CLX Art and very small rooms.

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On the REL website and from the point of view of subwoofer performance, a medium size room ranges from 200 to 400 feet square. Your room is 16 by 17 feet. 272 feet square. My room is 14 by 21 feet. 294 feet square. If your room was below 100 feet square in size may be categorized as very small. However, the room is medium sized.

My CLS given their age and panel repair occurence sound great in 294 feet square room. In my opinion, your room being 272 feet square, is optimally sized for CLX neither too small nor too big.

Full range electrostatic speakers that are panel only, adjust to the volume or air in the room and room size is not an issue. Unless room size is extremely small or extremely large both of which are unlikely. IMHO, full range ML electrostatic speakers provide their trademark sound in small, medium and large rooms. There is small variation in sonics caused by variation in room size.

I have placed and listened to my CLS in small, medium and large rooms. Just my opinion that in small room you mostly get the inner sound. The micro picture. In large rooms mostly the larger picture. In optimal or medium sized rooms you get both micro and macro picture depending on whether you are seated close or far away from the speaker respectively. A balance between micro and macro is achieved at neither too close nor too far away from loudspeaker LP.

Get accurate CLX placement inside your room with the following ML provided and recommended formula. Placement helps to allow maximum or optimal performance of the panel.

Inside ML Classic ELS 9 instruction manual a formula for inside room speaker optimal or precise placement. If not precise optimal placement, then close to optimal or within one feet radius of ideal or perfect placement in the room. Placement according to this formula helps to minimize the negative impact of room standing waves.

Measure the distance of the wall in front of LP from ground to ceiling in inches. Multiply by 0.618. Each speaker's front midpoint must be kept this distance from the front wall or wall in front of LP. Now you know the placement of the speaker lengthwise in the room.

Next calculation for placement from left and right sidewall. Measure total distance in inches between left and right sidewall. First divide this measurement by 18. Second multiply by 5. The result inches is the required distance expressed in inches from each side wall to the front midpoint of each speaker.

The distance between the midpoint of both speakers is the length that should be the minimum distance to the center of both ears measured as a perpendicular from the loudspeaker center.
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Yep, that's correct. Our good Robbo mate has a fairly small room that he refers to as his den. He's somehow managed to get the CLX's to work, where they perform well into the areas of: inner detail, top notch imaging with that full 3D holographic effect they're known for and of course adding that sheer brilliance of true transparency. In addition to this, Robbo is also using one BF210 sub, just to augment those very low notes, provided they're on the recording!

A similar set-up was done in our previous apartment, where I didn't use a sub at all. It was quite small, and served well. I was simply enjoying the music! If I recall the room dimensions: approx. Width 14ft x length about 25ft with 8ft ceiling. I managed to get about 2.5 to 3ft panel placement away from the front wall (wall behind the speakers), about 5.5ft apart with very little space on either sides, due to the cramped area. Listening position was just 8ft away but with plenty of space going beyond the Listening position towards the back wall, which had about 10ft of extra space that accommodated a small kitchen area. Hence, adding a sub in this fairly small joint would make things shake, and I did try it.
Things were far too boomy or reproduced with vibrations, mainly thanks to very old squeaky floor boards, deteriorating stumps and worn out carpeting that covered wall to wall.
Sometimes the vibrations off the sub were quite dramatic, they would be picked up by the TT rig, making it virtually unlistenable. Digital playback was fine. We were in this location for nearly 15yrs! And many wonderful speaker systems passed through, from Quads to Maggie's, even Wilson's at one point.

Change that equation to around Sept 2019, and our new place has more than adequate space for the CLX's to take full flight! All those placement specs were significantly adjusted in trying to optimise the CLX's performance. The most significant factor was the space of the front wall to CLX's. Managed to get around 6ft and that made a wonderful difference! The soundstage depth is marvellous and the dynamics seem limitless! Listening position is about 12ft away with panels around 7ft apart and plenty of space on either side, although this doesn't affect dipoles much. So that's a good thing. Added space going off axis after listening position is around 15ft so nothing's compromised in terms of lack of definition, fuzzy LF or lack of depth.

The only item I did add, and after about two years of not having this item, was one BF210 to match with the CLX's. This sub is placed dead centre right between the CLX's, well away from all walls, and with the help of ARC software, dialling in the required program to match was a breeze. In fact, such a breeze, that on most recordings, unless that very LF detail is there, the BF210 is mostly in idle mode. It kicks in only when required. So, it's not lingering on excessive bass notes constantly. The CLX's full range panels are doing most of the work, and I prefer it this way, it's far more pure and uncoloured.

I must say, it was only after we moved into a larger place that I truly understand the concept of High Performance Speakers. The CLX Art's are awe-inspiring once given their proper placement requirements. Smaller rooms may not require a sub and average to large rooms may require only one, just to add a touch of that bottom end heft. The majority of CLX based systems I've auditioned, have been placed in much larger rooms, with longer distances than my room setup and most of them have at least two subs, one located per side. On very rare occasions I've come across the use of no sub at all, and the LF detail is quite phenomenal! Goes to show how well designed that triple stator- double mylar bass panel is. That itself is outstanding! The speed in which it moves... there's no sub-woofer system on earth that can match that speed, no chance Charlie!
That is why it's so important to get the sub matched well with the rest of the panel, only IF you intend to use a sub. I sincerely believe that simpler the better, you will hear more of the music and the intended recording.

My advise is, if you're going to place these large panels in à smaller room, firstly don't worry too much about the room. Rather, focus on what you're after:
Inner detail, pristine midrange, top quality soundstage with plenty of transparency, LF definition etc., whatever it is that you're after.
Once you've identified your personal list then make the speakers and room work around it.
There will be compromises in certain areas but that's mainly due to a lack of extra space if required. If you can achieve around 90% of what you're looking for, and everything you want from your favourite recordings, then just sit back and enjoy those fine tunes!

Cheers and a mighty WOOF! To the CLX's!