‘Sweet spot’ is a broad term that has been used for a few decades since the invention of stereoscopic sound techniques.
Of course, it is all about the ideal and perfect position regarding the use of audio technological equipment.
But what is it exactly ? Let’s get more details:
In the audio world, the “sweet spot” can refer to 2 different things :
1. The exact position between two speakers or more that allows to fully experience the reproduction of the spatial image – the way it was intended to by the engineer or the mixer.
This position generally is the most cohesive listening focal point of a sound reproduction system and is placed in the geometrical center of the speakers positions.
However some experiments allow to widen the area of this sweet spot through various technology.
An effort has been done by manufacturer regarding sound system dedicated to large audiences. For example, in movie theater the negative impact of the sweet spot has been reduced in an attempt to make it sounds right anywhere in the theater.
New technology, like Dolby Atmos, although not primarily focused on sweet spots, convey a growing zone for sweet spot but also a richer experience by placing more speakers.
The open source project Sweetspotter allows to adjust the sweet spot for stereo sound in real time.
Once you find your perfect listening point in the environment, you’ll find an incomparable sensation of immersion and balance in the sound. At this position, everything seams clearer and the depth of layered sonic elements gets revealed.
The impact of the sweet spot on the listener also depends greatly on the production choices for particular sounds. A mono sound, for example, will make the sweet spot almost irrelevant. On the contrary, some recordings are widely dependent on calibrated listening position. As such, the experience of listening to binaural ambiances will inherit from a good listening position.
This implies embedding good practices for engineers, listeners and manufacturers in order to get the most interesting and authentic experience on the end-user.
You can find some tips about listening and sweet spot on Audioholicks blog.
The sweet spot can also refer to :
2. the most optimized position for a microphone in correlation to its targeted sound source.
Knowing this perfect position allows to get the best sound from a recording session. Every microphone has its own characteristics and depending the directivity pattern and the sound audio source to be recorded, the game can completely change. You’ll find also that the best sweet spot in sound capture is very much subjective and will fluctuate in relation with the result that is sought to. For example, if more natural reverberation is needed, the microphone shall be placed further away, however this can introduce unwanted noises. From a sound recordist perspective, it always boils down to some compromises.