I went to the RMAF last October and found that the European speaker manufacturers products had a soft sounding mid-range presentation. I asked a few of their reps about this and they explained that the listening rooms over there are smaller and made of very hard materials. No wall to wall carpeting etc. I must say, I preferred the softer sound.”
Thanks, Roger and I love this thought because t brings up something near and dear to my heart. The way we tailor our sound system to match our environment.
If you take the 50,000-foot view of this notion that manufacturers of speakers in countries with smaller rooms soften their products it might cause you to scratch your head. Why not simply make flatter speakers that work for everyone and ask the hometown folks to add a little carpet or sound deadening to their walls?
The answer to that question goes deep to the heart of what I love about our industry. The great manufacturers build products that work in their homes. This, in contrast to the big consumer audio companies that homogenize their offerings, is a key component in what separates high-performance audio from the oatmeal vendors trying to cater to everyone and being remarkable to no one.
High-End Audio is personal.
Vibration isolation products are snake oil
We’ve saved perhaps the best for last. “Best” because this is a subject that genuinely gets the hairs on the back of some necks to stand at stiff attention, yet there’s ample proof that it works.
Some weeks ago I published this video of a vibration control product demonstration I saw while at RMAF. Nearly 30,000 people have viewed this video and the number of commenters is one of the highest of all my many videos. Passions run high and I think I know why. The idea that reducing vibrations has an audible impact runs so counter to what we consider normal as to inflame emotions often to the burning point. “It just doesn’t make any sense!” is a rallying cry to get the tar heated up and the feathers collected. Yet, the differences are easy to hear.
Few knowledgeable people would dispute that quieting vibration prone equipment matters: turntables, vacuum tubes would come to mind right away. Perhaps less obvious are capacitors that proliferate within equipment, but these are generally accepted by even the propellerhead measurementists. No, what really freaks people out is speakers.
Speakers make the noise we hear in our rooms and systems. They generate sound pressure and should be immune to their own vibrations, dammit!
Ahh, but sadly, the boxes that hold our speakers add to the melee of sound in the room. At the same time they radiate sound waves those same boxes add time audible vibrations through the floor. As well, some would claim those same floor vibrations are reflected back up into the box to muddle the music even more. If you have the time to closely look at the graphs Dave Morrison shows at the end of the video you’ll gain a better understanding of how isolation products—legit isolation products, that is—actually contribute to good sound.
Is there snake oil in accessories? Oh my, yes. Claims and counterclaims that match Carter and his little pills abound with abandon. Yet, I would encourage the person interested in good sound to wade through the bullcrap to find the truth.
As in any of these Fact or Fiction questions, there’s truth to be found if you’re interested in finding it.