In the ever-evolving audio and acoustics industries there are very few statements that can be carved in solid granite. One of them is that almost all of your sound systems will have to function within an enclosed space — in simple terms, a “room” of some type. A second immutable fact is that there has never been nor will there ever be a “perfect room” for any application. Rooms are inherently hostile to sound systems. They have walls, reflective surfaces, windows and all sorts of other components that make it virtually impossible for any sound system to function at its theoretical best.
Thus, system designers, installers, consultants, specifiers and you as the decision maker/purchaser face a constant series of problems in delivering the kind of performance from installed sound systems you have been “promised” or conditioned to expect by the relatively high dollar-to-performance ratios found in most consumer audio products. It is disturbing (or should be) to realize that in many cases so-called professional systems cannot approach even iPod performance levels on a consistent basis.
The problem is both simple and complex at the same time.
The simple part is this: each and every room is unique, and each one presents a different blend of physical, structural and architectural challenges and limitations that can make even the most expensive loudspeaker system function well below its potential.
The complex part is that in reality it is possible to design a room to meet a specific functional specification and approach a reasonable compromise between reality and cost of construction design and materials. Unfortunately there’s a fly in that ointment. Even with the knowledge that a space is going to be used for a specific purpose it remains a “truth” that the vast majority of architects and related professionals have no useful working knowledge of acoustics, room acoustics and how what they design will impact the acoustical environment that emerges in the finished space.
Why the recognition that no loudspeaker system operates in a spatial vacuum escapes these professionals is one of the great mysteries of modern day architecture. It’s like ignoring the fact that a building will need bathrooms and lighting to be functional and useful to its occupants.
In point of fact, the loudspeaker/room combination has far more to do with the perceived sonic impression of any other factor. Extensive, decade long studies conducted by the National Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Audio Research Corporation unequivocally