New Room Design - Advice Needed

jeffrey_t

VIP/Donor
Jan 29, 2012
2,676
2,542
630
I'll be building a new room from scratch on my property, a dedicated room for my stereo and record collection. It will be 15' by 20' and will have a vaulted ceiling 12' high. I'd like some advice from people on this great forum that have built rooms from scratch. Some of my questions:

1. Should the records be in the back (15' wall) or run along the side (20' wall)?
2. What should be in the front behind the system? A Rives type half moon wood defuser? A curtain?
3. What should be on the ceiling? Wood? Diffusers?

Any opinions are appreciated!
 
  • Like
Reactions: dctom and bonzo75

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
18,963
3,254
850
Portugal
Are you building the whole structure from scratch or using an existing space?
 

jeffrey_t

VIP/Donor
Jan 29, 2012
2,676
2,542
630
The entire structure will be from scratch, added onto the rear of the property and will have it's own entrance.
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
18,963
3,254
850
Portugal
OK - then I would feel tempted to add a few feet to these dimensions - IMHO 16 feet is a magic number for width , 3 + 3 feet minimum distance to side wall and around 10 feet between center of big speakers.

And 26 feet length assures room gain down to 23 Hz !
 
  • Like
Reactions: GMKF

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
10,427
5,481
1,265
Beverly Hills, CA
I am very excited for Jeff to be undertaking this project! It will be fun for me to watch Jeff build the structure and the room from scratch (in contrast to my room situation in which I had no choice but retain a difficult pre-existing structure and I was limited to making only superficial modifications).
 
  • Like
Reactions: jeffrey_t

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
13,854
4,523
963
E. England
Jeffrey, if you get this right, you are in for a world of both total pleasure, and maybe some pain as well.

From my experience, the benefits of a vastly improved space are hard to put into words. The audiophile lexicon, yes. But more really of a feeling of complete ease, as music detaches from the spkrs, appears as a thing not specifically created in the room, less hints that you have a system, more spontaneity.

The downside potentially is that absolutely everything you do will have an influence, good and bad, and one can go on to greater heights, or chase one's tail forever.

So for me, I had stress like you couldn't imagine carving out my 18x48x9 roof loft space. $80k and 9 months leading me to having no fingernails left, the big install and switch on, and the most incredible relief that even w bog standard cheapo cheapo power cables and non optimised spkrs layout/subs settings, the sound was precisely 1000% superior to my previous space.

And this then led to the chain of events that today my system is leaving me with a totally Zen feeling of complete happiness and ease, via a series of system optimisations incl balanced power, dedicated lines, specialist pneumatic isolation of tt, upgraded power cords, dialled in subs settings, correct spkrs placement, and a current critical improvement ie specialist spkrs footers.

But this optimisation I'm sure could only have gone as far as it has with the unique lift that my new room has provided.

The room is the blank canvas for you to paint your masterpiece.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ron Resnick

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,869
233
500
Monument, CO
Room dimensions that are relatively prime or using something like Golden Ratio dimensions will minimize room modes by ensuring only fundamental modes in each dimension. That reduces frequency-response ripples, particularly (doubled-up) nulls that are difficult to compensate (EQ will not do it). For example, 17' x 21' x 12' will reduce bass modes in the room.

Building from scratch is a great time to consider isolating the room from the rest of the house (and/or neighbors). That will keep the music (and movies) inside the room and keep sounds from the rest of the house from bleeding into the room. I used IsoMax clips from Kinetics Noise Control to suspend (float) the walls and ceiling, and built the walls/ceiling of two panels of 5/8" drywall glued and screwed together to add mass. (My media room is in the basement on a concrete floor so I did not suspend the floor.) I drew diagrams for my builder to follow, and there is a lot of information on the Kinetics website. A mini-split HVAC unit provides heat and air conditioning with no vents to the rest of the house to transmit sounds (either way). I did add an inlet vent from outside and quiet fan ducted outside to circulate fresh air. The windows float and are double-pane, the door is a large (easier to haul stuff in and out) heavy solid-core exterior door with full weather-sealing, again for sonic isolation (a studio door is better but much more costly).

Seating should not be dead center in the room as there is always a null in a sealed room at the center. Placing it at say the 1/3 point can be helpful. The Harman website (among many others) has a nice calculator to show the main room modes, their frequency and placement in the room.

I would consider treating first reflection points (walls and ceiling) but hold off major acoustic treatment until after the build when you can analyze the room (or have an acoustician do the plan and/or analysis for you -- room treatment is a fairly complex subject). A mixture of absorption and diffusion usually provides the best sound, but you must treat to taste as well as for flattest frequency response. Different people, different speakers, require varying amounts of treatment to balance "live" vs. "dead" sound, that is a feeling of spaciousness vs. pin-point imaging. You can also integrate record racks (etc.) as part of the treatment, using them to break up the walls a bit.

Do not neglect power into the room -- I ran three 20 A lines to my front wall where the equipment lives, a 15 A circuit around the rest, and a separate light circuit. Then later added rear subs and wished I had installed 20 A outlets in the back as well... Making everything 20 A is not that much extra initial cost and buys lots of peace-of-mind for later. Be sure outlets and any in-wall or ceiling lights are sealed or in sealed and insulated enclosures to prevent sound bleed (I used acoustic caulk and weather seals). I decided to use floor lamps plus a sconce to minimize intrusions into my floating walls. Several duplex outlets are wired with the top outlet to the light switch by the door so I can turn on all the lights when I walk in. I used heavy blackout shades as it is a media room for HT as well as music and I often prefer it darker for music as well.

FWIWFM - Don
 

jeffrey_t

VIP/Donor
Jan 29, 2012
2,676
2,542
630
Thank you all for the responses. I will talk to my architect and see if I can slightly modify the dimensions of the room. I have a property set back that might effect how wide I can make the room but I will work to stretch the boundaries.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,779
61
485
Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
Jeffery:

Before doing anything else --- and I mean anything, go with Steve's recommendation - hire an acoustician. If you are going to invest the time, expense and (some) stress building a room from scratch, doing so without the assistance of a professional, you are wasting LOTS of resources and will not end up with an optimized listening space.

Rives is no longer in business. Steve's designer (Bonnie) could be consulted and I would post the question on various audio forums to get names and recommendations. There are some folks on WBF who should be able to provide some guidance in this matter.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Steve Williams

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Jeffery:

Before doing anything else --- and I mean anything, go with Steve's recommendation - hire an acoustician. If you are going to invest the time, expense and (some) stress building a room from scratch, doing so without the assistance of a professional, you are wasting LOTS of resources and will not end up with an optimized listening space.

Rives is no longer in business. Steve's designer (Bonnie) could be consulted and I would post the question on various audio forums to get names and recommendations. There are some folks on WBF who should be able to provide some guidance in this matter.


I could not have done my room properly without an acoustician especially with the roof size (identical to Jeffrey in length and width


Out of curiosity why do you want to build an arched ceiling. That is an acoustician's nightmare. If you can go 12 feet why not a traditional arched ceiling
 

dctom

Well-Known Member
Jan 28, 2015
304
44
158
Wales, UK
Hi Jeff
You know my system, I don’t have a purpose built room but do have a dedicated room 16 x 19.5ft + a corridor leading off.
Acousticians are a non existent profession where I live, however I managed a very good DIY room treatment.I found this site very useful as a means of designing and building bass traps etc.......
http://realtraps.com/
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
10,427
5,481
1,265
Beverly Hills, CA
I am not a DIYer, buy I am a TIYer (think it (i.e, learn about it and understand it) yourself). I think Jeff likes to TIY and DIY.

I have a feeling Jeff would enjoy the middle approach I employed: hire an acoustician and take that person's advice under advisement, and not as gospel. Of course this will make you a very annoying client for the acoustician!

I hired an acoustician and I took her advice seriously. In a mixing bowl I poured in two cups of her advice, added a half-cup of DDK, stirred in a couple of tablespoons of my own ideas based on my own research, added a teaspoon of MikeL, mixed the concoction and then baked it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Hopefully the listening room will turn out medium-well and not half-baked!
 
Last edited:

KlausR.

Well-Known Member
Dec 13, 2010
291
28
333
Hi,

I'd like some advice from people on this great forum that have built rooms from scratch.

We did do just that back in 2002: adding a living room (28x15x8ft) to our house, where the main stereo system would also reside.

Room dimensions: Back then I was convinced of the usefulness of "optimized" dimension ratios so I had a look at the different approaches and decided to go for the Bonello criterion, because it spliced oh so nicely to the concept of the Schroeder Frequency. On both accounts I now know better. The builder made the room wider than was planned, so the criterion was no longer fulfilled, but that had no negative impact at all. I all those years I’m listening to music in that room I could find only 3 or 4 tracks where a mode is audibly excited.

Room treatment: being built from brick ‘n mortar with tiled floor reverberation time was going to be way to high, so we had installed a ceiling made from stretched synthetic fabric with 10 inch space above the fabric loosely filled with rock wool. The whole works as a huge membrane absorber and the effects are very convincing. No other acoustic treatment. The directivity of my loudspeakers in combination with placement on the longer room wall gets the level of the lateral reflections close to the perception threshold, should there ever be evidence that first reflections have detrimental effects.

My opinion on this issue:
1. Don’t bother with optimized room dimension ratios, build the room as large as possible. The benefits of optimized ratios can only be experienced when sound source and listener are in corners of the room.
2. Since there is no scientific evidence for first reflections having detrimental effects, forget about those, unless your speakers are placed such that there is substantial right-left asymmetry. For that reason I would place the records at the back, one never knows. Reflections from the front are masked by the direct sound so perception thresholds are quite high. No problem there.
3. Lower reverberation time such that the room is pleasing to your ears. Measurements are not necessary, let your ears be the judge. Normal furnishing such as curtains, upholstered sofas, carpets/rugs should do the job. If all room surfaces are acoustically hard, you might need additional acoustic treatment.
4. Vaulted ceilings: are said to lead to sound concentration, the effect of which appears to depend on where the focal points are located. Such ceilings might be tricky, try to get more technical/scientific information how they behave acoustically. Should such a ceiling be problematic, then apply treatment.

Klaus
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,880
906
600
Manila, Philippines
Hi Jeff

1. records at the rear
2. you got horns, what's behind them matters a lot less, go with a front wall that looks good to you. Just don't make it concave.
3. diffusors on the ceiling

*get an acoustician to do the math and build it for you. Just make sure he or she is the type that will listen and adjust to your needs and not one who will impose his or her vision on to you. That way, whatever follow up work should be both easy and less expensive. :)
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
Jul 22, 2010
2,221
1,372
580
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
www.bendingwaveusa.com
OK - then I would feel tempted to add a few feet to these dimensions - IMHO 16 feet is a magic number for width , 3 + 3 feet minimum distance to side wall and around 10 feet between center of big speakers.

And 26 feet length assures room gain down to 23 Hz !
Actually the proper ratio for dims is 1/1.6/2.33
or 10 foot high by 16 by 23.3 long.
This is an example but the ration holds.
There are other ratio's as well and I suggest you take a look before you build to save some issues.
Best of luck I just have finished mine and the set up begins in a few days
 

jeffrey_t

VIP/Donor
Jan 29, 2012
2,676
2,542
630
Thank you all for the help! I have just called my architect and we're ordering a survey to see how close to the property line I can go.

Thanks!!!
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
2,873
3,320
515
The golden mean ratio is one that I also use regularly in design, it is where art meets mathematics and they both even agree.

It is a ratio that is an extract out of the Fibonacci sequence using phi as a ratio (multiply by a factor of 1.618) is used in determining the lengths of sides in rectangular spaces as an aid in making visually harmonic relationships and aesthetically pleasing forms. Many architects and designers utilise this ratio.

Elliot’s ideal room ratios are a reflection of this.

Where it may then not be ideal if used slavishly without regard is where it then leads to disfunctional design (hmmmm the post-moderns spring to mind here). Scale needs to be appropriate to function otherwise you will curse your architect every day.

So in more modest ceiling heights if this ratio is used it may lead you to then create rooms that just aren’t really wide enough for good practical width.

With a 10 ft ceiling the outcomes are workable with 16ft width (obviously the boundary setbacks are going to be the determinant here for your build) but perhaps even then a shade more width say 17 to even 18ft might allow for better outcomes in terms of good space for seating and then room around the sides to walk and or for wall storage. Also the 23 ft length that comes out of this ratio is OK but again a few more feet (perhaps Micro’s 26 ft ideal) might give you a bit more space to play with at either end.

A mate told me that he was told by the speaker designer Manolis of Tune Audio that his ideal room ratio was height1:width 2.19:length 3.

As a speaker designer I assume this comes out of some acoustic origin but also it happens that this ratio gives some very functional outcomes generally with rooms still having quite usable widths (given typical ceiling heights) as they are wider than if using the golden mean ratio ie given you are multiplying x 2.19 for width with the Manolis ratio rather than the golden mean ratio x 1.618.

I have examples of both in my notes so just pasting these quickly in. These are expressed in metres but to convert to feet just multiply by 3.28

Room ratio method per Manolis of Tune Audio - 1:2.19:3 gives the following;

2.4:5.26:7.2

2.7:5.91:8.1

3:6.57:9 (approx 10ft ceiling)

Golden Mean method as per Leonardo Fibonacci sequence using Phi 1:1.62:2.62 gives the following;

2.4:3.88:6.3

2.7:4.37:7.1

3.0:4.86:7.85

That said it’s always possible to build in beautiful golden ratio relationships in doorways, windows, panelling, shelves dimensions, area rugs etc and in many ways it is the way that we visually read objects within spaces that also builds our experiences. Making a room visually harmonic builds the calm so that we can relax and enjoy the musical harmonics.

Form follows function is the most sage of all modernist advice. Another architectural wisdom is that the devil is in the detail. Make a space that has good function, appropriate scale, good flow. Write a clear brief for your architect and provide some inspiring examples of other spaces that you love to help provide precedents to draw upon. Give the process sufficient time for the design stage and sit quietly with the plans and see yourself in the space and consider how really it is going to work for you. Most of all try to enjoy the process... not always easy but worth a go.
 
Last edited:

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,869
233
500
Monument, CO
Getting the dimensions wrong leads to worse room modes, easily proven mathematically and measured in practice. Happened to me when my nice primed ratios (and 1/3 of the room) as lost to add a bedroom and associated hallway to get to it. I added lots of treatment, making the room very dead, and later added subwoofers to compensate the room modes and flatten the response (an active approach).

The larger the room, the lower the fundamentals, so bigger is (usually) better. The Golden Mean is probably most commonly cited but in fact most any relatively prime dimension set will do the same. I do like to get the dimensions such that common factors are minimized and as far from each other as possible, e.g. 10' x 10' is worst, 10' x 20' is bad, 10' x 17' is better than 10' x 16' since modes are further apart acoustically. And it can all change with furniture, shelving, etc. Openings and angled walls fool the basic calculators since they assume rectangular rooms.

@jeffrey_t -- As Steve said (and I mentioned but buried in the text), if you can afford it (and I would argue that you can't afford not), find a good acoustician to help if you are not well-versed, and/or at the very least read some of the articles on Ethan's RealTraps, Kinetics Noise Control, and other acoustic treatment sites for help in designing the room. Waaay cheaper to design it right than design it over.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: the sound of Tao

KlausR.

Well-Known Member
Dec 13, 2010
291
28
333

Attachments

  • Room dimensions.pdf
    920.1 KB · Views: 10

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing