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I hired an Acoustic Consultant - Best upgrade I have done!

The following text is published on Reddit by one of my customers - after my visit in his home theater.


Johan contacted me a while ago and I visited him a month ago when I made a business trip to Stockholm - the capital of Sweden.


This is Johan's story in his own words.



HISTORY

I have been in love with movies and home theatre for as long as I can remember. I got a LaserDisc and a 300 Ansi Lumen projector in the mid 90s and have upgraded and tweaked my equipment ever since.

UPGRADES

The latest ”physical” upgrades was adding acoustic treatment in my room (biggest upgrade for my sound yet) and upgraded from my 20 year old Paradigm subwoofer to dual 12” Monolith THX subwoofers.

”HELP”

That was when I said ” You need help…”. I had recently heard how a subwoofer should sound like, or at least how I wanted it to sound, when I got a demo at a hifi-retailer. After that I got a good price for the Monoliths. I got them delivered and installed them at the front of the room. Damn they are heavy!

I had read so much good things about my two subwoofers that I felt something was missing. I did not get that smooth deep bass that I was presented for at the retailer. The main demo was the Mad Max (2015) intro.

THE SEARCH

Since I live in Sweden (polar bear country) I felt it was hard to find the right person for this. I did not even know what the correct term was. I got a few tips from forums and online search and contacted several of them. The first one was at my place a whole evening measuring and moving speakers. But… I was not satisfied. The sound was not that much different.

At the same time I got an email from a person who lives and works too far off from where I live but he was going to a trip up north and said he can help me with my needs. He knows Audyssey and have long experience in both Home Theatre and Studio builds.

Could he be THE ONE?

CONTACT

I decided, what the hell, I will give this thing ONE more chance. We decided on a date and he arrived early morning.

He had suggested that I should get the Audyssey MultEQ-X software that costs 200 dollars. Damn black hole.

I dusted off my ten year old PC (I am a Mac guy) and upgraded to correct Windows version and installed and bought the license.



LETS START

He started by listening to a few minutes of movies and felt directly that something was off. Even though he thought I had done so much right in terms of speakers, equipment and treatment at the right spot. I said I have Dynamic EQ ON. He wanted me to turn it off and then play the demos again. Yes, this is the way. No more Dynamic EQ.

He brought his own Audyssey mic that has been calibrated correctly by Audyssey and he could connect the mics serial number with my newly installed software so the measurements would be correct. That mic was put in the MLP on a mic stand.


MEASURING

He continued with measuring the distance from the speakers to the walls to make sure they were equal distance. He used some laser tool. The entire front stage was off several cm (inches?) since I had based everything on the screen (that I thought was in center). We ended up with an almost perfect triangle between front left and right speakers and the MLP.

After every little change he listened to how it sounded and took measurements with his microphone so he could see how the graph looked.



BASS, BASS & BASS

I had put my subs at the front between the fronts facing each other (that was a suggestion from the previous consultant). He did not think it was wrong but he could see that there was a few dips and peaks. We went on with turning one sub the other way, measure it and then turning the other too. Another measure and we could decide on where we had the least problems. After that we moved one of the subs (did I mention they are heavy?) to the right back corner which is where I had my old single subwoofer.

This worked perfect. That placement could fill in the dips in good way and now there were som peaks that we could EQ later on.All the other speakers, Surround, Rear Surrond and Atmos x4, where left as they where since they had good placement and my room makes it hard to find other spots for them.

AUDYSSEY SWEEPS

So now that the front stage and subs are in the best position it is time to run Audyssey and put the mic at different positions around the MLP. This resulted in several different graphs that we could look at in the MultEQ-X software. One for each speaker and mic position. Here is where I kind of left him be and had him do his magic. I can’t explain everything in detail but he could see the graphs and make the necessary changes to make sure the speakers played well together.

He did some EQ changes and then played a new demo from a certain movie to listen how it sounded. He did this several times to make sure the result was what he was after.

He was curious to see of he could get better sound from the center channel and make it blend in more with the two fronts. That is why we put the center on several books so it is more in line with the fronts. He measured it before, after and also we tested to put the speaker all the way flush to the front wall. The graph showed the best spot with the speaker on top of the books all the way front of the shelf.

NEW THINGS

Some new things he did that I have read so much about not doing was for example

Not to use Dynamic EQ

Set my front speakers as Large

Set the cutoff frequency to a much lower Hz than I am used to


RESULTS

When he was done he wanted me to sit in the MLP and he picked a few demos.

Mad Max intro finally had that soft deep bass that is like massage for your ears. I could hear more sounds that I never heard before like the sound of cars in the distance.

Oblivion intro was played so loud at reference level (0,0 on the Denon receiver) but still it sounded amazing with full control and power. It is hard to explain but the sound was massive without feeling to much.

A famous scene from Fury where the tanks get attacked. You have the bass in the correct place without the boomy sound that was due to Dynamic EQ.

The Dolby Atmos demo called Feather with surround sound that was like nothing before. Before you could hear the effects all around you from the speakers but now the sound also came from between the speakers.

And the bass. My first thought was, I want more bass. But after watching a few scenes I felt this is the correct way for me. The bass disappears when it should and it is there when it should be.

I watched the new Resident Evil (2021) and as always, Sony movies delivers. Again, I was in a bubble with sound coming everywhere. The rain is not just from the four Atmos speakers but from the entire ceiling.

I love my new sound and I feel like I need to rewatch every movie. This is by far the biggest difference in sound even bigger than when I installed the acoustic treatments.

MUSIC

I could write so much about this also but it just sounds so good. The front is so big and you feel as if the singer is there (almost).

FUTURE

Next up could be to try out IsoAcoustics isolation feet for my front stage and subwoofers.

Wider cinema scope screen so the sub is not in the way for the picture.


The consultant that helped is Frederick Norén and his company is ninjasound.se

I can’t recommend enough doing something like this for your home theatre.

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