Resources for Building an Ideal Listening Room

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,585
205
485
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
We are considering the same process in enclosing our patio area.

Just discovered some lighting yesterday thru the Estelon Rep that is said to be better for audio systems called DC Lighting. We’re still studying it.

ATX LED

As far as room size I would suggest using the Golden Ratio formula if beginning from scratch.
1.6 (W) x 2.6 (L) x 1 (H)
That is very interesting LED light stuff there, not so sure local building inspectors will be on board though. NEC is changed every two years, I'll ask the engineers in the office if they know anything about this.

I'm sure omni-directional speaker have special requirements.

My Martin Logan owner's manual was always spot on in it's recommendations.

Minnesotafats I'm hopeful MBL will extend a hand if you contact them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Audire

Audire

VIP/Donor
Jan 19, 2019
1,054
1,177
275
FL Panhandle
That is very interesting LED light stuff there, not so sure local building inspectors will be on board though. NEC is changed every two years, I'll ask the engineers in the office if they know anything about this.

I'm sure omni-directional speaker have special requirements.

My Martin Logan owner's manual was always spot on in it's recommendations.

Minnesotafats I'm hopeful MBL will extend a hand if you contact them.

I have no idea about the local code on them. I guess we will see here in just a little while (I hope it’s only a little while).
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,585
205
485
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
I talked to one of our PV Solar Array engineers, he's actually an electrician that both designs and does installations, knows a lot about AC and DC and trouble shoots systems - has some colorful stories.......................anyway he said that he would NOT have DC in his house with a master transformer at the box and with DC wires running up though the house and possibly the attic with rodents possibly chewing on the wire.

His reasoning is as follows, DC line fuses often do not work and damaged wires can have hot power flowing though them which may cause fires (exposed insulation etc..). When a squirrel bites into and cuts in half a hot DC wire, a fire may follow in short order - dangerous.

He provided a story about a damaged DC line on a Solar PV Array, and also said you cannot pull away when being shocked by high DC unlike AC which is alternating. I'm not sure about that, I've only been shocked by a car battery when I was 19 years old, never a house panel, but did pull the main shutoff when the glass fuse would not come out for my dad and he did something stupid to get it out.

I asked our electrician about undersized DC wires meeting code or not, he said wire should be sized according to code and is load dependent. I asked because when LED's first came out I was working construction (Great Recession) and helping wire a house, the builder said wire was to be sized per code/circuit and based on incandescent light bulb loads not LED loads - always the worse case scenario to be idiot proof.

Mind you this opinion of DC is by an electrician used to dealing with some large Solar Photovoltaic Arrays, and he also installs electric car chargers on the weekends sometimes.

At least you have some questions to ask ATX LED about.

Also, he gave me a couple of line noise reducing filter rings "ferrite" to try out. If my power plugs do not fit through them just loop part of the wire though, if they reduce line noise for me can install at meter or top inlet to lighting panel - will have to disconnect and reconnect as there is not break in them, a doughnut shape just over 1" inside hole and about 1-3/4" outside diameter x 3/8 thick x 1/2" deep.
 

rando

Well-Known Member
Sep 22, 2019
1,464
1,085
230
↑↑↑ @Minnesotafats are you considering going for a solar powered system in kind with Steve Williams? Or possibly solar and wind (wind requires a power source) if the graces of rural living are a motivator. Not all barns are equal in construction or line of sight/microclimate.
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,585
205
485
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
↑↑↑ @Minnesotafats are you considering going for a solar powered system in kind with Steve Williams? Or possibly solar and wind (wind requires a power source) if the graces of rural living are a motivator. Not all barns are equal in construction or line of sight/microclimate.
To clarify, both the ATX LED lighting system and solar PV arrays run wires with DC current, and that poses special challenges.

I asked this engineer/electrician if it's only 12 volt in the wires like in a car, what's the big deal? It's not some high power solar array.

He said that power is only running through the car when it's on, an always on set of DC wires running through your house is a unnecessary fire danger in his opinion.

As an aside, I was shocked by a 12 volt car battery when I was 19 years old, there is some juice there, not enough to kill you but I've seen it smoke some wires via improper automotive repairs.

Then there was my 1976 Super Beetle, battery under the rear seat, too fat of a person sitting there and the seat springs could heat up via direct battery contact and possibly set the coconut husk seat padding or what ever it was on fire.

Just saying DC isn't as idiot proof as Mr. Edison advocated when espousing the dangers of Mr. Tesla's AC current.
 
Last edited:

bryans

VIP/Donor
Dec 26, 2017
691
597
230
1976 Super Beetle, battery under the rear seat, too fat of a person sitting there and the seat springs could heat up via direct battery contact and possibly set the coconut husk seat padding or what ever it was on fire.
LOL so funny but true!
 

rando

Well-Known Member
Sep 22, 2019
1,464
1,085
230
To clarify, both the ATX LED lighting system and solar PV arrays run wires with DC current, and that poses special challenges.

I asked this engineer/electrician if it's only 12 volt in the wires like in a car, what's the big deal? It's not some high power solar array.

He said that power is only running through the car when it's on, an always on set of DC wires running through your house is a unnecessary fire danger in his opinion.

Since his reply is not likely to be short in coming. I appreciate you continuing the dialogue.

In my quick read before replying he mentioned moving to a residence which allowed for a healthy margin of square footage, potentially in an outside building. A barn or other disconnected building meeting the allowable infrastructure for a workshop per most local building code. Implying minimal restrictions on barriers and other unwieldly means of isolation enclosing unmonitored installations.

Barns have two notable elements that informed my answer. They are by nature built with the fact in mind they represent a dangerous environment and their roof's are an ideal mounting point for solar array. There is also the ability to house large equipment and allow service.

I feel safe saying his plans are far enough down the road, still in the planning stages, today's dangerous lighting technology provided him with a potentially useful data point. Which may carry a very appreciated warning for others about to wonder why their seat is getting warm in the nearer term.
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,585
205
485
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
Barns ......... an ideal mounting point for solar array. There is also the ability to house large equipment and allow service....................
That's good to know he might have an out building like a barn.

One of the guys at work did 15 minute analysis of my property, and I found a few things out.

1. The 60-80 foot trees to the south, one at the front and one at the back would shade a proposed garage addition to the north on Dec 21st, just a little. The black walnut's canopy goes over part of the existing house at the SW corner (front), the willow to the SE (back) almost touches our deck facing the river to the east.

2. Even without the trees, when facing the PV modules SW or SE from true south there is less than a 10% difference in energy production. So in my case SE facing panels are going to work best, and that happens to be sympathetic with existing roof orientation that will be mimicked for the future garage. The house roof is in a lot of shade, good for summer cooling, bad for solar panels.

I should note that distances to hooking up to the power grid (nearest pole with transformer) or underground junction point may be factors in cost. I don't think such costs would be anywhere near a battery storage system.

The fantasy power system which is free of line pollution just might be DC battery based (and solar powered), if anyone has experience with this or has an online link to share please post it.

I can always ask someone at the solar consulting firm I do AutoCad at what they think.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: rando

rugyboogie

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
149
107
430
Vancouver, BC
Have been building our cottage for some time now.
The two generators used for the construction combined hour meter is up at 4800 hrs.
We are on an Island which is off grid and boat access only.

In 2013 I installed 8 used (20 year old at the time) 75w and battery set up for our DC power fridge and a small 600w inverter for charging small things such as phone, batteries for the Milwaukee cordless tools.
This was my first crack at using PV for our place.

This Aug we installed a temporary PV system, Lithium batteries, charge controller, BMS, DC breaker panel and an 6000w inverter. Since that day we have not needed to turn on the genny any longer with up to 8 guys working.
Running table saws, chop saws, air compressor, vacuums and dust collection system. We will be expanded and adding more PV and 3 more batteries in the spring.

This year we had over 100 days of no rain nice, fire on the Island and choppers dropping water buckets for 3 days to contain and extinguish the fire. The creek on our property ran dry up until beginning of Nov.
Have a micro hydro cross flow turbine in our creek, now that the rain has finally begun we are making power again 24/7. Not a lot of sun now here in PNW .
So happy that we don't have to buy and lug fuel over by boat, up the stairs and then up to generators station. To old for this.

Big question, why didn't I do this earlier ?......
 
  • Like
Reactions: MarkusBarkus

GentleRepose

New Member
Nov 6, 2022
3
6
3
46
First post. I also feel this is a situation where hiring a professional is the right choice for most people. I am in the early stages of planning a dedicated minimal compromise listening room for when I retire. Although I am by nature a DIY type person and have read extensively on the topic, I just don’t think I would be successful in creating a listening room with the performance I’m looking for without endless trial and error and the associated headache and added expense.

I thought I would share some of the information I have come across in the hope that it may be useful for others. This is by no means comprehensive and is somewhat stream of thought. Input is welcome.

Paying attention to the ratio of the L x W x H of the room pays dividends. This is certainly true in new construction, but it may also be the case that moving a wall or dropping a ceiling slightly may be of benefit in existing rooms. The general idea is that having room dimensions that do not share common factors will even out modal peaks and will decrease the amount of room treatment required. It follows that a cube is the worst possible room. The golden ratio is recommended by some (and isn’t necessarily bad) but isn’t special compared with many other options. I found the link below helpful but there are lots of resources around if one looks.

https://hub.salford.ac.uk/sirc-acou...d-building-acoustics/room-sizing-for-studios/

Having nonparallel side walls has some additional theoretical advantages in further decreasing modal peaks by increasing the average number of bounces (as well as eliminating slap echo); however, deviating from rectangular construction is problematic in modeling the room with software and obtaining predictable results. For instance, the room ratios in the above link only hold for rectangular (or near rectangular) rooms; and it is my understanding that this is also the case for other commonly used acoustics software. In any case, the above can easily be planned for and managed with room treatment. Personally, I want things to be predictable and to get it right or near right the first time. Other choices are valid.

In thinking about an “ideal room” it is helpful to consider the size of low bass notes. A 20 hz soundwave is longer than 56 feet. Rooms don’t need to be that large but ideally should be larger than ½ wavelength for best response. If one designs for 25 or 35 Hz, the room can be smaller.

Consider the needs for room isolation and room treatment and understand the difference. To what extent do I need to keep sound in /out based on the location of my room? Do I live near an airport or in the country by myself with no neighbors? Is my room next to a bedroom or an indoor space where noise is generated? What is my goal for background noise level? All things questions pertain to room isolation. One can look up Noise Control (NC) ratings (NC-15, NC-25, etc). Each of our situations are unique but will dictate what options are required for construction.

If one googles sound transmission class (STC), one will find different wall construction methods and their ratings in terms of isolation.

During construction, generally paying attention to details like air sealing and not bypassing wall isolation in construction are important. Small errors can have large impacts on system performance. Construction methods are likely to be new for the framing/drywall crew etc.

Plan for adequate ventilation and how to mitigate the associated sound so that it can be used while listening. Someone on the team will need to understand sizing HVAC, etc. There are lots of resources for DIY options regarding noise-absorbing baffles on forums that cater to recording studios.

Many diffusers that you can buy are not that effective. This isn’t because they don’t work, but because they only work over a limited range of frequencies and are otherwise reflective. This is related to physics and shipping and construction costs. Low frequencies require depth AND panel size, which is expensive to construct and ship, and high frequencies require nested solutions and more complicated construction. Some diffusers maintain phase relationships and others don’t. There are many different types. DIY is an option.

Here is a link for the “bible” for absorbers and diffusers (which can be purchased elsewhere).

https://www.researchgate.net/public...s_and_Diffusers_Theory_Design_and_Application

Plan for lighting. LEDs on dimmers are great in some settings but are problematic in terms of noise and generally should be avoided. Consider having different lighting scenarios using groups of LEDs of different strengths, that can be switched on/off and combined to create the desired results. Alternatively, some music studios will still use incandescent bulbs and a Variac (an autotransformer that can continuously vary the supplied voltage). This is ideal in terms of flexibility and noise but is less efficient energy-wise. I plan to do a combination of all of the above. Please note that a Variac cannot be used with LEDs (as they require a specific voltage).

Have a plan for electrical in terms of clean power and wiring to limit ground loops.

Here are a couple of papers I found interesting. I read many others but can’t remember them off the top of my head.

https://www.jensen-transformers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/generic-seminar.pdf

https://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=7945

As a final thought, personally, I will avoid selecting someone to design my room that sells their own acoustics products. There are many ways to accomplish the end goal, but I want someone who is making decisions based on performance and ideally in a cost-conscious manner that fits with my aesthetic priorities. Activated carbon, for instance, is tested and effective and has some performance advantages over other absorption options. However, the same end result can be obtained just by using more fiberglass or rockwool, etc. in a thoughtful manner and at a much lower overall cost. Anyway.

Best wishes to you all on your audio journeys,

Jon
 

Minnesotafats

Active Member
Aug 27, 2020
33
30
25
↑↑↑ @Minnesotafats are you considering going for a solar powered system in kind with Steve Williams? Or possibly solar and wind (wind requires a power source) if the graces of rural living are a motivator. Not all barns are equal in construction or line of sight/microclimate.
Sorry for the delayed response. Not wind....maybe Solar but depends on final location. More concerned about the shape of the room and the wiring than the source of the power.
 
  • Like
Reactions: rando

Minnesotafats

Active Member
Aug 27, 2020
33
30
25
Here are some thoughts from someone who loves MBL and omnis:

- There’s nothing like a large - sized room . In a larger rooms, MBLs create a bigger stage - images will come at you from a 3D space. It can’t be matched by other non- omni technologies. Guys in this hobby have powerful imaginations. They pretend their wilsons and magicos sound like real music. But No box speakers can do what MBLs do. Yet if the room is not up to par, there's no point spending MBL money. Guys who don’t invest in the room (and treatments) are getting a piddly return on their investment, or worse. They are getting maybe getting 20 percent of the potential performance. Think of a guy in a super car driving in bumper to bumper traffic- just an expensive luxury but no potential for performance . So find as big of a room as you can and treat it.

- No acoustics expert can predict what your room will sound like. There is no prediction model that exists

- Most of those acoustic experts are experimentally impoverished. They primarily only know about the box speakers. MBLs are foreign to them

- And of course there’s personal taste. How many times have people heard a Wilson system set up by that snooty, arrogant mother fuyer , "Haughty" Peter McGrath? Those Wilson systems are hyped up as “time machines” by the “audio journalists “. But to vast majority of people, Wilsons sound so friggin bad. When people not into this hobby get convinced to listen to that hyped up hifi , it’s a huge letdown and keeps so many outsiders from the hobby. Otherwise, people who love music would be running to this hobby like kids to a park

- With all that said, do reach out to SMT. They know MBL well and should make solid recommendations. MBL North America brings SMT panels to all shows and always get some of the best sound at the show

- You will need a right balance of reflective and absorptive surfaces in the room

- You will need bass traps in corners as uncontrolled bass waves will muddy up transparency

- So forget acoustical experts. Get both bass traps and SMT panels in steps, play around with positioning, and get more…Otherwise, they will build something and you may end up ripping stuff out after all the hassle and expense
I am leaning towards SMT because MBL uses them. I thought SMT products were also used in the Magico room when reviewing the video of their build out.
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
4,002
585
548
I am leaning towards SMT because MBL uses them. I thought SMT products were also used in the Magico room when reviewing the video of their build out.

Great move. As i mentioned above, all the acoustic “experts“ know diddly about omnis. i am assuming you’ll be going with SMT for bass also. so you will have to hire someone to properly measure the room so the SMT devices can be properly tuned.

and then , boy, are you in for a treat!
 

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