Room Acoustics

I’m moving into and new place and going to have a dedicated listening room for the first time. No more living room listening for this guy! Though my room is going to be a little acoustically challenged and I was hoping to get some advice on the best ways to midigate the problem. The room is 13’ x 12.5’ x 6.5’, I know, super low ceiling :( Floors are concrete and I was planning and throwing an area rug down. Other then putting up some acoustical paneling does anyone have suggestions or clever ideas that would help? Thanks!

my system:
Rega RP6 turntable
Ayre P5-xe Phono preamp
Ayre Ax-7xe integrated amp
Vandersteen 2ce speakers
I listen exclusively to vinyl and have pretty wide music tastes. A lot of 60s and 70s rock and modern indie rock, as well as a little electronic and a little jazz. 
Another vote for GIK.  I'm a customer.  Call and they will connect you with a consultant.  You can discuss the room's problems and your budget.  Once you are working with an individual, email a schematic of your listening space to serve as a basis for final recommendations.
Another + for GIK products. 6.5' ceiling? Ouch. My ceiling is 9' and with the room now well treated; I do detect the bounce from the ceiling. Not terribly annoying, but there. I Do plan to treat it with some diffusers from Vicoustic obtained through Music Direct.

Yeah, I’m a bit salty about the 6.5’ ceiling, definitely not ideal. But I’m determined to make what I got work! Thanks for GIK references, they look great. 
I'm guilty of not reading your initial post carefully, zedak, and missed the low ceiling.  I have a 7 foot ceiling.  You can of course discuss treatment options for it with GIK or whoever.  During construction, we had Roxul installed between floor joists before the ceiling was finished.  Originally, this was done to provide some sound protection for the room above (great room w/TV and wife).  Surprisingly, I think the Roxul might have contributed beneficially to acoustics in the listening space too.  Whether due to Roxul or for other reasons, I'm not encountering any noticeable "ceiling bounce" though I'll add my floor standers while elevated are not especially tall and the room is otherwise well damped.

Good luck with the project.  Hope you end up with a very enjoyable listening room.
Those ceilings being so low could definitely use some absorption . If your on a budget and you cannot afford the GIK which i believe to be fairly priced (No audiophile price inflation) you could build your own if you are diy type. First contact GIK though .
can you put the Rega in another room or closet?

GIK is very helpful and makes good products, but reading the Master Handbook (cited here several times) will help you understand a lot better.

DIY plans can be had for the cost of a Google search...

Buy a USB measurement mic for $90 and get a free copy of REL and use that too.
I like GIK too. 
We usually use a certified tradesman who specializes in the practical application of acoustic solutions (decoupling, sound proofing, modified HVAC if needed to retain environmental comfort, etc) in addition to GIK products/services. We have found the results are often very practical, decor and comfort is retained, and the end result is very acoustically pleasing. 
Buy a load of acoustic foam panels from eBay and some spray mount glue. Use a mirror to determine where First and second reflection points are on your side walls and glue the panels. It’s better to spray the wall and apply the foam rather than the other way around. This will make a a much improved sound stage and is not difficult to get right.
Buy a load of acoustic foam panels from eBay and some spray mount glue. Use a mirror to determine where First and second reflection points are on your side walls and glue the panels. It’s better to spray the wall and apply the foam rather than the other way around. This will make a a much improved sound stage and is not difficult to get right.
Actually, foam does not make for good acoustic panels.  It has some absorption in the upper frequencies, but anything down in the midbass is not treated well.  Better to order some Owens 703 panels from ATS Acoustics if you want to DIY.  The 2 foot x 4 foot panels can be wrapped in cloth (spray glue on the back side) and then just stacked against the walls where you want to treat reflections.  Since you have a concrete floor that is not going to be fully covered, the 703 will help control the clap echo.
Perhaps not all foam is the same but if the foam is similar to or is SONEX look out! And please if you’re a big fan of SONEX don’t flood my email box but SONEX is one of the worst products ever foisted on naive gullible audiophiles who have mostly likely seen all those photos of the walls of recording studios covered with SONEX. Even in small amounts SONEX obviously kills the sound, making it phasey and wooly and totally abhorrent. Ditto the foam in those cool looking IKEA chairs. Absolutely atrocious.

The room is small so the biggest problem will be room modes. Foam and the like will do nothing to tame them (only large bass traps for which you probably do not have the space will). The first thing you should do is measure the room with e.g. REW. Next, try to move the speakers around for the flattest frequency response. Finally, you will need to equalize the low frequency response (by e.g. downloading the REW eq curve into a miniDSP). Sadly, in such a relatively small room the room modes will be at quite high frequencies. Therefore, room eq will only work for a relatively small listening spot.
My personal preference for good sound in small rooms is not to have too much bass in the first place, by just using little monitors like the Harbeth P3ESR. If there is no deep bass there will be no room modes (and their upper harmonics). If you really want deeper bass in a small room, add two or preferably even four small subwoofers to a set of small monitors like the little Harbeths, and equalize them with e.g. a DSpeaker Antimode 8033. See here for some reading matter:

Excellent willemj! The DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core comes with a measuring mic, and has a screen that displays the frequency response of the room, room modes often creating huge peaks and nulls in that response, in both the frequency and time domains. The Anti-Mode then creates a corrective signal to counteract the peaks, but nulls are often uncorrectable---you must move the speakers to deal with them.

There are room mode calculators on the web, into which you insert your room's dimensions. The calculator will show you the physical locations of the room's modes/standing waves, and their frequencies. Bass traps can be placed in those mode locations, and you want to avoid putting your speakers at those locations---they energize the modes.

Higher-frequency reflections are a completely different matter, and can be dealt with via diffusion and/or absorption, as suggested above.

Actually, his room only has two areas of problem nodes in the bass area:

Two lower nodes at 43Hz and 45Hz, which are going to be very hard to deal with unless you use a tuned membrane (like a GIK Scopus T40 -- or have them custom make a T44)

Two upper bass nodes at 86Hz and 89Hz. The GIK Monster bass traps or even the GIK 244 bass traps are going to be very effective at treating these, as long as you stick them in the corners.

The first reflection points can be dealt with from DIY Owens 703 panels or the GIK Acoustics Spot Panels.

Acoustic foam is terrible. I've had it, and I've had GIK, and there is no comparison. Spend any amount of time looking at absorption specs and you'll see.

Also, panels aren't all you need. Diffraction and bass traps are often needed. This should be done before any sort of DSP/EQ is applied. I twill make EQ much much easier and effective.


The multi sub distributed bass with the DSPeaker works like a charm in my room for the bass . I use acoustic absorption for the high frequency reflections .   
I am surprised there is so little discussion of room acoustics here, compared to cables or electronics that have far less impact on the final sound (if any).
Anyway, here is a link to a nice old BBC manual on the subject:

I appreciate the link you provided and will print it out tonight. Having been in the “trades” for 40+ yrs ; what I did read was of interest and should be to anyone that is building out a basement, attic or adding an addition with the purpose of a dedicated room.

 For the last year, my focus has been on treating my dedicated room and setup of speakers and then equipment outside of the room.

Two considerations that I found to be relevant and not considered by many.  Noise from outside and inside. And HVAC.

Living in Chicago is a noisy place. Even living a Special Landmark location. Daily noise is still there. On a quiet early Sunday morning; the extra quietness is noticeable.

As winter is coming and I can turn down the HVAC. My Pass amps run CL A and take out the little chill that can intrude.

Noise is insidious.

Best to All
Indeed. When we had our house designed we made sure to reduce background noise. It is in a quiet area, but the Netherlands are so populated that there is always some outside noise. The construction of the house is largely brick and concrete. We specified special sound damping double glazing and muffled ventilation openings (and none on the road side of the house). Heating is per hot water system (we do not need airconditioning) and mostly as floor heating. We also specified quiet water pipes. We went out of our way to find quiet kitchen machines, installed water pipe dampers and recently replaced most of the machines by even quieter ones from the latest generation of low energy consumption models. All this does make a difference. A somewhat noisy living room has perhaps 40 dBA background noise. The quietest you can get is about 30 dBA. That difference in potential dynamic range is almost the same as the difference between 16/44 and 24/96. More realistically, if your maximum spl is about 90 dB, it is the difference between 50 dBA dynamic range and 60 dBA. Since both are well below the dynamic range of a symphony orchestra, trying to get the noise down as much as possible trumps just about any upgrade.
Just curious if you designed the house to be up on isolators. If not I'll bet you're kicking yourself now, right? 


Good point about dynamic range. For the same reason a speaker that plays cleanly at 120 dB has just given you 30dB dynamic range over most speakers!

There is not much you can do to get the ambient noise floor much below 40 dB but a speaker with high dynamic range is within reach. They are found as main monitors in studios all over the world.
Some thoughts on what I would try:

Check out ATS Acoustics web site for DIY products. This just as an alternative to GIK (not suggesting better than). 

Find yourself a pair of standmounts that roll-off below 50Hz.

Place speakers on short stands and angle upwards.

Place absorption panels behind speakers, at 1st reflection points on sidewalls, and behind listening position. Panels need not be larger than 2 x 4 feet.

Bass traps in corners. Start with front.

Use wall-to-wall carpet with pad.

Place equipment rack beside listening position, place nothing between speakers.

willemj: "The problem is that the truth is denied by slick salesmen and their gullible victims."


+1 Absolutely. When a user reports a problem with their sound and an audible change happening with a change of wire. Instead of the dealer or salesman saying "Hang on, your high end gear is supposed to work properly and reliably with a variety of wires and it should not make a difference." The dealer or salesman turns it into an opportunity "obviously your equipment is so resolving you need to try these $1000 wires" or alternatively if the salesman sold the equipment originally for an astronomical price, "oh this is normal, you need to listen for at least 600 hours to break in"

In some ways this industry is like the way some celebrities are addicted to plastic surgery - constant tweaks until it all ends up in a horrorshow mess and a totally alien lifeless face.

I hate to judge before all the facts are in but it certainly appears somebody’s following the wrong sheep. The weird and dark imagery notwithstanding.

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