How important is the speaker/room interface?

In my years in this hobby, I've come to believe the speaker/room interface is one of the most important elements we face in building a satisfying audio system. And while it seems there is a growing realization of this point (emphasis on speaker placement and room design), I don't believe it yet receives the attention it deserves. For example, some folks who have never addressed the sonics of their listening rooms may spend weeks and significant money trying out different wires when a different speaker system and/or room treatments could provide far greater sonic improvements.

I have three friends who have the same make/model speaker as I own. I've listened to each of them with the same or similar amps, yet the sonic results are significantly different. The primary difference is the rooms -- volume, shape, construction, decoration, etc. So while I've made adjustments in my own speaker/room to improve it to a reasonable extent, I know my speakers could sound better in a more optimized room based on this experience. No change of sources, electronics, wires, tweaks, etc. could effect as much difference.

I'm thinking about this now since I just read the HFN history in "Sound Bites" by Kessler and Harris. In a 1994 interview by Ken Kessler with Peter Walker, Walker is ask what he believes still needs to be addressed in audio. His first response is the relationship of the speaker and room.

So, any thoughts as to why the speaker/room interface is not more universally considered the top priority in building a system?
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It is not one of the most important, it is THE most important. A poorly matched room can make a $100,000 system sounds like $5000 mid-fi.
The speakers and the room essentially form an acoustical circuit. Approximately 50% of the sound we hear is indirect--bouncing off other surfaces or pressurizing due to room boundaries. Their interaction is huge. Have you ever heard a speaker that is way too big in a small room? Sound boomy and completely out of balance. Likewise, a small monitor in a very large room will sound anemic.

Any type of equalization (digital or analog) should be done as the last step. The corrections have their own issues, which I won't go into, but suffice to say the best EQ is no EQ if and only if you can get a proper response without it. If you can't then EQ can be a valuable tool to fine tuning, but don't try to ignor the room thinking that EQ can solve all woes--it can't.

Simple and most important things to do is first have appropriate speakers for the room (size wise), second be able to place them and the listener in good locations for best performance, third install the appropriate acoustical treatment (it can be concealed visually), and lastly use an EQ to touch up what might not have been possible by acoustical treatment (almost always in the bass from boundary conditions that can not be changed).
The reasons are obvious as to this trend along with actual Power delivery from the wall being last on the list.. First off you can't just get online and get the immediate satisfaction of owning something new and pretty, or that is Highly reviewed and shipped out to youÂ…

Secondly rooms are the most expensive if you break it down and need to do it right.. Not to mention this is not an end user's capability to measure, and or construct and tune such devices in a room..

Any of us can pull out the credit card and drop the thousands on cables that we know how to plug in, the components that are suppose to be the next best thing, and the Re-mastered music software we feel will correct much of the missing pieces in the system.. Bottom line in the end, we all finally learn "I wish I just dropped 10 k on the room vs. the speakers in the first place!" But in many peoples cases this is not feasable, via the WAF rule, or simply other environment restrictions.. Yes we all need and deserve dedicated rooms :-)

So yes rooms can make or break any system in my opinion, and the real issue is about it that unless its done right some may never realize they can get the same or just as enjoyable sound out of their 5000 dollar gear as they could when they were forced to go up the chain chasing the trail of smoke and reason getting into 50,000 dollar systemsÂ…
I can only echo what Dave said. . . I also got my Mahler speakers professionally placed according to the Sumiko MasterSet by Rod Tomson at Soundings. . . not only the setup made a world of sonic difference, but wife comments positively about the music more frequently than before. . . besides, she likes the new placement a lot better visually as well.
You guys of course know that Vienna Mahlers may sound boomy when not placed correctly. . . well, there is no boominess, nor sense of fuzz anywhere. . . sound is simply full, tuneful, detailed, crisp, and clean. . . and yes, my room is somewhat irregular, with a 6ft lonv 45 degrees cutout just to the left of the left speakers. . . and the left wall having very different absorption characteristics from the right wall. . . the trick is simply that speaker placement is not made by looking at their visual simmetry, but by LISTENING with your EARS and moving them very minutely -- according to simple rules -- until they sound correct/optimized.