The first thing you’ll notice about my lounge room is that it’s also an acoustically treated listening space. My preference would be for a more minimalist aesthetic – bare white walls with the odd decorative piece – but this room, like many rooms, sounds one step away from awful when left untreated.
Why? Sound comes out of the loudspeakers as a range of frequencies that bounce around the room like balls on a 3-D snooker table. The amount of time a frequency (or frequencies) takes to decay by 60dB is called the RT60. Left untreated, the RT60 in my room would approach 700ms. And that’s far too high. Acousticians generally agree that an RT60 of 200ms – 300ms is desirable for a room designed for music playback.
At the end of 2021, after several years of dotting my room with acoustic panels from Thomann and GIK Acoustics, I had my 6m x 5m space kitted out with acoustic panels from Vicoustic. We might call this ‘the works’.
The panels mounted to the walls and ceiling help tame reverberation time for frequencies above 250Hz. Vicoustic states in the project proposal that “several authors agree that the average RT for a listening room should be within 0.3 s to 0.6 s in the frequency range from 250Hz to 4kHz.” Skipping out on treating the ceiling would have severely compromised those results.
In the REW graph below, you can see that my Vicoustic-treated room’s RT60 in the 250Hz – 4kHz region is now a reasonably consistent 200 – 300ms. ✅
Bass is controlled somewhat by Vicoustic bass traps placed in the front left and rear right corners but a 35Hz mode still presents. And to avoid loading the room with even more bass traps, I look to room compensation software to tidy things up below 50Hz. I’ve had great success with Dirac running on NAD hardware and Lyngdorf’s RoomPerfect. Note: these software algorithms are no substitute for physical room treatment, especially in the uppermost frequencies.
Floors are like ceilings. The hardwood floor space between the loudspeakers and the sofa is a highly reflective surface. But we have to be very careful when drawing parallels between rugs and ‘room treatment’. A rug will not do very much for the most destructive frequencies bounced by the floor to the listener’s ear.
Why not? Sound bouncing off the floor will arrive late to the ear and mix with the direct sound to create a comb filter. Using mehlau.net’s floor/ceiling reflection calculator we learn that with a loudspeaker’s mid/bass driver sat 85cm from the floor, our ear 95cm from the floor and 2.5m away from the loudspeaker, the resulting comb filter’s first and most prominent cancellation will occur at around 300Hz.
And yet according to Acoustic.ua’s Absorption Data, the average rug’s absorption coefficient is 0.08 at 125Hz, 0.08 at 250Hz, 0.30 at 500Hz, 0.60 at 1000Hz, 0.75 at 2000Hz and 0.80 at 4000Hz. At 300Hz, a rug will only absorb 15% of what it receives. The rug won’t be properly effective until it reaches 75% absorption at 2kHz. The most we can hope for from laying down a rug is a little more ease in the treble.
My rug is the Mala from MADE.com:
I have many houseplants in my room but they are not effective as acoustic treatments. And if they are, they certainly do less than 1% of what a wall-mounted diffusion-absorber panel would do. It’s why I made fun of their usage by audiophiles in our April Fool’s 2021 video.
The second thing you’ll notice about my lounge room is that there’s no TV. Instead, a short-throw projector from LG – the HF65LS Adagio 2.0 – fires onto the wall from the top shelf of the hi-fi rack.
The two green acoustic panels are removed temporarily in order to make room for image projection.
When I need to place the Xiaomi along the sidewall, out of sight, I use a longer AmazonBasics braided HDMI cable:
🛒 (US) https://amzn.to/3FlcaLu
🛒 (DE) https://amzn.to/3tUXb8X
🛒 (UK) https://amzn.to/3gcx6KN
The hi-fi rack mentioned – and seen – above is a Hifi Racks Podium XL V:
Before that I used a Hifi Racks Podium Reference:
And before that, a Hifi Racks Podium Slimline:
My attempts at using normal furniture to host audio gear have been short-lived. A pair of sideboards from Maisons du Monde both looked terrific but sounded poor. Their rear panels vibrated when music was played at higher volumes. They were…
Maisons du Monde JANEIRO sideboard
Maisons du Monde LENOX sideboard
AudioQuest Powerquest 3
🛒 (US) https://www.turntablelab.com/products/audioquest-powerquest-3-surge-protector?aff=56088
🛒 (DE) https://amzn.to/3ICjDb2
AudioQuest Carbon USB
🛒 (US) https://www.turntablelab.com/collections/audioquest-alpha/products/audioquest-75m-carbon-usb-2-0-cable?aff=56088
AudioQuest Cinnamon TOSLINK
🛒 (US) https://www.turntablelab.com/collections/audioquest-alpha/products/audioquest-cinnamon-optilink-toslink-cable-1-5m?aff=56088
AudioQuest Evergreen analogue interconnect
🛒 (US) https://www.turntablelab.com/collections/audioquest-alpha/products/audioquest-evergreen-audio-interconnect-rca-rca-0-6m?aff=56088
IsoAcoustics zaZen I isolation platform
🛒 (US) https://www.turntablelab.com/collections/isoacoustics/products/isoacoustics-zazen-i-turntable-isolation-platform-25-lbs-max?aff=56088
🛒 (UK) https://amzn.to/3H2xoPU
IsoAcoustics zaZen II isolation platform
🛒 (US) https://www.turntablelab.com/collections/isoacoustics/products/isoacoustics-zazen-ii-turntable-isolation-platform-40-lbs-max?aff=56088
Reliable Corp UberLightFlex turntable light
🛒 (US) https://amzn.to/3raDCqm
IKEA Kallax 2 x 2
RAMAR record brush
Boundless Audio Stylus Cleaner Brush
🛒 (US) https://amzn.to/3qlxuMT
ROON / PLEX SERVERS:
🛒 (DE) https://amzn.to/3fS1IRw
DTAPE DT50 50M Digital Laser Rangefinder
Darko.Audio may earn a small commission from items purchased via affiliate links.