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Old June 19th, 2005, 04:28 PM   #1
Capt. Quirk
 
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5.1 surround for new office/ media room

Since I had to rebuild my house anyways ( last year's hurricanes ), I decided to treat myself to some upgrades. Every room will have at least one network connection/cable/phone outlet, and I will have my Batcave... I mean office.

I want to set it up with surround sound, and was thinking about those flush mount wall speakers. Are there any that would offer a good sound? If I had more left cash left over, I would want to use true pro monitors. Honestly, I am looking more at $200-$300... and I'll have to fight for that! I would also like to keep the speakers hidden, to keep the room cleaner.

I currently have a Philips 250 watt DVD player, with ok speakers. I had run everything through it, just because it sounded better. I'll also probably update my PCs souncard, and run that into the surround setup as well.

I would like to use foam rubber to cover the walls, and accoustic ceiling tiles. Would shag carpet be better for sound?

Any ideas or suggestions?
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Old June 19th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #2
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For a home, you should really build it out as a home theater for resale. Acoustic tiles, rubber walls and shag? Is this a joke post?

Double floor your room, with second floor on acoustic isolators. Double wall your room, with alternating 2 types of acoustic panels in-between the walls and acoustic isolators on the second wall.. Nice carpet, some stuft furniture and a nice HD projection unit. At least pre-wire for it. Unless you are building a recording studio, you do not want dead sound (ala rubber, shag etc). Get yourself a good book on home theater design, or at least watch the DIY channel shows about it.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 06:05 PM   #3
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Bob, the shag was sort of a joke, but I was serious about the foam and tiles. I like to watch a great movie with the surround pumping. I also do not like hearing the kids, or the neighbors mower while trying to record. It will indeed be a home theater, but also my office. For most movies and TV, the family can watch it in the living room.

As far as the DIY channels... they have gotten me in enough trouble! They also don't say what speakers will work for what. Like, is there a noticable difference between a flush mount speaker and a standard surround speaker? How close can they come to a pro monitor?

What is best and cheapest source for foam?
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Old June 19th, 2005, 06:20 PM   #4
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Speakers are generally engineered to be in some kind of enclosure. Flush mount speakers that actually sit in a box are better than those $5 (rear car deck) kind of open back speaker cones. Speaker location within the room, location relative to walls, direction they face, and additional sound materials used all have a huge impact on how they sound, reflections of the walls and such... I have also seen "monitor" speakers that are flush mounts, but can't give you specific brands.

Double walls and floor will do more to sound-isolate the house than foam rubber or surface panels. The acoustic isolators to float the floor and walls and ceiling are the critical item. Along with installing them correctly. I don't know what issues are to flush mounting speakers thru a double wall or ceiling. Don't forget about sound proofing/isolating the door.

I agree you can't DIY from DIY, but at least it is a free and painless overview of some things to think about. A real book is better. Call some of the local home theater or high end audio companies and have them come out (or go there) for a free consult, you will learn a lot quickly if you find the right guy to talk to. You might even end up buying some stuff from them, or having them manage the project.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 06:31 PM   #5
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What isolaters do you reccommend? Where do I find them, and how much will it cost? I have built the room, 18x12, and have three framed walls open at the moment, and they'll be drywalled. The fourth wall is the existing outside framed and stuccoed wall. Should I lay plywood down over the slab, then pad and carpet?
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Old June 19th, 2005, 07:09 PM   #6
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Try here Research will also yield some additional issues like sound suppressing the air ducts (which will be more notably noisy when the room is quiet) or noise that comes thru them. No sense doing it half-arsed.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 07:10 PM   #7
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Righto, Bob. Thanks :)
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Old June 19th, 2005, 09:12 PM   #8
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F. Alton Everest has written some books on acoustics. The one that would probably be most useful to you would be "Everest, F. Alton (Frederick Alton), 1909- How to build a small budget recording studio from scratch ... , with 12 tested designs /".

Unfortunately there's a lot of things people don't know about acoustics. If you read his books, you'll find that he mentions there are things that don't meet theoretical projections. The theories and knowledge available does not fully explain the complexities of sound.

2- You can try to figure out what your goals are first:
A- Low noise. Noise comes from inside the room (i.e. computer), and from outside the room (through walls and air ducts). Noise outside the room may be expensive to deal with.
B- Acoustics... things sound good.
stereo imaging (you can close your eyes and pinpoint where sounds are coming from; if your sound card has sensaura and you have headphones, they have a great demo for stereo imaging)
reverb/decay time
even frequency response
time it takes for first echo to reach your ears - research have found that most people prefer a decently long delay for the first echo. You achieve this by positioning the sound absorption material at the right places. Soffit/flush mounting can also help for more exotic room designs.
listening position- in some cases (i.e. clients), you may want things to sound good from multiple positions.
slap echo (try this: go into a hallway and clap your hands. you'll hear this boing sound)
source audio- frequency response, S/N ratio, maximum volume, distortion (related to volume), etc. etc.

At $200-300, the best things to do would likely to pinpoint problems with your setup and try to fix those things. If the room is like any other normal room, it would probably benefit a little from sound absorption tiles to cut down on reverb. Cheapest way to get them is to DIY... owens corning ?603? fibreglass has excellent acoustic properties, just as good as acoustic foam but not as easy. You want to cover the stuff in cloth material (I think the cloth used matters) so the fiberglass doesn't get everywhere. You'll also want to mount it in a wood frame.
Jay Rose has some DIY tile ideas in his book "audio postproduction for digital video".

Positioning: Put the tiles to block the first reflection from your speakers. This will help increase the time before the first echo hits your ears.


Carpet:
They absorb high frequencies but not mid and low frequencies. This may be a bad thing because it may mean your room absorbs too much of the high frequencies. It really depends.
They also can generate static, which is not nice for computer equipment if you are working inside computers.
Rolling equipment around is harder.
It may be a little less healthy because they trap dust and whatever's spilled onto them.

On the plus side, they can look nice.

3- Caveat: I haven't tried any of this.
And there's a good chance the theories you are using doesn't lead to the right purchasing choices (even though you may be reading the best theory available).
Perhaps a practical thing to do would be to stick to things that won't be expensive mistakes. That rules out changing the angles of the walls in your room and flush/soffit-mounting your speakers. Stick to things like getting better speakers/monitors and building DIY acoustic tiles.
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Old June 21st, 2005, 06:51 PM   #9
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I suppose my goals are this-
1 To quiet the room, so that I can let the audio get loud. Otherwise, I wake the family and annoy the neighbors. I will occasionally do some voice recording, nothing too fancy needed. I don't know if there will be any issue with the one A/C vent, the PC will get an enclosed cabinet. On a side note, I had a TT fan for my AMD. It sounded like a jet turbine... down the hall. Got a stock fan, and it whispers now.

2 Decent speakers. I would like to use flush mounts, but will get whatever is closest to studio monitors. I think Best Buy has the flush ones on sale, so I could easily get five of them for around $150. But then, should I keep the subwoofer, or get a new one? How should I match the speakers?

3 Hardware to connect several sources to a TV (Praying for a 32" flat panel lcd monitor), and surround speakers. I currently have a Radio Shack audio switcher with S video in/out, but only has RCA L&R audio. I'm also using a Audigy1 for audio, but want to upgrade that too.

Glenn- Do you have another recommendation for flooring? We might have enough planks left over to do it in wood. I just thought carpeting would help cut down on the noise, while making the room more comfortable.
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