Afraid to buy new speakers due to poor room acoustics

Audiogoner Rg500g is in a concrete box of an acoustic pickle:
I’m stuck with hideous acoustics that simply couldn’t be worse, and I have to place speakers close to a concrete block wall. There’s no getting around it. I have decent CD player and integrated amp recently bought new (NAD 365BEE) as well as a Parasound P3 and PS Audio HCA2. Given my sorry room configuration I fear any speaker I buy will be a mere shadow of itself in a different environment, and I cannot change this environment.

I’m finding that a set of small monitors and a sub seems to work, but these speakers have their own limitations. I’ve got a max $3K budget for a pair of speakers, but read time and again how any speaker will sound like crap when their back panel is placed close to a wall. If true, that kills anything and I might as well stick with my monitors or if I want to play really loud when the wife’s out put my old Advent 2s on and launch the cones.

Is there ANY speaker in the 2-3 thou range that is designed to function well close to a wall save an in-wall unit? I look at these long ribbons of 3-4″ drivers and can’t help but think they’ll sound horrible, but who knows. I’m probably going to be here for some years, so I have to make the most of it.

Try Tekton Enzo – front port so they can go close to rear walls

You might try on-walls plus a subwoofer. You won’t get SOTA imaging/staging, but at least FR won’t be as screwy. Vienna Acoustics Schoenbergs come to mind.

AKG headphones.

Invest in headphones/headphone amplifier.
Minimal room interference.
Wife pleasing.
More bang for your audio buck.
Feed your head.

Get yourself a speaker with a sealed woofer. The Harbeth P3ESR or Spendor 3/5r’s are both excellent and can be placed anywhere. If you think you need a sub, mate them with a SVS SB-1000 and you will have an outstanding system within your budget.

The closeness to the wall behind certainly boosts any speaker’s bass loudness, as I am sure you know. And many speakers are designed with midrange and highs much louder than their bass output, because they ‘are designed’ for that wall to boost their bass.

However, as soon as you choose to play it loud, what will upset you the most are the reflections coming off the wall all around the speaker cabinet, followed not too far behind by the reflections from all other walls and perhaps your floor.

If you absorb sound in the main voice range (middle of the piano), behind the speakers, it makes a huge difference in how you enjoy your tunes.

We recommend at least one 24 x 48 inch, 2″ thick mineral-fiber panel, cloth covered, hung sideways behind each speaker, even though you said nothing can be done about your environment, acoustically. The ones from Auralex are nice, as well as those from Acoustics First.

FYI, the next reflections to treat, besides those from a bare floor, would be those off the sidewalls’ points of first reflection.

Adding furniture helps to break up longer-term echoes, of course.

Good luck!


Some NHT speakers are designed to go against the wall. I’m a fan (but don’t own them).

AudioKinesis Prisma
or AudioKinesis Rhythm Prism

are a couple designed for it. I have heard the latter in a small room and they were good. I do not know what you have been reading, but there are a variety that will do fine against a wall. Easy examples: the ones I own (sealed three-ways) sound better in a Cardas room config but are perfectly enjoyable against a wall. Robert Lee told me his Crescendos should be placed under two feet or over five feet away from the front wall.

Speakers will sound better when no placement variables are fixed but most of us have some constraints still and do okay.

The Gallo Reference AV speakers are designed to use the wall as a backplane. Read up on them, they may be exactly what you are looking for…

Try taking a look at the North Creek Music Kitty Kat and Big Kat. I ran across these while researching inductors for a DIY project. The manufacturer states that they’re designed specifically for near wall placement using Scan Speak (Revelator) and North drivers.

Von Schweikert VR-22

I am a caregiver for my 90 year old mom. I sold my home to move back into the home I grew up in. In my former home, I had a krell setup with NHT 3.3’s that were bi amped. Needless to say I had a hell of system! Now I have a modified Jolida amp with NHT super zeros mounted on the wall near the corners of my room. I also have the matching 8 inch sub and it works completely seamless with zeros. Paid less that 800 for the speaker system and let me tell you, I get just as much enjoyment listening to this system as I did with my 20K system. Other than the pants shaken bass, I sometimes feel this setup sounds like my more expensive system. I did add some room treatment, which I believe is just as important and the equipment itself. It made a night and day difference to my system

Fritz… fritz

Get creative, there are plenty of softening things to hang on the wall, or support with a simple structure wont be seen after you hang the carpet or panels on the structure. Minimal money, major improvements.


“I am a caregiver for my 90 year old mom. I sold my home to move back into the home …”

That is awesome Dwest1023! You will be rewarded tenfold for your kindness.

Headphones seem to be your only option.

Rega RS3 are designed just for that and are good speakers at about $1500 new. Used I got a pr for $750 shipped.

I’d say if they don’t sound good in that room your best option is buy a pair of Gallo minis with stands and move them out when listening, take the room out of the equation as much as possible. They do play music!

Dwest , may Gods blessings be upon you, in this world and the next .

As noted above, most of the Rega floorstanders tend to work well close to a wall.

As another option, check out the Tannoy Precision 6.4’s. They are sealed floorstanders and I have also found that they work quite well near walls. Excellent speakers and right at your price point also!

***Rega and Tannoy Dealer disclaimer***

How about “The Clue” speakers. Designed to work their best with wall placement. Below your budget, but so what! Something like that with careful room treatment could work really well. You may have to scale down your high-end expectations and find something sweet that just allows you to groove with the music. Something with rich beautiful tone. Less High-End, more soul. Place less importance on depth, soundstage, etc. I remember the old days with AR’s, KLH’s, Dynaco A25’s. We used them in whatever crappy rooms we had and loved every minute of it.

Fellow Audiogoners – what other suggestions can you offer? Comment below!

For more tips on how to handle a less-than-ideal room, see this article.

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