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The Computer Audiophile

Article: A New Listening Room Part One

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I had to build a new listening room a couple of years ago myself as the space for the old room was being demolished and greatly expanded for a new master suite. Our attic was finished but too small. The old room and the attic had knee walls like yours. It was too small for my preferred near field listening position with the speakers along the long wall. Hence, a full shed dormer was required. The new space is much bigger than the old one, around 18 x 22. I ran two 20 amp circuits and put the speakers along the long wall using the sonic benefits provided by the knee wall. The room was filled up with my stuff and after some tweaking with speakers placement using measurements and pink noise, the room sounds fantastic. It was a pain but in the end, well worth it. Congrats on the new room. 

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Chris, The new space looks great and don't despair as it will sound great when you are done. With this space you can do the necessary room treatments that you otherwise could not do in a family space. I say this from experience. When I sold homes in the past, I once got invited to the home of an audiophile who took me into a room that had been properly treated and the sound in that room was utterly amazing. He had very good equipment to be sure but I have never heard anything like it before or after except in a few dealer rooms. You can only do this kind of stuff when you have a dedicated space. One last recommendation would be to not replace your speakers until after you are completely finished with the acoustic treatments. You may find that it is not necessary.

 

I look forward to the final result.

 

Bob

 

 

 

 

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Bravo Chris @The Computer Audiophile! What a wonderful audio journey you are on. You just got to hear first hand how a room can have such an impact on sound quality with the same equipment.

 

One item you may want to bring up in the next article is the comparison of room decay time or RT60 with REW.  There is a recommended target response, based on room volume as to what the decay time should be. In the case of your room and most peoples for that matter, there is a range typically between 400 and 600 milliseconds. The rule of thumb is to aim for as much liveliness in the range, as too dead of a room sucks the life out of the music.

 

Speaking of room ratios :) May I make a suggestion and I know it is after the fact. If you look at room ratios, some are better than others for the distribution of low frequencies, which sounds better to our ears. One can use a Room Mode Calculator to punch in the dimensions of ones listening environment and basically get the gist of the distribution of room modes. There is even audio output so you can hear first hand the trouble spots as you move the mouse cursor along the graph. Don't forget to turn down the volume before you try it. https://amcoustics.com/tools/amroc

 

My room ratio sucks and near the 2nd worst ratio one can get outside of a cube. This is why I am into DSP, as no amount of bass traps can unf&*k the physical dimensions of my room. My reviews of Acourate and Audiolense are testament on how good these DSP products work, but if you can start out with a decent room ratio, you are further ahead to begin with.

 

Which brings me to my recommendation for your room. Looking at your dimensions that I popped into the room mode calculator: https://amcoustics.com/tools/amroc?l=21&w=13.9&h=9&ft=true&re=DIN 15996 - Studio Note I reduced the length from your  25' 8" to 21 feet length. Have a look at the Bolt area chart. That room ratio is a favourable ratio. Now punch in 25" 8".

 

How much audible difference will it make? Well, the bass is unlistenable in my room without DSP.  Having worked in a number of well designed studio control rooms and listening rooms with favourable room ratios, always best if you can do it. So it means putting up a false wall... the false wall could also help with low frequency damping... like a Helmholtz resonator. Whether practical or visually appealing, of course is an issue. If it is a potential room mod, Vicoustic would have to run the math to confirm. Regardless of any changes, this room will sound better than the 6.5' ceiling room. Congrats!

 

All the best on your audio journey Chris!

 

Mitch

 

 

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Agree - the length is the first thing that struck me.  A nice wall to allow access behind the electronics??

 

OTOH, the ceiling is not flat so conv. room size calcs. need to be adjusted...

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Hi Chris,

 

Timing of your article is impeccable as I will be starting the renovation of my home in Sydney in the new year and plan to upgrade my home office and use it as a listening room.

 

I was going to start 12 months ago but decided to renovate my body instead starting with a double knee reconstruction followed by an arthroscopic shoulder operation (which I 'm currently recovering from) and soon two new hips. I did my knees concurrently and will also do both hips at the same time. Can't stand the thought of this dragging on more than it needs to.

 

Never been in hospital and then hit 60 and everything stopped working. I'm riddled with arthritis and in constant pain due to some genetic issues and an over active life of sport - 250 games of AFL (Aussie Rules football,) coaching tennis, surfing since I was 6, snow skiing, golf etc etc. Now I'm fuc.....ed, although once I get my new hips I should be right. My mates are calling me the $6 million man, but I have explained it is the surgeons getting rich not me - hopefully they have a frequent flyer program! :P 

 

Love your work and have learnt a lot from CA over the years.

 

Many thanks,

 

Ajax

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My listening room is in a similar finished attic 18x14 plus other stuff with a ceiling 9' in the center.  However, I have LS50 speakers placed along the long wall and listen mid field with bass reinforced by a Martin Logan 1000W sub.

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@The Computer Audiophile, I thought the project is already complete and we are just eagerly waiting for you to write up the next part? Or is nothing set in stone yet?

I was always under the impression that the most important part of setting up the room is getting the most even bass response which you can use your UMIK1 to do by moving it around to find the optimal seating position. I noticed you may not have a lot of room to move the seat a few feet forwards or backwards. And then if the best seating position is useable, then speaker placement and toeing in comes next followed by acoustic treatment. Mainly because acoustic treatments are unable to address low-bass issues in a room.

I used to use room ratio calculators but I’ve found there are always nuances of a house/room that those calculators don’t capture so it’s just easier to play pink noise with speakers and move the microphone around.

Or maybe you’re going to talk about all that? I just got a little confused by Mitchco’s comments.

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I know it might not be a lot of fun, but it WOULD be interesting and educational to see how things measure with different components of the acoustical system installed. I don't mean putting things in and taking them out... but maybe ask Vicoustic to recommend an installation pattern from what they believe will be most impactful to least impactful, and then measure at a couple of different stages. 

 

For our family room in our new house, I had to negotiate the degree to which I included acoustic treatments with my Decorator in Chief.  I had some discussions with architect friends who often design sound studios and performance spaces, to decide what to push hardest, and get some alternative suggestions where the best solution looked - um - industrial. (That's the nicest word used by the Decorator in Chief about some of the recommendations.) That led to my enthusiasm for some decorative drapes made from specific fabrics that were both acoustically and visually agreeable. And, led to me getting a few of my photographs (my part time profession) printed on acoustic panels of the right specs and sizes. Acoustic absorption was the easiest part of the negotiations.

 

We also came to some agreement on diffusion that were pretty creative. We moved furniture around to create a couple of table top and cabinet top "sculpture gardens". We've got carved wood and cast sculptures, some pretty large, from world travels. Now we've got nice displays, not in ideal locations, but close enough. Also moved a couple large carved masks onto walls in the room for some diffusion help, where originally we were going to hang photos.

 

We measured with ears, and the bass traps and back wall absorption (the acoustic panel photos) made huge improvements. We found one recommended bass trap had near zero value, because of a carpeted stairway right next to where it was supposed to go. The diffusion ideas were harder to notice with music, but when we did them, they DID improve my "hand clap" test results.

 

My basement studio and printing workshop are next - a very long, somewhat narrow room, 9 foot ceiling, carpeted floor. I've got some thick Tibetan and Middle Eastern rugs I'm hanging for absorption, another thick one over the carpet up close to the speakers (carpet on concrete wasn't quite enough) and that leftover bass trap now has a home. All made much easier because the speakers I use down there are pretty insensitive to placement - open baffle (effectively dipole) woofers, cardioid mid and tweeters.

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16 minutes ago, ednaz said:

I know it might not be a lot of fun, but it WOULD be interesting and educational to see how things measure with different components of the acoustical system installed. I don't mean putting things in and taking them out... but maybe ask Vicoustic to recommend an installation pattern from what they believe will be most impactful to least impactful, and then measure at a couple of different stages. 

 

For our family room in our new house, I had to negotiate the degree to which I included acoustic treatments with my Decorator in Chief.  I had some discussions with architect friends who often design sound studios and performance spaces, to decide what to push hardest, and get some alternative suggestions where the best solution looked - um - industrial. (That's the nicest word used by the Decorator in Chief about some of the recommendations.) That led to my enthusiasm for some decorative drapes made from specific fabrics that were both acoustically and visually agreeable. And, led to me getting a few of my photographs (my part time profession) printed on acoustic panels of the right specs and sizes. Acoustic absorption was the easiest part of the negotiations.

 

We also came to some agreement on diffusion that were pretty creative. We moved furniture around to create a couple of table top and cabinet top "sculpture gardens". We've got carved wood and cast sculptures, some pretty large, from world travels. Now we've got nice displays, not in ideal locations, but close enough. Also moved a couple large carved masks onto walls in the room for some diffusion help, where originally we were going to hang photos.

 

We measured with ears, and the bass traps and back wall absorption (the acoustic panel photos) made huge improvements. We found one recommended bass trap had near zero value, because of a carpeted stairway right next to where it was supposed to go. The diffusion ideas were harder to notice with music, but when we did them, they DID improve my "hand clap" test results.

 

My basement studio and printing workshop are next - a very long, somewhat narrow room, 9 foot ceiling, carpeted floor. I've got some thick Tibetan and Middle Eastern rugs I'm hanging for absorption, another thick one over the carpet up close to the speakers (carpet on concrete wasn't quite enough) and that leftover bass trap now has a home. All made much easier because the speakers I use down there are pretty insensitive to placement - open baffle (effectively dipole) woofers, cardioid mid and tweeters.

 

Thanks for all the info. I'm with your Decorator in Chief :~)

 

I'm not a big fan of making a listening room look like a place one would never want to spend time. I'm working with Vicoustic on colors etc... to make things look good for a reasonable price.

 

Back to your original point about measuring differences between different options. I would love to do that and will plan to do that if it isn't too time consuming. But, it's such valuable information I think I have to do it and write about it. 

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12 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

The room acoustics aren’t in place yet. I received the proposal and I’m moving forward with it. 

What are you doing with the top? Those beams and ceiling corner look scary.

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