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Article: Why We Need Audiophiles, The subjective perspective
rick.hughes
post May 5 2009, 04:43
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QUOTE (2tec @ Apr 16 2009, 09:55) *
I'm interested in what the HA community thinks about this new Gizmodo article...

Successful troll is successful?
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MichaelW
post May 5 2009, 05:38
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QUOTE (rpp3po @ May 5 2009, 11:14) *
QUOTE (MichaelW @ May 4 2009, 23:39) *
I'm sorry, but this is exactly NOT what I was proposing, nor I think what G H was suggesting. I am not interested in the quality of lossy encoders, as such, but whether the undoubted imperfections in low rate lossy files are MORE or LESS apparent with different equipment.


HA's codec developers would confirm that non linear frequency response increases the probability of perceivable artifacts. Codecs are optimized for flat FR and any deviation invalidates assumptions about what would get masked.


Well, that's what I was looking for, but the tests that show this are not referred to very often. I'd be glad if someone could document them.
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K.IlpoP
post May 5 2009, 10:00
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 4 2009, 15:50) *
Just for those who are unfamiliar with workaday studio monitors, the $35,000 Genelecs are very atypical. Genelec is so well known for small monitors that I almost think that the Genelec model chosen was developed by Genelec to make a statement - being that they are not all about small studio monitors costing *just* a few thousand dollars.


Not so. 1036A was not designed as a statement. Genelec 1035A was developed in 1988 and was made available in 1989 for large recording studios like Townhouse, Olympic, JVC etc. 1036A is an upgrade with same amplifier and MF/HF section but dual 18" woofers for lower cutoff frequency with same spl as 1035A. 1035A was scaled down in 1989 to dual 12" 1034A, then to dual 10" 1033A in 1990. All used the same amp chassis and power modules.
The much smaller 1031A, 8" two-way with DCW (waveguide) was developed in 1991 and the 6.5" two-way 1030A in 1994. Mackie made their HR824 in late 90's and Behringer their Truth 2031 and Truth 2030 still later.
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2Bdecided
post May 5 2009, 10:17
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 4 2009, 15:23) *
BTW, it appears that these two "needle drops" truely are needle drops with the system response to the needle striking the vinyl at the beginning of the files.
No, that's the AIFF header, misinterpreted by CEP as audio data.

(I assume your copy of CEP, like mine, asked for the sample rate, bit depth, and byte order? Meaning it's interpreting the whole file as raw audio data).

Cheers,
David.
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2Bdecided
post May 5 2009, 10:21
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QUOTE (Woodinville @ May 4 2009, 22:20) *
QUOTE (andy_c @ May 4 2009, 14:17) *
[quote name='Gag Halfrunt' post='632092' date='May 4 2009, 13:In my system, I have speakers that cost me $2400 for the pair. Should I have gotten a $50 per pair set of speakers and a $2350 LP demagnetizer instead?


Heh.

My new (homedesigned) speakers cost way less than that smile.gif too.
Now they would be worth reading about.

(It's amazing how many topics of greater importance have reared their heads in this thread! wink.gif )

Cheers,
David.


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2Bdecided
post May 5 2009, 10:52
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http://idisk.mac.com/musicangle-Public?view=web

Interesting. The background noise at the end suggests that the record itself isn't free from wear, yet the sibilance is well controlled. I guess that's what you get by setting a good turntable up correctly. Well, at least with some records.

It may be my philistine tendencies, but I'd want to EQ that to listen to it. As well as needing the usual smile EQ (which is less/not necessary with better systems), I swear there's a region in the mid-top range which is too pronounced.

It's a nice transfer though.


I'm confused as to the point of providing 44.1kHz 16-bit files. I mean, if we can hear whatever qualities we're supposed to be listening for in such files, then we can hear it on CD too - and better still if we go master tape > CD, and avoid cutting and playing a record!

Cheers,
David.
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Frumious B
post May 5 2009, 11:44
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 4 2009, 22:41) *
QUOTE (2tec @ May 4 2009, 18:47) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 4 2009, 08:51) *
The point you're ignoring is a big one - reliability.

As far as I'm aware, the placebo effect works very reliably.

That is completely untrue.

For example:

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.39...9618.25v1?rss=1

"The proportions of patients reporting moderate or substantial improvement on the global improvement scale were 3% (waiting list), 20% (limited), and 37% (augmented) (P<0.001)."

IOW, depending on the context, the effectiveness of placebo treatment ranged from 3 to 37%.


Seriously...If the placebo effect is so damned great then why don't we just ditch all R&D on new drugs, medical treatments and such and go all placebo all the time? Wouldn't that bring us one step closer to a Roddenberryesque utopia?
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 5 2009, 12:16
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QUOTE (Frumious B @ May 5 2009, 06:44) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 4 2009, 22:41) *
QUOTE (2tec @ May 4 2009, 18:47) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 4 2009, 08:51) *
The point you're ignoring is a big one - reliability.

As far as I'm aware, the placebo effect works very reliably.

That is completely untrue.

For example:

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.39...9618.25v1?rss=1

"The proportions of patients reporting moderate or substantial improvement on the global improvement scale were 3% (waiting list), 20% (limited), and 37% (augmented) (P<0.001)."

IOW, depending on the context, the effectiveness of placebo treatment ranged from 3 to 37%.


Seriously...If the placebo effect is so damned great then why don't we just ditch all R&D on new drugs, medical treatments and such and go all placebo all the time? Wouldn't that bring us one step closer to a Roddenberryesque utopia?


I don't know about you, but a 3 to 37% success rate for system upgrades does very little for me.

Failure rates of from 63 to 97% should scare the $#@!! out of people.

Another interesting text I found was this one:

The Placebo Effect, an Interdisciplinary Exploration compiled by Anne Harrington. Chapter Six about "The Combination and Desire and Learning..."

...describes how people's state of mind and experience influence their susceptibility to the placebo effect. Many of the influences described there remind me of the high end press fans audiophile susceptibility to the placebo effect.

We know that there are people who work for high end publications who have formal traning in related areas like psychiatry. I wonder if any of them consciously or unconsciously are applying what they learned from legitimate science to the high end publications that they work for.
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Frumious B
post May 5 2009, 13:50
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 5 2009, 07:16) *
I don't know about you, but a 3 to 37% success rate for system upgrades does very little for me.

Failure rates of from 63 to 97% should scare the $#@!! out of people.


IMHO people just need to watch more baseball so that their expectations will be more in line with the results delivered by these scams, erm, revolutionary new developments in science and technology. A batter who succeeds 37% of the time would be a perennial All Star and a probably Hall Of Famer. We need to let go of these unrealistically high expectations we have that the things we buy work. It's bad for the global economy.

This post has been edited by Frumious B: May 5 2009, 13:58
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Slipstreem
post May 5 2009, 13:51
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Another builder of his own homemade self-designed speakers here!

That was over 15 years ago and they're still comfortably outperforming (according to my ears and listening room) anything else I could sensibly afford to replace them with, so I stick with them now as the front speaker pair of a PC media centre S/PDIF-driven standalone 5.1 surround system. Without any special EQ-ing they match the overall tonal quality of the Gale 3010s used as the back pair just with an extra few octaves of bass extension. Not bad out of a pair of boxes that only stand 0.5 metres tall but with slotted front ports at the bottom tuned fairly well by ear to provide decent loading for the 11cm by 11cm flat, square bass drivers. You don't need to put vast amounts of EQ in at any point to make them sound reasonably neutral, so they seem to work very well with MP3 material. Could this really be because the expected masking is approximately happening how it should happen and when it should?

Maybe that has some influence on why I find -V3 to be more than adequate very nearly all of the time and use nothing else but -V3 for private listening in total aural comfort? Is the system inherently 'kind' to MP3 in some way?

Impedance correction networks were fitted directly across the speaker terminals inside the cabinets. These consisted of a 10 Ohm resistor and a 1uF non-polarised capacitor of 'dry' construction (ie, non-electrolytic) placed in series as close to the crossover network as possible. This was enough to keep the load impedance seen by the amplifier when driving them within a range of roughly 6 Ohms to 15 Ohms from 20Hz to 20kHz. I've seen better but I've also seen far worse commercially. Maybe it's just placebo that such a simple correction network is actually doing anything useful in terms of perceived audio quality. Any opinions on that before I trip over TOS#8 and hurt myself?

I'm sure that less than 1/1000th of the mathematics went into the design of these compared to Woodinville's and his will sound much better, but these were designed to be built using typical off-the-shelf DIY store materials like wooden sheet or prefabricated wood-finish chipboard shelving and to have a solid timber skeleton frame to screw and bond all the external panels to in order to make a completely airtight container (where it needs to be airtight anyway) that's tuned approximately correctly for these specific bass drivers by gleaning as much information from the (now defunct) manufacturer's fairly comprehensive datasheet at the time.

The tweeters were just low-priced but surprisingly high spec (supposedly 2kHz to 28kHz +/-3dB, an SPL of 87dB at 1W/1m and a 16g magnet) generic dome tweeters with contoured Mylar domes that worked more like a cross between a cone and a dome in reality and had good directionality. This seemed to make a good match for the slightly unusual dispersion pattern of the flat woofers. The passive crossovers were bought as ready-built PCBs with inductors and capacitors already present from a nationwide electronics hobby outlet. One of the inductors was re-wound to better suit the bass driver and a capacitor value was changed to better suit the tweeter.

The crossover point seemed best up somewhere around 4kHz if memory serves so was eventually fixed at this. Once again, this seemed to suit the drivers in question in this enclosure when playing a swept sinewave in my usual listening room and the tweeters have no tendency to sound 'squawky'. There is no obvious lump or trough as it passes the crossover frequency, so I guess it's working pretty much as intended. The ultimate plan at the time was to start offering them in flat-pack kits ready-drilled with a bag of screws, a tube of silicone sealant, the drivers, custom-modified crossovers, etc, but it didn't ever seem to happen like some things never do.

I seldom sit more than 3 metres away from my speakers with the way my living room is laid out, but it is easy to sit in the sweetspot and that seems to be exactly where my sofa already happens to be. Lucky coincidence? It also means that the subwoofer in the sofa is pushing air around in the sweetspot too. I suppose they're behaving more like near-field speakers and maybe that suits my relatively small listening space and specific 5.1 setup better because the room sounds absolutely enormous if you close your eyes and listen to well encoded 5.1 surround sound via S/PDIF out to an external DAC in a 300 (150 to me in a sale) JVC standalone surround amplifier.

This setup definitely represents the best value for money I've ever had out of any setup I've owned in nearly 30 years of being a keen music fan. With the exception of the homemade stereo power amplifier that went into retirement to make way for the 5.1 channel JVC surround amp, I wouldn't want to resurrect any of my previous amplifiers in preference to this one. It ticks nearly all the right boxes for me, does almost anything I could sensibly want it to do, and it left me with enough money to afford to eat after I'd paid for it... which was nice.

I'll politely refuse any considerate offers from Woodinville to let me play my speakers to him trans-Atlantic via a mobile phone from the UK for him to compare to his speakers live at his end. It's a fair cop. You win! tongue.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif

This post has been edited by Slipstreem: May 5 2009, 14:03
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 5 2009, 14:12
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QUOTE (Frumious B @ May 5 2009, 08:50) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 5 2009, 07:16) *
I don't know about you, but a 3 to 37% success rate for system upgrades does very little for me.

Failure rates of from 63 to 97% should scare the $#@!! out of people.


IMHO people just need to watch more baseball so that their expectations will be more in line with the results delivered by these scams, erm, revolutionary new developments in science and technology. A batter who succeeds 37% of the time would be a perennial All Star and a probably Hall Of Famer. We need to let go of these unrealistically high expectations we have that the things we buy work. It's bad for the global economy.


Baseball is a game, a sport like NASCAR. Both are artificially contrived to create an enjoyable competition. Love 'em both!

When I buy a highly recommended audio component, I'm not interested in playing games. If a roomful of experts says that it does thus and so, I'm not expecting a 97% chance of failure after I put down my cash.

Sure, the odds of a new idea failing are tremendous. I'm seriously hoping that that is largely sorted out by the time the product is put to market.

This *attitude* of mine has been rewarded in the past. CD, DVD, Blu Ray, Flash, and the rest of digital media; T/S parameters, advances in crossover design, stereo, multichannel, solid state, perceptual coding of audio and video, integrated circuits, digital controls, advances in driver design, etc., etc.. Many of these technologies like CD and DVD hit the ground running, and a few of the older ones like perceptual coding and solid state got there in a few years.
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knucklehead
post May 5 2009, 14:53
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 5 2009, 04:16) *
We know that there are people who work for high end publications who have formal traning in related areas like psychiatry. I wonder if any of them consciously or unconsciously are applying what they learned from legitimate science to the high end publications that they work for.


A bit more broadly, here's a very entertaining series on the role of psychiatry in areas such as, marketing, public relations, and the development of consumer culture:

Visit My Website

I'm not familiar with this site, but it provides a convenient link to the four part BBC series "The Century of the Self" that's available on GoogleVideo.
Freud's cousin, Edward Bernays is widely under appreciated for his influence on shaping our times. All the more reason to cast a sceptical eye on what we are being sold.

Edit: While the series deals much with politics, and has it's own political perspective, I trust people can see around that, and find much that's interesting and fairly relevant to this thread.

This post has been edited by knucklehead: May 5 2009, 16:39
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krabapple
post May 7 2009, 16:49
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QUOTE (Slipstreem @ May 5 2009, 08:51) *
I'll politely refuse any considerate offers from Woodinville to let me play my speakers to him trans-Atlantic via a mobile phone from the UK for him to compare to his speakers live at his end. It's a fair cop. You win! tongue.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif


Loudspeaker comparison is probably the only gear comparison I'd find truly 'fun'. I'd love to hear yours, Woodinville's, and this guy's'' (he's an HA poster too, but hasn't been on this thread).

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Slipstreem
post May 7 2009, 17:03
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OK. He wins! tongue.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 7 2009, 21:30
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ May 5 2009, 05:17) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 4 2009, 15:23) *
BTW, it appears that these two "needle drops" truely are needle drops with the system response to the needle striking the vinyl at the beginning of the files.
No, that's the AIFF header, misinterpreted by CEP as audio data.

(I assume your copy of CEP, like mine, asked for the sample rate, bit depth, and byte order? Meaning it's interpreting the whole file as raw audio data).


That was pointed out to me by John, but yeah, I guessed wrong about that. Didn't look quite right, but I didn't know what else it could be. First time I've had to import an unsupported file. Live and learn! ;-)
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 7 2009, 21:33
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QUOTE (krabapple @ May 7 2009, 11:49) *
I'd love to hear yours, Woodinville's, and this guy's'' (he's an HA poster too, but hasn't been on this thread).


I'm not impresed, insufficient directity control - way too wide.
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krabapple
post May 8 2009, 06:58
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 7 2009, 16:33) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ May 7 2009, 11:49) *
I'd love to hear yours, Woodinville's, and this guy's'' (he's an HA poster too, but hasn't been on this thread).


I'm not impresed, insufficient directity control - way too wide.



You determined this how?
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singaiya
post May 8 2009, 09:04
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QUOTE (krabapple @ May 4 2009, 18:58) *
QUOTE (rpp3po @ May 4 2009, 18:14) *
QUOTE (MichaelW @ May 4 2009, 23:39) *
I'm sorry, but this is exactly NOT what I was proposing, nor I think what G H was suggesting. I am not interested in the quality of lossy encoders, as such, but whether the undoubted imperfections in low rate lossy files are MORE or LESS apparent with different equipment.


HA's codec developers would confirm that non linear frequency response increases the probability of perceivable artifacts. Codecs are optimized for flat FR and any deviation invalidates assumptions about what would get masked. The only thing preventing cheap gear from massively uncovering artifacts is noise (or enough bitrate headroom). Once you eliminate the noise chances to detect artifacts only decrease when you improve your system's frequency response, because you're increasing the accuracy of your encoder's predictions. The best bet to find artifacts would be an audiophile system with excellent SNR, but an intentional non-flat FR. There might be a few 'audiophile' (price-) class systems, that are exactly doing that to get a characteristic sound.



IIRC one example came up here : PA systems. Someone who worked in sound reinforcement said they had an easier time telling mp3s from source over a PA (which tend to emphasize brute SPL over flat frequency response) than at home. One of the developers (?) replied to the effect that mp3s weren't designed to be 'transparent' over such systems....I wonder how many DJs know that? ;>


Anecdotally, I've been unable to notice obvious deficiencies in mp3s on a PA system which was in a club where the sound guy let me jack my ipod into the mixer to "dj" between bands. Most people are busy drinking and jabbering, even though the system is playing really loud. In fact, usually you need to almost yell to talk to the person next to you. Every now and again (when not in conversation) I try to listen for any problems but there isn't anything obvious. Not the best environment to listen critically, but the system is way loud and there are about 30-100 people in the audience. My ipod has a mix of mp3 and aac between 100 kbps (aac) and 192 kbps that is transparent in a normal system. I've done this type of "dj'ing" over a dozen times with no standout artifacts heard, but I'd love to be able to do some more controlled testing because I'm still not convinced that there's no difference to be heard, and if only I could control the situation more maybe I'd hear it smile.gif
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2009, 09:30
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QUOTE (krabapple @ May 8 2009, 01:58) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 7 2009, 16:33) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ May 7 2009, 11:49) *
I'd love to hear yours, Woodinville's, and this guy's'' (he's an HA poster too, but hasn't been on this thread).


I'm not impresed, insufficient directity control - way too wide.



You determined this how?


What the man said. Speakers for critical listening in a home audio system should have directivity on the order of 50-60 degrees total. Otherwise, too much of the listening room is engaged.
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2Bdecided
post May 8 2009, 10:02
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 8 2009, 09:30) *
What the man said. Speakers for critical listening in a home audio system should have directivity on the order of 50-60 degrees total. Otherwise, too much of the listening room is engaged.
Is that universally true? Can't you get good results from, well, even omnis - the main requirements being that off axis response is smooth (preferably flat) and that the listening room is suitably laid out - i.e. to ensure the direct sound reaches you well before any early reflections, and that there aren't any dominant nasty early reflections. Easier to do with directional speakers, but not impossible even with omnis.

I don't know - I haven't tried it myself - I'm just asking.

Cheers,
David.
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bug80
post May 8 2009, 10:35
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 8 2009, 10:30) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ May 8 2009, 01:58) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 7 2009, 16:33) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ May 7 2009, 11:49) *
I'd love to hear yours, Woodinville's, and this guy's'' (he's an HA poster too, but hasn't been on this thread).


I'm not impresed, insufficient directity control - way too wide.



You determined this how?


What the man said. Speakers for critical listening in a home audio system should have directivity on the order of 50-60 degrees total. Otherwise, too much of the listening room is engaged.

Isn't this blind testing taken to the extreme? wink.gif
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2009, 12:21
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ May 8 2009, 05:02) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 8 2009, 09:30) *
What the man said. Speakers for critical listening in a home audio system should have directivity on the order of 50-60 degrees total. Otherwise, too much of the listening room is engaged.


Is that universally true? Can't you get good results from, well, even omnis - the main requirements being that off axis response is smooth (preferably flat) and that the listening room is suitably laid out - i.e. to ensure the direct sound reaches you well before any early reflections, and that there aren't any dominant nasty early reflections. Easier to do with directional speakers, but not impossible even with omnis.

I don't know - I haven't tried it myself - I'm just asking.



What it comes down to is that if you wish, you can pick speakers that force you to have a perfect room in order to have good sound, or you can pick speakers that are more tolerant of a less-perfect room.

Remember that after guys like Earl Geddes do all that work on their listening rooms, they choose speakers with very well-defined and fairly narrow radiation patterns. In Earl's case the speakers came second, after the room. The first speakers in that room were JBLs that were already quite directive. He worked over the room until he felt he was at the point of diminishing returns, and then he designed the ideal speakers for it.
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2Bdecided
post May 8 2009, 12:36
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But it doesn't sound bad does it?

What I mean is, if the off axis response is nasty, then it sounds bad. Whereas if the off axis response is fairly flat, then all that extra energy in a decent room just sounds, well, different rather than bad.

There's a bit of a they-are-here vs you-are-there thing I suppose - the latter is harder to achieve. The former still works very nicely.

(speculation).

Cheers,
David.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2009, 13:12
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ May 8 2009, 07:36) *
But it doesn't sound bad does it?


That of course depends on the room.

There are two extremes - build an omni directional speaker that tries hard to engage everything within earshot into the sonic picture it paints, or build a speaker with narrow and controlled directivity, that essentially tries to leave the room out of the equation as much as possible.

So far, I've heard no cases where too much of the room was left out of the sonic picture (other than of course true anechoic chambers). If it ever happened, it would be possible to put as much of the room as desired back into the sonic picture by various means. I find it telling that a friend of mine who has long had highly directional speakers in a fairly well-padded room is migrating to multichannel and hanging a lot of absorbtive panels. Multichannel's goal is to replace the sonics of the real room with the virtual scene from the media. I've never heard mulitchannel in an anechoic chamber, but it coud work a whole lot better than stereo. Besides, a lot of the lore about listening to music in an anechoic chamber is colored by the fact that unless you take some very intentional steps, the spectral balance is going to be all wrong because most speakers are designed to work in half-spaces or quarter-spaces or whatever.

QUOTE
What I mean is, if the off axis response is nasty, then it sounds bad. Whereas if the off axis response is fairly flat, then all that extra energy in a decent room just sounds, well, different rather than bad.


Rooms often do nasty things to the reflections besides just shoot them back at you.

QUOTE
There's a bit of a they-are-here vs you-are-there thing I suppose - the latter is harder to achieve. The former still works very nicely.


In the end, they-are-here can't work very well in the typical listening room for ensembles of any size. Even a rock quartet is designed to work in medium to large sonic contexts.

This post has been edited by Arnold B. Krueger: May 8 2009, 13:34
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krabapple
post May 8 2009, 15:30
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 8 2009, 04:30) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ May 8 2009, 01:58) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 7 2009, 16:33) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ May 7 2009, 11:49) *
I'd love to hear yours, Woodinville's, and this guy's'' (he's an HA poster too, but hasn't been on this thread).


I'm not impresed, insufficient directity control - way too wide.



You determined this how?


What the man said. Speakers for critical listening in a home audio system should have directivity on the order of 50-60 degrees total. Otherwise, too much of the listening room is engaged.



What the man said is based on extensive knowledge of the sorts of hard data Floyd Toole summarizes in his books -- including Toole's own work. And as you maybe know, Toole breaks from the typical view re: room reflections. Note that WmAx's loudspeakers have extraordinary off-axis performance.

Plus, WmAx is one of the few DIYers I know who *has* blind-tested his gear (including loudspeakers, though not necessarily these). Gotta admire that. But in any case it'd be better for him to defend his work himself, than for me to do it secondhand. He hasn't posted to HA since March but maybe I can rustle him up for this thread.

This post has been edited by krabapple: May 8 2009, 15:30
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