New speakers vs. new room

September 4, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

7 comments on “New speakers vs. new room”

  1. Shouldn’t the first question be: is this a room for near-field or mid-field or far-field listening? This will more or less restrict the selection of matching loudspeakers. What’s the logic buying a A+ rated full-range loudspeaker designed for far-field listening when the room only allows near-field or mid-field listening? And it’s really a pity that the installation of most stereo systems I have seen at friends are characterized by too big loudspeakers positioned totally inappropriate. During a recent visit I saw a pair of Martin Logan’s with integrated active subwoofer placed directly at the front wall where the right channel speakers was placed in the corner and the left one had no side wall and the listening room was here opened to the kitchen. WAF aspects didn’t allow to select a symmetrical set-up the speakers beaming into the kitchen. The owner pretended to be an audiophile, was a vinyl aficionado and had a modern integrated amp from Aavik acoustics (U 300).

  2. My room is what it is. My speakers better sound good in my room or they get replaced with speakers that do. I’m not moving to another apartment so my speakers will sound good but when I do decide to move for whatever reason I do pick an apartment that I think will have a living room with good acoustics. Not many if any apartments come with dedicated audio rooms and I don’t want my room dominated with room treatments.

  3. Of course I can only comment from a personal perspective but I’ve formed the opinion that it’s not either/or, it’s a balance of both.

    In my early ‘audiophile’ days it was all about the gear. When I finally reached the stage in my life when I could consider spending an ‘obscene’ (to some) amount on gear, I took out a personal loan and splurged on a ‘high-end’ system. I’ve never really been a fan of having a dedicated room (although it would be a ‘nice to have’ but not a priority). However, living alone, my preference has always been to live in house with an open-plan ‘living’ area that encompasses lounge, dining and kitchen areas in order to, among other things, accommodate largish speakers and enjoy high-quality sound reproduction. In this environment, after trying various arrangements and listening to advice from people like PMcG, I finally understood how important is the room! I discovered that even a ‘good’ pair of speakers can still sound terrible if not set up correctly in the room.

    A great sounding pair of speakers is worth acquiring but, at some point, you’ll reach a limit to how good they sound in a particular room. Paul’s advice to ‘buy the best speakers you can afford’ is still true but you must be prepared for the prospect that you may not realize the speakers’ full potential for a particular room.

    Personally, I’ve stepped back from considering a speaker (or amp) upgrade in favour of ‘upgrading’ my listening space (room). As Joe and paulsquirrel commented above, finding a regular house with a ‘suitable’ (for our ears) listening space is very difficult. I’ve found that you really need to design and build your own house. I fully appreciate that you’re probably not going to build a house with the ‘perfect’ listening space but you can, at least, plan to avoid undesirable aural properties in a space. The extreme example is paulsquirrel’s mention of his friend’s listening space.

    So, in short, I think it’s a balance of getting the ‘best speakers you can afford’ and putting them in the ‘most flexible room with which you can work’. 🙂

  4. I got lucky in the mid 70’s and moved to new place that had a wonderful living room that my system sounded great in. All who visited and listened said it was one of the best they had heard and to me it was. The I was forced to move (newborn son), and children not allowed. Once I got to my new home, it still is, my system was terrible. I worked with it, bought a new amp twice and even had the electrical system inspected for problems. To no avail I could not fix it although I tried for many years. I finally got smart enough to discover it was the room and what was needed to fix it. I have often wanted to measure that fine sounding room, but cannot gain access to it. Thanks so much for all the great info you offer us. It is indeed a blessing.

    1. Secret,
      Apparently the guy who is selling them lives in an apartment block & he has had
      complaints about the bass travelling through the building…or so it has been reported.

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