It sounds so utilitarian – ‘Room Kit Package 3’ could be something Winston Smith might receive from the Ministry of Plenty in exchange for a smaller Victory Gin ration in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. But GIK Acoustics is about as far as you can get from a totalitarian, faceless corporation; it’s a small, tightly focused company, run by one Glenn Kuras from Atlanta GA, making fuss-and-nonsense free room acoustic treatment.
Kuras realised most rooms require broadly similar broadband room treatment, and came up with a quartet of kits that cover most of the bases. You can still buy individual products from the brand. All four kits feature bass traps for each corner of the room, the company’s 242 acoustic panels for first reflection treatment and what GIK calls its ‘Monster Trap’ for the centre of the wall behind your head. The four kits differ in the size of the bass traps and the number of 242 panels. We went for the third in line, which features a quartet of the larger Tri-Trap corner bass trap panels, but just three 242 panels for the first reflections (the largest kit includes six 242 panels).
These 242 panels are designed to fit along the side walls and ceilings at the ‘first reflection’ points where the sound from your loudspeakers reflects back at the listener (having someone walk a mirror along the wall while you sit in your listening position helps – place the 242 panel at the point where you can see the tweeter from the chair). Doing the same for the ceiling panel is less easy (getting someone to move a mirror along your ceiling is a bit of an ask). Even though GIK supplies its products in a range of relatively décor-chummy Camira fabrics (in the EU, Guildford of Maine in the US) and even though it can supply the kit with brilliant white covered fabric panels for the ceiling and a decent set of neutral tones for the walls (if you ask nicely), for some reason, once a panel gets affixed to the ceiling, domestic meltdown is hard to avoid.
The bulky, but not that heavy, cardboard boxes that form Kit Three contain a fairly comprehensive care parcel for most rooms. In some cases, it will be a Band-Aid, others a First Aid kit and in a few it will be like a field hospital. But even in the Band-Aid case, the difference in performance is fairly significant. Most rooms have a fairly flat response from 200Hz on up, although there are exceptions. But below that point, unevenness is commonplace, while huge 10dB-20dB spikes in the 50-80Hz region are not unheard of. All of which has its influence on the performance of your stereo system, none of which counts as ‘good’.
Bass traps ameliorate these horrors. Not perfectly – to get really nasty room node problems under control takes measurement and frequency specific tuned treatment rather than the broadband traps in the corners as seen here – but the sound of the system will be improved in a way that you’d struggle to get no matter how big an upgrade you did to your audio equipment. These traps smooth out the bass and give it greater precision, depth and force, without the overhang and flab and boom that normally comes as part of the deal. The large tri-traps also allow you to use bigger speakers in a smaller room, because the bass control they confer on the room is like moving into a larger space.
Then there’s the side wall 242 panel treatment. This is difficult in my room, because the reflectors tend to sit too high to make any material difference, but they still act to significantly widen the soundstage and give it greater precision. If that third (ceiling) 242 panel is a step too far domestically, put it to use between and behind the speakers, where it seems to push the centre of the image forward. Finally that large Monster Trap sits behind your head, absorbing rear reflections and allowing the user to sit closer to the back wall without being plagued by comb filtered random reflections.
Put simply, the net results allow the listener to take full advantage of better equipment, and get a better sound in any room. I’m surprised more retailers don’t take advantages of the benefits of the GIK system, as you can shoehorn bigger systems into smaller rooms with ease. I’m going out on a limb here, but if you have a good system in a room and haven’t considered something like the GIK kit, it isn’t a good system yet, no matter how much you spent.
There’s no voodoo here, just the application of some very well established principles. While it’s not designed for specific narrow-band room booms or flutter echoes, as a broadband solution – and especially as a ‘drop in’ room treatment solution that helps overcome some of the more commonplace problems endemic to using a pair of loudspeakers in a domestic room – Package
3x 242 Acoustic Panels
4x Tri-Trap Corner Bass Traps
Price: £716.40 (inc VAT)
Manufactured by: GiK Acoustics
Distributed in the UK by: ww.gikacoustics.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 7558 8976
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