Tape Op Magazine Senior Contributor Garrett Haines reviewed the Curve System Diffusors for the March 2012 issue, and had this to say:
Acoustic Geometry represents a new line of professional sound products from Acoustical Surfaces, Inc. This debut line, called the Curve System, is a family of diffusors, absorbers, and corner traps. As the name implies, the units are rounded, with a constant-radius cylindrical design. They look like giant pipes cut lengthwise, but better sounding and much more attractive. In person, they are reminiscent of the half-column treatments seen in classic recording, broadcast, and film studios since the 1930’s.
We auditioned the Curve Diffusors. Each Curve Diffusor controls sound in three ways: first, the rounded shell minimizes flat-surface reflections by scattering sound evenly throughout the listening environment. Second, the unit acts as a diaphragmatic absorber. Finally, the rear of the unit utilizes mass-loaded vinyl that serves as a low-bass trap.
For the majority of tests we used our new mix room. A cloud and rear-wall quadratic diffusor were already in place, but the space was still too reflective. Acoustic Geometry’s John Calder worked with us to determine the size and number of diffusors we needed. The units come in different heights and width, which improves their effectiveness when used as a group. The Acoustic Geometry website has tools to help determine a product mix, including suggested configurations and mini-room 3D SketchUp drawings (SketchUp is a free download) – you can rotate the drawings to look at placements and dimensions. It’s very useful.
The units arrived via freight, as the odd sizes make this method is cheaper and safer than common carriers. The average Curve is 42-inches tall, and although solid, one adult can readily move it. The construction is sturdy, and could withstand a client bumping into it. I mention this after watching a client trip on a cable and demolish a different brand of acoustic wall treatment. A black metal grill protect the end caps. Using a flashlight, we were able to peer at the absorbent filling; otherwise, you can’t see inside the units. On the back, mounting cleats allow horizontal or vertical installation. The outer fabric on our test samples was a neutral cream acoustic cloth. I assume these are fire rated for commercial installation. According to the manufacturer, Guilford fr701, Anchorage, or Acoustic Suede fabric are standard. Other finishes, including veneers, are optional, as are custom sizes. For Example, Very Large (12′ tall) Curves are installed in Gotham Hall in New York City.
Now, I’m not a dedicated acoustician by trade. But I do have opinions about a good sounding room. While some people do quality work in dead rooms, I favor a more balanced space. Consequently, if you treat your entire room in absorbing materials (a.k.a. rock wool, insulation board, OC-703, et al), you can end up with a semi-anechoic environment. Too much absorption, in my mind, makes the room worse sounding. I favor a blend of materials with more diffusion. The problem with a numbers-focused world is how do we measure the effectiveness of diffusors? Unfortunately, the industry does not yet have any meaningful measurement of “good” diffusion. For that, we have to rely on our experiences, intuition, and how well our music translates from system to system.
In use, I found Curves provide a very natural sound. The room feels tight without approaching that spaceship airlock vacuum thing. Before the Curves were installed, we had some flutter and slap back problems, but those are gone. The room still has a live feel, but my brain can tell what is direct speaker playback and what is a late reflection. The Curves integrate well with our absorbing cloud and the back wall’s slot diffusor. Again, I keep coming back to natural, smooth, and balanced as adjectives to describe the performance. Perhaps my favorite thing is we can keep the hardwood floor exposed. We spent a lot of time sourcing sustainably grown bamboo. That last thing I wanted to do was cover it with carpeting.
We also used the Curve Diffusors in our live room for some drum recordings. As we found in the mixing suite, they are a blend of the absorption you get with 703-based baffles, and diffusion of hard-surfaced diffusors. Studios with a large tracking room that need to segregate musicians or need to divide the space into a more intimate environment will want to consider a half dozen or more Curve Diffusors for this job. However, if you intend on using them in this manner, let me suggest the support stands available from Acoustic Geometry (Stand (gobo) – CRVSTAND2041 – $174.95). The units can stand on their own, but they lean back and can easily fall if someone brushes near them. Personally, I would love to own half a dozen or more just for this purpose.
Everyone is pleased with the Curve Diffusors. Clients are impressed by the appearance, and visiting engineers remark on the wide frequency response of the Curves (200 Hz to 20 kHz). Rae DiLeo (Filter, Henry Rollins, Army of Anyone) did several mix sessions in the room and gave the Curves two thumbs up. They are a great alternative to the insulation board treatments found in many studios. I’m also delighted that Acoustic Geometry used recycled materials for the internal elements. Our new studio was built using renewable, re-purposed, and recycled resources. It’s great to find a professional acoustics company that is taking a lead in this area. (Check out the Acoustic Geometry web blog for photos of the review units in our room).
Diffusor Prices (see web for other Curve Absorbers, Traps and Accessory prices)
14″ (wide) Small Curve bass/diffusor: $274.95
21″ Medium Curve bass/diffusor: $349.95
31″ Large Curve bass/diffusor: $399.95