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Small speakers + sub w/ room correction
googlebot
post Feb 16 2013, 19:06
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Hi guys,

to be honest, I do not associate audio enthusiasm with nitpicking about codec details anymore. The available options are mature and for anything else storage is cheap. I'm also not interested in Redbook vs. Vinyl vs. Hires discussions anymore.

I would be much more enthusiastic to discuss stuff that's nowadays still far from perfect: physical playback.

Even the best speakers might be a bad match for a specific room, we cannot discuss such in general manner. But what about integrated, microphone based room correction systems? I'm looking for an integrated package with preferably very small satellites and a sub. A digital filter should be parameterized by exact knowledge of all relevant speaker parameters and actual room measurements from a microphone. The system should be able to calculate a compromise for several listening positions.

What are my options? Any experiences?

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 16 2013, 23:13
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Just about every 5.1, 7.1 and 9.1 AVR has the feature you are interested in. They all run wonderfully in 2.0 or 2.1 systems. The best AVR-based version of this feature is probably the one called "Audyssey Multieq XT32" and is not available in Pioneer, Sony or Yamaha AVRs.

This post has been edited by db1989: Feb 16 2013, 23:25
Reason for edit: deleting pointless full quote
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mzil
post Feb 16 2013, 23:17
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When you say "integrated package" do you mean an HTIB (home theater in a box)? I would instead suggest separately buying small speakers, a sub, and an A/V receiver (regardless if you care about the "V") with a mic/calibration system such as Audyssey XT. Add a disc player if you need it.

This post has been edited by mzil: Feb 16 2013, 23:47
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googlebot
post Feb 16 2013, 23:51
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With integrated package I meant a system of tightly coupled DRC component and (active) speakers, where each individual driver and/or the crossovers would be parameterized by the DRC component.

Thanks for the Audyssey recommendation, Arnold. Why is it considered to be the best?

Can you recommend a good (regular, non-integrated) package, XT32 AVR + 2.1 speakers, <€3000?

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Gecko
post Feb 17 2013, 10:47
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In case you want standalone mic-based room correction have a look at this: http://www.dspeaker.com/

Not using any of their products myself but have heard good things about them. I'm currently entertaining the thought of buying the unit for subwoofers (the AM 8033).

Audyssey MultiEQ (sans XT32) does not perform satisfactory in my current listening situation. It makes bass boomy but kills the impact (if that makes any sense). Technically spoken it probably raises mid-bass but lowers deep-bass (perhaps because there's a room mode at ca. 44Hz), but I didn't investigate further. YMMV.

On a side note: the benefits to be had from proper speaker placement are substantial and should not be overlooked.
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honestguv
post Feb 17 2013, 14:55
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QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 16 2013, 19:06) *
I would be much more enthusiastic to discuss stuff that's nowadays still far from perfect: physical playback.

Even the best speakers might be a bad match for a specific room, we cannot discuss such in general manner. But what about integrated, microphone based room correction systems? I'm looking for an integrated package with preferably very small satellites and a sub. A digital filter should be parameterized by exact knowledge of all relevant speaker parameters and actual room measurements from a microphone. The system should be able to calculate a compromise for several listening positions.

What are my options? Any experiences?

Firstly, size matters with speakers. In order to hand over to a sub in the 60-80Hz range and playback cleanly at reference SPL never mind concert levels the midwoofer/woofer needs to be at least 5"-6" and preferably more. This is not a small satellite.

Below the 60-80 Hz range multiple subwoofers can be used to even out the room response around the listening location. One can often do fairly well with 2 but 4 is more common number. Computers can be used to work out the optimum location, phase and gain for each subwoofer. Frequency response modification of the subwoofers may also be included.

As a general sweeping statement: electronic correction can improve a room response but it cannot fix it. If you want a good low frequency response for most rooms you will have to use physical room treatment to remove energy from the problematic modes.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 18 2013, 13:42
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QUOTE (googlebot @ Feb 16 2013, 17:51) *
With integrated package I meant a system of tightly coupled DRC component and (active) speakers, where each individual driver and/or the crossovers would be parameterized by the DRC component.


I know of no such product.

QUOTE
Thanks for the Audyssey recommendation, Arnold. Why is it considered to be the best?


End results, features, customer acceptance.

QUOTE
Can you recommend a good (regular, non-integrated) package, XT32 AVR + 2.1 speakers, <3000?


Hmm Euros. I know what they are but I've never touched one. I don't know what pricing and availability is in your country. I live in the US where we have many of our own brands of excellent product especially speakers and generally competitive pricing.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 18 2013, 14:11
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QUOTE (honestguv @ Feb 17 2013, 08:55) *
I would be much more enthusiastic to discuss stuff that's nowadays still far from perfect: physical playback.

Even the best speakers might be a bad match for a specific room, we cannot discuss such in general manner.


If the loudspeaker has good extension, smooth response, reasonable directivity and low distortion then it can still be irritating in the wrong room if the on-axis response is incorrectly tipped or unbalanced. However equalization can mitigate that.

The unequalizable aspects of speaker performance are directivity and power bandwidth. IME controlled directivity which is rare in consumer speakers makes speakers more tolerant of dodgy rooms. There is an argument that would suggest that too much directivity is a bad thing, but it is just about physically impossible to achieve it over a wide band, practically speaking. It is clear that excessively quick changes in directivity as we go across the audio band is a bad thing.

QUOTE
But what about integrated, microphone based room correction systems?


Those are just about a dime a dozen these days. Even some fairly modest HTIBs have them, at least in limited forms. The most limited forms of them adjusts levels and delays, and beats the heck out of what many consumers would inflict on themselves. For more money you get either parametric eq or inverse fourier based amplitude and time versus frequency adjustments.

QUOTE
I'm looking for an integrated package with preferably very small satellites and a sub. A digital filter should be parameterized by exact knowledge of all relevant speaker parameters and actual room measurements from a microphone. The system should be able to calculate a compromise for several listening positions.


The vendors of microphone- based systems seem to be very happy with schemes that discover what the speakers are like with the microphone.

QUOTE
What are my options? Any experiences?


As far as experiences go, I have heard a lot of positive experiences from end-users that I know personally and also from others I see commenting on forums. The last time I bought an AVR I did not understand the market well and had an emergency need. I bought the last model of a low-end Yamaha AVR that had built-in graphic eq but did not have any automated features. Today the sequel model has automated system optimization (YPAO) as a standard feature.

QUOTE
Firstly, size matters with speakers. In order to hand over to a sub in the 60-80Hz range and playback cleanly at reference SPL never mind concert levels the midwoofer/woofer needs to be at least 5"-6" and preferably more. This is not a small satellite.


The laws of physics speak quite loudly and clearly about bass. It is all about pressurizing air at long wavelengths and that takes a diaphragm with a certain amount of swept displacement. I was at a party over the weekend and I am surprised that so many people don't seem to know what it takes to reproduce music at desirable levels of accuracy. It is really pretty clear - you need useful response down to 42 Hz to do a good job with most mainstream music. Make that 32 Hz for certain genres and exceptional pieces of music. 20 Hz if you want the gamut of sound effects reproduced well, and 10 Hz if you just want to do it all. Response extension is easy, but having enough dynamic range is where the rubber hits the road. The threshold of audibility at 20 Hz is about 75 dB and creating a clean 75 dB at 20 Hz in a reasonable size room (in the US the median listening room has about 300 square feet or about 2700 cubic feet) is non-trivial and of course you actually want to create signals that are at least 40 dB above the threshold. Basically, you are talking about something with a 12" driver and lot of (10-30 mm) Xmax (linear travel).

QUOTE
Below the 60-80 Hz range multiple subwoofers can be used to even out the room response around the listening location. One can often do fairly well with 2 but 4 is more common number.


2 or 3 seem to be more common, but for most audiophiles one is all they have. There are many incompetent subwoofers on the market.

QUOTE
Computers can be used to work out the optimum location, phase and gain for each subwoofer. Frequency response modification of the subwoofers may also be included.


I know of no AVRs that do any of that. They just hold their noses, measure, and try to do the best they can.

QUOTE
As a general sweeping statement: electronic correction can improve a room response but it cannot fix it. If you want a good low frequency response for most rooms you will have to use physical room treatment to remove energy from the problematic modes.


Agreed. It is impractical to absorb/damp sound below 100 Hz with the classic porous (e.g Fiber, foam) absorbers, but within their limitations they can do very useful things for overall SQ. Below 100 Hz it is more practical to use other means including large thin diaphragms supported by a reasonably thin constrained viscous layer.
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