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Central Image: The Modern Approach

Published On: June 19, 2020Tags:

In Pursuit of a Perfect Sonic Experience

Life can be full of compromises. They say, “do you want it fast, good, or cheap? Pick two.” We say:” do you want your audio room to have a realistic sound stage, tight & musical bass, or a strong central image? Pick tu..beTraps.” But we’re sorry, this can’t be achieved with a tall, geometrically random rack of gear or huge amplifier between the speakers. This week, we’ll explain the evolution of this discovery and offer you a few solutions.

Central Image: a Recap

The traditional size for the “image trap” is 16 inches in diameter. Some speakers are so powerful in the bass range that 20 inch TubeTraps were tried as image traps.

It was a disaster. The central image stepped forward, alright, but it was too bright, too loud, almost painful…just awful. The curved reflector was too flat and the center reflection was simply too hot.

Going the other direction, the 13 inch diameter TubeTrap worked even better, and performed more closely to the custom-made dual-reflector trap that brought Tina Turner inside our heads a few weeks back. The decreased bass trapping performance but improved central imaging was yet another compromise.

*hint: let the big 16’s in the corners make up the difference!

A Brief History of Time (delayed reflection optimization)

Before 1986, the preamps, amps, turntable, and equalizer were stacked up on some fancy shelving right between the speakers. It looked handsome, provided easy access, and made equipment replacement or maintenance fairly easy. This was the “Golden Calf” era of HiFi setups. It created a stereo image with a fuzzy centralized overlay. Too many random reflections.

Somewhat like a beauty photograph where the crystal clear image is de-focused to conceal imperfections, this layout robbed the listener of the finest details contained in the recording and being reproduced by the speakers and electronics. Heresy!

What Was Next?

The next year, all had changed. Monoblock amps and preamps were set on the floor, down low between the speakers, with the turntable off the side and the equalizer was gone for good. The need to distort the audio signal to compensate for poor setup conditions was finally over!

What are the Benefits Again?

  • No more center stage scattering
  • No more random reflections at varying levels and time delays
  • No visual distraction
  • No equalizer = no extra phase distortion
  • Fully linear audio chain

Summary

  • move the rack gear from between your speakers
  • get rid of the equalizer
  • add a central image TubeTrap
  • have a blast listening to your favorite tunes!

See here our old pal Terry with the racks off to one side and low amps between the speakers. Central Image TubeTraps is in position!

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