I fully agree with both ML and Fredrik on this. These things have already been covered elsewhere on this forum but it does indeed come down to how well are the performers doing their parts and how well do they play together. I have personal experience of one of my favorite live and recorded groups playing so bad at a concert in California that I and the person I was with left the concert half way through the second track. Years later when I related this to a fellow Hi-Fi dealer who knows these musicians and does a lot of recordings I was told "Yeah, I heard about that. They told me they sucked all the way through Kansas. But they were great by the time they got here to Chicago." The group had reformed after a couple year hiatus to do solo projects. Unfortunately, their egos lead them to believe they didn't need to practice before performing live together again and the tour started on the west coast. The sound was not a problem, the lack of music definitely was, and they knew it themselves.
While covers bands have their places (otherwise classical music would be in deep trouble), it is the musicianship and the energy of the people who create and perform music that moves us. They are engaged in a universal form of communication and the better their message gets through and moves us the better we feel. That is what music is all about.
It is also important to note what Fredrik said about not "falling completely into the emotional state of listening" and to qualify that. I have been misled in the past when listening to two adjustments based solely on the amount of emotional connection I feel with the song. The problem is that the emotional impact of a song is too dependent on your mood at the moment you listen to it. Choose a piece that really gets you and it may get to you more on the first listen than the second, or you may get more absorbed into it the second time around. So you end up being up misled about which is actually more musical. Emotional connection is not the same as the tune method, and while overall emotional connection is certainly part of hearing if the music is communicating with you it is not the whole enchilada. However, this brings us to the very important point that often gets lost in these discussions and leads to extended back and forths: tune method is a method of evaluation, not a system for listening to your system day to day for musical enjoyment. It is useful, and I would say unparalleled, as a system for choosing the proper torque for a fastener, choosing the right direction for a component or cable, choosing the proper placement of speakers and indeed the racks the equipment sits on, choosing the best racks, even choosing whether to put your Radikal right side up or upside down! But when you are just listening to music for pure enjoyment, tune method goes away (at least it should) and you just get into what the musicians are doing.
Room modification is problematic in a number of ways but it is not always a bad thing. The largest studio on our store has a fair bit of absorption and diffusion panels because it sounded like a racketball court when we got in there. We really don't like such room treatments as they have generally sounded unnatural to us and we have always recommended more natural methods to our customers, as Linn used to do. But this room need help and we talked to three companies to find one we felt comfortable with. We went with the least treatment they felt would work and it did help a lot. When Fredrik came here he walked in the room, looked around and said "I don't like those things." I said "Neither do we." but told him the whole story. At the end of the musical evening he told me it was the best sound he had made at a dealer at that point. So obviously they did what was needed.
But there is more to the story that Fredrik hasn't heard. The company said that we didn't need any bass treatment because the room was really designed well in that aspect. We were actually very precise with the room dimensions to get the most even bass response and we managed to get the builders to keep the size to our dimensions within a quarter of an inch! Here is how this ties into the SO discussion. We had a Linn musical evening where our Linn rep, a factory person and I did the speaker positioning using the tune method. We all agreed on the place where the speakers sounded the most musical. Then the two of them applied and modified the SO profiles. I felt it was more tuneful with it off but wasn't going to interfere with their demos. Fast forward another year or so and we had a musical evening with Richard Vandersteen, who makes some quite fine speakers and electronics. We had placed his Quatro CT speakers in the same studio and positioned them where we all felt they sounded best. He came in and said they sounded quite good where we had them. Then he tried a little more tow in but ended up putting them back where we had them saying it was best. Now it was time for his room tuning. The Quatros, as well as the Model 5s and 7s, all have "push-pull" (Isobarik to us) woofers driven by a built in amplifier and analog room equalizer. This has 11 bands of screwdriver adjustments covering 20Hz to 120Hz, so pretty narrow bands. Richard has a set of test tones called Vandertones that can be downloaded off his website and he uses a meter to measure how far above or below 0 each frequency is to then adjust the levels. A half hour or so after he went in there to tune them he came out looking a bit perplexed. He informed us that this was the first room he had ever been in where he left every single control set to 0 as the room needed no correction! In other words the bass was essentially perfect. But SO the year before had still decided to correct it.
Now I had already played with SO in that room and others using various speakers and I have always felt it sounded more tuneful when it was turned off. This is also true of a customers system that Paulsurround had worked on quite a bit (I did let Paul know this when I was there so it comes as no surprise to him). Paul is a nice guy and I have enjoyed talking to him the couple of times I have met him. But he does not use the tune method and admitted confusion with the whole process the first time I met him. He appeared to use SO as more of a graphic equalizer putting in corrections to make a female vocal sound the way he thought it should or to correct image problems. All I can relate is that I still have not heard a "SO optimized" system that didn't sound more tuneful and musical when the SO was turned off (musical as described above, with the message of the perfromers being clearer).
Why might this be? In my opinion it is for two reasons, one is because you are correcting something that can't actually be corrected (you are applying steady state spot corrections to something that is constantly changing and not narrow band). Resonances are just that, they have harmonics, they change with power level, they change with position, etc. and there are no systems sophisticated enough to deal with all that, nor are there likely to be for some time, if ever. The other is because your ear already corrects for most of what the room does and if you correct the sound coming out of the speakers for the room your ear is confused. Obviously if a room is really bad and you can't move to another room you may need to do something to make it so the problems aren't annoying enough to substantially harm your enjoyment of the music. I would recommend first doing everything possible with speaker placement to get the best tune method result, which will automatically mean you are minimizing some of those harmful effects, and then do whatever is possible with natural room treatments. If that isn't enough try some custom room treatments, they will at least have the advantage of being a little more broad in the way they work making them less musically intrusive. As Fredrik states it is also equally important to put your focus when listening on the music rather than the room. If you keep listening to the room you are likely to keep feeling there are things you need to change, if you listen to the music the room fades in importance. My room at home certainly is not perfect but I never notice the room - I just get into he music and get lost in it. That is really what I hope we are all looking for.
Last edited by ThomasOK
on 2018-10-10 01:23, edited 1 time in total.
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