The Cardas Room Setup Guide: FAQ: Room Design

A collection of questions we've received over the years about room design

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Basement Design

Q.) Hi George - I am having a new home built. It has a basement room that would be ideal for my audio/video setup and I would like to get your opinion on it. The room has 8 ft  ceilings, it's 13 ft wide and 21.75 ft long. I am going to use it for both my audio and video needs; 80 percent audio, 20 percent video. Can you suggest where I should put the speakers, seating, and side speakers? I will be placing a 60 or 70 inch, thin, TV monitor in the middle of the speakers, but the speakers will be at least 1 or 2 ft in front of the screen. Acoustic recommendations would be helpful also.

 Also, I will be looking for new cables. I have used Cardas Hexlink 5c in the past. I have Odyssey monoblock amps, Classe preamp, Totem Mani 2 speakers. Any suggestions? Thanks, Rick

A.) That sounds excellent!  The  ideal place for the speakers, acoustically, is 43.3 inches from the center of the speaker to the side wall  and 69.3 inches from the back wall. The surrounds would be in mirror image locations.  I would use some high quality "In Walls" in the ceiling.  In a room this size, to be practical, skip the sides (7.1 is for theaters).

I had a room just like this and it was great. One thing I did, was pad the wall surfaces.  I used a thin layer (thicker at first reflection points) of cotton batting and stretched linen cloth over it. I put this on the walls and ceiling to kill the high slap in the room. I used a double pad under the carpet. I used dark blue linen cover cloth and it looked very good. I use an excellent foam material now. It is a melamine base which can be painted any color, using water based paint. It comes in 2 ft squares and is basicly an acoustic wall paper. You can also use a thin 4 lb, Ester Urethane foam that comes in sheets. It's cheap, it works well, but it is only available in dark gray.

With a setup like this, I would use Neutral Reference cables, end to end. - Cheers, George

Q.) Hi george - Thank you very much for your reply! This is mostly an audio room with an added home theater setup. I will place a thin, big TV along the back wall, or a screen on the wall with a separate projector. Which would be the least offensive to the audio sound? I have talked to others and they indicate the TV should not be an issue, if you put your speakers at least 1 or 2 ft in front of the screen. Your opinion would be very useful.

Also, you mentioned that you have some foam material for acoustic treatment. Where would I need to place it and how much does it cost.

A.) Hi Rick - I like projectors, especially when you can isolate them sonically and the room is fairly dark when you are watching. I have a large screen, stretched on a frame, that flips up against the ceiling when not in use. The screen has little or no affect on sound. Similarly, other types of TV sets, if they are set back behind the speakers, should not have an adverse effect on the sound.

The sound absorbtion panels are 2 ft x 2 ft and are ten dollars each. They can be used to cover the walls and ceiling, or just the first reflection points.

Home Theater Set-up

Q.) Dear George, I was looking through your webpage for home theater setup but could not find detailed information similar to the stereo setup. Can you please share your view on it? Thank you very much, Best regards, Peter

A.) In a home theater setup, the rear channels should mirror the fronts if possible. If this not practical then the rears should be limited to frequencies that are higher than the half wave of the room height   (110~ for a 10 foot ceiling). The small monitors used for surrounds generally come close to this. Another great choice is to use dipoles for surrounds like the small Magnapans. Cheers, George

Q.) Thank you very much for the basic idea for mirroring the rears based on the fronts. I would like to ask 2 more question if possible to get a full understanding. Peter

My room is 5 (front) x 7 (side) meters. Calculating with the programme on the website it is: 1.38 from the side walls and 2.24 from the front wall. If I use the below calculation then I will have two pairs of speakers 0.52 meters facing each other.

My first question: In this case what shall I give up?

1. Reduce the distance of the rear speakers from the "back/front" wall and leave the side distance as calculated?

2. Use the calculation as if the room was a "long wall speaker placement" ONLY, at the "back/front" and gain 1 meter extra at the back and take advantage of the golden ratio as well?

A.) Your answer would be number one, reduce the distance to .618 times the side wall distance.

My second question: Where shall I place the middle speaker.

1. In between the two speakers (straight line), in front of the listening position.

2. In front of the listening position on a curve, like on a circle from the listening position? Waves reach the ear sinchronised with the other two front speakers.

A.) Number one will work better. The center channel is mainly for vocal material, so there is a minimal overlap. In any case having the leading edge a tiny bit forward will help the speech intelligibility. If you recess it you will have a near unison resonance in the system because of the rear wall distance. Hey, it is a small tweak and I would position it by ear. I will bet that you end up with it flush. I have a Theata and have tried time delaying to match the curve, but have not found satisfaction that way. Cheers, George