Moved from medium attic like room to larger room, everything is too bright

Hi guys, I moved my set up from a bonus room over the garage with slanted walls to our converted media room - which is the old garage. The room is about 450 ft.² with 10.5 feet ceilings. And four large windows. The good news is that I was persuaded to use cryogenically treated Romex directly from the electrical cabinet to the stereo. Which is great… Except I think the size of the room is making music seem brighter and more echoey.

I have a Hegel H390 streaming from a lumen T2. The speakers are KLH model 5 with 2 REL T/7x subs. Played a lot with speaker and sub placement but I think the problem is the volume of the room.

The room is double walled with amazing insulation plus ceiling insulation so that is not the problem. Plus we have area rugs over the hardwood.

I realize that my weakest element in the system is the speakers. So the question is should I save to replace the KLH speakers? And what speakers would work?

Thanks so much, Nadine



So weird that every line in your OP says you need to add appropriate room treatment and then your last sentence is... exactly the opposite.  😂

Your problem is the room.  Treat that, including the ceiling, before you start on a speaker merry go round.

@erik_squires You are probably right. I am in denial because I know that my partner will not tolerate further room changes... 😑. Thanks, Nadine

You don't mention if you have window treatments for the 4 windows.

In any case, I would try draping heavy blankets or rugs around the room and windows in order to get a sense of what might be triggering the 'brightness'.


Though I would agree that you could do better speaker-wise...


Add bookcases - with books, area rugs, plants, chairs, etc.

The Romex was a waste of money.

Audio companies make a lot of money on audiophiles who don’t address room acoustics, and instead go on endless rounds of gear swapping. You would be amazed what a few bass traps and decorative wall panels can accomplish. The latter can be custom made with your own images if you like. GIK sells them as "Art Panels." Or for plain fabric, Guilford of Maine can supply thousands of fabrics for use by most major acoustics vendors (RPG, ASC, GIK, probably others). They are guaranteed to offer something that will be not just acceptable, but fantastic with any decor.

Bribe the partner with whatever will do the job. Need I say more?

IMO, furnishings and artwork accomplish as much as acoustic panels which have a cheezo pseudo art quality.

To be effective, bass traps need to be  H U G E. A typical control room would have traps front and rear equaling close to 25% of the room volume. Most audiophool bass traps are wishful thinking.

and if it's your garage that's been converted why would your other half care she doesn't have to go in there if it's the garage tell her that's your stereo room she's got the rest of the house to play with try getting Townshend podiums underneath your speakers they seem to get rid of all room problems because they stop all the vibrations from going into your speakers and to the rest of your equipment and also they get rid of the constant Earth vibration as well that shakes your speakers all the time.

Damp that space down before any speaker swap.  The space is acting like the interior of a speaker, so some creative room treats will tame it from being shrill.

Sq. root of 450 sq. ft. suggests a square space with the ceiling 1/2 that.

*Ick*  Pad the cell, and even the KLH will behave. *G*

Lots to think about here and, I will try to scratch the surface of what may be going on and, later, a possible pathway for you to consider. It's very complex and I am in no doubt that what you are experiencing is due to the intervention of human hearing psychology. 

(FYI, I have been developing my audio enjoyment for almost 50 years and I reached a state of audio nirvana about 5 years ago, I have no pecuniary interest in any commercial audio technology.)

I would advise you not to make any changes too soon and certainly don't spend any money in the beginning.

How long have you been listening to the sound in the new space? You may need to give your brain time to work things out. The psychology of hearing is a wonderful thing, but when dramatic changes in the sound that we hear occurs, the brain goes into overload trying to work out why. This analytical process then takes over and masks our enjoyment of the music. During a period of weeks, the brain will ignore some aspects of what it hears and focus more on other aspects. The sound you actually interpret will be different over time, to the sound you hear today. This is why, small changes are needed with plenty of time in between for you to really understand what you are experiencing. If you don't take time, you could be missing something.

As usual, listen to lots of different music and make lots of notes, with times and dates of your listening sessions. List how you are feeling before, during and after each session. It's important to be able to reference everything that could influence your perception of sound - health, work, sport, stress, external distractions, weather, family and friends issues, etc, etc. Try not to think about your system and room - only the music. Looking back over your notes after several weeks, you may be astonished by what you described that you were hearing then, is not the same that you are experiencing later.

Regarding your "I think the room is more echoey" comment. Have you done the simple hand clap test in the old and the new room, to establish what the reverb time is? Just how different are the two room reverb characteristics? It is possible that your system was not able to reach it's full potential in the old room and you became accustomed to that sound...

Please return to this thread with your thoughts in a few weeks time. I would be very interested to read them and then, only then can some useful suggestions to help you be provided.






I wonder how your speakers would sound with a good tube amp. They can be a bit analytical and energic in the treble, according to the Stereophile review. I have a room similar to yours, carpet on a thick wood floor, etc. Yes, you can and should treat the room, but don't overdo it (I did, and half of the damping in the ceiling had to be removed, sound became too dull). The biggest positive difference for me was changing from a huge s-state amp to an OTL tube amp. But to get optimal sound, I had to change the speakers also (more sensitive, easier to drive). Not sure, if a tube amp would work in your case, but I would have tried it, if it was me.

Add more rugs to cover most of that wood floor, lots of plush cloth furniture, heavy drapes for the windows and no metal or glass furniture anywhere. Short of that, it would take big bass traps in each corner wall to ceiling to tame the echo in such large room with tall ceilings and 4 large windows. 

I undesratnd you are limited in what you can do, but here are some ideas:

  • Don’t forget the ceiling! White absorbers there can be inconspicuous and contribute to the overall reverb time.
  • Consider GIK Acoustics art panels, which let you put just about any artwork over absorbers.
  • I know you mentioned placement, but consider the AM Acoustics room mode modeller. Simulate your room and then try to keep your subs and your listening area out of the lowest modes.
  • Tone controls. Schiit Loki if you don’t have them built in.
  • Cross your speakers to the subs high, not low. 80 Hz sounds a lot better than 40 Hz.
  • Measure and EQ your subs appropriately.

If you want to try something  cheap and this would be really only and indication of what the problem is and after you try this then you need to go looking for the best thing afterwards. Sit in you listening  chair. Have another  person run a mirror  on the walls a small mirror like a makeup mirror. Put a small mark on the wall where you can see the tweeter in the center of the mirror continue along the side wall until you can see the tweeter of the opposite  side speaker  mark the wall there as well. On the wall behind the speakers set something  on top of the speaker that is in line with the tweeter so you can also mark the wall behind the speakers in line with where the speaker would be. Now that you have the marks raid your towel cupboard  and put a bath towel centered on those marks  perhaps tape or pin them on the wall. Then take a listen  and see what you think. 

Lots of good comments. Room treatments and positioning… definitely. Some photos of your system (add to virtual system under your UserID)and room would be very helpful in getting more specific.

I also have an echo issue. The cheap and easy way to really tell is how easy it is to understand other people talking in that room, especially multiple people at a time, or the hand clap as suggested above. It can also be measured with microphones and software; the easiest is via ’reverberation time’ or ’decay’. Couches and padded chairs do work for that. I would also recommend thick felt rug pads to extend the frequency range the rugs absorb. The thicker the absorbing material is, the more bandwidth it will absorb. I find blankets useless because they will not absorb midrange well. They may work as a proof of concept, though. Echo is not limited to high frequencies. Some speakers are more directional than others, such as Sanders electrostatics, that may work better. I do not have personal experience in treating rooms for that speaker, though.

To everyone who wrote to me about this issue. HUGE thanks. Very grateful and plan to implement many of the (most doable) changes including rug pads and more art. Special thanks to @bobpyle who introduced the psychological element. Funny because by the time I had written the post and listened for a couple more hours, I was already appreciating new frequencies that had been missing in my old set up.

Also thanks to @gdnrbob who confirmed what I know: the speakers could be upgraded.

If any of you know of speakers that are not over about $600USD ($9000 CDN) that work well in a large room, let me know. 

Thanks again, Nadine

I don't know why you are thanking me. If you are looking to replace your loudspeakers already, you clearly don't understand, nor wish to embrace what I was advising you to do.

Seems like you're on the road to potentially trashing up to U$6k.

Sorry, I could not help you, but good luck. Seems like you're going to need it.



I would play with the subs a bit more. If you can get more bottom end it may allow for less volume from the mains, making a fuller sound. See if better placement or higher gain/ lower or higher crossover point helps. Put the mains 7’ apart about 18” from the front wall. Toss the subs just outside, back and towards the corners a bit.


be sure and check your main speakers are wired in phase. 

Don’t be afraid to crank the volume on the subs.  Try a crossover around at 65 or even higher, just for kicks. Maybe it will even out the balance. Or try crossover at 50 and kick the volume way up. 

I bet you can get it dialed in, you just need to kick it around a bit. 



@rwbadley okay I turned up the crossover point on the subs (also mentioned by @erik_squires), moved the speakers closer to the wall (they were over a meter away) and positioned the subs as recommended. Difference is night and day. Actually quite happy now. 
just a word on the KLH model 5s … they actually sound as good to me overall as much more expensive speakers that I previously auditioned. In this case, their placement was wrong. 
thanks again. 


The KLH 5 has a couple of nasty resonances slightly below and above 20kHz. Also a rock&roll bottom with a quick fade. What music genres are preferred?

See KLH Model Five loudspeaker | and KLH Model Five loudspeaker Measurements |

Have you tried lowering the Mid-HF to Med or Lo? Back in the day, we would tape a thin cloth or a single ply tissue over the tweeter to help tame the highs.

If possible don't have the seating close to a wall... and dampen the rear wall so it does not reflect.

The subs have no phase and only a polarity control, making integration a bit more difficult. Their output @ 30Hz is only slightly better than the 5's. Perhaps try putting the subs in the corners, mid side wall, mid front and rear. IMO, integration of the 5's and the T7/x will be difficult as neither has the required mid-range support. 

See ieLogical SubterraneanHomesickBlues for a screed on sub integration.

I'm really curious how the components were selected.

And what speaker cables?



@ieales Totally agree that the Mid HF should be set to low. Fair question about the selection of components. Let me start with: this is the first genuine stereo I have set up since grad school when I bought mission speakers and a Harman Kardon amp at a big sale. So started with total ignorance.

I read online reviews of speakers and bought the KLH model 5s without listening - before buying any other component.  I did audition the Hegel H390 at a stereo store. I had gone in with the intention of buying the H190 but the H390 was so much less lively (in a good way) and also quiet that I sprang for the latter. When I started listening, I really missed the bass that had come through better in the stereo store with the JBL 100s so added the REL subs. Which were a huge improvement. The Lumin T2 was the result of reading other posts about streamers which paired well with the Hegel. No regrets vis a vis the Hegel, subs or Lumin (the DAC is head and shoulders above that of the Hegel H390). Speaker cables as well as power and ethernet are all from audiosensibility in Toronto. 

I have put the subs in the corner now and the listening sofa is mid room (with no wall behind).

Apologies for the very long response ! I am open to speaker suggestions for this particular set up and room. Not in a hurry to upgrade but it is on my radar.


If you haven't a visit to | Loudspeakers Calculator would be worth a visit.

Unfortunately it doesn't allow sealed subs.

If it's too daunting, PM me with dimensions and room photos and I'd have a go there and in REW.

@ieales Thanks for the offer to plug the numbers into the loudspeaker calculator. I did it myself. Actually I was pretty close to its suggestions already - after following advice of audiogon discussion members. It suggestion for the subs was not entirely practical (re tv position) but I am close and everything is sounding way better. Thanks again.