Room Setup/Tuning/Compensation War Stories

Hi, all! I’m new to this forum, hope to have some fun now that I have joined. As a bit of background, I’ve been exposed to some degree my whole life to the world of hi-fi thanks to my dad, who has always tinkered with sound systems my whole life. Anyhow, I only recently started my own journey into home stereophilia and have had getting my setup optimal. I am curious about the kind of interesting things other people have had to go through and learn from while setting up their own systems!

Well, I might as well start with mine:

When we bought this house back in 2012, as a housewarming gift, my dad handed down to me is JM Lab Electra 926 floorstanders. He wasn’t using them at all, since he preferred his set of Magnepans. For a few years, I used them as part of a rudimentary home theater setup, driven by a Denon surround receiver and paired to a Hsu Research subwoofer. It sounded okay, good enough for occasional movie watching, but really didn’t get all that much use since I preferred to spend my time riding bicycles instead.

Fast forward to late last year, my speakers were collecting dust, as after having two kids, we haven’t really had any time to really watch movies using the home theater, and the speakers have just sat here in our family room behind my work-from-home setup. Well, I recently started getting back into headphones, and had been experimenting with modern DACs, and upon visiting my dad back up in NY and letting him audition my latest DAC purchase (SMSL DO100), he decided to pull his unused PS Audio GCC-100 control amp from the closet and hand it down to me so I could put it to use with the Electras. I was elated! I brought it home, hooked it all up and started playing with speaker placement, and I got it to a place where the highs and mids were wonderfully engaging, spacious, and transparent, with a very natural/flat response in the upper and middle range.

Unfortunately after all that work, I still felt something was off and missing. A lot of the music I tend to listen to has a surprising amount of information in the lower bass and even sub bass range, so I decided to audition a subwoofer in my setup, so I purchased an SVS SB-3000 based on budget as well as reviewer feedback. As I began setting up the sub and blending it into my system, it was at that point, by testing for frequency response going 1Hz at a time, that I discovered that my loudspeakers, at their optimal placement (for highs and mids), were generating a massive room gain in the 40-50Hz range. While I did what I could with the phase adjustment and parametric EQ in the SVS phone app to flatten things out from my critical listening seating position, I was still not satisfied with the way things were configured. After a bunch of research, I decided that the better solution may be to utilize a crossover to completely high-filter off my main loudspeakers and redirect the affected bass range to only the sub.

So I tried this initially by purchasing a Bluesound POWERNODE N330 streamer amp, and used its built-in crossover to high-pass the mains and redirect everything to the sub. Well guess what? It worked! I was able to get a much more even frequency response curve from my system, the bottom end now just sounded so much more natural, and I noticed the mids opened up to some degree as well. However, something else was lost in the process. The highs lost some air, and imaging had narrowed. There was also seemingly a degree of loss of resolution to the overall sound. I guess the NAD amplification circuitry in the POWERNODE was simply not up to the quality of the PS Audio GCC-100 I had been using up until now--it was not likely a DAC issue because I was still using the SMSL DAC, just running it into the analog input of the POWERNODE (although admittedly, I am using balanced XLR hookup for the GCC-100, which is supposed to be better than the RCA to 3.5mm setup with the POWERNODE). What to do?

Well, I ended up deciding to try going a more old-school route. I removed the POWERNODE from the equation, I purchased a pair of 80Hz, 12db/octave roll-off high--pass filters and rigged them up between my GCC-100 and the loudspeakers, and then used the subwoofer’s interface to blend the system together.

Eureka at last! I got all of the benefits of the original setup, the open and air sound stage, the resolution, the transparency, the punch, the absolute transparency, but no more massive room gain in the 40-50Hz, it was now all so natural, so flat, so smooth. Perfection at last.

Oh but what a learning experience, and what a journey!

Now...let’s hear your war stories!



Another tip, if high passing, is to plug the speaker ports. Makes integration easier, and improves dynamic range.

It is always good. to spend a couple thousand on speakers and you have to "adjust" for how shi#%& they sound...oh well

Thanks, Erik! There’s foam in the ports, but it’s very thin. Do I just tear it off and plug it with something more substantial?



Depending on the speaker, plugging the ports can change their tonality.  I tried it with mine and didn’t work, but it’s cheap to try.  I used cotton or rolled-up tube socks.