Ten Pounds of Sound in a Five Pound Room

This morning I looked at another photograph of a $150,000 loudspeaker placed. No SHOEHORNED, into an all too small space. And while I understand the motivation that drives audiophiles into creating aural situations that are almost guaranteed to underperform, there gets a point where even someone like myself, who more than once has been accused of "pimping" new audio gear, to state unequivocally. "Sometimes, you really need to stop, think, and critically look at your room as to what kind of gear and set-up will and will not work in it." 

AR-tenlbs2a.jpgThere's a scene in the movie "Beautiful Girls" where Rosie O'Donnell describes for the protagonist what parts of a female human body go with what...That scene comes back to me when I see a 500 lb. loudspeaker in a 14 ft by 11 ft room (as a random example). Big speakers need and were designed to be used in big rooms. Small speakers work more successfully in small rooms. 

If this is as big a "DUH" for you as for me, you might be wondering why I even need to bring it up! 

But Damn, folks! Look at any audiophile enthusiast Facebook site and you're going to see, over and over again, pix of too-big speakers in too small rooms...and far too few pix of what all of you who emitted that big "DUH" would consider a well-set-up system in a well-treated room (outside of stuff posted by manufacturers of acoustic treatments). 

AR-tenlbs3a.jpgMaybe it's just being human, wanting something bigger than we should, buying something shiny like a new loudspeaker instead of something utilitarian, such as acoustic treatments or dedicated AC wiring. 

As evidence that I'm not a complete hypocrite, my most recent audio-related purchase was a small, 14" by 30" spot panel with scatter plate from GIK acoustics. I had a manufacturer over recently and they commented about the space about four feet behind my prime listening position, which is a door, would be an ideal place to add some absorption as well as some diffusion. The GIK panel does both. And I paid retail... 

I also use 25-year old Acoustic Sciences Corporation Tube Traps, quarter round Tube Traps, and Sound Panels as well as Room Tunes panels. Could I use more room treatments? Probably not after my last small addition. 

AR-make it fit.jpgAnd what's the best no-cost acoustic improvement you can make to your room? For most multi-purpose rooms, I would suggest taking something out...perhaps that extra end-table that's less than three feet away from a loudspeaker's front baffle?  Most of us, nope, I'll venture to say ALL of us, have blinders on when it comes to looking objectively at our own listening rooms. Especially over time as things accumulate and space becomes filled...and the necessary available space to ideally situate loudspeakers shrinks... 

The next-best free tweak I can offer is equally simple - re-measure your loudspeakers' physical locations. I had made some adjustments to my loudspeakers recently and I had thought I had re-set them up optimally. But they weren't imaging with quite the precision I had been used to, so I re-measured from the front wall (the wall behind the loudspeakers) and discovered that they were not both the same distance from that wall (or my right and left ears). After some time spent measuring and moving I got them situated correctly, and yes, it made a difference... So, the next time you get that urge to replace your current loudspeakers with something bigger, and presumably better, consider your room and its wants and needs before you add that next big bright shiny object...

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