Some have the luxury of building a dedicated listening room from the ground up, taking care to isolate, decouple, damp, and de-twang all the room surfaces for optimal sound reproduction. Then, there are the rest of us! Let’s talk about a Case Study: HiFi in a Living Room where we take a look at a real-life living room that just happens to also serve as the vehicle for listening to a high-end audio playback system including Magico loudspeakers. Guided by the experience of ASC Owner and TubeTrap inventor, Art Noxon, we examine the aspects of the room and layout likely to disrupt the musicality, sound staging, and venue immersion capabilities of the space.
First, we see a “honk box” set of shelving collecting mids and highs, storing them and replaying them, right there in center stage. Center image is wrecked, and tonality is altered. That’s gotta go.
Next, the door behind the right speaker most likely rattles and twangs…not good. It should be secured and damped.
More imbalance: we have lots of midrange and treble diffusion to the left of the left speaker but a blank wall on the right. Stereo image and sound stage will suffer.
We have a right speaker in a tight 90-degree corner.
But, the left speaker is in an open, break away corner. Yet more imbalance, this time in the upper bass range.
The multiple large-pane sliding glass doors on the right wall “thunder” like big drum heads, coloring the sound and smearing time accuracy of playback.
We see a great sloped ceiling for moving vertical bass away from the front of the room, reducing the head end ringing.
This sloped ceiling allows the bass to expand into the high volume area in the rear of the room, allowing bass to lose energy and interfere less with perception of the direct signal.
For Starters, a Few Solutions
This is the corner to start with. We need about three 16×3 TubeTraps sitting under the picture shown, directly on the floor. This addresses the corner shape mismatch and restores some balance.
To take things a step further, let’s remove that picture and run HalfRound TubeTraps from floor to ceiling. Their treble-range reflectors will compliment what the left fireplace wall is doing naturally.
When You Can’t Use a Hammer…Use a TubeTrap!
Working with the room you have is sometimes the only path to audio satisfaction. Elements that may cause problems need to be addressed if you are to fully enjoy the music you love.
While the particular room features that degrade from your listening experience are fairly predictable, each room, on the whole, is unique and deserves a careful look from an experienced eye. We’ll apply the basic building blocks for acoustic control, and let you know which other items need attention.