Right-sizing the system / room treatment evangelist

I spent some time looking through a lot of the system photos yesterday. I was really struck by how much beautiful high end equipment is out there… usually very tastefully added / integrated with an existing living room, den, or some other existing room. But also how incredibly compromising these rooms have to be to the sound. There are a few with extensive room treatments, but the vast majority are nestled in with open doors, fireplaces, windows… and huge speakers in small spaces, some untreated boxy reflective rooms.

There are a few room treatment evangelists around here. I see why. There are tremendous opportunities to radically improve the sound. I am really lucky to have accidentally bought a large house with a really excellent large acoustic space. My dealer friend of over 20 years sell and installs high end systems an is very cognizant of right-sizing the system for the sound space. We have been carefull to right size my speakers. There is an optimum size system for a space.

I remember hearing one of the most incredible systems in a tiny room / large closet. It was at a dealer who had carefully chosen the equipment / size to be room appropriate… and the added benefit was it was less expensive… smaller speakers, less powerful amp.

So, I think if I was faced with putting my system in the living room (like I did when starting out) with all sorts of compromises, vs a smaller extra bedroom where I could control the space and right size the system. I would now choose the smaller space.


I have a small 9x13 listening room. I probably had 75% of the gear where I wanted,then realized I had to do something more with room treatment. That made an enormous difference. I’m working on clearing out some space so I can get my gear out from between the speakers. I think that will greatly improve an already pretty good soundstage.

 By the way @ghdprentice, beautiful system and room.

I have 4 dedicated rooms that are disguised as living rooms. The overtreated antiseptic dedicated rooms are typically…meh. I am blessed to hear and setup gear in many rooms in a given year, including monitor / control rooms in recording studios and live recording locations…. bring on the plants, portable diffuser ( dogs ), brick a brack of real life….

Just an opinion…

Hey what's your complaint, shut up and just fork over your hard earned money ....I mean hey it's great vintage equipment until it breaks down and then the guy saids ,im.sorry I don't do returns....lol

SF Amati-Your dealer steered you into nice speakers,and it looks like you're able to get them out in the room to breath.

Some setups with great speakers appear to be compromised  being in a living space with not much distance from front/side walls, furniture.


Thank you @rocray ​​​​@tablejockey. I fell in love with Sonus Faber years ago and had a couple sets. My last set were Olympica 3. My dealer and I discussed a levels up and down from the Amati. Even though the next step up was twice as expensive he discouraged it. We also discussed a lot of systems he implemented for clients. He helped me connect the dots from my own observations I had made in the past on the subject of sizing. I really consider this current system a collaboration between him and I. It is also his favorite system. We have similar tastes… natural / musical system. As opposed to ear bleeding detail striped of musicality. He constantly complements the space… one of the best he has ever heard.


Also, when I had ribbon speakers the stuff in between and the bare wall was not detrimental sonically (I tried with and without). But when I switched the dynamic speakers, wow, big soundstage improvements removing the components and treating wall. Now the soundstage goes back 10 - 12 feet actually behind the wall.

While initially with my speakers set up toed in (most typical) the soundstage was confined to between the speakers… it opened up as I moved them to no toe in. The heavy Afghan made a big difference in allowing the soundstage to increase in depth. Now the speakers disappear (one of their abilities)… But to get there, I’m pretty sure the space of my room was required as well as treatments. My room is also highly asymmetrical, which is also really helpful.

Too many people read specs and look at the lower frequency cutoff only thinking of making it go lower and lower without thinking of the room, room gain and bass modes.

I'd much rather have a nice two way in an appropriate room (see many of my posts) than an oversized multi-way speaker that overpowers a room.

Of course, good room treatment makes any room more speaker friendly, but lacking that, small is beautiful.



Yes. I remember getting some big speakers and putting them in an early house we had with a tiny living room. I struggled figuring out what the problem was. The room was overwhelmed with sound bouncing around. I can now immediately hear it when it happens. I got bass traps, which helped… but my significant other refused more “non-decorative” changes… it was after all our living room, not my living room. Perhaps this is why I have my own floor of the house to do what I wish… and  us to have a decorated live room (although with her home theater… B&W 800 series, 2 subwoofers, 2,200 watts.. but tastefully decorated).

A good EQ can be your friend, clipping bass modes and moderating the overall bass level.  It's not as good as properly matched speakers and bass traps but it can be the difference between getting entirely new speakers and enjoying them.

Hey folks, I don’t post often but read plenty. I have a small square dedicated listening room - roughly 13 x 13 - so I’ve been a big fan of room treatments out of necessity.  My current speakers (Aerial Acoustic 6t’s) are probably a little too big for the space, but I’ve got them dialed in pretty good with the treatments and bass traps. Although I still have that 40-60Hz bloat that comes along with a square space.  I’ve had the 6t almost 3 years and I’m researching upgrades now, being very cautious not to overload the room while still getting some nice punch from tight low end.  So I’ll likely still end up with small towers again (vs monitors), but I’m not ruling anything out in the $10-15K range.  Candidates are Joseph Audio Perspective 2, SF Olympica Nova II, QLN Prestige 3, Wilson Sabrina X (stretch), TAD ME1. We’ll see what I can demo at home and how they play w, current my system.  


Comprehensive room correction such as that provided by my DEQX HDP4 can go a very long way toward correcting room problems.  Of course it works best in a room that is already pretty good.  I have also tried Audyssey room correction in in a HT rig, and it is a weak joke compared to the DEQX.

I completely disagree.  If you want to maximize your enjoyment, use the larger room.  Better systems need space to breathe and show what they can do.  Unless you’re planning on buying small bookshelf speakers, IMHO you’re limiting your system performance with a smaller room.  And even with smaller monitors I could easily make the argument that those with two good subs in the larger room would provide much more engaging sound than listening in a shoebox.  Best of luck. 

Agree.  I look at sizing a speaker in a room just like sizing an enclosure size for a driver.  

It's not the size of the loudspeaker its radiation pattern that has the most effect on sound quality in a room. Large speakers can be a great option for smaller spaces if you take care of the setup. It's not just all small rooms require small speakers. Not one way or the highway.

I have a small square dedicated listening room - roughly 13 x 13 - so I’ve been a big fan of room treatments out of necessity.

@golfsh00ter I sympathize as I had a similar room in my last apartment before I bought my house and use the basement as a dedicated listening room, and I had exactly the same bass bloat you’re experiencing.  Since it was an apartment I didn’t want to invest in room treatments, so my only solution was to pull my speakers 5’ out into the room for serious listening and push them back afterwards so my wife would still live with me.  Anyway, in your situation I think the JA Perspectives might be a bit much, and if it was me I’d do Pulsars with two good subs that will help you to better manage the bass nodes while still giving you a full-range speaker experience.  Just my $0.02 FWIW, and best of luck.