System Setup Issues

A sensible layout and good hi-fi furniture is an important starting point. You may have some practical constraints in your listening room but try to get the best, most symmetrical speaker positioning you can. In our view customers sometimes buy speakers that are much too large for their listening room – not just because they may overdrive the room, but because they have them in odd positions just to fit them in. A smaller pair of speakers that allow proper positioning is going to be far better (remember as well, when the Vertex gear gets in the system, the control and grip that ensues is going to make even pretty small speakers seriously rock!).

Start with a sensible rack which has plenty of space around it and good height between the shelves. Avoid steel and glass racks which can have some nasty resonances. A nice sturdy wooden design is ideal – and don’t rule out good furniture from the likes of Ikea, which can be used as very nice hi-fi racks. Remember, we are going to discuss putting the LeadingEdge support platforms under your electronics – and these are relatively immune to vibration in the rack. If you already have a specialist hi-fi rack then that’s fine. The LeadingEdge platforms enhance pretty much anything.

Next think about the layout of your room in general, and specifically, the position of your listening seat. Don’t have sofa arms and the like just in front of one of your speakers, or things like big glass fronted cabinets too close to your hi-fi if you can avoid it. Of course, the position of your listening seat has a very critical relationship with the position of your speakers AND the room boundaries. The following are very important issues to be dealt with:

  • For the information coming from each channel to have the phase information that was intended, the seat should be EXACTLY equidistant from each speaker. ie, at the apex of a triangle where the lengths from you head when seated, back to the front baffle of your speakers are identical to within 5mm! And really pay attention to getting this correct – vocal reproduction in the central image will never be correct, tonally, if you do not pay attention to this critical setup requirement.
  • The seat should not be backed-up close to a rear wall where there is significant reflection and bass reinforcement.
  • High-backed chairs can do odd things to the sound field around the head. We find it much better to use a seat with a back that does not go above shoulder height.

If your listening room has suspended floors and partition walls, then particular care is required for the following reasons:

  • Large and powerful speakers on a suspended floor can cause the floor to vibrate significantly. This can create all sorts of havoc with the speakers themselves and cause the hi-fi rack and equipment to pick up lots of vibration up thought the floor. Also of course, the suspended floor can just resonate at bass frequencies and add considerable audible colouration to the room response. If your listening room has a suspended floor, try and take this into account with your system building, perhaps put speakers on large granite plinths with soft feet underneath (or even better, a pair of LeadingEdge speaker platforms). This will give the speakers something to work against and help prevent a direct vibration route into the floor.

  • Partition walls are a similar problem to suspended floors. Basically because the wall is not solid it can behave like the skin of a drum and vibrate in sympathy with low bass. Again you can see how this could add considerable colouration to the perceived frequency response of the room. If you have a choice, and have some solid walls in your listening room, try to get the speakers set up in front of one of the solid walls.
  • If you do have a lively room with a suspended floor and/or partition walls, take care with your choice of speakers. It is probably much better to have something slightly smaller (but excellent quality of course), that don’t throw huge amounts of bass into the room. Also you will be able to optimize the positioning of the speakers more effectively if they are a practical size, so it will be much easier to keep them away from the problem areas in your room.

Good Housekeeping

We occasionally see supposedly good hi-fi systems that are totally crippled by shoddy setup, with no attention to the very basics. Such a case has to have a serious makeover before any further work can be carried out. Your Vertex dealer will be able to help you assess and sort out any housekeeping issues, the major points to be tackled are as follows:

  • Never have electronic boxes stacked directly upon each other. This can cause gross mechanical and RF interaction.
  • Don’t have a ‘birds nest’ of leads crammed up behind the system, particularly with extra unused leads left behind there. Remove them!
  • Don’t share your mains extension block with non hi-fi items. Particularly avoid digital stuff such as digital TV boxes, routers, computers etc. Put those items in another part of the room and feed them their own mains.
  • Don’t have the hi-fi setup directly next to one of your loudspeakers or in a boomy alcove. You will just constantly feed gross acoustic vibration into the system.
  • If you are using stand-mount speakers, then please use them on stands. The idea of ‘bookshelf’ speakers, or stand mount speakers being used on shelving really is a nonsense in our view. Apart from the inability to have them properly positioned (particularly height), the shelving will form a resonant box around the speakers, and is likely to do all sorts of strange things to the frequency response.
  • Clean connectors, particularly brass 13A plug pins, with a good contact cleaner. We like Caig Deoxit.

Consider getting your mains checked-out. If you are in an older house, get an electrician to go through your wiring and give it a bit of a clean and re-tighten etc. Particularly check earth bonding. Get your electrician to check the mains voltage too, then at least you’ll stop wondering if its right. If its not right of course, speak to your supplier (your electrician will advise you how to do this).