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

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
13,365
2,791
460
London
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!
Dctom also had the same playback designs Steve had. Over three years ago I heard it and advised him to get the Lampi GG1, he tried it and immediately bought it, has it since
 

Edward Pong

Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2013
263
36
78
Locust Hill, Ontario
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.
If it's out of phase, it will cancel the bass response, so your ears can really tell you everything...
For me, if it sounds natural...it's the "setting" for me.. I'm sure everyone prefers what they like so in audio, i feel there is really no absolute... as long as everything is working properly...
 

LenWhite

Well-Known Member
Feb 11, 2011
361
24
95
Florida
If it's out of phase, it will cancel the bass response, so your ears can really tell you everything...
For me, if it sounds natural...it's the "setting" for me.. I'm sure everyone prefers what they like so in audio, i feel there is really no absolute... as long as everything is working properly...
Barry Ober (The Soundoctor) was on the team that developed the JL Audio CR-1 and has written this extensive whitepaper about properly integrating subwoofers with an audio system. I've included a link pointing to the page dealing with the overview of why adding a subwoofer without a crossover is a bad idea. The article also includes why this phase alignment works.

http://www.soundoctor.com/whitepapers/subs.htm
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
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!
after purchasing the Extreme and while exploring DAC options I was using the DAC from the PD MPS-5 for about 4 weeks and surprisingly the sound was very enjoyable and engaging. As stated my entire system is tube based and needless to say I lean towards tubes in my system.

When we placed the Pacific into the system and after tube burn in, I next tried to get a handle on the volume control on the Pacific. Lukasz in a post here suggested that the Pacific be played at full gain of 0 Db and use the gain on your preamp to dial in the desired volume. When I did it this way and using the standard KR242 I found the sound bright and using the gain control on my Lamm preamp I had to turn it all the way down to the second detente position and this tended to subdue the sound. I subsequently found that for my system the better way to go is to use the gain on my preamp and the volume control on the Pacific to tune the tubes. I did countless blind testing with lights out where I played with the gain control on both. Invariably after countless trials and then turning on the lights to see where the gain was on the Pacific it was almost always at or around -12Db. This is pretty much where I keep the Pacific setting and I find I am very satisfied. So what changed?

First and foremost were the dynamics and tonality which I have never heard equaled in my system. There was a sense of reality whichI have never experienced in my digital playback. I am convinced that not only was the Pacific a factor in this but so also was the Taiko Extreme contributing. I found the synergy between the 2 components mesmerizing. The sound stage was far more immersive. What also find ongoing is that the sound of the Pacific continues to settle in, so much so that as I have said here before I am completely happy with the KR242's and have yet to introduce the special RK-KR PX25 into the DAC. I will someday.

Cutting to the chase....My main source of listening heretofore was vinyl and tape. Since I had both the Extreme and Pacific combo I find that now I am listening mainly to the digital side of the system because not only does it sound so good but on occasion I would be hard pressed to differentiate it from analogue


This of course is my impression in my system and as they say YMMV
 
May 9, 2018
11
4
8
I figured there was a synergy with the Extreme. If your anything like me I assuming you have quite a collection of SACD discs. Are you somehow ripping the SACD layer of these discs onto the Extreme? If
so what would be the optimal method of doing so?
All the best. Stay safe!!!
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I figured there was a synergy with the Extreme. If your anything like me I assuming you have quite a collection of SACD discs. Are you somehow ripping the SACD layer of these discs onto the Extreme? If
so what would be the optimal method of doing so?
All the best. Stay safe!!!
Actually I have not been ripping these to the Extreme.
 

LampiNA

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2015
98
118
65
Thank you for the detailed follow up on your Pacific saga, Steve. What you are experiencing with regarded to the prolonged settling in period is something I myself and several customers have also noted. I generally don't make much mention of it as many people are burn in skeptics, but I have found that as good as the Pacific is after a few days of use, the improvements continue on into the first month or two.

We are thrilled the Pacific/Extreme combination is redefining your listening habits. LampizatOrs have converted many a digital-naysayer.

I will be interested in your thoughts when you do get around to the px25s.

Enjoy and be safe all!

Fred A.
 

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,613
672
275
United States
I figured there was a synergy with the Extreme. If your anything like me I assuming you have quite a collection of SACD discs. Are you somehow ripping the SACD layer of these discs onto the Extreme? If
so what would be the optimal method of doing so?
All the best. Stay safe!!!
I didn't know you could rip SACDs onto the Extreme's (or anyone's) files due to copyright protection. Is this even possible? (Or do you have to use some convoluted intermediate DA/AD device to do this?)
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
8,468
2,018
450
I didn't know you could rip SACDs onto the Extreme's (or anyone's) files due to copyright protection. Is this even possible? (Or do you have to use some convoluted intermediate DA/AD device to do this?)
google.....SACD....and ....Oppo....and you will get a PDF you can print out for using an Oppo BDP -103/105 to rip an SACD.
 
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christoph

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2015
1,907
1,131
195
Principality of Liechtenstein
after purchasing the Extreme and while exploring DAC options I was using the DAC from the PD MPS-5 for about 4 weeks and surprisingly the sound was very enjoyable and engaging. As stated my entire system is tube based and needless to say I lean towards tubes in my system.

When we placed the Pacific into the system and after tube burn in, I next tried to get a handle on the volume control on the Pacific. Lukasz in a post here suggested that the Pacific be played at full gain of 0 Db and use the gain on your preamp to dial in the desired volume. When I did it this way and using the standard KR242 I found the sound bright and using the gain control on my Lamm preamp I had to turn it all the way down to the second detente position and this tended to subdue the sound. I subsequently found that for my system the better way to go is to use the gain on my preamp and the volume control on the Pacific to tune the tubes. I did countless blind testing with lights out where I played with the gain control on both. Invariably after countless trials and then turning on the lights to see where the gain was on the Pacific it was almost always at or around -12Db. This is pretty much where I keep the Pacific setting and I find I am very satisfied. So what changed?

First and foremost were the dynamics and tonality which I have never heard equaled in my system. There was a sense of reality whichI have never experienced in my digital playback. I am convinced that not only was the Pacific a factor in this but so also was the Taiko Extreme contributing. I found the synergy between the 2 components mesmerizing. The sound stage was far more immersive. What also find ongoing is that the sound of the Pacific continues to settle in, so much so that as I have said here before I am completely happy with the KR242's and have yet to introduce the special RK-KR PX25 into the DAC. I will someday.

Cutting to the chase....My main source of listening heretofore was vinyl and tape. Since I had both the Extreme and Pacific combo I find that now I am listening mainly to the digital side of the system because not only does it sound so good but on occasion I would be hard pressed to differentiate it from analogue


This of course is my impression in my system and as they say YMMV
Wow!
That is a bold statement!!
Congrats and I'm glad you like your Pacific in combination with the Extreme so much :cool:
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Wow!
That is a bold statement!!
Congrats and I'm glad you like your Pacific in combination with the Extreme so much :cool:

IMO it is the magic of being able to use tubes in your DAC and then be able to tune the tubes with the DAC volume control as well as being able to rolll the tubes. I have had an all tube system now for over 15 years and I have never had the opportunity of hearing these high output tubes until now. The Pacific together with the Extreme creates a synergy in my system that is very rewarding, so much so that as I've said, it has changed the way I listen to music
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
8,468
2,018
450
Steve,

have you had a chance yet to listen to your new Esturo Gold cartridge? i realize you are enjoying your new awesome digital combo. for myself, i listen to (and love) lots of digital even with my Etsuro Gold sitting there.......so fully understand if it's not been a priority.

still; you've had it a month or so and just wondered.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Hi Mike

i so looked forward to hearing this cartridge in my system

It was to be mounted on my 10” Graham Phantom Elite we literally spent an entire day with the arm and cartridge. Finally we had to abandon attempts at mounting it as it was physically too light and incompatible with the Graham. I returned it to the dealer after much disappointment

So with every cloud there is a silver lining. I am going to sell the Graham Phantom Elite and have ordered an SME 3010R. For this I needed to order a different mounting plate from Tech Das which just arrived. I also have on order a VDH Master Signature Stradivarius which hopefully arrives this coming week so stay tuned. I was disappointed that the Etsuro was too light for the Graham arm
 
Likes: jeffrey_t

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
8,468
2,018
450
Hi Mike

i so looked forward to hearing this cartridge in my system

It was to be mounted on my 10” Graham Phantom Elite we literally spent an entire day with the arm and cartridge. Finally we had to abandon attempts at mounting it as it was physically too light and incompatible with the Graham. I returned it to the dealer after much disappointment

So with every cloud there is a silver lining. I am going to sell the Graham Phantom Elite and have ordered an SME 3010R. For this I needed to order a different mounting plate from Tech Das which just arrived. I also have on order a VDH Master Signature Stradivarius which hopefully arrives this coming week so stay tuned. I was disappointed that the Etsuro was too light for the Graham arm
Steve,

thank you for the answer. sorry you could not hear the Etsuro Gold in your system.

maybe you already know this; but the Etsuro Gold is slightly heavier than the Vdh Master Signature. and i did have both on my CS Port turntable. i will watch for your perceptions about the MS.

and i realize that this was not necessarily a decision to go from the Etsuro Gold to the MS. i'd assume you returned the Etsuro Gold, decided to switch arms, and then settled on the MS. one cartridge is not really connected to the other. unless you say that they are.
 
Jan 29, 2012
1,597
729
210
Hi Mike

i so looked forward to hearing this cartridge in my system

It was to be mounted on my 10” Graham Phantom Elite we literally spent an entire day with the arm and cartridge. Finally we had to abandon attempts at mounting it as it was physically too light and incompatible with the Graham. I returned it to the dealer after much disappointment

So with every cloud there is a silver lining. I am going to sell the Graham Phantom Elite and have ordered an SME 3010R. For this I needed to order a different mounting plate from Tech Das which just arrived. I also have on order a VDH Master Signature Stradivarius which hopefully arrives this coming week so stay tuned. I was disappointed that the Etsuro was too light for the Graham arm
Steve,
I'm sorry the cartridge did not work out on your Graham. Did you try the Etsuro on the 3012R?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Steve,
I'm sorry the cartridge did not work out on your Graham. Did you try the Etsuro on the 3012R?
Hi Jeff

Sadly we didn't but with the change of plans we will likely mount the MS on the 3012R and move the ZYX to the 3010R. We tried to mount the 3010R but even though the mounting board was specific for SME there is a different aluminum mounting frame for the SME arm which is necessary. When we tried to mount the 3010R where the Graham is the arm was about 2-3 mm too high. The new aluminum mounting frame from Tech Das takes this into consideration so I am hoping that by this time next week all problems will be solved
 
Likes: jeffrey_t
Jan 29, 2012
1,597
729
210
Hi Jeff

Sadly we didn't but with the change of plans we will likely mount the MS on the 3012R and move the ZYX to the 3010R. We tried to mount the 3010R but even though the mounting board was specific for SME there is a different aluminum mounting frame for the SME arm which is necessary. When we tried to mount the 3010R where the Graham is the arm was about 2-3 mm too high. The new aluminum mounting frame from Tech Das takes this into consideration so I am hoping that by this time next week all problems will be solved
Makes sense. Good luck Steve. You'll absolutely love the VDH with the SME 3012R, they seem to be a match made in heaven. The VDH I purchased from MikeL is singing beautifully, looking forward to your visit to the system once Covid has passed.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,251
1,277
310
North Shore of Boston
Makes sense. Good luck Steve. You'll absolutely love the VDH with the SME 3012R, they seem to be a match made in heaven. The VDH I purchased from MikeL is singing beautifully, looking forward to your visit to the system once Covid has passed.
Steve, I agree with Jeff. The vdH Master Signature sounds really good on a 3012R tonearm. I happen to think it also sounds really good on my SME V-12. I think van den Hul uses the SME V for some testing, at least photos from him show the cartridge on a modern SME arm. I suspect you will be very pleased with the Master Signature on your 3012R and I look forward to reading your impressions.
 

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