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All Out Listening Room

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As part of its service to audiophiles and videophiles, Mapleshade has provided detailed room tuning and acoustic architectural advice to hundreds of our customers who were upgrading existing spaces (or constructing new rooms from the bottom up) to become perfectionist listening rooms and home theaters. The photos in this gallery represent the most meticulous and complete implementation to date of our portfolio of ultra-natural acoustic space concepts, concepts that Mapleshade has developed and proven over 30 years of setting up recording studios, listening rooms and home theaters. The listening and home theater room pictured was built by our customer, David P., according to Mapleshade specifications for everything from floor to walls to ceiling. To help with the on-location fine tuning of every aspect of David’s system set-up, Mapleshade provided one of our two very gifted, sharp-eared installation specialists, each with over 20 years of perfectionist home theater and listening room experience. David's stunning-sounding room is a beautiful demonstration of Mapleshade's thoroughly ear-tested designs. We've annotated each photo to briefly summarize these concepts.

For truly natural, uncolored-by-the-room playback, the contours and materials of the floor, walls, corners and ceiling are far more important than room size. Fortunately, large rooms are not essential. Great sound can be achieved in rooms as small as 12’ x 9’.

Speakers firing across the room’s shorter dimension sound better than speakers firing down the long dimension.

Ear-to-speaker listening distances of 5’ to 6’ will minimize the possibility of any adverse room acoustic colorations or anomalies—and will provide truly immersive image focus and three-dimensionality, crystal clear ambience, and unparalleled dynamics.

The floor, perhaps surprisingly, is the single most critical element in achieving a great-sounding room. The very best-sounding floors are fully-suspended (not laid directly onto concrete, which is a disastrously poor sink for vibration) with thick solid wood planking on heavy solid wood joists (with no intervening damping layers or plywood) supported only at the walls—the wood of choice being maple, preferably air dried. The floor pictured in the photos meets all these specifications.

Corners cause three-quarters of the acoustic problems in almost any room. Eliminating them (or filling them floor to ceiling with fully loaded corner bookshelves) thoroughly eliminates bass and midrange anomalies without incurring the expense of acoustic damper corner treatments or tube traps.

Standard suspended ceilings of acoustic tile or drywall absorb bass energy and deaden the midrange. Ceilings need to be as rigid as floors and as heavily contoured as possible, preferably using thick exposed ceiling beams or joists as natural diffusers.

The mirror reflections from the standard room’s flat, parallel walls lead to muddy sound and slap echoes. There are better solutions than adding acoustic damping panels or traps; these can cure slap echo but bring with them uneven, unpleasantly colored and deadened midrange sound. The better solution is to break up mirror reflections with built-in or add-on strong contouring of the wall, the more contouring the better because it randomly reflects and diffuses sound in all directions. The very best-sounding wall (and/or add-on diffuser) material is clearly wood, next best is old-fashioned, heavy horsehair plaster over lath. Unfortunately, one of the deadest-sounding materials is today’s lightly-supported drywall.

Also shown is our pioneering approach to almost perfectly omnidirectionality, the Mapleshade ultimate speaker array designed around four of the astonishingly transparent and revealing Gallo Strada 2 speakers and two matching subwoofers—a major step beyond $150,000 megaspeakers for truly natural, immersive soundstage and transparency.

Just as essential as superb, live room acoustics is delivering clean AC power and the ultra-fast AC current transient peaks demanded by really dynamic components. Here, the all-out Mapleshade approach includes our Power Conditioning Strips, Minimalist Wall Outlets and, unseen behind the maple outlets, dedicated AC lines using our custom AC mains wire (to undo the sound-degrading effects of 20 amp Romex) and a custom-built maple fuse box with ceramic fuses (thereby eliminating the slowing of current transients caused by standard circuit breakers)

David’s purpose-built listening room, incorporating all of the above well-proven concepts, has utterly natural, truly clear sound of unparalleled liveness. Experienced audiophiles as well as seasoned musicians are mesmerized by the live, dynamic quality the room imparts to the playback of every kind of music—and the remarkable consistency of the acoustics at every spot in the room, not just for playback but even for ordinary conversation.