It is all about the ‘Room’, thinks Toole.

Is it the 'room'?

Late last year a book by Floyd Toole appeared, ‘Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms’. Toole’s background gives him high creditability. He knows what acoustics and psychoacoustics are really about. Hopefully you have read it since it will become the ‘bible’ of the field, just like Everest’s work’s did. I’ve read it twice so far, with many more readings necessary to get all the knowledge out of it. Don’t buy anymore ‘gear’ till you check it out.
This book is lucidly written in easy to understand language, extensively illustrated and referenced. I think it is a must read for anyone that considers themselves an ‘audiophile’. There are some good short reviews on Amazon. Stereophile has also done a short review.

I would be interested in comments of Audiogon’ers who have read the book, at least once.
I haven't read but would say in general that the venue is always the first thing to consider when designing any particular sound.

In the specific case of home audio, the room is your venue and the sound comes from your system. The fast path to a sound you can live with is to first consider the room.

In my case, my system can drive 5 different pairs of speakers in 5 different rooms (one an outside deck). Each room is different and each dictates what speaker designs will work well or not, and my system has to work well with each room/speaker combo.
I'm working my way through it. So far it makes a lot of interesting points ;some unrelated to the "room". I would encourage all to read it. Can't wait to finish it. -Jim
I read this about a year ago. I found it rambled a bit but there is some excellent advice in it. FWIW: I have invested rougly half of my money on room acoustics. I find it very odd that audiophiles pretend to be serious about sound quality to the point of agonizing over speaker cables, interconnects and cones/spikes yet many of these same audiophiles do absolutely nothing about the room acoustics - go figure! (Is this hobby about aesthetic fashions or sound quality?)
Judging from many of the posts on Audiogon, Shadorne, I think it's mostly a hobby about fools' gold, mysticism for the gullible. Toole's advice pretty much comports with what I knew about psychoacoustics when I was active in the field, but it's not nearly as sexy as whatever latest widget has become available. We need to get our heads straight and start listening to those power cords.

the most important developement in hi fi gear(yes its still hi fi) in over 25 years is burle maple veneer.
Well Shadorne, as Toole points out some of what we consider " good" sound quality is " governed by a cultivated taste". We have been taught that an elevated midbass is "good". If you don't have it it sounds "thin". Live rock concert mixes pound this into our heads.Certain speaker manufacturers now build this into their products. Unfortunately there is no off switch when you don't want it. " Reviewers" tell us that cables will " elevate our systems to a whole new level.( BTW if this is ever true then imho there is something seriously wrong with your system). People who spend the big bucks confirm this and inform us that yes indeed it was worth it . Who in their right mind is gonna tell anyone they just dropped 20 large on a power cable and they couldn't hear the difference. ( I know they can make a difference but it is SUBTLE ) Audio magazines encourage this as their existance depends upon it. This is what I call the Robert Parkerization of audio. We make our lists and we buy the ones that are 90+ points and feel some superiority over those poor souls who can only afford something in the mid 80's. Wine prices are profoundly affected by the ratings ( which are plastered all over their adds ) and outfits exist which consult with growers on how to blend spefically to increase their Parker scores. Nothing about "tranparency to the source" which is also a part of wine evaluation. If you just blindly follow the ratings your gonna get screwed if for example you like Burgundies. Any of this sound familiar ? I've optimized my room the best I could. Any more and my wife will kill me. Despite this the sweet spot is not as large as I would like it to be. Earlier today I had tears in my eyes listening to Wynton Marsallis playing " where or when" from the sweet spot. Two nights ago I sat 7 feet further back with a freind of mine on a couch to listen/watch the J.B. dvd. It sounded like crap. There is no cable, hell there is no speaker , anywhere which could have the same profound effect as 7 feet and a poorly set up space. - Jim
Just got the book and have read some of the parts that most interested me. Some of my take aways:

* Reflections, in particular side wall reflections, are not the enemy. They can add a sense of spaciousness to the soundstage. Toole pretty clearly recommends against using side wall treatment for stereo, in contrast to just about every room set up guide I've seen. I do think I was probably overdamping my own room with treatments.

* If you are going to put some sound absorbing material on the walls, use at least 4" of material. Othewise you get uneven dispersion since you are not absorbing enough low frequencies and are probably doing more harm than good.

* The idea of ideal room dimensions is oversold.

Except for a few places where he has "memos" in shaded boxes, the book is not written in a cookbook format that is easy to get straightforward recommendations out of. A lot of this stuff is somewhat subtle and not very cut-and-dried.

The book does seem biased toward multi-channel sound and home theater. I imagine that many sound engineers find stereophony old hat and are impatient with its many flaws.
That all jives with me.

I have my Walsh omni speakers within 2 feet of sidewalls in two separate rooms and this does benefit sound stage width. For more directional designs, more lively sidewalls might be needed for similar effect.

Some people do like their sound to come from in between the two speakers though.
Hi Buconero117,
I am nearly finished and have taken my time to 'digest' each section. I find it a facinating book and obvious tool that all a'philes should have.

The top topics that particularly interested me dealt with proving the conventional wisdom wrong. For example,
(1) the whole notion of treating lateral 1st reflection points on side walls was a real eye opener and one that must make many acoustical treatment company cringe.
(2) the fact that any treatment must work from the transition zone (i.e. Schroeder freq) on upwards so as to prevent unbalancing the direct frequency spectrum heard after the reflection. So absorbers must be 3"-4" thick minimum and diffusion should be 8"-12" depending on type is sage advice.
(3) many internet-based treatment companies sell bass traps that are of the resistive kind and they all seem to recommend that the products be used to "stradle the corners." Resistive bass traps (think GIK, RealTraps, DIY fibreglass) are most effective when the air motion is greatest which is one-quarter the wavelength which means pulling the resistive bass traps much farther into the room than "stradling the corner" advice would suggest.
(4) the notion that 1st reflections will deteriorate sound timbre was another falsehood unmasked. After considering delays and propogation loss from the reflected sounds, you won't hear the comb filter interferance.

A must read. Highly recommended.