The argument for/against room treatment

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,905
560
510
Mass
I don't understand why some audiophiles would suggest that NO room treatment works best.

It seems to me that unless your speakers are really far from surfaces that absorption should be used. When I listen to headphones there are no surface reflections; I'm hearing what's on the recording and nothing more. When I listen to speakers, I'm hearing room reflections. How can this be good? Are speakers designed with this in mind and if so, how?
 

Kingsrule

VIP/Donor
Feb 3, 2011
1,174
360
640
For or against is a foolish and myopic way at thinking about room treatments.

Room treatments are dictated by the room in question, it either needs them or not.

Pretty simple.......
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
8,802
5,339
1,235
North Shore of Boston
Ian, In my room I prefer the sound after having removed all of the room treatments I previously had. But that does not mean that a professional couldn’t come into my room and add some room treatments here or there and improve things further. I think it is very difficult to generalize.

I’m glad listening to my speakers in my room does not sound like listening through my headphones.

I agree with kingsrule it depends on the room. I learned through experience that it’s very easy to add too much treatment creating sound which is overly damped. A lot depends on the type of speakers and the construction and dimensions of the room, and then personal listener preference.
 

jeffrey_t

VIP/Donor
Jan 29, 2012
2,553
2,344
580
I believe that it’s all about the room. You have to treat every room individually. I had no treatment (other than furniture and an area rug) when my system was in a large great room with cathedral ceilings. When I converted my garage into my music room, I absolutely needed to at defusers to the ceiling.

but we can also go crazy and over damp our rooms zapping excitement.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
6,743
2,346
553
Greater Boston
There is no room without room treatment. Any carpet is already room treatment. Peter, you also have room treatment. You have a carpet and furniture, and you adjusted the blinders covering your windows. Also, you very conciously removed the glass from your picture frames -- clearly room treatment.

I did remove all my TubeTraps recently, but that was only made possible after moving the subwoofers next to the main speakers rather than having them at the front wall. In that former configuration the TubeTraps were indispensable.

There are still in my room diffusers, including on the ceiling (super important in my room!!), ASC window plugs, and diverse carpets.

So indeed, the level of room treatment needed will always depend on the room and situation.

Yet again, there is no room without room treatment.
 
  • Like
Reactions: K3RMIT and bazelio

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,905
560
510
Mass
Let me put it another way (you guys aren't understanding the essence of my question).

Why not have a room that is FULLY DAMPED?
 
Last edited:

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,617
302
240
What is fully dampened? How do you measure that?
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
5,602
2,760
820
Utah
Let me put it another way (you guys aren't understanding the essence of my question).

Why not have a room that is FULLY DAMPED?
Visit a fully dampened mastering room and you'll know why. You can even become disoriented in some of them because they're so damp.

david
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
6,743
2,346
553
Greater Boston
Let me put it another way (you guys aren't understanding the essence of my question).

Why not have a room that is FULLY DAMPED?

Is that the essence of your question? Because in my view room treatment is not necessarily about a dichotomy absorption vs diffusion, but about controlling detrimental uncontrolled, or unwanted, reflections. This can be done either with absorption or diffusion, and which of these needs to be applied depends on the situation.

Some lively spaces will have lots of hard reflections, some others will have more natural diffusion. You will probably need less room treatment in the latter.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MPS

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
7,945
556
550
Metro DC
Here is a simple test for the effect of a room on sound. Get one of those small bluetooth (tm) portable speakers. Play some music on it. Walk from room to room. Observe how the sound changes.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
9,773
4,535
1,170
headphones have a 'room' too, it's just a bit smaller. physical laws still apply. headphone designers have to jump through their own sets of space issues. they are not perfect. and the whole stereo perceptive thing is different.

and keep in mind that speakers designed for domestic rooms have room gain designed in for their average room.

we would not want to listen in an anechoic chamber......for long.

every room has treatment. every single one of them. the question is whether you like it..
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
18,158
2,563
760
Portugal
For or against is a foolish and myopic way at thinking about room treatments.

Room treatments are dictated by the room in question, it either needs them or not.

Pretty simple.......

Surely. F. Toole refers in his book a statistical analysis of RT60 carried in 600 rooms in Canada. The average was around .4s and about 70% of them were quite acceptable, but some people must have got the unacceptable ones. :oops:

a1.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: kach22i

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,861
276
520
Snohomish, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
Visit a fully dampened mastering room and you'll know why. You can even become disoriented in some of them because they're so damp.

david
Never heard/seen a "fully-damped" mastering room. A "fully-damped" room is a theatre, where there is NO reflection/diffusion of sound waves.

Now, I've seen mastering/mix room that are total diffusion (Blackbird?).
 

marmota

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2016
204
187
150
Visit a fully dampened mastering room and you'll know why. You can even become disoriented in some of them because they're so damp.

david
This, +1000!
The worse sounding audio system I've ever heard, by a country mile, was at a local mastering studio, medium-large size, room-within-a-room construction but almost zero diffusion (just in the ceiling and a little bit in the back wall), stuffed with bass traps and absorbers. Literally, my car's stock radio was more enjoyable, I don't understand how that guy can work 8 hours per day there without going nuts. Oh, and he also had various troubles with mixes translating incorrectly to other audio systems, that was how much that expensive room sucked life out of music, didn't matter if it were on the big speakers or the small monitors.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mtemur and ddk

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
9,842
4,518
965
Beverly Hills, CA
Let me put it another way (you guys aren't understanding the essence of my question).

Why not have a room that is FULLY DAMPED?

Yes, this is a different question than what I thought you meant originally. :)

For me, a fully damped room takes out of the sound too much of the energy and "aliveness" of the music.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PeterA

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,905
560
510
Mass
headphones have a 'room' too, it's just a bit smaller. physical laws still apply. headphone designers have to jump through their own sets of space issues. they are not perfect. and the whole stereo perceptive thing is different.

and keep in mind that speakers designed for domestic rooms have room gain designed in for their average room.

we would not want to listen in an anechoic chamber......for long.

every room has treatment. every single one of them. the question is whether you like it..

Thank you, Mike. This is the type of answer I was looking for.

When I listen to music through various high end headphones, room issues seem to be non-existent. Bass is obviously the best example of this, but I also find the sound in general to be much drier and cleaner (e.g. in high frequencies). In short, superior.

In many listening rooms the highs do not seem as clean and they are not as dry - and it makes sense to me that they are bouncing off of many surfaces and creating a coloration. Real time reverberation on top of recorded reverberation.

But I also know that speakers are designed with room boundaries in mind - e.g. real world situations - at least for low frequencies... and mostly all we hear about is addressing first or secondary reflections. I don't see much talk about the wall behind the speakers - or the sidewalls between the speaker and the front wall and it made me wonder if that area should have absorption for better results.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
2,367
2,621
630
Denmark
Never heard/seen a "fully-damped" mastering room. A "fully-damped" room is a theatre, where there is NO reflection/diffusion of sound waves.

Now, I've seen mastering/mix room that are total diffusion (Blackbird?).
David probably meant a vocal booth, we had many that could not do the vocal booth for long before feeling uncomfortable, you can hear your own heartbeat and space is also limited. :oops:
 

Cellcbern

VIP/Donor
Jul 31, 2015
482
209
305
68
Washington, DC
There are no sound arguments against room treatment. If you do not take steps to minimize reflections that interfere with/cancel out your speakers' direct radiations then you will be listening to your room - not your system, which also means that you will not be hearing the music as it was recorded. What steps you take will depend on the room. If you deployed acoustic treatments in a room and your system sounds better if you remove them then your initial deployment was misguided. When acoustical room treatment is done well the improvement is obvious.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
5,602
2,760
820
Utah
David probably meant a vocal booth, we had many that could not do the vocal booth for long before feeling uncomfortable, you can hear your own heartbeat and space is also limited. :oops:
Maybe those too, my experience is with mastering rooms, the deadliest of which was Sony's in NYC.

david
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lagonda

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing