Room Treaments - Where To Begin...

Hi All: I have read countless comments that the best thing you can do to improve the listening experience is to acoustically treat the room. But where does one gain the expertise to do so? There are so many products/options out there. I have no clue where to begin (or if I even need to do it)... Thanks!


I am by no means an expert, but I would say the first place to start is a large rug on the floor.  The second place may be smaller rugs hung on the wall behind the speakers.  After this it probably gets more difficult:  bass traps in the corners, or acoustic traps along the side walls?  

I suggest you reach out to GIK Acoustics for one on one consultation. The consultation is free and they are the best in the business, IMO. 

My recommendation would be to read up on the subject whether online or your local library.

An Acoustics Handbook would likely be too rigorous and delve into theory with formula and equations focusing on a physical principle that defines 1/100 at a time of the whole concept of Room Acoustics.

Look for something like HIFi Systems for a balanced practical understanding of what treatment is and how it is applied in a listening environment.

Then start to ask informed questions working toward a solution that is applicable to your circumstance.

Maybe someone here could recommend a suitable Title ...

Room treatment needs to address three main items:

  1. Bass reverberation time
  2. First reflections
  3. Slap echo

For (1), large bass traps in corners. For (2), absorptive panels at sidewalls and ceiling first-reflection points. For (3), provide absorption/diffusion on parallel surfaces until a walking-around clap test doesn't result in any pinging. The thicker panels you use for (2) and (3), the more they will help with (1).

In general, avoid panels that are purely absorptive, as they tend to unbalance the room, absorbing HF more than LF. Panels like the GIK Alpha, RPG BAD, or most products from ASC incorporate some sound scattering and will control excess reflections without over-deadening.

GIK and ASC give consultations -- last time I looked, it was for a small refundable fee. It's worth it. I found it useful to get two opinions, then decide myself how to proceed. Expect it may need some experimentation.

Another great resource is the series of YouTube videos by Jesco. They are aimed at mastering and recording engineers, but there is much that the home audiophile can take from them.


It is more difficult to correct what you haven’t yet measured/heard.

Now we’re getting somewhere. You can read all you want, it is of no use until and unless you learn to hear what they’re talking about. Fortunately this is super easy.

Clap your hands. Might seem silly but the lowly hand clap produces a wide range of frequencies from a point source making it ideal for learning about acoustics. So one clap, and listen. Pay attention to the way the clap itself sounds, the first echo reflection, and how the sound trails off.

If it is a thud with no reverb your room is dead and acoustic panels will only make it worse. If there is a sharp echo or ringing sound this is flutter echo you will want to break it up with diffusion panels. If there is no door and opens to a lively room you will have a long decay to deal with.

Now move around. Clap/listen/move, Stand at one side of the room and clap, repeat from the other. Won’t take long, minute or two, you will have mapped out your room and in a way you will actually understand because you have heard it.

Then get a sheet of Owens Corning 703 acoustic panel at the hardware store. Repeat your hand clapping only this time moving the panel around to different places.

It is easy to pay someone like GIK a lot of money to tell you what to do. Here’s how that goes. Mike Lavigne has by far the best room with the best acoustics I ever seen. Mike paid a bundle for the very best professional acoustic design. That’s not why his room is so great. Mike then put in the time to listen and figure out what is really going on and correct the room correction.

There really is no substitute for listening.

15 years ago, the realtor had a funny look on his face when I was walking around the new house, with furnishings, and occasionally clapped my hands or even whistled. Before the wife moved in, I was able to try out a few arrangements for speaker placement and a listening position as well. Paid off as good as it could given the circumstances. 

 Now days, when she leaves for work, I can adjust the furnishings in the room to better suit the result.

I am an engineer with experience in acoustics, though mostly in the field of explosives (don't ask or ----).  Equalizers or DSP do not solve your room problems, altering your room solves or helps with your room problems. The first question is what is the problem.  In my current room it was a massive bass problem, in the end I built 2 very large bass traps (1.5 x 0.8 x 0.8 m). These help enormously, any smaller made little difference.  I also use 2 subwoofers which help with balance. 

  Now wouldn't that be a cool job and quite a challenge. "What? I didn't hear anything."

Recently, I found this PDF available for free download. There are newer editions available.

THE MASTER HANDBOOK OF ACOUSTICS 4th Edition by F. Alton Everest


That is a serious book. Good Lord. 10 pages of table of content.

My hole booklet about acoustics was 10 pages long, WITH a table of content and one "this page is intended to be blank".

That guy had something to say.. :-)


Don't judge a book by its cover. The cover says, "Acoustics hard. Use headphones."

I used GIK. Very good people to work with. I have a 12 by 21 room. Cost about 1200.. they are 6 to 8 inches thick. I could buy more bass traps but haven’t put up on my list. I can walk around the room and the music sounds good with only a little bass peak in a corner.There are many things that come to play., sub placement and speaker placement are two items that need to be dealt with.

Recently, I put speakers and subs on springs. This helped as much as the room treatments.  It is much easier when it is a dedicated room.

Vicoustics is another option. They give a detailed analysis of your room with pictures you send them. No cost to you. Good luck ! 

GIK is good, but I finally gave up on an order that was going on three months! Be prepared to wait. Ended up buying from other sources that could fill the order. Hopefully things will get better for them. I ordered diffusion panels.  Better to treat reflection points with diffusion based on my experience.  Absorption can make your music sound lifeless. 

HELLO, Dennis Foley anyone! May cost you 20,000 but what the hell. Or you can diy which is the way to go. 

@grannyring I'm ok your heels at 3 months. My order was supposed to ship last week. Considering canceling as well. Be ready for delays with GIK. 

Wow! these delays with GIK are huge. There was nothing like this when I bought my GIK panels. It was really quick back then, but that was a few years back. It seems like GIK are now victims to their own success, and unable to scale to accommodate a larger business volume.

If we spend as much time jerking with the room as we did looking at new audio gear, we would have already developed a sense of intuition about room acoustics. 

I think most of us who don't have a dedicated listening room may never know how good our systems can sound with everything in its right place. But I also know, having been in a few listening rooms, that sound really doesn't care if you have a dedicated listening room. You can tilt your living room in the right direction with very smart choices in decor.

Rugs, absorbtion and diffusion panels are great but the ceilings are also important. The best rooms I've been in had great ceilings.

Got a room with a flat ceiling? Got all the usual stuff done? Focus on the ceiling.

Haven't started thinking about acoustics? Focus your first efforts on the front wall and the side walls, ceiling and floor that extend 20-30% toward you. This is the most critical area. Softening this area will sharpen the focus. Everything else is also important but start here.

That's just my intuition.



Room Treaments - Where To Begin...

Beginning is not at placing acoustic panels or analysis of room characteristics. First thing you need to do is to seal all possible acoustic leaks. Imagine that your room is the vessel filled with water, then try to understand where the water could leaked out of the vessel, find that leaking spots and seal it as good as you can…we talking about AC or water pipes walls entering points, cables or electric outlets, windows and doors gaps etc.

OP: I have read countless comments that the best thing you can do to improve the listening experience is to acoustically treat the room. But where does one gain the expertise to do so? There are so many products/options out there. I have no clue where to begin (or if I even need to do it)

Already told you how to gain the expertise: clap and listen. Use your ears. That simple.

What I left out is you don’t even need to do that. By far the best thing you can do is simply fine tune your speaker placement. By fine tune I mean use a tape measure to get them precisely symmetrical and equidistant. Next take everything apart, clean all the contacts, and when reconnecting this time take care to route all the wires keeping them away from all the other wires, and off the floor, and for that matter off of everything. No more tangles of wires right on top of each other.

A big reason so many audiophiles think the room is important is because they haven’t isolated anything and so are transmitting a huge amount of speaker energy straight into the floor, walls and ceiling. If you energize every surface of your room this way then of course your room is gonna be a huge problem. Duh. Effectively isolate your speakers and other components on Nobsound springs and this will eliminate a lot of that. More and more are catching on.

Between the clap test and the tape measure and the springs you will have spent an afternoon and about $100 and achieved results that with GIK would take $1500 and 3 months. Also you would have learned an incredible lot about sound, vs learning how to stick expensive panels on a wall. 


Appreciate your insight. Excuse my lack of knowledge, but if my speakers (Spendor D9.2) are base spiked to carpet, aren't they already effectively isolated?




Textbook RT60 for a mastering control room, mostly accomplished with natural treatments, a bit of hidden in art absorbers, etc.. 

But first a question (s ) to the OP about your tastes, what is your resident orchestra and where are your preferred seats in the hall ? Have you heard your Spendor in a better room or system ? what does it do that yours does not ? Congrats on the Spendor BTW, most excellent.




This is a question of room acoustics, not soundproofing a room. Two different topics.

OK - here's the trick... to effectively correct the room acoustics, you have to measure the room acoustics and figure out what needs help.  Simple...  you wouldn't go to the doctor and say "I need medicine" because you know the next question is going to be "for what"?  you HAVE to describe the problem first and foremost.  Get a set of frequencies recorded at the same level, play them back and at least statically measure the room response at the listening position.  Back in the day, that would be a Stereophile test cd and a Radio Shack dB meter... nowadays, you can use your phone instead of the meter and I am sure there are some freebie apps with frequency sweeps.  Measure FIRST, then address the problems.  By the way - GIK may be longer lead times than pre-civid, but they ARE good products and reasonable prices and have good people on staff to make recommendations FREE if necessary.

tomic601, jwpstayman


Thanks for the responses - I guess what I am saying is that I enjoy my system and have not identified a particular problem - I just wonder if it could be better with some room treatments. P.S. I also have a JL Audio E110 paired with Spendors...

Audiotools is a good start, you can run the RT60 test w a handclap but a popped ballon is better.  Audiotools runs on iphone or ipad. I would not trust the iphone microphone below 120 hz. Audio Control ( Lynnwood, WA make a decent affordable calibrated microphone that can be trusted ). Of course you can get there….eventually..just by listening….you can also wander in the desert randomly looking for water…

Jim Smith’s book - Get Better Sound may also be of use. 

Acoustics is part science, part art and some luck….but my mentors put together great rooms you can hear…in the reference recordings they help create….

Best to you


on the issue of spikes vs springs…or ?….. probably best to get a reputable product ( there are many  ) from a vendor that allows returns and listen, tweak and decide for yourself.

I would start w your Spendor dealer. I know a really good one with a great ear, exacting standards and impeccable ethics…not prone to hyperbole but an innovator in his own right…let me know if you need his firm name.


no, this is your insinuation, the OP was asking about room treatment not room acoustic, so soundproofing is under the topic and first thing to start with. 



  There may be a splitting of hairs here. Let's ask the OP to be more exact about the question or provide more information pertaining to his situation.

 I do see the relevance of your response, as some do want to 'insulate' their listening experience from nearby neighbors.

It helps to keep in mind that speaker placement is a huge part of overall room acoustics. As you place speakers, the mid and side channels of stereo (the sounds that make stereo, "stereo") in most cases radiates strongly at side angles and not straight ahead. (Which is why "perfectly symmetrical" is NOT always ideal, based on your room interactions.) This is also why ideal placement can be elusive. Placement is super critical. You may have speakers positioned perfectly for the in phase L and R channels (imaging) and completely wrong for the mid and side signals. Speaker angles and placement is just as important to room interaction (maybe more) as any treatments. 

50% of the sound you hear is the room and electrical quality. I say that because up to the sheetrock the only thing behind it, is electrical. From the sheetrock out is the actual space. You're going to find that most of what is behind sheetrock is for soundproofing and being a good neighbor. It has little to do with room acoustics. If the room is air tight it is air tight. I like a ported room and the ability vent the room for higher SPL.

Add as much acoustic treatment as you can stand and add your subs. Tune them in . NO MAINS. Now add your mains. (I don't mean remove them from the room either. Just turn them off for sub set up). Now add the mains. Place them, get it right too. Get a tape measure and green painters tape. When your done. DECOUPLE all the speakers and be amazed. Spring, Pods, Air, innertubes, levitation, I don't care.. Decouple all the subs and main speakers. 

By treating the room and addressing vibration control. 50-60% of the sound you hear is pretty clean. LOW distortion. Tweak away... The other 40-50% is recording, source, amps, cables and speakers.

There I said something worth a crap.. :-)

Merry Christmas



Appreciate your insight. Excuse my lack of knowledge, but if my speakers (Spendor D9.2) are base spiked to carpet, aren’t they already effectively isolated?

No. Not at all. Not that a lot of people haven’t been misinformed into thinking this. The most common false narrative is that a spike is a kind of diode. Or it couples. The people pushing these ideas never can keep it straight and are immune to the illogic of their mutually exclusive theories.

I know this very well by the way having been one of them, thoroughly indoctrinated in this nonsense until the reality of it being BS was proven false by some very profound and obvious listening tests.

Isolation is pretty much only accomplished by springs. Been used in industry, science, engineering, now audio. Not just any springs however. We had one of the biggest loons in the field here hawking "super stiff springs" that were way to stiff to work properly. Consequently giving springs a bad name. Which was his goal. Everything he did was intended to screw with audiophiles.

Anyway, point is springs in order to work properly must be sized to the load. Ideally they will allow free movement in all planes and at a fundamental resonance of about 4Hz. Below that and vibrations will be transmitted to the component, but it won’t matter because only really large amplitude matter then and we don’t hear that low anyway. Above that where we do hear with great sensitivity springs filter vibrations, a lot.

So the trick is to use springs just stiff enough to result in the component bouncing on them at about 4Hz. This is effective isolation.

What happens then is the component still generates its own internal vibrations. But now the only thing vibrating is the component. So vibrations dissipate and die much faster. The result is easy to hear. Lower background noise for blacker background, and much greater detail, together creates a sense of improved dynamics.

On spikes what happens is the component vibrates, the spikes transmit this into the floor or shelf, which now that is vibrating, and like a bell rings right back into the component. Also vibrations travel all through the floor, up the walls to the ceiling, up the rack to the turntable or DAC, tube amp- all adversely affected.

Real easy to get a set of Nobsound springs, only $30, prove it to yourself. Which is what I did. Way better than anything else you will find, at least until you get up to Townshend which are a lot better but also a lot more expensive. Worth it. I always recommend try and learn cheap, proof of concept, then once you know what you’re doing go big if you want big. But you will be surprised how much improvement you will get from a couple sets of Nobsound. Then if you go Townshend, wow, whole other level.

Here's a quick demo using a seismograph showing how speaker energy that goes into the floor comes right back up into the speaker. Notice this is on a concrete floor. So much for the idea concrete is the answer!



Soundproofing is not only about to be nice to you neighbors or relatives. Sound is Energy and if you have leak of energy you have nothing to work with using all those panels and fancy tricks. 



Now there is something that I have never considered. You are correct. Makes me wonder how live outside concerts have to deal with since they can't keep the sound 'together?'. It also reminds that when I was young and playing in a marching band, it could be difficult hearing other instruments as you marched or turned in step.

  Appreciate learning about aspects of a subject not yet considered.

Thanks dill for the link. I’ll be reading and watching videos for hours to come!

All the best.


First thing you need to do is to seal all possible acoustic leaks. Imagine that your room is the vessel filled with water, then try to understand where the water could leaked out of the vessel, find that leaking spots and seal it as good as you can…we talking about AC or water pipes walls entering points, cables or electric outlets, windows and doors gaps etc.


You can do all of this but it is sure makes for a hard listen. IF you don’t vent the room, YOUR ears are going to take all the pressure. The smaller the room the worse it is.. I like to be able to open windows or doors and be able to cover the openings with heavy acoustic curtains. They act like a weir too, they let waves out the openings and the curtains will dampen a certain amount. When the wave hits the walls in the other room and come back very little of the wave makes it back through the opening. The window it’s a one way, the pressure wave is gone..

I’m not into an Infinite Baffle room. I like mine ported and to be able to vary that..:-)




  Another point to consider. Just what can you get by with in the way maybe slightly opening a window with heavy curtains hanging before it? It could go on forever, but still I wonder. I do have a small coat closet in my listening room packed with the usual stuff. Even that would cause a difference when its door is open or shut. 

  Used to have a set of ceiling tiles Hinged together about the room. Just an experiment, yet the results were undeniable for better or worse depending on placement.

A rug, some toss pillows, a throw or two, and maybe a tapestry or do not need hideous looking things hanging everywhere. I use Tannoys with concentric drivers, the toe in is quite extreme, and they are front ported. The room interaction is minimal. I sit approximately 7 to 7.5 feet away from the speakers. They are about the same distance apart.