Review by Rick Jensen
The Argent RoomLens is an accessory guaranteed to generate skepticism, curiosity, a little admiration, and just maybe a few doubts about the sanity of the owner. The RoomLens is, according to the manufacturer, a "feedback-controlled modified broadband Helmholtz resonator that damps unwanted room resonances while positively reinforcing and focusing the true sound of the system and the room." Still - and this is not to make light of it at all - the RoomLens appears to be a slim five-foot tower of three plastic tubes connected at the top and the bottom. That is, it is not immediately clear that this is a device that, singly or in groups of three, as it is normally deployed, can affect the sound. However, it becomes clear that Ric Cummins, the clever and articulate designer of the RoomLens, has hit upon an interesting solution to room resonance problems.
First, I should underline the specific reasons for my obtaining the Room Lens. My dedicated listening room is small (1400 cu. ft.) and, in addition to stereo equipment and records, has three doors (two closets) and two windows. The doors and windows limit the potential placements for the usual room treatments, like Tube Traps and other wall panels. Mitigation of midbass resonance is a major challenge, and there aren't the usual free corners that would accept bass treatments. I could try to treat all the walls, but with the comings and goings of different equipment, permanent treatments might be limiting (not to mention aesthetically questionable). Thus, and having read other positive reports about the
RoomLens, I decided to try the system, as it does have a great deal of flexibility.
The three Room Lens towers are usually placed according to the diagram below (other more complex configurations are shown on their
website, but the user is encouraged to experiment, as each room has a distinct sound. That is how I started. In my room, the effect of the default placement was immediately noticeable. The overall soundscape was narrowed slightly (maybe 10%) but became much more focused and defined. One had the sense that instruments and voices snapped into place with the RoomLens in place, where they had been pleasantly diffused without it. In addition, the center unit - whether because of its placement in between the speakers and a bit behind them or because of what it really is doing to the sound - concentrated the center image in a striking fashion. At the same time, that center image, though much better defined, did not shrink in size. Again, removing the center unit allowed the sound to wander around some, even though the image was still well-centered.
Still, the principal driver for any treatment of my room was to smooth out some of the midbass emphasis, most likely due to harmonics of room resonances, and its harmonic effects. While I was certainly accustomed to the sonic character of the room, it was still the case that certain
over-EQ'd pop recordings "overloaded" the room at moderate volume.
The RoomLens has the potential to correct a significant percentage of adverse room effects; it did so in my room. That is not to say that the improvement will be equal in other rooms, but its very flexibility allows one to "work with it" to achieve results that in the aggregate are quite positive. There is a lot more happening with these oddly attractive tubes than meets the eye. What meets the ear is more important, and on that score, they are very successful. Bearing in mind the oft-stated maxim that the weakest link in a sound system is usually the listening room, for the price, the RoomLens might be one of the biggest improvements that one can make in one's system.
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