Traps vs Equalizer


Am I missing something?
Why use traps when an equalizer can be used to fine tune the room
simone
Because some folks feel you can hear the distortions that an additional electronic devise and extra cabling will introduce to your system, where as traps and other acoustic room treatments are passive and only change the sound level of certain frequencies. Whether you can actually hear these distortions depends on the acuteness of your hearing, you dedication to listening for these distortions and the ability of your speakers and associated equipment to produce or reveal these distortions. Except for really difficult large (severe)mid/low bass nodes caused by room dimensions a quality narrow band parametric equalizer is much more effective.

Personally, for fine tuning I just try to ID the source of the problem and make small changes in speaker/listening position configuration or adding or subtracting furnishings and or acoustic treatments to reduce the problem to absolute minimum. If you keep the room treatment materials domestic, the room might even have a slight bit of WAF when you are through.
Rives audio, who are experts at this business, say that room treatments are effective for high frequency problems (350 Hz and up), but low frequency problems need active equalization, and they sell a highly regarded equalizer to do the job. Not cheap.

An approach that I took, and recommend, is to buy a Behringer DEQ2496 for about $370 including mic. It provides a 61 band spectrum analyser, as well as graphic and parametric equalization capability. Use the analyser to understand what your problem is. Use the equalizer to fix it. If (and IMHO this is a big "if") you think the equalizer degrades sonic quality, then by all means go out and spend the big bucks for a high end unit like Rives. You can still use the DEQ2496 as a spectrum analyser to set up the other equalizer.
In my room, based on my needs, Rives recommended MondoTraps RealTraps...

I wouldn't accuse them of the "if you're a hammer, the world looks like a nail" syndrome.
Equalizer cannot change the reverberation time of a room. If you have a really bad room, no equalizer can fix that.
The less "processing" of the signal, the more accurate. My preamp has an option to bypass the tone controls altogether and after listening carefully both ways it was a no brainer to tune the room instead of using an electronic device to correct problemns caused by the speakers interface with the real world listening room in order to make the sound full and coherent. And this was no cheap Preamp either. It's a $3000 plus Audio Research tube hybrid preamp dedicated to the line stage alone.

If Audio Research designed this preamp/line stage at that price point using the best quality tone controls they could put together and ultimately decided to have an option to bypass the controls altogether in order for their customers to recreate truly accurate sound, what does that say about the effect of a cheaply built device that will supply each channel with tone controls for each octave or half octave? By carefully a-bing the sound with and without tone controls in the signal path I concluded (as did virtually every other person who similarly a-b'ed the effeect with material they knew well) that tone contro;ls even of this quality subtracted more than they gave.

What can you realsitically expect from a cheap box which not only "alters" or "adjusts" the signal it bloody well bludgeons it into oblivion? How much does a "pro" equalizer cost these days? I haven't been in the market since the late 70s and early 80s when I thought the more watts the better and the most important thing about an amp was its THD and ID distortion ratings---how low it could go.., but whatever they sell for I'll bet it's less than a grand and probably closer to $500. And whatever the price it will still be bassed on 1970s, (or 80s technology if it's parametric) technology andengineering created by that same 70s thinking or mentality. (E.g., pots are all about the same, a turntable is a passive device with no sonic signature, wire is wire-- lamp cord is as good as anything else,bits is bits. caps is caps, resistors is resistors, ad naseum.)(

The coloration and degradation you'll get from running your signal through all those cheap pots with cheap gain controls will cause the ultimate sound to plunge into "mid-fi land" sounding close to Sharp, Bose or Kenwood quality. It will sound very similar to every other mediocre system you've heard. By using an equalizer you are in effect, sending it to "the rack" where it will be squeezed, stretched, shrunk, blown up like a bloated bubble and otherwise have it's original integrity chopped into tiny pieces by the "band" of electronic hit men who are lying in wait for it to enter they're dark domain...Your poor signal is sentenced to literally run through a guantlet as it passes through the equalizers inputs and is subjected to rapid fire aggravated multiple assault and batterys until it reaches the processors outputs. As it passes through the processor, it is being constantly buffeted on all sides by the cheap electronics; its original integrated essence is literally pounced upon, pummeled and pounded from all sides with machine gunned surprise sucker puches by a gang of ten, twelve, eightenn or even thirty six "thugs". Mugged to death before it becomes trhe sound of youre system, but well "equalized", of course.

Better to buy the likes of room tunes and echo busters to get the bass to sound right and integrate with the rest of the signal as it was decoded from the source itself.

Or do it the cheapskate's way. Get a bunch of pillows, houseplants, even fake houseplants and place them around the room to break up reflected sound as well as standing waves. Plants do a superb job of this.

You can make your own "echo busters" for a fraction of the cost of the ones sold on the audiophile market by buying some Sakrete 8" and 12" carboard form tubes and some wood end pieces from your local building supply (Home Depot has them on the west coast) put a bunch of sand in plastic bags at both ends and fill the middle with a combination of pink wall insulation (insulation side out towards the listener, aluminum side in towards the center of the form tube), miscelleneous sponges, and rubber or synthetic plastic rubber place mats from the Dollar Store with golf club tubes from your golf bag down the middle (three works best) which will be also filled with sand. You can fill in the gaps to make it solid and firm by throwing in "peanuts" from packeges and more sand Take rubber bath mats and glue them with the side with the little circular pods which hold it on the floor glued to the inner side of 8 or 12 inch form tube covering it completely. Glue the bath mats on with highly elastic caulk that is synthetic plastic which is rubbery, highly elastic and a good bonder. Use the same type of caulk to bond all the materials in the project together. Cover the outside of the form tube with the same old used rubber bath mats (the Dollar Store again if you don't have a old ones) with the smooth side in and the non-slip side out which makes it very absorptive, much like the eggshells material used on the walls of anechoic chambers and sold in sheets on the high end market. Cover the outside of the tube and bath mat with a thin cheap plastic table cover like the throw awy ones used by families on picnics, then cover the plastic with some cheap drap, curtain or similar type material you can find in the odd lot section of your local fabric store. After you've sealed it with the wood ends (if you can find a hunk of cork for the bottom so much the better) you'll have an echo buster that will out perform the multi-hundred dollar version. And it will look surprising good as well.

Place them in the corners of the room, at the midpioints of each wall, behind your listenihng chair, and infront of the equipment rack. Get creative and experiment. You won't be sorry!
Lawdog,
I've never before heard such a passionate, drama-filled anti-equalizer ode.
Lawdog_949...There are no pots in a Behringer DEQ2496.
I have actually had the Rives' folks design my room. And, I can categorically state, that there was never a mention of their PARC component whatsoever. They tackled the node problem with a combination of Mondo Traps by RealTraps and diffusion/absorption devices from RPG. In addition, another friend of mine also went through a similar experience with nary a mention of PARC. And, the kicker, is, that if the Rives' folks were going to operate in that manner it would of been with us since we are acquaintances with the owner of Rives and he personally did our plans. Treat the room and then see if you need more....my guess is that you won't........
It's true--even at Rives we believe no equalizer is the best equalizer. Unfortunately, for low frequency problems sometimes that isn't possible. You have to get the bass right. It really is fundamental. We always concern ourselves with bass issues first. We do everthing we reasonably can passively and hopefully do not need an EQ after that. However, some rooms have severe problems and do need an EQ. As Path7man said--treat the room first, and then see if it's really needed.
Hey, I would love to equalize my bass, especially coming from my subwoofer. However, I attach my subwoofer to the speaker terminals of my amp. How do I attached an equalizer for just the subwoofer? I could put the equalizer between the preamp and amp, but that would also affect my mains and I don't want to do that.
I would use an equalizer to fix bad recordings - their low frequency room correction is simply an added bonus.
All an equalizer is is a phase distorter. If you, as an auiophile, are comfortable with intentionally distorting the hell out of your signal before it even reaches your speakers, which will, as a result, not transduce the full range signal, then go for it. I am not comfortable with that myself and already feel there is enough distortion in my rig without adding another power using EMI/RFI laden IC needing black box.

I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. if the problem is with your hifi, fix the hifi. If the problem is with the room, fix the room.
I would also add that, unlike some audiophiles, I am willing to accept a recording as it is, good or bad. Maybe it's because I am an aspiring recording engineer myself, but the recording is what it is, and I for one do not care to correct the engineers', artists', and producers' hard work, whether or not it "sounds right" to me or not.

Would you buy an artists' painting only to get it home and touch up the parts you don't like with your own strokes, and if so, why did you buy it?
Dirtyragamuffin...The problem is that unless you use earphones, or listen with the same speakers and room as the engineer did you don't hear what he did.
Would you buy an artists' painting only to get it home and touch up the parts you don't like with your own strokes, and if so, why did you buy it?

It takes a whole lot more skill and talent to "touch up the strokes' on an accomplished work of art, than it would to adjust the equalization on a recording. I know you were just trying to make a simple point, but I just don't agree.

The music/sound has already been 'distorted' the moment it leaves the instrument...more so when it bounces around a room, and even more so when some recording engineer makes decisions based upon his own subjective interpretation and manipulates the music for recording. There is no such thing as a pure isolated and undistorted sound. If you could hear it, you may even not like it as much as one that's been distorted by an environment, and or manipulated by an engineer. It's all subjective. It is also relatively easy for an average audiophile type who knows what they are doing, and what kind of sound they prefer to, with the proper equipment, make adjustments to tailor the sound to their liking. If that's what they like, I say, have at it and good on'ya! Whatever brings you closer to the music you enjoy. And yes, if you happen to have the skill and talent to manipulate a great work of art in a similar way so that you enjoy it more than you did in its original state, why the hell not, you paid for it! It's your life after all.

Marco
Dirtyragamuffin...The problem is that unless you use
earphones, or listen with the same speakers and room as the engineer did
you don't hear what he did.

....and even if you did, you STILL may not like it the same way the engineer
chose to interpret it. Regardless of the gear, it is still subjective. Stick ten
different recording engineers in the booth for the same performance, give
them the same gear, same speakers, same headphones, and you'll likely
come back with ten different interpretations of that performance. Give those
ten to a hundred different people and I doubt very much there'd be any
unanimous decision about which one is "best".

Marco
right eldatford, so why change the music rather than the room?

Jax, it's true there is distortion on hitting the mics and more from there on. So your rationale is, there is already plenty of distortion so let's cake as much more on as possible?

I think we're all making valid points and it's true that it's pretty futile across the board. Yes it is subjective. But as an aspiring engineer I would like to say that NO, it is not easier to touch up music than a painting. I just plain disagree with that. Most audiophiles aren't engineers any more than they are painters.

Also by eford's rationale, shouldn't you be looking at the painting in the painter's studio, wtih their exact lighting, in their exact mindframe. I'm not sure where it ends; I don't think anyone does. I'm not even sure why any of us posted in the first place.
Jax, it's true there is distortion on hitting the mics and
more from there on. So your rationale is, there is already plenty of distortion
so let's cake as much more on as possible?

If that's what floats your boat, sure. I don't think I'd call it "
distortion" because of the negative connotation I think you are taking
advantage of to argue against it. Sure it is that by definition, but then so is
the actual recording.
You are heaping it on whether you like it or not just by playing it on your
system in your room. It will ALWAYS be distorted in some way, there is no
way around it. And ultimately, and perhaps most to the point, it doesn't
matter one wit!

The "Painter" metaphor just doesn't work for me because there is
a difference between "art" and "craft". The sound
engineer is a craftsman (IMO of course), the performers/songwriters are the
"artists". Yes, you could argue the contrary since the engineer
does indeed interpret the music, but for me I'd make the distinction that way.
The metaphor also doesn't work for me partly because music is temporal, it is
not an object. It takes up time as opposed to space. The painting is an
object that takes up space. In the case of a painting it is appreciated by a
different sense (vision) altogether than music is (aural). It is apples to
oranges.

Marco
I keep editing my post because the subject is thought provoking to me. But I
should probably just post again, so here goes:

The music is distorted as soon as it hits the atmosphere. Particles in the air
change it, other sounds and forms of energy may change it. It bounces
around the environment it is being played in which "distorts" it further. Then
of course it goes into a microphone and is fed electronically into some
electrical maze in a box. Someone listens, through their speakers/
headphones and makes decisions as to how further to distort (since you
choose to use that word) the sound. It is edited and finalized and goes
through some other machines which may distort it further to produce
whatever medium it may be offered to the public on. We, Jane and John
Public, order up the plastic discs in whatever form, or horde the original
audio tapes, and we put it on yet another distortion machine with yet more
wires and variables, and we have this machine attempt to reproduce the
sounds through wooden boxes with magnets and cones and wires and
sophisticated technology up the wazoo. And this sound comes out that
somehow resembles the sounds produced in the studio. And it gets "
distorted" as soon as it hits the atmosphere and bounces off the walls
and ceilings in your room, and hey, whady'a know, if you put together a
system that you enjoy, those sounds actually sound pretty darn musical!
Then you take the same plastic disc over to your buddies house and listen on
his system...whady'a know...sounds like music there too...but it sounds
somehow different...hey, I liked the bass better at my place, but the midrange
is marvelous here at my friends house. Who the f*&k cares as long as you
enjoy the music?! They're all 'distortion' machines if you choose to view them
that way. Get the thing working so it 'distorts' the music the way you like it
most of the time and your cooking with gas!

Marco
Marco, You can make the painting analogy work with a bit of effort. The only thing you have to do is substitute the effect of light on a painting for the choice of playback equipment. First determine if the painting was made in a studio under natural light, incandescent light, flood ligh, spot light, flourscent light, flash light, candlelight, and the intensity of any of these, or if the painting was made outdoors in direct sunlight, partial shade, cloudy skys, flat light, and any other form of light you can think of. The painting is going to look different under each of these lighting conditions. All are color distortions - you must know what the artist used, or what light he expected you to use to view the painting to really get the picture. Absolutely critical to know these things! Thats why I hate going to museums, they never give you this information.

I wonder if our hairshirt audio friend is as dogmatic about his art appreciation as he is audio. :-)

Personally, I hang my hair shirt up when I got to bed. Its just too dammed itchy.
Marco, You can make the painting analogy work with a bit of effort.


Not unless the only objective of the painter is "photographic realism", which I find pretty boring in most (but not all) cases. Otherwise such knowledge as you suggest (about the conditions under which the painting was 'observed') has absolutely nothing to do with the appreciation of that painting. Nor would it really have much to do with your appreciation of photographic realisim except at the level of how well it succeeds at technique. Whether it moves you has nothing whatsoever to do with technique, or, at best precious little (IMHO).

Marco
The "Painter" metaphor just doesn't work for me because there is a difference between "art" and "craft". The sound
engineer is a craftsman (IMO of course)


Ah, then this is where we differ. In my experience, the audio engineer ends up an artist whether he wants to admit it or not. Making a record of audio events is like a group art project, with every person adding his or her own personal touch and style on it--whether or not they are claiming to try and avoid this.

You are correct, though, with your points on distortion. As sounds exist within the atmostphere, which is constantly changing, it is never really the same twice. So your points are quite valid. I should ammend myself to say "your hifi is a giant heap of distortion that passes on more distortion, some of it pleasing to the ear and some not; it's up to you whether or not you want to add what I consider to be superflous amounts of the displeasing stuff."

Now I see why we are posting!
I should ammend myself to say "your hifi is a
giant heap of distortion that passes on more distortion, some of it pleasing to
the ear and some not; it's up to you whether or not you want to add what I
consider to be superflous amounts of the displeasing stuff."

On that, I would have to agree completely my friend!

Marco

PS I don't suggest using any of this as a selling point for your next A'gon
classified ad!

Marco
Dirtyragamuffin...Ideally the room dimensions and shape and decorations can be designed as an ideal listening room. Rives audio provides info on how to do this.

Unfortunately most of us live in houses that serve other purposes than audio, and are already built. I cannot move the fireplace, raise the ceiling and eliminate the staircase and all the windows. Of course I tried all the tricks with speaker placement and room treatments, but measurements of room response clearly showed that the problems remained, however the results I have now achieved with an equalizer are excellent. I suggest that you hold your fire, which seems to be theoretical, until you have the oportunity to experience what active room correction can do.
Dirtyragamuffin, good luck with your engineering career. The pro side needs more people with an audiophile attitude.

I really disagree with your attitude towards EQ devices. I looked at your system, which looks real nice, and it includes a vinyl rig and multiple tubes amplifiers. It's a little hypocritical of you to accuse other piece of equipment basically being a distortion devices. Phono preamps/tubes, talk about your EQ and distortion adding components!

One think you'll learn about audio engineering - whatever works, works. Don't limit yourself with pre-existing biases.
Marco, I was trying to be cute. I should know better.

Lest my point was lost - I was trying to make a point by being absured, albeit the absurdity had some basis in fact, that is the importance of the color of light in painting (and photography) as well as the blending of colors. But one need not idealize every thing in art, photography, or audio, to have a personal appreciation of it. You set your own parameters for enjoyment. I just don't know the sign for 'tongue in cheek'.
Ah, my bad Newbee. That's what comes from reading and posting while you are trying to work at the same time. Had I stopped and pondered it for more than a nanosecond before responding, I would have noted the tongue firmly planted within the cheek!

Marco
It's a little hypocritical of you to accuse other piece of equipment basically being a distortion devices. Phono preamps/tubes, talk about your EQ and distortion adding components!

One think you'll learn about audio engineering - whatever works, works. Don't limit yourself with pre-existing biases.

Onhwy61, as you can see above, I do already agree with you regarding all the distortion/equalisation issues you have noted.

I should mention that beyond the theoretical, I have also experimented with both graphic and parametric equalization in my system and have felt that the benefites did not outweigh the downsides whereas I have found few downsides experimenting with room treatments. At this time I should add that my listening room is also currently my studio control room. It is rented and cannot be altered; there have been some concessions made and lots of experimentation with room treatments. I do realize I don't have the WAF issues and can have bass traps and other doohickeys hanging around all over creation if I so desire. That's a benefit for me and it is what it is.

I do agree with you completely that whatever works, works. EQ has not worked for me; hence, I am making my argument here. Simone sought opinions and certainly got them! All readers of these threads should have a grain of salt handy as they are subjective responses to be taken for what they are, where they are, for the price paid.
OH, almost forgot to mention that I think my system is "overtubed" and will be ditching the Conrad next time I can afford to. I bought that amp for totally different speakers in a rather different system; its character doesn't really belong in this one.