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Could Really Use Some Help With First Time Room Treatments


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As the title says, I'm completely new to room treatments but I want to at least make an attempt to try to optimize things now that I have my system nailed down. For starters, a sound technician from the audio dealer where I just purchased my new speakers from came out to set them up in my room. He has significant training in this (and specifically associated with their two top speaker lines), and literally spent nearly two hours before he felt they were properly optimized, and we both agreed.

 

He then spent some time specifically identifying what I should ideally do in terms of sound treatments for my particular room. He focused on three things. A significant portion of the wall behind my speakers (they are about 28 inches from the wall) is taken up by a roughly seven foot by five foot window. He said that dealing with that was most critical. He suggested curtains, which are not workable (long story). I'm temporarily dealing with it by using a black bed sheet taped to the wall above the window with Gorilla tape. Your creative suggestions for a cheap means of dealing with the issue "only" when I am listening to music would be appreciated.

 

Secondly, he targeted doing something about the bare wall the speakers are projecting sound at, immediately (as in your head nearly rests on it) behind the seated listening position. This is a ten foot wall, which, to the left of the seating position opens up into another room and stairway. I am initially looking at dealing with that by purchasing a six foot wide by four foot high acoustic panel placed behind the listening position. Is that the right thing to do?

 

Lastly, he said it would really help to do something to divide off the space on the far left of the front wall where the speakers are located. That space is a 4 x 4 alcove that is not of any real use except access to a closet that is already full, and used only for long term storage. For that space, I am looking at purchasing the following (link attached), attaching it to a 8x4 sheet of plywood, and literally setting it in place to close off that area. This would provide a consistent wall all the way across. Again, is this a good plan?

 

Soundproof Cow - Convoluted Acoustic Foam Panel

 

The acoustic wall panel with the art surface is going to cost a fair bit, so the other solutions need to be quite inexpensive. Any expertise, recommendations or suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks.

 

JC

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which can be a LOT of fun (tho all my pics are of Porsches on ice & snow)

 

I have the same problem - big window and cannot use drapes. I do not have a solution for you (or for me) but an electronic processing box could help in theory, tho existing electronics do not work on a single channel, or so I'm told.

 

Post a floor plan or drawing and a pic.

 

But... plywood is usually not a good solution unless it has 2 layers of drywall on top of it, and they can be separated with some special green glue or many sorbothane spacers set close together. THEN, you'd put up absorbers or diffusers - not clear what the foam is supposed to be but usually foam is only for very high freq.

 

use the advanced search on absorber & then on diffuser to get more info & links.

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Wow, so the plywood with the acoustic foam panel I linked attached to it would really not be a good idea? I only chose plywood as the first thing I thought of to attach the foam to so I could set it in place. I could use something else, but it does have to be occasionally movable. The solution was really intended to simply wall off that open area.

 

JC

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As the title says, I'm completely new to room treatments but I want to at least make an attempt to try to optimize things now that I have my system nailed down. For starters, a sound technician from the audio dealer where I just purchased my new speakers from came out to set them up in my room. He has significant training in this (and specifically associated with their two top speaker lines), and literally spent nearly two hours before he felt they were properly optimized, and we both agreed.

 

He then spent some time specifically identifying what I should ideally do in terms of sound treatments for my particular room. He focused on three things. A significant portion of the wall behind my speakers (they are about 28 inches from the wall) is taken up by a roughly seven foot by five foot window. He said that dealing with that was most critical. He suggested curtains, which are not workable (long story). I'm temporarily dealing with it by using a black bed sheet taped to the wall above the window with Gorilla tape. Your creative suggestions for a cheap means of dealing with the issue "only" when I am listening to music would be appreciated.

 

Secondly, he targeted doing something about the bare wall the speakers are projecting sound at, immediately (as in your head nearly rests on it) behind the seated listening position. This is a ten foot wall, which, to the left of the seating position opens up into another room and stairway. I am initially looking at dealing with that by purchasing a six foot wide by four foot high acoustic panel placed behind the listening position. Is that the right thing to do?

 

Lastly, he said it would really help to do something to divide off the space on the far left of the front wall where the speakers are located. That space is a 4 x 4 alcove that is not of any real use except access to a closet that is already full, and used only for long term storage. For that space, I am looking at purchasing the following (link attached), attaching it to a 8x4 sheet of plywood, and literally setting it in place to close off that area. This would provide a consistent wall all the way across. Again, is this a good plan?

 

Soundproof Cow - Convoluted Acoustic Foam Panel

 

The acoustic wall panel with the art surface is going to cost a fair bit, so the other solutions need to be quite inexpensive. Any expertise, recommendations or suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks.

 

JC

 

Have you tried to listen with the windows opened to see how much those glass panels are really affecting the sound.

 

I am not suggesting to leave the windows open all the time. It just for comparison sake.

 

 

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The acoustic wall panel with the art surface is going to cost a fair bit, so the other solutions need to be quite inexpensive. Any expertise, recommendations or suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks.

 

Room diagnosis and treatment would be a first step before changing gear.

 

The way to do it is to use a good microphone and a software like R.E.W. to diagnose the frequency response of the room and from there orient your efforts. Otherwise, you aren't doing it systematically and will end up with yet another off response. The window is certainly something to occlude, the glass will reflect and vibrate a lot, affecting everything you hear. In fact your current setup probably greatly affected what you heard with your previous gear...

 

Acoustic panels and bass traps aren't that expensive if you DIY.

 

For the panels, you are actually looking at two reflections to be tamed: the first one behind your head, so you'd install some there. There are also the second reflections - these are further on the sides on the same wall beghind your listening positions. There are ways to locate them with a friend and a mirror (look for the instructions online). Those secondary reflections can sometimes use a different type of panel (cork instead of a fibre glass wool + acoustically transparent tissue). The panel need to be a certain thickness to be more effective, and you also want some air space behind them when you install them (reflections which get in that space also are absorbed).

 

The bass traps tame the standing waves in the room corners. Here as well, it's usually fibre glass wool or some other acoustic absorber with the tissue above and a frame. The quantity of f.g. wool used here in bigger than in a normal panel.

At each installation of these panels, you will want to perform the R.E.W. capture again to see if they were effective. You're not looking to deaden your room, only to tame the biggest troughs and peaks organically and acoustically.

 

A further item which can be installed for good results are diffuser panels. Here again, if you're handy with wood and woodworking tools, you can find plans for these online and build them yourself rather than buy expensive builds.

 

On the floor, you will want something like carpet, additionally, I strongly recommend doing seismic vibration isolation for your speakers (use a trio of ball-and-cup contraptions for each), and perhaps your other gear. You don't want your floorboard to vibrate and also contribute frequencies into the air affecting what you hear.

 

This should bring you to a really good setup.

 

Finally, don't put any instruments with resonant bodies or strings like guitars and pianos and others in your listening room. This is really bad. I have seen some people post their expensive room and gear but they also have their guitars or piano in there too - there's no way they can get a good frequency response in these rooms.

 

If ever there are still big annoying troughs or peaks, then you can consider testing a DSP-based room treatment in addition to the rest, but avoid it if you can.

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You mentioned no curtains but how about something like these?

Home Decorators Collection Driftwood Flat-Weave Bamboo Roman Shade - 23 in. W x 48 in. L-0259662 - The Home Depot.

 

I have the same thing in my room. Bamboo is very natural sounding. Plus you can vary and fine tune by opening/closing to taste.

 

Very good idea. Thanks for the thought, I like the look, and it's very affordable. The problem is that this products max length is 72 inches, and the window is just about 82 inches wide. I've done a bit more looking at similar items and shades seem to max out, at best, at 72 inches. :(

 

JC

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My new apt has a large open living/kitchen/dining concept with laminated hardwood throughout. Some kind of painted rock-based drywall. It is very echo-y and speaker performance is frankly abysmal even in near field triangle configuration.

 

I bought a big heavy area rug and some 48x24x2 acoustic panels to start off with and see what can be accomplished...

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Computer Audiophile

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Room diagnosis and treatment would be a first step before changing gear.

YashN, thanks very much for your thoughts on this, they are very much appreciated. See my replies, below, for each step you are proposing. I'm not sure how to accomplish certain things.

The way to do it is to use a good microphone and a software like R.E.W. to diagnose the frequency response of the room and from there orient your efforts. Otherwise, you aren't doing it systematically and will end up with yet another off response. The window is certainly something to occlude, the glass will reflect and vibrate a lot, affecting everything you hear. In fact your current setup probably greatly affected what you heard with your previous gear...

 

I'm guessing that R.E.W. software would require a laptop (and I do not own one). I'm guessing it wouldn't run on an iPad? I can certainly make the effort to borrow a laptop, but am concerned that I do not have the expertise to use the software. Also, My only microphone is the one for my home theater processor, would that be usable?

 

Acoustic panels and bass traps aren't that expensive if you DIY.

 

My talents do not, unfortunately, apply to wood and woodworking. And there is also the WAF involved here. Everything has to look "good" more or less. I can absorb the cost of the large acoustic panel (and the required artwork element of it). According to the sound technician that was out setting up the speakers, I should have no need of bass traps based on extended listening, mostly since one corner of the room opens up to stairs, and to the dining room.

 

For the panels, you are actually looking at two reflections to be tamed: the first one behind your head, so you'd install some there. There are also the second reflections - these are further on the sides on the same wall beghind your listening positions. There are ways to locate them with a friend and a mirror (look for the instructions online). Those secondary reflections can sometimes use a different type of panel (cork instead of a fibre glass wool + acoustically transparent tissue). The panel need to be a certain thickness to be more effective, and you also want some air space behind them when you install them (reflections which get in that space also are absorbed).

 

Thanks for pointing out things about reflections I was unaware of. The acoustic panel that would go behind the listening position would cover that, and the majority of that entire wall. The panel would be six feet long by four feet high, it is also 2 inches thick (the thickest available from the acoustic treatment vendor), and would be mounted with a small amount of space behind it . They provide the attachment method. The "open" wall area is 8 feet by 5 feet. Wouldn't the 6x4 panel suffice for that area?

 

The bass traps tame the standing waves in the room corners. Here as well, it's usually fibre glass wool or some other acoustic absorber with the tissue above and a frame. The quantity of f.g. wool used here in bigger than in a normal panel.

 

Again, quoting the sound technician that gave me his analysis of the room, According to the sound technician that was out setting up the speakers, I should have no need of bass traps since one corner of the room opens up to stairs, and to the dining room.

At each installation of these panels, you will want to perform the R.E.W. capture again to see if they were effective. You're not looking to deaden your room, only to tame the biggest troughs and peaks organically and acoustically.

 

A further item which can be installed for good results are diffuser panels. Here again, if you're handy with wood and woodworking tools, you can find plans for these online and build them yourself rather than buy expensive builds.

Where, in the room, would these potentially be needed? There really is no available wall space on either side, the window takes up all usable space on the long wall associated with the speakers, and the back wall will be almost completely covered by the proposed acoustic panel (see response below for more info.

On the floor, you will want something like carpet, additionally, I strongly recommend doing seismic vibration isolation for your speakers (use a trio of ball-and-cup contraptions for each), and perhaps your other gear. You don't want your floorboard to vibrate and also contribute frequencies into the air affecting what you hear.

 

The floor is carpeted and beneath the carpet, and padding, is solid concrete. So I am guessing I am okay on this point?

 

This should bring you to a really good setup.

Finally, don't put any instruments with resonant bodies or strings like guitars and pianos and others in your listening room. This is really bad. I have seen some people post their expensive room and gear but they also have their guitars or piano in there too - there's no way they can get a good frequency response in these rooms.

 

If ever there are still big annoying troughs or peaks, then you can consider testing a DSP-based room treatment in addition to the rest, but avoid it if you can.

 

I've read about this before (I think perhaps you noted it in another discussion?) The only element of this type, in the room, is a solid bodied electric guitar on a padded stand. With no resonant body, and highly tightened strings that I don't believe could move due to sound, is that a problem?

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just use a ruler and pen....

 

I have a similar problem re window width - i think a laborious search could find you something > 6 ft., but how well would it work except for the very highest freqs.??

 

plywood 7 foam is not the best - can always be tried - or use some Maggies behind the speakers and just call them room dividers...

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Very good idea. Thanks for the thought, I like the look, and it's very affordable. The problem is that this products max length is 72 inches, and the window is just about 82 inches wide. I've done a bit more looking at similar items and shades seem to max out, at best, at 72 inches. :(

 

JC

 

Maybe two side by side?

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With no resonant body, and highly tightened strings that I don't believe could move due to sound, is that a problem?

REW can run on a desktop computer or laptop. Maybe there are similar solutions for iPads but I am not aware of any which are as powerful as REW.

 

The important thing here is to actually do the measurements and work from there. Working from hearing somebody else telling you what to do if the person knows what they're saying from experience can help a little, but this is not a substitute for an actual room diagnosis - the latter is necessary, it is a must for anyone. Borrow or buy a proper microphone if necessary.

 

People place diffusers in various places, the most common one being on the wall behind your speakers, covering the area in between them or across them (diffusing/absorbing any rear waves).

 

NB: panels for the roof are also something quite important if you can install them.

 

Unless your guitar's strings are made of stone or concrete, you should move it out of the listening room when listening: the strings will vibrate, they will affect the room response greatly. You would see it on R.E.W. for sure. I haven't needed to see it on R.E.W.: I hear it if my guitars are in the listening room (even the Electric Guitar, which doesn't have the Acoustic one's resonant body...).

 

All acoustic instruments are built to make a sound which projects well, hence the resonant bodies etc..., so they never, should be in the listening room. With strings: that's another additional problem...

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DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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The bookshelf can act as a readily-available diffuser too, depending on where you place it (if at all possible to move it for various reasons), especially if it contains books.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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pull the couch away form back wall or place absorbers there

 

ry to make the RH side of the room acoustically resemble the LH side

 

how high is the ceiling? you can use an online calculator to get room modes but yours won't be quite the same due ot openings & alcoves

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I did quite many systems set ups in different rooms so I'll say a couple of things from my experience.

 

First of all considering the room's dimensions I'd expect a basic bass peak somewhere in the midbass. I don't know the details of the speaker placement (the size of the dining room space and the listening room height will influence it too) but that would probably be 60-80Hz area. You can work on it for example using a software built-in equalizer. It will be very hard to improve it with acoustic treatment. Probably even impossible.

 

I don't know the speakers distance from the side walls but there is a possibility (the smaller distance the bigger the possibility, speakers toe-in matters too - the bigger toe-in results usually in more precise but narrower soundstage but it can influence their tonal balance too) that your stereo imaging is affected by the asymetry of the walls. Open book shelves have more sound absorbing-dispersing and CDs - more reflecting-dispersing qualities. In addition there is an open gateway (correct English word?) leading to the dining room in the corner which doesn't make things better. You can play some mono music and check out if some frequencies (high midrange - highs) do not come from slightly right and not exactly from the center.

 

There are two schools. One says - damp (use absorbing or absorbing-dispersing materials) the front (behind the speakers) wall. The other says the opposite - use them on the back wall. Both ways are IMO OK. For years I used to damp the front wall. In my present apartment for the first time I did it with the opposite one (for practical reasons). And it's ok too. In general my room acoustics are fantastic (a big room with lots of irregularities and not parallel walls/ceiling surfaces - absolutely the best 'sounding' listening room I ever had) so I can't say it's all due to my (very simple, done mostly with book shelves) acoustic treatment but I'll repeat - dumping the back wall is ok too. BTW even some speakers manufacturers (for example Focal) recommend it to be done that way.

 

A carpet (rug) covering the floor between speakers and you is a must. A table in front of you (in front of the sofa) is strongly sound reflecting element and it will influence the sound. But it's not on your drawing so I assume it's not there.

 

I wouldn't worry that much about 31x40 inches extra corner space. Especially if your speakers are not back-vented bass reflex ones. You can enter the space and check out how much bass booming you will hear there. Anyway if you wanted to minimize the spaces influence you'd probably have to fill it almost entirely with absorbing material for example mineral wool or some highly effective bass trap.

 

What I'd propose is moving the books from from the side wall to the wall behind the sofa (wall hanging shelves.?). In my experience books are fantastic basic room treatment. And a cost effective one (provided you already have them). This will both improve stereo imaging (if there are above mentioned problems with it) and get things done as far as the basic back wall treatment is considered. I use the open bookshelves myself, they work really fine. One remark - if you move your listening position (sofa) away from the back wall (which BTW is ok for the sound) - bass will change so if your speakers placement is bass optimised you may need to change their position (mainly the distance from the front wall).

 

I'm pretty sure this simple change will change your room acoustics significantly and you will be satisfied with the result!

What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

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be sure the books are not all lined up but stick out by different amounts
Yep. I like them that way. I'm afraid some wives may not though.
What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well.
It helps men to rise above themselves.
 
  ―  Albert Camus, The Plague.

 

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IMHO, there is no easy solution that anyone can provide. The biggest challenge in this hobby is getting your room right, and the only way to do it is with patience, sweat, and a lot of time and determination. You got to try different things in different places and eventually you will get there. Kinda like 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey'.

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Your first reflection point consist of the nearest side wall immediately after your speaker. Next is the more or less the center of the side wall (between the sweet spot and speaker). A small glass mounted flat on that wall would help you locate that. If you could see the speakers while seated on the sweet spot, then that's your first reflection point. The ceiling also has first reflection points. I'm not a fan of carpets or floor treatment because our ears are accustomed to reflections from the hard floor. But that's just me. But I also advice to put a few absorbers on the ceiling as it gives a "spacious feeling".

If you have a dead front wall, then you would probably want to combine diffusers and absorbers on your backwall. There is no one heneral rule for acoustic treatment especially when the n owner's preference sets in. Hehe! That I'm sure based on experience. For the bare walls left, you can use an assortment of diffusers. I'm a fan of curved diffusers and also a local seller (Philippines) so I would recommend that. It's simple and very coherent because of it's shape and evenness.

 

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