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 Acoustics, too little vs too much

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Michael Green

Posts : 3564
Join date : 2009-09-12
Location : Vegas/Ohio/The Beach

PostSubject: Acoustics, too little vs too much   Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:45 pm


In todays world of listening we have had enough time to work through many things in the hobby that we have called a bad trait only to find out that it is something good. One of these areas is acoustical space. Some go to the extreme and sacrifice music content by making their rooms dead. The thought here is that the music travels from the speaker to the ear and gives you the sound of the system so why have the room contribute to this sound. The problem with this is the room "IS" the sound. If you deaden the room you will no doubt loose much content and reduce your chances for a realistic sound. The only systems that go direct to ear are headphones. With any other system the room is as much a part of the sound as any other component.

When tuning we try to keep as much of the music as posible without letting it fall into distortion. this is why a tunable system has far more information than typical high end audio. We do however walk a tight rope of balance to achieve this high level of performance. Can a room be too big? For me yes! When a room looses impact and low end info it is becoming too big. Can a room be too small? For me yes as well. If a room can not provide space it can make the system sound claustrophobic. These two scenarios however are not nearly as bad as a room being over dampened. The loss of content is the sin of all sins in my book especially air. I must have the full range response of air to make music enjoyable.

the foundation

If you think that air is an event of the highs you would be incorrect. Air is a function of harmonics and harmonics are found full range. When opening up a system I always pay attention to the lower notes. If you don't have them you will never get the balance right and this is an area where most people struggle. For example there is a huge difference between low end that is dead and low end that is alive. If your low end is dead you will never have upper balance and the recording will be under sized. If you have a harmonically rich low end your highs will be smooth and the room will be full of stage. Warning do not over dampen the lows! Chances are you can fix your lows through mechanical tuning vs dampening but you must be very careful when doing this not to loose those lower harmonics. In some rooms this can be very time consuming, but let me give you a hint. Open up your electrical signal path. Many times a system has blockage in the signal path that is keeping the lower end harmonics from getting through to the speakers throwing off the rooms balance. You would be surprised how much blockage your system has and where it might be.

barricade tuning

I have found barricade tuning to be far more effective than direct absorption. Once in a great while will I still have the dampening side of a product facing me that is almost never. Our ears are like radar picking up reflections off of everything. They pick up the sound of dead materials and translate the distorted information to the brain. We as listeners are so afraid of extra waves that might slip through our audio nets that we are not paying attention to the waves we are missing or distorted by dampening. An extra wave is something that can always be tuned in but a missing wave is gone forever. Worse, an over dampened wave is distortion. Barricade tuning allows you to tune out the bad while keeping the music intact.

too much energy

This is something that is a bit of a hard thing for me to define. Here's why. Sometimes in our system while tuning we hear what we perceive as extra energy. Basically this is a sound that stays around after the music is turned off, and we can hear it while the music is playing if we pay attention. It usually only last a millisecond and is in every room. It is not an echo. Sound is a speed, and as a speed (movement) it has timing issues. Are these timing issues a bad thing? Not when your system is in tune. In fact I believe it gives a more realistic presentation of the music. One of my biggest gripes about high end is how sterile systems sound. Their lack of real sound and musical drive is unnerving to me and personally I would much rather listen to the older mid-fi sound than high end sounding bad. For myself I like a juicy sounding room. I like deep rich bass and splashy highs and warm mids. If these things add up to tight I'm a happy camper. Have I heard this sound in a dead room? Never! I usually hear this in rooms that have just a touch of over hang. The more I explore the room as the speaker I sense the importance to make the room part of the system and not this dry unemotional space of flat nothingness. The room is what puts sound pressure on the ears and it is the host of all good and bad in the long run. When shaping the sound of it we should be focus on the sound itself and not so worried about the audiophile don'ts according to folks that have a different approach to right, meaning the room is not to be a factor. In my book the room is perhaps the biggest factor and should be guarded against dead and lifelessness.

So, how much is too much air? If it adds to tuned fullest and if it is not taking away anything and you like the full rich sound that it brings, keep it. If it becomes mushy or ill-defined than either tighten it up or tame it down. I always recommend taking your time though as not to lose the magic that full range air brings you. When you go from rich to thin it is usually something you will miss till you get it back.

michael green
PH 702 762 3245
Email mgtune@yahoo.com
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