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
The big advantage to tape is not just a great medium. It’s live direct master copies. It’s like having any abby road master copies.
I’ll bet his are very good indeed.
I have a 30 tapes from
Jonathan Horwich
International Phonograph, Inc.
727 S. Dearborn St. Unit 1011
Chicago, IL 60605

Phone: 773-892-6470
Email: jonathanhorwich@me.com
Website: Internationalphonographinc.com
Very good tape done live at small clubs. A surreal experience.
I hope it’s ok to post this.

I have many from Jonathan as well. His are also excellent
 
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christoph

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2015
1,907
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Principality of Liechtenstein
People have been sending me messages asking about Ed's tapes, their sound quality, music etc so I thought I would try to offer some answers here.

First off what I consider the very best is the uncanny way Ed has in discovering new talent and having them perform to a live audience in his home while being recorded.

Ed deals in chamber music exclusively with either solo, duos or trios performing the music. For me I can honestly say that at least 90% of the music I have never heard before so it gives me great insight as to the composers of the music. Usually Ed has used duos and trios but in a few of his recent tapes he has solo piano performance that will leave you on the edge of your seat. His tapes are truly a "you are there experience" as you can feel the energy in the room

The sound quality is what truly draws me in as I have said so many times that I am an illiterate when it comes to classical music. Ed's tapes open so many new avenues. These recent tapes were special as a few were duos involving cello and piano. All I can say is that for y ears, the sense of realism and being there is achieved by the timbre of the instruments. If you ever want to know what a piano, cello or violin sounds like have a listen to one of Ed's tapes. I own a lot of tapes my library but at last count I have close to 30 of Ed's tapes. Each one is a concert onto itself and the applause by the audience at the end gives me the feeling that I am in that audience sitting dead center. His tapes are really that good

The Tschaikovsky violin concerto brought goose bumps to my arms while listening

If you're a tape head and appreciate great and well recorded music, Ed's tapes serve well to relieve all the tension in the world today. It was a terrific playlist while I self isolate
Can one also buy digital files from Ed?
Wouldn't DSD256 be a nice format to also store/save tapes?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Can one also buy digital files from Ed?
Wouldn't DSD256 be a nice format to also store/save tapes?
I have been trying to convince Ed to do that very thing for the past yer and I do know he is considering it
 
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christoph

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2015
1,907
1,131
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Principality of Liechtenstein
I have been trying to convince Ed to do that very thing for the past yer and I do know he is considering it
Excellent!
I mean also tapes need to have safety copies in digital and after there will be no afterworks necessary, DSD seems to be the way to go and after you have the digital safety file anyways, why not sell it... ;)
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,306
108
225
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
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.
Congrats.

It will be interesting see how you address adding subwoofer(s).

I 'm still working on my room, hope to get the reciprocating saw out soon. :cool:
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
You need to keep reading because after many years of trying to integrate the Fathom F113’s seamlessly into my system it became an exercise in futility. I removed the subs after many in the industry including speaker manufacturers and recording engineers said the subs were unnecessary
 

Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
263
36
78
Locust Hill, Ontario
Interesting to read some of this about Subwoofers...
Our experience is the sub is critical even for violins...
Mine is a 15” Focal driver, they calculated the enclosure dimensions for me to put my Quad ESL63 on top... Tony built a WE300b crossover for it & the super high... both are add on to the full range Quads.. integrates perfectly... with the sub in, violins have real body...
I move the Quad along the sub to time align the drivers.
 

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kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,306
108
225
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
You need to keep reading because after many years of trying to integrate the Fathom F113’s seamlessly into my system it became an exercise in futility. I removed the subs after many in the industry including speaker manufacturers and recording engineers said the subs were unnecessary
Oh, that's an ordeal one can chase their tail on.

Been reading about $7,000 sub crossovers that delay the mains so the subwoofer is in correct time and it still does a shatty job of it in the end.

I gave up on a sub for 2-channel music around 1994 after two years of frustration.

Same speakers, same subwoofer but new room, just got it to work.

It was worth the wait, not kidding.

System Link:
https://whatsbestforum.com/threads/kach22is-system.30259/

What I heard out of my modest system last night will forever change my opinion on what a subwoofer can do.
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,306
108
225
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
Interesting to read some of this about Subwoofers...
Our experience is the sub is critical even for violins...
Mine is a 15” Focal driver, they calculated the enclosure dimensions for me to put my Quad ESL63 on top... Tony built a WE300b crossover for it & the super high... both are add on to the full range Quads.. integrates perfectly... with the sub in, violins have real body...
I move the Quad along the sub to time align the drivers.
How do you know that it's truly time aligned and not 360 degrees out of phase?

The bass unit's crossovers have a tendency to delay the signal and put it out of phase with the other drivers.

I've read that there is no machine that can really measure this, it's done by human ear as a final check.
 

Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
263
36
78
Locust Hill, Ontario
You're absolutely right... you have to use your ears... my whole system was built by listening to every tube, wire connector....
You will know by moving the Quad, it will suddenly snap into focus & sound"right"... nothing scientific.. but I feel, there is nothing more sensitive than our ears... The super high is also moved forward & backward on top of the Quad... because the waves are very short, movements there are only in mm & 1/2 mm. Again, when it's aligned, the violin becomes sweeter, stronger...
With these in place, the Quads sound like never before & very dynamic...
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Interesting to read some of this about Subwoofers...
Our experience is the sub is critical even for violins.
Ed, I totally agree and this is why I have always used subs. In my last house and bigger room I had a pair of JL Audio G113 Gotham subs. This room is much smaller and I went with a pair of F113 Fathom subs . It was something that I adjusted many times only to never be able to get them "just right" and the subs were competing with my speakers My speakers allegedly go down to 16 Hz although I would doubt that, however I know my speakers go lower than your quads so you have an absolute need for subs
 

Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
263
36
78
Locust Hill, Ontario
Ed, I totally agree and this is why I have always used subs. In my last house and bigger room I had a pair of JL Audio G113 Gotham subs. This room is much smaller and I went with a pair of F113 Fathom subs . It was something that I adjusted many times only to never be able to get them "just right" and the subs were competing with my speakers My speakers allegedly go down to 16 Hz although I would doubt that, however I know my speakers go lower than your quads so you have an absolute need for subs
Absolutely Quads don’t go very deep, really just a great midrange.. needs to add both ends to make it full range...
 
May 9, 2018
11
4
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Steve,
Congrats on all your new equipment! I was wondering if your still using your PD MPS-5 for
SACD / CD playback? If not are you considering another transport? If yes are you bypassing the dac
in the PD and using the Lampizator? Happy listening and stay safe!!!
Vito
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Steve,
Congrats on all your new equipment! I was wondering if your still using your PD MPS-5 for
SACD / CD playback? If not are you considering another transport? If yes are you bypassing the dac
in the PD and using the Lampizator? Happy listening and stay safe!!!
Vito

Hi Vito.I sold the USB Xlll box for the Playback Designs but I kept the MP S-5 with the thought that it would allow me to play my collection of SACD's. The reality since that time is that the PD MP S-5 has been turned on only once but never played
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
you can see the PD MP S-5 under the Extreme. That was the last time the MP S-5 was turned on


IMG_9960.jpeg
 

LenWhite

Well-Known Member
Feb 11, 2011
361
24
95
Florida
Ed, I totally agree and this is why I have always used subs. In my last house and bigger room I had a pair of JL Audio G113 Gotham subs. This room is much smaller and I went with a pair of F113 Fathom subs . It was something that I adjusted many times only to never be able to get them "just right" and the subs were competing with my speakers My speakers allegedly go down to 16 Hz although I would doubt that, however I know my speakers go lower than your quads so you have an absolute need for subs
Steve, I finally decided to get a JL Audio CR-1 after resisting subs for a long time. JL T/S (954-443-1100) walked me through this procedure that matches my F212v2 phase degrees with the main speakers using their recommended 80Hz crossover point. JL recommended using my ears, but using a Db meter help make the process much easier for me. JL T/S also has a slightly revised procedure for multiple subs.

Not only did this phase alignment provide great integrated low bass, but the mids and highs were much improved (articulation, imaging) now that the low bass my mains were producing has been removed, and the amp is dedicated to the mains. After the sub phase alignment was completed I increased the F212v2 master volume control just enough to "feel" the low bass. This volume setting works for all types of music.

JL T/S Phase Alignment Procedure:
- CR-1; set bypass button off, sub & satellite frequency 80 Hz; crossover slope 24 dB; mute right main
- F212v2; set master volume to off; LP filter off; LP frequency doesn’t matter (set on the CR-1); elf trim to 12 o’clock; phase 0.
- Using a Db meter set volume level match between left main and F212v2; turn preamp volume to talking level using frequency test disc (Sound Doctor CD) at 60-70dB; then match the left main and F212v2 volume by turning the F212v2 master level control clockwise until the volume matches the left main.
- Set F212v2 phase polarity to 180 degrees.
- using the frequency test disc in repeat set at 80Hz; turn the F212v2 phase degree control clockwise & then counterclockwise to find the quietest 80 Hz position.
- turn the polarity back to 0 on the F212v2 and un-mute the main right speaker on the CR-1.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
The only thing which is plugged into my Furman are the right and left power supplies of my Lamm LP1 Signature phonostage. The hum which I had tried everything for years to eliminate is now totally gone and to the best I can tell there has been no loss or degradation of SQ

HTH
 
May 9, 2018
11
4
8
Could you elaborate on the improvements that you are now hearing with the Lampi DAC
compared with the Playback Designs MPS-5? I've considered the PD MPS-8 but perhaps I should
explore the Lampi products. Enjoy what is no doubt an awesome system!
 
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