Near-Field Listening: Acquired Taste or Proper Paradigm?

JonathanK

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Jan 22, 2013
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I found the problem, and you guys were pretty much on the right track. As I mentioned, the Yamaha amp is an AV amp that supports 7 channels. I was pretty sure that I had the speakers connected to the proper outputs, but as an experiment I connected them to "Zone 2" which is a simple stereo setup. Suddenly the entire sound stage was back. In other words, the circuitry that allows for surround sound was screwing things up -- undoubtedly due to pilot error.

Sorry to bother you with such a dumb mistake!

I'm still going to need to find an amp for the Stirlings and your comments were quite helpful. Perhaps rather than trying to get 100 watts out of the power stage of a tube amp I'll look into a hybrid amp or separate tube pre/SS power Amp setup.

Thanks again.
 

JonathanK

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Jan 22, 2013
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possible incorrect wire connection when using the SS amp causing an out of phase image?

That is indeed what the cause turned out to be. I've had that Yamaha just sitting around since my last post and decided to hook it back up . While running the Yamaha with the optimizer mic to see what adjustments it might make for my room characteristics it picked up that there was a polarity issue on the right channel. When I remedied the bad wire assignments the sound stage came right back! At least it wasn't my imagination!
 

Loheswaran

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Dec 19, 2014
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Those who have followed my comments for awhile may know that I'm a huge fan of near-field listening. Occasionally I've listened as far away as 80" from the plane of the speakers. Now, for some people, that would be "near field." Usually, however, I listen much closer than that.

Some folks smile or make fun of this preference for near-field listening, as if this is somehow "unenlightened" or something. Well, they are at least correct in that it does not work well with many speakers, especially those with a lot of drivers strung out vertically and/or horizontally across a baffle with a multi-way crossover. Most speakers, including these, are designed to be a quasi-point source (some are more quasi- than others!) in which inter-driver coherence is best only from eight to ten feet (or so) away or more.

By "inter-driver coherence" I mean whether or not you can hear out the individual driver positions when listening to the speakers--can you hear the individual drivers as individual sound sources or not. If you can hear individual drivers, you are sitting too close to allow the sound of the drivers of that speaker system to blend properly.

...

But if you're the type of person who likes to sit right down front at concerts, you are a prime candidate for appreciating this experience. And if you're seeking a level of aural and emotional involvement and immersion from your two-channel system you thought was not possible, you should try it. Just mark the chair and speaker positions you're using now. You can always go back to your "normal" set up.

Me, I'm not looking back. At least not until I look around for surround sound.


Due to the fact I have a small audio room, has meant I must listen in the nearfield. I have used this and also the cardas website for nearfield positioning - they mostly advocate a near front wall set up with loads of space behind.

I tried this approach and it resulted in a nasty dip at 97hz - its' the first image.

I then came across this article:

https://nsmt-loudspeakers.com/Nearfield-Placement

I tried to look up Leo Massi but sadly he is now deceased (i found out on an obituary page)


It advocates a mid room placement with ones head close to the wall.

I tried it and the results are superb - see the second image - yes a bit of a dip at 150hz.

I am minded to plug the ports (i have readings for that) but this was initial rudimentary tests andd I am pretty pleased so far.

I must say that I have ribbon tweeter speakers that are very smooth and high resolution (Roksan DArius S1's) the Ribbon really helps in minimising wall reflections - which I consider may well explain why Tensor speakers are becoming so popular in studios.

I now need to figure out what type of diffuser I need.
 

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defride

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Mar 28, 2013
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Due to the fact I have a small audio room, has meant I must listen in the nearfield. I have used this and also the cardas website for nearfield positioning - they mostly advocate a near front wall set up with loads of space behind.

I tried this approach and it resulted in a nasty dip at 97hz - its' the first image.

I then came across this article:

https://nsmt-loudspeakers.com/Nearfield-Placement

I tried to look up Leo Massi but sadly he is now deceased (i found out on an obituary page)


It advocates a mid room placement with ones head close to the wall.

I tried it and the results are superb - see the second image - yes a bit of a dip at 150hz.

I am minded to plug the ports (i have readings for that) but this was initial rudimentary tests andd I am pretty pleased so far.

I must say that I have ribbon tweeter speakers that are very smooth and high resolution (Roksan DArius S1's) the Ribbon really helps in minimising wall reflections - which I consider may well explain why Tensor speakers are becoming so popular in studios.

I now need to figure out what type of diffuser I need.

That's an interesting paper

I also have a small room and listen nearfield. The speakers tweeter is 4 & 3/4 ft from the front wall with the listening position 5 & 1/2 ft from the back wall in a 14 1/2 ft room. Distance to the tweeter is just over 6 ft with the tweeter 45 cm from the sidewall.

The balance changes as I move the listening position forward or back, a case of preference rather than right or wrong until against the back wall where bass becomes somewhat lumpy and less resolved. I ended up with this arrangement after much experimentation in the room, all tuned by ear rather than via measurement.

What I've never tried is anything as extreme as proposed here. I say extreme as I've never seen or heard of recommendation like this before.

From a listening perspective what do you hear? how does it affect imaging and tonal balance? Are you using traps in the corners as recommended?

Give the bungs a try, I needed them when I first set this room up. As I got to know the room and experimented with position I found I no longer needed them and the system sounds more natural without
 

Loheswaran

Well-Known Member
Dec 19, 2014
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That's an interesting paper

I also have a small room and listen nearfield. The speakers tweeter is 4 & 3/4 ft from the front wall with the listening position 5 & 1/2 ft from the back wall in a 14 1/2 ft room. Distance to the tweeter is just over 6 ft with the tweeter 45 cm from the sidewall.

The balance changes as I move the listening position forward or back, a case of preference rather than right or wrong until against the back wall where bass becomes somewhat lumpy and less resolved. I ended up with this arrangement after much experimentation in the room, all tuned by ear rather than via measurement.

What I've never tried is anything as extreme as proposed here. I say extreme as I've never seen or heard of recommendation like this before.

From a listening perspective what do you hear? how does it affect imaging and tonal balance? Are you using traps in the corners as recommended?

Give the bungs a try, I needed them when I first set this room up. As I got to know the room and experimented with position I found I no longer needed them and the system sounds more natural without

Hi Defride - I'm glad you read the article.

The Classic Position

This was 'ALL ABOUT THE BASS' in the words of Maghan Trainor. There was an uneven juiciness in the lower octaves - quite entertaining in fairness - but with the nasty dip it was clumsy.

Imaging was good


Mid Room

I must say that the mid room position got rid of the reverb which gave that 'juicy' impression. It retains the depth but is far more fleet of foot. The depth of field is better too.

I've not started yet on diffusers nor first reflection points, likewise I haven't finalised width, but its improvement i would compare it to when rallying went from rear wheel to 4 wheel drive. I was absolutely shocked by the improvement.


I will say that Leo Massi advocates the use of even single driver speakers, or those that are phase coherent. My Darius S1 is a two way, but it must have been well designed. The ribbon tweeter helps in having very directional radiation (i hope that is the term).

I would love to try out some Fujitsu Eclipse with this set up once I have perfected my set up
 

Cote Dazur

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May 1, 2023
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I'm a huge fan of near-field listening
So am I, while realizing your OP dated back from 2010, I believe near field is as good a solution as ever.
FF2B1C6F-392C-4A62-92CE-524003B673C5.jpeg
Looking at your set up, I have to ask, if you ever tried near field from the center of the room, not dead center to avoid room modes, but more like well away from the wall we are facing. That is the way I have it set in my two listening rom, my smallest one being close to yours for dimensions. Away place the sound behind the speakers in my case, filling the back of the room with a large and deep sound stage, even though my speakers are fairly close to each other and almost at my knees from my listening chair (equilateral triangle).
During trial and errors, I could not achieve a satisfactory (for me) result when being close to the wall as in your picture.
If you are still around I will be curious to read your thoughts.
Congratulation for your thread, near field is such a panacea to so many issues to stereo listening, after all this years, I am still totally puzzled that so many have not adopted such an elegant solution and that it is almost totally absent from forums (this one or any other) conversation.
 

tmallin

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May 19, 2010
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Yes, the original post is now 13 years old. So now I have a new house, with a new even smaller listening room (132" W x 161" L x 103.5" H). However, I still use near-field listening. My current speakers are Sanders 10e hybrid electrostatics and at the listening position the panels are about 55 inches from my ears. In a room this size, near-field listening is automatic if you want to keep the speakers and listening position well away from the room walls.

Unless you read that post carefully, it may not be obvious from the picture that the pictured set-up had the speakers positioned along the long wall of the room, not the usual short wall. Also, the subtended angle between the speakers in the picture is 90 degrees, not the usual 60 degrees. I can assure you that the listening position is not in the exact center of the short dimension of the room. It's bad enough for room mode effects that symmetrical placement of speakers and listener always ends up with the listener at the center point of one dimension of the room. It would be adding insult to injury to also listen from the center point of the other wall-to-wall dimension of the room. As you know, the center point of any dimension is a null for half the axial room modes for that dimension.

These days I'm back to 60-degree separation. While 90 degrees is great for the best recordings--those using Blumlein or other quasi-coincident mikes as the main mike array, over time I concluded that 95+ percent of recordings just sounded too "pulled apart" with that much separation, resulting in audible "holes" in the staging.

These days, rather than a strict Rule of Thirds speaker and listener placement, I have more or less standardized on Cardas placement for the listener and speakers. This combines what I hear as the best imaging and staging for a stereo pair and bass which is fairly easy to electronically equalize into submission. See this page for the Cardas calculator for a box speaker, including the listening position with respect to the wall behind the speakers.
 

Loheswaran

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Dec 19, 2014
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.

These days I'm back to 60-degree separation. While 90 degrees is great for the best recordings--those using Blumlein or other quasi-coincident mikes as the main mike array, over time I concluded that 95+ percent of recordings just sounded too "pulled apart" with that much separation, resulting in audible "holes" in the staging.

These days, rather than a strict Rule of Thirds speaker and listener placement, I have more or less standardized on Cardas placement for the listener and speakers. This combines what I hear as the best imaging and staging for a stereo pair and bass which is fairly easy to electronically equalize into submission. See this page for the Cardas calculator for a box speaker, including the listening position with respect to the wall behind the speakers.
Dear TMallin

can i just ask:
a. How are you equalizing the bass?
b. I have read that bass manipulation can bring bout timing issues of itself
c. does the nearfield help prevent room modes
d. do you not find the backwall placement runs the massive risk of bass overload
 

tmallin

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May 19, 2010
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a. With the Sanders 10e I use the included dbx VENU360 for all equalizing, crossovering, and time alignment. See my very lengthy thread on that speaker for details on this. While not cheap at about $1,000, that dbx unit is both easy to set up and seems very transparent except for the intended DSP processing. If it were producing a lot of artifacts, the Sanders speakers would reveal that since, even with the dbx unit constantly in the signal path, these speakers are the most transparent I've ever owned.

b. That is silly and totally false.

c. No.

d. Neither the speakers nor the listening position is "backwall placement." The only speakers I've used against the wall in decades have been subwoofers and the Dutch & Dutch 8c which are intended for placement near the wall behind them. The center front of the bass cabinets of my Sanders 10e speakers are about 36.5 inches from the sidewalls and 64 inches from the wall behind the speakers. The listening position is about 46 inches from the wall behind the listener.
 
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Tangram

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Nov 10, 2022
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I was pleasantly surprised to see this old thread resurrected since I probably wouldn’t have otherwise read the fabulous essay on near-field listening by Tom. I’ve tried nearfield several times (including with Harbeth M30.2s) and the results are mesmerizing. The narrow sweetspot isn’t problematic for me since I listen alone in a dedicated room. The only things I dislike are that my ottoman was affects the sound too much and has to be stashed away, and the small soundstage resulting from having the speakers so close together. I also had very good results with the smallest Magnepans, the LRS. The imaging in a nearfield configuration could bring a grown man to tears. The only “big” problem was that vocalist heads seemed like they were three feet wide.

Alas, this is a hobby of compromises. I’ve given up the immersive effect of nearfield in favour of getting my ottoman back and a wider soundstage. These days my speakers and I are about 1/3 into the room each, with the speakers on the long wall and five feet from the side walls. This results in my ears being 92” from the tweeters, so still pretty close (at least by WBF standards!) in a well-treated room. But I strongly concur that everyone should give nearfield a try. It’s one of the few freebies in audio that has a massive effect on sound.
 

tmallin

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Yes, with nearfield listening, small reflective objects near your listening position can adversely affect imaging and staging. You might have better luck with your ottoman if you reupholstered it in plush velvet or velour, but I realize this might not be practical for furniture you regularly put your feet and legs on.

In my own case, I've noticed that even holding my iPad (used to control the Lumin X1 streamer) in my lap at the listening position has quite audible deleterious effects on imaging and staging. For serious listening, the iPad has to be stowed on the floor next to my chair so that I can't see it and reflections off its surface thus are not audible.
 

tmallin

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May 19, 2010
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Those who are enjoying revisiting this near-field listening thread may also want to look at my old thread dealing with the ideal listening chair. This is an equally neglected-in-most-quarters prerequisite for getting the most from your home audio system, especially from a near-field listening position. See this thread.
 

Alrainbow

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Dec 11, 2013
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I think and correct me if I’m wrong near field might be a simpler solution to most of us
but I do understand even close is not enough to make all perfect
 

Rumpole

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Great thread - this has been on my mind recently. For many years I had Sonus Faber stand mount speakers (Signum and EAIII) and also Martin Logan SL3. I've always placed the speakers well out from the front and side walls with a semi-nearfield listening position, usually 6 to 7 feet from the speakers. I recently acquired YG Hailey 2.2 and used the same configuration, although with less toe-in, and I think it works well.

I visited YG last week to audition the Hailey 3, and their listening room has the speakers close to the front and side walls, with the listening position maybe about 20 feet from the speakers. They probably need this set up because they often have several people listening in the room (there were about 30 people in the room for a Colorado Audio Society meeting a few weeks ago). But their configuration is very different from my nearfield arrangement, and I could not get a good sense of how the new Hailey 3 differs from the 2.2. It did make me wonder if my configuration was not optimal.

The YG speakers have good phase coherence, especially with the version 3 crossovers, so I suspect that the Hailey and Carmel should work well as nearfield speakers.
 

mmannaxx

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I am just now getting back into critical listening after many years of not doing so. Don’t intend to spend gobs of money on this but I want a decent listening experience and am trying to set up a private listening area in a spare bedroom where there is an armchair close to some bookshelves which will support speakers lying horizontally to get the correct ear height for listening. Will be seated about 5 feet away from the speakers on a diagonal and speakers have a gap of about 5.5 feet between center of tweeters and 4.5 feet between center of woofers, so in essence almost a perfect 60x60x60 degree triangle. Perhaps not ideal but that is the space I have to work with. So near field listening is where I am at for this. I was considering some of the new KLH 3 speakers since they are about the correct length needed to fit on top of these low bookshelves. However I read a review saying they were not good for near field listening. So maybe I should just stick with ease old Boston Acoustics A60 speakers I picked up and reformed, which are a preferred 8 ohms anyway, so as to put less strain on the 50 year old receiver than the 6 ohm KLH speakers and the A60s appear to be better designed for near field listening according the specs I read. I kind of want to stick with acoustic suspension since these will be placed very close to a wall. Any thoughts? I believe I am stuck in the East Coast style of speaker mode as I started out with large original Advents 50 years ago!
 

tmallin

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If you are stuck with horizontal mounting of the speakers, I'd try putting the woofers on the outside, not the tweeters. Contrary to some thinking, putting low sounds further apart aids the feeling of space and certainly helps the sound from the different drivers cohere better. Going back to the 1960s, the Acoustic Research demonstration room at Grand Central Station in New York City displayed all their models, including the AR-3a horizontally. The stands marketed by AR at that time were about 30 inches high, putting the tweeters at about seated ear height. The shorter 11-inch stands were at that time viewed as a compromise for those who needed to mount the speakers vertically near the floor. No one thought the speakers sounded better that way back then.

Tastes have changed from back then, though, from interest in tonal accuracy to best capturing the feeling of space. Also, for near-field listening, which wasn't much in favor back then, vertical arrangement of drivers seems to cohere better than horizontal arrangement. With horizontal driver arrangement, from the near field you tend to hear individual drivers more, which destroys the sense of an overall musical "picture" in front of your ears. Still, if you are stuck with horizontal mounting, definitely put the woofers to the outside, keeping the tweeters further from the side walls and allowing the more widely separated bass drivers to aid the feeling of a larger space.

Decent examples of vintage KLH and AR speakers are still available on the used market if you care to explore those acoustic suspension options. I know from personal ownership and other listening experience that many vintage ARs (e.g.,, AR-3/3a, AR-5, AR-2ax, AR-4x) and KLH speakers (e.g., original KLH Model 5 and 6) work just fine horizontally. These are much better sounding, I think, than the Boston Acoustics A60. Even the original Large Advents which I also owned (two pairs, sometimes stacked) are, in hindsight, a bit raw or nasty sounding in the upper mids/lower highs compared to the vintage ARs and KLHs I mentioned--heresy in some quarters, I know.
 

mmannaxx

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Tmallin-
Thanks for the quick response! Yes, I used to have large Advents with walnut veneer cabs as well. Unfortunately I sold them while overseas thinking I could easily replace them in 1984 but that didn't work out so I bought some BA A70s. I am not stuck with the A60s since I only have about $60 total invested in them since I refoamed them myself. For my private listening set up I am trying to keep to a smaller cabinet, say around 20" high or long depending how it's set up. Would KLH model 17s work? I still want to keep them at 8 ohms if possible. Certainly no less than 6 ohms. Did AR make a smaller bookshelf speaker, say with an 8 inch woofer that would fall around 20" high or long (AR4x perhaps)?? I am finding it challenging finding some specs for some speakers so not sure if they did or not.
 

tmallin

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Yes, the AR-4x is that size. I have no experience with the KLH 17, but the AR-4x was the first component speaker system I ever bought back when I was about 13 years old and the 4x was then in current production. I bought them again decades later as vintage speakers and used them in my office for over a decade until I retired at the end of 2022. They are good--very, very good, probably the most neutral sounding of all the vintage AR speakers, just with less bass extension but a very pleasing-to-me balance.

For a picture of that office system with the AR-4x speakers, see this link.

For specs and all the original advertising materials, see the Classic Speaker Pages.
 

mmannaxx

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Yes, the AR-4x is that size. I have no experience with the KLH 17, but the AR-4x was the first component speaker system I ever bought back when I was about 13 years old and the 4x was then in current production. I bought them again decades later as vintage speakers and used them in my office for over a decade until I retired at the end of 2022. They are good--very, very good, probably the most neutral sounding of all the vintage AR speakers, just with less bass extension but a very pleasing-to-me balance.

For a picture of that office system with the AR-4x speakers, see this link.

For specs and all the original advertising materials, see the Classic Speaker Pages.
Thanks again. I had a pair of large Advents as well while I did one year of law school but then decided to go a different direction and got a Ph. D. after teaching for awhile. No photos of my Advents unfortunately. Regret selling those but maybe they weren't as good as I remember.
 

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