As you can imagine, every room and every system and situation are different. It is nearly impossible to give good all-purpose advice that’s specific to anyone’s stereo system and what we’re trying to do in this series of posts is give you some generalized understanding of how everything works and interacts so you can tweak your system to best advantage.
In the spirit of understanding I’ll share with you today what I do in my main system to give you an idea of this one setup and what results I am getting by taking these steps.
The main PS Listening room is about 22 feet long, 15 feet wide with a 10 foot ceiling – your basic rectangular room with a high ceiling. In the room I have a pair of Magneplanar 3.6 panels for the main speakers, two Martin Logan Descent subwoofers and an original pair of Magneplanar Tympani 1D bass panels for a bit of midbass fill. You can see in this picture the source equipment is to the side of the room so we can easily access it and the amplifiers are in the rear behind the Tympani bass panels. One long pair of XLR balanced interconnects tie the PerfectWave DAC to the power amplifier in the rear and behind the Tympani’s.
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You will also notice the forrest of white tubes that line the walls. These are DAAD’s (Diffusion Absorption Acoustic Devices) that our friends over at Avalon loudspeakers distribute. What you don’t see is that between the rear DAAD sets are also 4 RPG diffusors as well.
The DAAD’s are great – but very expensive – and the RPG’s much more affordable and, frankly, nearly as good. When we go to a show I usually bring only the RPG’s to place behind the loudspeakers.
I spent several weekends rearranging everything using the exact same guide I have presented to you in this series of posts to get this to sound right from both a tonal standpoint as well as imagining properly.
Perhaps the single biggest improvement I made was the careful placement of all these diffusors. Without this forrest of acoustic reflecting traps, or at least a few of the RPG’s in the room, the sound is not remarkable at all. Add them into the mix and then there’s magic where the music just floats, the tonal balance is nearly perfect and I can hear any subtle changes in cabling, amplification etc.
This is, after all, both a pleasure den as well as a working lab where we test all manner of changes to our equipment before it goes out for sale – so it is important that small changes in even the tiniest of areas be obvious to anyone listening. But more to the point of this guide, how does it sound? I think everyone that’s heard this system finds it to be a real jaw dropper. The music is effortless and completely divorced from the loudspeakers themselves. The soundstage goes back beyond the rear and side walls and instruments have a fulness and naturalness of timbre and tonal correctness that always puts a smile on one’s face. It’s a real treat to hear this system.
To set this up I always remove every piece of room treatment, as I mentioned in the first article in this series. I then first add the side traps you see in the picture – which is the first reflection points we discussed yesterday. I next go one by one attending to the rear wall and going through the tedious process I described before: how does it affect the single vocal? Better or worse? Get that right and placed well, then check with the more complex orchestral piece – paying particular attention to tonal balance of the instruments and the space around them. Then start adding more, less, whatever seems to get me closer to the ideal – but absolutely being rigorous and methodical in the process.
I think it is this methodical approach that, at the end of the day, gives any of us the best chance at getting it right. Take notes – either mentally or physically – and learn what moving this, changing that, adding this and deleting that do to your test pieces and over time you’ll know your system really well.
I hope you’ve found this series of value. If I can help you in any way let me know.
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Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.