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Intermission 'subversion': Why is Spatial subversive? By surgically addressing the main problem traditional hifi does not, far less costly electronics and speakers can perform far superior. As long as room effects on loudspeaker response are not addressed, owners of even $100.000/pr speaker suffer ±10dB amplitude aberrations and wildly irregular response kinks across the audible range. The more expensive and thus full-range loudspeakers become, the more they activate room modes. Lower and louder bass creates more boom. This interferes more profoundly with midband clarity and fine harmonic development. Changing electronics and cabling willy-nilly to compensate for these effects is entirely haphazard and pitifully ineffective. It's also expensive. That's what makes the typical audiophile journey so frustrating and ultimately doomed. The root problem is never addressed.

Corrected in-room response of the CS2.3 at the listening seat (from my review)

Hifi revolution: For $2.995, Spatial would finally address it and comprehensively so. Why is that subversive again? All of high-end audio is based on the very faulty premise that more expensive/better hardware automatically makes superior results. Meanwhile objective diagnostics to enable users to fix prevalent issues strategically and effectively are absent. How can one repair unknowns? Here reviews are entirely useless. Performance commentaries are tainted by the fact that reviewer rooms color and alter speaker performance differently from your own room. Because all electronics must be reviewed with and through loudspeakers, no product category remains exempt. Published loudspeaker measurements don't help either. Anechoic graphs don't predict what happens to the response in a normal room. In-room measurements remain specific to a room other than your own. So the hamster mill of high-end audio continues to churn through victim after victim.


That is the status quo. Anything upsetting it becomes subversive and a threat. If with Spatial a $4.000 loudspeaker like Clayton Shaw's Emerald Physics CS2.3 can be made to measure like the above in any room (closets excepted of course) it condemns uncorrected cost-no-object speakers which won't come close on linearity. Where does that leave the pursuit of trophy hifi? Surely we can agree that heroic cabinet construction, advanced drivers, sterling circuits, 2-inch face plates and boutique parts do nothing to address the room issues which plague us all. Pursuing serious audio prior to implementing Spatial-type solutions puts a rickety cart in front of a lame horse.


Once speaker response is linearized and maximally extended—the latter is obviously contingent on a speaker's F3 and how much amplifier power is available to delay native rolloff—the delta of improvement is liable to quite exceed what upgrading a $5.000 to a $20.000 speaker (or amplifier or cabling) would accomplish. But that doesn't invalidate such upgrades. They could and in many instances ought to perform better still. The cost of their type of improvements could simply seem too disproportionate to be as relevant. That's because digital compensation includes voicing. More treble energy, a small deliberate presence or power zone emphasis and similar nip 'n' tug surgery elsewhere can all be accomplished in software. One no longer needs to pursue hardware which (one hopes) produces just the right personality traits in combination with what one already has.


You don't think that transferring all of that from expensive fixed hardware to affordable flexible software is subversive? You don't think that software is infinitely smarter and more adaptable than dumb hardware? If so I don't believe you've paid full attention or considered the implications. Clayton's Spatial endeavours incidentally aren't solitary. XTZ from Sweden bundles a very affordable desk-top monitor with Dirac compensation software that takes nine near/farfield measurements respectively to from them create an averaged and automated correction curve against a predetermined target response. Holm Acoustics' DSPre1 includes equivalent software. So do Tact and Lyngdorf and DEQX units and others. Stereophile's 2011 Montreal show report highlighted Trinnov's $6.200 ST2-HiFi loudspeaker/room optimizer here. At present Spatial seems simply unique by embedding such capabilities in computer software; and by replacing a consumer likely to be inexperienced and/or intimidated by advanced DSP corrections and complex routing requirements with a remote specialist who facilitates the entire setup procedure and guarantees follow-up maintenance and updates. Remote access works across international borders and time zones. It bypasses the common limitations of not having knowledgeable dealers; not being able to afford flying in a systems expert; and feeling stuck when computer-related issues (from user error, viruses, operating system updates, IT provider changes or other) cause problems one doesn't know how to fix.


Spatialized Fantasia: "We will want to see what kind of uncorrected response the Fantasia has in your room. My plan is to work primarily with the sub 500Hz band where the room will be active both in terms of standing-wave response anomalies and as the asymmetrical nature of the room itself. Doing this will match the speaker to the room without changing the character of the mid/treble range. This will preserve the things you like about the speaker. Being able to quickly switch the correction in and out should be very interesting and give you the needed insight to understand the audible improvement Spatial makes apart from just the theory that is should be better."


With the first USB-powered microphone preamp having proven suitable to kick off wholesale spatialization now rather than later, this exploratory report on how to go Spatial in the context of a conventional stereo system could proceed. I was booked with their customer support specialist Charles Wood to perform a remote installation of Spatial on my iMac to subsequently schedule a calibration of my speakers with Clayton. My hope for this assignment was a soft figure. By how much would Spatial improve the Fantasia? While human beings aren't machines that can spit out a test score with accurate percentages, I was confident that I could identify some meaningful qualifiers to put things into perspective and help readers appreciate the exact magnitude and importance of advanced speaker/room correction. If a hifi revolution was underway, I wanted us part of it from the very beginning.

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