It’s so annoying: you’ve spent quite some money on obtaining a nice system that sounds really good on the dealer’s premises – but in your home, no amount of adjustment seems to give satisfactory results. The bass is mushy, and the treble is cold and hard. What’s going on?
Well, you might have underestimated the influence of your listening room. Take a moment to conduct the following two experiments (even if anyone who happens to be there thinks you’re crazy): First, clap your hands wholeheartedly. How does that sound? If there’s any slight “clacking”, you probably have quite bare parallel walls, causing a so-called “flutter echo”. Next, hum a deep and persistent tone while wandering all over the room. Repeat this at different pitches. You will notice that the tone seems louder in some places than in others. This is because of the so-called “room modes”, which occur at different frequencies and positions, depending on the distance between walls.
In general, it can be said that the more smooth, uncushioned surfaces there are in your room, the more difficult the acoustic situation is, because flutter echoes and room modes are intensified all the more. Here are four things for optimization you can do with relatively little expenditure:
1. Decrease flutter echoes between parallel walls by means of absorbent or diffusive material, e.g. drapes, shelves (preferably filled with “wildly” arranged books) or hanging rugs.
2. If your listening room has a hard floor (parquet, laminate, stone etc.), at least the surface between the listening position and the loudspeakers should be covered with a carpet.
3. No objects near the loudspeakers: racks, furniture and other acoustically reflective objects should not be positioned in line with the loudspeakers, and certainly not in front of them. Move these behind the level of the loudspeakers if possible.
4. Experiment with moving the listening position forward or backward. This can lessen the effect of standing waves / room modes.