Room EQ: When new is Expensive, Old will do
Recently, I moved and had to set up my stereo in a new room. It is a good room, generally, but after a while I started to notice a certain heaviness in the upper bass with all the speakers I tried, regardless of my efforts to reposition them for more even response. This bass heaviness made certain recordings sound thick, overblown, and unnatural.
I measured the response with a meter and Stereophile 3 test disc and found I had a broad peak around 125Hz. My wife would not allow a lot of acoustic room treatments (tube traps, etc.) in the room, so I did some research to find an equalization system that might work to tame that bass rise.
What I found was that all the major audiophile systems, i.e., the PARC, TACT, DEQX, etc, all cost over three thousand dollars. It seemed like a lot of money just to tame one bass peak. I also looked at a pro unit (7-band parametric equalizer) from Rane, that was available for about $800 on the web (you need two units for stereo).
Meanwhile, just for the heck of it, I had an old Dynaco 10-band graphic equalizer in my closet that had worked well in a second system in the past. I figured what the heck I could try it for free and if I couldn't get good results I'd just buy something like the Rane, or perhaps a used TacT (though the digital nature of the Tact was a concern).
In short, I installed the Dyna EQ and cranked down the bass at 120Hz. I also added a mild boost at 60Hz and 30Hz. When I remeasured the system I was able to dial in the sliders with the help of the test disc and meter. Of course I didn't get it dead flat, but I got the large peak under control and bolstered the low bass a small amount.
In listening to the system now, the heaviness/bloat is gone and I can hear more bass and midrange detail. The presentation is definitely more natural. I am actually very surprized that I cannot hear ANY sonic degradation from passing the signal through the Dyna EQ.
In a way, I was fortunate in that the peak was at a frequency that could be controlled by the set frequency positions of the Dyna unit. But the whole experience has me wondering why audiophile equalization components need to cost over $3000??? Perhaps the TacT or the PARC, or the DEQX could fine tune the response a little better, but I'm very pleased with my results and at this point I'd rather keep my $3k in my bank account. I doubt that even critical audiophiles listening to my system would feel that the room acoustics are a problem at its present level of performance.
I just wanted to share this story and see if perhaps some others may have had a similar experience.