The small room dilemma

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The small room dilemma
Most reviews and written advice seem to revolve around bigger rooms where space is not an issue. What about folks who have small spaces to enjoy music? Where do they go for advice and reviews? Increasingly, I see small room setup as a pressing topic. It's likely that as more people get involved in the art of extracting high-performance music out of a home audio system, smaller rooms eventually come into play. After all, most people don't live in huge homes. Just ask any big city dweller. My advice to small room audiophiles is the same as I always give, but with far greater emphasis on rule number one.
Start with your loudspeakers.
You will be happiest when you match your speaker box to the room, but perhaps not in the way you might think. As I have said on multiple occasions, the size of the speaker enclosure doesn't necessarily dictate the room size. You can play both large and small speakers in just about any size room and get similar results in terms of bass, but from an imaging standpoint, you might want to be careful. Some big box speakers use the extended baffle area to place multiple drivers in an array. This arrangement nearly always demands the listener's position be far enough away for the driver outputs to properly mesh into one. Fine for a bigger room, claustrophobic for smaller venues. When designing for smaller rooms, define what a comfortable listening distance from the speakers will be, then begin the hunt with that in mind. If you need to be 8 feet back from a pair of speakers, you might feel cramped in a 10-foot room.
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Paul McGowan

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