I forgot to mention if it matters that music and movies will both be important.
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I would recommend you to reach out to GIK Acoustics for a free consultation. IME, they are best in the business and reasonably priced compare to their competitors.
Check out some of the systems here that are using their acoustic panels.
I’m under the impression that how much you use and where you place it is far more important than the particular brand of panel. Most places post the absorption specs for their panels so it’s not really a matter of better vs worse just “different”. (And of course the aesthetic angle).
With that being said, I believe Vicoustic’s analysis and room projects are highly regarded. $150 I think for them to consult on a HiFi room. Their panels are NOT cheap though (I did a consult from them and the cost for all recommended panels would have been close to $20k). GIK acoustics will do free consulting/advice, but I don’t think they’re as knowledgeable (at least in my experience). Though They were more willing to work with my budget of “around $1000” rather than Vicoustics more “we think you should spend $20k and make it perfect”
Advice, value, efficacy, selection: GIK.
Their panels are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to say ASC.
They have a number of products which are unusually effective at low frequencies. These are among their priciest offerings, but again, cheaper than ASC and IMHO, sound better. They are tuned more broadly and the result, when used with care, is a more transparent response.
They also now have art panels, allowing you to get get panels to match any decor.
ASC is also excellent IMO. They will make a plan for you at low cost, like GIK. I’ve bought a lot from both and been happy with both. ASC was much earlier with panels that didn't absorb everything, and the ASC approach avoided overdeadening the room in the HF. I think GIK is now on that bandwagon with their Alpha traps, for example.
No bass trapping? In most rooms, that’s a must.
I took advantage of GIK's free room analysis about 6 months ago and have continued to be impressed with the results. I took a few months before I decided on a specific acoustic company to research and educate my self on room acoustics in general. I used all free on line resources, especially via Google and You Tube. I found out there's a wide variety in the quality of advice being offered for free on the internet, ranging from poor quality and virtually worthless to surprisingly high quality and valuable.
But don't worry, you'll quickly and easily be able to determine which sources are knowledgeable, experienced, trustworthy and worth investing time in learning from and which are not, it's fairly obvious within a few minutes of reading or listening. I found this video, interviewing Anthony Grimani, to be especially useful and a good place to begin your edification:
This guy has produced other videos that I found interesting and useful. I suggest you take notes no matter which expert sources you decide to trust and learn from.
@ronboco, I've bought products from GIK and RealTraps. They both make excellent products. They both offer free advice on room treatment. Just be aware that they are in business to sell products, not to educate potential customers on room acoustics and relevant psychoacoustic principles. My advice to you is to spend a few months learning about room acoustics before you buy anything. I didn't do so, and wasted a bit of time and money. I wasn't going to get my room right based on advice from either one of these companies. Better, yes. Right, no.
Understand that 90% of getting a room right is getting the 20Hz-300Hz range right. Once you do that, finishing the room is rather trivial.
I'm convinced that the best, and arguably the most cost effective way to get the 20-100 Hz range right is not by using room treatments but by using multiple subs. Look on the forum for discussions regarding the Audiokinesis Swarm system.
The best, and certainly the most effective way to get the 100- 300 Hz region right is through optimal placement of speakers and main listening position. This is not trivial, but it is free, and you will never treat a room at any cost enough to overcome suboptimal placement of speakers and listening position. You can find guidance on how to do this online. However I found that a not so well known technique, which is to locate the main speakers 20% of the room width from the side walls, 20% of the room length away from the front wall, and finally positioning the listening position 20% of the room depth distance away from the rear wall works best. I found this to be optimal in my room via a laborious process using REW measurement. My experimentally optimized positioning ended up within inches of the predicted optimal positions calculated based on the 20% rule.
After doing these things, you will find adding commercial absorption and diffusion will readily address the remaining issues, e.g., slap echo, comb filtering, first reflection points, balanced direct vs reflected sound, and what ever low frequency ringing may remain.
Read and understand the information on the RealTraps and GIK websites. If you are technically inclined, install and use REW measurement to provide guidance. There is a learning curve, but most people are quite capable of catching on to how to use it profitably. Optimizing a room without measuring is like trying to find a diamond ring that is lost in a dark room. Adding REW measurement is like turning on the lights. It will still take some work to get the room right, but it becomes possible for most of us to pull it off. Good luck!
@brownsfan thanks for the advice. This is definitely going to take longer than I anticipated. I’m not familiar with REW but will take a look. I’ve heard about the swarming technique and will have 2subs to start. Do you think 2 will be enough? I’m using REL 10 inch which are fairly pricy and adding more wasn’t really in my budget.
@roboco, Usually, one can do a good bit with two subs. How much depends upon the room and to an extent on the mains and how low they go. In my room, I tried using two REL subs and couldn't get to where I wanted to be. However, I did not elevate either sub off the floor. Had I known to do so at that time, I almost certainly would have had better results.
AS for REW, there is a learning curve, but there is a users group forum and one can usually depend upon excellent guidance on set up and use. I was advised to utilize REW many years before I decided to do so. What a mistake. REW used properly makes everything 10 times easier.
I totally improvise with homemade available materials and some unorthodox materials for my own acoustic active and passive devices and the results are stupendous at peanuts costs....
The only problem is that you must learn how to trust your own ears, an exercise nowadays absolutely not recommended by the so called experts because they said that our ears are " biased" in a way a computer is not....For sure they are and fortunately nobody own the same ears...
But think about it: room passive treatment and active controls connect inseparably 3 elements : the speakers, the unique geometry and content of your room, and the unique structure of your ears...
You must trust your ears, having fun, and TRY creatively simple materials solution.... I succeed.... Why not you?
A powerful and non technical musical test for your audio system :
Take a copy of Bruckner 9 th symphony, by Celibidache in my case, And listen to it attentively...You can try his great mass by the same maestro....
Do you perceive the intricate dynamical geometry between smoothness and intensity, punctuated by silence ?....Do you sense easily the difference between, the brass family, the wood instruments family and the strings family, the solists and choir voices family, their slow interpenetrating dances and complex successive motives transformations.... Do you SEE it? (a perfect listening is always a seeing)
If yes, it is because your system allow accurate timbre reproduction and 3-d imaging that help to perceive the dynamical interplays between musical motives in a 3 dimensions space out of the speakers....
If yes, your audio system is then able to give you an audiophile experience indeed....
If not, dont panic and especially DONT upgrade anything tomorrow...
Read my posts about the 3 embeddings dimensions and controls....
Any relatively good system must give to you what i describe while listening Bruckner....
By the way dont said to me that you dont like Bruckner.... Say instead i never perceived this beautiful dynamical geometry and i dont have a clue about what you speak about.... I will say to you that probably you had never perceived these beautiful motives because your system is badly embedded and dont help you at all.... You probably dont need any upgrade, just some minute attentive listening concentration time in setting your embeddings controls for the months to come and trust me it is fun....And rewarding....
And you are lucky because without clues it takes me few years to figure it out....I has given to you some creative ideas in my thread about the embeddings then it will takes you months and not years..... Be creative and enjoy without throwing money in illusions....
My best to all....
the room is our 2 story family room open on two sides. Not ideal. My speakers are Kanta 3 with the Kanta center channel and Kanta 1 for surrounds. What is the advantage to elevating the subs more than the feet on them already do ?Below about 300 Hz, aberrations from flat frequency response at the listening position are determined largely by the dimensions of the room. These long wave frequencies will in some cases be reinforced, and in other cases partially canceled, by reflections off of the walls, floor, and ceiling, at a given listening position. Reinforcement of certain frequencies happens when a reflection off of a surface meets the primary signal or another reflection in phase with that signal. If a reflected signal meets a primary signal out of phase, there will be a partial cancelation of that signal. Frequencies where these reinforcements and partial cancelations occur are called room modes. Some room modes are determined by room length, others by room width, and others by room heights. Still others occur (generally at less problematic levels) when in phase or out of phase signals result from reflections off of surfaces in two or three dimensions. Adding subwoofers in positions other than the position of your mains changes the location of the primary signal and also the reflected signals. By careful placement of the subs, you can significantly mitigate these reinforcements and partial cancellations. Most of us have ceilings around 7-10 ft high. Our low ceilings will result in significant deviations from flat frequency response below 100 Hz. Using a sub to mitigate those deviations requires locating the sub at a different position than the main--different in all three dimensions of the room. This is why some speaker designers who use multiple woofers mount those woofers at different heights in the speaker cabinets.
If you have an irregularly shaped room, one that deviates from a symmetrical rectangle, it becomes increasingly difficult to predict room response based on the available models. It also becomes more difficult to predict optimal speaker and listening position replacement. Measurement with a sophisticated tool like REW greatly simplifies the process. You still want to use your ears as the final arbiter in making placement decisions, but trying to do all this by ear alone is just an overwhelming task. Hope this makes sense.
A big plus to asc. They work with you , provide you with tools to understand the acoustics of your room. To help minimize the room as part of the equation and help the speakers and system sound the best. Give Jordan or tim a call and they will make sure your room sounds the best , and you can hear your system and not the room
I highly recommend reading “Premium Home Theater” by Earl Geddes that I believe is now only available through download. By far the most approachable and helpful thing I’ve read on creating a good-sounding room. I’d go so far as to say delay making any room treatment purchases until you’ve read what Earl has to say. Best of luck.
From my own experience, I started out with GIK. Some of their recommendations were spot on, like bass traps in each corner but I opted for the limiter versions (doesn't absorb anything over 500 hz) which I don't regret at all. However their recommendation for strictly absorbing panels on first reflection points did not work for me. Overall IMO they oversell absorbing over diffusing for a listening room. After adding many diffusers I finally found the perfect balance to my ears between a dead room and a live one. Trial and error will be inevitable no matter who recommends what for you. Check out my system to get a better idea of what worked for me. I ended up with 72 sq ft of absorbing panels and 84 sq ft of diffuser plus the floor to ceiling bass traps in all 4 corners. Have fun figuring it out. The journey is totally worth it.
"I highly recommend reading “Premium Home Theater” by Earl Geddes that I believe is now only available through download. By far the most approachable and helpful thing I’ve read on creating a good-sounding room. I’d go so far as to say delay making any room treatment purchases until you’ve read what Earl has to say. Best of luck. "
Here's the link, the whole book can be download for free. Some of the video system information is outdated but virtually everything else is STILL well ahead of the curve:
I will also add an encouragement to read and absorb the excellent book by Earl Geddes. I had already spent a good bit of time and effort attempting to self educate on room acoustics and psychoacoustic principles before finding the Geddes work. As I recall, the book resulted in several "Aha" moments. It is good enough that I have reread much of it several times.
For those of us who are not in the business and have no formal training in room acoustics, we are trying to achieve enough understanding of the relevant principles to successfully reduce those principles to practice in a single application--our own listening room. Most of us have jobs and families and have limited free time. It can be hard to justify spending that precious free time self educating on acoustics rather than listening to music. There is a reason why I remained clueless on room acoustics until I retired and had an abundance of free time. There is also a reason why people like Jim Smith can make a living out of helping folks set up their rooms optimally. There is a reason why a lot of serious audiophiles will just turn the decision making process over to GIK or RealTraps.
The maxim, "knowledge is power" applies here. In my case, I can tell you that the efforts I have put into understanding small room acoustics has made me a better listener. It has transformed that frustrating "something is not quite right here, and I don't know exactly what it is wrong much less how to rectify it, so I will spend $5000 on a new preamp and hope that fixes it" feeling to "this deviates from a live performance with respect to XYZ, and I should change ABC to rectify that change." Five years ago I had a room full of really good equipment that sounded like crapola. Now that same equipment sounds as good or very nearly as good as set ups I've heard that cost as much as 4x the cost of my system.
5 years ago almarg offered the following comment on my systems page.
Speaking of the back wall, though, meaning the wall behind the listening position, a point which might eventually prove to be significant is that reflections from that wall will tend to produce a dip in frequency response at frequencies (in Hertz) in the vicinity of about 281.5 divided by the number of feet between that wall and the listener's ears. So if that distance is around 3 feet, as appears to be the case, reflections from that wall will cause a suckout, to some degree, in the vicinity of 94 Hz or so.
In two paragraphs, Al completely changed the trajectory of my audiophile experience by applying his knowledge to my particular application. His guidance wasn't opinion or personal preference, it was science based fact. Happy listening!
You’re getting some excellent advice from some very knowledgeable experienced audio guys and I agree with most of it. But I’m concerned that you might be getting a bit overwhelmed in the process, kind of like taking the advanced level courses before you’ve taken the basic level prerequisite classes.
Looking retrospectively on my 45+ year audio hobby journey, I know that reading and education were equally as important as listening, selectively purchasing component parts, experiencing and experimenting while building progressively better a/v systems over the years step by step. There’s a lot to learn in this hobby and I think we progress only at a pace that our natures are comfortable with. My main concern is that being fed well intentioned audio advice at a fire hose intensity level may not be the most constructive way to assist you.
I think your own statement, that " I definitely need some more knowledge before taking out my wallet, may be the best approach to take at least for a while. But I realize you’re probably also anxious to get started and make some immediate system improvements while you’re gaining knowledge and developing an overall plan.
I think this is possible and a good idea. For example, after you read the referenced Geddes material you could then begin your system improvement attempts by applying his proposed solution to what he considers one of the most difficult aspects of attaining good quality home audio, which is getting the bass sounding right in the room, through the utilization of multiple subs.
I agree with brownsfan that learning and utilizing REW would be very beneficial in general and that the $3K Audio Kinesis Swarm 4-sub complete kit distributed bass array system is a very effective and simple complete package solution for attaining high quality bass throughout your entire room, no matter its quirky dimensions.
However, I believe you’ll get very similarly good results utilizing the ’sub crawl’ method (google it) and you’ll begin to gain the benefits of multiple subs, even with just 2 properly positioned and configured subs, although the good bass performance will be restricted to a single designated listening seat and not equally good throughout the entire room.
I use an AK Swarm type 4-sub system in my room, here’s a link to an Absolute Sound review that contains a very accurate description of what to expect. Unfortunately, 2 subs are not capable of providing this level of bass performance.
Best wishes and keep learning,
When I first installed the AK Debra 4-sub distributed bass array(DBA) system in my 23’x16’ living/listening/home theater room, the only acoustic room treatments in my room were wall to wall carpeting and some padded leather furniture. The AK Debra is almost identical to the Swarm except the subs are slightly narrower and not as square. I also used no room correction software or hardware. The Debra system, however, still performed amazingly well.
In fact it worked so well that later, when I was working with GIK to finally add some room treatments to optimize my room acoustically (that was long overdue), I was very concerned that any changes to my room might negatively effect my system’s newly achieved near state of the art bass performance. I didn’t want to jinx anything.
But after adding GIK’s recommended stacked bass traps in all 4 corners of my room along with over twenty additional 2’x4’ absorption and diffusion acoustic panels strategically distributed on all 4 walls, the bass still subjectively sounded exceptionally good to me, I did notice a dramatic improvement in midrange, treble and stereo imaging performance in my room with the addition of the room treatments but not any discernible negative effects to the bass performance.
I did no before and after room frequency response measurements of my room. But I suspect, if I had, they would show significant improvements in bass response after the addition of the swarm DBA, which was maintained after the addition of the extensive GIK room treatments along with significant improvements in midrange and treble performance post room treatments.
So, what have I learned from all this and what does it mean for your room? My current thoughts are the following:
1. Just because I subjectively noticed no significant positive or negative effects to bass performance of the swarm with the addition of the numerous bass traps in my room, and since I performed no objective before and after room frequency response measurements, I can’t definitively state there were no improvements in bass frequency response performance in my room.
2. I have learned that improving measured bass frequency response in a room can have positive effects on measured midrange frequency response, which is subjectively perceived as increased midrange clarity and detail.
I definitely perceived increased midrange, treble and stereo imaging performance after the installation of the room treatments. But again, I can’t be certain whether these improvements were primarily the result of the bass traps or the numerous midrange/treble absorption and diffusion panels in the room. I suspect the improvements are the result of a combination of both.
So for your room, I don’t think you’ll need bass traps initially but, once you’re ready to install room treatments for midrange and treble performance, it’s probably safer and best to also include bass traps. Or you could treat it as a learning experiment by installing the bass traps last and determining whether you subjectively perceive any changes to midrange, treble and stereo imaging performance after installing them.
3. I believe before and after objective room frequency response measurements are very important for clearly, accurately and objectively understanding how well your system is performing and the effectiveness of any added room treatments.
I regret not doing them and suggest you may as well.
Hello Tim ,
I am now thoroughly excited about the swarm system. I’m going to beg borrow and steal for some more money. I am wondering though if our room is just not good enough to achieve the sound quality I’m hoping for. 18 ft. High ceilings with windows on the right side and stairs and upstairs walkway on the other. There are really only two corners for bass traps and only 4 inches between the wall and windows so I could not stack all the way to the ceiling. It would be a top, middle , bottom trap set up of about 2 ft sections. We are running curtains from the top window to the floor on both sides. The fireplace is in the middle so any wall treatments would have to start about 6 ft up. In regards to the 2’x4’ panels from GIK did you use strictly absorption and diffusion? It seems they have some that have a combination of each characteristic. Do you think panels will be needed all the way to the top or will about half way up be sufficient. I’m assuming the ceilings will also need some panels. One of the videos I watched recommended absorption and diffusion on the ceiling.
The worse the room, the greater the advantages of the Swarm. Do that first, then wait and see. Odds are you won't need any bass traps.
As for panels, find a local hardware store that will sell you a couple sheets of Owens Corning 703 insulating panels. They're what GIK and everyone else wraps inside their fancy acoustic panels. In raw form the panels are ugly yellow but very light weight and dirt cheap making them a perfect way to experiment and determine what (if anything) you need, and where.
Diffusion panels are a little more involved. But remember, everything in the room is either reflecting (diffusing) or absorbing. You could hang framed art on the wall, tilt it down slightly, you got a diffuser.
Does the swarm system work equally as well for home theater and music listening? I am 90% HT use and powerful, room shaking, chest pounding bass is what I’m looking for. I currently have a single Seaton Submersive with dual opposed 15” drivers. I have no room treatments, but use EQ via Dirac Live. I am very intrigued with the thought of trying this system.
Ronboco, I don't think your room is hopeless at all, but it is a different sort of puzzle than most of us have. Your room is so atypical that most of us will be hard put to offer any certain guidance about how to proceed with traditional room treatments in the absence of measurement. I would view your high ceilings as an asset with respect to room modes. Having two large openings in addition to having the high ceilings may make it a challenge to properly pressurize the room. But your room dimensions should give a relatively low Schroeder Frequency, which is that frequency below which room modes predominate, This is very good. It could mean that you will require much less bass trapping than most of us, or said in a different way, you may receive relatively modest benefit from an investment in bass traps and other treatments. REW will help you discern what your room is really doing. In addition to REW, if you are able to connect your computer to your audio system, you can play pure test tones (do a google search) while walking around the room with an SPL meter and find the locations where bass frequencies are being reinforced by in phase reflections and partially cancelled by out of phase reflections. You will be able to discern which of your room surfaces are responsible for particular room modes by noticing if the SPL levels vary while raising or lowering the meter, moving it side to side, and to an extent by moving the meter forward and backwards in the room (mindful the SPL will drop or increase as the meter moves further away from or closer to the meter). This technique could be used along with the crawl technique mentioned earlier to optimize placement of your subs.
I am about 99.9% sure that you would benefit far more by putting 3K into a distributed bass array than putting 3K into bass traps. If I were you, I would move in that direction. But if I were you I'd ask Duke LeJeune the question directly.
Since you already have two REL subs, you should be able to offset some of the cost of a DBA like the Swarm by selling them. If I were to offer advice in the absence of measurement data, that would be my advice.
With your high ceilings, you are not going to be dealing with issues like floor to ceiling slap echo and the room openings will also partially mitigate the side wall to side wall slap echo type problems. You may find yourself in an enviable position where you don't need much traditional room treatment. Time will tell.
Most of us don't want a bunch of bass traps etc in our living rooms if we can help it.
brownsfan, thanks for the input on my room. It sounds like I should implement REW before I consider any room treatments. Were you suggesting I sell the RELs as a cost effective move or would they not work as well as a dedicated swarm set up would. I was looking forward to how they would sound in our room. If the RELs would work as well and I like how they sound I may just try to save for two more.
My professional background was in chemical process research and development. I learned that it was utterly futile to begin experimental work until I had a reliable analytical technique that would inform me of the result of the experiment. With respect to audio, we all use our ears, and our ears should always remain the final arbiter. The problem with listening is that we all suffer from fatigue, at which point we are not listening critically. We also tend to focus on a single variable rather than making a broad based assessment when trying to optimize by ear. On the other hand, I can work on my room for hours at a time using REW to assess the impact of a given change on overall frequency response, ringing, the balance of direct to reflected sound, early reflection mitigation, etc. I can go back a month later and look at the data and draw the same conclusions, or even discern something I missed the first time. So yes, measure first, attempt to fix a given problem optimizing existing gear second, and spend money third. However, be aware that there is a waiting period once you place an order for a Swarm, so if you are sure you are going to go that way, the sooner you order the better.
To be clear, I would make sure I had the two RELs you have optimally placed before I do anything. If that gets you where you want to be, it costs you nothing. Problem solved at no cost.
Most of the time and in most rooms, it takes 4 subs to get the low frequencies where you would like. I suspect you will find that your room is not be an exception to that general rule. I think you would have a more cost effective and possibly better solution going with the Audiokinesis Swarm or the similar Debra than buying two more REL subs. Those things ain't cheap. If you get an AK Swarm, you won't need the existing RELs, so you might as well sell them and use the proceeds on offsetting the cost of the Swarm.
The Swarm system will go to a lower frequency than almost all of the REL subs will. I have nothing against REL subs, and use one in my living room system. But the distributed array approach is just so much better fundamentally that it is the way to go if you are looking to achieve the best results.
Again, before I spent any money, I'd send Duke my room dimensions and see what he thinks. He's seen the Swarm installed in a lot of different rooms, I'm sure. I have zero actual experience with a room like yours.
Brownsfan. Is the REW system the same as Dirac, Audyssey etc.? The Marantz 8805 I’m getting comes with the latest version of Audyssey so would it be just as effective as REW? Does Duke have a company or would I just google him? Trying to sneak chatting and searching in while my CNC is running. Thanks
Room EQ Wizard is free software. I’m not sure how much it has been extended, but originally it was free _measurement_ software, not EQ changes.
And no, it’s not the same. Regardless of the system, Dirac, Audessey, JL Audio, etc. all make different choices about what the final solution should be. I like some a lot more than I like others.
There is no absolute standard about what automatic room correction should do to any given system. While there are publicly available algorithms that can measure and feed a DSP, the judgment about the final result is i nthe hands and ears of the programmers.
Having said all of this, what they do, generally, really well, is set the crossover points, and levels between subs and the rest of the system.
My large listening room, roughly 21x14, with a peak 12' cathedral ceiling, has a full wall of windows on one side, a floor to ceiling brick fireplace wall in the back, and a flimsy wallboard wall opposite the windows (due to pocket doors). Wood floors, rough cedar ceiling. Floor to ceiling bookshelf on back wall. I knew my acoustics were severely limiting the quality of sound produced by my very expensive system but I wanted immediate gratification improvements. Fortunately my listening room is off limits for aesthetic comment. I intended to do a short term experiment on the cheap, and I did. $200 in one inch acoustic foam squares from Walmart covered both side walls, floor to ceiling. I hot glued them to windows, stapled them to wallboard so very easily undone. Black egg crate 2" thick mattress pads cover critical parts of the brick wall. They are easily shifted for maximum effect by drilling tiny holes in the brick grout and using finishing nails to hang. Minimal throw rugs, again easily shifted, help final tuning. I'll even move them depending on the recording quality of what I've got on. That was a year ago. Maybe some day I'll go for something more high brow, but this low buck solution had astounding results. For bass I have twin raised REL G1 subs to pressurize and dig deeper than my YG Sonjas will go. Thanks to friend Dick Diamond from YG, who happened to be in town. He used his amazing ears to help me set the RELs for the most pleasing crossover points and volume - big benefit of the REL remote controls! I could never have done that without sound measuring equipment. With the money saved, I invested more in component suspension which is a bit harder to do on the super cheap but is super critical with my gear and suspended wood floor. No better advice than to experiment and trust your ears!
Ronboco, no need for embarrassment! We are all learners trying to help each other enjoy the music. Eric's comments above with respect to REW are correct. REW can be used to develop equalization files, but I are not advocating that use. I'm advocating its use as a sophisticated measurement tool that allows you to understand what your speakers are doing in your room. It allows you to make highly informed choices about the tradeoffs that result from positioning decisions, absorption and diffusion decisions, and other system changes including placement of subwoofers, phasing of those subwoofers, etc.
I have nothing against digital room correction. I use a Lyngdorf 2170 in my living room, where I don't want a bunch of subs and I don't want to install conventional absorption and diffusion panels. I do not, and probably will not, use DRC in my dedicated listening room.
If you plan on using a receiver that offers DRC, then there is no harm in trying it and seeing what it does. The key word there is "see." Seeing requires measuring. Measuring requires REW. As I said, every decision you make involves tradeoffs.
I just want to clarify a few things that will hopefully help your understanding. The distributed bass array (DBA) is a concept discovered virtually simultaneously through empirical scientific experiments performed by Dr. Earl Geddes and Dr. Floyd Toole. Their basic results can be summarized as: the more subs utilized in a given room, the better the bass response performance becomes. They found there were significant performance gains up to 4 subs and only marginal performance gains beyond 4 subs.
The empirical scientific methodology utilized is important because it means their experiments can be independently and reliably duplicated by others, while obtaining highly similar results, following the exact same methodology. This is the process that establishes scientific truths or facts.
Geddes told his protege, Duke LeJeune, about his discovery and generously gave Duke his permission to use the concept if he wanted to. Duke said "thank you very much E.G.", proceeded to create a complete kit product based (bassed?) on this concept and named it The Audio Kinesis Swarm.
In turn, Duke has also been generous with this DBA concept. He readily admits that it performs equally well, along with it being scalable and likely performing even better, if a custom 4-sub DBA is created by using larger and/or higher quality passive or self-amplified subs. However, a custom 4-sub DBA will not only be more expensive, it will be more difficult to set up since the volume, crossover frequency and phase controls need to be optimally adjusted on each sub rather than just once for all 4 subs on the Swarm's amp/control unit.
I have a lot of experience and knowledge with using 1-4 subs but mainly in my 23'x16' room with an 8' ceiling. It may be best for you to first experiment with optimally positioning your 2 existing subs in your room, using either the REW or the sub crawl method, and evaluating the results. If reasonably satisfied, you always have the option to add a 3rd and/or fourth sub. You also have the option of buying a $200 Mini DSP unit which makes connecting and adjusting up to 4 subs easier.
Your choice should also be guided by whether you want very good bass performance throughout your entire room or just at a single designated listening seat. At least 3 subs are required for good bass throughout the entire room.
To answer some of your other questions, I wouldn't concern yourself with bass traps and other room treatments until you get the bass sounding right in your room. I'm also confident that 2-4 subs, properly positioned and configured, will integrate well with any pair of main speakers.
Hey Tim ,
First let me thank you and everyone else again for all of your time you have spent helping me learn about this amazing hobby I’m loving more every day. I am going to play with what I have coming for a bit and go from there. I hope to be able to move to a swarm system sooner than later. I am confused about getting the bass sounding right without any room treatments. There is a fair amount of reverberation in the room. Does sub crawl and REW work regardless of the reverb and any other room issues?
I strongly suggest you treat your room first. It alters everything, and in a good way. What choices and effort you put into your system without it may be moot, or wrong after.
So, any subwoofer solution will only alter frequencies below about 80 Hz.
The average wall panel / diffusor however works in the mid to treble.
You want to limit early reflections, eliminate coherent reflections (i.e. echoes) and you want the decay of the sound in the room to be smooth and quick across all the audio bands.
In addition to lack of clarity, the extra time it takes for a signal to decay in a room alters the tonal balance, much like a tone control. It's quite common in a modest living room for treatments to reduce the mid-treble energy, which also means the bass comes up.
A common report is "Wow my speakers sound so much bigger"
This may not be all you need, bass traps, EQ, or swarming, but I strongly encourage you to take the mid-treble room treatment seriously, and begin there.
I agree with everything erik_squires advised in his most recent post on this thread with the exception of totally treating your room first. He is a very knowledgeable audio enthusiast, however, he importantly lacks any personal experience with the use of the 4-sub swarm DBA concept.
He is absolutely correct in recommending room treatments for improved midrange, treble and stereo imaging performance but does not realize that bass room treatments are not necessary for optimum 4-sub DBA performance. The advice I offered to you on my last post, which was based on my personal 4-sub DBA knowledge and experience, was given with the understanding that bass room treatments may be beneficial in improving your system and room's midrange, treble and stereo imaging performance but that they're definitely not required to improve your system and room's bass performance.
My advice plan for your room is to get the bass sounding right first and then to optimize the midrange, treble and stereo imaging performance at your designated listening seat, which will definitely benefit from the deployment of strategically positioned room treatment panels for the absorption and diffusion of midrange and treble frequency sound waves and may even benefit from the deployment of strategically positioned room treatment panels and traps for the absorption of bass frequency sound waves.
My main reasoning is that all room treatments should be determined and deployed as a final step, after your subs, seating and main speakers have been optimally positioned in your room. I believe delaying all room treatments to this latter stage enables any professional room analysis to be more accurate and it'll allow you to more easily determine the effectiveness of any room treatments deployed.
I realize now that I should've included these details in my last post but, at that time, I thought this topic could be explained and discussed a bit later on.