Detailed Speaker Setup and Optimization

Al M.

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SInce we are discussing speaker feet ... Some speaker manufacturers pay attention to this but most don't. The spikes or feet are an afterthought. Goebel does a good job as does Stenheim. The only issue I have is that for people on carpet they need to provide a spike that is sharp enough and long enough to actually penetrate the carpet+pad and get down to the substrate. "Floating" the speaker on the carpet is bad.

You can also put the speakers on concrete tiles resting on the carpet, with the spikes resting on flat metal discs on top of the concrete.

If your substrate underneath the carpet is wood floor, you don't want the sharp spikes to penetrate that.
 
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adyc

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Hey bud! I'll get there. The current room is on carpet over a joist suspended floor, the spikes are dulled at the points, so this is as close as I can get right now.

The new room will be on a concrete slab and the spikes will be ultra sharp (sharp enough to prick and draw blood easily) and also on pucks. No carpet. Should make it much easier to get tighter tolerances. Here's what I use to dial everything in;

View attachment 117306

It took me about 6 hours of getting the speakers exactly where they need to be, adjust toe in for a perfect blend of tonal balance, a wide sound stage width - without losing the phantom center image(s). I'll keep checking every three or so hours to see if anything has shifted (especially after giving the rig a good workout with demanding loads) but after all that work? It was SO worth it to the end result as to what hits my ears now.

That Digi-Pas really helps out with 6 and a half foot tall speakers. No more up and down, up and down. Just set the unit on top of the speaker, set my phone down on the floor and dial in. Then check all of the other parameters to make sure they are still within tolerance. One adjustment can knock out one or more parameters, so this has to be done again and again until all of the parameters are correct.

But when you are done? Bliss. Pure, unadulterated musical bliss.

Tom
Thanks very much for your list of tools. Digipas is exactly the tool I am looking for!
 
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adyc

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IMO, the digipas level that is accurate to 3 decimal places is a must for accurate speaker setup. It is a pricey little bugger.

I like the idea of outriggers and spikes. If you make custom spikes drill a few holes around the perimeter or one through hole about 1/16" . Then you can get a 3 - 4" steel rod that can be used for easy and precise turning of the threads. Also, since you are doing custom get fine thread. This gives a lot more control than say M8X1.5.

SInce we are discussing speaker feet ... Some speaker manufacturers pay attention to this but most don't. The spikes or feet are an afterthought. Goebel does a good job as does Stenheim. The only issue I have is that for people on carpet they need to provide a spike that is sharp enough and long enough to actually penetrate the carpet+pad and get down to the substrate. "Floating" the speaker on the carpet is bad.
Hi Todd, can I ask which model of Digipas do you get?
 

sbnx

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The 1500 XY. It measures to 3 decimal places. Bluetooth to you phone. It does not do vertical. Once the angle exceeds 2 degrees it is out of bounds. I suggest an external usb battery pack as it eats triple A batteries.

IMG_3002.jpeg
 

microstrip

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The 1500 XY. It measures to 3 decimal places. Bluetooth to you phone. It does not do vertical. Once the angle exceeds 2 degrees it is out of bounds. I suggest an external usb battery pack as it eats triple A batteries.

View attachment 117309

Surely, it is an impressive instrument, but a .001 degree angle error means around 50 micron error in height at 3m. Can you explain us why we need a device costing $600 to align our speakers?
 
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Another Johnson

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Surely, it is an impressive instrument, but a .001 degree angle error means around 50 micron error in height at 3m. Can you explain us why we need a device costing $600 to align our speakers?
We don’t. I seriously think this thread has quite a bit of “tongue in cheek.” Who listens with their head in a 3D clamp? If you don’t, these kinds of set up tolerances are totally wasted.
 

adyc

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Surely, it is an impressive instrument, but a .001 degree angle error means around 50 micron error in height at 3m. Can you explain us why we need a device costing $600 to align our speakers?
I just check Amazon. It only costs USD 400. For this amount, I don’t think it is excessive. Second, all the other cheap digital spirit levels accuracy are highly doubted. At worst, they give wrong readings. I have an Ortofon air bubble level. It is never repeatable in the sense that if I shake the level, it will never gives the same readings on the same place.
 
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sbnx

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I can understand skepticism here. This is partially why I opened this thread. I am being completly serious about the level of precision in setup that the human ear is capable of perceiving. I can hear 0.001 degrees difference in rake and certainly can hear it in azimuth. I don't have magic ears. You can hear it too. It is worth mentioning that if you just take a speaker and plunk it down and take 1 minute to get it roughly level such that it doesn't wobble then change the rake or azimuth by 0.001 or even 0.01 degrees you will likely not notice a change. It is when you get the speaker in a position that it is working with the room and it is getting time aligned that these differences of 0.001 degrees show up.

The interesting thing is that you don't have to have your head in a vice. As the speaker(s) become more and more coherent with the room, theirself and their mate the sound becomes quite open and free. you can sit many places and the music is great.

As scientist/engineer I used to think about audio in a scientific way. Things like: power cords can't possibly matter. Footers are just crazy talk. Speakers can be positioned by REW measurements. I no longer think this way. I use my ears as the instrument to tell me if something is correct or not. I don't know why our ears are sensitive to this level of precision. They just are.

@sbo6 asked if anyone had taken measurements during such fine positional changes. I have done some of this. REW will not get me there. At best it is a coarse tool to point me in a direction. Why? I think that REW measurements are really focused on giving us frequency domain information. The sweep is pretty long and the time window is also very open. Of course we do this because we want to capture everything the room has to say. However, our ears are picking up informaition in the low single digit microseconds. Our brain seems to be processing in the time domain. REW doen't have the ability to measure changes that are on this order of magnitude. It thinks in miliseconds.
 

adyc

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I can understand skepticism here. This is partially why I opened this thread. I am being completly serious about the level of precision in setup that the human ear is capable of perceiving. I can hear 0.001 degrees difference in rake and certainly can hear it in azimuth. I don't have magic ears. You can hear it too. It is worth mentioning that if you just take a speaker and plunk it down and take 1 minute to get it roughly level such that it doesn't wobble then change the rake or azimuth by 0.001 or even 0.01 degrees you will likely not notice a change. It is when you get the speaker in a position that it is working with the room and it is getting time aligned that these differences of 0.001 degrees show up.

The interesting thing is that you don't have to have your head in a vice. As the speaker(s) become more and more coherent with the room, theirself and their mate the sound becomes quite open and free. you can sit many places and the music is great.

As scientist/engineer I used to think about audio in a scientific way. Things like: power cords can't possibly matter. Footers are just crazy talk. Speakers can be positioned by REW measurements. I no longer think this way. I use my ears as the instrument to tell me if something is correct or not. I don't know why our ears are sensitive to this level of precision. They just are.

@sbo6 asked if anyone had taken measurements during such fine positional changes. I have done some of this. REW will not get me there. At best it is a coarse tool to point me in a direction. Why? I think that REW measurements are really focused on giving us frequency domain information. The sweep is pretty long and the time window is also very open. Of course we do this because we want to capture everything the room has to say. However, our ears are picking up informaition in the low single digit microseconds. Our brain seems to be processing in the time domain. REW doen't have the ability to measure changes that are on this order of magnitude. It thinks in miliseconds.
I agree. On the other day, I use a deck of cards (assumption is my flooring is level which is quite reasonable as I use a small polished steel ball to check the flooring) to level the speaker as I found all the levels I have are not satisfactory. It improves the sound by quite a bit just by levelling although my speaker is not in optimum position. Thanks to treitz3, I am going to get Digi-Pas.
 
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Another Johnson

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This is going to be another of those WBF Cage Match threads. I’m not going to get into the cage.

But I will point out that if there is a nearly zero tolerance location in a room where speakers fill the room perfectly with open sound, that location is going to be dependent on the wavelengths present in the sound waves. And the wavelengths are dependent on the speed of sound. And the speed of sound is dependent on the gas composition of the air, the absolute temperature of the air, the presence or absence of water vapor in the air, and the pressure of the air. If we assume dry air and an ideal gas model, we get the classic formula for speed of sound that is primarily temperature dependent. Because the speed of sound actually deviates from that predicted by this model due to the fuzzy validity of the assumptions, the wavelengths vary too.
Then when you also note that room dimensions and geometry vary with the seasonal temperature and humidity variations, what’s perfect this month may be off next month (or even tomorrow).

At this level it is no longer about enjoying a wide range of musical performances in your home. It is about obsessing over microns, chasing after the perfect presentation of a limited catalog.

With that said, I agree that if set up is good, you can often tell from the entry to the room.

And there is value in using a limited catalog for set up. Familiarity saves time.

Wilson’s WASP is based on the idea that there are room locations that are inherently better than others, and I agree.

My listening chairs are Stickley Mission recliners. My set up provides good sound at any reclined position … but the true sweet spot is in the fully reclined position. You can hear yourself drop into it.

As for the highest precision, properly calibrated machinist’s level, it has its place in the machining of Turntable rotational components. Floor and speaker leveling can be handled with a first quality bubble level.

YMMV, no doubt. I will watch the rest of this match from outside the cage.
 

sbo6

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@sbo6 asked if anyone had taken measurements during such fine positional changes. I have done some of this. REW will not get me there. At best it is a coarse tool to point me in a direction. Why? I think that REW measurements are really focused on giving us frequency domain information. The sweep is pretty long and the time window is also very open. Of course we do this because we want to capture everything the room has to say. However, our ears are picking up informaition in the low single digit microseconds. Our brain seems to be processing in the time domain. REW doen't have the ability to measure changes that are on this order of magnitude. It thinks in miliseconds.
Primarily what I wanted to tease out, thanks.
 

treitz3

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Surely, it is an impressive instrument, but a .001 degree angle error means around 50 micron error in height at 3m. Can you explain us why we need a device costing $600 to align our speakers?
Please allow me to explain. No one "needs" any of the set up tools. To me, this is akin to "needing" a certain fuse, power cord or cable for anyone to get good sound. A simple tape measure would suffice. I personally found myself thinking that, if I spend untold gobs of my hard earned money on cables, fuses and other gear in my rig, then why not spend a fraction of that (in the grand scheme of things) on some tools that will assist greatly in the proper setup of the speakers and listening position?

Yes, a tape measure would work. No issues there, except I could not get what I have now (in terms of the end result as to what hits your ears) with just a tape measure. Every one of the tools I use serves a purpose.

One thing that I have re-discovered after getting all of these setup tools in, is that one cannot rely on walls for proper measurements. They are not straight. No home I have been in has perfectly straight walls/corners. If a wall, let's say that the wall the speakers back up to, varies by a half an inch from one corner to the other and you measure the distance off of that wall? Your sound is skewed by that same 1/2". That is a huge timing issue and will greatly affect the timing/sound.

These tools allow me to completely eliminate the walls from the equation/setup. Setting up the listening position and speakers in relation to said listening position becomes exacting (where walls are not).

sbnx said:
As the speaker(s) become more and more coherent with the room, theirself and their mate the sound becomes quite open and free. you can sit many places and the music is great.


Exactly. Being in a vice is not my idea of fun. The thing I like most about spending the time to do this is that I spend much less time evaluating what could be improved and more time simply enjoying the music. Really enjoying the music.

Tom
 
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knotscott

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I can understand skepticism here. This is partially why I opened this thread. I am being completly serious about the level of precision in setup that the human ear is capable of perceiving. I can hear 0.001 degrees difference in rake and certainly can hear it in azimuth. I don't have magic ears. You can hear it too. It is worth mentioning that if you just take a speaker and plunk it down and take 1 minute to get it roughly level such that it doesn't wobble then change the rake or azimuth by 0.001 or even 0.01 degrees you will likely not notice a change. It is when you get the speaker in a position that it is working with the room and it is getting time aligned that these differences of 0.001 degrees show up.

The interesting thing is that you don't have to have your head in a vice. As the speaker(s) become more and more coherent with the room, theirself and their mate the sound becomes quite open and free. you can sit many places and the music is great.

As scientist/engineer I used to think about audio in a scientific way. Things like: power cords can't possibly matter. Footers are just crazy talk. Speakers can be positioned by REW measurements. I no longer think this way. I use my ears as the instrument to tell me if something is correct or not. I don't know why our ears are sensitive to this level of precision. They just are.

@sbo6 asked if anyone had taken measurements during such fine positional changes. I have done some of this. REW will not get me there. At best it is a coarse tool to point me in a direction. Why? I think that REW measurements are really focused on giving us frequency domain information. The sweep is pretty long and the time window is also very open. Of course we do this because we want to capture everything the room has to say. However, our ears are picking up informaition in the low single digit microseconds. Our brain seems to be processing in the time domain. REW doen't have the ability to measure changes that are on this order of magnitude. It thinks in miliseconds.

The ear is incredibly sensitive, and since it's the method by which we actually ingest music into our brains, should always be major consideration in our audio choices. Listening is a skill that can be honed. Measured data is easier for a lot of people to comprehend and rely on, but it sure doesn't appear to be as sensitive as listening to me. I strongly suspect that a lot of people simply don't give listening enough time, or enough of a chance to recognize and trust what they're hearing.
 

Ron Resnick

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One thing that I have re-discovered after getting all of these setup tools in, is that one cannot rely on walls for proper measurements. They are not straight. No home I have been in has perfectly straight walls/corners. If a wall, let's say that the wall the speakers back up to, varies by a half an inch from one corner to the other and you measure the distance off of that wall? Your sound is skewed by that same 1/2".
+1
 

microstrip

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I can understand skepticism here. This is partially why I opened this thread. I am being completly serious about the level of precision in setup that the human ear is capable of perceiving. I can hear 0.001 degrees difference in rake and certainly can hear it in azimuth. I don't have magic ears. You can hear it too. It is worth mentioning that if you just take a speaker and plunk it down and take 1 minute to get it roughly level such that it doesn't wobble then change the rake or azimuth by 0.001 or even 0.01 degrees you will likely not notice a change. It is when you get the speaker in a position that it is working with the room and it is getting time aligned that these differences of 0.001 degrees show up.

Nice to read your opinion on the subject. Congratulations on your earing sensitivity, it is almost two orders of magnitude higher than the top claim I have ever read.

The interesting thing is that you don't have to have your head in a vice. As the speaker(s) become more and more coherent with the room, theirself and their mate the sound becomes quite open and free. you can sit many places and the music is great.

Surely - the poor argument of the head in a vice does not apply. I only adds noise to our subject.

As scientist/engineer I used to think about audio in a scientific way.

Well we share the same background and it helped me to understand this hobby, particularly the high-end extreme preferences. A good knowledge of science and some psycho acoustics helps us to understand why science is not able to explain everything in our hobby. I must say I still think about audio in rational way.

Things like: power cords can't possibly matter. Footers are just crazy talk. Speakers can be positioned by REW measurements. I no longer think this way. I use my ears as the instrument to tell me if something is correct or not. I don't know why our ears are sensitive to this level of precision. They just are.

Although "they just are" is enough for our forum talk, you are not using your ears as proper instruments - at best you are using them as tools adequate to your purposes. Question of semantics, but there are requirements for a device before it is considered an instrument.

@sbo6 asked if anyone had taken measurements during such fine positional changes. I have done some of this. REW will not get me there. At best it is a coarse tool to point me in a direction. Why? I think that REW measurements are really focused on giving us frequency domain information. The sweep is pretty long and the time window is also very open. Of course we do this because we want to capture everything the room has to say. However, our ears are picking up informaition in the low single digit microseconds. Our brain seems to be processing in the time domain. REW doen't have the ability to measure changes that are on this order of magnitude. It thinks in miliseconds.

Surely. Why are you focusing on REW for a task everyone knows that it is not its capability or objective? No one with minimum knowledge will carry fine tuning of speakers using just REW.
 

microstrip

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Please allow me to explain. No one "needs" any of the set up tools. To me, this is akin to "needing" a certain fuse, power cord or cable for anyone to get good sound. A simple tape measure would suffice. I personally found myself thinking that, if I spend untold gobs of my hard earned money on cables, fuses and other gear in my rig, then why not spend a fraction of that (in the grand scheme of things) on some tools that will assist greatly in the proper setup of the speakers and listening position?

Well, we enter playing with the semantics of needs, something that skews the discussion. I am addressing just tools, you mix physical tweaks. My main subject was the need for such accurate measurement, not for an audio component. And surely the expense ...

Yes, a tape measure would work. No issues there, except I could not get what I have now (in terms of the end result as to what hits your ears) with just a tape measure. Every one of the tools I use serves a purpose.

Probably tape would not work for me, mainly for convenience. I use Bosch lasers and measuring instruments for such purposes because I own them for other activities, not for their extreme precision and accuracy. But if buying just for audio I would use cheaper instruments.

One thing that I have re-discovered after getting all of these setup tools in, is that one cannot rely on walls for proper measurements. They are not straight. No home I have been in has perfectly straight walls/corners. If a wall, let's say that the wall the speakers back up to, varies by a half an inch from one corner to the other and you measure the distance off of that wall? Your sound is skewed by that same 1/2". That is a huge timing issue and will greatly affect the timing/sound.

Now you are talking about 1/2" inch, not 50 micron. (2x.001 inch) - the same order of magnitude accuracy I typically aim in my setup.
 

Salectric

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....one cannot rely on walls for proper measurements. They are not straight. No home I have been in has perfectly straight walls/corners. If a wall, let's say that the wall the speakers back up to, varies by a half an inch from one corner to the other and you measure the distance off of that wall? Your sound is skewed by that same 1/2". That is a huge timing issue and will greatly affect the timing/sound.
That is certainly borne out by my experience. In my previous house, I thought I was optimizing the speaker positioning by using a tape measure to determine the distance to side walls and the wall behind the speakers. However, after reading Jim Smith's book I ordered the digital tape measure he recommended and, lo and behold, my room was not an exact rectangle. By using the wall behind my speakers as the reference, I was actually making one speaker a little over 1" further away from the listening chair than the other. This was not insignificant. For years I had been bothered by the left channel being slightly more prominent than the right. It turned out this was entirely due to the speaker locations. Once I pulled the right speaker further from the wall so that each one was exactly the same distance from the listening chair, everything popped into focus and remained so. From then on, whenever I move the speakers I always use the digital tool to confirm the speakers are the same distance from my ears.

Here's an interesting side note. A few years ago, when Vu Hoang delivered my new DejaVu speakers, he spent a few minutes adjusting the level controls and moving the speakers around. After he left I made some measurements of the speaker locations using my digital tape measure, and he had the speakers set up so they were exactly the same distance from my listening chair, yet he did all of the positioning by ear. No measurements whatsoever! So it is possible to optimize speaker positioning entirely by ear, but I would certainly not count on it.
 
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sbo6

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Surely. Why are you focusing on REW for a task everyone knows that it is not its capability or objective? No one with minimum knowledge will carry fine tuning of speakers using just REW.
Can you please add a bit more color? Is REW not purposed to measure sound with varying graphics to display the results?

My initial question and unwritten point was - there are those (many) that believe you can measure everything that we can hear (and more). I'm not in this camp. More specifically, we can't yet graphically interpret what our ear / brain hear. This is why measuring (and knowing what to do based on measurement results) gets you ~90% optimized with the last ~10% tuning by ear IMO.
 

microstrip

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Can you please add a bit more color? Is REW not purposed to measure sound with varying graphics to display the results?

As written, I was addressing the thread main subject the "ultimate fine tuning of speaker portioning" . I always use REW to get the feeling of the room and initial positioning of seat and speakers, but not for final set up.

BTW, some speaker manufacturers have much more advanced measuring tools than REW, even custom made.

My initial question and unwritten point was - there are those (many) that believe you can measure everything that we can hear (and more). I'm not in this camp. More specifically, we can't yet graphically interpret what our ear / brain hear. This is why measuring (and knowing what to do based on measurement results) gets you ~90% optimized with the last ~10% tuning by ear IMO.

My belief is that we can probably physically measure all we hear, but we can't afford time and resources to carry it for audiophile use. The problem is not the wave or the measurement, but the audiophile individual diversity, that makes correlation an almost impossible job.
 

Elliot G.

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Thanks, Elliot. I am always open to suggestions. When you say better results, what would the changes be in your experience?

I was thinking that I would get a set of outriggers that could handle the weight of the speakers (250 pounds each) and that would also give them a wider footprint, then adding custom Stainless Steel spikes to them. At least that's the plan...

Tom
We use a footer system on all of our speakers. The speaker is on a foot that is adjustable and uses ceramic ball bearings .This is similiar to what is used by some other manufacturers that use similar isolation devices.
Sonically I think especially on a solid floor ( non carpeted) that this is a huge advantage and provides significantly better bass response and a fuller richer sound . I am not a reviewer nor do I want to use that "speak" but they made my system richer and fuller and more involving without removing information. I also am very enamored with the EVP devices that Norm varney makes custom for speakers ( sound planks) I made a set for my Noblesse and Marquis and neverplay them without them anymore. . I put the speakers with footers on the planks so I can use them for adjustment .
I understand the carpet issues and why one uses spikes I just don't care for the result , for your own try something else. There are so many that its hard to keep track but I'm a big fan of footers,we have ours but there are many companies that make interesting products .
 
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