Acoustics F.A.Q.s

by Mike OBrien on 03/10/2012


Does the average listener need acoustic treatment?  If you listen to MP3’s through ear buds the answer is no, but on the other hand you wouldn’t be reading this if that was the case!  Just about any room can benefit from acoustic treatment of some sort. This could be as simple as adding corner absorbers to control bass boom, to total wall and ceiling treatment with tuned absorbers, diffusers, and reflectors such as in our main listening room. The importance of controlling modal coupling and reflections is blatantly obvious at many audio shows where award-winning speakers are almost unlistenable. This is usually due to room size, room proportions, and poor (or no) acoustic treatment. Unfortunately, most of us do not have dedicated listening rooms so an acoustic compromise is inevitable. For this reason, we audition speakers and components in three acoustic environments; our fully treated listening room, a long (1.6:1) furnished living room with speakers on the short wall, and a furnished living room (1.8:1) with speakers on the long wall.  It is amazing how different the same system can sound!  Many clients can’t believe how different their speakers sound in our listening room where reflections and room modes are controlled. There is noticeable clarity of the upper mid and highs, lack of bass boom, and no hangover in the lower octaves (sometimes misconstrued as lack of bass).

Simple treatments such as corner bass traps can go a long way in taming an unbalanced or resonant system. Absorbers are only part of the answer. Diffusers and reflectors allow tweaking of the temporal response of a room. We have been able help certain rooms by simply rearranging furniture, adding wall hangings, and moving/adding plants to provide absorption and diffusion. This generally has a much higher WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) than sticking 4’x4’ blobs on the walls and moving everything out of the room. We have made many aesthetically pleasing custom size covered wall panels (absorbers and diffusers) for wall placement as well as full wall installations. Anyway, a little acoustic treatment can go a long way in wringing out the detail in any system.

Thanks for 'tuning' in!

 - MOB

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