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Soffit mounted S3As?
Old 26th July 2005
  #1
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Stick's Avatar
 

Soffit mounted S3As?

Anyone out there soffit mounted their S3As (or 2s or 2.5s)? I'm seriously lusting after a pair, and getting ready to build my studio in the garage and have been planning to wall mount whatever speakers are going to be my main monitors for the image clarity, bass response and room space conservation.

I know my Genelec 1031s would work great in the wall, as they've got the required bass roll off switches, but I hate to build the holes for them only to upgrade in a year or two.

So, I thought I'd see if anyone's done it, and how they like it.
Old 26th July 2005
  #2
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Honestly, I really recommend NOT soffit mounting smaller speakers.

There's way more work involved in building a proper soffit then cutting a hole in the wall and putting a shelf in. Actually that's about the worst thing you can do because it physically couples the speakers with the building. Not only that, but once you get the speaker in the soffit it's kinda locked in there by the sheetrock. In the case of a powered speaker that's a bad move. When the amp (or fuse etc.) eventually blows and needs servicing you'll be redoing your sheetrock and all the finish work which sucks and blows. Unless your one of those sickos who actually enjoys doing sheetrock LOL.

Also, to do a soffit design right you need to choose your speakers first and then design the room around them. Things like image clarity/width and low end buildup can be solved with room design. And if you plan carefully you can buy a couple extra inches or feet and have enough room to fit the speakers without soffits.
Old 26th July 2005
  #3
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Yeah, I've gone back and forth a couple times on it, and have done quite a bit of research via John Sayer's site among others. He's a big proponant of the soffits mounts, and has some decent designs for decoupling from the wall.

I think my design is on the right track... maybe I should just save the hassle and not worry about the soffits... I just want the best sound I can get, 'cause this might be the last time I get to build my own room. Here's the rough design for the space in my garage...
Attached Thumbnails
Soffit mounted S3As?-rough-plan.jpg  
Old 26th July 2005
  #4
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Hey Stick, I'm doing almost identical in my garage.... could we talk on the phone about this? ( I've also been working thru Johnsayers site ) My requirements are really similar to yours.

what program did you use to draw that up ? the 3d renderrring?

craig
Old 26th July 2005
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stick
Yeah, I've gone back and forth a couple times on it, and have done quite a bit of research via John Sayer's site among others. He's a big proponant of the soffits mounts, and has some decent designs for decoupling from the wall.

I think my design is on the right track... maybe I should just save the hassle and not worry about the soffits... I just want the best sound I can get, 'cause this might be the last time I get to build my own room. Here's the rough design for the space in my garage...

Stick, could you add dimensions to this drawing?
thanks!
Old 26th July 2005
  #6
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Yeah, I've got it with rough dimensions around here somewhere... I just have to export it again. The program is called Sketchup.

And Craig, check your PM if you haven't already...
Old 26th July 2005
  #7
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With some dimensions...

The angled walls are all splayed 6°... I couldn't figure out how to get Sketchup to show that.

I still need help with the A/C issues... keeping that equipment closet cool independent of the rest of the rooms isn't going to be cheap. Sigh.
Attached Thumbnails
Soffit mounted S3As?-plan-w-dimensions.jpg  
Old 26th July 2005
  #8
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DrFrankencopter's Avatar
A few questions:

1. How are you going to cool your speakers (they are active, right?)?
2. Are you going to build/buy a low shelf cut circuit to compensate for the bass extension that the 'infinite' baffle of a soffit will provide? IMO this is absolutely necessary, and is part of the reason why soffits can have a bad rep.
3. Have you thought about monitor accessibility....for service, like Jay mentioned?
4. How are you going to support the monitors....the outside of the soffit, while important is less important than the structure holding the monitor mass itself. You have a few options, you can rigidly couple to the soffit wall, which is fine if the front wall is built very massive, or you can go with a decoupled approach, where the monitors sit on massive stands and the soffits are built in front and not rigidly coupled to the monitors themselves. My preference is for the latter....but I'm building soffits for 120 lb monitors.
5. Have you given serious thought to the location of the monitors with respect to your console (particularly angle of tilt downwards)....console splash can make a set of soffit monitors almost useless.

All that said, I think that the benefits of soffiting can outweight the disadvantages. But, you need that bass compensation circuit, and you need to plan to have a way into your soffits. My plan for soffit construction is to place my speakers (ATC SCM50As) on filled concrete block stands, and to construct a false wall in front of them out of 2 layers of MDF. A bezel around the edge of the monitors will be removeable, and allow me to pull the monitor out in case it needs service.

The top of the false wall in front of my monitors will be left open (well, fabric covered for cosmetics) to allow the heat sinks on the back of the monitors to work. Soffits don't need to be sealed...they just need to have a nice rigid front baffle that extends at least 3-4 woofer diameters.

Cheers,

Kris
Old 26th July 2005
  #9
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Good questions...

1. If I stay with my Genelecs I'll have to deal with that. Probably exactly how you're talking about. The plan I've got from John Sayers' site basically uses the bottom of the soffit wall as bass trapping and vent inflow, and the top allows for air outflow. Or I've also read about removing the amp from the back of the speaker and extending the cables to where the amp can sit somewhere open.

If I end up building with my dream speakers in mind (the ADAM S3s), it might be easier to get the S3s not the S3As which are active for just that reason.

2. The Genelecs have this circuit built in just for this purpose. And this is why I was asking the question about the ADAMs.

3. Yeah, being able to remove them from the front wouldn't be too hard because I won't be angling them down, so the from face doesn't need to hold the weight of the speaker.

4. TBD. The cement block idea is good, except that I'll be building on a slab that is shared with the living room in the house... so low end transmission from the speakers would be a problem. So, probably I'll have to go with the rigid soffit wall, which isn't too hard, as I'll be doing multilayer isolation walls anyway.

5. Yep. No console. Well, at least I don't think a Mackie Control counts as a console. My desk is pretty small... 2 computer flat screens and the MC. And I'm contemplating a desk that neatly holds all of it in a cool looking way.

Thanks for posing the questions... this is the kind of thinking I need to work through.

So, S3As anyone?
Old 26th July 2005
  #10
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Here's some food for thought...

1 & 2) Most soffits contain passive monitors in either a sealed or open back enclosure and if your gonna do it right, the amps, EQ's and PSU's are located in a separate machine room. The idea is that once the monitors go in they don't come back out until you rip them outta the wall.

2a) Have you heard the S3A's and mixed on them? Are you sure that they're your dream speaker? Whuddaya gonna do if you sink them into the wall and you HATE them?? They're pretty much the polar opposite to your Genelec's.

3 & 4) These act as a pair to decouple the speaker from the wall AND support the weight. And somewhere in there you need to think about the finish treatment of the wall.

5) You still need to think about where the reflections are going to land. Not just off the console, but off the ceiling and the walls...and where are the 2nd order reflections going to land?

6) Plan the room so it's pretty much future proofed. Expandability and room to grow, not just more gear but the infrastructure...cabling troughs and access panels. What if...five years from now when everyone sells off their 8078's for $20K so they can get the latest plug-in that emulates said console, you decide to put a real console into the room?

Trust me on this...building soffits sounds a bit easier then it actually is if you want to do it right.
Old 26th July 2005
  #11
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Stick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
Here's some food for thought...

1 & 2) Most soffits contain passive monitors in either a sealed or open back enclosure and if your gonna do it right, the amps, EQ's and PSU's are located in a separate machine room. The idea is that once the monitors go in they don't come back out until you rip them outta the wall.
Right... that's why I was thinking passive S3s or taking the Amps off the back of the 1031s.

Quote:
2a) Have you heard the S3A's and mixed on them? Are you sure that they're your dream speaker? Whuddaya gonna do if you sink them into the wall and you HATE them?? They're pretty much the polar opposite to your Genelec's.
Good point... also why I'm asking the question about S3s in the wall. I may not like them, but I'm sick of my Genelecs and want something that's better for pure translation. I've been fighting these things for years. Maybe there's something better for my application, and maybe I should attempt to build my soffits in a way that will allow for a least sort of easy change over.

Quote:
3 & 4) These act as a pair to decouple the speaker from the wall AND support the weight. And somewhere in there you need to think about the finish treatment of the wall.
Right. That's not totally worked out yet... finish will probably just be the last drywall layer, with the frame around the speaker set in, so the the wall is flush with the front of the speaker.

Quote:
5) You still need to think about where the reflections are going to land. Not just off the console, but off the ceiling and the walls...and where are the 2nd order reflections going to land?
Agreed. Splayed walls, and ceiling clouds, etc... Big fat bass traps in the back, so no slap off the back wall.

Quote:
6) Plan the room so it's pretty much future proofed. Expandability and room to grow, not just more gear but the infrastructure...cabling troughs and access panels. What if...five years from now when everyone sells off their 8078's for $20K so they can get the latest plug-in that emulates said console, you decide to put a real console into the room?

Trust me on this...building soffits sounds a bit easier then it actually is if you want to do it right.
Well, this I believe. Precisely why I'm asking the questions. I'm fine with not having soffits if it's not worth the trouble. But there are an awful lot of people saying that soffit mounting is great. Actually, I'm finding that everything sounds easier than it is for the entire project. I'm doing my best to think about all that stuff, but at the same time, I can't afford to plan for months and months. I need to work in that room soon.

I mean sheesh, no soffits will save time and money. But if I can be a better mixer with good monitors in the wall then I should probably look into it.

Regardless, thanks a bunch for your time and thoughts... any more help is appreciated MUCH!
Old 26th July 2005
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Are these going to be your only monitors? Will you be keeping the Genelecs on the desk, or getting rid of them? I personally prefer having my speakers out in the open, as opposed to soffit, as I've been in tons of rooms with badly implemented soffit setups, and had a really bad time trying to mix anything there. Also, I like the ease of changing monitors if I want to switch them out or repair them. It'll cost less to not do soffit, it'll more than likely be easier to get a good sound in the room without them, and you'll be up and running a lot faster. That said, soffits do look cool.
Old 26th July 2005
  #13
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Stick's Avatar
 

No, I've got a couple other sets I've got around to reference on. But, I wouldn't mind if I only had one set that I could really believe in to translate

I'll probably sell the 1031s to put a small dent in the price of the ADAMs (or whatever I end up with).

Soffits do look cool, and as we all know... it's gotta LOOK good. HA!

Ok, now you guys are talking me out of it... sigh. I better go back to John Sayer's sight and have them talk me back into it.
Old 26th July 2005
  #14
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Why not build up your room first, go monitor shopping second, and then try em out on stands. If that floats your boat, then you're set. If you still think you want soffits, construct away....you're never locked into anything, it's only a little time and money (esp if you're doing it yourself). But, you'll probably always be wondering if you don't just try 'em free standing first.

Besides, this will let you dial in the position of the monitors before you go and lock them into the walls.

For me, soffits are the way to go primarily because of the space savings...I have a one room facility, and my main monitors are mid fields. I need to be around 6-10 feet from them for them to be fully coherent (they're three-ways, so they are pretty tall). Also, soffits neatly address the speaker boundary interface problem (if done right), and make early reflection control a little easier.

Don't make judgements about soffits based on old installations of horn loaded speakers (like Uries) placed high over the observation glass angled right down at the console (like many big control rooms have). These are the installations that give soffits their bad reputation. Done right, they can sound incredible!

Whatever way you go, get out there and listen to some new monitors first. Adams may not be your cup of tea.

Cheers,

Kris
Old 26th July 2005
  #15
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Yeah, that's probably the way to go. It's gonna take all my pennies to build the room anyway, and I'll have to get a good gig or two to warrent springing for the new speakers. Maybe I'll just think about cable infrastructure for them at this point...

Thanks for the help guys.
Old 26th July 2005
  #16
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Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stick
Good point... also why I'm asking the question about S3s in the wall. I may not like them, but I'm sick of my Genelecs and want something that's better for pure translation. I've been fighting these things for years. Maybe there's something better for my application, and maybe I should attempt to build my soffits in a way that will allow for a least sort of easy change over.
That's not the way to do it. You start with a plywood box that's slightly bigger then the speaker. It seems like you want new monitors which is fine and dandy, but don't confuse that with the design of the room.

Quote:
Right. That's not totally worked out yet... finish will probably just be the last drywall layer, with the frame around the speaker set in, so the the wall is flush with the front of the speaker.
That's the general idea. You still need a way to trim it out so it looks nice.

Quote:
Well, this I believe. Precisely why I'm asking the questions. I'm fine with not having soffits if it's not worth the trouble. But there are an awful lot of people saying that soffit mounting is great. Actually, I'm finding that everything sounds easier than it is for the entire project. I'm doing my best to think about all that stuff, but at the same time, I can't afford to plan for months and months. I need to work in that room soon.
Soffits are a double edged sword. If the design and installation is good and was solid then you’ll have a great room and monitors. If anything is out of whack, from the angle of the wall to the actual construction to any one of a lot of other variables…then you’ll be stuck with a room that either doesn’t work at all, or just isn’t as good as it could’ve been. It’s much easier to do a poor job with soffits then it is to do an excellent job.

Quote:
I mean sheesh, no soffits will save time and money. But if I can be a better mixer with good monitors in the wall then I should probably look into it.
Becoming a better mixer is a whole other thing!

Anyway, one of the things I did while at Mercenary Audio was build a control room from scratch. $4000 in raw construction materials, 80 pounds of screws and nails, and five months of labor and they have a tight little control room with Urei 813's (driven by a MacIntosh 2500!!!) installed in soffits. We located the doors and dimmers from Synchro Sound which was the Cars old studio and the compression ceiling is totally floating.
Old 26th July 2005
  #17
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Well, it's sounding like the soffits are more than I should attempt at this point. Ha... seems like maybe this room is more than I should attempt! heh

Thanks Jay and Kris... it sure helps to bounce things around...

I still think I want some ADAMs... thumbsup

Any other thoughts are appreciated.

BTW... those pics didn't show up Jay...
Old 26th July 2005
  #18
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Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Here’s Mercenary Audios new control room, the Meth-Lab. What you won’t see in these pictures is the months of planning and drawing not to mention thousands of hours of labor. I did all the raw construction…measuring, cutting, measuring, cutting again…humping of drywall, caulking and sealing of all joints and punctures, tracking down materials and blah and blee. Fletcher supervised the whole shooting match and made sure I didn’t fuk up too badly. I’ve built a couple rooms before but nothing quite like this with a floating ceiling and all that jazz. Fletcher’s wife has a degree in architectural acoustics and taught me a hell of a lot along the way. I’d ask her a question or two and she’d point me in the general direction and send me back to my room where I’d keep drawing and plotting, figuring out how to make the whole thing work inside the quirky space that was available. And just like any build, it wasn't without it's adventures!

Picture numero uno is, kinda obviously the finished front wall after months of work. The soffits are made of ¾” MDF and were made to house a pair of Urei 813’s. Take note of the 7-gauge speaker cable that’s laying inside the MDF soffit boxes, that was run and caulked into place long before drywall went on. Mercenary is going to take care of the final installation and acoustic treatment, last I heard was that the 703 was in the building…

Picture number two was taken before the first layer of drywall went on the front wall. You can see the blocking between the studs in the front wall and the front 1/3 of the ceiling frame. On the lower left is a cut out for an access panel and wiring.

The last picture was taken in the airlock before it was sealed with drywall. The MDF soffit box is sitting on a pillar of solid concrete blocks which is sitting on neoprene pucks to decouple it from the floor. The PVC pipe in the back is part of the cabling troughs and will allow runs from the inside of the room to the amp rack outside.

Lemme know if you'd like to see more.

Attached Thumbnails
Soffit mounted S3As?-frontwall_finished.jpg   Soffit mounted S3As?-frontwall_notfinished.jpg   Soffit mounted S3As?-airlock_soffit_detail.jpg  
Old 26th July 2005
  #19
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I'm using this design to soffit mount my passive BM15s in my new place:

http://www.johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=718

You'll need to be registered and logged in to the forum to see the diagrams.

It allows you soffit mount speakers but gives you the option of upgrading and tweaking the design's performance.

Cheers,
Rich
Old 26th July 2005
  #20
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dBluefield from our very own slutz used the same design:

http://www.johnlsayers.com/Studio/Ma...-Bluefield.htm
Old 26th July 2005
  #21
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And yet more discussion on the design:

http://www.johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/vi...ghlight=soffit
Old 27th July 2005
  #22
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stick
BTW... those pics didn't show up Jay...
I made two seperate posts...look up!!!
Old 27th July 2005
  #23
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Stick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
I made two seperate posts...look up!!!
My bad... I just read your first and replied before your second one showed up. Thanks for the pics.
Old 27th July 2005
  #24
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
No problem!

The door in the first picture I posted above is a 40" wide 3" thick solid oak door that weighs way too much!!!! Probably about 20+ pounds and it sucked to move and hang but it's worth the muscle. Anyway, that's the inner door that's mounted to the inner wall...which acousticly speaking isn't doing much to help the STC rating since its got a big bunch of holes in it...the door and the soffits.

The real STC stoppage is being done by the front wall which was built on sill seal and a 2"x6" sill plate and 2"x4" staggard studs that are spaced 16" o.c. There's two layers of 5/8" sheetrock (all seams staggerd and caulked) on the outside of that wall and one layer of 5/8" sheetrock on the inside of that wall. The smaller door is a 36" wide solid oak door which is still heavy, but not nearly the ball baster that it's larger cousin is.

When you look at the pic...yeah...that's me on the ladder way in the back and 'lil buddy is strapped to the breaker box. There's a couple hundred amps of service running into the room and there's a dedicated circuit for everything. AC, the bathroom (oh wait...it's not a bathroom...it's the EDITING ROOM!!! hahahaha) as well as dedicated 20 amp runs for lighting, outboard gear etc. And as if that isn't enough there's a 30 amp, 230 volt plug out front to run the console power supply's and power amps.

Sorry 'bout that...I digressed.

Both doors had to be cleaned up and refurbed. They had been sitting in a barn for a few years so they were pretty nasty...but overall they were in great shape. While I was refurbing them I found pencil markings, the 40" door is marked "Control room" and the 36" is marked "guitar room" which is pretty much how I ended up hanging them. Unlike a $50 hollow core door, these frames are solid oak and mount right to the frame of the rough opening without shims. So they had to be right on as I was drilling and lag bolting them to the studs.
Attached Thumbnails
Soffit mounted S3As?-door_detail_cars.jpg   Soffit mounted S3As?-outside_retaining_wall.jpg   Soffit mounted S3As?-retaining_wall_inside_skeleton.jpg   Soffit mounted S3As?-all_work_no_play.jpg   Soffit mounted S3As?-retaining_wall_in_progress.jpg  

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