Speaker placement frustration

It’s been over a month since I moved to a new place, and it turned out to be a more difficult room more than I thought. Since the first week I’ve been trying to find the right positions for speakers and my listening position, I’m about to give up.
I plan to continue adding room treatment to the room but I actually lost any belief in what it will do so I wanted to pause and seek insights from others who might have conquered this in the past or know how to.
First issue is there’s almost no bass in most positions.

  • When I place them almost near the windows, I get bass but because I sit too far by the back wall. But then I get less details and imaging is blurry.
  • When I bring them too close, then I get some bass but they want to be super far apart for a balanced image, then the center image shifts to the side.
  • When I bring my listening position close to them, then bass is gone again since I sit towards the middle of the room.
    Second issue is imaging:
  • Center image tilted to the right in almost all positions. This is related closely to Dynaudio Confidence series design, it was fussy to set up in my previous apartment too. I had another look at leading publications’ reviews on 30, 50, and 60, they all had issues with the setup.

I also have a suspicion that Dynaudio’s architecture being bottom ported (firing to sides), midbass driver being on top and bass driver positioned high off the floor, maybe this design is not liking my room.

Despite my great experiences in Dynaudio product range(S40, then Heritage Special, then Confidence 20, and now 30) and my affection for the brand, I started thinking maybe it’s time to try another speaker. I have 2 models in mind but I didn’t have the chance to listen to them.

  • Vimberg Mino: Rear ported , bass drivers start from a lower height. Not many reviews out there but 3 things stand out for me from what I read: time alignment, easy setup, and the Accuton drivers. Downside is it’s very hard to find in US.
  • Focal Scala Utopia Evo: I’m still trying to get a better understanding and will need to hear in person. There are very happy owners out there and then there’s some speculation and commentary about beryllium tweeters, so hard to get a clear idea from reviews. But I added it to my shortlist. I like the idea of changing up to a bit livelier sound than the Dynaudio sound. Maybe the front firing port combined with the wide imaging will have a better interaction with the room.

Looking forward to inputs for room issues and thoughts on new speaker candidates.

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Try getting a copy of REW and use the room simulation dialogue to find candidate positions where the speakers and listening position will work well together.

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I had similar concerns when I moved a couple of years ago. My ATC SCM40s sound just as good in my new room. Took a bit of moving them about to get them at their best but well worth it. From the pic I would think having a 300 series system you would find SCM50s would likely work for you.

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Thanks for the recommendation, I tried a couple of iOS based apps but couldn’t get much out of the effort. Looks like REW is pretty comprehensive, I’ll take a look.

Thanks Paul, they do look great and I remember looking at their photos based on how popular they are with Naim gear. Are they easy on setup? What would you say about their sound?

Being manufactured by a company that was initially focused on the pro audio market they can be neutral and analytical and show up faults in a system. However, with a Naim system, I think they come to life, well they do in my system, I think the strengths of Naim and ATC complement each other well and you get a synergy that means for the money, well to my ears they are pretty much unbeatable. The dome mid-range unit is considered to be one of the best mid-range speakers made. Get them positioned perfectly for your room and they give a good image. Hopefully, you will have a dealer near where you could give them a listen. Having listened to the 50s with a 300 system I would to upgrade to them if I could afford to replace most of my system.

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If you haven’t already, I suggest reading this thread and looking at tge various approaches linked.

Regardless, REW with a measuring microphone is certainly an invaluable tool - I used it myself to find the best solution in my current room, which posed major problems when I first set up. (rEW is free software that can run on virtually any computer, and whilst a measuring microphone is necessary, the one they recommend is relatively inexpensive - around £120 last time I looked, availably at maybe 2/3rds of that secondhand, and easily moved on if you feel you have no further use for it.

Did the system work in your old room?

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@ChrisBell has lots of windows but good lord his Proac K6 Signatures IMHO sound amazing if you are looking for new speakers. The port fires downwards on them which should help with placement. Plenty of bass!!!

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I would consider adding a pair of stereo subs. REL gel very nicely with Dynaudio speakers. I have a pair of Confidence C2 Platinum and use them with a pair of REL S/510. It’s a heavenly match, IMO. You might even need S/812 or Carbon Special for that room.

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Setting up speakers can be really tricky and needs time. But you also have good preconditions for finding a solution. For example, you have flexibility for speaker positioning to the rear and side walls and therefore many options. What are your approximate room dimensions? In the Confidence manual, Dynaudio recommends a distance of 2 metres between the speakers and a little more (i.e. approx. 2.5 metres) to the listening position. I assume this is not new to you. The listening position should be at a distance from the rear wall (in my case 1/3 of the room length). I then moved the speakers as close as possible to the listening position and then moved them back towards the rear wall in 10 cm steps until the bass response was right. Then I gradually adjusted the distance between the speakers and the side walls and finally angled the speakers inwards (in my case only minimally). In the end, the result was a near-field setup with a very good balance (distance of approx. 1.70 metres between the Tweeters and 1.75 metres between each Tweeter and my listening position. However, I have a completely different setup (room size 17 square metres, compact loudspeakers). With Confidence 30, the distances are certainly greater. When it comes to room acoustics, you can also send your problem to GIK Akustics with the room dimensions or a floor plan. They are helpful and have also given me recommendations for adapting the room acoustics (free of charge). As far as I can see, you also have large window areas which are difficult.
Otherwise, there are numerous instructions on Youtube (better and more superficial ones). I found the video “Hifi Myths & Misconceptions - Speaker Setup” (A british audiophile) very interesting and helpful. I hope this helps you. Changing the speakers is expensive and would only be the last option for me

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Thank you for the insight. I’ll look for dealers in Southern California area to see if I can hear them in person.

Thank you, I think you have a great set up. It’s interesting you brought it up because that’s what my dealer suggested since I can’t do a meaningful treatment on 24 ft of windows. I was against subs because I thought I could have kept the C20s , I went to 30’s since I like the integration. But it might really be one of the good viable options for me. Also another point of hesitation is how do I connect 2 subs to NAP350 monoblocks.
Did you have a center image issue before the subs? Did the subs clean up the image and help with precision of spacing?

I connect both my subs at the terminals on my C2 speakers, not at the amp (which is 300DR).

As regards soundstage/image adding the subs is a game changer. People make the mistake that using subs is about more bass. It’s really about better bass, deeper bass and when that is dialed in correctly, it creates massive improvements to soundstage because the low frequency ambient cues recorded in the music are now reproduced so much better.

So to answer your question more directly, yes, the subs did indeed clean up image/space.

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before i read the whole thing i looked at the photo and thought…scala utopia would be really smart in that room! i went from a lifetime of using dynaudio to focal utopia, i currently have diablos but im looking at scala myself (you could say im biased)

Can you borrow a pair?

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Thank you for the excellent points, especially on the side walls. I did take that distance into consideration as well, since one side is kitchen area and I don’t want to bring the right speaker too close to it. My room is a rectangle essentially but one corner of it is a balcony, so it’s effectively an L shape room and more than half of it is windows. Room total size is about 520 sqft, living area is 450sqft.
As for research, this has nearly become a consistent part time job where i bought a speaker placement book, watched select videos starting with Dynaudio’s talk to an expert series :slight_smile: Also spoke to someone from another acoustic company that competes with GIK, he said it’s very difficult to suggest treatment with that many windows. That’s a good point though, maybe GIK team has a different approach.
Part of the challenge is I’m doing a long wall placement whereas the easier setups are the short wall setups, which I just don’t have the option for (bedroom and bathroom doors and traffic on the way).
I agree with the speaker replacement being the last resort, but I feel like I might be approaching that stage. My frustration is not knowing when I’m getting closer or moving away from the optimal combination during all this iteration, it feels like throwing darts in the dark. Maybe I need to take a class in acoustics :slight_smile:
I’ll check Arun’s video again, I think I may have watched that some years ago, he has a nice channel with insightful videos with thoughtful commentary.

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That’s a good point too, it’s crossing my mind as the new beginning to save me the headaches. I also think Scalas are really wide and deep compared to C30s, so just by adding bigger objects, I might help the ringing and the reflections. The risk there is it might introduce new issues or may not fix anything. Otherwise I’d have gone through it already if I were certain.
Yours is an interesting transition to me: what did you find different in Focals compared to Dyns? How is their pace and how do they handle freq ranges, i.e. highs, mids, and lows? Was the set up fussy or easy?

I agree, while I seek their help to recover lost bass, it wouldn’t be for adding more bass. I know they help across the frequency range, contributing to midrange and even highs in some rooms. I’d ideally set them up in a way that it would be hard to know they’re on, I think that’s how I heard it being described as the ideal set up. I think they’ll couple with scattering long waves of low frequencies and act as all is coming from the soundstage. Thanks for clarifying the imaging effect, I know your Dyns are not known for being fussy to set up but still good to know that subs make a huge difference.
What drove you to adding subs in the first place? To enhance the sound quality or to fix a room issue?

This is why i think its worth trying a pair, i think anyone looking at a speaker of that level and price…any focal/naim dealer would be really wanting to help you out.

I have not heard the latest confidence but in the past i have owned contour 1.4, confidence c1, contour 20i. when i ran the 20i the main difference in my system was a nap250dr instead of my current dr and i had 1 555 psu on my nds.

My first focal speaker was sopra 1, i bought these to replace my 20i simply for a bit of a change and the price was right, i was a bit nurvous but the sopras are so much better, a tiny bit bright on the top end but open and punchy.

when a pair of diablos came up, i traded the sopras and things changed a lot. way smoother on the top, very open, when a piano key is hit…it goes on forever. bass it nicer than the dynaudio (contour to be fair) and the midrange is better than anything i have experienced anywhere. i do have a 552 coming, once that is out the way i will be buying scala utopia, my thinking is they will give me what i have now but on a bigger scale

i do hope my ramblings are useful!haha i would 100% see if a dealer can install a pair for you to try, i wouldnt buy anything without listening in your room first

If you want bass, it’s not the Dynaudio Confidence series you should buy, not without supplementing it with a sub or two in any case. Thought it was common knowledge…