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Created: 29 July 2019 29 July 2019

To Diego Estan, 

Thanks for the excellent review of the Dutch & Dutch 8c active loudspeakers. From the review, I learned that your listening room is 15’ x 12’, exactly the same size as my listening room. I had difficulty deciding how to orient my speakers: whether to put them on the 15’ long wall or the 12’ short wall. The 15’ long wall has two windows, one on either end. The 12’ short wall has one big window in the middle (about 5’ wide). My speakers are the Focal Sopra No2s. If putting them on the long wall, the arrangement has to be an equilateral triangle. If on the short wall, the listening position could be a little further from the speakers.

It would be great if you could give me some advice on this.

Best regards,
Fred
United States

Thank you for taking the time to read my Dutch & Dutch 8c review. I appreciate the kind words. It’s also nice to hear from a fellow enthusiast who is dealing with a room with the same dimensions as mine. I have been listening in a 15’ x 12’ room, in three different homes, for my entire existence as an audiophile -- some 30 years! I will attempt to give you as thorough an answer as possible.

First, the obvious, if not perhaps lazy, answer: try both the long- and short-wall configurations to see what sounds best to you. Experimentation beats theorizing and conjecture every time. Plus, you may find that it’s the bass performance that will inform your decision more than any other aspect of the sound. Below 200Hz or so, each room will impart its own fingerprint (based on where the speakers are placed within it) on the sound. You may just find that bass performance is much better with one orientation versus the other, and that all other pros and cons are less important. You can also opt to simulate the bass performance of the room with both layouts using Room EQ Wizard (REW) software, which is free. REW has a tool for room simulation where room dimensions and speaker placement can be input to “see” where the bass room modes will lie.

If moving the entire room around for some listening sessions seems too daunting (I understand), here’s my perspective on the advantages of each layout. In a room this size, you can’t have both a very wide and very deep soundstage. Unfortunately, we must choose based on what we covet most. I prioritize soundstage width over depth -- but this is of course a personal choice. With my speakers placed along the long wall, I have good distance to the side walls, and still have a wide 9’ span between the speakers, with the listening chair 9’ from each speaker (the often-recommended equilateral triangle). The fronts of my speakers are about 32” from the wall behind them, and I’d say most of the imaging in my room occurs between 1’ and 3’ behind the speakers. If you opt for the short-wall layout, you can choose to pull the speakers a few feet away from the front wall and experience excellent soundstage depth. I’ve certainly heard very deep soundstages in large rooms with the speakers placed several feet from the front wall, and it is a cool effect, but, in my opinion, chasing this in a 15’ x 12’ room would compromise too much soundstage width. What’s more important to you, width or depth?

Now I’d like to explain some of the other issues to look out for with both short- and long-wall arrangements. Left/right symmetry in a listening room is very important to achieve precise imaging. It looks like in your case, whether you opt for the long or short wall, you’ll have windows on one side only. If you haven’t considered this yet, thick curtains should be on your mind. And on the wall opposite the window(s), think about what you can place along the wall to add a bit of diffusion or absorption to match the curtains on the opposing wall space -- again think left/right symmetry. If you opt for the long wall (like me), because the room is relatively small, your listening chair/couch will no doubt end-up against or close to the rear wall. If you don’t have any absorption directly behind your ears, please consider adding some. I have a high-back recliner covered with a blanket behind my ears. Just to experiment, I once removed the back of my chair, and with less than one foot between the back of my ears and a sheet of painted drywall, my system sounded very bright! If you opt for the short wall, side-wall reflections may become more problematic (because the speakers will be placed closer to the side walls). I would argue in a room this size, at least some absorption (or diffusion) should be applied, and side-wall first-reflection points are good places to start.

If your room is not a dedicated space and room treatment is a no-no, you can at least be reassured by the fact that the fine speakers you have chosen have very good/smooth off-axis response (our measurements of the Sopra No2 confirm that), so the reflected sounds in your room should be quite similar to the direct ones, which our brains tend to prefer when we’re listening to speakers in a room. Best of luck to you. . . . Diego Estan