Speaker/Room Acoustic Problem

I have a uncommon situation and wanted to see if anyone on the Audiogon forum has had a similar situation.

For the next year I will be renting an apartment & stuck using a small room (10x12.5). Believe it or not I have a 110 inch projection screen and 7.1ch surround system. I am using Magnepan LRS as main speakers. I painted the walls a dark color and installed black flannel fabric covering the entire ceiling. The ceiling is a popcorn ceiling and not easily painted. So, I used fabric to help control light reflections from the projector screen.

Problem: My speakers seem to lack sparkle or air on almost all recordings. I have tried Audyssey room eq, but the speakers still lack life. I have tried multiple sets of speakers with similar results. 

I have tried a number of acoustic panels (absorption) and they only seem to help slightly.  The bass and midrange sounds pretty good, however I feel that I am missing some treble energy. 

I am wondering if the fabric on the ceiling is over damping the room making it sound dead. It took me hours and hours to get the ceiling covered in fabric, so before I pull it down, I thought I might ask you Audiogon members what may be the culprit. 

Cymbals seem to lack shimmer and most recordings sound flat. There was a noticeable reduction in room echo after installing just the ceiling fabric. 

I have had my hearing checked recently, and all is well with my hearing. 

Thank you in advance for any advice and input.

Associated Equipment:

Magnepan LRS, Marantz SR7011 (pre-amp out), Aragon 2007 7ch Amp, Audioquest Red River Interconnects, Audioquest Oak Speaker Cables, Audioquest Diamond USB cable, Chord Cutest DAC, Blusound Node streamer, and Velodyne FSR12 Subwoofer. (No resistors are being used with the Magnepans) 






Tape some lightweight finished paper to the cloth ceiling (like wrapping paper) as an experiment.





+1 great idea!


This is a very perplexing problem. It really does sound like overdampening.


OP, if you put some photos of your system under your UserID it might give us some more clues. Planar speakers like some reflections. Like my Apogees liked reflective wall behind the speakers… did not mind having my equipment in between my speakers. My Sonus Faber Amati Traditional speakers do not go for it at all.

Interesting. I had a pair of Theil 2.4 is a 11x12’ room once during a basement remodel. Sounded good with silly amounts of bass lol.

I also have a home theater but in a very large room and the entire ceiling is treated with 6” of mineral wool and an acoustic drop ceiling.

#1 is the small room boosting the bass making the highs seem soft?


#2 before and after treating my ceiling really changed the sound of the room so maybe but in the near field I am not sure it will matter that much.

@rick_hilton , It would help a lot if you had a measurement mic so I could get an idea what you are listening to. Many people want their system to sound brighter than is natural. If I had to guess or pick the most likely problem it would be your amp. If this is the case no amount of room treatment is going to fix it. Maggies are a very smooth but low impedance load and they are not very efficient which means amps with small power supplies need not apply. A 100 Watt/ch Class A amp that weights at least 50 lb will do it. The LRS also benefits greatly from subwoofers. Taking the bass out of them from 100 Hz down cleans them up and doubles their potential output. Speakers get brighter as you turn up the volume. The Maggies come into their own at 85 db and up. They should play effortlessly at that volume without any sibilance at all. Also LRS's beam a bit. For the best treble you really need to be right in front of them and they have to be toed in facing you directly. Maggie LRS actually tend to be on the hot side. I assume you have a jumper wire and not a resistor in the treble attenuation position?

As a previous dedicated apartment dweller I think I have a pretty good handle on what's going on. The problem is probably a combination of excess and muddy bass plus early reflections, including the ceiling.

You need corner bass traps.  One cool thing is that even treating 1 corner in these small rooms can be a huge improvement.  I used 2 GIK Soffit traps stacked. I've had them for almost ten years and 4 apartments before moving into my current home.

Another problem is usually the ceilings are too low. Panels between the listener and the speakers are ideal.

+1 @james633 and @erik_squires

Some kind of sound diffuser behind your seating position might also help tame the room mode that is exaggerating your midrange and drowning out treble.

If this a small bedroom with a closet setting up with gear sitting inside closet space so you can place gear on side of one speaker, as opposed to in the middle of a speaker set, can free up room to experiment with speaker placement.