Equalizing The Room

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Our rooms are like double-edged swords. We can’t live without them yet they are often our biggest nightmare. Rooms contribute irregularities like frequency bumps and dips, timing errors, and delayed reflections.

It is rare that we have a chance to build our rooms from a clean sheet of paper because there are always constraints like budget, available space, or design knowledge. Even PS Audio’s Music Room One is a compromise. Had I carte blanche it would have been 20% larger with an arched 12-foot ceiling. Alas, stuck in a too-small warehouse with the constraints of running a business we built what we could (and I am happy to have it).

The room you are blessed or saddled with will never be perfect. And so the question of the day is simple. What can you do with your imperfect room?

We’ve covered the standard responses in these very posts: diffusers, absorbers, abfusers, angled corners, non-paralleled walls. But, what about DSP? Room correction? My friend and fellow engineer, Doug Goldberg, urges me to “join the 21st century” and fix the room problems through digital correction. I resist the temptation with all my being when it comes to the main speakers. (DSP makes sense in subwoofers).

The thought of correcting one problem by introducing non-linearities in another seems not only counterproductive but wrong-headed. Doug would argue just the opposite.

Room correction through loudspeakers is simple to explain. Imagine your room has too much or too little of one frequency or another—a boominess at 60Hz for example. If the speaker produces less of the troublesome frequency the room would have less to amplify and that is what a DSP correction system will do. DSP fixes a 6dB room-bump by means of a 6dB speaker-dip at the same frequency.

The problem I have with this solution is the potential for damage to all frequencies like phase shift, running the signal through an extra step of processing, jitter, timing changes, etc. I prefer to fix the problem at the source, not apply a Band-Aid. If you have high blood pressure because you’re overweight it’s healthier to eat less than take a pill.

But, that’s just me. I’ve put together a short video on the subject of Equalizing The Room that might take the discussion a bit further.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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