I stumbled on this product thread to find a rather peculiar theory/philosophy debate. As my moniker implies, and those who know me here, I share Filmmixer's situation of being working industry pro and AV enthusiast. (I stumbled on AVS in 2000 during lunch while doing a series at WB.
My perspective is obviously somewhat more from the visual perspective, but I have invested in pursuing acoustic and audio knowledge extensively over the last decade. I am very familiar with the Harman White Papers by Floyd Toole and Todd Welti that are referenced here. In fact, I sat in presentations on those white papers by their authors and spoke to them face to face at length on these subjects as part of my self-imposed educational process.
My $.02 worth... I see pieces of information from FM, N8, and others that are quite accurate. But what everyone must understand that there are two worlds trying to mingle here. Filmmixer and pros in the biz work within a carefully structured world full of specifications and standards that define the playing field and ensure both plenty of room for creativity and an end product that delivers consistency based on technical and creative criterea. In other words, it is created to meet definable, repeatable technical performance, resulting in an experience that is "faithful" to the artist's creative vision in a defined environment (pro/commercial cinema). Mixing for the home such as for episodic TV or the like is totally off the radar, as it is impossible to define a "standard" home. (I'm out of my realm here, so help me with this Filmmixer.)
Filmmixer and I have to work in that environment and we may perfer to experience the product in the cinema and at home that way. Clearly in N8's case, this is not the goal. That's fine for him and every consumer/end user.
The fact is that once the product comes to the home, all bets are off. The two environments are (or can be) so different that it is virtually impossible to precisely reproduce every engineering parameter from the dubbing stage. Is it worthwhile to pursue such? If you enjoy doing so, yes. You can certainly have great fun designing and creating a room/environment that will acoustically give you the best chance of faithfully reproducing that product...and going anywhere else with it your heart desires. I also contend that it is worthwhile to have a starting point/reference from which to depart and return. IMO that "starting point/reference" is an evironment and system that reproduces an "experience" that is as faithful to the original product/mix/etc as is possible in the given home environment. I can depart from that to my heart's content to pursue subjective desires, but I know from where I came and can return.
I'll take a quick shot at the subwoofer debate. I can't tell what size or proportions the room each party in the debate here has (other than Filmmixers large room), but my guess is that they are all so different as to be comparing apples and oranges. i.e. Large room vs small room LF acoustics, etc.. It is much easier to have smooth LF over a larger area in a large room than a smaller room, as we all know. Four subs can suffice to achieve smooth response at Reference level for any size room as long as all the factors many of you have stated are satisfied (room proportions, primary seating area, size/output, location, phase, EQ, etc.). If you need more or less output than Reference, go for it.
My thanks to Filmmixer for sharing your perspective from your vast experience.
Cheers and Happy New Year to all.