The Listening Room Reality

The best results I had in my room were Finite elemente cerabases under my speakers. It was a revelation in my case.
I kept only one panel vs the 3 I had. ( wall acoustic panels).
Recently, to my big surprise, I put some plants in a corner and the sound really improved. I wanted only to decorate.


Room treatment is for several different effects. The one for which measurement is certainly beneficial, and very informative, is removal of peaks and troughs, partly by speaker positioning and partly to absorb energy and reduce cancellations and resonances. (Measurement is far quicker and more accurate than by ear.). Another is room decay time, which can be adjusted by ear, but measurement helps focus the frequency range and thus what to address. And another is early reflections, that muddy the sound, for which ear is probably better than an unpractised eye with measurement, though easy or an experienced eye.

Overkilling the room or not of course is a matter partly of personal taste, partly (maybe very significantly) the type of music and type of recording to which you listen, partly the characteristics of the system up to the speakers, and partly (maybe very significantly) the characteristics of the speakers.

I guess that with a shop demo room the treatment has to be minimal so as to not make it so different that people send the system back because what sounded great in the shop sounds awful at home, and of course they have to compromise between different people’s musical tastes and tastes in speaker.


Thanks for that lesson Doc.

Bottom line is my listening room is a compromise that I have to live with. For a variety of reasons -mostly due to disability at the time , I was unable to audition speakers and had to rely (mostly) on my own interpretation of many reviews. However, one of the things I did consider was how I expected a speaker to interact with my room. Throwing more money at a more expensive speaker may or may not have gotten me a better speaker . Fortunately, the ones I chose do work well in my opinion and I’m happy with them. The thing is, at some point improving the room acoustics is more important than the speakers - but my acoustics are locked in, so that the choice was to find a speaker for those acoustics.


Most of us audition our prospective purchases in our own listening room…the judgement is made on the end result of the various interactions with no need to worry about what underpins them.

Fully agree.

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One of the best comments I have read, said if you can reach the point where you can afford speakers that cost tens of thousands of pounds , you should instead build a dedicated listening room . The point being that in a decluttered and dedicated room your existing stuff would sound far better.

So room or speakers?

If I had the choice it would be room over speakers every time with a second smaller system in the living room


In the end, it is a question of balance and commitments, or rather trade-offs, but, IMHO the two main factors in SQ are, in this order, room modes and speakers. The third, the electronics.

In my case, my main room, so great and with so high ceilings, and no strictly dedicated, is quite treated, but fundamentally with quality wood furniture, carpets and strategic decoration, ando only some acoustic panels, eight, in the heights and, above all, destined to cushion the secondary reflections of the high and upper-middle frequencies. Unfortunately, it has been a constant work of trial and error for several years, almost 8 years, but at present the SQ is amazing: it may not be ideal and have some coloration, but finally it is the sound I was looking for my tastes and the all genre music I hear all around.


I fear you may have completely misunderstood my post.

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What is wrong with what he is saying?

The video, and much of what I have read and researched on this subject make a lot of common sense - without too much hocus pocus.
Something which most should be able tackle themeselves without having to get a professional in.
Certainly if I was lucky enough to drop 30K on new speakers, I wouldn’t just rush out and get the most massive ones with the most drivers. I would want something that makes the best use of my room and what I have to drive them.


Interesting video Thomas. Do you have or are planning a dedicated room for your system?


He has already. A lucky guy ! And skillful too.

No, I don’t have a dedicated room.
And unfortunately it won’t be possible.
The listening room is our living room.

Luckily, both my wife and daughter appreciate listening to music. So, treating the room wasn’t a problem (I even covered some windows with bass traps).

The result is, of course, a compromise. But a rather nice one in terms of music reproduction.

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Ah sorry Thomas, i thought, looking at your pictures, that it was a dedicated room. I doubt a lot of women would allow such important room customization.
So you are finally still lucky :partying_face:

Absolutely! That’s exactly what the video points out.

Absolutely! In fact it is a rather simple thing to do.

I did a lot of readings. Some more related with physics then music, others related with psychoacoustics, a rather interesting subject. But, all that stuff isn’t really useful when treating the room. It helps understanding “how” you hear and certain believes related to hardware :wink:

So yes, everyone willing to invest some time, is able to treat its living/listening room.

But, it has a cost. What the video also points out is that a nice (living room friendly) treatment has a cost… That’s unfortunately very true.

I’ll add some advices here :

For quality, and relatively affordable, treatment : GIK acoustics
For quality, not cheap, but very nice treatment : Vicoustic

Mandatory : REW and calibrated mic.

Don’t trust your ears for treatment.
Use REW (correctly!)

Use your ears for final validation.

Use your wife/partner as a beta-tester! It helps!
Don’t underestimate the power of autosuggestion and placebo effect :wink:


The ‘average buyer’ of $30k speakers likely can afford to have a ‘consultant’ in to do the work. No matter what the net worth, some folks prefer hands-on (their own) and some do not. Those who do not, and cannot afford to hire in, do without.

And ones to avoid generally are the cheap foam absorbers some places offer - they may be better than nothing, but far more needed for the same effect as well-designed absorbers.

BTW, GIK offer what they call ‘art panels’, with artwork of your choice on the fabric or pTtern or plain colour). When I enquired they said they could do that on all their flat panels, not just those advertised as ‘Art Panels’. That facility should make it much easier to prevent the panels being intrusive, whether coloured the same as the wall, or with judicious choice of images or other designs.

One difficulty with bass traps is the total size needed to be effective. So e are more effecient absorbers than others - one interesting one is the RPG Modex plate absorber, and another that seems particularly promising in terms of size/performance ratio, though possibly the most expensive, is the PSI Audio AVAA Acrive Bass Trap.


Excellent video, thanks Thomas.


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