Starting from scratch

In our quest for getting our systems dialed in I am aware that many of you will not be starting from scratch with an empty room as I will be describing. That’s fine, just follow along so you get the logic behind it.

One of my readers pointed out the potential danger in clearing the room first is that for many of us married types the mere act of removing the audio system, even for a moment, might give our better halves wrong headed ideas about reclaiming lost territory. So be careful!

In the interest of our mission to become more familiar with the setup process, let’s imagine we have our own dedicated room to play with and start our task. I am going to use the PS listening room as our example because this is the room that I have, on a number of occasions, cleared out and setup to great advantage.

In my listening room now sits a large pair of Magneplanar loudspeakers. Before that were the amazing Avalons, preceded by a set of Arnie Nudell prototypes and before that a pair of large Revels. In each setup case I left the loudspeakers in place out of practical concerns: they are heavy, I do setups alone and I value my lower back too much to move them. What I did do is removed the spikes and faced them straight on to the listening position without benefit of toe in.

To the rest of the room I removed everything else other than the electronics and most importantly I removed all the room treatment I use. With respect to the electronics I also disconnected all the cables except the power cords (which are plugged into a Power Plant anyway). So now mentally visualize what we have: a bare carpeted room with a pair of Maggies and the equipment to power and play them in an equipment rack. In my case I have the power amps behind the Maggies and the equipment rack near where I sit – how you choose to set this part up in your home isn’t really important to our discussion on setup – so do what’s convenient.

With our bare room ready it’s time to layout the fundamentals of our setup, starting with the loudspeakers. For roughing in the loudspeaker placement we’re going to use the rule of thirds which is a guideline for listener and loudspeaker setup popularized by Harry Pearson and a process I wrote about nearly one year ago today.

Tomorrow we get into the details of this process and learn a few things about live-end, dead-end rooms and what’s important.

Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.