Trying the ZR Acoustics Panels

Cellcbern

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2015
157
72
245
67
Washington, DC
Not trying to argue but sound is a wave. When a wave hits a boundary only two things can happen. Part of that wave can be transmitted (absorbed) and part of the wave can be reflected. (There is also diffraction if the object/boundary is about the same size as the wavelength) Of course sound (that we can hear) spans a range of frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz. The percent of the wave that is absorbed vs reflected is a function of frequency depending on what the material the surface is made from. If none of the sound is reflected then it is all absorbed and that is an anechoic chamber. When a wave strikes an uneven surface then the wave will be redistributed in time/space. This is diffusion. The science behind diffusers is to construct that surface such that it produces the most even polar response across a certain range of frequencies.

Now, that wave is made up of trillions of particles (Mostly nitrogen and oxygen molecules) but as I discussed there is nothing these panels are doing that would necessitate or involve quantum mechanics calculations.

I stated above. I don't doubt that their product works and it even looks great. And I think the price is reasonable. But without acoustic data I am not going to believe that it will fix issues below even 200Hz. I don't have to have certified acoustics lab data. I will take REW data from someone's room before and after install. This is not hard to do so why isn't the manufacturer publishing it?
 

Cellcbern

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2015
157
72
245
67
Washington, DC
Your comments are from the frame of reference of conventional acoustics. You are talking about how sound "waves" behave when ZR Acoustics claims that their technology works at a level that disrupts the formation of reflected sound waves. Apples and oranges.

From the Sonic Scoop review:

"What makes ZR technology so effective is a trade secret, and Hsu even concedes that they are still developing the proper tools to adequately measure its effects, as they currently do not exist. From what I was able to glean though, ZR works off of a contemporary take on eliminating parallel surfaces in a room, however, it does it on a micro scale: Each ZR surface contains thousands of tiny non-parallel surfaces, which has a broadband effect on sculpting sound waves and their harmonics."
 

sbnx

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2017
445
319
135
Your comments are from the frame of reference of conventional acoustics. You are talking about how sound "waves" behave when ZR Acoustics claims that their technology works at a level that disrupts the formation of reflected sound waves. Apples and oranges.

From the Sonic Scoop review:

"What makes ZR technology so effective is a trade secret, and Hsu even concedes that they are still developing the proper tools to adequately measure its effects, as they currently do not exist. From what I was able to glean though, ZR works off of a contemporary take on eliminating parallel surfaces in a room, however, it does it on a micro scale: Each ZR surface contains thousands of tiny non-parallel surfaces, which has a broadband effect on sculpting sound waves and their harmonics."
Any trade secret would be in the specifics of how the panels are constructed. There is no trade secret for publishing miraculous data that shows the effectiveness of the product. If the product is that fantastic then it is super easy to publish the data to show the world how well thee work. Go ahead put RPG, GIK, Vicoustic and all the others out of business. The data doesn't have to show how the product works just that it does work.

Don't get me wrong. Audiophiles have debated similar things for cables, powercords and footers for years. Most of us, including me, believe that all of these make a difference in what we hear. But it is not easy to point to a measurement that shows these work. However, it is very well established what to measure in acoustics that correlates to what we hear.

If you have them and are happy with the results that is all that really matters.
 

Nuprin

Active Member
Jan 9, 2020
113
45
28
44
NC
This has been well discussed or argued on the gearslutz recording/mixing forum and after reading 26 pages here is what I found:

1) One person tried them and found that it made a significant improvement for their mixing/recording in a somewhat small room, which many of us have and he had used common brands (GIK) or made his own. Can't qualify how well the previous treatment was implemented and he couldn't figure out how to make REW work on his Macbook so no measurements. But - this seems like Cellcbern's experience. What's worth noting is that both agreed it improved their bass response.

2) One person thought it was good, improved imaging and soundstage, but didn't address his low frequencies issues enough and had some poor customer service due to damaged shipping. He did take some measurements but didn't publish anything either below or above 200hz (I can't remember which it was) and it showed some improvement but not tremendous or perfect in any sense. Mainly he criticized the customer service aspect.

3) An acoustical studio designer/contractor (a critic of ZR on that thread) said he visited one or some of the Universal Studios that had ZR rooms and said the ZR panels claims had no "substance" but never commented if he thought the rooms sounded good or not.

4) In contrast, another engineer/mixer (not of fame) visited the same rooms and said they were quite remarkable. He also commented that the room construction was not anything special, even for studios. That the rooms were like what you would have in a typical house/office with regular drywall. No double walls constructions and what not.

4) Among the many, two of the people arguing against, both own acoustic treatment companies - GIK and RealTraps, were arguing on the basis of physics, inaccurate use of the term "quantum" and the need for measurements, which is a valid point and I understand the need for most people to have measured evidence for any performance claims or in this case, they only look at the data.

5) The main argument for ZR: why would major studios and recording engineers with some serious resumes vouch for ZR and say that it sounds great and it does what Hsu claims in does, as in the interview with Warren Huart, a well respected producer/engineer. More natural sounding, better imaging, huge sweet spot in the room if the not the entire room, and when played back in the mixing studio, it sounds just like the way it does in the recording studio.

So my guess at following possibilities:

1) ZR and Hsu are complete frauds and selling snake oil. For over a decade.
Then they would have fooled some of the best in the recording industry. If he was a total fraud, why was he not sued or ran out of town? Could he have fooled that many people? What is the possibility of this happening in the recording industry?

2) Hsu stumbled upon something he really doesn't understand but for some reason it works so they try to market it and make it seem magical.

It would be amazing if this were the case and we can happily benefit from it.

3) It works to a certain degree but really nothing more that fancy wood panels with intricate carving that reflect/diffuse possibly some sound.
That the same results or better can be achieve with traditional treatment.

That would be unfortunate but true of many "miracle products".

4) The physics says that being 3/4" thick, it can't possibly effect anything below 200hz, but does do something special to the frequencies above.

Not a bad compromise if it works in conjunction to bass traps/absorbers. However, how do you explain reports (as in the Warren Huart interview) from people who have been in the room and say there's no corner bass buildup and that it sound the same pretty much anywhere they went in the room with great neutrality and imaging? It's possible they're being fooled somehow which is quite impressive.

Personally, I would love for this product to work, as in not needing bulky bass traps in the room with my low frequency issues. If I take measurements before and after and report no significant measurement differences but significant hearing differences then I would be at least happy with sound, whether the data confirms it or not. My optimism may cost me a good chunk of change but I've wasted more money on worse things and at least I can report back here for others.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
478
251
268
Any trade secret would be in the specifics of how the panels are constructed. There is no trade secret for publishing miraculous data that shows the effectiveness of the product. If the product is that fantastic then it is super easy to publish the data to show the world how well thee work. Go ahead put RPG, GIK, Vicoustic and all the others out of business. The data doesn't have to show how the product works just that it does work.

Don't get me wrong. Audiophiles have debated similar things for cables, powercords and footers for years. Most of us, including me, believe that all of these make a difference in what we hear. But it is not easy to point to a measurement that shows these work. However, it is very well established what to measure in acoustics that correlates to what we hear.

If you have them and are happy with the results that is all that really matters.
I've read the Delta H website and my instincts tell me to beware. Much of the content comes off as a hodge-podge of densely worded marketing-speak with pictures of launching space ships, bullet trains, sunsets, and gifs of Chaos, Tessellation ,Fractals and Fibonacci mathematics.

Unfortunately, any mention of measurements seems to exist in a Black Hole. They seem to be saying that their tech is "un-measurable." If, as they say, their 3/4" panels eliminate reflections at all frequencies, including low frequencies, then wouldn't this be obvious in basic REW measurements? This wouldn't be divulging intellectual property, it would merely be demonstrating that their product is effective. It seems way to convenient...

They do have some impressive clients but it's not clear if these rooms sound good because of these beautiful 3/4" MDF panels, or is it the overall design of the room and additional mainstream acoustic tech that follows known laws of physics?

Everything about this product seem shrouded and impenetrable, which makes me suspicious.

Do they allow a demo period? If so, I might be interested in trying them out, but if not, it sounds like a crazy gamble.
 
Last edited:

Nuprin

Active Member
Jan 9, 2020
113
45
28
44
NC
Don't get me wrong. Audiophiles have debated similar things for cables, powercords and footers for years. Most of us, including me, believe that all of these make a difference in what we hear. But it is not easy to point to a measurement that shows these work. However, it is very well established what to measure in acoustics that correlates to what we hear.

If you have them and are happy with the results that is all that really matters.
100% agree. In all honesty, I can't hear the difference between 24/96 or higher vs 16/44.1 in my system. This seems to matter more on the recording end rather than the playback side according to many recording engineers. Nor could I hear any difference between $2k Transparent balanced cables and the $50 Mogami Golds I use - but then a huge difference between cheap interconnects, like monster cable ($50) vs an entry level audiophile cable such as Transparent at $60. Yes, it's possible my system isn't "high resolution" enough to hear it.

Some of this is training of the ears for sure, but at least for my ears, it needs to make a marketable difference to justify buying it. My experience of how impactful each part of the system components goes in order of something like:

1) Speakers and room synergy, first and foremost.

2) Quality of recording

3) Quality of playback device

4) Amp or Dac

5) Cables and removing unwanted frequencies in the electronics or wires.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sbnx

Cellcbern

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2015
157
72
245
67
Washington, DC
This has been well discussed or argued on the gearslutz recording/mixing forum and after reading 26 pages here is what I found:

1) One person tried them and found that it made a significant improvement for their mixing/recording in a somewhat small room, which many of us have and he had used common brands (GIK) or made his own. Can't qualify how well the previous treatment was implemented and he couldn't figure out how to make REW work on his Macbook so no measurements. But - this seems like Cellcbern's experience. What's worth noting is that both agreed it improved their bass response.

2) One person thought it was good, improved imaging and soundstage, but didn't address his low frequencies issues enough and had some poor customer service due to damaged shipping. He did take some measurements but didn't publish anything either below or above 200hz (I can't remember which it was) and it showed some improvement but not tremendous or perfect in any sense. Mainly he criticized the customer service aspect.

3) An acoustical studio designer/contractor (a critic of ZR on that thread) said he visited one or some of the Universal Studios that had ZR rooms and said the ZR panels claims had no "substance" but never commented if he thought the rooms sounded good or not.

4) In contrast, another engineer/mixer (not of fame) visited the same rooms and said they were quite remarkable. He also commented that the room construction was not anything special, even for studios. That the rooms were like what you would have in a typical house/office with regular drywall. No double walls constructions and what not.

4) Among the many, two of the people arguing against, both own acoustic treatment companies - GIK and RealTraps, were arguing on the basis of physics, inaccurate use of the term "quantum" and the need for measurements, which is a valid point and I understand the need for most people to have measured evidence for any performance claims or in this case, they only look at the data.

5) The main argument for ZR: why would major studios and recording engineers with some serious resumes vouch for ZR and say that it sounds great and it does what Hsu claims in does, as in the interview with Warren Huart, a well respected producer/engineer. More natural sounding, better imaging, huge sweet spot in the room if the not the entire room, and when played back in the mixing studio, it sounds just like the way it does in the recording studio.

So my guess at following possibilities:

1) ZR and Hsu are complete frauds and selling snake oil. For over a decade.
Then they would have fooled some of the best in the recording industry. If he was a total fraud, why was he not sued or ran out of town? Could he have fooled that many people? What is the possibility of this happening in the recording industry?

2) Hsu stumbled upon something he really doesn't understand but for some reason it works so they try to market it and make it seem magical.

It would be amazing if this were the case and we can happily benefit from it.

3) It works to a certain degree but really nothing more that fancy wood panels with intricate carving that reflect/diffuse possibly some sound.
That the same results or better can be achieve with traditional treatment.

That would be unfortunate but true of many "miracle products".

4) The physics says that being 3/4" thick, it can't possibly effect anything below 200hz, but does do something special to the frequencies above.

Not a bad compromise if it works in conjunction to bass traps/absorbers. However, how do you explain reports (as in the Warren Huart interview) from people who have been in the room and say there's no corner bass buildup and that it sound the same pretty much anywhere they went in the room with great neutrality and imaging? It's possible they're being fooled somehow which is quite impressive.

Personally, I would love for this product to work, as in not needing bulky bass traps in the room with my low frequency issues. If I take measurements before and after and report no significant measurement differences but significant hearing differences then I would be at least happy with sound, whether the data confirms it or not. My optimism may cost me a good chunk of change but I've wasted more money on worse things and at least I can report back here for others.
With regard to your possibility #2 above, it is also possible that he understands what he "stumbled on" (at least partially) and is guarding trade secrets, and possibly working on patent applications. With regard to your possibility #4 above panel thickness is not relevant to the ZR technology, which demonstrates again the difficulty of discussing something completely different when we are all steeped in the concepts and terminology of conventional acoustics.
 

Nuprin

Active Member
Jan 9, 2020
113
45
28
44
NC
@wil 100% with you there as well but my curiosity will probably get the best of me knowing full well that I'll be taking a risk. I will have to ask them about the return policy if they ever contact me back after my inquiry for pricing.
 

Cellcbern

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2015
157
72
245
67
Washington, DC
With regard to your possibility #2 above, it is also possible that he understands what he "stumbled on" (at least partially) and is guarding trade secrets, and possibly working on patent applications. With regard to your possibility #4 above panel thickness is not relevant to the ZR technology, which demonstrates again the difficulty of discussing something completely different when we are all steeped in the concepts and terminology of conventional acoustics.
Note by the way that I found the Gearslutz discussion to be mostly circling the wagons against something new, different, and in the case of the conventional room treatment vendors and consultants, something threatening.
 
Last edited:

Nuprin

Active Member
Jan 9, 2020
113
45
28
44
NC
There were definitely two camps for the most part, about as divisive as our current government I must say lol. I understand the logical argument of the critics and even agree with many points but at the same time I want the product to work for my own personal benefit! Only one way to find out besides going to a studio or room with ZR installed.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CKKeung and sbnx

sbnx

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2017
445
319
135
There were definitely two camps for the most part, about as divisive as our current government I must say lol. I understand the logical argument of the critics and even agree with many points but at the same time I want the product to work for my own personal benefit! Only one way to find out besides going to a studio or room with ZR installed.
It seems the cost to buy in is not too bad at all. I am anxiously awaiting your measurements. I too hope that these work unbelievably well!

I 100% agree with your pareto of what matters most in reproducing music in a room. If the room is acoustically noisy and the speakers are poorly placed then it is going to be very hard to distinguish between cables.
 

Nuprin

Active Member
Jan 9, 2020
113
45
28
44
NC
Listening Room is 16' x 9.5' x 8' high.

System summary: Modified Pathos Acoustics TT RR (Dueland Cast PIO Tinned Copper & Mundorf silver/gold/oil, caps), Vishay Z-foil resistors; vintage Alps "Black Beauty" volume pot; Stage III Concepts hookup wire, Bybee Music Rails, Yamamoto teflon tube sockets, etc. on Marigo Mystery feet. Bache Audio Metro 001 speakers with 3/4" bamboo cabinet and upgraded crossover, on Isoacoustics Gaia footers. Modwright Marantz SA8005 SACD/CD player on Townshend Seismic Sink and ASI Top Line feet with 1950's Tungsol long black plate 5687 tubes; GEC U52 5U4G rectifier in the Modwright PS 9.0 power supply; Audio Magic Liquid Air umbilical; Verastarr Grand Illusion speaker cables; Townshend Fractal F1 interconnects; Verastarr, Lessloss CMARC, and Isoclean AC cables. Bybee Stealth AC conditioner, dedicated JPS Labs 20A line and breaker box, Oyaide R-1 outlet, and EP-2050 on main panel. ZR Acoustics and RPG BAD acoustic panels.

Component choices were dictated by room size (can't have huge speakers and sub 30 hz bass) and financial limitations. My listening bias favors musical attributes like accurate timbre and tonality over imaging, sound-staging, etc., although my system delivers both. My strategy has been to achieve world class audio performance by having top rated, high value components modified/upgraded. I believe this is the single most cost effective route to true high end sound. The Pathos and Unison amps and Marantz player were purchased used at Audiogon and modified/upgraded. The cables and most of the tweaks were purchased used at Audiogon or Ebay. My Bache speakers which I purchased new, have the optional 3/4" bamboo cabinet (which sounds better than the standard mdf) and the crossover components from the company's top of the line offerings. Note that I prefer integrated amps to separates because they take up less space and require fewer cables. With the modifications they are superb and do not leave me wishing for separates. I have not tried a lot of different components. I've read reviews, listened where possible, and made a decision. With cables and tweaks on the other hand I have tried many different brands and models before settling on what I have. Audio dealers who will let you audition a lot of different cables and accessories in your home are few and far between. One of the things I really like about a site like Audiogon is that you can buy something, try it, and if it doesn't work for you turn around and offer it for sale.

Note that it doesn't matter whether your speakers are front or rear ported. The ZR Acoustics panels work best with the speakers right up against the panels/wall.
Very nice. Have read good things about the Bache speakers...will have to listen to them one day.

I would have to make some sort of stand for the panels as windows are directly behind my speakers.
 

Cellcbern

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2015
157
72
245
67
Washington, DC
I've read the Delta H website and my instincts tell me to beware. Much of the content comes off as a hodge-podge of densely worded marketing-speak with pictures of launching space ships, bullet trains, sunsets, and gifs of Chaos, Tessellation ,Fractals and Fibonacci mathematics.

Unfortunately, any mention of measurements seems to exist in a Black Hole. They seem to be saying that their tech is "un-measurable." If, as they say, their 3/4" panels eliminate reflections at all frequencies, including low frequencies, then wouldn't this be obvious in basic REW measurements? This wouldn't be divulging intellectual property, it would merely be demonstrating that they product is effective. It seems way to convenient...

They do have some impressive clients but it's not clear if these rooms sound good because of these beautiful 3/4" MDF panels, or is it the overall design of the room and additional mainstream acoustic tech that follows known laws of physics?

Everything about this product seem shrouded and impenetrable, which makes me suspicious.

Do they allow a demo period? If so, I might be interested in trying them out, but if not, it sounds like a crazy gamble.
 

Cellcbern

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2015
157
72
245
67
Washington, DC
Funny, I didn't find any of it "shrouded and impenetrable". Some of it is marketing hype but it is pretty easy to get at the substance. Having already taken the "crazy gamble" as I've been reporting, I have satisfied myself that my listening room sounds significantly better solely as a result of replacing a mix of RPG BAD and GIK Acoustics panels with ZR Acoustics panels. What I did specifically was a direct comparison with all kinds of music between several combinations of three 2' x 4' BAD and GIK panels (i.e., three GIK 2" absorbers; three RPG BAD combination panels; two GIK on either side of a BAD panel: and two BAD on either side of a GIK absorber) with four 2' x 2' ZR Acoustics Sample Bit panels. Note that of the combinations of conventional panels two BAD on either side of a GIK absorber sounded best and was the configuration I had used for several years before discovering ZR Acoustics. This evening I ordered another six ZR Acoustics panels - four of the "Hybrid" panels and two more of the "Sample Bit" panels, which will give me the recommended coverage on the walls behind both the speakers and seating position. RPG BAD and GIK panels will remain at the side wall and ceiling reflection points for now.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
478
251
268
It's interesting that the ZR panels are suggested to work best with speakers very close to the front wall. This could be good for people whose rooms don't allow for much space for the speakers out in the room. In my case, this sounds counterproductive as I'm now using Boenicke speakers (w/rear tweeters) that are designed to be well out into the room (in my case 10 feet). And, don't most speakers image better with a good space form the front wall?
 

Cellcbern

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2015
157
72
245
67
Washington, DC
It's interesting that the ZR panels are suggested to work best with speakers very close to the front wall. This could be good for people whose rooms don't allow for much space for the speakers out in the room. In my case, this sounds counterproductive as I'm now using Boenicke speakers (w/rear tweeters) that are designed to be well out into the room (in my case 10 feet). And, don't most speakers image better with a good space form the front wall?
Speakers behave differently with ZR Acoustics panels than they do in an untreated room or with conventional room treatments. Before I bought the ZR panels my speakers were a couple of feet away from the rear wall. I lost nothing by pushing them right up against the ZR panels/rear wall while clarity and imaging improved, soundstage width increased slightly and soundstage depth was unchanged. John Marks of Stereophile had similar results when he tested the ZR Acoustics panels with his system. Don't know how a rear mounted tweeter would be affected.

 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
2,368
1,812
630
Hong Kong
  • Like
Reactions: Nuprin

Nuprin

Active Member
Jan 9, 2020
113
45
28
44
NC
You are awesome!
 

Nuprin

Active Member
Jan 9, 2020
113
45
28
44
NC
Was watching the Mandelorian and look at what I found! Sorry just took the picture with my phone from my tv but you can see it pretty clearly if you zoom in a bit. This is a behind the scene documentary of the filming/directing of the show. They are using DHDI screens.
 

Attachments

  • E5A9456A-FC91-4A81-9D90-18549762CBA1.jpeg
    E5A9456A-FC91-4A81-9D90-18549762CBA1.jpeg
    639.6 KB · Views: 14
  • Like
Reactions: CKKeung

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing