Originally Posted by kbarnes701
He hates the idea of relatively cheap acoustic treatments giving terrifically better SQ. After all, if people start to realise that decent speakers + some room treatments + decent amp (note, that does not mean expensive) is all you need for terrific sound, ***
While I agree with the thrust of your comments (the order of priority is recording/speaker/room in some order, with everything else way down the list), mpre often than not, the "room treatments" are simply band-aids for speakers poorly chosen for the room. The "room treatment" industry benefits IMO tremendously from the fact that most loudspeakers sold are poorly designed devices that billow midrange energy into the room due to the lack of directivity control at the bottom of the tweeter's passband. (Easy rule of thumb: if the tweeter is flush on the baffle or in a little bullet above the baffle, and the midrange is not very small, it's crap.) With more thoughtfully-designed speakers, "room treatments" usually in my experience do more harm than good. Spaciousness is reduced and image focus is not really improved.
Though in any case they do in fact do something
, which cannot in general be said about wires or other cons such as the Totem bauble Arny posted, etc.
Originally Posted by Nightlord
How about recording the room bare with a binaural dummy-head and then sending in some people to put up the acoustic panels and such... and record again (no moving the head inbetween)... and then do ABX listening in headphones? That ought to be able to give a clue to what has happened...
A better idea, and one that solves the problem Arny presented albeit at a cost that would require a patron such as a telco, Harman or a good university, is what Andrew Jones et al. set up during the Eureka project. Instead of paraphrasing, here are Mr. Jones' words about the project.
"Starting with one of the University’s largest anechoic chambers, we put in an array of 32 loudspeakers surrounding the listener (front, back, and sides, both below and above) on a 5m arc (an imaginary sphere). Curtains were placed around the listener so they couldn’t see the speakers. If you went into the chamber and sat in the listening seat, and if only a stereo pair of speakers (left and right) were programmed to play, it would sound simply awful. (Never listen to music in an anechoic chamber, by the way. This is actually quite interesting when we come to talk about important room characteristics and the significant difference between how you set up for home theater vs. music reproduction.)
"We designed our own modeling program, such that we could model a simplified room (a rectangular room) and calculate the appropriate image. Imagine every surface is a mirror, so every reflection from the walls produces an image of the speaker (i.e., on the other side of the wall, at the appropriate angle, at the appropriate distance). We could calculate exactly where all of these images would appear, how far away (i.e., how attenuated), what angle the sound traveled from the original speaker to the listener. If you know the directional characteristics of your “simulated” speaker, you can calculate the frequency response, delay, and strength of every single image, and feed that into a DSP program. We built (this is early 1980s) a 32-channel DSP engine, which simply didn’t exist in those days. Our program simulation could calculate every image -- hundreds of images, if you calculate through the third reflection. We then created an algorithm to group the images from a particular direction (the ear has only a limited acuity to directional cues -- everything within a certain solid angle is fused into one image). We would look for groups to bring it back to 32 images, which we felt sufficient. For the decay of the sound from the farthest images, room reverberation, the calculations became impractical. Even with all that DSP, there was a limit. So our algorithm included reverberation calculations, the low-level end of the tail for a room of particular dimensions and approximate absorption characteristics. Without adding reverberation, it just never sounded right."Source.
While to my knowledge little on the studies was formally published - on this point I'll be delighted if someone proves me wrong - some interesting developments emerged from them. The most obvious one is the KEF Uni-Q concentric driver.
Regardless, isn't this stuff much more interesting than mere wires?