$1,000 to spend on room treatment....

My new room 21*13*7 has very bad acoustic: flutter echo of hell (a solid 2 seconds of metallic echo for each clapping of hands), bass resonance and probably more that hides being the first 2 but that will become noticeable later on. I have a max of $1,000 to spend to treat it and already own 4 fiberglass panels 2*4 that I can use to treat mids and diffuse. What do you suggest - price when new to be consistent? There are some room kits that seem to fit the bill (www.primacoustic.com) but I need guidance on this. Tks.
If you're going to spend that much, contact Richard at Rives and do it right. http://www.rivesaudio.com
Go to www.realtraps.com for info.

Call Brian at sensiblesoundsolutions.com. Great way to get a personal approach, top quality treatment materials and more reasonable cost than most competitors.
You can see his work on my system page. Cheers,
What about DIY? You should find some good info on this site. I am very satisfied with the room treatments that I have made.
Aside from the 7 ft high ceiling, you have a near ideal room size.

Before spending money on 'room treatments' per se, I would suggest the following:

o That your floor is covered with a thick carpet pad and a thick berber or pile type of carpet.

o Remove any hard reflective surfaces from the room, ie leather furniture, glass tables, picture frames, table and floor standing lamps, etc..

o Consider using overstuffed cloth-covered furniture, ottoman, etc., recessed or small floor-based lighting, draperies, etc..

o And most important is the speaker placement within the room.

Only then would consider proper room treatments. But hopefully at that point your room would no longer be a concern.

If you have the interest or time I would recommend trying some DIY treatments first. There’s a lot of good information on the web - check out Audio Asylum’s Room Acoustics Forum, Rives Audio and Ethen Winer’s sites.

After doing research, I made a number of effective bass traps and absorbers for my dedicated listening room based on Owens Corning 703 and 705 rigid fiberglass products. With a few basic shop skills you can build custom panels that are attractive and work as well as, or better then, many commercial products.

Going this route is more effort, but you learn a lot about acoustics and save enough money to be able to treat your whole room instead of just part of it. I have 2'x8’ bass traps in all four corners, absorbers at the first reflection points and enough material left over to try several other options. You can also test some options just by placing or stacking the rigid fiberglass in corners or reflection points. If you can't find a local source, there are several online suppliers, including the sensiblesound site mentioned above.
Contact Scott at Obsession Audio. THis guy is absolutely fantastic to work with and I am nearing the end of my room design with him. He has designed my room from the ground up and I am currently at the treatment phase. I can't say enough good about Scott. Friendly and very accomodating. His prices are very fair.

Randy Doyle
Newfoundland, Canada
I agree with uppermid.

Rives Level 1 costs about what you want to spend. You can tell 'em you want to focus on DIY (that's what I did) and then walk through implementing the design one step at a time (I've been working on mine for 18 months and still have one major & one minor project left.

I think you'll get better results this way than hit or miss design/matching/products.
I agree with the DIY if you can. You're money will go alot farther. Base traps are what you want to start with. It can take more than 1 in each corner depending on the room.
evaluate speaker placement, furniture, rugs and curtains before you spend too much on treatment tweeks.
Thanks. As much as Rives Level 1 and DIY would be the way to go for what I understand, I have neither the time nor the skills nor the money to do it ($1,000 should cover the products too, not just the analysis). I am hoping that my $1,000 well spent will do it about right. Apologies to you out there thinking that this could be a total waste...I think I understand the basic concepts of absorption, diffusion, etc enough so I can avoid the common pitfalls of buying $1,000 of half-round bass traps and killing my room for ever.
Also, my dealer has just gone through the building of a room about my size (higher ceiling) and can give me free advices on treatment placement and types. So my question is how to best spend $1,000 on already made products as the dealer got his from a brand that I cannot afford....
Tks anyway for the suggestions, I wish I could Rive and build!!!!!
This week is Montreal audio show and I have been told that there are skilled folks who can do the consulting piece for $150, $200 and they come to my place (the beauty of the CDN economy)..that leaves me $800...
Brian @ sensiblesoundsolutions did consulting by phone and email for me at no charge per se including analysis of my in-room freq. measurements ; recommended appropriate treatments using the same components many of the higher priced commercial treatments(e.g. Owens Corning 703/705 & Guilford of Maine custom cloth), and shipped my custom made pieces unfinished. I ordered Guildford cloth directly and saved $$$ by cutting and stapling the fabric here. This gave me a nice compromise between DIY and "whole hog" retail products. I spent just under $1k, and feel I've the equivalent of a $4k-$5k Rives installation.
Good luck whatever you do. Treating your room is a wise investment IMHO. Cheers,
Sbank: your solution may be what I am looking for, I will inquire. I also agree with Stehno that I must optimise the "furniture" piece and rug as my room is virtually empty for now (an Ikea chair and an office grade synthetic carpet, nothing else - and that ain't neither much nor good acoustic solution!).

FWIW, I've heard the results Sbank achieved in his room with his mix of custom and diy effort: simply outstanding. Brian @ sensiblesoundsolutions certainly allowed Sbank to accomplish a very positive transformation of his listening space at a very reasonable cost.

Send a layout of your room and any particulars and Auralex will recommend a solution. It has been highly effective in my case. They have a diverse number of solutions - highly recommended.

You can also buy Auralex panels for $20 / 2 x 4 sheet at Guitar Center if you want to experiment.
don't know the price, but what about rives' parametric equalizer? any exp? is it transparent to the source?
What is the difference between products like Auralex or Primacoustic (rubber / foam) and traditional fiberglass or cotton? any better and "healthier"?
Personally, my wife and I find the foam products esthetically unacceptable unless covered or concealed.

As for efficacy, there are graphs at www.realtraps.com comparing several products. There's another acoustics site that has lots of data, but I will have to post again when I re-locate it.

Also, let me join in the recommendation of Brian at SensibleSoundSolutions. Good advice and good products.

Stehno, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, in as much as I have learned some good stuff from you over the last few years while lurking, but with all your recommendations isn't there a concern of over dampening the room.

I know there are a number of schools of thought in re of this but some reflective surfaces can be a good thing.

Any thoughts on this???
Found it! This is a great site for acoustics info:

Hi, uppermidfi. Overdampening especially for $1000 should not be a concern. There's already most likely plenty of reflection and liveliness off the walls and ceiling. But the first point of reflection should always be the floor.

Any glass frames, lamps, wooden or glass tabletops, and leather furnishings only makes things worse.

I'm not advocating he carpet his walls or anything like that. Simply to remove or cover any potentially reflective furnishings and accessories in the front half of his listening room. Especially on the floor. And with a 7ft high ceiling it may be even more important to do so.

Several years ago, in a similar room size, I replaced some very nice leather furniture with a overly stuffed cloth furniture and was impressed with the audible improvements.

Perhaps the point I really want to get across is that for the 10 years industry insiders fed us the line that 80% of our systems' sonics are the result of room acoustics and we needed these room treatments.

And of course we all bought into that and there are still a few that cling to that myth verbally while many others cling to it in mind and spirit.

When in fact, I think the room's acoustics account for perhaps 20 to 30 percent at most and the speaker placement within the room far exceeds the benefits of addressing room acoustics and room treatments only.

My experience is rather limited, but about 3 years ago I had a reviewer/columnist out to my home evaluating my system. At the end of 3 hours I informed him that we were relocating to another part of the country, he said, "good luck trying to find a listening room like this one." And I agreed.

My new listening rooms' acoustics are horrific in comparison to the old room. And yet after several months of moving the speakers around, I was able to extract even greater sonics from this poor room that the previous room.

Essentially the only thing missing is a couple of the lowest Hertz in the 25-28 Hz range because of the taller ceilings. Everything else simply sounds better.

So while some members of the industry swung the pendelum so far toward the rooms' acoustics, I just want to say hey, maybe what they've been feeding us isn't quite so accurate.

And if that is true, it wouldn't be the first nor the last time industry insiders have done so.

And when I see how much people are spending on room treatments and on new rooms, it's rather surprising. Especially since it is often these very same people who've done nothing toward installing proper line conditioning and proper vibration control both of which in many case may offer far more improvement over the room's acoustics and treatments.

One thing you may notice is that these days there seems to be fewer and fewer people that cling to the "the room (and its acoustics) make up 80% of the sound of your system." claim anymore. That's a good sign.

Anyway, thanks for your comments.

John, thanks for responding. I see where you're coming from and that makes more sense.

I don't know that I would subscribe to the 80% crowd, but I do think that the room is as imporant as the gear. You are right in saying (IMO) that people who do not address power conditioning and isolation should not spend a ton of money on their room. It's hard to know where to start, and how tightly to focus when dealing with the system/room/isolation/power conditioning.

I guess part of being an audiophile is obsessing about everything, even the music.

I think when you talk about glass in relation to room treatment, you're talking about the point of first reflection. I have a number of pictures up in my room, but I have treated the POFR, on the wall, floor and ceiling.

It's not through any attempt to be dishonest, or lie, but whenever a company makes a product they seem to think their product is the most important link in the chain. That's just human nature, which my explain the 80% room thing.

BUT I do think putting $1000 into the room is money well spent. Maybe he should save up a little more and buy one of the racks you make :) !

Thanks again

Dr R. C. Brockhaus
While I am gathering cost/option info for treatment, I must say that Stehno's comments start making sense.
- I moved my speakers only a foot / half a foot in both directions and moved my listening position about 2 feet as well and adjusted my existing panels for reflection points. 30% improvement right there. The room may be twice longer than the old one, I do not need to seat 13 ft away from speakers or 18ft away from front wall.
- My carpet is thin and synthetic so it is pretty much the concrete floor that shows (sounds). I borrowed our living room thick cotton rug and the difference was substantial, 10%
- I have about no furniture at all in this room beside an Ikea wood-frame chair, not much absorption. I moved in our guest room sofa and it did reduce the echo quite a bit, another 10%.
At this point, it is an OK room, no more but no less (heard audio show rooms that sounded worse).

So, I think I am opting for the following way of spending my $1,000:
- a thick cotton rug + a sofa for $500(yes, it won't be top quality but it is a dedicated room so who cares)
- $350 in prefinished bass treatment + a few more panels for ceiling/wall intersection *4 - Bryan at sensiblesoundsolutuions.com is very helpful.
- $150 of fabric to make this pretty(ier)

I guess it is all in balancing money between treatment and furniture. Placement is free!
Beheme, you should not consider this the end but the beginning.

Personally, I'm a little slow at making adjustments in my own system as it took me 9 months to find the 'ideal' speaker location. I've not moved them in almost two years and I'm sure I still don't have the optimum placement.

It takes me a bit longer because my speakers are sitting on Star Sound's Audio Points and my speakers are about 145 lbs. each. And believe it or not, there is a very real and very audible difference every time I move my speakers as it literally take 6 to 8 days for the Audio Points to properly settle back in or break in all over again with their connection to the floor. So with these 3 things, I'm always hesitant to move my speakers or my racking system.

Again, you only have a 7 ft ceiling, hence the greater the opportunity to reflect off the floor, then to the ceiling.

I'd like to suggest the thickest carpet pad underneath the thickest rug/carpet.

Keep moving the speakers around a few inches every few days to find an even more optimal location.

I don't know what speakers you have, but if your open to placement suggestions, I'd like to recommend this as a starting point:

Locate the speakers 5 1/2 ft. from the wall behind them and
2 1/2 ft. from the side walls. (All measurements are from the front/dead center of the woofer driver).

This should give you about 8 ft between the left and right tweeters.

Move your chair so that your ears are no further than 9 1/2 ft from either tweeter. This will give you a slight nearfield listen which usually is ideal anyway.

Toe the speaker in toward the center so that the tweeter axis crosses right in front of your nose.

If your rug leaves bare floor exposed anywhere in the front half of the room, throw some big cushions on the floor in the corners behind the speakers, and throw some cushions, pillows, or comforters/blankets (throw not folded) on the other exposed bare floor spots in the front half of the listening area (from the chair to behind the speakers).

You might even loosely spread out some thicker blankets on the floor to assimulate a thicker pad/carpet between the speakers and listening chair triangle.

Uppermidfi may consider this overdampening and he'd be right. But I'm just trying to offer a suggestion to demonstrate what your room might sound like if you had thick wall-to-wall carpeting and carpet padding.

Who knows, if you try these things and post saying this experiment brought a dramatic improvement, maybe uppermidfi will buy one of my racking systems. :)

One clarification I should make regarding my previous post. When I stated that the room's acoustics and treatments only account for perhaps 20 - 30 at most for a system's sonics, I also made that statement with certain assumptions or givens. Thick carpet padding and wall-to-wall carpeting is one of those givens.

Hope this helps,

I'd love to buy one of your racks but what will I do with my Star Sound rack then???
Well, uppermidfi, I have a suggestion or two but Robert at Star Sound may not appreciate it. :)

Actually, Star Sound is an excellent company with true performance-oriented products. You may have noticed that I use their Audio Points everywhere on my racks. In fact, my racks are essentially designed around the Audio Points.

Stehno, I bought a thick wool rug yesterday and with speakers 5ft and 2.5ft from walls, my test CD shows some pretty good response except for the bump at 200-250 Hz that some bass absorber should help with. I relocated my panels and I must admit that some work and $150 on a nice thick 6'*9' Ikea rug moved me 70% into the right direction. Will continue and eventually post pics so anyone can send tips about panels. Next 2 panels will go on the ceiling for sure.
Beheme, that's good news. I would suggest also focusing on the parimeter of the front half of room that is not covered by the thick rug. Decorative pillows can help.

Regarding the bump in the 200-250 Hz region and to further improve the sonics, I would suggest you continue experimenting every few days with speaker placement. Eventually you'll find the best location and/or you'll eventually give up realizing you can't improve much more with regard to speaker location and the speaker's interaction with the room.

Thanks for trying some of my suggestions and despite your room's issues I remain committed that the room's acoustics have far less influence on the sonics than most are willing to admit. But that commitment is obviously qualified with the assumption that a given room has certain basics already addressed such as wall-to-wall carpeting.

My experience has told me to go natural. Natural fibers natural jute back pad under the carpet instead of the foam rebond products normally supplied. The jute has more area of absorption and less bounce back. Also find that natural long hair sheeps wool used in the construction of sound panels makes for a more linear and musical result than does foam or fiberglass which tend to suck out and reduce dynamic contrasts..Tom
I fixed a flutter echo from hell by placing an oriental screen in the back of my room. You could probably get a nice one used for not much money.