New Listening Room In Pakistan - by John H. Brandt

Hello from Karachi!

Have browsed these forums for many years, and have just now made my account and posting for the first time…Warning, it will be a long one, but hopefully some of you find it interesting.

Like many of you, I have accumulated my system over the years. Gone from Tubes to SS and Back… Speakers I’ve had from the Klipschorns to Proac ribbon tweeters. Living in Pakistan, unfortunately purchasing a sound system is largely a leap of faith, because there are no demos or (practically no) authorized dealers. Even the audiophile community is very small.

But eventually, I have arrived at a system which I don’t see upgrading really anytime soon (yeah,right! I know!). Currently, I am the lucky owner of:

Speakers: Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 8
Preamp: Nagra Pl-L
Power Amps: Nagra VPA Monoblocks
Digital Front: PS Audio DirectStream Jr.
Analog Front: VPI Scout (with Clearaudio Stradivari v2 Cart) and a Avid Pellar Phono Stage
Power: PS Audio P5
Interconnects: Transparent
Power: All PS Audio power cables

I also have the good fortune of having my own listening room. Already you can tell the numerous problems from the picture below: Glass door to the left, Off center placement, no treatments to the room, etc. What you can not tell from the picture is due to space constraints, the room is almost a new perfect square! 17.5’ x 18’.

About a year ago, a friend of mine inaugurated a recording studio in Karachi, one that had been designed by a John H. Brandt ( And what a space it turned out to be! Sitting in that control room was the most fun I’d had in years! The punchy bass, the glorious vocals… But more than just that: Just talking in that room was wonderful. Your own voice took on this wonderful timber.

So I setup a call with John, and he was nice enough to basically tell me that nothing could be done unless I could change the dimensions of the room. Many months passed by, and I kept mulling it around in my mind. You have to understand that I LOVED the way my system sounded. But I also couldn’t get DreamStation studios out of my mind.

So some time over my summer vacation, I convinced myself (and the wife!) that I was gonna do this. Got a conference call set up, he understood the things that I wanted to do, and we agreed to basically push the left wall out about 8.5’ (so that the dimensions would be approximately 17.5’ x 26’), and shift the entire orientation of the room by 90 degrees clockwise… After a lot of back and forth, I have received the attached layout… along the walls are all the various treatments to keep the room response relatively flatter, yet lively.

I have just contracted out the carpenter’s work on the treatments a few days ago and the construction work has just started yesterday.

My reason for posting here is a) to share with you guys since I’ve picked up so much over the years and b) get some insights from all here about the ongoing project.

If there is any interest, I will continue to update you guys on the progress with pics, etc.

Thanks for listening,


Originally posted on but putting it here as I learn a lot from this forum as well… Thanks. 3d%20rendering%202


very nice room. congrats on the setup

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That looks like a very well though out room. And a nice system to go along with the room!

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Great Room! You’ve put together a spectacular system. You have every reason to be proud.

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Ok, I see… After a more careful reading of your post I get where you are at. Yes, there are obvious problems with your current setup, but you know that. I see the renderings which look very promising. You certainly have committed! Excited for you!

It seems you are in good hands with John Brandt. Im not sure there is much for us lay people to add that isn’t already considered, but I didn’t notice any cloud/ceiling treatments, but did notice the wood lattice in your current setup. Will that remain? And if so, is John concern about first reflections from any exposed flat surface area on the ceiling?

I follow JHBrandt on the GearSlutz- Studio Building / Acoustics sub-forum where he is a highly respected regular contributor. His work typically seems to balance diffusion equally with absorption. I like that… A lot. I’m more than a little jealous- LOL! Your new listening space ought to be fantastic.

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Thanks so much for sharing @fauzigarib .

Can you share what the scope of J Brandt’s input is with your new listening room?

Is he helping only with the design - i.e. room dimensions and specific treatments to use and where to put them?

Or is he also going to guide you through measurements at some point later? (Or visiting to measure for you?)

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Hey there, JeffofArabica,

Thank you. John’s underlying design principle is to completely treat five of the six surfaces in the room. The only untreated surface will be the floor, which I will place a few rugs on. For the ceiling, he has suggested a drop false ceiling that is made of Stone Wool, and looks more or less like that standard Gypsum false ceilings. Stone wool has excellent acoustic absorption and will be fixed at 9" below the true ceiling. And that void will be filled with Glass Wool.

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@wobblewobble, John offers four basic services for studios and listening spaces:

  • Building and Vibration Isolation
  • Room Acoustics
  • Electrical and Audio
  • HVAC

I got the acoustics only package, assuming exactly what you asked about; that he would give me dimensions, I would build then he would tell me where to place treatments… take a before and after room response and done. The reality could not be further from this.

What I got in actuality was:

  • Access to his famous Dropbox folder which is fill to the brim with 5GB of literally hundreds of his own treatment designs.
  • If you look in the layout and renders in my original post, the wood “panels” that you see around the perimeter of the room ARE the treatments. So based on the dimensions of the room and what response I should get, he has suggested a cocktail of his various treatments and placements. These WILL NOT change.
  • constant follow up to his exacting standards.
  • He is a CAD BEAST… The final drawings of both the room and all the various treatments leave nothing unanswered. Yet, any clarification that I may need is met a quick CAD render and boom!

in short, John’s input into my room is the entire room itself… And then the placement of the speakers in the finished space, through a REW based process, which he would guide me through.

While he lives a (relatively) short flight away from us in Jakarta, I don’t think he has ever been to Pakistan.


Thanks for the detailed reply @fauzigarib !

What a fantastic service he provides.

And guiding you through the before and after room response measurements.

I bet you’re excited to have professional studio quality performance at home!

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One final question @fauzigarib

Does John recommend any type of digital room EQ to go along with the custom room design?

Or he believes the room design alone should be sufficient?

I assume the answer will have to wait for the final room response measurements but have you discussed with him already?

Was any of the analyzing of the System & Room needs done in Real Time with specifically analyzed placement and types of material treatments?..or is conjecture the nature of this beast?

Would that change if you used different speakers or electronics? Would various tweeters or subs necessitate a redoing of the room treatments? (like with a forward facing drivers…or different with rear-firing drivers…or…side-firing (sub) drives or a combination thereof…)

Looks awesome … guaranteed results sounds dubious…

Aside: examining your video screen…seems like it’s being partially blocked by your speakers…and where are you placing the electronics? (i might suggest in the area behind you…)

And with the ceiling divider (above &) behind the seating (with its own only partially treated blockage, both front and back sides) would seem to “complicate” the room acoustics…not to mention the beams/posts are not symmetrical as to the room, also potentially causing non-linear frequency responses…

Either way…I hope you enjoy…the beauty of the system and the derived sonics…

He strongly believes room design to be enough and is strictly a no EQ guy.

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With custom room dimensions and custom room acoustic treatments (which most consumers are never able to do at home, like you are doing) I’m sure anything else needed can be achieved with small changes in speaker placement.

I would guess maybe a few iterations of: measure + small changes in speaker placement.

But maybe it’s perfect with just your first measurement!

Looking forward to reading about how it all goes, when everything is done.

I don’t mind saying I’m jealous !

There is very little conjecture in this. Enclosed spaces with certain materials are relatively easily predicted and matched to give you a close enough starting point. John has not done a BEFORE, though incidentally, I did for my own records and curiosity. There will, however, be multiple AFTER analyses to assist with speaker placement.

Nothing would change unless the room dimensions changed. Room acoustics are based on the volume and the shape of the room and have nothing to do with the electronics of a system. Yes, another speaker will sound different in that room, but the frequencies that it puts out will behave in the same way. Just physics.

Again, he has not guaranteed anything aside from the fact that if we get the dimensions right and the treatments are placed as per his drawings, the response of the room will be relatively flatter and the listener will get a similar experience as in the Control Room of the studio that I liked… only livelier since this is a listening room and not a control room.

That’s an excellent catch, @iron! I will have to place the electronics in the front because I’m limited to the cables I’m currently using and they are quite short… this is for the stereo. The HT receiver will also go in the front for simplicity’s sake. However, I’m ceiling mounting the screen ABOVE the drop ceiling, so it gives me about 1.5 ft of more vertical space for electronics.

Another good catch. That ceiling divider is actually a concrete beam which was too expensive to get rid of. But both are treated for reflections 800Hz and up.

Thank you! And thank you for taking the time out to write. I’m sure ALL of you on this forum can relate to the trial/errors, the multiple guessworks, and the many “expert opinions” that abound as far as room treatments are concerned. I had actually been saving up to upgrade to the Alexia (yes, I know I said in my original post that I didn’t feel the need to upgrade… i lied!), but based on what I heard in the studio, and based on my multiple, factual and based-on-pure-physics discussions I had with John, I thought this would be money much better spent.


i find that my ceiling divider “traps” the bass frequencies (all forward-firing speakers only)…in the room area in front of the beam** (mine has an I-beam and flex hosing for HVAC…not quite a foot down and across, hidden by drywall)…the beam is about 1/2 way between/across the room…
**and the best word for the bass is BOOMing in the speaker half of expanded room…yet, excellent in the back half, where i sit…i got lucky…go figure…

and i think a rear firing bass would be sonically different than a solely firing-front bass set up…
or not…

Interesting thread to follow. I would be already more than happy with the current room/set up/gear. But your efforts to squeeze out even more for the sake of SQ is understandable. All the best!

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Today is the filling of the RCC column bases. I think another 3 weeks to go for the Civil Work.

In parallel, I’m making the treatments themselves. They are quite tricky, but I’m lucky in that I was able to get the same guy that made the treatments for the DreamStation Studios.

Just a few pics to keep you updated…!

This is the frame of a bass trap, one of six “No. 9’s” in my proposed layout in the first post. I will contain a membrane made of a specific gauge of Mild Steel and a particular gauge of Rubber.

These pieces will eventually convert into a skyline diffusor that you see in the back. There will be close to 1,100 of these pieces. The vernier caliper pic is the one that I sent to John because he demands to see that the 17mm pieces are in fact 17mm!

That’s the current room from the outside. The raised patio area you see is more or less where the extended room will be.

The sheer space required to make and store the close to 40 panels is a LOT! On top of it all, we are going through a kind of a rainy season so we have had to raise everything and cover it all thoroughly with plastic.

More later!

Thanks for watching…



This is a bit OT. I Enjoy the attire over there. much more comfortable and fashionable(to me at least) than western garb. Unfortunately Americans, in America cannot pull this off. I own a 737 Airplane so sometimes I go there just to get the best falafel!

Perhaps sometime I could witness your room? If you visit the US Midwest you could witness mine as well. mine is the Wamm Chronosonic powered by Mark Levinson electronics save for a MSB Select DAC II loaded with dual mono power bases. Housed in a dedicated live end, dead end listening room.

Unfortunately I am not willing to supply photographs of such. you are indeed bold to do so my friend!
Nothing bad, I just respect my privacy and kindly ask that others respect it as well. If you feel differently that is absolutely your own prerogative.

Just a quick update… It’s been a few days since I posted because all the civil work was going on, along with the making of the treatments.

I’m happy to report that we have poured the RCC roof and have started to breach the wall into the current room.

Once we remove the false ceiling etc inside, things should move rather quickly. I think I am about 3 weeks from completion.

In the back of the picture is the new construction.


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