Creating a system you love shouldn't be difficult. The Acoustic Frontiers blog is here to help.
The client, Mr.Jackson, of Corte Madera (California, USA) wanted to improve the sound quality of his main two channel system. Here is what Mr. Jackson had to say about his setup before we started: "I had always known that getting good sound out of a room involved more that just good equipment. I was aware that there would be optimum speaker placement and an optimum listening position as well as room treatments, all of which combined would maximize even frequency response and dispersion and ultimately my listening enjoyment. My own, amateur efforts over the years included umpteen different speaker positions and the basic 2" absorber panels at first reflection points. Not to mention, numerous and expensive hardware upgrades in the quest for better sound. It was not until I purchased a Velodyne subwoofer with it's basic frequency measurement utility that I realized I had some serious room issues and would benefit from professional Help.
The happy client with a RPG BAD panel used for lateral reflection point control custom mounted to a RealTraps stand.
Room Acoustic Analysis - a review of the systems current acoustic design, done by performing critical listening using our reference recordings, taking acoustical measurements and reviewing the system against our set of acoustical best practices.
Acoustic Treatment Design - determining what acoustic treatment is required to solve the room acoustic issues. For this project we used absorber panels and combination absorber / diffusers (the BAD panel) from RPG. 4" thick panels were selected to provide additional bass absorption. The client and consultant had a number of discussions over e-mail and phone about different treatment options, the benefits of 4" over 3" panels and color choices. Due to the installation difficulties presented by the window, fireplace and open corridor adjacent to the left speaker we custom mounted these panels to RealTraps stands.
The room with acoustic treatment added
System Setup. During this step we systematically optimized system setup, first focusing on bass response and then on imaging / soundstaging.
These following charts show the improvement realized through acoustic treatment and calibration. You can see the response is a little flatter through the bass and the suckout from 50-100Hz is reduced in level. We also managed to remove a high amplitude reflection at about 18ms after the direct sound.
Energy time curves, before and after acoustic treatment
Frequency response chart showing before and after calibration results. You can see the dip from 50-100Hz is slightly filled in and the dip around 45Hz is gone.
Finally, what did the client think? That's the important thing - if they are not happy then we are not happy! In the clients words:
"The end result of Nyal's analysis and implemented strategies is a much more even in room frequency response (particularly in the bass region), and much cleaner, more focused and enveloping musical presentation. I heartily recommend Acoustic Frontiers for anyone seeking to improve performance of their stereo or home theater sound system"
And what did we think? We were very happy with the improvement in sound quality that was achieved for a relatively minimal investment - less than 10% of his system's retail value!
Whilst the finished room did not meet 'reference' standards from an acoustical perspective, it is virtually impossible to achieve that without a dedicated space. We had reduced the severity of the acoustical distortions caused by room modes, speaker boundary interference and strong reflections.
One has to realize that doing acoustic design and calibration for shared spaces is always a process of finding a compromise between aesthetics and performance. It is a process we find challenging and enjoyable.
Home theater in walk out basement. Scope of work: core home theater design package, sound isolation, HVAC, riser, hush box and baffle wall design.
"The end result is nothing short of spectacular." David W.
Home theater in custom home. Scope: core home theater design package w' sound isolation, equipment & acoustic treatment.
"Our room turned out way better than we ever expected. Everyone is amazed at the sound and picture quality!” Todd B.
Transformation of a builder grade home theater. Scope: core home theater design package, equipment, acoustic treatment and audio calibration.
Nyal Mellor, Founder, Acoustic Frontiers