OX Box #3: Controlling Room Reflections

      Date posted: March 13, 2008

Bob's Panels 2
My system (see OxBox 2) is sounding better than ever. There are three reasons of which two make sense. Number one continues to be the op-amp modification (see OxBox 1) of the Aurum Integris CDP which is my CD player, preamp and phono section all in one.

The second reason is room treatment (more in a minute) and the third, I imagine, is the fact that I have repositioned my speaker cables. I was listening to a pair of Kimbers right and left for the mid-high end and the Aurum Acoustics made to order by Cardas on the bass. But one day I reasoned that as they are from different manufacturers, and certainly don`t look the same, each cable was likely presenting the amplifier with a different load and it would be make sense for each side to be alike. Now, I could test this theory by switching them back to see if I could hear a difference but that would spoil it. I love the way it sounds now.

Room Treatment

Someone said to me the other day that contemplating room treatment is like contemplating having root canal (which really isn’t all that bad, by the way). Why do we dread it so? I think it’s because it presents us with a the prospect of having to do some real work, you know, to get out a few tools and a measuring tape. But I digress, it really isn’t that bad.

Room treatment products come in various shapes and sizes and two types: those that absorb sound and those that deflect or disperse. Were you to get very serious about the task, I expect you would use some of each and place them in locations selected with the use of a computer program. Fortunately, our ears adjust to differences that are not too glaring, and I certainly was happy to keep things easy. I simply used two rigid panels that appear to be made of fibreglass and have fabric covering the outer side. They each measure 48″x24″x1″ and come with hangers that place them about 2″ out from the wall. They are designed to absorb higher frequencies, and made by Marc Philip Design INOVAUDIO.

My objective was to make the room less noisy, that is, get rid of some of the sound that was bouncing around in the front part of my listening space. My room has gyprock walls and ceiling and a window on the front wall and on the right side wall. Behind my listening position there is the other half of the room separated by (open) French doors and 3 feet of wall on one side and about a foot on the other. I reasoned that with the furnishings, a couch, my equipment, some shelved CDs and so on, the lower part of the room was OK. So I placed the panels in the upper half.
Bob's Panels, 1
While I was experimenting with placement I propped them up in a temporary fashion, exposing their backs along with the fronts. My first impression was a sense of how powerful they are, what a huge difference they made. My final placement was to the front along the left side wall beside and behind the left speaker, and behind my listening position on that 3″ wall next to the French door facing in the direction of the left speaker. (I am not worrying that you may not quite get the picture from this description, because where you place the panels in your room will be unique to your situation). As AM said when he was last here in Novermber, the trick in all this is to control first reflections that give false and confusing directional cues to your ears.
The result is that a lot of bounce that was muddying the sound is gone. It is like refining the sound of a crowd of people into a single voice (unless the recording is of a crowd of people!) making it ever so much more pleasant to listen to. There are several manufacturers who supply these products and many of those sell direct. Go to their web sites and see what you can see. The thing I like, finally having done it, is that it is a change that makes everything sound clearer and better as each of your components starts giving you greater enjoyment.

Bob Oxley

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One Response to “OX Box #3: Controlling Room Reflections”

  1. rlgooding c-ca Says:

    Enjoying OX Box, find interesting. Am I to understand that switching cables around means that Bob now has the Aurum by Cardas on one side and the Kimber on the other ? I may be reading this wrong.

    Also, have just heard that Benchmark is making a version of their Dac-1 with a built in pre-amp. That could make for an interesting if a little un-fair comparison with the Aurum Acoustics Integris CDP.


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