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post #1 of 267 Old 09-24-2013, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
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I hear a lot about how a separate external DAC can improve the audio quality of a home system and am wondering if it would improve my particular system.

I currently use a PS3, connected to a Marantz SR5005 receiver, with Paradigm Studio 20s as my mains.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if I were to connect a separate external DAC, such as the Arcam rDAC, this would go in between the PS3 and the Marantz receiver:

-PS3 optical into the rDAC
-rDAC analogue into the receiver

However, the receiver has Audyssey MultEQ, which in my opinion, produces a positive noticeable difference to the sound. If I wanted to use the Audyssey settings, the receiver would effectively be re-converting the rDAC’s analogue signal back into digital and then back into analogue to go to the speakers, thereby negating any benefit provided by the rDAC. So the only way to get the benefits from the rDAC is to bypass the Audyssey settings. Is this correct?

I skeptical about the possibility of the rDAC producing better sound than what I get with MultEQ. If anyone has experimented with this, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 267 Old 09-24-2013, 09:43 AM
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I hear a lot about how a separate external DAC can improve the audio quality of a home system and am wondering if it would improve my particular system.
what you've heard is wrong. It won't.
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If I wanted to use the Audyssey settings, the receiver would effectively be re-converting the rDAC’s analogue signal back into digital and then back into analogue to go to the speakers, thereby negating any benefit provided by the rDAC.
If there were any benefit to using the rDAC, this would be true. But there isn't., so there isn't even anything to negate.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #3 of 267 Old 09-24-2013, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by buckchester View Post

I hear a lot about how a separate external DAC can improve the audio quality of a home system and am wondering if it would improve my particular system.

One can find people who will talk a lot about many things improving audio quality such as:

Interconnects
Speaker cables
Cable elevators
Demagnetizing CDs and LPs
Cryogenic freezing of all sorts of audio components.
Small beak-shaped pieces of metal that allegedly improve the sound of your speakers
etc., etc.,etc.

The fact that you hear a lot about something is not the true measure of audio equipment.
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I currently use a PS3, connected to a Marantz SR5005 receiver, with Paradigm Studio 20s as my mains.

If the link is digital, being either SP/DIF, Toslink or HDMI then you are using the DAC in your SR 5005 which is quite a nice litte DAC.
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Correct me if I’m wrong, but if I were to connect a separate external DAC, such as the Arcam rDAC, this would go in between the PS3 and the Marantz receiver:

Yes, and it would only make sense to operate the receiver in direct mode, otherwise the sound would still go though the DAC in the AVR.
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However, the receiver has Audyssey MultEQ, which in my opinion, produces a positive noticeable difference to the sound. If I wanted to use the Audyssey settings, the receiver would effectively be re-converting the rDAC’s analogue signal back into digital and then back into analogue to go to the speakers, thereby negating any benefit provided by the rDAC. So the only way to get the benefits from the rDAC is to bypass the Audyssey settings. Is this correct?

Correct.
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I skeptical about the possibility of the rDAC producing better sound than what I get with MultEQ. If anyone has experimented with this, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Hold that thought!
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post #4 of 267 Old 09-25-2013, 03:53 AM
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i'd worry about the room and the speakers long before the dac in any decent avr.

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #5 of 267 Old 09-25-2013, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

i'd worry about the room and the speakers long before the dac in any decent avr.

+1
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post #6 of 267 Old 09-25-2013, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

i'd worry about the room and the speakers long before the dac in any decent avr.

These two are MOST important. Especially the room because many/most give no attention to it at all.

My Room
My Music
Rega - Apollo, Rega - DAC, Goldpoint Passive, (2) Classe CA-100 bridged power amps (350w)
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post #7 of 267 Old 09-27-2013, 08:27 PM
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The Room!!!

Honestly folks.....addressing room acoustics pays a 10fold dividend when compared to some of the senseless "Tweaks" offered
to the unsuspecting buyer....

Myrtle Wood Volume Knobs, Frozen Cable, and all the rest are pure, unadulterated CRAP!

"Upgrading" from the MK1 to the MK2 of some DAC is likely to bring equally small results, but then again....there's gonna be a Reviewer to tell you how sensational that new toy is.....until next month anyway...when last months "Darling" becomes THIS months "Bar Hag", and is designated as being"grainy" and "veiled".......

Just try to sell that Pig then....

On the other hand....Room Treatments are backed by decades of scientific research which has proven their merit over, and over again.

You simply cannot find a professional sound studio that DOESN'T use Room Treatments!

$500 in Room Treatments will outperform $5000 in component upgrades any day of the week, and you won't need an "annointed" ear to hear the improvement.

The Room is where it's at!!!

Oh yes....I'm a believer.

CV
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post #8 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 12:45 AM
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I totally agree with you but on one thing : you seem to consider that room treatment is easy. It's not. For instance, let's talk about me (wink.gif), I know my room has some terrible problems. But even if I'm into hifi and hc for more than 10y now, I don't have the slightest idea how to begin. I don't think I can throw some absorbers at wall at random. I must properly analyse the acoustics first, which means using a fancy software with a steep learning curve. Then I have to know what to use and where.
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post #9 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Darvis View Post

I totally agree with you but on one thing : you seem to consider that room treatment is easy. It's not. For instance, let's talk about me (wink.gif), I know my room has some terrible problems. But even if I'm into hifi and hc for more than 10y now, I don't have the slightest idea how to begin. I don't think I can throw some absorbers at wall at random. I must properly analyse the acoustics first, which means using a fancy software with a steep learning curve. Then I have to know what to use and where.
Or you could start a thread with lots of details incl placement of all the gear and the room, budget etc and ask here or in the Acoustic Treatments Master Thread. There is a good brains trust available here to help. Gear needed in a decent calibrated mic ($100) and free REW software, of which there are many experienced users here too.

Better to spend some money and time on tools and learning than micturating it away on stuff that won't make a difference.
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post #10 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Darvis View Post

I totally agree with you but on one thing : you seem to consider that room treatment is easy. It's not. For instance, let's talk about me (wink.gif), I know my room has some terrible problems. But even if I'm into hifi and hc for more than 10y now, I don't have the slightest idea how to begin. I don't think I can throw some absorbers at wall at random.

Not only can you throw absorbers at your walls at random, there's a fair chance that if you do that enough you will probably obtain an audible benefit. All of the discussion about finding optimal locations is based on a desire to get the biggest bang for the buck.
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I must properly analyse the acoustics first, which means using a fancy software with a steep learning curve. Then I have to know what to use and where.

Or not. My first major room acoustics project was pretty haphazard and it did greatly improve the room's sound. I literally ordered up a big box of eight 4' x 4' x 2" sheets of Sonex foam and screwed them to the walls where I thought they would help the most without any measurements or analysis.

Many people who have posted on this thread could write a book about what is wrong with that, but hey, it did change things and the changes were all of the things that people ascribe to magic amps and DACs and wires and all that, except they really were.

I think that a lot of people get involved with room acoustics using the time honored "Monkey see, monkey do" methodology. Look at a lot of pictures of successful installations and then try to emulate them. If you have some idea about why the installations were made the way they were done, so much the better.
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post #11 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Not only can you throw absorbers at your walls at random, there's a fair chance that if you do that enough you will probably obtain an audible benefit. All of the discussion about finding optimal locations is based on a desire to get the biggest bang for the buck.
Or not. My first major room acoustics project was pretty haphazard and it did greatly improve the room's sound. I literally ordered up a big box of eight 4' x 4' x 2" sheets of Sonex foam and screwed them to the walls where I thought they would help the most without any measurements or analysis.

Many people who have posted on this thread could write a book about what is wrong with that, but hey, it did change things and the changes were all of the things that people ascribe to magic amps and DACs and wires and all that, except they really were.

I think that a lot of people get involved with room acoustics using the time honored "Monkey see, monkey do" methodology. Look at a lot of pictures of successful installations and then try to emulate them. If you have some idea about why the installations were made the way they were done, so much the better.

How do you know that the perceived improvement was not the result of expectation bias? Did you perform double blind tests with and without the treatment? Or did you simply go by measurements that told you it sounded better with treatments?

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post #12 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by pstrisik View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Not only can you throw absorbers at your walls at random, there's a fair chance that if you do that enough you will probably obtain an audible benefit. All of the discussion about finding optimal locations is based on a desire to get the biggest bang for the buck.
Or not. My first major room acoustics project was pretty haphazard and it did greatly improve the room's sound. I literally ordered up a big box of eight 4' x 4' x 2" sheets of Sonex foam and screwed them to the walls where I thought they would help the most without any measurements or analysis.

Many people who have posted on this thread could write a book about what is wrong with that, but hey, it did change things and the changes were all of the things that people ascribe to magic amps and DACs and wires and all that, except they really were.

I think that a lot of people get involved with room acoustics using the time honored "Monkey see, monkey do" methodology. Look at a lot of pictures of successful installations and then try to emulate them. If you have some idea about why the installations were made the way they were done, so much the better.

How do you know that the perceived improvement was not the result of expectation bias?

I don't know that as well as I might liked to have known it.

However, asking the above question is not as reasonable related to all of those situations such as good DACs, good amplifiers and good cables that we have tested repeatedly with no audible differences. Rooms are a whole nuther thing - I've successfully ABXed moving a speaker a few inches.

In this case we's talking 128 square feet of highly absorbent material. Do you have any experience with Sonex or something like it?
Quote:
Did you perform double blind tests with and without the treatment?

That would have been very difficult - to install and remove all 8 treatments every time someone pushed a button.
Quote:
Or did you simply go by measurements that told you it sounded better with treatments?

No measurements, either. Unfortunately, the question fails because its like asking for a comparison of apples and oranges.
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post #13 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pstrisik View Post
 
 Or did you simply go by measurements that told you it sounded better with treatments?

 

Are you skeptical that treatments would yield potentially huge improvements in the sound in the room?  When I look at my REW measurements of my room, they confirm what my ears tell me. For example, if I can see a substantial difference in ringing below Schroeder on the graphs, I'd expect to hear it too, and I do. Similarly, untreated rooms will often have swings in frequency response of as much as 20 to 30dB. This can very easily be heard and doesn't need measurements to show its presence: bass will be 'one note', boomy, muddy and so on. After optimising speaker locations, optimising dual sub locations and treating the room, the FR shown on the graphs is much flatter, as we would hope and expect it to be. 

 

The reality is that below 300Hz, you are basically listening to the room. And as almost all rooms will be unsuited to music or movie soundtrack reproduction, the influence of the room is going to be malign rather than beneficial. Adding suitable acoustic treatments (along with speaker/sub placement optimisation) is the only certain way to help overcome malign room influences. 

 

As Arny says, and as should really be fairly obvious, it is next to impossible to ABX room treatments because it is next to impossible to add and remove them at the push of a button. This is why measurements are important for objective assessment of the subjective effect we hear fairly easily.

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post #14 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Darvis View Post

I totally agree with you but on one thing : you seem to consider that room treatment is easy. It's not. For instance, let's talk about me (wink.gif), I know my room has some terrible problems. But even if I'm into hifi and hc for more than 10y now, I don't have the slightest idea how to begin. I don't think I can throw some absorbers at wall at random. I must properly analyse the acoustics first, which means using a fancy software with a steep learning curve. Then I have to know what to use and where.

 

Go along to the realtraps or GIK Acoustics websites - they have tons of educational stuff on how to start with room treatments.

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post #15 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I don't know that as well as I might liked to have known it.

However, asking the above question is not as reasonable related to all of those situations such as good DACs, good amplifiers and good cables that we have tested repeatedly with no audible differences. Rooms are a whole nuther thing - I've successfully ABXed moving a speaker a few inches.

In this case we's talking 128 square feet of highly absorbent material. Do you have any experience with Sonex or something like it?

I have six 2x4 GIK made panels, a 2x8 GIK hanging panel for the ceiling first reflection and 11 2x2 wedge pattern acoustic foam squares around the room. All first reflection points covered (except the floor). This made a huge difference in sound for me. I am extremely sensitive in the > 5000Hz range and reducing the echos helped dramatically in that regard. I haven't treated with bass traps and rely on Audyssey XT32 for room calibration for the two subs only. Part of my hesitancy to get bass traps is the shipping cost to Alaska. It would double the cost.

I have some F10 grade wool felt and am going to do the experiment with reducing edge diffraction on my AR2ax rectangular speakers. I'm hopeful for another small bit of room treatment like effect from this.

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That would have been very difficult - to install and remove all 8 treatments every time someone pushed a button.

Clearly. You are willing to rely on your ears in this case.

Quote:
No measurements, either. Unfortunately, the question fails because its like asking for a comparison of apples and oranges.

I don't understand what you mean.

---
Keith, I think this reply addresses your comments as well.

Thanks.

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post #16 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 12:55 PM
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Fellas,

Making some tangible improvements in your room at even the most basic level, really needn't be a Science Project!

Using the "Helper with a mirror" trick... VOILA!! You can easily identify a couple spots on the side walls that will benefit from a few panels.

That's a great first step, and you can be sure that once you hear your imaging tighten up a bit, you won't want to stop there. wink.gif

Real Traps, GIK Acoustics, etc have some real dandy informational resources available from their websites, and this material will give you a much clearer
picture of what to do, along with some great photographs/diagrams of successful installations that look awesome, and NOT like some sort of "Turkish Bazaar" with
a set of speakers plopped in the middle.....(missing only the Roast Goat and Couscous vendor....)

Taking a well-planned, step-by-step approach to room treatments will take you far!

WAF? My Wife thinks my acoustic panels are cool. Of course She does, because She helped apply some minimalist decorations to our 2x4 GIKs, and they look super so.....She's got
a stake in the game!!!

On the WAF issue......I think it's a convenient escape mechanism for some. The same Wife that would allegedly FREAK out over a few tastefully mounted 2x2 panels, is going to Giggle in Delight when you Trot in a $3500 A.C. Cord????

That would trigger a "Nuclear Winter"

With all that out of the way......Ethan Winer, and others in the industry are more than happy to help you make the right decisions from the Get Go, so you won't be making expensive mistakes.

Do it. It's SO worth it.

CV
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post #17 of 267 Old 09-28-2013, 01:24 PM
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post #18 of 267 Old 09-29-2013, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

Or you could start a thread with lots of details incl placement of all the gear and the room, budget etc and ask here or in the Acoustic Treatments Master Thread. There is a good brains trust available here to help. Gear needed in a decent calibrated mic ($100) and free REW software, of which there are many experienced users here too.

Better to spend some money and time on tools and learning than micturating it away on stuff that won't make a difference.

I've gone there. Lots of good stuff but I'm still a bit overwhelmed. But you're right of course, I'll lurk again and try some things. Thx for your answer smile.gif
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post #19 of 267 Old 09-29-2013, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Darvis View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

Or you could start a thread with lots of details incl placement of all the gear and the room, budget etc and ask here or in the Acoustic Treatments Master Thread. There is a good brains trust available here to help. Gear needed in a decent calibrated mic ($100) and free REW software, of which there are many experienced users here too.

Better to spend some money and time on tools and learning than micturating it away on stuff that won't make a difference.

I've gone there. Lots of good stuff but I'm still a bit overwhelmed. But you're right of course, I'll lurk again and try some things. Thx for your answer smile.gif

 

I'd definitely take a look at the Realtraps and GIK Acoustics sites - their educational stuff is very straightforward and will give you the basics.

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post #20 of 267 Old 09-29-2013, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
That would have been very difficult - to install and remove all 8 treatments every time someone pushed a button.

Clearly. You are willing to rely on your ears in this case.

Quote:
No measurements, either. Unfortunately, the question fails because its like asking for a comparison of apples and oranges.

I don't understand what you mean.

I'm addressing the question:

"Why are such a @$!(k about DACs and amplifiers and then you talk just like a golden ear about speakers and rooms".

And then I say something in response like "But differences due to rooms and speakers are like night and day"

And then they say "That's how DACs and amps are for us".

And then I say "But you are conflating differences on the order of 10 dB at 400 Hz with 0.1 dB at 20 KHz"

and then their eyes glaze over because they wouldn't know a dB or a Hz from a warm hole in the ground because they've drunk the cool aid about measurements don't matter and nothing matters but the evidence of your ears.
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post #21 of 267 Old 09-29-2013, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I'm addressing the question:

"Why are such a @$!(k about DACs and amplifiers and then you talk just like a golden ear about speakers and rooms".

And then I say something in response like "But differences due to rooms and speakers are like night and day"

And then they say "That's how DACs and amps are for us".

And then I say "But you are conflating differences on the order of 10 dB at 400 Hz with 0.1 dB at 20 KHz"

and then their eyes glaze over because they wouldn't know a dB or a Hz from a warm hole in the ground because they've drunk the cool aid about measurements don't matter and nothing matters but the evidence of your ears.

None of that was me. I would have to reread the thread to find those comments; I don't recognize them.

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post #22 of 267 Old 09-29-2013, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by pstrisik View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I'm addressing the question:

"Why are such a @$!(k about DACs and amplifiers and then you talk just like a golden ear about speakers and rooms".

And then I say something in response like "But differences due to rooms and speakers are like night and day"

And then they say "That's how DACs and amps are for us".

And then I say "But you are conflating differences on the order of 10 dB at 400 Hz with 0.1 dB at 20 KHz"

and then their eyes glaze over because they wouldn't know a dB or a Hz from a warm hole in the ground because they've drunk the cool aid about measurements don't matter and nothing matters but the evidence of your ears.

None of that was me. I would have to reread the thread to find those comments; I don't recognize them.

Then I misjudged your post and I apologize for my error.
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post #23 of 267 Old 09-29-2013, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Then I misjudged your post and I apologize for my error.

Thank you Arny. smile.gif

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post #24 of 267 Old 09-30-2013, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by kbarnes701 View Post

I'd definitely take a look at the Realtraps and GIK Acoustics sites - their educational stuff is very straightforward and will give you the basics.

I didn't know the second one. Nice to see they're operating in Europe as well.
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post #25 of 267 Old 09-30-2013, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Not only can you throw absorbers at your walls at random, there's a fair chance that if you do that enough you will probably obtain an audible benefit. All of the discussion about finding optimal locations is based on a desire to get the biggest bang for the buck.

I'll do that I guess, it makes sense and it relieves from the stress of assimilating technical know-how in a field I'm not at ease in. Thx for your input.
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post #26 of 267 Old 09-30-2013, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by kbarnes701 View Post

I'd definitely take a look at the Realtraps and GIK Acoustics sites - their educational stuff is very straightforward and will give you the basics.

I didn't know the second one. Nice to see they're operating in Europe as well.

 

Yes - they are doing very well here by all accounts. Not a huge amount of competition here though. Very few enthusiasts treat their rooms here. Not many have homes big enough for dedicated rooms.

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post #27 of 267 Old 09-30-2013, 10:12 AM
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Hey Guys...

I'm definitely one of the "Jaded" ones, and I believe wholeheartedly in Room Treatments, but....PUHH-LEEZE take care not to misapply/overdo it!

Having made some hideous mistakes in my decades-long quest for something better., I think I can speak on the subject......"Wallpapering" your room with absorption is NOT the right thing to do!

Throwing MYSELF under the Bus....I have taken a crummy room, and turned it into an Acoustic "Tomb" (read: Nightmare) with excessive absorption in the past.

Lifeless....Murky...... YUK!!!!

(Such was life with a truckload of Sonex, and NO direction in the 1980's.......) Not a fault of the product, but rather a complete lack of know-how in it's use.

Oh.....I love a treated room, but only when done in a targeted, "strategic" manner. The old trick of having a helper go down the side walls with a hand-held mirror to find FRP's is a
proven technique. I believe in it 100% as an extremely productive first step.

Small Steps! Focus your efforts, and let Bryan Pape at GIK Acoustics, Ethan Winer at Real Traps, or the nice folks at ATS Acoustics help you get started.

Having "won" and "lost" at the game......I think any of these folks will point you in the right direction.

Doing it right COSTS LESS!!!!

Your gear is probably pretty good! (No one else will tell you that). The "Room" is where the REAL sound upgrades are going to come from, and oddly....we Audiofiddles
have known that for decades.....so why are we only now coming to this realization?

I say: GOOD ON US for doing so!!

Good Luck all!

CV
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post #28 of 267 Old 09-30-2013, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Darvis View Post

I'll do that I guess, it makes sense and it relieves from the stress of assimilating technical know-how in a field I'm not at ease in. Thx for your input.

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Originally Posted by CV580DRVR View Post

Hey Guys...

I'm definitely one of the "Jaded" ones, and I believe wholeheartedly in Room Treatments, but....PUHH-LEEZE take care not to misapply/overdo it!

Having made some hideous mistakes in my decades-long quest for something better., I think I can speak on the subject......"Wallpapering" your room with absorption is NOT the right thing to do!

Throwing MYSELF under the Bus....I have taken a crummy room, and turned it into an Acoustic "Tomb" (read: Nightmare) with excessive absorption in the past.

Lifeless....Murky...... YUK!!!!

(Such was life with a truckload of Sonex, and NO direction in the 1980's.......) Not a fault of the product, but rather a complete lack of know-how in it's use.

Oh.....I love a treated room, but only when done in a targeted, "strategic" manner. The old trick of having a helper go down the side walls with a hand-held mirror to find FRP's is a
proven technique. I believe in it 100% as an extremely productive first step.

Small Steps! Focus your efforts, and let Bryan Pape at GIK Acoustics, Ethan Winer at Real Traps, or the nice folks at ATS Acoustics help you get started.

Having "won" and "lost" at the game......I think any of these folks will point you in the right direction.

Doing it right COSTS LESS!!!!

Your gear is probably pretty good! (No one else will tell you that). The "Room" is where the REAL sound upgrades are going to come from, and oddly....we Audiofiddles
have known that for decades.....so why are we only now coming to this realization?

I say: GOOD ON US for doing so!!

Good Luck all!

CV

I wholly agree that just putting up absorption panels at random in a room is more likely to make it worse than better. Sorry , but a defined plan with specific targets is the only way to avoid wasting time and money.

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post #29 of 267 Old 09-30-2013, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Not only can you throw absorbers at your walls at random, there's a fair chance that if you do that enough you will probably obtain an audible benefit.

I disagree with this advice vehemently.

If you did this and it was an improvement, then it was pure luck.

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Rega - Apollo, Rega - DAC, Goldpoint Passive, (2) Classe CA-100 bridged power amps (350w)
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post #30 of 267 Old 09-30-2013, 11:08 AM
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Hey Guys,

Let's all be friends here, and understand that we're dealing with a complicated topic, but also one that will TRULY be the next frontier in the reproduction of sound in the home environment! If only we could get the record companies/mastering engineers to play along with us! (God Bless Bob Katz, Bob Ludwig, Bernie Grundman, and others of their astonishing Skill)

This is the way forward, and collectively? We can make it so!

Let's make it happen.

CV
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