This year’s AXPONA had some of the best, and some of the worst sound I’ve heard at a consumer audio show. The best sound came from the second floor where Paragon Sight and Sound hosted the new Wilson Alexx coupled with Doshi Electronics. The sound, except for one particular resonant frequency excited by Peter McGrath’s impeccable piano recording, was nearly ideal – there was no sign of the room “singing along” with the music. The same could not be said for most rooms at the show.
The primary problem in most of the rooms at the show was too much midbass that swamped the room’s pressure zones. The music emerged, not from a place of silence, but from the deep sludge of background pressure. The best sounding rooms at AXPONA all had one thing in common; they used a loudspeaker that was appropriately sized for the room. Many of the rooms with larger “flagship” loudspeakers were simply too narrow or had too little overall volume to allow for the big speaker’s prodigious bass response to bloom without energizing the room to a fault.
My modest proposal, that I’ve put forward for years to any manufacturer who would listen, is to “do it right”, which would be to choose a loudspeaker that would fit into a hotel room optimally. Then show the flagship model as a passive display. Show them – but don’t play them!
Instead of shooting yourself in the foot with a bad demo, why not put together a demo that shows how well your loudspeakers can work in a bad room by using the loudspeakers that will work best in that room? For some manufacturers, such as Jeff Joseph, this would be a big “Duh” because he always does this – he works with the room rather than trying to overpower it.
Yes, I know some customers will bitch and moan, “I came all the way here JUST TO HEAR YOUR FLAGSHIP SPEAKERS!” but the proper response is, “Well listen to these – if you like what you hear think of how much more you’ll get from our ‘big boys.'”
Obviously manufacturers aren’t the only ones who try to shoehorn big speakers into small spaces. It seems to be a common among consumers as well. But given the experience level of manufacturers, they should know better. Now, repeat after me – big rooms for big speakers and small rooms for small speakers. And hotel rooms? Mostly better with no speakers at all…