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High End Audio Room Acoustics: a Scientific Approach or Magic?

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. -Ludwig van Beethoven-

Listening to music is a fun thing, we feel the sensation of sound are woven into threads with harmonizing tones form a melody that touches our souls.


Since the discovery of sound recording technology by Thomas Edison to this day audio technology has developed rapidly. Thousands of studies have been done and do not know how many billions of dollars already spent to produce audio technology better. Audio technology is now able to reproduce the audio signal with very little harmonic distortion. Some audio manufacturer has dared to claim that their products have the tonal balance is nearly flat.

Are we hearing room has a flat tonal balance?

Most audiophiles may not Realize that hearing room are not held flat. How to PROVE that every room is not flat?
We can PROVE that the tonal balance of the space is not flat by talking loudly in the bedroom, then try talking in the living room, family room, dining room, kitchen, garage and other rooms. We will hear our voice with a different tonality. Compare when we talk in the middle of a football field, our voice tonality sounded more flat than when we talk in the room.

Each room has Certain characteristics that change the tonality sound.
It is unfortunate if an audio system with a large investment to compromise with disabled room incorporation.

Is the room we have set according to the tone of music instrument?

Probably most of the readers amused to read the above sentence. And then asked – wondering memangnya room we could hear false? It is a fact that is rarely discussed among the audio or acoustic, but these things right and if we listen carefully we can feel the sound of the room were false.

If we listen to music with the basic tone A. We will hear the piano sound with a frequency of 55Hz, 110 Hz, 220 Hz, and so on.


Figure 1
Chromatic scales and frequency (Hz)

If we had a room with a width of 3.2 meters, the frequency room modes (or standing wave) diruang is 106 Hz. From the picture above is a tone frequency of 106 Hz between G # (103.83 Hz) and approached the tone A (110 Hz).

So if we listen to the song Every Breath You Take – The Police which has a basic tone A. When Sting wrenched his contra bass tones in the room A, then we will hear two tones are tones A betot bass from the speakers and the tone between G # and A sounded due to room modes that occur are all subjects. Acoustic phenomena above phenomenon is often called the voice pelayangan.

Better sound dampening panels or diffuser?

During most of audiophile assume that the main problem is a problem in a room acoustic reflections. And the question above is still a lively debate, which one is better cope with the pairing panel reflection silencer or a diffuser panel.

Many arguments – arguments that seek to answer the question above. But that argument is not in the underlying scientific approach. There is an argument that says do not make the hearing room became dead so we need to pair the diffuser. Or vice versa diffuser making too much noise is not bad.

All these arguments are subjective without understanding the underlying science. Even some of the information is written by the media devoted to the topic audiophile sometimes misleading or failed to give a proper understanding.

Target Design Acoustic Lounge true Audiophile is making noise in the sweet spot area has a distortion / kolorasi frequency (tonal perception balance) – attack-decay (time perception of sound) – phase (perception of sound space impression) as low as possible.

Tonal Balance

The main requirement of the audio space is Tonal Balance. What if you do not have the audio space tonal balance is correct then no matter how well the system will not sound right.


Figure 2
Graphic Tonality: Amplitude (dB) – Frequency (Hz)

Figure 2 illustrates the balance of tonality sound in a room that is in getting the sound measurement results or the results of computer simulation. If the loudness in each frequency approximately equal, it can be said audio response system and the acoustics are measured nearly flat.

Reverb Time

Energy sound that comes out of the speakers in the forward portion, partially absorbed and partially reflected back into the room. If we had the room the whole surface is made of a material that is harder then we hear a louder voice. Because the voice we hear is the sum of the direct sound and the sound of the room reflections.


Figure 3
Graphic Reverb Time: Amplitude (dB) – Time (second)

Figure 3 illustrates the speed of sound reaches a peak (attack) and then decay (decay) or a general term is reverberation time. If the decay in the room too long, the decay longer sounding voice will disrupt the next sound from the speakers. Conversely, if the decay is too short then the sound from the speakers quickly disappear. Room with long decay is often termed the living room and the room with a short decay often termed dead space.
The faster the attack of a sound in a room, the perceptual (psychoacoustic) most people will judge that the room has a faster transient. Such a room can give the impression of watching live music.

Sound phase

Wall reflections cause a phase difference of sound to our ears.


Figure 4
Graphic Phase: Amplitude (dB) – Time (Second)

Figure 4 illustrates the direct sound (incident-red) and sound reflections (reflected-blue) and in radiasikan / heard (a mix between the direct sound and the sound reflections abu2 and pink). This phenomenon can damage the image of a stereo sound system. Sound Stage sounded dwarf and compress. Music instrument sounds sticking to one another.

Scientific Approach

So the problem of room acoustics for an audiophile is not a problem of one parameter only, but multi-parameter influence each other. To optimize the room acoustic parameters required acoustic consultants who have qualified:

  1. Academic knowledge and deep experience of the phenomenon of sound in a small room,
  2. Physics formula sounds associated with acoustic phenomena in a small room, and the correlation between each formula to the response of the sound that will occur in that space.
  3. Acoustics Software to speed up the calculation and presentation of data in various forms ranging from tables, charts, mapping and auralisasi.
  4. Product knowledge – acoustic products and the characteristics of each product.Metode pengukuran akustik yang benar.
  5. The ability to hear and judge the sound produced,

Please visit our website www.altaintegra.com to get more information about the room acoustics and others – others.

I hope the above explanation can provide a scientific understanding of the design target the true audiophile acoustic space is not based on an understanding that is magical.

Herwin Gunawan
Certified Acoustics Consultant


For High End Audio Acoustics consulting room, please fill out the form below or contact us at:

ALTA Integra

Jl. Hayam Wuruk No. 2 R – S
Jakarta Pusat, 10210
Telp: 021 3513351
Fax: 021 3458143

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