What Does a Good Listening Room Look Like? Well-intentioned Advice on Room Acoustics

Well-intentioned Advice on Room Acoustics Room Acoustics

With the listening room it behaves like in all of life: strong exaggerations in one or the other direction rarely lead to a sustainably good condition. It doesn’t always have to be a perfectly optimized “studio” for the best room acoustics, you can also listen to music reasonably in an “average” living room – at least you could in the good old days.

The living room of yesteryear: sounds strange, sounds good

In the 70s and 80s you didn’t have to start a big discussion about it at all, because the average living room of that time looked something like this:

  • 20 to 40 square meters with a rectangular basic cut
  • Parquet floor with a large rug or a continuous carpeting
  • Curtains and heavy drapes
  • Pictures with wooden frames on the wall
  • A couch set made of fabric including an armchair for the man
  • The obligatory living room cabinet with representative Brockhaus volumes and lots of knickknacks
  • A few plants
  • Chandelier
  • If necessary, a piano or secretary in the corner.

Natural absorbers and diffusers included

In addition, there was usually a symmetrical layout, because the large-scale unification of living area, dining room and kitchen was not yet en vogue. This combination didn’t sound bad from a hi-fi point of view: carpet, couch and curtains acted as natural absorbers and reduced reverberation. Plants, cabinet and other furniture and their contents acted as diffusers, and overall the sound benefited from the natural wood materials.

The living world of today: sounds chic, sounds bad

In today’s world, the motto is “reduce to the max.” In all designer catalogs, people try to convey to us the cozy warmth of tiled floors, concrete looks, huge bare window areas and purist furnishings. Acoustically questionable, and sensitive too: there are studies that prove that in such a living ambience the set heating temperature is on average two degrees higher.

Reverberation time – the measure of precision and euphony

The reverberation between 150 Hertz and 20 kHz should be less than 0.6 seconds for a true hi-fi experience. This cannot be achieved with the described living philosophy without specific additional measures. (In the bass regions below this, longer reverberation times are possible, because here we are dealing with wavelengths of about 2.5 to 10 meters).