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fourpobs
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Help. Room from hell.

Thanks in advance for taking a look at this.

I've made some improvements to my components and swapped speakers and things are sounding so much better. But, I have a horrible room and looking for advice on tweaking it.

First, based on the features of the room and layout, I cannot think of a better way to arrange the listening configuration. Open to opinions on that but WAF and other things that are not pictured (windows, HVAC venting on the ceiling) also limit the possibilities somewhat. I know the placement of my sub is quite suboptimal.

It is a basement, finished w drywall, fully carpeted with "popcorn" ceiling about 8 ft tall. I have done some sound treatments:
-insulated the HVAC room walls and doors with various things(pink stuff, carpet, big peices of plywood and drywall). This dramatically reduced the background noise
-soundproofing in an adjacent unfinished store room to block sound to the living room directly above it (wife naps there. nap time = hi fi time for me.)
-made 2 1.5x1.5ft panels using 3.5in R14 wrapped in felt. Affixed to the ceiling half distance between where my ears typically are and the book shelf speakers. Did this to fight first order reflections.

My biggest issues with the sound (I think) are around imaging and the general presence of that wall between the speakers. I swear I can hear that wall. There is imaging but most of the sound appears to come distinctively from one speaker or the other.

What I am really most curious about is options for room treatments such as diffusers, absorbers etc. I was wondering if a diffuser of wood slats in various widths/angles on the front wall or behind me could help? Not a lot of space to work with as the space is also kind of a hallway.

I attached a diagram (scale is approximate!) and a picture to help you visualize the space.

If it helps here is my equipment.
PSB Image B6
Klipsch 12in powered sub
Windows 7-->JRiver-->Halide DAC HD
Pioneer PL ? w Ortofon Red
Oatley Electronics DIY tube phono stage
Yamaha surround receiver(next upgrade will address this)

http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii610/Dan_Scardina/Room-speaker-plac...

http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii610/Dan_Scardina/room_zpsa6ce9e25.png

michael green
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piece-A-cake

Hi Four

This system is a piece of cake, but I can not promote my products here, with the exception of Stereophile has been kind enough to allow links. This room does not need more diffusion, it needs to be acoustically organized. You can visit me if you like at http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/ and I will get you hooked up faster than you can say WAF. Or, you can look into tuning your areas so that they balance the pressure in the room which is the problem. Also your DIYed products are causing a problem of burning the energy when you want to be controlling and using it, common mistake with DIYing and some product choices.

You are hearing the center wall and should be along with the other walls. You don't want to remove the sound of the walls (impossible to do), you want to use them and have them get along with your speakers, which by the way in these photos look to be a little low for this space. In this room, at this point, your speakers are beaming and you want to move away from this cause as you say, your hearing one or the other. This is a sign that your speakers are fighting the room and not using it.

Like I said though piece of cake if you tune the room, and make sure your system is not creating blockage.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

fourpobs
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Good to know there is hope!

Hi Michael,

I appreciate the response. I hoped you would see this!

I always wondered about the diy panels - I have no way to measure results and was never sure if they helped or not. I will definitely take them down.

Regarding the height of the speakers - the tweeters are aimed slightly above my ear level when seated. The loveseat is fairly low. I had wondered about raising them though and maybe angling them down? Also want to put them on more substantial shelves as they are a little wobbly.

The ceiling has some weird angles, too. I'll have to snap a couple more pictures.

I will report back after taking down the panels.

Thanks,
Dan

Catch22
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Have you considered using speaker stands?

I'm thinking that would make more sense than mounting them on the wall. You could still put them on those bracket shelves when not listening and use them on stands when you are. Instead of an 8 ft. triangle, maybe a 5 ft. triangle that would bring them out and away from the wall 30 inches or so.

fourpobs
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Interesting suggestion

Temp speaker stands could work for a few reasons. Obviously might be a better configuration to address the aforementioned problems. Also, our growing family could use this space and so I could store the speakers in a safer position to avoid poky little fingers.

In that scenario, though, the speakers would be 5 or 6ft from my head. Would that create other issues?

Any thoughts on mounting them to the wall higher up and pointed down towards me?

Catch22
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It's a bit of a trade

But, it would give you better stage depth at the expense of some stage width. However, it's still likely that your speakers can disappear as source points and portrait a more realistic illusion and create a more holographic soundstage with better imaging.

You need to put those speakers on stands regardless and it's well worth placement experimentation. Michael may have some ideas on treating that front wall well enough to give you stage depth without having to move the speakers away from it. Untreated, your stage isn't going to provide any depth to speak of.

wkhanna
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Take a Stand....

With your current configuration, the wall is acting as part of front baffle of the speaker.
The speakers where designed and 'voiced' to be in free space.
Having them next to the wall is changing the way they were intended to sound.
Some affordable options for stands can be found here.

https://www.parts-express.com/cat/speaker-stands/2017

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please -

michael green
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I wouldn't go crazy just yet

Hi Four

I wouldn't go nuts just yet over having stands. You are in a basement with concrete floors and carpet. This is not a user friendly situation for many speaker/stand combos. And having temp stands means many times your speaker room interface will not have a chance to settle. True you will get better depth, and this is a big plus if you don't get that dead sound that so many times come with the carpet/concrete/stand combo. A sound that sounds like carpet and concrete and a speaker stand, not letting the room sound open and the speaker sound freed. I would get the room in balance before exploring this too far, I'll tell you why. You mentioned you can hear the front wall. That's excellent, you want to hear that wall. I think the panels come down and we open up that space to be tuned and then shape the sound of that wall, the ceiling and the wall behind you, and tune up the other corners. At that point you'll know what you are listening to and can be guided to a safe place, taking steps that are moving forward.

Don't worry at this point how the speakers are toed or facing. You get the room right and those babies will disappear. How far between the top of your love seat and the ceiling? How far off the ground is the speaker?

Is there someway you can raise the speakers so I can hear how they sound placed higher? A wooden bar stool would be perfect to use. You could then play with placement during the same session and see if you get what catch is talking about. Another thing, and this is a DIY trick you can use with a system like this if you decide to go stands and more nearfield. With floors like you have sometimes the metal stands dull out really fast cause the spikes don't quite reach the floor through the carpet, and many concrete floors hate speakers, sending all kinds of nasties into them. Surprisingly a basic wooden bar stool (small round or square seat) cut to size (slightly higher than you would normally have stands) on floors like this in basements do something special.

Sometimes having an odd space allows us to do creative things out of the box that we find sound better than if we stick to traditional audiophile thinking. I've done a lot of weird rooms/systems that folks walk in not expecting the sound to be magical till that piece of music is turned on. This could be one of these setups.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

fourpobs
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Not going crazy yet

I did an A-B-A with ceiling panels up-removed-back up. Listened to Abby Road (an old favorite I recently reripped the CD to flac so reacquainting). With the panels down my immediate instinct was to grimace and pop my ears. The treble and especially the upper mids were so harsh or just a lot louder. It made my ears ring.

Clearly the panels are doing something but I can say without them the soundstage opened up. I could hear the ceiling and it made the sound much more enveloping. Must be on to something but I'm tired. For tonight, bourbon is amelioration.

Thanks again for all the feedback and look forward to exploring this further.

audiophile2000
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Speaker Placement and Room Treatment

I also had a very difficult room to work with and I think here are a number of items you can do to improve your sound. I think there are potentially 2 issues at the heart of this: (i) speaker setup and (ii) room acoustics

So for speaker setup.
I agree with the other post that stands will probably be better for you in the long run. Here is why, with the current setup, you are limited to an equilateral triangle, which is a good starting point, but you are unable to move the speakers so they really interact with the room. Stands will let you move them closer together, further out from the wall to center in on the location that allows them to disappear. We can go into setup techniques but would recommend looking at getting the DVD's from the below. Probably one of the best investment I made as it made me question a lot of the facts you hear for years in this hobby. (Also it doesn't suggest any crazy ideas and is really grounded in the real world). I can't recommend this DVD enough. (no relation to me, just a happy customer)
http://getbettersound.com

Room acoustics
In my opinion, you are in fact hearing the front wall. With the speaker angle you have, the front wall is reflecting the sound back. I think putting the speakers on stands and bringing them a bit closer would help the situation. given this is a pretty cheap test I would order some stands and see what this does. From there you can look at room acoustics. Check out GIK acoustics, they have some great videos on traditional room acoustics and paneling. Also, I wouldn't hesitate to look at DIY panels, they will function the same in most cases, plus you can engineer them how you like

michael green
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I wouldn't kill the sound any more

Hi Four

I personally don't like absorbent products. Look what it just did to your sound, and I see the same thing happen all the time. People buy acoustical products but then part of the music (size) comes up missing. So, I would recommend not going the way of the absorbent panels. Sorry guys, don't mean to be downing someones product but I don't think killing the sound is the answer here. I also wouldn't go with diffusion. One kills the sound and the other scrambles it. Nope, not for me. You want the openess you talked about and the control both. Control without acoustical distortion. That means you need to be able to control the extra energy and leave the room sounding natural.

I've been working on a thread for those guys who need to get reacquainted with acoustical barricading again. http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t245-setup-basics-for-stereophile#4406 . It burns the extra energy, but leaves the room sounding open and natural instead of closing it in like all acoustical dampeners do.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

toledo
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Hi four,

Hi four,

Since you have tried the DIY route, I would suggest you try the minimalist approach that Michael is suggesting. I started out with broadband absorption panels and have moved to corner and mid wall, mid ceiling roomtunes. I also have monitor and sub combo with carpet over concrete flooring and have raised the speakers higher than ear level to stop the beaming and get the pressure up into the room away from carpet and furniture. I also use a wood rug between seating position and speakers to help prevent further absorption by the carpeting. Put your ear a couple inches from floor and see how much information is trapped down there.

The problems I had with absorption is that it is a subtractive method to treat a room. I put up one panel to deal with one issue, then others to deal with issues somewhere else and before I knew the room and sound was dead. I gave up and tried the minimalist approach.

It doesn't take much to control the pressure in a room and allow the acoustics to bloom. The key is finding the spots that need shaping to balance the pressure.

Hope this helps. Like I said, I have been there and gave up on absorption.

drooble
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Hi Four,

Hi Four,

I have a nightmare room too, but for different reasons than yours. My first approach to dealing with it's problems was to try different tweaks and "upgrades" of all the various components (speakers, amp, preamp, source, cables). I succeeded in damping and squeezing out the music until it wasn't even interesting to listen to anymore for its own sake, just for seeing what else I might try to do to save it. It was a rabbit hole.

My second and truly successful approach was to get control of the room as Michael described. I wouldn't suggest any more damping or diffusion, and DIY is a total crapshoot. You can get your room under your control easily and inexpensively with the room tunes. Then you have a good and reliable baseline from which to make further adjustments. Plus when I tried and heard what the room tunes did in my room my experiential understanding of the acoustics of a room really took a significant step. Good luck!

fourpobs
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You've got me thinking

First, I agree wholeheartedly that it is bad to use subtractive methods. I don't like EQs, either. No matter where this goes, my room will for sure add it's own unique coloration to the sound. I am OK with that. For, now, though, the panels are up bc it was too harsh without them. They are effective in a dumb luck sort of way but, knowing what I do now, I would not have gone down this road to begin with.

Michael - I read through your forum that describes how sound moves through a room and builds up pressure zones. I found the pictures especially helpful to visualize how this works. Applying this to my room raises some questions. I will snap a few pics later and add them to show you what I mean. I even tried a little experiment of my own which I will explain when I have some more time.

Cheers!

geoffkait
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Off the top of my head

Here's a few tips some of which might appear off the wall. Tube traps, natch. Michael Green Cormer Tubes, natch. Golden Sound Acoustic Discs, check. Skyline random 3D pattern wall diffuser, check. The tiny little bowl resonators of your choice, at least four, six or eight would be better. Crystals, yup, you heard me right, crystals for room corners on the floor and more. Acoustic Revive's got these really cute smokey quartz crystals for room walls. One Mpingo disc in just the right place will blow your mind, Scout's honor. Remove carpets, yup, your heard me right. A lotta times carpets absorb too much, always a good idea to try with and without.

Even more advanced room treatment type devices not necessarily for the at heart DIYers include LessLoss Blackbody, SteinMusic Harmonizer, Golden Sound Ultra Tweeters, yup, you heard me right, a room treatment, a new flurry of Loed Knows What All from Synergistic Research, if you wanna get fancy the Shakti Hallographs and fifteen foot long Helmholtz resonators. Heck, by the time you're finished treating all the problems in the room you'll be lucky if you have a place to sit.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

michael green
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the Tunee's

I see some Tunees have arrived. Hi Toledo and Drooble.

Hi Four, yes pictures are always a good thing. Makes it easier for me to see your sound. Your descriptions help too. I use Abbey Road a lot to reference so I'm glad you like it. http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t66-abbey-road-experience . On some of the threads you'll see us break into the Abbey Road experience. I started to do referencing on here but the non-listeners found it neccessary to keep interupting (insert rolling eyes lol) so I didn't push, their loss. Strange coming to a forum about music where no one is listening, or very few. There for a minute it looked like it was going to open up but there's a few people on here who spend more time on spins than spinning music. I think some audiophiles are just lonely engineers. Nothing wrong with that, until they make it their purpose to disrupt those of us who want to talk music.

If it does get weird on this thread you can always come over to TuneLand. Some of the same guys here as there and growing. Kinda fun going back and forth, but there we get a little more focused.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

fourpobs
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Updates

I've snapped a couple pics and want to share some thoughts/explanations:

The room: http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii610/Dan_Scardina/listeningroom_zps...

After rereading all your comments I have a few callouts that are evident when viewing the picture:
1. I have a very thick and dense area rug under the ottoman. This is undoubtedly burning sound.
2. The loveseat/ottoman are plush and well-stuffed. With the speakers as low as they are, this is killing yet more energy.
3. I am guessing the HVAC ducting that is protruding may or may not be part of the problem but would complicate the solution. Right?

The experiment: http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii610/Dan_Scardina/dampingpicture_zp...

Michael may cringe at my misapplication of his concepts. I did some reading on MGA about pressure zones and...I forget the term - laminar flow? Anyways, the painting itself is on a sheet of MDF and this is glued to a solid wood frame. I had some egg crate foam from parts express laying around so I mounted it to the backside of the painting. There is now about .75 in of space between the painting and the front wall. My understanding is this could potentially burn energy in a pressure zone while not sucking up too much reflective energy.

Impressions - could be placebo, but I think the soundstage now has more presence in the center. I need to listen to some of my reference recordings, but, based on what I have heard I do think this has changed things noticeably.

I think there is a lonely engineer in me trying to come out. What I desperately need is to relax into some music and stop worrying about how suboptimal my setup is. It is the best setup I have ever owned. I have not heard too many others, so, I am sure it is modest. Must...Fight...OCD...

michael green
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doing fine

Hi Four, your doing just fine. You can always get the real products, but your starting to get the idea. If you convert your above panels and keep reading through TuneLand about placements and tunes you'll start controlling the room. Main thing is getting your listening chops up to the point when you can start hearing textures and size and of course content. If you decide to reference Abbey Road with me I can walk through the recording and we can compare giving you some, what to listen for, tips.

I would recommend not letting the placebo crap get too far into your brain. That stuff comes from people who are so insecure about their own abilities, and have systems so sonic deprived that it doesn't matter. We're after big differences here not those tiny "I think I heard it" type of things. You get that system to where it starts coming together and you'll see how cool it is to be the master of you sound.

I'm also glad you like the drawings on TuneLand. These are far more realistic than those useless straight line drawings the audiophile engineers have been dumping on listeners for years. With my drawings on how things work you can walk through a room and hear it as opposed to all the guessing this industry has tried to build theories around. It constantly surprises me how audio engineers will build a number theory and then start using it instead of listening and doing and then build concepts and real world answers. But that's their nature I've come to learn. Always trying to be an inventor of some great formula. This hobby when you take the time to break it down is really very simplistic. The need for some to make it difficult or heady is a completely different hobby I have found from the actual art of listening. The audiophile world has made more uptight people than the CIA. Everyone looking over their sholders. Nah, they can have it, we're (TuneLand and the Tunees) a bunch of cool music cats who are about the real, not the excuses provided by those you are almost afraid of the real.

You know what blows my mind four? When you start working with an audiophile who is stuck and they can't let the music just be what it is. They start turning the recording and listening into something that it isn't. Like the guy who says it's all about detail and not stage. Every stereo recording in the world has been produced for the purpose of the "soundstage". That's what stereo is, but I pay attention to guys who talk a certain way and that tells me if they got it or don't, and a lot don't. Here's a secret, the key to resolution is not getting detail forsaking the rest of the music. Anyone can do that by squeezing the signal. The key is getting the stage right, cause within that stage is all the resolution you can ask for. So when I hear these guys that get all this detail and resolve but can barely get their sound past the walls of the speaker or room, I know they are only listening to a very small part of a recording. You'll hear that same guy say "my system is so revealing that it won't play certain music". That's another sign that the stage and info is not right. You keep reading TuneLand and your going to see listeners that are able to play all kinds of recordings successfully.

So I guess what I'm saying is, don't make the hobby a difficult one when it really isn't. Have fun learning your room, cause that room is your system.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

fourpobs
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Still playing with the broadband diy panels

The panels are still up and before I take them down or reconfigure/modify them, I am playing around with some things in an effort to train my ears.

I took the cardboard jackets from a couple of LPs that are trashed and taped them on the panels. The panels being 2' by 2' with the jackets centered and square. This is easy to do enabling some effective A-B time.

I havent had as much time as I would like, but, I beleive I am detecting a difference. It is adding to the center of the soundstage although that center information is coming from the ceiling and top of the front wall. I guess you could say my soundstage is banana shaped and still too thin in the middle, but improved.

I will probably head over to tuneland when I have some more time and explore this further. I am wondering about how this same sort of configuration would change with different materials of blockers and maybe even different shapes and sizes in the mix. Naturally, different placements of the panels will come into play I would imagine. That is harder due to drilling holes in the ceiling and all that.

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