This 3rd and final update concludes my brief series describing the design and construction on my new listening room. It's been quite an lengthy journey, mainly due to my decision to undertake most of the construction work myself at weekends and over my summer break, but the final result is breathtaking.
The goal from the outset was to create a listening space where I could control the acoustic ambiance by careful placement of absorption panels whilst, maintaining a pleasant domestic feel. I am very happy with the results on several levels. The Panels have made a huge difference to the sound of the room and also add some colour and texture to the room which was deliberately kept neutral in tone.
At one point I was considering reducing the size of the large window that overlooks the garden, but am pleased I decided to keep it full height as it affords a nice view from the listening position. The speakers are 39cm from the wall, toed in by 1cm on the outer edges, and are 2.5m apart measured from the centre of the drivers. The sofa is placed so my head is 2.8m back, with around 1.7m space behind.
In the corners behind the speakers are GIK Acoustics Soffit Traps, cut to fit the space. They are currently resting on the carpet, but the plan is to make 2 small plinths to match the profile of the skirting boards to lift them flush with the ceiling and give a built in look. The first reflection points are treated with smaller panels on either side and the curtain drapes also contribute to a benign acoustic environment especially when closed at night.
To the rear of the sofa there are 3 further panels to control reflections from the back wall. I considered using diffusers here instead, but felt the panels looked better and did what I needed. The rear corners have a pair of GIK Monster Bass Traps with Range Limiters so they don't kill too much above the bass region.
The equipment now sits on 2 stacks of Fraim comprised of medium levels to provide some additional space around the 552. The top level is Fraim Lite which was added as an afterthought to protect the NDS and 555 PS DR from any clumsy guests, and also to give a finished look to the rack. The 300 sits on the lowest level leaving the basses free except for a dedicated network switch and linear power supply of my own design. The network drops in via a fibre optic connection keeping the audio network galvanically isolated from any potentially noisy network equipment elsewhere in the house. Power is provided though 2 dedicated 10mm radials running off a separate consumer unit.
So, you are wondering about how it sounds?
Words may well fail me at this point as the results have been transformational and have demonstrated how much the room impacts the sound. I always thought my old room sounded pretty fine, but the new space opens up a completely different level of performance. Vocals are crystal clear and well focussed with loads of additional detail. Instruments snap into place across a wide sound stage that extends well beyond the edges of the speakers themselves. Bass lines are far easier to follow with lightning fast timing and control.
Listening to Rodrigo and Gabriela's Tamacun the speed and energy of the performance is breathtaking. London Grammar's Hey Now remains tight and clear despite the huge bass line that kicks in half way through and overwhelms many systems I have heard. Pretty much everything I have thrown at the system so far sounds excellent even at high levels around 10-11 on the volume knob. I am slowly working my way through my audio collection discovering new things on every track.
The best time remains in the evening with the curtains drawn and a soft mood light illuminating the rack with nothing else to distract me from the music.
It's easy to completely lose oneself and forget the passing of time. Whether this is the end of my journey towards audio nirvana remains to be seen, but I am deeply satisfied with where I currently rest. I can only repeat the message that the room is a key part of the system, and without concentrating some of the budget on getting this right you will never appreciate what your equipment can really do.
Thanks as always to James and Henry for helping me throughout the process, and to the folk at GIK Acoustics for their advice on room treatment.
Christmas greetings to all at the Tom Tom Club, and here's hoping for a bunch of new tunes to listen to in the Christmas stockings!
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