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

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

Her proprietary acoustical things are made through her company

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
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Jan 29, 2012
that's the $64 question

Pretty certain that It will be mounted on the side of the TechDas so a 10" arm (either my existing Graham Phantom Elite OR an SME 3010)

I'll know in side by side testing with both arms next week (hopefully)
Excellent. I know that David has said that the 3010R is pretty close to the 3012R. It will be interesting to get your impressions.
In the picture Steve posted of the cartridge specs and description there is a typo or bad translation, surely the word was supposed to be “thinner“, not “sinner”.
Likes: wisnon

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Initially I wanted t use an SME head shell and mount it on the 12" SME3012 at the rear of the table but the ZYX that is there is my reference which I really don't want to disturb by having to make changes to the arm settings when I change head shells so initially will set up on the Graham Phantom Elite to get initial impressions and then on the SME 3010 with an SME head shell ( y tendency is to go with the latter but in the end it's the sound that will determine where it goes
Jan 29, 2012
Initially I wanted t use an SME head shell and mount it on the 12" SME3012 at the rear of the table but the ZYX that is there is my reference which I really don't want to disturb by having to make changes to the arm settings when I change head shells so initially will set up on the Graham Phantom Elite to get initial impressions and then on the SME 3010 with an SME head shell ( y tendency is to go with the latter but in the end it's the sound that will determine where it goes
The SME arm is really easy to dial in. I can change a cartridge in 5 minutes. You should learn how to do it so you can experiment.
I can't wait to hear this cartridge in my system.

Thanks to Mike Lavigne and his thread on this cartridge which checked all of my boxes. I love the information on this forum from members' experiences and my aural curiosity was piqued thanks to Mike. After all, isn't this what it is all about
So Steve, was this a purchase made with no prior audition? Any one thing in particular that grabbed your attention? Several great cartridges available, and the Etsuro does not come cheap, so a sizable commitment...
May 12, 2018
Perth, WA
Do we need a preamplifier in the chain - with associated cost, shelf space, pair of interconnects and power cable - we don't, but if the user finds it useful or more attractive sounding - it is fine with me. Personally in such scenario I use DAC fully open. The series resistance is shorted then, and parallel resistance is a straight 10k to the ground.
Hi Lukasz,

Perhaps I'm missing something here.

If the DAC is "fully open" when using a preamp, what is the point of having a volume control on the DAC?



WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
Metro DC
On my Accuphase the " volume " control involved output level. Thus the volume control is something different

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Thanks Adam. I have been gobsmacked with the Pacific and so far have not rolled any tubes, and have had no hum or other extraneous issues

Simply put , I love it

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
As you all know I made my last and final major purchase (Etsuro Urushi Gold MC cartridge) and have yet to have it installed as I have been waiting for an NOS SME 3010R as a possible arm for the cartridge.I have a 10" Graham Phantom Elite at present and want to compare it against the SME 3010.

I must admit that I am leaning towards the latter as I also have an SME 3012 arm as well and love it

I am happy to report that the arm arrives on Monday so stay tuned

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