To Hans Wetzel,
I read your latest article on the matching of speakers and listening room and I recognize much of what you write regarding bass problems. I have a rather large listening space, but it is our living room so I am constrained by this; i.e., I cannot place the speakers in an optimal position. The speakers have to be close to the wall behind, and one of them is in a corner as well, which of course is not optimal for good bass reproduction. Like you, I do not want to give up the bass since it is a vital part of the musical experience, so for a long time I lived with bass-related problems. My PMC speakers’ in-room response is down to 20Hz, but my main problem has been the 80-120Hz region. Therefore (while skeptical), I finally purchased the Amarra-based license for Dirac Live room correction and I now stream music through Amarra from Tidal, and watch TV and Netflix using Amarra SQ+. Both of these applications have the Dirac room correction integrated.
After doing the room measurement and activating the correction filter, I followed up with about two weeks of rather difficult habituation to the new sound. The Dirac room correction involves both amplitude and impulse-response correction, so a lot happens when the correction filter is activated. At first I did not like what happened and I felt that I missed something. Actually, I did according to the measurements: two 15-20dB nodes at 70Hz and 90Hz, and one 12dB suck-out at 100Hz. I simply missed the exaggerated bass and the time smearing of bass transients that made the bass sound really powerful. I was almost ready to give up the room correction. However, after about two weeks of habituation and making a slight change of the target frequency curve by smoothly increasing the bass from flat to +5dB below 100Hz and back to 0dB at 20Hz, my impressions have changed fundamentally. Everything is dramatically improved, while I no longer have the exaggerated bass around 100Hz, I can hear and feel the really deep bass below 30Hz clearly for the first time, and the cleaning up of the impulse response has a significant effect on the audibility of bass lines that previously were diffuse and smeared. And there is no boominess whatsoever. If I turn off the correction filter now, after getting used to how it should sound, I can really hear how bad things were previously. Interestingly, I have compared the corrected sound from my speakers to the sound I get when plugging my wife’s B&W P5 Series 2 headphones directly into my Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 HGC and it sounds VERY similar, which I interpret as the room-correction filter doing exactly what it should do.
Regarding good speakers for smaller rooms, I can, by my own experience, recommend PMC’s smallest floorstanding model, the twenty.23. While rather small and only having a 5.5” midrange-bass woofer, they have real deep bass (below 30Hz) thanks to the transmission line. Really worth an audition . . .
Misery loves company, Ake. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one with a less-than-ideal listening setup, and equally glad to hear you’ve found a successful solution. Using room-correction software would, I think, complicate my ability to fairly evaluate loudspeakers in my listening space, but it certainly sounds promising as a long-term solution. As for your happiness with the PMCs, that doesn’t surprise me. We reviewed the larger twenty.24 on our sister-site SoundStage! Hi-Fi in 2012, and reviewer Doug Schneider seemed enchanted by them. . . . Hans Wetzel