Are your speakers losing air?

I was reminded of my own advice today.  I was fiddling with something in my HT system and had my head right up to the center channel.  I noticed that sadly, there was a lot more air and ambiance up close to the center speaker than at my listening location. 

I remembered the advice I often give others about room treatment.  If you sit up close to your speakers you can really hear the detail and ambiance they create, and that all the information you lose between there and your normal listening position is due to the room.  That is, your room is lossy. 

In this particular case I resolved the issue by putting a 2'x4' acoustic absorber across the entertainment center, essentially hiding it entirely with the center peeking up above it.  Problem solved, and suddenly movies and dialogues have a lot more acoustic information than they used to. 

This also shows us a couple of other issues.  My center is, by deliberate design, extremely wide dispersion.  I am most likely suffering from this vs. say a horn loaded center like Hsu or Klipsch offer.  That is, a limited dispersion center may not have had these issues.  The other is that my Butcher Block double wide rack is itself a source of interference with the original signal.  This I may fix more permanently with an IR repeater so I can keep the panel in place. 

Anyway, hope this advice helps you in evaluating how to get the most out of your speakers and room.


You can add 1 of my Music Fans behind your listening position.

Reduces interfering energy around furniture and big heads in the way. TomD

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You’d be shocked at how many well known and well respected, center channel speakers have horrible off axis speaker performance, and measurements.

A good friend and I, spent several weekends measuring every center channel speaker we could beg, borrow or steal. And we were pretty consistently in a state of disbelief.

And it’s not as if getting decent vertical and horizontal off-axis response is some majore engineering task.

So, it does not surprise me at all that it sounded better when you were up close.

Luckily many improved just by tilting them up a bit. But some were so bad, they actually sounded better set vertically. 

It’s not just the room. The higher the frequency, the more it attenuates with distance as it is absorbed by the atmosphere, slightly heating it in doing so. This goes beyond "spreading losses."