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Speaker-Room reflections

A thread on another forum referenced a somewhat recent paper that I had not seen before: The Practical Effects of Lateral Energy in Critical Listening Environments. The paper seems to be free if one is an AES member (shame if you haven't joined yet  ), at least this month.
Unsurprisingly, it appears much of what studiophiles believe about so called "treatments" is primarily based on their sighted preferences. The largest group of audio pros preferred untreated lateral surfaces, which seems to concur with Tooles findings about playback/listening rooms. Caveats included.

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #1
Of the 26 mixing engineers (males and females 24-63 yrs old, average 10yrs experience), 7 preferred (lateral) absorption, 8 diffusion, 11 no treatment.
It is often stated that whereas many end user/consumers may prefer largely "untreated" listening spaces, so called "critical" listeners like studio professionals, will always need/prefer iso-ward type environments. That may indeed be the case...sighted.

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #2
The paper seems to be free if one is an AES member (shame if you haven't joined yet  ), at least this month.

Members can download any 25 papers for free this month...
Quote
During the month of September, all AES members, including student and associate members, can experience the E-Library with 25 FREE technical paper downloads from the world’s foremost archive of audio engineering information and resources. Over 15,000 documents are available, including papers on leading-edge technology, case studies, how-to’s, and curated collections and commentary from top experts in the industry, as well as Convention and Conference Papers, Engineering Briefs, AES Journal articles, and more. If It’s About Audio, It’s in the AES E-Library! Additionally, annual subscriptions to the E-Library will be available for a members-only discounted rate of $130 – a 10% savings. There’s never been a better time to become an AES member and explore the E-Library, while also enjoying other exclusive AES membership benefits including access to the AES video collection, discounts on Convention and Conference registration, the AES Job Board, exclusive online forums, student and career development events, and much more.

The AES E-Library – the world’s largest archive of audio development and design – is open for business at http://www.aes.org/e-lib/ and invites visitors to take advantage of these offers during the month of September, 2015.

(quoted from an email I received)

Cheers,
David.

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #3
Of the 26 mixing engineers (males and females 24-63 yrs old, average 10yrs experience), 7 preferred (lateral) absorption, 8 diffusion, 11 no treatment.
It is often stated that whereas many end user/consumers may prefer largely "untreated" listening spaces, so called "critical" listeners like studio professionals, will always need/prefer iso-ward type environments. That may indeed be the case...sighted.

cheers,

AJ


Haven't bought the paper yet but:

it appears 11  prefer untreated versus 15 that prefer some kind of treatment. 

Toole had previously summarized data that said pros tend to prefer less lateral reflection than average listeners.

This still supports that, though 15 versus 11 is a pretty small tendency. 


Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #4
The AES E-Library – the world’s largest archive of audio development and design – is open for business at http://www.aes.org/e-lib/ and invites visitors to take advantage of these offers during the month of September, 2015.
(quoted from an email I received)

That one is probably buried in my gmail inbox somewhere, but even more reason for non-members to join.

Anyway, regarding the paper, one can hardly go to any HT or "audiophile" site and not be bombarded by the "studiophile" crowd recommendations for the iso-ward approach for "critical listening"...at home, including of course, lateral reflections.
The parallels to their beliefs (as expressed in the AVS thread) is IMO, ironic.

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #5
Haven't bought the paper yet but:

Please do. Or better yet, become a member.

it appears 11  prefer untreated versus 15 that prefer some kind of treatment. 

Toole had previously summarized data that said pros tend to prefer less lateral reflection than average listeners.

This still supports that, though 15 versus 11 is a pretty small tendency.

That's one way the view it. Another, is that only 7 of 26 preferred absorbing early lateral reflections. Blind of course. Actually, if you read the paper, it is Toole's references about pros that spurred these further tests (and may yet spur more, though doubtfully, by any "treatment" peddlers).
Vs the sighted, biased opinion of an "expert":

Quote
As for the "value" of early reflections, that flies in the face of accepted practice by every single professional listener I know of. If Floyd Toole's research was testing a bunch of "civilians" who don't listen for a living, I put no stock in his results. Comb filtering from early reflections can seem to improve clarity to an inexperienced listener when the muddy part of the low-midrange gets canceled, as is common. Also, clarity in music is not the same as clarity of communications in a cockpit - boosting 3 KHz by 10 dB or even adding brittle distortion increases clarity too!

The value of absorbers at reflection points is a de facto standard among professional listeners. That should likewise be the goal for audiophiles and HT enthusiasts who would like a listening environment as excellent as a million dollar professional control room. Anything less and they will not experience the same clarity and quality as the mix engineers heard when creating the music. Many of my friends are professional musicians, recording engineers, and composers. They all appreciate the quality of my two audio systems, and several of them bring their mixes here for a final reality check.

Another reason to avoid early reflections is to increase the apparent width of the music. Many audiophiles believe that reflections in a listening room contribute to spaciousness. On the surface this makes sense, though in truth allowing early reflections makes music sound smaller, not larger. Ambience and reverb already present in many recordings is often of a large space - a concert hall, a movie scoring sound stage, or created with artificial reverb. But when played back in a small untreated room, the strong small-room reflections drown out the larger sounding reverb in the recording. This makes the music sound smaller and narrower, not larger and wider.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume you haven't recorded and mixed music, or had to make mixing decisions that rely on hearing music as clearly and accurately as possible. I suspect the same goes for Floyd Toole. But professional listeners know that when a room adds any coloration, including from early reflections, mixes won't translate well to other rooms, and they'll likely contain too much or too little artificial reverb. That's because what's heard does not accurately "reflect" (sorry) what the music really sounds like.


Again, impossible not to notice the parallels with the GE "audiophiles" and their self assessed "listening" expertise...along with their trusted friends. 

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #6
I don't have access to the paper, but one school of thought for studio treatment is to attenuate and redirect room reflections so that they are lower in level and arrive later than the reflections on the recording.

I see the word "preference" being used here, but has it been explored whether the use of absorption/diffusion has any advantage in differentiating ER/reverb on the recording?

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #7
I see the word "preference" being used here

Yep, that's what it's all about, even if tough for audiophiles/studiophiles to admit. 

but has it been explored whether the use of absorption/diffusion has any advantage in differentiating ER/reverb on the recording?

Not sure. What is stopping studiophiles from exploring this?

I don't have access to the paper, but one school of thought for studio treatment is to attenuate and redirect room reflections so that they are lower in level and arrive later than the reflections on the recording.

I'll have to reread the paper again, but I don't believe any such combo was used, only each as mentioned.
What is this school of thought based on?

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #8
I see the word "preference" being used here

Yep, that's what it's all about, even if tough for audiophiles/studiophiles to admit. 

but has it been explored whether the use of absorption/diffusion has any advantage in differentiating ER/reverb on the recording?

Not sure. What is stopping studiophiles from exploring this?


Nothing, I'm just exploring whether "preference" is the appropriate criteria for production vs. listening.

Quote
I don't have access to the paper, but one school of thought for studio treatment is to attenuate and redirect room reflections so that they are lower in level and arrive later than the reflections on the recording.

I'll have to reread the paper again, but I don't believe any such combo was used, only each as mentioned.
What is this school of thought based on?

cheers,

AJ


I believe the theory is that one would want the reflections on the recording to be more audible than the room reflections in the monitoring environment, for instance when applying artificial reverb and such.


Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #10
I believe the theory is that one would want the reflections on the recording to be more audible than the room reflections in the monitoring environment, for instance when applying artificial reverb and such.


Are you referring to this paper? http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=3965

Cheers, Mitch


I'm actually just recalling what I remember from reading about control room acoustics some 15 or 20 years ago.

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #11
Nothing, I'm just exploring whether "preference" is the appropriate criteria for production vs. listening.

It is, as repeatedly expressed by studiophiles, but the paper is about production/mix engineers. Did you even read the link?

I believe the theory is that one would want the reflections on the recording to be more audible than the room reflections in the monitoring environment, for instance when applying artificial reverb and such.

What basis do those "theories" have with controlled listening tests, like the one being discussed?
Loudspeaker manufacturer


Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #13
Haven't bought the paper yet but:

Please do. Or better yet, become a member.


Hmm, let's see,  Associate Membership is $99 /yr *plus*  another $130 to get e-library access? Am I reading that right?

If so, nope,  I'll keep paying the occasional $20 per article...or mosey on over to the Engineering library here.

(LATER: actually, just found that my university library has an e-subscription...sweeeet)

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #14
I believe the theory is that one would want the reflections on the recording to be more audible than the room reflections in the monitoring environment, for instance when applying artificial reverb and such.

What basis do those "theories" have with controlled listening tests, like the one being discussed?


Um, it was a response to your question. You asked and I answered.

Interestingly, you seem to choose to respond to a question by asking more questions rather than just answer the initial question.

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #15
Um, it was a response to your question. You asked and I answered.

Interestingly, you seem to choose to respond to a question by asking more questions rather than just answer the initial question.

I see no basis for your "belief in a theory".
Provide something and I may.
If I had a dollar for every audio-studio-phile "theory"....
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #16
Um, it was a response to your question. You asked and I answered.

Interestingly, you seem to choose to respond to a question by asking more questions rather than just answer the initial question.

I see no basis for your "belief in a theory".
Provide something and I may.
If I had a dollar for every audio-studio-phile "theory"....


I didn't say I believed anything. Perhaps you are reading something into my posts that clearly isn't there?

The question is whether we have new objective data that might provide a basis for disbelieving a particular theory.

But since I have to seemingly jump through endless hoops just to get an answer as to whether said data might apply to such theories, well to be honest I've sort of lost interest.

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #17
Haven't bought the paper yet but:

Please do. Or better yet, become a member.


Hmm, let's see,  Associate Membership is $99 /yr *plus*  another $130 to get e-library access? Am I reading that right?


As far as it goes.

Paying $100 a year to drop the cost of papers from $20 to $5 can pay for itself pretty quickly, IME.

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #18
The question is whether we have new objective data that might provide a basis for disbelieving a particular theory.

We do. No question believers will reject it.

Quote
To what extent does the mixing engineer’s listening environment influence the final experience of the home listener, especially regarding the role of reflections? A pilot study explores the effect of specular and diffuse lateral reflection on the perception of trained listeners. Reflections may strongly influence balance, equalization, dynamics, and reverberation. In contrast to earlier studies that used normal listeners, this study uses trained audio engineers to perform selected tasks in a variety of acoustic settings. A correlation was observed between the presence of strong lateral energy and an initial reduction of speed for performing a task. However, adaptation soon occurs, thereby restoring the subjects to normal accuracy and response time.


But since I have to seemingly jump through endless hoops just to get an answer as to whether said data might apply to such theories, well to be honest I've sort of lost interest.

Understandable.



Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #19
Hmm, let's see,  Associate Membership is $99 /yr *plus*  another $130 to get e-library access? Am I reading that right?

Only if you plan on reading >26 articles/yr.
I average about 10, so just the member ship + $5/article. Of course, this month's free 25 sort of sweetens the pot.
Obviously blind test results of beliefs are not for everyone. YMMV.

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #20
Hmm, let's see,  Associate Membership is $99 /yr *plus*  another $130 to get e-library access? Am I reading that right?

Only if you plan on reading >26 articles/yr.
I average about 10, so just the member ship + $5/article. Of course, this month's free 25 sort of sweetens the pot.
Obviously blind test results of beliefs are not for everyone. YMMV.


Since the savings is $15 per article, my calculations show that the $100 membership pays for itself once you buy 7 articles per year.  I don't buy the e-library access.

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #21
Hmm, let's see,  Associate Membership is $99 /yr *plus*  another $130 to get e-library access? Am I reading that right?

Only if you plan on reading >26 articles/yr.
I average about 10, so just the member ship + $5/article. Of course, this month's free 25 sort of sweetens the pot.
Obviously blind test results of beliefs are not for everyone. YMMV.

cheers,

AJ


Yeah, I've displayed such a dislike of blind tests in my posts here over the years.  That must be the reason I'd refrain from buying an AES membership.

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #22
Yeah, I've displayed such a dislike of blind tests in my posts here over the years.  That must be the reason I'd refrain from buying an AES membership.

Simmer down, the latter was in reference to "studiophiles" and their expected reactions (one post seemed to have disappeared here, another was quoted above).
You consider yourself one of those??
Poor Floyd, whipping yet another group of believers into a frenzy. The paper authors consider it a pilot study, can't wait for the next one. 

cheers,

AJ
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #23
(one post seemed to have disappeared here, another was quoted above).

You are welcome to check the recycle bin for that one.

If a post cannot be found (and you are competent at searching) it is usually because the author deleted the content and it was removed by a moderator, the author asks for it to be removed, it was spam, it was a serious violation of the TOS (generally #9, possibly #2 or #7), or it was a mistake in moderation.

Regarding the actual post that was binned, if a poster objects but can't be bothered to read at least "most of a thread" that is only one page in length, then he shouldn't post. This is trolling and the post may get tossed (especially if it wasn't extraordinarily insightful).  Too many topics are getting derailed as of late.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Speaker-Room reflections

Reply #24
Yeah, I've displayed such a dislike of blind tests in my posts here over the years.  That must be the reason I'd refrain from buying an AES membership.

Simmer down, the latter was in reference to "studiophiles" and their expected reactions (one post seemed to have disappeared here, another was quoted above).
You consider yourself one of those??
Poor Floyd, whipping yet another group of believers into a frenzy. The paper authors consider it a pilot study, can't wait for the next one. 

cheers,

AJ



Hopefully a full JAES article, with peer review.  This was a nice start though.



 
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