Desert Wall Audio

If you are in a desert and having a band performing in front of a wall is better than having a band performing in a desert. Space without boundaries is evil. You have no reflected sound waves and everything is dissipated in a space, an open space. Reflections are important, especially the first reflections.

If you have a band performing in a room you have too many walls and too many reflections. If the room is small it sucks because the reflected sound waves are too strong and the time they need to reach your ears is too short. You need a room which have enough space for reflected waves to propagate properly without dominating the direct sound of the instruments, otherwise coloration will occur and certain frequencies will gain velocity.

What I want to stress out here is the fact that the room and its acoustic is the most important factor during sound reproduction. A cheap system in a proper room would reproduce audio much more accurate than an expensive system in inappropriate one. The advice — put your efforts in creating a space that is friendly to the sound propagation, similar to desert with a wall, than spending money on expensive gear.

The man and the wall. I encountered this street musician during my recent visit to Venice, Italy in February 2017.
The man and the wall. I encountered this street musician during my recent visit to Venice, Italy in February 2017.

Room is difficult to cope with. It is easier to spent some bucks on gear because making a decision there is simple. With the room acoustic you need a special knowledge and experience because every room is different and requires specific treatment. The other thing when it comes to room treatment is the aesthetic and preservation of the overall domestic functions of the space — one cannot just scatter around bass traps, diffusors and sound absorbers which usually are not the most pleasant looking interior elements. So be careful, the room interior as a comfort creating tool has big impact on how the reproduced music is perceived.

The first thing one should find out in a certain room is where are the locations of the standing waves and at which frequencies they occur. In my room for example the evil echoes caused by the standing waves occur half a meter before front and back walls at the key of G. So frequencies multiple of G have been severely amplified both in time and velocity domain at these locations. I discovered them occasionally just because of the fact that I inhabit this apartment for several years now. It was occasional shout in certain direction and pitch that revealed the flatter echo, a very evil one.

I tried to reduce the echo which appeared next to the front wall where the speakers are located by applying absorption in form of a blanket. I attached it first to the front wall, then I tried the side wall and also the floor but there was no effect. At the end I attached the blanket to the ceiling and what a shot, the echo have nearly disappeared. As a more aesthetically looking solution I replaced the blanket with a curtain fixed on its four corners with small screws to the ceiling. The whole treatment cost me 25 euro — the price for a pair of cotton curtains from IKEA. I mean it should not be expensive, but since then the listening environment have improved a lot. It is not perfect though and probably some diffusors are unavoidable.

One should be careful though not to overdo the use of absorption because having some slight echoes occurring by particular frequencies could be even better than overly soft and dead room. So I am decided to fix some diffusors on the front wall bellow the ceiling sail, but this requires some extra efforts. Absorption is easy — you need a curtain or blanket but diffusor is made of wood and is quite a construction.

I’ll keep your informed about my further explorations on that topic dear fellows. Cheers and may the tone be with you!

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