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The Alpha Audio listening room is finished! And why we rebuilt it

We almost dare to say: fiew…. finally. After about two months of remodeling – two weeks of which were full time and the rest we did between our daily work – the listening room is ready. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But it is a significant improvement on what it was.

The old listening room was certainly not bad. But it was far from nice looking; it was mainly functional. The plan had been there for some time to make something nicer out of it. But yes, as it often goes: work comes first and then you put it on the back burner.

Around May, however, there was a NEN inspection in the building. And the electrical installation on our floor was found not ‘okay’. Yeah… Dutch law is harsh on that kind of stuff. In short: we needed new fuse boxes and new ‘outlets’ along the walls. And well: if they are busy anyway, then we’ll get to work too. After all: all the loose wiring above the ceiling had to go too. And oh… also the big ‘absorbers’ that we hung from the ceiling in the home-cinema part of our room… they also had to go. Auch… Want to see what it looked like during the renovation? Here you can see the overview.

What was remodeled?

In the end, we did the following:

  • All windows are sealed and fully insulated
  • About 20 meters of led strip has been installed for mood lighting
  • There is / will be a ‘hall of fame’ with special equipment
  • All electricity along the walls has been replaced
  • All permanent wiring has been hidden now

We also revisited the acoustics:

  • A total of 28 diffusers were installed (yes, fiew!)
    • 6 left 1st reflection (Vicoustic)
    • 6 right 1st reflection (Thomann, white)
    • 7 on the ceiling (Thomann, white)
    • 9 centrally behind the set, behind the fabric
  • Absorbers have been placed (Clearsonic)
    • 1 left
    • 1 right
    • 1 above the system
    • 1 above the bench
  • There are 6 DAAD diffusers
    • 4 x DAAD-4 left and right in the corner
    • 2 x DAAD-3 on the 1st reflection
  • Bass traps, left and right in the corners behind the set (behind the cloth)

We still want to replace the diffusers on the right side with Vicoustic diffusers. They work just a bit better than the Thoman versions. And they are nicer to look at :-).

Acoustic challenges

You may be thinking: wow…. what a huge amount of acoustic tools. And yes: that’s right. We are also kind of surprised by the amount needed. We had already installed quite a lot, but because the large, heavy absorbers were removed and we actually created large reflection panels by seiling off the windows, we had to make some major adjustments.

First of all we got enormous flutter issues because of the large, wooden panels. We were able to take away most of that flutter with the six new diffusers from Vicoustic. They work really well. The final touch was the diffusers on the right side and the DAAD’s in the corners behind the set.

A second problem we had to tackle was a peak around 160 and 320 Hz. We solved that with four new absorbers from Clearsonic. They are also really great.

A third thing we wanted to improve is the staging. We wanted to take the next step in reproduction quality. And imaging is an important part of that. We’ve been using four large DAADs in the corners for some time to distribute things nicely. That works magisterially well. We have now placed two DAAD-3s on the first reflection. And yes: that also works great. The whole feels a bit looser and more airy with better placement. In short: mission accomplished… the measurements now show a pretty straight response.

Why

did we rebuild? There are several reasons why we rebuilt the listening room. We will highlight the three most important ones for you.

First of all we thought it was time for a next step in quality. Purely to be able to provide you with even better quality reviews and sampling. A better room gives a reviewer the space to listen deeper. And thus be able to perceive more nuances. And in some cases that is necessary, because the differences are very small.

Secondly, sample tests, live streams and videos are getting an increasingly prominent role in our reviews. With these, we want to take you into the story; share the experience. And for that a clean room with good acoustics, quietness and good lighting is very important.

In the end we were just a bit irritated by the previous space; it looked a bit messy. And because of that, it’s not a very nice working place. And if you’re restless, you just can’t really sit down and enjoy it.

Our learning moment

We learn something from each project and each review. Especially a big project like this one. Our lesson is: acoustics is everything. Our system sounded really bad without the adjustments. And with these adjustments and tweaks – about 4500 euros in value if you buy everything new – we have a system that sounds beautifully balanced and creates a big sound stage. Yes, that is a lot of money. But…:

  • You don’t have to do everything
  • Our space is quite large and quite tricky
  • We were looking for perfection…

What surprises us is that many enthusiasts do spend a lot of money on all sorts of accessories – from very expensive cables to furniture and pucks – but do not treat the room itself. We dare say: if you haven’t treated your space, you’re leaving a lot out. A real shame… believe us…!

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