My dear friends, this is a feat I'll dare anyone to do!
Place a big, big speaker in a small, small, room. Then plonk in the best hifi electronic equipments, cables and accessories that money can buy. What will result?
Your guess is as good as mine actually, but I think you get the idea. You see, the room is actually THE most important component in your hifi system. Well, that means those who set up their hifi systems in lounge or halls need not read further. He!He!
Jokes aside, the speaker to room interaction is a very real concern, especially when playing in the high end hifi pond. Small rooms are best matched with equally small speakers and bigger rooms can accommodate bigger speakers. That's what logic dictates if one does not want his/her hifi to fight with the room. However, there are just some people bent on challenging the laws of physics, just like your's truly, tried to challenge the room a few years ago, by using a big speaker, but ended up losing the battle, humiliated and surrendered, by down grading to a pair of smaller speakers.
Personally, I just love full range speakers. The bigger the better. There are some smart people whom manages to marry bookshelf speakers with sub woofers successfully. But that's another story for another day.
The Marten Coltrane, note the diffuser panels on the side wall.
Today, I wish to share Joamonte's gallantly heroic, and triumphant(phew!!!) story, of his personal hifi battle with the small room. I'll start with his room size, which measures 10 x 13ft. He uses the biggest and meanest speaker from Marten Design, the Coltrane, which is probably more suitable for use in a room twice the size! But we are in Singapore, where real estate is top dollar priced. What do you do? Acoustically treating the room is one way around it.
Jeff Rowland Model 8 power amp. See the cables with the wooden collar? Those are Jorma Design stuff.
Joamonte's room acoustic treatment is the most comprehensive that I have come across. All 4 sides of the room is purposely rebuilt using dry wall method. What's it you asked? That means all 4 walls are rebuilt inwards, by first lining a layer of rock wool, amongst other materials, then further covered with wooden surfacing. All four sides of the room is also covered with absorption and diffusion panels, custom made for the application frequencies in which they have to combat. And lastly 2 bass boom busting device is used to absorb those pesky low frequency room modes, at the to back corners from the listening throne.
Another look at the Marten Coltrane, and the purpose built dry wall behind.
How does Joamonte knows what to do and how to address each specific room problem? He first starts with a room measuring sweep, by using a purpose specific software loaded laptop, signal generator and a calibrated mic, placed on the stereo sweet spot. He also measures the room in a few other points to get a more complete sonic picture of the room. The software then plots various frequency response, waterfall and time decay charts of the measured room.
Look Ken! Telos and Cardas caps gallore, pasted all over the ARC Ref 3 pre amp un used inputs and outputs.
Hifi racks by Sound Mechanics. Joamonte, where's your phono stage for the turn table? He! He!
Armed with the charts, Joamonte can then decide, based on his extensive experience on the subject of room acoustic treatment, a series or combo of absorption, diffusion and bass boom busting devices at his disposal, to aid room to speaker interface with success.
Audionet G2 CD player. The Audio Art 20th Anniversary CD is great stuff to strut your system to the max.
The said Marten Design Coltrane speakers is powered by a Jeff Rowland Model 8 power amp, which pumps out 250W per chanel. Pre amp is none other than the famed Audio Research Reference 3(my reference pre amp too!) and the musical source is an Audionet G2 CD player. All cables are Jorma Design supplied, although I did spotted a lone Audioquest Columbia 48V DBS interconnect amongst them. Power conditioning is done via PS Audio UPC200 and Sine power outlets. Telos and Cardas RCA and XLR caps are used twaek the sound of the sytem further.
The snake den??? No, just cables.
The sound, of the room? At first entrance, I thought I went in to a black hole! The room had an eerie silent quality about it. To top it off Joamonte has a habit of switching all the lights off, leaving only the bright green function display of the Reference 3 pre amp and the expansive front sound stage(when music is playing), serving as a visual cue of directional sense.
With the room darkened as above and music playing, the sense of being in an enclose space, and the speakers totally disappear. In fact, the whole hifi system disappeared too, leaving only the music, that realistic sensation of a sound stage and the performance of the musical event in front of you. The famous M&K Flamenco test track, so familiar to me, took on a whole new lease of stage life, with the dance performers literally thumping their feet on a wooden stage floor, and the sensation of the dancers moving about within the stage is as real as it gets! The system and room also excels in lightning fast transient response, with orchestral recordings, the room lights up on a crescendo peak one second, and as the music goes in a quiet passage the next, the room turns musically dark that very next second too! This is scary stuff. Needless to say, micro and macro dynamics response is just as amazing too. Visceral impact is amongst the best I've experienced too, from any hifi system.
The ceiling is treated with absorption and diffuser panels too.
The high frequencies have a liveliness feel to it, like the drum stick hitting high hats on a jazz track, every hit is just very slightly different in intensity and the resultant decay. The mids are breathy and have excellent body density. The bass, is the best part, being lightning fast, never overhangs, but could extend a little lower. Kick drums hits like chest thumping hard, just like in a concert, and bass guitar is full, but never fat.
More side wall diffser panels of a diferent sort(left) and the bass boom buster device in the back.
In fact, there's almost nothing to fault in this system, except, that it's so true to source, when playing poorly recorded stuff, you're made aware of the limitations of the recording. The sound of the room is highly tweak able too. Joamonte demonstrated to me that by removing a few diffuser panels, the room/system sound changed. It now sounds more like what I normally heard, like my audio buddy Wong's acoustically room(see my posting dated 27/12/2008, tittled Steel Fist In Velvet Glove). A little more well damped, and less lively. Joamonte tells me that this more the typical audiophile preferred sound. More controlled, if some what less dynamic sounding. Another point I noticed is that whilst music is played at full concert volume levels in the room, there's not a bit sound could be heard out side the room!
Joamonte has clearly succeeded in taking the room out of his sonic equation. How about you?
What are your odds of succeeding without a pro's help?