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3 Myths About Room EQ

Room EQ will not fix all acoustical problems, more sound absorption is not necessarily the best and, yes, you can sell room EQ to non-audiophiles.


David Acton · July 27, 2011

There are lots of questions among integrators about room equalization, both from a technique standpoint and whether built-in room EQ systems are the same as standalone systems.

Here are three myths about room EQ you may not know.

EQ, DSP Can Fix All Room Acoustic Problems
As important as proper room equalization is, it cannot fix all your room acoustic woes. The acoustic properties of a room, such as dimensions and wall/ceiling materials, and items in the room, such as furniture, have as much, if not more, to do with the sound of a room as good equalization.

A balance of strategically-placed absorptive and diffuse acoustic material and effective digital signal processing can help a room attain its maximum sound potential.

Deadening a Room with Lots of Absorptive Material Will Make it Sound Better
Actually, this can make a room sound worse. True, a mixture of some high- and mid-frequency absorption will improve room acoustics in many situations, but overdoing it will make the room sound dull and muddy.

Instead, place absorptive material at the first and second acoustic reflection points to the right and left of the main speakers to minimize reflections at the primary listening position. You many need to position the speakers to control where those first and second reflections occur. In surround sound applications, you may or may not want to minimize reflections from the rear speakers, depending on the desired effect.

In addition, diffuse materials behind the listening position and bass traps in the corners of the room will greatly improve a room’s acoustic performance.

Only Audiophiles Need/Want Room EQ
This belief is common among integrators, but it is based on a faulty belief system. It also greatly limits your sales potential on every audio system you install. True, your “average Joe or Jane” may not be able to describe the difference between good and bad room acoustics, but they will certainly have a much more enjoyable listening experience with an audio system calibrated for each room.

Poor room acoustics can contribute to harsh midrange, brittle high-frequencies and muddy bass. All of these factors will effect how much a homeowner will enjoy and, ultimately, use their audio system. It’s pretty simple: if the experience is unpleasant, they will avoid it, or worse, tell their friends about it.

Maximum sound performance in a room is achieved with a mixture of:

  • Effective room acoustic treatment
  • Professional EQ/DSP calibration
  • Speaker placement

But in the real world, all these methods may not be possible. Homeowners may not want acoustic treatment on the walls or speaker enclosures in the room that can be positioned to the optimal angle. In-wall or in-ceiling speakers may be desired for room aesthetics and wall surfaces such as glass or tile will be specified, so you will have to work around these obstacles.




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