Room Correction for 2 Channel?

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#1
I spent 10 years selling the original digital room correction product (SigTech), primarily in the 2 channel market. (a 6 channel solution cost about $18,000!!). The product was not overly successful for a number of reasons, but the one I found both interesting and frustrating was the reluctance of the high-end 2 channel guy to "put anything between the source and the speakers".

And near as I can tell, not much has changed. Virtually all (a few well known exceptions) SSP's have some form of room correction (some better than others) and most home theater enthusiasts (high end or otherwise) are reluctant to purchase a new SSP that does not have some form of correction. As I talk to other 2 channel audiophiles (and dealers) most are still (a) ignorant of the capabilities of digital room correction and/or (b) still want nothing to do with it.

The benefits of room correction (done properly) are so much more obvious than virtually every other "upgrade" one can make (and in some cases, a lot less costly), I am amazed that this technology for 2 channel has just not taken off. A 2 channel Tact (2.0), for example, cost less than $6K if I recall and will do wonders in 98+% of all rooms. But audiophiles seem to have no problem spending more than that on things like cable elevators, speaker wire, interconnects, equipment racks ... you name it. And while those may (or may not) be worthwhile improvements, all pale in comparison to the improvements that can be had by well done correction.

And yes, I believe that passive treatment should be the first option, but in my experience, even rooms that are properly designed and built can benefit from this technology.

So I pose the following for you two channel guys (and girls): What has been the reason for not investing in this technology?
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
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Manila, Philippines
#2
I can't comment on why not to. I can comment on why I did. I have a Lyngdorf Room Perfect. Most of the time it is on bypass because my system (room being part of the system) really doesn't need much help as it is. It has a mode called global though. When entertaining this mode makes the sound even anywhere in the room except the sweet spot where the sound is diffuse but tonally well balanced. It makes for making moods very easy and guests can still talk easily even with energy feeding background music. It also has some preprogrammed curves that can ameliorate those songs we love but have awful sonics.

Now, I'm a 95% vinyl guy and am heavily invested in my software and playback rig. I can say categorically however that even when engaged the RP does not introduce any of the bugaboos associated with digitization. Nobody has scored better than 50% on the average on the blind tests I've carried out including myself. I'd say that is as good as it will probably get. I've had the same experience with the newest generation of digital crossovers.

Right now I think the resistance is really based more on philosophy rather than actual observations. What I noticed is that some folks that employ DRC often do not take enough samples of their rooms from varying locations. I use at least 16 locations including the rear ceiling corners.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,723
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#3
One of the better systems I have heard is a friend of OB's who lives in Dallas. He owns what I used to consider the worst example of a high end, over priced audio speaker, but by replacing the subs with some Gothams AND really tweeking out his Tact (2.2XP), his system sounds marvelous. He too "digitizes" his analog (which, by the way, was the most amazing experience) and I would "dare" anyone to hear it (I believe the ADC is 24/192).

That said, he (and apparently you) are in a VERY small minority !
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
10,992
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Manila, Philippines
#5
Hahahahaha! Good one!

Actually all corners should be mapped because that's where there is the most loading. At least with the RP, it is recommended that locations be in front of the speaker plane so I map all rear corners. I did this because I have modular couches that are flush against the rear wall. Mapping the locations mentioned pretty much assures even bass response even in the corners when in Global mode and helps somewhat in any of the regular contour presets. Like I said some folks take the mic and set it at the sweet spot and think that's all they have to do. With 16 settings I get to only 92% on the display, then it goes asymptotic. I quit at 20 where the reading was just 93%. At that rate you'd need about a hundred locations to get to 99%.

My partner uses one too and I did the calibration for him. He and his wife had serious decor constraints so passive treatment was not an option. He also had to place his speakers very close to the front wall and very far apart. The difference between bypass and active in his system is night and day.

I really think that if folks could get past the EQ stigma from decades past, it would help so many people for really not much money.
 

FrantzM

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Apr 20, 2010
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#6
Hi

I actually prefer the Term Digital Room Correction and I like the notion of using the ever increasing power of Digital Power Processing (DSP) to correct some aberrations / non linearity. I , however have become increasing convinced that passive room Treatment is the better alternative (when possible as I am about to find soon), provided the speakers do not need much correcting themselves a big supposition.
Right now Room Correction systems are not user-friendly . They require much more knowledge of Acoustics issues than most audiophiles need to have and even for those audiophiles who possess the requisite knowledge, the learning curve is very steep.
I now should be counted as one of the Digital-head. I believe that correctly done digital , right today is superior to analog. High Rez is already there in my opinion. On the subject of digital in general . I will post soon in the Digital Section
One issue however in Room Correction is that in the bass, there is not too much these systems can do. In the low bass Passive treatment and placement are key. I am , for example extremely surprised and pleased by what using several (3) subwoofers along with Full Range speakers did bring to my former system with no EQ… Rooms nodes and other reflections-related occurrences are not easy to deal with electronic correction they are purely mechanical phenomenon. My conclusion is that Digital Room EQ have their place is an already good system in a reasonably good room , else they do not produce the great results many have expected from them

Frantz
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,723
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#7
Hi
One issue however in Room Correction is that in the bass, there is not too much these systems can do. In the low bass Passive treatment and placement are key. Frantz
I agree that passive treatment (e.g. bass traps) and placement are the first two steps to take. In the case of a full range speaker where no external subs are used (that would be me), placement options are limited. (let's not wander into why external subs are a better option at this point). Given those restrictions, FEW rooms will provide optimal bass, even with treatment. And I can assure you from 10 years of experience, DRC (Digital Room Correction) can make a HUGE difference in the bass. In fact, I would suggest that 80% of the benefit of DRC is the range below 200Hz. In the hundreds and hundreds of rooms I've been in, a grand total of ONE needed NO help in the bass. Again, we are discussing full range speakers with no external sub.

When you change the scenario and talk about a separate sub(s), things can change for the better. But even in that case, DRC done correctly can make a huge improvement in the bass. Let me use my situation specifically. I have 4 subs and by placement and room treatment, have very flat bass even down to 5Hz. There are two 4 to 5db bumps near 60 and 70Hz but even without correction, the system is listenable. (I am, in my case, referring to HT as I don't use subs for stereo). My room has floor to ceiling traps in all corners AND most of the soffit area is trapped.

That said, I have taken three different progressions, all of which improved the bass response. (1) added Audyssey Pro to my pre-pro and the bass became much tighter and better defined and the slam factor improved (2) I then added delay to the rear subs, utilizing a QSC DSP30 so that the time arrival matched the front speakers and the bass improved even further and (3) I finally added the Audyssey Bass EQ product (and removed the QSC DSP30 as the Audyssey Bass solution addressed the delay issue) which took the bass to a far more refined level with virtually no bass overhang/ringing. I have only heard bass like that in one other place (and that was in the room that needed no DRC!).

So, Frantz, I guess I see DRC a bit differently than you do. Both personally and experiencially having been in hundreds of room and done DRC demoes, DRC does make major improvements in the bass. (Now if you are one of those rare soles who build a room from scratch utilizing some of the better names in room design, then all bets are off :) )
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#8
AG

(short for Audioguy). . Reading your post I understand your point of view and infact I have had dreams of acquiring a couple of years the TACT SSP for that purpose, I was then told by several people that its LOW bass under 80 Hz) correction was weak. WHile DRC can be very good in the ipper bass region say 80~200 Hz, they do not seem to be very good lower, my expereince with these however is limited so I am far from an expert there. I also will repeat that DRC are not as easy to use as most think and the learning curve can be extremely steep, in the meantime, while the user is trying to understand how to use these, the results can be very counterproductive. I do understand your point and stand corrected
The flexibility of DSP solution aka Room EQ do add into making the bass better and I understand that, ultimately however the best bass obtainable in a room where treatment is possible and the use of multiple subs could be a mixture of all three: DSP, Multiple subs and Physical ( passive) Room treatments.

Frantz
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#9
ultimately however the best bass obtainable in a room where treatment is possible and the use of multiple subs could be a mixture of all three: DSP, Multiple subs and Physical (passive) Room treatments.

Frantz
I would agree.

As to the user friendliness or the requirement to understand acoustics, that would potentially apply to the Tact (at least it is NOT particularly user friendly). There are Tact user groups that can be very helpful.

But a product like the Audyssey SubEQ is as friendly as anything like that can be, and understanding room acoustics is not a requirement. Just CAREFULLY follow their instructions (and those you will find on other forums) and you would end up with very good results.
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
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Seattle, WA
#10
A point on difficulty of using TacT and need for being acoustician. The issue with TacT software is one of pure usability as with any other software which was designed with someone with very little experience in how people discover operation of a program. Those difficulties have little to do with acoustics aspects of the program. With "in-box" (default) setup, you get an immediate improvement in sound quality. You just have to work yourself through it to get it to run its test and activate it.

Sure, you can then tweak things to death and that requires either knowing what you are doing or enough time to iterate and see what you like best. In the hands of a good software engineer, TacT could be child's play in how it gets the job done for majority of cases.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#11
software which was designed with someone with very little experience in how people discover operation of a program.
You are being incredibly kind.

The SigTech software WAS designed for use by a trained technician, but the Tact software was allegedly designed for the "typical" end user. Even understanding (somewhat) room acoustics, room correction philosophy and computers, I had GREAT difficulty in getting my arms around the software. I understand there are now some user groups that can help navigate some but it is still clumsy.

That said, once you get outside of the bounds of something like Audyssey, I am not familiar with any systems (time based room correction and not frequency based correction) that ARE end user friendly, but I don't pretend to know everything that is out there.

One of the original founders of Tact split off and started another company that uses similar technology but that system (as I understand it) provides no user "diddling".
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
#12
A 2 channel Tact (2.0), for example, cost less than $6K if I recall and will do wonders in 98+% of all rooms.
My whole 2-channel system costs about 10k, and I bet that's in the middle for the hobby, placing it in between the mass market and the Hi-End.

How many people want to spend more on room correction and treatments than what their whole system costs?

You are talking about nearly doubling costs here.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#13
My whole 2-channel system costs about 10k, and I bet that's in the middle for the hobby, placing it in between the mass market and the Hi-End.

How many people want to spend more on room correction and treatments than what their whole system costs?

You are talking about nearly doubling costs here.
Reasonable concern. And certainly a Tact solution is not for everyone. The issue, however, is that most 2 channel listeners who have systems that cost many multiples of what yours costs and can easily afford the money will instead spend it on exotic cables, power cords, etc that, even if they do anything positive ( I won't go there), the easily discernible benefits of room correction are orders of magnitude larger.
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
#14
most 2 channel listeners who have systems that cost many multiples of what yours costs and can easily afford the money will instead spend it on..........
I'll let them speak for themselves, I'm sure it's an issue you have spent a lot of time with before.

Maybe you can ask them about those $7,000 treadmills in the exercise thread too.:cool:
 

rblnr

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 3, 2010
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NYC/NJ
#15
I use a TacT Mini (the XP w/o analog ins and rotary dial) in a difficult room that I can't treat. Put a lot of good preamps, VTL etc., in front of some ATC 20-2 actives and a REL sub -- nothing sounded good until the TacT. It's not user friendly as noted, and I have to relearn the program everytime I go back to it, BUT, in the right situation it's invaluable and a great value. OTOH, in my treated main room, my system sounds better w/o Audyssey via an Onkyo 9.8.

As for audiophiles rejecting RC, it's like everything else -- the point is to be pragmatic not dogmatic. Hard to find in these polarized times.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#16
As for audiophiles rejecting RC, it's like everything else -- the point is to be pragmatic not dogmatic. Hard to find in these polarized times.
I'm not sure I see the problem with adoption in the 2 channel market as a function of "polarized times". Somehow, the high end 2 channel guy has become convinced that "less is more" as it relates to things in the signal path. While in an ideal world that may be true (apparently like your HT), that is not always true in the real world.

When I was installing SigTechs, there were more than a few potential customers who came to the dance yelling and screaming UNTIL they heard their system sounding the way that it could. Which is why our close rate was probably 95%.

If more dealers were willing to do in-home demos, I believe the adoption rate would increase. The problem is (a) not enough dealers (b) not enough knowledgeable dealers (c) not enough commitment as to the real benefits of the technology (d) not enough margin for the effort involved. As we learned, it is a LOT easier for a dealer to loan a prospective client some $5000 cables or a $4000 preamp or whatever, but not a lot of fun (or potentially profit) to do in home demos. I remember one of our dealers told me that he would try to get the customer to upgrade EVERYTHING else and when there was nothing else to sell him, he might go for room correction!
 

rblnr

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 3, 2010
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#17
was the reluctance of the high-end 2 channel guy to "put anything between the source and the speakers".
I was talking about this attitude, and it's a dogma that can get in the way of reality. Wasn't saying that lack of adoption was because of polarized times, just emblematic of the thinking that yields them.

I see way too many expensive speakers stuck in places that they can't possibly perform well.

My whole 2-channel system costs about 10k, and I bet that's in the middle for the hobby, placing it in between the mass market and the Hi-End.

How many people want to spend more on room correction and treatments than what their whole system costs?

You are talking about nearly doubling costs here.
Not doubling at all. The TacT mini lists at 3.5K is a full function digital preamp. Some room treatment is probably cheaper than what most 10K systems have in cables, and far more beneficial IMO.
 

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
#18
Somehow, the high end 2 channel guy has become convinced that "less is more" as it relates to things in the signal path. While in an ideal world that may be true (apparently like your HT), that is not always true in the real world.
Some things are ridiculous like the ultra expensive preamps without a balance knob. If you can't sell balance controls and tone knobs I can see how active room correction would be an even larger hurdle.
 

Dimfer

Member Sponsor
May 8, 2010
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#19
I have an irregular shaped room, and a big aquarium nearby. I use Copland DRC 205 with good result (I think). My wife won't let me put bass traps and other passive treatments (except for diffusors) in the room and since I don't have a dedicated room, I have to compromise. I am not that techie, and judge by how I like the sound with or without. I like it better with the digital room correction on. The DRC 205 has a bypass mode, it's very easy to compare. The main difference is in bass resolution.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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#20
i'm one of those 2-channel guys who are not about to 'dumb down' their analog signal by applying PCM to it.

in a pro mastering studio i've heard what various formats and resolutions of digital audio do to an analog signal. all the way from redbook to 2XDSD. every PCM level of resolution strips significant ambience and body from the signal. you may have something left which may be easily manipulated and then work better in the room subjectively; but it is clearly dimished from a content perspective. who's to say which 'end product' one might prefer?

i've heard rooms which likely would benefit from DSP of some sort. but most of the better rooms/systems i have heard would not. whether you are applying DSP to analog sources or digital sources you are still going thru an additional ADC and DAC.....and that cannot be good even if the room response is better. i know there are products which apply the DSP combined with a DAC and in theory that could be better for PCM sources.

anyway; the theory of DSP is a good one and i'm open to hearing one with a high quality analog source where i percieve no penalty for the digitization. as of yet i've not heard one.

Joe Cohen has a new very expensive speaker which uses DSP in the bass. it's wonderful but something is amiss someplace. there is no free lunch when a signal path is involved. mess with it and our ears can typically hear it.
 

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