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Advice for designing a room from scratch

ZeDestructor

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Jul 28, 2019
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Hi all,

So, as the title says, thanks to plans for building a new house from the ground up, I have the opportunity to do basically whatever I want for my main computer/gaming/audio/office room, and would like some advice and reading materials on the subject.

Restrictions and properties that are already set in stone:
  • Floor and roof will be reinforced concrete, walls will be cinderblocks with concrete rendering
    • There will almost certainly be extensive thermal insulation on at least 5 sides, with a false ceiling. Floor insulation I have no idea right, but I am interested in datacenter-like false-flooring, particularly since I want to put my PC in the dedicated server toom and run long cables to some manner of hole in the floor through a 10-15cm (4-6") pipe (pipe itself will likely be foam-filled once the setup is set, for obvious reasons)
  • There will be one or two triple-glazed windows and one or two doors
  • The speaker layout will be 7.x.y. Initially using my existing 7.1 set, and then eventually moving to alot of Genelecs
  • Listening will be fairly near-field, a consequence of running a triple-screen forcing the front trio close
  • Main seating position will be in the centre of the room, or possibly a bit off-centre.
  • Budget: in the long-term, unlimited. For now my main concern is getting the room shaped right for the eventual sound treatment and speaker placement, since you can't exactly reshape a room once the concrete is set.
I'm also interested in guidance for a home theater room, but that's secondary to the main computer room.

This is of course quite different from the usual here at ASR, but for those of us who have the opportunity, desigining the room right beats any kind of post-construction upgrades.
 

alex-z

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Concrete and bricks are good at blocking low frequency transmission due to their mass, but the stiffness causes high transmission rates of mid and treble frequencies.

The best approach is a hybrid solution, where you have a secondary wall layer, with insulation, and either drywall or plywood. This is sometimes used in high-end studios, called room-in-room, drastically boosting the sound isolation. The second/false wall approach has another benefit, you can utilize in-wall speakers if you choose. This can significantly benefit your mid-bass quality, as there is no baffle step loss or edge diffraction.

For the internal dimensions of the room, you want something that distributes the room modes across a broad range. This makes any fluctuations in frequency response less severe, meaning EQ and physical treatments can work more effectively. For example, 20x15x10ft is quite good. The 10ft ceilings are also nice for Atmos/DTS:X implementation, nice seperation from the ear level channels makes the 3D audio experience more convincing.


Even then, you will want to use multiple subwoofers right away. The acoustic treatment needed to absorb room modes below 80Hz is annoyingly thick. One subwoofer per corner is an approach which offers excellent frequency response across many seating positions, and tons of output headroom. Then you add bass traps + typical absorption and diffusion products to manage everything above 80Hz.

For the construction itself, I would debate the addition of a window at all. Even triple layered, a window is going to be the second biggest source of leakage in your room. The HVAC would be the worst problem, a high-end room will have its own heating and cooling. Doors should be solid core, with rubber seals. If you want to get really extreme, there are options for suspending the floor/ceiling from rubber bushings, I personally don't think they are needed, you should be able to achieve under 20dB noise floor and 60+dB of broadband transmission loss with the other, more normal techniques.
 
OP
ZeDestructor

ZeDestructor

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Concrete and bricks are good at blocking low frequency transmission due to their mass, but the stiffness causes high transmission rates of mid and treble frequencies.

The best approach is a hybrid solution, where you have a secondary wall layer, with insulation, and either drywall or plywood. This is sometimes used in high-end studios, called room-in-room, drastically boosting the sound isolation. The second/false wall approach has another benefit, you can utilize in-wall speakers if you choose. This can significantly benefit your mid-bass quality, as there is no baffle step loss or edge diffraction.

For the internal dimensions of the room, you want something that distributes the room modes across a broad range. This makes any fluctuations in frequency response less severe, meaning EQ and physical treatments can work more effectively. For example, 20x15x10ft is quite good. The 10ft ceilings are also nice for Atmos/DTS:X implementation, nice seperation from the ear level channels makes the 3D audio experience more convincing.


Even then, you will want to use multiple subwoofers right away. The acoustic treatment needed to absorb room modes below 80Hz is annoyingly thick. One subwoofer per corner is an approach which offers excellent frequency response across many seating positions, and tons of output headroom. Then you add bass traps + typical absorption and diffusion products to manage everything above 80Hz.

For the construction itself, I would debate the addition of a window at all. Even triple layered, a window is going to be the second biggest source of leakage in your room. The HVAC would be the worst problem, a high-end room will have its own heating and cooling. Doors should be solid core, with rubber seals. If you want to get really extreme, there are options for suspending the floor/ceiling from rubber bushings, I personally don't think they are needed, you should be able to achieve under 20dB noise floor and 60+dB of broadband transmission loss with the other, more normal techniques.
Ahh, thanks, that's a lot of help.

In terms of walls, the plan is double cinderblock with foam-filled cavity for the outside-facing walls, but no idea about interior walls. For windows, the expectation is that there at least one wall of the room will be an outside-facing wall, so that will almost certainly have to get a window.

Addding an extra third plywood or drwall wall on top of the brick wall is well within the realm of possiblity, though not necessarily there for the initial build. In such a setup, the spiky-foam insulation would go as a forth layer on top of said plywood/drywall, right? In-wall speakers are sadly non-viable, because I run triple 27-32" monitors, but speaker stands are not an issue to me. For the office, anyways. proper HT setup would be different (aso, what does one do for centre speakers when using LCD/OLED screens for good centering? one above and below?)

Height-wise, plan is for 3m (9ft) floor-to-false ceiling and then another 50-100cm (1.5-3ft) between the false ceiling and the actual angled ceiling, all pretty great for both acoustics and height speakers for Atmos/DTS:X. As a side note, are there any (acoustic) benefits to having a non-cuboid, irregular quadrilateral room shape?

In terms of subwoofers, multiple subs are planned, but again, not for immediate setup.

HVAC-wise, the norm where I live is minisplits (those get very quiet under low loads, to the range of sub-25dB), so with good thermal insulation and putting my big, power-hungry desktop in a different room, so I'm not too worried there. Plus, I can always turn it off :D

Doors will likely be solid wood, and seals are not that big of an addition to make.

Suspended floor and ceiling I'll have a look into though, they seem very interesting, and even if I can't build them in on day 1, having the floor suitably recessed relative to the rest of the house would make things go very nicely.
 

NTK

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You may want to go to the companion site of Dr Toole's book, "Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms", and download his 3 part series on designing a home theatre, and his presentation on sound isolation.


 
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ZeDestructor

ZeDestructor

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You may want to go to the companion site of Dr Toole's book, "Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms", and download his 3 part series on designing a home theatre, and his presentation on sound isolation.


oooh, this looks like some excellent downtime reading :D
 

LightninBoy

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Hi all,

So, as the title says, thanks to plans for building a new house from the ground up, I have the opportunity to do basically whatever I want for my main computer/gaming/audio/office room, and would like some advice and reading materials on the subject.

Can you tell us what your goals are? For example, there's been some advice given around sound proofing but I'm not sure that's really a goal?
 
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ZeDestructor

ZeDestructor

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Can you tell us what your goals are? For example, there's been some advice given around sound proofing but I'm not sure that's really a goal?
The end goal is to get as much soundproofing as possible within a residential setting. Given the amount of freedom afforded by the fact this is a brand new construction on formerly agricultural land, I am looking into how to best build the basic room (shape, materials) before any acoustic treatment comes into play.

EDIT: well, technically I want as low a noise floor as is possible, which is usually accomplished by as much soundproofing as possible.
 

HammerSandwich

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Room in a room.

In addition to Toole's docs above, Earl Geddes has a bunch of construction tips at his site.
 

LightninBoy

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The end goal is to get as much soundproofing as possible within a residential setting. Given the amount of freedom afforded by the fact this is a brand new construction on formerly agricultural land, I am looking into how to best build the basic room (shape, materials) before any acoustic treatment comes into play.

EDIT: well, technically I want as low a noise floor as is possible, which is usually accomplished by as much soundproofing as possible.

So is the goal to keep sound out or keep sound in? Most construction tips around soundproofing assume you are trying to keep sound in, which means trying to attenuate loud bass which is extremely problematic and costly. If you just want to keep sound out, that's pretty easy assuming you don't have a train track by your house or a road with heavy truck traffic.
 

youngho

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Hi all,

So, as the title says, thanks to plans for building a new house from the ground up, I have the opportunity to do basically whatever I want for my main computer/gaming/audio/office room, and would like some advice and reading materials on the subject.

Restrictions and properties that are already set in stone:
  • Floor and roof will be reinforced concrete, walls will be cinderblocks with concrete rendering
    • There will almost certainly be extensive thermal insulation on at least 5 sides, with a false ceiling. Floor insulation I have no idea right, but I am interested in datacenter-like false-flooring, particularly since I want to put my PC in the dedicated server toom and run long cables to some manner of hole in the floor through a 10-15cm (4-6") pipe (pipe itself will likely be foam-filled once the setup is set, for obvious reasons)
  • There will be one or two triple-glazed windows and one or two doors
  • The speaker layout will be 7.x.y. Initially using my existing 7.1 set, and then eventually moving to alot of Genelecs
  • Listening will be fairly near-field, a consequence of running a triple-screen forcing the front trio close
  • Main seating position will be in the centre of the room, or possibly a bit off-centre.
  • Budget: in the long-term, unlimited. For now my main concern is getting the room shaped right for the eventual sound treatment and speaker placement, since you can't exactly reshape a room once the concrete is set.
I'm also interested in guidance for a home theater room, but that's secondary to the main computer room.

This is of course quite different from the usual here at ASR, but for those of us who have the opportunity, desigining the room right beats any kind of post-construction upgrades.
Just curious where you're located. Also, it sounds like you're building two separate rooms? Can you please explain to me why it is absolutely necessary that the speakers have to be close?

With an unlimited budget, I might consider hiring a firm like WSDG or Francis Manzella Design. The interesting part is that I can't remember seeing any no-holds-barred gaming setups featured, though there are a number of Atmos ones, so it would seem to me that the approach to an Atmos control room could be easily adapted to your situation by substituting the desk and monitors in place of the mixing console (see here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/a-visit-to-genelec-usa-natick-ma.28687/)

I'd at least consider analysis like https://rediacoustics.com/, esp given your question regarding non-cuboid room construction. You'd definitely want to address the room length mode with centered seating.
(aso, what does one do for centre speakers when using LCD/OLED screens for good centering? one above and below?)
.
As a side note, are there any (acoustic) benefits to having a non-cuboid, irregular quadrilateral room shape?
Most people seem compromise on centre speaker (typically a little low) and/or screen position (typically a little high) in such a situation (you can see that the screen is a little high in the Genelec Experience Room, but I personally found the effect to be minimized by distance and the ventriloquist effect), otherwise you're better off with projection and an acoustically translucent screen.

Yes, but there are some potential benefits for non-cuboid rooms, but it can make modal analysis more challenging, hence consider something like NIRO from REDI Acoustics.

AVS Forum has a nice sub-forum on home theater construction (https://www.avsforum.com/forums/dedicated-theater-design-construction.19/) that's worth browsing. I rather like http://arqen.com/acoustics-101/room-setup-speaker-placement/ and https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/sos-guide-control-room-design#para7, especially the multichannel and ambechoic setups. https://www.tvtechnology.com/opinions/audio-control-room-acoustics might be worth a skim, as well.

Young-Ho
 

abdo123

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Concrete and bricks are good at blocking low frequency transmission due to their mass, but the stiffness causes high transmission rates of mid and treble frequencies.

The best approach is a hybrid solution, where you have a secondary wall layer, with insulation, and either drywall or plywood. This is sometimes used in high-end studios, called room-in-room, drastically boosting the sound isolation. The second/false wall approach has another benefit, you can utilize in-wall speakers if you choose. This can significantly benefit your mid-bass quality, as there is no baffle step loss or edge diffraction.

For the internal dimensions of the room, you want something that distributes the room modes across a broad range. This makes any fluctuations in frequency response less severe, meaning EQ and physical treatments can work more effectively. For example, 20x15x10ft is quite good. The 10ft ceilings are also nice for Atmos/DTS:X implementation, nice seperation from the ear level channels makes the 3D audio experience more convincing.


Even then, you will want to use multiple subwoofers right away. The acoustic treatment needed to absorb room modes below 80Hz is annoyingly thick. One subwoofer per corner is an approach which offers excellent frequency response across many seating positions, and tons of output headroom. Then you add bass traps + typical absorption and diffusion products to manage everything above 80Hz.

For the construction itself, I would debate the addition of a window at all. Even triple layered, a window is going to be the second biggest source of leakage in your room. The HVAC would be the worst problem, a high-end room will have its own heating and cooling. Doors should be solid core, with rubber seals. If you want to get really extreme, there are options for suspending the floor/ceiling from rubber bushings, I personally don't think they are needed, you should be able to achieve under 20dB noise floor and 60+dB of broadband transmission loss with the other, more normal techniques.
10 feet and 20 feet will have the first harmonic of the 20 feet mode land on top of the 10 feet mode.
 

FeddyLost

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My considerations:
1) if you are really targeted to the some kind of perfection, you need to hire a proven professional and work in collaboration with him/them
2) you need to quantify your needs with some kind of example and it's better to experience some real studio ambience just for understanding what are you will be building ... it will be very sad if your expectations of sound quality will be incompatible with ITU/EBU standards + your content
3) if you need real sound insulation, you need to quantify it in terms of freq bands and Dbs of decay, because ultimate insulation is a room in a room deep in the rock massive, and bass insulation needs mass and all internal resonanses below out hearing limits, which is expensive. For example, floor concrete slab of 4+ inches thick on proper "spring" will prevent LF transmission through common foundation if you are planning to make single room in family house.
LF sound insulation is the thing that you will not be able to alter later if you make an architectural error.
4) different use cases suppose different acoustical properties at LP: for example, decay times for multichannel movies are much shorter than for "classic stereo"
5) if you are not planning to install speakers into walls, then you need at least to understand all acoustical phenomena like *BIR and keep these in mind: they are impossible to overcome with simple EQ and destructive interference is a total PITA

Peronally I made almost all possible errors in building my entertainment room, and that's why you'd better to understand exactly what do you want and what you can afford without living in constant rebuild.
 
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