Hi-Fi in Modern Living Environments

Hi-Fi in Modern Living Environments Room Acoustics

Wood in the hut!

First of all, it is sometimes said that vibrations are a bad effect for hi-fi enjoyment. This applies at most to rattling furnishings and glasses that start to move at higher volumes. Basically, vibrations are not a bad thing, and they cannot be suppressed: Where music plays, everything will resonate: Floor, wall, window, furniture … But doesn’t the wonderful sound of individual instruments result precisely from certain vibrations of the (wood) material used?

So the point is to equip the listening room with materials that have natural and music-like vibrational properties. A wooden parquet floor vibrates naturally, a tile or concrete floor does not. Also use as much wood as possible for the furnishings: shelves, sideboard, table and HiFi rack are best made of solid natural wood, oiled and not coated. And you automatically have more musicality in your four walls.

Dampening over a wide area

There are listening rooms that have been literally plastered with Basotect or other acoustic foams. Even this “exaggeration” will usually not deliver a good sound experience. The room is then simply “overdamped” and sounds unnaturally dull. Especially since the common thicknesses of these absorber materials can do little or nothing against waves below 150 Hz.

Therefore, you should reduce the reverberation over a wide area with absorbers that combine wood and absorber material. After that, you can actively deal with the bass … Depending on the size of the living room, one or two deep pile carpets (not less than 5 square meters in area) are good, preferably one of them is placed between the listening position and the speakers.

Acoustic elements for walls and ceiling

Either you combine “classic” acoustic elements and hang them next to or on each other. Or – from our point of view the much better solution – you hang the whole ceiling and/or provide whole walls with absorber panels. Acoustic elements are usually 60 x 60 cm in size. Now you can’t expect to buy two of them and everything is fine. The only thing that helps here is a decent number, we are talking about 10 to 15 elements for room sizes of 20 to 25 square meters, which can be quite expensive if one of them costs about $200. Take a look at recordings of studios that are literally plastered with acoustic elements. There is a reason for that.

Large-area absorbers – beautiful to look at and effective

The installation of large-area absorber panels is a real “building measure”, but in total sometimes the much nicer and more consistent alternative. Advantage: such a suspended wooden ceiling or clad wall can look beautiful and has a high efficiency due to the large surface. In order to act as balanced as possible, you can combine different spacing of wood millings. To do this, it is best to look at the measurement diagrams of certain combinations of materials / cutouts.

Asymmetries in the room for better room acoustics?

Very often you can’t place your speakers symmetrically in the room, which always leads to an unbalanced stereo panorama and bass problems. Sometimes one speaker is placed directly in the corner of the room, and the other speaker is 2 meters away from the other side wall. Sometimes an L-shaped room opens additionally to the back or to the front. All these are conditions that are not ideal from a HiFi point of view, euphemistically speaking. And even worse: here you can’t get anywhere with passive measures.

Calculating room acoustics?

If you want to make a real effort with your listening room and are a perfectionist, only exact measurements and preferably professional support by an acoustician or a specialized architectural office will help. You can get a rough indication of the necessary damping requirements with a room acoustics calculator, for example. Here you can enter your room dimensions and furnishings and specify a certain number of square meters for absorber panels to assess their effect.

The highest to the end: Listening to music in the attic floor

An attic is basically well suited for a listening room: a roof truss made of natural wood, usually laid out over a large area, and roof slopes that have a positive effect against room modes. But be careful: even such a room can have many pitfalls.

Let’s start with the side knee walls: Often no more than 1 m high, they are usually drywall with sheetrock and act as a “perfect” panel absorber. Unfortunately with the result that the bass is completely deprived of energy in a certain frequency range, which has a negative effect in terms of room acoustics. Even digital room correction can do little about this. The only thing that helps here is to get rid of it and let the slopes run all the way to the floor.