The acoustically challenged room

Hi everyone,

I am settling in to a new apartment, and I'm trying to make the most of an acoustically challenged room. The dimensions aren't too bad at 13x15 ft. I have the speaker set up along the shorter wall, and that's really the only option. The area behind the listening position is mostly open, so there's no reflection to worry about right behind my head. The speakers are KEF LS50s, and I have them about 2.5 feet from the sidewalls and 5 feet from the back wall.

However, it's the wall behind the speakers that is the problem. There is a sliding glass door with plastic vertical blinds right in the middle, and due to the rental agreement I can't remove the blinds to put up drapes (although I could perhaps put drapes over them). The back corners are untreated right now. I'd like to avoid making the living room look like a recording studio as much as possible, but I can use some strategically placed acoustic panels if necessary.

So, you can see this is not an ideal set up. An audio storeowner whom I trust suggested getting a room divider made of wood and fabric to put in front of the door. It would provide some softening of the reflections without dampening the room too much. And I'm thinking of putting bookshelves in the corners and some nice fabric wall hangings to the side of each speaker.

If you have any other suggestions (high or low WAF is fine - I have a little good will built up :)), I'd appreciate your input.

Have a great day!
Contact a professional, such as GIK Acoustics for assistance. Reputable manufacturer of acoustic products, very reasonably priced, always helpful.
Hello Scott,
I had similar issues - was looking for room treatment that provided a significant improvement in acoustics without looking like a recording studio. GIK, ATS, REAL Traps , ACS, etc all offer excellent absorption & diffuser solutions, however; they are bland and not ascetically pleasing. Finally found a solution that has a superior WAF while providing the improvement I was looking for. Check out Viacoustics.

I have installed the Wavewood Pro 60; Square Tile Pro 60 and Flexiwood A50's which made a significant improvement in bass response and mid range clarity. When non audiophile folks visit my home they often ask where the decorative panels came from...which confirms my choice.

These can be acquired at Music Direct for about $85/panel. If you can send an email address, I would be happy to send you pics of my set up for comparative sake.

Hope this helps,
Drapes are the best, low cost solution. Penney's has a good selection, all I am sure could get a WAF. Best of all, their returnable if sound is not improved. Also, 'round out the cornors' on that wall. This can be done at low cost. Suggestion, West Elm recently was selling round bolsters, 36 inch, for two for $60. With two sets you have very inexpensive 'traps'. Again, if they don't work out back they go, as West will pick up for a full refund, including shipping.
As you have found, the upper frequencies are easier to manage even with aesthetic decor. You could ultimately address initial reflection points with panels to help with reverberation. Tips: Absorptive material is more efficient when used on all surfaces rather than loading up on just side walls or whatever. Also the material should be as thick as 1/4 the wavelength to be addressed.

The lower frequencies are going to be a challenge. Wall (porous) panels are not going to help with room modes. You could employ broader band panel absorbers. And you may be able to get an idea of modes using online bobgolds calculator, but unlikely its going to be wholly accurate.

If you are able to place speakers using golden ratio, that may be a better staring point. The issue is the golden ratio placement can be tough in small rooms. You may have to finagle it some. Yours speakers are placed at distance of a multiple two which is not likely a good starting point.
Acoustically challenged HO HO!!!