Pool Ball Visualizations


When I was in my teens I "wasted" a lot of time playing pool. Fortunately for me and my future, pool balls, light waves, and sound waves have a lot in common. They all reflect off of surfaces in particular and predictable ways. In Billiards understanding these angles of reflectance leads to more balls in pockets. In photography understanding how light bounces around leads to superior photographs. And in audio knowing how sound moves around a room makes for better-sounding systems that work with rather than against a room's acoustics.

Many years ago I did several photographic assignments for Bose Speakers. One of the jobs was photographing the old Boston Garden during a rock concert. Bose didn't want pictures of the performers on stage, no; they wanted photos showing the entire venue while the performers were on stage. I did a lot of walking around Boston Garden that night, from one nosebleed section to another, with about 30 lb. of camera gear. After the job was done, the art director showed me how the pictures were going to be used - overlaid with a phalanx of arrows showing how the sound was bouncing around inside the hall just like, you guessed it, billiard balls.


I regularly use what I refer to as "pool-ball visualization" to locate early reflections in a room that will have a negative effect on imaging and soundstaging. You can do the same thing with a laser pointer, but for me visualization is as effective and much faster. But, if you've spent enough time around a pool table or a light table you may find that that laser pointer is already built into your internal systems. All you need is to use it...

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