Huge! Start with treatment of the first reflection points for each speaker. All rooms will benefit from that. Next try panels between the speakers, about one foot from the tweeter point. Then treat the back wall. Do all in a step by step fashion. While many rooms sizes are fairly standard, what and where things are in the room play an important role in the sound you get. Be prepared to do a lot of listening as you make each change. The room is the ultimate component, needs constant tweaking.
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The benefits from proper room treatment is HUGE a properly designed room is key to get the most out of your equipment.
There are consultants that can guide you in the right direction, one of the finest rooms Ive heard along with being aesthetically pleasing too was designed by Jeff Hedgeback http://www.HdAcoustics.net I don't know the cost of such consultation but for what some folks are willing to drop on for an example a power cord I can't imagine it would be significant in the greater scheme of things.
I have no relation to Jeff other than having supplied the Speakers in the room Im talking about. look it up here on Audiogon its on the virtual systems forum heading under VAC Vitus and Montana or something like that.
Words will fall short on the benefits of room treatments.
Imaging and focus will be the most noticeable improvements. If you use bass traps, the bass will be much more controlled. It's possibly the biggest upgrade you can make.
I'd rather hear good equipment in a well treated room than great equipment in a non treated room.
dodge Im in the same boat. I have to consider looks and function as well as sound. Luckily I have a pretty understanding wife.....so far.:)
I just ordered a swatch pack from ATS ACOUSTICS. They have several options of material to cover panels, traps, or whatever you go with. You can customize them with art or photos for extra $. They seem reasonably priced as well.
I have tile floors and the right side of my living room opens up toward the kitchen. Is the open area a plus or negative??
So it seems the first course of action is to treat the first reflection point?? How big should panels be?
My room (11x13) is furnished with only two chairs for listening and a set of shelves holding cds on one side. There is nothing else to remove/absorb/diffuse reflected sound.
First and most notable difference was a reduction of harshness with the addition of 4 inch thick panels at first reflection point. It cleared up the imaging and brought the soundstage into focus.
There is a 4 inch thick panel directly behind the listening position and I also use Aurelex bass traps in two of the corners which seemed to help tighten up the bass.
With these treatments I can turn the volume up much further than before without overloading the room.