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

Jun 5, 2010
842
5
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I might have misunderstood your post Leif. You might not have meant hearing the E3 with the source and electronics Jack heard. Let me know if you have any request on which amp you want to hear driving the E3.
 

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
568
17
18
California
www.vonschweikert.com
I might have misunderstood your post Leif. You might not have meant hearing the E3 with the source and electronics Jack heard. Let me know if you have any request on which amp you want to hear driving the E3.
No worries Sam. I will be happy with whatever you have hooked up to them. It will be great to see you again:)
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
It's been a while since I have posted anything here to my system blog as the past 8 weeks have been involved on a daily basis getting the site converted to the new platform. Now that this has come and gone and I am feeling a little more comfortable with the new platform I wanted to post the following with respect to my system subsequent to going all solar at home and here is the thread for reference

https://whatsbestforum.com/threads/the-time-has-come-ive-gone-solar.26171/


My solar install went in on Thursday Sept 27 in one day and there wasn't even a hiccup. They started 2 days later than promised due to a delay in getting county permits and the solar company had promised that my install would be done by the following day. As a result 2 1/2 teams of guys were on my roof starting at 0730 and worked through until 6:00 PM when everything was done.

The following day (Friday) we got signed off by the county inspector and submitted application for Permission To Operate which we were told could take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. We got lucky I guess and got approval Monday around noon and we got turned on about 2:00 so we only made a small amount of solar the first day.

Since then however I have been making on the average about 250-270% of my need with the surplus going back to the grid to be used at a later date. Over the past 9 days I have banked sufficient Kwh's that I am entirely solar.

Why do I bring all of this up?

Well to answer the question as wells to dispel some of the preconceived notions that noise is introduced into the system in the form of colorization and/or RF

I waited until I knew that all of the energy I was producing at the time of listening was coming from solar , 100%

Well that happened 2 days ago and I have listened extensively in those three days and I can say with reasonable certainty that I heard nothing adverse.Everything sounded exactly as prior to the solar installation.

I have to admit that reports in the thread I linked gave me some pause but I truly believe the issues others experienced were due to the type of inverter and/or lack of micro inverters in older systems. The newer systems are better with even better still to come in this emerging technology. I know the thread I linked sparked heated debate.For me however the reason was economic as our electric bills had gotten so high that i sought alternate means and am completely happy with my decision but most importantly a huge sigh of relief that when I listen during 100% solar power I am hearing absolutely nothing untoward.
 
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ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,591
114
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Utah
I'm glad to hear that there's some hope for the inverters now, thanks for the update Steve.

david
 

Barry

Member Sponsor
Jan 8, 2012
213
6
18
Somewhere near Philadelphia, USA
My solar install went in on Thursday Sept 27 in one day and there wasn't even a hiccup. They started 2 days later than promised due to a delay in getting county permits and the solar company had promised that my install would be done by the following day. As a result 2 1/2 teams of guys were on my roof starting at 0730 and worked through until 6:00 PM when everything was done.

Since then however I have been making on the average about 250-270% of my need with the surplus going back to the grid to be used at a later date. Over the past 9 days I have banked sufficient Kwh's that I am entirely solar.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
There must be an issue with the usergroups permissions that we will get fixed tomorrow. I guess as an admin I see your edit buttons but you can't .

We will get that fixed


To answer your question

I used Sun Power Direct and would recommend them in a heart beat

I used 30 panels, all 360 's for a total of 10.8 KW', I am producing in these much shorter days on the average of 55-58 kWh per day and am using on the average 30-35 kWh per day. Hence I have been banking easily 20 kWh's per day
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,575
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Beverly Hills, CA
Congratulations on the solar installation, Steve! I am very happy for you that there is no noise issue whatsoever!
 

WLVCA

Member Sponsor
Nov 2, 2012
1,747
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Tucson
Glad your solar install went well and had no negative impact on your audio system.

I've been very happy with my solar system and hope yours works out well for you.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,575
317
83
Beverly Hills, CA
Today I enjoyed another wonderful afternoon in Dr. Steve's listening room! Nobody believes me when I say that if our house is every finished and if the stereo is ever set up I estimate that I'll be listening approximately 50% to vinyl and approximately 50% to tape.

Today I brought over to Steve one LP and three tapes. The only LP we played is my Chesky The Power of the Orchestra. We played the second side which is the last two-thirds of "Pictures at an Exhibition." This has become my standard classical music test track.

Among all of the systems in which I have played this particular track on this particular LP, based on what I heard today I am comfortable reporting that, at least with respect to reproducing symphony orchestra classical music, Steve's system is one of my three favorite high-end audio systems for classical music. (Please note this is a provisional statement because I really need to go back and play this track on my friend's Rockport Arrakis/VTL/Air Force 1/SAT/Etna SL system, and on my friend's Magnepan 20.7/ARC/Kuzma Stabi/4Point/Etna SL system, for comparison purposes.)

This track on Steve's system was totally spectacular. I would give it a 10 on all the usual points of transparency, dynamics, tonal quality, sound-staging, etc.

I suggested to Steve today (although in the interest of full disclosure I have said this to him a couple of times previously) that I think his system is now so finely-tuned that he should not change a thing. (As with almost all state-of-the-art systems the only way you could really improve the sound would be to transfer the entire system to a significantly larger room.) At this point any component change would occasion a big risk of losing more than you gain while expending a significant sum of money.

While I love Lamm electronics I am not a huge fan of the Wilson X2 (with its metal dome tweeter) by itself, but that prejudice is all water under the bridge and the proof is in the listening, and what I heard today was stunning. David is 100% correct that the JL Audio subwoofers were having a deleterious effect on the sound. Steve gets all the bass oomph he could possibly want (and all the bass oomph I think the room can handle).

Ever since my revelatory visit to MikeL whose listening position is proportionally closer to the speakers than is the listening position in most other systems I notice that I like having a listening seat closer to the speakers than I thought I did. Just by moving closer to the speakers (assuming you don't lose center imaging or proper stereo separation) you just hear more, and there is a greater sense of involvement by being a little bit closer rather than a little bit further away.

I brought three tapes (15ips, NAB): Side 2 of Gloria Estefan's Cuts Both Ways from one tape source; 2) Side 2 of Gloria Estefan's Cuts Both Way from a second tape source; and 3) The Doors' "Light My Fire.”
"
We often compare different pressings or different reissues of the same vinyl track, but how often do we get to compare different tapes of the same track? (I intend to do a lot of tape versus tape comparisons in the future. I have some of my favorite titles on tape from three different sources, and I have a few of my favorite titles on tape from four different sources.)

We listened to "Don't Want to Lose You Now" and "Cuts Both Ways." On the tape comparison we both heard the same things: one tape sounded more detailed, punchier and more dynamic, and maybe a little bit more transparent. The second tape sounded smoother and less detailed and less dynamic. But the vocal on the second tape sounded more organic, more natural. Overall, we both preferred the smoother vocal on the second tape.

"Light My Fire" sounded fantastic! Now we're talk'in! That's what tape is all about! At the end I said to Steve: "I thought that sounded GREAT! Of course now we have to compare this tape to a heavy-vinyl 45rpm reissue."

Towards the end of our session Steve played Edward Pong's UltraAnalogue Recordings Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 5, Op.24. This recording may very well be the single most in-the-room real thing I have ever heard! It is not the kind of music I care for (the sound quality of this tape made me wish I did), but PeterA, who loves chamber music, should get a tape deck if for no other reason than to listen to these Edward Pong tapes!

Thanks to Steve and Cathy for another wonderful listening session!
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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Nice report, but disagree on one point. If PeterA wants to listen to those Beethoven Violin Sonatas he should just buy some original LPs and play them on his TT. Unless Pong got in Heifetz to play his Kreutzer on tape. I don't know the best performance for no. 5 but easy to find out
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Nice report, but disagree on one point. If PeterA wants to listen to those Beethoven Violin Sonatas he should just buy some original LPs and play them on his TT. Unless Pong got in Heifetz to play his Kreutzer on tape. I don't know the best performance for no. 5 but easy to find out
I hope I’m not speaking out of line but I am hoping Ed Iis going to release some of his music on vinyl
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,575
317
83
Beverly Hills, CA
Nice report, but disagree on one point. If PeterA wants to listen to those Beethoven Violin Sonatas he should just buy some original LPs and play them on his TT. Unless Pong got in Heifetz to play his Kreutzer on tape. I don't know the best performance for no. 5 but easy to find out
I know nothing about the performance; I was reporting solely on the recording/sound quality.
 
May 30, 2010
14,535
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Portugal
Nice report, but disagree on one point. If PeterA wants to listen to those Beethoven Violin Sonatas he should just buy some original LPs and play them on his TT. Unless Pong got in Heifetz to play his Kreutzer on tape. I don't know the best performance for no. 5 but easy to find out
Well, I also disagree with you on one point. :)Beethoven Violin Sonatas are masterpieces and we have many excellent interpretations, including some modern ones. IMHO there is no "best" performance of any classical work and most of the time I also valuate the emotional connection I establish with recorded performances for factors other than the typical expert recommendation.
 
Likes: Al M.

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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Well, I also disagree with you on one point. :)Beethoven Violin Sonatas are masterpieces and we have many excellent interpretations, including some modern ones. IMHO there is no "best" performance of any classical work and most of the time I also valuate the emotional connection I establish with recorded performances for factors other than the typical expert recommendation.
No there is a cross between performance and quality. You can listen to as many quality performances as you want on digital. There are some excellent performances greatly recorded on vinyl that still exist (their tapes are gone). I have seldom heard a tape with a great recording and a great performance, and I am sure there are minor exceptions like yarlung and pong but to Ron's point of Sonatas and chamber I am sure there are not sufficent numbers of good performances on good tapes to justify tape. If someone wants to listen to cafe jazz, cafe classical, on great quality tape, or great performances on poor quality tape, sure.

Also I do not understand what stops you from evaluating emotional connections on originals. One does not give one recommendation, you are welcome to choose
 
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