TAA: Settling In

Once I got the Maggie 1.6s home and set up, I fired up iTunes on our little Dell Zino. My wife was impressed, but I wasn’t hearing something that I’d heard in the store. I hooked up the Polk 10Bs, and did a comparison. Remarkably, I heard no great difference between the quality of the sound between the Polks and Maggies.

My suppositions were speaker position. My friend Tim suggested it might be room acoustics. (Our family room is extremely live. Windows to the left. Hardwood floor. High peaked ceiling. Maxi-axi-axi Echo-echo-cho.) In any case, I knew from the in store demo with my amp that it was capable of better sound than I was hearing.

I pulled the speakers out. Spread them apart. Reversed left and right, so the tweeters were on the inside. Looked up room treatments. Tried to figure out how I might talk the wife into acoustic clouds dangling from the ceiling.

I did find the website of Russian born, Canada based artist Olga Oreshyna. If you’re in the market for diffusion panels, check her work out. (South African audio site’s review | Olga’s site | Her page specifically for diffusion panels).

I thought it might be worthwhile to chat with the gentlemen at Audio Systems to get their opinion. Stuart asserted they didn’t use anything fancy, and that I didn’t need to either. He showed me the panels they have backed with insulation. The cheapie rugs they have hanging on the walls. The pillows they have stuck in corners. The curtains that are covering up what looks to be quilt batting. It’s all very low tech, but effective enough. Certainly one could spend thousands on room treatment, but Stuart made some great suggestions on inexpensive things I could do to improve the room.

The takeaways:

  • You don’t need to spend a lot on room treatment.
  • There’s a bank of three windows to the left of the listening position. Suggested fix is heavier curtains. (Interestingly, my wife sells CAbi clothing, and when she has the clothes on the rack in front of those windows, it seems to sound better.)
  • The large rear projection TV should keep reflections from bouncing off the front wall, so no treatment needed there.
  • Our dining room is to the right, so sound likely just gets lost in that space. Nothing to do there.
  • I did roll out a large rug on the hardwood floor, which seems to help some. Stuart suggested a thicker rug.
  • Rather than diffusion on the back wall, Stuart suggested some sort of sound dampening panel. My plan is to print a larger canvas print, and stuff the back full of some sort of…something. Perhaps the insulation panels I’ve seen recommended.
  • And as far as the ceiling; Stuart pointed out that the Maggies are dipole speakers. What comes out of the front is 180 degrees out of phase with what comes out the back. So as those signals travel up, those two out of phase signals tend to cancel each other out. So there’s nothing that needs to be done to the ceiling. (No uncomfortable discussions about the clouds then. #Win.)

Next: It’s the DAC, stupid.

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