Square Room with Electrostatics

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I understand a square room is not ideal for an HT, however, that is what I have as I had no clue how involved an HT would be until I started researching speakers a couple of months ago; the room has already been built. We have listened to the ESL 13A's as well as many others and both my wife and I are confident this is what we want. I am curious if the issues with a square room are less of an issue with Electrostatics given that they are placed further into the room. I know they also reflect off the front wall, so it may not be all that different. My wife really does not want to build a wall at the front, so I'm trying to get a better understanding of the square room issues specific to Electrostatics before deciding if this is a battle worth fighting. We are open to doing room treatments, but we can't put a bass trap in the back left corner due to the door placement.

The dimensions are 21.5' x 21.2' with a 10' ceiling in the front of the room and 9' in the back due to the riser. There is also a bar about 5' from the back wall, which may help some with making the room a little less square, but there isn't much mass to the wall holding up the bar. The primary seating area will be on the riser before the bar and will be the main concern with getting the sound right. We will either have a sectional on the lower level or large bean bag chairs.

50% movies, 25% music, 25% gaming

The speakers below are 95% finalized, but I'm open to suggested tweaks on surrounds/atmos.

7.2.4
Center: ESL C34A
L/R: ESL 13A
Side and Back Surrounds: FX2
Atmos: MC6-HT
Subs: BF 212
 

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msimanyi

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You really want @JonFo or @ttocs to comment, but I think if you already understand the issues about distance from the wall for 13As (any ESL, really) and that's workable for you, you're likely to be ok. You'll probably need them 4' off the wall (to the front of the speaker), though 5' is likely better.

I believe the biggest room issue you'll be facing is with bass, and while that certainly applies to 13As you'll also have to deal with it for the subwoofer(s) for home theater and gaming. You might want to consider one of the subs on the back wall, if possible, with the other on the front wall.

I'm using two BF210s with my 15As, symmetrically on the front wall, augmenting them with an 1100X at the rear for home theater. That helps fill in some of the nulls for the low bass in movies.

The good news is you're not sitting on the back wall trying to get great audio from surround / Atmos speakers. You also want to ensure you're not sitting at the middle of the room, if possible. I'm guessing those speakers on the side walls are for surround. If you can move them a bit forward so they're more alongside your seating position, I think you'd have better results. (I doubt you're considering the main listening position as the bar, but if it is... more power to you!)

Is the drywall already installed?



Edit: Also, corners are the enemy of speakers and, in my experience, subwoofers. At the very least I'd keep the 13As appropriately spaced for two-channel listening at your main listening position. If you're sitting 10' from them, that's likely 8' - 10' apart.
 
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Rich

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The issue with square rooms is not so much in the frequencies emitted by the panel. It’s in the bass frequencies produced by the woofers. It will be an issue with any speaker in that room. You’ll have worse room modes to deal with in the bass frequencies, basically.
 
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You'll probably need them 4' off the wall (to the front of the speaker), though 5' is likely better.
Understood and that is not a problem.

You might want to consider one of the subs on the back wall, if possible, with the other on the front wall.
There is only 4 feet behind the bar for stools and walking behind, so the only place I think that would work on that wall would be the top back right corner, which you said is not good for subwoofers. Maybe we can leave an empty spot with no bar stool right in the middle so you can walk around still.
 
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I'm using two BF210s with my 15As, symmetrically on the front wall, augmenting them with an 1100X at the rear for home theater. That helps fill in some of the nulls for the low bass in movies.

The good news is you're not sitting on the back wall trying to get great audio from surround / Atmos speakers. You also want to ensure you're not sitting at the middle of the room, if possible. I'm guessing those speakers on the side walls are for surround. If you can move them a bit forward so they're more alongside your seating position, I think you'd have better results. (I doubt you're considering the main listening position as the bar, but if it is... more power to you!)

Is the drywall already installed?



Edit: Also, corners are the enemy of speakers and, in my experience, subwoofers. At the very least I'd keep the 13As appropriately spaced for two-channel listening at your main listening position. If you're sitting 10' from them, that's likely 8' - 10' apart.
What do you mean by symmetrically on the front wall?

The main listening position is about 11 feet back when the seats are reclined, fairly close to the side surrounds.

Yes, the drywall is done and painted a very dark grey.

Keeping the 13A's 10' apart is not a problem.
 
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The issue with square rooms is not so much in the frequencies emitted by the panel. It’s in the bass frequencies produced by the woofers. It will be an issue with any speaker in that room. You’ll have worse room modes to deal with in the bass frequencies, basically.
That is good to know that I can just focus on the bass issue.
 

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That is good to know that I can just focus on the bass issue.
Yep, in a square room, the bass modes are pretty nasty, but there is a fix.

I converted a nearly cub-shaped spare bedroom into a media room on the main level, mostly so my wife would have a place to watch a show if it conflicted with my use of the HT, and to have something simple she can drive. So I experimented with using four subs to cancel out the rooms modes, and between that, and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 (and the tablet app), I got some very good results, which I fully documented in this thread: Media room – quad ML sub setup

Some acoustic treatments, such as bass traps, would also help, maybe the front corners can host something tastefully designed.
 

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The speakers below are 95% finalized, but I'm open to suggested tweaks on surrounds/atmos.

7.2.4
Center: ESL C34A
L/R: ESL 13A
Side and Back Surrounds: FX2
Atmos: MC6-HT
Subs: BF 212

I will strongly suggest that the FX2 is inappropriate for an Atmos setup, as you want clear point-source behavior from the side and back surrounds. The dual tweeters on the FX2 will muddle up the localization so important to rendering an effective 3D audio bubble.

If open to in-walls, the Motion XTW6 is a decent entry point, and if budget allows, I'd make the sides Motion XTW6-LCR.

If in walls are out, then Motion towers or the Motion 35XTi would do.

For subs, you'll want more than one, and given the rest of the room layout, 4 in the corners is the ideal. So switching to Dynamo 1100X and deploying four would be better than one BF sub.
 

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Not sure what you are using as a processor, but the newly announced Denon & Marantz units now support four independent sub-outs, and with support for advanced Audyssey or Dirac room correction, including a multi-sub optimization step for Dirac (but not until Q2 2023), these are the ones to consider.

The Marantz AV10 is going to be ideal for a configuration such as yours. But that's not out for many more months, in the meantime, a Denon X3800H can do all the processing tricks (they share the same DSP), just use the pre-outs to feed the power amps (they even allow one to selectively shut off unused internal amps).
 

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We are open to doing room treatments,
Room treatments are a must for ESL HT setups, as you want to primarily listen to the direct sound from the front of the panels, and not the delayed, reflected energy from the rear of a panel.

That means you will be heavily treating the front wall of the room, as well as the back wall.
The back wall can be something simple and straightforward, like the rugs I hung in the media room I linked to (the front wall there also has a rug hung now).

Here is how I treated my 5.4.4 home theater with the 5 ESL speakers: Room treatments – part 2

Before I go on about the front wall options, are you going to use a solid screen (large OLED) or a projection system?
What screen size?
 
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I will strongly suggest that the FX2 is inappropriate for an Atmos setup, as you want clear point-source behavior from the side and back surrounds. The dual tweeters on the FX2 will muddle up the localization so important to rendering an effective 3D audio bubble.

If open to in-walls, the Motion XTW6 is a decent entry point, and if budget allows, I'd make the sides Motion XTW6-LCR.

If in walls are out, then Motion towers or the Motion 35XTi would do.

For subs, you'll want more than one, and given the rest of the room layout, 4 in the corners is the ideal. So switching to Dynamo 1100X and deploying four would be better than one BF sub.
Thanks for the feedback. I just relied on ML describing these for surround sound and assumed they would work. I'll definitely consider the suggested speakers. I originally didn't want in-wall because:
1. I have foam insulation on the exterior wall and regular batting on the otherwall, so I was concerned they wouldn't match each other.
2. I thought you get more bang for your buck with on wall than in-wall, and I'm ok with the look of on-wall.

I don't think towers would work for the surrounds due to taking up too much walking space.

I was planning on going with 2 subs initially, but willing to expand if needed after listening for a bit.
 
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Not sure what you are using as a processor, but the newly announced Denon & Marantz units now support four independent sub-outs, and with support for advanced Audyssey or Dirac room correction, including a multi-sub optimization step for Dirac (but not until Q2 2023), these are the ones to consider.

The Marantz AV10 is going to be ideal for a configuration such as yours. But that's not out for many more months, in the meantime, a Denon X3800H can do all the processing tricks (they share the same DSP), just use the pre-outs to feed the power amps (they even allow one to selectively shut off unused internal amps).
I have not decided on what I'm using, and given my expected time frame is January 1st, maybe it will be out by then.
 
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Room treatments are a must for ESL HT setups, as you want to primarily listen to the direct sound from the front of the panels, and not the delayed, reflected energy from the rear of a panel.

That means you will be heavily treating the front wall of the room, as well as the back wall.
The back wall can be something simple and straightforward, like the rugs I hung in the media room I linked to (the front wall there also has a rug hung now).

Here is how I treated my 5.4.4 home theater with the 5 ESL speakers: Room treatments – part 2

Before I go on about the front wall options, are you going to use a solid screen (large OLED) or a projection system?
What screen size?
I thought the reflected energy off the front wall added to the soundstage, so you don't want/need room treatments up front.

We are going with a projector and currently looking at a 150" screen.
 

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I originally didn't want in-wall because:
1. I have foam insulation on the exterior wall and regular batting on the otherwall, so I was concerned they wouldn't match each other.
2. I thought you get more bang for your buck with on wall than in-wall, and I'm ok with the look of on-wall.

I don't think towers would work for the surrounds due to taking up too much walking space.
Any in-wall can be turned into an on-wall, all your need is an enclosure, such as offered on the masterpiece line, like the MartinLogan | Icon 3XW which has an optional on-wall mount.

What many DIY'rs do is create a decorative column and mount the in-walls on it. One can't even tell there are speakers there. Since it sounds like you are still in the build phase, that might be an option.
 

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I was planning on going with 2 subs initially, but willing to expand if needed after listening for a bit.
Two would be the minimum, and I'll need to go review the Harman papers that analyzed locations (but for rectangular rooms), and where two might go if center front / center rear can't be used. IIRC it will be something like 2/3 sidewall length, at the sidewalls. So near the front stage in your setup.
But square rooms mess with the usual recommendations.
 

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I thought the reflected energy off the front wall added to the soundstage, so you don't want/need room treatments up front.

We are going with a projector and currently looking at a 150" screen.
Unfortunately, the whole "it makes for a bigger soundstage" only is applicable to 2-ch, as basically it is a full-time 'effect' applied to the sound. For movies and multichannel music, and especially for Atmos, controlled directivity and low room interaction are the goal, regardless of speaker type. That's why my room sports a literal ton of treatments.

ESL sound is very impressive, and a well-managed sound field makes it even more impressive. As it allows one to hear deeper into the recording, as there is not a bunch of destructive interference from the out-of-phase rear-wave.

If going for that scale of a screen, then I'll suggest you might ultimately be more pleased with an acoustically transparent screen with three MartinLogan | Monument 7XW mounted in-wall behind it. Those are some seriously good speakers. and would be more balanced vs. the sides / surrounds and tops.

I love ESL, but one of the best-sounding HT demos I've ever heard was a full Wisdom Audio in-wall setup that was invisible but sounded amazing.
I'm guessing the rooms with 3x the Statement 40XW and with 4 7XW would be just as good.
 

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Unfortunately, the whole "it makes for a bigger soundstage" only is applicable to 2-ch, as basically it is a full-time 'effect' applied to the sound. For movies and multichannel music, and especially for Atmos, controlled directivity and low room interaction are the goal, regardless of speaker type. That's why my room sports a literal ton of treatments.

ESL sound is very impressive, and a well-managed sound field makes it even more impressive. As it allows one to hear deeper into the recording, as there is not a bunch of destructive interference from the out-of-phase rear-wave.

If going for that scale of a screen, then I'll suggest you might ultimately be more pleased with an acoustically transparent screen with three MartinLogan | Monument 7XW mounted in-wall behind it. Those are some seriously good speakers. and would be more balanced vs. the sides / surrounds and tops.

I love ESL, but one of the best-sounding HT demos I've ever heard was a full Wisdom Audio in-wall setup that was invisible but sounded amazing.
I'm guessing the rooms with 3x the Statement 40XW and with 4 7XW would be just as good.
Certainly makes having one room for home theater and another for 2 channel music seem logical. Mostly a matter of having the square feet for it I suppose.
 

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IMO with a dedicated HT, In-Wall Line Source can't be beat!
Same with subwoofers, use In-Wall subs. This effectively removes SBIR from the wall that would otherwise be behind a subwoofer or free standing speaker.

I was very impressed with the demo of the Statement earlier this year! I measured the same SPL in the front row of seating as was measured in the back row, which is one great thing about line source speakers.
 
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That is a little disappointing to hear, as we really wanted to spend the money in one room to have a great 2 channel music experience, as well as a HT. We could pivot and have this solely a HT, but I don't think the ESL's would work as well in any of the other room options.
I attached the floor plan and a picture of the Game Room. The issues as far as I can tell are it's a large room, with a high sloped ceiling. We would not be willing to add room treatments to this room, and I imagine the cost would be extremely high anyway given the size of the room. I think the best place for us in this room, would be two put the ESL's in between the windows shown in the picture, but I'd prefer for the speakers not to get direct sunlight and they would if they are 5 feet from the back wall.

We have auditioned the 5XW's and did not think they were in the same league as the ESLs for music. I don't think going up to the 7XW's would make that change.
 

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Robert D

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That is a little disappointing to hear, as we really wanted to spend the money in one room to have a great 2 channel music experience, as well as a HT. We could pivot and have this solely a HT, but I don't think the ESL's would work as well in any of the other room options.
I attached the floor plan and a picture of the Game Room. The issues as far as I can tell are it's a large room, with a high sloped ceiling. We would not be willing to add room treatments to this room, and I imagine the cost would be extremely high anyway given the size of the room. I think the best place for us in this room, would be two put the ESL's in between the windows shown in the picture, but I'd prefer for the speakers not to get direct sunlight and they would if they are 5 feet from the back wall.
You don't have a place in the basement or lower level where you can have a bedroom sized room for music listening? When we build in the future, I think I will have a room for pc gaming/vr and music listening, and then a large room for home theater.

Right now our family room doubles as a home theater and music listening place. The Prodigy speakers do seem to sound good for home theater. I have the focus for center channel. Here I am watching some quality tv.
20221006_131310.jpg

I have 4 Martin Logans in the ceiling for Atmos, 2 rear speakers, and 2 rear Surrounds. All of those are in wall or ceiling. I use just one bf 210. I don't think it's the end of the world to use one room for music and theater, I'm happy enough with mine. If you want to maximize your experience and can afford it, I think 2 rooms is definitely better.

I don't want to spend any more $$ on my audio until we build a new place, and then I may go with 2 rooms. Since you're building now, this is when you must make your decision. Doing things after drywall is up sucks. I had to have my 4 Atmos speakers put in 12 years after we built this house. Atmos didnt even exist really in 08, or it wasnt mainstream. It certainly adds a lot of cost labor wise, and worst case scenario they won't be able to run speaker wire where you want it to go. It's hard to snake it through the walls and ceiling.

Another thing to worry about is sound insulation in the audio room walls and make sure things are decoupled so you don't get vibrations from subwoofer bass. In our family room we get some vibrations of walls and the knickknacks around the room vibrate at times. There are special ways they can build the walls to decouple them.
 
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