Tuning a room for optimal sound quality

Waveform

Waveform

One of the important elements of custom installation is tuning the room to its optimal sound, a practice that is more art than science. In much the same way that a proper varietal glass can enhance the flavours and aromas of any vintage, proper room adjustments allow equipment to present its best sound.

I asked Lindsay about this:

“Not only does it include setting up equipment, a lot of rooms benefit from acoustic treatment in a room. Sound absorption and diffusion are both important considerations.

Bass creates huge, issues in rooms, things that develop from the size and shape of the room, where the woofers are placed, etc. You can get things like standing waves, a situation where some bass notes get reduced to the point where you can’t hear them at all, and other bass notes are enhanced to the point where they’re really booming away.

People will think it’s too loud, but it’s not. It’s just that certain bass notes are so predominant that they make the whole thing sound horrible, and the tendency is to turn it down, which doesn’t fix the problem.

Or, there isn’t much deep bass, so when we hear a movie, we go WOW listen to that deep bass, because the tank rolled by or something big happened, the music has some deep synthesizer, or organ pedal. In a lot of rooms you would never properly hear that note…and it’s not because of a bad system, or bad speakers, it’s that the room is killing the note.

For situations like that, we have room treatment that we can do. Sometimes it’s specific room treatment, acoustic panels and tiles and things that we can add to a room, that go on the corners and the walls, behind the equipment and in the back room, things we can put up that can fix some of the problems. That’s a common situation for us to be working in. We work with great brands like Primacoustic and Vicoustic that provide beautiful finishes and surfaces that visually enhance rooms while making them sound better.

Vicoustic Wavewood

Vicoustic Wavewood

If the average person invested $500 – $1000 in room treatment, plus took a few suggestions on some small things they could do with the room, ways that they could add furniture, change drapes. change carpet, move things around…if they did some of those things, they could make a dramatic improvement to most rooms.

Tuning a room is the difference between a $10,000 system sounding good, and a $10,000 system sounding like $30,000. The same system, the same components, the same equipment, can sound significantly better if the room has been optimized. On the other side, a $30,000 system can sound like $5,000 in a bad room.

Now, if we’re designing the room from scratch that’s different, we can make sure that these issues don’t occur in the first place. Then when the room’s built, we add just the right amount of acoustic treatment required to make the room even better.

Acoustic treatment is a big deal, and when people are putting in nicer systems, and they’re music lovers or movie lovers, optimizing is a huge deal. Particularly if they’ve had the equipment for a while and they know what it sounds like. We’ll tell them: “You know we can make your system sound significantly better without changing any equipment, simply by adjusting the room”.

Reflected sound is another issue which can muddy up voice intelligibility, so even though you have a centre speaker for dialogue in the movie, when there’s any kind of music or sound effects, you can barely hear anyone talk, and you can’t hear what people are saying properly.

Sometimes, you put the system in, you start playing with it whether it’s music or a movie, and at some level it seems like there’s way too much bass in the room. At the same time, it may be missing deep bass, but with certain bass notes enhanced because of the shape of the room, and the kind of the waves that are created by the shape of the room…yet there are other bass notes you can hardly hear.

Kinetics Stretchtrak Install

Partially complete Kinetics Stretchtrak install – when done, the walls were completely in black

Before going in and hooking up any equipment, we visit and take a good look at the room, and we see what the room’s got in it. What’s the shape of the room? What’s in the room? Has it got a hardwood floor, carpeting, drapes, angles? Is it square with high ceilings?  Has it got a lot of furniture in the room? Has it not got a lot of furniture? Are there bookcases along one wall, or around the room? So, with what’s the room got in it, how does the room sound like without the equipment…just the sound of the room itself? Is it echoey, dull, or bright…because that’s what your system is going to start to work with and it’s only going to sound as good as that room lets it sound.

We can take a system, put it in a room and it sounds a certain way, but we can also optimize the room. Sometimes by making changes and adjustments to the sound of the room itself, we can make dramatic improvement to the sound of the existing equipment.”

If you would like to discuss setting up an appointment for a site visit to see what can be done for you, please call us at: 905-898-7133, or click here to make an appointment.

Primacoustic Clouds

Primacoustic Clouds

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