You Have Definitely Never Heard This! (part 2)
We trucked across the hall to the treated room which contained several sets of RPG Variscreen free-standing variable acoustics screen ($700/each), a Modex Plate ($1000)—which offers broadband low frequency absorbtion from 50–500Hz—and two Rives Audio Sub-PARC crossover/EQs ($4500/each). The system also boasted an extra pair of VAC Alphas—Richard Rives explained that he was using the Sub-PARCs as crossovers, bypassing their digital woofer amps to kep the signals equivalent from top to bottom.
Was there a difference? Man, I'll say. We think of room effects as subtle, but they aren't—and Rives was the first to confess that you just can't use EQ, no matter how flexible or specific, as a band-aid. Room effect has to be attacked in a multi-front assault.
Bass was clearer and tighter, the mids were clearer and more mid-y, and the lack of hash and sibilance in the highs was startling. Then there was all that space I hadn't heard in the other room. Based on this demo, not to mention my recent experiences building a dedicated small speaker listening room, I think you aren't hearing your components if you haven't dealt with your room—you're just listening to your room.
"You never get a chance to hear so clearly what the room does to a hi-fi," said XLO's Don Bouchard. "Yes, these rooms aren't identical, but you don't usually get a chance to just cross the hall and hear how much the room influences what you're hearing. I've been in hi-fi forever and I never heard anything like it before.
In the photo, Richard Rives lurks behind the Talons, next to a SubPARC/Alpha stack.