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Leaving a decade of acoustic frustration behind

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  • Leaving a decade of acoustic frustration behind

    Hello, I finally got to take some time to share my audio journey.
    I had a house built about 11 years ago and anticipated already then that I would have a dedicated room. Little did I know about acoustics and basic requirements. Well, I did know a bit as I knew that I had to know but I also knew I didn’t know J, so I hired an external acoustic consultant.
    I gave him the dimensions of my room (stupid enough I didn’t ask him to optimize the sizes but even more stupidly he didn’t offer that neither, foresaying what was going to happen…) and asked for an acoustic treatment.

    Gross (w/o treatment) room dimensions are 4m20 x 5m40 x 2m45, located in the basement and all concrete walls around, except for the entrance door of course J
    This picture shows how it was after the first installation, the absorber foam was added by myself:

    [IMG]file:///C:%5CUsers%5Cmiche%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsoh tmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image002.jpg[/IMG]

    This room was very bright and no bass whatsoever. I could write a whole book on what was wrong and why so I will fast forward a bit. I started by adding some absorber in the room, then I moved the false ceiling away, I re-arranged the Schroeder panels in the front, I added a curtain in the back (wanting to emulate a Live End - Dead End situation), added even more absorbers, asked for lots of advice around but frustrated as I then was, I started to take courses in acoustics as I wanted to understand myself what was happening, why and above all… what would be the best remedy.
    At that time, I already figured out that adding absorbers did certain things good, but as many (and sometimes more) times more bad things which only become apparent after a while, making me wanting to add even more absorbers in… in the end I ended up with a quite dead room with no musical envelopment, bad bass, poor staging, uneven frequency response, etc.

    The idea that absorbers are ultimately not the best way, and certainly not asking for acoustic advice to a company that only has absorbers on offer, had grown on me during my 6-month course in acoustics. At that time I started to look for a different approach in acoustics and veered away from the companies that offer $1 absorber foam in a $2 frame charging +$150 for it. Sometimes that foam was ‘special’, sometimes a bit thicker, sometimes packed in very nice marketing slang but in the end, it all killed the sound.
    This is the moment I came across Matts Odemalm from SMT in Sweden. A genious in acoustics if you ask me and his products have – finally – started to get more traction as first Marten, then MBL but now also brands like Wilson and Magico have embraced their unique diffusors. Albeit, they do not all do it publicly as sometimes other ties need to be respected. But if I tell you that in 2017 also Wilson and Magico had a whole lot of SMT diffusors all along the side walls (covered by an acoustic transparent fabric) in their Munich demo rooms, then you will start to get the picture.

    Anyway, here is my room before my last equipment installation and the next picture is the last iteration. As I moved the horns in, I had to create more space for the horns so I took some diffusors away but I will be putting the whole lot back in!

    [IMG]file:///C:%5CUsers%5Cmiche%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsoh tmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image004.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]file:///C:%5CUsers%5Cmiche%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsoh tmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image006.jpg[/IMG]

    I am not going to describe here what makes the SMT diffusors so different nor the use of the Helmholtz resonators for the bass treatment nor will I be writing why panel x is placed there and panel y is place there because this will bring us much too far away from the purpose of this thread.
    My purpose is merely to help you feel less bad by seeing how crazy I am

    I also intentionally do not comment all the equipment choices I made over the many years. This would take me ages and you yawning after the first of ten pages. Looking at my signature you already guessed where it all has gotten me.
    One thing I want to say is that I owned the products before becoming a distributor and only after raving about them did the respective companies ask me if I wanted to represent them, not the other way round!

    The last picture is audio nirvana for me. Thanks for reading.
    Distributor for Entreq, Aries Cerat, Stenheim, 432EVO and SMT for Belgium and The Netherlands.
    www.ultisone.be or facebook/ultisone

  • #2
    thanks for sharing your interesting journey and nice systems you've had. Im guessing when you say the last picture is audio nirvana for you, you meant the center picture with Aires Cerats? have you also found with horns that you can get away with less sidewall treatments? the horns i'm familiar with are directional and project farther into the room washing over the listeners in more direct sound. thoughts?

    Comment


    • #3
      The space itself is quite beautiful. I never liked over damped rooms- aside from sound, it gives me a claustrophobic feeling. It looks like you went to diffusers and harder surfaces.
      I use horns and while they are currently in a room that was not purpose built, I believe that a lot can be done without spending crazy money on fancy room treatment (I do have bass traps and a nice old rug, along with a lot of irregular surfaces). If we didn't learn through our misadventures, I don't know that we'd learn much at all.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Michel,

        We have been audiobuddies for quite while now and I have seen the evolution of your system over the years. I know that you have faced some frustration as you did not accept compromises. Your current setup is definitely the best I have heard in your dedicated room.

        I always appreciate your honest feedback and you have helped me improving my setup.

        I am also happy that you are finally joining the analog club with the incoming Studer A80R. I know that I am somewhat responsible for that move and I am looking forward to listening to some tapes at your place in the coming weeks.

        Best,

        Denis

        Comment


        • flyer
          flyer commented
          Editing a comment
          Most welcome as you know!

      • #5
        hi Michel,

        I've had a similar journey as you have had. 13 years ago I built a dedicated room acoustically designed. the fundamental bones of the room ended up in then end being fantastic, but attaining cohesion and synergy required me to figure things out......and make some changes. but I was clueless then.

        I then wandered in the wilderness for at least 10 years getting humbled many times as I learned and suffered trying to find the right approach. then a couple years ago I broke through and tamed the room and now am extremely happy. my relentlessness was rewarded, and I can tell you are feeling the same.

        enjoy.

        Comment


        • #6
          Thanks for posting. For me, the wood is natural and welcoming.
          Spkr: Wilson Alexias; Amps: Lamm M1.2Ref; Linestage and phono: ARC Ref 10 and ARC Ref 10 Phono; TT: GPA Monaco 1.5 & 2.0; Arms: Kuzma 4Point, Tri-planar Mk. VII U2-SE; Cartridges: Allnic Arrow/Puritas, Benz LP S, Lyra Etna, Transfiguration Phoenix, Denon DL-A100,DL103R; Cables: Shunyata Ξtron Anaconda PC/SC/IC; Pwr Cond: Shunyata Triton II, Typhons(3); Isolation: SRA Scuttle3 rack, SRA Ohio Class XL plus2 amp stands, Stillpoints 5s under spkrs; Acoustics: Stillpoints Apertures; Audio cat: Finzi

          Comment


          • #7
            Great post Michel! Thank you. When nothing else works, Matts comes to the rescue. I'm not surprised that Magico and Wilson went this rute too. I had simmilar problems like you and with Matts help I can now enjoy music in peace. Not to mention that my family is extremely satisfied with the looks too.
            Source: Kuzma XL DC, Kuzma 4Point 14 inch, Benz Micro LP-S MR; Phono: Zanden 1200 Mk3; Tuner: Magnum Dynalab MD-108T Signature; Line Stage: conrad-johnson GAT Series 2; Power amp: conrad-johnson ART; Speakers: Avalon Time; Grounding: Tripoint Troy Signature & Thor SE; Cable system: Cardas Clear & Clear Beyond; Stands: Finite Elemente Master Reference & Master Reference Heavy Duty; Power conditioner: P.I.Audio: UberBuss with Furutech FI-E30 NCF; Acoustics treatment: Svanå Miljöteknik AB (SMT);

            Comment


            • MylesBAstor
              MylesBAstor commented
              Editing a comment
              I thought the best sound I've heard from MBLs - and the Xtremes to boot - was at Axpona last year using SMT room Rx. In fact, never liked the sound of MBLs at shows before Jeremy and Greg switched to SMT. Now they did switch rooms last year but it was hardly ideal either. Speakers simply disappeared.

          • #8
            Originally posted by Rob View Post
            thanks for sharing your interesting journey and nice systems you've had. Im guessing when you say the last picture is audio nirvana for you, you meant the center picture with Aires Cerats? have you also found with horns that you can get away with less sidewall treatments? the horns i'm familiar with are directional and project farther into the room washing over the listeners in more direct sound. thoughts?
            Effectively, the room with the Aries Cerat horns (and equipment) is my nirvana. As dcc indicated, I indeed ordered a refurbished Studer A80R which is due in a couple of weeks, that will be another exciting move!

            I tend to agree that horns, if working well, effectively need less treatment. This is a quite dangerous statement and needs a lot more explanation but the end conclusion is yes. However, and that is one of the nice things of the diffusors I use, you cannot have too many of the SMT diffusors, more of them only gets it better. This is very unlike Schroeder or absorber panels that have their specific placing requirements.

            Horns are said to be directional, I agree but on the other hand I think and experienced that a tweeter from a dynamic speaker can give the impression to be much more directional. In other words, I can sit quite off axis with the Symphonia horns and still get very good high frequency whereas with most dynamic speakers (at least the ones I had like Rockport Avior) the balance gets completely off. This may have to do with the type of tweeter and the way it is mounted in a hornlike shape in the Symphonia's case but that is another subject of course.
            Distributor for Entreq, Aries Cerat, Stenheim, 432EVO and SMT for Belgium and The Netherlands.
            www.ultisone.be or facebook/ultisone

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
              The space itself is quite beautiful. I never liked over damped rooms- aside from sound, it gives me a claustrophobic feeling. It looks like you went to diffusers and harder surfaces.
              I use horns and while they are currently in a room that was not purpose built, I believe that a lot can be done without spending crazy money on fancy room treatment (I do have bass traps and a nice old rug, along with a lot of irregular surfaces). If we didn't learn through our misadventures, I don't know that we'd learn much at all.
              Well, horns will not take away your room modes of course, so indeed bass traps are a necessity.
              Distributor for Entreq, Aries Cerat, Stenheim, 432EVO and SMT for Belgium and The Netherlands.
              www.ultisone.be or facebook/ultisone

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
                hi Michel,

                I've had a similar journey as you have had. 13 years ago I built a dedicated room acoustically designed. the fundamental bones of the room ended up in then end being fantastic, but attaining cohesion and synergy required me to figure things out......and make some changes. but I was clueless then.

                I then wandered in the wilderness for at least 10 years getting humbled many times as I learned and suffered trying to find the right approach. then a couple years ago I broke through and tamed the room and now am extremely happy. my relentlessness was rewarded, and I can tell you are feeling the same.

                enjoy.
                Well Mike, your room is of course legendary and i wish I had the volume of your room so no doubt you must be in heaven every day as well!
                Distributor for Entreq, Aries Cerat, Stenheim, 432EVO and SMT for Belgium and The Netherlands.
                www.ultisone.be or facebook/ultisone

                Comment


                • #11
                  Hi Mike,

                  Congratulations! I am very happy for you!

                  Almost half my treatments are diffusive in nature. The balance is made up mostly of tuned resonators. Come to think of it perhaps less than 20 square meters of surface area is primarily absorptive. I always wince at rooms that are primarily absorptive. I'm not saying that they can't be good but rather that in most cases they simply lack even coverage which diffusion is really meant for. Too much absorptions sucks, pun intended.

                  Comment


                  • flyer
                    flyer commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Totally agree. I think absorption has to be used primarily, not to say only, to remedy an RT60 problem. And even for such case adding diffusion can help to remedy.

                • #12
                  Beautiful Michel and thanks for sharing a little of your audio journey! Would love to hear the Tenor system!

                  Kind of like what said as an athlete. If I knew then what I know now I would have been the world champion. 🤺
                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2 cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                  Comment


                  • flyer
                    flyer commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The Tenor Audio amps are the best I heard when a very decent pack of power is required. Their OTL input stage are unique and put for example one of my previous favourite amps, the Lamm 1.2, in a serious shadow.

                • #13
                  Thanks for making the comparrison between other treatments. I looked farther into SMT. The idea of time delay is a fantastic one. They look like an option I can get into.

                  Mike's room is big and awesome. He certainly has that element conquered. And it was also done without a pile of absorbing material.

                  Funny though, at the MBL room '16, I thought it sounded bizzare. Colored, breathy, unusual scale that sounded like current tampering, no timbre... I could go on but bizzare is enough, really.

                  Comment

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