels" type of phenomenon. The objective subjectivists conundrum.

I would beware of the WAF here... a delighted wife could prove the existence of a sonic blind spot. ;*(

BOK
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#14 of 24 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted June 21 2004 - 09:10 PM

I can promise you that the new system works far better for music (stereo and 5.1) as well as audio-visual stuff. Tilting the speakers upwards has no effect, by the way. Oh, and no, I'm not simply trying to gratify my wife (I have more effective methods of doing that Posted Image ).

The reason for starting the thread was simply to note that what the textbooks say won't necessarily apply in individual cases. I seriously doubt whether our new set-up would work in 99% of other rooms.

#15 of 24 OFFLINE   Philip>L

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Posted June 22 2004 - 12:19 AM

Perhaps I missed it, but what kind of speakers do you have?
"Lots of things work in practice for which the laboratory has never found proof." -- Martin H. Fischer

#16 of 24 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted June 21 2004 - 06:23 AM

Well, I’m a little confused. The front and rear speakers particularly – they were small enough for stands, now they’re on the floor? And that sounds better?

Both rear speakers are now on one sub behind the sofa, and that sounds better??

Hopefully I'm missing something here!

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

My Equipment List
“A nice mid-fi system,” according to an audiophile acquaintance.

My Tech / DIY Articles and Reviews

#17 of 24 OFFLINE   ScottCHI

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Posted June 21 2004 - 06:51 AM

if you have bookshelves on the floor, try tilting them back a few degrees, too.
"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."

#18 of 24 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted June 21 2004 - 01:20 PM

I'm a bit confounded as well. It doesn't make sense to anything I've experienced, but, if you heard them sound better this way, I believe you. Maybe our wives have known better than us all along.

#19 of 24 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted June 21 2004 - 01:47 PM

My center channel speaker is really hard to hear when I put it behind my TV Posted Image

I think the primary purpose of stands is to A: raise the tweeter to ear level and B: leave no extra room for people to set drinks, food, newspapers, and other debris on.
"Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it's too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable."

#20 of 24 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted June 21 2004 - 02:44 PM

Andrew,

Are you sure you're not a Stepford husband? Posted Image





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