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Floor choice for best acoustics: Carpet or Wood?

echopraxia

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#1
Will be remodeling a 14x22x10 foot room, and need to choose what kind of floor to install: carpet, or wood (most likely a high quality synthetic vinyl plank for better durability).

For aesthetic and practical reasons, I prefer the synthetic vinyl “wood”. But acoustically, is carpet better? Is there a best practice here?

I suppose with a hard floor, I could always add cheap rugs until the acoustics are just right, whereas for carpet the opposite is not true.
 
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Hipper

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#2
I've always had carpet so I can't comment really.

Logic says carpets should be better as they should absorb floor reflections but according to Floyd Toole in his book 'Sound Reproduction' (page 193), we are probably attuned to floor reflections and naturally factor it out. There doesn't appear to be any real research on this, just anecdotal evidence. Floor bounce was measured but when those measurements were improved by carpet etc. no appreciable improvement in listening occured. Another psychoacoustic phenomenon it seems.

In the light of this I think your last sentence seems the best approach and you could perhaps experiment with carpet and report back to us!
 

amirm

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#3
I suppose with a hard floor, I could always add cheap rugs until the acoustics are just right, whereas for carpet the opposite is not true.
That's exactly right. A wall-to-wall carpet provides a lot of absorption. If the rest of the room is live then it would be OK. Otherwise the room may become too dead.
 

Soniclife

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#4
What's the rest of the construction?

I've always preferred carpet in the small number of rooms I've heard both ways.
 
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echopraxia

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Thread Starter #5
What's the rest of the construction?

I've always preferred carpet in the small number of rooms I've heard both ways.
Not sure exactly what you mean, but underneath is concrete I believe (it’s the lowest level). The room currently has carpet and I do like the acoustics, but am considering hard floors due to the ability to adjust how much soft vs hard surface area there is as mentioned above.
 

RayDunzl

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#6
A crude acoustic demo.

You have to imagine carpet, sorry.


I only have carpet and furnishings. It's enough for me.
 

Soniclife

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#7
Not sure exactly what you mean, but underneath is concrete I believe (it’s the lowest level). The room currently has carpet and I do like the acoustics, but am considering hard floors due to the ability to adjust how much soft vs hard surface area there is as mentioned above.
Walls and ceiling. You are going to get different recommendations if it's a glass box compared to lossy walls.
 

richard12511

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#8
Will be remodeling a 14x22x10 foot room, and need to choose what kind of floor to install: carpet, or wood (most likely a high quality synthetic vinyl plank for better durability).

For aesthetic and practical reasons, I prefer the synthetic vinyl “wood”. But acoustically, is carpet better? Is there a best practice here?

I suppose with a hard floor, I could always add cheap rugs until the acoustics are just right, whereas for carpet the opposite is not true.
My bedroom(Infinity R263) sounds not so great compared to my best room(JTR 210) or my office(Revel M105 and JBL 308p). Bedroom is carpeted while the other 2 rooms are wood floors. Not sure how much of that is due to the wood vs carpet, though, as the main room has about $3,000 worth of carefully placed and measured treatments, and the office about $1,500. I do know that when I compared the R263s against the 210s and M105s in my main room, they sounded much better than they do in my bedroom(with $0 in treatments).

I like the idea that with hard floors, you can always add a thick rug. Can't really do anything about carpet(though I guess you could put a giant mirror or something on the floor :p).
 

RayDunzl

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#9
If I were remodeling this room, it would (probably) get a wood floor (over concrete slab) with a dense thick area carpet (removeable, not "wall to wall"), to meet modern resale aesthetics, and I could take the carpet with me when I move.
 

Inner Space

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#10
I would go with wood. Carpet absorption is spectrally imbalanced, and can end up dead-sounding. Floor bounce local to the LP isn't usually a problem. An ottoman for feet-up listening solves most issues, and as you say, you can experiment with area rugs.

One thing would concern me - synthetic vinyl planks can add a faint but discernible "quack" to transient reflections. I prefer engineered wood - just as durable, and its surface is more or less the same density as its core, which seems to be important. I just did the most absurdly over-engineered room, and went into all this stuff. Good luck and enjoy!
 
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echopraxia

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Thread Starter #11
One thing would concern me - synthetic vinyl planks can add a faint but discernible "quack" to transient reflections.
Very interesting point, I did not know this! I will almost certainly be going with hard flooring for the reasons mentioned above (resale value but also ability to tune how much and what kind of damping with rugs), so your experience here is very helpful.

I would not have thought to consider that different kinds of hard flooring has different sounds. If you have more info here (recommended types of engineered wood, what to avoid etc.) or links, that would be very helpful!

Walls and ceiling. You are going to get different recommendations if it's a glass box compared to lossy walls.
Painted drywall. Will be repainted when remodeling. One exterior sliding glass door on the right side, and interior door on the left side.
 

Harmonie

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#12
I'm with @RayDunzl
Don't do something you may regret later.
Start with the wood (put some absorbing felt between the concrete and the wooden floor) and then gradually you decorate the room (according to your other's taste) with furniture (that act's well as bass trap and else) and curtains and make trials with some carpet(s) between the speakers and your listening position.

PS- I didn't like so much the accoustic panel demo (unless your room should be just a studio).
 

RayDunzl

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#13
PS- I didn't like so much the accoustic panel demo (unless your room should be just a studio).

I said it was crude, but it is the only illustration I had handy that quickly demonstrated adding absorption.

---

I only have carpet and furnishings. It's enough for me

Oops, I forgot I have eight slabs of 7x22x48" rockwool. When I first brought it into the kitchen, even before unbagging and allowing the product to expand from its compressed state, the difference in the "sound" of the kitchen was rather dramatic.

Currently, 3 slabs (one standing on two) in the corner behind the speakers, and two slabs standing on end behind the couch blocking the PC noise and the ear height wall bounce behind the sofa.

It's 20 cubic feet of deadening, ineffective below about 200Hz, from experiment.

---

The last four whacks from the crude video above:, downloaded from the YouTube as MP3

Waveform and dB

You can see the "attack" is not disturbed, but the decay is greatly accelerated, and the ambient background noise level appears to be reduced, too.

1598564375736.png
 
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Inner Space

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#14
I would not have thought to consider that different kinds of hard flooring has different sounds. If you have more info here (recommended types of engineered wood, what to avoid etc.) or links, that would be very helpful!
I first noticed the effect in my brother's basement, just subjectively. Then I got into research into diaphragmatic absorbers, where specific masses need to be calculated from size and density. Overall density is what it is, but it turned out that many sheet materials have outer layers considerably harder and more dense than their cores - like "skins" of glue or vinyl. No big deal from the overall density point of view, but significant if the material is in a position to act as a sound reflector - as if the first 1/32" counts, and the other 3/4" doesn't.

I would look at engineered wood with a non-shiny surface - that's likely to be consistently dense all the way through, and to give you what I call an "honest" bounce, rather than just a non-organic surface reflection. I have no links (because who could get funds to do such research?) but I asked another brother, who is a materials scientist, and he said of the hard skins, "They stop your floor wearing out. Why wouldn't you want that?" A typical non-audio engineer's response ...
 

Harmonie

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#15
@RayDunzl

Sorry, I didn't mean YOUR room. It was just my personal remark, no offense at all >> I rather tend to agree with your posts and it's a compliment from another continent ;)

PS- I do like the reQuest (mine are way smaller, my room probably as well ...).
 

HooStat

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#17
Can't really do anything about carpet
I guess it depends on whether there is other furniture too (coffee table between you and the speakers). That might diffract/affect any floor reflections.

But there is nothing (other than expense) stopping you from doing hardwood (or some other equivalent) and using area rugs to soften the sound. That is what we ended up doing for decorative reasons.
 

RayDunzl

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#18
Sorry, I didn't mean YOUR room. It was just my personal remark, no offense at all
I wasn't offended at all by your reply.

All in a day's work.
 

Senior NEET Engineer

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#19
My favorite is mid field placement, hard flooring, and acoustic treatments. Great imaging and soundstage.

Carpet always sounds too dead to me, for the reasons that other users have went over. It's also nasty and difficult to clean.
 

JohnnyHonda

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#20
I would go with wood or synthetic wood, put an absorption cloud on the ceiling and the use throw rugs on the floor to taste.
My experience is the same. Recommend hard wood floor with diffraction or absorption in the ceiling. This will open up your sound, especially if you can use diffraction. Also improves the bass range by reducing standing waves. I have tried adding various absorbers on the wood floor but it didn’t improve the imaging and had a tendency to deaden the sound too much.
 

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