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RE: really? do the math (it's easy!)

As Paul points out in your link this is well studied / understood in commercial sound room acoustics is a well known field in commercial sound (as the larger the room volume the more critical all this gets), the reverberant field only exist when the reflected sounds are so random they average out and at audio frequencies this only happens in large rooms. Worth pointing out that when in the reverberant field there is essentially ZERO voice intelligibility and while you can tell the source is music, you are well past understanding words or hearing a stereo image and potentially being able to tell what sound it is. This is the highly muffled / garbled sound one often hears in gyms and some stadiums, a lot of reflected sound and a little direct sound.
What you describe is what happens between the near field (where the direct sound dominates) and reverberant field. The critical distance is as you describe but is not desirable to listen at or past that because of the great loss of articulation AND that distance is strongly dependant on the loudspeakers directivity which increases the near field zone.
"I'm walking around my room right now with the system playing. Walking up close to the speaker (4') and back (16') and I hear nothing like a 12db change. I hear very little change at all and any change I do hear could be due to standing waves, etc."
Hearing isn't measuring it, play pink noise, use a sound level meter to measure it.

Do you hear a 12db drop in SPL in your room going from a 4 foot distance to a 16 foot distance?"
It's about 11dB measured with SH-50's and broad spectrum pink noise.
Tom Danley
Danley Sound Labs

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