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I need some opinions from the experts


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 Doug Z

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Posted May 27 2006 - 02:37 PM

I included a sketch of my current layout, this is the only room in the house capable of handling the HT. The room is 28'x13' w/ 8' ceilings & carpeted. My mains are Polk RT800's, center is CS400 and rears are M5's near the ceiling, speakers are the shaded squares and the center is on top of the RPTV. I have the components behind the RF speaker (for now) and I have about 3' of separation from the wall and the set/speakers. Is the room too rectangular for this setup and what would be the best placement for the sub and port direction, sub is a Mirage FRX-S10. The HT sounds good but the music can sound flat sometimes, hard to find the happy medium between the two. I need access to the door behind the set so I don't want to put everything in the middle. The couches are on the long walls about 8' from the back of the room so I sit about 15' from the set. By looking at this what (if any) changes should I make, I'm not a HT designer so any of you "trained eyes" want to voice an opinion please feel free. Thanks.


http://i11.photobuck...gtofan1/HT1.jpg

{IMG tag changed to URL by Moderator - exceeds 40MB embedded limit}

#2 of 17 Jay Mitchosky

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Posted May 28 2006 - 03:49 AM

First off, changed the IMG tag to URL - file is too big as an embedded image.

The first thing that strikes me is how off-balance the gear is at the front. You'll be getting a lot of reflections off the right wall and imaging will be toast for music. Also makes it difficult to balance levels. The rear door certainly limits your placement options (for that matter having entry ways on walls makes this a really difficult space). Have you considered placing the monitor and speakers in the middle of that end but sufficiently forward of the door to allow access? Alternatively are you able to switch ends? Place the monitor and LCR by the stairs. It's hard to tell how much room you have laterally as I doubt your picture is to scale.

What size is your TV? 15' sounds like a long distance to be away if it's an RPTV. I sit 11 1/2' back from a 100" projection screen. You should shoot for 3-5x screen height. This alone may free up some options by allowing you to comfortably move the monitor out into the room. Although it will take some dressing up to keep it from looking odd. Depending on the size of your TV (and resulting viewing distance) you may even be able to set up the viewing area along the short axis. You can also experiment with seating location - from an audio perspective aim for your ears being at 1/3rds, 1/5ths, or 1/7ths of the room.

I'm interested in other opinions on this. If you could it would be really helpful if you supplied a drawing to scale including all furniture. This is a great exercise for yourself as well. Make cutouts for the speakers, TV, furniture all to scale with the room and then move them around to see what works and what doesn't.

Re: sub placement you can either use a corner for maximum bass (each boundary supplies a 3db increase in output) or just a side wall for less, but smoother, bass. I recall reading placing subs at 1/3 and 1/4 intervals along the wall. A simple test is to play something with heavy, constant bass (or even better a low frequency test tone) and place your sub in the seating position. Walk around the room and listen for the area that supplies the deepest, smoothest bass. That's where you want to consider placing your sub. Look for a few spots as the ideal location may not be the most practical. Your port should face the boundary. If a front-facing driver have that shoot into the room.

Something else you could consider is replacing your LCRs with ceiling or in-wall speakers. These technologies are getting much better and then you would only have to contend with your monitor. An ideal application for a room this odd would be to go front projection with a drop down screen. You could discretely place in-wall LCRs in place of your current speakers (the left between the door and the left wall and the right and center on the other side), have the screen housing directly above the door area, and then drop it down for movie time. Otherwise it's a normal room. You could also place seats (or benches depending on how low the screen hangs) along that wall for when you entertain and need more space. While a relatively expensive option compared to just relocating your existing gear it would free up your room for other activities and eliminate the challenges posed by all those entryways. With the price and quality of today's projectors it's not too bitter a pill to swallow. Of course you'll need some measure of light control for daytime viewing.
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#3 of 17 Doug Z

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Posted May 28 2006 - 04:45 AM

Thanks for the reply, I have the couch on the left between the opening and the door with end tables on both sides. On the right the smaller couch is rear of the slider which stops about 7' from the rear of the room. I forgot to mention there is a fireplace at the opposite end so that will not work. The display device is a Hitachi 57" RPTV and the drawing is to scale, the speakers are slightly larger to just show placement. What you were saying about the right wall is probably what makes the music sound way off, which is why I do want to tweak the system but trying to deal with the back room is the killer.

#4 of 17 Jay Mitchosky

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Posted May 28 2006 - 05:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Z
Thanks for the reply, I have the couch on the left between the opening and the door with end tables on both sides. On the right the smaller couch is rear of the slider which stops about 7' from the rear of the room. I forgot to mention there is a fireplace at the opposite end so that will not work. The display device is a Hitachi 57" RPTV and the drawing is to scale, the speakers are slightly larger to just show placement.
Hey Doug

So if I understand correctly the main couch is not in the room but rather against the left side wall. This is really problematic for you for a couple of obvious reasons. One being that you're not really using rear surrounds but rather a pair of righ side surrounds. Secondly is that seating against a boundary is one of the worst locations from an acoustic perspective. It's riot of peaks and valleys for many frequencies. So some will be boosted and others sucked out.

You have a fairly wide room. Have you considered placing the main couch in the open, parallel to the rear wall? You could corner it to the short couch on the right wall with an end table at the junction. This would place you farther from the TV but your audio would be more balanced with rear surround activity and away from a boundary. Does the left side of the right couch (when you're sitting on it) end 7' from the rear wall? Or is it the sliding door that is 7' away? I'm not clear on your description. If it's the couch ending with 7' feet to spare this would still allow about 3' clearance from the long couch to the back if reoriented as suggested. Maybe worth a try.

There is no easy solution for this room. Unless you're able to renovate to make it more theater friendly you'll be facing compromises at every turn.

Re: your viewing distance you could comfortably sit within 7 to 12 feet of a 57" 16:9 RPTV (3-5x height). This would allow considerably more impact than the 15' you're at now. Again limited by where you able to place the seats.
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#5 of 17 Doug Z

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Posted May 28 2006 - 11:30 AM

Yes, the left side of the small couch ends 7' from the back wall. I have turned it parallel to the tv on occasions but the long couch is too big to turn. The couches and the end tables were left by the previous owner and we have a sectional upstairs in which I have debated switching. As for now I want to leave the furniture as is and try to find a solution....as frustrating as it is. I can move the LCR & set to the left and deal with the door due to the 4' or so gap to the wall if necessary, If I must do this for acoustic purposes then so be it. Is it wise to place the mains right up against the sides of the TV being slightly forward of the case or do I need some separation? In-wall speakers are definately a possibility which would give me more room but would they work w/ the RPTV especially being about 2' behind the set..meaning the set sticks out in the room in front of the in-walls?

Here's a link to a more recent sketch, sorry it looks my newborn drew it.

http://i11.photobuck...gtofan1/HT2.jpg

#6 of 17 Jay Mitchosky

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Posted May 29 2006 - 05:05 AM

Quote:
Is it wise to place the mains right up against the sides of the TV being slightly forward of the case or do I need some separation?
You won't want them against the TV for a couple of reasons. First, they'll be too close together. Ideally the mains should form two points of an equilateral triangle (the third being you). Adjust from there. But when they're that close you won't be able to develop any real sound stage. The second reason is that the TV will completely mess up the sound with the speakers being so close, even if move slightly forward. They won't have room to breathe. Keeping them forward and away from the sides of the TV will make a big difference.

All that said if you're not willing or able to move your furniture there will be little benefit from moving the front speakers around. Your listening position will continue to be problematic as it's a) so far outside the sweet spot, b) up against a boundary.
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#7 of 17 Andrew Pratt

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Posted May 29 2006 - 06:49 AM

What rooms are adjacent on either side of this room (on the long walls)? An aquatence of Jay and I's had a similar problematic room to you with a fireplace and french doors to contend with so he cut a hole in the long wall to recess the TV and center speaker into so that it sat flush with the long wall allowing him the depth needed to get a good HT experience. With the TV flush mounted it also creates a better music experience as there's no boundary reflections coming off the TV. That's obviously fairly radical but its an ingenious solution that might work if there's a 'work' room adjacent to either side of the room...or a closet that you could mount into.

Another option that's becoming more popular is to sell the RPTV and buy an LCD or Plamsa flat panel and mount it above the fireplace.

If none of those are an option my suggestion is to side the TV over away from the side wall as much as possible and toe in the speakers to reduce the side wall influence. Then move one of the couches so that its facing the TV and then move the rear surrouds to the side walls close to the couch and mount them so that the face the couch. Its less then ideal but with that door on the top short wall it limits options. If you had options on the couch maybe consider getting two recliners that you could move more easily into a more suitable listening position and still allow for a walk way through them if required.

#8 of 17 Jay Mitchosky

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Posted May 29 2006 - 07:08 AM

I forgot about Jeff's room. That's a good idea and it worked quite well. Much smaller room than Doug's though. From the looks of Doug's sketch the left wall would be adjacent to the underside of the stairs.
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#9 of 17 Doug Z

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Posted May 29 2006 - 12:25 PM

You are correct, the staircase is on the left and the room to the left is storage, the room behind the TV is the guest/computer room...and the right wall is concrete to the outside. I can swing the small couch outwards and get about 13-14' from the set and I don't mind shifting the hardware to the left. The sub is front-firing w/ rear port, how close to the right wall can the speaker be without having too many cancellations, the sliding door does have a drape on it if that matters for absorbtion? Being that the smallest things can make a big difference, here's the actual pics of the room. I should have done this to begin with actually, sorry slightly blurred. The door behind the set is a hollow-core door, I assume it can be problematic,

http://i11.photobuck....SC_0012002.jpg

http://i11.photobuck....SC_0011001.jpg

#10 of 17 Jay Mitchosky

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Posted May 30 2006 - 06:19 AM

Quote:
The sub is front-firing w/ rear port, how close to the right wall can the speaker be without having too many cancellations...
I don't have an answer for that, but it's a balance between speaker location and seating location.

Quote:
...the sliding door does have a drape on it if that matters for absorbtion?
That will help a lot for mid and high frequencies - the glass is too hard a surface.


That's a cozy looking room but seems kind of uncomfortable for TV/Movie viewing as you're looking from your side at the set. Where does the door behind the TV lead? Depending on what's back there and the kind of access required another solution for this room would be to build a faux wall across the front. It could start at the jog that comes down by the left entryway and then across to the other side. You could simply frame it then cover with an acoustically transparent cloth. Make a cutout for the TV sitting in the middle. The speakers would sit on either side away from the monitor. Remove their grilles and place them up against the new fabric "wall" and they remain invisible but still have room to breathe. Same with the center channel. The sub could be located anywhere back there. You could also furnish an enclosed equipment rack or even hide the whole thing, with access from the rear door, and control with an RF/IR rig.

All of this is purely brainstorming and depends on what's behind that door. It would effectively tighten up the room and give more placement options for your set and speakers. That space looks like it sees little use anyways. You would still be limited in your seating, however. The other challenge I see you face is that the seating is trying to occupy two focal points: the TV for entertainment on one end, and the fireplace for relaxing on the other. You might try tossing around some ideas to make two different "zones". The area around the fireplace could become a lounge with a little tighter seating. And the area towards the TV would be for viewing. The sectional you mentioned earlier would probably be an ideal way to transition between the two. The long end of the sectional would run across the wall and the short end would jut out. This would still provide easy access to the sliding doors.

Scale out your room and make scaled cutouts of your furniture and play around.
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#11 of 17 Doug Z

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Posted May 30 2006 - 10:40 PM

Thanks for the help so far jay, as I mentioned earlier I can and usually flip the RH couch out for watching movies. Of course with the newborn we usually scatter play stuff so I leave more room. I thought about the whole framing idea but the back room is the computer/guest room so I need access for now. I changed the setup a bit more centralizing the hardware and moving the RH couch out to a more comfortable viewing position, listening to a few CD's I notice a droning resonance even w/ the sub off and the mains cutoff still at 80 HZ..tried moving the speakers around but doesn't seem to want to go away. What about some type of acoustical foam padding behind the set of bass busters in the corners? Could be the set resonating but definately annoying, this is with the receiver in direct mode.

#12 of 17 Jay Mitchosky

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Posted May 31 2006 - 01:11 AM

Quote:
What about some type of acoustical foam padding behind the set of bass busters in the corners?
Depends on the frequency causing the resonance. The lower the frequency the longer the waveform and therefore the bigger the acoustic treatment needs to be. Simple foam padding will serve to limit treble and upper midrange from bouncing around. Too much will make things sound wooly. But you can certainly experiment.
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#13 of 17 Andrew Pratt

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Posted May 31 2006 - 01:44 AM

Do you have an SPL meter?

#14 of 17 Doug Z

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Posted May 31 2006 - 01:40 PM

Yes, the Radio Shack analog meter.

#15 of 17 Andrew Pratt

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Posted June 01 2006 - 12:33 AM

Good. Ok what I'd suggest you do is download some test tones and then use Sonnie's BFD excel spread sheet and plug in the SPL values for a range of freq's and see just where the problem is. You might find that you're sitting in a major peak or null and that's why the sub doesn't sound right. If that is the case you have two choices...move the sub and or couch so that the response is flatter...or move the sub to a different location.

You can find the test tone and sonnies spread sheet here

#16 of 17 Doug Z

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Posted June 03 2006 - 01:27 AM

Thanks for the link, i'll give it a shot. My placement of the hardware right now is dependent on the length of my AQ Crystal speaker cables. I purchased them years ago not thinking on a large RPTV or having any setup issues. The mains are 10' and the center is 5' and I would hate to get rid of them because of this, unless I can put my receiver on top the set but with the center that's alot of weight.Posted Image

#17 of 17 Andrew Pratt

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Posted June 03 2006 - 10:28 AM

If you do move the receiver on top add a support that spans the width of the TV to help take some of the load of it.

You could always pick up a length of 12 gauge zip cord from Home Depot for testing...if you find it makes a difference with the speakers in a different position we can then investigate getting you some longer cables...they don't have to cost much to get very good performance.


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