Archive for category Media Room

Taming the Cube with Cloudscape®

When the University of the Pacific reached out to help tame the acoustics of their makerspace called “The Cube”, many different concerns were underlined about the space, its uses, and the problems they faced.

The Cube exterior view
“The Cube”

These concerns covered more than just the room dimensions – size, height, HVAC, glass walls, etc…. there were functional requirements for collaboration, classes, and workshops. The overwhelming acoustic problems involved the near constant noises generated by the vast array of equipment in this space – sewing machines, large format printers, plotting cutters, 3D printers, scanners, and every other modern tool for allowing the creative minds at their school to create. It was a cacophony of stepper motors, fans, and moving parts – which made collaboration very difficult.

The vast array of equipment means a variety of different noises as well.

The other parameter that needed to be maintained was the ability to reconfigure the layout of the equipment without affecting the acoustic treatment in the space. This removed almost all of the walls in the space as possible locations for treatment. This left the ceiling as the only viable space left for treatment, but with an array of lights and exposed HVAC systems, there were few treatments that would be easy to implement and still be effective.

Glass walls and the need to reconfigure “The Cube” limited the locations where acoustic treatment could be installed.

The decision was made to creatively weave Cloudscape® Baffles into all the spaces available in the ceiling. Dodging duct-work and suspended lighting rails was made possible with careful planning and execution – and the results were immediately notable. (Also noticeable was that the baffles had very little impact on the lighting which is vital in any makerspace.)

Cloudscape® Baffles were carefully integrated around the HVAC and lighting present in the space.

“…The sound baffles you recommended finally got installed in my makerspace about two weeks ago and I wanted to send a quick thank you since they’ve made a very noticeable acoustic difference to the room, and it’s a lot more pleasant in here now. “

Chris Crawford – Innovation Spaces Manager (University of the Pacific)

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Ken Fritz – 1942-2022

Kenneth E. Fritz

Back in April 2021, Acoustics First® Posted a blog about a listening room designed and built by Ken Fritz. This is an overly-simplified statement, as he not only designed and built the structure, but also the massive speakers, the high-tech turntable, and many of the other components. The next month, John Gardner, Nick Colleran, and Jim DeGrandis were invited to witness Ken’s masterpiece of a room in person – and now, a year later, Ken is no longer with us.

Nick Colleran standing in the “sweet spot” in front of the massive speakers. Notice the large cabinets in the foreground, which Ken was working on, even as ALS was beginning to take its toll.

Let’s back up a little bit. The history of this room goes back decades, and there is a common history between this room and the Acoustics First® HiPer Panel®. While Ken was finishing the structure back in the early 2000’s, he was focused on building a room that would help his speakers reach their ultimate potential. He had researched the geometry of the finest halls and theaters and their construction, but he was looking to take it one step further. When he was shopping for acoustic treatments for the space, he came across Acoustics First® – which was near his home. At the time, Nick Colleran and John Gardner were working on ideas for a new type of multi-layer, perforated composite, which would eventually become the HiPer Panel®. After the product completed development, and its patent was still pending, Ken’s room became the first installation of the new product.

Ken (left) and John Gardner reminiscing about the “good ole’ days.” Ken was always happy to talk about gear, music, and audio.

Ken consulted with Nick and John multiple times during the long construction process, his uncompromising attitude toward his space was always looking for the “best way, no matter what it took.” His bass traps were styled after professional mastering facilities, where the entire corner was recessed and filled with low-frequency absorption. His ceiling was modeled to direct the reflections toward the upper rear of the room, above the balcony. The speakers were hand built, as was his turntable – all of which were marvels of engineering and detail.

Ken designed and built his turntable himself – but had a scientific instrument firm engineer the table it rested on to remove all vibrations. Hidden by the fabric wall covering (behind the painting) are some of the earliest installed HiPer Panels®.

I will never forget Ken’s enthusiasm when he indulged in listening to his favorite recording of the “1812 Overture”, complete with Howitzer cannons. The magnitude of the sound would have shaken everything in the room, had Ken not meticulously isolated and anchored everything. The sound was pure and clean, even at 105dB (standing at the rear of the room – and balanced perfectly.)

Even at 105dB the system was clear and well balanced throughout the spectrum – this is no small feat – especially considering that the measurements were taken at the rear of the room.

But Ken wasn’t just about the music or the gear, he also liked to educate and learn. After listening to the recording, he went on to discuss how they had recorded the cannon shots, and even had an audio sample of the different “takes” done during the setup. This was Ken… he wasn’t just interested in how it sounded, but the process of how they got there.

We hope that Ken’s enthusiasm continues to inspire those who have an uncompromising love of music and sound, and that he will be remembered as one of the most fervent proponents of “following your dream.”

Thanks, Ken.

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Absorption & Diffusion – The Construction Specifier

For the May 2022 edition of “The Construction Specifier,” Acoustics First was asked to illustrate the use of absorption and diffusion in creating optimal acoustic spaces. The article is a great reference for understanding the types of acoustic absorbers and diffusers, as well as some use scenarios like offices, critical listening spaces, and larger communal spaces.

Note: This version has been edited and the advertisements are removed. The full published version of the May 2022 digital edition can be found on The Construction Specifier’s website here.

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The HiPer® Panel and Ken Fritz’s Dream

Ken Fritz completes his dream theater, and behind the scenes is the HiPer® Panel by Acoustics First®

There are many home theaters of note, but rarely is one created (at this scale) by the singular dream and dedication of one man. Ken Fritz involved Acoustics First® early in the project to perform acoustic measurements of the space, and his theater became the first large-scale installation of our newly developed HiPer® Panel. From beginning to end, Ken says that he spent more than 25 years on the realization of his dream – and others have taken notice.

Ken’s vision had a scale that is rarely seen in home theaters.

There have been numerous write-ups of Ken’s theater, which was constructed (from the ground up) specifically for this purpose. The walls are hurricane grade block construction, the roof-line is constructed to improve the acoustics, the walls are clad in HiPer® Panels, the bass emanates effortlessly from in-wall enclosures – and just look at those custom built arrays that Ken designed and constructed by hand! This project is more than just a labor of love, it is an obsession with excellence.

Even a custom-designed and hand-built turntable feeds Ken’s dream environment.

This obsession covers every aspect of the room and the system, with everything being either built by hand, customized to his specifications, or simply the best you can get! If there is a “home theater mountain,” Ken built a skyscraper at the summit – but don’t take our word for it…

You can watch the one-hour documentary telling the story behind the dream – in Ken’s own words.

Watch the documentary of what has been called “The Best Stereo System in the World.”

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ArtDiffusor® Model C and Model F – Similar, yet different.

Model C vs Model F

We often get asked about the functionality of the different diffusers, and one of the frequently asked questions is about the differences between the ArtDiffusor® Model C and ArtDiffusor® Model F.  We will cover some of similarities and differences in the design, functionality and use of these two devices.

Design.

The Model C and Model F use identical math to come up with their basic structure, they even have angled faces – the main difference between the two is that the Model F elements are ½ of the Model C’s height, length and width – and then it is duplicated 4 times in the same footprint…  The Model C is nominally 2’ x 2’ x 4” deep.  The Model F is four quadrants that are nominally 1’ x 1’ x 2” deep – like little scaled down Model C’s… This makes them visually similar and aesthetically compatible.  This low profile design makes the Model F more desirable for ceiling installs in spaces with very limited headroom – like basement studios that have low ceilings.

 

Performance

Due to the different size of the elements on the two devices, they have very different frequencies at which they are most effective.  The Model C is a mid-frequency diffuser by design… having larger elements and deeper wells than the Model F.  The Model F is primarily a high-frequency diffuser, due to the small elements and lower profile.  Both diffusers are tuned to different frequencies as their “primary range,” and while they do affect lower and higher frequencies than they are designed for – it is to a lesser degree, or the product of absorption.

What does this mean?

The Model C has a primary design range of 1KHz to 4KHz.  This is where it is primarily designed to work.  It can and does diffuse below 1KHz and over 4KHz – just to a lesser degree than its primary design range.

The Model F has a primary design range of 2KHz to 8KHz, and again, it does diffuse outside of that range, but to a lesser degree.

The angled caps of both the Model C and Model F help to extend their high frequency range by reflecting sound in different directions at higher frequencies – causing the sound to scatter spatially.  The different heights of the elements cause sound reflections to be offset “temporally,” or in time. The sound that hits the higher elements is reflected sooner than the sound that hits the lower elements – travelling further before it is reflected.   This time offset, changes the “Phase Coherency” of the reflection; the larger the difference in the heights, the greater the offset in time.

The size of the elements matters as well. The shorter wavelengths of high frequencies can diffract and scatter off of the smaller elements of the Model F more readily than low frequencies, which see the Model F as a slightly angled & mostly flat surface. However, the lower frequencies are more affected by the larger and deeper elements of the Model C.

How do these differences help define their use?

The Model C is a great all around diffuser – it covers a wide range of frequencies, throws a very predictable 2D diffusion pattern, and it is tuned to a very musical range.

The Model F is a great high-frequency diffuser.  It targets a few very specific, yet important issues.  High frequencies are responsible for some nasty problems in rooms.  Flutter echoes, ringing, comb filtering, and other artifacts are particularly noticeable in higher frequencies.  If your room is otherwise performing well acoustically, the Model F can help tackle that last hurdle to make a good room into a great room.

Model F and C

Many critical listening environments use both the Model C and Model F to tune the diffusion in their space.

 

While the white Aeolians® on the back wall are the visual focal-point on in Big3 Studio A, look closely at the ceiling and you will notice a large array of black Model C’s and Model F’s. These help to intermix the diffusion of different frequencies in the large control room.

Due to their aesthetic and functional compatibility, many rooms benefit from using both.  Model C’s addressing the bulk of the Mid-range diffusion, and the Model F smoothing out the top end.

I hope that this highlights the unique properties of both the ArtDiffusor® Model C & ArtDiffusor® Model F – and helps to demystify their function and use in your space.

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