How to maximize the potential of loudspeakers
The room plays (important role)
The room where you listen to your speakers is half of your hifi system. In negative sense, accoustically poor room degrades the sound of your speakers, accoustically optimal room will not turn terrible speakers into great ones. We know from our own experience that an unsuitable room or poorly set up speakers and listening position can completely degrade even top speakers. Each room absorbs or reflects different sound frequencies differently and especially in different places. It also depends on the size of the room and where your speakers are located and where you listen to them. There can be really abysmal differences. In every room there are places where some frequencies (we are talking especially about the bass) will be heard little, in some places too much and somewhere just right. It depends on both the position of your speakers as well as your listening position.
For example, try to play the song Get Lucky by Daft Punk and walk around the room and listen to the bass. You will hear quite dramatic differences and it will tell you where your ideal listening position should be. If at all possible, try to set everything up as follows:
- Speakers so that the baffle of the speaker is 1/5 of the length of the room from the back wall and 1/5 of the width of the room from the side wall (ideally the same distance from the side walls).
- Choose your listening position so that your ears are 1/5 of the length of the room from the back wall and in the middle of the width of the room
- Position the speakers so that your ear in your listening position is between the midbass driver and the tweeter (choose the height of the stand accordingly).
- Turn the speakers slightly towards you - you need to experiment a bit depending on what suits you better and how our speakers will sound in your room.
- Listen from the same distance from both speakers, at the top of an equilateral triangle or slightly closer.
- Place pads made of soft material - rubber, felt, etc. - under the speakers. This prevents vibration from being transmitted from the speaker. For the Rosie model, you will find adhesive silicone pads in the package.
- Do not place any objects between you and the speakers. Ideally, do not surround them with furniture. It sounds obvious, but it is not always the case.
If you want to get more into this topic, you will find many resources on the Internet. If you speak English, Dynaudio has a nice video on YouTube called "A Master Class in speaker placement".
If you can't accomodate the 1/5 rule
If you can't follow 1/5 rule described above, try the following:
- First, place the speakers at least 20 cm from the wall so that they are 2-3 m apart, depending on the distance you are listening from and the outline and aesthetics of your room. (You can also test the distance of the speakers from each other - too small a distance will show only small soundstage of the recording, when too large you might completely break apart the soundstage into two separate speakers)
- Listen to a familiar song with the speakers in this position - the better you know it, the more it will help you set up everything right, feel free to try a few songs.
- In the next step, move the speakers away from the wall by 5 cm (or less) and repeat the procedure - the sound will usually be slightly better.
- Proceed in this way further by 5 cm (or more or less depending, it's up to you)
- Eventually you reach a point where you don't hear any improvement. Put the speakers back in the last position where they sounded best to you - that's the right distance.
In this position, toe in both speakers. You need to find out how much toe-in gives you the best soundstage, but also the sharpness of the treble. The tweeters are (unlike the woofers) directional. The higher the frequency of the sound, the narrower the angle at which the tweeter "radiates". This is not necessarily a disadvantage, e.g. if you find the treble too bright, it will help not to toe-in the speakers so much.
It should be noted that there is no universal and easy rule that works for every room and every listener. Countless variables affect the perceived sound. To name a few - acoustics of the room, size and shape of the room, the amplifier, the signal source (streamer, turntable, CD player, etc.), your favorite music genre, but especially your subjective sound preferences. Remember, you are setting them up for your use, so experiment and try what you like best.
What helps your room acoustics
In general, the furniture and equipment in the room helps. The sound is more absorbed / dispersed and your speakers will play better. Bookcases (ideally with books), curtains, carpets, upholstered furniture, etc., all improve room acoustics. Obviously, you won't get close to the recording studio at home, but it doesn't matter. On the other hand, in a bare room without a carpet, with large areas of hard materials, listening even to the best speakers will turn into an acoustic disaster.
To put it very simply, you should be mindful especially of the first reflections, those that reach your ear with only a small delay after the sound coming directly from the speakers. By this we mean in particular the reflections from the floor, side walls (in real world, you typically can't do much about ceiling reflections), where a carpet, a bookcase will help, or basically anything that disperses or absorbs sound. You should not attempt to completely dampen the room (the music will lack liveliness), but rather combine dispersion and damping.
If you would like to go even further, you can have the acoustics of your room measured by a specialized company, which will advise you on what elements and where should be placed. However, this journey is lengthy, expensive and the other inhabitants of your household might not like it. If you enjoy making anything, you can find a lot of DIY YouTube videos on how to make inexpensive acoustic panels. Another alternative is to purchase a special device / amplifier (with DSP - e.g. from NAD or Lyngdorf), which adjusts the signal directed to the speakers so that the resulting sound arriving to your ears in your room corresponds as much as possible to the recording. More and more amplifiers with this function are appearing on the market, although their prices are still relatively high.
What about bass
(Almost) All of us like bass, it adds fullness and saturation to music, but it should be accurate and in the right amount. Simply put, larger speakers usually produce deeper tones and can fill larger rooms with them. The Rosie model will easily fill rooms up to 35 m2 with bass2 surprisingly deep bass, but if your goal is really a lot of bass (for watching movies or listening to hip-hop, etc.) you will probably need a subwoofer or column speakers with greater bass output. However, in order to maintain the same quality of reproduction, you must be prepared to pay a higher price for column speakers. Obviously, a column speaker for the same price as a smaller two-way may have more substantial bass but it certainly will not reproduce mids and highs so nicely.
As we have already mentioned, room acoustics have a great influence on the reproduction of sound, and this applies especially to deeper tones. We really do not recommend placing the speakers in the corners of the room, which will significantly increase the amount of bass while also making it less accurate. We tune our speakers in terms of bass to a position farther from the wall, more in space, because there they sound the best. However, if you have our speakers right next to the wall or their placement in your room tends to increase the bass, you have several options to reduce it (listed in the order in which we would approach this problem):
- Lower bass in your amplifier. If your amplifier can do this, it is the simplest solution, which usually works very well. You simply adjust the amount of bass to your preference and your room. People usually listen to music with more bass than it was recorded and mixed by a sound engineer, but it's up to you.
- Stuff the bass reflex with something - this is the black "hole" on the front of the speaker, which pours the deepest tones into the room. Here you can experiment with different materials and their quantities. We recommend, for example, acoustic or other foam that can be blown through.
- Room treatment. It is mainly sound-absorbing materials - carpets, curtains, bookcases, upholstered furniture, etc. You can install e.g. bass traps in the corners of the room, but this should ideally be based on a measurement by a specialized company, bass traps available on the market (if you do not want to make them yourself) are relatively expensive and their impact on the aesthetics of your listening room is not ideal.
If, on the other hand, you feel that there could be more bass, you can either amplify the bass on your amplifier, or try moving the speakers closer to the wall. Just so you understand, the deep tones of the speaker radiate (thanks to the long length of the sound waves at lower frequencies) not only forward, but in practically all directions, i.e. also behind the speakers. If they are close to the wall, these deep tones will bounce back towards you to a greater extent, which (simply put) will amplify the bass. However, you will partially lose the soundstage, so you need to try it.
What about highs
Of course, they are indispensable. Although it doesn't seem so, the tweeter is involved in rendering tones of mid frequencies, so the quality of the tweeter is crucial to the resulting sound. But it's hard to find the right balance between detail and harshness when designing speakers. In addition, one is more sensitive to higher tones, so at higher volumes you will feel that the treble is amplified more than the rest of the spectrum. We took great care with the highs and their balance. The heghs are extremely important and we wanted to have them as detailed as possible, yet still pleasant. We used the best components in the crossover for the tweeter, which is most sensitive. In the end, we also put better capacitors on the mid-bass driver, because the difference in the resulting sound is very noticeable with the aluminum cone drivers in the Rosie model.
If you feel that you hear little or too much of the high frequencies, there are several options:
- Toe in the speakers a little more towards you. You will hear more higher frequencies, as the tweeter plays closer to its axis as the frequency increases.
- You have a lot of bass (see the reasons above) - the treble than seems somewhat less noticable - try to turn down the bass, or you can amplify the treble on the amplifier. However, increasing the treble on the amplifier will cause the mids to recede, i.e. especially the voices, so this must be handled with care.
- You have to little bass (see previous point, but vice versa) - the treble then sounds too loud relative to other frequencies
- Your room amplifies the treble (or some higher frequencies) - turn down the treble on your amplifier, or you can try room treatment. Especially large hard surfaces can overly reflect highs. You can also position the speakers so that they are parallel to each other, not facing the listening position. Higher frequencies are directional, so this step will get a little less of them to your ears.
A few words about soundstage
This parameter is generally not talked about much, and yet it is extremely important and can dramatically transform your listening experience. If the speakers can produce soundstage, it brings many benefits:
- Loudspeakers "disappear" from your listening room - if they are well designed (and this applies especially to the crossover inside), then they can "disappear" from your listening room. When you close your eyes and listen to a song, you can't point exactly to where the speakers are. It is a more complex discipline that depends on more aspects and it takes longer to design the speaker so that it plays well and also creates a good soundstage. This was the most difficult part - to find a variant that renders everything in detail and pleasantly, but at the same time produces a great soundstage. When listening to the final version, we were surprised by how big sound these relatively small speakers can create.
- Instruments are separated - You can hear instruments, including performers, from various places. The music just doesn't emerge from just one place. When you listen to Eric Clapton on the MTV Unplugged album, for example, you hear a guitar from one place, a piano from another, etc.
- Focused instruments - Instruments playing from different places will also be in focus, so you will hear more detail in each of them without harshness.
Of course, the more space you give to the speakers, the more soundstage you will hear in the recordings. The same goes for the quality of the source, especially the amplifier and digital converter (DAC), turntable / CD player, etc. You also need to play with the speakers toe-in and the location in your listening room at all. Last but not least it also depends on the skills of the sound engineer - Some songs are recorded with better soundstage than others. Below are a few examples of songs from the first group:
- Norah Jones – Little Room album: Not Too Late – I suggest you start with this track and make sure that her voice and guitar come directly from the center between the two speakers and are clearly focused. If not, you need to play around with speaker positioning
- Jennifer Warnes – Bird on a Wire album: Famous Blue Raincoat - here the instruments should be clearly located on the stage in front of you
- Christophe Beck - soundtrack from the movie The Pink Panther - last track
- Isaac Hayes – You’re in My Arms from album Truck Turner
- Tina Turner – Private Dancer from the album of the same name
- Eric Clapton – MTV Unplugged (the entire album)
- Vanessa Fernandez - anything but especially album Use Me
- Dave’s True Story - album Dave’s True Story (version 2002)
- Anne Bisson – album Blue Mind
- Place speakers in equal distance from the side walls
- The speakers should be 2-3 meters apart, or even farther, as long as the soundstage does not fall apart into two separately playing speakers. If they are too close to each other, the recording space will be too narrow. Phase of drivers in Rosie speakers are aligned so accurately that they can be really far apart and the soundstage will not only remain coherent but will nicely grow in size.
- The speaker membranes should be located at least 0.5 m from the front wall (try experimenting to find the ideal place for them according to the possibilities of your space)
- Furnish your listening room with furniture that absorbs and disperses sound - upholstered furniture, carpet, curtains, bookcases, etc. Excess of large flat surfaces made of hard materials is the worst.
- Be careful not to try to dampen your listening room too much, you should combine elements that scatter sound waves with elements that absorb them.
- If possible, choose a listening room that does not have the same dimensions in each direction, or multiples of these dimensions, ie the length of the room should not be a multiple of the width or height of the room.
- Toe in the speakers partially to your listening position, the angle should be such that the speakers axes' intersect behind your listening position. This affects, among other things, the perception of the soundstage and it also depends on you listening room so you should experiment with it.
- Your listening position should be at least 1 m from the back wall and at the top of the equilateral triangle with your speakers.
- There should be no objects between the speakers and the listening position
- If you hear too little/too much bass/treble, try to follow recommendations mentioned in the paragraphs above.
- When positioning our asymetric speakers, make sure the tweeters are on the inside. However, you can experiment with them in your room to see what sounds best.