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 Robert Harrison's Tunable System

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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:11 am

Hi Robert

This is so good, I'm very excited! BTW if you do find a good deal on a leather recliner grab it. Here in Vegas it's so easy to find furniture cheap because it is so transient here. It makes it easy for me to listen to different types and see how they sound in a particular room. Drewster (Andy) will tell you that the sofa (for example) that I had in my big room at the Vegas Towers sounded great. It was very strange and wonderful how that thing did some cool stuff in that room.


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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:21 am

Hey, Mr. Green,

The movie theater complex I work at changed out all their old fabric chairs for leather covered seats this past summer. I did notice a difference in sound quality. The bass response, in particular, was goosed to be sure. Is it because the wave can bounce back out into the auditorium instead of being absorbed by the fabric?

As for my new media room, I want to make it clear that the sound quality is NOT muddy, my joke about the BOO notwithstanding. It is reverberant, but during the 2 animated films I watched last night (Disney's version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and the Japanese Studio Ghibli's "The Cat Returns"), dialog was quite intelligible. "Hunchback" was a musical and during some songs, a few lyrics got lost in the acoustics, but that is something to strive for in the future.

Your recent mention of sound effects in a Pink Floyd recording reminds me of an earlier observation I made in these here posts of mine; that I, personally, may be better off listening to sound field recordings such as those on my "Digital Domain" CD as opposed to music as I try to dial in more realism. Also, movie soundtracks. Back in the laserdisc days, my reference was the James Bond film "The Living Daylights." There were some off-screen effects that never registered with me until I did some work to make them come through more clearly.

For instance, Bond is in Prague (I think) riding a street car. There are various effects to simulate the creaks and grinds. At one point, after he disembarks the street car, there is the off-screen sound of the vehicles doors opening and closing. Originally, these effects were very disembodied until I spent some time dialing them in. During that time, I had a pair of Radio Shack subwoofers and I used to move those around incrementally to best dial in the girth of the street car as it traveled along.

In another shot, we see the inside of a kitchen, with off-screen sounds of a milkman nearing from the outside with his bottles clinking, while inside water can be heard boiling in a pot. I recall at one point, I had that dialed in to where I could almost tell where the milkman was behind the outside wall, with the boiling water sounding more like it would in life than just some vague sound effect.

So, I won't abandon my music, but I will start to put more sound effects from CDs and movie soundtracks into my tuning adventures.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:42 am

Excellent! I think we have something here.

Yes the leather chairs still absorb but they throw back almost as much as they take in were as the fabric keeps hogging the sound like a sponge. Man do I wish I had a theatre beyond my setup in my writing room. Love movies and soundtracks. Maybe I'll be able to move into a little bigger space when my time here is done. Use to love having my 2 SW10 subs in the room, they did just enough for movies (no mud) but sound great on music.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:58 am


Hi Robert

Sounds like your room has great potential. I am intrigued that you are driving your Magneplanars with just 15W or is it with 30W -- in both cases a lot less that the manufacturer recommends and what conventional wisdom dictates. I got a 60W integrated amp around....I wonder....no....

Sonic
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:51 pm

Hey, Sonic,

And remember, that's all that was driving the speakers in the bigger room. With cheap 18 guage cable, no less. For CD listening, the volume control only needs to go up about 2 notches, somewhere around the 7 or 8 o'clock postion on the rotary dial. For movies, the 12 o'clock position (midway) does the job. If you would have told me such a thing was possible a few years ago I wouldn't have even listened, so sure was I of thick cables and interconnects and at least 200 watts per channel. Not to mention the so-called Rule of Thirds, sitting away from walls, treating first reflection points, live end/dead end, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:28 pm


Hi Robert

The Rule of Thirds is something that can teach Zonees a lot by way of contrast.

In theory, placing speakers at the 1/3 points of the length, width and then sitting at the 1/3 length of the room puts everything and the listener in the null points where the room is least excited by at least some of the frequencies related to the dimensions. There will be the others like the 1/L and 1/2L waves that are not affected.

Each time I moved my speakers from what ever placement I used to the Rule of Thirds I got a significant loss of speaker efficiency, a loss of volume, a constrained stage and odd presentation of the orchestral image.

The solution back then was to rationalise it like this - the magazines say the 1/3 rule is good, so it must be. The loss in volume is because the room is out of the equation and the sound more pure. So get bigger amps. I hit 190w into 8 ohms, 360w into 4 ohms at one point. I cranked up the volume. At higher SPLs, the soundstage did start to open up then I had to deaden parts of the room at first reflection points then other reflection points with absorption but this called for more power and so it spiraled. For all the theory, I was not enjoying the music.

Then I heard about Michael and went the Tune route. Today, Sonic is getting more than enough clean volume with an amp with a power output at the bottom of the range that Magneplanar recommends to its customers. My soundstage expands beyond my walls very often and my room for all its Boo! is coming into control using Mr Green's thinking that is getting the job done with less absorption than audiophile think possible.

A thought Robert. LIke you, I sit close to a surface behind me (my Bookcase Wall) and found I got good results when some tune surface are behind me. In my case it was an FS-PZC and at one time a tune strip. There are Space Cones on the Bookcase Wall. Drewster has a tuning board and Michael has one too. Try something this way and see if it stabilises the images and expands the ambient halo.

Sonic
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:01 pm

Hey, Sonic,

Wednesday evening, before I read your post, I was listening to a newly recorded mix CD. After a few tracks, it was beginning to bother me that the soundfield was staying in the front of the room. I reached back and opened the closet door behind me to where it almost touched the back of my chair. Immediately, the sound came forward. It didn't fill the back half of the room. It seemed to come to my position in what I will decsribe as a cone shape, wrapping around my head. Is this the halo of which you speak? At any rate, it's a start.

Also, the same evening before firing everything up, I put some flanged nuts under the speaker slats, 2 under each slat, and 3 smaller ones under the receiver. This is me experimenting with mass transfer.

I don't what affected which how, but DAMN did I have some bass! We're talking SENSURROUND here. Again, this was with the receiver's volume control set to where I had been setting it for listening to these mix CDs that I make on my computer. As the first tune began, I sensed that the level would be louder than usual, but I didn't turn it down. I just let those bass waves wash over me. The tunes were mostly ambient/electronic stuff.

Last night, I turned the voume down half a notch to listen to one of my reference mix CDs. Other than the goosed up bass, nothing else really revealed itself, i.e. no "I never noticed that before" moments. But, overall, very nice, considering no acoustic work has been done yet. When he gets time, Mr. Green might give me some direction in where to put the RT Squares and Tuning Strips. I have 8 of each, but they might not all be needed. The tricky part is dealing with that bi-level ceiling.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:22 pm

Hi Robert

I'd kinda like to hear this when you get a chance.

RT's flat against the walls except for the one in the back above the closet. Don't know how soon you'll run in to over kill so if things start to sound dull or closed in let me know.




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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:35 am


Hi Robert

What you got with the "cone of head wrap" might be the start of the halo effect though in my set up the instrumental image stays in the front of the room from the plane of the Magneplanars back towards and beyond the front and side walls.

There should be ambience coming forward towards you from the instrumental sound field reaching to you and past you to beyond the rear walls of your room. Now I found when I had FS-DRTs flanking my listening chair toed in, the ambience narrowed round my listening seat, I guess you could call it a "cone". So your experience could be a step in the right direction as well as an indication that the zone around your listening chair has too much near reflections.

Good mass transfer can give your Magnaplanars huge bass with having to use a sobwoofer. Just listen to the entire sound not just the bass or treble or mids. Sonic knows people who get focussed so much on one feature of the sound -- like female vocals -- that this is the only thing that is right and everything else in the harmonic envelop is wrong. I have fallen into this trap myself where I tuned my system to optimise one feature but let other parts of the sound go backwards in the process.

Give yourself a good long listening session, may be overnight, listening to as wide a variety of music you like. Take notes of what your system is doing right and what is less than right compared to your last experience of live music.

Have you experimented with a bit of toe in for your speakers? The Magneplanars can get directional in the treble and the upper mid/trebles go uneven. Apparently they don't roll-off in a straight line with increasing off-axis radiation. What is the angle of the tweeter axis to you? If you got not toe in at all, Sonic found a little snaps the voices and instruments into focus. Too much and the stage goes bananas (shaped) and images start to stick to the speaker panels, but about 1/2" to 2" of toe in might give you some neat improvements.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:47 pm

Hey, Mr. Green and Sonic,

Thanks much for the diagrams and advice. I use mix CDs precisely because they give me a potpourri of different artists and recording styles. These are all in the instrumental/ambient/electronic and rock song categories. And, of course, watching TV shows and movies.

I am still getting acclimated to this new room (and it's probably still getting acclimated to its new function). It's only been 10 days since I made this move, so I want to give myself more time to just LISTEN to what I have (as Sonic says, "to the ENTIRE sound") before I put up the RT Squares. You fellas can move relatively quickly because you are old hands at this. I've been going at it seriously for 2 years and after all that, just sort of "retreated" to try another room. As I have stated, many, many times, I felt I was chasing my tail in that bigger room. It looks like I may catch it in this new smaller room. Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:10 am



Hi Robert

You might be close to getting the room to give you the Real Musick. Sonic wrote a couple of thoughts on Tuning that is related to your and my experience of Tuning over the years and chasing of tails -- it is over on my thread, have a look.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:51 pm

Being a student of settling myself, I enjoy listening to waves develop almost as much as the music itself.




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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:44 pm

Hey, Mr. Green,

I have had the RT Squares up in the positions shown on your diagram for a few days now. I seem to be getting a repeat of what I had in the other room when I was sitting on the long wall there, i.e. the front wall is a virtual sound source, particularly the lower corners. Hardly anything goes past the plane of the speakers towards me, either. There is still an overall "bathroom walls" effect on dialog that I notice when watching a TV show or movie. And, no vanishing walls.

I was wondering why you thought with what little acoustic treatment I have that I might reach overkill in this room?
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:23 pm


Hi Robert

Sonic found that the addition of small amounts of damping material can cause an imbalance in the room that may worsen or make more prominent negative room effects like midrange honks or one-note sustain. What this means that when we go to live rooms we need to get things in balance. The opposite of going to a dead room is quite intolerable.

Looks like you have to do some room exploration like Sonic did with the Boo! test to discover where your energy loading points, spots or flow directions are in your room. It could be the ceiling to floor or side wall to side wall or loading out of one corner or another. You might find that Shutters or Aeroplanes are the things you need to break up the problems. A little more RoomTune controlled damping in the room might work but often we have to let the system settle and wait for our ears to get accustomed to things -- on first change,the room could sound too dead with a shortened decay time for voices and instruments or a runaway echoey room. As settling happens things get more listenable. I wonder if it is the room and equipment settling or if it our ears?

Though when the sound starts to gell in the room like Sonic has got these few days, we find we are very far ahead of the audiophile crowd.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:34 pm

Hey, Sonic,

It's quite possible also that Mr. Green doesn't want me to keep fighting the good fight with those monolithic Magnepan speakers when he is working on a pair of his tunable beauties for me. If I go too far now, I may have to backtrack at that later date.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:42 pm


Hi Robert

Naww...don't think that's quite Mr Green. For sure, the Magneplanars are large enough on their own to be a factor in affecting the Pressure Flow of a room.

I have tried moving my Magneplanars around and where they are in the room certainly affects the frequency signature and decay of the Boo! and their sound in and of the room.

In this sense the Magneplanars are not neutral devices. There is a cycle (though not necessarily vicious) where their presence significantly influences the room and the room influences them and the best is to get everything into a sort of equilibrium. And Sonic's present view is this might ultimately be a slightly tense relationship rather than perfect harmony.

Which tuneable speakers from Michael have you ordered?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:36 pm

Hi Robert

I would be interested to have you move the Maggies forward until the sound stage jumps to the outside of the room if it does. In smaller rooms you should be able to open and close the stage at will then shape the stage to your liking. If the door keeps you from getting close, close, then move your chair forward till you fall into the stage.

Have you put more tunes up yet?

There is going to be a relationship developed between your tv, speaker and ear placement. Once you fall into the soundstage you will be able to move in and out of it and make judgements on depth by moving your 3 (ear, tv, speakers) closer together and further apart. Also you can begin playing tuning games with the RT Pillows.

Sounds like you still have plenty of energy to use so lets look at putting more up and seeing what you get.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:20 pm


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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:34 pm

Hey, Mr. Green,

If you mean for me to put an RT Square in the back right corner, it would have to straddle the closet doors as you can see here. They go up almost right up against the side wall. Or are you indicating that I should have the Square on the side wall facing me?


New Media Room 010 by ozonerman, on Flickr
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:48 pm

Hi Robert

I'm thinking flat against this side wall unless it shuts down the stage at all.


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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:48 pm

Hey, Mr. Green,

I guess I know what I will be doing for the next few weeks, one step at a time, of course. Thanks.

Sonic,
Surely you know what kind of speaker Mr. Green is working on. A tunable one, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:21 pm

Hi Robert

Have you checked the crickets on Abbey Road lately? This is such an easy guide to side to side width. Once someone gets those crickets dialed in it is easy to take in our memory anywhere.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:59 pm

Hey, Mr. Green,

I hardly listen to "Abbey Road" because I get frustrated when I don't get 35 foot wide crickets. I'm in a new room, so I will start putting that one into heavy rotation with my other "references." Thanks for reminding me.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:34 pm

Hi Robert

I your room though it's going to give an idea where the stage is at. When you do put it on I would like to first follow the path of the crickets.

When they start out do they start right at the right speaker or slightly to the outside of the speaker?

Do they start in front of the speaker or behind the speaker?

How high are they?

And very important, what is the pattern shaped like when they cross the room?

Do they stop at the left speaker, or travel beyond the speaker?

What a hobby, I love this stuff!

Also wanted to know if you have played with the floorstanders you have made in the room yet? These could be great shaping tools and tell us what type of floorstanders we might want in there.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:45 pm

Hey, Mr. Green,

After my obligatory home from work meal and viewing of an episode of "Hogan's Heroes," I turned off the TV and put on "Abbey Road," selecting "Sun King." I found it hard to concentrate on those crickets as the kick drum was driving me to distraction. It begins in the left channel and travels over to the right channel where it plopped down into the base of my right channel speaker.

I moved the speakers about an inch at a time and gave a listen to the beginning of "Sun King" as well as a minute or so of 2 or 3 other tracks on the CD. My aim was to have that kick drum at least appear to come from slightly behind the right speaker and not directly in the right speaker.

As I had cut the speaker cables to length, this became a can of worms. After a couple of moves, I took the flanged nuts I had been using as mass transfer devices out from under the speakers and the receiver. I did not move the platforms. I moved the speakers farther forward towards my listening position. I also had to move the receiver and the player farther forward on their platform to accomodate the short length of the speaker cables.

After a couple of moves, that secondary bunch of crickets (or frogs) suddenly made their brief appearance, slightly right of center. More moves and those other crickets/frogs became more apparent and moved further to the right. The bass guitar in the left channel also became less "raunchy" sounding as the speaker plane moved closer to me. If anything (allowing for all these moves and no settling time), it seemed that the stage was going slightly beyond the left wall but only behind the speaker. This was less apparent on the right side.

On "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," John Lennon's voice begins at the right speaker and then shifts to the front center wall. Would I be wrong in guessing that you experience something different, e.g. the voice stays in the same plane as it moves?

The moves also revealed how the piano at the beginning of "You Never Give Me Your Money" would sometimes stay at the left speaker and other times I would hear an echo accompanying it near the front left wall.

Not being overly familiar with this CD, I put on "Pure Moods," a compilation of Enigma, Deep Forest, Enya, Mike Oldfield and others. I can't remember the last time I was able to make it through this CD without falling asleep and last night was no different. Probably because nothing new was coming through. In fact, the soundstage was doing that U shaped thing where it ran from the left speaker to the front wall and across and back up to the right speaker.

Another thing is that the Pioneer receiver still has that problem where the balance leans to the left at the level I listen to CDs at. It was the same in the bigger room since I got the unit. Turning up the volume for DVDs doesn't exhibit this problem. I quickly turned the volume control left and right, hoping the balance would settle in through the crackling which occurs when doing so, but it never did. I went looking for a small can of contact cleaner spray but couldn't find it, so I used compresed air and that eliminated the crackle when turning the knob. Still, the balance was off. I might have to resort to using the balance control.

I will give this a few days of listening to see what settling will tell me. I have not put up any more Room Tunes yet. The speakers were moved forward about 10 inches total.

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