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Home Theater + Listening Room Updates (Read 1120 times)
Lonely Raven
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Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
07/24/17 at 20:40:48
 
I've not posted about either of these rooms in a while, I thought I might stir up some interest in our Room Treatments section with some progress photos!

So, in my home theater, which is also currently my main listening room with  my Mystery Amp, MG-944 Speakers, and DirectStream with dedicated power outlet and circuit, all powered by a PS Audio P10 power plant - my Mitsubishi projector finally gave up the ghost after nearly 8 years of service. Which prompted me to buy a good inexpensive 1080p projector, and finally build an "acoustically transparent" screen with which to hide some smaller, but still dynamic home theater speakers behind.

So, done and done.




That was slow, but pretty simple. I added more cleats, built a MUCH larger screen, mounted some narrow shelves and found much smaller speakers that still sounded good. I also covered the wall behind the screen with "acoustic blanket" material that Steve recommended for use in the ancient CWALS bass traps I built about 17 years ago.








Even though I went with smaller speakers, I swear this small change made the room sound better, more open and equally dynamic with better dialog. The old screen was a sheet of white melamine that I had this same "Acoustic Blanket" material strapped to since it was not only highly reflective, but resonated.  The Center channel is the same, only the mains changed out - so better placement and better screen sure seemed to have helped already!




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« Last Edit: 07/24/17 at 20:43:13 by Lonely Raven »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #1 - 07/24/17 at 20:59:32
 


During all this, I was also working on some prototype sound diffusers that I was offered to be able to display at Axpona. Unfortunately a family emergency kept me from getting them done, and I didn't make it to Axpona at all this year. But I made some progress on prototype diffusers.



The above uncompleted one is version 2, here is version 1 in my home theater in a bad slap-echo spot to the right of main seating.



With the front of the room cleared out and sounding better already, I got a bee in my bonnet to drag all my diffusers out of storage (AKA spare bedroom and future tiny listening room) and just throw them in the main room and see what happens. I also put some small wood blocks in the front of the room to put a diffuser set on (to clear cables), and made some roller blocks and a big soft maple plate for my DAC and AMP to sit on.

Next thing I know, every completed diffuser I have is in the room!



The ceiling looks so naked with all the diffusers that I sold to a forum member gone! I'll have to remedy that soon.

Some of you may remember me complaining about my room being L-shaped into the small dining room, and having a big opening into the kitchen. I've been testing putting some of my prototype diffusers as a false wall, and it's helped immensely with my imaging. Not having things balanced left to right, really wreaks havoc with your spacial cues.




So with all my diffusers cleaned out of the tiny 10' x 11' x 8' spare bedroom, I'm going full out and finally getting it emptied out so I can start repairing walls, running wiring, and painting to have my separate tiny listening room that might, maybe...possibly, also be a spare bedroom in case friends visit. LOL

More photos to follow as I take them. The spare bedroom is so small, I can hardly get a photo of it. I had to stand in the hallway outside just to show that I'm almost done cleaning it out - just a couple bookshelves full of "stuff" a leather couch, and "vintage" carpeting. LOL






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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #2 - 07/24/17 at 21:12:25
 
I forgot to mention - the sound in that tiny room, with 90% of the stuff cleared out, was painful. I bumped into a plastic bin full of tube boxes and the resulting thump reverberated in such a displeasing way. I've resolved to do a quick video once the room is completely cleared out, just me talking/clapping, then another with a Zen amp and speakers, then the same clapping or music with diffusers so others can see for themselves what room treatment can do in a painfully reverberant and displeasing sounding room (which is absolute worst case, but still relevant to larger rooms)
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« Last Edit: 07/24/17 at 21:13:24 by Lonely Raven »  
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Bottlehead
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #3 - 07/25/17 at 04:20:58
 
WOW, LR!! That new video screen looks awesome! Good job!

Too bad you couldn't make Axpona, but it looks like you're back on track w/the diffusers. Glad to hear it.

Randy
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #4 - 07/25/17 at 16:30:00
 

Yeah, family stuff really derailed me at the worst time - I had spent many hours cutting and sizing all the parts to build four large all poplar diffusers, and was going to display them (and probably sell them) in the JTR speaker room at Axpona. I don't have much time left with my Mom unfortunately, so I spent that time with her instead.

On the plus side, I have $250 worth of Poplar to turn into diffusers and room almost cleared out to put them in!
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #5 - 07/25/17 at 20:26:29
 
LR, Glad things are coming together. I am sure you will nail the acoustics in both rooms given time. It's well worth the effort. My room is not perfect (yet) but it sure does sound awesome with treatments made over the last several years. Rock on!
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #6 - 07/26/17 at 15:29:41
 

Spare bedroom is completely cleared out, except for the tired old leather couch I'm planning on sewing a new seat cover for...I just really don't have room for it anywhere else right now.  I figure I'll just throw a tarp over it and work around it.

I've removed the outlet covers and it looks like old aluminum wiring all around, which means I need to gut all the wiring and start over, rather than just add a dedicated audio circuit. So that will add considerable time and PITA factor to this. I've measured the windows and will start working on some sort of window plugs, and I've started patching and sanding dents, holes, etc. I also found a few nails in the drywall that I don't understand their purpose, but have been creeping out and need either pounding in, or pulled out and patched - whichever it takes.

At this point, I'm thinking I'll probably use my spray gun rather than a roller - since I plan on doing the ceiling in my stormy blue as well, and I'm plugging the windows, and I don't care about the carpeting at all. I just need to repair the door (which is oddly the only solid core door in the house) which has a weird texture to it, rehang, put on a respirator mask and spray like a madman.  The carpet will have to stay till I can find a big cheap remnant, or I dredge up the cash to have someone come in and replace it...which ain't happening anytime soon.







P.S. No, the room isn't that yellow, that's just the lighting. I'm pretty sure it's all primer white from when my fiance used this as an art room back when she was still my fiance. On the To-Do list is replacing the stock ceiling (typical glass mushroom) lighting with quiet, dimmable, discrete LED lighting.




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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #7 - 08/17/17 at 22:27:20
 

I had a nasty summer cold this weekend, and work has been kicking my ass, otherwise I would have posted an update sooner.

Sob story out of the way, here's what I've done.

Stripped out room, pulled down blinds, sanded walls, patched ugliness as best as I could and resanded. I also cut out some 1" foam plugs for the windows. I tried my best to make them air tight, but my table saw kept binding on the long edge, and it got a little scary/ugly there. So I just trimmed with a razor knife and they press fit in place, but aren't as air tight as I wanted.



Prepping for paint - I have this fancy Earlex sprayer I talked myself into since I have lots of differs to paint, and a couple rooms to paint...and maybe I'll even spray stain on the deck! At least that's how I convinced myself.  :)   I also made this lovely ghetto air filter (and wore a respirator) from a box fan and a $5 furnace filter.





This is only the second time I've used the gun, so I had some issues dialing it in. It ran fine the first time I took it out - I guess I'm still getting the hang of thinning correctly. Since the carpet is 25 years old, and I'm painting the ceiling as well, the only things I covered were the mirror closet doors, and the couch that I really had no place to move.


















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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #8 - 08/17/17 at 22:43:09
 
Vacuumed up the dust and overspray, and I realized that...the paint I randomly chose at the hardware store, pretty much matches the ancient carpeting exactly.



I was just looking for a stormy blue-grey to darken the room, the paint matched so much, that you can hardly see where I dropped the spray gun and spilled. LOL If the ancient carpet here wasn't so faded, you wouldn't see this clumsiness.  



Starting to look good again.


And then I go muck it up with all the wiring. Yeah, yeah, I probably should have done the wiring first...I didn't realize how extensively I'd need to redo the wiring...Three of Four outlets were run with aluminum wiring, and all the sockets were tired and barely held a plug in. My goal is to run regular copper to each outlet, but one I might do Zen Styx type wire to as I did in my livingroom/theater. Ceiling light will be replaced with something...more interesting, and I think I'm going to add some low noise flush mount LED lighting in the ceiling to boot.







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« Last Edit: 08/17/17 at 22:44:14 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #9 - 08/18/17 at 00:53:40
 
LR Congrats on getting started on your room.  That picture of you in the dust mask looks like something out of a B horror movie. Keep us posted.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #10 - 08/18/17 at 15:57:12
 
As dark as this room is now with the stormy blue paint and matching (vintage carpeting), it's very calming. I find myself wandering into the room just to sit quietly on the couch and contemplate how much work I have to do throughout the house. This would be so much easier if I had more money or skills.

I'm on 24 hour call this week for work, so I've not been getting much sleep. I'd like to say I'm going to finish up the ceiling lighting this weekend, but if it's super hot in the attic that's not going to happen. I may just catch up on sleep and yardwork.

The attic, where I need to butt-scoot from truss to truss, then army crawl to the outer edges of the roofline...well, it sucks...it sucks hugely. Otherwise I'd have done this wiring upgrade years ago. But I keep scaring myself away from diving in and getting it done.

This is the mess I need to army crawl through, trying not to put any body part through the drywall ceiling below. I bought a better respirator just for this. I'm really not sure how I'm going to run wires down the outer walls of the house, I don't think I can physically reach it. In the home theater section, I cut a bit section of drywall out and ran up into the attic that way. Ugh, that would be a lot of drywall cutting and repairing throughout the house, because every outside outlet is wired in Aluminum and dangerous to mix with copper (as the previous owner had)



I think I'm literally going to bring a rake up to the attic, and rake away the insulation to see what I have to work with, and if I can physically crawl over there and run new wire down to the outlets. Then figure out a path to get all that down to the basement where the circuit panel is. FUN!

I did start adding LED lights down the hallway outside the tiny listening room - it was easy to get to and gives me a chance to see if I like these lights in my listening room. They come with 55 watt halogen bulbs, but I'm going to replace them all with 8 or 11 watt dimmable LED replacements. I've been playing with cool lighting and bulbs for years - one of my hobbies is building steampunk and other fun lamps.  ;)


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« Last Edit: 08/18/17 at 15:59:29 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #11 - 09/05/17 at 19:31:41
 
LR, hope you're feeling better and I look forward to your treatment and set up for this room!  Cool.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #12 - 09/06/17 at 16:24:51
 

Still working on it - the attic has been too hot the past couple weeks to want to crawl around up there. Army crawling through insulation with a respirator mask when it's 110F in the attic isn't my idea of fun or productive.

Soon it will be cooler -

So my plans are to bring a rake up to the attic and literally rake all the insulation way from where I need to work, army crawl over to those areas and try to figure out how to run new wiring from the basement to this room, then make it happen.

I also started mapping out where the ceiling diffuser and future LED spot lights are going to go by taking some string and long push pins and drawing a big X across the ceiling using the existing light fixture as the center point (it matched up pretty closely thankfully!). I need to crawl up  into the attic and spot check before I start cutting holes for the lights as I have yet to find a stud finder that I trust well enough.

I'm also going to use the push pin/string plus tape measure and laser level to map out distances in the room so I can layout speakers, seat, and room treatment to less than a quarter inch accuracy. Everything is going to be as symmetrical and balanced as is physically possible in the room.

I'm also (re)building a laptop to take measurements with REW. I'll be taking measurements in a near empty room, then with absorbers, then with absorbers and diffusers. This may take a while as it's been many, many years since I used REW, and I'll probably have to run my test results past professionals to make sure I'm on the right track.

But since it's a listening room and not a recording studio, ultimately it's what I find the most pleasing that matters - the measurements are to help me find problems and do my best to solve them, and make sure my solutions are making an impact on the problem. For example, knowing I have a bass problem by ear is easy - but then measuring and knowing what frequency, then designing and building a bass trap to help with that specific frequency, *then* measuring again to prove or disprove my fix.

Comb filtering is harder to pinpoint because it's as subtle as listening to your favorite album, and the guitar might stand out a little more when the frequency response is right. Tough to notice those details without measurement to back you up. Once it's correct though, the difference between a true "in room flat response" and notched frequency response is stunning.

Lastly, time smearing is going to be really rough in such a small room. I don't think I could make QRD diffusers deep enough to push the reflected sound's time delay past the magic 20ms mark. So I'll do the best I can and have measurements to prove I've made a difference. (shrug).

All this is going on in my mind as I'm sitting on the couch trying to figure out how to run (good) electrical to this room. (deep sigh)
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #13 - 09/29/17 at 17:32:52
 

I got a little time and threw some gear in the room.

I can't wait to replace this carpet...I think it's older than my last girlfriend...





My one off Zen, and my Teac NT-503. I love the sound of the Teac, but the more I use the Teac app, the more I hate their idea of what a user interface should be. I really have no choice but to build one of my Tiny Form Factor PCs, and use it as an "endpoint" to USB the music to the DAC, since the DACs interface sucks.



I only have one working outlet in the whole room - and I'm pretty sure it's aluminum wiring. It's been too hot in the attic to even consider sticking my head up there. (that's a whole nother project). But I'll get some proper wiring done now that it's cooling off.



And what's this!?! Oh crap, a mirror at the first reflection point! The horrors!



I'm using strings and push pins to map out where I'm going to put the recessed LED lighting - I'm probably going to do something similar to map out the room into sections to help align the speakers and seating. As it is now I simply used a tape measure to make sure everything was within a quarter inch of my somewhat randomly chosen locations. It actually sounded pretty good considering.





Before I went to bed last night I played some of my demo tracks I've been using for 3 years now. It was quite a sound...at one point I paused the music (or the stupid Teac app locked up) and the reverberation of the last note lingered for a full second after the music stopped! I really need to do a video so you can appreciate what an untreated room sounds like. It had a reverb similar to singing in the shower, which is great if you want to make your voice sound bigger/fuller. But in this room, with two speakers playing, it was a combination of interesting wrap around reverb that made every recording sound like a live album, and live albums sound 3D...but at the same time it was super fatiguing, details were smeared, and big chunks of frequencies were missing from the reverberation causing massive comb filtering. I really need to measure this as well...I'm sure it would make audio/studio guys cringe. Bass was pretty much non-existent except for one note that seemed to fill the room at my seating position.

Even with the little Zen amp, my ears were ringing and I was hurting after a 45 minute listening session. I'm *really* looking forward to adding room treatment...I have a feeling this is going to sound pretty amazing.

I may also need to get rid of that tired leather couch...it's super comfy, but takes up way too much space in the room, and that whole back wall needs to be diffusers.

Next up is back to working on lighting, and I'm using this nifty little box that will add WiFi control to the lights in the room. This little box lets me use the same switches and cover as the rest of the house, but control two sets of lights with dimming ability via WiFi.





More to come as it gets cooler and I can army crawl through insulation! Yey! (not)












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Lonely Raven
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Re: Home Theater + Listening Room Updates
Reply #14 - 10/02/17 at 19:50:10
 
I don't have pictures as I was pretty exhausted at this point, but I pulled a bunch of diffusers and one 4' x 4' x 4" absorber into the tiny room for a listen.

I'd like to repeat, Teac doesn't know how to design interface software! It was so frustrating to use their app to search my network for music! Complete CRAP! I'm going to wind up building a Tiny Form Factor PC to use as a Roon endpoint (PC -> USB -> Teac 503 DAC -> Zen amp)

So, that said, I sat down for a listen with my demo tunes. With diffusers just tossed up against the walls, and one big 4' x 4' absorber on the front wall, the frequency response was hugely more balanced in the mid and upper ranges...there was less time smearing and comb filtering...but it wasn't as 3D as I was hoping.  I guess I was expecting my dumb luck to have me stumble into the perfect mix just throwing diffusers in the room...but it's a small room, and I pretty much have everything but the three pieces of gear working against me. Mainly, the room is too small.

So now the real sound treatment work starts.  :)

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