OK, so I ripped out some furniture in the living room and made room so I could move my 2-channel system out there and get some decent sound. Much better than the dining room with the low ceiling but still not great. Sound is decent, but imaging is iffy, bass is a bit boomy despite having the M40s almost 3 feet out from the wall, and whenever the music gets busy I get that "too many people talking" feeling where everything blurs together.
First step is noticing that speaker distance from side wall is the same as from back wall, and that the arms of the sofa between the speakers might be interfering with the midrange sounds from the speakers. That's what you get when you have an obsessive need for everything to be aligned & centered -- it's all scrunched in around the window.
Realize there's empty space off to the right if I move the rifle rack (I don't normally keep a rifle rack in my living room but I dumped it there after the last hunting trip and haven't gotten around to taking it down to the basement) so I move the right speaker over about 4 feet and left speaker over a foot or so. That leaves a bit more space between the speakers so the couch arms don't interfere, and lets me sit in the right hand seat of the listening sofa so *its* arms aren't interfering with the sound so much.
Bass is smoother, soundstage seems a bit better, but room is still too live. I already have a half dozen cushions from the couches & chair covering first reflection point on the left window and blocking some of the glass in the window on the rear wall, so I don't think it's just that. Start giving the ceiling the ol' hairy eyeball. The sloping-up part in front of me doesn't seem like the problem (angles don't work out) but the sloping-down part behind me seems like it could be acting like a VERY reflective back wall (it's that flattened stucco) in addition to the real back wall & window.
Next step is holding one of the cushions from the couch behind my head to block reflections from the back wall. Makes a bit of a difference but not much. Then I raise the cushion and angle it a bit so it blocks reflections from the lower half of the cathedral ceiling. All of a sudden things sound a lot better.
Not looking forward to prototyping something on the ceiling (peak is 20 feet up, and there's an inch or two of foil-backed foam insulation over the 2x12 rafters so even finding a rafter is going to be the opposite of fun. OK, so maybe I can build some kind of frame to hold a couple of cushions in the right place so I can do some proper listening without my arms bent back over my head.
Seems like too much work, but I go down to check the scrap lumber situation anyways. First thing I see is the roll-up mattress I take camping... hmmm.
It's "powerful ugly" but definitely improves the imaging. Now have a decent soundstage that doesn't fall apart if I move my head a few inches. Still gets too "busy" sometimes though, probably needs some more absorption. Owens Corning fiberglass doesn't seem real easy to find, but Roxul Safe n Sound seems like a decent substitute.
Pick up a pack of 24x48 batts, put a couple on the front wall behind the M40s and "eureka"... there was a dramatic difference even listening to the radio with only the batt on the right installed. Finally a decent listening area for the first time in ~20 years. Yay.
Yes I will make it all look nicer tomorrow. Anyone know a good source for cheap/suitable fabric around here ?
I figure 2 panels on the front wall, 2 panels replacing the mattress, 1 or 2 panels on the back wall, and 2 panels at the first reflection points of the HT upstairs and that will pretty much use up the pack of 8 batts. I can cut the last batt into 4 wedges and make a tiny bass trap for the front left corner of the room, but I'm thinking about just dumping a couple of cheap bales of fiberglass insulation there instead, at least until I figure out what the room needs. Seems like unopened bales of insulation should make good bass traps, anyone tried it ?