Treating the room
Reader Ian Lobb was visiting a coffee shop in Thornbury, Victoria, Australia. While sipping his brew he enjoyed the sounds of a small acoustic group in the shop and declared the sound excellent. Part of the reason for that good sound was how that coffee shop had acoustically treated the room in a unique, yet minimalist approach. Here's a picture. Four walls, a ceiling, and a floor make a box. Place a set of loudspeakers inside that box and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how sound would bounce around and be different than if those same speakers were outside. We sometimes go to great lengths to reduce a room's impact on those reflections by adding all manner of tweaks and cures. Sometimes, all we really need is a bit of careful setup and some furniture to bust up the sound waves. The majority of great sounding systems I have heard relied on a minimum of sound enhancing tricks and gimmicks. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Some of the most confused sound I have heard comes from a well-intentioned tangle of room correctors. A minimalist approach to room treatment is often the best medicine for good sound.
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