Creating a Soundstage - speaker placement - a massive improvement for zero cost!

I am new to the Forum but not new to Naim having had Naim amps for 25 years.

Eighteen months ago I came across a YouTube video of a presentation at the RMAF14 (that’s the Rocky Mountain Audio Fair) by Bob Robbins of myspeakersetup dot com concerned with Rational Speaker Placement. As they say “it changed my life” and is the best upgrade to my Naim hi-fi systems I have ever made.

I have been disappointed at some top-end hi-fi events feeling their systems capable of sounding better. I explained what I had done in creating a Soundstage however at the next event they had made no change.

I was reminded of this when attending a recent Naim demo of the new streamers (and very nice they sounded) but again despite the high-cost equipment felt that the “sound” on my system was better. Of course I am not suggesting my old equipment is better but I am sure with a little time I could make theirs sound a lot better and at zero cost.

Follow the technique, forget symetrical and listen with your ears.

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The reality is that at a show, they are trying to get a good sound for a large number of people. At home most people build a listeners “sweet spot”. The two are not the same. The ideal listening spot at home may degrade more quickly as you move from it, but the show system has to have good sound over a much larger area.

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Never been to a show in the UK, but been to many CES shows in the USA as a manufacturer. Another factor is that the manufacturers are usually there to sell the dealers, not to the public. Most dealers care more about other things than the sound. The dealers know in the hi end its more about presentation than the hardware. This is another factor.

The CES show used to be in Chicago many years ago. I was told that they abandoned that location as there were not enough hookers to supply the show. It moved to Vegas–no problem.

Bailyhill

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Benjy - the events I referred to were dealer events in the UK where typically they had more time to refine these things. In my experience creating a soundstage removes the issue of the “sweet spot” and you can move around the room. This should be an advantage at a demonstration as not all the listeners can sit in the same seat.

Vegas, here I come. :joy::joy::joy::joy::joy::+1:

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Here is the playlist I have setup for speaker placement.

Most or all of these tracks are available on Qobuz.

  1. Channel-left-then-right-then-stereo-test - (Speaker-Channel-test)
    This is a track I created to check channel correctness - surprisingly I found many systems were wrong!

  2. Ballad of the Runaway Horse - (Album: Jennifer Warnes\Famous Blue Raincoat-20th anniversary edition).

  3. Tootie - (Album: Hootie & The Blowfish\The Hootie & The Blowfish Collection).
    (these are the two tracks suggested in the Bob Robbins video.)

  4. Best for Last - (Album: Adele\19).

  5. Nivram - (Album: The Shadows\The Final Tour 2004).

  6. She’s Gone - (Album: Daryl Hall and John Oates\Live in Dublin 2014).

  7. Sara Smile - (Album: Daryl Hall and John Oates\Live in Dublin 2014).

  8. Heads in Georgia - (Album: J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton\The Road to Escondido).

  9. Joan of Arc (Live in Antwerp, Belgium, 1992) - (Album: Jennifer Warnes\Famous Blue Raincoat-20th anniversary edition).

  10. Angel From Montgomery (Live at the Arie Crown Theater, Chicago, January 1985) - (Album: Bonnie Raitt\The Bonnie Raitt Collection).
    (the live tracks help you to check if the soundstage sounds like you are in the auditorium).

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I also enjoy known playlists when comparing… I add some choral, orchestral, piano and opera into mine as well.
Another good test are frequency sweeps, and fixed tones in the very low frequency and high… Tidal offers these test tracks, so I suspect they will be Qobuz as well… I find they are really good and spotting room resonances or speaker cable routing issues.

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Another good test track for soundstage width
My Compensation from Laurie Anderson’s “Life on a String” album.

So how are you adjusting ‘rake’? Front/rear spikes presumably?

Not sure I could survive that runaway horse track more than once.

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It it worth paying $50 for the book?

Phil

“So how are you adjusting ‘rake’? Front/rear spikes presumably?”

Alley_Cat - In my main music “room” which has a solid floor and the speakers are on stands which use rubber stops (a bit like doorstops) I added an extra stop to the front and can also the adjust the inner bolt.

In the other room I have the front spikes wound right up and the rear ones right down. Fortunately it seemed to work out just right. I did investigate getting some longer spikes.

Both sets of speakers have a considerable rake in my case (but this will vary depending upon room dimensions).

Filipe - I have not bought the book yet - but probably a good idea.

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Having wasted an hour of my life watching the video, I very much doubt it! Seriously, I set up my speakers in less than an hour without any of this pseudo scientific c**p. If anyone seriously believes that 5mm can make or break a system’s soundstage, they need medical treatment.

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He didn’t say much in the video.

Phil

I’d never considered the rake before, and suspect it may have some effect, though I probably do not have the patience to try it at the moment.

I assumed before listening given so many variables that there is no easily identifiable single perfect position for speakers but there may be several where sound becomes optimal, the rake sounds like very fine tuning once other parameters are set.

Thanks for posting.

Not so sure about that, but we should be able to get very good sound without the perfecting tweaks.

The reality I suspect is that most of us would find it simpler to drop a few grand on a black box than to deal with frustrations of trying to optimise what we already have - I think this just seems to be a methodical system of speaker placement that could work better than randomly moving things around.

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No!, Found that the “book” was just a few pages of notes.

If you want to spend $50 the Jim Smith “ Get Better Sound” would be greater value and comes with DVD set as well. Very detailed, interesting and useful practical information. It’s a real book!

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I had a go at this yesterday, to try and mitigate some of the bass boom that I get in the room I moved it into and that’s too small for PMC 20.26s.

Adjusting rake made a noticeable difference and that along with using the gate hinge method brought it all into a bit more focus and made the sweet spot more solid, in that it doesn’t move from the centre when I move. But it didn’t magically change it from very very good to stunning. Might have another go later in the week.

That runaway horse song soon grates.

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Some good advice given in the talk. Although I don’t take on his non symmetrical method. I prefer to get one speaker right and hinge the other one symmetrical. If that doesn’t sound good,I will get that one right and hinge them until they both sound good. This can take a good while of time.
Due to domestic goings on around the speakers, they occasionally get moved slightly. ( other half walking into them whilst on the phone, hoovering and dusting, opening and closing curtains etc) Having them super symmetrical I can visually tell when sitting in the hot seat that all is well. :star_struck:

I would further add the importance of making sure both are super 90 degree square on the sides going up from the floor and yes, super symmetrical with each other on the rake angle if using.
If you can find a long straight rod, put that so it rests on the top of both speakers and check that is super level. I know in my room the floor under the left speaker is just slightly lower than under the right and needed a slight turn on the footers I use.

Yes - it is needed to make their body completely rigid so as to fix their ears at precisely the optimum position three dimensionally to better than 5mm, after adjusting for rake. Also needs restraints fitted to the seat for the same reason. :upside_down_face:

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Something like this…?

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