The factors that distinguish the performance of a Hi-Fi system are innumerable. The ones we think of first are electronics and cables. Which in turn are divided into various types: amplifiers, speakers, sources and more in the first case; power cables, Speaker , signal cables and so on in the second. To this we have to add the variables of manufacturer, model, wear and tear and, really, you name it. For the joy of the audiophiles, there's plenty of tests to be done. One element, however, is often forgotten, maybe intentionally, as it is the one on which it is more difficult to intervene. We're talking about the listening room in Hi-Fi, a room whose importance the ancient Greeks immediately realized; just think about at the Ancient Theatre of Epidauruswhich boasts perfect and impressive acoustics even today. So here are four general tips for improving yours.
The Hi-Fi listening triangle
This is the advice that can agree more or less everyone. The listening triang le is the one that should be formed having as points of an equilateral triangle the two loudspeakers and the listener's head. The symmetry must be total, just as it is important that the height at which the speakers are placed, in particular the tweeter, is the same as the height of the listener. Some audiophiles, however, prefer a setting that is close to the shape of an isosceles triangle; as we wrote in the introduction, the variables are many, so what we can recommend is to make tests far and wide, to understand what is the best formation according to your listening room Hi-Fi and your taste. In any case, the preferable shape of the listening room is undoubtedly the rectangular one, whether you opt for the isosceles triangle or the equilateral one, since behind you, as well as behind the speakers, it is advisable to preserve a certain distance.
Furnishing for high and low frequencies
The absorption of sound waves is what we need to work on if we find that the high frequencies in our Hi-Fi system are too sharp. Fortunately, this is something we can do with everyday objects. Curtains, bookcases and pictures are all good for this purpose, as long as they have no reflective glass tops. You can think of buying sound-absorbing panels, now present in many specialty stores, but you can also get good results with the tools mentioned above, having feedback without putting hand to the wallet. With excess bass, the solution to the problem becomes a bit more complicated.
If you feel the low frequencies are too pronounced, or you notice real rumble, you should try to move the furniture or at least intervene with carpets. There are specific ones for this purpose, always available in specialized shops. In case the expense seems huge, you can always decline on the carpets you have at home, giving preference to thick and long pile ones. The furniture, finally, can be an ally in smoothing the corners of the room. If possible, place a piece of furniture at 45° or a bookcase placed sideways, or at least a plant, to reduce reflections too pronounced.
The materials of the listening environment
The materials that surround us contribute in a decisive way to the sound performance of the system in the Hi-Fi listening room. Unfortunately, in case we have problems due to them, we often have to spend considerable amounts of money. Let's talk, for example, about the walls. The thicker and more solid they are the better, both for the impact of low frequencies and for a good isolation. If yours is a plasterboard wall, the vibrations will be very high and the sound will be substantially compromised. Same vibration problem also for doors and windows; it is better to avoid that these are close to the corners of the room and that they are covered with curtains, especially the latter.
The wall to pay most attention to is the one behind the speakers. A good acoustic treatment of this part of the room ensures excellent results. In general it is good to respect the symmetry of the furniture, including the symmetry of some possible (and recommended) picture on the side walls compared to the listening point. Let's think now, instead, to the floors, for which the best material is wood. The worst ones are marble (too reflective) or carpet (very absorbent). Fortunately, in this case we don't have to improvise as skilled carpenters, but much less will suffice. In the case of tile or marble floors, in fact, a thick carpet between the speakers and the listening point will considerably reduce the problems. In general, reflective surfaces should be avoided as much as possible.
Exploiting the walls
We think of walls primarily as a problem to be solved. This is partially true. Most of the loudspeakers are designed to enjoy a certain space between them and the walls, so that the sound can come directly from there rather than, by reflection, from the walls of the room we are in. So keeping some space between the walls and the speakers is always an essential condition for a good acoustic performance of our Hi-Fi system.
At the same time, when the level of the electronics rises to at least good, the three-dimensionality of the scene and of the sound image comes into play. The sound image is the illusion of having in front of you a real soundstage, which therefore has its own width, height and depth. A "positive" exploitation of the walls can give excellent results in improving these characteristics. Going back to the curtains, there are at least two positions that improve the image: the first is on the side walls, halfway between the speakers and the listening point; the second is immediately behind the listening point, instead, behind us. Let's notice that there are also ad hoc panels conceived just for this purpose.
To all these considerations, some final ones must be added. The first is that the higher the level of the system, the more sensitive it will be to any modification. On the other hand, if you have a poor Hi-Fi system, it will be difficult for you to perform miracles, even if you take all possible measures. However, it must be said that a good system, put in the position to give the best of itself, will give satisfaction to the listener; at the same time a great Hi-Fi system placed in a room with bad acoustics will be extremely disappointing to listen to.
The second consideration we want to make is that, on this occasion perhaps even more than on others, long tests are the fundamental starting point to understand how to move. So, let your brain concentrate exclusively on the sound. Don't take anything for granted (by opening or closing the doors of your room) and try to make listening sessions with the same settings fragmented over a rather long period of time, avoiding "on and off". Finally, don't forget the importance of the Hi-Fi listening environment, not only in terms of sound, but also in terms of emotional impact.
Before leaving you to the exploration of our catalogue, we want to confide you a tidbit. Someone claims that the glasses improve the listening, because, reflecting the signal, they make sure that a part of this coming from the right speaker doesn't reach the left ear, and vice versa. This would benefit the lateral width of the image. Is it true? We think not, but it doesn't cost anything to try...