When you relax in front of your stereo audio or multi-channel home theatre system you are really engaging in two kinds of listening: Non-critical and critical listening.
Non-critical listening is where you just want to ‘listen to the music’ and enjoy it for its own sake. You might even be walking around the room, chatting with other people, having dinner, reading the newspaper, or just reclining in a comfortable sofa or arm chair.
What about critical listening? Some of us occasionally want to listen ‘deeper’ into the mix. Then, we become concerned with details like width and depth of the sonic image that you hear, the frequency range, harmonic accuracy, dynamics, microphone techniques, mixing techniques, localisation of instruments and voices, the recorded reverberation (whether natural or artificial), being able to distinguish between different kinds of guitars, and even between different recording venues. The list goes on.
The reality is that there is no clear line between critical and non-critical listening. Most of us engage in a mix of the two at any given time and we switch seamlessly back and forth depending on what we become conscious of during the listening (and hopefully, enjoyment) of the recorded content. In both cases we are primarily concerned with accurate reproduction of what the recording engineer (or more specifically the mastering engineer) produced, and what the recording artiste intended for you to hear.
If you are a stereo audio or multi-channel home theatre enthusiast you might have spent a lot of time and money in selecting and buying your components, cables and other accessories. And then you might roll over various components, cables and accessories in an attempt to different sonic anomalies. Some stereo and multi-channel audiophiles think nothing of dropping vast sums of money on audio components, cables and tuning accessories (some of dubious value) while the poor room is ignored or else ‘fixed’ as an afterthought. What they don’t realise is that the listening room is by far the single biggest influence on what you hear from their stereo or multi-channel sound systems. Their money would be better spent on addressing the room before anything else.
Modern stereo and multi-channel audio reproduction systems are capable of remarkably good performance. A properly treated listening room helps you to get great sound out of your audio gear, regardless of whether it is a budget system or an expensive exotic one. There is of course a gap between ‘budget’ gear and the more expensive esoteric high-end brands, but that gap is much narrower than it used to be. A budget system in an acoustically well-conditioned room can be astonishingly good, while an expensive exotic audio system in an acoustically bad room is just a waste of money.
In terms of cost it doesn’t take much to ‘fix’ a room, relative to what has already been spent on the analogue and electronic components, the loudspeakers, and accessories such as cables, power conditioner/distributor, and so on. Come and speak to us about your needs; we may have something in our UNISON line of acoustical products that may work well for you. Ask us about our obligation-free UNISON home loans.