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DIY Room Acoustics Treatment

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June 3, 2012 4:20 PM

What are some of the DIY room acoustics treatments you have done at home?

I live in an apartment with tiled floors + brick walls. And am looking for something a bit nicer than egg cartons but more budget than real acoustic panels. So just wondering what others people use.

Post your pics if you have them

Cheers
 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 12:37 AM

AcoustiMac

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 1:30 AM

Sheep skin rugs on walls behind speakers.

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 2:41 AM

A big rug on the tiled floor.

 

Use rugs on walls.

 

Have curtains on windows.

 

An effective budget trick is to hang curtains 'in-and-out' the corners of the room on flexible curtain track.

 

Debs

 
Last edited by naim_nymph June 4, 2012 2:50 AM
 
 
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June 4, 2012 3:37 AM

You can try this? 

 

 

Marc

 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 10:53 AM

I'm also thinking about room treatments as I have finally been given approval (in principle, subject to submitting detailed designs and finishing the bathroom first!) to converting 2 existing rooms into one larger dedicated listening room.

 

The room will be 4.7m x 5.6m x 2.4m so a little on the square side and miles from any recommended ratios so it will need some treatment.

 

I'm currently thinking of lining the rear wall with bass traps made out of fabric covered fibreglass blocks, probably 20-25cm thick covering about 80% of the surface area. At the first reflection point on the side walls a thinner panel will be used. Fitted carpet throughout, but with a thicker rug on the floor between the speakers and the listening chair.

 

The speakers will be positioned either side of a patio window with thick curtains. The racks to one side.

 

It's probably 6 months away so I need to be patient, but in the meantime any views over appropriate room treatments would be appreciated - but let's avoid needing to call in a taxidermist!

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 11:23 AM

Dave,

I would hang on until the room is done and you are in there.

Once your system is in and running you can then work out what to do.

It may not need that much doing to it.

Stu.

 
 
 
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Guido Fawkes
 
June 4, 2012 11:56 AM

Zinger when you say brick walls - do you mean bare brick walls or bricks behind some good painted plaster - if it is bare brick I'd certain look to cover up. Unlike bare wood floors (sorry pet hate - always makes me think of school hall), tiled floors can look very nice, but for better sound a good Wilton carpet is hard/impossible to beat - you don't need to go wall to wall. 

 

 

I don't think I'd go for Marc's decor; mind you those animals must have been running at quite a pace to come through the wall like that. 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 12:22 PM

You may well be right Stu, after all I will have curtains! 

 
 
 
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pjl2
 
June 4, 2012 1:14 PM

I have always been sceptical about acoustically treating rooms, except in extreme circumstances. If there are hard floors then certainly rugs can help, as will curtains. Beyond that I think it is debatable whether there is very much to be gained by adding either commercially available or DIY treatments. These will change the sound for sure, but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve.

 

Peter

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 1:39 PM

Originally Posted by Onthlam:

You can try this? 

 

 

Marc

 

You really made me laugh, thanks.

M.

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 1:45 PM

Originally Posted by DaveBk:

You may well be right Stu, after all I will have curtains! 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 1:54 PM

Originally Posted by Zinger:
What are some of the DIY room acoustics treatments you have done at home?

I live in an apartment with tiled floors + brick walls. And am looking for something a bit nicer than egg cartons but more budget than real acoustic panels. So just wondering what others people use.

Post your pics if you have them

Cheers

Hi Zinger,

 

room acoustics has long been an issue for me, I remember that still in my parent's flat I covered my room's walls with egg cartons and put some moquette myself.

I think that the major problem is small room size. Waves bounce and bounce, causing unpredictable enhancements and subtractions in frequencies.

For me, covering floors or walls with tissue (carpets and curtains) can undoubtedly do something for a very unhappy room, but treating the ceiling (whenever possible, e.g. almost never) can do very much for imaging: after all, it's usually the single, biggest bare surface in the room. Try listening to a piece with an open big umbrella on your head, and you'll see what I mean.

I have never used tube traps or the like, but have come to the conclusion that scattering the waves and breaking them can be a better solution than trying to absorb them.

If you google some key words and look at images, you may notice that in acoustically important rooms, like audio control rooms, small recording venues, and the like, the ancient tendency to cover all surfaces and kill reflections has been slowly replaced by one to break waves, introduce obstacles, de-simmetrize objects' placements, scatter sound around.

 

It might be a funny and interesting way to re-consider the looks of a living room too!

 

Cheers

Massimo 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 1:59 PM

Acoustic TreatmentI built these (the red things on the wall) using acoustic fabric and mineral wool insulation, just a simple timber frame and about 50mm depth. I used plastic to line the back and cheap hairspray to coat the fibre surface to reduce chance of fibres escaping. You probably only need 50m depth as beyong this you have quickly dimishing returns.I think these cost me about £150-200 to put together, biggest cost was the acoustic fabric.

 

Made a huge difference to the acoustics. btw the speaker fire towards this wall.

 

You will need to work on the 4.7m/2.4m lengths as you have many similiar resounant frequencies there.

 

Matthew

 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 2:10 PM

One can always buy Artists blank canvas to hang on walls.

Lots of small ones or large.

Put your own art on them to match your room or just paint the same colour as your walls.

Fill the gap in the back with cut to size foam rubber.


Stu.

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 2:16 PM

JN of this parish has some excellent and very reasnably priced acoustic panels. Hopefully he will spot this thread and reply. The first question one should ask themselves before any room treatment is, do I have the right speakers for my room?

 

Cheers, Julian

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 2:18 PM

And the left 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 2:23 PM

Originally Posted by Gale 401:

And the left 

Pedentary alert! 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 2:58 PM

Originally Posted by pjl2:

I have always been sceptical about acoustically treating rooms, except in extreme circumstances. If there are hard floors then certainly rugs can help, as will curtains. Beyond that I think it is debatable whether there is very much to be gained by adding either commercially available or DIY treatments. These will change the sound for sure, but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve.

 

Peter

"but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve."


I have never experienced this.

Can you mess up a room's acoustics with retail panels? You can go one to many. You can put a purpose built one in the wrong place in a room. But, this would take work...

 

Most all equipment built is nonlinear. 99.8% of all speakers are nonlinear. Every room is nonlinear.

To hear whats on the recording, you must(imo)resolve two out of three. For me, it was the room and the speakers.

 

My feeling is - mains,room,speakers,kit,cables,then support....In this order..

 

 

 

Marc

 
Last edited by Onthlam June 4, 2012 3:07 PM
 
 
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June 4, 2012 3:09 PM

Originally Posted by Julian H:
Originally Posted by Gale 401:

And the left 

Pedentary alert! 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 3:15 PM

Originally Posted by Onthlam:
Originally Posted by pjl2:

I have always been sceptical about acoustically treating rooms, except in extreme circumstances. If there are hard floors then certainly rugs can help, as will curtains. Beyond that I think it is debatable whether there is very much to be gained by adding either commercially available or DIY treatments. These will change the sound for sure, but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve.

 

Peter

"but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve."


I have never experienced this.

Can you mess up a room's acoustics with retail panels? You can go one to many. You can put a purpose built one in the wrong place in a room. But, this would take work...

 

Most all equipment built is nonlinear. 99.8% of all speakers are nonlinear. Every room is nonlinear.

To hear whats on the recording, you must(imo)resolve two out of three. For me, it was the room and the speakers.

 

My feeling is - mains,room,speakers,kit,cables,then support....In this order..

 

 

 

Marc

Marc,

Have you ever thought of getting some nice thick underlay and twice as thick carpet to go on your listening room floor?

I know its hot where you are most of the time and you have the dogs to consider, but i am sure it would make a nice difference for the better.

Stu.

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 3:22 PM

Thanks Julian.

 

Hi Zinger,

 

I have some panels from 'GRG Acoustics', West Hythe, Kent which look reasonably attractive and work. Julian has had some success with them too.

 

Corner bass units.

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah; I know - me top SBL foam is askance. Since, sorted.

 

 

 

Wall panel. (Mild lesbian pornography alert).

 

 

Both types help to stop the sound getting too bright; reduce flutter echoes and stop the sound bouncing around and getting 'time-smeared' - i.e. losing focus, but they will not deal with bass boom. That needs a serious amount of absorptive material.

 

I've found that sitting right on the back wall is often a problem, so avoid that if possible.

 

My dealer always used to say that 'busy' rooms (i.e. carpeted and well-furnished) work best in his experience - though too much stuff in a room can kill the sound. Too many people in a room can kill the sound!

 

'Live end - dead end' is good basic room acoustic advice.

 

Loudspeakers in corners enhances and muddies bass output of course, and is generally best avoided.

 

I hope some of that helps.

 

John.

 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 3:22 PM

Originally Posted by Gale 401:
Originally Posted by Onthlam:
Originally Posted by pjl2:

I have always been sceptical about acoustically treating rooms, except in extreme circumstances. If there are hard floors then certainly rugs can help, as will curtains. Beyond that I think it is debatable whether there is very much to be gained by adding either commercially available or DIY treatments. These will change the sound for sure, but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve.

 

Peter

"but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve."


I have never experienced this.

Can you mess up a room's acoustics with retail panels? You can go one to many. You can put a purpose built one in the wrong place in a room. But, this would take work...

 

Most all equipment built is nonlinear. 99.8% of all speakers are nonlinear. Every room is nonlinear.

To hear whats on the recording, you must(imo)resolve two out of three. For me, it was the room and the speakers.

 

My feeling is - mains,room,speakers,kit,cables,then support....In this order..

 

 

 

Marc

Marc,

Have you ever thought of getting some nice thick underlay and twice as thick carpet to go on your listening room floor?

I know its hot where you are most of the time and you have the dogs to consider, but i am sure it would make a nice difference for the better.

Stu.

Stu-

I had carpet. The sound was crap...

Under the flooring there is 2 layers of acoustic barrier, double layer of boards, and copious amount of screws and glue. 

 

Regards,

Marc 

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 3:27 PM

Originally Posted by J.N.:

Thanks Julian.

 

Hi Zinger,

 

I have some panels from 'GRG Acoustics', West Hythe, Kent which look reasonably attractive and work. Julian has had some success with them too.

 

Corner bass units.

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah; I know - me top SBL foam is askance. Since, sorted.

 

 

 

Wall panel. (Mild lesbian pornography alert).

 

 

Both types help to stop the sound getting too bright; reduce flutter echoes and stop the sound bouncing around and getting 'time-smeared' - i.e. losing focus, but they will not deal with bass boom. That needs a serious amount of absorptive material.

 

I've found that sitting right on the back wall is often a problem, so avoid that if possible.

 

My dealer always used to say that 'busy' rooms (i.e. carpeted and well-furnished) work best in his experience - though too much stuff in a room can kill the sound. Too many people in a room can kill the sound!

 

'Live end - dead end' is good basic room acoustic advice.

 

Loudspeakers in corners enhances and muddies bass output of course, and is generally best avoided.

 

I hope some of that helps.

 

John.

 

John,

I hope you didn't pay full price for them?

Stu.

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 3:44 PM

Originally Posted by maxbertola:
Originally Posted by Onthlam:

You can try this? 

 

 

Marc

 

You really made me laugh, thanks.

M.

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 5:47 PM

Stu,

 

I can't remember how much I paid (some years ago), but I do recall that it was several hundred pounds.

 

They ain't cheap for fabric over sculpted foam rubber.

 

John.

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 7:46 PM

Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes:

       

         class="quotedText">
       

Zinger when you say brick walls - do you mean bare brick walls or bricks behind some good painted plaster - if it is bare brick I'd certain look to cover up. Unlike bare wood floors (sorry pet hate - always makes me think of school hall), tiled floors can look very nice, but for better sound a good Wilton carpet is hard/impossible to beat - you don't need to go wall to wall. 

 

 

I don't think I'd go for Marc's decor; mind you those animals must have been running at quite a pace to come through the wall like that. 




I meant my walls were made of bricks, but the surfaces are smooth and finished. More just curious what some one you have done as practical/elegant DIY solutions. My temporary cardboards and cushions and blankets on wall certainly don't look very nice haha
 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 8:23 PM

Originally Posted by Zinger:
Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes:

 

I don't think I'd go for Marc's decor; mind you those animals must have been running at quite a pace to come through the wall like that. 


I do like that...

 
 
 
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June 4, 2012 8:43 PM

I'm in the club as well. I definitely need some treatment in my new place as there are some terrible flutter echo and ringing issues which make some recording completely unlistenable. So, I'm considering some relatively cheapish solution - ATP acoustic foam panels and some bass traps made by the same company. Do you have any idea about the quality of those absorption panels?

 

Cheers!

 
 
 
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June 5, 2012 1:57 AM

Go to wwwdotrealtrapsdotcom...

You will find plenty of information to improve any room.

Marc

 
Last edited by Onthlam June 5, 2012 2:12 AM
 
 
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June 5, 2012 2:00 AM

ABSORPTION COEFFICIENT CHART

I got this chart off the web and it gives you an idea of how the different materials absorb sound at different frequencies.

Remember that full absorption is 1 whilst full reflection is 0

Absorption coefficients of common building materials and finishes

Floor materials125 Hz250 Hz500 Hz1 kHz2 kHz4 kHz
carpet0.010.020.060.150.250.45
Concrete (unpainted, rough finish)0.010.020.040.060.080.1
Concrete (sealed or painted)0.010.010.020.020.020.02
Marble or glazed tile0.010.010.010.010.020.02
Vinyl tile or linoleum on concrete0.020.030.030.030.030.02
Wood parquet on concrete0.040.040.070.060.060.07
Wood flooring on joists0.150.110.10.070.060.07
Seating materials125 Hz250 Hz500 Hz1 kHz2 kHz4 kHz
Benches (wooden, empty)0.10.090.080.080.080.08
Benches (wooden, 2/3 occupied)0.370.40.470.530.560.53
Benches (wooden, fully occupied)0.50.560.660.760.80.76
Benches (cushioned seats and backs, empty)0.320.40.420.440.430.48
Benches (cushioned seats and backs, 2/3 occupied)0.440.560.650.720.720.67
Benches (cushioned seats and backs, fully occupied)0.50.640.760.860.860.76
Theater seats (wood, empty)0.030.040.050.070.080.08
Theater seats (wood, 2/3 occupied)0.340.210.280.530.560.53
Theater seats (wood, fully occupied)0.50.30.40.760.80.76
Seats (fabric-upholsterd, empty)0.490.660.80.880.820.7
Seats (fabric-upholsterd, fully occupied)0.60.740.880.960.930.85
Reflective wall materials125 Hz250 Hz500 Hz1 kHz2 kHz4 kHz
Brick (natural)0.030.030.030.040.050.07
Brick (painted)0.010.010.020.020.020.03
Concrete block (coarse)0.360.440.310.290.390.25
Concrete block (painted)0.10.050.060.070.090.08
Concrete (poured, rough finish, unpainted)0.010.020.040.060.080.1
Doors (solid wood panels)0.10.070.050.040.040.04
Glass (1/4" plate, large pane)0.180.060.040.030.020.02
Glass (small pane)0.040.040.030.030.020.02
Plasterboard (12mm (1/2") paneling on studs)0.290.10.060.050.040.04
Plaster (gypsum or lime, on masonry)0.010.020.020.030.040.05
Plaster (gypsum or lime, on wood lath)0.140.10.060.050.040.04
Plywood (3mm(1/8") paneling over 31.7mm(1-1/4") airspace)0.150.250.120.080.080.08
Plywood (3mm(1/8") paneling over 57.1mm( 2-1/4") airspace)0.280.20.10.10.080.08
Plywood (5mm(3/16") paneling over 50mm(2") airspace)0.380.240.170.10.080.05
Plywood (5mm(3/16") panel, 25mm(1") fiberglass in 50mm(2") airspace)0.420.360.190.10.080.05
Plywood (6mm(1/4") paneling, airspace, light bracing)0.30.250.150.10.10.1
Plywood (10mm(3/8") paneling, airspace, light bracing)0.280.220.170.090.10.11
Plywood (19mm(3/4") paneling, airspace, light bracing)0.20.180.150.120.10.1
Absorptive wall materials125 Hz250 Hz500 Hz1 kHz2 kHz4 kHz
Drapery (10 oz/yd2, 340 g/m2, flat against wall)0.040.050.110.180.30.35
Drapery (14 oz/yd2, 476 g/m2, flat against wall)0.050.070.130.220.320.35
Drapery (18 oz/yd2, 612 g/m2, flat against wall)0.050.120.350.480.380.36
Drapery (14 oz/yd2, 476 g/m2, pleated 50%)0.070.310.490.750.70.6
Drapery (18 oz/yd2, 612 g/m2, pleated 50%)0.140.350.530.750.70.6

Fiberglass board (25mm(1") thick)

0.060.20.650.90.950.98
Fiberglass board (50mm(2") thick)0.180.760.990.990.990.99
Fiberglass board (75mm(3") thick)0.530.990.990.990.990.99
Fiberglass board (100mm(4") thick)0.990.990.990.990.990.97
Open brick pattern over 75mm(3") fiberglass0.40.650.850.750.650.6
Pageboard over 25mm(1") fiberglass board0.080.320.990.760.340.12
Pageboard over 50mm(2") fiberglass board0.260.970.990.660.340.14
Pageboard over 75mm(3") fiberglass board0.490.990.990.690.370.15
Performated metal (13% open, over 50mm(2") fiberglass)0.250.640.990.970.880.92
Ceiling material125 Hz250 Hz500 Hz1 kHz2 kHz4 kHz
Plasterboard (12mm(1/2") in suspended ceiling grid)0.150.110.040.040.070.08
Underlay in perforated metal panels (25mm(1") batts)0.510.780.570.770.90.79
Metal deck (perforated channels,25mm(1") batts)0.190.690.990.880.520.27
Metal deck (perforated channels, 75mm(3") batts)0.730.990.990.890.520.31
Plaster (gypsum or lime, on masonary)0.010.020.020.030.040.05
Plaster (gypsum or lime, rough finish or timber lath)0.140.10.060.050.040.04
Sprayed cellulose fiber (16mm(5/8") on solid backing)0.050.160.440.790.90.91
Sprayed cellulose fiber (25mm(1") on solid backing)0.080.290.750.980.930.76
Sprayed cellulose fiber (25mm(1") on timber lath)0.470.91.11.031.051.03
Sprayed cellulose fiber (32mm(1-1/4") on solid backing)0.10.30.730.920.980.98
Sprayed cellulose fiber (75mm(3") on solid backing)0.70.9510.850.850.9
Wood tongue-and-groove roof decking0.240.190.140.080.130.1
Miscellaneous surface material125 Hz250 Hz500 Hz1 kHz2 kHz4 kHz
People-adults (per 1/10 person)0.250.350.420.460.50.5
People-high school students (per 1/10 person)0.220.30.380.420.450.45
People-elementary students (per 1/10 person)0.180.230.280.320.350.35
Ventilating grilles0.30.40.50.50.50.4
Water or ice surface0.0080.0080.0130.0150.020.025

 

RT60 relates to intelligibility. Diffractors reduce pronounced reflection by breaking up the sound wave before reflecting it back. This does not reduce reverberant energy, but does reduce echo spikes that may otherwise exceed -60db of direct, thus lowering RT60 and improving intelligibilty, but not necessarily improving the listening environment for music.

 

 
 
 
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June 6, 2012 1:43 PM

Originally Posted by pjl2:

I have always been sceptical about acoustically treating rooms, except in extreme circumstances. If there are hard floors then certainly rugs can help, as will curtains. Beyond that I think it is debatable whether there is very much to be gained by adding either commercially available or DIY treatments. These will change the sound for sure, but they may well introduce as many problems as they solve.

 

Peter

In my experience you couldn't be further from the truth.

 

The irony is that we spend tens of thousands on actual equipment but find it uncomfortbale or pointless to spend just £500 on some simple room treatments which will pay massive dividends far greater than any upgrade, improvements which are also impossible to acheive no matter how much you spend on electronics.

 

My advice would be that it's well worth spending some time on the web researching room acoustics. It's very well documented and understood and there are various before and after videos to be found which are eyeopeners to say the least. Every room has certain modes which give rise to a much higher or lower volume at certain frequencies rather than a truer flatter response and most rooms have less than ideal primary and secondary reflections which can play havoc with time coherency and the overall balance of the sound. The domino effect comes into play as well, for instance, when you control bass modes and suck out the low frequencies from the corners of the room you actually clear up and bring out the midrange better as well.

 

I wouldn't try and 'guess' with everyday items found in the home. Softer furnishings and furniture is always good to break up the sound but these materials and objects will NOT properly control the sound and will not resolve standing waves, flutter echo and that big boomy bass you get at certain frequencies. Too much of this stuff will just make the room totally dead and that's actually the opposite of what you want. A proper informed approach using the correct equipment will actually make the sound more alive rather than just dampen and deaden it. Don't guess IMO. In fact if you have a pc, soundcard and mic then yuo can quite easily measure you're room to give yuo an idea of what you're up against from the start.

 

IME when you have had your room treated to give a nice flat and even reponse you will also find that you can far better assess and make judgements about equipment instead of getting confused between the room and the equipment. I hear this a lot when people describe items as bright or dark or too harsh or boomy etc. A lot of the time they are describing their room as much as anything else.

 

I don't know if I am allowed to state this but the education page on gik acoustics website is a good place to start for anyone interested. They also sell very reasonable room kits which work extremely well.

 
 
 
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June 28, 2012 4:02 PM

Originally Posted by Gale 401:

One can always buy Artists blank canvas to hang on walls.

Lots of small ones or large.

Put your own art on them to match your room or just paint the same colour as your walls.

Fill the gap in the back with cut to size foam rubber.


Stu.

Great idea!thanks,man!

 
 
 
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July 1, 2012 7:21 PM

Made some panels up last year. 2 behind speakers, 1 (currently) at first reflection as there is a chair at the other side and 1 to put in front of TV screen (very worthwhile). Used rockwool and fabric from ikea. Also got some reflection tiles behind listening position that came from studiospares.

 
 
 
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July 1, 2012 11:18 PM

 
I agree totally with lotus's comments. Can't remember who said this, or exactly how it was worded, but this  
stuck with me: "A modest system in a high end room will out perform a high end system in a low end room.
 
Installing commercial panels in my listening room (which was a good room to start with) was the single biggest upgrade in sound quality I've ever made to my system. The comment below by lotus was a shock to me when it happened to say the least...
 
Originally Posted by lotus340r:
The domino effect comes into play as well, for instance, when you control bass modes and suck out the low frequencies from the corners of the room you actually clear up and bring out the midrange better as well.

 

 

 
 
 
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