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Discussion Starter #1
I have attached a drawing of my AV/Living Room, and I was wondering if anyone has some simple suggestions for making the acoustical characteristics any better. I suppose the only thing I have in my room that might adjust acoustics a bit would be the carpeting, furniture, and a heavy curtain in the rear of the room. I'm currently waiting for a UMIK-1 to arrive to measure the room and see how that goes. Also, after looking around on various threads, it looks like typically the biggest issue is bass. I use to have some bass nulls around my room. I haven't checked it recently since I just got new taller bigger couches, and I now have end tables in the corners. I also have a new storage cabinet in another corner. I'm not sure if there is anything simple that would make sense and meet WAF guidelines. Also, my room is about 2300 cubic feet not considering the openings leading to upstairs, kitchen, and foyer. Anyway, any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Hi

First of all don't worry about nulls.
Also reading threads about other rooms does not really give a picture about issues that are specific to your room.

It is always difficult to make an analysis from the distance.
Measurements will help for sure.
Do a RT30 or RT60 measurement and a waterfall diagram.

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By looking at your drawing I see three points.

One is the asymmetry of the room.
You've got a wall at the right and the open room on the left.

I cannot say whether moving around the furniture is feasible for you.
You should toe in the speakers so they point to your listening position.

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The second point is the wall behind your listening position.
Your are close to that wall and there is a heavy curtain that dampens the reflections.

This makes the reproduction rather flat, you will miss the depth of the recording.
Scattering the reflected sound from the back with diffusors is better than dampening.

I don't know whether there is a window behind the curtain or not.

If it is a wall, you could place a bookshelf there.
Place the books irregularly, then the bookshelf acts as a diffusor.
Align them more to the front edge of the shelves and leave some room between the books and the next shelf above (about 4 inches).
Then it will also act as a an absorber because the sound can enter between the books and the shelves and gets absorbed behind the books.

If it is a window, you need another solution to scatter the sound.
I am using a vertical blind in my living room.


You should also move away the listening position from the back wall.

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That takes me to the third point.

Your listening distance is too far.

Ideally you should listen in an equilateral triangle with the front speakers, with the speakers toed in so they are directed right towards the listening position.

One rather easy solution would be to put a listening chair closer to the speakers, so the distance between the listening position and the speakers is the same as the distance between the speakers.
This would roughly be a little farther away than the ceiling fan.

If the chair can be turned is is easy to turn around if you want to sit and talk with other people on the couches.

And it would also increase the distance to the rear wall.

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Maybe a fourth point.
Your rear surround speakers should be a little behind the seat.

All speakers should ideally be placed on a circle around the listening position.

The centre speaker should be right in front, on 0°.
The left speaker on 30° left.
The right speaker on 30° right.
The left surround speaker on 110 to 120° left.
The right surround speaker on 110 to 120° right.

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I hope that helps a little until you have some measurements.

Cheers
Babak
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I suppose I should have been more specific. They layout of the room (i.e. the furniture and curtains) has to remain. I realize from an acoustical perspective it might not be ideal, but I'm sure lots of people use their living room as their home theater area. Because of this, it probably means that the space has to be livable and aesthetics plays an important part of things as well. So, I couldn't move the couch to the middle of the room or anything like that. Then it would be in front of and blocking the fireplace. Due to things like the fireplace, that does place limits on the space utilization. I do realize that having more space behind the couch would be better. In fact, having perhaps more space between the front wall and the speakers would be better. It's just not feasible from a usability perspective. Perhaps the next house I build will have some additional space for behind the couch and front speakers, but for now this is what I have to work with. I also can't make the room look like it is a science fiction movie set. I do plan on taking some measurements on the room. I have an UMIK-1 on order, but the only thing I have ever noticed is perhaps some nulls with bass. The room isn't boomy including the main seating locations for watching movies. In short, I'm just looking for some reasonable suggestions for possible improvements that I can look into. Although, I have to say I have been quite confused as to any reasonable approaches and whether anything should be done at all. For instance, I have read various conversations discussing bass traps, and the fact they may need to be quite large to accomplish anything and some have reported little to no differences in their room after deployment. Also, from various conversations you can do too much as well (i.e. make the room too dead). Perhaps the best thing for me to do since I don't ever plan to have a dedicated home theater area is to just use some EQ and call it a day.
 

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I suppose I should have been more specific. They layout of the room (i.e. the furniture and curtains) has to remain. I realize from an acoustical perspective it might not be ideal, but I'm sure lots of people use their living room as their home theater area. Because of this, it probably means that the space has to be livable and aesthetics plays an important part of things as well. So, I couldn't move the couch to the middle of the room or anything like that. Then it would be in front of and blocking the fireplace. Due to things like the fireplace, that does place limits on the space utilization. I do realize that having more space behind the couch would be better. In fact, having perhaps more space between the front wall and the speakers would be better. It's just not feasible from a usability perspective. Perhaps the next house I build will have some additional space for behind the couch and front speakers, but for now this is what I have to work with. I also can't make the room look like it is a science fiction movie set. I do plan on taking some measurements on the room. I have an UMIK-1 on order, but the only thing I have ever noticed is perhaps some nulls with bass. The room isn't boomy including the main seating locations for watching movies. In short, I'm just looking for some reasonable suggestions for possible improvements that I can look into. Although, I have to say I have been quite confused as to any reasonable approaches and whether anything should be done at all. For instance, I have read various conversations discussing bass traps, and the fact they may need to be quite large to accomplish anything and some have reported little to no differences in their room after deployment. Also, from various conversations you can do too much as well (i.e. make the room too dead). Perhaps the best thing for me to do since I don't ever plan to have a dedicated home theater area is to just use some EQ and call it a day.
Hi


I must admit that it is difficult to give advice
- Without knowing the room
- Without having any measurements
- Without knowing which changes are feasible for you and which are not
- Without knowing whether anything is wrong with the sound and if yes, what is wrong.

Just because others do something (adding panels, adding bass traps, etc) is not a reason to do the same.
Each room is different and needs different treatment.

And yes, some people add too much absorption and deaden the room and the sound.

Adding bass traps is also a difficult task. They must be made of the right material, have the right dimensions and be on the right positions in the room.

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So what is wrong with the sound in your room?

Nulls in the bass?
That's a tricky topic.

First, the human ear can does not perceive dips in the frequency range very well - if at all.
It perceives peakes much better.

I often observe that people think that bass is there if it is boomy.
The other way around, if the bass is dry and fast, they think bass is missing.


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There is also another possibility.

Your subwoofer is at the front wall.
There it excites all longitudinal room modes very well.
Your listening position is at the back wall, where all the longitudinal modes have the strongest effect.
So you get a maximum exaggeration of those bass frequencies.

The "nulls" that you hear could be frequencies other than those of the room modes.
They are weaker than the frequencies of the room modes.


So is it really a null or is it that several bass frequencies are over represented due to room modes being excited and others appearing to be weaker in comparison?

I think it's the latter.
But without knowing the room an hearing it, and without measurements to transfer data about the room characteristics over the Internet, nobody can tell for sure.

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Only having the drawing of your room I can only stick to basics.



Listening in an equilateral triangle with the speakers toed in (listening on the acoustical axis of the speakers) is one of the basic principles of listening in stereo and multichannel (front speakers).

In your current setting the opening angle between the listener and the speakers is less than the 60° of an equilateral triangle.
That results in a too narrow sound stage and in some coloration due to wrong HRTFs.


You can resolve that by simply adding one chair.
That would also leave spa)ce behind the listener (next issue solved) and if you choose the right chair, it won't look like in a science fiction movie, it can look like in a baroque palace of you like. ;-).

This would most probably result in a better imaging, precision and soundstage.

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Nobody suggested rearranging the whole room.


One of my suggestions was putting a chair closer to the speakers so you get an equilateral triangle.
That would leave the existing furniture where it is.

Only add one chair, that's it.


That would improve the following :
1. More precision
2. Better soundstage
3. Better depth ( due to bigger distance to back wall)
4. Probably better bass performance (moving the listening position away from mode maxima)

That's the easiest thing you can do and that would not change your interior design too much.


Cheers
Babak
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
So, the the recommendation is to place a chair in the middle of the room. I did state that the furniture has to remain, and I will not be able to add any additional furniture either as a point of further clarification. I just don't have any really good options due to the fact that first reflections would put absorption material in the middle of my fireplace and/or above my ceiling fan. I could place some behind the front speakers, but I'm not sure that would be very effective. So, that just leaves perhaps the rear corners where I might place some absorption material, and I might be able to do the same in the front right corner. Nonetheless, does anyone else have some suggestions other than Babak? At this point, I'm just looking for some recommendations or some guidance. For instance, once I get my UMIK-1 in, if the RT60 is X, you should add some additional absorption material, and based on your room layout you should look at placing them at X location. I'm looking for something along those lines to assist on what I should be looking for in my future measurements, and some typical things that people have done. All the while I realize that my layout is suboptimal perhaps, but it has generally always sounded good to me. I have just heard that room treatments add so much more refinement to the music/experience versus EQ or equipment alone. So, this is my first foray into trying to potentially address that if that is possible.
 

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Hi

well, you somehow used the short versio of my recommendation.

The recommendation is to sit in an equilateral triangle with your fron speaker.

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This is one of the fundamental basics of listening with stereo/multichannel.
No acoustical treatment will improve what gies wrong when not listening in that configuration.

And without that configuration it also would not making sense to invest in better equipment later.

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If you leave the listening position as ist is now, it is surely good enough for leisure listening and watching movies.
It won't bee optimal for listening to music sriously or critically.

Putting an additional chair was only one suggestions.
You will also find other options to get an equilateral triangle.

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I don't see te point why you want to add acoustic absorption material anywhere.
Besides the fact that it does not work well in the room corners ...

Without having measurements that show what your room needs, I would not add any absorbers.

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You can also think about getting good headphones with a good headphone am for listening to musik and leave the existing system for watching movies or for playing musik more as a background (parties, etc).


Cheers
Babak
 

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Discussion Starter #7
No offense babak, but I would like to hear someone else's opinion on this topic.
 

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If things must remain as they are, then you must address the fact that you are too close to a boundary by trying to get rid of some of the boominess there with treatments behind you. Curtains won't do it so not sure there is anything you can do there.

Before the end tables we could have helped by treating those corners.

So what is left that we can address is the asymmetry in the room where the 2 speakers will have different responses due to phase issues between direct and reflected sound. That would be treating the front right corner with broadband treatment and the right wall with thicker reflection panels to minimize the reinforcement/cancellations from that wall that are not happening off the other wall.

You do not need to be in an equilateral triangle which is the border between nearfield and farfield. I have been in a lot of rooms that are far outside or far inside that triangle that had great sound. It's the sitting by the wall that is the big issue.

You are also getting more reinforcement from the right side back by your seating than from the partial wall at your left.

The fireplace cavity can be a source of resonances. If not in use, fill with insulation and cover with a nice decorative thin screen.

Placing the sub along the side wall between the rack and the fireplace may also help smooth things out a bit.

I'll not comment on the rest of the above as much of it is based on how one would set up a studio for nearfield listening. Even good mastering houses sit outside the equilateral triangle many times. Nearfield gives you more direct vs reflected sound. That's good when you can't control the room. It also trades imaging outside the speakers for better depth of imaging - good or bad pending your preference.

Blinds, etc can be OK for upper mid and high frequencies but will do little to nothing for voice range and down.
 

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Hi

Just one comment.

I think there has been a mix up between the equilateral triangle and the listening distance.

An equilateral triangle has nothing to do with nearfield vs far field or medium field listening.

It is just a triangle with the same length of all sides.
No matter whether it is near field (eg 5 feet), mid field (eg 8 feet) or far field (eg 12 feet)

The crucial factor is the opening angle of 60°.

That's how stereo has been specified.
And that's how all the good Studios are set up (with different distances).
Anything else is a deviation from that standard leading to changes in imaging and coloration (different HRTFs).

The shorter the distance, the less influence from the room.
But then the speaker must be constructed for midfield or nearfield listening.

For usual HiFi speakers the distance (that's the sides of the triangle) should not be nearer than 7 to 8 feet.
 

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Correct - but a 5' equilateral and a 10' equliateral are both at the border of nearfield. Inside the triangle is technically nearfield. Outside is mid to farfield. I can sit 2' outside a 4' equilateral triangle and the the benefits of farfield even though I am close to the speakers.

And you agree with what I said. That's how all good STUDIOS are set up. Not how all good LISTENING ROOMS or all good HOME THEATERS are set up. This is not a studio and you're not listening for the same things. If you want to set it up like all good studios, you'd have MUCH more damping in the room than most yet you say you want to use furniture and blinds? Never seen a good studio do that.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Bryan,

Thanks for the info! It is also good news that to sound good it doesn't necessarily need to be an equilateral triangle. This is also why I have only towed in my speakers just a little instead of more if the seating position was a little closer. Also, to provide further clarification on my room.

Rear:

Actually, the rear of the room does have a couple sets of curtains covering a large window. I realize it won't provide much in the way of diffusion or perhaps absorption, but there is actually three layers. These layers are a heavy curtain with a backing (breathable), and a set of sheers that are behind those. I realize you would probably suggest monster bass traps for that area, but I guess this will have to do for now. I'm sure you run into this sort of thing all of time with layout, room usability, windows, and etc. getting in the way of ideal panel placement.

As far as my rear corners are concerned, I measured them. I could still fit a GIK tri trap in there easily behind my end tables. This would be useful to me if I could replace my surround shelves too. In other words, could I use a tri trap up a good portion of the wall and use the tri trap as a shelf for the rear surrounds? I obviously would have to order some custom tri trap sizes to not go up the entire wall, but would that help a lot in controlling low frequencies even at 5.5 feet tall?

Fireplace side:

In the front corner, I could easily fit a tri trap up the entire wall. Would that be recommended?

Yes, the fireplace is in use, and again that would probably be in the way for a first reflection point. So, it sounds like you are recommending 244 full range panels for either side of the fireplace to replicate the other side of the room acoustically. Would that be on both sides of the fireplace or just one?

Ceiling:

Since I can't do anything about the fireplace and hence the first reflection point on the right side of the room, does that mean I should ignore the ceiling? Or is it still recommended to use a 242 panel or two up there? Would there be any problems with my ceiling fan being in the way? In other words, the panels obviously would be behind the ceiling fan blades.

Front of the room:

I could put 242 panels or something behind my speakers and above the TV. Would any of that be recommended?

Left side of room:

Obviously this side is mostly open, but there is a partial wall there and a large opening into the kitchen. It sounds like I should probably just leave that alone most likely.

As for REW measurements, I'm guessing with each additional piece that I should be looking at reducing the decay time. Is there a target that I should shoot for? 500ms? 400ms? 300ms or something? Should that be fairly consistent across all frequencies? I'm also guessing that the frequency response should be relatively smooth with perhaps a slope going down from low frequency to high. Is there an ideal slope that I should be looking for? The reason I ask is because for instance I'm guessing the 242 panels probably provide more high frequency absorption versus say a 244 panel. I'm guessing that would be the deciding factor depending on how I would l need to adjust the slope to a degree.

I'm also wondering when you would use a scatter plate in a home theater setup. Or is that mostly used in studio setups?
 

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Correct - but a 5' equilateral and a 10' equliateral are both at the border of nearfield. Inside the triangle is technically nearfield. Outside is mid to farfield. I can sit 2' outside a 4' equilateral triangle and the the benefits of farfield even though I am close to the speakers.

And you agree with what I said. That's how all good STUDIOS are set up. Not how all good LISTENING ROOMS or all good HOME THEATERS are set up. This is not a studio and you're not listening for the same things. If you want to set it up like all good studios, you'd have MUCH more damping in the room than most yet you say you want to use furniture and blinds? Never seen a good studio do that.
Hi

Studios also don't have large windows right behind the listening position.

The blinds were only a suggestion to deal with a large window behind the listening position.
Heavy curtains that absorb are not good at the rear wall. The rear walls should be diffuse.
You will understand that it's not possible to put diffusor panels onto the window or a bookshelf in front of it.

I don't know why you're getting polemic about that.

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Where do all of those "rules" come from that you posted?

What are the parameters that determine whether a listening distance is near field or far field?


What parameters determine if an equilateral triangle is the right configuration or not?

There are studios with more absorption and studios with less absorption.
Also here:
What determines how much absorption a studio needs?
How much does a home theatre need?

There are answers to all those questions, with measurable parameters.
I'd prefer to discuss those facts rather than opinions.
 

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You can put the speakers on the Tri Traps certainly though corner loading and being down that low are not where you want surrounds. Though with the window behind you, guess it's the lesser of 2 evils vs having them over the window.

In the front right corner do whatever you can.

Ceiling reflections are different than the side wall ones and not doing one does not preclude not doing the other.


Rear wall cannot be diffuse sitting that close. Plus diffusion is a preference, not a requirement. Rear wall bass cancellations being dealt with sometimes take precedent over preference.

Equilateral is equilateral regardless of size. Inside is more nearfield and outside is more farfield regardless of size. Not making this up, it's just fact. Inside gives more depth of image. Outside yields more outside the speakers. The reason many studios use diffusion on the rear wall is because they are nearfield so they can hear better into the mix but which doesn't yield as good of an image spread outside which the diffusion can help with if other problems do not take precedent. If you had a big null off the back wall that could be addressed with absorption then that would probably take precedent - wait, we shouldn't worry about nulls ;)

Regardless, the purpose of this thread is not to define how studios are to be done. This is about how to address the OP's real living space with real restrictions including aesthetic ones the best we can. That's what I'm trying to do, not to chastise the OP for not setting his house look like a studio and hacking off his significant other. There is more than one listening chair and listener, the seating position is fixed for multiple people, things must stay where they are, etc. Moving a chair out front is great for a single listener and I'm sure he may try it, there will still be many many times where there are 2 of them and the couch in the rear will be the seating location. While not optimal (and most living rooms aren't) it is what it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Actually, I have put Babak on my ignore list. I keep letting him know that I'm not planning on changing the furniture layout in the room, but apparently keeps posting in this thread to suggest that I do which is not helpful at all. :foottap: Other than Bryan no one else seems to be commenting. Also, I have done some further research, and I believe I plan to go with GIK acoustics products anyway. Bryan, would it be appropriate for us to take our conversation off line to complete any further discussion related to my room needs and to finalize product selection from your company? I would truly appreciate it since this thread seems to be going into derailment.
 

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The 244 panel are what I use behind my mains and they work very well and sense I have room behind them I wanted to go with thicker rather then thinner. Not sure what kind of room you have behind your mains but a thicker trap maybe helpful for sure vs the 242. Just a thought
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yes, that is what Bryan recommended as well in an off line conversation. In fact, here is my current plan. If you have any additional recommendations, that would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Could probably cut back to just 2 244 on the front wall more centered between the TV and the speakers.
 

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Bryan knows a 1000 times more then I do about this stuff. The only thing I would ask about changing is maybe go with monster traps if room permits where the window is. Myself I would want the thickest thing I could there sense you sit so close to that wall.

Good luck and update when your done.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Bryan,

Is going back to 2 244s on the front wall from a cost perspective? Or am I over doing it? I was going to mount two 244s right behind the speakers. The other 244s were going to be mounted above the TV, and it's harder to show in the drawing (but it is in words) that I would mount the other 2 long ways over the TV and they would be above the the other two used behind the speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
phazewolf, that's a good recommendation. I was hoping to do that, but at 7.25" that just sticks out too much. So, I have to go with the 244s instead.... That still sticks out 1.25", but I think I can get that to met WAF.
 
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