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A free space listening experience is just that. It is listening in a space that is free of objects that sound can strike. It is a space that is free from objects that sound can reflect off of and just travel directly to you the listener. It is the best type of sound environment.

It is outside in a grassy field or meadow. The only thing for sound to strike is the earth or ground. It is that sound of a bird far off in the distance. It is that sound of a horse just down the lane from you. It is wind traveling through the air with sounds attached to it. It is the sound in the way and manner we are designed and born to hear. It is the sound of sounds for our bi aural hearing system.

In this video, you will see free space listening depicted in a drawing by an artist who took my definition of the ultimate in free space listening experience and gave a go at drawing what she thought I was explaining. I think she did a good job. You can see the only reflection that could have been a concern was the reflection from the earth and we have taken care of that with the elevated listening position. The only thing she did not put in was my dog!

Free Space Listening

Free Space Listening

Listening Experience

Free space listening is the ultimate way for your brain’s and ears to work together. Your ears were designed to have localization abilities by measuring small time delays from the direct sound in free space. Obviously, the analog waves and rays were processed quickly by our ear and brain systems, so quickly that we turn our heads unconsciously attempting to locate the direct sound from whatever source. Try this localization with a jet flying low overhead. Ever wonder why there is a lag time in the sound of the jet and its actual physical position in the sky? Think earth reflection interfering with direct sound. It is the same in your room but instead of just earth boundary to contend with, you have four walls and a ceiling.

Small Rooms

If you’re into audio and music no doubt you’ve tried to get that free space listening experience in your small rooms by buying ever better equipment, speakers and amps. You’re perhaps unconsciously seeking that feeling of hearing sound in its purest form without all the interfering reflections from your room boundary surfaces. Unfortunately, you live in rooms to shelter you from the elements of nature and man himself and so that free space listening experience is compromised.

So how do you go about getting a free space sound within your rooms? How do you get the cry of a bird or call of the coyote, your vocals and instruments all in their purest form out in the free space environment? How do you do that in a box, i.e. your room? Can it even be done? Can you achieve a real free space listening experience in a box? Well I’m pleased to say we can get close, very close.

Acoustic Treatment

It can be done but only with large amounts of acoustical control. It takes a lot of different acoustical technologies to minimize the impact that four walls, a ceiling and floor have on your sound quality. The room changes everything.

You have no space in your room because by definition you are not in free space, you are in a room. Since you are in the room, you must conquer the four main room acoustic distortions first before you will even get closer to free space listening. Closer is where we are headed with well designed room acoustic treatment.

In Summary

So be sure to check out some of my previous tutorials on this blog to help you find the answers you’re looking for in order to attain a free space listening experience. It is the central goal of everything we work towards at Acoustic Fields.

If you have any follow questions at any time I am always on hand to help answer them. Leave them in the comments section or email me at If you would like to learn more about room acoustics please sign up for my free videos and ebook by joining the mailing list here. I send room tuning tips and things for you to test in your room every Wednesday. They are easy to follow and really help you enjoy more of your music.

Thanks and speak soon

Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

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