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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
AudiocRavings, by Wayne Myers:
1 - Behold the Psycho Pillow!



This is not an April Fool's joke. Every word that follows is true.:rolleyesno:

If any of you were awake at 4 A.M. this morning, you might have felt a disturbance in The Force. That is the moment the Psycho Pillow was born.

Radiohead’s Amnesiac album was playing. About midway through I Might Be Wrong, thinking soundstage and imaging (SS&I) thoughts, as I have done on occasion, I wondered how much SS&I degradation was occurring at my ears from the reflections and cancellations off of my comfy recliner's high back

This is not a new problem. I have mentioned it often, usually recommending that a plush blanket over the back of a high chair or captain’s seat be used to absorb as much of those reflections as possible. A nice, soft blanket helps, but the result is far from perfection. The softest plush blanket material is still somewhat reflective at mid and high frequencies, allowing degraded SS&I performance. Short of leaning forward a foot or more - an uncomfortable listening position - or cutting off the back of the chair at shoulder level - a drastic and unsightly measure - I have long been at a loss for a better solution.


The Psycho Pillow is born. The dark flecks are from a
previous unrelated experiment involving a type of sound insulation
made from recycled denim.




An Idea Is Born

Across the room lay a pile of loose polyfill, the remains of a failed, unrelated recent experiment. It was the right kind of material, but putting it in a pillowcase or putting a cover on it simply gave it a reflective surface again.

While constructing a pair of LXmini speakers from kit recently, I had used a mesh laundry bag for the Acousta-Stuf material supplied to be stuffed into each of the two 4-inch diameter tubes that house the LF drivers, making it easy to remove if needed. A similar laundry bag was sitting with all of my headphones stuffed inside, each in its own hard-shell case, because... Well, you just never know when you are going to end up needing a bag full of audiophile headphones. The wheels in my head started to turn, and I envisioned the mesh bag filled with the loose polyfill and behind my head on the chair, absorbing all those nasty reflections. The WAF-sensitive feminine side of The Force, apparently, was not happy.


The old way. The plush blanket absorbs some, but not all, of the sound hitting
the back of the chair. Reflections cause cancellations at midrange frequencies,
disrupting soundstage and imaging (SS&I) clarity.




SS&I Nirvana

In a flash, the headphone bag was emptied and then filled with the loose polyfill. By the middle of Knives Out, I was seated again, my head comfortably supported by the new Audiophile’s Essential Psychoacoustical Soundstage and Imaging Preservation Pillow, the “Psycho Pillow,” from idea to proof of concept to full implementation in under 5 minutes. SS&I performance in my listening chair skyrocketed from respectable and enjoyable to the Zowie Zone. Imaging became crisp and precise, details became apparent that were hidden before. Only one problem, it just might be the ugliest audiophile accessory EVER! I was more than a little worried that it might not pass the dreaded WAF Test.


Properly in place on the listening chair. The fiberfill should be kept back from
bunching close to the ears. It is meant only to cover the chair back
behind the ears.




WAF Test Failure

Demonstrating the prototype for my wife this morning, she just sat shaking her head back and forth. The look on her face was not admiration. It was that other look that the wives of A-V nuts give their men once in awhile. You know the one I mean.

My plans to implement a big production line and film an infomercial are on permanent hold. So I share the idea with you all in the public domain. Materials total under $10 per “finished” piece. Assembly takes about 30 seconds. And It really works. Just do not expect to make any WAF points with it.

Edit: If you find yourself tempted to put a super-thin or super-soft cover on the Psycho Pillow to gain WAF points, see Post #17 for the reasons not to.

Edit: Post #23 includes some measurements showing why the Psycho Pillow is so effective.

Welcome to AudiocRavings, my blog of audio-related thoughts, musings, ideas, discoveries, suggestions, rants, and ramblings. With luck, a portion will be somewhat useful to someone somewhere somehow.

Wayne Myers
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After more testing, it almost completely eliminates those swoops and swooshes and bigger** soundstage shifts that usually accompany minor shifts of head position.

**Edit: Some soundstage shift is inevitable, but it is less pronounced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
May I ask if this has stopped any changes in fidelity as well ??
As far as I can tell, changes in fidelity as the head moves around go hand-in-hand with the SS&I changes. All are drastically reduced by the Psycho Pillow, perhaps not completely eliminated, but reduced to the point where they are somewhere in the not-a-distraction to you-have-to-listen-close-to-hear-them-at-all range.

Actually, the first known use of dryer lint in audio was coating the baffle of a speaker around the drivers and out to the edges to reduce diffraction distortion. This was done back in the late 70s. It had to be lint from Egyptian cotton towels used by John Dalquist. There are reports of variations in sound due to the hardness of the water used to launder the towels, and some say the effort was pointless and that one should just go to CES and steal the towels that your favorite designer used from the hotel rooms and use them instead of the lint. That rather defeats the environmental advantage of recycling the lint, however.
Hah! Love it! Thanks, Leonard, and a merry April Fools to us all!

Note: Leonard's post was a joke, as he later pointed out. The Psycho Pillow, other than its ridiculous name, is not a joke. It really works. And it really is ugly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wayne, if I could add a design idea. What if you were to fashion one of these in the shape of a half donut? Like those comfy airplane pillows. If it wet just the right thickness, it could work to block the reflections from the front, and like in Jacks case with a low back chair the wrap around(neck and shoulder area) could block reflections from the surrounds. No?
Good question. The P.P. - uuuh... maybe we'll just stick with Psycho Pillow - the Psycho Pillow works great for 2-channel. I have mine set just thick enough to work well but not bunch around the ears, which does start to restrict the sound and is to be avoided.

My surrounds for 5.1 are almost straight to the L and R sides from the LP because of the chair back, so there is line-of-sight to ears while seated, and to measurement mic during measurements and Dirac calibration. With the Psycho Pillow properly positioned, that line-of-sight to surrounds remains unobstructed. The main gains for the Pillow are with front mains and center channel, where reflections and cancellations are worst. With surrounds, there is potentially some gain, too, although reflection/cancellation is less of a problem because of the shallow angles involved. So, properly applied, and depending on surround setup relative to chair back height, the idea still works and is beneficial.

With a lower chair back, shoulder height or lower, the gains are less obvious, although your suggested variation to knock out reflections off of the top of the chair back from surrounds and even rear speakers (7.1) could still be beneficial.

Great, thanks for the input!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So... why not take Psycho Pillow and wrap it in that fuzzy faux puppy-fur blanket material? Maybe even get all fancy and stitch it closed... you may be able to get enough WAF points to pass muster without significantly degrading performance.
Good question. The fuzziest puppy-furriest blanket material I have been able to find - Sonnie had some custom captain's chair back covers made that are as plushy as they come - still reflect enough that SS&I and sound character in general are susceptible to some of those dreaded shifts. Don't get me wrong, they really help. But as Leonard pointed out, even with them in place, the SS&I disruption is there. When in critical listening mode, sitting forward a foot or so is the only way to get around it.

I added mention in the OP that the temptation to put a cover of some sort on the Psycho Pillow will certainly come up. My wife, who sews, did not mention it, not wishing to encourage my lunacy, no doubt. I fear that any material dense enough to form a sheet and be sewn with will be too reflective. [Acoustically transparent grille cloth might do the job, but is not know for its pillow-cover softness. And then there is the charm and conversation-worthiness of owning the ugliest audio accessory know to humankind to be considered!] The cloud-like loftiness of loose cotton or polyfill seems to be the needed texture to do the job. But thanks for the input!

Also note that the Psycho Pillow, as the name suggests, is for the most fanatical of listeners. The plush blanket over the chair back is a big improvement, and will suffice for many.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hello AudiocRaver :
It has been verified with measurements improvements psycho pillow?.
I see you are using Dirac Live.
I use my computer multichannel REW + APO.

I apologize,I used translator.

Greetings.
I have not yet taken measurements, I will ASAP. The result was a dramatic improvement, it was unmistakable.

The speakers I have been listening with for the last couple of days, including all experience with the Psycho Pillow so far, do NOT have Dirac Live applied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Here are some measurements. The frequency response plots show some difference, but the impulse response plots tell the main story.

Frequcncy Response 1- no treatment, mic 1 foot forward from LP, vs 2- no treatment, mic at LP. Some change is apparent, but it does not explain the difference observed by the lisener.


Frequcncy Response 1- plush blanket on chair back, mic at LP, vs 2- Psycho Pillow plus blanket on chair back, mic at LP. Again, the difference shown does not seem to explain what the listener experiences.





Impulse Response, no treatment, mic 1 foot forward from LP. Disruptive reflections are minimal.


Impulse Response, no treatment, mic at LP. It is that big reflection, arriving less than one mS later, that messes up the SS&I.


Impulse Response, plush blanket on chair back, mic at LP. The blanket helps some, but there is still plenty of SS&I disruption going on.


Impulse Response, Psycho Pillow plus blanket on chair back, mic at LP. The Psycho PIllow over the plush blanket reduces the disruptive reflections and SS&I are substantially preserved.





I will run Dirac Live with the Psycho Pillow some time soon. "Soon" in the grand cosmic sense, that is. I have every reason ty believe the result will only get better. My approach to using Dirac Live has always been to get the SS&I sonding as good as possible first, within reason, then allow Dirac Live to "polish" the result.
 
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