Hardwood floors vs Carpet

I am about to pull my carpet flooring to install wood flooring in my home. I had a non-audiophile over who stated that the acoustics will change with the addition of wood vs carpet. It dawned on me that he was likely correct. Anyone know what changes in sound could be forthcoming with wood flooring? I have recently got my system to sound like ive alwasy wanted and hope this home improvement doesnt serve to be a audio downgrade.
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Replacing your carpeting with wood flooring will substantially change the acoustics in your listening area. Wood, being a hard substance, will reflect sound, rather than absorbing it like carpet. This may have several results: 1) Room echoes and standing waves may become more problematic, as the room has become "livlier"; and 2) the room acoustics will seem a lot brighter.

If you proceed with installation of hardwood flooring, you may find that you will have buy some area rugs to reduce acoustic "bounce", or perhaps install some room treatment materials to restore the audio balance you now enjoy. Unfortunately, you won't know what other corrective actions may be required until you have completed your flooring project.

You may want to solicit information from other Audiogoner's about how to sound treat a room with lots of reflective surfaces.
The best listening rooms have a "live" sound characteristic. It will require added work, but it's no big deal to achieve excellent sound in a hardwood floor room. Just as important as its acoustic properties, hardwood floors transmit vibration differently. A floating wood floor is an excellent technique to minimize external vibes from entering your system.

One last point that shouldn't be overlooked. A wood floor with fine quality rug looks good. I firmly believe that the visual feedback of a nicely appointed room positively effects sound performance.
Thanks folks,

for a moment I was thinking of pulling out the receipt to make a return and keep the rugs.
I had my entire room's ceiling sprayed 1" thick with bleached-white cellulose insulation fiber. This is the same gray stuff found on warehouse ceilings, etc. It improved the echos & reflections considerably & was not very expensive, although it was quite a messy install. The cellulose worked well enough that I didn't have to completely hide the beautiful hardwood floor under full carpeting; a large wool deco. rug centered in the room does nicely. Also hung some artwork and various hook rugs on the walls all around, plus the curtains & stuffed furniture all adds up to some pretty decent room treatment and looks quite natural compared to the various treatment contraptions
guys. guys! listen to yourselves...
uncarpeted wood floors sound very bright and alive but ultimately fatiguing to me. oriental carpets are an integral part of my system. but be careful; enjoying fine carpets is a hobby unto itself. and get good carpet pads, i prefer the fibrous horsehair over rubber.
Most orchestras play on hardwood floors......
Moved to new house. Hardwoods and 20 foot ceiling in listening room. My system sounds so bright and congested now I want to move back.
With parallel hard wood floor and ceiling - added to parallel hard walls, flutter echo is very likely, which will tend to add a "shoutiness" to voices and just plain sound bright overall. You can fix it with rugs, but there are other ways to attack the problem.

One of my systems is in a room with a tiled floor and I use a thick Persian rug covering most of the area between me and the speakers. In this room it is still not really possible to sit more than about 12 feet from the system without the room's reverberent sound dominating. Some speakers sound horrible in the room regardless of how you set them up.

In the end I realised that speakers like Thiels, with wide dispersion were a "no-no" in this room. On the flip-side, speakers that beamed - like Martin-Logans, all other panel speakers and even some British monitor speakers like Spendor - had utterly no problems in the room at all. So, rather than spending megabucks on Persian rugs, you can spend megabucks on some speakers (more fun) that do not have wide dispersion.
Hi Red,
I agree re dispersion issues and SIDEWALL reflections, but won't most forward-firing transducers have floor-bounce problems regardless of lateral tweeter "flare", etc?
To the thread-head: I would be VERY surprised if you don't hear a MAJOR spectral and temporal (smearing) change after you remove the rugs.
Adding a large area rug WITH a thick horsehair pad will undoubtedly help to recapture the response you enjoyed before.
Good Luck! Ern
Hi Ernie. My Martin Logans beam (as all panels do) in a way that there is no floor bounce of upper frequencies until you are a very long way from the speakers. It is definitely not just a lateral issue. For ML speaker the panel starts a foot or so above floor level and vertical dispersion is not much more than the vertical height of the panel for some distance. The difference in flutter echo in my "problem room" between a panel speaker and a speaker with a dome tweeter is very significant. Even so a rug is required, but with a panel speaker it needs to only be (in my room anyway) about 6ft by 8ft.
I agree with Subaruguru ... when we shifted from carpet to hardwoods, I was not happy with the increased brightness, and I thought the imaging suffered also. But, I don't have it set up exactly as before, so I thought maybe some of it was my imagination. Also, I found it more fatiguing after a while and my listening durations decreased. There is no way to fit permanent area rugs into the decor at the right locations. I keep foam panels under the sofas and pull out for "critical listening" sessions and place at floor reflection points - that seems to help. I'm sure I could do better with some more effort, or different speakers or electronics. Think we're moving soon and, although I love the look and easy maintenance of the hardwoods, my listening room WILL be carpeted again.
Hardwood is great for live music. SUCKS for audio reproductions though! Replace that carpet with some new carpet in your listening room. I can say from experience that hardwood is floors are going to cost your system, if you care about sound quality. You'll spend a fortune on room treatments and oriental rugs trying to patch the problems the hardwood creates.
If hardwood is good for live music why should it NOT be good for electronically reproduced music if the transduction is accurate? On the other hand I think carpeting Carnegie Hall could be the solution to the current discrepancy between live and reproduced music as long as afficionados of the latter never actually listen to the former.
Khrys: How do you figure out the first reflection points from a 101 piece orchestra?
Khrys -

Reverberant floors and walls help carry the sound from a tiny instrument all the way to the back of the hall. This is good so you can hear the music from far away.

Some reflection in your listening room is good, but too much is bad because you loose the accuracy of the recording. You are sitting right up close next to the speakers and you want to hear the music accurately from the speakers, not the walls.
About a year ago I went from a fairly "dead" room to a large, asymetrical and extremely live room (stone tile floor throughout). The room was so live that echos were literally everywhere.

After my initial panic I found that it was relatively easy to treat the room through the use of a large rug, paintings, etc. All in all I thnk I'd rather start with a room that is too live and tone it down rather than start with a room that is on the "dead" side. I think it is more difficult to bring the latter back to life.

Having the speakers five feet from the side and front walls minimize side reflections. Also, since my esl's are line sources, the only major issue was direct reflections. Easy to deal with via a large rug. YMMV with other speakers.
All you guys and your "first reflection" nonsense. Care to guess what happens to the second reflection if you eliminate the first?
Khrys - If you think treating "first reflection" points is nonsense perhaps you should explain. There are alot of recording studios that could save money if they didn't have to use room treatments. I am seriously interested in hearing more details about your position - especially given the cogent explanations of acoustic theory in the Master Handbook of Acoustics. Just a guess, but I bet builders of orchestra halls take into account the acoustic characteristics of their designs. And while the orchestra does play on hardwood floors, the floor on which the audience sits is in fact carpeted - at least the one in which I have listened to the symphony orchestra once a month for the past two years is.
Khrys and I hashed this out in a thread you can search for called "Best Carpet Padding". I *thought* he had conceded. Guess not!
Imagine a Stradivarius playing in the center of your speakers. Would it sound more like a Strad with or without carpet? Obviously it would sound like a Strad with or without carpet in your room. Whether or not you liked it one way or the other is a matter of taste. Imagine your speakers are perfect transducers of Stradivarius violins. The room treatment similarly becomes optional and preferential. ERGO, the more imperfect your system's transduction the LESS preference and option you have in your room treatment. The obvious corollary is that the more room treatment you see, the less perfect the system's transduction is to the ear of the beholder. Maybe you wouldn't like the sound of a Stradivarius in your room in the first place.
My new apartment has a decent carpeted floor and that has made a real difference. You should see it, DeKay! Just soo much pleasurable...Wait till I get corner bass traps and set up my RPG level ones to control the infamous PRIMARY REFLECTION.

Simply awesome.
I had to "throw" down a throw rug ( that why they calls em "throw" rugs ya know ) in between my listening seat and the speakers to calm it down a bit. It kind of defeats the idea of installing a nice hardwood floor but it works. I also added some foam treatments to the first reflection points on the ceiling and side walls. All is well now. Dale
Didn't read the above posts, however a hardwood floor will cause reflections from your speakers, if you like it or not. This will change your imaging and the definition of instruments. Try it. If you like it, fine... if not, you'll have to use the dampening effect of a rug at the critical spots.
Dekay, you are clearly and most enviably one who has been able to keep the second reflection second, even after eliminating the first.
Yep, Khrys, I'm good in math too!
You step out of one problem into another, as far as I'm concerned by going to wood floors. I have 3 houses and by far the best one is a 170 year old one with 8-12" wide plank wood floors--plus plaster and horsehair walls and not this drywall garbage. House #2 is a 25 year old brick colonial w/ 2" pine floors and drywall. There is no comparison between the two and I have things like problems w/ turntable tracking at 110 db., plus the inherent sound problems. I sure don't have that w/ the old house where the subfloor and structure is about 600% better. The wood you get today for floors is considerably worse quality and the scale of what is called excellent today was called good 20 years ago. Unless you are going to send away huge $ and get wood from brazil or something.
But I tend to think going to wood flooring is going to solve a problem and create 2 brand new ones you don't have right now.
Oops, Khrys, please ignore the above remarks. I got things muddled up.
Khrys: I currently have zero traditional room treatment (just a listening room full of literally thousands of objects which include books and other collections). The walls are pretty much covered with paintings on canvas (the right wall is partialy patio doors which are now covered with a clear plastic shower curtain, with giant fruit on it:-), which does help some and the rest of this wall, is again, paintings. My wife want's to put up a metallic sheer to replace the shower curtain and I will see how that goes. The sub floor is plaster, covered with bad pad and horrible carpet, covered with nice cotton rugs (no wool rugs with 5 cats). The ceiling is yucky cottage cheese, which probably does sound better than a smooth plaster ceiling would. I generally listen from a sofa that is placed on a side wall (5 degrees off axis) and what I do for further oddball reflections is to merely place a leather pillow from the sofa against the side wall (a foot or so behind my head and between myself and the speakers). I also throw a wool blanket over the edge of a dining table made completely from iron plate and girders (to cut down on reflections). This room is so odd that it defies description as it is a lopsided "U". I have tried to shoot digital photos, to post to the web, but without a wide angle lens, they just do not depict the room in an understandable manner. In the past when I have had more traditional rooms, I would treat the side walls and the floor as many have described above (always with good results). I have never treated a ceiling for first order reflections, though the ceilings in my old rooms were all very high (old Spanish architecture in the LA area). I do not mean to imply that your setup does not sound good, as our listening rooms themselves (I assume) can be so diversified as to defy logic. If I were to run one of the computerized treatment systems on our room the computer would probably either blow up or the calculations would take years. I have also tried some of the standard setup formulas for speaker placement, though I could not leave the speakers in those positions on a permanent basis, and the sound sucked. If your setup does not improve by softening and defracting the first order reflections, then there must be other factors at work in your listening room. I consider everything that is placed into a room, to be a form of sound treatment as well as the placement of such objects.