An earlier view of Joamonte's hifi system and room, sans diffuser panels.

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?

22 comments:

kiarch said...

As an audiophile, its enlightening in seeing Joamonte's efforts challenging the acoustic of his listening room.

The acoustic works looks indeed professional and well executed. It is unlike most of textbooks that you find he uses varied types of treatments utilising variety of materials at different section of the room; understanding of that alone demand respect.

Having done some acoustic projects myself, I appreciate his level of knowledge and understanding of sound, which I am sure, together with his set-up, his system sounded remarkable.

With the given room dimension, if the Coltrane is shifted 3" out from the side walls, my guess is that it may starts to boom; at the given placement, it has 'optimised spacing' for merging of sound between L&R channels without 'overly' overlaid problems which would have compromised its transparency thus the naturalness and organicity of his system.

I can almost 'picture' the sound without listening. Welldone Joamonte.

Panzer said...

Jo,

Joamonte is very well learned indeed, in the regards of room acoustics.

I was thinking to introduce him to your audio nirvana and you guys can take it from there.

Joamonte said...

Panzer and Kiarch,

Thanks for the good words, glad you guys like the system.....

It is not in top form condition and still have lot of area need to be improve IMO...

After 22 years in the hobby, I am still learning new thing every time visit different good system ,I hope to gain more knowledge from set up of KL's audiophile, and really appreciate Panzer and buddy Wong bring me to listen around each time I visited KL.

See you guys at 24/7 again, I am going to help the Swedish Statement to set up their USD$300,000 new version Coltrane supreme in the coming KL AV show~~big challenge! hopefully able to get good sound from that over-damp Hotel ball room....



Joamonte

David said...

Joamonte,
I am so impressad after reading your reply, you are so humble in learning about Hifi, and your attitude is so humble, Though i never listen to your system and do not know its effect, you are worthy to be my learning example, You are unlike some of our friends who know only some small tricks but they think they are the top in this world,They only dare to show off on the internet talking big but dare not let people listen to their system.

Ken said...

David,

Please do not use this blog to air your frustration. This is not the place to do so.

BTW, what does your hifi system comprised of? Maybe all of us can learn something from you because you state that other people only know small tricks

johnny said...

Ken,
Strange you upset by David's general comment which I find has some truths. There are number of audiophile like he described. It was not specific target at you I sure of. From your reply the cap fits you ? hehe Lighten up my friend.

Johnny

Ken said...

Johnny,

I did not state that David is describing me.

But what I hate to see people who has never given any useful hifi comments at all can state that other people's advice are "small tricks".

Eddie said...

Ken,
I notice that some people only attack you but never write any good comment,ignore them,readers know how to analyze,But i also believe a good system should be shared with friends together,I notice there are fewer and fewer good comments here nowadays.

GCK said...

Yep, I agree with Eddie on the comments portion. Maybe the topics are too much of the same thing : equipment reviews and home visits :-)

Ken said...

Eddie,

Thanks for your understanding.

Actually a lot of people have listened to my system before. People like Maggielurva, Panzer, Puchong Wong, Hifikaki, Little KC and even Jo Ki has have done so in the recent past. But I have continued to improve on it and now it sounds very different from whence they last heard it.

I am always OK to let people listen. The only reason I have not done so lately is because I have been travelling a lot. I have been involved in many projects in my company and I have to be hands-on on most of them as I am the only "technical" guy in my company. The only exception to my letting some people listen are those who like to attack people without even bother to understand me. If nobody bothers to understand this, then it is not my fault.

Apart from ML, HFKK and Panzer, I am probably the most frquent blogger in this blogsite. I love hifi too much to let some people destroy it. Think about hifi, how many people do you know plays hifi? How many do you know possess great passion in it? How many can make their setup sound great? How many are willing to share their knowledge?

I am not saying my system is the best in the world but for the price I have paid and the things that I have done to maximise it, I am very happy. It can play loud and it can play soft. It can play most variety of music well, not just vocals or classical. I don't only listen to audiophile discs but also to pop recordings like Usher, Pussycat Dolls, MJ, Janet Jackson, Toto, A-Mei etc.

I think when I am more free, I will let you guys listen to it and let you decide if it is good.

Panzer said...

Ken,

That A-Mei double CD you brought to my house last time you visited me, what's it called?

I tried looking for it to no avail!

I kinda like that slow, full bass R&B flavoured song you played.

If you can "ping yin" in to plain english for me, I'll be so appreciative.

Thanks.

Thanks.

Joamonte said...

Ken, I think try to 'continued to improve' system sound , are apply to all audiophile or else we have no more fun in the hobby already, right?...LOL!

For example,in Panzer last visit I didn't notice, inside one of my power cord plug to CD player , the 'live' tightening screw is off track , making the power cord 'live' connection is only barely touching the metal part without any screw tighten , after change to a proper plug ,there are lot of improvement....I also using Nodost Vahalla to replace the AQ cable and use a Symposium super plus below my CD player now...

but the most impact to my system is using the Wattgate receptacle to replace the Oyaide R1 ...Amazing!

Strongly suggest the Wattgate 381 Gold to those who want to improve system sound without any trade off...!


http://www.echoloft.com/hifi-forum/index.php?topic=19196.0

hotbird said...

The culprit to your bright sound is rather the Nordhost Valhala cable and the Symposium platforms which tilts the frequencies to the high side, replace them and you would not have to replace the Oyaide R1 outlets which is reveals your equipment weakness downstream. Now instead you add a gold outlet to alleviate the weakness of the Valhalla and Symposium platforms. Feel free to disagree but this is my honest opinion

hotbird said...

In addition, I also see the use of an old PS Audio UPC200 conditioner which uses nickel plated outlets. This again adds to harsh highs in your system. PS Audio now recognise this and sells better power receptacles which are non-nickel plated nowadays

http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=cables&n=129383

hotbird said...

Just to follow up on previous post on the weakness of old PS Audio Power Port outlets, previous URL linked showed Kenster disbelieving the demerits, but in a later post confirms the findings
Check

http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=amp&n=123394

and another poster's agreement

http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=cables&n=129378

David said...

All sifus here,please forgive me for saying nasty stuff here, Usually those who believe they are Hifi"high hand/top gun"will say their Hifi is the best, Sorry, I never heard your Hifi, could be good also could be damn lousy, but think mine is the best too, Do you know that if you criticise these top guns' Hifi they will immediately condemn your friendship with them?

Eddie,i apologize to you, my posting definitely not up to your high standard.

Hotbird, the standard of your comments is like mine, It is of the lowest quality.

Ken said...

Panzer,

Will go back tonite to check the title out (please note that I am chinese illiterate, so be patient).
I have 2 version of this disc, one normal cd and the other is a SACD but both have 2 discs. Also this "Best of" cd does not have the Bad Boys track which A-Mei is famous for. There is a lot of tracks in these cd that has "subterrenean bass". So becareful. But I think this disc is very hard to find now.


David,

I feel that you assume too much. Not only have you not listen to our system before, you have not even met us before (at least me,m anyway). So where do you live? You got a private email? Maybe we can setup a listening session.

Ken said...

Panzer,

The A-Mei cd is titled 1996-200 Best of A-Mei (99 20092-SA).

Hope this helps

Panzer said...

Ken,

Thanks for checking, will look out for it!

Will we be meeting you at the KLIAV?

Ken said...

Panzer,

I'll be at the KLIAV on Friday as I always do.

Which day will you be turning up?

Panzer said...

Ken,

I'll be there on Friday too! See ya!

goldenmillion said...

Just reading your blog makes me feel poor!...HAHAH...but I wonder what could be done on a super tight budget with a entry level NAD c325 and a pair of Wharfdale 10.1s in a small HDB 5 room flat room which measures only 11 ft by 8ft?..with no carpeting, and parquet wood flooring..now that would be an accomplishment!