Room acoustics/treatments help?? Photos included


I recently moved into an apartment, and the stereo is sounding pretty awful in the new room. Bass is pretty messy (though I can largely fix that with my Velo. DD15), but what I'm really concerned about is the bright and glaring upper midrange. My hi-fi sounds like a car stereo! If I turn it up at all, it just wrecks on the ears.

Please take a look at the attached photos. The lady is pretty easy going, but to keep her happy (and likewise, myself) we've gotta do the long-wall placement.

The long wall is about 15 feet long, and the short wall is about 12.5. As you can see the ceilings are quite high. The right-hand wall is open into the kitchen area, and 2nd level loft (see photos):

Sorry about the messiness, we are still unpacking!

For equipment, I'm running Dynaudio S1.4s, with a Supratek preamp, and a Plinius SA102 amp. Various sources. I also have a pair of Von Schweikert VR1s that I can swap in if the Dyns simply won't work with the room.

So acoustics gurus - Can this room be made into a *great* sounding audio room?

What type of acoustic treatments would you recommend? (or any other ideas that could help with the sound)

As of now, I'm planning on putting some carpet strips on the front, back, and side walls to absorb some reflections (up to 8ft or so). Do you think I need to address the wall/ceiling above around 8ft or so?

I'm also thinking of making some basic tube traps (the really easy 'roll of fiberglass' ones) to put in the corners where the side wall is. Thinking about some heavy drapes on the windows as well. This all has got to be DIY since it's a somewhat temporary (1 or 2 yr) apartment.

One other idea I have is to put a big shower-curtain rod where the right-wall would be, and hanging some drapes, that I could close while listening to music, to perhaps act as a side wall. Is this a good idea, or just pretty dumb?

Any ideas or advice is appreciated!

Hi there your best bet to start with is to switch the room around. It won't cost anything but your time and a little patience. If you put your gear against that back wall, and use the basic rule of third's to place your speakers, that is, speakers 1/3 the way into the room. Each speaker 1/3 in from the width of the room. This will give you a great starting point. Minute increments at a time, you should be able to somewhat "tune" the speakers to your temporary room.
Room treatments work, but is nowhere near the importance of proper speaker placement.
Shout back at me.
Boy have you got some big problems. If you wanted good acoustics you probably shouldn't have gotten a different place. First the open floor plan is disatrous. I have worked with that before and it makes it difficult at best to keep the sound contained or to adjust your equip. Second the height of the room makes then takes your sound in another direction. Finally those windows are killing you. First I would get pretty heavy draps for the windows. Consider something for the upper part of the open area. I don't know what to do about the ceiling other than sound reflecting acoustical apps. If you want to go that far research how to do it. I would also suggest pulling the carpet and consider put cork on the floor followed by heavy fiber pad and then put the carpet back down. You can get cork over the web from several providers at a good price. I got it in sheets and cut it.
Good luck Ken
I have a few thoughts. First off, the high ceiling and lack of symmetry should work to your benefit. You have no slap echo issues other than front to back wall. This can be solved with acoustic absorbing material on the back wall (Behind the couch) This will also help strengthen and define the bass.

I would strongly consider looking into a pair of speakers designed to be set up on the long wall. Dunlavy and Audio Physics are two I know will do a great job. Both are designed to be laid out with the listener against the back wall. You will be amazed at how these speakers work!

I see there is a Dunlavy !! pair (comes with sub-woofer) for less than $1000. I have never heard the II's, but owned the III/s and was very happy.

As you commented, you might also try some rug/tapestry on the front wall. Corner tunes (home made or bought and maybe some treatment of the windows. I'm not sure how much damage the windows are doing in that you are set up a ways away from the surface. I treated my side reflection with a home made diffuser (rolled up rug with insulation inside)that I have placed between the reflection point and my ear. This was simply amazing how much it defined the image!

I think you'll be fine in the end, your room is very similar to mine and I am very happy.

good luck,

Thanks for the posts guys!

Ksales - Yes, I have big problems! I will def. get some heavy drapes for the windows. Do you think draping the bottom window and the door on the front wall will be enough, or should I drape the top window as well?

"Consider something for the upper part of the open area."

What exactly do you mean here? Do you think my "shower curtain" idea will do the trick here? I could hang some really heavy material, and pull it closed for listening.

"I don't know what to do about the ceiling other than sound reflecting acoustical apps."

It's going to be tough to do things with the ceiling because I don't have a good way to get up there without hiring a contractor, and I'm trying to keep this cheap because I don't know how long I'll be living here. Any ideas?

"I would also suggest pulling the carpet and consider put cork on the floor followed by heavy fiber pad and then put the carpet back down."

I doubt I can do anything here either, as I can't really make modifications to the apt without getting charged a decent amount of $$$.

Msunco19 - Yes, I agree speaker placement is of utmost importance. I'm familliar with the Audio Physics methodology, and I've spent a good deal of time trying various placements, including the 1/3 placement. Though getting closer to an ideal placement is greatly beneficial here, the overlying awful untreated room acoustics make every placement I've tried non-usable in this state.
Jadem6 - thanks a lot for the thoughts!

I am very interested in your "there are other speakers designed for long wall placement" comment.

I know through experience that although I love the dynaudio sound when they are in the right room/setup, they do not like being placed near a wall, and they are not friendly with room reflections.

Can you perhaps explain what about Dunlavy's and AP speakers make them more suited to a rear-wall placement?

You seem to be approaching this in a slapdash way. By that I mean a little bit of this and a little bit of that and hoping that it somehow works. Acoustics is simple applied physics. It's easily measured and quite predictable. The solutions can be cheap to very expensive with the domestic considerations becoming a major factor. There are any number of inexpensive tools and software that can help measure and quantify what is going on in your room. You need to do this before you start applying solutions. Research the archives, there's tons of info.

HInt, be willing to move your speakers out the way when not in serious listening mode.

Good luck.
Onhwy61 - I recently purchased a calibrated microphone, mic preamp, usb soundcard, and ETF software (now RplusD) to take detailed measurements. There is a somewhat high learning curve to the software, but I think I've gotten it pretty much figured out. The measurements tell a lot, but they don't show the whole picture, so I'm trying to get some "general room acoustics" advice, in addition to taking into consideration the results of my testing with ETF.

Also - I've tried the speakers in 6" increments all the way from 1" out to 6" feet out, and while the positioning does help a lot with the irregular bass response, speaker positioning alone does not help make the room less bright/glaring in the upper midrange.
I’m not sure what makes these speakers work better on a long wall than the short. It’s just how they were designed. I own the Dunlavy IVa, and owned the III’s prior to that. They work on the short wall, but not as well as the long wall. Dunlavy as well as Audio Physics are designed to be put as far apart as possible with a large amount of toe-in. they still require thought on placement from the wall (distance into the room) and work best at 1/3 distance into the room like other speakers. They also work at 1/5 or 1/7 points (distance is measured from tweeter back through speaker to wall) the distance to the side wall needs to be at least 1/3 more or less than the back wall dimension. In your case with one side open I would make the other side 1/3 greater than the measurement to the front wall.

So given your room (15’x12.5’) the speaker if set-up 1/5 into the room would be 2.5’ into the room (tweeter to wall) and the left speaker will be 3.4’ from the side wall (min.) It is recommended to have the speakers 8’ apart (this can be less, but your ear must be no closer than 8’ to the tweeter to keep the time coherence correct) but something less can work. The couch on the back wall with an absorbent material on the back wall should work fine; in fact this is how I have seen two showrooms (one for Dunlavy and one for Audio Physics) laid out. I should mention Dunlavy is no longer made, but they are excellent speakers still.

The biggest down side of the speakers being placed this close to the front wall is a loss of soundstage depth. You can increase the apparent soundstage depth by using a highly absorbent material on the front wall. The TV is an issue, so you may need to keep the speakers at the 1/3 point like you have them now. TV’s and two channel are tough, this may remain an issue???

One major downside of this type of speaker placement is the size of the sweet-spot. This layout tends to favor a single listener for perfect imaging, but this is not to say you both will not enjoy.

If you want to discuss this further, send me an email and I can send you my phone number…

Try some TacT?
I don't think a shower curtain will help. Some of the suggestions here for downlaading acoustic literature or other material is good advise. There are inexpensive treatments for the walls and ceiling that might help. On the cork suggestion, it is really quite cheap and no one will notice when your done. Google cork suppliers and you will find bulk sheeting for a very good price. It can be stapled to the floor like a pad then you put a good fiber pad over that and then your carpet. The only thing that will be noticed is that it will make the floor seem far tighter.
Hi Goatwuss,

Your room looks very nice! It will be a real challange to get the acoustics right without damaging the spaciousness.

The high ceiling is very cool, but may quite be the cause of the poor sound. To keep costs down and if you don't mind some DIY, I could send you some pictures as how to build you some RoomTunes (like the ones from Michael Green Audio).
Temporary situation:;topic=36600.0;attach=30525;image;topic=36600.0;attach=30527;image

They're quite simple to build; a leightweight wooden frame with R13 isolation material in it, covered with cloth.
If you choose the right cloth (Let your lady choose!!!) you might be able to get that hard sound under control,
without destroying the looks of your home.

Please let me know what you think of this idea.

Best regards,