AVS Club Gold
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Near an airport
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
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Nyal can report his own experience.
The constraint with this speaker (and many others) is the inherent limitation of a 1" dome tweeter. If I recall, B&W claims +/-2dB on axis and 90dB efficiency. What they do NOT tell you is at what volume; but, typically they measure at 1w/1m. Measure at 100w/5m, you'll get a radically different measure. At 500w/5m, even a different measure...and even a bigger difference when the tweeter fails. The fact of the matter is B&W and a long list of other speakers can play incredibly loud; but, as the seating distance increases the in air absorption of the high frequencies significantly reduces the SPL of the HF content at the listening positions, hence, while having "loud" you do not have the same "loud" in the HF area. While the "Diamond" tweeter is much more capable than most, at 1 meter, on axis, published measurements show a increasing significant roll off from 12kHz to 20kHz further indicating the lack of HF response at greater distances. By contrast, several speakers (no longer in production) from a U.S. manufacturer, when measured at 1 meter indicated an increase in SPL (on axis) over the same range. Why was that? The designer determined their typical customer listened at an average seating distance of 8'. The response of the speaker was therefore designed to be +/- 2dB at the listening position. Certainly the speaker was "bright" at 1 meter; but, not at all at 8'. Again, back to the HTM1D, you'll find they claim the tweeter has a horizontal dispersion of 60 degrees ... what that is telling you is a significant amount of the HF energy is going to where ears are not ... further decreasing HF content at long seating distances. Compression drivers, wave guides and other mechanisms can be used to compensate for longer seating distances (and constantly burning out 1" dome tweeters). Also problematic with the HTM1D (and HTM6D) was the lack of timbre matching to any B&W L/R speaker. Some of the inability to timbre match is simply due to the physics which get in the way of a horizontal speaker orientation to match the timbre of a vertical speaker orientation.
Therefore...the B&W's will play loud and sound loud at 15' to 20', they will not however be anywhere near flat and significant HF content will be lost. That is just the way it is, and, in B&Ws defense they (1) didn't design their speakers to be critically enjoyed at those distances; and, (2) B&W has always preferred "warmth". Given all of that, the B&W speakers would be far, far better than no speakers at all.