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Thread: ASC tube traps: effect of their absence

  1. #1
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    ASC tube traps: effect of their absence

    My room got the full treatment with devices from ASC (Acoustic Sciences Corp.). On these two system pages there are a few pictures of the room with tube traps, sound panels and window plugs:

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...r-system/page2

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...bwoofer-system

    Also the carpet behind the speakers helps (the profound effect of the window plugs is described on my system page 2).

    Before I had any room treatment, and also no carpet behind the speakers, my soundstage had been very flat. Introducing tube traps and sound panels allowed for spatial depth for the first time. Yet at some point I had done some brief experimentation, and after all the other room treatment subsequently added there was now also spatial depth without the corner tube traps.

    Recently I lent the stacks of four corner tube traps to a friend, and thought, well, there might be some effect of their absence, but the harm done should not be too great.

    Oh my, was I mistaken!

    Even with all the other treatment still in place, including the thinner center tube traps, the sound changes dramatically by just removing the corner tube traps.

    People who have listened to my system have repeatedly praised presence and 3-D palpability of sound images, as if you could 'see' the performers standing in the hall, or as if you could reach out and touch them, as it were.

    Yet now all the palpability of imaging is gone. Really gone. Images are larger, more diffuse and with no palpability at all. Greatly diminished presence. The sound is also somewhat more echo-y, and spatial information from the recording venue proper seems to come through less.

    What some people had found particularly special about my system is gone. It still sounds great, but....

    Just astonishing.

    ***

    Those were my first impressions, on small-scale classical material.

    But then I went to jazz and rock, where there is more bass, and rhythm.

    Unbelievable. Also my excellent rhythm & timing is gone.

    The tube traps affect the mid-bass big time. Now my mid-bass is diffuse and bloated. At first it seems that there's more mid-bass without the tube traps, but that initial impression quickly fades away. it's just more bloated and far less precise. The fast bass transients that Madfloyd admired so much with Green Day on my system are gone. And my rhythm is gone. Not just Green Day. I tried some jazz, AC/DC, Zappa, Elvis, you name it. Gone.

    Just remarkable.

    It is obvious that in many rooms, like in mine, chasing for great bass without acoustic room treatment is futile. You could spend $ 20 K on upgrading your amps to get a better grip on your speakers, or on upgrading the speakers themselves -- if your room is the main culprit of blurring the bass, it won't matter. Four corner tube traps for just $ 2.5 K total will do the trick instead. You could try digital room correction, but also that only will get you so far. Nothing beats actual physical elimination of detrimental room reflections. Digital room correction on top of that is fine, but it cannot be a substitute.

    Fortunately I'll get my corner tube traps back in a few days.

  2. #2
    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! MadFloyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al M. View Post
    My room got the full treatment with devices from ASC (Acoustic Sciences Corp.). On these two system pages there are a few pictures of the room with tube traps, sound panels and window plugs:

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...r-system/page2

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...bwoofer-system

    Also the carpet behind the speakers helps (the profound effect of the window plugs is described on my system page 2).

    Before I had any room treatment, and also no carpet behind the speakers, my soundstage had been very flat. Introducing tube traps and sound panels allowed for spatial depth for the first time. Yet at some point I had done some brief experimentation, and after all the other room treatment subsequently added there was now also spatial depth without the corner tube traps.

    Recently I lent the stacks of four corner tube traps to a friend, and thought, well, there might be some effect of their absence, but the harm done should not be too great.

    Oh my, was I mistaken!

    Even with all the other treatment still in place, including the thinner center tube traps, the sound changes dramatically by just removing the corner tube traps.

    People who have listened to my system have repeatedly praised presence and 3-D palpability of sound images, as if you could 'see' the performers standing in the hall, or as if you could reach out and touch them, as it were.

    Yet now all the palpability of imaging is gone. Really gone. Images are larger, more diffuse and with no palpability at all. Greatly diminished presence. The sound is also somewhat more echo-y, and spatial information from the recording venue proper seems to come through less.

    What some people had found particularly special about my system is gone. It still sounds great, but....

    Just astonishing.

    ***

    Those were my first impressions, on small-scale classical material.

    But then I went to jazz and rock, where there is more bass, and rhythm.

    Unbelievable. Also my excellent rhythm & timing is gone.

    The tube traps affect the mid-bass big time. Now my mid-bass is diffuse and bloated. At first it seems that there's more mid-bass without the tube traps, but that initial impression quickly fades away. it's just more bloated and far less precise. The fast bass transients that Madfloyd admired so much with Green Day on my system are gone. And my rhythm is gone. Not just Green Day. I tried some jazz, AC/DC, Zappa, Elvis, you name it. Gone.

    Just remarkable.

    It is obvious that in many rooms, like in mine, chasing for great bass without acoustic room treatment is futile. You could spend $ 20 K on upgrading your amps to get a better grip on your speakers, or on upgrading the speakers themselves -- if your room is the main culprit of blurring the bass, it won't matter. Four corner tube traps for just $ 2.5 K total will do the trick instead. You could try digital room correction, but also that only will get you so far. Nothing beats actual physical elimination of detrimental room reflections. Digital room correction on top of that is fine, but it cannot be a substitute.

    Fortunately I'll get my corner tube traps back in a few days.
    I am the person who borrowed Al's tube traps. I've been curious to try these for quite some time as Al had told me that the sense of depth in his soundstage increased dramatically when he bought them. While I wouldn't refer to my soundstage as 'flat', it has nowhere the amount of depth that I have heard in some systems, including Al's.

    I was also curious to hear what they would do the tonal balance. My room, unlike Al's, is quite open (especially on the left side where it opens to a kitchen) and I struggle to have enough mid-bass so that the presentation has weight. Knowing that the 16" tube traps would affect the midbass more than deep bass, I knew there was the potential to make the presentation sound leaner.

    Well, the tube traps definitely affected the midbass. Overall the presentation has more clarity, but at the expense of sounding thinner and smaller (the latter seems to correlate with Al's findings that the absence of the tube traps made images larger).

    My overall impression is that my system is better off without them, but only because my room is open - otherwise I have no doubt that tube traps would be important to achieving clarity in the lower midrange and bass.

    I have a few more days to experiment (which I intend to do) and look forward to getting Al's impressions when he hears my system with his traps.
    Speakers: Magico M-Project w/MPods Amplification: CAT JL7s, CAT Legend, CH Precision P1
    Analog: Kronos Pro Limited Edition / SCPS-1 / Black Beauty tonearm / Zyx Universe Premium, Ortofon A95
    Digital: Roon / dCS Upsampler / Schiit Yggdrasil DAC
    Cables/Power: Kubala Sosna cables / Shunyata Denali 6000T, Sigma Zitron PC's / Furutech outlets
    Misc: Steve Blinn Designs rack & amp stands

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadFloyd View Post
    I am the person who borrowed Al's tube traps. I've been curious to try these for quite some time as Al had told me that the sense of depth in his soundstage increased dramatically when he bought them. While I wouldn't refer to my soundstage as 'flat', it has nowhere the amount of depth that I have heard in some systems, including Al's.

    I was also curious to hear what they would do the tonal balance. My room, unlike Al's, is quite open (especially on the left side where it opens to a kitchen) and I struggle to have enough mid-bass so that the presentation has weight. Knowing that the 16" tube traps would affect the midbass more than deep bass, I knew there was the potential to make the presentation sound leaner.

    Well, the tube traps definitely affected the midbass. Overall the presentation has more clarity, but at the expense of sounding thinner and smaller (the latter seems to correlate with Al's findings that the absence of the tube traps made images larger).

    My overall impression is that my system is better off without them, but only because my room is open - otherwise I have no doubt that tube traps would be important to achieving clarity in the lower midrange and bass.

    I have a few more days to experiment (which I intend to do) and look forward to getting Al's impressions when he hears my system with his traps.
    Interesting, Ian. I also look forward to hear your system with the traps. When I said images are larger, then only individual sound images within a soundstage that does not change in size. Does your soundstage as a whole also shrink? How is the effect of the tube traps on depth?

    I agree that the effect of acoustic treatment will be greatly influenced by room layout. Yet in the case of my room it is now clearer than ever that the acoustic treatment is responsible for a lot of the 'magic'.

    You are probably right that it is your open room that allows for the great mid-bass that you have, also without tube traps.

  4. #4
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
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    Al,

    I can really relate to the concept of 'before' and 'after' acoustically. starting last February, a year ago, I've been tuning my room for a full year. for the first 6 months it was mostly to do with treating reflections with wall treatments. also; I added some window inserts as you mention.....which solidified the soundstage.

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...es-the-final-1

    I also closed up a ceiling bass trap last August with the help of my son.

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...-fixed-i-think

    and then most recently I changed out my duplex outlets and the plugs on my power cords.

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...s-this-morning

    so when you say that these things matter; I wholeheartedly agree. looking at your before and after pictures I can easily imagine what is happening.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Andrew Stenhouse's Avatar
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    Gosh that is positive report Al & Mike.

    I'm a big fan of targeted intervention - that is designing treatment to a room following sweeps. My own view, and it just my opinion, is that if you treat room without knowing what it is you are treating and why, there is the risk of a negative impact on other aspects by application of broad effect treatments - eg you could potentially over dampen a room by placing too much treatment in a room that is for instance acoustically fairly flat to begin with.

    I like a fairly "live" room but one with thick carpet and lots of comfy furniture (dense foam is ideal). "Slap" echo I tolerate in small measure. I HATE bass nodes. You know the 40-80Hz "drone" that takes out everything else.

    For my part if I have an obvious room node, or am unhappy about the balance I have in my sound, I get a well known local acoustician to pop over, conduct some sweeps, interpret the results (which is where the real skill is) and recommend the treatment to deal with the issue.

    So for instance in the past I have had eg two nodes at 80-120 Hz originating from one corner and a hall-way passage, and he prescribed two flat panel designed tuned Helmhotz resonators to deal with the issue, and told me where to put them, which I did and most effectively. best $1200 I spent. On other occasions I have had suggested two broad spectrum bass traps for 40-60 Hz bass related issues.

    I liken acoustic intervention in a room without knowing why and what for, to gardening blindfolded with a shovel - you might get the weeds, but you'll probably take out some of your flower beds as well. Sometimes however you will get really lucky and miss the flowers completely and just remove the weeds.

    Now all that said, I am very happy you report a positive outcome to your intervention Al, and the ASC room treatments approach of recommending treatments tailored to a room based on a room's dimensions is a very solid way to proceed, all things being equal.

    @ Mike - are you targeting your intervention?

    Certainly with problem individual rooms, particularly those with audible issues, acoustic treatment is in my respectful opinion of fundamental importance.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Best Wishes
    Andrew


    delos | dps | bauer dps | luxman 507ux | harbeth 30.1

    classical & 1940's - early 1960's jazz.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    Al,

    I can really relate to the concept of 'before' and 'after' acoustically. starting last February, a year ago, I've been tuning my room for a full year. for the first 6 months it was mostly to do with treating reflections with wall treatments. also; I added some window inserts as you mention.....which solidified the soundstage.

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...es-the-final-1

    I also closed up a ceiling bass trap last August with the help of my son.

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...-fixed-i-think

    and then most recently I changed out my duplex outlets and the plugs on my power cords.

    http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...s-this-morning

    so when you say that these things matter; I wholeheartedly agree. looking at your before and after pictures I can easily imagine what is happening.
    Wow, what a great room, Mike!

    Yes, given your extensive experience with room treatment I would think you could imagine the effects in my room.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Stenhouse View Post
    I'm a big fan of targeted intervention - that is designing treatment to a room following sweeps. My own view, and it just my opinion, is that if you treat room without knowing what it is you are treating and why, there is the risk of a negative impact on other aspects by application of broad effect treatments - eg you could potentially over dampen a room by placing too much treatment in a room that is for instance acoustically fairly flat to begin with.

    […]

    Now all that said, I am very happy you report a positive outcome to your intervention Al, and the ASC room treatments approach of recommending treatments tailored to a room based on a room's dimensions is a very solid way to proceed, all things being equal.
    Yes, you could over dampen a room. This did not happen with the tube traps, but did happen after all my window plugs were installed. Removal of a couch in the back of the room (courtesy of Peter A.'s astute advice) solved the problem. Now the acoustics are fantastic; people hearing the room tend to get jealous .

    I agree that the ASC approach of recommending treatments tailored to a room based on a room's dimensions is a very solid way to proceed. This had been done in my case as well, with room pictures and dimensions sent to ASC beforehand. In fact, they made sure to err on the cautious side (at that time I hadn't had any plans for window plugs yet which made a profound positive difference as well, see my system thread).

  8. #8
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] FrantzM's Avatar
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    Hi

    Just dabbing there and bolting out if asked for. That is why measurements should be taken when venturing in acoustic treatments. It would have given you some clues about what and where your problems might be. Measure before and after. It is not very difficult but does require some time to understand and become comfortable with the procedures and results. Or you could have had a friend who knows how perform some measurements of your room.
    Then the placement of the traps would have been more straightforward: Where you place them has a great impact on the final results. It can be done by ears to a point but such method is at best a crapshoot. Once you are comfortable or satisfied with what you measured then the final tuning would be conducted by ear
    Yes! using traps and similar things will make a difference but measuring what needs to be corrected brings in my exerience and IMHO better and more reliable results.
    Frantz
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrantzM View Post
    Hi

    Just dabbing there and bolting out if asked for. That is why measurements should be taken when venturing in acoustic treatments. It would have given you some clues about what and where your problems might be. Measure before and after. It is not very difficult but does require some time to understand and become comfortable with the procedures and results. Or you could have had a friend who knows how perform some measurements of your room.
    Then the placement of the traps would have been more straightforward: Where you place them has a great impact on the final results. It can be done by ears to a point but such method is at best a crapshoot. Once you are comfortable or satisfied with what you measured then the final tuning would be conducted by ear
    Yes! using traps and similar things will make a difference but measuring what needs to be corrected brings in my exerience and IMHO better and more reliable results.
    Actually, at least in a room like mine, where you put the tube traps in a basic set-up is straightforward physics. They should be put in the corners behind the speakers,

    http://www.asc-hifi.com/tube-trap-userguide.htm
    (explanation there)

    and I have an extra column of two stacked columns in the middle for centering imaging, at the first reflection point behind the speakers. Measurements are not needed for this straightforward configuration, the physics of which are explained in the ASC link.

    If you would want to place additional tube traps, then perhaps measurements would be useful as to the precise placement.

    In an open room like Ian's, measurements certainly would also be useful.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Andrew Stenhouse's Avatar
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    Al, I reckon the ASC approach is really valuable. I know the first thing my acoustician does when I ask him over to measure a new room is ask me for my room dimensions, photo's and what speakers I am using. He can fairly easily predict what is happening and where it will come from just on that information. It gets trickier, as Ian experienced, when you have a room that is open plan, or opens out onto other space.

    It is interesting that the window dampers, when combined with a couch, just tipped you over the edge.

    Congratulations on getting that ever elusive "3D" sound stage we all want, it is a tough nut to crack. Can I ask - did you have to change your speaker position much +/- the tube traps? I often find a subtle adjustment to my speakers to be beneficial for tuning. Although not so much with my 30.1's - you can pretty much plonk them anywhere and they will sound pretty decent. Unfussy. Easy to get to sound good, really hard to get to sound great.

    Happy hi fi mate.

    Edit: I should add that I can't be bothered buying the kit to measure my room and have little interest in interpreting waterfall graphs so happily find the best acoustician I can and pay him whatever he wants to do his job. My view FWIW is I can't hope to have the experience and knowledge set of a professional, nor do I necessarily want it (hey my brain isn't very large and is full enough thank you) so am more than happy to pay someone to pop over, spend an hour or two, watch him do their thing and learn something along the way. I have always taken his recommendations, which sometimes has as it precursors - "you can make a small difference here but not alot' or "how does your wife feel about 6 foot bass traps?"

    Interesting there are some rooms of friends he just has said - 'forget it - nothing you do short of rebuilding it will make any meaningful difference: don't waste your money'. Sometimes you are just stuck with what you have.

    I know he says everything is a trade off, and if you cure something, quiet often you can inadvertently cause something else to act up, and so, if you don't know what you are doing, you can end up chasing your tail. Anyway that is all above my pay-grade - I leave it to the experts.

    I know if I ever come into some money, and can build a dedicated listening room, I'll be flying him to wherever it is I am, to consult on the project. Much like Mike I think did with his build. Which I followed with much interest both on Audiogon and here.

    Again congratulations Al; I am more than a little jealous
    Last edited by Andrew Stenhouse; 03-01-2016 at 04:25 PM.
    Best Wishes
    Andrew


    delos | dps | bauer dps | luxman 507ux | harbeth 30.1

    classical & 1940's - early 1960's jazz.

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