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Elk
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Can a listening room be overdamped?

Jan elsewhere quotes Wes Phillips' review of RealTraps room treatments.

Mr. Philips recognized the benefits of acoustic treatment, "when you hear less of the room, you hear more of the recording."

However, as Jan points out, Mr. Phillips also wrote:

"I've visited Ethan Winer's main listening room and studio, and my suspicion is that both are overdamped

Lick-T
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Query: Can a listening room ever be overdamped?

Yes, I think it can. I hate "hearing the room" when listening to a stereo. However, most loudspeakers are designed to work best in real world applications like a typical living room versus an anechoic chamber.

The times I've heard overdampended rooms the mid bass had no fullness or body and in another situation the midrange and treble sounded dead and sterile.

IMHO, it takes a whole lot of dampening to be too much. I would also rather listen to a slightly over dampened system than an underdamped one - but that's just my own preference talking.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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I hate "hearing the room" when listening to a stereo. However, most loudspeakers are designed to work best in real world applications like a typical living room versus an anechoic chamber.

You hate consciously "hearing the room" when listening in stereo but you still need to hear the room because recordings are made with the presumption of being reproduced in a "normal" domestic room. Without reflections, the soundstage of 2channel stereo is compressed.

Kal

Elk
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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However, most loudspeakers are designed to work best in real world applications like a typical living room versus an anechoic chamber.


I have read this numerous times but have never understood what is done to make the speaker sound better in a real room other than to be careful to allow the typical bass boost to not overwhelm.

We also try to measure the anechoic response of speakers so as not to measure the speaker/room interaction.


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The times I've heard overdampended rooms the mid bass had no fullness or body and in another situation the midrange and treble sounded dead and sterile.


Me, too. Yuck! In my experience however these have been "selectively" damped with some frequencies favored over another.

Thanks for the thoughts

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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. . . you still need to hear the room because recordings are made with the presumption of being reproduced in a "normal" domestic room. Without reflections, the soundstage of 2channel stereo is compressed.


I can only speak of my experience, but I have found that as I add acoustic treatment the soundstage expands and feels less "bounded," both horizontally and vertically.

Have you experienced this? If so, have you also experienced that adding more treatment subsequently squashed the sound stage?

With respect to the expectation that the recording will be reproduced in a "normal" domestic room, what is done so this will be the case?

When I have been on location for an orchestral recording, or in a studio, the emphasis has been on good sectional and tonal balance, with good balance between direct and indirect sound. The resulting recordings have a good sense of space, but of the venue - not of the listening room. And they sound good on headphones, too.

Finally, do you think the room can be so damped that it becomes difficult to hear differences between components? That is, there is no so little room sound that this "sound suck" masks differences. I find this comment by Mr. Phillips very striking.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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I can only speak of my experience, but I have found that as I add acoustic treatment the soundstage expands and feels less "bounded," both horizontally and vertically.

Agreed.


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Have you experienced this? If so, have you also experienced that adding more treatment subsequently squashed the sound stage?

Not personally but I have heard recordings over speakers in an anechoic chamber which is overdamped, by definition.


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With respect to the expectation that the recording will be reproduced in a "normal" domestic room, what is done so this will be the case?

The use of proper acoustics in the mastering studio. I have visited a few good ones (soundMirror, Gateway, etc.).


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When I have been on location for an orchestral recording, or in a studio, the emphasis has been on good sectional and tonal balance, with good balance between direct and indirect sound. The resulting recordings have a good sense of space, but of the venue - not of the listening room.

That is as it should be. However, in order for that to happen the mastering/balancing has to be careful.


Quote:
Finally, do you think the room can be so damped that it becomes difficult to hear differences between components? That is, there is no so little room sound that this "sound suck" masks differences. I find this comment by Mr. Phillips very striking.

Perhaps Wes was using hyperbole to indicate that the acoustical presentation was so strange that, in the altered context, he could not make the distinctions as he usually can. I have been in some environments that were so strange/bad that my willingness to listen carefully just shut down.

I am not saying that Ethan's room falls into this category as I have have only passed through the room a few times. Perhaps I should take him up on his offers to sit down and listen one day.

Kal

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Query: Can a listening room ever be overdamped?

Once again, Elk, I find myself wondering just how much of the review you read and how much you simply ignored.


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Even behind the hangings, my panels were butt-ugly. Worse, the room sounded really bad
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Finally, do you think the room can be so damped that it becomes difficult to hear differences between components?

What "differences" are you asking about? Can you still judge the difference between a Pioneer receiver and a Jeff Rowland amplifier? That would be hard to miss. Can you still have a reasonable expectation of hearing just how well the component does much else? No, I don't think you can in most "well damped rooms". The improvements in high end equipment are often very subtle and not at all to be found in a frequency response measurement. Since that is the base line for most room treatment installations, the result is you hear the effects of the treatments and not the equipment or the music.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:
Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I hate "hearing the room" when listening to a stereo. However, most loudspeakers are designed to work best in real world applications like a typical living room versus an anechoic chamber.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You hate consciously "hearing the room" when listening in stereo but you still need to hear the room because recordings are made with the presumption of being reproduced in a "normal" domestic room. Without reflections, the soundstage of 2channel stereo is compressed.

Exactly what I meant Kal, but said much better by you!

What I really hate is the sound of walls or floors singing along (resonating with) the music. Typically this smears the timing of the music and especially obscures bass pitch definition. I would rather listen in an acoustically live room that is structurally inert than an acoustically dampened room that is structurally resonant.

I am currently renovating my listening room from the studs up. Keeping and increasing the structural integrity of the room has been my first order of business as we rebuild.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Not personally but I have heard recordings over speakers in an anechoic chamber which is overdamped, by definition.


I haven't heard stereo speakers in an anechoic chamber. This would be fascinating.

I have been in a chamber however and it is an odd, disconcerting experience. It would be difficult for me to make any useful subjective judgment of reproduced sound given the alien environment.


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With respect to the expectation that the recording will be reproduced in a "normal" domestic room, what is done so this will be the case?

The use of proper acoustics in the mastering studio. I have visited a few good ones (soundMirror, Gateway, etc.).


The fact that mastering studios are designed with good acoustics is precisely why I question that recordings are made to be reproduced in the "average" listening room. Rather they are made to sound good in a similarly well-treated room.

Perhaps this is why a good recording sounds compressed and odd in an anechoic chamber.


Quote:
Perhaps Wes was using hyperbole to indicate that the acoustical presentation was so strange that, in the altered context, he could not make the distinctions as he usually can. I have been in some environments that were so strange/bad that my willingness to listen carefully just shut down.


This makes excellent sense.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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I am currently renovating my listening room from the studs up. Keeping and increasing the structural integrity of the room has been my first order of business as we rebuild.


Let us know what you decide to do and how it goes.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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How much information is lost along with the intended first reflection absorption and how important is that information to the realism of the recording?


This is one of the reasons for my question. Audiophiles assume there is "intended" reflections built into recordings.

Yet, the sound on headphones is superb. There is no reflected sound or "room effect" while listening to headphones. If "listening room sound" is essentially to truly hi-fi sound why doesn't the sound of headphones suck?

Thus, I think our assumption of necessary and intended reflections and room sound is incorrect.

Rather, the frequency balance, balance between direct and indirect sound, etc. are all a function of the rooms in which the mix and masters were made - as well as the preferences of the engineers.

That is, recordings are made in rooms that have a certain amount of reflections and thus "mirror" these rooms, but this does not mean there are designed-in, deliberate "intended" reflections.

Perhaps, ideally, our listening rooms would be precisely the same acoustically as the mastering room. But this would mean a listening space would only sound its best when playing recordings made in one mastering space.


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Posit: Assume a lively but frequency-balanced room. Room treatments are added by which the frequencies are evenly damped; that is, no frequency is damped more than any other frequency.


I don't believe that is possible in a domestic situation. In a well executed anechoic chamber, yes, in a living room or even a studio, no way. That's not how absorption works.


Which is precisely why I started with this assumption. We all know that rooms can be poorly treated so that the overall frequency response and resulting sound is dreadful.

My query thus assumes that we are not having this problem. My question is whether we need to have room reflections for good sound.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Quote:
Finally, do you think the room can be so damped that it becomes difficult to hear differences between components?


What "differences" are you asking about?

Mr. Phillips wrote: "I wondered if I could detect differences between components."

I don't know specifically to what he refers, thus my question: can a well-damped, frequency-response-accurate room mask the differences between components?


Quote:
Can you still have a reasonable expectation of hearing just how well the component does much else? No, I don't think you can in most "well damped rooms".


Why?

Remember, we are not talking about a room poorly treated so that it has massive frequency anomalies. I think we can all agree that such rooms don't sound good and - if particularly bad - would make it difficult to discern quality components from each other.

Rather we are talking about a room:

1) with even frequency response, and
2) happens to also have very few if any reflections.

Assuming accurate frequency response, do we need reflected sound and room effects for good sound reproduction?

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?

A stereo room can be overdamped, perhaps, especially if done without attention to T60 as a function of frequency.

A multichannel room should be very damped at all frequencies. The more you do that, the better you can get the intended environment.

There are a variety of "but's" here, though.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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If "listening room sound" is essentially to truly hi-fi sound why doesn't the sound of headphones suck?

Ah but it does in terms of soundstage and accurate imaging. In compensation, by eschewing the effects of suboptimal room acoustics, headphone listening can offer increased, perhaps hyper-, clarity and detail. A trade-off.


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Thus, I think our assumption of necessary and intended reflections and room sound is incorrect.

If you can tolerate/enjoy headphone listening, then you can draw that conclusion.


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That is, recordings are made in rooms that have a certain amount of reflections and thus "mirror" these rooms, but this does not mean there are designed-in, deliberate "intended" reflections.

But those rooms were designed to be the way they are. The intent is implicit.


Quote:
Perhaps, ideally, our listening rooms would be precisely the same acoustically as the mastering room. But this would mean a listening space would only sound its best when playing recordings made in one mastering space.

True and that is consequent to a lack of standards, something that Sean Olive has discussed under the catchy title of "circle of confusion." Sean Olive's Blog

Kal

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?

Thanks for chiming in, j_j.

I have seen references that T60 should be evenly distributed as to frequency (makes sense) and that it should be lower for home theater as more reverb/artificial ambiance is added to video.

When is there too little reflection for music?

If there can be too little, why doesn't headphone sound stink?

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Thanks for chiming in, j_j.

I have seen references that T60 should be evenly distributed as to frequency (makes sense) and that it should be lower for home theater as more reverb/artificial ambiance is added to video.

When is there too little reflection for music?

If there can be too little, why doesn't headphone sound stink?

Headphones are so different that you can't really compare them to listening inside a room. Just the lack of interaural mixing, by itself, is such a difference that everything else changes.

Don't forget, headphones isolate you from the room in terms of acoustics, even if they aren't "isolating headphones", because they don't drive the room, as well.

Headphones vs. speakers is fundamentally apples vs. orange, even leaving out the fact that things like imaging in headphones is, well, generally not so great.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Don't forget, headphones isolate you from the room in terms of acoustics, even if they aren't "isolating headphones", because they don't drive the room, as well.


Exactly. Yet headphones still sound pretty good even without room reflections.


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Headphones are so different that you can't really compare them to listening inside a room. Just the lack of interaural mixing, by itself, is such a difference that everything else changes.


This is probably true.

It continues to annoy me from a convenience standpoint that I can do very little with headphones when setting mic position on location, mixing, etc. Yet I can accomplish a lot with very basic small monitors that I cannot with headphones. This may very well be experience, but I think there is much more going on than this.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Yet I can accomplish a lot with very basic small monitors that I cannot with headphones. This may very well be experience, but I think there is much more going on than this.

Well, you use very different spatial cues in headphones than you do in nearfield, or farfield listening. That's 3 different situations in which different auditory cues establish what you percieve.

So I'm not even moderately surprised. I'd be surprised the other way around.

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I'd be surprised the other way around.


But I want everything!

Sound! Convenience! Inexpensive!

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Quote:
I'd be surprised the other way around.


But I want everything!

Sound! Convenience! Inexpensive!

Uh, I'm pretty sure you left out a couple things: No effort required and the theory of operation has to make sense.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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I haven't heard stereo speakers in an anechoic chamber. This would be fascinating.

I have been in a chamber however and it is an odd, disconcerting experience. It would be difficult for me to make any useful subjective judgment of reproduced sound given the alien environment.

Do you suppose that's why you don't hear of anyone using an anechoic chamber for subjective reviewing of speakers or components? Think this through, Elk. Such a chamber has only two known uses; 1) to minimize, as much as possible, the room sound of the chamber - a function well suited to a very small group of activites and 2) to make those inside a chamber for the first time go, "Oooooh, that's really weird!" You audition speakers and components in a "live" room.


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The fact that mastering studios are designed with good acoustics is precisely why I question that recordings are made to be reproduced in the "average" listening room. Rather they are made to sound good in a similarly well-treated room.

Too many assumptions there; mastering studios (as if they were the only place where sound quality might change in the production chain), good acoustics, "average" listening room, similarly treated, etc. Once again, think about the reality of the situations involved and you should come up with why your post is only about 1/10 of the way sensible.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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This is one of the reasons for my question. Audiophiles assume there is "intended" reflections built into recordings.

Yet, the sound on headphones is superb. There is no reflected sound or "room effect" while listening to headphones. If "listening room sound" is essentially to truly hi-fi sound why doesn't the sound of headphones suck?

I find this question to be somewhat like asking, "If cars are so good, why don't bicycles suck?"

You are comparing apples to orangutans. Let's jump beyond what should be obvious as a response to your question and point out that no one here has said "'listening room sound' is essentially to truly hi-fi sound".


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Rather, the frequency balance, balance between direct and indirect sound, etc. are all a function of the rooms in which the mix and masters were made - as well as the preferences of the engineers.

That statement, IMO is only about one third of the way to understanding this issue. The rooms in which the sound is "created" are not at all consistent when you are dealing with large recording companies. You are limiting your thinking to only what you see in front of you as your own very unique experience. The rooms - usually multiples and very often designed to minimze interaction between performers must be included in your calculation. After that is assembled in the typical chain of events leading to the creation of a "recording" this is the only constant then amongst all the other variables of playback.


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That is, recordings are made in rooms that have a certain amount of reflections and thus "mirror" these rooms, but this does not mean there are designed-in, deliberate "intended" reflections.

I'm at a loss! Of course, it does and, of course, it does not. Stop putting your very narrow world views on everything else that exists. With a dozen microphones on a drum kit inside an isolation room, what's the net result? With a full blown orchestra blowing to beat the band (so to speak) performing in a well known hall, what are you hearing of the room?


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Perhaps, ideally, our listening rooms would be precisely the same acoustically as the mastering room. But this would mean a listening space would only sound its best when playing recordings made in one mastering space.

Elk, haven't we had this discussion already. You ask the same sort of questions when you are discussing "absolutes". We must have the same room, we must have the same equipment and we need to have been present at the recording to know anything. That is simply BS but I can't seem to convince you of that fact.


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Which is precisely why I started with this assumption. We all know that rooms can be poorly treated so that the overall frequency response and resulting sound is dreadful.

I thought you believed "conventional" treatments were the ultimate panacea for room problems? You're confusing me, Elk. Which is it? Treated? Or, untreated rooms that are the problem?


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My query thus assumes that we are not having this problem. My question is whether we need to have room reflections for good sound.

Which "room reflections" are you speaking of? There are probably at least five sets of "room reflections" involved in even the simplest studio recording produced by a major label. Tell me which set(s) you would remove and which you would leave intact.

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Too many assumptions there; mastering studios (as if they were the only place where sound quality might change in the production chain), good acoustics, "average" listening room, similarly treated, etc. Once again, think about the reality of the situations involved and you should come up with why your post is only about 1/10 of the way sensible.

Your points are precisely why I reject the idea that recordings are "designed" or "intended" to be listened to in "normal" listening room. There are simply too many variables for this to be the case.

There are simply too many variables.

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Let's jump beyond what should be obvious as a response to your question and point out that no one here has said "'listening room sound' is essentially to truly hi-fi sound".

Actually, others have indeed said that there is such a thing as an overly damped listening room; that is, a listening environment with insufficient reflections. See above.

Additionally others have commented, including yourself, that an anechoic chamber is a bad listening environment. If this is the case, we need a certain amount of listening room reflections or "listening room sound" for good sound reproduction.


Quote:
With a dozen microphones on a drum kit inside an isolation room, what's the net result? With a full blown orchestra blowing to beat the band (so to speak) performing in a well known hall, what are you hearing of the room?


These are examples of the amount of ambiance in the recording itself, an entirely different matter. I am interested in the listening room environment.

Again my question: Can a listening room be overly damped? Or, put another way, Does a listening room need to exhibit room reflections for us to enjoy reproduced sound?


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Quote:
Which is precisely why I started with this assumption. We all know that rooms can be poorly treated so that the overall frequency response and resulting sound is dreadful.


I thought you believed "conventional" treatments were the ultimate panacea for room problems? You're confusing me, Elk. Which is it? Treated? Or, untreated rooms that are the problem?


I have never been able to decide the extent to which your mischaracterizations are deliberate and which are based on actual misunderstanding.

But I will try to explain again.

Listening rooms with an uneven frequency response are a problem, treated or untreated. In presenting my question I deliberately chose to avoid the debate as to how frequency response can be skewed with bad acoustic treatment.

That is, assume for purposes of discussion that the listening room has an even frequency response.

Given this, do we need to have listening room reflections for good reproduced sound? If so, why?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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I don't know specifically to what he refers, thus my question: can a well-damped, frequency-response-accurate room mask the differences between components?

What is a "frequency-response-accurate room"? I don't believe they exist outside of a very expensive - and even then only down to maybe 40-50Hz - anechoic chamber and we've already concluded they are not so good for judging equipment.


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Can you still have a reasonable expectation of hearing just how well the component does much else? No, I don't think you can in most "well damped rooms".

Why?

Remember, we are not talking about a room poorly treated so that it has massive frequency anomalies. I think we can all agree that such rooms don't sound good and - if particularly bad - would make it difficult to discern quality components from each other.

The more I read of your thoughts, Elk, the more clear it becomes to me why you are so unconvinced of the advantages provided by devices such as the Belt alternatives or anything created by geoff or Ted.

Am I reading this correctly? Frequency response is the only thing that matters to you? "Accurate" frequency response at that?!

Look at fig 6 here; http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers...ker/index6.html

Does that fit your concept of "accurate"? It's a well regarded speaker in Stereophile's view. Why do you suppose that is? You're allowed to read the review if you think that might help.


Quote:
Rather we are talking about a room:

1) with even frequency response, and
2) happens to also have very few if any reflections.

Assuming accurate frequency response, do we need reflected sound and room effects for good sound reproduction?

I'm really not trying to be rude here, Elk, but you seem unable to think even to the sides of the box let alone outside of it. First, what speakers are we using to energize the room? Don't you suppose that makes a difference to how we would want the room to be arranged? Are you listening in the near field or far field? What is the intent of the speaker's designer? Broad, across the board dispersion or controlled directivity? Multiple drivers are single? Wide baffle or narrow? Horns or not? Open baffle, bipole, dipole, omni-directional or monopole? What problems are you treating; low, mid or high frequencies?

Do you get what I'm driving at?

You also appear to believe reflections are the enemy of good sound. I'm going to try leading you to thinking your way out of this, Elk, rather than spoonfeeding the concepts to you. Think, Elk, think!

Let's begin with an "average room" used for playback with the "average" problems associated to such enclosures. We can therefore assume most speakers will put energy into the room which excites various "problems" then perceived by the listener. One of those problems we typically find would be frequency irregularities, peaks and dips and standing waves are the most apparent in this respect. Got that? Let's just restrict our discussion to those few issues for now.

How do you transform that space with those "problems" into your ideal, a room; "1) with even frequency response, and 2) happens to also have very few if any reflections"?

How did we achieve that end result with "conventional" acoustic treatments? Given that we are treating peaks and dips in frequency repsonse with passive devices, what solutions are there? What function did the "conventional" devices perform which altered the frequency response of the room? What did the devices do that minimized or "killed" reflections? Think about this, Elk. What do typical room treatments do that affects frequency response and reflections? Think hard, the answer, should you need assistance, is in my first post in this thread and in this paragraph.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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our points are precisely why I reject the idea that recordings are "designed" or "intended" to be listened to in "normal" listening room. There are simply too many variables for this to be the case.

Recordings are "intended" for many uses, most of the material being produced today is meant to be played on a mobile device or a boombox. Stop thinking only of the way you think you would have a recording made and consider the reality of the industry.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Am I reading this correctly? Frequency response is the only thing that matters to you?


Of course not. Instead I removed the variable of listening room frequency response for the purposes of the discussion of whether listening rooms need to exhibit reflections for good reproduced sound.

I am interested in other's opinions on this, including yours.


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You also appear to believe reflections are the enemy of good sound.


Actually no. My mind is far from made up. I don't know.

I have not heard stereo sound reproduced in an anechoic chamber. Mr. Rubinson indicates the stereo spread in such a room is compressed. He appears to feel that a certain amount of listening room reflection is required for satisfying reproduction.

I'm not so convinced. Reflected sound does add a sense of spaciousness, but isn't this listening to the listening room, rather than the recording?


Quote:
Let's begin with an "average room" used for playback with the "average" problems associated to such enclosures. We can therefore assume most speakers will put energy into the room which excites various "problems" then perceived by the listener. One of those problems we typically find would be frequency irregularities, peaks and dips and standing waves are the most apparent in this respect. Got that?


Of course!

This is exactly why I started with posit that these problems don't exist. We all know of these issues.

Assume however, for purpose of discussion that is is possible to avoid such frequency irregularities. Assume that this can be accomplished.

Now there is the question, do we need listening room reflections for good sound reproduction?

Perhaps it would help if you think of it this way: An anechoic chamber, by definition, has no listening room reflections and perfect frequency response (because it has none).

Will a stereo playback system sound good in such a room? Why not?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:

Quote:

Let's jump beyond what should be obvious as a response to your question and point out that no one here has said "'listening room sound' is essentially to truly hi-fi sound".

Actually, others have indeed said that there is such a thing as an overly damped listening room; that is, a listening environment with insufficient reflections. See above.

Additionally others have commented, including yourself, that an anechoic chamber is a bad listening environment. If this is the case, we need a certain amount of listening room reflections or "listening room sound" for good sound reproduction.

You are still dealing with orangutans! One is not the other. Think about what is similar and what is not.

Think, Elk!


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These are examples of the amount of ambiance in the recording itself, an entirely different matter. I am interested in the listening room environment.

Then one of two things have occurred here; 1) you have convinced me you have little idea of what is "better" about this component vs. that component or 2) you have completely convinced me you do not need Ted's bowls, they will not do what you expect.


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Again my question: Can a listening room be overly damped? Or, put another way, Does a listening room need to exhibit room reflections for us to enjoy reproduced sound?

First question, we've determined an anechoic chamber is not good for auditioning components. Or put another way, why is that answer true?

C'mon, Elk.


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I have never been able to decide the extent to which your mischaracterizations are deliberate and which are based on actual misunderstanding.

Likewise, I'm similar. Elk, you don't progress, you stay in one place and say the same thing over and over. If you aren't going to think this through, there's no need to continue.


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Listening rooms with an uneven frequency response are a problem, treated or untreated. In presenting my question I deliberately chose to avoid the debate as to how frequency response can be skewed with bad acoustic treatment.

If you "treat" the room, are you doing so to make the problems worse? I don't get what you're trying to say. Applying any device to a room for acoustic problems should amount to an improvement otherwise I wouldn't call that a "treated" room. You would?

Leave bad application out of the issue here.


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That is, assume for purposes of discussion that the listening room has an even frequency response.

Given this, do we need to have listening room reflections for good reproduced sound? If so, why?

You are still looking at this problem through the wrong end of the telescope.

Answer the questions I asked in the post following your's quoted here and then we can proceed - maybe. Until you understand what "conventional" room treatments are doing you won't get beyond saying the same thing over and over.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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our points are precisely why I reject the idea that recordings are "designed" or "intended" to be listened to in "normal" listening room. There are simply too many variables for this to be the case.


Recordings are "intended" for many uses, most of the material being produced today is meant to be played on a mobile device or a boombox.


It sounds like you agree with me.

There are too many variables in how and where music will be played back for us to assume that any given recording is intended to be played back in "normal" listening room - because there is no such thing as a normal listening room.

This is why I reject the notion stated by others above that recordings are made with the intent or design to be played back in any particular environment.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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First question, we've determined an anechoic chamber is not good for auditioning components. Or put another way, why is that answer true?


No, we have not made this determination.

You state that this is the case. Specifically why is this your position?

What is lacking in an anechoic chamber that is needed for quality sound reproduction?

Here is your chance to explain.

Go for it!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Instead I removed the variable of listening room frequency response for the purposes of the discussion of whether listening rooms need to exhibit reflections for good reproduced sound.

No, you did not. You ingored it but you did not remove it.


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Actually no. My mind is far from made up. I don't know.

I have not heard stereo sound reproduced in an anechoic chamber. Mr. Rubinson indicates the stereo spread in such a room is compressed. He appears to feel that a certain amount of listening room reflection is required for satisfying reproduction.

I can't speak for Kal so I won't try. But, were I responding to Kal's statement, I would ask a few simple questions. All two channel (stereo) playback? Wouldn't the recording techniquue come into the discussion of this statement? Wouldn't the placement of listener to speakers have something to do with the results? Wouldn't the type of speaker have something to do with this? Are there not obvious exceptions to your statement?


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I'm not so convinced. Reflected sound does add a sense of spaciousness, but isn't this listening to the listening room, rather than the recording?

Picture me now banging my head against the wall. Earlier you said "treating" a room added a sense of spaciousness. What have we accomplished if either way, treated or untreated, we have "spaciousness"?


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Assume however, for purpose of discussion that is is possible to avoid such frequency irregularities. Assume that this can be accomplished.

Then that is called "free field response". KEF and the BBC used to use a method where they literally went out into a field and placed the speaker system on a tall pole. No reflecting surfaces to deal with and that's how they took their measurements. They finally realized, and got funding to do otherwise, this did not produce the best speaker for domestic applications.

If the speaker is engerizing an enclosed space (other than an anechoic chamber), you cannot have what you are suggesting. Therefore, there is no discussion that can proceed under such make believe conditions. If I were listening in the middle of a field with the speakers mounted on tall poles, we could have a discussion. If I could hear reproduced music without turning on a system in an enclosed space, then your conditions could be met. Since most of us have not reached that level of transcendence, there's no need discussing that either.


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Will a stereo playback system sound good in such a room? Why not?

If you recorded the program material to sound good in such an environment, then, yes, it would sound good.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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It sounds like you agree with me.

There are too many variables in how and where music will be played back for us to assume that any given recording is intended to be played back in "normal" listening room - because there is no such thing as a normal listening room.

This is why I reject the notion stated by others above that recordings are made with the intent or design to be played back in any particular environment.

That is a purely semantical argument. The "normal" environment would be what the final product assumes is normal for that genre. I doubt JA assumes his recordings will be played over a boombox as the normal environment.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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What is lacking in an anechoic chamber that is needed for quality sound reproduction?

Here is your chance to explain.

Go for it.

Not yet.

You've once again ignored my questions. This discussion cannot proceed until you understand and plainly state the function of "conventional" passive room treatments. How do they work? Please, Elk, try to think this through.

Now, let's toss in another few questions you can ignore. What in your opinion is the function of an anechoic chamber in speaker design?

You say you've been in such a chamber, what did you hear? Your footfalls? Your breathing? The other person's voice? Your own heartbeat?

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:

Quote:
What is lacking in an anechoic chamber that is needed for quality sound reproduction?

Here is your chance to explain.

Go for it.


Not yet.

You've once again ignored my questions. This discussion cannot proceed until you understand and plainly state the function of "conventional" passive room treatments. How do they work? Please, Elk, try to think this through.


Jan, this thread is not about the function and workings of acoustic panels and the like.

Rather it is an attempt at determining whether listening room reflections are needed for good sound reproduction. And, if so, why and what kind?

I have asked this question from the beginning. Kal and Stephen clearly understood and contributed.

Here is your chance to similarly contribute.

If you have specifc thoughts on this, please share them.

If you do not, this is perfectly fine and not an admission of failure. It means simply that you do not know. Nothing wrong with this.

Similarly I hope you will share your thoughts as to how the Acoustic ART products work. You claim to have an idea but, so far, have refused to disclose what they are. Please share them so we can consider them.

Perhaps you can positively contribute to both of these threads!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?

Oh, my!

A thread about "conventional" acoustic treatments - about dampening (look! it's right there in the title you gave this thread!) a room with "conventional" devices - is not about the function and workings of conventional acoustic panels but it is about the ART system?

You are questioning my statement but you're telling me what my statement is not about?!

Oh, my! I mean, really, oh, my!!!

Would you please stop with this BS about, "If you don't know ..."?! You use that line over and over and over, Elk, and you know it's insulting. You intend it to be insulting! And it's getting really, really old.

But you don't know and you refuse to know, you refuse to think! If you can't think, you can't learn. You want everything handed to you but you refuse to help yourself at all. There's nothing I can do if, when I say I will try to lead you to a point - to a way of thinking about the issue, you refuse to follow.

You refuse to address the questions put to you. If you don't answer the questions, how does a discussion take place?

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have your pudding!

Look, Elk, we're getting nowhere if you won't engage in a two way conversation where you answer questions that are relevant to the thread. You're happy with Kal and Stephen responding so, why don't we just let this be the end of my contribution since you don't think it is of value?

Figure this one out for yourself too, Elk. I honestly don't have any hope of that happening but you are on your own as far as I'm concerned.

P.S. I know what my statement is about and you clearly do not.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:
Jan, this thread is not about the function and workings of acoustic panels and the like.

Elk, he's trying to play "define the opponent" by trying to change the subject to something he can play for emotion and ridicule.

How very Republican of him.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?

All my responses are with regard to anechoic chamber listening.

Quote:
I can't speak for Kal so I won't try. But, were I responding to Kal's statement, I would ask a few simple questions. All two channel (stereo) playback?

Stereo and mono.


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Wouldn't the recording techniquue come into the discussion of this statement?

Possibly but everything I heard sounded more like headphone listening than speaker listening.


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Wouldn't the placement of listener to speakers have something to do with the results?

What little movement was possible made absolutely no difference.


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Wouldn't the type of speaker have something to do with this?

Possibly but each time I have experienced this it was with one (or a pair of) speakers and no such comparisons were possible. However, if there are no reflections in the chamber, on-axis FR would seem to be the dominant parameter.


Quote:
Are there not obvious exceptions to your statement?

Again, possibly but not in my experience.

Kal

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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How very Republican of him.

How very shitty of you! That is your answer to eveything, isn't it? How very brilliant of you.

There is no defining Elk's curiosity since it does not exist. This is someone who clearly does not understand my statement and yet he insists he gets to define what I have said. How Republican is that?

Now, to you, jj, I insist you cease all of your stalking activites related to my person and my posts. You are to remain 50 posts away from me at all times from this instant foward. I demand an immediate and grovelling apology from you right this instant. I also demand you recognize what an utter idiot you are and that you have no more concept of what my statement refers to than does Elk. You and he should have a gay ol'time discussing frequency response.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


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Would you please stop with this BS about, "If you don't know ..."?! You use that line over and over and over, Elk, and you know it's insulting. You intend it to be insulting!

Not all.

I am inviting to share the knowledge you claim you have.

If you don't have such knowledge, there is no disgrace in admitting that you do not.

I readily acknowledge that I do not know if a listening room must have a level of interaction with the sound for the "best" playback. I am not convinced that it does.

I also do not know if a room can be so absorptive that this absorption, in and of itself, can mask component differences. Again, we are talking absorption without frequency distortion, because - as we all know - uneven absorption is awful.

So if you know the answers or have ideas that may lead us to the answers please discuss them.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:
Elk, he's trying to play "define the opponent" by trying to change the subject to something he can play for emotion and ridicule.


Indeed. Thus I keep trying to drag him back to the topic at hand.

It's hard work.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:
Possibly but everything I heard sounded more like headphone listening than speaker listening.


Very interesting. This makes sense.


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What little movement was possible made absolutely no difference.


Fascinating. Although I guess this makes sense as the room doesn't "care" where the speakers are.


Quote:
However, if there are no reflections in the chamber, on-axis FR would seem to be the dominant parameter.


This also make sense.

Thanks again for taking the question seriously.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:
There is no defining Elk's curiosity since it does not exist. This is someone who clearly does not understand my statement and yet he insists he gets to define what I have said.


Not at all!

We just wish you would take a shot at it!

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:

Quote:
How much information is lost along with the intended first reflection absorption and how important is that information to the realism of the recording?


This is one of the reasons for my question. Audiophiles assume there is "intended" reflections built into recordings.

Yet, the sound on headphones is superb. There is no reflected sound or "room effect" while listening to headphones. If "listening room sound" is essentially to truly hi-fi sound why doesn't the sound of headphones suck?

Thus, I think our assumption of necessary and intended reflections and room sound is incorrect.

Rather, the frequency balance, balance between direct and indirect sound, etc. are all a function of the rooms in which the mix and masters were made - as well as the preferences of the engineers.

That is, recordings are made in rooms that have a certain amount of reflections and thus "mirror" these rooms, but this does not mean there are designed-in, deliberate "intended" reflections.

Perhaps, ideally, our listening rooms would be precisely the same acoustically as the mastering room. But this would mean a listening space would only sound its best when playing recordings made in one mastering space.


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Posit: Assume a lively but frequency-balanced room. Room treatments are added by which the frequencies are evenly damped; that is, no frequency is damped more than any other frequency.


I don't believe that is possible in a domestic situation. In a well executed anechoic chamber, yes, in a living room or even a studio, no way. That's not how absorption works.


Which is precisely why I started with this assumption. We all know that rooms can be poorly treated so that the overall frequency response and resulting sound is dreadful.

My query thus assumes that we are not having this problem. My question is whether we need to have room reflections for good sound.

We most certainly don't, and I agree, there's no intended reflections mastered into any records. The recording room has it's own reflections, and the ME may add some reverberance, but other than that it's all a question of having a balanced listening room.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?

Mr. Rubinson's comment that speakers in an anechoic sound like headphones is helpful.

Perhaps we "need" room reflections when listening to reproduced sound because this is what we are accustomed to as "speaker sound."

We are also accustomed to occupying physical spaces that have an ambient sound associated with their space. Perhaps we also become uncomfortable when such sounds are removed.

Freako
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?

Exactly. How do you think you'd feel inside an anechoic chamber? Not good, the inner ears just feel uncomfortable, and keep on telling you that this isn't right.

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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?


Quote:
Exactly. How do you think you'd feel inside an anechoic chamber? Not good, the inner ears just feel uncomfortable, and keep on telling you that this isn't right.

Actually, after some time you adapt very nicely, and at least for some of us, it gets to be a very comfortable environment, as long as you don't have to communicate via talking, etc. (You have to face who you're talking to, or rather a lot of the articulation vanishes into the wall.)

Anechoic chambers are most often quite quiet, as well, which is a blessing in this modern world.

But for a listening space WITHOUT some kind of multichannel capture, no, UNLESS you are working for a critical listening space, rather than a euphonic space. In a dead room, you will hear what comes out of the speakers for better or worse. And very often it's 'worse', you'd be surprised what you find in a recording.

Elk
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Re: Can a listening room be overdamped?

I have been in an anechoic chamber. It wasn't uncomfortable - although odd. I felt a lack of pressure, a sense of no boundaries. It's pretty cool.

It is common to learn that you have tinnitus upon exposure to such a room; you can hear minor issues with your hearing of which you were previously unaware. I was warned that this might be the case and was pleased that I didn't hear anything untoward.

I didn't hear speakers in the room however. I wish I had.


Quote:
In a dead room, you will hear what comes out of the speakers for better or worse. And very often it's 'worse', you'd be surprised what you find in a recording.

Which, ironically, appears to be the ideal - hear only the speakers reproducing the recording. You are probably correct however; be careful what you wish for.

pentode
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My 14' X 25' X 9.5' listening

My 14' X 25' X 9.5' listening room has all walls covered with thick, grass, wallpaper from the '50's.  Full, padded, thick,  carpeting and acoustic ceiling tiles are augmented by overstuffed furniture and shelves of LP's.  Even with my 20dB, yes, 20dB hearing loss above 8kHZ, I wouldn't want more treble.  However, according to my wife and daughter, who have excellent hearing, there's not too much treble in our system.  The Paradigms fire straight ahead and I'm 11' feet away, between the speakers.  I'd expect my room to be over-damped for treble, but it's not.  The bass has a couple nodes which could use damping and that's an on-going project.

My family and I find that most commercial sound systems and live music to have too much screachy treble and insufficient bass, unless we're at the local Symphony.  Apparently, nearby Manitowoc, WI is the smallest city (34,000 pop.) with a symphony in the USA.  I haven't confirmed that. The acoustics at the Capitol Civic Centre are quite good and great in our favorite, upper balcony, center seats, about 80' from the stage and 30' above the floor. 

geoffkait
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room overdamping

Consider Sonex, the ubiquitous gray foam squares used to ameliorate room echo and early reflections. Interestingly, there's a side-effect of Sonex that sounds like the signal is being phase shifted. I shudder to think of the many recording engineers sitting in monitor and control rooms that are entirely covered in Sonex. I find that rugs and carpets, as well as foam pads on the wall behind the speakers, can over-absorb and that removing them can often open the sound up and extend the high frequencies.

G Kait
Machina Dynamica

Engelholm Audio
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from sweden...
Elk wrote:

Jan elsewhere quotes Wes Phillips' review of RealTraps room treatments.

Mr. Philips recognized the benefits of acoustic treatment, "when you hear less of the room, you hear more of the recording."

However, as Jan points out, Mr. Phillips also wrote:

"I've visited Ethan Winer's main listening room and studio, and my suspicion is that both are overdamped

Yes! I belive that overdamped is a rating of a poor sounding system where the blame (perhaps with right) is given the room's acoustics.

Technically, I'd say overdamped is either one of these two

* damped so much that RT60 is so short so that the sound is not enjoyable

* damped unevenly over the frequencies so the sound is not enjoyable

On another note, I prefere - and work with - real diffusion! I my experience much better.

best regards
// Pär Engelholm, www.engelholmaudio.com

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