Acoustics

There are the excellent concert venues of the world – and then there are those that, when a guest conductor arrives, they say to themselves, "Oh my, how can I make an orchestra sound great in here?"

 

The room where you've chosen to listen to music is most likely far from perfect, but it's probably far better than you imagine.  I have years of experience placing systems and loudspeakers in homes, audio store demonstration rooms, and, worst of all, hotel rooms at audio shows. There is no magical solution to acoustics and no gurus to wave magic wands. But using the laws of physics, it is straightforward to achieve order and balance through precise positioning of your speakers in the listening room, and yes, where you sit – once you understand the problem.

 

It is incredibly easy to excite spurious acoustic noise that interferes with your system. Be it a room-generated bass problem or a weak and thin vocal characteristic caused by mid-range drivers incorrectly distanced from each other, they are easy traps to fall into while correcting them can be complex. Every aspect of how one speaker relates to the other and the listening room combines to create the whole: it is like squeezing a balloon – pushing on one part will cause a reaction elsewhere. This is why recognizing the nature of the trap is the first step to avoiding it. Many audiophiles believe that dealing with acoustic problems means installing massive amounts of acoustic treatment. Sometimes some subtle treatment can help, but isn't it better to avoid causing the problem in the first place? Tasking a music system with re-creating the low-frequency pressure and dynamics of a live event are the most challenging aspects of playback. Why hamper the system's interaction with the room with an abundance of energy-absorbing devices?