The electronic room

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Reader Mark Fisher writes: "those who have worked on the problem longest and are most familiar with it are often those stuck in the deepest most inescapable ruts of all they've dug for themselves over the better part of a lifetime. They're the experts." Now there's something all of us can not only relate to but it's a statement worth contemplating for a while. In a situation where "expert" is needed, like tirelessly sifting through data or conducting experiments, there's perhaps no one better than an expert. But if you're looking for a solution to an age old problem, start looking at those outside the box thinkers, the newbies who ask the simple question "why not?" I promised yesterday that, just for fun, I'd start to detail an idea I've had for many years about acoustics and rooms. I've written about this before for those long time readers, but many times repeating something in a new light and with different circumstances is of value. The subject is room correction. You're not doubt familiar with digital room correction schemes: hardware that measures how sound travels through a particular space relative to a known standard - and then changes the sound coming from the loudspeakers to compensate for peaks and valleys in loudness and phase. This can be very effective and is, in its simplest form, a technique not too dissimilar from using bass and treble controls on your system - just a lot more precise and specific. I have an inherent bias against digital room correction - I think it is wrong headed to change the output of the speaker to match the listening environment and believe the opposite is a better way to go: change the room environment to match the speaker. But that's not always possible nor is it as easy or effective as digital room correction. But what if we couldelectronicallychange the room itself? What if, by the push of a button, we could change the size, reflectivity and characteristic of the room - sort of an electronic room if you will? How cool would that be?
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Paul McGowan

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