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March 2009
Enjoy the Music.com
GIK Elite Pillar Bass Traps and D1 Diffusers
The benefits are just too great to pass up.
Article By Jason Weissman

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GIK Elite Pillar Bass Traps  Like most audiophiles, I have seen many room treatments and other room acoustic devices. The one thing about this hobby that always seems to happen is you get so focused on which piece of gear would be "best" and have the most impact. The incredible thing is that no matter how great the gear is, if the room response isn't decent then the sound is mediocre at best. For my first article within Enjoy the Music.com I decided to review the GIK line of room acoustic products. Bryan Pape and Glenn Kuras of GIK were kind enough to ship me the GIK Bass Pillars, which are  16 x 16 x 48 inches, as well as the 24-inch square D1 diffusers. While the science of acoustics can be intimidating, GIK makes the process painless. My first thought was, "how do I know what I need?" Luckily, this is where GIK takes over to ensure the right product is chosen for your room. All they needed from me were a few pictures and dimensions. Bryan reviewed the data and recommended that I start with two bass pillars and four diffusers. After one week of this verbal exchange, the pillars and diffusers arrived.

 

Setup
GIK D1 DiffusersThe 4-foot high pillars arrive preassembled and ready to use. It's just a matter of unpacking them and place where desired. The two foot (square) diffusers are packed two to a box with all the necessary mounting hardware. After speaking with Bryan about placement, he told me where he the best place to start would be. I placed the pillars into the corners with the sides parallel to the walls. The diffusers take a little more work and while not difficult, you need to take your time and be precise. Prior to hanging, GIK instructed me to fill the rear of the D1's with Acousta-Stuff (can be purchased at Parts Express) to help dampen any wall vibrations plus add to overall response. I used tape across the back for temporary review purposes, though recommend spray adhesive for a permanent installation. Two D1's were mounted vertically behind each loudspeaker as Bryan explained to me that having the "ribs" of the diffuser hanging vertically would be a benefit to the soundstage while having them horizontally would be more for pinpoint imaging.

With the diffusers installed and the bass pillars in the corners, it was time to warm up the equipment and see what improvements have been made. As an Elton John disc has been my main setup reference, on it went for listening and testing. The immediate reaction was, "is this possible"? I thought that I was hearing things... Well, I was, things never heard before with this presentation and after listened to a few more selections to make sure that the improvements there indeed were improvements! Now it was time to start tweaking....

 

Dialing In
Wanting to see what each unit would do on its own, I took the diffusers off the wall and thereby leaving only the two bass pillars in the room. There was no doubt in my mind that the "boominess" within the listening room was lessened substantially and the overall midbass was more profound. Hmm, perhaps taking some measurements would be a great idea. While there are many acceptable ways to measure room response, I choose to use a free downloadable program called Room Eq Wizard. Along with a laptop computer, external sound card and SPL (sound pressure level) meter anyone with some patience can do this. What I did was take baseline measurements without the treatments then introduced the acoustic elements to re-measure. By simply adding the treatments to the room, there was an improvement. The next step was to use the software to really dial in the room. Like many audiophiles, I have room constraints. At this point in time I am unable to move my loudspeakers towards the sidewalls anymore than they are at right now. Can only move the loudspeakers fore and aft and change my seating position. While using the RTA (real time analyzer) function in the software, it allowed me to see the changes in "real time" to better understand if it the changes made were moving in the right direction. What it enabled me to do was find the ideal position for my subwoofers and loudspeakers. In the end, my speakers were brought 2-inches closer to my seating position and the subwoofers 3-inches closer to me and 1-inch closer to the speakers. While this took some time, this process can be very beneficial provided one keeps in mind that if you skip this step you will not be getting 100 percent of the value of the treatments.

 

Results
After spending some time listening, I was completely surprised how real the bass was. The great part of this review is that my world is like many other Enjoy the Music.com readers in that my listening room is not a dedicated studio. It is part of the house where I live every day. As mentioned earlier, I set up the diffusers vertically for the benefit of soundstage, with the first thing that was obvious was the soundstage grew measurably wider and sounded as if I moved the walls two feet further out. This was the first time that I actually had instruments on the outside of the loudspeakers. It was just fantastic! After rediscovering my music, I kept rediscovering the instruments in each piece. The presentation and accuracy of each instrument was spot on. The stage was as life like as I've ever heard in my room with my system. The interesting part of acoustic treatments is that the tone of the music doesn't change. An immediate sense of "quietness" was heard. It seemed strange to me but something that was easily discernable was the overall room doesn't have that slap echo as found in many rooms. As a matter of fact, I feel that more acoustic treatments in my room would further increase my musical bliss. The effect of the newly presented soundscaping was very pleasing.

What I also found extraordinary was on the Manger test CD Walking On The Moon, as everything from the placement of percussion to the horns was outstanding! The most dramatic part of this was that the loudspeakers truly disappeared and it was like a live concert. That is what its all about! Next, I moved on to some jazz with Jacqui Naylor You Don't Know Jacqui-Black Coffee. What I enjoyed most about this was from the start the upright bass was perfectly placed in my soundstage. The drums along with the piano were excellent. Piano is so hard to get right so this was a pleasant surprise. I found that even the lower octave notes were crisp. There is nothing like when the drummer "kicks" the kick drum and there is not a boom but a striking of the hammer to the skin. It's quick and "on time." That's what the combination of these treatments provided no matter what the genre of music I played.
I tried the diffusers with the "ribs" horizontally. This wasn't bad at all in my room. What I noticed was the soundstage became narrower thus taking away from the stage. In turn, the instrument placement just wasn't ideal for me. If my room were wider, I believe that I would've had better results with this configuration. The diffusers would have given me the pin point imaging that I might have been lacking. If I were to ever move the versatility of these room treatments would allow me to use them in many types of rooms, all I have to do is change the orientation.

 

Acceptance
This is often every Audiophile's hurdle, as how will the significant other handle these "things"? There is no doubt that they take up wall space as well as floor space. There is just no way to avoid that. I can tell you that GIK has done an excellent job with trying to camouflage as much as possible. Any item that has any cloth, GIK offers 48 different colors to upholster them in. There are four different wood finishes that blend with most wood tones. GIK has even come out with a bass trap that is in the form of an end table. This is to serve the same purpose as the bass pillars but for someone that doesn't have the space or approval, these would be a great solution. The D1's are a little different. The D1's are made out of paintable ABS plastic to match your wall color if needed. For those of you that like a small DIY project, painting them would be simple. You could certainly paint them with your standard wall paint using a brush or paint sprayer.

 

Final Thoughts
In the world of high-end audio, there are many items that we always look at and want. The unfortunate thing is that we often overlook the items that will give the best bang for the buck. To me this is room acoustics and loudspeaker placement. The items sent to me totaled less than $1000. Yes, it is a lot of money for a non-electronic piece of equipment, yet the benefits are just too great to pass up. If you are at a point that you feel you are looking for the next item that will give you that "push" over the top, the GIK devices are worth trying. If you are just starting out in this excellent hobby that you've discovered, I would highly recommend you start with treating your room sooner rather than later. Just keep in mind that the type of treatment and placement can change as you change your system. Again, GIK will gladly walk you thru the process. I can tell you that I'm not sending the GIK Bass Pillar Traps or the GIK D1 diffusers back. They are here to stay. Introducing room acoustics has been enlightening and is easily akin to adding another piece of high-end audio gear. I highly recommend GIK and their products and look forward to working with them again on my next phase.

 

Specifications
Type: Room acoustic devices
GIK Elite Pillar Bass Trap $289.99 each
GIK D1 Diffuser $198 (sold in boxes of 2) 

 

Company Information
GIK Acoustics USA
3065 McCall Dr, Unit 8
Atlanta, GA 30340

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GIK Acoustics Europe
Unit K Perseverance Mills, Giles Street
Bradford, UKBD6 3HS UK

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