has anyone heard the arp reflective boards?


i've been in hifi for years, lastly coming on board with room acoustics; maybe it should have been one of the first things i worked on. as my system has evolved (yes, many many times)it's finally come to a point where the sound of the room has become very apparent to me. for years we were taught egg crates, foam, carpet pads, carpet, rugs, which now, as i've turned all my focus on the room, i just don't believe in anymore. i attend much live music, much, and one thing i noticed in the best of halls is not a lot of damping, rather, wonderful wood. great old shiny wood, and old plaster. not overdamped rooms. concert halls are not designed like recording studios. why should people try to do "that" to their rooms? i basically have a room, 14by15,with wide openings to the right and rear, that is like a concert hall. wood floors, lots of wood in the room, high ceiling. so i started to emulate a hall in st louis, the sheldon, close to perfect sound. i pulled the area rug out, installed solid wood shutters over the 3 windows, and began to listen. my system consists of the new welltempered amadeus due out soon, a dynavector drt xv-1s, dynavector L300 preamp, EAR 890 amp, and shahinian arc speakers, wire the new dnm. typically you hear shahinians need damping, especially behind them. not so, i say. they now radiate, they breathe. no harshness, no slap. the final touch to the room has been in choosing the right reflective surfaces. i bought some arp -acoustic reflective panels, from a bright chap in st louis who has been basing his panels on the charles altmann reflective panels, now out of production. altmann's theory was to use a wood that behaved like a musical instrument, spruce. and then to top it off, he used a varnish that imitated the old masters. Bill beilstein has outdone himself in recreating the panels from scratch, using natural glue and a special varnish made of larch. they're sold in groups of 3. after putting them roughly behind each speaker and the center, it only convinces me more that a good reflective surface is key. i can take them off and on and hear an immediate change. my next project is to buy more and put them on the ceiling over the speakers. i see there are lots of other panels out there made of various substances. i think these all spruce panels are the way to go. if anyone has had any experience with such products please let me know. i've since bought some of the larch and have been redoing every wood surface in the room to amazing results. covering the plaster walls with the arp panels has been the initial key that started it all. let me know.
chashas1
"......i attend much live music, much, and one thing i noticed in the best of halls is not a lot of damping, rather, wonderful wood. great old shiny wood, and old plaster. not overdamped rooms. concert halls are not designed like recording studios. why should people try to do "that" to their rooms?"

Let me suggest two reasons:
1. You want the sound of the hall as part of the sound of the performance. You do NOT want the sound of the listening room added to that and acoustical treatments are useful to minimize its contribution.

2. The dimensions of your room are a fraction of those of a concert hall. The result is that the room modes in a concert hall are mostly subsonic while those of your room impose themselves on the audible/musical range. Thus, one uses traps and other devices (even EQ) to remove such modes and their influence on the sound.

Kal
"altmann's theory was to use a wood that behaved like a musical instrument, spruce. and then to top it off, he used a varnish that imitated the old masters."

BTW, I went to Altmann's site and it is apparent that he has no awareness of the differences between creating a sound and accurately reproducing that sound.

Kal
Kal has already stated this, but to somewhat rephrase:
1. Sound production and reproduction are two very different animals, be that in a concert hall or a recording studio.
2. When comparing large room acoustics such as a concert hall and small room acoustics the reverberation times that are acceptable and do not detract from the coherence of the music are VERY different. A concert hall, cathdral, or other large space will have RT times of well over a second. Small room acoustics we are basically at 0.4 seconds or less depending on the room size and applications. Longer RT times in a small room means many reflections and a very incoherent sound.
thanks for the nice response. my room has what appears to be almost perfect symmetry between amp/speaker/room, other speakers even in the shahinian line didn't work as well. the wood panels only intensified what was already sounding great. i have a friend with similiar gear in a cavernous room that might need some of the type of treatment you describe. all fellow listeners have said it just doesn't work in mine. just like your treated rooms work for some people, others not. they are always very beautiful, however.
Chashas1, every room is different, and your's may respond to some unusual treatment, but, your post seemed to suggest that the typical methods don't work as well in general as your rather unique method. I'd suggest that for the vast majority, your approach would be an anthema to accurate sound reproduction.
thanks, that's something worth pondering. maybe i do have a unique situation.....it's just every time i think back to rooms i've heard that are so overdamped, or maybe it's wrongly damped, all i can think of is dry, sterile sound. it's like they want to take the room out of the equation, which i don't think you can, course there's always headphones...one other interesting outcome of this, i found there is a huge difference in what you treat your wood with, starting with standard poly, natural varnish, and then ending with larch colophony. amazing stuff. available from sinopia.com
I have yet to see/hear an untreated domestic listening room that would not benefit from proper treatment but the panels you propose cannot resolve any of those issues. Perhaps you just like the certain sound of your own room to which you have become adapted and these accentuate what you like about it.

As for the varnish differences, I fail to see any valid reason or evidence for their effectiveness in this application. Now, if you were building violins..........................
Chashas1 et al,

Bonehead English 101

Paragraphs, the pause that refreshes.
well, kr4, you are probably right. i love my room's sound. i have 3 other rooms downstairs and this sounds the best, so i'm starting with better than average already. i've had many people bring their guitars and whigout on how good the room is.
as to the varnish, i am trying to understand how a room can effect sound; i have a lot of wood regardless of the added panels, and anyone that's been over can tell the difference in the varnishes.
it's not that i like the sound of my room, per se, it's that i like the sound of live music. this treatment has made my stereo make the music coming out of it more lifelike.
thanks, donald, i always need corrected, probably in my room treatment and hifi as well.
no one seems to undestand what i'm striving for, one exception being a kind audiogoner listed on the virtual systems who is relishing his mbls in his wooded larched room.
end of topic.
The MBLs are a different animal altogether. They are voiced in a way and use 360 degree radiating pattern that necesitates an almost untreated room. When we do acoustical designs for MBL it's entirely different than for other speakers.

It would be interesting for you to have the room measured. Find out what the frequency response and reverberation times across the frequency response (or 200 to 10k) are. Measure your other rooms that don't sound as good too. You may discover that while the RT is very high in this one room it is far more uniform than the others and thus more pleasing. I've heard and measured rooms that were treated, but the problem was they were treated in a particular bandwidth giving them a very unbalanced RT across the frequency spectrum--the result while the Sabiens for the room were "appropriate", the room sounded horrible due to this imbalance.
I know from experience that there are two groups of audiophiles. One group is trying to have the concert hall perspective captured in a most neutral/objective way. The other group is trying to get as close as possible to the musical experience. The difference is in the experience, the "kharma" or "soul" or "drama" of music. Which approach is best is a matter of personal taste. Most of most is trying to get as close as possible to the live situation but at the same time also to capture the soul of music. Some of us have a very outspoken feeling that when you get the timbre/tone color of sound right but also it's fine dynamic shadings, you'll get the highest sense of this "kharma". You will be immersed into the music and you'll be no longer asking yourself: is this the way the concert hall* sounds? I think Altmann belongs to this latter group. He's also referring to the sound of wood and several organic substrates (bone) because they have the natural tone: "the mother of tone". It is almost a religion!

* or church, or studio, whatever the recording venue.

Chris
I have also one thing I would like to ask: have you ever had the experience when you are visiting a buddy with an audio system that is playing at that moment that you like the sound of it immediately even when you are just entering the doorway to the listening room? I think this is a good sign. What is your opinion with regard to this situation? --> this might be a question for Rives Audio. Is it purely based on acoustics? On the other hand you can have the opposite situation: the sound is wrong from the moment you enter the doorway. Well in this case the sound won't get any better (maybe slightly better), even if you are sitting in the most ideal listening position. I'm calling this: the "doorway test", which is the ultimate test in audio :) . Unfortunately my audio sounds not all that good when entering the doorway.

Chris
"You will be immersed into the music and you'll be no longer asking yourself: is this the way the concert hall* sounds? I think Altmann belongs to this latter group. He's also referring to the sound of wood and several organic substrates (bone) because they have the natural tone: "the mother of tone". It is almost a religion!"

It is a religion. His "mother of tone" nonsense particularly. Now, if you had recordings made in an anechoic chamber, then the addition of room acoustics 'might' make some sense.

OTOH, as you say, it is simply a question of what you are seeking.

Kal
i would say that from your input my room is unique. i would love to measure my room sometime;maybe someday.

i like your idea of the outer door test. i listen often in the kitchen, and if it doesn't sound great in there, it won't be good in the hifi room. there are times when you hear someone's system and it initially sounds good, then you sit for a while and begin to drift off, knowing it's not for you. conversely, even in a bad system room that's not entirely annoying you sometimes find yourself becoming quite engaged if the performers and their music making are worth while.

it does seem that room acoustics, especially in the home, are still very much up for grabs. i had a friend who visited the newer showrooms at acoustic sounds and was appalled by the lifeless sound; maybe it boils down to personal tastes...