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  29 Years Of Service To Music Lovers

October 2008
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
New Listening Room!
Welcome to my new awesome humble abode.
Part 1

Article By Steven R. Rochlin
Click here to e-mail reviewer


  Music lovers, especially audiophiles, truly need a proper listening space for their high-end audio system. Enjoy the Music.com reviewer Dr. Bill Gaw, for example, has a wonderful barn-sized room with one of the most detailed and fully thought out rooms i have seen within my State and perhaps within my life. Those who have been blessed in hearing his system know how truly amazing in how well it produces music. While my new digs have more humble possibilities, am happy to report that early listening sessions with a 'throw away' amplification system show the room is very promising! As i have said many times, the most important aspect of a high-end audio system is the room, the acoustics and loudspeaker integration.

While some may argue that digital signal processing and room correction can greatly help, this type of band-aid reminds me of the old saying "We'll fix it in the mix." No, you get it right first! Then if you feel that some very minor corrections need to be made, so be it. No amount of digital signal processing can truly fix egregious room anomalies and acoustic flaws. Note that i am not going to try and comment on, by using room correction, you have added yet another product within the pure signal chain and how that may cause other situation in and of itself. Don't get me wrong, there are some mighty impressive DSP/room correction units in the market today. Many of these are capable of producing extremely impressive results. Still, color me in the less = more camp. If there are less things between your source/software to the loudspeakers, the better a chance of hearing the least altered (read: purest) quantity of information.


The Room
Built back in the late 1800's, this historic home is constructed from 8-inch thick solid concrete. When i say solid, i truly do mean extremely solid. The wall behind the loudspeakers, which is 12 feet wide by 10 feet high, is your typical wood frame and sheetrock construction. Due to the overall room size, 16 x 25 x 10 (WxDxH in feet), i decided to have the system on the long side of the room. My reasoning is that it greatly reduces the chance of highly undesirable early sound reflections from the side walls. These reflections confuse the ear and cause audible smearing of the music. Also of note are the openings to each side of where the speakers are currently positioned, because at some point i may move the speakers within this location. This would 'add' four more feet to the rooms' depth. These openings also provide a space for the sound to 'breathe'. Only though experimentation will the truth be revealed about final loudspeaker positioning and will also be dependant on the loudspeakers themselves.


Looking towards the drum set

From the other side of the room


Room Acoustics
Of course the room's acoustic properties play a vital role, and future plans are to use movie theater type drapes to cover the windows for sound absorption, while on the walls and ceiling will have strategically-placed sound absorption/diffusion devices. One of my favorite listening rooms was in the early 1990's. My decision back then, after much experimentation, was to try the live-end dead-end (LEDE) technique. For those unfamiliar with LEDE, i basically had 100 percent coverage with sound absorption devices on the entire wall behind the speakers, plus all of the side walls and ceiling a few feet past the first reflection point. After many variations, i also added a relatively small amount of absorption material to the 'live' wall behind me to reduce direct rear wall reflections. Therefore the majority of the wall behind my ears was live, yet wanted to not have sound bounce unimpeded from the rear wall directly to my ears. Also of note is that i prefer a listening chair that does not block the rear of my ears (read: no tall backed chairs allowed). The chair within these photos is strictly a temporary situation as i just moved in and am getting a better idea of what needs to be dealt with. The hanging lamp on the ceiling will be removed, new listening chair purchased, etc. As mentioned earlier, the white drapes will be replaced with more acoustically absorptive dark red drapes. (ADDED: Already purchased and installed said drapes and they indeed made a positive contribution to achieving better sound)


The Drums
Tama Stewart Copeland Signature Drum Set The drums is an interesting proposition that is not under negotiation no matter how many e-mails i receive. Yes, i do realize that what is pictured within the living are my Roland V-Session electronic drums with mesh heads, so there are virtually no sympathetic vibration issues. Am breaking free from the 'quiet' daemons of electronic drums and going back to the wonderful reality of my youth per se. Due to being a classically-trained musician with decades of experience, including touring and the recording studio, it brings me joy to get back into the musically creative side of life. In the next day or so as of this writing, an extensive acoustic drum set will be arriving with a staggering array of percussion bits and pieces (with more to be added over time). The 'basic' set will begin with Tama's Stewart Copeland's Signature special edition drum set plus various percussion bits such as a full octave of crotales (see/hear the drum set, with crotales beginning at 3:43 seconds in this Your Tube video). Also of note is that Wikipedia also provides a good description of crotales as used within various forms of both classical and modern music. As a drummer and true percussionist of the melodic variety, this acoustic set will be quite intricate in nature when fully fleshed out. It will offer many different hues to expressively paint my musical desires. Thanks go out to Donny at Alto Music for his help in gathering up the bits for this amazing kit that is personally signed by The Police drummer/percussionist Stewart Copeland.

While this adds to the possibility of sympathetic vibration issues that can technically cause minor 'distortions' to the music reproduced from the sound system within the same room, at this point in time i'd rather remove the sound system than be denied my freedom to enjoy an acoustic drum/percussion set up. So listen up those who have exhausted their conspiracy theories and may choose to blame the drum set for my less than positive comments within future reviews because i have a solution that has worked wonderfully in the past. Beware, as there will be very thick fabric covering the drum set during serious listening sessions. In other words, the drum set will have acoustic dampening fabric over it and, as such, will become an oddly shaped absorption/diffusion device. The electric drums are staying, as the overall setup will be 'in the round' with acoustic up front and the Roland V-Session turned around and becomes the rear drum set. Did i mention this will be extremely extensive setup? At some point there may be a need to 'frame' me in with a fully enveloped multi-tier equipment mounting system, though let us not get ahead of ourselves shall we. Of course wearing proper ear protection will be a must during higher volume level sessions or those that cross a certain threshold of time versus SPL.

As a side note, for those curious about how one can acquire such a drum set given the economy. While my first reaction is that it is none of your business..... Basically, over the years i have had a type of 'investment into pleasures fund' where it could be watch or two... or whatever. These things get sold and said funds are migrated to other things. Was cameras (Hasselblad/Leica), then watches (Patek Philippe), then a race car (Van Diemen Formula 2000), and now am retiring as a Formula 2000 driver as have earned top podium position as the SCCA's North American Road Racing Driver's Championship my second year at it. So am retiring as the 2008 Championship Driver and and the car will 'transform' into a drum set. As for the economy... let us avoid politics, religion and economic discussions shall we.


The System
Getting back to the high-end audio system, there are some broad brush strokes as to what the new reference system will consist of. The electrical power here is clean and will be running multiple dedicated 20 Ampere circuits with proper single grounding point. Power will be further filtered and balanced. While the usual source components, such as a turntable and digital disc player are in the cards, a music/video server is being investigated and Dr. Bill Gaw will be consulted as this seems to be one of his specialties. Speaking of video, those with keen eyes realize it is a Pioneer Elite Kuro Pro-111FD monitor. This unit is widely considered one of, if not the best unit of its kind available within the marketplace today. And yes, once i have a few hundred hours on her she will be professionally calibrated. Early usage of the set shows a very promising and realistic image reproduction. For the time being am using the AVS Forum's break in technique via thumb drive and video settings (thanks D-Nice! and everyone at the board).

And before i forget, yes the wood table between me and the loudspeakers will be removed during serious listening sessions.

Over the passing months i shall be updating the progress of this room within my editorials. Equipment manufacturers can feel free to contact me as i consider the best of the best within this new reference system. My hopes are to help others who, after moving to a new home, can read this series of articles and have a step-by-step plan of action. Setting up a new listening room can be quite a challenge, and as such perhaps the trials and tribulations of my upcoming experiences will be helpful in some small yet meaningful way. Of course in the end what really matters is that we all...

Enjoy the Music (King Crimson "Indiscipline" right now),

Steven R. Rochlin

 "I do remember one thing.
It took hours and hours but...
By the time I was done with it,
I was so involved, I didn't know what to think.
I carried it around with me for days and days.
Playing little games
Like not looking at it for a whole day
And then... looking at it.
To see if I still liked it.
I did.

I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat...

The more I look at it,
The more I like it.
I do think it's good.
The fact is...
No matter how closely I study it,
No matter how I take it apart,
No matter how I break it down,
It remains consistent.
I wish you were here to see it.

I like it."












































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