Optimal Setup for Larger Spaces - and intro

  • 14 January 2022
  • 2 replies
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Hi community! I’m a long time Sonos owner (I have about 12 Play:1’s) just ordered a couple SL’s, had a Play:5 Gen1 pass through my hands and ordered a Gen1 Beam (used).  I’m a little bit of an enthusiast, having gifted a couple play:1 to my parents, the play:5 Gen 1, etc. I’m here to say hi, but to ask something: 

 

In a large space, what do any of you feel is optimal arrangement of Play:1’s or Ones? The reason I ask this is that I have an open loft apartment. I have stereo pairs around in the kitchen, office, living room, but recently discovered that adding a single unpaired between the stereo pair added some kind of something that I liked a bit. It got me to thinking: Would I want to put all of my “left channels” to one side of the apartment and right channels to the right side? 

I wonder if there is any possibility that the Tuning feature could be enhanced to apply to pairs of speakers in a room to optimize the entire room into a single 360 experience of sorts? Has anyone done their own best and considered similar things? 

In my journeys of “this here, that there” I also realized that I almost always prefer the speaker at ear height-- much less pleased with above (like above the kitchen cabinets) but also don’t love below. Within 2’ of my ears vertically seems to do the trick. 

 

Once the Beam arrives, I’ll be considering or reconsidering all of this again, as well. The office may dual purpose as my rear speakers as I consider replacing an older Denon amp and Bose speakers around, and my next purchase will likely be a sub! Any thoughts on new vs used and value/experience differences? 

 

Very interested in any other optimization tricks, trial and error attempts (successful or failed!) etc.! 


2 replies

You are discovering some of the fine points of audio. For most speaker systems the highs are emitted in a cone shaped pattern and the apex angle of the cone narrows with rising frequency. This is why ear level sounds best to you. For speakers mounted above the cabinets, most of the highs pass over your head. Another problem with the speakers on the cabinet is that the nearby ceiling and the typically small space between the cabinet top and the ceiling are reflective surfaces and tuned cavities that change the balance of the sound and create multiple reflections, arriving at slightly different times, interfering with your perception.

If you want the music to have “focus” space the speakers approximately as far from each other as you are from the speakers. plus or minus 20-30 percent is not the end of the world. Obviously this “focus” will happen only in your favorite chair. Not everyone needs this “focus” because they never sit and listen to music as the main activity. For many people a “wash” of sound is best as they move throughout the space. Symmetrically placing multiple pairs of speakers around a large room will create a “wash”. It seems counter intuitive, but alternating left and right around the room is more satisfying in this context.

For home theater, you’ll need the “focus” approach for front and rear speakers. Don’t place the surround (rear) speakers too close to the listener because small listener position changes can result in one surround speaker dominating.

These are some basic points. One can spend a career wrestling with the fine points, boring, and amazing your friends. In the end only you know what sounds “best” to you.

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Thank you so much for this! It’s everything I hoped for and more. Not every public forum yields such informed and thorough responses :) 

Taking in mind what you have described, I think I have some ideas of what I may be doing sub-optimally, reducing a balanced “wash” as I traverse the space. This is exactly the issue I have been trying to think my way through without understanding/realizing it. 

I recently added a single unpaired counter top level One between two cabinet level paired ones, and a single unpaired at standing ear level in the living room couch area in an attempt to balance/wash that lack of higher frequencies as I traverse.

 

My office space has a two level heavy wire rack movable narrow desk behind me where I have two ones about 4’ apart, about 1’ below seated ear level and this is my most perfect focused space where I often listen many hours per day. In the past I would run every stereo paired and single speaker in the big open space that I could (turning off bedroom/bathroom in the grouping) but lately I’ve been turning off even more, experimenting with more off/on. 

I ordered a Five tonight and will see where that fits. I don’t know why it took almost two years of being home and minimal work/personal travel to feel so passionate about tuning and optimizing, but here I am! 

Thanks again so much for your reply. It helped me set my next small path forward. Cheers!

RST

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