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Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
#444809 02/24/22 11:22 PM
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TrevorM Offline OP
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Based on a couple great threads recently, I thought it might be fun for us to weigh in on our opinion on what makes a system sound great.

Here’s my list, ranked, from what I think are the most important items to aheive sonic success. Most are free or included with Axiom speakers. smile

1. Having a symmetrical room at least where the LCR channels are placed
2. Placing main listening position on centerline of rooms long axis
3. Using correct ratios of listener to speakers and seating distance to display size
4. Having a room with controlled decay times
5. Having a room with a low noise floor
6. Having an AVR or 2ch processor with advanced tuning capabilities (that corrects impulse response)
7. Having multiple subwoofers
8. Having an AT screen to hide speakers from viewers if possible
9. Having speakers with wide dispersion
10. Having speakers with smooth frequency response

Nice to haves:

11. Having a room minimum >2000 cu ft
12. Dolby Atmos/Surround Upmixer
13. Outboard Amplifiers
14. Having matched LCR channels
15. Diffusion

What are yours?

Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444812 02/25/22 02:49 AM
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I only have #4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 15 in my main listening room. Yet it sounds great!

As long as someone a) has a great recording, b) listening to at least 5.1 upmixed audio on neutral full range speakers, in a c) typically furnished living room with rugs and curtains, it's going to be a good audio experience.

I think stereo listening is far more demanding of good room symmetry and acoustics, in which case I'd agree with your list.

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Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444814 02/25/22 03:33 AM
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It's a good list Trevor.

I'll add - having a equipment that matches your taste (warm, flat, natural, etc). And I'll second what Hambrabi mentioned, having a good source is important.

But I'll quibble on a couple of the items on the list. I don't think I'd include the AT screen, as while it enhances the experience, it doesn't enhance the sound. Unless what you're getting at is using a vertical center with a projector for a home theater system; then I agree.
And really going out on a limb, I don't think multiple subs is as important as the others; at least for a system used for music. (I'll be hearing from Mojo, I'm sure.)

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Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444815 02/25/22 03:43 AM
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In general I’d say everything you listed is desirable … but for some reason, I can’t prove, I bet you could meet all of them and fail to have a great sounding system.

The first item on my list would be
1) someone who is interested and invested in creating a great sounding system

Over time what needs to be done to make it great will vary but in general I agree with 4, 5, 9, & 10 on condition: the acceptance specs are reasonable.

On the other items … I’ve had pretty good sounding rooms which didn’t meet 1,2,3,6,7,8, 10-13,15 (14 I’m on the fence … depending on what you mean by matched)
But they might have been improved if they where implemented.

I just have not put together enough rooms to have a formula. For me … experimenting is key.

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Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444816 02/25/22 06:42 AM
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On ranking … which I think is your real question
I’m at a loss … as over time I’ve discovered what I believed to be important sound wise was not as important as I thought. Or perhaps not as important in that situation. I think a lot of this stuff varies with each case because your ears and brain compensate for quite a bit. Or it might be that in some cases I was more critical than in others …

You have more experience with multiple setups in various conditions… which makes your ordering quite interesting.
It’s very different then I would expect … but I’m not sure I could come up with an order that I’d be happy with.

Last edited by rrlev; 02/25/22 07:06 AM.
Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444817 02/25/22 10:12 AM
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I can justify my order later, but I’m curious what each of your items and order would be? I dont want to jump the shark yet. laugh

Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444818 02/25/22 05:30 PM
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I was going to PM Trevor agreeing and commenting on his second point, "Placing main listening position on centerline of rooms long axis" but was unable as he has blocked me.

I've been on this site since 2002 and have observed its decline. I love Axiom speakers, Ian and the folks at Axiom. Nevertheless, I think it's time for me to withdraw from posting on Axiom forums.


Enjoy the Music. Trust your ears. Laugh at Folks Who Claim to Know it All.
Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444819 02/25/22 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by TrevorM
I can justify my order later, but I’m curious what each of your items and order would be? I dont want to jump the shark yet. laugh
Trevor, That's exactly what I don't think I can come up with.

I guess at the moment I may be behind you in discovery ...
For example ...I still think frequency response is somewhere at the top of the list. But I can't prove it as I do not have enough information on what any speaker's frequency response really is ... (see "Manufacture Charts" below). So unless I measure it myself, which is a bit of an overwhelming task to do right, I have nothing to use to evaluate ranking.

Another example from my family room would place room centering and symmetry much lower in ranking even though I'm a true believer in it ... how am I supposed to deal with that??

On other issues, my memory of past setups is fallible, in that I didn't necessarily evaluate them, scientifically. I for sure didn't listen critically for all the stuff on your list (if I did any at all). I can give you general opinion of what Issues I think are important. But I'm not sure I could rank them in any scientific way. As I see it, there are many fallacies in attempting this kind of ranking. Each list item my effect the ranking of every other list item. For example having the speakers centered the room might change the ranking of the effectiveness of diffusion higher or lower. So, to do a study you'd have to subjectively evaluate a single point against each fixed setup of every other point.

In general, my current thinking, is coming up ranking would be at best be unsupportable opinion. Sorry, if that's not the answer you were looking for ...



Manufacture Charts
I can not use the stuff posted on manufactures websites as it's more marketing then useable data
My reading tells me there is a very good correlation but an understanding of psychoacoustics is needed to see it.
So, all manufactures play some games to make their chart look more palatable to the untrained eye. They also do not post comparable apple to apple charts ...

This makes the charts somewhat unusable. 1) Ever noticed that the vertical axis of most of these charts spans 120db. That compresses the information your interested into a much flatter line where 3db is too small to read. 2) few post what smoothing was used. 3) what frequency response is being shown (on-axis, listening-window (which probably is measured differently by each manufacturer), or something else). I'm not even sure that all charts from the same manufacturer are even comparable ...

Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
2x6spds #444820 02/25/22 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by 2x6spds
I was going to PM Trevor agreeing and commenting on his second point, "Placing main listening position on centerline of rooms long axis" but was unable as he has blocked me.

I've been on this site since 2002 and have observed its decline. I love Axiom speakers, Ian and the folks at Axiom. Nevertheless, I think it's time for me to withdraw from posting on Axiom forums.
I for one would be disappointed if you left 2x ...
The one request I'd like to make is that you leave yourself an option of coming back (don't burn the bridge).
I.E. don't make a hard statement which you feel you need to honor. That way you can return, if you so desire, and just be a long lost poster we are happy to see again.

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Re: Ranked: Factors that matter in sound reproduction
TrevorM #444822 02/25/22 09:14 PM
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I’ll expand on my own deep insights with my deep biases. smile

1. Good recordings matter.
- Corollary 1: Most recording decisions don’t have anything to do with the limitations of CD (16/44) and have everything to do with decisions made by the recording engineer, artist, and/or the streaming site.
- Corollary 2: Music is emotional, so form factor (LP, tape, CD) tactility (physically handling media), or competitive consumption (“look at the size of my collection”, bit rate, codecs, branding, etc) trumps actual listening and psychoacoustics.

2. Frequency response matters.
- Corollary 1 : There’s such a thing as good enough. Once you reached a certain level (say, Olive score > 6.5 with sub) you’re done, end game achievement unlocked. Stop grinding and buying loot boxes.
- Corollary 2: Most loudspeakers don’t have a good neutral frequency response, and therefore aren’t good enough.
- Corollary 3: Most people are fine with non-neutral speakers because Veblen goods always trump good sound.
- Corollary 4: Audiophiles think they want good sound, but look for it in the wrong places (DAC’s, cables, cable risers, power conditioners, Hi-Res, etc).
- Corollary 5: Beefy power and big speakers are only a consideration if you listen above 80 dB. I don’t, but maybe you do.

3. Any room with do.
- Corollary 1: 5.1+ music listening beats stereo beats mono. The fewer the channels, the more room acoustics matter.
- Corollary 2: A subwoofer levels the playing field.
- Corollary 3: Sophisticated EQ and DSP can make a difference.

The only audio brands I trust is Angstrom, Axiom, Dutch & Dutch, Ethera, Genelec, Infinity, Joseph Audio, Neumann, Revel, and Sonos. The rest, they either don’t care or you don’t know what you’re getting.

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