Why Room Acoustics is Very, Very Important: Part 2

January 09, 2019 0 Comments

Why Room Acoustics is Very, Very Important: Part 2

In the last part of this discussion, we covered why we want a good room to listen in. In this part, we’ll jump into how we get a good room to listen in. We’ll talk about desirable traits for a room, and why these traits are so sought-after.

The Ideal Listening Room

The subject of the perfectlistening room has been a discussion point between audio professionals, audiophiles, and researchers since the dawn of time. It’s a puzzle that can only be solved with a lot of complicated physics and mathematics. Luckily, the puzzle has, for the most part, already been solved so we don’t need to spend time scratching our heads in confusion. The only problem is that the solution doesn’t translate well into regular English—It’s all jargon and mathematical formulas. Here’s the basic idea:

The ideal listening room would have brick or cinderblock walls, and a concrete floor and ceiling. The rigid construction materials will ensure you don’t lose bass energy by vibrating the walls of the room.

The shape of the room would be symmetrical. This prevents strange stereo image effects by having reflections at uneven timings. This doesn’tmean the room is a square!

The walls would have sound absorbing material covering their entirety in the listening end of the room, and half in the speaker end. The floor and ceiling would be completely covered in the same absorbent material. This material could be foam panels, and a thick carpet and under-liner for the floor. This prevents unwanted reflections by trapping the soundwave’s energy inside the padded materials. It will essentially get lost bouncing around the pockets of air in the foam.

The walls and ceiling would also be slanted with non-parallel edges. This sounds strange, but it helps to smooth our resonant peaks in the room’s space. For comparison, a square room is terrible for resonance. The waves can bounce and crash into each other, causing peaks and troughs of specific frequencies (like waves in a pool, the waves crash into each other too).

Symmetrical rooms for audio

In the image above, you can see how the designer has made the two monitoring (listening) rooms, at the bottom of the image, symmetrical. The line of symmetry is drawn from right between the speakers.

Next, we’ll get into how, if you don’t have an immaculately designed listening space, you can make your room sound better!

This post was written by Jack Chapman.