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post #1 of 118 Old 08-01-2008, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone used there Level 1 or Level 2 services? I know a lot of people on this forum have used the L3 service, but i'm not building that kind of room.

I'm just wondering if L2 is worth the extra money over the first one.

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post #2 of 118 Old 08-11-2008, 02:56 PM
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Aw crap, all of the posts in this thread have been lost.

Mike Lavigne, if you come back around here I'd appreciate your answers to my questions: did you find the third visit by Richard (instead of Chris) was worthwhile? Did it make a big improvement when he had finished tweaking and measuring? What kind of measurements did he take (e.g. RT60, frequency response, etc...)?

I was wondering if it was worth saving the money on the visit by Richard and getting someone like Bob Hodas to come instead. What do you think?

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post #3 of 118 Old 08-11-2008, 05:21 PM
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What the heck happened? obviously I must have missed something happening.

Never mind I read the notice. LOL

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post #4 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 04:51 AM
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To recap, I believe we had sort of reached a concensous that with Level 1 and Level 2, you are taking a chance of not being satisfied with the results.

For Level 3 (aka Mike Lavigne Level ), everything is outstanding, but still is dependent upon equipment used for varied results.

I think this sums up what all the missing posts had eluded to. Of course there were a lot more words in all of the original posts.

Edit: Oh yeah... a couple of other things:

Choice of equipment and how particular components interact with any given room is important.

And the number one most important is... Proper Room Size and Dimensions! It's better to start with a room that is friendly to sound, than to try and fix one that isn't.

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post #5 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 05:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

To recap, I believe we had sort of reached a concensous that with Level 1 and Level 2, you are taking a chance of not being satisfied with the results.

For Level 3, the question was put forward if there are any Level 3 clients that are dissatisfied.

And everything above Level 3 (aka Mike Lavigne Level ) is pretty much outstanding.

I think this sums up what all the missing posts had eluded to. Of course there were a lot more words in all of the original posts.

Edit: Oh yeah... a couple of other things:

Choice of equipment and how particular interacts with any given room is also important.

And the number one most important is... Proper Room Size and Dimensions! It's better to start with a room that is friendly to sound, then to try and fix one that isn't.

If I'm not mistaken, Mike's room was a level 3 design. He was able to start from scratch with no fixed room dimensions limiting him.

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post #6 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by The Bogg View Post

If I'm not mistaken, Mike's room was a level 3 design. He was able to start from scratch with no fixed room dimensions limiting him.

Ah, you are correct. I got mixed up because there is a Level 1 + in addition to Level 1. I edited my post.

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post #7 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 07:47 AM
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I think Grellberg's point (before the posts were lost) was that some people with the level 3 were not happy with the results.

It's a big commitment to do a level 3 room, and it adds roughly 12-15k to the cost of building the room (assuming you were going to do it anyway). The materials used are commonly available and the construction techniques involve a bit of time and that's what adds cost too. The finishing will affect the cost depending on how detailed you get. If you were to take an existing room and add on bass traps and sound treatments it can get pretty expensive just in parts alone plus it won't have the built-in look. For me, the price of the room was worthwhile just for the look of it alone. Pictures don't do it justice, when I had my audio pals over the gasps of amazement were universal (for the look/workmanship as well as the end result). Like Mike Lavigne said, there's still some tweaking to be done once the room is finished but I guess that depends on how much of a perfectionist the person is. Also, it really is important that the speakers chosen are size appropriate to the room - which is also important in any room I suppose.

I'm still hoping Mike, or anyone else, will chime in about the value of the third visit from Rives vs getting someone like Bob Hodas to optimize speaker positioning.

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post #8 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 08:51 AM
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My Rives design was a Level 2. While there were some pre-studded walls in the un-finished basement, their design modified the existing room dimensions, made use of additional height by not making a drywall ceiling and hence getting extra room height (and better bass) and we were able to build in all of their room treatments (bass traps in the soffets, diffusive ceiling behind a cloth covering, etc. Their design called for LP shelves on the back wall (behind the listener) but because I had RPG Skylines leftover from a previous room (50 of them to be exact), I had them modify their plans to include the Skylines. I happen to like the look. but not everyone would. I made it clear to them in the design process that this HAD to be a function over form solution and that while I loved the look of Mike Lavign's room, I did not want to go in that direction. And I would also agree with the on-going tweeking process. The room was designed with corner bass traps and some bass traps in the soffets AND the ability to open more of them once the system was up and running and we could determine where the bass problem were. So the room has a LOT of flexibility as either (1) my taste changes or (b) my equipment does --- specifically in the sub 80Hz range (I have upgraded to 4 subs since the original design and am in the process of determining the optimum number of open soffet bass traps.

And the results: The best room I have ever owned and am not using EQ or room correction for 2 channel. Is it the best room I have ever heard? No. That honor belongs to a friend who was in a position to start with a blank sheet of paper (they were building a new home) and he used a Level 3 Service.

I would also concur that if you can get a reasonable set of dimensions before you start, you are way, way, way ahead of the game.

And slightly off topic, MS Word Spell check does not seem to like ANY of the possible spellings of the word "soffett" or "sofet" or sofett" or any other combination I can find. So how is it spelled?

I also am using the Rives (and other) software to fine tune the room so if one is not able, or inclined to do so, I would recommend that "after completion" visit.
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post #9 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 09:06 AM
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I've tried taking measurements, listening, making speaker position changes, repeat. It's quite tedious. I wasn't sure if they had a more efficient way of finding the "best" spot using software such as ETF etc....

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post #10 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

And slightly off topic, MS Word Spell check does not seem to like ANY of the possible spellings of the word "soffett" or "sofet" or sofett" or any other combination I can find. So how is it spelled?

It is perfectly happy with 'soffit' and suggests that as a replacement for 'soffet.'

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post #11 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bogg View Post

I've tried taking measurements, listening, making speaker position changes, repeat. It's quite tedious. I wasn't sure if they had a more efficient way of finding the "best" spot using software such as ETF etc....

It is incredibly tedious and time consuming (I spent 6 to 12 months fine tuning when I built my last room and once my business slows down for the season will embark on the same process in this room). I used marks at the listening position and in both directions for the speakers and the number combinations is large. I would initially move the speakers or seat in large increments and then once I got a sense for what generally happened, would move in smaller and smaller increments. I used an impulse measurement and used the Frequency Response conversion to deal with the bass issues and used the time measurments to determine where reflections came from so I could apply appropriate treatment. The final results were worth it. I would be surprised if there were any "magic" approach that could make it less time consuming (assuming you are as anal as I am and want the "perfect spot" for listening position and speakers).

I know that Wilson dealers don't do this for installing their speakers but when I had Wilsons, after the dealer left, I did it as above and got much improved results over his approach ... but to each his own.
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post #12 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

It is perfectly happy with 'soffit' and suggests that as a replacement for 'soffet.'

And that's why you write for a magazine and I don't. Thanks
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post #13 of 118 Old 08-12-2008, 02:12 PM
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You're hired! lol. (for speaker setup that is, not for magazine writing)

I don't think there is a magic approach but I'm sure Rives and others have better tools available than I do to measure and interpret and presumably that would speed things up. I've done the incremental movement thing like you described and it's fatiguing, but ultimately worthwhile.

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Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

It is incredibly tedious and time consuming (I spent 6 to 12 months fine tuning when I built my last room and once my business slows down for the season will embark on the same process in this room). I used marks at the listening position and in both directions for the speakers and the number combinations is large. I would initially move the speakers or seat in large increments and then once I got a sense for what generally happened, would move in smaller and smaller increments. I used an impulse measurement and used the Frequency Response conversion to deal with the bass issues and used the time measurments to determine where reflections came from so I could apply appropriate treatment. The final results were worth it. I would be surprised if there were any "magic" approach that could make it less time consuming (assuming you are as anal as I am and want the "perfect spot" for listening position and speakers).

I know that Wilson dealers don't do this for installing their speakers but when I had Wilsons, after the dealer left, I did it as above and got much improved results over his approach ... but to each his own.


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post #14 of 118 Old 08-20-2008, 06:23 PM
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I thought I should chime in...

I bought a level 2 Rives design package, and for the money it was worth it. Am I 100% happy? No, but a level 2 is meant as band aid over a previous room footprint, not a start from scratch or complete renovation solution. I added a lot of significant costs to my room by forcing the level 2 design to have that kind of scope.

The room sounds significantly better than it did originally. It did however require additional electronic band aids (DSP), but my understanding, based on speaking with other people in the acoustics field, is that this is often unavoidable in the areas where I am experiencing issues (modal reinforcements and nulls in the lower frequencies...). I did expect the issues in my room to be slightly less than they are though.

Considering that I paid $2100 dollars for the schematics at the time, I think the room sounds great. I do think I went overboard on the room construction or that I went under-board with the level of the design I chose. Perhaps I should have chosen a design level 3 considering what I ended up doing in the room construction-wise...

I would never general contract work like this again for myself (well unless I designed the room myself - in which case that might make some sense). I would opt for a turn-key solution or hire a general contractor who is competent to do the integrating and worrying for me. Though, the world seems to lack contractors that follow acoustic schematics from what I have heard.

In my next room, what I am most concerned with is finding someone who will do their best to iron out as many problems in the modal responses with acoustics first, and then only use DSP for the last yard. I am very tempted by one turnkey solution being offered, but I need to examine further whether or not the kind of acoustical tweaking I mentioned above is a part of the process, or if the room is just built and DSP added without trying to iron out fundamental irregularities first. My worry is, the more erratic the response is below 500 Hz, the more higher frequency response issues may develop that are uncorrectable without potentially noticeable higher frequency signal processing noise.

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post #15 of 118 Old 08-21-2008, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post


I know that Wilson dealers don't do this for installing their speakers but when I had Wilsons, after the dealer left, I did it as above and got much improved results over his approach ... but to each his own.


I still have Wilsons speakers, WP7's and Sophias. Just a real quick story. My local dealer who's a good friend of mine helped me set up my WP7's who in turn did a great job. But like you being anal about my room and it's sound found small tweaks to the speakers that the dealer didn't do like changing the Watt's spikes to the next taller size, which in turn changed the tweeters response. Maybe that's why some people complain of the Watt/Puppy being bright in some systems due to the way they're setup?
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post #16 of 118 Old 08-30-2008, 01:41 PM
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I don't think I have much to input.
I had a level 1+ service.
New construction. Some limitations in place such as HVAC lines, etc.
The process took a while but I was happy with the results.

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post #17 of 118 Old 09-19-2008, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

To recap, I believe we had sort of reached a concensous that with Level 1 and Level 2, you are taking a chance of not being satisfied with the results.

Count me as yet one more person who was very disappointed with a Rives Audio Level 1 service. My initial instructions explicitly stated that I didn't want certain things, and wanted other things, and those instructions were ignored, the representations on the Rives Audio website were not accurate and the work product was totally unusable. And the Rives Audio attitude all along was extremely rude and unprofessional --and frankly just wrong and ignorant about certain things.

I got much better advice (at least it was accurate and helpful) from Ethan at realtraps on this forum and from Bryan at sensiblesoundsolutions.com when I later bought some materials from him.

Feel free to PM me for details.
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post #18 of 118 Old 09-19-2008, 01:48 PM
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Those are some pretty harsh criticisms, care to give some examples? I didn't PM you, I decided that if you're going to judge someone then I think it's reasonable for you to give your reasons for the judgment at the same place.

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post #19 of 118 Old 09-19-2008, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

I know that Wilson dealers don't do this for installing their speakers...

Don't do what? Spend 6-12 months moving speaker in various increments? Not if they want to stay in business they don't. On the other hand, if they were to do so and charge by the hour, it sounds like an excellent business model .
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post #20 of 118 Old 09-19-2008, 02:30 PM
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Don't do what? Spend 6-12 months moving speaker in various increments? .

Well they sure didn't do that.....or anything close to it. When I bought Watt Puppies the dealer came to my home and used the Wilson "voicing" system (or so he called it) where he either spoke or clapped hands or something and listened near the front corners and moved the speakers until he was satisfied that it was corrrect. After he spent maybe an hour or two at the most, he pronounced that he was completed. I listened and told him it sounded like garbage and I ran an impulse measurement while he was here, showed him a 12 db bump at 64Hz (and a bunch of other horrible frequency issues) and he told me I needed a new amp!!

I spent maybe an hour after he left using real measurements and dramatically improved the situation by moving the speakers and the listening position.. I can only believe that he was NOT representative of a typical Wilson dealer or Wilson would have been out of business a long time ago.

For what I spent for those speakers, I should have gotten a lot better service (and results) than that.

Subsequently, I spent several more months fine tuning but after a year or so dumped them since they were definitely not my cup of tea.
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post #21 of 118 Old 09-19-2008, 02:51 PM
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LOL, that absolutely does sound like your average high-end audio dealer. Some clapping, and am amp recommendation to fix a 12 db frequency hump. I'll have to add that to my archive of high-end audio store stories.
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post #22 of 118 Old 09-19-2008, 02:59 PM
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There are some EXCELLENT high end audio dealers but as I traveled around the US when I was in the audio business, I found as many inept and unknowledgeable dealers as I did competent ones.
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post #23 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 07:40 AM
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High End Audio, just like everything else, has some really great people, some really sleazy people, and everything in between. It's too bad that all of the original posts were lost in this thread. For one thing, I had mentioned that Rive's local contact here in Dallas wanted to sell me cables to correct my acoustical problems. He was originally brought in because he was suppose to come out and measure my room. But he couldn't get the software to work. After a while, he (and Rives) quit contacting me altogether. No follow up... nothing. As I said in my post that was lost. Luckily I found a local dealer that DID know his stuff, and also turned out to be a great guy. With his help, and a lot of work and self education on my part, I finally got things in order. That particular room itself was a disaster. And it was made worse after Rives. What I ended up doing was selling the house, and bought a new one with a room that had favorable dimensions for audio to begin with. That coupled with making some better choices in equipment has led me finally to audio contentment. I sold much of the commercial acoustical products that Rives had recommended after moving into the new house. The new room didn't need it, and was tame-able with a very minimal amount of treatment.

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post #24 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 07:51 AM
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You know what they say, "you can't polish a turd". Same for a really acoustically tough room. I wouldn't expect the level 1 service to make things perfect. But I also wouldn't expect the BS treatment you got. Whenever someone says that a cable of some sort will fix significant audio issues then it's time to run the other way!
It's not always practical but the best way to determine if any acoustic person is worthwhile is to listen/scrutinize a previous project. I wish I'd had the time to listen to Mike Lavigne's room before designing mine but I couldn't change my ceiling height anyway so it wouldn't have really changed anything. Listening to someone's level 1 or 2 design before purchasing would be of value imho.

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post #25 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bogg View Post

You know what they say, "you can't polish a turd". Same for a really acoustically tough room. I wouldn't expect the level 1 service to make things perfect. But I also wouldn't expect the BS treatment you got. Whenever someone says that a cable of some sort will fix significant audio issues then it's time to run the other way!

You ain't just Woofin! And that former room of mine was one great big giant turd!

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post #26 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

. What I ended up doing was selling the house, and bought a new one with a room that had favorable dimensions for audio to begin with. That coupled with making some better choices in equipment has led me finally to audio contentment. I sold much of the commercial acoustical products that Rives had recommended after moving into the new house. The new room didn't need it, and was tame-able with a very minimal amount of treatment.

Yes and thank you for the great deal. Those RPG Skylines are doing a great job on the ceiling. I do understand why you don't like them. It's a balancing act of getting the diffusion from making the highs too bright and adding enough absorption. The other guys diffusers that are similiar to the Skylines are cheaper and do not at all have that effect. The Skylines work well for me on the ceiling however but that's the only place I use them. My wife's friends actually like them. They think that they were some sort of art and I was "into" that sort of thing. But then how many people see art that's butt ugly and are just afraid to say so.

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post #27 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bogg View Post

You know what they say, "you can't polish a turd". Same for a really acoustically tough room. I wouldn't expect the level 1 service to make things perfect. But I also wouldn't expect the BS treatment you got. Whenever someone says that a cable of some sort will fix significant audio issues then it's time to run the other way!

Yes. After about 10 years, I finally convinced a friend to just TRY some acoustical treatments. The designer of his speakers who also sells him cables kept insisting on changing cables and what did I know. Finally he listened. It did not take a lot of treatments either. Just about 6 two by four feet tall OC703 panels at first reflection points did the trick. It's the first time he has ever stopped switching out cables to solve the problem. I"m not anti-cable either.

Never become so involved with something that it blinds you.
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post #28 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

Yes and thank you for the great deal. Those RPG Skylines are doing a great job on the ceiling. I do understand why you don't like them. It's a balancing act of getting the diffusion from making the highs too bright and adding enough absorption. The other guys diffusers that are similiar to the Skylines are cheaper and do not at all have that effect. The Skylines work well for me on the ceiling however but that's the only place I use them. My wife's friends actually like them. They think that they were some sort of art and I was "into" that sort of thing. But then how many people see art that's butt ugly and are just afraid to say so.

Bulldogger, you're very welcome! I'm glad those worked out well for you. On a side note, I'm with your wife's friends. I always thought that skylines looked like cool artwork as well. I almost wish I had kept a couple of them for experimentation, such as what Mike Lavigne did with a couple of Skylines in his setup. But in the end, that wouldn't have worked for me anyway since I now have a fixed screen, instead of a retractable one.

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post #29 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 09:18 AM
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Rutgar,

a few weeks back i posted on this thread. as i type slow i spent quite awhile posting some pictures and writing comments. that night AVS had a failure and my posts were lost. i was frustrated after all the time i invested and did not take the time to repost.

anyway; i thought i would at least post another picture of my center diffuser that you were referring to. i painted the diffuser a color that works both in the light and when i have the lights dim. i do view it as functional art and seems to compliment my Navajo's as well as the maple cabinetry and the fabric wall coverings. when the lights are dim it is soothing and with daylight it is subtle.

as i posted previously; i experimented with the width and height of the diffuser to find what works. you cannot just throw up a diffuser and assume it will make things better. this diffuser is the only acoustical addition i have made to my Rives room. OTOH it has taken me 4 years to optimize my system in the room. every time i thought the room was a source of problems it turned out to be my gear in some way. when Rives designed my room they told me that i would likely want to change things a bit over time; particularly they over built my bass trapping and thought i might want to cover some of it depending. adding buiilt-in bass trapping to an existing room is not realisitic; covering some already built bass trapping is easy. i have not made any changes and the bass performance in my room is breathtaking now.

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post #30 of 118 Old 09-20-2008, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

Skylines work well for me on the ceiling however but that's the only place I use them. My wife's friends actually like them.

Yep, the purpose of the Skylines is to deepen the sense of space in space limited areas, such as a low ceiling or walls that are too close to the seating position. The balancing act is choosing the right height diffuser so that you leave enough space between the listening position and the tip of the skylines in order to get the full bloom effect. Looking at my room now, Rives may have chosen the wrong size Skylines for my setup. I might have seen more benefit from the smaller sized version so that the diffusion effect had more space to bloom completely at the main seating position. I found this out when discussing the Skylines' positions, the Skylines directly above my seating position, with RPG; RPG mentioned that the particular Skylines I had installed should have more space between their tips and the seating position in order to have their full desired effect. That doesn't mean they are doing anything harmful though. It also doesn't mean the Skylines around the rest of the space aren't having their desired effect.

While, as previously mentioned, for the price I am satisfied with what I received from Rives Audio, I do think some of the approach could have been different. No audio/acoustical measurements were taken previous to all the work being done. Knowing what I know now, that is not necessarily a great move. Since it was a level two, measurements should have been taken to identify problems prior to actual design and construction IMO. Computer simulations don't account for everything, and unless the theoretical design wasn't meant to have a semi-flat low frequency response, my room bares witness to that.

None the less, besides these gripes, the improvement to the sound of my room was still great. The nice thing is, I can alter most of the things that are wrong with the space as time goes on on my own, and/or use EQ techniques on the left over issues...

"It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance."
-- Saint Jerome (374 AD - 419 AD)

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