Room Demensions, am I in trouble?

Hello people,

I'm moving into my first house and we have a room for a theater!!! The only part that looks like it could be a problem is the room demensions. The room is 12'W X14'L X8'H.

I will also be using this room for music(very important to me!!!). I have Thiel 2.3's for mains with a Thiel center and I have Energy Veritas 2.2's for rears. I also have a Sunfire True Sub. the TV is a Sony 43" RPTV (18" deep). The room has hardwood floors and two windows (Not casting day light on the TV screen.)

I want the room to fit 4 viewers (5 max). Its gonna get tight in there! I would like feedback from others who have been through this same situation. Please give me your advice, and recommendations. I'm not interested in feedback on my equipment, because I'm not buying any new stuff right now (Can you say mortgage payments in Northern California!!!)

Rives has some good free advice online relating specifically to rooms and dimensions. There are also other online resources. Check out Rives site here...there is a "room simulator" link on this page:

No association. They are also a contributor to this forum.
You are actually facing a couple of issues (Rives can expand on this). First, you will be in a pressure zone whenever frequencies fall below about 27 Hz (based on the longest dimension of your room at 14 ft). This means that you will get an artificially high sense of bass (sort of like being in a car, where the bass is very high -- by the way, ever notice how bad that same bass sounds outside the car?). Basically, it is as if you are inside the speaker. Second, your standing wave zone is pretty big -- from about 27 to 480 Hz with the most critical region in the 27 to 240 Hz region. This is where you will notice peaks and valleys in bass -- depending in part on where you sit. The troughs (where it will sound weak) are in the 50-70 Hz zone, the 90-120 Hz zone, the 120 - 140 Hz zone, the 140-190 Hz zone, the 210-235 Hz zone and the 240-280 Hz zone. You may notice a dip in the 240-280 Hz zone and the 280 to 320 Hz zone too. These are the areas where there are a 20-40 Hz gap in sound reinforcement. Peaks will occur more rarely -- at about 45 Hz, 140 Hz and 280 Hz. These are the areas where two or three dimensions of the room will reinforce the same frequency. With your room being reasonably close to a cube (the worst case acoustical environment), these things happen.

The good news is twofold. First, you can probably adjust your subwoofer to compensate for some of this. Second, the Thiels tend to sound pretty natural in most environments. You will get some dips and peaks in the bass regions, but I suspect you will still greatly enjoy the experience in your new home. As others have recommended in the past, pick up a copy of Alton Everest's book -- actually he has a few great ones. You can learn one heck of a lot about acoustics. Certain acoustic treatments can help too. For example, by absorbing the specific peak frequencies, the rest of the bass will sound more even.

Fellow audiogoners, I invite your comments and corrections. Am I oversimplifying? Am I just too simple? ;-) Rives, where are you buddy?
my calculations show room nodes too close together at 7&8 and 15&16. If your measurements are correct you will need to correct for the like node cancellations that will occur at the noted points and others will likely occur in your seating position. otherwise my only comment is, that is a sheet load of speakers for such a small room and should likely give you some pretty incredible theatre sound and overload + room resonance galore! Go three channel + subs trade one set of speakers in for some tiny ceiling mounts and save some precious space.

AudiogoN post set up will not allow for my chart to post properly so each line has a accendinghz and differential value except the last doesn't have a differential. Length has 7 values, width 6 and height 4

Length Width Height accending differential
14 12 8 order

40.35 47.08 70.62 40.35hz 6.72
80.71 94.16 140.54 47.08hz 23.54
121.07 141.25 210.82 70.62hz 10.08
161.42 188.33 281.09 80.71hz 13.45
201.78 235.41 94.16hz 26.90
242.14 282.5 121.07hz 19.47
282.5 140.54hz 0.70
141.25hz 20.17
161.42hz 26.90
188.33hz 13.45
201.78hz 9.035
210.82hz 24.59
235.41hz 6.72
242.14hz 38.95
281.09hz 1.40
Thanks for the incredible info!!!
If I understand you correctly, I'm looking at some pretty boomy bass? I'm not real clear on the technical measurments you guys put out there, but I'm hoping that by installing some bass traps I can tame some of the out of control bass. I'm also wodering if I would benefit from instlling some sound damping material behind the listening position and the first reflection area on the side walls?
Nice post, Ozfly. Mhubbard, DO find Rives. I would suspect that you'll have to exoeriment with moving that sub around a lot. The Thiels go down pretty low, and with room support maybe you could do without it?! Sidewall reflection control is always important; yet you might not want to tame them TOO much as otherwise you'll not have a wide enough sweep spot in such a small room for more than one-two people. HT isn't easy....
Thanks Ernie. Mhubbard, while my knowledge is much more limited than many others on the topic, I would suggest three things. First, tune your subwoofer carefully (probably by turning it down to compensate for the pressure zone). Secondly, see if you can tune the room treatments to absorb the peaks at 45, 140 and 280 Hz -- this might be a tough thing to do. Third, experiment with your listening position -- some spots in the room will be better than others. By the way, the Rives site is a good one. The Rives equipment might also help (seems like it would, but I have not personally tried it). Good luck.
You can reduce the deliterious effect of having room modes close together by adding acoustic absorption in the bass region. The good news is that with your room dimensions, the biggest problem frequencies are relatively high (140Hz & 280Hz), so bass tools such as Tube Traps will work reasonably well. By providing bass absorption, you will reduce the Q of the room which will reduce the amplitude of the peaks and dips and spread out their frequency range. The only disadvantage is that this will be you'll need more bass energy from your subwoofer to create the same level of bass in the room.

If you need absorption of a specific narrow frequency range, I'd recommend RPG Modex panels. These are relatively expensive, but very effective at low frequencies. Tube Traps work well above 100 Hz, but not particularly well in the low bass frequencies.

There are many DIY articles on the net describing how to make your own tube traps. If you're a little handy in the workshop, you can make a decent tube trap for $20-$50 (depending on whether you want fancy fabric covering).

Good luck.
Sorry to take so long to get to this thread. I have been travelling for the last week, so I have not had the time for A-gon (and still don't, but I like this site too much to stay away).

Even though it's pretty easy to figure out what the room response is going to be I would recommend a couple of things. First, measure the actual response. A Radio Shack analog SPL meter and our Test CD (compensated specifically for this meter) is a very inexpensive way of getting objective measurements. Yes, it is the subjective sound that counts in the end, but objective measuremnts let you get to this end much much faster.

The bass is the biggest problem for your room. It is going to boom around 40 to 50 Hz. If you look at the axial mode (that's the simpliest from one parrallel wall to the other mode) you will see quite a build up in this area. Tube traps will not likely have much of an effect unless you buy a lot of them. Yes, they will make a difference, but if you start measuring your room response, you will see they are not doing the job needed because they are not covering enough surface area to really be effective. Even if you did cover the area needed you would find that their Q factor (width of response) was so wide that you would be effecting frequencies that should be left alone. The only passive device that even has a remote chance of dealing with the problem is the RPG Modex mentioned. They are made in 40, 63, and 80 Hz models. You will need to start with about 4 of the 40 Hz models, measure the room and go up from there based on the results. The Q factor has about 50% overlap from one model to the next, so it's pretty neat what can be done with these, but they still are not very specific to the frequency problem.

Your other, and much easier, and definitely will work option is the PARC . Yes, I'm biased as we manufacture this unit, but it is designed for JUST this purpose--nothing else. It's probably the biggest problem in existing rooms, and the bass modes are so detrimental to the entire soundstage. Most people are not willing to do the construction necessary to change the room mode problem, and the PARC is thus the solution. In my recent travels I met with a very respectable dealer, that most probably know. He is very big in 2 channel and told me "I don't believe in this. I don't think it will work, and I don't think it will sound good. At best it will color the sound--and that's not what I am about." We put the PARC in, and in 30 seconds he said, there is no question. This device works, does not color the sound, and deals with the problem just as you've said. He bought the unit, became the dealer, and was demoing the unit to a customer as we left his store.

In a way, I didn't want to share that story--it sounds like an advertisement. But it illustrates the point--hearing is believing.

There are some other issues in the room that will need to be addressed, not as severe as the bass mode problem, but still important. Some of these have been mentioned, such as first reflection points and taming those. That's a definite and should be done. I won't waste time with what's been said already. The area that has not been addressed is the sweet spot. You plan a home theater in a small room. In most cases the sweet spot for a room that size would be about 1 cubic foot (maybe 2). You can expand that dramatically if you wish to, but it does require significant engineering and design. This is what we do, and can increase the sweet spot to a very large volume (like 1/3 of the room--with uniform sound control). Small rooms are by far the most difficult to deal with, they take more time and more engineering to get them right, but the end result can be dramatic. We recently finished a project in DC that makes a 19 x 13 x 8 sound like a 25 x 18 x 11. The sweet spot is huge, you can walk around the listening chair and have beautiful imaging and sound stage.

Please do use all the resources on our site, and if you have any questions please call us. We are always happy to discuss listening rooms--even if you are not employing our services.
>>Yes, it is the subjective sound that counts in the end, but objective measurements let you get to this end much much faster.<< by Rives

That is nicely said and, I think, true in almost all areas of audio.

I remain,
Well Rives I'm sure your solution is the best I could do, but unfortunatly I'm not in the market for another expensive piece of equipment (mortgage payments, remember!). I'm going to try an assortment of Echo Buster treatments. If they dont work, I guess I'll find a way to free up the funds to try the PARC.

Thanks for the info.
I have not used Echo Busters personally, but I don't think they will be very effective at reducing bass mode problems in your room. The standard Echo Buster panels will have no effect on bass. The "Bass Buster", designed to fit into the corners, covers too little wall area in your room to have a significant effect. You'd be much better off building membrane bass absorbers mounted on the wall - check out this site as an example.

If you find that you still need some equalization, check out the Rane PE-17. This is a five band parametric equalizer where all five bands can be applied to the bass region, and is available for about $400.
buy the rives info before you do may not need them and all you will have accomplished is use up more space in your full to the brim area.
Hi guys,

Just a follow up on the situation in my listening room. I installed two Bass Busteres in the front corners, two Echo Busters behind my listening position (for rear wall refections) and four Corner Busters in each corner. I also have a thin rug on the floor. The Thiel 2.3s are 2' from the back wall and 2' from the side walls.

The result for one reason or another is that the room sounds better than I even thought possible. I can even use the SunFire Sub for movies with no problems. I listen to a lot of bass heavy music and the bass is nice and tight! I'm very suprised that this room is working so well with only the Bass Busters installed.

Thanks for all the replys.
I'm glad your room is sounding better. I would be very interested in any measurements you've taken before and after the treatment--even the SPL with a Radio Shack meter would be a good start. It can explain a lot. I like to hear of success (and failures) and get measurements in as many real world environments as possible. If you've done this, please let us know.
I have a RS SPL meter. I can give you current measurements, but I'm not in a position to pull the suff out to give you a before and after comparison.

Is this of any value?
No, not really. I wanted the before and after so that I could see objectively how much attenuation at what frequencies you were achieving.