Which has a greater effect in the sound: the speakers or the room? Why?

Stereophile's picture
Some say the first step in getting good sound is picking the right room for the system. Others find ways for a system to work in almost any environment. Which has a greater effect in the sound: the speakers or the room? Why?
Which has a greater effect in the sound: the speakers or the room? Why?
Speakers
40% (51 votes)
Room
32% (41 votes)
Equal
24% (31 votes)
Neither
4% (5 votes)
Total votes: 128
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Comments
JimD's picture

The speakers, because without them, there is no sound ! (If a tree falls in the forest ...) And with controlled dispersion loudspeakers, one can isolate the sound from injury from the room !

Serg's picture

Speakers can not truly correct for bad room acoustics. So good sounding room goes a long way to getting great musical sound out of any speakers

Yiangos's picture

I have two listening rooms. A "perfect"one and a "bad" one. In the "bad" one, if I setup a pair of Velodyne HGS-18 i still wonder where has all the bass gone. Go fiqure now.

msl101's picture

Rooms can be adjusted, speakers in general can not.

Jeff's picture

Lousy speakers, great room = lousy sound, Great speakers, lousy room = at least fair sound. It can be great, depending on speakers, especially their spatial characteristics and their arrangement.

Michael Chernay's picture

I believe that a good room has a substantial impact upon the sound of a system. Speakers, however, seem to be more critical in the overall sound of a system. No matter how you cut it, a bad speaker in a good room, is still a bad speaker. That isn't to say a superior speaker wouldn't fall short in a bad room compare to a lesser speaker in a better room. But if i were to put my money anywhere it would be into my speakers, then my room.

Cesar's picture

What is perceived as "good sound" is when the sound waves reach your ears. Both the speakers and the room have a great affect on those waves.

Stephen Curling's picture

Speakers and the room share the same environment and either will affect the sound at the listener. Given that most speakers are somewhat similar (boxes) and rooms are generally a rectangular volume, one can make choices that can provide a desired result.

Ken's picture

ya need both, a great room and great speakers. With only one, they do not dance.

Mullard EL34's picture

The room's acoustical characteristics always dominate the sound of a two-channel audio system placed within the room. Passive and active counter-measures permit almost any room to support high-quality audio reproduction, but careful tailoring of the room's acoustic characteristics is mandatory. There are far too many "over-corrected" sound rooms.

Ernie P.'s picture

For starters, the speakers should be appropriate to the room size. You wouldn't want to overpower a small room by using speakers that were too powerful, nor would you use bookshelf speakers To power a very large room. The sound will also be affected by the room's shape, ceiling height, and floors, not to mention windows. However, there are many products designed to correct the sound anomalies that exist in imperfect listening environments. Unless your listening room is specifically designed to meet audiophile standards, the sound will be compromised at some level. Even in a "perfect" listening environment, the speakers must provide the proper levels of sound for the room. The basic setup in any environment is that the speakers will sound best when they are placed at the correct distance (possibly toed in) from the listening position. Got to love this hobby!

greg's picture

The entire system has an effect on the sound, source, cables, amp, speakers, and of course the room, but most often you can't do anything about the room

neil price's picture

if speakers sound crappy, they stay crappy no matter what room they're in.

Dimitris Gogas's picture

It's usually more realistic to change your speakers, not your room.

Sonn from HCMC's picture

If you have a good room but bad speakers, you can't have good sound.

Weldon Schott's picture

If you're able to pick your room, its construction materials and its dimensions; otherwise, speaker placement placement in the room is paramount.

Carter's picture

Great speakers can bring forth a lifelike sound. There is no doubt that a bad room can ruin that sound or that a great room can enhance it. Great speakers in a so so room still sound great, they just fail to reach their potential. So so speakers in a great room will still be merely so so. Now I am off to go tweak my listening room some more.

lawrie's picture

fifty percent of the sound picture depends on the room and furnishings in my experience

czar's picture

It's pretty hard to get a decent sound on a decent speakers, even on good speakers. But it's fairly easy to get good sound on decent speakers with properly treated room.

Dennis's picture

I learned a while ago that the single most important component is the room. The speakers go in the room, not the other way around. I have experienced this first hand in my prior home. It was an open ended 'L' shape, narrow living room with my gear, opening into the great room. What a mess for my electrostatics. I had picked up a Behringer 8024 to work out some of the room issues, but was never truly happy with what the Behringer added. I now have a dedicated, almost square, sound room and the Behringer never even made it into the rack.

randy sadowski's picture

I have been in this hobby for over thirty years and I still believe the best speakers without some kind of acoustical balance from the room are nothing but expensive speakers. My room has specs that are not normally associated with good sound reproduction, but carefull placement of acoustics over the years has allowed me to overcome the rooms faults. Now, when I audition speakers,I don't even consider the room in my evaluations.

Joe Hartmann's picture

The room can only be corrected so much based upon the WAF. I never heard a friend's B&W 801's because they were placed on either side of a grand piano - one tucked in a corner, the second 7' from the wall. I always questioned that purchase and always wondered what 801's were capable of delivering.

David Haigner's picture

The closer you sit inside of the critical distance and the more the source has constant directivity - the speaker. Vice versa.

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