PS AUDIO: Treat the cause or the symptoms?

Paul McGowan writes: In light of all the response I got from the latest video of the Helmholtz Resonator I thought it’d be ok to take a short break from our current thread and delve into this for a bit before returning to Direct Coupling.

Many of you requested links to the calculators we used to determine the room modes peaks and where those peaks are located.  The calculators we used for determining the Helmholtz equations are bit more complex and I had to engage our chief engineer for help as the math is somewhat complex – but I’ll bet there’s some good online programs one could use if you wanted.

Ask yourself the following question: is it better to fix the room or the source?

There are two schools of thought embedded in this question: do you address the cause or the effect?

An untreated room has many problems that are caused by unfavorable dimensions, parallel walls, surface treatment and so on.  The problems of a room don’t really matter much until you place a pair of loudspeakers in the room that stimulate and exacerbate the problem areas of the room.  So one school of thought suggests a digital correction filter should be employed to smooth out the room and speaker problems.  In fact, there are a growing number of digital correction filters for the system as well as subwoofers with analyzers and DSP circuits to fix the output of the system to compensate for the room.

Watching the video you know that in our room we have a 25Hz and 37Hz bass peak that’s pretty severe.  Left alone, any loudspeaker in the room would stimulate these frequencies and cause a lot of boominess.  If we add a digital correction system we could simply turn down those two frequencies so whenever they play the result would be flat.  That would constitute treating the symptoms and it would be very effective.

Or, we could treat the cause by fixing the room.  In medicine it’s always best to treat the cause rather than the symptoms but I wonder if that same reasoning can be applied to audio?