Room Accoustic Solutions

Room acoustics for home audio

Room acoustics is the broad term that describes how sound waves interact with a room. Each room, and all the objects in it, will react differently to different frequencies of sound. Every speaker will sound different in different rooms.

For example, imagine an empty room with hardwood floors and bare drywall. Lots of echos, right? Now imagine the same size room with lush carpet, lots of bookcases, a big plush sofa, and thick draperies. Quiet and intimate, right? These are the fundamental extremes of room acoustics, and the ideal-sounding room is somewhere in-between.

How to get there can be done with physical adjustments to a room, or to a large extend, electronically. There are a few terms important to understand first.

  1. It reduces standing waves and acoustic interference that skew the frequency response, especially in the bass range;
  2. it reduces reverb time thereby increasing the clarity of musical instruments and movie dialog;
  3. it absorbs or diffuses sound in the room to avoid ringing and flutter echoes and to improve stereo imaging.
  4. effective acoustic treatment can transform a muddy sounding listening room, having poor midrange definition and erratic bass response, into one that sounds clear and tight, and is a pleasure to hear music and watch movies in. Even if you spent many thousands of dollars on the most accurate loudspeakers and other equipment available, the frequency response you actually realize in an untreated room is likely to vary by 30 dB or even more.

We live in a world where high quality sound systems are now relatively inexpensive but few people realise how much the performance of even the very best system can be compromised by poor room acoustics. You might think you’re just listening to your loudspeakers but what actually arrives at your ears is a mix of the direct sound from the speakers plus countless sonic reflections from all the hard surfaces in the room, including the walls, ceiling floor and furniture. Some sound reflection is required to stop a room from sounding unnaturally dead, but unless it is carefully controlled, you will experience problems such as bass notes sounding muddy, different notes in the bass line sounding louder or quieter than they should, a lack of focus in the mids and highs and vague stereo imaging where it becomes difficult to tell where a sound is supposed to be coming from.