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Room acoustics, equipment maturity and a bit of hocus pocus.

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by Jeff, Sep 2, 2002.

  1. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The sound in my home cinema has always troubled me a little bit, for most of the time it sounded pretty good, although I always tended to keep the volume way below reference levels, if I went too high the sound or volume became a bit unbearable. Sometimes without any particular reason it would sound plain awful at any volume. Over the last 9 months or so I've made a few alterations to the setup, calibrated using an SPL, bought a good sub and some decent power cables. I have also made changes to the room which would effect acoustics. Quite recently I've been happy with the way the system has been sounding so when the wife went out shopping yesterday I took the opportunity to crank up the volume and it sounded great, no problems at all. It just goes to show that tweaks do work but sometimes it can take a while for it all to settle in. :)
     
  2. Jase

    Jase
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    Jeff

    What sort of acoustic tweaks have you done?? Rugs, curtains?? that sort of thing or other "tweaks":)
     
  3. dfield2000

    dfield2000
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    I notice you said that you've bought some new power cables - Can I ask how much they cost and did you notice any difference ?

    I've read an article in one of the hi-fi mags which had a list of top ten system tweaks which it reckoned could make a big difference, and although I would class myself as home cinema 'amateur' I have to admit that I'm a bit sceptic about some of the improvements that they recommend. I've got pretty crappy power cables which are plugged into a very cheap four way extension I got from hypervalue. I'm wondering if its worth investing in a main 'filter' or 'conditioner' thingy - although I'm not sure if there would be a great difference in the sound quality.

    I'm also not sure about the bit where they recommend buying a mat to stop the vibrations coming up through to the amp and dvd/cd player. £100 for a rubber mat sounds a bit daft to me. They say that you can use squash balls cut in half as a cheap alternative.

    Anyone got any experience of quick and easy upgrades to help the overall sound quality ?
     
  4. Guest

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    While I'm sure mains conditioning should have some positive effects on sound and picture quality, I read the same article and almost burst out laughing when they suggested an expensive, high quality hi-fi stand/rack had an amazing effect on the bass response of the system in question. Surely no-one here is going to tell me that a sturdy stand is going to have a drastic effect on the tonal values of a set up?!?!:mad: :mad: Annoying hi-fi crud!!:mad:
     
  5. Charlie Whitehouse

    Charlie Whitehouse
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    Do you think this could have been down to mains quality? Some audiophiles reckon that their systems sound better in the wee small hours when everyone else has gone to bed and the mains is 'cleaner'. If so, did the new power cables help do you think?

    I have a Townshend Seismic Sink under my DVD player which goes flat over time and I have to pump it back up with a bicycle pump. No, really! I can always hear when it's gone flat and needs a bit of inflation. :p

    All electronic gear is microphonic to some extent so anything you can do to reduce the vibration it gets will help. Low mass DVD and CD players benefit particularly. Heavier amplifiers to a lesser extent. The half squash ball trick is a fairly standard cheap trick. Try it, it won't do any harm and you might be surprised at the result.

    Why not try some of Russ Andrews' mains blocks and cables. At least you can send them back for a refund if you can't hear the difference! :)
     
  6. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Jase,

    My room is small and the being 7ft x 14ft its not the best shape either. I've basically broken the shape down using a mixture of soft and hard furnishings (and holes), but without going overbaord or ruining the minimalist appoach which I like.

    Some of the things that I have done include knocking down part of the back wall which leads to a meter cupboard. I've built AV racking into this. I've added curtains to the font of the side walls to dampen the light (and sound) bounceing off the side walls. I've build some recest DVD shelves where the window used to be and I've added a few accesories to the walls such as a magazine rack and a clock. So no pro acoustic stuff I'm afraid.

    DField2000,

    I'm convinced the Russ Andrews power block, power cables and filter that I bought do help, how much I don't know. I wouldn't go overboard, but I think the low end stuff like the yellow cables and the cheapie mains filters are a good idea. I rented the mains sniffer at the same time and found that 1 of the £40 filters plugged in the kitchen removed virtually all the noise from my AV mains.

    Jeff
     
  7. Jeff

    Jeff
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    I have just orders the stuff for a dedicated mains ring from Russ Andrews, so thats next.
     
  8. Jase

    Jase
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    Room acoustics make a HUGE difference. A while back I decorated my "room", stripped everything out, curtains, sofa seating, bed etc and after painting one end, put the amp back in running just two speakers for some music whilst painting the other end. It sounded terrible, sound bouncing all over the place.

    Its quite amazing the effect that curtains etc have on the overall sound.
     
  9. planbeta

    planbeta
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    I'll second that, I had a stereo system in one room that sounded lovely, until like Jase I gutted the room for re-decorating. The effect this had on the sound was absolutely horrid!

    It's amazing that people spend £100/1000's on leads, racks etc. but often forget probably one of the most important apsects - room acoustics - and the thing is, it isn't that hard to change these sorts of things in a lot of cases (like Jase said use of curtains can help lots).

    Long live curtains and soft sofas!
     
  10. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The sound quality went down the toilet again last night. :mad:

    It hasn't done that for a while :confused:

    The only thing different about yesterday was that it was cold and wet and the wife turned the heating on. Maybe its the heating? Lets hope it all goes away when I get the dedicated mains installed.
     
  11. Ian J

    Ian J
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    What Hifi recommended cleaning all mains plugs with Brasso for a better sound so I have asked uncle eric whether he could organize a Power Buy for a case of the stuff.
     
  12. juboy

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    Could well be, happened to a friend of mine and, to a lesser degree, happens within my house too. Depends mainly on your heating system's quality of boiler, water pressure and whether you have exposed pipes or not.

    The noise floor of your home is likely to change (always for the worse) whenever your central heating is on and that in turn will affect the sound of your system.

    A simple way of demonstrating the effect is to listen to your system then get someone to flush the toilet nearest to your listening room (seriously!). Until the flush has finished and the water reached it's 'full' level again, your system will sound different/worse.
     
  13. Guest

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    central heating would also have an effect on air density
     
  14. dfield2000

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    As well as cleaning the plugs with brasso, they recommended using a mains conditioner. They one they used was about £300 but I'm sure you should be able to get a cheaper one if you sacrifice having a chrome front and funky blue light. I've looked all through Maplins web site but I can't see any. Anyone know where you can get a cheap one or if they actually make a difference.

    As for flushing the toilet - I didn't realise this could make a difference to the sound. In future I'm going to insist that everyone takes a dump before I put a film on.
     
  15. Guest

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    think russ andrews do one for about £30-40.
     
  16. juboy

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    Just to clarify... it doesn't change the actual sound your system makes, it simply alters your perception of it due to the increased ambient sound which effectively 'masks' certain frequencies.

    Mains conditioners, leads and virtually all other tweaks are rendered virtually useless unless your listening room is as constantly quiet as possible.

    Another good example of what can happen is if you live near a road, open a window or door and weight for a lorry or bus to drive past... your sub will sound pretty weak until it passes.

    This is another reason why people often claim their system sounds better late at night or in Winter... both times when you would be more likely to have your windows all closed and there is less traffic (ambient noise generally) outside.

    For those that want to test this further, Video Essentials features a quite useful 'noise floor' test which can be quite illuminating.
     

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