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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:11 am 
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Location: Rome, Italy
Hi everybody and thanks for having me here. My name is Giacomo, I'm 24 and I'm from Lake Como, Italy.

I'm moving to Rome, where I'm setting up a recording studio and thus trying to get in the business as an independent producer/engineer.

The studio is in the basement of an house in the country-side. So it's a nice and quiet area, but obviously the space at disposal is very limited.

The house owner already did the majority of the work, so there is a live room and a smaller control room.
Live room has been treated with some panels and diffusers, right now is used as a rehearsal space and actually sounding pretty good.

The control room is where we are focusing at the moment, since we have done almost nothing concerning acoustic treatment yet. It is based on drywalls and rock wool, and the whole floors are carpeted.

The room itself has a lot of unwanted characteristics: it's small, has parallel walls and low ceiling, plus the floor has not been decoupled from the live room floor, so there is some bleed between the two.

By the way, we are hoping to get decent results and come up with something usable, so we definitely need your help!

My guess is that the first step is deciding where to put the speakers and the listening position. Please let me know your thoughts on this. I'd like to face the longest wall (which is the one that separates from the live room), but the short one would be more symmetric (apart from the curtain on the right side), and I guess it has more space for the low frequencies to develop.

Let me know any additional information you may need. I can send the sketchup drawings if you want.

Our budget is kinda limited but please forget this for now: first we want to know what the best thing to do would be, then we'll think about how make it worse! :D (Hope my english is not too crazy)

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:44 pm 
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Anybody?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:43 pm 
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Hi Giacomo, and welcome. Please read the forum rules for posting (click here). You seem to be missing a couple of things! :)

Quote:
The control room is where we are focusing at the moment, since we have done almost nothing concerning acoustic treatment yet. It is based on drywalls and rock wool, and the whole floors are carpeted.
The carpet is a problem. Either take it out, or put something on top of it, such as a layer of thick plywood. Carpet has the exact opposite acoustic effects of what you need in a control room. It will make the room sound "dull" and "muddy".

Quote:
The room itself has a lot of unwanted characteristics: it's small, has parallel walls and low ceiling, plus the floor has not been decoupled from the live room floor, so there is some bleed between the two.
"Small" is not good. The parallel walls can be treated, so that should not be too much of a problem. And since this is a basement, I imagine the the floor is a concrete slab poured directly on the ground, so I very much doubt that the amount of flanking through that is significant. It is far more likely that the flanking you are hearing is from some other path, such as the walls, ceiling, doorway, HVAC or electrical system. That's where I would be looking for the bleed.

Quote:
My guess is that the first step is deciding where to put the speakers and the listening position. Please let me know your thoughts on this. I'd like to face the longest wall (which is the one that separates from the live room), but the short one would be more symmetric (apart from the curtain on the right side),
You don't have a lot of options there! Generally, the best layout in a small room is to have the speakers firing down the longest axis, but you can't do that in your room, due to the strange curve shaped wall if you face towards the left wall (no symmetry), and the curtain / alcove if you face towards the right wall (also no symmetry). You also cannot face the curtain, so your only real option is to face towards the long wall. That's the only orientation where you can get good symmetry.

One question: Is there another room that you could use, instead of this one? It's not a good choice...

So, if you do use that room, you would set up your speakers on heavy, massive stands against that wall, about 1.4 meters apart, and with the acoustic axis exactly 1.2m above the floor. You would have to set up your chair about 95 cm from the front wall, and angle the speakers so that they are pointing at your ears. That's the basic layout you need for that room. But it is not going to be good: the room is very small, and that strange shape is going to be a problem.

Maybe you could post some photos of that room, so we can see better what you are dealing with.

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:52 pm 
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Hi Stuart and thanks for your reply. I updated the location on my profile.

I also have to specify the purposes of the room: mainly editing and mixing of music, and maybe in some cases I'll track some instrument or vocalist in the control room.

About the loudness going outside the studio. We don't have some big problems here, as the house is independent and in the countryside. We already did some test, and the levels are kinda acceptable.

Some bad news you are giving me.. but I expected something like this

Unfortunately, this is the only room available, as the other one is already set up as live room. So, we have to deal with it.

We will definitely replace the carpet with some wooden floor. We have carpet in the live room too, do you suggest the same?

I would not dislike to set up the speakers on the longest wall, but maybe there wouldn't be enough space for bass freq development? (Even if there are about 2 meters more from the actual wall of the basement)

Maybe we could try to make the left wall symmetric with drywall and rockwool?

I'll get some pics of the room and post them here, please keep in touch.

Thank you very much


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:08 am 
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Quote:
About the loudness going outside the studio. We don't have some big problems here, as the house is independent and in the countryside. We already did some test, and the levels are kinda acceptable.
OK, but what about sound going the OTHER way? Going in, not out? For example: wind, rain, thunder, helicopters and planes flying overhead, cars arriving / leaving, radio, TV, phone ringing, people talking, people walking on the floors above, doors opening and closing in other parts of the building, water running in pipes, toilets flushing, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, dogs barking outside, lawnmower, and about a million other potential sources of noise. Those are all things that people tend to overlook when considering how much isolation they need!

Quote:
Unfortunately, this is the only room available,
OK, so then we just have to help you make the best of it.

Quote:
We have carpet in the live room too, do you suggest the same?
Very likely, yes. Carpet is "selective" absorption, and unpredictable. It absorbs highs very well, absorbs some mids, and does nothing at all to lows: that's the exact opposite of what small rooms need. They need a LOT of low frequency absorption, good mid-range control, and not much in the highs. so depending on how your live room is behaving acoustically at present, the carpet might be a problem. It also depends on how the rest of the room is treated: if you have a hard floor (always a good idea) then you should have a mostly "soft" ceiling, meaning absorption in clouds and perhaps some diffusion, if the ceiling is high enough. But most basement studios don't have enough height to be able to use most types of diffusion on the ceiling.

Quote:
I would not dislike to set up the speakers on the longest wall, but maybe there wouldn't be enough space for bass freq development? (Even if there are about 2 meters more from the actual wall of the basement)
I'm not sure what you mean by "bass build-up", especially considering that the room is so small. If you are talking about bass boost from proximity of the speakers with the front wall, then yes you will need to compensate for that. There should be controls on the back of your speakers for adjusting the bass roll of: you will need to set those to -6dB to compensate for the power balance issue (baffle step). Your speakers MUST go up against the front wall, since the room is way to small to allow them to be positioned at a distance where SBIR artifacts would not be too much of a problem. You need to have them at least 1.7m from the front wall for that, (minimum) and preferably more than 2m, plus you'd also then need an additional 3.3 m from there to the back wall (minimum) if you want to use that kind of setup, so you'd need a room at least 5.3 m long. You don't have that, so you have no options but to put your speakers tight up against the front wall and compensate for the now correct power balance (due to radiating into half-space, instead of full-space) by adjusting the bass roll off controls on your speakers to -6 dB.

If you were not referring to that with "bass build-up", then maybe you were talking about the modal response of the room? The room will still have modes, yes (there's nothing you can do about that), and several of them will be excited better by having the speakers up against the front wall. No doubt about that. So just like all small rooms, yours will need lots of bass trapping. LOTS of it! :)

Or maybe you were talking about not having enough distance between your head and the rear wall: Yes, that's one of the reasons why it is better to have the room oriented so that the speakers are aiming down the longest axis, so that you can get your head far enough away form the rear wall that your ears are beyond the Haas time. But no matter which way you orient your room, it isn't big enough for that. You need the round-trip distance for the first reflections from the rear wall to be at least 6.1 m longer than the direct path from speaker to ear, and you simply don't have enough space in your room for that. So, since it is not possible to do that in your room, you will always be in the direct field, and first reflections will always arrive sooner than the Haas time, so it doesn't matter which way you orient the room: it wont make much difference from that point of view. I think that symmetry is far more important, in your case. Symmetry is critical to stereo image, sound-stage, accurate well-balanced mixing, and good translation of mixes, and is way more important than trying to achieve the impossible in a room that is simply too small to allow it. Symmetry is something you can get in that room, but only if the room is oriented to face the long wall. It isn't ideal, but it's the best that can be done ins that room, and the remaining acoustic issues will have to be addressed with treatment, as much as possible.

Looking forward to seeing the pictures!

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:54 am 
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Soundman2020 wrote:
OK, but what about sound going the OTHER way?


yeah I overlooked that a bit, but really I don't think there are big problems, as we are in a basement, with tick walls and almost no windows. But we'll make some more research next time and let you know.

Soundman2020 wrote:
Very likely, yes. Carpet is "selective" absorption, and unpredictable. It absorbs highs very well, absorbs some mids, and does nothing at all to lows: that's the exact opposite of what small rooms need. They need a LOT of low frequency absorption, good mid-range control, and not much in the highs. so depending on how your live room is behaving acoustically at present, the carpet might be a problem. It also depends on how the rest of the room is treated: if you have a hard floor (always a good idea) then you should have a mostly "soft" ceiling, meaning absorption in clouds and perhaps some diffusion, if the ceiling is high enough. But most basement studios don't have enough height to be able to use most types of diffusion on the ceiling.


very clear and useful explanation... I guess the main areas where absorb the highs should be the first reflections zones? for example behind and on the side of the speakers.
and please, could you expand on why hard floor is always to be preferred? Do we psychoacustically prefer reflections coming from the floor than from the ceiling, or what?

yeah I was afraid of not having enough distance from listening position to back wall, but if you say symmetry is far more important in this case, we'll go for that.
so what do you think about making the left wall symmetric by adding drywall and rockwool? maybe it is a good option..

about the speakers, i definitely have to change them as my actual model (M-Audio BX5A) doesn't have any bass rolloff control and anyway they are not too exciting. I am thinking about replacing them with Adam A5X but I'm not sure because their freq response goes down to 50 Hz max. Maybe to do all the measurements I'll need monitors wich have a wider response (for example Mackie HR824 which go down to 37 Hz) ?

i'm waiting for my mate to send me the pictures, then i'll upload them as soon as possible.

thanks again


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:51 am 
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Quote:
I guess the main areas where absorb the highs should be the first reflections zones? for example behind and on the side of the speakers.
Exactly. The first reflection points on both sides, and also the one on the ceiling. Plus thick absorption on the back wall (behind your head) and some between the speakers and the front wall. That should be enough to get started, then measure the room response using REW to see what else needs doing after you have that in. (Also, measure BEFORE you put anything in, so you have a point of reference, for comparing.

Quote:
could you expand on why hard floor is always to be preferred? Do we psychoacustically prefer reflections coming from the floor than from the ceiling, or what?
Basically that's it, yes. If you think about it this way, wherever you walk in the world, during your entire adult life, your ears are always at the same distance from the floor, but the distance to the ceiling varies: every room is different. Your home, office, malls, shops, restaurants, airports, churches, train stations... everywhere you go there is a different distance from your ears to the ceiling. So your brain is very, very used to how the floor sounds, and uses that as a reference. Since the ceiling sound changes every place you go, it does not use that as a reference. same when you are seated: most chairs are very similar height, and when you sit down your ears will usually be around 1.2m above the floor, give or take a bit. But here too, the distance to the ceiling and walls changes wherever you go.

In other words, your brain knows all about the floor, and can easily handle reflections from the floor: they just sound "right" to your brain. But if the floor is carpeted and the ceiling is hard and reflective, now you have a problem: it does not sound so "right", since the reflections are coming from the wrong direction, and with the wrong timing. You have removed the reference point for your brain, and replaced it with another one that your brain doesn't know so much about, so it doesn't sound "right" any more. The difference is subtle, but when you are tracking and mixing music you need to give your brain as much good, clean, familiar information as you can, so it can do it's best to get thing sounding natural.

The same applies to mics, to a certain extent. If you try to track drums in a room where the floor is very absorbent and the ceiling is low, hard, and reflective, it will just sound "wrong" in the mix, and there is nothing you can do ti fix it. The overhead mics will be picking very early, very short distance reflections from the ceiling, and not picking up the more distant, more delayed reflections that from the floor. Etc.

There are other non-acoustic reasons to use a hard floor too (cleaning, rolling wheeled equipment and chairs, etc.), but the basic acoustic "character" of the room is the most important one, I think.

Quote:
so what do you think about making the left wall symmetric by adding drywall and rockwool? maybe it is a good option..
If you can, then yes! If you can make that one the same as the right wall, then definitely do it. But just be careful that you don't make it into a resonant cavity, or a third leaf....

Quote:
I am thinking about replacing them with Adam A5X but I'm not sure because their freq response goes down to 50 Hz max. Maybe to do all the measurements I'll need monitors wich have a wider response (for example Mackie HR824 which go down to 37 Hz) ?
I would go with the A5X, or even better the A7X. The HR824s might be a bit big for that room. Besides, the clarity of the Adams is excellent, and the sound doesn't just cut off at 50 Hz: that's the point where it is 3 dB down from the rest of the spectrum, but it still puts out energy to much lower frequencies: And if you have it up against the front wall, then you are getting the "infinite baffle" effect of that wall at low frequencies, which will help to extend the range even more. Another option would be to add a Sub-8... that's a great combination!

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:49 pm 
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Soundman2020 wrote:
Exactly. The first reflection points on both sides, and also the one on the ceiling. Plus thick absorption on the back wall (behind your head) and some between the speakers and the front wall. That should be enough to get started, then measure the room response using REW to see what else needs doing after you have that in. (Also, measure BEFORE you put anything in, so you have a point of reference, for comparing.


Good tip for starting point. About the measurements: I am thinking to buy the standard Behringer ECM8000, but read that some people complain that the generic calibration file for this model is way too variable, thus making the acoustic measurements shift in some way. This company sells the same ECM8000, but with a personal calibration file for every microphone. Do you think is worth the additional $$$ ?

http://www.content.ibf-acoustic.com/cat ... ucts_id=76

I'm even think about buying something more specific like this pre+mic combo, what's your opinion?

http://www.content.ibf-acoustic.com/cat ... ucts_id=35

Soundman2020 wrote:
could you expand on why hard floor is always to be preferred? Do we psychoacustically prefer reflections coming from the floor than from the ceiling, or what?


you gave me great explanation! i gotta study more about psychoacoustics because definitely can learn much things!
my first mentor had a wooden board under his drumkit, and told he never record without that, and that carpet would be even worse. he discovered that in an empirical way, and he was obviously right, but now I know the physics behind that!

Soundman2020 wrote:
Quote:
so what do you think about making the left wall symmetric by adding drywall and rockwool? maybe it is a good option..
If you can, then yes! If you can make that one the same as the right wall, then definitely do it. But just be careful that you don't make it into a resonant cavity, or a third leaf....


I have to investigate on this, as i don't know what resonant cavity or third leaf mean. Will ask you after some research.

Soundman2020 wrote:
I would go with the A5X, or even better the A7X. The HR824s might be a bit big for that room. Besides, the clarity of the Adams is excellent, and the sound doesn't just cut off at 50 Hz: that's the point where it is 3 dB down from the rest of the spectrum, but it still puts out energy to much lower frequencies: And if you have it up against the front wall, then you are getting the "infinite baffle" effect of that wall at low frequencies, which will help to extend the range even more. Another option would be to add a Sub-8... that's a great combination!


Considering that at the end it won't be an ideal room to work in, I'll have to work mostly at low volumes, to minimize reflections and modal problems. So i definitely need some speakers that perform great at low spl. I have a great deal available for the A5Xs, but tell me why you would prefer the A7Xs or any other model you would like to suggest.

many thanks again! you are very very helpful!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:55 am 
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Quote:
I have a great deal available for the A5Xs, but tell me why you would prefer the A7Xs or any other model you would like to suggest.
You wanted speakers with better bass extension: the A5X go down to 50 Hz, while the A7X goes down to 42Hz. But if you use the A5X with a Sub-8, you'd get down to 28 Hz: that might be a good option. Or with a Sub-10 that would get you down to 25 Hz. There's not much in traditional music that needs to get down below 25 Hz! I know some well-regarded engineers that roll off everything below 30 Hz anyway in their final mix, always, on every song, to avoid "mud" in the mix, leave more power available for more useful frequencies, and because very few consumer systems can accurately reproduce such low frequencies anyway. So any of the above options will get you pretty decent spectrum.

Of course, the room is not going to be helping much with low frequencies: There are modal issues that you'll have to deal with, regardless of what speaker you choose... :)

Quote:
I'll have to work mostly at low volumes, to minimize reflections and modal problems.
The reflections and modal issues will still be there, but working at low volume is a good idea anyway: It's good for your ears! At low volumes you are also less likely to excite all of the modes, especially if you treat the room well with good bass trapping. The Adam's should perform very well at low SPL, especially if you add a sub woofer to fill out the low end with a bit more power.

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:31 am 
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Hi there,

finally I got the pictures of the control room. Let me know what you think about.

Thanks

Giacomo


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:33 am 
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first 3 pics


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:34 am 
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other 3


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:00 am 
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Hi there,

I have some updates! Finally moved my gear into the new control room, and starting to set it up.

As monitors, at the end I have chosen a pair of Neumann KH120A. I think they are very good, especially in this environment. They have a very controlled bass response, nominal is 52-20000Hz. I plan to add the subwoofer in the future, after improving the acoustics in the room.

I've started placing the listening position on the long axis, against the wall.
Speakers ar now on a plain plywood desk. If better I'll get some stands, but before spending money I want to know exactly what the priorities should be.

Playing some reference mixes, I adjusted the monitors built-in eq, and I sticked with the values from the Neumann manual, which suggests cutting the bass because of the wall proximity, and the low-mids because of desk reflections.

Then I did some tests with RoomEQ Wizard and a Behringer ECM8000 mic, and at this point your opinions would be extremely helpful. I've placed them in the attachements.

In the first measurement, named "contro parete", the speakers are placed on the desk, spaced about 5cm from the wall.

In the second, "staccate da parete", the distance from the wall had been increased to about 15cm.

Then in the third, "rialzate", plastic cases have been put under the speakers, to "simulate" some sort of decoupling from the desk, and to put the speakers more in axis with listening position. (raised about 30cm)

Then you have the overlays for easier comparision.

Obviously these are the first rudimental measurements, but it seems to me that they can tell something already. For example that 126Hz cancellation.

I'd really like to know your opinion and some suggestions on where to start with acoustic treatment.

Any more test, information, pictures, or whatever you may need for better evaluation, just ask and I'll do for you.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:16 pm 
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Hello again,

I've realized that I didn't follow the first guidelines given by Stuart, so obviously I couldn't expect any more advice. Apologize for that.
Now I update the situation with the given guidelines, I hope for some more help from you.
I even did a lot of research by myself, first of all by studying the "Acoustics manual" by Everest, and searching on the forum, so I have a clearer idea now.

So... Now the monitors are on heavy sand filled diy stands, with the acoustical axis about 1,2m high. Spaced them about 1,15m. Made the equilateral triangle on that, the resulting listening position is 1,32m from the front wall.

Then I did some measurements with REW, and the good surprise was that the massive cancellations at 70 and 126Hz were almost gone.

But then I played sine waves at those frequencies and found that the cancellations could be perceived, even by ear, with little movements from the ideal listening position.
By moving around the room, found that in the corners there is a lot of energy at those frequencies, so they are obviously the modes (axial?) of the room.

I've already started to build some treatment, first of all some cloth covered rockwool panels on wooden frames. Tried to move them around but they don't seem to make that much improvement.
Where should I place them? which height? maybe on the soffit?

Then, I think something major is needed in the corners. I found the projects on the forum for making Helmoltz resonators (the ones with wooden slats) and tuning them to specific frequencies. Do you think they would be a good starting point? how can i adapt them to the strange angled shape of the upper corners?

Let me know your suggestions on how to start treatment. Any help is highly appreciated

In the attachements I've put the updated REW image file.

Thanks in advance


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:07 am 
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Glad to hear that the correct layout of the speakers has helped a lot! And hopefully the treatment you are building will help some more.

Quote:
By moving around the room, found that in the corners there is a lot of energy at those frequencies, so they are obviously the modes (axial?) of the room.
All room modes terminate in the corners of the room, which is why it is a good idea to not put your speakers in the corners, and an excellent idea to use the corners for massive bass trapping. Anything you do in the corners is guaranteed to be effective against all modes, since that is where they all end up anyway.

Quote:
Where should I place them?
Diagonally across the corners, floor to ceiling, and large. Make them 36" across the front face if you can, or at least 24". And make them thick: at least 4". or preferably 6". If you can afford it, then make them into "superchunks": that means to fill the entire corner with triangles of insulation.

Quote:
I found the projects on the forum for making Helmoltz resonators (the ones with wooden slats) and tuning them to specific frequencies.
Those are called "slot walls", and might well be needed as part of your treatment, but not in the corners: they go along the walls. Do the corners first with superchunks, then test the room again, and se if you need slot walls.

Quote:
In the attachements I've put the updated REW image file.
There is something major, hugely, enormously wrong with your calibration of REW. If you really were measuring levels of 156 dB, your house would have collapsed from the severe vibration, and you'd be in hospital with multiple organ failure! So you should probably go through the calibration procedure again. It also seems strange that the high end drops off so drastically: you have a 10 dB decline between 1k and 10k, which seems very unusual if your room has no treatment in it yet. Please take a photo of the speaker and mic setup that you are using, as there might be something wrong there.

- Stuart -

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