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Working on the room response riddle (long) (1 Viewer)

Michael R Price

Jul 22, 2001
Without a subwoofer, it's quite a pain to get an adequate bass response, as I've learned; however the results of placement tweaking are quite rewarding. Here is my experience trying to find the right placement for my Kit281s. The measuring and experimentive I've done has really convinced me that a subwoofer is pretty necessary, even for 2-channel music. The best position for a speaker to reproduce sound in general is almost never the best position for a speaker to reproduce bass.
I've tried 3 practical (meaning, that I can live with) speaker placements so far: (1) both myself and the speakers pulled out 4' into the room, firing down the 15' dimension of my 15x12x8 room; (2) both myself and the speakers pulled out 3' or so, firing down the 12' dimension of the room; and (3) with the speakers 2' from the wall and myself 18" from the rear wall, using the 12' dimension again. I've tried lots of other funky stuff with varying results but nothing I can keep all the time.
Placement 1: Great soundstage, severe bass loss and uneven response under 100Hz.
Placement 2: A little less soundstage, but the bass was improved noticeably (except for a 15dB dip at 60Hz). That's the orange graph below.
Placement 3: Much, much better bass (actually at a mostly neutral level). But the soundstage wasn't too great. (Red graph)

The red graph is the result of my current tweak. I pushed the speakers back towards the wall (so their backsides are maybe 14" away) and folded down my desk so I could move my chair back 2 feet or so, now it's about 16-18" from the rear wall.
What a difference! The bass is now much more even with the rest of the sound, not boomy though (and yes, I see the 8 dB hump at 50Hz).
But there's no free lunch in sound, and I did lose a lot of the amazing soundstage quality the 281s have. Solution: move the speakers back forward a few inches so their front panels are now free (6 in) from other surfaces. The result is hard to describe but there's more 'space' and realism in the sound, almost like before with the other placements. And the bass is pretty much the same. I can listen louder with less fatigue because of the more even tone. The sound is now 'bigger', 'smoother' and 'fuller' and keeps up well with the rest of the music.
Conclusion: In my room, listening position is more important than speaker position for bass response. It's important to have at least ~6 inches clearance from the front speaker panels to get a passable soundstage. Changing the distance of speakers and listening position from walls is the easiest way to adjust bass response. I wish I had a subwoofer :). And I'm glad I did all this because music just sounds better and better.

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

Senior HTF Member
Aug 5, 1999
Corpus Christi, TX
Real Name
Some great observations, Michael, and they reinforce what I’ve seen in my own room, namely that low frequencies seem to “chase” the boundaries. So I’m not surprised to see you say that bass increased when you moved your seat closer to the wall.

You noted the compromise of either great imaging or great bass – once you get a sub you will be able to have both!


Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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