Doctor's Orders-Part Two-The New Listening Room Of Steve Williams

The History

Most of you are aware by now that I moved back to Southern California in July last year after a 20 year hiatus in the SF Bay Area. It was there that I built my "dream" sound room. That room measured 18' W x 31' L x 9-12' H (sloped ceiling which was 9 feet high at the window and 12 feet high at the inner wall). My system then consisted of both two channel set up as well as a home theater with an 11' screen.

Here is a link to my prior set up

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showt...-Of-Steve-Williams&p=3412&viewfull=1#post3412

My wife and I moved to the SF Bay Area in 1993 but with the resolve that we would always move home to Southern California. Just about this time last year our youngest daughter was graduating from the University of Boulder. It was then that not only were we aware of our empty nest but also that a few homes in our neighborhood were listed for sale. It was then that my wife suggested we consider listing our home. Well after 20 years in a home that I had built it was a difficult thought for me to consider as I loved our home and it was a source of wonderful memories. As a result, even though I always wanted to return to Southern California I was so attached to our home that I agreed to list the house for sale BUT only at a price that I felt it was worth rather than being dictated by the comps in our area (as I was torn about moving). As a result I listed the house at $200K over any comparable sold home in our area. We left for Boulder on a Thursday. The house was listed on the MLS the following day. The next day I was called by the broker to tell me that 3 people wanted to see the house on the Monday when I was back home (3 days after I listed the house). That next afternoon 3 different families toured the house and that evening I had 2 offers on my house, one which was $50K shy of my list price and a second which was not only a full list offer but so also a 30 day escrow. My wife and I took a deep breath as we suddenly realized that my wildest dream had become reality and that we were moving in 30 days. We now had to find a home to buy. We could have rented but I was opposed to this because I hate moving. Even if it is to the house next door it is still moving so we made a few day trip back to South Orange County and as luck would have it we found a really nice home of about the same size as the one we were selling. Both houses are ~4600 square feet but the new home did not have a dedicated room that I could convert to a new listening room. We moved in last July 6th and for 8-9 months my entire system sat in crates in one of our garages. Once settled in the house I started worrying because I coud see no option as to where to put this room. Believe it or not we considered moving but we really liked our new home. We live in the master planned community of Coto De Caza where my home sits on the 5th fairway of the south golf course. Even though both houses were about the same size the lot sizes were much different with that of my newer home sitting on a smaller sized lot. This pretty much excluded building "onto" the house as the rear yard was all landscaped with a pool. We have 3 garages and for a brief while I considered building the room into one of these garages but after working with an architect this just wasn't feasible. I must admit I was getting depressed about the distinct possibility, that after over 50 years in this hobby and always with a dedicated sound room that this was just not going to come to fruition for this one last "hurrah".



I did a lengthy search of acousticians as there are excellent ones who are members here at WBF. After a 4 week search I realized that if I were to do this any sound improvements put into the room could not be like my last room which was much larger. As a result every precious inch became valuable and I just couldn't spare any extra which would take away from the size of the room. My search brought me to the acoustician I finally hired. Bonnie Schnitta is a Phd in acoustics, electrical engineering and mathematics. It was with this knowledge and while working with the DOD and underwater sound mapping that she wrote a program which provides for mathematical mapping of a room's sound response. When she left the DOD, Bonnie took with her that part of the program which was hers and launched her business Soundsense based in New York city
www.soundsense.com

Her proprietary acoustical things are made through her company

www.noiseout.com

Dr. Bonnie Schnitta is the founder and president of NoiseOut as well as SoundSense, LLC – an acoustic consulting company she formed in 1981. Over the last three decades, Dr. Schnitta has headed hundreds of noise abatement and acoustic management construction projects in homes, churches, synagogues, theaters and recording studios. A CEDIA member since 2001, Dr. Schnitta holds a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Purdue University, a bachelor's and master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and an interdepartmental Ph.D in Math, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering with a special emphasis in signal processing. She began her career working with ship designers, controlling the acoustics of oceangoing tankers. Although she originally focused on commercial projects, assisting restaurants and auditoriums with noise problems, Dr. Schnitta has branched out into the residential market. “I was just heartbroken to discover that homes were being designed with so little regard for acoustics,” she says.
Dr. Schnitta holds several patents, including an acoustical plumbing trap system, a method for analyzing activity in a signal, and the Paradise Effect™, a proprietary algorithm for the creation of an acoustically-correct and soothing environment. Dr. Schnitta has authored a number of articles on such topics as signal processing and acoustics management.

Bonnie made a site visit to my house in December, took measurements and then upon her return to NYC, plugged all the data in and called me a few days later stating that not only would things work but the room would sound very good. I guess this is what I wanted to hear. Sort of like asking an orthodontist if you need braces :)

The next post will contain all of the ideas and sound treatments added to the room as well as aesthetic treatments. I will follow that post with a synopsis of treatments that Bonnie has provided to me in a write up and I will follow this with several photos of the build out and the finished product

The room was finished end of March and I have been fine tuning the speaker placement, taking measurements and finally adding a pair of JLAudio F113 Fathom subs. I did have a pair of Gotham subs in my last room but I sold these as they for sure were just too much for the room
SoundRoom_zpscaeadf08.jpeg
 
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Comments

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Just a brief update since I have retubed my amps.

After brief talk with Vladimir as well as ddk about my impressions with a new pair of copper plated GM-70 tubes and stating that it was tantamount to listening to a new pair of amplifiers as there was so much more audible detail.

Having said that both Vlad and David suggested that if I wanted an even bigger "pop" in the sound it was recommended that I change the pair of rectifier tubes in each power supply of my LL1 preamp. I was eager to try this as Vlad stated that the 6x4 tubes are very reliable tubes but sonically begin to degrade after 4-5 years of use

So I bought two pair of 6x4 tubes.

My first impression was the price of each tube. I was prepared for the worst but I was stunned to discover that each tube was a roaring $17 each. That was painless

Well what I heard now was the same system but seemingly on steroids as the amount of soundstage and the detail within the soundstage was enormous. I am a happy camper.

Thank you David and Vladimir. Now if there is a way to get those copper plated GM-70's at a fraction of the existing price life will be good :)
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,514
948
113
Beverly Hills, CA
I had a fun day visiting Steve again today. I think I last visited about a year ago, before Steve installed the Masterbuilt Ultra cables, and before he got involved with the CenterStage footers.

It’s impossible to remember anything very specific accurately from a year ago, of course, but I can give you a couple of impressions which I’m confident are correct.

1) After listening to Steve’s system today for several hours I can tell you that it would never occur to me to suggest that Steve consider adding a subwoofer. I am perplexed why I ever liked the subwoofers in this system in the first place.

Steve had great JL Audio subwoofers, but they are actually not necessary in his system. Furthermore I hear all the low frequency response and extension I typically hear in state-of-the-art systems, but the low-frequency clarity and resolution seems higher than what I’ve heard in Steve’s listening room before.

Focusing on the drums in Jennifer Warnes’ "Bird on a Wire" on Famous Blue Raincoat there is all the bass extension and oomph you could want. I am baffled that I ever felt that subwoofers were useful in this system.

2) I don’t know whether it’s the CenterStage footers or the Masterbuilt cables or a combination thereof but I feel that I have never heard Steve’s system sounding as clear as I heard it today. I don’t mean anything fancier than clear. I mean clear.

There is greater articulation and clarity in vocals and a greater sense of resolution and clarity from the midrange on down than I remember. If I were talking about photography I would say that Steve's camera is now using finer grain film, or a better quality lens. Now I can see the detail of the wings on the wasp, whereas before I could make out only the wings themselves. The sound now is more transparent and more present and clear. I don’t know how else to put it.

3) A year ago (the last time I visited Steve before today) I told Steve that I thought the system was sounding fantastic, and that he should put his pencil down and stop tweaking and just enjoy the system, as is, for the rest of his life. I was wrong. He has managed to improve the system in material ways in this last year with his recent component additions. Bravo, Steve!!!

Thank you, Steve, for another wonderful afternoon!
 

Tango

VIP/Donor
Mar 12, 2017
2,797
1,482
113
Bangkok
I had a fun day visiting Steve again today. I think I last visited about a year ago, before Steve installed the Masterbuilt Ultra cables, and before he got involved with the CenterStage footers.

It’s impossible to remember anything very specific accurately from a year ago, of course, but I can give you a couple of impressions which I’m confident are correct.

1) After listening to Steve’s system today for several hours I can tell you that it would never occur to me to suggest that Steve consider adding a subwoofer. I am perplexed why I ever liked the subwoofers in this system in the first place.

Steve had great JL Audio subwoofers, but they are actually not necessary in his system. Furthermore I hear all the low frequency response and extension I typically hear in state-of-the-art systems, but the low-frequency clarity and resolution seems higher than what I’ve heard in Steve’s listening room before.

Focusing on the drums in Jennifer Warnes’ "Bird on a Wire" on Famous Blue Raincoat there is all the bass extension and oomph you could want. I am baffled that I ever felt that subwoofers were useful in this system.

2) I don’t know whether it’s the CenterStage footers or the Masterbuilt cables or a combination thereof but I feel that I have never heard Steve’s system sounding as clear as I heard it today. I don’t mean anything fancier than clear. I mean clear.

There is greater articulation and clarity in vocals and a greater sense of resolution and clarity from the midrange on down than I remember. If I were talking about photography I would say that Steve's camera is now using finer grain film, or a better quality lens. Now I can see the detail of the wings on the wasp, whereas before I could make out only the wings themselves. The sound now is more transparent and more present and clear. I don’t know how else to put it.

3) A year ago (the last time I visited Steve before today) I told Steve that I thought the system was sounding fantastic, and that he should put his pencil down and stop tweaking and just enjoy the system, as is, for the rest of his life. I was wrong. He has managed to improve the system in material ways in this last year with his recent component additions. Bravo, Steve!!!

Thank you, Steve, for another wonderful afternoon!
It is always a joy for me reading how one’s system clarity and realism improve. At one point the air of the recording venue and the air of listening room will blend and fused together. Really happy for Steve to have such incredible sounding system.

Kind regards,
Tang
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Hi Ron

A fun afternoon indeed especially with Leif finding time to join us for lunch and come back for a listen as well

As for the clarity that you heard there is no doubt in my mind that the Master Built Ultra contributes to the clarity that you heard. Having said that however the new version of the Center Stage Feet adds so much of the clarity that you heard People have been asking me the differences between the original version and now the version 2. IMHO the biggest differences was how remarkable the timbre, tone, decay, dynamics and clarity sounded. The biggest surprise however was what these new feet did to my mid bass and deep bass. They have locked in and are tight, articulate and the best bass that I have heard in my system with or without the JL Audio pair of F113's. As Ron said and as I have written here before the subs just became unnecessary in my room. Try as I might it was always difficult to get them to sound coherent with the deep bass coming from my speakers.

Further, in my system the biggest "pop" factor that I got with both the original version of the Center Stage feet but more so with version 2 was just how clear and well defined the deep and mid bass became

I have now had these feet in and out from under my system 7 times, the most recent being with the version 2. It is painful to do that A-B-A test and remove them from your system because of the profound collapse in the sound stage such that for me I just couldn't listen to my system for any extended length of time without the feet in the system.

I'm now about a week or two away from converting my house to solar energy and there have been comments from members that Solar energy on the roof has resulted in spurious sounds in their sound system attributed perhaps to EMI/RFI. One member also commented that there is coloration and distortion hear. Having said this , the majority of members who have PV have heard no ill adverse effects from their PV systems on their roofs. I am feeling confidant that with my install will come only great sound.

The thread pertinent to PV can be found here

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/show...-ve-gone-solar&p=527510&viewfull=1#post527510

Stay tuned for my comments on that
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
614
46
28
California
www.vonschweikert.com
Steve thank you so much for the invite. It was a good lunch with those fish tacos and getting to chat with Ron and you. I think the last time I saw Ron was in Munich. It was exciting to hear about the changes taking place with the forum but even more exciting to see the passion in Ron and you about the forum:)

I have been very fortunate to have been able to hear Steve's system as it has progressed through many changes with cables, racks, tube changes, changes to the room treatment, hearing the system with subs and then without, and last but not least the Center Stage Footers version 1 and now with version 2 as well as the 1.5's. I think we are all sick lol. But I really wouldn't want to do anything else. I couldn't imagine life without music and the joy of truly getting lost into the experience.

It has been a blast each and every time I get to come over and listen to your system. Each time I've been there the system has excelled to an entirely new level which just doesn't seem possible but it is. Everything I read in Ron's write up is just spot on. Ron brought some great vinyl and really showed off the system. The tape you played really took it to the top. I don't see how you ever come out of the room lol.

Also, thank you for sending me home with some CSF 1.0's to try under my Constellation Audio gear. I'm on pins and needles for the next couple of weeks anticipating results just like my other electronics on the CSF's.
20180902_103531.jpg

20180902_103559.jpg



For those of you who haven't tried these footers, I can't stress enough how much I recommend them. They truly are remarkable and what they did to my relatively inexpensive system is simply jaw dropping for me and I can't go back.
 

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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Jun 5, 2010
863
18
18
Steve, somehow I am not surprised on your comment regarding the E5 bass. I recently acquired a pair of E3s. The first virtue I noticed was the bass quantity and quality. I really enjoy listening to male basso singers through the E3s.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,269
241
63
Manila, Philippines
Steve, somehow I am not surprised on your comment regarding the E5 bass. I recently acquired a pair of E3s. The first virtue I noticed was the bass quantity and quality. I really enjoy listening to male basso singers through the E3s.
They sounded really, really good with your E.A.R. combo mullard. Wonderful.
 
Jun 5, 2010
863
18
18
Thank you Jack.

The E3s are still breaking in.

I have removed the EARs. The system is now Bryston CD player, Spectral line stage, and Hegel power amp. All power cords are MasterBuilt Performance and all interconnects are Gotham. Speaker cables are MasterBuilt Signature to match the E3’s internal wires.
 
Jun 5, 2010
863
18
18
Thank you Jack.

The E3s are still breaking in.

I have removed the EARs. The system is now Bryston CD player, Spectral line stage, and Hegel power amp. All power cords are MasterBuilt Performance and all interconnects are Gotham. Speaker cables are MasterBuilt Signature to match the E3’s internal wires.
 

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
614
46
28
California
www.vonschweikert.com
Thank you Jack.

The E3s are still breaking in.

I have removed the EARs. The system is now Bryston CD player, Spectral line stage, and Hegel power amp. All power cords are MasterBuilt Performance and all interconnects are Gotham. Speaker cables are MasterBuilt Signature to match the E3’s internal wires.
Oh I want to hear that lol
 

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