Reflecting on sound
Reflections are our friends and stereo systems depend on them. Yet, there seems an ever present desire to stamp the poor fellows out, and treat them like pests. The tendency to over-damp rooms is a natural one. Imagine walking into a bare living room and clapping your hand, only to hear a slap echo and ringing in return. God help you placing a stereo system in this environment, you'll be lucky to have decent sound. I remember when we finished construction on Music Room One. I walked the room clapping my hands and the slap echo was awful; each clap rang and reverberated like the shot from a gun ricocheting from wall to wall. BTW, you can watch the entire video series Building a Music Room starting with this first video. It's a fun series to watch and, much to my surprise, the last two videos have been viewed over a quarter of a million times! Who knew people were that interested in building a music room for their stereos? With a slap echo reverberation problem like the one I had, one's first inclination is likely to get out the heavy drapes, tube traps and damping solutions to tame it down - and one would be wrong in doing so. While slap echoes like mine have to be tamed, there are many ways to do it, not all of which are good. So, let's start with a little understanding. If you took your stereo system outside, you'd likely be underwhelmed with its sound. In particular, you'd notice a near complete lack of soundstage depth and width. Sure, you'd have fine center image fill, instruments might even sound less tonally colored than in your room, but generally you'd be unhappy. That is because speaker systems need walls to reflect sound. But, just like you can have too much of a good thing, we have to take small steps in our journey to get everything lined up just right. Stay tuned.
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