Paul McGowan writes:
I wrote that I had an out-of-the-box idea to share with you. This is just for fun and stimulation – and no, it is not a precursor to a new product. The idea revolves around the notion that it is wrong-headed to use digital room correction of the loudspeakers themselves (above 150Hz that is – bass is a no-brainer for digital EQ and correction) and instead, digitally correct the room itself.
I know there will be many skeptics out there. Some skepticism is natural and occurs simply because we don’t understand something or have trouble visualizing how it might work. That’s good healthy skepticism. Then there are the skeptics that just, well, can’t pull themselves out of their boxes – because it makes them uncomfortable – and they like being skeptics. I would recommend ignoring those people because you’ll never be able to “correct them” and it may hinder your own abilities to grasp new concepts. Remember, we’re doing this just for fun and to open our minds to new ways of approaching problems.
My friend Seth Godin coincidently wrote “Here’s the thing about proving skeptics wrong: They don’t care. They won’t learn. They will stay skeptics. The ones who said the airplane would never fly ignored the success of the Wright Bros. and went on to become skeptical of something else. And when they got onto an airplane, they didn’t apologize to the engineers on their way in.”
Several of you have already figured out where I am going with this, others are waiting to hear just what I have in mind. I think I’d like to walk you through the thought process I went through to arrive at this idea instead of detailing the final result. Why? Because by understanding where the idea came from, by visualizing the exact same set of circumstances and problems as I did, you’ll have an extremely clear idea of what this idea involves, how it works and why it’s a better idea than room correction itself. I’ll then share with you the solution I arrived at in a later post – plus, I’ll expand on why I do not like digital room correction (excluding bass).
The whole idea spawned from a thought game I was playing many years ago. The thought game goes something like this: what would it take to fool me into believing I was physically somewhere I was not? I would play this game wherever I went – whenever I am in a new environment, a room, outside, concert hall, subway station – I would close my eyes and wonder what it would take to fool me into believing I was somewhere else.
Then, the game changed and morphed into a secondary question I would ask myself every time I sat in the listening room: what would it take for the loudspeakers to convince me I was actually in a live setting? If I have a perfect pair of loudspeakers – ones perfected with digital correction – and a perfect live recording, could I close my eyes and believe I am actually in Carnegie Hall? Are there recordings so perfect, loudspeakers so perfect, electronics so perfect that employed together I could someday satisfy my itch to be transported to the actual venue it was recorded in?
That was the thought game I played for many years. I played it at home, traveling, everywhere I went. I closed my eyes a lot. I did my best to try and separate out all the extraneous factors – the fact that there are no perfect devices – and imagined what a perfect reproduction chain might sound like – it was fun. I was kept amused and stimulated by the problem.
I would recommend you try the same game. Wherever you are right now, if it’s a perfectly quiet space, close your eyes and first try and “measure” the size of the room you’re in. It’s probably not too hard for you to do that. Now, can you imagine yourself in a different room? What clues would you need to convince yourself your venue had changed? What would it be like if you were transported to a room 10 times the size you were sitting in?
How would you know?