I'm invited to listen to systems often. It's usually a lot of fun but sometimes you can cut the tension with a razor (don't get any ideas). When we make the plans I ask if the listener has more than one system. Reason I do this is if he or she is not giving me carte blanche, I have their main system than another one where I can show them things. This doesn't always work out but when it does we usually go miles further with the system.
One major problem I run into with both the audiophile and the pro engineer is when they have a system that is over-damped. It starts off by walking in the room and already hearing the problem with my voice. It's dead sounding and huge parts of my voice are missing. Then the system comes on and the client will usually stand there and tell me how focused it is. I will put on a piece of my music and procceed to hear the system fall apart. They will then show me the charts and graphs made of how perfect the room is or tell me it's the golden ratio or something brilliant like that. This is when it is time to set up the second system.
I'll set up a simple system in the other room and start the music then ask the client to go back and forth and tell me what they think. I get a very strange look as if I did a trick on them or something. They always want to know what is going on. My answer is as simple as the problem "your not hearing more, your focusing on less". When listeners don't understand how to balance a room or use it to their advantage they usually jump head first into dampening a room. They'll over build their walls and or offset them slightly, then they fill the room with absorbing cylinders or foam, heavy carpet or furniture. Sometimes they'll put wood or fabric difusion panels up. All of these to kill or difuse the sound waves. I should repeat this shouldn't I "to kill or difuse the sound waves". Well that's what they get, a dead sounding extremely focused on part of the music sound.
The simple system is smoking their High End one because the High End one is only playing a small fraction of the recording. The client will sometimes go back and forth a few times and start pulling out their favor music and show me "see", "see how focused it is". Then I have them walk back into the simple setup and they are shocked that the simple setup is playing far more of the music content.
When we over dampen, whether it be a component or a room we start squeezing the recorded info and the harmonics of the music starts to only be able to create enough of those harmonics to deliver the music in part. We sit there and listen to how amazingly focused part of the recording becomes but until shown, we don't realize that the rest of the recording is either out of focus or not there at all.
How is this possible?
Signal, both the recorded material and sound waves are vibrations (energy). It's not that hard to deform (distort) or delete part of the vibrations needed in reproduction. The audio signal is not some super hero able to over come parts of it being hacked away. It's far more delicate than this, and is why components sound different from each other, and why rooms sound different from each other. The audio signal can change very easily, and it's not hard to head down a path of tweaking that can result in the loss of much of the music.
We talk about resolution of systems, but this is really not that hard to get. The problem is when you get that resolution at the expense of something else. Like when I set up that other system and the listener hears what cost that resolution made. Keep in mind, if the room sounds dead part of the music is as well. The resolved system is not going to replace the missing signal. Once that signal or wave stops oscillating at those frequencies it's game over for those notes or even whole instruments to reproduce.
It doesn't matter how long you have been in the hobby or even the business of sound reproduction if you kill the signal anywhere along the signal path, it's dead.