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I need help taming a "hardness" in my basement room.

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  • I need help taming a "hardness" in my basement room.

    I rushed through a basement renovation because I had my third kid on the way, but this room has been paying back my hastiness since day one. In short: I carved a section of my basement out and painted the exposed ceiling, threw up some drywall and put down LVT (vinyl tile). Simply put, the sound has a certain harsh quality, almost like a ringing that lingers in my ears. For the first few months I assumed it was speaker placement. I experimented extensively, was happy at various points, but the problem persisted. I then went to equipment, every component and cable has been switched out to the point that I've had 3 totally different systems setup in here at various points. Every system suffered the same fate.

    Next, room treatment. I didn't go crazy (don't have much flexibility in the room), but I covered my main reflection points with prim acoustic and GIK panels. Again I thought I solved it, but that hard quality still nagged at me. While the panels greatly improved clarity, which is why they initially pleased me, they didn't really take away that slightly harsh presentation. This weekend I removed all room treatment, and the sound is actually smoother, but something is still not right. Is it possible the 2-4" panels I was using were actually accentuating the displeasing frequencies?

    So is there anything that you see in this room that you could see as a potential culprit? The exposed wood ceiling? The floating vinyl floor?


  • #2
    What are the dimensions of your room? Is that exposed metal ducting for your HVAC system I see running around the top of your room?
    SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

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    • #3
      Yes sorry two things I forgot to mention. Room is 20’x13’x8’. YES that’s metal ductwork, an obvious potential “ringing” culprit.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Jtycho View Post
        Yes sorry two things I forgot to mention. Room is 20’x13’x8’. YES that’s metal ductwork, an obvious potential “ringing” culprit.
        That was my first thought. You might try wrapping the ductwork in fiberglass. You have plenty of shelves and what looks like a brick wall on one side which should help break up parallel wall reflections.
        SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

        Comment


        • Jtycho
          Jtycho commented
          Editing a comment
          That sounds like a good starting point. I’ll give it a shot.

      • #5
        That looks like a nice inviting room. The duct work is also something I would look at. The ESLs are in no way piercing in their upper registers. You may want to wire tie some felt or old blankets against the duct work to begin with to test the hypothesis. Depending on clearance you then can glue some fabric wrapped roxul or glue some foam blocks ( I use an array of these on my ceiling)

        Your vinyl floor also comes to mind. Is that a painted brick wall?

        Lastly, has anything stayed the same over your 3 system changes? Wires, front end etc... I'd look there as well. Good luck.


        Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_0166.jpg Views:	1 Size:	43.5 KB ID:	83301
        Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
        Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
        Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
        Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
        Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
        Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

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        • Jtycho
          Jtycho commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Kcin. The only thing that's stayed the same are some power cords and a Blue Circle powerline conditioner, which was in my previous listening room without issue. I will test the duct work hypothesis with whatever I can cheaply find to cover it before doing anything permanent. I really hope this doesn't come to drywalling the ceiling/duct work and ripping out the floor. Ugh. And yes, that's a painted brick wall.

      • #6
        And what is the back wall? Brick? Wood or sheetrock?
        Are the 'ringing' and the harshness two different things?

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        • Jtycho
          Jtycho commented
          Editing a comment
          The wall behind my chair is Sheetrock. I've attached a picture. Only the one wall, which is the chimney, is brick.

          The ringing and harshness are the same. I called it "ringing" because the harshness has a metallic quality. Me saying that doesn't make the ductwork the main culprit, but it does seem logical.

      • #7

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        • #8
          I had bass issues because the right side of my room is a concrete retaining wall while the left wall is a stud wall. I also had originally used underlayment as wall material instead of standard sheet rock so, the room was like a bunker, keeping bass from escaping from the room. That room construction helped to create type of hardness and unnatural sound. I went through 5 different generations of room acoustic treatments and modifications to solve my issues. See my white paper.

          I mention my experience as it might give you some ideas. My wall panel design only adds 3/4" to existing walls, so it can be used to create a room-within-a-room without much impact on existing room dimensions (the side walls).

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          • Jtycho
            Jtycho commented
            Editing a comment
            I read your white paper. I love the idea, but I wouldn't even know where to begin, I'm not exactly hands on.

        • #9
          Originally posted by Joe Pittman View Post
          I had bass issues because the right side of my room is a concrete retaining wall while the left wall is a stud wall. I also had originally used underlayment as wall material instead of standard sheet rock so, the room was like a bunker, keeping bass from escaping from the room. That room construction helped to create type of hardness and unnatural sound. I went through 5 different generations of room acoustic treatments and modifications to solve my issues. See my white paper.

          I mention my experience as it might give you some ideas. My wall panel design only adds 3/4" to existing walls, so it can be used to create a room-within-a-room without much impact on existing room dimensions (the side walls).
          Joe Pittman So, Joe, are you suggesting that J put up a 'false wall' only on the exposed brick face wall, if his other side wall is studs and dry wall?

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          • Jtycho
            Jtycho commented
            Editing a comment
            Well technically one wall is brick, the other three are studs/drywall over the concrete foundation.

        • #10
          Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

          Joe Pittman So, Joe, are you suggesting that J put up a 'false wall' only on the exposed brick face wall, if his other side wall is studs and dry wall?
          Bill, I'm vaguely suggesting the brick wall may create room asymmetry which may contribute or be the root cause of the room hardness. If my wall panel approach was used, or any other for that matter, I would apply it to the left and right wall for acoustic symmetry relative to the center-line of the speakers.

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          • Jtycho
            Jtycho commented
            Editing a comment
            I’m not sure you’d still consider this room asymmetry, but one of the setups I tested was speakers on the long wall, the brick wall being the main wall. Even with that decidedly different placement the hardness was still present.

        • #11
          Small rooms are problematic for acoustics. One of the main reasons is due to the short reflection distances from speakers-to-boundary-to-your ears, many being less than 20 feet total. So it is not surprising that sound characteristics are similar running the speakers on the short wall versus the long wall.

          Concrete retaining walls plus brick walls is essentially a bunker which is great for isolating the room from the rest of the house, but bad because bass can't escape. There is a fundamental resonance in a bunker, which sounds "hard" and is similar in concept to an oil can resonance. I try to have a lossy room design which allows a uniform leakage of sound (mostly bass) to minimize that resonance. Not easy.

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          • #12
            Understood. No, definitely not easy.

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            • #13
              Really nice listening space, by the way. Others have already pointed out the obvious stuff: the harshness or ringing is likely connected to the metal HVAC ductwork in the ceiling. I'd address that first of all. But you also have some recessed light fixtures in the ceiling, and those are sort of exposed too. Is it possible that you're getting unwanted vibration/noise resonating from those lighting cans?

              Less likely but worth checking are the instruments hanging on the wall. Those guitars are going to vibrate some, since that's what they're designed to do. Maybe take them out of the room for while to see if that has an effect. I'd recommend trying room treatments on the rear walls, behind the listening position, more or less where the guitars are hanging. You've also got glass-covered picture frames on the walls precisely at your side reflection points. Those need to go, in my opinion.

              Good luck!
              Jim
              Dynavector XX-2MKII, VPI JMW 10.5i, VPI Aries, VPI SDS, ModWright PH-150 Reference Phono, Sony HAP-Z1ES server, McIntosh MR80, McIntosh C2300, McIntosh MC352, Vandersteen 5A, PS Audio P10, Bright Star Audio Rack of Gibraltar. Cables: Shunyata Cobra Ztron IC, PS Audio Statement AC, Synergistic Research AC, Harmonic Tech Silver Phono, Cable Research Labs Silver IC, Audioquest Gibraltar bi-wire.

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              • Goheelz
                Goheelz commented
                Editing a comment
                Thinking about this a little more: the guitars are the least likely of issues here. I have 3 or 4 instruments on stands (guitars, banjos) in my listening room at any given time, and there are no problems whatsoever (at least no problems audible to me).

              • Jtycho
                Jtycho commented
                Editing a comment
                Probably not no. But they’re easy enough to remove. The first step is the ductwork. I’ll report back after I cover it.

              • jonathanhorwich
                jonathanhorwich commented
                Editing a comment
                I'd like to reiterate don't guess, but try some movable panels that can stand in the room and move them around the room which is easy and I bet it kills most of it when you find the right location. That's what happened to me. Then if 4 of those placed in various situations throughout the room don't work, then maybe it is the HIVAC. See my post down the page.

            • #14
              Jtycho-choose your gurus wisely. Many well intentioned people can inadvertently lead you down rabbit holes. Start with simple things that are easily reversible and don’t cost much. Do one thing at a time.
              SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

              Comment


              • jonathanhorwich
                jonathanhorwich commented
                Editing a comment
                Superb advice. See my posting below and you could order two or three or four panels and place them around the room free standing and you'll hear the difference. They aborb a big but evenly disperse which must be why they do the trick differently. Also spread two across your corners if the corners are available to stick one of them into sort of making the corner flat.

            • #15
              In 40 years of trying and rejecting acoustic panels I have found most of them are not good except to kinda absorb the sound, dulling it. Flat panels are not very good nor are those multi patterned square things with a little city like pattern on them. I finally found superb panels that actually work. They fixed my room with just two of them and one of my customers bought 3 and they greatly improved his sound. Here is the link. I was surprised how good they are and how mediocre all the flat panels are. The below panels are curved as you'll see:

              https://www.acousticgeometry.com/pro...urve-diffusor/
              JLH

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              • Spla'nin
                Spla'nin commented
                Editing a comment
                Another advantage, if needed, is being able to locate a bass trap behind the curved diffusor when used in a corner location.
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