Ideal listening room size for new structure?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Jerry James, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    This summer I would like to build a separate exterior structure in my back yard that I will make into a dedicated listening room. So, the first thing I need to get to a contractor to get the ball rolling is a plan so that I can get a permit. Generally speaking, what would a good size be for this? I seem to recall that the ceiling height sort of determines the rest of the room measurements. I imagine I will aim for a 9' or 10' ceiling. My current setup is in my basement which is 25' x 15 with a 7' open joist ceiling.

    I'm not a millionaire, and this is sort of going to be a "glorified" shed, so to speak; I doubt I will build this on a concrete slab (good chunk of more money...) and I believe that would be more $ in permits, etc. as it would then be considered a "permanent" structure, vs. a "moveable" one. I do plan to finish it as best I can within my budget, which is around 20k for the structure up to insulation and drywall (once the actual framing and roofing is done, I will take it from there and finish everything else myself). I will have more questions as I move along, but this is the first big one I need help with. Thanks, everyone!
  2. Slimwhit33

    Slimwhit33 Forum Resident

    Orange County NY
    Best of luck with this and keep us informed!!
  3. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    East Coast, USA
    hi_watt likes this.
  4. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    I would think the same dimensions as your basement would be perfect if the ceiling were 9 feet.

    Can I get an invite for a listen when it's finished?
    Manimal likes this.
  5. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    concrete is critical - I guess you could get a nice stiff floor by using carbon-fiber hex-cell construction like a jet aircraft; otherwise you''l need a LOT of close together bracing, etc.

    you essentially want to build a good recording studio and the books on that will help a lot
    bever70 and macster like this.
  6. Coricama

    Coricama Classic Rocker

    Marietta, GA
    If possible, once you decide on room size and where your equipment will sit, you might think about pouring concrete just under the area where your equipment is going to sit. I had a crawlspace under one house I owned and I had vibration problems with my turntable. I would get this strange bass feedback through my cartridge from floor vibrations. They make some good vibration control devices now that might take care of this that I didn't know about or that didnt exist back then. Good luck, take lots of pictures and keep us updated.
    bever70 likes this.
  7. eflatminor

    eflatminor Forum Resident

    Think 'golden ratio'. We see it everywhere in nature and as it turns out, it makes a great starting point for a listening room's dimensions.

    The idea is to build the room so that the modes are spaced evenly, particularly across the low end. This should help to give you an even bass response, with no two modes sitting on top of each other (bump) or cancelled out (a drop in response).

    Many would say the ratio of the height of your room to the width should be 1.272 to one (1.272 is the square root of 1.618 or, the key figure in the golden ratio). However, there are several theories regarding ideal room dimensions, with no single ratio everyone agrees on. Several sound and physics experts have weighed in:
    • Sepmeyer: 1.0 : 1.28 : 1.54
    • Louden: 1.0 : 1.4 : 1.9
    • Volkmann 1.0 : 1.5 : 2.5
    • Boner: 1.0 : 1.26 : 1.59
    Where 1.0 is your room's height (generally, the most limiting dimension). I would say any of these dimensions would make a great starting point, but you'll still want to treat the room acoustically.

    Then there's the idea of ensuring no two surfaces are parallel, the so called golden trapagon, where the room has a golden rectangle for the front wall behind the speakers, and the room progresses to a larger (by Golden Ratio in area) golden rectangle back wall behind the listener.

    Good luck!
    PhantomStranger and Optimize like this.
  8. Seafinch

    Seafinch Preferred Patron

    I will be watching this thread with much interest. I currently have a detached garage that I turned into an office/listening room, but my wife has been hinting at a larger house recently. I've told her the only way I could even imagine that happening is if I can build another detached listing room. Dimensions of my Garoffice are 20' x 11' with a pitched roof that's 11' at the peak - it's good but I'd love it to be a touch wider.

    That Louden measurement above seems great to me - 19' x 14' w/ 10' ceilings.

    SandAndGlass, SirMarc, Art K and 14 others like this.
  9. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    Be careful - the idea of ensuring no two surfaces are parallel makes it very hard to analyze the room

    maybe a stealth concrete pour is in your future...
  10. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    Master Handbook of Acoustics is your guide
  11. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    IMO it would be a good idea to get the structure off the ground if you don't want a concrete pad. Perhaps, poured concrete piles and a strong framed wooden base that sits on them.
  12. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Thanks, all, for your quick responses and insights. Definitely a lot to consider. I will now also be getting quotes to include pouring a slab so that I may have that option, even if it means saving extra and delays the project a bit should I go that route. I'm intrigued by the Golden Trapagon, but my only reservation about it is that I may want to move things around a little from time to time, and this seems likely to prevent that from ever happening (while this is strictly a listening room, I do want to still have some furniture/decorations, etc. in there that I can more around when I get restless).

    A couple more quick questions -

    I will also have my media out there, too. That currently consists of two Ikea Expedite 6'x6' units and another (homemade) storage unit of about the same size for CD's and I think I'm going to cap my collection at this amount of storage. Any advantage/disadvantage to having them in the room (I'm guessing one on each side wall behind the first reflection panels)? I know they can be good to break up sound when included in the listening area, but they also take up a good deal of space, and maybe there is some unforeseen consequence of having them included. I used to have them set up that way in my current room's last incarnation, but have since built a separate, adjacent "media room" for them and the RCM. So; I could also replicate that scenario in this new space, too.

    And; is there an ideal location to have (or avoid) the entry door being placed? Side, back corner, middle? I would like to set up the room for 5.1, so, while trying to be as tidy as possible; there will be wires, speakers, etc. nearly everywhere...
  13. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Absolutely, Tim!
    timind likes this.
  14. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    no disadvantage - place them symmetrically and stagger the CDs so it looks like a QRD

    likely best to put the entry door in the middle of the rear wall - you will use some room treatments anyway
  15. YpsiGypsy

    YpsiGypsy Forum Resident

    Michigan, USA
  16. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    That's what I did . . . then I found the best listening position for even FR in my room was near the back wall. The position of the door and fact it opened into the space prevented sitting there. So I'd suggest along one of the side walls, near the back but not too close to the corner to put some bass trapping there.
    Jerry James likes this.
  17. Socalguy

    Socalguy Forum Resident

    Fun project. Budget for carpet for bare floor and some sort of acoustic treatment for walls to avoid having a big echo chamber. Run extra wire everywhere.
  18. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    run optical cabling !!
  19. mds

    mds Forum Resident

    Sounds like you plan on a barn type environment, hard packed dirt floor or wood deck over dirt? The walls will need some type of a foundation to carry their load and the roof. Your first step is zoning to assure you have the room for the structure and that they will allow such minimal construction. You will need to deal with set backs and storm water as it relates to the impervious vs. previous ratio allowed by your township.
  20. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    I'll take this opportunity for a quick update: I will be having a concrete slab poured for the base of the structure - definitely seems the most logical now. I plan on installing a tile floor with a area rug, possibly with radiant heat under at least a portion of it; near where I'll be seated - I hate having cold feet....

    I had a nice and very informative visit with the zoning representative and gathered all the info about the limitations for building on my property. Everything should be a go, but may be a little tight as my house is a ranch with 7' ceilings and a very low pitched hip roof - it can't be taller than my house without applying for a variance, which I really don't want to do if possible. I imagine it'll be reeeeal close to get that listening room ceiling to 10', but I'm gonna try. I think I'll aim for a flat, slightly angled roof and that will hopefully allow me to slip in under the wire. I've met with the person who will draw up blueprints, now I need to get a site plan of my property put together - then it's (hopefully) time to submit stuff to the G.C. and get on the schedule.

    Another question I've been pondering - what's the best means of heat/AC? So far I think I may have a smallish, traditional system installed and build a small "closet" off the corner to house the mechanicals so the noise won't interfere with the sound (or encroach on the actual listening room space). Any other recommendations or reasons to reconsider that idea?
  21. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Circling back here, after over a year :rolleyes:. My plans had to be put on hold when I unexpectedly had to replace my 36 year old furnace at the beginning of Fall, and that wiped out a chunk of my budget. In the meantime, I have been refining my vision a bit, including a couple quick edits to my above, last post. The interior dimensions will be 16'x26'10'. I will not be building any closet/similar in the room - just the single, large open space.

    I have a couple more questions to ask, too. I plan on making the roof a shed roof style, as opposed to gable. So; for the interior should I make the traditional flat ceiling, or is having it raise all the way up and follow the angle of the shed roof ok (14' at the highest slanting down to 10')? I would like 2 skylights, both on the same side of the ceiling. If these are recessed (which they would be if I go the flat ceiling route), is that a major sound/related problem? After being in a basement for the past 6 years, I want all the natural light I can get.

    Thanks for your continued valuable help and assistance.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  22. mds

    mds Forum Resident

    Becareful with skylights, they can and often do leak after time. If the low portion of the slope as where the speakers are and it rises up as it goes away from them that's a positive. Non parallel surfaces, floor / ceiling is good.
  23. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    So, you finally agreed to buying the property next door to your wife's personal pilates instructor, eh? :cheers:
    Time to calculate where the sound travels with the windows wide open, and count how many cookie-monster vocal albums you have...:idea:
  24. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    I'd forgotten about the possibility of running the ceiling that way. In my mind I had envisioned it slanting across the shorter dimension, rather than long. Since I will have speaker placement along the short wall; your suggestion would make more sense.

    You're right about the skylights - I'm a painting contractor and over the decades I've been called to repair many areas where water damage occurred around them. Still, that natural light though....
  25. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Ha! I'm extremely lucky that my girlfriend is my favorite and most frequent listening partner, and we will be out there enjoying music together quite a bit. In fact; a large part of my desire to now fast-track this structure is that she and her teenage daughter are moving into my home with me in 2 months. Playing loud music won't be much of an option anymore. I also have a young son who is constantly creating artwork with various mediums, and we would all benefit from a rec-room type area where we can watch TV, create art, read, yoga, etc. So what is now my listening room in the basement will become that room.
    SandAndGlass, timind and mds like this.

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