Wall reflections can cause a too wide or corrupt soundstageA too wide soundstage most often results from having a hard and reflective wall (or other surface) at the side of one orboth loudspeakers.Hard surfaces reflect sound and can present extra mirror images of the speaker(s) at your listening position.
From your listening position you can imagine all hard undamped surfaces acting like acoustic mirrors which (dependent on your and their position) may present replicas of the speaker(s) in the form of so-called reflected or indirect sound.
Hard walls beside the speakers thus can widen the soundstage. Other hard surfaces like a ceiling or uncovered flour candistort the soundstage in other directions.In general, the closer a hard surface is to the speakers, the stronger its reflection will be.Placing a damping panel at the first reflection point between the loudspeaker and you as the listener on both walls is thebest solution to reduce the acoustical width. The same works on hard floors (place a soft rug between you and thespeakers) but also on the ceiling, a place hardly anyone thinks about.
Sound coloration; Further reduction measuresNext to asymmetrically positioning the speakers in the listening room (see2-6) you can further reduce room soundcoloration by more breaking the room’s symmetry and by using damping materials. I.e. (acoustically) break up allsurfaces with records, bookshelves (you don’t need to read the books), panels made of strips or blocks of wood in unevenconfigurations (diffusers) etc. Place furniture asymmetrically. Dampen with carpets, curtains, acoustic (foam) panels onthe walls and ceiling etc. The more items that can break and/or dampen sound, the better. This to reduce al standingwaves in your listening room, which makes the listening less fatiguing.
Cable life and temperatureFor a longer lifespan, avoid running your cables near to places where high temperatures can arise, like power amplifierheat sinks or tube equipment.
Improving sound by adding weightWhen you can find a pair of street tiles of 30 x 30 cm or even larger, put one under each of your speakers. And if you canmanage to get another pair from your neighbour’s driveway, put those on top of your speakers.Don’t forget to put some thin, flexible (and possibly sticky) sheet material in between for protecting the cabinets againstscratches. “Suddenly four tiles are missing in the street... I must say that style and respect these days are getting less and less”.For more mechano-acoustical damping tips: regarding loudspeakers see1-13and1-16, regarding turntables see9-8and
9-3, regarding other hi-fi equipment see3-2and3-9.
Buying second hand equipment is worth consideringWhen you need other equipment, consider to buy second hand. With mechanically critical objects like phono cartridgesthis is somewhat risky, but with electronic equipment it’s a good option. You can buy more for less.
Good sounding equipment exhibits stable imagingWith a good sounding hi-fi set playing good CDs it should be possible to have someone standing in front of one speakerand still experience a very correct imaging. Also, even when turning the speakers sideways the imaging should not getlost.
Much more about this can be read in our paper named “A simple hearing method for audio quality evaluation”.
When, however, the imaging is lost you have to do a lot of work to re-establish the correct imaging. It means changingcables and/or equipment. For this test purpose our program carries specially suitable CDs (our Van den Hul Carbon