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Wow, the room DOES make a difference!

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Adam Horak, Aug 9, 2003.

  1. Adam Horak

    Adam Horak Stunt Coordinator

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    Even though I've heard people talk about it on this board, I've never realized how much the room and placement can affect the sound of a sub. I have an SVS 20-39PCi, which I absolutely love. I just moved into a new place and got my theater set back up. In my old setup, the sub gave a wonderfully smooth response. Even walking around the room, it didnt seem to affect the sound very much. I guess I was lucky to have such an environment.

    I fired up AVIA to calibrate it in the new room today, and the bottom end is GONE!!! Anything under 50Hz seemed to really drop off. I did a quick frequency plot with my RS SPL meter an there is a huge hump in the response from about 50Hz to 80Hz. It peaked around 60Hz. I tried playing a few bass-heavy DVDs and they sounded drastically different. Unfortunelty, I don't have to flexibility to move the sub around in the room to try and flatten the response. Looks like I will be investing in a BFD!!

    I guess this post is just for all you newcomers out there who think the room can't possibly make that big of a difference. I suppose I was one of those people until today!
     
  2. Guy Kuo

    Guy Kuo Supporting Actor

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    Yep, the room is critical. So is speaker position. Those two factors can make a bigger impact than spending a few thousand more on your equipment.

    It sounds like you have your listening position and sub placement such that you are now in a bass null. Repositioning the sub could help tremendously. The RPG room optimizer, putting the sub into a different corner, or just plain old trial and error should help here.
     
  3. Bob Brick

    Bob Brick Extra

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    Ahh YES!!!.....The room is even more important than the audio equipment, because a bad sounding room will make everything sound bad. This simple fact really trips up a lot of people who know a lot about equipment but not much about acoustics.

    The first rule, then, of good home theatre sound is : Get thouself a good-sounding room. Without that as your foundation, it doesn't matter how much money you spend on all the audio gadgets, because the nasty sounding room will corrupt all of your efforts.

    I am aware of ways to try to fix or work around the problem, but for all the super-anal-retentive-audio-nirvana-obsessive-compulsives who will settle only for the absolute best, start with getting the best room.[
     
  4. Kevinkall

    Kevinkall Second Unit

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    What is a good room?
     
  5. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    My hierarchy for the factors that influence 'sound':

    Your central nervous system > speakers > room/room treatments >>> software > source > processing >>> amplification > your astrologic sign > cables/interconnects (feel free to re-order these last 3 as you like)... [​IMG]
     
  6. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Angelo, not a bad ranking! [​IMG] I would personally put the room ahead of the speakers though, in that a bad room can make good speakers sound bad. I'd also include speaker placement, in that if you place good speakers in a good room too close to any wall, bam: bad sound.
     
  7. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Kevin:

    Great points. The ranking is always subject to modification!
     
  8. Adam Horak

    Adam Horak Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I did some fooling around to see if I could even out the response. There are two possible locatoins where I can put the sub in the room. So I tested it in those positions and flipped the phase switch on the amp and tested again. So, it all looks like crap. I think I am going to buy a BFD to try and get a respectable response. So which of these will be easiest to work with?

    [​IMG]

    I am thinking that Position 1, Phase 0 (RED) will be the easiest to work with. It seems to have the least number of little dips and humps, basically just that huge bump centered at around 56 Hz. I think I can increase the total gain on the sub amp to get that 90Hz dip up to the level of my main speakers (80dB). Obviously that increased everything below that as well. But then I can just flatten out the big 56Hz hump and I should have a nice house curve. Does that sound like a good plan? I don't have any experience working with a BFD, so any suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  9. MingL

    MingL Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd go with the red curve if you're working with the BFD. Its got the least number cancellation extremes. A few PEQs is all you need to flatten that 56hz peak. And subsequently introduce a house curve (A search on "house curve" here would be useful if the phrase sounds new).
     
  10. Terry Montlick

    Terry Montlick Stunt Coordinator

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  11. Zack_R

    Zack_R Stunt Coordinator

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    If you have a receiver that will let you set the distance of the sub, you might want to try adjusting the sub distance (up or down) to smooth down the hump. It will have a similar result as if you had a variable phase adjustment on your sub.
     
  12. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Terry- Ahhh, but by your definition, an anechoic chamber would be a good room. [​IMG] But have your ever listened to tunage in such a room? Dead, uninvolving, emotionless. It seems strange, but you do need some room reflections for good sound IMO. But just like the three bears, not too much, and not too little, but something in the middle....


    I say red too. You can't do squat with a BFD for dips, and the red has the least dip-age...
     
  13. Adam Horak

    Adam Horak Stunt Coordinator

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    well, I got my BFD in on Friday. I played around with it this afternoon and got a nice little house curve. I am still going to tweak it a little bit, but it certainly is a whole lot better than before.

    I think its time to pop in TTT and enjoy helm's deep now. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Chuck Watwood

    Chuck Watwood Stunt Coordinator

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    Adam,

    Where did you get your test tones for your tests? I have been thinking about buying the BFD also. I have an odd shaped room and would like to flatten my sub response.

    I assume that the BFD is inline from the pre/pro to the sub? What kind of cables are needed? Where did you purchase your BFD and at what price? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.
     
  15. Adam Horak

    Adam Horak Stunt Coordinator

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    Chuck -

    I ran test tones off of my computer with this program:
    http://www.esser.u-net.com/ttg.htm

    I also verified it with the test tones found on this excellent web page detailing BFD setup for equalizing subwoofers: http://www.snapbug.ws/bfd.htm I just downloaded the tones and burned to CD.


    The BFD is located in between my pre/pro and sub amp. The input/ouputs on the BFD are either 1/4" plugs or XLR. I am using plain RCA style subwoofer cables with RCA to 1/4" converters where they hook into the BFD. I got mine at radio shack for a couple buck apiece.
    http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...5Fid=274%2D884

    I purchased the BFD from DJTronix. Best price I could find and I had no problems with them.
    http://store.yahoo.com/djtronix/behfeeddespr.html

    The BFD is a litte weird to work with, but once you get the hang of it it is pretty easy. I would check out the setup web page I linked to above, it does a great job of providing step-by-step instructions.
     
  16. Chuck Watwood

    Chuck Watwood Stunt Coordinator

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    Adam,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply in detail. Its much appreciated.
     
  17. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    The room IS, IS ..... IS your soundfield....... takes much work for sure if you do not have the proper dimmensions and layout to begin with... then it takes that much more effort to get it appropriate for anything critical. IMHO.

    Once I relocated my HT to my dedicated basement HT room I spent many hours and more than a few months working the room so that it sounded level and correct to my ears. Is it scientific? Hell no. Does it sound good to my ears. Yes it does.

    I put some SERIOUS DIY acoustical treatment in this room of mine. Is it ready for a front page cover shot for some upscale HT Interiors mag? Nope, not interested.

    Treat the room BEFORE ALL ELSE, as other have intimated, and, or, stated.

    Next clean up your AC (the true source and life of your gear) as best you can. This cannot be overstated! Bybee purifiers come to mind and these devices have lowered my systems noise-floor beyond anything I could have done with treatment or software. No kidding here. Treatments/Bybees/Speaker Placement= detail, or simply, "more information" eminating through your speakers.

    This is IMO, of course. I find "voicing" the room with treatments preferable to a software program, which simply does not work for me.

    IME,

    BOK
     
  18. Adam Horak

    Adam Horak Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian, I agree that proper room treatment is great, but it is not practical for a lot of people.

    I do not have the money to properly treat my HT room. I am also currently renting a townhouse, so I wouldnt be able to do too much to the walls without a big hassle when I move out. A third strike is that I doubt my wife would appreciate the look of acoustical treatments (it is a multi-purpose room) unless we spent $$$ to make them look nice.

    EQing is a quick and cheap way to solve some of the problems of not having an ideal environment. Its wonderful for people who dont have the time, money, or ability to properly treat a room. Its not an ideal solution on its own, but it can be a very good compromise in certain situations.
     
  19. MikeLi

    MikeLi Supporting Actor

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    And for those of us that have large family rooms that want them to double as HT rooms the EQ is a good way to go. I want my HT but I don't want a dedicated HT room.
     
  20. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Adam and Mike,

    Understood and agreed. When my HT was up in the living room upstairs I lived under the same constraints.

    EQ it is. And dial it in so you can enjoy.

    Best Regards,

    BOK
     

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