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Advice Sought - Help Me Design The Ideal 2ch Listening Room


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Fellow PA'ers,

Its looking more than likley that we are going to buy an old house in the central part of town, level it and build a new pad. Part of the design brief is a listening room thats acoustically correct and doesnt need a lot of room treatment to sound right.

My question is, what features does such a room possess? My current room is around 5 x 6m, l would like to go a little larger to around 6.5 x 7.5m with a ceiling as high as possible. The room will double up as a parents retreat of sorts so needs room for bookcases etc for the missues. l have read before about the Golden ratio for room dimensions, is this BS or is it worth researching to get the room dimensions in the acoustically correct ratio? What would you build the walls from plasterboard with plenty of sound deadening behind? Would you angle the cieling, or make it of some acoustically friendly material? What do l do for windows, and where do l place them?

l am interested in everyones thoughts and experiences, this will probably be my last attempt to get it right :)

Cheers

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I don't know too much on the subject, but I know that CSR Gyprock have some products for acoustic treatment.

Like special panels/plaster board for ceilings and walls.

And I think I've seen insulation for inside your walls that help out too.

I've heard a bit about the golden ratio too, people using it for room dimensions, speaker design and cable design. Very curious about room dimensions though :)

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Fellow PA'ers,

Its looking more than likley that we are going to buy an old house in the central part of town, level it and build a new pad. Part of the design brief is a listening room thats acoustically correct and doesnt need a lot of room treatment to sound right.

My question is, what features does such a room possess? My current room is around 5 x 6m, l would like to go a little larger to around 6.5 x 7.5m with a ceiling as high as possible. The room will double up as a parents retreat of sorts so needs room for bookcases etc for the missues. l have read before about the Golden ratio for room dimensions, is this BS or is it worth researching to get the room dimensions in the acoustically correct ratio? What would you build the walls from plasterboard with plenty of sound deadening behind? Would you angle the cieling, or make it of some acoustically friendly material? What do l do for windows, and where do l place them?

l am interested in everyones thoughts and experiences, this will probably be my last attempt to get it right :)

Cheers

[/b]

Hello Mondie:

Important issues to consider are that you need to keep extraneous noise out, control room reflections, reduce room/structure resonances by design, rather than later, with absorbers etc... You could ask your architect to recommend an Acoustic Consultant for design. But some suggestions:

1. Don't choose room dimensions that are integer multiples of each other or have a common factor which is an integer, as this will reinforce some room modes even more. So a 6.5 by 7.5m room seems OKish, perhaps a little too square, since this will place room modes apart but not that far apart.

EDIT:

Great Visually based RECTANGULAR room mode calculator here (needs java)-

http://www.hunecke.de/english/calculators/...eigenmodes.html

guaranteed to drive you spare. Don't worry- try to reduce the low frequency modes as much as possible and then use absorbers/reflectors for the higher frequency modes.

END EDIT

2. Avoid a too reflective or too dead room.

3. Concrete floor is a good idea (unless you are planning IB subs-couldn't resist Mr Norpus). Carpet entire room/rug probably essential to tame first floor bounce in front of speaker and generally deaden room slightly. If timber floor use as over engineered as structure as you can afford. We used 90x45 F17 floor joists at 300mm centres over a strip Jarrah floor.

4. Dense non resonant structure if timber walls use studs at 300mm centres not the standard 450mm. Use thick acousticheck plaster or use double layers of plaster (some people do this). You can also use bracing ply inside the wall- also improves insulative properties slightly.

5. Avoid windows along the side walls particularly, near the points of first reflection with the speaker and listening position. Reflections here will colapse or confuse the stereo image. Windows behind speakers can also be a problem if not covered during listening- If you must a good option is a window with a solid timber ventian or shutter, thereby eliminating the acoustic reflectivity of the glass when closed.

6. High Ceiling good idea. be careful this is not an integer multiple of anothe room dimension.

7. A bit ove rthe top, but you could build the room like an auditorium ( a big horn- side walls splaying out ceiling sloping upwards)

8. If you are in to high efficency horn loaded bass- plan on keping the corners free of obstructions and doors for say atleast 2m from corners.

9. Make the room as big as possible.

That all I can think of for now. I will add something later if I get other ideas.

HTH

Best

JA

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I will follow this thread closely as it will be handy for me in the years to come.. :)

Found this link that mentions golden ratios -> Click Here

[/b]

Wow, Mondie

You have a way of making me envious. Demolishing an old house is on our list of possible ways of finding the right site to build again, but we're still looking :( .

Like Drist, I'll be watching this thread for future reference. When (IF?) we get to the stage where we're planning the new house, a lot of homework on this topic will be needed. It will be my one big chance to get it right.

Obviously there's a lot of info out there, but I've been impressed by the writings of a chap by the name of Dr Floyd E Toole over the past 30 years or so. (No, I'm not kidding....that's his real name) I even remember seeing an ad many years ago for his own home that was for sale at the time (in Canada? I think) and had a special listening room he had designed from scratch with a vaulted ceiling but without parallel walls etc etc. I wasn't in the market for a house in Canada at the time.

Anyway, everything this guy wrote about speakers and the speaker/room interface seemed to cut through BS and show a healthy mixture of common-sense and good science. I've got several of his articles stashed away somewhere that I can copy and send you when I find them.

Best of luck with the demolition project :)

Regards

Tony

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Golden ratios are a good start.

Rectangular of any sorts is still going to have bass build up in the corners so your best bet is octagonal - just enough to remove the four 'corners'. This has another benefit of not having too many surfaces that are parallel with each other which avoids other room nasties. It also helps you not needing room treatment.

And yes if you really want to go full on you'd slope the roof so it's not parallel with the floor.

To keep sound in/out then you'd go for double glazed windows and the soundcheck plaster thing.

Can I once again recommend lots of reading of Ethan Winers room acoustics articles, very helpful.

Rough Sketch of what I mean: post-687-133211639459_thumb.jpg

EDIT: PS! allow space under floor for IB's :ohmy: :biggrin:

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Mondie, I am thinking of doing exactly the same thing - we are looking for a piece of land with a "free" house on top and then we will demolish and build :)

Some of the things on my wish list are:

- All brick construction. The brick veneer construction in most houses in Victoria really irritate me. Houses in WA are all double brick, even in the cheaper suburbs. Brick will reflect almost all frequencies and does a very good job of isolating your stereo from other parts of the house. In my current place, any sound made in any part of the house can be heard from my bedroom.

- No parallel surfaces in the listening room. Ethan Winer's article on room acoustics says that this will make modes harder to predict but will also lessen the number of modes. If you notice, all auditoriums / concert halls are flared. So yes, I would slope the ceiling and flare both walls. And I would also angle the rear wall.

- The entire front wall would be a bass trap, as described in Ethan Winer's article (plaster on plywood with fibreglass, spaced 10cm from the rear brick wall).

- You are supposed to avoid windows in a good room, because glass allows bass to pass through but reflects mids and highs. But I hate the idea of a room without windows. I would probably put the windows on one of the side walls near the rear of the room and cover it with a very heavy curtain if need be.

- The listening room should be as large as possible. But since land is expensive, I would make the room continuous with other parts of the house. The rear part of my "dream" listening room would double as a dining area, pool room, or a study.

Rives audio has a great series of articles on room acoustics - check them out.

Also, check out some of the systems on AudioGon, particularly "All out assault". That is a US audiophile website. There are some filthy rich people over there, and they have some very very nice systems in very very very nice listening rooms.

You will really have a system for all of us to envy Mondie - good on you.

(edit) here's a dodgy photoshop of what i'm talking about :)

post-687-133211639465_thumb.jpg

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Hi Mondie

Great news that you are considering a dedicated room at your new place. We extended our place earlier this year, but whilst I've learnt plenty, I am by no means an expert on this subject.

I agree with everything JA said. Very knowledgable man that one! :wink:

But I'll answer your question by explaining what I would do different if I went through the process again.

My room is 7.5m x 5m x 2.6m high. I don't think you could ever have a room which is too big. I wish my room was bigger in every dimension, but we were bound by cost and fitting in with existing roof line/dimensions.

My biggest regret is that I have a flat ceiling. I wish I had have pitched it the way the roof is pitched. By doing this you can add a huge amount of extra air in the room and eliminate a massive parellel surface, which IMO can only help room acoustics.

As I have a double garage between the room and the rest of the house, I probably didn't need to go to the expense of having double layer CSR Soundcheck on all walls and ceiling, as keeping all the sound in the room created excessive echo for me. If your room is close to other living areas, then this is a must.

If you can reduce/eliminate parellel side walls, I believe this can also help room acoustics. Cost stopped us from doing this.

Even now I would not know where to start to find one, but if you can consult an acoustic consultant before your plans are drawn up this could save you dissapointment, followed by necessary room treatments down the track.

Put carefull thought in where you need power points and decide on what lighting you would like for the room.

As you have expensive gear, I would run a dedicated power feed to the room. This is not expensive.

Do you want to hide your gear? Spearmint and Joz have done a great job of this.

Hope this helps.

Looking forward to hearing of your progress and success along the way.

Cheers

LuckyDog

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Guest alebonau

wow so many great suggestions. this one might be contraversial. jsut some thing I've noticed when moving my music room between houses over the years. I seem to prefer the speakers along the longer edge. so in a rectangular room 7.5x5m I myself would go with the speakers along the 7.5m length. leaves heaps of room for the speakers either side. corners are very far away from the speakers and this really helps the imaging without the walls for reflections. As mentioned this is controversial as many prefer the long room wiht speakers along the narrower length for the ht look.

You have by the looks the speakers of yoru dreams mondie. With recommendations from Andrew as to what they need ideally I would then build a room aroudn them allowing plenty of space to the sides and behind.

as far as a listening room of yoru dreams. anyone remeber that post of pics from some guy in the US on avsforum - wish I could find them for you mondie. Had a curved rear wall. large room. speakers in free air far from walls. turntable on a massive solid footing, library/music collection to the left. his reclined listening chair in the sweet spot, now this was one of the most incredible hifi rooms I've ever seen.

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as far as a listening room of yoru dreams. anyone remeber that post of pics from some guy in the US on avsforum. curved rear wall. large room. speakers in free air far from walls. turntable on a massive solid footing, library/music collection to the left. his reclined listening chair in the sweet spot, now this was one of the most incredible hifi rooms I've ever seen.

[/b]

Are you talking about Mike Lavigne's room?

EDIT: PS! allow space under floor for IB's :ohmy: :biggrin:

[/b]

No need to put the IB's under the floor - that's very expensive. I would just put the listening room next to the garage or laundry and vent the IB's into the next room.

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Are you talking about Mike Lavigne's room?

[/b]

Well found amfibius yep that is the one, great link by the way as has much more as far as the room and its makings than the avs link had.

post-687-133211639469_thumb.jpg

this pic above is exactly what I had in minds eye :)

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Along with the excellent advice that others have given, I’d just like to add a couple of design issues I faced. I was fortunate to have the plans of both of my neighbour’s houses so I designed the position of the room so as not to line up with any bedrooms etc, if their was any noise it wouldn’t disturb them if they were sleeping. I have a tendency to listen to music from 4am onwards. Next comes the problem of incorporating the room into your plans, believe me this is not as simple as it sounds if it’s in the middle of the house.

Some of the other things I did was put a powder room close to the HT so guests and myself didn’t have to trudge through the house, another was to put subdued lighting between the HT room and powder room to make it a bit easier for the eyes to adjust going from one environment into another.

Some other features were to have the front door bell ring one of my phones which I take into my HT room since I cannot hear if people are in attendance unless the dogs start barking, another is CCT to the front door as well, although I don’t use it much.

Regarding to room dampening, I opted for less rather than too much. I’m not sure if it’s only me but I feel a bit claustrophobic in heavily dampened rooms.

Next and foremost IMO, this is your listening room, ensure the colours and décor make you feel comfortable.

Since I’ve had my mains lined up earlier this week the sound is transformed. Imaging is locked and rock solid no more drifting slightly to the left or right, engagement has improved as well. I cannot believe how much improvement having the mains correctly positioned has on the whole experience.

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Are you talking about Mike Lavigne's room?

No need to put the IB's under the floor - that's very expensive. I would just put the listening room next to the garage or laundry and vent the IB's into the next room.

[/b]

Nice room for one.

I'd get lonely in that room after a while.

Beautifully sculptured acoustically tho - must sound fantastic

Regarding subs in general and IB's in particular, yes I would go IB Mondie. (you must come over soon and listen - all doubters have been converted so far AFAIK)

But I wouldn't do what I did and go manifolds. I would do a line array of good quality 18's, exactly like ken s did. Well braced of course, as the drivers are not opposed to cancel vibrations, just as ken s did. A line array reportedly sounds better, probably gets you more dynamic attack (pants blowing variety) and does not ruin another room for habitation by venting into it (and yes garage doors can become big resonators for the neighbours I believe). I would also face the back of the drivers away from near neighbours and absorb the backwave energy in thick vegetation.

PS That guys room has one problem - he doesn't have a good subwoofer. Irrespective of how good/expensive his beautiful supposedly full range mains are, there is no way he could reproduce some of the sub 25Hz dynamics that a big sub (like an IB) can add to music. Well, one notch to me and 99 to him. I'm satisfied. :biggrin:

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I built a purpose room for my hi fi and it sounds terrible.The dimensions were technically good-7m long and open ended,4.6 m wide with 3m high ceilings.By lucky coincidence a sun room I built which is 4.2m wide by about 5m deep and with a full width 135 degree bay window sounds excellent.[normal 2.4 m ceiling height but opening to 3m behind]Many people have commented on how good this room sounds-especially for imaging.I have heavy curtains and the speakers are positioned just slightly into the start of the bay space.So the speakers are effectively about 1.2 m forward of the curtains[normal 2.1 m apart].Stats work really well into this space and do not look absurdly out into the room as would be the case with a flat wall behind.

Construction is double brick with rough rendered[bagged] finish rather than reflective smooth plaster finish.Flooring is direct glue 12mm hardwood over concrete.

I can't get photos to post on this site-I have tried all the sugested ways but obviously there is a formating or setting issue with my computer.I can email photos of this room though for anybody interested.

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I built a purpose room for my hi fi and it sounds terrible.The dimensions were technically good-7m long and open ended,4.6 m wide with 3m high ceilings.

[/b]

That's really scary - the stuff nightmare's are made of :ohmy:

So, were you able to figure out what was wrong? In what ways did it sound terrible? An understanding of the problem and potential solutions could be useful for future reference and to help others. Most of us won't have an alternative room to use as "plan B".

BTW Since my post last night, I googled Floyd E Toole and found he's still around.....now boss of accoustical engineering with Harman International. A lot of his stuff that I was referring to is on the net.

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Well found amfibius yep that is the one, great link by the way as has much more as far as the room and its makings than the avs link had.

post-687-133211639469_thumb.jpg

this pic above is exactly what I had in minds eye :)

[/b]

Yes well found Amfibious that's pretty much all of what I was thinking except some well draped windows across the front for visual appeal, maybe I saw it once and it has stuck!

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Yes well found Amfibious that's pretty much all of what I was thinking except some well draped windows across the front for visual appeal, maybe I saw it once and it has stuck!

[/b]

I note no bass traps in the front corners - considering he has done everything else, surprised he left the corners untouched?

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I built a purpose room for my hi fi and it sounds terrible.The dimensions were technically good-7m long and open ended,4.6 m wide with 3m high ceilings.

[/b]

Ahhh, thats my nightmare too. The house we are in now we built 5 yrs ago, the room while not planned to be an all out attempt at an ideal listening room sounds ok but it could be a lot better. Open spaces to the sides, many windows etc. This is most likely my last attempt to get it right, hence the thread.

So much good info guys, thanks for all the input. Amfi, Mike Lavinges room looks amazing. l see he has done away with corners behind the speakers by have a 3 sided rear wall, wonder if getting rid of the 90 deg corners a little as he has done is sufficent to cure corner nastys. If so l could do the same at the rear as Rod has suggested, that pic of yours is a beauty and l along the lines of what l understand a good room should look like.

JA, thanks for all the good pointers. An octagonal room is posible, flaring the side walls out is also and would look quite good if l get the proportions right.

The floor will be concrete, the house will be brick venereal but l can go double brick in the lisening room if benefical. l am not sure if going double brick improves the sound of the room or is just to reduce transmitted noise? An angled or vaulted ceiling should be doable. l too prefer the speakers along the long wall, it certainly works best in my current room and asthetically looks the best too.

Anyhow, lots of reading and sketching to do. l really appreciate all the advice :)

Cheers Simon

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I note no bass traps in the front corners - considering he has done everything else, surprised he left the corners untouched?

[/b]

If you have a look at the construction diagrams on the site the whole front end is one big bass trap with a false wall and the corners are angled with even more stuffing in them. You can just pick out how deep the window sills are.

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I never really worked out the exact problem with my room but put it down to just too many reflections.With the speakers at the narrow end it sounded echoey and confused and across the room it just didn't lock in images.Just incoherent really,although not really bad tonally.This was with all sorts of speakers.

One of the best rooms I have heard was rammed earth with slightly curved walls.Another had timber wall panelling with each board having a concave profile.Also ceilings with lining board and exposed rafters help control roof reflections.So I think there is a lot to be said for rough surfaces.[not talking carpet burns here]

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I never really worked out the exact problem with my room but put it down to just too many reflections.[/b]

I think if you read Luckydog's thread, he mentioned somewhere that when he completed his listening room he was very disappointed with the sound. He cured this by applying some acoustic foam from the guys at studiocel. He also mentioned that when he removed the foam panels to get them recoloured, the room became awful again.

I will be getting my foam panels later this week. I'm getting quite excited now :) Will report back.

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Guest alebonau

I note no bass traps in the front corners - considering he has done everything else, surprised he left the corners untouched?

[/b]

hi norpus in the link to info on "Mike Lavigne's room" appears Rives audio had quite an involvement in the whole deisgn ground up. Some very interestign comments in there two I found. Btu I'm sure from a room design it woudl be about as ideal as they could dream up. Woudl love to have a listen to the system the guy has ther in the room and isnt the house jsut located in such an idealic location ...one lucky bugger that one ! :)

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hi norpus in the link to info on "Mike Lavigne's room" appears Rives audio had quite an involvement in the whole deisgn ground up. Some very interestign comments in there two I found. Btu I'm sure from a room design it woudl be about as ideal as they could dream up. Woudl love to have a listen to the system the guy has ther in the room and isnt the house jsut located in such an idealic location ...one lucky bugger that one ! :)

[/b]

I reckon Kylie would still sound crapp there :biggrin:

OK read it all now, and yes, what a room. Yes there were bass traps in corner too. Tongue taken out of cheek

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