Automatic Room Correction is better than the alternative.

Was reading a great post by Floyd Toole. I love the man. We both have experience in motion picture sound, though his is far more advanced than mine, he’s got an actual degree and follows scientific processes but we seem to have reached the same conclusions, his via rigorous science and evaluation, mine by ad hoc experiences.

The one place where I think I currently disagree with him is in the use of automatic room equalization. The key here is "automatic." We are 100% in sync in terms of the value of EQ in general. Here’s what he wrote last March:
I have one of those all-singing-dancing-highly-advertised-elaborately-mathematical processors. It took manual intervention to restore the inherent excellence of my neutral loudspeakers after "room EQ". This is a work in progress. One definitely needs mathematics and DSP skills, but one also needs the acoustical and psychoacoustic knowledge to provide the necessary guidance and discipline. In some of the systems it is evident that the latter elements are deficient. The profit motive is obvious though. Note that most of the room EQ algorithms come from companies that do not make loudspeakers.

He’s not wrong, but he is wrong.

What I mean is, all of his observations are correct, but damn, Sir, you and I are geeks with shelves full of measurement gear and calibrated microphones. For the average (not audiophile) receiver buyer, who wants multiple speakers and/or a subwoofer, ARC is a huge step forward in performance quality and ease of use.

Do I use it? Hell no. I do all my EQ by hand. Do I recommend my own process to anyone? Hell no, it’s a pain in the ass.

In general though, again, we are in agreement: You cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. That is, the neutrality of the speaker to begin with, and good room acoustics are starting points. The use of ARC to make all speakers sound alike is a loser’s bargain.

Showing 1 response by mike_in_nc

I have used both automatic EQ and manual EQ, in various forms, for about 15 years now. The best sound I have obtained is through automatic adjustment with touchup by ear. However, not every automatic system supports as much manual intervention as I like.

The latest correction products have achieved excellent levels of transparency. For example, the Anthem STR Preamp does its filtering at 192 kHz, 32 bits. The hardware and software are good enough to avoid the traces of hardness I noticed with many previous products, most of them more expensive than the Anthem.

I consider Toole’s opinion out of date. That's not to say that manual PEQ is worthless; just that it is tedious and as ES said, beyond the ability of many audiophiles.