Monitor Audio Silver 9i loudspeaker In My Room
We've moved, and as bringing the old room with us was ruled too difficult and costly, I've had no choice but to break in a new one. My old listening room was our former house's living/dining room (the audio-lab portion was confined to the living room; the dining area provided a large open space behind). This large rectangle offered a mostly symmetrical setup, except for an opening on the left wall into the entry hallway, and a fireplace on the right wall (at about the first-reflection point for the right speaker). The room was carpeted, had an 8' ceiling, and featured, as is typical in Southern California, drywall over 16"-centered studs for the walls and a cement-slab floor.
The new room has some things in common with the old—same basic drywall'n'slab construction—but other than that, it's way different. First of all, it's a separate building—yes, I've got a hi-fi hut of my very own—which is very good news for me and for the family. Now I can crank it to 11 without causing havoc for everyone else; likewise, they can turn up Teletubbies without getting in my way.
The room is basically a large rectangle, with some architectural features that make the space interesting visually, if unpredictable acoustically: There's an offset recessed area on the wall behind the speakers. The right wall has a series of disruptions, starting with a bathroom door right about where the right speaker's first-reflection point would be. Between this door and the listening position, the wall juts out a foot and a half or so, effectively changing the room's width. There's more, but you get the idea. Given all these irregularities, the dimensions are approximately 21' deep by 15' wide by 9' high—a good-sized room.
It's also got a laminate floor that looks like hardwood, which, though pretty, is a problem. When the room was completely empty, I clapped my hands and listened. I'd swear before a judge that the reverberations lasted over a second! Once most of my stuff had been moved in and a system set up, it was better, but still pretty clangy. An Oasis CD at high volume sounded as if I was playing it in a huge tin can (or a sports arena—a live-venue experience I don't want to reproduce at home).
I applied four solutions to kill these bad vibes: Michael Green CornerTunes up in the front corners (four, due to the window recess); shelves filled with LPs along the side walls in the front corners; homemade absorption panels at the first-reflection points at the sides of the room; and (this is the big one) a huge area rug reaching from just in front of the front wall to just behind the listening seat, and within a foot and a half or so of the record shelves on the sides. Now the system sounds smooth and delicious, but I'm going to experiment with damping the first-reflection point on the ceiling.
I've still got a ways to go. I'm not even completely moved in—there are still boxes to be unpacked (at least one full of CDs; all the LPs are already out and organized, of course) and things to find homes for, and I still need to decide where, exactly, to put my desk. (Right behind the listening chair would be ideal, so I can work and listen from the sweet spot—but I'm not sure the desk will fit.)
Just as I was finishing this review, I received Acoustisoft's ETF 5.x software and calibrated mike/preamp (reviewed by Kalman Rubinson in Vol.21 No.7); I look forward to checking out the room with that. And so what if the foam I attach to the ceiling doesn't look pretty? It's my room, and I can do what I want with it!—Lonnie Brownell