Originally Posted by dragonfyr
What's really fumy, and quite sad, is to watch someone who claims to know everything - except that which he does not. And what our omnipotent friend still fails to appreciate in his myopic zealotry is what Toole himself has said, and which zealots are keen to ignore in their attempt to foist a particular preference on all.
What Toole himself has said? Why would it matter if as you said and I quote: "What he proposes is not really radically new. Many of he[his] ideas have been around for many years, without having gained substantial traction."
If his ideas have not gotten traction, why are you quoting him? Why would it matter what he has to say? As I have repeatedly said, you two are the most inconsistent people I have ever seen in quoting experts. How many times have you quoted Dr. Toole and in the next breath claim what he has said is wrong? Dozen times? Two dozen times? How do you continue doing that?
The real solution, for professionals as well as consumers, is loudspeakers that deliver similarly good timbral accuracy in the direct, early reflected and reverberant sound fields. This can be described as a loudspeaker with a flattish, smooth, axial frequency response, with constant directivity (which together result in flattish, smooth, sound power). Then it becomes an option, whether the room is acoustically damped, or not. If reflected sounds are absorbed, the listener is placed in a predominantly direct sound field, making the experience more intimate, and the imaging tighter and more precise. If the reflections are allowed to add their complexity, the overall illusion is altogether more spacious and open, to many listeners, more realistic. In part, this is a matter of taste. In either case, a room-friendly loudspeaker will yield timbral accuracy. So, at middle and high frequencies, the proper solution to getting good sound quality, is to choose good loudspeakers to begin with.
For you see, in Toole's world, UNLIKE our pompous friend's, there is room for various applications and preferences.
Let's see. One of us has spoken to him and his team countless time and the other, you, have this paragraph to hang your hat on and maybe two more from his book. Any wonder that your read of his position is incorrect? Let me explain so that it is clear to everyone.
There are three camps here with respect to side reflections:1. Measure and destroy
. This camp puts forward the comb filter graph as Dragon did and says, "this is distortion. You don't want distortion. You want to get rid of source of distortion." Then they point you to the shopping cart and collect orders for absorbers. Many companies have been created around this concept and this class of product is their core business. If we were to conduct a forum poll, vast majority will belong to this camp. After all, it makes “perfect sense.” Two sounds combine and only one is from the speaker so the reflection must be bad. And the solution is likewise obvious. Absorb the reflection. This camp has the best marketing of three.
Their case is simple and easy for the consumer to understand. A dream situation for a marketing person if there ever was one for a technical sale.
Problem is, as I and other experts have explained, our ears simply do not hear such distortion. Worse yet for this camp, when given a choice, we take the distortion over not having it! We know why based on how our hearing works and experiments. I have documented all of that.2. Measure and Ponder.
This camp, described by Dragon and Local, says run ETC to find your reflections and then you are on your own. They say you have to form your own opinion as to whether you are going to absorb or diffuse it. This crew has a tougher marketing job. Who the heck wants to be told they are on their own after they run a tool called “ETC?” “etc” in English language stands for whatever else might be there that is not important enough for me to list. So right away this camp has a marketing problem
. To compensate, they put forward pictures of that crazy studio with 4 foot diffusers like Blackbird and say, “look, these guys have done it. You need to do the same.”
The real fly in the ointment is that their tool is faulty as I have described. It lies and lies badly. But let’s put that aside. Who in this room knows their preference? No one does. Even our two intrepid advocates lack this knowledge as evidenced by countless times I have asked them to tell us which camp they are in and some pictures to demonstrate the same. They never produce anything. They are vocal as all get out but on questions like this, their fingers lack the energy to type an answer.
And of course to the extent they overlap camp #1, they face the same anti-science stance of denying how we hear and how that is incredibly different than a single mic and a graph.3. Don’t be afraid of reflection.
This is the camp that doesn’t believe in “following the crowd to chow line” as the line goes in the movie A Few Good Men. It re-examines every assumption here with investigation of science and listening tests. They put in the time to make sure what they say is true. And what do they say? They say that we as humans use reflections to great value. We use them to better understand speech and higher enjoyment of music. That the observation and methods of the other two teams above is based on superficial look at the situation at hand. That the layer beneath, how we actually interpret these sound waves, is radically different.
It is good to note here the confusion on the part of Dragon and his post here. There is no edict that says everyone MUST like reflections. I have already said that there are entire classes of people like pro engineers who don’t like them. There are probably others like them and hence Dr. Toole’s comment above. The misinterpretation is that if that is the case, then it is a flip of a coin. Nothing could be more wrong. The research is hugely compelling in tilting the odds heavily in favor of reflections being good. I have quoted a lot of it. Who here would hesitate sending chocolate as a gift to a new girlfriend? Would you bother asking her first if she likes it? Surely there are people who don’t. But we don’t lead our life that way. We assume people like chocolate since we know from real experience that vast majority of people do. Likewise, if you had countless listening tests under your belt as Dr. Toole camp you too would believe in default position being that reflections are good. Exceptions can be made but they are just that: exceptions.
The team Dragon+Local doesn’t read or follow listening tests and its science so they believe it must be a random thing. In some ways I was like them. I used to think planar speakers were great. Then I go to Harman and sit through this blind test of speakers where I have no idea what is being tested. I hear this speaker and I think it sounds really bad. So I give it low scores. Then two other speakers play and they are both much better but one is the better of the two. Curtains open and the speaker I thought was the worst by far was the planar!!! Then the group is asked how they voted. Most people voted like I did! Not everyone but most did. So you immediately realize that “you are not special.”
That as humans we share a lot in common. This chart shows two of the four speakers I heard:
The worst sounding speaker in blind test was speaker “M.” The one I liked less than the best was “B.” The best was a JBL speaker not in that list. As we see, my preference ratings are similar to that graph. I picked the Harman speaker best, then speaker B and speaker M. Speaker M had the lowest scores by far as is shown in that graph of others taking similar tests.
I thought maybe this was by chance. So on my second visit I sat through the test again. Once more I did not know what speakers were there. Turns out it was the same set and I again voted the same way. As did the rest of the testers.
In my last test, there was one person who was super embarrassed because he had picked speaker M I think. The Harman team was perfectly cool with that. Some people do have special preferences. But they don’t build speakers to that one person’s taste. They build them to the taste of vast majority of people. If you speak to the Harman team involved in these tests and Dr. Toole, this message comes across loud and clear. That the default position is that of what people prefer which thankfully follows the science of good design as quoted by Dragon above from Dr. Toole.
And it is not just Dr. Toole. He would not have an opinion that is not broadly shared in the community despite what our friendly Dragon tells us. I have shared research from others. Let’s go this time to the Pro world where one would expect opposing views. From AES paper titled, LOUDSPEAKERS IN CONTROL ROOMS AND LIVING ROOMS, by George Augspurger:” Third, I did a lot of listening with various amounts of absorptive treatment in the comers behind the speakers. When first-order reflections were largely absorbed I noted that locations of individual sound sources were more precise, that the timbre of individual instruments was more natural, and that the overall stereo picture was more tightly focused. These observations agree well with other reported listening tests.”
By now there are dances in the street by camps #1 and #2. Complete vindication is assumed with the use of superlative words like “more natural and tightly focused.” But wait…there is more….” Nonetheless, after extensive listening to classical and pop recordings I went back to the hard, untreated wall surfaces. To my ears the more spacious stereo image more than offset the negative side effects. Other listeners, including many recording engineers, would have preferred the flatter, more tightly focused sound picture.”
Once more we have confirmation of what we like and it was not what our intuition or old school of acoustics told us. It did however confirm what I have been saying and that of Dr. Toole's teachings. Again, the above is from someone who lives and breathes Pro audio as one of the top designer of such spaces.
You find yourself in these tough situations, causing you to get personal, because you simply have not been exposed to this important of field of acoustics which relates to how we hear. You keep thinking it is like light bouncing around the room. That is not how it works. It just isn't.