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Middle image left of center - best methods to address?


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I have been fine-tuning my Quatro Wood setup, and have been trying to get a well placed central image. When I set the speakers equal distance from the back wall and  centered from the side walls (measured from where the wall would be on the left side), the center image is about 1/2 foot left of center between the speakers.  As can be seen in the pictures, there is a small room  opening left of the speakers where the audio rack is located, and the room opens up on the left side near the seating position. 

For those of you who have encountered an off-center middle image, what is the best way to address this?  So far, I have played with toe-in which helps somewhat. I've also played with moving the speakers closer together.  I've verified that the 1st reflection points are on the walls (not the window on the right, or the room opening on the left). Shifting the speakers both to the left by about an inch or so pretty much gets a correctly placed central image (and I'm still sitting equal distance from each speaker).  Is shifting them this way the best method, or is there a different preferred methodI? Thanks for any ideas!

 

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It's the snow shoes!

No - wait!  It's the blue tape!

It could also be that the gains of the left and right channels of your electronics are not exactly the same.  Analog volume control potentiometers are rarely as a good as 1 dB tracking between channels at all volume levels and that usually shifts the image some.  (Doesn't apply to your system, so that's just an example.)

I personally have found that the first reflection points are not in fact a single point.  Instead, they're an area.  Think floodlight instead of spotlight.  So, the openings and the window likely really do have an effect.  That is certainly the case in our room.

I could say that it's because you don't have granite blocks under your Quatros, but I won't.

Aside from the mental aesthetic issue, is there a problem with shifting the speakers that one inch?  Sounds like a pretty good solution to me.

One dumb question:  If you unplug the subwoofers, is the image still off center?

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MNSki, I had the exact same issue, albeit with my cloth Quatros.  I tried just about every conceivable test; most recommended by RV.  Finally, by switching the speakers, I determined that it was in the speaker.  I had to have the mid-bass & the mid-range drivers rebuilt.   Most likely, yours is not that involved.  
 

We’ll get it resolved!

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BKDad, 

Interesting idea with unplugging the subs. I just tried that and it did not make a difference. Yes, I am sure it is due to my goofy room. I did swap left and right inputs to the amp and the middle image did not move - so it does not appear to be caused by anything before the amp. I don't think there is a problem shifting the speakers both to the left. I just didn't know if there was a better solution. 

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45 minutes ago, Steve Edwards said:

MNSki, I had the exact same issue, albeit with my cloth Quatros.  I tried just about every conceivable test; most recommended by RV.  Finally, by switching the speakers, I determined that it was in the speaker.  I had to have the mid-bass & the mid-range drivers rebuilt.   Most likely, yours is not that involved.  
 

We’ll get it resolved!

Steve, thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully that is not the issue!  I guess one of the next things I could try is to swap the speaker cables on the amp end (right amp output to left speaker) to see if anything changes. I'll give that a try. 

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MNSki, you don't have symmetry for your speakers and its not possible to get symmetry,  so you do whatever is needed to center the image up.  Don't forget if the solution is non symmetry  physiologically this could be a problem unless you close your eyes while listening.  Don't laugh!  The only part of speaker setup you don't want to change is the tilt relative to each other.  This must remain the same to a mark on the rear wall behind the listener.  Usually all thing considered using the balance control works best as it maintains correct timing.

RV

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My 2 cents...

Those large glass doors to the right, the door opening on the left, and possibly the ceiling lights are messing up your system's balance.

Can you put up a blanket or rug over the glass and the door opening?

The plants at the rear are good for breaking up sound waves.  I would try moving them around, as well.

Bob

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I am fortunate to have a dedicated space I built in the old attic which I expanded. Hence, my wife doesn’t care what I do up here. I am lucky. I would adjust the balance control on the pre amp a bit and that should greatly ameliorate the balance issue. I see you have the Schiit Yggy DAC. Mike’s DACs have always paired will with Vandersteen speakers probably due to their time as well as frequency accurate filters. My Yggy sounds great and I still have an old Theta as a backup. Good luck.

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One last thought...

Are you sure that your head, I mean ears, are symmetrical?  A little wax build-up can make one ear less sensitive than the other.

If you move your speakers to the left an inch, don't forget to move the TV and the amp over, too.  That'll help preserve your visual image and help with the illusion.

In our system, the image is dead center.  But, the soundstage extends a little further to the left than to the right.  Just a bit.   Both "sides" are way beyond the outside of the Quatros and even beyond the walls.  One just more than the other.  Still tweaking that one.

Funny side note: I've found that through some judicious optimization of the electronics, we get a kind of surround sound with video.  I bet there are some additional cues embedded in the audio track due to the Dolby encoding used with a lot of programs and movies.  These come through even with just a single pair of speakers.  (Yea!)  Obviously not the same as true 29 speaker or whatever home theater, but it's still an effect I pretty much never hear with any audio recording.  There, the sound always comes from behind the speakers.  Except for that Roger Waters album that has QSound encoding...

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1 hour ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

Are you serious!  This is a beautiful room which is obviously lived in with enough natural diffusion and I am sure some small adjustments will get 95% without a divorce.

RV

I meant the rugs and other dampeners be added to see if it makes a difference.

And, I firmly believe in window treatments.

RW

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I'd move the speakers closer together, further away from the sides.  I suppose it might be perspective, but I'd want a foot or so more clearance between the left speaker and that entranceway.

A good test for balance at the listening position is a pink noise signal like the one on the Stereophile test CDs.  Ideally you want an image focused in the center when playing back the correlated pink noise, with no frequencies spreading out to left or right.  But sitting that far back in an untreated room you will inevitably have some spread of frequencies.  

As for treatment, I'd at least treat the first reflection points behind the speakers. 

There's research to the effect that our brains tune out floor reflections.

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2 hours ago, BKDad said:

One last thought...

Are you sure that your head, I mean ears, are symmetrical?  A little wax build-up can make one ear less sensitive than the other.

If you move your speakers to the left an inch, don't forget to move the TV and the amp over, too.  That'll help preserve your visual image and help with the illusion.

In our system, the image is dead center.  But, the soundstage extends a little further to the left than to the right.  Just a bit.   Both "sides" are way beyond the outside of the Quatros and even beyond the walls.  One just more than the other.  Still tweaking that one.

Funny side note: I've found that through some judicious optimization of the electronics, we get a kind of surround sound with video.  I bet there are some additional cues embedded in the audio track due to the Dolby encoding used with a lot of programs and movies.  These come through even with just a single pair of speakers.  (Yea!)  Obviously not the same as true 29 speaker or whatever home theater, but it's still an effect I pretty much never hear with any audio recording.  There, the sound always comes from behind the speakers.  Except for that Roger Waters album that has QSound encoding...

Yes, unfortunately my completely unbiased wife pointed out that  the middle image was not centered...  I am getting good imaging outside of the speakers. I agree, it is amazing what they can do! I have no aesthetics issues if the TV and amp are not directly between the speakers. 

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52 minutes ago, Daverz said:

I'd move the speakers closer together, further away from the sides.  I suppose it might be perspective, but I'd want a foot or so more clearance between the left speaker and that entranceway.

A good test for balance at the listening position is a pink noise signal like the one on the Stereophile test CDs.  Ideally you want an image focused in the center when playing back the correlated pink noise, with no frequencies spreading out to left or right.  But sitting that far back in an untreated room you will inevitably have some spread of frequencies.  

As for treatment, I'd at least treat the first reflection points behind the speakers. 

There's research to the effect that our brains tune out floor reflections.

I've been experimenting quite a bit with distance from all the walls. Thus the grid on the floor, which makes fairly accurate moves much quicker.  There's a bit of clearance on the left speaker going into the small room with the rack.  Believe me, I hear it if it's too tight! Good idea on the pink noise. 

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3 hours ago, Joe Whip said:

I am fortunate to have a dedicated space I built in the old attic which I expanded. Hence, my wife doesn’t care what I do up here. I am lucky. I would adjust the balance control on the pre amp a bit and that should greatly ameliorate the balance issue. I see you have the Schiit Yggy DAC. Mike’s DACs have always paired will with Vandersteen speakers probably due to their time as well as frequency accurate filters. My Yggy sounds great and I still have an old Theta as a backup. Good luck.

Joe, the attic space sounds nice. I've played with the balance and can certainly get it centered that way. I had in my head that balance control may not be the preferred method - but I'm open to being corrected! Good eye on the Yggy. I've been happy with the Schiit DACs and have owned a few. I't would be fun to compare it to others, but I enjoy it. 

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2 hours ago, GdnrBob said:

I meant the rugs and other dampeners be added to see if it makes a difference.

And, I firmly believe in window treatments.

RW

I also wondered if absorption at the first reflection point may make a difference. I did put a wool blanket on the right side reflection point, and it did not seem to have an effect on moving the middle image. 

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4 hours ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

MNSki, you don't have symmetry for your speakers and its not possible to get symmetry,  so you do whatever is needed to center the image up.  Don't forget if the solution is non symmetry  physiologically this could be a problem unless you close your eyes while listening.  Don't laugh!  The only part of speaker setup you don't want to change is the tilt relative to each other.  This must remain the same to a mark on the rear wall behind the listener.  Usually all thing considered using the balance control works best as it maintains correct timing.

RV

Richard, thank for helping me abandon the notion that I need to strive for placement symmetry. Having the speakers not exactly centered will not be a visual issue for me. I regularly listen with eyes closed - to me that is a sign of really enjoying a system that can recreate a space. 

If you have one, would your preference for best set-up be to shift the speakers right and left to center the image, or to center the image by using the preamp balance control and keep the speakers as even from room walls as possible?

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@MNSki Amongst all the solutions presented to you, I would like to present the most cost effective and least labor intensive solution.... just sit 1/2 foot to your left from your usual listening position... this will save you from tearing down walls, getting hernia while moving the speakers and prevent your room from looking like a warehouse for Rugs Expo......if you are still looking for some improvements then seek help from Pepe Lopez, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan. That crew can certainly help discover nuances in your setup that even you didn’t know existed😃.

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42 minutes ago, Brad O said:

I know this may be obvious, but I did not see anyone ask the question.  Are both speakers exactly level? 

Great question Brad. I did level each speaker across the front top of the speaker. Also, the speakers are at the same height, as confirmed by a laser level line across the bottom of the fabric speaker covers. A laser on top of each speaker aligns with the same point about 8” above ear height at the listening position. 

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12 hours ago, stratocaster said:

@MNSki Amongst all the solutions presented to you, I would like to present the most cost effective and least labor intensive solution.... just sit 1/2 foot to your left from your usual listening position... this will save you from tearing down walls, getting hernia while moving the speakers and prevent your room from looking like a warehouse for Rugs Expo......if you are still looking for some improvements then seek help from Pepe Lopez, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan. That crew can certainly help discover nuances in your setup that even you didn’t know existed😃.

Please use the balance control!  You paid for a time and phase correct speaker and it is important to be equal distant to the tweeter, mid-range and mid-woofer for image depth and proper sound stage.  You can make the toe different for each speaker as sometimes this helps which does keep the important drivers equal distance wise.

RV

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