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The Acoustic Transformation of a Los Angeles Audio Listening Room

by Nyal Mellor September 23, 2017

The Acoustic Transformation of a Los Angeles Audio Listening Room

Client Profile

Mr. Green is a high end audio enthusiast living in the Los Angeles area.

Project Overview

His combined two channel and home theater system was quite complex with a lot of components including a single JL Audio F112 subwoofer, a JL Audio CR1 crossover, as well as different Dali speakers for two channel and home theater. Mr. Green had purchased and tried to use various acoustic measurement packages including Fuzzmeasure and Room EQ Wizard and had experimented with acoustical panels as well as integrating his subwoofer, but wanted professional assistance with acoustic treatment and system set-up.

Acoustic Frontiers Solutions

After an initial phone call with Mr. Green, Acoustic Frontiers recommended our "standard" analysis and treatment process:

The analysis process involved working with the client to take acoustic measurements and then analyzing these to determine the root causes of the acoustical issues and potential solutions. The analysis phase took a little longer than usual as Mr. Green's room is a very odd shape. After we identified resonance issues at 50Hz and 80Hz in the individual speaker measurements, we asked Mr. Green to "map" the areas of high sound pressure, in order to find the best place for diaphragmatic bass traps. Diaphragmatic bass traps, unlike porous traps, work on the pressure component of sound and are very effective close to room boundaries. Porous traps such as the ubiquitous fiberglass, work best when velocity is high, which is actually away from room boundaries. Acoustic treatment design involved specifying the number and type of tuned bass traps from RealAcoustix - the BassMod4848. We also specified Kinetics Versatune for the immediate reflection points (the side wall reflection was too close to use a hybrid absorber / diffuser or pure diffuser) and custom fabric wrapped Listen Audio Diffuse Signature diffusion panels for most other reflection points. We also specified a few Kinetics TAD panels on the ceiling - careful ray tracing was required to find the reflection points due to the complex ceiling geometry.

Acoustic treatment concept

Ceiling acoustic treatment concept[/caption] We also swapped out the single JL Audio F112 subwoofer for a pair of JL Audio F110v2, placing one front right corner and one on the back wall. These subwoofers were an integral part of the design, since they cancelled the 1st axial length mode at 23Hz, and also provided the superior DARO room correction implementation. After the room acoustics were installed, the client was hungering for more from his system. We advised him that speakers would be the biggest upgrade. He auditioned the ATC SCM40, SCM40A and SCM50A and was blown away by our active anniversary SCM50, ordering a pair right away.

ATC SCM50ASL[/caption] Acoustic Frontiers delivered the new speakers and performed positional optimization and set-up of the subwoofers and JL Audio CR1 crossover. The CR-1 settings arrived at were not obvious...note the large difference between the sub and sat crossover frequencies! Setting the system up this way further minimized excitation of the 80Hz resonance, and improved sound quality.

  • Subwoofer crossover frequency: 65Hz
  • Subwoofer damping: +1.5
  • Sub/Sat balance: +4 towards sub
  • Satellite crossover frequency: 110Hz
  • Satellite damping: +1.25
  • Crossover Slope: 24dB / octave
  • Sub output mode: L+R

The Results

Here are the post calibration measurements for the bass range below 300Hz - note the huge difference in the whole bass region under 100Hz and the complete elimination of the 23Hz and 43Hz resonances.

Pre vs post <100Hz frequency response, 1/12th smoothing[/caption] Also look at the huge reduction in the level of reflections in the first 40ms after the direct sound. This was achieved with only a 0.25s reduction in the reverberation time (T60), so the room did not sound over-treated and lifeless, like many treated rooms do. Managing reflections primarily through diffusion and hybrid absorber / diffusers, with spot application of high performance absorption, is our preferred approach to improving room acoustics.

Pre vs post energy time curve (ETC)[/caption]

In the Client's Words...

"I knew I was wasting money on expensive components, cables, and tweaks if I didn't get my room acoustics straightened out. I had put some inexpensive room treatments in the room but they only made a modest impact. Nyal was easy to work with and patient beyond belief with my novice questions. After Nyal thoroughly understood my needs and budget he put together a plan that worked for my room. I installed most of the panels myself from the detailed plan he made and had him come out for final calibration which made a huge difference, particularly with my subwoofers. Nyal also gave me great recommendations for some equipment which turned out to be wonderful additions. My only regret was I waited so long to give him a call. Highly recommended." Mr. Green.

Nyal Mellor
Nyal Mellor


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Nyal Mellor, Founder, Acoustic Frontiers

  • (415) 524-8741
  • Serving USA & Canada
  • Fairfax, Northern California, USA

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