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Electronically Enlarging a Room (Read 1155 times)
Steve Deckert
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Electronically Enlarging a Room
07/17/13 at 18:10:34
 
Someone e-mailed me a post about an idea for enlarging a room wanting to know my thoughts on it.  First, it would have been nice to know where it came from, but regardless after reading it I do have some opinions FWIW.

Quote:
I am guessing it’s time to simply get to the meat of this fantasy of mine: that of electronically enlarging the size of the room.  I am assuming we all understand the why of it, and now let’s go to the how of it.  I want to state up front that I have never tried this, I only envision how this will work and as many of you have pointed out, to make it work properly is a major challenge – both physically and technically.

First though, let’s review and think about what it means to have a larger room.  Imagine yourself standing in a room with 5 other people talking and chatting it up.  The room is 10×10 feet and with your eyes opened or closed you can sense the size of the room.  You sense this because of how your voice feeds back into your ears.  You hear how your voice and movements interact with the surrounding walls.  This has everything to do with the wall’s surfaces and proximity.

What I didn’t tell you is that in our imaginary room, the walls can be moved.  As you are chatting it up with the other folks, I have people behind the walls that pull them apart, expanding the room size to 20×20, effectively doubling the size.  You would immediately know you are in a larger room because the time it takes your voice, and the voices of your mates to reach the walls and bounce back would be doubled.  That’s how you know the size of the room.  Same for the ceiling – if I were to pull the ceiling up you’d know that as well.


Well, I don't have any issues with that, except to say in a properly done listening room you would not be aware of the rooms size.  It would be the recording, specifically ambience in the recording, that determines the size of the space you perceive.

Remember, a common mistake is to attempt to make a recording sound like it's playing in your room. No residential rooms are large enough for this to work to a degree that would fool a listener into thinking it's real - except perhaps a recording of a solo guitarist sitting on a stool.

The idea is to transport the listener to the venue of the recording, not the other way around.  To do this involves acoustic treatments that make your walls disappear.  This is btw, done with quadratic theory diffusion on all four walls.  That said, if you wanted to manipulate the size of the room you would have to manipulate the size of the room in the recording since you can't hear your own walls.

How do you manipulate the size of a room in a recording?   Reverb.  

Quote:
Therefore, in theory, all I need to do is place 4 very flat wall loudspeakers – one against each of the 4 walls in our room – and internal to those loudspeakers is a microphone and some circuitry to make the microphones and speakers work.  The microphones would “hear” your voice and movements and send a duplicate signal back to you at the same volume level and timing as would a wall reflection.  If you did this, you wouldn’t really know anything was happening – your ear hearing what it was expecting to hear from a surface 10 feet away.


OK, this where we start to get into trouble.  The flat loudspeakers would have to be the same size as the walls.

The internal "circuitry" must be the same quality as the playback gear, and of the same design so that the signatures, harmonics, timbres all match the main loudspeakers.  

The biggest problem is however, that the flat speakers in front of the walls must be able to absorb sound at every frequency, like a black hole absorbs light.  Otherwise reflections from the panel (assuming they are panels) would ruin the intended effect.  That's nearly impossible to do, if not completely impossible.

The only way to handle it is anti-noise.  Using the entire speaker panel AS THE MICROPHONE, you would have to store the sound and then using the same panel AS THE SPEAKER, play the sound back out of phase to cancel it.  You can now introduce your digital delay and then re-launch the same playback but in-phase into the listening space.

Quote:
To expand the size of the room I now need only to delay the output of my wall mounted loudspeakers, playing back what the microphones pickup, the appropriate time difference you would normally get when the walls moved twice the distance from where you stood.  Done properly, your ears would not hear anything different than if the actual physical event happened.  In a darkened room, you would swear the walls had moved – because every auditory sense you have is giving you the correct cues for exactly that to happen.


Quote:
If you move your head, move closer to one wall and further from the other wall, the effect would be identical to what would happen should you actually move the wall.


This would depend on the software you write and if you have a GPS locator taped to your forehead.  Otherwise, no.  Where you stand in the room would not be the same as moving the walls.  And if that was the intension and you did it that way, the question would then become why?

Quote:
If you change the volume level of the “reflected” sound you effectively control the nature of the wall’s reflectivity.  So in this one system you can both control the size of the room as well as what the walls are made of.  One could then program the system to track the recordings you play – add the approximate size and nature of each room to the metadata of your tracks and when you play something that was recorded in Carnegie Hall, the room changes to simulate that size – a cozy nightclub, a large outdoor concert, a deadened recording studio, etc.  Let your imagination run wild.



OK, this is clearly the mind of a stereotypical engineer - I call them "math guys" who fall victim to the human urge to overcomplicate everything.

Understanding that it is possible to take a small room, treat it with diffusion, and make it sound like any size space the recording suggests would keep ones mind from even going here.  Imagine having a sound stage that is arced around you 50 feet and a depth of 80 feet in room that's 15x13.  Changing the size of the room to larger or smaller simply depends on the recording you pick.  Should you want to manipulate that for some unknown reason, you could EASILY do it electronically with a single knob connected to a reverb effect that was inserted into the signal path.

I've seen it many times, audiophiles restlessly exploring ways to improve their playback experience, because they haven't found nirvana with the gear they're listening to.  IF someone came to me with this idea, I would sell them some diffusers and a Decware amp so that they could stop thinking about the room and gear completely.

For those not familiar with quadratic theory diffusers, they are based on prime number sequences designed to capture and relaunch reflections into a hemi-disk pattern tangent to the orientation of the well dividers (what?)  Sorry - let's try again.  The are wood panels with slots that both diffuse energy across a 180 degree pattern as well as reduce the amplitude of sound energy (reflections).  Both are required to have a holographic soundstage that defies the physical size of your room.

The reason for this is because in an untreated room with hard wall surfaces, sound from the speaker hits your ears (direct energy) and then hits the back wall behind you, followed by the side walls, followed by the front wall, followed by that same wave traveling past your head a second time.  That's bad.  The brain can not tell if the second wave was the same as the first because the two are too close in volume and too close in time.  The result is a fuzzy sound stage and listener fatigue.  Delay the reflection by a several milliseconds and reduce the reflection by several dB and the brain knows instinctively that it was ambience, not the original sound (direct energy).  This is what makes everything pop into 3D and creates a sound stage that goes anywhere from 10 to 100 feet behind your speakers despite their only being 3 or 4 feet out from the wall.

My guess is that if whoever had this idea decides to develop it, they will after lots of time and money find it easier to accomplish with special open back headphones.  Delay the reflection at the ear instead of at the wall which would be possible since the computer is faster than the neurons in the brain and would have the capability to distinguish direct from reflected energy.  Meanwhile the rest of us will be enjoying recordings with a minimal amount of complexity and zero negative feedback amplification.

Steve
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #1 - 07/17/13 at 18:39:09
 
I could not agree more. I have lived in 3 different houses and have enjoyed acoustically treating, now, my 3rd Listening Room.

You would think someone looking to spend 6 to 9k on an Amplifier this fall...would buy Steve's Acoustic Treatment Kit. However, I did do it tastefully this time....(but not as nice as Steve's Kit), with Natural Aire, air cleaning filters, 20 x 30....18 of them. Also, my Michael Greene (anybody remember him?)....Room Tunes high frequency Triangles in each upper corner at ceiling, of the Room. INDESPENSIBLE....for the best musicality from your System.    -Stone


As Steve said:
Meanwhile the rest of us will be enjoying recordings with a minimal amount of complexity and zero negative feedback amplification.
........with Acoustic Treatments!
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beowulf
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #2 - 07/17/13 at 21:58:24
 
Quote:
Steve D said,
First, it would have been nice to know where it came from


Hi Steve, that comes from Paul McGowan at PS Audio ... he has a string of posts regarding this idea.

For me, I would not care about something like that either, but I do find the BACCH 3D Sound Technology (Band Assembled Crosstalk Cancellation Hierarchy) that was developed by Edgar Choueiri (over at Princeton University) very fascinating.

Flyer for BACCH 3D Sound Technology.

Q&A for BACCH 3D Sound Technology (off Princeton's Website).

YouTube Video for BACCH 3D Sound Technology.

What I think is cool about BACCH is that, other than the Filter/Processor which needs to be installed by a trained vendor ... no other special A/V gear is needed.

So most 2 channel audio systems are candidates ... the only thing recommend is that the speakers should be Point Source rather than Radial.

No special media is needed either ... vinyl records, Redbook CD's and other Hi-Res digital files are all candidates for this technology.

It seems fairly reasonable to have this tech installed (well reasonable within perspective of having a technician come into your place and install it Grin)
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Dom
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #3 - 07/17/13 at 22:55:03
 
Hi Steve,

I will be the first to admit that I have not had the pleasure to hear or experience the benefits that room treatments offer...sadly Sad    I do find the theory behind it very interesting and I really enjoyed reading your post.

With your Zstage and ZSB in route, I am on may way for redefining what good music will sound like with your gear.   I am replying to this email because I want your take on the Stein Music Harmonizer System...

Here is the link to their site...

http://www.steinmusic.de/EN/products/periphery/h2_harmonizer.html

Here is a the video clip for it...

http://www.steinmusic.de/DE/produkte/peripherie/h2_harmonizer_video.html

I talked to a NYC distributor who will give me a sit down session to experience it first hand.  In his words..upon activation, the ceiling opens up, and the surrounding walls virtually disappear.  While I do think he is exaggerating, I am curious on what will take place.  Any thoughts??

Dom
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #4 - 07/17/13 at 23:27:57
 
All crap!  ....Just acoustically treat your room will ya! Angry Grin

Anyway, I must admit, I do like this playlist (see thread) on my Polk SDA SRS 1.2 behemoth Speakers with my HSU Mid-Base-Module (MBM).
Does it beat my reference system with Decware & Kimber Select = nope.....but, it is fun and does a lot right with it.


http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?22736-SDA-Playlist
SDA = Stereo Dimensional Array baby!   -Stone
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« Last Edit: 07/17/13 at 23:28:44 by stone_of_tone »  

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will
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #5 - 07/17/13 at 23:56:41
 
Dom,

Looking forward to your experience and your thoughts on the Stein system. Just because it is not traditional and not fully described does not mean it doesn't work. Your man at the store in NYC may not be exaggerating! Maybe, maybe not. Only you can tell!
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beowulf
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #6 - 07/18/13 at 03:09:09
 
Quote:
will said,
Looking forward to your experience and your thoughts on the Stein system.


+1 ...

I read a really positive review on this a few weeks back.  It would be an even better experience if your dealer could do a with and without to see if you can really make out a difference  and justify the $4K-5K costs on the Stein stuff.

Although I have a feeling this may be one of those subjective things like power cords.  To me "subtle" is not worth more than a few hundred dollars, for 4K this stuff should be able to blow your socks off. Cool
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« Last Edit: 07/18/13 at 03:10:13 by beowulf »  
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Lon
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #7 - 07/18/13 at 03:14:11
 
I agree "subtle" is not worth a lot of money. (I don't find the effects of some power cords "subtle" however!)
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beowulf
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #8 - 07/18/13 at 04:35:01
 
Quote:
Lon said,
I agree "subtle" is not worth a lot of money. (I don't find the effects of some power cords "subtle" however!)


Hi Lon, I can imagine that the PS Audio AC12 cables you have would make a significant difference to you in order for you to invest that much into them! Cool

The thing about those cables (even though they are expensive) they are still realistically priced ... unlike some other vendors charging 30K for a USB cable Shocked
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #9 - 07/18/13 at 04:35:23
 
I looked at the Bacch flyer...

Quote:
Crosstalk corrupts the stereo signal and destroys the spatial cues contained in a stereo recording. The brain no longer receives the correct cues and information to produce a spatially correct 3-D soundfield.


Frankly I have to disagree. ( that's a polite way of saying I think it's bullshit ) Everything in real life that sounds real because it is real and sounds 3D because it is 3D reaches both of you ears.  To pick an aspect of the playback process like crosstalk and decide that it's bad and must be eliminated is ignorant in my opinion.  In fact I'll go so far as to say it's crosstalk that makes 3D imaging possible, which is why speakers do it and headphones don't.  My guess is that the digital manipulation, albeit intended to eliminate crosstalk, probably doesn't and that's why they get a more 3D sounding result.

BTW, I have constructed a wall down the centerline of my room before and found it does improve imaging in an untreated room.  But the reason is because of the way it modifies right and left channel reflections, not because it eliminates crosstalk.  Having also heavily diffused the same room, toed the speaker in to enhance crosstalk, and removed the dividing wall improved the imaging and sound stage dramatically.

Steve
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #10 - 07/18/13 at 04:48:42
 
Quote:
I talked to a NYC distributor who will give me a sit down session to experience it first hand.  In his words..upon activation, the ceiling opens up, and the surrounding walls virtually disappear.  While I do think he is exaggerating, I am curious on what will take place.  Any thoughts??


In a genuine and properly executed double blind test, you will hear nothing change, as is always the case with virtually all quantum physics crap.  It's the power of placebo.  I've spent 30 years studying people while they listen... and could be considered the zen master when it comes to understanding the phycology of human hearing.   These devices actually do modify the brains interpretation of what the ear captures, but only to the person who gave money for it and knows it's turned on... whoops, I mean , "activated".  
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #11 - 07/18/13 at 23:47:55
 
I own 12 of Steve's assembled 2 ft. x 2 ft. diffusers, that I purchased several years ago.   They have made a big, big, difference in the enjoyment of my main stereo system.

Well worth the $1410 plus shipping, they would cost now.  Don't want to spend that much?  Just order a pair or two, and put them behind your listening position.  I'm going to order another pair in the next few days.

Don't like the looks of them?  You can always paint, or cover them with a fabric that appeals to you.

Life is too short to NOT have Decware room diffusers.

Just my opinion.

Mike in Seattle area
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« Last Edit: 07/18/13 at 23:50:08 by tgarden »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #12 - 07/23/13 at 04:30:57
 
Just a followup comment, and perhaps somewhat apology,...  the quantum physics category of audio tweaks irritates me, because IMO many of the manufactures don't have a clue about quantum physics, they're just taking advantage of people.  The other reason, is that in many systems, the room and setup are weak links that prevent hearing the subtle differences between many of these tweaks.  It's like owning a car with square tires and buying a quantum gasket for your carburetor.  We'll obviously never know if the quantum gasket worked in reality because the square tires limit the speed of the vehicle to 3 MPH and the gas milage to 6 MPG.  This is however ironic since quantum audio tweaks don't make anything sound different, they instead make your ear/brain perceive things different, so you can have a car with square tires and have it topped out going down the freeway at 3 MPH and perceive yourself as traveling 103 MPH!

To me it's just too easy.   Hell, six beers will outperform any quantum tweaks available, not to mention a good hit of weed, and at a fraction of the cost.  Nope, I prefer to make the equipment actually sound good on it's own, without mind altering placebos.  So I guess it's not somewhat of an apology after all, just more explanation of my rock firm stand on the matter.  But I am somewhat sorry for the lack of flexibility. Wink

Steve
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #13 - 07/23/13 at 04:34:17
 
Someone just informed me that sticking a quantum chip on the air cleaner screw that is programmed to deal with the associated harmonics of a 10/24 thread will remove enough inter-dimensional resonances in the tetrahedral sub matrix of the threading to actually improve fuel flow.  Forgot to tell you about that.
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« Last Edit: 07/23/13 at 04:36:02 by Steve Deckert »  
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beowulf
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Re: Electronically Enlarging a Room
Reply #14 - 07/23/13 at 15:41:43
 
Quote:
Steve D said.
Hell, six beers will outperform any quantum tweaks available, not to mention a good hit of weed, and at a fraction of the cost.


ROFLMAO!!!! Grin
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