Audio System Setup

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November 26th Written by 

SCALE

The proper scale of the music soundstage is an important part of creating a realistic sense of "being there". Looking up at a large beautiful high def image on the video screen begins to seem unnatural after a while if you are listening down to a knee high musical soundstage. 

Match the scale of the soundstage to the visual image!  Tall LineSource speakers will produce the full height perspective of the original event.

ACOUSTIC ADVANTAGES OF FRONT PROJECTORS

Their time has come. Front projectors are making huge strides in their image quality and along with LED, LCD and plasma TVs, have removed the big box (rear projection or CRT) sticking out from between the speakers.

This development is important to music lovers because a ceiling mounted projector and front screen get rid of that huge mass of vibrating panels and reflective surfaces between the speakers which is a rear projector or CRT TV. In other words, getting rid of the big box in favour of a wall mounted screen will distinctly improve soundstage depth and focus to the benefit of both music and home theater sound.   This also means the big cabinet housing a TV should go as well.

TUNING FOR MUSIC

If you are tuning your system for music, get the main speakers as far out ahead of the plane of the scrren as possible to reduce reflections. If you are listening to music with no video, you can experiment with ways to try and neutralize the degrading effects of the screen. Moving the speakers out, or draping a comforter over the TV should improve things.  

Remember, you are not trying to reproduce the sound of a movie theatre in your home because the sound in a movie theatre is vastly inferior to most good high end home systems. Going to a movie may be more fun as an event but technically, the home systems are pulling away from the large theaters.

ROOM PLACEMENT

R630v3, R645v3 (Full Range) Designed to be placed some distance out from the back wall (3’ to 6’) and the side walls (2’ to 4’). All of these distances are relative to the hardness or softness of the room. More air for hard rooms, less for soft. The ample bass output of the R645s allows them to be located far from the walls for maximum depth of stage. The listening position should be between 1 and 1.5 times from the speakers to the distance between the speakers. 

LineSource Monitor 

Exactly the same placement as for the R630s except these will be setup for soundstage only. The bass will come from sub-woofers which will be set up separately. This is the ultimate in flexibility. In small rooms, the LSM may well have enough bottom end for most music applications especially when placed near a wall in corners. 

LineSource Reference 

Our new Coaxial Ribbon LineSource designs come in at higher price levels than we have occupied before but they offer significant improvements in both fidelity and practicality over most loudspeakers, regardless of price- conventional or planar - in most listening rooms. They are just as electronics friendly as our other speakers and thus, for $15,000 total system cost, it is possible to attain ultra system performance. These absolutely must be 2+ feet out from the front wall to avoid a cavity effect - trapping side radiation against the front wall. 

Being modular and totally scalable, ceiling height is the only limitation. If you have a big room with a tall ceiling, these will likely light it up better for you than any loudspeaker system on the planet. 

SUBS 

The subs should provide solid bass to less than 20Hz in room. The key elements in integrating a sub seamlessly are picking the location with the fewest room modes (i.e. smoothest and deepest response at the listening seat) and crossing over low enough (40-60Hz) to avoid muddy mid-bass and localization of the sub. A sophisticated electronic/digital crossover is very valuable in this area either in your processor or in the subwoofer itself. Or, externally in the case of the Behringer DXC2496 or DEQX systems. Experiment with reversing the phase in every different location. This will help eliminate ‘fat mid-bass’ and maintain the speed of the system.   Another very easy and first class solution?  ROOM CORRECTION!  Multiple subs spread around the room will produce smaller room modes, be naturally smoother and make far less work for the room correction system and the amps.

PLACEMENT - THINGS TO AVOID 

Avoid placing the listener’s head close to a hard rear wall. Reflection from the wall will play havoc with both imaging and bass response. If the listening position must have a wall right behind it, cover the wall with Sonex, a heavy curtain or a tapestry laid over fiberglass or foam acoustic insulation etc. Whatever the method, the listeners ears must not be subject to a strong, direct rear reflection. Don’t place one speaker beside a reflective wall and one with open space to the side. Try to make the acoustic floor plan acoustically symmetrical for both right and left sides. If there is open space on one side try to simulate space on the other with absorbent material on the wall, plants etc. Avoid putting large objects in between the speakers. If a large TV or equipment rack (especially with glass doors is placed between the speakers, try to have the object recessed as far as possible. If the object is close to the same depth plane as the speakers, both horizontal and depth elements of the soundstage will fall short of the speakers potential. 

Don’t make assumptions or expect the speakers to work well just because they are setup roughly the same way they were in a friend’s sound room or the dealers demo room.  Your room is unique. It has different dimensions, furnishings and its boundary walls are made of different materials. 

Once you understand the trade-offs, the key to success is experimentation. Try various positions and listen for the differences on different pieces of music. Even a change of two inches one way or the other can result in dramatic improvements at the listening position. But be careful when moving the speakers, they are tall and heavy! Don’t install the spikes until the best position is found. If you run into problems, call Newform for ideas. With the vast majority of rooms, a 90% setup can be achieved very quickly with the final 10% coming with small tweaks over the break-in period. 

Once you have optimized placement, it will be possible to forget about the loudspeakers and enjoy the music to its fullest. 

Happy Listening! 

See also: The Right Loudspeaker.

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Published in Buying Guide