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barefoot's picture
Last seen: 5 years 5 months ago
Joined: Feb 4 2012 - 8:05am
Camp with the pros
Freako wrote:

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.


Yes, I think aiming for the sound of a good mastering room is a very good idea.   But I don’t think you need to worry that you will optimize for specific recordings produced in a specific room.   Good mastering rooms, in general, are going to be far more consistent and predictable from room to room than typical domestic rooms.   In fact, conformity is considered a very good thing in mastering and control rooms.  

Engineers often need to travel between studios for their work.   It’s just a fact of the business.  For example, we have a customer who is a very prominent record producer.   He has a gorgeous studio of his own.   But he’s about to work on the soundtrack of a major Hollywood feature film.   Therefore, he will be spending a couple of months in a studio in LA, because that’s where the film makers reside.   And they want all the action happening within their reach.  

So conformity and predictability are important factors in what defines a good room.   If you can manage to get your home listening room anywhere within this camp, then you will have gone very far towards best hearing what  the record producers have intended.  

Btw, a typical mixing or mastering room will shoot for a diffuse sound field and a reverberation time in the range of 0.2- 0.4 seconds.  Fairly dead.   Also much easier said than done, especially the “diffuse sound field” part of the equation.    But there you are.  



Thomas Barefoot, President/CTO, Barefoot Sound (manufacturer)

Doctor Fine
Doctor Fine's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: Dec 13 2010 - 1:13pm

 I would focus your attention on the "style" changes that have permeated the professional recording industry in its quest for a good listening environment for two channel stereo.  In the late 1960s-1970s the idea was that "precision listening" required a totally dead room.  But then the industry noticed that the mids and treble were dead but the walls of the rooms were allowing bass to still reverberate to Tsunami levels on crescendos.  Thus your recording playback was not specifically too good, and neither was the brown acid at Woodstock, haha.    So this went out of style to be replaced by:

"Live End-Dead End."  Here the front was still a "precision soundfield" and heavily overdamped  but the rest of the room was left pretty "live" so as to allow for dynamic bloom on crescendos.  Until the industry noticed that the mids were now dead, the treble was primarily beaming and the bass was, as usual, still reverberating to Tsunami levels on crescendos.  There also was brown acid, but not so much.  Which leads us to today:

Even frequency response by proper room design, unobstructed access to the frontal soundfield  (get all the junk away from the monitors), treatment of reverberant space only as needed and look for smooth clear definition.  Ahhh.  That's the ticket.  Get rid of the bass Tsunami through mapping of the modes and nodes of the room (speaker placement as "king")  and precise equalization of the frequencies at the lowest end using notch filtering etc , while trying to avoid over processing of the analog "bloom."

In this camp you will find Bob Ludwig at Gateway, Bob Katz at Digital Domain and Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab.  Go look at pictures of their mastering rooms where they are striving for a truly balanced clear picture of the finished mix.  These are the "audiophile certified" guys in the recording industry.  And all three have terrific things to say about what works best when it comes to reflection.

Bob Katz has a great book out that really should be on your bookshelf right next to "get better sound" by Jim Smith and other real "guys" in this business.  It is aimed at mastering engineers but that's basically what some of us audiophiles really wish we were, to a certain extent, haha.

Some of the technical jargon will be like Greek but as Bob says:  Let my book sit there in between readings.  Let it jell a little bit at a time.

I really like that the general direction of Bob's advice is to just dive in and first work on your room so you have a great "laboratory" to bring your ideas about equipment into.  While he has to have specific equipment to be used fixing recordings it is specifically not brown and specifically not too bad.  You might even laugh at how primative looking his current mastering room looks.  "It ain't pretty looking---it's pretty sounding."

Just my two cents.  Let the tomatoes begin.  If you want to experiment and just do half, that's up to you...

dem45133's picture
Last seen: 7 years 11 months ago
Joined: Jun 24 2011 - 7:44am
Surprised... living in a true adobe earthen home...

Just a comment on accoustics...

Right now I am working away and am renting a 50 year old true adobe earthen walled house. Now this was a house built on a shoestring and it shows it in the fit and finish and the open joist flat roof and non true and uneven surfaced walls.  This time I brough some of my audio gear so i could have some decent sound.  I placed the LR channels on a wall parraleling the open joists (ceiling) in a room that measures 15 x about 30 ft.   I am impressed with the quality my 33 year old Mirage SM2.5s (driven by Rotel units) and I tend to use these old Mirages for my memorex moments (I will not push my Vandersteens 2Ces out of fear of injury and I did not bring them out here). What a differnce.  I considered bringing an equalizer unit but as a purist in a sence I did not and its not needed..

I am surprised and the lack of sensed reflection in such a long room... and the degree of absorbed reflections in all the frequencies. 

By comparison... my real home is a 100 year old oak framed lather plaster wall and ceiling system and it relects quite a bit... but no where near as much as modern sheet rock walls.  I've have this system in both.  Big positive differnce in this old adobe home.

just thought I'd share my observation.

Later all,  DEM




Turboschpeck's picture
Last seen: 7 years 3 months ago
Joined: Sep 20 2013 - 2:33am
Can a room be overdamped

Can a room be overdamped?
I think not. In my experience the more damping the better.
Keep in mind that frequency response and sensitivity is measured in anechoic chamber.
I have been in anechoic chamber and we had fun with blind tests for sound localization, unfortunately I haven't heard a hifi system in one. But i'm sure that it would be hypnotic.

Manuals for Focal loudspeakers say that room can be overdamped so that the sound is dead and soundstage gets smaller.

I strongly disagree with Focal.

With damped rooms its holographic imaging with real sized 3D soundstage and smooth frequency response vs a non damped room with a big monophonic* mess like the sound of omnipolar loudspeakers. You can see Duevel webiste which claims that imaging is non existent on concerts, only a soundstage is real. That is true for concerts with PA systems (amplification) only. Orchestra uses no amplification!
One time on a hifi show I spoke with one of those omnipolar manufacturers and I told him: don't sit in the front row or the 30th row on a orchestra concert. Sit in the 10th row! He didn't respond because he realized that he had a fundamentally wrong understanding of sound localization. If you snap your fingers you have 3D imaging. Every sound has a point in space.

In my experience damping of small rooms works wonders in every way. The sound gets more transparent, coherent without the time (reverberation) smearing.
Undamped rooms have surreal (stronger than real) dynamics of course if you have a good hifi system.

*Monophonic =separation, depth and imaging in general are blurred.

michael green
michael green's picture
Last seen: 3 years 5 months ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
your room is your speaker

Many times when I read people talking about their stereo they sound like the room is something different than the rest of their system. There is no way to remove your room from the equation, and if you heard a great sounding speaker/room combo you would not want to move away from this performance. The magic in this hobby is what happens between that speaker and your ears.

"can you over damp a room?" of course, and you can under control a room as well. The more you learn about how acoustics work and experience the changes you can make to your sound the closer you can get to your favorite part of the hobby. For me it's a huge soundstage and having the system completely disappear. A 3D stage that is all around me using only the two speakers. I'm not really that crazy about the typical audiophile boxed sound. I don't like a system that can only play "some" music. That to me defeats the purpose. I love the art of converting rooms into concert seats and turning systems into musical instruments able to play anything that is recorded. I also think that we get too hung up on how the other person likes it as if we all had to listen the same way.

Over dampened rooms to me sound like someone shoved cotton in my ears and I feel this weird pressure. Not very natural! But then you have the guys that think a live room is distortion. That's pretty sad, when you think about it there is one thing that produces distortion. Anything that does not provide the vibratory code in it's complete package, whether amplified acoustically, mechanically or electronically would be distortion. Based on this, if your room is flat (without gain) it is distorting, because rooms are passive amplifiers.

Making your room into the biggest component is where you find the magic. Like many of you, I thought dampening the room would do it. That was until I realized I was losing a ton of music content. While I thought things were getting tighter and more focused I also noticed how much of the recordings info disappeared. The flow of the music turned completely sterile and black holes appeared in my stage as if there was no recorded content there. I knew this wasn't right from being a recording engineer. It was at this time when I stopped killing the room and sound and started tuning it. Before long I saw that I could convert a room into a music machine instead of a speaker vs room battle ground. Once this became clear, from then on I could tell when the room was over damped and losing content.

michael green



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