Our listening rooms are as important as the equipment we use to play music. For most we are stuck with whatever dimensions an existing room offers and we do our best to work within those constraints. But, for a lucky few who are able to start from scratch and design the perfect room, getting the dimensions right is a great opportunity to enhance the listening experience.
In the past, prospective room builders would hire expensive sound designers, perhaps invest heavily in research, or just wing it to determine the room dimensions. We know this because we too have invested both a great deal of money and time in designing our listening rooms. Here, we would like to share with you our knowledge and experience.
The automated room calculator on this page is an easy means of determining the ideal dimensions for your new room and we offer several styles of room to choose from. To use the calculator simply slide the height dimension to match your own and the depth and width measurements automatically calculate. This tool will get you close to great sounding dimensions within a room. If your ceiling is angled or stepped, just choose an average height to get close.
The idea behind perfect room dimensions
Though acousticians endlessly quibble over the perfect room dimensions, the most successful ones seem to be based on the Golden Ratio or Golden Section, a number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part, when divided by the smaller part, is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. If you know one dimension of a room, you can easily calculate the remaining two with the formula embodied in the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is thought to have been first discovered and formalized by the ancient Greeks—the proportions of the Parthenon, in Athens, conform to it. It was later made famous when the mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci discovered repeating patterns in nature that are related to the Golden Ratio, patterns also found in the Egyptian pyramids at Giza, constructed in the third century B.C. 1800 years later, Leonardo da Vinci relied on it to define the proportions in his painting The Last Supper, including the dimensions of the table and the proportions of the walls and backgrounds.
Modern-day engineers and architects still rely on this ancient formula to build excellent-sounding rooms that also have a visually satisfying appearance. The formula is relatively straightforward and is often used to design both speaker cabinets and listening rooms: W = 1.0, Depth = 0.618W, Height = 1.618W. The ratio works to reduce standing waves—successive reflections of a soundwave of the same frequency that overlap almost perfectly, their points of greatest power amplifying each other and thus being far louder at some points in the room, while their points of lowest power (nulls or dips) making those same frequencies almost inaudible at other points in the room. Square rooms—whose lengths and widths are the same or nearly so—tend to create more of these standing waves than do rectangular rooms, or rooms with curved walls or walls that meet at angles other than 90°.
Our calculator is loosely based on these principals and refined by years of experience in the field. We hope you find this free tool of value.