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The "Official" High WAF Acoustical Treatement thread

post #1 of 114
Thread Starter 
Hello all -

I thought I would start this thread in hopes of getting some help to those that would like to treat their room, but don't want to have their living rooms to end up looking like recording studios in the process. In other words, room treatment solutions with high "WAF".

My inspiration comes from my own struggles in getting the most out of my system and knowing that I needed to do something with my room but not knowing what to do that would be both discrete and effective.

In the posts that follow, I will take you through the process of recent work I had done to my rather average living room / HT / Music listening room.

Feel free to post pics of your own solutions, or just ideas that you have been kicking around. I'd like this to be a place for people to come to for ways to get better sounding rooms while still keeping the peace with the other half.
post #2 of 114
Thread Starter 
To get some context for my acoustic treatment project, here are some pics of my media room.





You can see that I have very expensive taste in equipment, but certainly less than optimal room / placement options. As they say, a fool and his money are soon parted, and I am certainly an Audiofool.

The first and most obvious problem is that the right speaker is too close to the right wall. This results in an upper-bass peak around 100Hz and destructive reflections from the sidewall. The reflections from the sidewall cause cancellations in the midrange and they affect the imaging of the speakers.

The less obvious problem I found out by consulting a professional acoustician. I'm no expert, but apparently the room is too "live" despite wall-to-wall carpeting, soft furnishings, and drapes over the windows. The acoustician also said that the room had a "honky" unnatural quality in the midrange.

In the upcoming posts I'll go over the details of addressing these issues with room treatment, but keep in mind that I plan to reconfigure this room in the future to get a more symmetrical layout for the front soundstage. This will involve walling up the opening behind the left speaker and moving everything over to the center of the room and getting more space between the L/R speakers. But this is a couple of years away.

So on with the show . . . .
post #3 of 114
Thread Starter 
So having consulted a professional acoustician and now knowing that I was really crippling the sound quality of my system, I decided to take the plunge into the whole acoustic treatment thang. But as I said in the start of this thread, I wanted the solution to be discrete and not the typical 2" panels hanging on all the walls.

When I asked the acoustician what could be done, he said the next best thing to treating the walls would be to go with a broadband treatment to the ceiling. An "Acoustic Cloud", he called it. He admitted that wall treatment was a better solution, but that the ceiling treatment would make a noticeable improvement.

Here's the framework for the "acoustic cloud":





post #4 of 114
Thread Starter 
In the previous pics you'll notice that I had recessed lighting. I was going to just have the lights dropped down through the cloud, but the installer said that they had done some cool looking clouds that had a recess built in for track lighting. Thinking about it, this seemed like a good way to put some spotlighting on the art in the room. So, in place of the can lights that were in the ceiling before, there will be two recessed channels for track lighting in the acoustic cloud.

To make this happen, I did some rewiring up in the attic and covered the holes for the can lights to keep insulation from coming through.

post #5 of 114
Thread Starter 
The goal of the acoustician was to make the acoustics of my room "drier" without making the room sound dead. To accomplish this, he chose RPG Acoustics "BAD Panels" to be placed in the center of the acoustic cloud.

From the RPG website: The BAD Panel, or Binary Amplitude Diffsorbor is a flat, zero depth "diffusing absorber". A BADâ„¢ Panel simultaneously provides uniform sound diffusion at high and mid band frequencies and crosses over to pure absorption below the diffusive cutoff. The energy that is not diffused is absorbed.

Below you will notice that the two tracks in for the lighting (on the far left and right) were installed and I removed the ceiling fan to lower the electrical box to clear the depth of the cloud.



At the start of this thread I pointed out the problems that were being caused by having the right speaker too close to the sidewall. Because I didn't want to go with an on-wall panel (which would need to be 4 inches thick to solve the midrange problems), I had the installer go into the wall. Below are some shots of the hole that was carved into my right wall to be filled with absorptive material and covered in fabric.

**Warning - Please make sure that any work you do or have done that inloves cutting out large sections of drywall meets local building fire code.**



This sidewall treatment is supposed to greatly decrease the crosstalk and the destructive interference of the sound reflected off the wall and back into the right speaker.
post #6 of 114
Thread Starter 
Here's one of the BAD Panels in place and the recess for the ceiling fan. I asked them to create the recess for the fan so it wasn't lowered the full 4 inches of the depth of the cloud. It just seemed like it would be too low.



Here's a close-up of the recess for the fan.


And a couple more shots of the BAD Panels fully installed.




And last but not least, here is close to what the completed cloud will look like. I say close because they discovered that the fabric they chose is too sheer and you can see all of the acoustic material through it. The fabric also hasn't been stretched to perfection in this shot because they knew that they were going to have to remove it anyway.





So as you can see, the end result will probably look rather unremarkable, which is just what I wanted--something discrete.

With the acoustic 90% complete, it has significantly improved the sound quality in the room. The moment I walked in there when I got home from work, it just sounds "quieter", even when there is no sound. The improvement in the sound quality of the room is readily apparent even when just speaking in the room. And this is with the room still essentially empty. I imagine that once I get my speakers set-up in here, that the clarity and naturalness of sound from my system will be much better.

While the clap test isn't the most definitive way to test room acoustics, when you clap your hands in this room now, the decay time is impressively short. Before, a clap would result in a somewhat harsh pop followed by a high pitched zingy sound. Now the sound of a clap stops very shortly after my hands meet, and the harsh, zingy quality is gone.

It's funny how much I have been listening around the sound of the room until now. It's the type of thing that you don't notice until it is taken away.

Below are a couple of shots of the right wall treatment. The three squares of thin MDF are mounting spots for some artwork shelving that will go there. Otherwise, mounting a shelf would crush the fabric that will be stretched over this wall.



post #7 of 114
Thread Starter 
Today, things are looking much more finished, though because the acoustic cloud is so large, it's hard to get a good picture of it.

Here is my best attempt:



The installers spent most of the day re-stretching the fabric covering, going with a dark under-layer to cover the details of the acoustic paneling and the off-white over the top of that to make the cloud disappear into the ceiling.

You'll also notice that they trimmed out the recess for the ceiling fan and the two channels for the track lighting.

They had some difficulty stretching the second layer of fabric and they had to staple along the outside edge of the cloud. To cover the staples they will install molding around the outside edge. This is a bit of a strange coincidence because I was going to ask that they trim out the edge of the cloud to make it look more like an architectural detail and less like a large futon mounted to the ceiling.

Things are looking good, and sounding even better.
post #8 of 114
Subscribed (Here as well as there :-)
post #9 of 114
Tim,

This is a great thread. Thanks for starting it. It can be a real resource for people who want to improve their room acoustics, but don't want to place wall panels all over their living space. I can't tell you how many times I've suggested room treatments to folks on this forum, only to have them reply that they can't do them due to low WAF or other decorating concerns. Your acoustic cloud concept can be used by almost anyone to achieve much better room acoustics with a very high WAF.

Another idea for dedicated rooms with front projector/screen setups would be to use a low light reflectivity fabric to improve the perceived CR of their display.

Here is a link to the RPG BAD Panel:
http://www.rpginc.com/products/badpanel/index.htm
I haven't used these unfortunately, but I really like the concept of combined diffusion and absorption. If I do any more treatments in my room, these will be the first panels I consider.

I have subscribed and I know I will be referring people to this thread in the future. Thanks again for starting it.

Craig
post #10 of 114
Great thread. I am in the planning stages of a new room, and high WAF is one very important factor in my planning. The cloud is great and low impact. Still, I think my wife would be better with a few wall hangings if I could get the big honking speakers out of the middle of the room
post #11 of 114
Nice setup Hifisponge. Is that a Parasound Halo amp you have running the Revels? I'm planning on picking up a pair of Studio2s myself along with a Pioneer 151 (possibly 141) myself. Are you happy with the amp\\speaker combination?
post #12 of 114
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the nudge Craig. I thought it would be a good idea to have all of my room treatment project in one place, but it was your enthusiastic suggestion that gave me the motivation to start this thread.

More progress to come. . . though it will be about a month before I can officially comment on the improvement of the sound quality of my system due to the room treatments. You see, my speakers are going in for some custom paint work. But this has nothing to do with WAF and everything to do with my crazy need to make my system more unique and special . . . just like me.
post #13 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whumpf View Post

Great thread. I am in the planning stages of a new room, and high WAF is one very important factor in my planning. The cloud is great and low impact. Still, I think my wife would be better with a few wall hangings if I could get the big honking speakers out of the middle of the room

Wear her down over time with jewelry, clothes, nice dinners, etc. She'll be more forgiving of the Marshall Amp stacks in your living room then.

What ever you end up doing, don't forget about this thread and post your pics here if you like the way it turns out.
post #14 of 114
Very stylish indeed.

And definately worth sharing!

But since when does cutting holes in the walls count as WAF?


Does the exposed framing pass code?
post #15 of 114
Thread Starter 
Hey Tedd -

Later today you'll see how that hole in the wall disappears and becomes completely WAF approved.

I assume the exposed stud is OK since I'm working with a licensed contrator that does room treatment only.
post #16 of 114
It looks like you enlarged the original opening in the sidewall from 32" wide to 48" wide. Was the original plan at 32"?

Did the installer remove the R13 insulation already present in the cavity or did he go over top of it with 2" OC 703?

Does your OC 703 have an odor?
post #17 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by twenty/twenty View Post

It looks like you enlarged the original opening in the sidewall from 32" wide to 48" wide. Was the original plan at 32"?

Did the installer remove the R13 insulation already present in the cavity or did he go over top of it with 2" OC 703?

Does your OC 703 have an odor?

Yes, that is correct. After consulting the acoustician, he thought it would be safer to increase the width of the treated area, just to make sure that no reflected sound was folding back in on the right speaker. This will also give me a bit more flexibility to position the speaker up or back to fine tune the bass response from that speaker.

The sidewall treatment is actually 1" OC with loose fiber fill behind it and then the original insulation behind that. There is no odor.
post #18 of 114
Interesting.

I noticed the loose fiberfill in your cloud as well. I have not heard of this being used for room acoustics before.

Any ideas on what it does vs just using thicker OC 703?
post #19 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by twenty/twenty View Post

Interesting.

I noticed the loose fiberfill in your cloud as well. I have not heard of this being used for room acoustics before.

Any ideas on what it does vs just using thicker OC 703?

According to the acoustician, all of the choices he made were to achieve broadband absorption from 200Hz to 5KHz with some diffusion as well. He wanted to achieve a drier, more neutral sound in the room without over-deadening it. Think of the cloud as a way to improve the general sound character of the room rather that trying to address the more specific issues typically done with wall panels.

The poly fill is unusual - good eye. The original plan was to go with loose fiberglass fill behind and around the panels, but since I was going with the white fabric cover, they substituted the white poly fill so the color of the fill would not show through. I believe the reason for the loose fill behind the panels was again to offer some absorption behind the panels without overdoing it.
post #20 of 114
The use of polyfill in audio applications has always been a bit mysterious to me. Speaker manufacturers use it all the time to fill the cabinets of their speakers. I have read that it "fools the drivers" into thinking they are residing in a bigger space, thus increasing the bass response.

Your acoustician is using it for a different purpose, but also interesting to think about.
post #21 of 114
Thread Starter 
Today the installers did a little magic in my room.

Now you see it . . .


Now you don't . . .


Man these guys did an amazing job getting the fabric to match the existing wall color. Talk about a disappearing act! I mean wow! I literally walked into the room after the fabric had been stretched, and for a second I forgot that there was a hole in the wall just yesterday.

To prove that you aren't looking at an old pic of the wall, here is a close-up of the cut out in the fabric for the light switch.
post #22 of 114
Wow, Tim! That looks great! They did a really nice job.
post #23 of 114
how the hell did they do that without as seem being so obvious?!
post #24 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronlinkous View Post

how the hell did they do that without as seem being so obvious?!

Actually there is no seam at all. It is ultra wide width fabric sourced from Italy. You can see a slight crease in the fabric that runs up from the electrical outlet from the fold in the fabric when it was on the roll, but I just got done steaming that out. Now it is completely smooth.
post #25 of 114
WOW...SEAMLESS...now I am really tempted...
Unfortunatley, my ceiling height is only 8' so acoustic cloud probably won't work...
Maybe what I can have done is replace the ceiling drywall w/ some type of acoustic panel in the same depth then cover with fabric...
Iwonder if my local acoustician can do the same trick, for both in-wall and in-ceiling...
post #26 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by justthinking View Post

WOW...SEAMLESS...now I am really tempted...
Unfortunatley, my ceiling height is only 8' so acoustic cloud probably won't work...
Maybe what I can have done is replace the ceiling drywall w/ some type of acoustic panel in the same depth then cover with fabric...
Iwonder if my local acoustician can do the same trick, for both in-wall and in-ceiling...


You can dish out the ceiling and create a camber behind it, but it ain't gonna be cheap. Also make sure that your local guy knows what he is doing. The use of the BAD panels was critical in providing just the right amount of absorption and diffusion.
post #27 of 114
That wall is awesome Tim. Are you going to take the fabric to a custom painter since it is "just" brown?

-Michael
post #28 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grenamc View Post

That wall is awesome Tim. Are you going to take the fabric to a custom painter since it is "just" brown?

-Michael

Great idea! I'll have a local artist come out and paint a mural on that wall. Maybe the theme could be my speaker graveyard?
post #29 of 114
Thread Starter 
Did a little work myself on the cloud tonight, by installing the tracks for the track lighting and putting the fan back up.





Only 6 of the 10 light fixtures I ordered came in today, which is why all of them are at one end right now. I have to say I am already more impressed with how the cloud is integrating and even improving the look of the room. Those low voltage track lights look very slick and complement the contemporary style of the room much better than the old can lights.

There is still some work to do, as you will see below. The edge of the cloud is still unfinished.



Should have this project all wrapped up early next week. Can't wait!
post #30 of 114
Fabric turned out really nice. I wish I could find one in my area. I've sent emails to Fabricmate several times I give up. Nothing would have made me happier than to not have had to redo my fabric after the water event...
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