Updated NOUSAINE subwoofer data list - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
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As most know, Tom Vodhanel of SVS originally started this list to objectively compare subwoofers. I just copied his post and updated the info as best I could. If you have more figures from Tom Nousaine’s 7500ft^3 room please email me the info at fabulousfrankie@hotmail.com. I would also appreciate an email if you find inaccuracies.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIST


Have fun!


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post #2 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 08:09 AM
 
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That's great, but which ones sound better? I notice it doesn't cover accuracy or transient response. Anyone who picks a subwoofer based on "data" is nuts, especially since the above data is only a small snapshot of a subs performance. Also, Noussaine thinks subwoofers should all be placed in a corner which is largely known to be the WORST place to put a subwoofer. Noussaine is part of what's wrong with the audio magazine industry. And it is an industry. He also believes and has told me this in person, that a $200 Pioneer receiver sounds EXACTLY the same as his expensive Bryston setup. Geez. And they let this guy try to tell us what to buy.
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post #3 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 08:54 AM
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>>>That's great, but which ones sound better?<<<

To most folks, the ones that extend the deepest (although extension isn't covered in this version of TN's data),stay the flattest, and have the cleanest (lowest harmonic distortion) output. Some folks prefer a subwoofer that rolls off at 50hz for example...but they seem to be in the minority for the most part.



>>>I notice it doesn't cover accuracy or transient response.<<<

It depends what you consider accuracy. TN's data will give you a nice slice of the extension and harmonic distortion performance of the subwoofer. Those two issues will dominate the signature of the subwoofer for the most part. Some folks consider *accuracy* to be whatever they prefer.

The list isn't going to tell you everything you can know about every subwoofer. But with > 100 products condensed onto a couple pages---I think common sense will dictate folks already know that.


>>>Also, Noussaine thinks subwoofers should all be placed in a corner which is largely known to be the WORST place to put a subwoofer. <<<

Actually, industry data shows corners tend to work very well when a variety of listening positions are considered(and when headroom is a concern which is almost always considering the requirements of the LFE channel in todays action oriented DVDs) Tom Nousaine always bases his POVs on evidence gathered by the scientific community. This evidence is often rejected by others who aren't comfortable with their opinions being disagreed with. Rarely is any counter evidence supplied of course---just a blanket..."well, that can't be right because it isn't what I think"...type of response.

>>>Noussaine is part of what's wrong with the audio magazine industry. And it is an industry.<<<

I disagree. I feel the industry would be a LOT better off if more *reviewers* backed up their subjective "it rocked my solar system" jargon with objective performance figures for the product being reviewed. Some reviewers may be threatened that their opinions would run counter to the real world performance (verified, objective data) of the unit though? For example, if you spent the last 3 paragraphs talking about how scared your cat was during Fight Club and how accurate the bass on your fav CD was...then when you measured the subwoofer it rolled off at 50-60hz...then what...just edit out all the data because no one wants their opnion/preference to every be questioned by a little thing like the real performance of the speaker/subwoofer?


>>>He also believes and has told me this in person, that a $200 Pioneer receiver sounds EXACTLY the same as his expensive Bryston setup.<<<

He believes that under certain conditions, the differences between the two won't be audible...that is true. This,again, is based on controlled listening tests which resulted in various subjects not being able to tell one from the other. We may all disagree with him, but until someone provides counter evidence I don't think he will care very much.


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post #4 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 09:08 AM
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Excellent response Tom.
Sucks when science interfere's with opinions! ;)
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post #5 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 09:32 AM
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I'm with John on this one. Numbers alone cannot tell the story of the sub. For example, take a look at the numbers of the Paradigm Pw-2200, against those of the Paradigm Servo-15. The Servo-15 is a far superior sub, but the numbers might suggest different.

Specs alone can tell you how low a sub can go, and how loud it will play, but it doesn't tell you how good it sounds at these levels. If numbers were everything, then Cerwin Vega would be better than most speakers on the market.
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post #6 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 09:41 AM
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After reading it all over again, I also think that reviewers should shy away from the numbers game somewhat. It gets kinda crazy when everything is measured so precisely(more precise than anyone's ears). They sometimes also go to the other extreme and claim these wild differences between cable A and cable B. While there may be a small difference, I have never experienced a wildly different cable as far as sound quality goes. Are they being relative? How can they "go to the numbers" for subs, etc, but they shy away from them when testing cables?
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post #7 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 09:42 AM
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I place my vote with Tom Nousaine. I think he is very open minded but will not just accept a person's opinion because he/she thinks they hear better than everybody else. Also, he believes, as I do, that people have biases that they are not even aware of until they are required to prove their opinions, then the excuses start.
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post #8 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 09:47 AM
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What I'd like to see is a reviewer do a double blind test with any piece of equipment then have them state what the measurements will be. Then go to the measurements to see just how good or bad they have done. I've seen several people say that they picture a waterfall graph when listening to speakers, and can almost picture the dips and peaks(John Ashman being one of them). While I feel sorry for them that they can't just enjoy the music. I listen to the music, and not the system...the system is what delivers it. Granted I enjoy it more on a nice setup, but I can still enjoy a good song on a crappy clock radio.
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post #9 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:03 AM
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I don't see the VMPS larger on the list.
Brian Cheney states that it will do 115dB (NOT dBs!!!) at 20Hz with less than 2.5% THD.
If that is true, it would smke the vast majority of the listed subs.
Did I mention it costs less than $700?!?!?!?!

Next projector will have LEDs, >=1080 res, >=10 bit color, >14bit CR, >9 bit ANSI CR, >=120Hz, >16ft.L on 12ft 2.35:1 screen, <$12bit price


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post #10 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:10 AM
 
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My point is that I've heard LOTS of subs that play loud and low with only 10% distortion that still sound awful. Therefore, in addition to "objective" measurements you still actually need to listen. And, unless the sub is designed specifically for corner placement, corners a) affect the accuracy rather dramatically and create a "boomy" sound and b) make it very easy to identify where the sub is located unless you have one in each corner, in which case you simply shouldn't need the additional gain created by corner loading the sub. And, a subwoofer that plays far louder than you need it to or is actually too powerful for the room does not only not have an advantage, it my even have a disadvantage. It is actually quite easy to engineer a sub to go loud and deep, especially if you port it, tube it, etc. It's making it sound good that is the challenge. That's why I believe *some* try to keep the focus on volume measurements and lowest note produced.

BTW, Craig, I am one of those who can easily dismiss a sonic flaw and enjoy the music since I'm definitely not an "audiophile" as most perceive themselves. However, I have to analyze the sound in order to do my job well so that you can have a better mousetrap. I think building a sub to maximum volume and depth has its place. I bristle at the notion that these are the most critical factors and that everyone needs the loudest, deepest sub made which is a convenient way of boxing in a customer.
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post #11 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:15 AM
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Hi Craig,

>>>For example, take a look at the numbers of the Paradigm Pw-2200, against those of the Paradigm Servo-15. The Servo-15 is a far superior sub, but the numbers might suggest different.<<<

The data indicates that the PW2200 can play very slightly louder/cleaner >25hz. All things being equal...a 0.1dB difference isn't going to make an audible difference anyway. One thing in the favor of the servo15 that isn't going to show up on this list is that its THD will be capped by its servo circuitry in the 6-9% range if memory serves. The PW2200 will be able to be pushed all the way to Tom Nousaine's typical 10% limit. If the Pw2200 was held to the same THD that the servo15 maxxed out with..it probably would have registered a dB or so less(25-63hz average). Or, another way of looking at it is...if the servo circuitry capped the servo15 output at 10% THD (instead of 6-9%) it probably would have gone another dB or so higher in the 25-63hz measurements. So yes, of course there are limitations of what the basic TN data is going to be able to show everyone.

You shouldn't look at this list and think...oh OK, I know exactly what every subwoofer is capable of now... that would be impossible to show with >100 subs and a couple pages of data. But the list CAN reveal what some subwoofers are not capable of...despite 10 full pages ads to the countrary..:)

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post #12 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:17 AM
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>>>What I'd like to see is a reviewer do a double blind test with any piece of equipment then have them state what the measurements will be. Then go to the measurements to see just how good or bad they have done.<<<

I think that would be a very fun read too!

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post #13 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
I don't see the VMPS larger on the list.
Brian Cheney states that it will do 115dB (NOT dBs!!!) at 20Hz with less than 2.5% THD.
If that is true, it would smke the vast majority of the listed subs.
Did I mention it costs less than $700?!?!?!?!
Andrikos,
The list is made from subs that Tom Nousane has tested. While the debate of the value of this list is going on, these can be compared because the measurements were taken under the same conditions(meaning distortion levels, mic placement, sub placement, same room). I've never seen mention that TN has measured it, but if he as and someone has the number send it my way so I can add it.


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post #14 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:38 AM
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Since everybody is piling on John, let me come to his defence and agree that those numbers mean next to nothing. It's the experience and that music that matters. What does it matter if your sub can do 135dB if the rest of your setup dies at 100-110dB???

Frank, those VMPS numbers are from the website. IF they claim 115dB at 2.5% THD, I'm sure it will do more at 10% THD that TN is using for measuring the subs.

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post #15 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:46 AM
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I like Tom Nousaine.
He knows measurements and has tons of experience.
Something most commenting dont have.
He's right on placement too.

Ron
"Your priorities will be different-its the weighting that counts!-only if its done by FET!"

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post #16 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:47 AM
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Well, those numbers mean something, just not everything (or even most things) It's 1 type of measurement.

To go to the car analogy in the other thread...using those numbers to buy a sub would be like buying a performance car strictly on its 1/4 mile time. Sure, a $5000 modded 1996 5.0 Mustang can cover the 1/4 in the 13's...but its not 1/3rd the car overall that, say, a BMW 330i is. despite a 1/4th mile in the 15's.

If "straight line" (analogy) performance were important to me, I would probably consult a list (like TN's) for some of the objective data, then seek full reviews with a more comprehensive listing of the performance measurements, then pick out a few to test drive.

So, in summary..Useful? = YES!...the whole story? No, not close.
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post #17 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
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TV,
On the Velo F1800, I changed the 16hz figure and deleted the 20hz. I found info that made me believe the 16hz and 20hz figures you had for it were from the small room, but the 25-63hz average was left alone.

I think I found the info for it on Styke's website where it was comaring the output of the Stryke's Power15 to the F1800, but most of Stryke's site is down right now. Is my info incorrect or is yours?

Frank


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post #18 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 11:08 AM
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"I like Tom Nousaine."

I don't dislike him.

He knows measurements and has tons of experience.

Plenty of people "know measurments", whatever that means. What exactly constitutes "experience"? Because he has tested a ton of equipment? So has every reviewer, yet they all seem to have differing opinions, just as many of us "audio enthusiasts". Don't think that because someone has more experince that their opinion counts more.....just imagine sitting there listening to speaker X thinking that is sucks, but reading that TN ave it 5 stars...that article/review isn't gonna make you feel better.

Something most commenting dont have.

Prove it. I'd say John Ashman is quite knowledgable, and seems to be quite well known in the audio industry....that still doesn't make me ageree with him on all levels.


He's right on placement too."

Prove it. How do you know? How does corner placement affect the sound? output? etc.....Until you know why he's right, you can't really say that. "he's right because" doesn't count.
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post #19 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 11:34 AM
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Gee,
Inexperience counts too(it comes shining through),in certain things.

Ron
"Your priorities will be different-its the weighting that counts!-only if its done by FET!"

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post #20 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 11:38 AM
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John,

I'll alert the media, I think we've found one thing we agree one. I also think, ideally, the HT enthusiast would be able to audition each potential unit in their own home too.

Steve, I think your analogy is headed in the right direction...but I would say that knowing the distortion char. , the extension, and the FR of a subwoofer would be like know the Gs, the 0-100mph times and the 100-0 times of a car. Again, not everything...but a good indicator of certain cars not being able to perform in certain ways. What would be more beneficial to a hot rod enthusiast wondering about the 1/4 times of a car...

1)a reviewer talking about which *felt* faster and which seemed to pull harder for 3 pages...or...

2) a single sentence that shows the 1/4 mile times for both in equal conditions.

Of course there are a lot of other performance related aspects to the car than the 1/4 mile times...but when the discussion DOES turn to those times and what each car can do...give me the single line of data over 3 paragraphs of someone blabbing on about how *fast* the woofer/car seemed to them..:)


>>>Since everybody is piling on John, let me come to his defence and agree that those numbers mean next to nothing.<<<


I really don't see anyone piling on anyone...a few difference of opinions but they have been handled in a rather friendly manner so far. You may not feel the verified performance data for a speaker/subwoofer mean anything...many think they do play an important role...opninions vary.


>>>It's the experience and that music that matters. What does it matter if your sub can do 135dB if the rest of your setup dies at 100-110dB???<<<


I agree, the whole system needs to have the desired headroom. But, we aren't discussing 135dBs here, the majority of the subwoofers had a hard time cracking 100dBs <30hz. (in TN's huge room)Minimum dolby reference requirements are 115-121dBs for the sub(s) for example.


>>>Frank, those VMPS numbers are from the website. IF they claim 115dB at 2.5% THD, I'm sure it will do more at 10% THD that TN is using for measuring the subs.<<<

BC has stated those figures are just software simulations, they have never actually measured that. 115/20hz would be equal to 8-10 (eight to ten) of the HGS15s all stacked in the same corner all going full throttle. If you choose to believe that, that is up to you

Craig,

Tom Nousaine is one of most honored members of the AES. He has written quite a few papers on low frequency acoustics and bass reproduction in the typical listening room. All of these papers contain *gobs* of real world graphs and charts compairing just about every possible subwoofer position method to one another. So he has in fact---*shown* his experiments for all to review. It makes some very interesting reading if you ever have a chance to look them over.

Tom V.
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post #21 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 11:43 AM
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1) Cars are NOT speakers, therefore, car analogies SUCK. I wish people would stop making them.

2) To Mr. "Prove it":

What you're really trying to convey is "There ain't no facts, and I'll believe whatever I wannna believe and if you wanna try to convince me, go spend a bunch of time digging up the results of lots and lots of previous psychoacoustic experiments and double-blind tests...in which case I'll say "so what" anyway, and derive great pleasure from you having wasted all your time."

There are facts, and then there are opinions. If you read enough, you'll get a good flavor of where Nousaine is coming from. I've read alot of his material in various publications and I highly respect his rigourous scientific methodology and psychoacoustic knowledge....the guy knows bass whether you choose to believe that or not.

Only the snake oil peddlers need fear him.

Ran

ps- I also seem to recall(maybe incorrectly) that Nousaine believes that SACD & DVD-A are both horsecrap as well...and merely contain accentuated bass or treble to make a recording sound "different" from the non hi-rez original recording.
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post #22 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 11:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by REW

He's right on placement too.
That depends on whether you want loud and boomy or cleaner and more precise. If you prefer accuracy and musicality over boom, then he's wrong. Besides, there's no "right" place for a sub, that takes experimentation, time, effort. It could be in the middle of the room. It could be 4' off the ground. Putting it in a corner (unless designed to be more accurate in a corner) is lazy. While there's no right place, the corner is more often than not the worst place, or one of the worst places. Again, unless you just can't get enough SPL and are playing "Home IASCA", in which case you'd want a sub in all 4 corners and probably one under your ass. :)
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post #23 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 12:05 PM
 
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Also, I should say, Floyd Toole is 10 times the audio expert that Tom Noussaine is and he's apparently come up with the idea that one sub in them middle of the front wall and another sub in the middle of the back wall is a more recommendable and better way of setting up subwoofers. I don't "fear" Tom, I just don't think he should be misleading people about proper bass setup.
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post #24 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 12:06 PM
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Don't forget that the boundary reinforcement you get by placing a sub in a corner allows the driver to work less..thus lower distortion as well. Although locating a sub can be a tiresome proposition, placement in a corner usually provides for the smoothest bass/least cancellations for the MOST number of listening positions.
I'll try to find a good article about it in Audio Magazine or Home Theater.

Ran

ps- Yes, Floyd Toole IS a highly respected acoustical expert/designer and I'd LOVE to see a discussion between him and Nousaine.
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post #25 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 12:52 PM
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"2) To Mr. "Prove it":

What you're really trying to convey is "There ain't no facts, and I'll believe whatever I wannna believe and if you wanna try to convince me, go spend a bunch of time digging up the results of lots and lots of previous psychoacoustic experiments and double-blind tests...in which case I'll say "so what" anyway, and derive great pleasure from you having wasted all your time.""

I'm not sure how you turned everything I said into your own little ran-t. I am saying that measurements aren't all that counts. How about you try the double blind test and then try to show what the waterfall chart will look like...we'll see how well you do vs. how well you think you'd do.

So, what you're saying is that you can go surf the net, find some reviews from respected individuals, then buy that item without testing it yourself, and because it "measures well" you'll be happy....afterall it does measure well, and some guy that you respect said it's great.

Reviews and measurements are a good way to back up your opinion, ust as positive reviews are, but I'd never use them exclusively to choose anything. This "list" shows certain measurements that could influence people one way or another....sometimes the right way, sometimes the wrong.
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post #26 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 01:02 PM
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"Tom Nousaine is one of most honored members of the AES. He has written quite a few papers on low frequency acoustics and bass reproduction in the typical listening room. All of these papers contain *gobs* of real world graphs and charts compairing just about every possible subwoofer position method to one another. So he has in fact---*shown* his experiments for all to review. It makes some very interesting reading if you ever have a chance to look them over."


I don't dispute that he is very knowledgable, and highly respected, but there are also many other knowledgable, and higly respected individuals that have differing opinions from his....it doesn't necessarily make either of them right or wrong. It just gives each of us someone to look for for opinions. I have never read *all* that he has written, and agree that it will be a good read. I am also not disagreeing with him....only stating that I do what I feel works best in my system. If that means taking some suggestions from 3 different sources to make it happen, then so be it.

BTW, I was never disputing anyone's studies/results. I am disputing using a graph with measurements to measure the quality of a sub. THAT IS ALL!
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post #27 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 01:10 PM
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Oh, I would agree with you on differing aspects of measurement versus the car analogy ...except where in that linked review page is there any numbers that measure distortion and FR? And yes, I agree those 3 (Max SPL, FR, and distortion) are the "big 3" of narrowing down a sub choice list.
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post #28 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 01:16 PM
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Actually, I think that graphs and measurements are a good way to START one's search, and like you, I don't rely on them as the sole determinant of what I'll be happy with, just a start. When it comes to bass, I tend to believe that our auditory perception is not as keen as our perception of higher frequencies, so as far as subs are concerned, I feel that measurements carry a bit more weight.
As for the DBTs, I HAVE attended one SBT and one DBT; one was a wire comparison and the other was an amp comparison. To this day, I am still astounded at the amount of effort it took to set it all up properly.

Ran
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post #29 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 01:16 PM
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John,

My home testing (trusty SPL meter and test CD, heavily augmented with listening tests), in 5 different rooms, with 4 differing subs, disagrees with your arguments against corner placement. Maybe I've just gotten lucky with a limited sample...and mind you I do EQ my sub :)

Your mid-room front and back placement is touted and proven (via extensive testing and documented in white papers) great for uniformity of FR throughout the room...but who cares about the whole room except maybe those with full blown theaters? I care only about the sweet spot since that's where I sit...and 99.9% of anyone else that listens would be blown away by a Bose system...

BTW, DBT's are inherently flawed.

And I do suspect SACD and DVD-A are better due to more careful attention to engineering during the recording, mastering, and reproduction phases more so than the technology per se...
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post #30 of 91 Old 08-12-2003, 01:22 PM
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Steve,

...right up until that last sentence.
:^)
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