The 2" Impression panels came in Friday, the 4" Alpha panels showed up first thing yesterday morning around 9am! That alone was shocking! They were supposed to ship out on the 24th and arrive by the 29th! Good on GIK Acoustics for that. As for fit and finish, I’ve read that a lot of these panels arrive looking like they were rushed, bad corners, wrinkled cloth, etc, etc. I have none of that with these panels. They look great front to back, top to bottom.
All day yesterday, and I do mean all day, I played around with location. I tried the Alpha and Impressions panels everywhere in the room, swapped one out for the other in each location, tried all combinations, tried all types of locations, and the simplest actually ended up providing the best results.
Music was from Phil Collins, Norah Jones, James Taylor, Depeche Mode, Neil Young, Diana Krall, The Cure, Peter Murphy, Gregory Porter, Holly Cole, Fleetwood Mack, Pink Floyd… Basically, artists and music I know extremely well and a lot that I have been listening to recently with the current system.
I first tried the Alpha panels in the 1st reflection points on the side walls. They gave me a solid center image, but they killed the width of the sound stage. Any stage width I got it was restricted to only between the inner edges of the speakers. Even the ambient width in the recording was sucked out almost completely. While keeping the Alphas there, I tried putting the four Impressions in various locations to see if they would resolve these new issues, but they didn’t. Even completely out of the room, these new issues stayed.
So I swapped out the Alphas for the two Impressions you currently see in those 1st reflection locations. With no other panels in the room, these “removed” the walls, widened the sound stage considerably beyond the walls, and still give me that solid center image. This is something these speakers and room needed, and the Impressions in these locations deliver.
I then tried the Alphas on the back wall and the other two Impressions on the front wall. They seemed to work really well, but something was off. After more listening of various tracks, I realized that stage depth had flattened and vocal height had dropped to about just below center of the TV screen. Also, some of that ambience in the recordings had gone away again, though not as bad as before, but it was noticeable. Lastly, imaging focus had become a little bit fuzzy. Again, just because I could, I removed the Impressions on the sidewalls while keeping the other panels in place and that just made things worse, so those Impressions went back to the sidewalls.
The Alphas then got moved up front. What the Alphas did on the front wall is what the room/system needed. They opened up that front wall giving more space, air and much needed stage depth to the sound, as well as lifting the vocal/instrument height to realistic heights as if those vocals/instruments were in front of me. The ambience of the venues in the "live’ recordings are back in strides and very clearly apparent, giving even more space and air within the room. The second pair of Impressions are on the back wall where they help reinforce what the Alphas are doing up front as well as the fact that there’s zero slap echo in this room now.
As an added bonus to these panels, and something I wasn’t expecting them to do much of if any, is that they have in fact improved the bass in this room. I don’t know if they helped clean up some of the upper bass or bass harmonics or what, but the overall sound of the bass is just a bit more clean, solid and planted. Almost to the same effect as putting the subs up on those IsoAcoustics sub stands I have them on. Definition and sharpness of attack just seem to be better. And no, the Maggies, the subs or the sub settings were never touched through any of this.
Lastly, in order the mount one of the panels in front of the window, I mounted a couple of “legs” to the side of the panel, put a couple of eyehooks on the back of them, and a couple of L hooks in the wall, so installation and removal is simple and literally only takes seconds to do. Also, instead of using the sawtooth hangers that GIK provided with the panels, I decided to use heavy duty D-ring picture hangers for the wall mounted panels.
All in all, I am extremely happy with the results and am quite amazed at how much was achieved with only six panels. They far exceeded my expectations. This doesn’t mean I’m done however. I still want to get some diffusors for behind/above the TV, and maybe a few other things here and there after some more research and advise seeking.
Boy, I should have done this years ago! Truly the biggest improvements!
Anyway, here’s some pics…