Did you know that sometimes just moving a speaker a few inches one way or another can improve the sound quality? We’re talking about an improvement that could surpass the difference you’d gain from moving up to a higher end receiver. Not only is this sort of sonic sleight-of-hand possible I’ve demonstrated it to dumbfounded on-lookers, I even stopped one naysayer mid-sentence and made a believer of him about the importance of proper room acoustics.
It really just boils down to this, if your room suffers from poor acoustics and your speakers aren’t in their optimal placement in the room, you’re never going to be able to correct that by trying to spend your way out of the problem. Sure you may see some incremental improvement in a poor room but time and time again I’ve seen mediocre gear outperform high-end gear in a properly set-up/treated room, of course that same high-end gear would perform even better in the “right room”.
I look back on my introduction to room acoustics as one of the most important events in my eventual understanding of what makes a real home theater tick. Display quality is ever changing; it’s a moving target, nothing wrong with that it’s just the nature of the beast. High end sound on the other hand is a little more stable and barring advancements like TrueHD and PCM audio from Blu-ray dare I say, almost dependable. But of course just because home theater sound doesn’t change as often as video, don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s easier to master and reproduce from room to room.
To this day I run across home theater owners who beam about the performance of their systems and all I hear is high-hat and boom. I think it was all those cheesy top-gun demos back in the late eighties and early nineties, but regardless of who’s to blame, if you’d like to move beyond hiss and boom I can’t think of a better reference than the ‘Master Handbook of Acoustics’ by F. Alton Everest. Just don’t blame me when you stop worrying about contrast and brightness and start using terms like binaural localization, decay rate and transient response.
This post was written by Bryan Greenway