Hearing what you want to hear
We sometimes front-load our expectations into what we believe people will say or what a stereo system should sound like. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into a room full of loudspeakers and prejudged their performance before the music started playing. Often, I am surprised, both pleasantly and otherwise.
The problem with preloaded expectations is we have to work past them to get to the core of what’s really there—yet, it’s often those very expectations that drove us to try something new in the first place.
When I am told what to expect from a piece of audio gear or new technology, the results can go one of two ways: I am happily rewarded or sadly disappointed. The problem with this process is we can often miss the underlying truth blurred by our preconceived notions.
It’s not always possible to audition new gear without the burden of expectations but, when we get the chance, it’s likely to give us a more honest result.
I’ve moved my seat many times, depending on the audio gear I’m using and sometimes the music, so Paul is spot on here.
How to place your seat
Where you sit, relative to your loudspeakers, can make a huge difference in performance.
For those fortunate enough to have the luxury of moving their listening position, it’s a good idea to try different positions with different music. For example, if I am playing music that has a lot of imaging potential I can scoot my chair forward and backward to find the optimal point for the best soundstage.
That said, once you find the best spot for imaging, it’s time to adjust for tonality and, in particular, bass. Bass frequencies are not at even volumes within our rooms. Instead, the lowest notes vary wildly from point to point in the room. For example, in Music Room Two there is a 15dB dip in loudness at 40Hz in one spot, moving to a 15dB bump a few feet away. That’s a 30dB difference!
Moving your listening position even inches can make a big difference in both imaging and tonal balance.
I recommend scooting forward and backward not more than a couple of feet while the music is playing. Use some tape to mark your starting point, then skootch around until you find the best spot for imaging as well as tonality.
Sometimes the simplest tricks give the best results.