Wave Diffuser Description
The WAVE diffuser is an Acoustic Frontiers exclusive product custom-made in the USA to our specifications.
It is a bicubic smoothed spline interpolation of a 2D QRD diffuser - put another way, it’s a diffuser based on quadratic residue number theory, but with three-dimensional smoothing applied to the peaks and dips in both the height and width dimensions.
We generally use our WAVE diffuser with our POLY absorber in chequerboard-style applications.
Two versions are available:
- Gloss - made using ABS plastic, this diffuser has a reflective finish only suitable for use behind a fabric stretch or in applications where reflectivity does not matter. Because of its shininess, it is not recommended to use this product in exposed applications in home theaters.
- Matte - made using the proprietary Boltaron polymer, this version has a matte finish suitable for all applications.
Wave Diffuser Story
When designing acoustic treatment schemes for home theaters, listening rooms, and home recording studios, we often ran into issues with the options available.
Other diffusers are physically too big.
Most acoustic treatment manufacturers design and make products for “large room” commercial applications such as offices, auditoriums, and schools, not “small room” high-performance audio reproduction spaces. Another factor is the desire for products to fit commercial drop ceiling grids, whose tiles are 2’x2’ or 2’x4’.
The requirements of “large” and “small” spaces are different. A major difference is the size of each reflection (e.g., one speaker, one listener, ceiling reflection point). In “small” rooms, the reflections points are physically smaller. Through our study of acoustics and application to our projects, we learned that the size of the area that needs to be treated to address the psychoacoustic issues related to reflections is often only 24” to 32” in width and length. In general, we do not want to fully absorb or fully diffuse the reflection that falls on this area; we want to provide 70% absorption/30% diffusion or 50%/50% or some other mix. We cannot do this precisely with absorbers or diffusers that are 24”x24”. Our solution is to reduce the size of the absorbers and diffusers to 12”x12” or smaller, so we can be surgical with our treatment designs.
Other diffusers don’t maximize the use of space behind fabric stretch walls.
Many of our projects use fabric stretches at 4” depth to hide acoustic treatments and speakers. Other products on the market do not seem to consider this factor - they are either too deep to use behind a 4” fabric stretch (e.g., 5.1”) or do not maximize the use of the available space (e.g., 2.8”). In general, the deeper the diffuser, the better it performs. We made the WAVE 4” deep so it can hide behind a 4” nominal (actually 4-⅛”) fabric stretch and maximizes the use of that space.
Other diffusers are the wrong color.
Many of our projects are home theaters, where dark colors and finishes are desired to achieve the best image. Most other diffusers are only white, which is a poor choice in a dedicated home theater. The WAVE diffuser is black, and we offer a lower-cost gloss black finish in addition to the matte finish for the best fit with the application.
Other diffusers create sonic artifacts.
You might not know it (or believe it), but a diffuser imparts a sonic signature on the sound you hear. The designers of the traditional hard-edged QRD diffuser explicitly recommend not to sit in the “nearfield” of the diffuser, which is defined as 3x the design frequency. We’ve found that you don’t get this effect with smoothly varying diffusers like the WAVE.
Another sonic artifact can be created by choice of material. While plastic is a great choice for 2D diffusers like the WAVE, some other similarly sized products on the market use thin, tinny-sounding plastics that negatively impact sound quality. The WAVE uses material 4x as thick as low-cost products on the market.