Music in the Round #38 Page 2

I figured that getting the biggest traps would reduce the number I needed, and sometime last year I came across Ready Acoustics' announcement of their Chameleon Super Sub Bass Traps. What appealed was their manageable size: 48" high by 24" wide by 6" thick. That last dimension makes the Chameleon among the thickest trap available in a cosmetically acceptable package. (Ready Acoustics offers them in eight fabric covers and four frame colors.) Now, I know some folks like patterns and pictures on their panels, but we prefer that these big guys call no more attention to themselves than is absolutely necessary. I ordered a pair in gray/gray ($199.99 each) and they arrived in two large boxes: one contained the six OC703 fiberglass panels, three for each trap, the other the fabric covers and frames.

You can read the assembly instructions at www.readyacoustics. I'll say here only that wrestling with fiberglass is never pleasant, but the somewhat elastic fabric covers weren't too difficult to slip over each trio of panels. One might stop there, and I did for a while, because the working parts of a Chameleon Super Sub are its OC703 panels—the fabric covering is only for safety (it keeps stray splinters of fiberglass out of your living space) and appearance (the semi-suede finish is quite attractive). What's lacking are the rigidity and durability granted by mounting the panels in their metal frames. Assembling these was quite easy; predrilled and prefitted to accept a pair of screws at each corner, they transform each panel into a substantial structure that can withstand considerable handling and that can be mounted in more ways than can the unframed panels.

To assess what the Chameleons did, I first defeated the electronic EQ in the Meridian 861 surround-sound controller and in the JL Audio Fathom f113 subwoofer. Second, I removed my Echo Busters from the front corners behind the main speakers. These went in the bedroom, along with the waiting Chameleons. I then listened to and measured my system without any room treatments other than the absorbent drapes, furniture, and various hidden 1"-thick fiberglass panels, none of which has much effect below a few hundred hertz.

Wow! What clarity and impact! However, my pleasure rapidly faded, as every source was presented as if under a cheap magnifying glass. Bass notes stuck out. Midbass was insistently prominent. Dynamic contrasts varied from striking to missing altogether, depending on their harmonic content. Whew. It was much the sort of sound I've heard demonstrated on the open floors of big-box stores. Measurements confirmed a lumpy frequency response below 200Hz, with multiple peaks above and below 100Hz.

I then installed one of the Chameleon Super Sub Bass Traps in the room's front corners and listened to a male announcer on WQXR. The effect was immediately audible: The room still had a bit of midrange glare, but the bass bumpiness had faded, first with one Chameleon, and faded more when I added the second. Settling back to enjoy the music, I noticed that the midbass had been tamed to a reasonable level, and that bass below 100Hz didn't suffer unpredictable contrasts between notes that were too loud and others that were too soft. I still missed the rest of my EQ and treatments, but that was only because of my prior experience in this room.

The improvements wrought by the Ready Acoustics Chameleon Super Sub Bass Traps were undeniable; measurements confirmed this by revealing that the peakiness was reduced, even in the 50–70Hz range, and that from 200Hz down, the overall range of variation in the room's response had been greatly narrowed. The Chameleons were audibly and measurably more effective than the Echo Busters corner traps they'd replaced. The Readys have stayed in my room because they work—and they don't look too shabby, either.

SVSound AS-EQ1 subwoofer EQ
In principle, this device is easy to describe: a subwoofer-only version of the Audyssey Sound Equalizer. In actuality, it's a rather sophisticated adaptation of Audyssey EQ by SVSound, people who know a lot about subwoofers. Their expertise has made the AS-EQ1 ($799, with a pre-order special of $699 as I write this) something even more special—it's able to independently and cooperatively equalize two subwoofers, and interface with versions of Audyssey EQ and other room correction schemes built into A/V receivers and preamplifier-processors. Thus, it lets users of Audyssey MultEQ, or even Audyssey 2EQ, enjoy the benefits of high-resolution subwoofer equalization—one of the major benefits of Audyssey Sound Equalizer for only a third of its $2500 price.

The chassis of the all-black AS-EQ1 is derived from the Audyssey Sound EQ, but with a removable front panel that hides the connections used only in setup, to present a clean appearance with only two LEDs. The left, green LED indicates the power status, and the right LED indicates EQ (green) or Bypass (red) mode. Unfortunately for those of us with red-green color-blindness (5% of American males), the two colors of the latter LED are indistinguishable. Moreover, since switching between Bypass and EQ requires that the AS-EQ1 be connected to a PC, SVS might have dispensed with the second LED altogether, as far as I'm concerned. But with that I conclude my criticism of the AS-EQ1, which is otherwise well thought out and well designed.

The rear panel has two sub inputs and two sub outputs (all RCAs), an output RCA for a test signal, a power switch, and a connector for the 12V wall-wart power supply. Connect your sub source signal(s) and your sub(s) and you're ready to start. Remove the front dress panel and connect your PC via the provided USB cable, and the Audyssey microphone to the now-revealed jacks. The remaining two jacks let you bypass the sub calibration settings of your Audyssey-equipped AVR so that it's fooled into thinking that your sub is perfect. This means that only the AS-EQ1 EQ will be applied to your sub, and that the AVR will not EQ the sub. Of course, this assumes that you run the regular Audyssey EQ calibration before running the AS-EQ1 for your sub.

mdunjic's picture

Establishment of computer audio should be blamed ... iTunes doesn't play SACD format and it is the most used user interface for playing the music through the computer. Most people who switched to computer music libraries (I have all of my collection in WAV format stored on hard disk) are happy enough with old CD format.

That's why.