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IK Multimedia ARC vs. KRK Ergo vs. JBL MSC1?
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Lunatique
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23rd February 2010
Old 23rd February 2010
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IK Multimedia ARC vs. KRK Ergo vs. JBL MSC1?

I searched and the threads that came up weren't very helpful.

So, which of the three is the better choice (ignoring price)?

My studio is fully treated, but there are still some imperfections, so I thought I'd do the final tightening up with a room correction product. But I really don't know which one is better, or what their limitations are. Some said the MSC1 has limited frequency range in what it corrects--that sounds really weird to me, because how can they assume to know what your room mode is? It's also interesting that the ARC is software only but the most expensive of the three.

Anyone compared these products?
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23rd February 2010
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I've not done any comparison at all, but I use ARC the same way you would use it. I have physically treated my space about as much as I can handle, but still have some issues. I think ARC is most helpful in this situation.
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24th February 2010
Old 24th February 2010
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None of those products can compensate for deficiencies in room acoustics. The laws of physics that govern acoustical behavior prevent it.

Products of this type CAN compensate for deficiencies in your playback system including the speakers and some aspects of speaker placement. They can not and will not compensate for the acoustics of the room itself. The analysis tools can also be useful in telling you what's wrong.

I really wish that companies would stop lying about this just so they can make a few sales.

Use proper acoustical room treatment.

ARC is not software only. It includes a microphone.
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24th February 2010
Old 24th February 2010
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Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
None of those products can compensate for deficiencies in room acoustics. The laws of physics that govern acoustical behavior prevent it.

Products of this type CAN compensate for deficiencies in your playback system including the speakers and some aspects of speaker placement. They can not and will not compensate for the acoustics of the room itself. The analysis tools can also be useful in telling you what's wrong.

I really wish that companies would stop lying about this just so they can make a few sales.

Use proper acoustical room treatment.

ARC is not software only. It includes a microphone.
You're peaching to the choir here. I already said that my studio's fully treated--I spent a year designing and constructing it. But it would be naive to think that most us can achieve the ideal room just by doing treatment, because let's face it, it takes a HUGE amount of money to achieve the kind of flat response that really high-end studios have---they spent big money to get that. I could spend a couple of thousand of dollars on acoustic treatment material and still not achieve the same result, since those big boys have professional acoustic designers doing the job for them--from the shape of the room to the esoteric methods used (such as specialized tuned bass traps). Most of us just don't have the expertise/measurement equipment to take things that far, even after reading a few books on the subject or scouring the forums for answers (which is what I did before even putting down a single line on my design plans).

So I can say the opposite to what you said--that commercial acoustic treatment companies need to stop telling people that just because they buy some traps or diffusers from them, they can all of a sudden achieve the ideal room.

The room correction products are there to help assist you in getting even closer to the ideal room, not to replace acoustic treatment. And even if they ARE used that way, they still achieve some great results, as per demonstrated in every single professional review of these products I've seen, when the reviewer used these products in both treated rooms and totally untreated rooms.

The fact is, the companies that sell acoustic treatments have the same agenda as the companies that sell room correction products--they both are after the same thing, using different methods, and the acoustic treatment guys wants to make money too, so of course they'll bad mouth the other side. I mean really, let's be rational here. You know it's true.

I know ARC comes with a mic, but it's still just software when compared to Ergo and MSC1, since it does not have a hardware control/housing unit, and that makes a huge difference in logistics when it comes to usage.
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24th February 2010
Old 24th February 2010
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I have no financial stake in either side. I just know what the acoustics texts say.
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24th February 2010
Old 24th February 2010
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I have no financial stake in either side. I just know what the acoustics texts say.
I know. I think the best solution for mostof us (who can't afford professional acoustic experts) is to combine acoustic treatment with room correction. Having both working together is probably the best choice for most of us.
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24th February 2010
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I know. I think the best solution for mostof us (who can't afford professional acoustic experts) is to combine acoustic treatment with room correction. Having both working together is probably the best choice for most of us.
Aside from the fact that electronic room correction would violate the laws of physics.

It's snake oil, kids........
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24th February 2010
Old 24th February 2010
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Aside from the fact that electronic room correction would violate the laws of physics.

It's snake oil, kids........
So all the professional reviews from reputable magazines where they tested the products and found them effective are all lying?

It's not snake oil or rocket science. All they do is measure your room's response to sine wave sweeps or bursts, and then EQ the output of your sound to compensate for spikes or dips. The more advanced ones like ARC or KRK Ego will do two sets of measurements and you can toggle between the two--one for your listening position, and one for the general room, so if you have other people in the room you'd use that one.
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24th February 2010
Old 24th February 2010
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Using arc here in a treated room and it's simply amazing !! didint' compared it to the otha solution (would like to) but one thing cool is that's a plugin so no hardware to carry on !!
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24th February 2010
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You know, I promise myself I won't get pulled into this sort of thing, but:

I don't have any financial stake in either side of the acoustic treatment/monitor compensation software debate, neither do I have the scientific background to have a true debate with anyone on the topic. I'm just a basement hobbyist hack who is trying to get the most out of the modest space available for recording stuff at home.

Having said all that, I think it goes too far to say that the monitor compensation software folks claim their products fix bad room acoustics. I think it is more accurate to say that they claim their products can help compensate for bad room acoustics in what you hear in that bad room.

Just to explain what I am saying a bit better:

Of course a piece of software cannot change how sound bounces around in your room. Sound is going to bounce around in the room based on what is physically in the room. That's why acoustic treatment is so important.

But, what a piece of software might be able to do is alter the sounds coming out of the monitors to compensate for the predictable (I should say measurable, and therefore predictable) effect that the bad room acoustics have on the frequency response of what is heard by the listener. For example, if my bad room acoustics create an unnatural boost at a specific frequency at the listening position, then on some level it makes sense that I could EQ what is coming out of the monitors to fix that specific frequency, so that the frequency response is closer to flat at the listening position.

Now, there is a whole debate about whether the software is truly effective at compensating for all of what is happening to the frequency response at the listening position, because sound does some odd stuff as it bounces around in a room. I'm not smart enough to participate in that debate.

All I know is, I treated my room in the ways suggested by the fine folks here on GS who know a lot about it. I still have some weirdness in my room, but it is way better than it would be without the treatment. I also use ARC. I feel like I am hearing a more accurate representation of the material using both acoustic treatment and ARC than I would hear with just the acoustic treatment.

Could I be kidding myself about that? Well, I guess I could, but I don't think I am. I do know for sure that ARC has a noticeable effect on the sound. That can clearly be demonstrated by toggling the on/off switch on the plug-in. So, it is doing something. But, is it making what I hear more (or less) accurate? It feels more accurate, not less. That's the best I can say from where I sit.
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24th February 2010
Old 24th February 2010
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So, which of the three is the better choice (ignoring price)? My studio is fully treated, but there are still some imperfections
If you've gone as far as possible with bass traps, the best / cheapest / easiest solution is a basic outboard parametric EQ. Use the freeware Room EQ Wizard program to identify the one or two worst LF peak frequencies, then set the EQ manually. This avoids the added complexity of plug-ins and outboard converters etc.

--Ethan
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25th February 2010
Old 25th February 2010
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
If you've gone as far as possible with bass traps, the best / cheapest / easiest solution is a basic outboard parametric EQ. Use the freeware Room EQ Wizard program to identify the one or two worst LF peak frequencies, then set the EQ manually. This avoids the added complexity of plug-ins and outboard converters etc.

--Ethan
Thanks Ethan. I'll probably do that first and see if that does the job. I'm also looking at products like the dbx Drive Rack PX or the Samson D-1500/D2500 combo--they'd do similar things to what you're suggesting, except more streamlined.

My studio has lots of bass trapping (superchunks lined wall/ceiling corners for the entire studio). Here are photos of my studio:
Cloud Pagoda - Studio

BTW, I loved your audio myth workshop video. Whenever I mention it, it always gets a lot of nasty backlash though. Some folks just don't want to hear the truth and their method of denial is to say that you're doing all of that public education only to sell your acoustic products. IMO, you've been quite fair about everything, including stating that room correction products can be helpful when working in conjunction with acoustic treatments.
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25th February 2010
Old 25th February 2010
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So all the professional reviews from reputable magazines where they tested the products and found them effective are all lying?

It's not snake oil or rocket science. All they do is measure your room's response to sine wave sweeps or bursts, and then EQ the output of your sound to compensate for spikes or dips. The more advanced ones like ARC or KRK Ego will do two sets of measurements and you can toggle between the two--one for your listening position, and one for the general room, so if you have other people in the room you'd use that one.
Nearly all magazines say what they're paid to say. The only exception I know of is Tape Op.

I know what these systems attempt to do. It definitely is not rocket science. Rocket science works. It is snake oil.

The problem is that. because of the nature or room modes you can not eq to compensate.

Damn, I get tired of having to say this every time this subject comes up!

Room modes (standing waves) are resonances in the room that lie in physical band within the room. Think of harmonics on a guitar string. Each harmonic is present at maximum amplitude at certain specific locations along the string. Since the room is 3 dimensional there will be a primary set of harmonics for each dimension, plus there will be more difficult to compute harmonics in between non- opposing surfaces. We'll ignore those for the sake of simplification, but the same principles apply. When 2 or more dimensions of the room are mathematically related to each other, these harmonics stack up and reinforce each other even more. That's why square rooms, cubical rooms, and rooms in which the dimensions are even multiples are REALLY bad.

Since the room modes are physical harmonics they occur at particular locations in the room, in physical bands. At certain points they will reinforce each other, at others they will cancel depending on if the harmonics are in or out of phase at that particular point. That means that at certain points in the room some frequencies will be exaggerated, but at others they will be deficient.

In other words, the actual frequency response varies, and varies A LOT, with your exact location in the room.

When you attempt to compensate for room response with EQ, you reduce the amplitude or boosted frequencies and increase the amplitude of deficient frequencies to flatten out the response AT THE POINT YOUR MEASUREMENT MICROPHONE IS LOCATED - but since the response is totally different a few inches away, at that point in the room it's actually WORSE. Some systems take measurements at several points and average them, but that only gives a response that's ideal at NO PLACE in the room.

The only solution is to actually remove the resonances from the room, which can be done only with room treatment.

Now do you understand?

BTW, there is actually one electronic device that works, but it's not EQ and it's very expensive. It's an electronic bass traps manufactured by Bag End that they've been showing at AES. It's called the E-Trap. Bag End Loudspeakers 847 382 4550

It will take care of 2 room modes between 20Hz and 65Hz.
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25th February 2010
Old 25th February 2010
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Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
Thanks Ethan. I'll probably do that first and see if that does the job. I'm also looking at products like the dbx Drive Rack PX or the Samson D-1500/D2500 combo--they'd do similar things to what you're suggesting, except more streamlined.

My studio has lots of bass trapping (superchunks lined wall/ceiling corners for the entire studio). Here are photos of my studio:
Cloud Pagoda - Studio

BTW, I loved your audio myth workshop video. Whenever I mention it, it always gets a lot of nasty backlash though. Some folks just don't want to hear the truth and their method of denial is to say that you're doing all of that public education only to sell your acoustic products. IMO, you've been quite fair about everything, including stating that room correction products can be helpful when working in conjunction with acoustic treatments.
Those products are designed for sound reinforcement systems, not studios.

Note that I didn't say that these products can't make your room sound "better" (which is the goal of the SR products). I said it can't make your room MORE ACCURATE. There's a big difference. Accuracy has to do with your mixes translating well to other systems, not having your rig sound good within the room.

If you've gone as far as possible with room treatment perhaps you might want to check out that Bag End E-Trap - it's a very interesting device.

Nice guns, btw.......
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25th February 2010
Old 25th February 2010
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Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Nearly all magazines say what they're paid to say. The only exception I know of is Tape Op.

I know what these systems attempt to do. It definitely is not rocket science. Rocket science works. It is snake oil.

The problem is that. because of the nature or room modes you can not eq to compensate.

Damn, I get tired of having to say this every time this subject comes up!
I actually own three book on the subject of studio design/construction and acoustic design, and consulted with experts like Rod Gervais and the engineers at Klein + Hummel in the design of my own studio, so I'd like to think I'm fairly well educated on the subject. Not exactly some clueless teenager here.

I'm not saying room correction products are going to perfect your room and make it faultless--but they will help, in conjunction with acoustic treatment. And since all my acoustic treatment already takes care of all the early reflections and other time domain issues, plus most of the more egregious room mode problems, I'm only going to use room correction products as "icing on the cake" so to speak.

I also think that products like ARC or KRK Ergo where you take multiple measurements for EACH listening position, the average it computes for that listening spot would definitely be better than if no room correction was used at all. I mean, over a dozen measurements at the main listening position alone will cover the amount of normal head movements one makes while sitting down and mixing. And then you take similar measurements for each of the possible listening positions (client's couch for example)--each with a dozen or more measurements. You can then toggle which correction to apply at any given moment, so that even if the correction only works for that one position, at least it works when you are in that position. If a few clients just walked in and is sitting at the couch, then you apply the correction for that position. It's actually a very clever idea IMO.

Look, I know none of this stuff gives you a perfect room, but most of us can't afford professional acoustic experts to design our studios, or the cost involved in constructing such a place, so we do what we could within our means to get as close as we can.

At the very least, I already have a fully treated studio. Anything on top of that is just extra icing. That's all I'm after--that extra icing.
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25th February 2010
Old 25th February 2010
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Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Those products are designed for sound reinforcement systems, not studios.

Note that I didn't say that these products can't make your room sound "better" (which is the goal of the SR products). I said it can't make your room MORE ACCURATE. There's a big difference. Accuracy has to do with your mixes translating well to other systems, not having your rig sound good within the room.

If you've gone as far as possible with room treatment perhaps you might want to check out that Bag End E-Trap - it's a very interesting device.

Nice guns, btw.......
I'm guessing those products can be used for studios too, since what they do could easily be applied to studios as well?

I'm looking at the E-trap and I couldn't find the pricing--not even in the PDF they provided.

Glad you like the guns.
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26th February 2010
Old 26th February 2010
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My studio has lots of bass trapping (superchunks lined wall/ceiling corners for the entire studio). Here are photos of my studio:
Nice!

Quote:
their method of denial is to say that you're doing all of that public education only to sell your acoustic products.
Thanks. Yes, it's amazing how off-topic and illogical some of those comments are.

--Ethan
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26th February 2010
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I'm looking at the E-trap and I couldn't find the pricing
I think the price is $1,500. I question whether the E-trap has "positional limitations" in the same way room EQ does. I'm not certain, but I don't see how a 10-inch diameter woofer can be effective for an entire room without running up against the laws of physics.

--Ethan
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27th February 2010
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Hey Lunatique great studio , love the forms , where did you get it from ?

Usin Sonar , great .....

to go back on the subject , yes you will see an improvement !!
Witch one is the best , well i think the most complete (all freq range ) is IK ARC !!

BUT first man you got give your K&M some respect and don't feed them is samson or beringer !!!
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27th February 2010
Old 27th February 2010
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Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
So all the professional reviews from reputable magazines where they tested the products and found them effective are all lying?

It's not snake oil or rocket science. All they do is measure your room's response to sine wave sweeps or bursts, and then EQ the output of your sound to compensate for spikes or dips. The more advanced ones like ARC or KRK Ego will do two sets of measurements and you can toggle between the two--one for your listening position, and one for the general room, so if you have other people in the room you'd use that one.
there are very few magazines with either the credentials or staff to make glowing endorsements or assessments. See a good Tape Op review? Nope.

Also - when you say you have "fully treated your room"..... this is somewhat of an oxymoron - baring any flaws in the monitoring itself. If you're room was fully treated {and if it was a room that was of the proper size and dimension} then it would need nothing else - as I say, barring correction of the monitors themselves. It also relies on you being "the expert" !! There are people who have been doing it 20 years who still dont get it right!! It's very much an experienced based game tht one !!

You're right - they're not snake oil. But they generally just shift the problem rather than solve it. Sometimes they push the problem into a less harmful zone {i've certainly seen ARC do that - which is by FAR the better of the three products mentioned}, or a less noticeable zone. But they do nothing to solve the problem.

As a product they are all more useful in decently treated rooms - but then the improvement is far less noticeable!! They are very much a product of WANTING to believe..... but if I was to pick one... ARC. Johns pretty much right and Ethans advice on this matter - take it very seriously. He knows....
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27th February 2010
Old 27th February 2010
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Hey Lunatique great studio , love the forms , where did you get it from ?

Usin Sonar , great .....

to go back on the subject , yes you will see an improvement !!
Witch one is the best , well i think the most complete (all freq range ) is IK ARC !!

BUT first man you got give your K&M some respect and don't feed them is samson or beringer !!!
What do you mean by "forms"?

Haha, the Samson and Behringer are fine. These types of products may not have great quality control, but that doesn't mean every single one they sell are lemons. Mine sound just fine--I've checked their analog outputs against purely digital signal chain going straight into the K+H's, and they sounded identical to me--none of the problems people often complaint about like distortion, noise, coloration of sound. The volume pots can be a little scratchy on the Samson sometimes, but that's about it. I did have another Samson unit overload on me so that one's been retired.

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Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
there are very few magazines with either the credentials or staff to make glowing endorsements or assessments. See a good Tape Op review? Nope.

Also - when you say you have "fully treated your room"..... this is somewhat of an oxymoron - baring any flaws in the monitoring itself. If you're room was fully treated {and if it was a room that was of the proper size and dimension} then it would need nothing else - as I say, barring correction of the monitors themselves. It also relies on you being "the expert" !! There are people who have been doing it 20 years who still dont get it right!! It's very much an experienced based game tht one !!
The game industry gets the same thing--the magazines and sites are always accused of writing good reviews because they are getting paid or because of the advertisers. To date, I have not seen one shred of evidence of this. Games got bad reviews even if the company that made the game is advertising in the magazine, and even though reviewers do get to visit the studios and play unreleased games, only studios that are confident their games are of high quality will do that kind of invitation. I've never seen a studio making crappy games invite reviewers to go and play their crappy games. I think it's probably very similar in the music/audio industry. I have never read a review that I thought was complete B.S. in a the years. Some I disagree with here and there but it was because of personal taste.

You're right. By fully treated, I meant I've taken it as far as the room would allow. If you look at the link I posted to the photos of my studio, you'll see that it really is extensively treated, and I had consulted experts on the design before going forward with the construction (though they weren't being paid for full consultation--just friendly advice). Of course, I could've gone for even more elaborate and advanced treatment like tuned bass traps, but that was out of my range of possibilities due to me living in a crappy city in China, thus having very limited resources (material, qualified experts). I had to import everything from other cities and it was already a bitch and a half to deal with.

I've been doing more researching (downloading manuals and reading them), and this is what I know so far:

JBL MSC1 - Very limited in what it could do. It only can takes care of low frequency problems. It also doesn't have multiple corrections--just one.

KRK Ergo - It has a global correction and a listening position correction, and the measuring is more extensive (different heights for a 3D image of the room).

IK Multimedia ARC - Can do as many measurements of as many different listening positions as you want, and you simply save them as presets and choose between them. Software only, so you don't have to deal with an extra layer of A/D or D/A converter like the hardware units. But this also means you can't use it on sound systems without a computer attached to it.

Samson D-1500/D-2500/MM01 combo - Looks quite good on paper, and since it doesn't require a computer in any way, it can be used on a variety of different sound systems. Can store different settings for recall, so also suitable for applying different corrections to different listening positions. The measuring procedure isn't as involved so may not be as practical, since it won't account for the range of the head movements one makes at one listening position (which is what ARC is great at--it takes multiple measurements in each listening position to account for head movements or more than one person sitting on a couch).

dbx Drive Rack PX - Although designed for PA, it can also be used or studios. Similar to the Samson, except it has lots of features for live PA applications.

Shipping for the larger/heavier hardware units will cost more in general, such as the Samson combo, which will cost me $170 in shipping alone, while the ARC will only cost me $45

Anyway, that's what I have learned so far. I'm leaning towards the ARC at this point.
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27th February 2010
Old 27th February 2010
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Nice!



Thanks. Yes, it's amazing how off-topic and illogical some of those comments are.

--Ethan
While Ethan and I disagree on some topics, I'm a big fan of his work with room treatment and his educating people as to its importance.
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27th February 2010
Old 27th February 2010
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I think the price is $1,500. I question whether the E-trap has "positional limitations" in the same way room EQ does. I'm not certain, but I don't see how a 10-inch diameter woofer can be effective for an entire room without running up against the laws of physics.

--Ethan
Well, if works on the principle of "negative sound" like noise cancelling headphones and one E-Trap can only cover 2 modes. Basically it functions as an electronic analog of a Helmholtz resonator.......
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27th February 2010
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I have never read a review that I thought was complete B.S. in a the years. Some I disagree with here and there but it was because of personal taste.
I certainly have. I've seen glowing reviews of absolute junk and I've seen reviews where, if you did significant "reading between the lines" you could tell that the reviewer thought the product was garbage but was not at liberty to say so.

A classic review of a glowing review of absolute garbage was Craig Anderton's enthusiastic endorsement of the very first release of Windows Vista, which couldn't even run a large percentage of audio production software and lacked drivers for vast amounts of audio hardware. Anderton's review sounded like it was taken verbatim from a MS press release - and might well have been, for all I know.
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27th February 2010
Old 27th February 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

My studio has lots of bass trapping (superchunks lined wall/ceiling corners for the entire studio). Here are photos of my studio:
Cloud Pagoda - Studio
.
Love your studio!
Real kool!
#26
27th February 2010
Old 27th February 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post

My studio has lots of bass trapping (superchunks lined wall/ceiling corners for the entire studio). Here are photos of my studio:
Cloud Pagoda - Studio
Nice studio...made me dreaming...

I'm no pro in acoustics, but aren't your monitor too much near of the wall?

Putting my monitors 3-4 feets from the wall did a nice job clearing the bass build up that my bass traps could'nt 'eat'.
#27
23rd April 2010
Old 23rd April 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
I also think that products like ARC or KRK Ergo where you take multiple measurements for EACH listening position, the average it computes for that listening spot would definitely be better than if no room correction was used at all.
Hi -

allow me to be dense and say the readings it gets are

5 5 (5) 9 (5) 12 6 5

as you move it around. with (5) being magically the closest to your ears.

The number you want in your listening position (which it has absolutely no idea which position you're placing it in, the measurements are arbitrary), the "correct" number you want is 5.

The average of those numbers is clearly > 5.

So now presto-changeo, it has altered what it is outputting. It has no idea which position was "your ears" and by averaging it has basically screwed your sound up.

Now obviously if you were going for 5 and all the numbers were incidentally 0 10 1 9 0 10 etc, hooray, it's closer.

But to assume that "it will always be better than not having correction" is the sweet taste of the poison fruit. It will likely tame the most obvious errors, but the rest of it not only could be but is most likely becoming "more incorrect" unless you get lucky and happen to measure equal amounts of incorrectness.


Snake oil.


But if you've purchased one of these systems, hopefully you're willing and sophisticated enough to show us your measurement plots with/without the correction.
Lunatique
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#28
23rd April 2010
Old 23rd April 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halexx View Post
I'm no pro in acoustics, but aren't your monitor too much near of the wall?

Putting my monitors 3-4 feets from the wall did a nice job clearing the bass build up that my bass traps could'nt 'eat'.
Nope. I consulted with the engineers at K+H and they highly recommend to place all monitors against/inside the wall to avoid comb-filtering. But if you add a sub, then you can place away from the wall with less comb-filtering problems. Here's something I've posted here in the past regarding the issue:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique
The engineer at K+H recommended me to not place the 300D's away from the rear wall unless I can place them far from the rear wall (at least 7 feet and 11 inches, hitting the first reflected sound cancellation at 36Hz). Placing them right up against the wall (within 8 inches) will hit an almost negligible cancellation at 430Hz, which he marked to be as safe as the 7'11 notch at 36Hz (when it rides out of the deepest notch cancellation, which affects 30~108Hz, from 2'7 to 7'2 from the wall. At 2'0 to 1'4 from the wall, the notch isn't as severe but still not tolerable, will affect 143~215Hz. Starting at 7'11 from the wall (36Hz), the notch is negligible, and pretty much disappears from that distance and on. By 9'10, we're down to 29Hz of reflected cancellation, which won't matter to the 300(D). The other solution is to add a sub, which will narrow the undesirable notches to only 1'4 to 3'4 from the wall (at 215~86Hz). That means from 3'11 and on, you're safe (and of course, right up against the wall). If you put them right up against the wall, make sure you follow the instructions in the manual, which will tell you how much and where to attenuate the settings in the back.
Quote:
Originally Posted by frott View Post
But if you've purchased one of these systems, hopefully you're willing and sophisticated enough to show us your measurement plots with/without the correction.
I have not pulled the trigger on any of those products yet. I just spent my gear money on a Denon AH-D7000, so it'll be a while before I guy anything else. :D
#29
4th June 2010
Old 4th June 2010
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frott View Post
Hi -

allow me to be dense and say the readings it gets are

5 5 (5) 9 (5) 12 6 5

as you move it around. with (5) being magically the closest to your ears.

The number you want in your listening position (which it has absolutely no idea which position you're placing it in, the measurements are arbitrary), the "correct" number you want is 5.

The average of those numbers is clearly > 5.

So now presto-changeo, it has altered what it is outputting. It has no idea which position was "your ears" and by averaging it has basically screwed your sound up.

Now obviously if you were going for 5 and all the numbers were incidentally 0 10 1 9 0 10 etc, hooray, it's closer.

But to assume that "it will always be better than not having correction" is the sweet taste of the poison fruit. It will likely tame the most obvious errors, but the rest of it not only could be but is most likely becoming "more incorrect" unless you get lucky and happen to measure equal amounts of incorrectness.


Snake oil.


But if you've purchased one of these systems, hopefully you're willing and sophisticated enough to show us your measurement plots with/without the correction.
I own ARC and I have to say that I agree very much with what you are saying. I have done measurements many many times in my studio with ARC and I feel like ARC always makes things sound worse. To my ears, it always overcorrects the problems. I wish there was an amount choice so that you could choose to correct it by a certain percentage.

I have always had quite a bit of room treatment, but the biggest improvement for sound from my Event ASP8's was when I placed them properly with speaker stands. Ever since I've done that, mixes have translated very very well. I do wish I could get rid of one null in the 120ish Hz range. But besides that, ARC even shows my room to be quite good.

ARC is too much of a pain as a plugin. I would rather get a piece of hardware that corrects outside of my DAW. I haven't used ARC in the past year and a half and I am quite happy with out it.
Lunatique
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#30
24th June 2010
Old 24th June 2010
  #30
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Okay, I finally got the ARC and put it through its paces for the last couple of days. I got it when it was going for pretty cheap, and it seemed a good deal.

My initial experience with it sucked--the damn thing kept crashing when I tried to save the preset on computer #1. On computer #2, the test tone would just stop making sound for no reason, and I could never get through the whole testing process without it becoming silent at some point. I tried to download updates from IK's website (after registering the product and signing in to my account), and it gave me nothing. I looked in the user's area in downloads, nothing. The download page won't even load. Looked in support area, nothing. And I kept trying until I got fed up and just downloaded a friggin' cracked version, and you know what--it f-cking worked. I hated having to do that, but often I had heard that cracked versions fixed problems with the legit versions, and in this case it was true. Anyway, I paid for my Goddamn copy so I feel no f-cking guilt about this.

So off I went and did some tests. The first couple of presets I saved didn't sound right to me--it was kind of limp and the bass was powerless. I was really disappointed. Then the next day, I did a couple more tests restricting the listening area to just normal head movements my body makes while I'm mixing/monitoring--that means, I didn't tests spots all around the damn chair and where the keyboard and mouse are and just concentrate on the area about the width of my shoulders and about the same front and back of where my head would be. I also adjusted the settings on my monitors (K+H O300D's) to get closer to the test results the ARC showed. This time, it worked really well--the result sounded very neutral and flat.

I had thought my room was already very well treated as I built my studio from the ground up and researched hard on the acoustics, design, treatment, consulted experts, read books...etc. Those of you that have seen photos of my studio know how extensive the treatment is, with superchunk basstraps up the wazoo, all the important reflection points taken care of, good room dimensions, ideal listening position, and so on. But what ARC revealed (and what I had already kind of known when I did my own tests with a sound pressure meter) was that there were spikes and dips and the two speakers did not sound the same (probably due to furniture placement and other factors). I had a big spike at 45Hz, a dip at 60Hz, and a few other smaller spikes and dips in the bass region, which resulted in a bottom heavy but visceral and punchy sound. The problem is, it colored all the material that way. I had a dip at 2Khz, and the treble was hyped, which resulted in a fatiguing and bright sound.

After I applied the correction, the bass spike was tamed and the mids filled in and the treble wasn't so hot anymore. I used to think t maybe the "neutral" sound of the O300D's were a bit hotter than what's comfortable to me--that my ears aren't used to hearing really flat frequency range around the area that caused fatigue, but now I know--it was the room making things sound that way, and what I heard wasn't neutral at all. With the correction, all the excessive brightness went away, and everything just sounded smooth and natural. The bass was still authoritative and punchy on material that was mixed that way, and it was smooth and soft on material that was mixed to be smooth and soft. I thinks that's a sign that a sound device is neutral and flat--it reproduced the material faithfully, instead of coloring everything with a similar sonic footprint.

Prior to the correction, I also knew that the phantom center was a bit off due to the way I have the furniture and one side of the wall having a window behind the broadband absorbers. Now withe the correction, the center was dead on and the stereo imaging was very clean and even between the two sides. ARC allows you to turn on time-delay correction and when I tried it, it moved the phantom center almost all the way to the left, so that wasn't going to work. But when I turn it off, everything's just fine.

I spend a lot of time today doing comparisons of correction on and off, and I even used the before/after curve ARC provided to further tweak some very minor spikes and dips that ARC couldn't completely smooth out in the bass region, and the extra EQ made the K+H's sound even smoother and tighter controlled. I think I'm finally hearing how the K+H's are supposed to really sound, after owning them for three years and using them in three different home studios.

For a few hundred bucks, I really think the ARC is worth it. It has confirmed my suspicions about the deficiencies of my already well-treated room, and it has redefined for me what neutral and flat and smooth really means. It even changed my opinion about my headphone collection. I used to use the K+H's as some kind of benchmark for accuracy to judge my various headphones, but now I realize I had been unfair to some of them when they were actually much more neutral and accurate than I thought they were (such as the HD650)., and certain ones are actually more skewed than I thought they were (such as the Denon D7000).

I'm going to do a preset for my smaller multimedia speakers/sub next (which I often use when I'm not doing critical work--like just watching a movie or something). I think that's going to be really interesting too.

So there you have it. I spent the money and I was ready to be disappointed, since I can be a skeptic just like everyone else here, and I'm glad I wasn't disappointed. You can point and laugh and say "bullshit" and I really couldn't care less, because I took action and found out for myself if it worked or not, and you just have to either go on saying it's all bullshit without having actually tested it yourself, or you try it and see if it works for your room. If you have tried it and didn't like the result, I highly recommend you do the test again but don't follow the diagrams in the manual. Limit the testing spots to just the area within your body's width and a head front/back of your listening position, because when you are doing critical monitoring, that's the area you'll be restricting yourself to when you're doing critical work anyway--that sweet spot. Don't test a large area all over your big console mixer or the width of a sofa, as I think the result won't be very good.
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