Why pay $5000+ for speakers? - Page 3 - AVS Forum
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post #61 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

I'm sure the designers (some of who I know) of those speakers would love to know what they are doing wrong.

Nothing, since they're able to pry dollars out of easily influenced consumers, you know, like the ones who buy things like cable lifters, amp stands and "uber-cables" because they supposedly have the hearing of a bat and can hear things that can't physically be heard by a normal human.
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post #62 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rnrgagne View Post

That is a reality that some can't or won't admit, and sadly the more one spends the harder it becomes to do so.

This is another point i want to add to my OP. You do not have to spend 5k to have a reference system. You can spend below that and have a sound thats really amazing. As the person you quoted experienced.

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post #63 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russ_777 View Post

Typically what you gain in more expensive speakers is less distortion (better drivers), more dynamic range (better drivers), less coloration (better cabinets), lower extension (better/bigger drivers, better/bigger cabinets).

There are cheaper speakers that achieve the same thing.

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post #64 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by saprano View Post

This is another point i want to add to my OP. You do not have to spend 5k to have a reference system. You can spend below that and have a sound thats really amazing. As the person you quoted experienced.

Absolutely, and depending on the size and acoustics of the room, listening distance and your listening habits probably even a lot less.
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post #65 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

Fit and finish are about 40-60% off the cost of speakers so I have told by insiders.

Parts/materials, about 10%. Labor the same. Marketing, distribution, and other overhead, 40%. The rest is profit. A 40% profit margin is the benchmark for almost any manufacturing business. This applies to midrange and higher products. Lower end products produced in larger quantities don't carry as much profit, as it's made up for by volume.

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I'm sure the designers (some of who I know) of those speakers would love to know what they are doing wrong.

They're not doing anything wrong. They're making profits for their businesses. If someone's willing to pay a certain price for an item, any item, someone else will provide it to them. This isn't speculation based on 'someone I know'. I've designed $10k+ speakers for a few companies. Don't ask who, I can't tell you. The first thing one does when contracting an engineering deal is to sign a non-disclosure agreement. That's because speaker companies don't want it known that not all designs are done in-house. Many speaker companies don't do any design work in house.

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post #66 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post


They're not doing anything wrong. They're making profits for their businesses. If someone's willing to pay a certain price for an item, any item, someone else will provide it to them.

You and I are in complete agreement. I guess the sarcasm in my post (which you quoted) got lost in the shuffle. (I went back and removed the misunderstood remark, since it wasn't instrumental in my point anyway).

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post #67 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

People scoff when I use and spec Tannoy Definition Install series. They sure ain't pretty...

Not me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

I tell you what; go ahead and name this 'giant-killing' $1K pair of speakers that will blow away say, a pair of Wilson Alexandria X-2, YG Acoustics Anat III Signatures, Evolution Acoustics MMThree, or Hanson Grand Master II (to name a few true high-end speakers, all costing well over of $20K).

Those speakers may all be "high end", but none of them are high fidelity.

They will have sound power problems right in the midrange, due to poor basic design. (No means employed to control the tweeter's directivity at the bottom of its passband.)

A $300ish pair of Infinity towers are legitimately higher fidelity speakers than all of those high price/poor design baubles.

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post #68 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 05:30 PM
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after reading this thread all i can say is thank you for rich people and their ability to spend lots of money to keep this economy rolling, i only wished they bought more stuff

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post #69 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 06:00 PM
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DS, gotta tell ya the Wilson Maxx and Alex demos I have heard were pretty awesome. That's what $65K and $150K gets yeah.

Now I have heard some really good stuff for much, much, much less too.

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post #70 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 06:42 PM
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Since opinions are free if money were no object I would get B&W Nautilus speakers.
http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speake...hnologies.html
Even though the styling is not my cup of tea these speakers sound spectacular (to me).

Regards,
Charlie

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post #71 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post

DS, gotta tell ya the Wilson Maxx and Alex demos I have heard were pretty awesome. That's what $65K and $150K gets yeah

On music you were familiar with?

Of the Wilsons I heard on music I chose to hear, the Watt/Puppy sounded like a crappy car stereo (all boom-tizz), the Sophia was moderately better than the Watt/Puppy, and the big one (don't remember the name, but it looked like the love-child of a stealth fighter and Jabba the Hut) had fairly obvious lower midrange colorations.

FWIW, the one measurement that seems to correlate with my preferences is the horizontal off-axis plot. If there is an off-axis energy flare in the midrange, I'll hear it, and won't like it.

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post #72 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rnrgagne View Post

No it's not silly at all, it's called technology and with advances in technology usually comes a reduction in price. If you doubt that, just have a look at your iPhone, it used to take a building full of machines to do what it does now.

I understand that, I'm a CTO with advanced degrees in engineering and business (no chest beating intended, just providing a frame of reference). However, it's not always true in the scenario we're discussing. 5 & 6 axis CNC machines certainly represent advanced technology, however not every speaker manufacturer can afford to own them.


As far as speaker technology (design) goes, well, by todays standards it's ancient, there's not a heck of a lot that's truly "new". The technology of the manufacturing processes has likely advanced far more than the audio reproduction technology.

Please look at the examples I've provided in the photos below that contradict this. I don't disagree with your 2nd point but do with your 1st.


It's more likely that the speaker selling for 10x the price of another sells 1/1000th less of that product and has to mark up its' cost to be able to justify low production. There's no logic to support automatically better performance because of price.

It appears we are not going to agree on this. In my business I absolutely can produce a more capable system given more resources -- every single time.

The bottom line is if someone has the cash to pay $100,000 for a speaker someone will build it. (And market it using whatever rhetoric the buyer wants to hear of course.)

This is a very cynical opinion. In many product markets, there are OEMs who strive to push the envelope and produce a product that is the best. I don't think that necessarily means those OEMs are snake oil salesmen nor does it mean they are not committed to establishing the state of the market. I can think of several areas of audio in which ridiculous prices are asked for components that have no demonstrable improvement in sound. High end speakers is not one of them. Maybe I should ask -- what speakers > $50k have you heard?

Not common technology...



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post #73 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Brad Horstkotte View Post

Why spend $80k on a car?

Why spend $1K on a bike?

$5K on a camera?

$100 on blue jeans?

$10K on a couch?

Answer: some people have a lot of money, and it's gonna get spent on something.

To be in that general grouping you should up the bike to about $5k

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post #74 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by saprano View Post

There are cheaper speakers that achieve the same thing.

Give me some examples. Let's use mbl 101Es or YG Anats as the high end basis for comparison.
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post #75 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 07:22 PM
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Russ_777: It appears we are not going to agree on this. In my business I absolutely can produce a more capable system given more resources -- every single time.


Russ, I think you missed the point. Maybe you can and will produce something better for more money (since money is the subject, not necessarily your access to resources...not necessarily the same thing). However, there are a lot of very high end audio products that have nothing to do with much of anything but the willingness of some to champion/purchase such stuff. Curious, as reference, what kind of company are you a CTO of?

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post #76 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

True.

Damn rich people.

I wish I were one.

But excluding damn rich people, some speakers (like Philharmonic 2, Ascend Sierra, Salk ST) for $2K do sound almost as good as $20K speakers. Point of diminishing returns for sure.

Says the guy with more speakers than you can count.

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post #77 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

To be in that general grouping you should up the bike to about $5k

Haha, true, shows what a bike noob I am - I spent $450 on mine a couple years ago, and that was about as cheap as they came for a hybrid - and I only coughed up that much because my employer's health benefit at the time covered most of it (those days are now gone).
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post #78 of 438 Old 05-29-2012, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

Sure... everyone knows speakers all sound the same.
(only on AVSforum).

I wasn't saying that. I was merely suggesting that I think when people spend $10,000 dollars on a set of speakers, they think it sounds worlds better than anything they've ever heard, when in actuality, a quality pair of $3,000 dollar speakers might come close. When people spend a ton of money, they often fool themselves into thinking they're hearing tons of extra quality when they're not. That's not to say some super-expensive speakers aren't nice as hell and don't produce amazing sound.

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Of course, I got it modified with the TK-427, which cheeks it up another, maybe, 3 or 4 quads per channel.
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post #79 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by MrEastSide View Post

I wasn't saying that. I was merely suggesting that I think when people spend $10,000 dollars on a set of speakers, they think it sounds worlds better than anything they've ever heard, when in actuality, a quality pair of $3,000 dollar speakers might come close. When people spend a ton of money, they often fool themselves into thinking they're hearing tons of extra quality when they're not. That's not to say some super-expensive speakers aren't nice as hell and don't produce amazing sound.

With what you wrote above, I agree (and is true about the $3k to $10k range of speakers in many cases, but not all). But your original post didn't imply the same sentiment. But such is the nature these forums (with as much being read into what isn't said, as is what's said.)

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post #80 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by MrEastSide View Post

I was merely suggesting that I think when people spend $10,000 dollars on a set of speakers, they think it sounds worlds better than anything they've ever heard, when in actuality, a quality pair of $3,000 dollar speakers might come close.

That's pretty much the textbook definition of placebo effect: If you think it has to sound better it will. The ideal method for choosing speakers would be via blind testing, so that you neither know what you're listening to nor what it costs.

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post #81 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

The ideal method for choosing speakers would be via blind testing, so that you neither know what you're listening to nor what it costs.

Which is extremely difficult to perform logistically with even something as small as cables, much less something as large and cumbersome as loudspeakers.

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post #82 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

That's pretty much the textbook definition of placebo effect: If you think it has to sound better it will. The ideal method for choosing speakers would be via blind testing, so that you neither know what you're listening to nor what it costs.

I couldn't agree more, and here's where I come at that from;

The actual "act" of hearing in itself is done in the subconscious mind, the converting of the eardrums' vibrations into something logical is done without conscious thought and obviously using a type of "fuzzy logic".

That process is pretty amazing, and things like where a sound comes from and being able to focus on one sound in crowd of sounds etc... well I think you get the gist. That fuzzy logic has to have reference points and suppositions to sort of "fill in the blanks" and make sense of everything.

I think we're missing the boat if we don't realize that we can't influence what we perceive to hear with a "belief". Such as a more expensive speaker will sound better, or that this cable will open up the highs etc...

That's why blind testing is probably the truest way to assess these things.
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post #83 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

On music you were familiar with?

Of the Wilsons I heard on music I chose to hear, the Watt/Puppy sounded like a crappy car stereo (all boom-tizz), the Sophia was moderately better than the Watt/Puppy, and the big one (don't remember the name, but it looked like the love-child of a stealth fighter and Jabba the Hut) had fairly obvious lower midrange colorations.

FWIW, the one measurement that seems to correlate with my preferences is the horizontal off-axis plot. If there is an off-axis energy flare in the midrange, I'll hear it, and won't like it.

I actually agree with you for once (about the Wilson's). What I don't agree with is you being able to simply look at a speaker and claim it's not high fidelity. You do the same thing over at Audioholics and people just ignore your claims. Measurements and listening will give you the information necessary to determine if a speaker is high fidelity or not; just looking at them is worthless. Controlled directivity designs aren't the only ones that sound great, measure great and actually sell. You're like a broken record man.

Since you like to bash every design out there other than controlled directivty (which don't all sound and measure good), where are your line of speakers? I'd like to try them out. You seem to think you're an expert, so where is your award winning design? I'd love to give it a listen. Will you be at RMAF or any of the audio shows? I think I already know the answer...

saprano,

$5000 is a lot of coin for speakers. Depending on the design and preferences of the listener, $5000 could be plenty for high fidelity, or maybe not. It's really too subjective. I've heard speakers for <$5000 that blew away $10,000 speakers, so the general rule of thumb that "you get what you pay for" gets thrown out the windows when it comes to speakers. If you're focused on good designs, though, at that price you're getting into the point of diminishing returns IMO. And once you hit that point it all becomes subjective. Looks play a huge role for some, and not so much for others. Wives don't seem to share the same passion their husbands do, so WAF is extremely important (perhaps more important for some than the actual sound). Then there is the listening room - wow, don't even get me started on the affects it has on the sound. There's no perfect speaker for everyone, unlike that sweet Kuro Plasma you have, which is a near perfect TV.

The short answer is this: only you can answer your questions; all the rest of us can offer is subjective viewpoints. And honestly, threads like this usually just turning into a pi$$ing match, but hopefully you got some good info out of it.

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post #84 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russ_777 View Post

Not common technology...

I find it interesting in your choices of illustration that you picked basically a more expensive and prettier Bose 901 (mbl), some utterly conventional monkey coffin with a trillion braces...but utterly conventional and poor acoustic design (don't know/don't care what it is), and a wasteful method of making undersized midwoofer cones that's a debatable at best improvement over standard means of forming metal cones (again, don't know/don't care who makes those).

Not common does not necessarily mean "better."

The only exception to the general rule of overhyped mediocrity in your illustrations is the Keele CBT, which is a genuinely interesting design of theoretical merit (assuming one has a room conducive to wide-horizontal-direcitivity speakers) that I'd like to hear.

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post #85 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 09:07 AM
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However, it's not always true in the scenario we're discussing. 5 & 6 axis CNC machines certainly represent advanced technology, however not every speaker manufacturer can afford to own them.

No argument here, a company with deeper pockets can, and will, have the top of the line manufacturing equipment, access to better research facilities and greater buying power for raw components. Add in volume of sales and distribution and this company can provide speaker "A" for $5K where a smaller company would have to provide speaker "A" for $10k, but they're both still speaker "A".

Please look at the examples I've provided in the photos below that contradict this. I don't disagree with your 2nd point but do with your 1st

Well there's one unique technology there, the first one. But the others are nothing new, line-arrays have been around a long time, and the other is simply a box speaker, it doesn't really matter what goes on in the cabinet it's going to have the dispersion pattern of a box speaker. I'm talking about new ways to generate or distribute audio like the rotary sub, B&O's BeoLab units and the unit at the top of your list. Basically like I said, there's not a lot of new technology. Perfecting an existing technology isn't what I was referring to.

It appears we are not going to agree on this. In my business I absolutely can produce a more capable system given more resources -- every single time.

See loveinthehd's post above.

This is a very cynical opinion. In many product markets, there are OEMs who strive to push the envelope and produce a product that is the best.
Maybe I should ask -- what speakers > $50k have you heard?


I don't know about cynical, I think it's more "practical" based on common sense. Sure there's some manufacturers that really are in it for the art or science, but we're fools not to have some degree of cynicism when there's a ton of examples of unscrupulous vendors out there.
I'm at a loss for speaker examples but I've seen companies like Jeff Rowland & Bel Canto put $300 B&O amp modules inside their cases and sell them for $4k & $2k respectively. Then there's the shining example from Lexicon where they put their faceplate on a $500 Oppo and were selling it for $2500...(and don't get me going on cables)

I think the most expensive speaker I've heard was about $20k a pair, but I don't think that's really relevant. I don't think I could physically hear anything better than what I have even if I wanted to. I mean, once a speaker reaches a point where there's virtually no distortion and it's set up properly to ones listening position, what's another (or more expensive) speaker going to do that it doesn't?
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post #86 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

What I don't agree with is you being able to simply look at a speaker and claim it's not high fidelity.

Once you develop more sophisticated senses, you will be able to do that too.

The only exception of which I can think is a speaker whose mode of operation is not immediately apparent. For example, just by looking at a Quad ESL-63 (or subsequent models) one cannot tell that it's designed with delayed segments so as to mimic a section of a sphere.

However, what cannot be done is to tell if a speaker is any good just by looking at it. Too many variables.

That is to say, one can safely exclude obviously bad designs (basically, anything with a flush-mounted tweeter and a >4" midwoofer), but just because something looks like it could be good, that doesn't mean it is.

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Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Measurements and listening will give you the information necessary to determine if a speaker is high fidelity or not; just looking at them is worthless.

Actually, one can determine quite a bit about how a speaker will measure just by looking at it. If one sees a speaker 7" midwoofer along with a tweeter on a 180deg waveguide, and knows the approximate crossover point, one can make reasonable assumptions about the midrange energy that speaker will throw into a room.

If one sees three tweeters on 4" flanges in vertical line, one can reasonably infer that the treble is going to be Venetian-Blindsville.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Controlled directivity designs aren't the only ones that sound great, measure great and actually sell.

To the middle point, yes they are. Everything else has poor horizontal off-axis response by definition.

The first point is a judgement call, and some have lower standards than others.

The third is an argument for Bose and monster cable, just not relevant to high-fidelity music reproduction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Since you like to bash every design out there other than controlled directivty (which don't all sound and measure good), where are your line of speakers? I'd like to try them out. You seem to think you're an expert, so where is your award winning design? I'd love to give it a listen. Will you be at RMAF or any of the audio shows? I think I already know the answer...

I prefer to make money, not burn through it. I don't have a speaker business because I wouldn't be good at it. Furthermore, there are plenty of companies already offering speakers along the lines I discuss: Revel/JBL Pro, KEF, Tannoy, Gradient, TAD, GedLee, Seaton Sound, Genelec, AudioKinesis, Soundfield Audio, Emerald Physics, JTR, Quad, Danley Sound Labs, etc. So even though most speakers offered are crap, there's not really a lacuna in the market. There are speakers of potential merit in every budget.

Note that many of the above design their own drive units and either build them in house or source manufacturing for them.

And if you look in the DIY forum, there's a big project centered around some very interesting new SEOS waveguides.

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post #87 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 09:23 AM
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DS-21,

You're just spewing subjective preferences and claims. Can you support your claim that "everything else has poor horizontal off-axis response?" Perhaps you should listen to speakers to determine their worth rather than simply looking at pictures of them. Putting in the time to actually hunt down their measurements would help too (something you failed to do concerning speakers you've "bashed" on Audioholics).

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post #88 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 09:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

The ideal method for choosing speakers would be via blind testing, so that you neither know what you're listening to nor what it costs.

Do you listen blind at home? Is that how you determine your favorite speakers?
No question that controlled testing would determine which speaker is preferred by the listener/consumer strictly by sound field. What sound they prefer.
Ditto for amps, DACs, cables, etc.
But who listens that way at home? Where other sensory input and stored info is fully present. The idea is buyer/user/consumer satisfaction...and that may involve more than just the sound field (pardon the pun).

cheers,

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post #89 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 09:31 AM
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Legacy Audio offers speakers at many (2012) price points from $1,500 (Studio HD) to $48,000 (Helix), and they all offer excellent performance vs. their price. At it's price point, the Legacy Classic HD is a fantastic speaker that retails under $5,000. You get a lot for your money with Legacy.

I can say that as you go up Legacy's line of speakers, what you get is deeper bass extention, and a larger, more life-sized presentation of the soundstage. To reproduce a life-sized soundstage of a full orchestra playing full-bore, or demanding high-resolution movie soundtracks such as Tron, you need to move lots of air. That requires larger speakers with more piston area. There really is some truth to the saying, "there's no replacement for displacement". Sometimes you really do get what you pay for....
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post #90 of 438 Old 05-30-2012, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

You're just spewing subjective preferences and claims.

A more sophisticated person would phrase that as "subjective preferences based on listening, correlated with measurements."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Can you support your claim that "everything else has poor horizontal off-axis response?"

Yes. And I have many times. To you, too. But if you don't understand physics, not my problem.

But when I do answer this issue, by you or other, my SOP is to simply take the latest review of a crappy speaker by Stereophile. The one on the dock as of right now is the Wilson Duette. Unfortunately, JA didn't do his customary full assessment, but only an average of 20 in-room measurements. Still, I found one sentence JA wrote in his measurement section (I didn't read the review) especially telling. And familiar: I'm sure you've seen somebody write similar words before It is below, with a word of weasel omitted:
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Atkinson View Post

Second is a *** lack of energy at the top of the woofer's passband compared with the regions below and above. This is the result of the relatively large woofer's radiation pattern narrowing at the top of its passband, contrasting with the wider dispersion of the tweeter at the bottom of its passband.

source.

Note also that the "top of the woofer's passband" is in this case synonymous with "the midrange."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Perhaps you should listen to speakers to determine their worth rather than simply looking at pictures of them.

I do like to seek out speakers that appear they may be worth listening to. I enjoy the discovery process.

But am I going to waste my time seeking out something that simply cannot sound good, based on simple physics, without a lot of band-aid room treatments to compensate for their design flaws? No. I've heard enough of 'em.

I also don't romanticize speakers. They're tools. The only part in the audio chain that one should romanticize, IMO, is the music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Putting in the time to actually hunt down their measurements would help too (something you failed to do concerning speakers you've "bashed" on Audioholics).

Yet another intellectually dishonest mischaracterization. That's kind of your speciality, isn't it?

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