Do’s And Don’ts Of Room Setup For Audiophiles –

Do’s And Don’ts Of Room Setup For Audiophiles –

Hi everyone I am Dennis from acoustic fields.
Today we are going to talk about some dos and don’ts in room setup. Now a lot of people
have rooms, a lot of audiophile rooms in the last 2 or 3 weeks that I’ve been seeing some
really disturbing trends, I want to bring those things to your attention.
First and foremost, the distances between the speakers and the side wall must be equal.
I mean, this is really no negotiation on this fact. Sound is an electromechanical energy
form and it travels in a constant speed, so we need to have predictability when we have
those reflections coming at us at the listening position. If we have different distances we
have different timeframes, any shifting going on in the sound stage and a dullness and a
grouping, our instruments and vocals suffer, so you wanna make sure our distances are equal.
This is a little alcove in one of our clients’ rooms, so obviously if we did not have that
alcove we would have equal distances. Another thing that’s critical and people are
not seeming to get this for some reason is sound takes on the characteristics of the
surface it strikes. I know that sounds weird, but if sound strikes glass it has a particular
glass sound if you will. That sound is really prevalent in your car, I do not care how many
speakers you have, I do not care what kind of car you have, it is still a problem. It
is still energy inside of a glass bowl. So it’s got a particular sound to it, it is harsh,
it is tinny, it is glaring, and it is like nail on a blackboard, it is something we really
do not want to have. So glass has got to go in our rooms. You’ve got to cover it with
treatment when you’re playing music if you are gonna get any kind of quality sound out
of it at all. Distances equal on both left and right channels
is a must, also no cavities in the room. Because a cavity depending on what its dimension is,
if its 8 foot and it is 2 foot deep, and it is 7 foot high, well it has an acoustic signature.
It has room modes, it has all kinds of the four acoustical distortions, poor diffusion,
speaker boundary interference affect also, and some comb filtering can be going on so
we get a lot of distortioins out of this, what this ends up being a little alcove or
closet that’s open like that, is another speaker, because it is gonna produce a sound based
on its dimensions that it resonates at, and it is going to interfere with our direct sound
from our speakers. So no hidden chambers, no hidden closets, fireplaces, definite no
no, they have to be filled when you’re playing, because they can turn out to be a tuned resonator
that you do not even want, especially with the long pipe in through the chimney.
So distance is equal between left and right channel, side wall reflection points. Obviously
these distances back here are equal, because we need predictability, we need to manage
reflections and manage low frequency pressure, in order to do that we need predictability.
We do not want one side behaving differently than the other, it is hard enough getting
it right if there are different sides. Another issues that has pros and cons to it, and let
us talk about that is an open rear wall. In this particular room it goes back another
15 feet this way. So we do not have any wall, this is couch, the seated position, so we
do not have any room boundary surfaces directly behind the listening position.
Now that’s a good thing, if you have speakers that are capable of filling this space. With
energy. It is a great thing for low frequencies because we have more volume for the pressure
to run to, so to speak. If you are after intimacy and development of your two channel system
in a real intimate kind of near field monitoring way, this will not work. Because it gives
you a lot of openness and a lot of spaciousness, and probably not the best format for more
critical listening environment, but if you want a big sound stage, openness and lots
of bass energy, a perfect scenario right there, in review let us make sure our side walls
are equidistant from our speakers and please no glass. We must make most surfaces hopefully
out of the same materials and the same density, and no pockets or closets, and depending on
the kind of listening we are gonna do, we may or may not need a rear wall. Thank you.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I learned a lot by watching your videos and reading your ebook, Thank you ! I will do my homework in the following days to cover all the basic principle (Rule of third, equilateral triangle, room measurement, etc). I think my room will be a challenge, it's not a dedicated room like many of us don't have access to and I don't expect perfect results. But I want to maximize the performance of that living space, since it's all I have right now. The challenging parameters will be glass on the left side, open on the right side and relatively short compare to the width of it. Do you have analyze open-space type appartement and determine how we can get the most out of them ?

  2. A far more useful video would be how to address / mitigate / improve these incredibly common and almost guaranteed pitfalls. I doubt many average youtubers are building rooms from scratch, but many would have existing listening rooms they would like to improve. Most of the comments here seem to support this view.

  3. He should make a video on how to deal with the irregularities mentioned instead of "no closets" or "your speakers should be equal distance from the wall." This is would be nice to know when building a mixing room from scratch. But when your studio is already set up in a room, how do you deal with it?

  4. I know there are some issues with "listening room", but it is unrealistic to think you can achieve the "concert hall" sound at home unless you have unlimited resources for your sound system. I would prefer that engineers try to make the recordings as accurate as possible, and I will listen to that in my room. (As if the performance was actually in my room)

  5. If I have no option, but put one of the speakers near a corner, what should I do to "fix" that problem? Some deflectors and absorbers around that corner could do something?

  6. At 2:08 you mentioned no cavities. If their is a closet with a closet door would that door cancel out the cavity of the closet or will it just go right through the door?

  7. You can spend a lot of time and money doing all of that if you want but if you're over 25 your hearing is already starting to deteriorate and if you're over 40 chances are one ear is hearing better than the other. That's if you're healthy with no significant medical issues. Doing all of this is the same as obsessing about a spec of dust on your TV screen. You're not enjoying the forest, because you're focused on each tree. It's much cheaper to just be less picky and realize that the sound isn't going to be perfect. You'll be able to enjoy a $200 pair of speakers then, and you won't annoy you're family with being so damned pedantic. (i'm surprised the video didn't advise against having children, because if you have children, life gets messy and you can forget all that perfect acoustics when you have kid's toys in the way!)

  8. I drive 3 hours a day and i listen to the stereo all the time. The influence of the windows on my sound is the last of my worries. Getting the audio to beat the buzzy Honda engine with a 6800 rpm redline, that is the real issue!

  9. This is the difference between me and the audiophile business. I take pride in ALL sound reproduction, and that includes recording. My good quality audio isn't only reserved for my listening room. I record as high quality as I can, and even my PC speakers are set up correctly. So yeah, the difference between me (the guy with a passion for audio), and the audiophile business.

  10. A note:
    The problem with putting the speakers exactly in the middle of two parallel walls is that your gonna find yourself exactly in the middle of those parallel walls modes where some of those
    mode frequencies (especially the low ones which are the most problematic) have their maximum attenuation or amplification so i guess you'll have to take that into account also…

  11. I think most people, including audiophiles with very expensive systems, don't pay enough attention to the listening room. I've seen some $50k systems sitting in a crappy space. If you can afford $50k for audio, then you can afford to build a decent listening room in your basement. That's what I'm planning on doing even though I don't have that super expensive equipment. I think I have a great space and I'm going to insulate the hell out of it to keep it from being too loud upstairs. Not sure what to do about the HVAC vents though.

  12. Thanks for that.. great info..
    a good common sense approach to sound..
    much appreciated..
    gonna checkout

    Ive sub’d 🙂

    Kindest regards

    *”we may not need a rear wall”
    hehe if I didn’t die in the house collapse my wife would kill me for trying

  13. thanks but no thanks, majority of house holds on this planet do not have a "studio engineer accoustically designed" living room, i love what i hear even tho i break all the rules u speak about, thanks anyways sir.

  14. You can have a perfect hi-fi room without filling the hole you mentioned. It's just that you need to think/work/do more calculations than if you simply say sorry you need a square room with no glass, with no window, with soft walls, with soft floor, with a simetrical soft coach etc…

  15. Apart from “sound is an electromechanical energy form” the rest was informative. I’m sure it’s not easy to summarise such a complex matter in a few minutes video…

  16. I’ve read that the distance of the speaker to the side wall should not be the same distance from the back wall? True?

  17. Interesting perspective. I have two rooms with speakers, both have two speaker, two channel stereo with open archways. Dining room is 12X12X10' with a bay window and is open to living room. Living room is 12X15X10' with a bay window and open to dining room and front hall, both openings are arches. Living room has two solid walls and dining room has three solid walls. Suggestions for speaker placements????? A new house is NOT an option.

  18. QUESTION – i want to flush mount a pair of KLIPSCH CORNWALL 3 speakers into a wall. as you know these tower speakers are ported in the front. i've done a little bit of research on this (its hard to find any information on this though) and what i came up with was a design such that i would build a 4 inch concrete structure inside the wall that would house my cornwall 3 cabinets with about 1 inch clearance on the top and sides and then seal the speaker cabinet against the concrete structure with a rubber foam. this design meant to isolate the speaker from the actual wall. its a baffle type wall that will house the rest of my equipment also. speaker cabinets will be flush with the actual wall. what are your thoughts?

    from what i've read, if i understood it correctly, is that the sound will be amazing except the bass will need to be turned down quite a bit as it will be overwhelm the mids and the highs.

    my room that i'll be installing this in is not the perfect room shape. its in my home. i'll be compensating a lot with electronics and whatever sound treatments that are practical. the main purpose for this is to build my entire home theater system into a wall for a cleaner look, security, and saving space.

    your thoughts?

  19. Clearly you know about acoustic fields but I'm sorry but you obviously have never been in a high end Lexus. Mine has glass windows and a Mark Levinson audio system and I don't have the issues you discribe it sounds magnificent. I have a McIntosh MA7900 integrated amplifier with Focal Utopia speakers so I know a little about sound. I'm not saying my car is anything like my home system but it is damn good.

  20. No glass, no cavities, perfect equal distance from walls for the speakers? ok then we have a to have a box room with no windows. Mean while the rest of us in the real world will try and find a more practicle video.

  21. You demonstrate a 2 channel system being equidistant to each other and the walls, but what about the rest of the channels in a home theater; especially, the center channel?

  22. Since age ya stop followin what others are into n get ya own taste for music av been into stereos more than average bear.. things am hearin here are common sense n this vid shunt be here cos if people can’t figure simple basic kinda shit they don’t deserve to get best out o their set up Am not really that mean n individuals have their individual strengths so fair enough if people need this advice but it does drive mi crazy when people do things like, n one o mi best mates growin up did this, buy a 5.1 system n then have it all in one corner o room??? I tried to enlighten the fool n say how much better it’d sound if he had surround speakers where they should be etc but ya jus can’t teach some people???????

  23. How can the distance between the sides of a speaker (usually solid wood) and the walls possibly affect sound when the speaker cones are in the front of the speakers facing the sofa? Your comment would have some merit if the speaker cones were angled towards the walls or the ports were at the sides but otherwise I cannot see what you are getting at with your diagram.

  24. Thanks for this, but many of us are stuck with the rooms we have – building anything resembling an extension or man cave is hideously expensive here in Australia (and it requires planning permission from $^[email protected] bureaucrats), as I expect it is in many other parts of the world. I get that DSP isnt foolproof, but that's where many of us will spend our money going forward – having to remodel a house just to listen to music strikes me as a little OTT and more inline with the professional clients your business seems to cater to.

  25. 0:45 sound doesn't travel at a constant speed.
    1, at different air pressure it travels faster or slower
    2. Through different substance like water or steel it travels at different speeds
    3. In space it doesn't travel at all
    4. If the object creating the sound is moving away from you or forwards you it travels at different speeds which produces variation in frequency. (Doppler)

  26. My wife will love me even more when I throw out the odd furniture, brick up the kitchen door and the glass window on the wall directly next to the speaker …

  27. What about that alcov, what solution do we have here? Can a thick curtain partially solve this problem or it's useless, you really need a wall?

  28. Ok, your main point “speakers need to be equidistant from the walls”, just will not work in my house. I can’t build an audio room. My home theater will be in 1/4 of a huge room. This room is 38 X 38. It includes the living, dining, entry, and kitchen. The kitchen is in the northwest corner, the dining in the southeast, the entry in the southwest, and the AV on the northeast. Ceramic tile on all floors. How do I deal with the lack of a wall on one side of my AV area?

  29. Thank you for the information. Very well put together and solidly presented. I might suggest doing it a space that's better suited to the content.

  30. what is minimum distance to behind wall from listening position for 7.1 sound. If my couch is 3fit off the backwall, can I reasonably get a 7.1

  31. I have a horrible room, worst then most. I use the McIntosh MEN-220 room correction system. it completely changed my sound in positive ways. Best investment I have ever made. I could not move my room around to accommodate my system, so I decided to use Room Correction and it was amazing how it fixed so many issues. It was most likely less than flying a so called expert to tear up our living space to attempt to correct room issue that can't be corrected without some kind of room correction. If anyone needs feedback I am here to help.

  32. Can anyone suggest how I can cover up the window in my room? My room is rectangular with a rhomboid roof and uniform throughout, and a single window, would it be good for recording music? I'm thinking about putting acoustic panels on the two long walls. What material should I use for the floors, I was thinking about getting some nice wooden floors instead of the carpet, what kind of wood would be nice for a slightly darker tone that isn't too bright?

  33. Obviously, residential architects don't give a damn about acoustics. The only room in residential construction that ever comes close to what's being described in this video, is a single car garage.

  34. So buy partitions and square off your living room? He just described 90% of people’s homes are not ideal for surround sound.

  35. Dear Dennis,
    Can you recommend any good fabric material that is good for covering a window that is a primary reflection point in the monitoring room?
    Best regards,

  36. I LOVE GLASS wide open GLASS bright light and all RIGHT, Andersen SUN glass for sure and 8 Velux skylights, Light Bright and all Right, open spacious, I used to live in a box made of cardboard, but i worn out the cardboard flaps, and had no more privacy, so I moved to a house! Andersen Sun Glass I put in, hardly see in, cus of the darker ting and low e 3 coatings (low e 3 does mean 3 coatings, as opposed to old low e 1 coating), it's very reflective looking from outside in (silver coated for real ), can't see in, love it, yet it lets in tons of visible light, thin film coats science low e 3 not your fathers low e from 30 years ago…

  37. I would've liked to hear more about surround sound speaker placement, e.g whether or not to mount them on the ceiling facing down, how far away from the walls and behind the listening position, does it matter if the sub can't be centered? most people who have a home theater setup can't have a center subwoofer because the cabinet the TV sits on is in the way so it has to be left or right of the cabinet. And other stuff like the floor material e.g carpet, stone, wood etc.

  38. wow I just set my living room reference system up before watching this and it's actually 100 percent how I set it up even took out my huge floor model coat rack with huge mirror and it sounded better good stuff man !

  39. This room you are filming in echoes alot. I feel your videos would resonate with people better if it was more balanced.

  40. Another excellent video. Thumbs up. However, most of us do not have all of these ideal conditions! My stereo system is up against a wall, but behind it is a window; but covered with curtains, and with a middle light curtain. Therefore, what am I going to do to try to get the ideal, correct sound so that music directed to that central point, or area from the two speakers gets? Later I am going to add a small subwoofer. However, for now what can be done if there is a window in front of the house; the living room?

  41. I have a problem with the living room that I am refurnishing and including a new table for the Hi-Fi and a pair of speakers I bought abroad. The left side of the room is not exactly the same as the right side. It has a reentrance and a window. Usualy I have a thin curtain covering the window from above the window to the floor. In this case would you suggest something? I apreciate your reply. Thanks a lot. Regards. Arnaldo Goncalves

  42. Well at first I was worried about the cost of the equipment I wanted for my stereo set up that’s nothing compared to the cost of finding a home with a perfect room to put it in

  43. All very good points. Any room with a good system probably is not perfect and needs or would benefit from some acoustic treatment. For my 22×40' living room there is a glass and hard surfaces problem. I thought the floor rug over the uninsulated hardwood floor and 2 sofas would be enough. The 4 4×5' large windows each has a honeycomb vertical shade. Still not enough to stop all the echo and reflections I was hearing. The large glass frame wall art over the enclosed fireplace and large mirror across the room from it and me in the middle of them for my listening position was interfering with my music listening. So I draped 3×4 wool rugs with eggcrate foam behind (about 25% of wall space) and got such a great effect from it, I am a believer in acoustic room treatment for a better listening experience. My sound is dialed in now and fills the space with the warm 70's analog tone but with the clarity of cd which is the sound I have been chasing for years now. I have even ordered acoustic room fabric panels to make the room even sound better and for cleaner design. I also placed carpet tiles under each floor speaker and the sub. Yes, the room is not perfect. But I think my sound has improved 5-10 fold and I am hearing the cd thru the system with much less sonic clutter. I feel like I am hearing my cds the way they were intended for the first time. And yes, though I hate to do it I will probably take down my mirror and glass frame art for even better listening. A painful compromise for sure! But I can listen for hours now with no Fatigue. Sound is warm and focused, no longer hard and bright. And that was not the case before…It's like before I was listening to the sound interact with the room surfaces. Now I listen to just the music thru the mid-fi system closer to how it was intended.

  44. This is a great video. If I have a room with a window, what could i cover the window with for best results? I'm a complete noob

  45. This information is mostly relevant for studio environments, where you have an entire room available for just audio and need your audio to be as pure as possible. Obviously for a living room environment the same physics still apply, but it just takes away too much freedom in interior design to be so strict about it. After all, most recreational audiophiles don't only care about the best possible sound experience, but also about a setting that makes them feel comfortable while listening to music or watching movies. Besides, most of us have a partner/kids living with them too, which means they can't just turn their living room into a dark, stale studio environment.

    It's still good information though, many people don't think about the physics of audio travel when installing their setup into much detail. Though for living room environments, your focus should be to tweak your audio setup to deal with the acoustic challenges that are present within your living room, rather than sterilizing your living room to aim for acoustic perfection. Ofcourse you won't get the absolute best audio experience that way, but by being very selective about your components and placements you can still create an amazing listening experience in a non-ideal environment.

    For those like me, recreational audiophiles without an entire room available for just audio, it would be helpful to find information on how to deal with those kinds of challenges, rather than to just avoid them completely.

  46. I'll remove any picture frames in my room because they contain glass… No reference of family or friends
    I'll cover my windows with sound dampening material… So there is no light
    I'll suspend my equipment with rope and rings… Like silence of the lambs
    I'll completely void my room of furniture… Standing naked with my junk between my crossed legs and both hands in the air

  47. In many HT and listening rooms it’s impossible to have equal distance between front left and right speakers. Depending on room design and lay out that’s just not reality. That’s why they invented built in software EQ like Audyssey and Sony’s proprietary EQ, YPAO and many others to compensate!

  48. I understand the "no glass" rule but just wondering if there might be a way around it these days? Is the angle of a glass window more or less a factor? Would love to have an exterior soundproof window, but won't do it if I need to sacrifice acoustics. Any tips?

  49. am i supposed to buy a bunker that is a perfect cube with silk walls and no furniture with a flush door to listen to good music?

  50. Sir can you please share about subwoofer and book shelf speakers wattage configuration, When purchased separately. Like can a powerful subwoofer of 500w be connected to 15w speakers through an amplifier. I need exact balanced equation of an home theater setup. If already a video was there please share it sir.

  51. Every viewer of this video: "Oh man, I purposely installed a closet and a window thinking it would improve my sound. What a beginner's mistake! Good thing I watched this video and learned I shouldn't do that. I guess since I have a closet and window, I should never listen to audio. Learned so much here!"

  52. Speakers can and SHOULD have different distances if on of your wall has a book shelf for example. This is a simplistic demonstration, too simplistic and very often wrong.

  53. Mine is a treated room. Ceiling. Wall. Polypropylene panels. Bass traps. Not dead. But l can krank it up. No reflections.

  54. This video hit my small problem. Your drawing shows the “ alcove” ( pocket on the left of the loudspeaker.)

    My room has a 4’ wide a opening by 1 foot deep alcove at the middle of the left speaker position to the front adjoining to back wall. I seem to get a touch of image shift to the left… depending on program sources.

    The right side is STRAIGHT- drywall to the front wall. How could that ‘alcove’ be fixed? 2 bass traps on both sides equally to the front wall? A small room divider ( what material??) on the left alcove strait to he front wall???

  55. Great advice. An alternative would be to use room correction. Wall or corner loading the lower frequencies helps with reflections smearing the bass. It won't fix all your problems, but helps a lot.

  56. Thanks alot for this content , as you say dennis ("usage ,usage ,usage") ,what we try to achieve is a mixing/mastering room for electronic music ,so if we refer to what we know from you ,we think (not sure at all) that we need the direct signal more than anything else since electronic music is all about punch ,a little bit of space feeling and specially Bass bass bass !! , so the question is ,if we block the maximum frequencies with absorption technologies no matter what the size is (let me be honest ,i have the worst room ever ,its an L shape and the biggest part of it is cubic and it's small ,about (L=3.1m , w=2.9m and h=3.1 ) ,does this works ? ,we are planning to place big panels of 50 cm thick (rockwool) on side walls and front wall ,corners aswell (we don't care about comfort and working space) and we try to keep the door open and window aswell (we don't care about noise we have synthetisers) and finally we keep our 5.5 woofer pair of speakers as close as we can to us , will it somehow works? ,and "works" for us means not far from perfection (depending on our usage ofc) thank you .

  57. Equal distance to sidewall: is it true when room width is 19+' using open baffle speakers with 6-7ft from sidewalls?

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