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 Robert Harrison's Tunable System

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Robert Harrison



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Location : Harwood Heights, Illinois

PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:48 pm

Hey, everybody,

I have 3 platforms in the house, one for the Magnavox DVD/CD player and Pioneer receiver combo; and one each for the Magnepan speakers. I have no MTDs under anything and I haven't loosened the screws on the platforms yet. Sometimes it may be that I have gone from one extreme (trying several different things in one evening, as I did in the 1990s) to the other (erring on the side of letting things settle, but perhaps for longer periods of time than necessary to be able to differentiate between changes both positive and negative).

Still, to recap Mr. Green's advice:

...The question for me always is "if I don't let it settle how do I know?". I've gotten used to the settling process which kind of goes like this: at first clean and shifted up, next mellow but disembodied, then finally the real sound where you can here some of the full range settling in. It's easy to be fooled by the middle part of settling and I feel this is where most probably get lost, confused and make irrational changes.

I believe I have heard some of this already in the week I have had the platforms (although I haven't spent much time listening due to this, that and the other), particularly that second part on a recent compilation of songs which sounded mellow, or more like "closed in." This compared to another song compilation a few evenings earlier that sounded more lively.
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:49 pm


Hi Robert

In Sonic's experience a tune can take me from "clean and shifted up" to a settled state or go straight to Stage 2 -- the closed down, somewaht bassy and cloudy phase -- then settled.

Sometimes in my case, the sound starts out good and it gets worse as it settles and I start changing things or giving up and going back to the system restore point which I always note in my notes.

I think (and need to go thru my records) that Sonic may have lost many a good tune by giving up when things got shifted around.

The thing is how do we know the difference between a settling tune and a tune/tweak/mod that is failing?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:24 pm

Hi Guys

It really is an interesting thing. I spend a ton of my time just listening to the process. It teaches me so much and helps me get an understanding of music at a different level. I remember the great Jim Bookhard use to put settling at the top of his tuning list. We would talk about weeks instead of hours or days.

Robert, one thing to keep in mind is your speaker platforms are designed to work with the tunable speakers being built and are going to have a slightly different effect with your maggies.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:42 pm

I would like to start with your floor. As we use your platforms we need to take a look/listen to what they are sitting on and what is sitting on them. I know recently your time is limited but we will work around this and when you do have time we get start to blend the components of your materials so that we get the most out of transfer. I really would have liked to get over to your place to listen and maybe in the future this can be done so I can get a clear sonic reference of the waves in there.

Is your flooring real tile or peel and stick?

How old is it?

Peel and stick (assuming that's what it is) gets harder as time goes by and the sound of it changes with aging. But, before we get too into that I have a big question for you.

When you put the maggies on the platforms did the sound run into the speakers or did they sound like the disappeared more?

One of the key parts to the transfer process for speakers is to make them disappear and getting them to the place to do this involves several things. One of them of course being placement but another is how their vibrational distribution happens.

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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:41 pm

Hey, Mr. Green,

The tile must be peel and stick, because it is very thin, laid over the concrete floor in the mid 1980s.

I had to get myself a screw driver with a square end to loosen those screws on the top of the platforms and finally did that just last night. After the usual (brief) warm-up time (where I watch an episode of an old sitcom on DVD, currently "Hogan's Heroes") and have an after work meal, I put on the same new age mix CD that I had listened to the prevoius evening. The results were hard to gage, as I kept nodding off, although less than the previous night. You know, an 11 hour shift and a meal and I'm heading for Dreamland.

Do the Magnepan speakers disappear more or less? Gee, I can't tell yet, but let's put it this way. Nothing is going beyond the walls yet. The sound fills the room on CDs, but on movies it stays more from the TV to the wall behind me.

One other thing to discuss: I have been mulling over moving my set-up into an ajacent bedroom which measures 12 x 9.5 feet. I had intended to try this out last spring during a week off from work. I never found the energy, though, as I would have to move everything myself. The walls there are painted drywall; there is no panelling. The ceiling still dips down where the HVAC duct runs through the basement, but in this room, unlike the other, the carpenter covered that area with something solid instead of drop ceiling tiles, which there still are (smaller ones, 2' x 2' instead of 2' x 4') on the higher part of the ceiling. The floor has the same tiles over concrete.

Because this would still be an audio/visual set-up, I would be restricted to sitting on the short wall so that I won't be much closer to my TV than I am now. Did you ever get around to to setting up your A/V area?

Sonic,

I wish I had your energy. I did back in the 1990s. I still kick myself for not getting into Mr. Green's world back then.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:52 pm

This smaller room is very interesting indeed, and if chosen would change the direction of what speakers I would design for you. Not in a bad way either. If we could turn your screen into an acoustical devise this could be something special. This year I have done a few rooms this size or close to it and the results have been surprisingly good. Do you have pics? Or let me know where the door is and I can draw it and we can start looking at the possibility.

Something to think about as well. Since this is an AV/stereo setup I have done a really cool little system that I use to talk about using the RCA AV receiver sub and sats and it sounded great! I haven't talked about it much because the unit was discontinued and people were going full range, but if we are talking sub (because of the video part) this might be really cool to look at.

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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:41 pm

Last night, I watched "Godzilla vs King Ghidorah." The soundtrack was stereo, in my case, as usual, probably a 5.1 mix downconverted to 2.0. There were a couple of instances where I was actually startled, and that hasn't happened in awhile. One was a ringing phone that appeared to come from immediately behind my left speaker, as if it was sitting on the platform. This same sound effect was used two more times, once imaging in the center and once more a little to the right, but in neither of these instances did it sound as real.

I had just finished drinking Coke from a plastic bottle when a continuous bass wave hit me from the ongoing movie. I could feel the vibrations in the bottle. I am experiencing first hand why Mr. Green is an advocate of platforms.

My subwoofer has been out of use since late spring of last year, but I haven't missed it. So, Mr. Green, I wouldn't care to to try to re-instate it or any sub. As I have said before, it's enough work getting two speakers to meld together seamlessly. A friend with a full 5 channel set-up wants to take it off my hands, so I'm going to let him have it.

I am curious about your remark about turning the TV into an acoustical device. Would the TV be less of an acoustic nuisance against a wall in the 12' room than it is now in the middle of the 22' foot room? I will send or post some pics soon, though I don't know what they will tell you as I have so much junk in that bedroom (and in the rest of the basement); all the stuff I have removed from my current AV room.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:24 pm

LOL, Yep, the platforms are going to make things jump as they allow the waves to develop much more than they did in the past.

The pics will help even if the room seems messy to you.

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:46 pm

Taking a look at the extra room for posible system setup.






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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: My current media room set-up   Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:22 pm

PLEASE IGNORE THE CAPTIONS. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO GET RID OF THEM AND STILL HAVE THE PICS COME THROUGH FROM FLICKR. THEY MENTION A BEDROOM, BUT THOSE PICS ARE IN THE POST ABOVE, WHICH I SENT DIRECTLY TO MR. GREEN.


media room and bedroom 7 2012 v3 009 by ozonerman, on Flickr
The Magnavox and the Pioneer on the platform, in front of the TV stand. I have to say the Magnavox is fine for CD playing, but that machine does not like DVD-Rs and I have a lot of them. Since I MUST have a "media" room as opposed to just a listening room, I will need to reinstate the Panasonic Blu-ray player into the mix for movie watching.


media room and bedroom 7 2012 v3 010 by ozonerman, on Flickr
The right channel speaker on its platform. Leaning against the wall is one of the ceiling tiles I removed from above my seating area. The tile is fiberglass with a thin white plastic covering. I'm using a few of these tiles as stand-ins for Mr. Green's passive products (e.g. Deco Tunes).


media room and bedroom 7 2012 v3 011 by ozonerman, on Flickr
My listening chair, more of a sleeping chair these days, unfortunately. It is flanked by one of those upright shelves/barriers I have been messing about with. Leaning against the back of the shelf/barrier is another ceiling tile. Perhaps I still don't understand pressure zone shaping, but it seemed it might put more pressure on the chair. I know usually such items are located in the opposite side of the room. I had tried this for a while but, like Sonic, I tend to move things around.


media room and bedroom 7 2012 v3 012 by ozonerman, on Flickr
Here you see the same set-up on the left side of my chair. Notice how in each case, I have an RT Square on the floor corner. Usually these are placed on the ceiling corners, but I wonder if they are necessary when one doesn't have a solid ceiling. I picked up some used Tuning Strips from Audiogon and I have them between the floor and ceiling in all six corners of my room (2 corners on my listening end and 4 on the other end).


media room and bedroom 7 2012 v3 013 by ozonerman, on Flickr
Here is a view above my chair with the ceiling tiles out. Above in the spaces between the braces holding up the upstairs floor is fiberglass insulation that my father put up back in the early 1980s before the basement was finished.


media room and bedroom 7 2012 v3 016 by ozonerman, on Flickr
A view of the TV on its stand for Mr. Green to ponder, as he mentioned turning it into an acoustical device.

Nothing in the rear of the room except a pressure box and the subwoofer, which is going bye-bye soon to a friend of mine.
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:48 am


Hi Robert

Your system looks great! Have you tried angling the two panels at each side of your listening chair so you get a \ / ? IME, you get a more open ambient field. that way. With my set up I am at about 30 degrees to the rear wall. When I increase the angling, the rear stage gets more noticeable but closes in and I hear a narrower ambience but a wider instrumental soundstage given the width of my Magneplanars.

How is that amp driving your Magneplanars? How many watts does it put out on paper?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:09 pm

Hi Robert

How are the platforms? They should be opening up your tones by now. Mine just keep settling and giving me more girth, warmth and solidity as time goes on. I'm afraid to touch anything it's sounding so good. Laughing

Michael said we're going to do my theatre some time. That's frightening affraid
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:47 pm

Hey, Sonic and bob,

Let's not forget the difference between me and you guys; as they said in "Ghostbusters," you "have the tools, you have the talent."

I have had limited time this summer to accomplish much. Heck, it took me 2 attempts to watch a whole movie recently and that was spread over several nights. I sure can get some mean bass from 15 watts per channel, so I must be doing something right. But, I long to hear Mr. Green's speakers coupled with those bee-utiful platforms.

Sonic, I have had those upright shelf/barriers in many positions, includng as you suggested, mostly last summer when my system was set up on the long wall. No doubt I can only get so much performance out them as they haven't had the Green Treatment. He would probably rap his knuckles on them and say, "No wonder!" Very Happy

As I have said, where once I made mucho adjustments to this and that, now I find I take it much slower. My old complaint of "six of one, half a dozen of another" still holds true. Last night, I put on a Brian Eno CD I hadn't listened to in a couple of years. Mostly electronic sounds, some things were more pronounced, wheras others I remember hearing more distinctly. Some things imaged at the speaker locations, and nothing has left the outside of the walls yet. But, then, I'm not one to strip components totally down to their underwear as some of you do. I have yet to try letting the power outlets hang out of the wall and my cables are still touching the floor.

So, yeah, I have a ways to go, when I find the time and energy.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:48 am

Hi Robert

I'll tell you what I keep looking at "the exposed ceiling". Did you remove all the tiles? I haven't done an open rafter ceiling in quite a while but when I did it gave me interesting results and in some ways a lot of flexibility.


hmmmmmm thinking study

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:40 am


Hi Robert

A suggestion if I may -- given the distance of your speakers from the front wall, you may need a pair or three FS-PZCs out in the middle to stabilise the centre images and prevent the banana soundstage. The PZCs will fill in the middle with girth to and help avoid a "disconnected L-R sound halo" syndrome.

Err... what's that?

Something Sonic has observed in several systems.

Imagine an instrument that throws a BIG sound halo -- baritone sax, hurdy gurdy, bass drum -- recorded on one side of the stage around one speaker. The volume of the instrument throws a large halo that fills the room (recording venue and your room ideally) and will spread over to and be reproduced by the other speaker. In an untuned or poorly tuned system, the instrument will be heard on one side, nothing (or much less) in the middle and the rest of the halo appears again around the other speaker. Odd and at odds with real sound.

I had this till I learned how to tune it out with the PZC cluster in the front of the room behind my rack.

Sonic
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:38 am

Hey, Mr. Green,

I have only removed the tiles over my seating area. The tiles under the HVAC duct can not be removed. I still have all the tiles up in the back end of the room, where there are a great many more.

I am off work for a week beginning today. This would be an ideal time for me to switch to the smaller room. What does your instinct tell you? It would be a major job as I would have to move everything by myself, that being why I blew it off on my last week off. Should I stay in the room I'm in or switch? The smaller tiles in the bedroom can also be removed and there would be hell of a lot less of them than in the bigger room. But, then there's still that solid area hiding the HVAC duct. What's a tunee to do?

Sonic,

As you can see, the decision on what else to add would depend on the room. If I stay in the current room, there is all kinds of space. If I move to the bedroom, the TV stand would be up against the wall, hence no room for the traditional FS-PZC configuration.

Sing with me, gentlemen...

"Sitting here in limbo..."
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:31 pm

Boy, I'm so tempted to say go with the smaller room. I understand why people like bigger rooms but if you take a smaller one and build up the pressure there sometimes is more to work with, with less hassle. You can always go back, but with a better understanding of the trade-offs. On the other hand if you feel you are going to be a midfield listener the bigger room might be better. I'm just picturing a nearfield setup using the back wall as a tool.

Keep in mind though I've been doing my main listening lately in my smaller room and am enjoying tweaking a system around it. That can all change for me depending on where I am tweaking. And another thing, you are talking drywall vs prefinished paneling and I would tend to side with the drywall seeing that paneling can get very skippy sounding.

One last thing for me would be the ceiling looks to be a lot easier to work with in the smaller room. Lets say in the future you went to drywalling the ceiling, the little room would be a piece of cake compared to the bigger room. Or you could even put up a wood ceiling.

Remember most of all your room is your speaker so is it easier to turn your small room into that speaker or the big room?

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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:08 pm

Hey, Mr. Green,

"Skippy sounding?" There's a new audio term.

Thank you for your advice. It's my 4th day off and I'm still procrastinating about the switch.

But, hey! 3 people joining The Zone in one week? FANTASTIC!
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:58 pm

Glad your getting time off! Why don't you talk in the big room then go talk in the small room and tell me the difference between the two. Make sure to walk toward a wall when talking so you can hear the sound of each wall and how it reacts to the room.

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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Listening room switch in progress   Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:50 pm

Hey, everybody,

I decided that my procrastination was based on the dread of trying to do it all in one day. So, last night, I took the drawers out of the chest of drawers and moved it to the back of my current media room. Next, I took apart the bed and reassembled it in the media room. The least amount of effort was moving the little night stand. This leaves the dresser to do another day.

I won't venture how long it will take me to fully make the switch, but I am looking forward to hearing the results. I have been in that current room since the late 1980s, so I don't know if this change will be an immediate revelation or if I will have to overcome what I have been used to listening to, i.e. not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Stay tuned!
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: First impressions of new media room   Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:33 am

Hey, everybody,

The switchover is near complete. I still have some pictures on the wall which I will remove soon. I was wondering what to do with the window. No vertical blinds in the this room, just a small curtain. I'm leaning toward losing the curtain and simply putting a large plastic garbage bag on the rod. This will allow light to pass through but will otherwise not allow anyone to see inside.

The Magnavox has been sent to the dugout and replaced with the Panasonic Blu-ray player for audio and video duty. I have the platform with that unit and the Pioneer sitting longways towards me instead of sideways (same as the speaker platforms), sitting close to the TV stand (so I have some space to walk) with the Pioneer behind the Panasonic. I cut the speaker cables to length, but it is easier said than done to have them not touch anything else.

The speakers are at room length center (up against each side wall), which means I am sitting about 5 feet from the speaker plane. The TV stand is up against the east wall (top of the diagram above in an earlier post). The shelf and glass door have been removed. There is nothing in that area now, though I wonder if this won't become sort of a horn, loading the sound back out.

During the switch, I took the bottom grill off of the Pioneer and finally loosened the screws holding the transformer. I also cut that tie wrap on the bottom which I hadn't gotten to before. I still have the lights hooked up and may leave them that way, as I otherwise listen in near darkness. They may also replace the bias light I normally would have behind the TV, one less thing to plug in.

No power strip. The plasma TV is plugged into an outlet behind the right channel speaker. The receiver and player are plugged into an outlet behind the left channel speaker. I do have a one unit surge protector for the TV but no protection (as yet) for the receiver and player. I may not be able to take the receptacles out of the wall as my elderly mother would imagine this as a fire hazard.

Because of the access door, I may have to lose my second flanking TV tray, or move it every time I enter or leave the room. I brought in my lower backed recliner and my head is now positioned with the edge of the closet doors behind me. The one TV tray is now to my left, with the skinny lamp pole in the corner.

On the acoustical field trip, the front right corner has the most bass energy. In fact, because the HVAC duct has solid covering in this room, when ever the A/C fan is going, a bass wave is generated from the ceiling.

So it is with no acoustical devices that I listened to one of my reference "New Age" mix CDs, actually a mix of all kinds of instrumental/electronic kinds of music. This room is lively, to be sure, with MONSTER bass, more so than the other room, with no subwoofer, remember. The results were mostly pleasing, with some textures coming through that I hadn't experienced before. As it is, though, everything imaged in the front half of the room. The speakers didn't call attention to themselves, but nothing went beyond the walls.

I had expected that since I was sitting closer to the plane of the speakers, that I would experience the same effect that I did when doing the same in the other room, i.e. having the sound bounce back at me from every direction in which I would turn my head. This did not occur. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, really. What I did notice when turning my head is more ambience came off the right rear corner than the left rear corner.

So, let's see what some settling reveals in time.
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Pics of new media room   Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:24 pm

My little rinky dink camera doesn't have a wide angle lens, so you will be seeing the room in pieces.


New Media Room 002 by ozonerman, on Flickr
This is the front left corner. Tv is centered on room width and against the front wall on a stand.


New Media Room 003 by ozonerman, on Flickr
Here is the component platform sitting before the TV stand. I jacked up the black level to show the empty space in the stand. There is an opening in the back, partially covered by black fabric, which was used to mask the light from the bias light I used to have behind the TV. I suppose it would be okay to lose that. The receiver is sitting directly on the platform. I have 3 spikes (inverted furniture glides) under the player.


New Media Room 007 by ozonerman, on Flickr
A view of the front right ceiling corner. You can see how the protrusion covering the HVAC duct is solid and there are fiberglass tiles in the drop ceiling covering the rest of the room's top.


New Media Room 009 by ozonerman, on Flickr
Front half of left side wall. I have a large plastic bag hanging on a curtain rod to cover the only window, located just behind the left channel speaker. On the ceiling, note the 2' x 4' flourescent light fixture covered with a plastic diffusor.


New Media Room 006 by ozonerman, on Flickr
The left channel speaker on its platform.


New Media Room 008 by ozonerman, on Flickr
The right channel speaker on its platform by the open door. Just outside the door is a 6 foot square black area rug, underneath which are more white floor tiles.


New Media Room 010 by ozonerman, on Flickr
Right rear ceiling corner, with room access door (and closet doors) closed.


New Media Room 001 by ozonerman, on Flickr
Another view of the closet doors, showing where the HVAC duct meets the drop ceiling. Those doors are pairs. Each pair opens out in a V shape until they come to a stop at a 90 degree angle up against each edge.


New Media Room 004 by ozonerman, on Flickr
My chair up against the back wall. Note that the room access door hides the right rear corner when completely open.


New Media Room 005 by ozonerman, on Flickr
Rear left corner with slender lamp stand in the corner. The color differs from pic to pic, but the walls are indeed pink (not my idea; must have been my mother's orders back when the basement was "finished" in the 1980s) and the chair is light brown. It's not the same chair I used in the other room. This one has a lower backrest.
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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:55 am

Look at you go Exclamation

How close are the speakers to you?

How close are the speakers to the front of the TV screen?

How much space between the screen and the wall behind it?

How far from the screen to the left and right walls?

How far from your head to the TV screen?

Is the back of the tv stand solid?

So your right speaker is under the soffit and your left under tile?

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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:59 pm


Hi Robert

Your room is looking good! How's the sound?

if you were to pick 5 words/short phrases to describe what you hear, what will they be?

Sonic
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Robert Harrison's Tunable System   Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:47 pm

Hey, Mr. Green and Sonic,

First, the measurements:

My ears are 57" to the plane of the speakers.

The front of the TV screen is 60" from the plane of the speakers.

There are 12" between front of screen and back wall.

There is 34" from each edge of the screen to each side wall.

My head is 118" from the TV screen.

The back of the TV stand has a thin covering with an open space directly in the middle, 13" wide by 18" high. The covering is probably removable.

And, yes, the right channel speaker is under the soffit and the left channel is under tiles.


Sonic,

If you think YOU have a BOO, you would fall on your sword after hearing this untreated room. But, I'm going to tough it out for awhile. I cut new lengths of speaker cable and that alone takes at least 10 days of settling per Jim Bookhard. I did notice the other night as I was listening to a mix CD of rock songs that the sound level was MUCH louder with the volume control on the same setting I use for all my mix CDs. That's supposed to be a good thing, isn't it? So, I will force myself to LISTEN to this room and eventually when I start to bring in the RoomTunes, I can compare positive to negative.

I will mention this: I NEED to use the leg support of the recliner extended out. My legs can't take sitting with feet on the floor after running around a theater complex all day. I don't fully recline (not until I fall asleep), but I will be tuning around having the leg support up.


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