Room acoustics done right

Discussion in 'Home Theater and Stereo' started by LarryB, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

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    For the past 3 years I have struggled with the acoustics in my listening room. After many fits and starts, I achieved decent results with small-to-medium sized speakers; however, larger, horn-loaded speakers simply did not work. I ultimately came to the conclusion that my room is simply too small (15' x 20' x 8'), and thus decided to sell my home and buy a new one with enough property to allow me to construct a new - - and larger - - dedicated room. This situation was rendered very difficult because of the high price of real estate in the northeast but I found a nice home on a gorgeous lot, in a terrific town about 10 miles north of my current residence. (The town – - River Vale – - was just voted No. 29 in Money Magazine’s top 100 towns in the U.S. And yes, it is in New Jersey!).

    The good news is, I am starting with a clean slate. The bad news is, I am starting with a clean slate. :) There are countless decisions I have to make, including inter alia, the dimensions of the room, whether to build it on a slab or over a basement, whether to have a flat ceiling or one with a peak, the type of wall and floor construction, materials (wood or sheet rock), type of HVAC, etc., etc. And of course, there are also the issues of room treatments. Suffice it to say, there are as many different views and opinions regarding room acoustics (both room construction and treatments) as there are different tastes in equipment.

    I realized early on that I would need someone with considerable expertise to help me design the room. I had heard excellent things about Alan Goodwin of Goodwin’s High End in Waltham MA (just outside of Boston). Alan has designed and built many rooms and I had heard that the largest of his listening rooms was superb. I gave Alan a call and we spoke at length about the basics. Alan suggested that I take a trip up to meet him and hear his room, and last Wednesday I did so.

    Alan is a very nice guy, and we hit it off from the get-go. Each of his listening rooms is treated differently but the large room is the piece de resistance. I sorta’ knew what the room looked like from the picture on his website, but was unprepared for the degree of sophistication that went into its design and construction.

    [​IMG]

    The four walls and ceiling are covered in most of their extent with angled wood boards (for want of a better word), each of which is actually a “vee.” These provide diffusion and reflection. The boards on the side walls run horizontally, and those on the front and rear walls, vertically. The ceiling treatments run from left to right. In the case of the side walls and ceiling, the boards from one side of the center position are angled in one direction, those on the other side in the other direction. Beneath each board is some absorbent material. Below the boards on the side walls are bass traps covered with thin cloth, and each corner has a nearly full height tubular bass trap.

    The room is approximately 21.5’ in width and 30’ in length, with 11’ ceilings.

    What is not apparent from the picture is the high degree of craftsmanship. Moreover, Alan explained that each board is at a different angle from the others, and that each angle was specifically chosen based on the room dimensions, and the position and angles of the other boards. In other words, these treatments were designed specifically for that particular room, and would not work properly if moved to a different room.

    But of course, the real issue is how it sounds. In a word, incredible. The room is incredibly quiet, yet not over damped. Moreover, seemingly all frequencies are equally controlled, lending a natural quality to sound that I have rarely if ever heard before in a listening room. Even the spoken voice had a fantastic quality to it, let alone music.

    Unfortunately, the construction of such a room is well beyond my means. Our plan is for Alan to begin by designing the “shell” (i.e., the room itself), after which we will explore various options for room treatments. One contender is/are the products from diffusor.com.

    Larry
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2007
  2. DYohn

    DYohn Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    Very nice report Larry. Use of those sorts of diffuser treatments has been common in recording studios and live concert halls for years. You could do something similar in your room for less money than this must have cost, if you invest in the proper test equipment and take your time.
     
  3. Shane

    Shane Active Member

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    I've dealt with Goodwins before. They were a nice bunch. The service I got on my sub I bought from them was great.
     
  4. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

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    David:

    My plan is to add diffusors slowly, one or two pieces at a trime, and gauge their effect.

    I will keep a written log of my progress and discoveries.

    LB
     
  5. Mike B

    Mike B Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    Hehe, you win.

    So, you have deceided to keep the Latours and get rid of the house eh?

    The award for HTL's most serious audio junkie goes to...

    Envelope please...

    :D
     
  6. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

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    Mike, for better or worse, you are correct.

    "My name is Lary and I am an audiophile."

    "Hello Larry."
     
  7. ArtieK

    ArtieK Active Member

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    I'm thrilled for you Larry! That you get along well with Alan is an excellent starting point. Also, I'd say there's nothing negative about that "clean slate" that's been forced upon you, you poor boy.:cool: This must be the realization of a long time dream and I hope you enjoy everything you're going to go through.:2tu:
     
  8. Jack

    Jack Well-Known Member Donor Top Poster

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    Wow Larry that is quite a decision you made. But this is your love and it makes sense.
    I wish you all the best.
    While still waiting for my room to be finished so I can start the dampening plans, I will look forward to your entries.

    Good Luck my friend.
     
  9. Geof

    Geof Member

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    Wonderful project Larry - keep us posted on your progress:tu:

    BTW, the fact that you sold your house to accomodate the Latour could mean:

    - as you wrote, that you are a audioholic
    - that you are not married or having a family
    - or that you are married to the Latour speakers

    :laugh:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2007
  10. Randy Rhoton

    Randy Rhoton Bronze Member Donor

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    Such a fine line between dedication and obsession. But what the heck, if it's what you really want, go for it!
     
  11. Christopher Saunders

    Christopher Saunders Member

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    If I was going to build a dedicated (listening) room, I would start with the (Cardas) Golden Trapagon.
     
  12. Dan S.

    Dan S. Active Member

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    Wow Larry, you're taking this to a whole other level. Congrats on finding a home that will accomodate your desires. I look forward to reading your adventures.
     
  13. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

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    Thanks for all the encouragement. And jjust for the record, I don't actually own a pair of Latours - - the ones I had for a few months were on loan, and are now owned by someone in the Palm Beach section of Florida. Shindo-San will have to make a new pair for me. :)

    As for the Cardas ratio, I discussed this in depth with a few acousticians. Each felt that while it is a good starting point, total cubic feet is more important. (As an example, for the length room I want, the Golden ratio would yields a width of about 17', which I feel is not at all adequate.) That said, Alan Goodwin will calculate the optimal ceiling height for the length and width we choose, and those latter two parameters will themselves be adjusted to one another.

    Now I just need to sell my current abode...

    Larry
     
  14. Mike B

    Mike B Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    High drama indeed.

    Buying and selling real estate, and a construction project after the fact. In New Jersey too. With Tony Soprano types maybe.

    This thread should be going for a while...

    :)
     
  15. Carl V

    Carl V Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    I've always been a proponent of the abfussion principle. Diffuse, reflect & absorb across the entire Freq. Spectrum. I'm very sorry that you've spent so much time, energy & money with mixed to poor results....argh! I've enjoyed wooden RPG diffusors mixed with their Abbfussors and Realtraps.

    Big room...lotsa volume. He's done one helluva job.



    Yes, there you go....all frequencies are attended to. This kinda goes back to my contention that a well balanced system & room are critical. It needn't go really low, really high or really loud. But it must be in balance. Some might invoke the law of 400,000.

    I've had access to a pair of older semi-refurbished Quad 57 for the past 6 months.
    I've contrasted these with my DIY Basszilla type speaker as well as some
    of the other stuff I have. And once again balanced sound is very appealing.
    I know I'm in the minority here at HTL & previously at HTT but I don't hafta have 20-20K response.


    Best of luck to you Larry on all your endeavors.

    Looking forward to seeing you again at RMAF.
     
  16. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

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    Carl:

    You are preaching to the choir. :)

    When I arrived at Goddwins, the speakers in place were Rockports (sorry, don't know the model number.). Because Alan knew that I prefer horns, he had his crew move the Rockports to the back of the room and replaced them with Magico Model 6s (which he felt were more horn-like). (BTW, moving these speakers is a bit of work, as each weighs many hundreds of pounds.) The preamp and monoblocks were from Halcro, and the CD olayer was Spectral. The system was powerful and had deep bass, but it was so unnatural sounding (I didn't use those words in his presence) that I asked him to bring in the new Quads that had been sitting in the hallway outside the listening room. They lack dynamics but at least they get the midrange right and are coherent (and the bass is surprisingly good).

    As for the absorptive material, Alan seemed non-commiital as to how much impact it actually had on the sound. My guess - - and it is just that, a guess - - is that I was hearing mostly the effetcs of diffraction, except of course for the bass. But whatever the cause, the effect was truly outstanding.

    See ya' next week!

    Larry
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2007
  17. cjd

    cjd Active Member

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    Here I was thinking:

    "My, I love what you have done with the ceiling"

    "Yes, I call it 'the sky'"

    ;)

    C
     
  18. Ed P

    Ed P Member

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    Not kidding about this. If going about a full room construction at least consider the option of a front horn low bass design.


    [​IMG]
     
  19. Mike B

    Mike B Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    Most impressive.

    And not so hard to do either.

    I like it - :D
     
  20. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

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    Ed:

    Certainly sometting to consider.

    Will you be at RMAF?
     

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