Speaker setup advise needed for a low volume listening
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LKK

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Hi
I don't know if this is the best place to ask this question, but I really need some help.
My apartment is small and old. I am going to set up a speaker system for some low volume listening. Usually I feel some speakers are not balanced when the volume is low, the music is lack of bass, the whole balance is gone and I couldn't listen to it for long.
Headphones are nice, but I want to enjoy the music while still be able to hear my girlfriend. K1000 is great, but I couldn't wear it for long.
I am thinking the problem is the crossover. So I have considered non-crossover designs like single drive fullrange or active studio monitors. My problem is, which one is better for me?
For a budget around $1500, I have picked microZOTL with Omega Super 3 or the Dynaudio Acoustic BM6A.
Any recommandation or ideas are welcome, thanks.
 
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bln

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i'd like to help, but i've never owned a speaker setup, and i believe most (though not all) people here haven't either. many of us are forced to use headphones for budget and space reasons. i would recommend the speaker forum at audioasylum.com for this sort of question, if you haven't already been there.
 
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Sovkiller

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bln
i'd like to help, but i've never owned a speaker setup, and i believe most (though not all) people here haven't either. many of us are forced to use headphones for budget and space reasons. i would recommend the speaker forum at audioasylum.com for this sort of question, if you haven't already been there.


Leave budget appart here please, this is a myth, I have spent more in headphones than in my speaker setup, and I'm very pleased eitherway, and I do not feel that my headphone setup outperform the speaker setup.....to justify spend 3x more....
 
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bln

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Sovkiller
Leave budget appart here please, this is a myth, I have spent more in headphones than in my speaker setup, and I'm very pleased eitherway, and I do not feel that my headphone setup outperform the speaker setup.....to justify spend 3x more....


sorry sovkiller, didn't mean to misrepresent you. i don't think it's entirely a "myth," though, because budget is why i have a headphone setup and not speakers. although a lack of space is the main reason.
 
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Sovkiller

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bln
sorry sovkiller, didn't mean to misrepresent you. i don't think it's entirely a "myth," though, because budget is why i have a headphone setup and not speakers. although a lack of space is the main reason.


I would say that for what you have paid now as a headphone setup, (according to your profile), I bet to put together an speaker setup, that will leave you with your mouth open the rest of the summer, if properly chosen, of course. Sorry to disagree one more time...a good headphone setup, is more expensive most of the times, than an speaker setup at the same level...good does not mean expensive most of the times.....
 
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bln

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yeah, i guess you're right, it's mostly a space thing. you'd have to spend some of that money tearing down my dorm walls for some more space. plus, i have to lug everything home for the summer and back in the fall.
 
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eyeteeth

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LKK
So I have considered non-crossover designs like single drive fullrange or active studio monitors. My problem is, which one is better for me?
For a budget around $1500, I have picked microZOTL with Omega Super 3 or the Dynaudio Acoustic BM6A.
Any recommandation or ideas are welcome, thanks.



Back on topic:

Interesting problem!

I wonder if speaker sensitivity can be an issue? Maybe not.
Near field listening such as with studio monitors will allow closer proximity which means lower volume required. The closer you are the louder. My ATCs sound good when even too close. Such as sneaking a listen in the middle of the night parked right in front.
 
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peter braun

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Vandersteens sound quite good at low volumes, as do Magnepans. The latter require a pretty muscular amp however. Klipsch Heresy IIs sound very good at low volumes but require tube amplification in order not to sound too harsh.
 
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DarkAngel

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Most of my time and money is spent on full size stereo......my strong advice is if you can't listen to at least 80 db sound levels don't invest in stereo at this time, stick with headphones. What type of speaker used is not really the issue, its sound level.

It is amazing how sound fills out and greatly improves once you get 80db sound levels.......below that it never really sounds "right" or develops proper soundstage and if you get down to 70db it really is a waste of time compromises are so severe, only good for background music not serious listening.

Older receivers had loudness control to try to adjust sound when listening at lower volumes by boosting certain frequencies, because as you notice tonal balance gets messed up (among other problems)
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Most of my time and money is spent on full size stereo......my strong advice is if you can't listen to at least 80 db sound levels don't invest in stereo at this time, stick with headphones. What type of speaker used is not really the issue, its sound level.


Sound is subject to the inverse square law. 80 db at near field does in a small room is not going to blast the neighbors the same way 80 db is going to blast the neighbors filling a large space. A low power amp might not be the answer. There are some very good speaker that can work at low volumes but need some muscle behind them.

LKK, as DarkAngel has pointed out, the phenomenon of bass dropping out at low volumes has been known for many years. That was the purpose of "loudness contour" controls on older receivers, to try and adjust the frequency response at low levels to match that at normal volumes. Newer equipment simply calls it bass boost, which is what most people used it for anyway (many damaged speakers reflected this at the time).

IMO the only way you're going to achieve what you're trying to do is to set up a speaker system that sounds good at very close ranges...Enough so that the necessary volume achieved at your listening distance will not be a large volume in the actual room.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Hirsch
IMO the only way you're going to achieve what you're trying to do is to set up a speaker system that sounds good at very close ranges...Enough so that the necessary volume achieved at your listening distance will not be a large volume in the actual room.


That is what I meant but Hirsch said it much better. And DarkAngel is correct as well. The beauty of the genuine studio monitor is inaudible distortion which I don't think is true of even excellent high-end speakers. I have listened to my ATCs very close to me and they sound spectacular/lifelike and yet for others in the room, they are only hearing background music. Normal speakers can't do this.
 
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eyeteeth

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Just one more relevant note: The brain perceives distortion as loudness. And the loudness of studio monitors can be misjudged due to the lack of normal levels of distortion.

(Thankfully my preamp has an LED read-out of volume level which helped me initially come to grips with the new reality).
 
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LKK

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Thank you for all the recommandations.
The reason I am considering active monitors is it got no crossover. I thought the passive parts in the crossover might be one of the cause of the balance shift.
I will research and audition further, thanks again.
 
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Bass will definitely be an issue though. It's due to human hearing. I forget the name of the curve, but basically, the human ear has a hard time hearing bass at low SPL. Unfortunately, bass is also the freq range most likely to permeate through walls. One thing that seems like would be a good idea is a stepped attenuator. That would maximize what detail you get at low level listening. I use studio monitors like eyeteeth and my amp has a stepped attenuator (though I can't say for sure that the detail during low level playback is because of it) and I'm pleased with its performance.

Active monitors do have crossovers, of course. Some, like my studio monitors, don't even house the amplifier inside the speaker, so that the electronics are kept apart from the speakers and there is more space inside the speaker cabinet (very important for bass and lower midrange response.) Full range speakers advantages are point source for good imaging in many categories and phase coherency due to the lack of a crossover, but if you want bass and high treble, you better think about a subwoofer and a super tweeter, and then you're back to square 1 at least if phase coherency was your goal.
 
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