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Today we’re going to talk about this saying because I get it a lot, I get it in phone calls and I get it in emails and basically it’s I’m still unhappy with the sound in my room after I’ve spent all this money on treatment. Let me give you an example, I got a call from a doctor in Jamaica the other day and he bought over ten thousand dollars worth of product from one of our competitors. He put it in his room and he called me he says, Dennis I hate the sound in my room and I said, all right let’s break that word hate apart.

Let’s figure out why you don’t like it, let’s start with the low end. I hate the low end he says, it doesn’t even … I can’t hear anything, the low end smothers everything. And I said, yes but you bought all these bass traps. And he said, I did but either they don’t work or I’m missing something or I don’t know what the answer is, can you help me? So, then we talked about the middle and high frequencies and he said, they’re just too dead, he says there’s no life in the music and I said the competitor who sold you this did he ever ask you about how big your room was? He said, no and I said, okay how big is your room? He said 12 12 12.

We all know from my videos from the literature that a cube with equal dimensions is the worst room you could have acoustically. So it wouldn’t matter if you put thirty thousand dollars’ worth of treatment in the room, it’s not going to sound good. So you have to be careful, you have to be really careful about what you’re doing and room size does matter. So you have to look at the treatment aspect of it. So back to the example, what are we going to do? Well, I told him to send back the ten thousand dollars’ worth of treatment if he could and now we’re going to knock out a wall and we’re going to change some dimensions. So we’re going to make the room at least acceptable from the start then we add treatment, treatment will never compensate for a bad room I don’t care how much you spend so you have to be really careful, there’s a balancing act here.

If you approach treatment step-by-step you’ll really be a lot better off, you’ll spend less money, you’ll be able to hear the changes, you’ll be able to hear the power of the technology you’re using and your hearing and brain are usually pretty good enough to figure out what to do next once you have a baseline to compare from. So, the bottom line here is we must first match the size of the room, the volume of the room to what we’re doing. Home theatre is way different than two channel home theatre = way different than two channel with subwoofers. Home theatre = way different in terms of 5.1, 7.1, I saw 11.2 the other day Dolby Atmos, all of these issues.

So, you must match what you’re doing in the room, how big the room is with the process that’s going on in it. And I, I think I could just do a recording and play this every day for people. You have to start with the low frequency of the room first, it’s the most difficult part to treat, it’s the most expensive, it takes the most treatment but you have to start there because if you don’t get the low end right it will smother everything else, the middle and some of the high frequencies with mud and soup as we call it and you can’t hear anything through that. So low frequency management must be dealt with first then middle and high frequencies can be addressed and the only technology that we really have for low frequency is absorption. Middle end frequencies we have both we have absorption and we have diffusion but our tools for low frequency are really limited to absorption. So low frequency management all about attacking decay rates we want that bass note, we want that fundamental but we also want to hear the harmonics of the bass note also.

So, the bottom line is we have to use technologies that have the right rate and level when we’re talking about absorption. A lot of products on the market place oh this absorbs this, this absorbs that okay. So, it goes down to 40 Hz, great that’s a good technological achievement in a product but at what rate does it do. Does it get five percent at 40 Hz? Okay, so not so good of an achievement then. Does it get fifty percent at 40 Hz? Much better, so you have to look at the level the product goes to and the rate and there is a rate that works for every wrong size and usage. It’s not that easy, it’s complicated and you have to figure it out. Diffusion, we want to select the proper response and the distance. So, in a diffuser the energy that comes out of it has to have a certain distance to form, maybe it’s eight feet maybe it’s nine feet but we want all the energy out of the diffuser to be able to fully form so we hear everything that diffuser is capable of producing because it’s like a speaker and an inactive or passive device but nonetheless it’s radiating energy. So, if you’re still unhappy with your sound you got to get back to basics, you got to look at the low frequency management first, get that right and that takes a lot of effort. We have a database that we can help you with we can put your room in our database we know what that size and volume is going to produce in terms of low-frequency issues and we can tell you how much treatment you’re going to need, where to put it and what type and then we can go from there. But you got to get the low frequency management first and then hopefully you’ll turn from an unhappy to a happy customer.

This is an unedited transcript from our video series from Acoustic Fields. There will be some errors in grammar and sentence structure that occur during this translation process.

For complete understanding and comprehension, please view the video which is included in this text. For any additional information regarding this topic or others relating to room acoustics, please contact us directly at:

P: 520 – 392 – 9486

Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

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