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  1. #1
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    Jul 2006

    Nearfield vs conventional speaker set up

    Your comments, opinions please:

    By audiophile standard, does nearfield speaker set up catch up the ideals of hifi sound reproduction? I know this is very subjective, but perhaps someone could enlighten what a hifi presentation is acceptable for stereoist. I observe, in a nearfield set up, a three dimensional sound is very clear( vocal is centered, one instrument at left another one at right) but somehow i felt it just short of a surround effect that we associate with home theater set up. The voice is laidback and hallow because of the distance between the speakers and the wall behind them, the instrument are very clear and upfront because the speakers are closer to the listening spot.

    Non nearfield set up is like a nice huge picture on the wall that you are looking at feet away. You can hear the details but short of that surround effect-like.

    Am pretty sure there is a difference between a musiclover and an audiophile, and so with hifi and nonhifi which must be attributed by software, hardwares, and speaker placement. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular jim goulding's Avatar
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    May 2007
    The Dog House
    Personally, I listen with two way, narrow stand mounts in what you would have to call the nearfield in a 12'X15'X8' room with the speakers forming an equilateral triangle well away from my room boundaries. My chair is actually a little further back than perfectly equidistant making it more of an equilateral triangle but only by a foot or so. I've messed around in my room with these speakers for years. My stage is virtual reality with a wide stage generously fleshed out and populated by musicians. I have not treated my walls for reflection but do use bass traps in the corners behind my speakers. One other thing that I use that contributes to this is something I manufacture and you can see this if you like by clicking on my name and visiting my home page.

    If your center image recedes too much for your tastes, try moving your speakers back very judiciously as at some point your stage will begin to compress back to front. Experiment with toe in, too. Post your findings, OK?
    Last edited by jim goulding; 10-16-2007 at 04:53 PM.
    designer/manufacturer of custom made time and phase correcting real wool surrounds

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Central Ohio
    I listen in the nearfield. In my living room the speakers are about a foot wider then I am from them in distance. When you listen in the nearfield you hear more direct sounds and less reflected sounds. This will reduce your needs for acoustical treatment.

    My speakers are about a foot and a half from the rear wall. Any closer and the midbass becomes thick and less defined. As Jim said experiement with toe in. I try not to use anymore toe in than what is needed for good center fill. If the speakers are angled in too much at the sweet spot I have heard a bunching of the sound. You lose the sound of individual instruments and end up with one big sound right in the center. I would start with the speakers facing forward and then gradually toe in until you have good imaging and depth to the soundstage.
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  4. #4
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Mortsel, Antwerp, Belgium, Europe, Earth
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    I listen in the nearfield. In my living room the speakers are about a foot wider then I am from them in distance. When you listen in the nearfield you hear more direct sounds and less reflected sounds. This will reduce your needs for acoustical treatment.

    I do this too. I also find that the soundstage becomes bigger and imaging is much better too. In a small room, with (big) speakers placed not that far from eachother, I think nearfield can give you a better stereo and music experience than sitting far away.

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  5. #5
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Dec 2003
    Quote Originally Posted by soundpurist
    By audiophile standard, does nearfield speaker set up catch up the ideals of hifi sound reproduction?
    Indeed this is a highly subjective topic and depends upon three factors I can identify: musical preference, speaker design, and room acoustics. While my musical tastes vary and include pop, new age, jazz, etc., I have optimized my main system around reproducing acoustical genres. I would like to be transported to a larger venue than the confines of my room along with hearing the kinds of reverberant cues one experiences in a music hall.

    It is for that reason I prefer bipolar speakers and in particular, full range electrostatic ones. While they are demanding in placement and room size, I find they do the best job for creating the acoustical space I seek. I am blessed with having a dedicated listening space with dimensions of about 25’ x 16’ (with a short, less-than-full-width extension at the rear), so I can place the speakers, room treatments and listening couch wherever I please. Placement is critical not only because it affects the apparent space, but the tonal characteristics of the bass response as well. I spent considerable time experimenting with several variables measuring the results with test CDs and a SPL meter to determine where they needed to be situated for the most neutral response. That resulted with the panels about eight feet out from the back wall. Then I added some absorptive wall treatments to control the back wave and first reflection points. Bass traps were found to be most effective ganged up in the back corners.

    Speaker design comes into play with regards to driver blending. Quite a few speakers like the Advents in my garage require some space between them and the listener so that you cannot easily localize the frequency ranges. The Bass. The Treble. Since I used a stacked double pair, that choice requires even more space for optimum performance due to comb filtering effects. I like to get at least 12 to 15 feet away from them for that reason. The full range electrostats, however, are immune to that effect since there is really only one (big) driver. So, while I could listen to them in the nearfield, the third factor comes into play with my choice of listening position: room acoustics. In most rectangular rooms, there is a bass suckout in the center of the room where the lowest bass is absent. I found that I needed to be just behind that center line in order for the bass to be the most accurate. My listening position is therefore further back than one would consider nearfield. Every room and speaker combination should be considered separately.


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