Comparing One System to Another - A + B

System A -

I just recently upgraded my home stereo system.  It includes a NAD C 399 Amp with MDC2 BluOS-D, 2 Bowers and Wilkins 607 speakers, and a T/5X REL subwoofer.  The speakers are mounted on upper corners of a wall in our living room 22' X 16'.  Seating is about 20' away from the speakers.  Sound sources out of a MacBook Pro going into the MDC2 BluOS-D are Tidal and QoBuz.  The dealer just came and completed a Direct Live process for the room.

System B -

I also have a home studio with a pair of Tannoy 802 Studio Monitors which have 1/8" stereo inputs with monitor links for connection to another MacBook Pro connected to the headphone audio out of the Mac.  The sound sources are from the same playlists of Tidal and QoBuz.  The studio is 16' x 12'.   In the studio I'm sitting about 8 feet from the monitors and they are at ear level.

Both systems sound good.  However, I've noticed more clarity out of the studio system than the living room system.  I realize I'm comparing apples and oranges here.  But considering how much more I've spent for the living room system, I'm a little confused as to what appears to be a lack of relative clarity in the living room compared to the studio sound.  Certain sounds in the studio sound more clear and crisp while the same sounds in the living room are more subdued or muffled.  Could this be something adjusted more with Dirac?

Please let me know any suggestions you might have.  Thanks!


Easy answer. If you are sitting 20 feet away, you better have mega power and a serious loudspeakers system. In your case the near field monitors are doing their job, your living room system isn't up to the task. 

I'm confused.  The NAD has 180 watts per channel.  Shouldn't that be adequate or not.  If wattage is not the problem, are you suggesting the speakers are not adequate?  I've listened to them at full volume right in front of them and the clarity issue is still there.

On another related note, I have a new Volvo with the Bowers+Wilkins system.  Similar to the living room sound, the sound is good, but not as crisp as my Tannoys.  Perhaps this might be a Bowers+Wilkins sound issue.  Any thought on that?

Do you think this is something Dirac could correct?  Thanks!

Wpc don’t tell the whole story. Consider most of the time were using a single watt or less, but the storage capacity will decide how dynamic the speakers sound. On some speakers most amps will sound the same, but some speakers can suck an amp dry. Class d is supposed to be so fast at switching ( don’t know what that means) they can stay in front of a speakers demands. When doubt do nothing.

If I'm reading this right your living room speakers are mounted about 20 feet in the air, try bringing them down and putting them on good stands.

Any NAD with wall mounted B&W bookshelf speakers 20 feet away would not impress me. I think what you are hearing is the difference between a high efficiency speaker in a small room vs a low efficiency speaker in a bigger room.  The 180 watt NAD does not make up for that difference. Sorry to be blunt. You'll need bigger loudspeakers and much more power if you want to match your near field experience in the other room. Perhaps you might like a more lively sound of a horn loudspeaker like a Volti?  Or something a bit more affordable. 

Thank you for your suggestions!  This sheds good light on considerations for me.  It also brings up other related questions I have about what may be occurring.

Part of the sound difference is twofold:  

1) I'm hearing frequencies with the Tannoys that I'm not hearing with the living room B&Ws.  

2) I'm hearing crispness of sounds with the Tannoys that I'm not hearing with the living room B&Ws.

But, these same sound differences are also true comparing the Tannoys to the B&W sounds in the Volvo.  Which suggests that possibly part of the difference I'm hearing is between Tannoy and B&W speakers.  Do Tannoys and B&Ws have their own tonal "personalities?"  If so, what are they?  

The thing that makes this even more confusing to me is the fact that the Tannoys are technically near field studio monitors - which suggests that they should be "neutral" in sound.  But in this situation, it is the B&W speakers that sound more "neutral" than the Tannoys.

Does anyone have any opinions on whether another Dirac treatment could be of help?  Thanks!

The TL;DR version: Positioning the speakers and listener is critical to getting good sound. And perhaps you need to work on that in your LR system.

You can get help from Jim Smith's book and video, Get Better Sound.

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>> The speakers are mounted on upper corners of a wall in our living room 22’ X 16’. <<

Do you mean up towards the ceiling? Mounting speakers on the wall is not recommended for good sound, but putting them above ear level is really not going to sound good. You will not hear any direct treble. Just as bad, Dirac may try to correct that by boosting the treble.

And sound from 20 ft away will inevitably be more blended and less "crisp" (as you put it) than sound in the near field.

Though you may need larger speakers for that room, I think the NAD should do well. It has Hypex amp modules, which can sound great. And 180 wpc should be OK for moderate volume listening.

The dealer may have run Dirac, but it will pay you dividends to learn how to operate it yourself and make changes as needed. If you haven’t already, pay the $99 for the full-range version.

And do get the speakers off the wall, onto stands, and look on the Web or in Jim Smith’s book for advice on positioning them and the listeners.



The speakers are mounted on the upper corners of a wall in our living room 22' x 16' as a compromise with my wife.  However, they are directed slightly downward pointing toward the seating area.  So, they are pointed toward listening as much as possible.  I realize it would be better to have them floor mounted and larger, but this is the compromise I have to live with. 

What is interesting to me is how much the tonal quality of the sound of the B&W speakers in the living room is similar to the tonal quality of the B&W speakers in our Volvo.

You recommend paying the $99 for the full range version of Dirac Live.  I've checked on their site and the full suite version is listed as $349.  Do you have any recommendations where the full version can be purchased for $99?

Please let me know.  I feel that I need to learn to use it.  Thanks!

Right after I wrote this last note I also wrote Dirac regarding the $99 full version of Dirac Live.  They just sent me the link to it.  So, now I have the link and just purchased the full version.  I find their site rather confusing.  It would be helpful if they had a simple page showing different versions, benefits, prices and download links for easy consumer comparison.

I think you're right.  I just need to bite the Dirac bullet, learn the full version and play with it to get the best sound available under the circumstances.  In the meantime I'm also enjoying listening to the playlists on the Tannoys and the Volvo.  It provides an interesting basis of comparison.

Thanks for all the help!!