Orchestra in a small room - Is it possible?

Simon Moon

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Apr 24, 2015
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Let me also add, that from, say, 20 rows back, a 50 foot wide orchestra is not perceived as 50 feet wide. So, the need to reproduce a 50 foot wide orchestra, is not even necessary.
 

chuck

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Dec 20, 2011
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Let me also add, that from, say, 20 rows back, a 50 foot wide orchestra is not perceived as 50 feet wide. So, the need to reproduce a 50 foot wide orchestra, is not even necessary.
About 4th row center is the place to hear the orchestra. It is also the sound that good recordings capture, it is 50 feet wide and 30 feet deep and that is the sound I want played back.
 

stehno

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My system has recently developed to a place where I can begin to see the real appeal of reproduced orchestral music. Until this point, the limitations of my system had frankly left it uninteresting. But my system is barely capable of making it appealing. Is it possible to create a system that can do enjoyable orchestra reproduction in a small room?

(For those interested. My room is a thoroughly treated 10 x 13. System is: Custom server > Lampizator TRP > Bel Canto SET40i > Rosso Fiorentino Fiesole)


I apologize as my prior response was a bit tongue-in-cheek based on a few other responses I read. I've also been struggling a bit working out some kinks with my new smartphone used for in-room recordings so I'd like to take another run at hopefully a more suitable response.

Yes, your room is tight but can be done. My room dimensions aren't all that much bigger than your room. But with very careful speaker placement I suspect the room should give you little or perhaps even no trouble. However, you should note that speakers need space to breath otherwise the soundstage suffers or even collapses.

1. Your comment about the room being thoroughly treated is a bit concerning. I don't know what that means exactly but I'd suggest starting with a clean slate by removing any/all custom acoustic treatments and just ensure the room has carpeting and pad and a few soft non-reflective furnishings here and there. You can always add them later but I'm guessing you might not. I have no faith in acoustic treatments but even if I did, they should only come into play sparingly after I tried getting everything as right as possible.

2. It's probably imperative that your front wall be the shorter 10ft wide wall primarily because your speakers' front face ought to be at least 5ft out from the front wall to get some reasonably believeable soundstage depth and that still gives you 8ft distance to the rear wall where your listening chair would be.

3. The woofer centers should be at least 1.5ft from the side walls and toed in toward the listening chair toward the back wall.

Presumably the goal is for your system's performance to eventually be good enough that the playback presentation convinces you that your listening perspective is somewhere in the recording hall. If that day should come, you won't care so much about the room because frankly it won't matter.

Also, I'd suggest trying to keep everything in the room to an absolute minimum except for a couple of carefully chosen furnishings. The less you have equipment-wise and other-wise the less you have to deal with to try to make right. Less is always more. And simpler to work with too.

Anyway, here's a very short in-room recording in my somewhat deeper than your room where the in-room volume levels were about 102db.
 

DasguteOhr

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impossible. Most systems do not even manage to realistically represent a simple drum kit 99% of the time. The dynamics of an orchestra alone is a major hurdle. from a very quiet piano to fortissimo almost impossible even at home. if you've ever visited a concert hall, you know what I mean. the spatial representation of an orchestra at home sounds like listening through a magnifying glass.
 

Gregm

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Mar 14, 2019
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The two most glaring limitations at present are garbling of complex passages and a digital glare with certain dense upper midrange passages. Interestingly, it was a recently purchased inexpensive CD transport that lifted the veil (beyond the capabilities of my server) enough to inspire the potential journey to build something that could possibly do it much better.

Any advise on the strategy? Is it the 845 based SET amp that is falling apart first? Is it the size or implementation of the two way speakers? Is it the inexpensive Audiolab cd transport? The newfound potential has me highly motivated to move the ball forward.
Coming back to your earlier comment re the glaring limitations of your system, garbling of complex passages and digital glare: the former indicates lack of driving power, which is unusual because 845 based amps are quite sturdy. The digital glare as I understand it & the Audiolab 's superiority mean you need to improve your server. Your hardware seems to be well setup and includes linear power supply to boot, so maybe it's the streaming s/ware ? Either that or the DAC's USB input.

In my (tortuous) experience, your server/ streamer if well set up, i.e. software wise, should outperform your cd transport. (As an example, my modest fanless MiniX with the Musichi player running on windows server easily outperforms my supposedly enhanced, tube-based, Magnat cdp used as a transport).

So, I would check out the streamer front end first, then the streamer->DAC collaboration.

Then play the complex passages at low volume -- if you hear no smearing, etc, then your amp is insufficiently powered for your speakers and runs out of steam when you push the volume.

Finally, bringing an orchestra into your room: as others have already noted -- hi-end's all about creating the illusion of being at the recording venue and that, only when the recording is good enough! So, I wouldn't worry about sqeezing a full-scale Mahlerian orchestra into a shoebox ;). Regards

edit: I've listened to your speakers and they seemd quite capable of dealing with complex orchestral passages -- i actually listened to mahler 2 (Thennstedt, LSO, live)!
 

stehno

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impossible. Most systems do not even manage to realistically represent a simple drum kit 99% of the time. The dynamics of an orchestra alone is a major hurdle. from a very quiet piano to fortissimo almost impossible even at home. if you've ever visited a concert hall, you know what I mean. the spatial representation of an orchestra at home sounds like listening through a magnifying glass.

Impossible? Might this simple drum kit suffice?

I get what you're saying but you seem to be placing all the responsibility on the room when in fact it's the playback system's responsibility to transform us to the concert hall based entirely on ALL the music info embedded in the recording.

When we're able to keep MORE of the music info embedded in a given recording audible at the speaker the more the room disappears and the more our listening perspective is transformed to somewhere/anywhere in the recording hall.

IOW, even most inferior-engineered recordings contain enough music info including the volumes of the all important recording hall's ambient info to completely overshadow every last room acoustic anomaly. But if our focus continues to be on the room rather than the playback system, we're never gonna' find it and we'll continue to call it impossible. In which case it would be impossible.

Focusing on the room is focusing on the effects whereas focusing on the playback system is focusing on the cause. Focusing on the cause always makes the biggest difference and is the best use of resources while focusing on the effects always makes very little difference while consuming far greater resources. BTW, this in-room video was recorded at about 104db if that helps any.
 
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DasguteOhr

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Sounds really good. but has nothing to do with reality. a drum kit just makes + 40dB dynamic and it's not played hard yet. If you have a really good music recording, it will produce 25dB of dynamic range.
List of dynamic in Music..some a really crap
for 40dB dynamics you need about 10,000 times the power, even large PA systems can't do that impossible at home.
Look in the Link
If I were to put my drums in between your speakers and play a drum solo for them, you'd understand that a speaker can't do that.;)
Stephans-drumkit.jpg
 

GSOphile

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Sep 4, 2017
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I don't think I need to be able to reproduce the sound/dynamics of an actual musical event to enjoy the illusion created by a really good sound system. I suspect that the question for most of us is how good is good enough.
 
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stehno

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Sounds really good. but has nothing to do with reality. a drum kit just makes + 40dB dynamic and it's not played hard yet. If you have a really good music recording, it will produce 25dB of dynamic range.
List of dynamic in Music..some a really crap
for 40dB dynamics you need about 10,000 times the power, even large PA systems can't do that impossible at home.
Look in the Link
If I were to put my drums in between your speakers and play a drum solo for them, you'd understand that a speaker can't do that.;)
View attachment 76121


Thanks for your reply and I appreciate where you're coming from. I really do. However, you're still coming at this from the wrong premise. My relatively small listening room was never intended to be a concert or recording hall. It was intended to be a mess hall as it's my former kitchen. Why not put your drum kit in your walk-in closet, do a little session there, and see how things sound ? Not very musical I'm sure. My brother was a drummer so I've some experience with the sounds, impacts, and dynamics that you're thinking of but again I consider your premise for your arguments as incorrect.

Answer me this. Would you prefer hearing the gunshot of a .45 cal weapon in your walk-in closet, your listening room, an in-door shooting range, or an outdoor shooting range? instruments need room to breathe as do our ears.

We're talking about live performances in concert halls and various-sized recording halls. None of which a reasonable listening room could match. We're actually talking about live music recorded in various large venues and playing them back in our listening rooms at potentially live music volume levels. Live music at live volume levels in a listening room should have most of us running from the room within 10 seconds. On the other hand, live music at live music listening levels in the recording hall with distance between us and the performers is entirely different matter and acceptable.

So realy the subject matter is not, can we produce and tolerate a live orchestra or live rock concert at live volume levels in our listening rooms but rather, can our playback systems REproduce a live orchestra or live rock concert at live volume levels with a listening perspective as though we were in attendance at those much larger venues? I say the answer is no to the former and yes to the latter. But again, it's a premise and perspective thing.

For shear volume, I've included here a fun video of a live concert I recorded in-room about a year ago and don't know when this live concert in Nashville TN took place nor if it was indoor or outdoor. Please give it at least 40 seconds. Also included is a 1959 drum solo presumably originally recorded in a somewhat smaller recording hall or perhaps it was just fairly closely mic'ed.

From the perspective of reproducing the live event in our listening rooms and hopefully in accordance with the OP, I think it's entirely possible provided we stop focusing so much on the listening room.

You said the first video really doesn't have much to do with reality and from your premise you're absolutely correct. Remember, you're a drummer and you're practicing in what looks like a family room of sorts. That's fine for practice sessions but that's not the venue for live performances.

As you listen to these videos, listen from the premise that they are not here but rather you are there. That would be the correct premise because if I've performed due diligence with my playback system, my listening room should be all but gone and now I'm somewhere / anywhere at the live event listening pretty darn close to live volume levels. IMO, that would be the correct premise to view things and from that perspective and with perhaps just a little imagination, the playback presentation in my listening room becomes believable to one extent or another.
 
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kach22i

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It's easier to feel like you are on the stage with the band in a small room than a large room (Jazz Quartet for example).

So it makes sense that it's easier to feel like you are in a large hall in a larger room.

I guess it all depends on how realistic you want the playback to be, certainly great enjoyment can be had in a small room, mine is a hair under 11 feet wide with a room dividing floor to ceiling record rack back about 15 feet. It gets the job done to my satisfaction.
 
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DasguteOhr

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Hello, then I misunderstood the heading, sorry. It's about presenting the music in the room as well as possible. It is impossible to copy the orchestra 1 to 1 into the listening room. Of course, it is possible to create the illusion that you are enjoying the music. Setting up the speakers so that they cross in front of your head works very well in small rooms. The left tweeter is aimed at the right ear and the right tweeter is aimed at the left ear. This works well with most compact speakers as they work almost like point sources. Try it out.
I had this Setup with Chario and Triangle Speakers 15x11 Room
years ago.
 
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ecwl

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Mar 20, 2021
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At some level, I would say the answer to OP’s question is No.
However, I have added a Convolution Filter I developed using Acourate to my system and I was quite impressed how much more I can remove the “room effect” from my system digitally without any significant detriment to my system. But because convolution filter has many more parameters to adjust compared to simple parametric EQ, it ended up taking me 4 months to arrive at an optimized filter that I‘m exceedingly happy with (although I think I got something really great after 1 month)

My suggestion to OP is to explore hiring someone to develop a Convolution Filter. I believe you can run one in Euphony OS. I think Mitch Barrett is one of the experts who provides such as service. His website is:
 

treitz3

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impossible. Most systems do not even manage to realistically represent a simple drum kit 99% of the time. The dynamics of an orchestra alone is a major hurdle. from a very quiet piano to fortissimo almost impossible even at home. if you've ever visited a concert hall, you know what I mean. the spatial representation of an orchestra at home sounds like listening through a magnifying glass.
Hello, DasguteOhr. As mentioned before? Will it sound just like you are there in person? All you have to do is ask yourself if any performance you hear sounds exactly as if you are there in person and you will know the answer. All we can hope for is the best approximation of a reproduction but yes, it is possible to create a system that can do enjoyable orchestra reproduction in a small room.

Have you ever heard a true and realistic drum kick in your room, no matter the size? I didn't think so.

We are talking about a reproduction. The approximation thereof. An affect that gives one the illusion of....not an exact duplication of reality. Reality is not possible in any type of room. No matter the size. At least not in our lifetime and with current human advances in audio reproduction.

Tom
 
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DasguteOhr

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Hello, DasguteOhr. As mentioned before? Will it sound just like you are there in person? All you have to do is ask yourself if any performance you hear sounds exactly as if you are there in person and you will know the answer. All we can hope for is the best approximation of a reproduction but yes, it is possible to create a system that can do enjoyable orchestra reproduction in a small room.

Have you ever heard a true and realistic drum kick in your room, no matter the size? I didn't think so.

We are talking about a reproduction. The approximation thereof. An affect that gives one the illusion of....not an exact duplication of reality. Reality is not possible in any type of room. No matter the size. At least not in our lifetime and with current human advances in audio reproduction.

Tom
Hello Tom,
In any case, a drum kit sounds different in the room at home than it is when recording music. When recording, compressors, limiters and expanders are used to make it sound better through the speakers.
I think that's okay too, I'd love to hear with Orginal Dynamic.
I am aware that this is not possible. here is a small example of how it is done.
so please go back to the topic of speaker placement in a room so that it sounds better.
 

Genkifd

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my room is a similar size. imo the room needs to be treated adequately. in a small room sound absorbers / bass traps a critical to making a large soundstage.

Though i am still running in my gear.
 

Gregadd

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I think we have to remember that audio soundstage is part illusion. Imaging is not limited by the size of the room. I have heard systems recreate the sound of a dog barking my neighbors yard. or a car blowing its horn down the street. It is entirely possible that the perception of the soundstage can expand beyond your walls. i am currently evalauating the Sennheiser HD 800s headphone. On Stravinsky Firebird Suite I can perceive a good sense of the size and scale of the hall. Aided by my eyes because it is a video.
I don't think you'll get an exact replica but you can come close. Remember Harry Pearson(the late publisher/editor the absolute sound) using the Infinity IRS in a tiny room.
 

stehno

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Stairway to Heaven The very first Video!​




Sweet Home Alabama​


Small room acoustics, live music version.
Very cool. Though Free Bird by Lynard Skynyrd would probably have been a bit more appropriate.
 

Gregadd

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chuck

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I’m sure you’re joking, but just in case you’re not......In audio, distance is portrayed through amplitude phase and time differentials. Stereo is an illusion, so all we do is to create the illusion of a 50 foot wide orchestra by playing music with the correct amplitudes, phase and time differentials. As long as room reflections aren’t doing too much damage, and the hi-fi gear is accurate, its quite straightforward these days to create the illusion of a 50 foot orchestra in a small room. The soundstage you hear isn’t real.....its created in your head when your brain interprets the amplitude and time differences contained in the stereo recording as distance and space, so the sounds coming from the 2 loudspeakers and impinging on your ears has the same differential patterns as the sounds hitting your ears from an orchestra in a concert hall. The soundstage is already in the signal coming out of the loudspeakers and is not made by the loudspeakers themselves, which are just pistonic sources of sound wave energy. The better the loudspeakers are, the more accurately they produce the musical signal that your brain uses to create the mental illusion of a sound stage. Of course loudspeakers are just transducers, so the soundstage-rich signal has to be correctly produced by the preceding chain coming from and including the source.
Over 10 years ago I was trying to recreate the orchestral sound in a modest listening room. The first solution was, per Kal, mutlichannel with B&W 802D/804S and that worked pretty well. Then I heard Wilson Alexandria X2.2s in a large room and they were way better. A little research showed that the late Dave Wilson used to go to Vienna every year to hear the Vienna Phil in the Musikverien and that is the sound he successfully designed the X2.2s to recreate. So I wanted to get a pair but was concerned about their size and how big a room I would need. I was going to put them in a 15x20 room so I called the good folks at Wilson Audio and asked them directly if the full performance of the X2.2s could be achieved in such a small room and they said yes. I also asked if they would be the best speaker for my room and again they said yes. They were of course correct. I once asked Dave Wilson about this topic and he delighted in explaining it for about half an hour, covering much of the same info above. I think the speakers must be explicitly designed to achieve this goal and very few are.
 

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