New Listening Room!
Welcome to my new awesome humble abode.
Article By Steven R. Rochlin
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especially audiophiles, truly need a proper listening space for their high-end
audio system. Enjoy the Music.com reviewer Dr. Bill Gaw, for example, has a
wonderful barn-sized room with one of the most detailed and fully thought out
rooms i have seen within my State and perhaps within my life. Those who have been blessed in hearing his
system know how truly amazing in how well it produces music. While my new digs
have more humble possibilities, am happy to report that early listening sessions
with a 'throw away' amplification system show the room is very promising! As i
have said many times, the most important aspect of a high-end audio system is
the room, the acoustics and loudspeaker integration.
While some may argue that digital signal
processing and room correction can greatly help, this type of band-aid reminds me
of the old saying "We'll fix it in the mix." No, you get it right
first! Then if you feel that some very minor corrections need to be made,
so be it. No amount of digital signal processing can truly fix egregious
room anomalies and acoustic flaws. Note that i am not going to try and comment
on, by using room correction, you have added yet another product within the pure
signal chain and how that may cause other situation in and of itself. Don't get
me wrong, there are some mighty impressive DSP/room correction units in the market today. Many of
these are capable of producing extremely impressive results. Still, color
me in the less = more camp. If there are less things between your
source/software to the loudspeakers, the better a chance of hearing the least
altered (read: purest) quantity of information.
Built back in the late 1800's, this historic home is
constructed from 8-inch thick solid concrete. When i say solid, i truly
do mean extremely solid. The wall behind the loudspeakers, which is 12 feet wide
by 10 feet high, is your typical wood frame and sheetrock construction. Due to
the overall room size, 16 x 25 x 10 (WxDxH in feet), i decided to have the system on the
long side of the room. My reasoning is that it greatly
reduces the chance of highly undesirable early sound reflections from the side
These reflections confuse the ear and cause audible smearing of the music. Also
of note are the openings to each side of where the speakers are currently
positioned, because at some point i may move the speakers within this location.
This would 'add' four more feet to the rooms' depth. These openings also provide
a space for the sound to 'breathe'. Only though experimentation will the truth
be revealed about final loudspeaker positioning and will also be dependant on
the loudspeakers themselves.
Looking towards the drum set
From the other side of the room
Of course the room's acoustic properties play a vital
role, and future plans are to use movie theater type drapes to cover the windows
for sound absorption,
while on the walls and ceiling will have strategically-placed sound absorption/diffusion
devices. One of my favorite listening rooms was in the early
1990's. My decision back then, after
much experimentation, was to try the live-end dead-end (LEDE) technique. For those
unfamiliar with LEDE,
i basically had 100 percent coverage with sound absorption devices on the entire
wall behind the speakers, plus all of the side walls and ceiling a few feet past
the first reflection point. After many variations, i also added a
relatively small amount of absorption material to the 'live' wall behind me to
reduce direct rear wall reflections. Therefore the majority of the wall behind
my ears was
live, yet wanted to not have sound bounce unimpeded from the rear wall directly
to my ears. Also of note is that i prefer a listening chair that does not block
the rear of my ears (read: no tall backed chairs allowed). The chair within
these photos is strictly a temporary situation as i just moved in and am getting
a better idea of what needs to be dealt with. The hanging
lamp on the ceiling will be removed, new listening chair purchased, etc. As mentioned earlier, the white
drapes will be replaced with more acoustically absorptive dark red drapes. (ADDED:
Already purchased and installed said drapes and they indeed made a positive
contribution to achieving better sound)
The drums is an interesting proposition that is not under negotiation no matter
how many e-mails i receive. Yes, i do realize that what is pictured within the
living are my
Roland V-Session electronic drums with mesh heads, so there are virtually no
sympathetic vibration issues. Am breaking free from the 'quiet' daemons
of electronic drums and going back to the wonderful reality of my youth per se.
Due to being a classically-trained musician with decades of experience, including
touring and the recording studio, it brings me joy to get back into the
musically creative side of life. In the next day or so as of this writing, an extensive acoustic drum set will be arriving with a
staggering array of percussion bits and pieces (with more to be added over
time). The 'basic' set will begin with Tama's Stewart Copeland's Signature
special edition drum set plus various percussion bits such as a full octave of
crotales (see/hear the drum set, with crotales beginning at 3:43 seconds in this
Tube video). Also of note is that Wikipedia
also provides a good description of crotales as used within various forms of
both classical and modern music. As a drummer and true percussionist of the melodic variety, this
acoustic set will be quite intricate in nature when fully fleshed out. It will offer many different
hues to expressively paint my musical desires. Thanks go out to Donny at Alto
Music for his help in gathering up the bits for this amazing kit that is
personally signed by The Police drummer/percussionist Stewart Copeland.
While this adds to the possibility of sympathetic
vibration issues that can technically cause minor 'distortions' to the music
reproduced from the sound system within the same room, at this point in time i'd
rather remove the sound system than be denied my freedom to enjoy an acoustic
drum/percussion set up. So listen up those who have exhausted their conspiracy theories and
may choose to blame the drum set for my less than positive comments within
future reviews because i have a solution that has worked wonderfully in the
past. Beware, as there will be very thick fabric covering the drum set
during serious listening sessions. In other words, the drum set will have acoustic
dampening fabric over it and, as such, will become an oddly shaped absorption/diffusion
device. The electric drums are staying, as the overall setup will be 'in the
round' with acoustic up front and the Roland V-Session turned around and becomes
the rear drum set. Did i mention this will be extremely extensive setup? At some
point there may be a need to 'frame' me in with a fully enveloped multi-tier equipment
mounting system, though let us not get ahead of ourselves shall we. Of course
wearing proper ear protection will be a must during higher volume level sessions
or those that cross a certain threshold of time versus SPL.
As a side note, for those curious about how one
can acquire such a drum set given the economy. While my first reaction is that
it is none of your business..... Basically, over the years i have had a type of
'investment into pleasures fund' where it could be watch or two... or whatever.
These things get sold and said funds are migrated to other things. Was cameras
(Hasselblad/Leica), then watches (Patek Philippe), then a race car (Van Diemen
Formula 2000), and now am retiring as a Formula 2000 driver as have earned top
podium position as the SCCA's North American Road Racing Driver's Championship
my second year at it. So am retiring as the 2008 Championship Driver and and the
car will 'transform' into a drum set. As for the economy... let us avoid
politics, religion and economic discussions shall we.
back to the high-end audio system, there are some broad brush strokes as to what
the new reference system will consist of. The electrical power here is clean and
will be running multiple dedicated 20 Ampere circuits with proper single
grounding point. Power will be further filtered and balanced. While the usual
source components, such as a turntable and digital disc player are in the cards,
a music/video server is being investigated and Dr. Bill Gaw will be consulted as
this seems to be one of his specialties. Speaking of video, those with keen eyes
realize it is a Pioneer Elite Kuro Pro-111FD monitor. This unit is widely
considered one of, if not the best unit of its kind available within the
marketplace today. And yes, once i have a few hundred hours on her she will be
professionally calibrated. Early usage of the set shows a very promising and
realistic image reproduction. For the time being am using the AVS
Forum's break in technique via thumb drive and video settings (thanks
D-Nice! and everyone at the board).
And before i forget, yes the wood table between
me and the loudspeakers will be removed during serious listening sessions.
Over the passing months i shall be updating the
progress of this room within my editorials. Equipment manufacturers can feel
free to contact me as i consider the best of the best within this new reference
system. My hopes are to
help others who, after moving to a new home, can read this series of articles and
have a step-by-step plan of action. Setting up a new listening room can be quite
a challenge, and as such perhaps the trials and tribulations of my upcoming
experiences will be helpful in some small yet meaningful way. Of
course in the end what really matters
is that we
Enjoy the Music (King Crimson "Indiscipline"
"I do remember one thing.
It took hours and hours but...
By the time I was done with it,
I was so involved, I didn't know what to think.
I carried it around with me for days and days.
Playing little games
Like not looking at it for a whole day
And then... looking at it.
To see if I still liked it.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
The more I look at it,
The more I like it.
I do think it's good.
The fact is...
No matter how closely I study it,
No matter how I take it apart,
No matter how I break it down,
It remains consistent.
I wish you were here to see it.
I like it."