Is Your Room Perfect?
So you think you have the ultimate audio system or home theater. But have you given any thought to your room acoustics? A room with poor acoustics can make any system sound bad, no matter the cost.
Unless you build a custom listening room, most rooms in your house are not optimized for sound. Problematic rooms can have large openings, sound leakage, bad dimensions, too many windows, or echo producing flooring such as tile or hardwood.
Next to building a dedicated listening room from scratch, your best option is to use acoustic room treatments to optimize sound. Eighth Nerve has a set of products that treat a room called Response Controllers. The basic package includes a set of ten items (4 – Corners, 2 – Echos, and 4 – Seams), which make up a Roompack ($269.95). Additional products I used included a pair of Framed Response Controllers ($74.95 each) and Floorstanders ($149.95 each). The total system cost for my installation was $719.75. But your room may not need this much treatment. For example, if your room is totally enclosed, then a $269.95 Roompack may be all you need.
For Anybody & Any Room
If you are unsure what you need, Eighth Nerve will gladly analyze a picture or diagram of your room. They quickly responded and recommended the proper products. When I unpacked my shipment it revealed many slim pillow-like treatments shaped like triangles (Corners), long rectangles (Seams), and small rectangles (Echos). Also included were a pair of tall cube-shaped fabric covered wood panels (Framed) and flat thin rectangles (Floorstanders) mounted to a base (both about three feet high).
Luckily you don’t have to be a carpenter to install the treatments. Installation was a snap. Eighth Nerve returned my room diagram marked with instructions where to place each product. The acoustically treated pillow-like products can be easily mounted to the wall using pins, small nails, or velcro (not included). I chose to use velcro so I wouldn’t damage my walls. Although it would have been more convenient if each product had velcro sown in, the problem was solved by a quick trip to the store and $2, which gave me enough velcro to mount each product. It took about two hours to complete the installation, but would have been quicker if I used tacks or pins. Before you rush into mounting everything without reading the directions, make sure the shiny sides are facing out to the room. The triangular shapes (Corners) were mounted in each upper corner of the room. The tall thin pillow-like rectangles (Seams) were also mounted in each corner, halfway between the floor and ceiling. The laptop-sized pillows (Echos) were mounted on the center front and left side wall one inch from the ceiling. The floorstanding panels (Floorstanders) stood on the floor at each room opening. The tall cubed panels (Framed) were the only items needing to be hung. They were mounted at the middle of the front and rear walls just below the ceiling.
Each product comes in two colors — black or ivory. You probably want to choose the color that most closely matches your walls, so the products can seamlessly blend into the room. If you are worried about aesthetics and putting stuff on your walls I can attest they are not ugly. In my opinion, they gave my room a space-aged, modern look.
Room Treatment = Better Sound
The little expense (relatively) and time it took to install was well worth the wait. The first thing I noticed was clearer sounding bass and less room resonance. Further analysis revealed more detail in the mid-range and high frequencies. Overall, the room seemed more balanced acoustically and sound was smoother. The total room treatment did perform better than expected, although the treatments did not dampen all bass resonation. Extremely loud, thunderous bass, in the infrasonic (below 25Hz) range, still rattled the pipes in my walls. However, I could distinguish low bass notes like never before from a bass guitar, kick drum, and other low bass instruments. Overall, the Eighth Nerve products greatly improved sound quality and contributed to a more enjoyable listening experience.
More Than One Solution
The Eighth Nerve room treatments should be considered by anyone looking for better sound. Since no two rooms are acoustically the same, you may need even fewer products than I used. Personal taste also comes into play in deciding what sounds best. An over-treated room could sound acoustically dead (no reflections or echoes) versus untreated rooms that can be too lively, which muddy the sound. The balance for most people is probably somewhere in between. Remember not all sound reflections or absorptions are bad. Think of the difference between listening in a movie theater and a concert hall. Each offers different acoustic characteristics, but both sound great. You have to decide what is your goal.
It’s a No-Brainer
Once you have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your home theater or audio system, don’t forget about acoustic room treatments. The Eighth Nerve room treatments are one of the most cost effective enhancements you can make to any listening room.
Remember I am just one man with one opinion. If you own any of these products, or have a comment or question feel free to add your thoughts below.
Founder & CEO