Question: playing with SPEAKER HEIGHT

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by eddieZEN, Dec 12, 2004.

  1. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    I am looking at some speaker stands and want to figure out what would be optimal for my tastes and speakers.

    I have a pair of Mordaunt Short MS-05, tiny bookshelf speakers. With a JBL Northridge sub, and a Wharfedale center. Running on an Onkyo 601.

    Application: 40% DVDs, 60% CDs. Music is usually jazz, classical, or vocal, but once in a while a little hard rock too.

    Right now I am reasonably happy with the setup given my budget constraints. Only concern is that the treble becomes a bit jagged right above -10 volume on music such as Led Zeppelin or Radiohead.

    How high should I elevate my two mains? Right now they are about stomach level.

    As I move the speakers higher, how will my soundstage change? Will elevation increase or decrease treble and expansiveness? I'd like to soften/decrease treble and maintain or increase spaciousness.

    Should the tweeter be even with my ears, or the woofer?
     
  2. Jason GT

    Jason GT Second Unit

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    Generally speaking the guideline for HT has been tweeters roughly at earlevel or else aimed at earlevel. I'm not sure what, if any guidelines there are about pure stereo but I'd suspect that it is similar.

    As you get further on-axis to the tweeters you will hear more treble, so in this case moving the tweeters up to ear height will make the speakers "brighter". Ultimately speaker placement is about what makes you happy.

    Couple of other things:
    1) what about your room? Lots of reflective surfaces? Bare walls? Large windows? These may contribute to perceived brightness.

    2) experiment further with placement. If you have the speakers heavily toed-in right now, try less toe-in.
     
  3. BryanDO

    BryanDO Stunt Coordinator

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    Just thought I'd share my experiences with you. I had the same problem with brightness mostly coming from my center channel. It was on top of my TV 50" high facing striahgt forward. The sound was way to bright. Highs were ringing in your ear. I used a couple door stops behind the speaker and aimed it at the listening position. The sound is now alot warmer. It could be the sound reflecting off things in your room i.e. hardwood floors, walls, ceiling etc... Try moving the speakers around and pointing them directly at the listening position. Speaker placement was the culprit for me and as soon as I got it right it was like a night and day difference. Theres a few guidelines that really help like the "imaginary circle". Place the speakers the same distance away around an imaginary circle. Good luck.
     
  4. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Bryan,

    > I used a couple door stops behind the speaker and aimed it at the listening position.

    I don't understand...what are "door stops" and how did you use them? Did you attach them to the speaker itself or just to the wall behind the speaker?

    Thanks for your help! : )
     
  5. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Jason,

    > As you get further on-axis to the tweeters you will hear more treble, so in this case moving the tweeters up to ear height will make the speakers "brighter". Ultimately speaker placement is about what makes you happy.

    What about having the tweeters ABOVE ear level...would that increase or decrease treble? A friend of mine has his speakers in-wall almost at ceiling level and they sound great. Of course, they're very pricey MK speakers so that might have something to do with it too.

    > 1) what about your room? Lots of reflective surfaces? Bare walls? Large windows? These may contribute to perceived brightness.

    Yeah, it's a pretty big room, there are two French doors on one side and another set of French doors on the other side. Plus 15 foot cathedral ceilings. And the space wraps around behind the speakers into a dining area and kitchen, while the other side next to the speakers extends out into a hallway and downstairs. No closed doors, in other words!
     
  6. Jason GT

    Jason GT Second Unit

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    Eddie - same thing. Generally, the further you move tweeters off-axis, the less treble you'll experience. If you were to move tweeters from knee level to 3 ft above your head, you'd hear more treble as the speakers are moved up. You'd hear the most as the tweeters are in line with your ears. As the speakers are moved up you'd hear progressively less.

    It sounds like your speakers have plenty of room around them. It may not be much of a factor (oh yeah, bare floors will also add a bit ot brightness).
     
  7. BryanDO

    BryanDO Stunt Coordinator

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    Door stops are little triangular pieces of rubber that you can get at HomeDepot for a few bucks. There for wedging under open doors do they dont move. What you do is take the door stop place it under the back bottom of your speaker. The thin side of the door stop goes under the speaker. This will point the speaker down more. The more you push the door stop under the speaker the lower it will point. This tip helps alot with the center channel as it's usually placed higher than the listening position. Since the majority of your listening is music, maybe you should look into a set of full range towers, speakers that play all frequencies. They tend to work better for music as they produce a warmer sound. This is just my personal experience. When listening to music on my system I switch over to my "B" speakers which are a couple of old towers which consist of a 1" silk tweeter, 4" midrage and 10" woofer along with my 12" adire shiva sub and I love it for music.
     
  8. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Jason,

    I do remember one thing from high school science class though, that sound travels downward...so if I had the tweeters say 10 inches above ear level I'd still hear more treble than if I had them 10 inches below ear level, right?
     
  9. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Bryan,

    Oh, THOSE door stops (for some reason I was thinking about those annoying springy things that make that awful sound whenever you kick them accidentally, LOL)! That's definitely worth trying.

    Yeah, right now I'm looking very lustfully at some tower speakers too but their cost makes me hesitate, except for low end towers such as the Wharfedale Diamond 8.3 and Mordaunt Short 904 which hover around $230 shipped. However, both of those speakers simply have one woofer and one tweeter so I wonder if they sound pretty much the same as a 2-way bookshelf speaker on a stand.

    Looks like the next price level for towers is right around $600 a pair which I can't afford for a couple of months.
     
  10. Jason GT

    Jason GT Second Unit

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    Well you certainly didn't go to the same high school that I did [​IMG]

    Sound does not travel downward. Sound is not affected by gravity. Someone will jump on me about the physical nature of sound (indeed give a better explanation) but it's a wave - I think compression wave is the term.

    Once again, you should experience the most treble when tweeters are pointed directly at the listening position. In general, moving the tweeters off the listening axis, either by toe or by elevation, will decrease observed treble.
     
  11. frank manrique

    frank manrique Supporting Actor

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    eddie,

    your speakers' tweeters SHOULD be at ear level, so you need stands that can place them at that height.

    "Dynamic" type high frequency drivers (tweeters) usually need to be heard at ear level, while "exotic" type speakers (ribbon, electrostatic, etc.) have different requirements, but normally it is essential that dynamic type loudspeakers, full range and otherwise, be heard as close to ear level as possible. Your small monitors are no different...

    -THTS

    "...hi, my name is frank..and am an SVS bassaholic..."
     
  12. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Jason,

    > Sound does not travel downward. Sound is not affected by gravity.

    Are you sure about that? Then why is it that if you live on the top floor of a two-story apartment, your neighbors hear you a lot more than you hear them? I've lived in both positions at different times and it's always sucked to be on the bottom as far as noise goes.
     
  13. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    frank,

    So you wouldn't recommend "tweaking" the sound of the speakers by deliberately positioning the tweeters a couple of inches above ear level, in order to decrease brightness? I originally had mine toed in and when I undid that it helped a lot.
     
  14. Rutgar

    Rutgar Second Unit

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    Funny. Toeing mine in, decreased the brightness.
     
  15. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Rutgar,

    Just curious, what kind of speakers are they?

    edited to add: oops, never mind, I just clicked on your link...ENVY ENVY ENVY! : )
     
  16. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Sound doesn't travel downward. [​IMG] It radiates outward from the source evenly in all directions. Think of a point source, and the sound as propegating outward as spherical waves. A direct radiating speaker is different, in that you (mostly) only get sound radiating out of the front, and the driver design and box geometry affects the off-axis response.

    As for the apt thing, it's because the sound is travelling through the floor to you. Low freqs travel much better through solids than high. You don't live on the ceiling, so all of that air is a buffer.

    I like the door stop idea. I currently have an 2 empty CD cases propping up the back of my center to angle it towards me.

    I'd say start with the tweeters at ear level, and then adjust from there based on what you like. I had a pair of speakers once where the manufacturer included little stabilizor feet, that purposefully raised the front of the speaker so that there was a down angle to my ears. I tried both ways, and preferred it with the feet there.
     
  17. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Kevin,

    > As for the apt thing, it's because the sound is travelling through the floor to you.

    Then if I were on the top floor, shouldn't I be able to hear my downstairs neighbors arguing as well as he can hear me arguing with somebody upstairs? I've never found that to be the case in all my dorm- and apartment-living years.

    In any case, I was an English major in college so I'll cheerfully admit my boundless scientific incompetence. [​IMG]
     
  18. Rutgar

    Rutgar Second Unit

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    Maybe you had quieter neighbors in those apartments.
     
  19. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    > Maybe you had quieter neighbors in those apartments.

    Well, that is possible.

    On the other hand---if sound doesn't travel downwards, why are those tiny little satellite cubes often mounted on the ceiling but never on the floor?
     
  20. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    OK, never mind---the email below, from an old friend of mine who is a Physics PhD, has put to rest all of my doubts:

    ============

    I hate to tell ya, but sound waves do not travel
    downwards, they travel outwards from the source in a
    spherical shape. If you want to be technical and
    invoke special relativity, you could make a point that
    there is a downwards pull on everything due to the
    warping of time/space by gravity of the Earth, but it
    is pretty microscopic. (Actually, if you were getting
    that technical, you would have to factor in the
    gravitational effect of the sun and moon and possibly
    the nearest planets to determine the net effect.) It
    is not as if we live on top of a black hole or dwarf
    star.

    There are a couple of typical reason for putting
    speakers up high that I know of. 1) Sitting or
    standing, the ears are generally in the upper half of
    a room. 2) Unless you have carpet, ceilings and walls
    are usually composed of softer materials with
    non-smooth surfaces and so will provide a softer
    reflection of the sound waves as well as more broad
    dispersion. Hard floors lead to a harsh, tinny
    reflection and carpeted floors just absorb too much of
    the sound. 3) From the floor, furniture causes
    strange echoes and drains on sound waves - not a
    problem from the ceiling.

    Now if you are talking putting the speakers at nearly
    head height and debating the merits of a little above
    to a little below, I think that has more to do with
    personal preference. Of course, there are still echo
    and blockage concerns. Give me a choice of sitting on
    top of a TV versus mounted on a free bracket on the
    wall and I will always take the free bracket so the
    speaker has open air and adjustable aim.
     

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