In this article we’ll go over the process of installing the Primacoustic package we used to treat the Cinema Sound Studio B acoustically.
In any room treatment situation, you must start with the speakers. Obviously having the best speakers possible (which you can
afford) is critical. We speak about how to choose the best speakers in this article. Once you’ve gotten those speakers, then it’s about where to put them. For surround, we discuss the best place to put them in this article (including the magic triangle for stereo).
The next thing to consider is how to acoustically decouple those speakers from the stands/table they’re on. Here is the first place that Primacoustic delivers some of the best solutions in the industry. Read in this article about how to decouple your speakers from their mounts and stands – including using the Recoil Stabilizers from Primacoustic…which are the super easy way to get the best “float” for your speakers.
After you get this all handled, the hard part begins: locating the primary reflections in your room, and figuring out what to do about them.
The Issue with Primary Reflections
We spent a lot of time dealing with primary reflections in the MZed Member Education, and there are several articles here on
Cinema Sound which talk about how to deal with locating them. The basic method is using some kind of visually reflective device and sliding it around your walls, while someone sits at the listening position and looks for a tweeter from one of the speakers in the room to appear. Once they do, you mark that place on the wall and understand you’ll need to treat that part of the room. Usually, the most egregious offender is the top of your desk.
For the wall issues, Primacoustic provides several solutions. We used was two solutions: the Broadway panels and the Printable panels. Take a look at the specs for them and notice how much they absorb “broad” band frequencies. They are light, look smart, and come in several colors. We also used the printable panels for the cool-factor they bring; allowing us to happily display the Cinema Sound and Primacoustic logos in our studio while doing an admirable job of reducing secondary and tertiary reflections around the room in the mid to upper frequencies.
Because our portable studio has no ceiling and because reflections off of parallel ceilings and floors is nearly as damning as parallel walls, we used the Nimbus panels to knock out any reflections from the speakers which might be vertical. We also positioned them in a way that allowed the reflections to be sent away or into rear-mounted Broadway panels.
Lastly, the bass summing which happens at nearly every corner or wall of any room had to be dealt with. We used the Fulltrap, which is basically a Broadway panel with additional hardware to capture bass frequencies. Sort of a “catch all” broadband frequency trap of sorts. Because once assembled these units weigh over 50 lbs, we were unable to mount them directly to the walls, but we are still able to get significant bass reduction in problem portions of the studio with these attached to the floor.
With the exception of the Recoil Stabilizers, which received the nominal installation recommended by the instructions, every other installation we did had to be customized in order to fit our custom built portable studio. Please read this article on how we built and reinforced the studio structure in order to handle the weight of the treatment.
Here’s a fun youtube video of me in time-lapse hanging the various panels in the studio.
Broadway & Paintables
Naturally, we knew that the Broadway and Paintable panels must be attached to the wall, but we also knew that the fibre board which comprised the bulk of the wall would never support any weight. We also knew that the position of the frame and studs of the walls were too wide in order to use them as mounting points.
We, instead, attached eye hooks to the tops of the frame. We ran the transparent 50 lb fishing test line from the eye hooks to the impaler clips which we attached to each panel at the top only and spaced from the edge per the instructions. We used a level and tape measure to account for the stretch of the line as weight was applied, and although there was some trial and error, the end result was easy to achieve.
One of the benefits of using fishing test is a completely temporary install which in no way weakens the fibre board walls or their acoustic effectiveness, and can be easily reinstalled in the same fashion quickly and easily should the studio be taken down without any damage to the panels. The impaler clips don’t have to leave the panels and the fishing test line is inexpensive and easy to manage. Depending on the position of the eye hooks, the top of the panels can even hang an inch away from the walls which adds the benefit of sending any unabsorbed reflections down into the floor instead of back toward the listening position.
The only assembly required for these panels is attaching the impaler clips to them.
Fulltrap Bass Traps
Although the bulk of the installation of the bass traps is found in their assembly, we knew the 200+ lb weight of the four we
had would severely tax the structural integrity of our walls. So we happily mounted them to the floor with carpeted squares on top of the carpet of the room itself so they have limited acoustic coupling. Although an ideal situation would be to have them higher, even with them on the floor, they significantly reduce bass “flubbiness” in the room and force the speakers to reveal the true nature of the bass content of a mix – instead of hearing it mushed from a wall.
By far the most difficult task was mounting and positioning the Nimbus panels. We also had to deviate most strongly from the instructions in their correct installation. The instructions call for a simple ceiling mounting where four provided cables are easily attached to hooks in the Nimbus panels. Would we have been able to use the ceiling of the room the studio is in for this purpose, we could have easily positioned and mounted each panel in about 15 minutes. The super facile and convenient
mechanisms attached to the cables allows for shortening and lengthening of the cables with a flick of the wrist and index-thumb grab.
We do want to note that the eye hooks which come with the Nimbus panels must be bent open, because the opening in the eye hooks through which the cables’ end loop must pass is far too narrow. You’ll have to damage the cable to get it to enter the eye hook without forcing the eye hook open further. We also want to stress the importance of drilling pilot holes into wood before screwing the eye hooks in otherwise strong wood splitting will occur.
Our design for the portable studio disallowed us to be able to use any ceiling in which the room might reside. Our idea was to attach the eye hooks to the top of the frame of the walls and suspend the panels via horizontal tension. After several trials – and mostly errors – we discovered in order to correctly position the Nimbus panels, two eye hooks had to be placed so that the panels could be connected from their short end, and two positioned so the panels could be positioned from the opposite end – but on the long side. The cable arrangement resembles a stick figure standing with its arms out to the side and the Nimbus panel its body. Any other combination caused too much tension to be placed on the cables.
Careful attention had to be paid in organizing the cables of the panels so they didn’t encroach on the cables of other panels. The dynamics of this kind of mounting attachment defies common sense as pulling one set of cables tighter doesn’t just lift up that corner of the panel, it also pulls it closer – and causes additional tension on the other cables. It took 15-20 adjustments on each panel before they began to sit correctly, but sit they did after several hours of work.
Once installed, these Primacoustic treatment elements dropped our ambience noise significantly: from our measurements over 15 dB. So much so that the hiss of our JBL 6328P speakers became noticeable…something which had never been possible in our portable studio before.
The Final Say
In any group of men, I’m always the least handy. With software, and computer hardware/music gear, I’m always the most handy. So you can imagine the difficulty I faced in conceiving of this custom build for our studio and trusting that the rebellion from the Primacoustic recommended spec was a bit worrying. But thanks to the help of several friends and two General Contractors I know, everything was installed and the room sounds amazing.
Hopefully, this will inspire you to be able to install your own Primacoustic treatments and be empowered to make your own custom installation to serve your purpose. Having a great treatment panel, trap or recoil stabilizer is critical, but safely mounting it to your studio and knowing where to put it is of paramount importance.
Drop us a line on the forum to let us know how you’ve done your treatment for your studio!
Be sure to check out our articles on Surround Sound here:
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