Our quick response to these questions would be to treat the cause rather than the symptoms – we’ve seen many examples of this in our lives and intuitively the answer seems obvious – but does it apply to our rooms? Should we be running digital correction, processors, equalizers to force our systems to work within our rooms or the opposite? And why?
If you’re a subscriber to my YouTube series on building a music room you’ll know that my choice is clear: fix the problem, don’t try and cleanup afterwards.
The problems we find in our rooms are specific to the room as well as where in the room they are occurring. Let’s take, for example, my room with dimensions of 22.8L x 15W x 9.5H which are pretty danged good overall. The fact that my walls, ceiling and floor are parallel surfaces to each other means that I have a myriad of problems: bass peaks, slap echo, unnatural reverb and decay.
But where do these problems occur? At the listening position or somewhere else? The answer is both – and that’s really part of the problem. I don’t want to build a single seat head-in-a-vice music room. Rather, I want a room that can handle perhaps 6 to 8 people and sound just as sweet as if there were only one in the sweet spot. Were I to try and use an EQ or digital correction system to fix these bass peaks, then wherever the peak was flattened out, there would be a hole – the same size as the correction – and we’d have a suckout. So all we would have accomplished is to fix it in one place and another, perhaps just as bad, problem pops up somewhere else. Remember the game Whack-a-Mole? That’s what you’ve created.
Another example of this is AC power. I am a staunch advocate of fixing the power problems in the first place rather than filtering out a few issues and then adjusting the rest of the system to try and hide the sonic issues caused by poor power. Fixing the room rather than dealing with its deficiencies is no different.
As you’ve seen in the video, we can “easily” adjust the bass peaks in the room by building a Helmholtz Resonator in the corners. This correction of the room itself will always yield better results than taking a microphone and measuring the problems at the listening position and “fixing” them through correction. And I am not even venturing into the hornet’s nest of what other havoc EQ and correction can wreak on the purity of the signal chain itself.
For today let me suggest it’s better to cure your ills rather than treat their symptoms.