The whole idea behind a Rives room is to avoid the ugly stuff.
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You will want to do the Level 1 service. I recently did that with Rives, and I am currently assembling everything from the plans.
You can't go wrong with a Rives consultation, it's the best money you can spend for your stereo. The speaker/room interaction dictates the majority of what you hear, and fixing the problems here should be the #1 priority.
I contacted Rives about 6 months ago. I was planning a major remodel to my house, and would be adding a dedicated listening room. I contacted Rives and told them about my project and asked to discuss how I can incorporate their services into the design process.
They told me that to initiate a discussion, I would have to fill out their questionnaire and fax it back to them. I downloaded the questionnaire and took a look. It asked questions like the existing room dimensions, existing furnitures inside the room, my current system. I called back and talked to a lady and told her the following:
1/ There's no existing room. I am starting from the ground up to build the ideal room from scratch;
2/ I don't want the room to be designed to my current system. The room should not be "system dependent" as I would be upgrading components from time to time.
3/ All I would be faxing back would be 12 pages of mostly blank paper.
She insisted that I fax the blank sheets back before they would talk to me. So I decided to look else where for some assistance in this project.
Mes said, "Two sides to every nickel. My experience with Rives when and after they did my room is one of the worst experiences I've had in audio. But I'm happy for you guys that had a good outcome."
What did you not like? Was it the sound? Did you prefer the sound of the room prior to room treatment? Did you remove what they did? Was it too dead? Too ugly?
Well, this was an ongoing issue for about 3 years, so it is too much to go into here- I just can't type that much. Fundamentally, from the day the room was built I had and continue to have huge bass issues. And not only with the original speakers the room was designed around, but about 10 trial speakers since, since I'm basically hostage to the room. Total disenchantment with customer service ( did I mention total?) ie fixing the problem, other than the offer of a Parc or Talon speakers to try and remedy the issue. Um, I built a room so as not to have to use room correction. I ended up at one point with over a dozen real traps that finally tamed the bump and told Rives I thought they should reimburse me for them since the design was obviously crap. After destroying an already finished wall to put in a utterly useless Helmholtz at additional cost. Of course I was told the Real Trap cost ( which are a great product BTW) was mine and they wouldn't reimburse me, but would give me a good deal on Talon speakers. My feelings were, if you design a room and it isn't right, you should fix it. The Rives design plan expense isn't as problematic to me as the room construction expense. I spent a lot of $$ on the room materials and construction. And to tear it down to redo things, whcih has been suggested to me by more than one acoustician, is mind boggling to me. So in a nutshell, I built a room based on Rives design, it is virtually unlistenable in many respects, and there is nothing they would do about it. Bad room, their design, nothing they can do. Oh wait , there is- sell me a Parc.
To give a bit of an update... When I posted above, I was still in the middle of the project and was just excited about addressing my new room's acoustics...
When I finished putting the pieces together on my Rives level 1 design, I was left with a 20db peak at 35hz, and a big suckout in between 50-80hz. I sent photos, and RTA plots to Rives audio, and expected some help to address the problems.
Instead of helping me fix the problem, they said either I can pay them more money for a Level 2, or I am on my own.
I thought the whole idea was that their software identifies the room's acoustic problems, and their designs are supposed to fix them... it seems at leas for me this is not the case, and now, I have to agree with Mes. They (he) didn't even attempt to help me figure out how to solve the problem.
And oh, by the way. Rives, you may have wanted to mention that the way that I can get even a somewhat flat (+/- 6db) bass response is to use a pair of monitors crossed over around 80hz, and to place a sub behind the listening chair. It took a bit of time and work to figure that one out.
I've since had my local dealer come in, and we moved/added some treatments, and improved things quite a bit.
Took Rives Level 1 ( only available consultation for Malaysia). Great communication.Easy to deal with. Just be accurate in your descriptions and tell richard whether you prefer diy or ready made room treatment. Its a no brainer instead of constantly upgrading when room is such an important component.
I had a Rives designed level 3 room, which I ultimately ripped out and replaced with one designed by Matts Odemalm, of SMT, in Sweden. I also witnessed the same transformation of another local room (Rives Level 3 room to SMT). My experience was quite similar to those of Mes and Goatwuss noted above. I too spent a tremendous amount of time/money on a Rives design, yielding what I would classify as "unlistenable" results.
My advice - Select your room designer very carefully. Discuss issues such as broadband diffusion vs. absorption of mids/highs. Discuss actual volume, design, and placement of necessary bass traps and procedure for in-room tuning of traps. Ask who will be present to oversee the installation and tuning of acoustical treatment products. If possible, see and hear a room treated by the designer you are considering.
The products and design capabilities of SMT are now available directly in the US through Performance Acoustics Labs. Contact Mike Latvis of Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) to inquire.
We had a Level 4 done from the ground up and we have nothing but praise for Richard and Chris. We even got a second opinion from Bob Hodas who came out and set the speakers up and measured both rooms. The build was over $300k. Having a designer/acoustician is paramount in getting it right from the start. If you don't have that, then everything else is just a band-aid.
I'd like to echo Rlapporte, Tom and Mike from PAL /HRS just finished my dedicated 2 channel listening room and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. The peaks and suckouts that were present prior to redoing the room were completely controlled and the room know has a presence and life that it has never heard. Do your homework, check out different rooms because there are different schools of thought. If you do your work upfront, you will save yourself a lot of aggravation. Good Luck!!
At this stage of the game, anyone who knows what their doing, what all the options are for your room/system, knows acoustics front to back, understands your associated gear and life-style - and how all that plays in with the setup and room acoustics - will be far ahead of where you are, knowledge-wise! Basically, hiring someone is going to "get you there" much more likely than simply doing it yourself, with limited knowledge and experience with all this stuff.
On that note, at the very least, Rives will be able to work with you on your room acoustics, setup, and likely knows what would be best with your gear, room, and life-style (which, BTW, includes listening habits, types of music, social life-style, number of seating options, etc)
I've talked to Richard on many occasions in the past, and he knows what he is doing, at the very least on setting up 2 channel systems, yes.
If it were me, my experience however suggests you need to have someone come out and go through the complete system, do extensive tinkering, listening, and experimenting with all your variables, and dialing it all in! Simply having someone draw you some diagrams/blue-prints, and then possibly coming over for a couple of hours and taking a measurement, and having "a listen", isn't enough! When I spend time setting up rooms, I start from scratch (considering pre-existing room structure) with the speakers and listening seat(s), get everything engineered for best fundamentals, THEN I do the acoustics around that foundation, then the fine-tunning of the system!
Can't really remember the last 2 channel system I did that didn't take me less than 12 hours to simply place some basic treatments, move speakers and listening position(s) around, dial all that in, and go through the system for noise, EQ, phase, whatever. You can litterally spend days going over every single issue from fundamental response from the listening position, loud speaker toe-in, aim, image height and perspective, sound staging and balance of soundstage width, for imaging - image tightness, presence, proper tonality - room reverb, dealing with all the acoustical issues (slap echo, first and second order reflections, base modes - dips, peaks - etc), sound/noise considerations, dealing with system hums, and on and on!
Bottom line, is theres a lot of considerations for dialing in your race car for the track your driving on, given all the variables that even a basic 2 channel system consists of.
I guess what I'm saying is that I think the most effective Rives proposition is going to be the more full scale system package, where they come out and do some actual hands on tweaking - on top of actual acoustic design, recommendations and consulting.
Um, so yeah, Rives would be better than most you're likely aware of out there. They do professional work...recommended
Just remember, you are going by "their" philosophy if you choose them. Perhaps if you could get them to tailor to your tastes, then that would be fine. They aren't the be/all end/all, that's for sure. I've had friends say beautiful rooms, yes, good sounding, no....seems like a scary proposition if you ask me....
"They aren't the be/all end/all, that's for sure. I've had friends say beautiful rooms, yes, good sounding, no....seems like a scary proposition if you ask me...."
On this one, I'd say consider the relevance and reputation of the source. Everyone's gunna have their own opionions, biases, agenda's, personal experiences, "he said, she said" view points, etc. I'd take any critical opinions with zero foundation with which to back any critiques with a grain of salt personally. I mean unless you know who's experience your dealing with, you should do more research, go listen to someone's system that was done by that professional, make your own decisions, at the very very least.
Just because someone one person may or may not have had a good fundamental listening environment, associated equipment, noisy "un-issolated" listening environment, differing expectations of "what is and what should be", or has "a friend" who says they think someone else is likely better, er whatever, does not tell you a whole store, by any stretch. So, again, consider. I'd get the best help you can afford, and you'll still likely get better than you would on your own, by a lot.
Otherwise spend decades trying to learn all of this stuff yourself, and do it for a living.
Heck, for the record, I've had guys call me on the phone and tell me why they think I couldn't set up their audio system properly, and/or dial in their video display correctly, because they didn't feel I had the right equipment, or know which model of TV they had! And they didn't even know me or had never even seen/heard my work!!...total non-sense and bias, really.
People are simply amazing. They read a review or hear someone at a trade-show talkilng, and they think they know what they're talking about! It's like some poor person giving you advice on what you should do with your money - lol.
FWIW - I am not sure that Rives or any acoustician will always get accolades - except perhaps from professionals who want the uncolored "truth" out of their recordings. Frankly there is no "standard" in home systems and people's concept of how things should sound varies wildly (many based on expectations from listening to colored impressive sounds for decades). This means it is a daunting task to please even the majority of people. What I mean is that precise and properlty calibrated acoustics are not actually desirable to some listeners who will be disappointed with midrange clarity and the all too obviously missing boom boom tizz.
Proper acoustics may be like fine wines....over time, a professional wine taster has learnt to recognize and appreciate an exquisitely balanced wine... something just right where you can taste each of the various flavors, smells and after taste - all perfectly proportioned: a wine that is in no specifc way impressive other than for its overall perfect balance and the way it completes food.
Good analogy shadorne. Alot of popular wine these days is like an "impressive" over the top room/system which seem at first glance to be so inviting and easily accessible but which hold little long term satisfaction for those seeking all the nooks and crannies. These take a long time to appreciate and many will not ever " get it" which is O.K. To each his own. I enjoy Shiraz occasionally without food but I'm fascinated by Burgundy. - jim