Ideal listening room size for new structure?

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

  1. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    In that case, remember - fuzzy bean-bag chairs also make excellent bass traps! :p
    Jerry James likes this.
  2. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Another question has arisen by my roofer/framer, and I wonder if anyone could shed some light on it (no pun intended). I am having 2 skylights installed, and wondering where their best placement would be, seeing as how they will require openings in the flat ceiling (I'm assuming that the openings will have some impact on sound?). I am having the set up arranged so that the speakers are firing down the long walls of the room, using the golden triangle most likely.

    So; a.) should I have the skylights on the left and right side as I am currently planning (as opposed to both on one side), and b.) how far along the ceiling should they be - toward the front wall, directly above the speakers, in the middle, or towards the back wall? I hope I'm not overthinking this, but want to make the best informed decisions and not just guess and regret later...

    I'm getting very excited - concrete is scheduled to be poured the first week of July, with the framing to follow a few days after....
    timind likes this.
  3. mds

    mds Forum Resident

    Definitely not over the speakers, equipment, or your collection. Skylights leak!
    Benzion likes this.
  4. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Have you figured out the heat/AC part? A small bathroom, perhaps?
    SandAndGlass and Big Blue like this.
  5. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    It seems to me that the best place for skylights might be behind the listening position. That way, you are not looking into glare when listening during daylight hours. Also, sunlight is not good for equipment (particularly wood speakers) -- though skylights typically can be bought tinted or with UV coating.
    timind and Big Blue like this.
  6. Gugaz

    Gugaz Forum Resident

    Lisboa, Portugal
  7. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Washington, D.C.
    Have you thought about HVAC issues? Also, will the sound disturb the neighbors, thus necessitating wall construction that is soundproof? I would not want a dedicated sound room that was not comfortable all year round, any time of day, nor one where I would have to restrict volume. For the soundproofing issue, look at web sites that discuss double sheet rock with "green glue" applied between sheets; I heard a dead quiet room that was built this way. Any windows? If so, you might have to consider sound transmission through the windows as well.

    A suspended wood floor, instead of a concrete pad, will act as a sounding board. That adds to the complications of making the room sound right, but, I've heard several great sounding dedicated rooms with that kind of floor structure.

    Good luck. You have an interesting project planned.
    Big Blue likes this.
  8. J.D.80

    J.D.80 Forum Resident

    New York City
    One wild idea here here to consider is using a nice grade of ply wood on the walls instead of sheetrock. It doesn't even need to be thick plywood. Insulation behind it is an easy issue if your using a 2x4 stud wall. Having plywood could allow you to easily mount things on the wall and make for a cozier feel for the room.
    You can surface mount EMT on the walls for your receptacles and lights. It could look very good provided the guy doing the conduit bending was good at making nice clean symmetrical offsets in his conduit work.
    Having exposed EMT could also allow you to make easy electrical changes to the room at any time. Just a thought.
    There are also prefabricated subflooring products designed for basements that could make a nice floor in the space. Basically its wood with a plastic product underneath it to create an air gap to prevent moisture related problems. A plywood floor with different area rugs on it could look good.
    I'm just throwing these possibilities out there because it is cheaper than paying for a sheetrock guy to come in and to all his taping, priming, and painting work.
    Plywood makes the room incredibly serviceable, affordable, and customizable. Just food for thought here.
    bever70 likes this.
  9. slcaudiophile

    slcaudiophile Forum Resident

    Salt Lake City
    sounds like a really fun project. you are going to get lots of advice here but here are a couple rules i would suggest you follow.

    part of this is based on working in the hi-end audio industry for several years and then coming back into it ... i am opening up a small retail shop. the other part is based on doing a complete listening room remodel myself and first hand knowledge.

    you have a fairy generous budget, which is good.

    Next thing, keep it simple. The thing you want avoid is over damping it the room, which may be counterintuitive.

    if you can, narrow down the type of speaker you want. that will play a major role in the size and design of the room. if you have a speaker you like already work with the speaker manufacture or dealer and enlist their assistance. the reason is all speaker are designed different. some use an anechoic chamber, some do not. some design for a flat frequency response some do not. you can see why it is important to design the room around the speaker is at all possible.

    obviously hire the best contractor you can. always - ALWAYS use the best quality materials possible. always get dedicated power line. double drywall walls, high quality insulation, etc.

    if possible avoid a square room. rectangular always sound significantly better. and while most people think a larger room is better this is not always the case and will depend on the speakers used.

    finally, as i mentioned above ... keep it simple. i’ve been in rooms that measure perfect with all this new DSP technology but once you get audio in there it sounds lifeless and flat. it is so easy to over do it so remember to keep it simple.

    enjoy it!
  10. chili555

    chili555 Forum Resident

    Yes, please. And, as long as you have the plumbing in place, I'd add a narrow closet containing, from top to bottom, a kitchen-style cabinet, a small microwave, a small sink and a small fridge. If you find you have the need for a snack or other refreshments, there is no need to trudge through the snow to the Big House to get a cool one.

    Insulate well; I wouldn't want to hear the compressor on the fridge...ever.
  11. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    More helpful advice and great input from everyone - thanks again very much! I love getting so many responses - it takes a village, doesn't it?!

    I'll try and answer/respond to a few of the comments above. The skylights I plan to have installed will have UV protectant and/or insulated glass, and blinds of some kind contained within them so that they may be closed to help keep light out when needed. Without going crazy, I would like to buy the nicest one's I can find within reason. I will also create some kind of portable panel that can be hung on the ceiling to cover the openings of the skylights, too. I figure that may help during peak heat months here, mainly July-September.

    I plan on using two layers of drywall glued together for the walls, single layer for the ceiling (but I'm intrigued by the idea of plywood walls as suggested by J.D.80... anyone else care to chime in on this?).

    Climate will be maintained by one of those Mitsubishi/similar dual heat/cool wall hanging units. I've been told by a few HVAC folks I know that one of those would suffice for that size room just fine. I've decided I don't want a tile floor after all, rather just a nicely finished surface on the slab. This basically eliminates the possibility for a heated floor, but it seems that a few "heated floor pads" are available these days, and I'll get one of those to put under my listening position.

    Electricity will be kind of a doozy I'm going to upgrade my home panel to 200 amp service, which means that this is also an opportune time to bury the power line. The power from the pole will be re-routed to go directly to my new room, and then to the home. There will be a sub panel in my room to access all the power needs for the space. I will have a direct line for the equipment, and everything else on their own designated breakers.

    Plumbing is one thing I've more or less ruled out from the beginning. It would add a lot of cost to this endeavor (there is no plumbing in place as this is going in a bare, open spot in my back yard), and I'm not willing to spend that much more on this project (it's now gone way beyond my proposed budget). No denying that it would be super nice to have, but I'll make do without it and I'm ok with that.

    I'm also lucky with soundproofing needs. My lovely, elderly neighbors who are nearest to the room are far enough away, I think; and they never come outside or have their windows open, etc. It's also far enough away from my house that it shouldn't be an issue there, either. I don't really crank it too loud, anyway. I've noticed that as I upgrade things, it automatically sounds better, and feel like things become clearer, and have less of a need to turn it up to hear it all. I'm expecting that this room will also make a huge difference in sound improvement, too.
    grbluen, SirMarc and timind like this.
  12. Vinyl Archaeologist

    Vinyl Archaeologist Forum Resident

    I'm starting some work on my basement and have looked into some similar things. There are a few bits that might be worthwhile to research. RC channeling creates a similar decoupling of the sheetrock and may be more economical than doubling up. 2X6 framing (or even 2x8 if you went nuts) would give you flexibility as far as damping and rock wool is supposedly the most superior soundproofing insulation. Also the quiet double pane windows with one pane slightly thicker so they resonate at different frequency are just a tiny bit more and pretty amazing - we used them throughout the house and it made a huge difference.
    showtaper and bever70 like this.
  13. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Washington, D.C.
    Wow. This sounds like far more than the "shed" you mentioned earlier. This is shaping up to be a very serious stand-alone listening room. The separate power panel is a really nice addition. I know someone who is in the business of setting up home theaters and special listening rooms, and one of the things that is considered a "must" for a serious job, is the dedicated power panel.

    I know someone who put together a very special room in his basement. First, the room was designed by acoustic specialist/architects (the now defunct Rives company). It has specially constructed walls, for complete sound isolation, a separate, dedicated HVAC system serving just that room (the ducting is designed to damp out noise, it includes special baffling for that purpose), a dedicated Equitech power panel, a recording studio soundproof door, etc.

    The room has no obvious and obtrusive sound treatment. There are bass traps in all four corners, but, they are built into the walls so they are invisible. In the front of the room, there is a large convex diffuser made out of wood that sticks out into the room, but, it looks like decoration, not sound treatment. The ceiling has wood diffusers that also look like decoration. The floor of the room is carpeted.
  14. J.D.80

    J.D.80 Forum Resident

    New York City
    I dont think I'd want to run the power feed to the secondary structure first. You'd be forced to have a large splice box or a big panel of some kind to then feed the house. Not really something you want to do. I'm also not totally up to date on what NEC codes are for residential installations of secondary structures, but it can't be anything too crazy or complicated.

    I'd probably run power to the main structure first. Install a 2 pole (or 3 phase breaker depending on what your service is) that directly feeds your beautiful new listening shed. The feed would be sized large enough to support a split unit AC/heating system, you're audio equipment, and any tertiary lighting and receptical circuits. All incandescent lighting for sure.
    You could bury a schedule 40 PVC conduit in the ground and run it up to the new structure and install a sub panel inside there.
    It's still a dedicated feed and will be better than what 99% of the rest of us get as far as dedicated feeds for our listening rooms are concerned. Certainly I'm jealous of you already.
  15. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    Mass is needed for sound isolation, and the double-sheetrock walls you proposed are far massier than plywood. If you are seriously thinking of wood walls, ASC makes (or sells) a heavy vinyl sheeting used inside walls to absorb and block sound, which might (or might not) make up for some of the mass loss of plywood.

    The double layer of sheetrock -- you'd be using something resilient between, like Green Glue? If not, a single layer of QuietRock or equivalent might be better.

    Sounds like a great project! Have fun!
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  16. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    Can you sink it into the earth somewhat? Or too much moisture in the ground?
    As for the skylights, YES! nothing like natural light. But somehow situated so they will never be letting light directly down onto the seating or equipment. That means finding a website showing sun position through the year. Depending on those circumstances, large windows may be more feasible. I've had a Velux skylight for 22 years, still works well and no leak (though eventually it will the roof* by then perhaps). It was put in very carefully by a friend.

    What kind of roof are you putting in? A friend did concrete coated steel, supposed to last 100 years and lighter than composite. More expensive, but not that much more.
  17. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    As for the walls, my dream to make something like this would be indeed removable thin plywood panels. Need to rerun some wires? Pull off the wall panels!! Maybe each in a different exotic veneer-but hey I'm weird. More seriously, if you want to reduce sound blasting outside to the neighbors, offset-stud walls are the only way to go, to reduce that direct vibration through the studs and to give more space for insulation. For inside the walls, yeah probably some kind of mass loaded vinyl. Thick acoustic foam meaning thick walls. Better yet start another thread about walls specifically, and hit up an old coworker of mine at Cascade Audio Engineering – Sound Damping and Sound Blocking – Anything Else is a Compromise
  18. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    On the skylight issue, I prefer a clerestory type window; it has many of the advantages of a skylight with fewer downsides. (It also looks cool).
    I have a skylight in my most recent listening room- the Texas sun is absolutely brutal in the summer, even with a UV blind drawn over it. I can close the hatch door to it-- it is actually a bubble hatch to a roof deck-- but I prefer the openness of the hatch exposed, light (to some degree) streaming in and in my case, a wooden boat type stairway fully extended from the roof hatch.
    I had sketched out a lot of ideas for a free standing building before buying the house we are in; I did have a set of preliminary drawings worked up by a very good architect, mainly for zoning approval purposes. All of that is sitting in a file drawer right now. I haven't built it but set up the system in the top floor of the house.
    Other things to think about- if you are committed to building an outbuilding, the next owner of the house may not be a hi-fi person (the chances are slim). So, my design objective was a building that could easily convert to a guest house or garage or both.
    HVAC- I discussed HVAC noise at some length with someone who had a building built for his system. Without getting into elaborate noise duct filters, high in the corners with bends in the pipes seemed to be the answer. The outdoor compressors tend to make a hell of a racket if you are anywhere near them.
    Power- design for more than you need, with raceways to run cable. I had planned to add an additional service of 100 amps for the separate building. You may not need that.
    Lighting- can be noisy as can other appliances. Think about how those can be isolated on separate branches though that is no guarantee that noise won't be transmitted across lines.
    You get winter where you are-- controlling humidity is important when you are heating. I like radiant heat. I don't like tile floors for sound, though.
    That concrete slab will be critical, especially if you run a turntable.
    Some of the best info I've gotten when I was researching was from people who did serious build outs and then worked backwards to undo the mistakes or improve what was done. I know that built in acoustic treatments may be less obtrusive, but I use minimal treatment in my existing room--mainly bass traps-- and it works great-- old wooden walls, though.
    If you can find some rooms that you like, pick the brain of the owner. I tend to like somewhat 'live' rooms, and don't like the dark, man-cave vibe. One thought my architect had was to create a floor to ceiling internal wall that would function as record storage as well as a barrier between the entry way to the building and the record cleaning, miscellaneous use area. That could be removed altogether to create a large garage or rearrange the internal space to convert to spec for an apartment, guest house or other use.
    Drainage-- critical- water is really bad in relation to hi-fi, electrical and records. If you know your property's drainage patterns, that will help, but it sounds like you are already underway. We always did french drains when we lived in the NE and they helped.
    What a fun project. Enjoy the process. The only bit of advice I can share from experience is to leave room for change and flexibility of usage.
    SandAndGlass and eflatminor like this.
  19. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    Hopefully it will dry out before they do their excavation. Easier on the workers, and easier on your yard I'd imagine.
  20. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Man, I wish I could implement everyone's suggestions! So many great ideas....

    This is so fun, awesome and helpful to get all this information here!

    Here's a few replies to some of the above responses:
    The roof will be a simple, common dimensional tab shingle.
    My listening will be probably 80% vinyl playback, the rest CD/SACD (maybe someday streaming/similar, but that's a whole other ball of wax that I know nothing about...).
    Base of the building will be above ground a bit by the time they pour the footer and slab, enough to where I can feel safe that no water could enter. The location in my yard where this will sit slopes a tiny bit, and it's in the middle of a sizable plot, so there is no standing water ever.
    The double pane windows with a thicker piece of glass sounds cool - my contractor says she will look into that.
    It did sound odd to me when my electrician suggested running power to the new structure first, then on to the house. It may be because to bury the line, it would be a lot more difficult to go to the house from the poll (lots of trees and a patio in it's path). He recently built a large garage for his home, and ran it the way he mentioned and I figure he would know, so I'm kinda trusting him on this one.... There will be a large panel on the back of the structure, but it's totally out of sight, and I don't mind.

    A couple more questions:

    I think I will likely go the double sheet rock route. Looking at the Green Glue - is it really, truly necessary (I know the irony of asking this on an audiophile forum:winkgrin:)? I do know that little things add up to make big things/differences, but this will cost over $500 vs. traditional/generic glue that would total $45. I have to really watch my expenditures now, as there are several new things that are popping up that I would love to do, but I can't afford to do but more than a couple. I just want to make sure I choose the ones that will be the best ROI since I can't do them all.

    Similarly; which Roxol would you suggest - I see there are several with different R values, etc. like this:
    This seems to be a good compromise between regular pink insulation and products out of my price range?

    I have no experience with the Mitsubishi/similar wall hanging heating/cooling unit that will be installed. Will there be any other device that will be needed to help control climate? My HVAC guy that suggested this seemed to think that would be all I need, but....I do plan on having some sort of separate heating pad device to put on the floor just underneath my listening chair to help in the winter.

    I wish there was someone around me I knew who has a room like this that I could check out, but sadly I know no one. I bet I'll have some new friends soon after, though.:righton: @timind - you have an open invitation at any time during this process to check out the progress and too have a listen when it's finished. Anyone around the area; you're welcome, too. Fun isn't fun unless you share it!
    SirMarc likes this.
  21. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    No kidding!
    timind likes this.
  22. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Green glue is way cheaper and easier to work with than mass loaded vinyl. It's all relative. You'll only do this once, hopefully.
    SandAndGlass and Jerry James like this.
  23. Jerry James

    Jerry James Rorum Fesident Thread Starter

    Excellent point. I would like to avoid possible mis-steps when on bridges I can only cross once.
  24. G E

    G E Forum Resident

    Yup. You haven’t mentioned your age but when you get a few miles on you, nature isn’t as patient. Doesn’t hurt to ask how much for a loo and washstand.

    The first time you are locked out of the house one night.....
  25. G E

    G E Forum Resident

    For wires, why not put a chase in the wall? I did that in my front wall leading to adjacent equipment room. You don’t need to worry about “plenum rated” unless that space doubles as a fresh air return. If in doubt ask the HVAC contractor.

    Something to think about though:
    If you prefer high end cabling it gets expensive real fast after the first meter.

    Don’t forget dedicated 20 amp line for system stack! Don’t mix equipment across lines or you will set yourself up for hum.

    And use lots of receptacles, especially around equipment area. It’s cheap to do when you are at bare studs. At very least get hospital grade receptacles. They grip hard and run $15 give or take.

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