Another room treatment convert

I made my first voyage into room treatment today with setting up five 2' x 4' x 2" 2.5# density panels (ATS Acoustics) in my listening room-balcony. The balcony is 13.5 x 16 x 8 feet with my back toward the balcony rail overlooking the great room below(no wall behind me, just a vaulted ceiling).

Impressive & positive difference compared to the sound of the system previously...which was already pretty good. The sound is tighter & more defined(articulate) from top to bottom. For less than $300 bucks I'd give the investment "two thumbs way up". I'll be ordering a couple more 2 x 2 panels to finish things off. Then DIY bass traps are next once the raw materials arrive.

Speakers are Snell Type A's on the long wall. Tube CDP & pre with a DNA-1 amp. The wide dispersion of the speakers & size of the room resulted in first reflection issues & some flutter echo from the mostly empty walls. I also have a narrow window on center behind the speakers & this gave me some glare, particularly with vocals. No more. MUCH better.

If anyone is sizing up that next power cord, set of matched tubes, pair of speaker cables, or audio rack, and you haven't addressed room treatment, I'd go for the room treatment first. Minimal investment for such a significant improvement.

It might too bold to say that many of the standard system tweaks or upgrades may be premature (or misguided) without room treatment being addressed...but given the impact I'm hearing I have to believe it's at least partially true.

Your experience matches mine....I am rather a skeptic when it comes to different SS amps, cables, interconnects, power conditioners, power cords, glowing lights, exotic amazon wood veneers, precious metals and "jitter" scaremongering...but on room acoustic treatments and proper room design I am SOLD 100% - (Differences are not earth shaking but ROOM TREATMENTS REALLY DO WORK)
Great advise and I agree completely!

Taking this one step further...Some of us have gotten great results using non-descript, domestically approved, household furnishings. No need to buy expensive treatments if you have some control over domestic furnishings. But the down side, or not, is that you will be de-emphasizing the existence of an 'audiophile in residence'. :-)
Probably, most rooms and setups could be better with proper accoustic treatment. Forums like this spread the know.

How ya gonna do the DIY bass traps?
Hi Newbee, Is is difficult to keep those couches and chairs on the ceiling and walls? I would reccomend a combination of bass traps and diffusion instead. They do look much more audiophile approved and are easier to hang. Plasic or real ficus/fern plants have way too little mass to affect the sound, and as you need to mount these on the ceiling also the plastic dirt falls out of the ficus plastic plants and real ferns are difficult to water on the ceiling. So actually there may be a need to buy/DIY real bass traps/diffusion. Picture this, sound does not recognize a ceiling, wall or floor, it reverberates off all of it equally so all surfaces need treatment. Go to Real Traps for real information.

The bass traps will be:


I'm using 6# mineral wool about 60 inches high + 4" legs under the base platform. They will look somewhat like pieces of furniture with respect to the legs & trim. They will be free standing & off the room corners (behind speakers) about 1-2 inches, 24" face, 17" deep on each side (in a triangle).

I'll probably use some of the leftover wool to make some sort of light flat 'pillow' to hang from the ceiling to address those reflection points. I'm seeking 'professional help' on the house interior...maybe the ceiling panels will match the window treatments...or...not...
Acoustat, You're right of course!

But, then again I found that killing first side reflections with 7ft bookcases filled with stuff worked just fine, as do wall hanging tapestries, or acoustic foam. I've also found that plants in front of glass windows can act as excellent diffusors, just as drapes can act to deaden sound off the wall behind the speakers, even if there are no windows behind it. Hell, you can even hide acoustic foam behind light curtains so you will not communicate your audio affliction to your unappreciative friends. Depends on your actual needs by virtue of room acoustics, set up, and of course speaker design.

FWIW, I'm still trying to figure out how to put bass traps on ceilings or to kill the cathederal effect of high vaulted ceilings, or for that matter flat lower ceilings unless your decorator allows you to install fake support beams on the ceiling to break up the first reflections off the ceiling. I don't think I could get my decorator to allow me to plaster my ceiling with acoustic foam.

Now if I didn't have others to consider and no budget constraints I would use RPG diffusors, acoustic foam deadeners, and, maybe, bass traps if I thought they would solve a problem I was experiencing in the bass frequencies that they affect.

The only thing we disagree on, I think, is you statement that "all surfaces need treatment". There are highly reflective surfaces in a room which are, as a pratical matter, meaningless so long as the frequencies they reflect efficiently are blocked on the surface that recieves the reflections. Simply put, for reflection control of 2d reflection points you would only have to treat alternating walls, not every wall, the floor, and ceiling. Sort of like live end/dead end room set up, sort of. Anyway thats my take on it. I'm just a Newbee, in acoustics anyway. :-)
Acoustat6 is right of course. Fortunately my wife is very accepting of acoustic treatments ;-) RPG Treatment

If you listen to Eric Winer he suggests that virtually all people have bass problems whether they realize it or not. Typically bass traps are best placed in vertical corners or horizontal corners at the ceiling...or the tri-corner at the ceiling. You can 'protect' the mids & highs from being impacted by bass traps by placing a porous, but reflective surface on part or all of the front of the bass trap.

With respect to your last paragraph...I'm not completely sure of what you're trying to say...but my gut says it doesn't 'sound' to speak.

Picked up the mineral wool tonight. Now if the weather will break so I can cut the stuff outside.
Fishboat, I was trying in my last paragraph to address Acoustat6's comment that "all surfaces need treatment". I thought that was an over the top statement.

FWIW, I'll try to explain the basis for my last paragraph. I'm sure you are aware that sound waves from the speakers can reach the listener directly from the speakers and bouncing from the walls on either side of both speakers from both speakers. Without attenuation they will screw up sound quality substantially something we will all agree about. For example the original signal from the right speaker will be direct to the right wall (1st reflection point) and the left wall (2d reflection point). Ditto the left speaker and both side walls. So its no secret that you want to deaden the 1st reflection point, but the 2d reflection point can also be a problem if not treated. In addition to those signals which most folks will treat for, each speaker will be putting out signals which strike other portions of the opposing side walls, bounce off the back wall, back to the side walls and back to the listening position. Untreated the room seems to have become an echo chamber.

Now all you have to do to prevent those signals from bouncing off the side walls is deaden the side walls. If you deaden the side walls you don't need to deaden the wall behind you to eliminate this signal from reaching the back wall and bouncing back to the listening position.

If you treat both walls you will never have any signals bouncing off the side wall reaching the listening position.
Or you can get most of the same effect by simply treating the wall behind the listener position in addition the the 1st and 2d positions on the side walls. (That was the reason for my rejection of the all inclusive statement by Acoustat regarding 'all' surfaces. Perhaps I just took his statement too literally.)

Now all you have to do the reduce wall reflections to an appropriate level is determine what density of materiel you need to kill/reduce those frequencies that are bothersome.

I'm not at all sure that I have effectively communicated my thoughts on this, but if I've still not cleared up for you what I meant in my post to Acoustat6, sit down with some paper and reduce this all to geometry, it might make more sense this way. I realize its not that simple but it illustrates the fundamentals regarding bouncing sound waves.

Hope that helps, if not I had fun trying to focus my fragile mind. :-)
Hi newbee and fishboat, Dont worry my mind is fragile also, too much information running through my brain....

Yes you took me too literally when I said "ALL surfaces" I did not mean every square inch, but the six boundries. Though in a zen sense every surface is "treated" already, with carpet, tile, plaster walls, windows and curtains etc.. Now the question is, are these usual sufraces which we choose to put in a room, are these the surfaces we want for good acoustics? Yes too much carpet is bad just as too much ceramic tile is bad. Too much plaster is bad just as too many windows are bad etc, etc. Now that being said and I am sure agreed upon we can discuss how much and what type of acoustic treatment we want. This is dependant on several factors. The room and its current acoustics, the sound system, its owners sonic goals and "the decorator". Couches, people (even if it is only myself, remember I am one of the dreaded single chair Barn Boyz, actually I do have two chairs but the other is reserved for my dog), rugs, tiles and plastic ficus trees all have an affect on the room, but how much and what can these item do? My favorites candles, incense, a lava lamp, records, motorcycles, books and bongs, all have a sonic impact on the room. My room still benifits from bass traps, absorption and diffusion, and yes I feel this was a turning point in hi-fidelity for me.

Its just a balance with everyday items, bass traps and whatever else floats your boat for diffusion and absorption . Who has a decorator anyway :) ? Barring decorators for the moment, all rooms have bass problems and the better they are addresed the happier you will be. Then its a walk in the park for the high freq, all you have to do is mount your sectional couch on the ceiling and.....:)
Can't disagree with the second explanation. The first go 'round sounded to me like you'd treat the right side wall(reflections..), but not the left..etc. That would be a little to speak.

The partial treatment approach may fail when it comes to ceilings & a carpeted floor as the carpet won't help the first reflections there.

In the end, treatment is all relative to the listening position...whatever makes sense.
Thanks for the link about the superchunks. Somebody mentioned these before and I misunderstood the concept. Looks like a good, practical, broadband design. Might not absorb low enough for room standing waves, which are typically 30-90 Hz and nearly impossible to deal with, but probably some of the harmonics.
Here is some associated data. Looks to be no worse than other options & better than many commercial products.


Yup, those graphs are pretty much what I would expect. Even though that's only two corners of an entire room, you'll hear the difference easily.