Loudspeaker type and placement for my living room

Hello,
First post here! I arrived looking for info on line arrays. But let me explain my "problem".
Here is my living room/kitchen/office room in my flat (units in cm. 650cm is 31.3feet and 360cm is 10.8feet):
plan.png

Dashed line are walls which do not go up to the ceiling and there are no doors. So the kitchen is open to the living room and the office room.
The TV cupboard contains the amplifier + TV. Two bookshelf loudspeakers are on top of it at 1.7m/5.6feet above the floor, behind plants, rather close together ... OK not great

When listening to broadcast radio, mostly speech, the setup is OK.
We listen to music at moderate level: the sound comes from a single point and does not "fill" the room. In addition the sound is a bit dull, but after all this not high end equipment. We enjoy music much more in our car :ROFLMAO:
When watching movies we all are off-axis relative to TV. Main complain here is lack of speech clarity (I am hard of hearing). We do not care about spatialisation/surround as we seldom watch blockbusters.

Ultimately the goal is to have punchy sound that fills the room at moderate level, the clearer the better, and the setup MUST have a high WAF. After all my wife got a lot of things right in this flat so I have to make an effort. Budget is 1k€/$. My ideas:
1/ make 4 to 6 3D printed satellites + 1 3D printed sub (like Hexibase stuff). The speakers would be placed along two walls of the living room (making an upside-down L shape). I can easily hide the cabling, the sub and some of the satellites. I would drive them with my current amplifier at first. I think this is the most appropriate solution in my situation but I know no-one with experience with that.
2/ buy one line array (such as JBL - CBT 50LA 1 in white) and stick it in the corner of the living room + 1 sub. The music experience may be fine thanks to the horizontal beam pattern. TV experience would suffer. I don't know where I could put a second array though. Will that "fill" the room?
3/ buy a soundbar and put it in the TV cupboard. I have read great things about Samsung soundbars including on this site. Problem is bars in the Q-series do not fit the cupboard :cry: . Also I fear they are best enjoyed when sitting right in front of them.

Traditional floorstanding loudspeakers are not an option: no place for them, too low WAF.

Well that's it. Sorry for the long post. Suggestions much welcome :)
 
Taking everything into account I think most effective solution is some high quality soundbar.
If necessary, replace the cupboard to make proper fit. Or mount both TV and soundbar directly to the wall. If possible at more suitable position.
If plants are in the sound path, remove them!

Problem with sound clarity may be too much high frequency reflections.
A floor-to-ceiling curtain of some acoustic absorbent cloth, placed behind listening position may help. Also rug on the floor, tapestries on the walls etc.
 
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A very cheap and probably effective solution that also has the highest WAF factor is experimenting with MathAudio Room EQ. The only drawback is that the ideal listening position is limited. OTOH, now you don't seem to have it anywhere in your living room, so that could be an improvement.

Hugo
 
Hi, yeah description of poor intelligibilty sounds to me that the room is quite reflective, lots of plain walls, not much furnishing let alone acoustic treatment.

Cure for poor intelligibility would be to:

-listen closer, very close, so that direct sound is loud enough in relation to room sound (which is basically noise). If you sit opposite side of the room, while speakers are at the other side, intelligibility will be poor. How close is fine then? depends on room acoustics and speakers(directivity) and positioning.

-add acoustic treatment, add furnishing / curtains, what ever that reduces noise in the room. Pay attention to flutter echo, clap your hands loudly and if you hear a robot kind of sound thats the flutter, worst enemy to intelligibility.

-use highly directive speakers. This would also increase direct/reverberant sound ratio, IOW help reduce noise in the room like acoustic treatment. Soundbar would not do this, big speakers with horn would.

-Use relatively high quality speaker without resonances and other obvious problems.

If you can simply reduce listening distance, you don't have to use narrow coverage speakers, nor necessaily add acoustic treatment. However, this could be less than 1m, which isn't very practical.

If you must have very long listening distance due to practicality of the room, then you must put effort to bettering acoustics of the room and use narrow coverage speakers. You can experiment with this, setup your speakers say 1-2m apart, then put some podcast on with spoken word. Move closer /further to find spot when intelligibility gets better /worse. This can be matter of one step, when you are close enough your brain locks in and there is clarity, one step further and its bad. It should be relatively easy to notice when it happens, try concentrate listening on the intelligibility/clarity. Speakers should be at ear height of course, perhaps toe in, point is to maximize direct sound over noise in the room.

Hope it helps, have fun!:)

ps. yeah not sure how much you can do if the room is decoration first. You could add several satellite speakers, pair for each "room" so that you are always listening relatively close to one. You could put them corner of ceiling and wall to hide from sight. Obviously this would not solve the noise in the room other than what I wrote above. You could hide (big) speakers into furniture, acoustic treatment as paintings and so on.
 
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Here is my living room/kitchen/office room in my flat (units in cm. 650cm is 31.3feet and 360cm is 10.8feet):
In my opinion, your long wall is too long to be the front wall, while the 10-foot distance is too short to be a proper listening distance for most louspeakers that are meant to be immersive. The solution would be to put everything on your 10 foot (far) wall.
When watching movies we all are off-axis relative to TV. Main complain here is lack of speech clarity (I am hard of hearing). We do not care about spatialisation/surround as we seldom watch blockbusters.
As said earlier, a listening distance < 10 feet is too close. A longer distance would automatically reduce your angle of elevation w.r.t your TV, making it easier to aim the sound towards your seat. Though surround sound on its own does not bring increased vocal / speech clarity, it doesn't do any harm if implemented using correct distances / delays.

Traditional floorstanding loudspeakers are not an option: no place for them, too low WAF.
There are very good in-wall / on-wall speakers that are capable of giving a good listening experience however, the subwoofers would still have to go on the floor/ into room corners to be effective.
 
In my opinion, your long wall is too long to be the front wall, while the 10-foot distance is too short to be a proper listening distance for most louspeakers that are meant to be immersive. The solution would be to put everything on your 10 foot (far) wall.

As said earlier, a listening distance < 10 feet is too close. A longer distance would automatically reduce your angle of elevation w.r.t your TV, making it easier to aim the sound towards your seat. Though surround sound on its own does not bring increased vocal / speech clarity, it doesn't do any harm if implemented using correct distances / delays.


There are very good in-wall / on-wall speakers that are capable of giving a good listening experience however, the subwoofers would still have to go on the floor/ into room corners to be effective.
Hi, I think its opposite, you need to be close enough for brain to lock in to direct sound and separate it from the reverberance in room. This is the direct sound and envelopment according to Griesinger, basically brains ability to separate two audio streams from what gets to ear, picking the main content from noise. If you are too far, brain cannot separate the two and all you hear is single stream, the room sound. First one is more intelligible, more enveloping and so on, spacious, grabs the attention. Listen too far and its just mush of sound.

I've got quite similar room and setup as in op post, and quite high directivity speakers whose DI > 6db from 300Hz up, about 7-8db at 1kHz. This is much narrower directivity than typical bookshelf speaker. Still, maximum listening distance for best sound is about 2.2m. Sound is very good anywhere in the room, but to get envelopment and increase in clarity, 3D kind of effect to sound, I still need to be quite close to the speakers. This is what I would call immersive if anything, close enough. Further than this and the sound is now in front of me and wee bit blurry, less intelligible, less immersive, less impressive.

This 2.2m distance I have might be due to many reasons, its DIY speakers after all. I'm not sure if the distance is more or less than most people have. Assuming my speakers are fine then I think most people listen too far and only hear the mush of sound, and seem to like it for some reason. It also could be that there is some issue with my speakers and the distance is much less than usual. Still, my observation is that good sound is the shorter listening distance is (in a typical living room), and it gets blurry sound past some distance.

You could think my blurry sound is immersive to you and thats fine, I'm no expert on this and it could be so with some speakers and rooms sound better with the "blurry distance", while others could be the other way around like mine. Thought to write this to give another perspective :)
 
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tmuikku said:
Hi, I think its opposite, you need to be close enough for brain to lock in to direct sound and separate it from the reverberance in room. This is the direct sound and envelopment according to Griesinger, basically brains ability to separate two audio streams from what gets to ear, picking the main content from noise. If you are too far, brain cannot separate the two and all you hear is single stream, the room sound.
Yes, that is true but since the LP is only 10 ft at most, shouldn't the sound (heard now) already consist of mostly direct sound ? However, it has been reported to have a 'lack of speech clarity' by the OP.

The OP also complained about how the room didn't fill up with sound. Now, that kind of big sound is often a result of bigger multi-way speakers that often require larger minimum distances. Using horn speakers (that could tilt) would easily 'project' the treble at the LP area (somewhere within the room), and with the back wall being 30 ft away, only the weak early reflections would remain. Hence my recommendation.

I just forgot to mention how the OP would need horn speakers, and bigger amplifers maybe.
 
Yes, that is true but since the LP is only 10 ft at most, shouldn't the sound (heard now) already consist of mostly direct sound ? However, it has been reported to have a 'lack of speech clarity' by the OP.
I think its function of the room, what is the base noise of the room, reverberation time and so on. In general, the further away one is the more the direct sound attenuates (due to distance) in comparison to room sound which stays pretty much the same level no matter where the loudspeakers are in the room / how far one listens to. Its just direct to reflected sound ratio that reduces with distance. More over, the further away one is the shorter path length difference of first reflections, which means they are now closer and louder to direct sound and so on. Simplified any effect the room reflections have on perceived sound would increase with increasing listening distance.

The OP also complained about how the room didn't fill up with sound. Now, that kind of big sound is often a result of bigger multi-way speakers that often require larger minimum distances. Using horn speakers (that could tilt) would easily 'project' the treble at the LP area (somewhere within the room), and with the back wall being 30 ft away, only the weak early reflections would remain. Hence my recommendation.

Yeah its true one needs to be far enough, to be in far field of a speaker. Isn't rule of thumb for far field something like 2-3x longest dimension of the speaker? Perhaps simplify to 3x distance between drivers. Anyway, if the room is small and noisy its possible there is no good listening distance, one is either too far or too close to the speakers; Increasing directivity to increase direct/room sound ratio needs sizable speaker, which might mean far field gets too far and the ratio doesn't increase enough and good sound never happens.

Yeah description for lack of clarity and room filling sound brings me thoughts acoustics is quite bad, that the environment is too noisy, acoustically uncomfortable. Also expectations might be something that cannot meet reality and so on. In general its hard to know other people context so hard to say what would make better or worse system. Perhaps the issue is completely different than whats in the thread thus far. Everyone need to test them selves eventually and figure it out on their own, or hire some expert that can come over and help out :)

I think this stuff is core to good hifi sound quality, speaker needs to fit the application, so its worth it to explore some. It would be a good (and free) start for the project to experiment with the speakers one already has. Put the speakers to a proper stereo triangle setup, temporarily middle of the room or something. Experiment with listening distance, from very close to further away. Try to get the best possible sound just with positioning. This is just to check out what happens when listening close enough, is this what you are looking for? Then, what if the speakers were in the kitchen? is the sound in the kitchen now what one expects it should be? Reasoning from these simple tests one can perhaps zone in what is required, what are the realities and what is needed to meet expectations. It might be something that one is not willing to implement, but thats fine as well, just do what ever seems to fit best, what keeps the household happy while still having some improvement in sound :) experiment away.
 
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Maybe you'd like some Apple Homepods. High WAF and omnidirectional and apparently has some DSP eq stuff. Can return if you don't like them.
A friend has a large, highly reflective room with a vaulted ceiling, etc. Add-on acoustical treatments were aesthetically unacceptable to his significant other. After fighting the room for a few years, he went the HomePod route and loved the result. He's not an audiophile, but was mainly going after speech intelligibilty with movies, TV, etc.

HomePods have a lot of DSP built in and self tuning features as well.
 
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I would use the long wall too. See Joachim Gerhardt at Sueskind audio speakers placement philosophy.
Look at heissman axoustic for some in wall little loudspeakers.
Or go for the soundbar if the tv is often used for the playback to have a pictures and soundstage brain matching.
 
@tmuikku, I'm aware of and understand your point(s) regarding direct vs reflected sound, but I really doubt if the issue is related to reverberation at all. This is mainly because the the OP already says the following. The sidewalls are also 30 feet apart !

We listen to music at moderate level: the sound comes from a single point and does not "fill" the room.

Based on the above, I think the OP is already enjoying good stereo imaging (result of the long wall) but somehow prefers the sound 'filling the room' to it.
 
Woohoo thanks a lot for a these answers ...
I'll try to answer/comment briefly:

Acoustics of the room
The room is heavily furnished but all furniture ends at waist level, except for the TV cabinet which is a tall furniture. Hard wooden floor. Walls are mostly free and white to optimize light and I am afraid we won't be changing that. We do not find the room to have much echo though (entirely subjective of course).

intelligibility
With current speaker placement the ratio direct to reflected sound is certainly quite poor. Please note that I have speech understanding issues anyway.

We probably can a place for a soundbar. If we take our tiny TV (by today's standards) out of the cabinet and place the large soundbar in front of it, and in front of a mostly empty wall, this will look somewhat weird. Discussion is ongoing ...

MathAudio Room EQ
Looked at https://www.roomeqwizard.com/ some time ago. I wonder if I would have the patience to iterate on this.

I think the OP is already enjoying good stereo imaging (result of the long wall) but somehow prefers the sound 'filling the room' to it.
Stereo imaging is actually poor because of the speakers being so close together. Anyway I would definitely prefer having an immersive sound even if loosing on stereo imaging.

big speakers with horn
JBL Paragon
They cannot be that big :) but maybe I can fit two directive loudspeakers in the two corners of the small (3.6m/10ft) wall, close to the ceiling. It turns out the "wall" in front of it is actually a window bay that can be entirely covered with curtains. The speakers would have to be entirely white though (membrane not visible or white). Any suggestion?

reduce listening distance
In this case having multiple satellites along the long wall would seem like an option. I think the amp could drive 4 8ohms satellites.
Did somebody tried 3D printed speakers such as
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4128781
or
?
Those one use Tang Band W3-2141 driver which is not that cheap.

The compact series is very beautiful but I doubt I could make them look that good myself.
I am not impressed by the wall-mounted loudspeaker aesthetics.

Hum they exist in white! Might be an option ;)

People have living rooms and offices but no "room"
not even a bathroom! ;)
 
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jeromeh said:
We do not find the room to have much echo though...

jeromeh said:
With current speaker placement the ratio direct to reflected sound is certainly quite poor.

The above observations appear to be contradictory.

jeromeh said:
Stereo imaging is actually poor because of the speakers being so close together. Anyway I would definitely prefer having an immersive sound even if loosing on stereo imaging.

In that case, tmuikku is right, you're far away and also have itsy-bitsy little speakers that don't put out much sound, resulting in point-source with no reverberations.
 
With current speaker placement the ratio direct to reflected sound is certainly quite poor.
We do not find the room to have much echo though...
The above observations appear to be contradictory.
It may no be contradictory. Current speakers are lying above that tall TV cabinet behind plants. When seated there is no direct line between the ears and the tweeters.
The fact I perceive them as point like sources may be an effect of my hearing aid actually. We also listen at moderate level. When pushing the volume the room certainly fills with sound.
Current speakers are bookshelf type 30x20x25cm (or 12x10x8").

Trying to sort the ideas:

No. Curves aren't that good and I prefer standard following stuff.

Loudspeakers on the short wall of the living room
Hence rather large loudspeakers. This is finally a "no" two. Cabling would be difficult too.

Still undecided.

Satellites on the long living room wall + sub
Satellites would be about 15x15x20cm (or 6x8x8") with probably 2" drivers. I can easily place 4 of them with 2 in the TV cupboard. I now understand I cannot completely conceal them ;)
If I understood correctly they must have some directivity. When sitting in the middle of the room they would be at ear level and direct to reflected sound ratio should be appropriate.
For colors/materials they could be natural wood, in which case I would buy complete loudspeakers, or white in which case I could either buy them of 3D print them. Or a mix of wood and 3D print like https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4668173

Our living room looks fairly low tech with few devices visible. I try to preserve that look.
 
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Hi, yeah some small fullrange driver on a small enclosure might be fine option. Sound would beam a little, meaning that you can point them to main listening position and get bit more clarity there, while still enjoying roughly similar sound elsewhere as you now have with the current setup.

Small ~3-5" fullrange driver would make quite simple and small speaker. Tymphany TG9 or similar will get you ~soundbar quality sound for cheap. Bass would be lacking on a small box, but that is true to all small boxes in general. But, if you hae bloated bass and not much treble it would takeaway from clarity/intelligibility as well, so lean bass is not necessarily a bad thing.

Check out two towers project by wesayso on the fullrange forum, perhaps linearrays would work? 170cm tall next to cupboard? :) I'm hiding my big speakers into furniture, although decoration at home is not that critical I don't want to watch the speakers either, I only want good sound :)
 
heck out two towers project by wesayso on the fullrange forum, perhaps linearrays would work?

I don't think he could hide that behind a plant, it may be just a tiny bit to visible :D.
I'd understand that not many wives would give it the seal of approval, even though member OPC has shown an excellent way to soften their appearance:

finished-line-array-jpg.232514


That's quite a bit different from my "in your face" shiny baffles... they hardly take up any space, fitting on an A4 size paper and being close to the wall...