Field Report: Halo Audio Affinity Acoustic Products

March 1, 2011


The science of acoustical control (the controlling of sound waves) for any given room brings with it a multitude of challenges and applicable solutions. Sound waves being invisible presents even greater problems. The acoustical shaping of a room by frequency and time is extremely important for the best aural representation of pre-recorded or live sound. When a room is improperly tuned, the imbalance of certain sounds can mask the clarity of other sounds. A good example is lower frequencies, which typically take longer to decay in many rooms, masking upper mid-range and high frequency sounds. This makes the sound within the room dull, lacking clarity and intelligibility -- defined as the listener's ability to understand the spoken word or detect with precise awareness the detailed definition contained in musical composition.

Halo Audio Affinity

A professionally engineered acoustical room design will establish parameters that strike a strong balance between sound absorption, reflection, directionality, frequency response, and reverberation time (RT-60). That balance can be best accomplished during the room's pre-construction design phase using size, shape and materials as guidelines. However, and more often than not, acoustical challenges are frequently present in already existing rooms that are far from acoustically perfect.

There are many companies that offer products that can be placed into an already constructed room to establish the control of perceived sound. One is Halo Audio, which offers an engineered line of Affinity Acoustic Control products. For this review, the company provided a version of its pre-packaged Affinity Enhanced Room-Pak, which appears quite applicable for rooms measuring up to 500 square feet.

Performance at a glance
Variety of fabric colors and wood finishes
Custom colors available
Multiple acoustic materials in a package
Simple installation

Contained in the Pak are six Affinity Wall Controllers, four Affinity Corner Controllers, four Affinity TriPlex Controllers, and two Affinity BiPlex controllers.

The Affinity model AWC-1248 Wall Controller is a lightweight surface-mounted device measuring 12" wide by 4" deep by 47" tall. The Wall Controller should be mounted in multiple units equally spaced horizontally and vertically on each wall of a room. The unit design contains a solid wood front that measures 9" wide by 45" by 3/16" thick and wood top, bottom and rear panels. FR-701-flame-tested-acoustical-grille-cloth-covered open sides and partially open front allow for each unit to reflect some of the room sound while absorbing and otherwise slowing the sound as it travels along the walls. This process enables the sound to be better controlled as it reaches the room's corners. Each unit contains cotton acoustical batt for sound absorption and consists of an internal horizontal support frame. Mounting flat to the wall surface is accomplished by using the supplied mounting template for positioning two screw anchors per unit into the wall and then placing the unit's rear panel slots over the slightly protruded screw heads. Easy to install wall anchor hardware is provided along with instructions. The only tools that appear to be required for installation are a pencil, measuring tape, and a Phillips screwdriver.

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The Affinity Corner Controller model ACC-448, measuring 4" wide by 4" deep by 47" tall, is identical in construction and mounting procedure to the Wall Controller. Halo Audio's acoustical treatment design calls for mounting one of these units in each corner of the room centered vertically. The use of this product, when properly placed, minimizes standing sound waves in the corners where acoustical energy builds up waiting for more sound to come crashing into the corners. The use of the Corner Controllers greatly improves sound clarity and perceived sound source direction.

The model ATC-16 Affinity TriPlex Controller is a lightweight triangular-shaped unit that measures 16" triangular by 4" deep. Manufacturer recommended application of these units is to place one in each upper corner of the room to minimize sound energy build up in those areas. Each unit comes with an easy to install wall mount bracket and a rear-panel-mounted attachment device. The company suggests the TriPlex Controller mounting bracket be placed approximately 3" below ceiling height for best results.

The model ABC-724 BiPlex Controller measures 4" by 4" by 24" and is a mini-version of the Corner Controller. The purpose of this unit is to control standing wave energy that builds along the corner area between the wall and ceiling. Design recommendations are to mount at least one of these units horizontally where each wall meets the ceiling with placement being centered left to right. For longer walls, multiple BiPlex Controller units may be required.

Halo Audio
P
W
E
877-320-HALO
www.haloaudio.com
info@haloaudio.com

The published noise reduction coefficient (NRC) for the Wall Controller is 1.15, for the Corner Controller; 1.11, for the TriPlex Controller, 1.08, and for the BiPlex controller; 1.05. NRC frequency specific product test results are available from Halo Audio as are frequency specific absorption specifications using the Sabin measurement reference for acoustical designers who prefer to use that design technique. The products are available in a variety of fabric colors, wood stain and painted finishes - or custom color matches when stringent architectural designs demand such. Halo Acoustics has various pre-packaged Room Paks available and also offers an accurate acoustical design service.

Overall, the assembled quality of the products in the 15 box Room-Pak kit that was provided for my examination and review appears to be top notch. The product designs use a nice combination of reflection and absorption to achieve a powerful sound control that keeps the listening zone free of stray audio energy. In my opinion, when the correct mix of Affinity Acoustic product is chosen and properly applied to a specific situation, the end results can be outstanding. Listening tests in a pre-treated room yielded less than desirable sound quality with the sound appearing to be coming from multiple locations throughout the room because of uncontrolled reflections and standing waves. There was an obvious reduction in music definition, and an apparent clouding of spectral reproduction. Post Room-Pak installation tightened the room sound and made the room come alive without a feeling of acoustical dampening. The system greatly improved perceived directionality, spectral harmonic balance and imaging. The clarity and definition of the music came to life just like one would expect from the stage of a well-designed and tuned concert hall.


Bartlebaugh is director of broadcast engineering, WKSU-FM/Kent State University, Kent, OH.


Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.



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