Optimizing the Listening Distance

The listening room is a key determinate of sound quality. Here's a quick and easy way through acoustic measurements to improve your listening experience. You'll need a SPL meter, a pink noise source and a tape measure. Use only a single speaker to perform the measurements. Start the pink noise and measure the sound level at 2 feet directly in front of the speaker. Repeat the measurement at 4 feet, 8 feet, 16 feet, and so on. What you're looking for is a drop in sound level of LESS THAN 6dB. The SPL should decrease by 6dB for every doubling of distance from the speaker. The distance where the SPL drop is less than 6dB is the point where the room sound is roughly equal to the direct sound from the speaker. Ideally, the listening position should be where the direct sound predominates.

For more, see the April edition of "Recording" magazine.

Please note: this only works for forward direct radiating speakers.
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This is an interesting concept. Many of us have moved to nearfield listening to minimize "room sound". Given the perils of comb filtering, slap echo, frequency nodes and the like, I find myself inching closer and closer to the speakers. And yet, a touch of "room sound" can add ambience and presence. But what I really want to know is: where is hwy 61?!
Khrys, look at a map of Mississippi.