Originally Posted by TJHUB
One thing that has been questioned is the volume at the GTG. I've always disliked the volume at our GTG's because it is a lot higher than I like to listen at normally. I'm not saying I don't occasionally let things go, but it's not where I listen. However, it seems many other do, so I figured leave well enough alone. I suppose that was a mistake.
I set my speakers to full range, set the volume at the listening position to the same 80db we used at the GTG. The loudest measurement I saw was 96db during some of the largest bass transients. Most of the loudest bass was about 91-92db, and only 2 vocals tipped 90-92db: "Hallelujah" by Brandi Carlile, and "Just Like Love" by Steve Strauss. Everything else held around 88db or lower at the highest levels. Most vocal stuff was around the low 80's.
What do you all think of those numbers?
Thanks again for being such a gracious host of this event which really was a lot of fun to attend. Thank you again Nuance for the invite.
The problem we see here is all too common, where those behind the keyboards are lusting for a simplified and clear numeric breakdown by which they can validate their expectations or try to make a purchase decision 100% certain. This gets worse when numeric scores are involved, where consolidation to a final "score" caters to what onlookers want, but generally make for gross over-simplifications. Observations, impressions and relative descriptions between the speakers compared can be quite helpful and interesting to read. Unfortunately many forget that such comparisons only compare one given condition and use, and may or may not hold true with other variables.
Getting back to the level question, first, I hope readers realize that the "80dB calibration" was simply a pink noise track at some recorded level. Music is recorded at all sorts of relative levels, where this just provided a common base line, where some cuts could peak well above this, and others could play well below. After we played the JTR's followed by your HT2's, it was clear that the wide band pink noise left a potential variance where the low frequency extension of the speaker would skew the level set with the noise, where a very deep reaching speaker will be set slightly lower than a speaker with very little low frequency energy. The reality is that there is no "correct" method to match the speakers, as the frequency balance and extension of each is different, and some metric must be used.
I would suggest going back to the examples you just noted, and look at 4 different measurements.
1) C weighted slow, noting averages during vocals or similar.
2) C weighted fast, noting higher peaks.
3) A weighted slow, noting averages during vocals or other high frequency content.
4) A weighted fast, noting peaks during cymbal and vocal peaks.
While the C weighted number does correlate with overall loudness and perceived intensity including the lower frequencies, the A weighted measurement will have better correlation to what generally drives our descriptions of playback being "too loud."
When you asked me later in the evening how loud Archea, pennynike1 and I were playing the system during a few HT demo tracks, I had guessed 110-115dB, mostly at very low frequencies. After you asked I grabbed the meter, and in fact the C weighting fast peaks were just approaching 110dB, where C weighting slow never got over 100dB. The A weighting slow range was even less, only reaching past ~90dB when things were quite loud.
With the wide range of music cuts played, some would have been very boring or not loud enough to demonstrate much, or you would have had to adjust the volume for each, as some tracks were much more dynamic with low average levels, and more popular songs were recorded much louder. Again, there really is no perfect solution without endless planning and multiple dry runs with the speakers being compared.
Personally I thought some of the most interesting and useful exchanges were after the comparison when some others were giving thoughts on what they were hearing from your system and many there were able to compare with their own observations. More of this sort of exercise with lots of discussion and cycling of seats is what I think would be much more interesting, fun and beneficial to the community in the future.
The comparisons on Saturday were quite interesting, but they really were a comparison of how the various speakers interacted with this room in the location used, with the electronics used, for the given locations people listened from, at the playback levels chosen, and with the music selected. This was a straight-up 2ch comparison where we should expect the particular out of the box voicing and radiation of sound in the room makes for audible signatures for which preferences will vary.
I would recommend that readers and attendees remember that demonstrations in fixed settings are great for affirming a speaker is capable of great sound when it performs well, but one bad showing should not write off a product, other than from that exact system and use.
Hopefully I can find some more time through the week to comment on a few past posts regarding different speakers as well as the Catalyst 12C's.