1987 - 2017: Thirtieth Anniversary!
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Care and Feeding
Setting up your HUMAN Speakers, keeping them in great working order, and maintaining their attractive appearance is not too difficult. If you follow these basic guidelines, they will provide you with many years of reliable listening enjoyment.
Speaker placement can affect the final sound radically. While most of us only have one or two places we will be able to locate our speakers, it is best to have some time to experiment and keep an open mind about where they will end up permanently.
Ideally, the speakers will be placed symmetrically in the room, at least 2-3 feet away from the walls. I prefer to have them set up on the short end of the room if it is rectangular, and on the closed end if it opens into other rooms, although tastes vary. The surfaces near the speakers should be as similar as possible, so that the reflected sound from each one will be similar - hard surfaces will tend to reflect more energy and soft, heavy surfaces like drapes or stuffed furniture absorb it. They should be set up so the tweeters are approximately at ear level for typical listening, although HUMAN Speakers disperse sound very well "off axis," so this is not critically important.
This topic is covered in more depth here.
Connections and Wire
Each of the terminals on the rear of your speakers is coded, with red or black markings. Your amplifier output terminals will also be marked, whether "+" and "-" or red and black. It is important to ensure that both speakers are connected the same way ("in phase"), otherwise the bass will cancel out between them and the overall sound quality will be poor. Speaker wire will always be marked to make this easy, with a raised ridge, or stripe, or dots on one strand, or silver/copper colored wire. Use this feature to keep track of how the wire is connected.
Neatness is important at the ends of the wire - the insulation should be carefully stripped for about 1/2", and the strands twisted into a nice bundle. Stray strands can short out your amplifier and cause a lot of grief! If you can arrange it, the stripped ends should be "tinned," or lightly soldered, to prevent corrosion and separation of the strands.
There are many cults around which believe in very expensive, exotic speaker wire. One thing that is true is that thin speaker wire affects the sound, and you should use at least 16 gauge for runs up to 20 feet - I prefer to use 12 gauge. The wire should be as short as possible, although each side should be the same length. Lay any extra wire neatly in a zigzag fashion (not coiled). Place the wires away from sources of heat or abrasion, to protect them, and out of traffic paths to protect you and your family. If you tack your wires in place, use hardware with protective plastic surfaces. Wire that is damaged in any way should not be used.
It is better to have too much amplifier power than too little. Speakers are more likely to be damaged by low powered amplifiers struggling to play louder than they are designed to. This creates distortion in the sound, which can literally destroy your tweeters in seconds. Typically, the full output of an amplifier is produced at a little less than half way on the volume control. The rest of the control range is provided for occasions where the source material is recorded very quietly. Increasing the bass with tone controls or a "loudness" or "contour" switch will use up the available power even lower on the volume control, so adjust your settings accordingly.
Vinyl covered cabinets should be gently wiped with a soft cloth which can be slightly moistened with mild soap, or vinyl protectant. Grills may be carefully vacuumed or lightly brushed to remove soil. The working parts of the speaker, under the grill, should not be cleaned in any way, excepting perhaps lightly with compressed air from a keyboard cleaner to remove excess dust.
Wood veneer cabinets are cared for as you would any fine furniture, to retain their sheen and replace their natural oils. Periodic light applications of teak oil or good furniture polish will keep the wood healthy and attractive virtually forever.
Play really good music on your HUMAN Speakers!