Are the power requirements for large rooms mitigated by close listening distance?

Discussion in 'Listening Spaces' started by ralphus, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. ralphus

    ralphus New Member

    (What a terrible title...)

    I'm working on putting together a versatile music+theater+gaming 5.1 (possibly 6.1) set of speakers for a 15x21' room. There will be two cheap as hell, weak 12" subs (because I don't care much about bass) to take some of the workload off the other speakers which I'll keep crossed at 80 or 100hz. The fronts will be 6 or 7 feet away from the wall, and the listening position will only be maybe 6 feet away from the fronts, and a similar distance from surrounds and center.

    Let's assume I have a similar room, scaled down in both dimensions except ceiling, which remains a standard 8'. Both rooms are carpeted and well-treated to reduce reverberations, and the listening position is the same distance from the fronts. For the sake of our hypothetical, let's say both rooms have only fronts set up.

    With our (impossibly) perfectly treated surfaces, will the perceived volume at the listening position in the small room be greater than in the big room? If so, why?

    I ask because I'm considering some seriously inefficient speakers in the ELAC UB5 and UF5. (Being used to old 10s and 12s, I'm frankly embarrassed to utter "85 db".) I already have a pair of UB5s and they're adequate for the current listening environment (and the only thing I like new for the money), and the doubling of the array in the UF5s will result in around 3db of increased perceived volume (if I'm remembering the rule correctly). Should the future bigger room size not be a problem assuming I am sitting close enough? I am NOT looking to achieve reference volumes 15' back--if I want to deafen myself, I'll do it with a guitar cab.

    I'm a modest listener, but I don't want to feel as though I'm listening to a smartphone speaker while sitting in my car.


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  2. loudnoises

    loudnoises Escalates Quickly

    Pondside, NH
    The only time i feel a system is under-powered in a larger room is when the speakers are too small.

    If it makes sense this way, if you've a 120sq' room, a set of 3" full range speakers with separate 8" sub will fill the room. The same system in a 300sq' room doesn't fill it as much, but the same gear pushing a set of floor standing 3-ways with a 10" bottom will fill the room pretty adequately. There's a volume of air you're trying to affect, and the surface area of the drivers is what you're pushing with. This is totally unscientific assessment, but jives perfectly with my perceptions. There are always exceptions, but even when the drivers get small the cabs stay big. And i ignore speaker efficiencies If there's a reasonable amount of power available, your ears don't think 86db means anything if it gets to the volume you want without stressing the amp.

    I guess the irony here is i'm a huge Pass fan, and i just picked a few fights with him i think... but there's no science i'm quoting behind this theory of mine, it's pure gut response hippie voodoo here.
  3. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Española NM
    The short answer to the question posed in the thread title is: Yes.

    Whether or not you are satisfied with the result still depends, on many factors.
  4. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8641 Subscriber

    You'll certainly get more volume sticking yer ear in the speakers, but ... you've also got to deal with how well the speakers fill and interact with the room. Quality listening isn't all about decibels, or ... it's not how big you make em, but how you make em big.

    Perfect world would be big box speakers at a lower volume setting.

    There again, quality trumps quantity. You'll get bass from a cheap sub, but you'll also get a lot of mud - there again, it's not just boom you want, but bottom end definition and clarity. I'd put your money onto ONE quality sub instead.

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