pl | en


With the visit to… HIGH FIDELITY

Room acoustics and how it works according

Pogotowie Komputerowe
ul. Wesoła 12/24
87-800 Włocławek
tel.: +48 606 699 956

POLAND | Krakow

A few words of introduction | WOJCIECH PACUŁA

typical situation: during the Audio Video Show exhibition, as far as I remember in 2018, a man approaches me, or actually two of them, who says he has been reading High Fidelity for a long time, also he likes a lot what he reads, and would like to talk about my room for a while listening sessions, elections etc. The matter makes it easier a moment earlier, together with Wojtek Padjas, the guy from RMF Classic radio, we held an open meeting to answer these and other questions. MARIUSZ ZIELMACHOWICZ turned out to be a questioning man, and KAMIL OSTROWSKI a supporting one.

Mariusz Zielmachowicz is an IT specialist by profession, but he also works measurements and comprehensive adaptation of recording studios, concert and conference halls. He has already completed dozens of projects and implementation of public utility rooms, but now it is time to adapt the rooms intended for listening to music at home, as he is an audiophile himself.

In his professional career he had previously been a producer on the local radio, a sound system and an sound man. In turn, Kamil Ostrowski is an audiophile who has a double relationship with Mariusz - on the one hand he is a customer and on the other - this is what he looks like from the outside - a friend.

The reason for the questions I was talking about was simple: the owner of the Computer Emergency wanted to find out how I shape the sound of my system with electronics and accessories on one side and room acoustics on the other. Underneath there was probably sheer curiosity - professional and private - but the need to learn something more came to the fore.

During the next edition of the Warsaw exhibition, the gentlemen came to me and asked directly if they could come to me to measure my room and listen to my system. Because I am still learning myself, I agreed without too much delays, and shortly before Christmas gentlemen knocked on my door.

Assumptions| The result of this meeting is the text you will find below. It was divided into two parts: listening and measuring. This is an important distinction. As you will see, the listening experience is well supported by measurements, but the conclusions of both studies do not necessarily coincide.

Mariusz Zielmachowicz strives, if I understand correctly, to NEUTRALITY. It manifests itself in compliance with model measurement parameters. In turn, I am talking about NATURALITY. In turn, it coincides with my experience or practice. In an ideal world, these two categories are the same, there is no difference between them. However, because we live in a physical world modified by psychology, things get complicated. Which shows the discrepancy between what I think is right and how Mariusz sees it.

Paradoxically, there is not as much difference between us as it might seem. Because, after all, the sound we are talking about "high-end" does not have one pattern, it can be realized in many ways. That is why I encourage you to try and experiment yourself and to strive to realize "your" image of music. For this to make sense, it must be within the contractual margin of CORRECTION. The margin is arbitrary, because there are no rigid boundaries, it all depends on the assumptions made.

Similarly, as in the design of devices and columns - for some, the goal will be to carry out measurements, and for others, the measurements will be only an auxiliary element, and the most important will be testing by listening. That said, I will add that there is such a thing as "good" and "bad" sound. I would like you to understand my choices better thanks to this article and thus read my articles with greater awareness - I just want you to get to know me better. If it succeeds, the expedition of Mariusz and Kamil to High Fidelity will be a success. WP

Listenin session | Mariusz Zielmachowicz • Kamil Ostrowski

|Mariusz Zielmachowicz|

(Courtesy of Wojtek Pacuła, editor-in-chief of the High Fidelity magazine, together with my colleague Mariusz Zielmachowicz.)

A visit at an audiophile is not so much to listen to the equipment, but first and foremost to learn about a man’s preferences and potential. And visiting a man with such practice, achievements and position as the chief editor of High Fidelity is really dealing with a certain pattern. And I'm not writing this to please Wojtek Pacula, though it could have sounded like that, but to explain how developing such contact can be for me and potential readers. It allows you to better understand the meaning of the texts and the merits of the magazine tests that you read.

It is difficult to assess directly what I heard, because my adventure with audio is not only a hobby - it is a passion that merges with the profession. But maybe it is even better, because I can use more variables when evaluating, not only aesthetic reception, but also knowledge and logic.

High-end is a combination of contradictions: fire-water, warm-cold, black and white. Is it even possible? Most of all it is a high-end, and at Wojtek’s listening room there is definitely high-end. It is in this system that one can understand the phenomenon but also the curse of the Harbeths (M40.1 Domestic - ed.). These loudspeakers even ’dazzle’ an enormous richness of harmonics. Their sound is massive, saturated, powerful to the limits of decency. This creation is based on that kind of foundation, which is visible immediately.

Knowing it’s origin and a professional pattern, I immediately caught it. In Wojtek's vision and in his system, however, this signature is yet a salvation. The High Fidelity’s reference system, through its competitive treatment of control, dynamics, resolution and transparency, precisely complements the shortcomings of the Harbeths. Looking at the accessories and wiring consciously applied, we understand the creator and what the overall effect should be.

And this one is unique and hard to replicate, because the calibre of the equipment is in the upper Premium class. In addition, the room reverberation turns out to be quite large computationally, and, according to the precepts, too large, which helps Harbeth bass-reflex boxes correct their deficit of spatial freedom. The location of the virtual sources turned out to be amazingly good. The speakers really disappear, and the stage is wider than their optical arrangement and proportions. Only the feeling of the air of this spatial freedom between the instruments does not impress, but the reverb of the room cleverly saves the situation. Well done!

Bass - I just like this one! It is juicy, muscular and powerful. It lacks a bit high-performance features that are responsible for the control and legibility of the texture, but if it was stringy and spicy it would simply not fit into the overall aesthetics. There is power, there is impact and extension. The Soulution 710 amplifier shows outstanding class of amplification and competitive electrical efficiency. It controls resonance up to the limits of the band, and the Harbeths provide the sound with fluidity and plasticity.

And again - it is a synergy without any feeling of detachment or showiness. Without extreme performance, but with impact, weight and, above all, class. Interestingly, the room clearly helps in obtaining this power, but without crossing the proverbial "limits of decency". I like such abundant bass tones and although they could, in an absolute scale, be better at attacking impulsively, it just wouldn't fit with this creation. The high tones are a consistent reflection of how much - both the creator of the speakers and the host - they care about the "high-end" sound signature. It is supposed to be dark. With resolution, legibly but dark. And it is very dark. What calibres of work must the equipment in this system do to make this speaker work!

What layers of transparency and voicing must it bring so that we can hear all the microinformations. And yet, as I wrote above, they are there! In this octave we get information about the space, location and the recording studio. They are audible, so the speakers are functional. They work. But it's really dark.

The diameter is spectacular and it is the strongest part of the system. Creation and aesthetics are built on their beauty and harmonic richness. Fluency and plasticity is the highest possible test. How I understand you Wojtek, it means: why Harbeths! And why they have been in your system for so long. Juiciness and palpability of colours immediately draw into the spectacle.

We stop paying attention to any imaginary deficiencies in readability or precision. I didn't register them because I was enchanted. It is probably not possible to achieve more juicy tone colour, and if it could be done, it would probably be only in the toner world :). This magic is so overwhelming that bass and treble play supporting roles. It is extremely important for the performance, but they are always behind. There is only one star - the diameter.

The audiophile world is an example of how much you can "deviate" in audio from the standard of tonal balance and high fidelity. My professional origin is at odds with this creation. So I ask myself: where is the truth and where is the falsehood? It is because the world of music is not ’zero-one’. In addition to the rhythm and beat, there must be the content and melody, and in the equipment there must be gauziness and tone colour. There must be emotions that will keep us away from everyday life.

How attractive the prospect of getting lost in the pleasure and richness of harmonics is! Visiting those audiophiles I can understand the reasons for using drugs. The plus of it is that music in this form does not ruin our health, the downside is that it drains the wallets terribly ... MZ

|Kamil Ostrowski|

This meeting was primarily of a working nature, consisting of assessing the listening room, which is in fact a normal home living room, which is used by all family members. From the technical and acoustic side, this task was dealt with by Mariusz, as a person experienced in professional audio and in acoustic adaptation of rooms.

My role as an avid and experienced audiophile limited to expressing my own opinion about the Wojtek’s system as a whole, i.e. along with the room's existing acoustics. This is, of course, a subjective assessment, like everyone of us, but it is also the view of a person completely from the outside, who has been in contact with this particular system for the first time.

This is a system that has a dark sound signature. It is extremely weighted and rich in colour, and at the same time it surprises with high dynamics and very good selectivity of virtual sources. The soundstage that is created in it is deep and much wider than the spacing of the speakers themselves, which, despite the large dimensions, simply disappear from the room, so there is absolutely no effect of running music directly from the speakers

However, one can hear that it is a system shaped according to the preferences of the host, with its own character strongly marked, which definitely deviates from the neutrality of the message. The sound is built on the foundation of a strong, abundant and dense bass, which, although it is not a master at showing the texture of low registers and accurate differentiation, is extremely well controlled. This is not a bass attack and contour-oriented but on filling.

The midrange is of the highest quality. The vocalists literally materialize in front of the listener. The vocals sound very natural because they are rich in colour, deep and well varied. The treble is, unlike the bass, slightly withdrawn, very delicate and sweet. It doesn't "abound" with detail and doesn't have the vibrancy and splendour I expected.

On the other hand, the whole message is very consistent and coherent, which means that we receive music as a comprehensive performance very naturally and truly. The dark signature of the system, which I mentioned at the beginning, is due to the proportion between the abundant, dense bass, heavily loaded with a low midrange and a very delicate treble. Nevertheless, all this is done while maintaining good differentiation and resolution. The HF system is undoubtedly a top high-end with its own character, reflecting the preferences and baggage of the experience of its creator. KO

Measurement | Mariusz Zielmachowicz

| Characteristics of the object of measurement

Description of existing acoustic conditions and the resulting characteristics of the electroacoustic system. The measurement was taken in Krakow on December 17, 2019 around 11:30. The object was a living room with dimensions D-4.9 mx L-4.3 mx H-2.6 m. These are the dimensions of the listening field. There is also a recess in the corridor, however, due to small measurement anomalies, we resign from taking it into account. Area: approx. 21 m2, volume: approx. 55 m3.

The reverberation characteristics of the room were measured with the accuracy of class 2. The impulse generator was a balloon with a diameter of 25 cm and software scaled for this type of Dębice. The measuring microphone meets Class 2 accuracy standards. The software has pre-installed the characteristics of the microphone used.

The chart includes dashed lines, standard range for control rooms with an area of ​​20-25 m2 of 200 ms. These types of rooms provide optimal conditions for critical sound evaluation, while maintaining symmetry also spatial effects and the location of virtual sources.

Computationally, it is a room with increased reverb in relation to the pattern, even in the Hi-Fi Room level range, where the standard range in these room dimensions is 300 ms. The influence of the increased share of reverberation information affects the sense of so-called spatial freedom. Both the room and the distance from the speakers do not exceed 3 m, which can be included in the so-called listening session in the medium listening field, so we have a sense of focus due to the increased share of sounds coming directly from the speakers.

The frequency characteristics is not badly jagged. The only anomaly is the 250 Hz range, but it is the upper bass range, which does not worsen the location of virtual sources, although the reverberation effect is obviously noticeable. The only critical feature seems to be the lack of symmetry of the position of the speakers against the side walls, but its effect is not excessively audible, and its correction is a slight shift of the axis at the listening point.

Wojtek Pacuła's system has a characteristically heavy and focused character of the presentation without excessive emphasis of the information of reverberation recordings. Creating the proportion of the so-called medium listening field allows to increase the share of the direct sounds, and thanks to the spatial freedom of the room a sense of spatial balance. However, this type of presentation determines the objectivity of recording control.

All in all, it is an acceptable and thought-out effect, but - in my opinion - it does not allow for full objectivity in assessing the recording in terms of reverb effects. However, it allows you to describe the sense of sound character and spaciousness in rooms that you will meet with most audio enthusiasts.

| Characteristics of measuring the tonal balance of the system in the tested room

The frequency response was measured with accuracy of Class 2. The signal generator was Wojtek Pacuła's electroacoustic system. The signal was full-range noise with a weighted curve applied, taking into account the sensitivity of human hearing at 60 dB. The measuring microphone meets Class 2 accuracy standards. The software has pre-installed characteristics of the microphone used. The location of the measuring microphone is around the listening point. The distance from the floor introduces a -3 dB correction in the room's mod band.

The graph shows the declining characteristic towards high tones. In the 34-43 Hz range, the room mod is strongly marked, and 29-46 Hz the resonance boost in the interference arrow with the room mod. Even with a -3 dB correction related to the boost of the measurement at the listening point due to the proximity of the floor, this range pops up from the measurement average by about 9 dB. Interestingly, the boost is palpable by feeling the weight of the lowest octave, not the feeling of standing wave resonance.

At around 58 Hz, probably ‘cos of interferences, the resonance influence of the bass-reflex cover of the Harbeth loudspeakers is noticed. The same applies to the 267 Hz range, but this time the interference reverb of the room and the assumed crossover frequency are clearly visible. 700 Hz and 1400 Hz anomalies are also probably the influence of crossover divisions. However, these are not broadband anomalies, and the range is not unusually large. It is simply visible on the chart.

Aggregated descent, excluding 9 dB mode in the 50 Hz-12.5 kHz music band, is about 20 dB. It should be noted, however, that the descent is even and with acceptable ragging. Well done, I've never experienced anything like this before! If that was the idea, and everything seems to indicate it, I am very impressed. The use of pink noise allows you to visualize the sound sensations of the average listener. The audiophile's idea is to emphasize the sense of pleasure, smoothness and sophistication, but without over-filtering information about the spatiality and richness of the texture of the instruments.

The graph shows how much you can deviate from the absolute tonal balance at a high-end level to achieve a thoughtful and intended effect. MZ