So, here is what we have:
5 eD Cinema 12's (mine)
3 JTR Triple 8's (Bluesprings1)
3 SHO-10's (Huskeromaha's)
4 DR250's (I think these are desertdome's speakers)
Huge thanks to Bluesprings1 for letting us borrow the JTR's, and also to desertdome for making the drive down along with Kwarny and bringing the other 2 sets of speakers. Initially we were just going to compare the JTR's and eD's for a couple of members who are in the market to buy, but when DD got on board it really got interesting.
Also, Jedimastergrant is going to bring over his Orbit Shifter to compare to my dual Submersives and desertdome is bringing 4 DIY dual opposed subs. Mrsmithers, Stitch1 are coming, and of course you can't have a gathering without Archaea.
Stay tuned, should be interesting.
That said, NONE of us added a single word to any of the sheets after we found out what speaker was what - unless someone was really sneaky but I highly doubt it, nobody had an agenda here I can tell you that... well, maybe except me I wanted to like my speakers the best but oh well.
I'm a simple guy, here is honestly how I judge what speaker I like better. I adjust the volume while I listen to music and if what I'm hearing makes me want to turn it up, then hey, I like that speaker. If I want to turn it down.... not good. The higher I want to turn up the volume the more I like the speaker. That's how I listen to music myself, always with remote in hand with thumb on the volume control and constantly tweaking it depending on how much I like certain sections of songs.... also tweaking the sub volume a lot too.
That was the coolest thing about this GTG IMO, was that when it was our turn for song clips we sat in the sweet spot and had full control of the volume. I also had control of the sub volume...that was probably a mistake because I kept forgetting what I had them set on so the subs were not always the same for every movie clip for each set of speakers. I know that throws any kind of judging accuracy out the window, so what can I say... sorry guys.
So, yeah I don't have the ability to say, "ohh this speaker has a smooth midrange", or "that speaker is a bit forward", etc.
To sum up my impressions:
The SHO-10's were my favorite for music.
The 888's were my favorite for movies.
Me eD's were 3rd for both.
I didn't like the DR's at all.
My favorite overall was the SHO-10's because my priority is music.
The 3 speakers I liked had a lot of similarities IMO, I'm not a good judge because I don't have a ton of experience auditioning speakers and I've owned several pairs over the years but I'm not one of those guys that switches out speakers very often. Since the mid 90's I have owned:
Axioms (m60's for mains)
eD Cinema 12's
I honestly didn't recognize my speakers. I never listen to them flat, I have a few preset MCAAC manual eq settings that I like so that explains that I guess. I have never thought the eD's had any harshness before, it must be my eq settings. Tonight I though they were harsh on some of the other guys music, mostly the Kansas song. I thought the 888 and SHO 10's were harsh too at times, but not quite as much with the SHO-10's having the least amount of harshness.
I felt like all 3 of them needed some boosting in the upper treble (which sounds like it would make things for harsh but when I have my eD's eq'd this way they aren't harsh at all). I can't describe in words the kind of highs I like but I know I have it in my eq'd eD's and none of the 3 speakers had it.
The SHO's, what can I say. The most fun part of the whole night for me was when Archaea and my song clips were playing on the SHO's, we exchanged looks a couple times like, "oh yeah, this is awesome!!!". He cranked his up crazy loud and it sounded amazing, the subs were sounding the absolute best on one of his songs of anything we heard all night. I cranked my music up too, louder than on the other speakers. All 3 speakers I liked forced be to bob my head, tap my foot, etc. I really enjoyed my song clips on all 3 speakers.
For movies, like I said, I was most impressed with JTR. That was the only center that really made me take notice. The impact was better, everything was clearer, etc. but it wasn't like the other 2 speakers weren't great too, they were.
As for the DR's. Instantly on the first song I was not liking what I was hearing at all. Crazy harsh. After the blind part was over they tried to eq them to get them sounding right but I never liked them.
Good times guys, well maybe not the first few hours.
Disclaimer: These notes only summarize my own personal subjective ear. This is what I heard. Speakers are vastly personal. You may hear the same four speakers and walk away with a completely different set of impressions.
To sum up my experience in this meet: Things didn't turn out as I expected at all...
What's nice about it though is I don't have any dog in this particular fight -- because I don't own any of the speakers auditioned. I don't think any of us had heard all four of these speakers before, and I might have been one of the ones with the most experience with each of these speakers, as I'd at least heard three of the four before, but I still couldn't identify what was what in the blind audition. I've heard the ED's on multiple occassions at carps house and like them (actuall was/am considering buying a set). I've heard the JTR Triple Eight's once at bluesprings1 house and liked them (I've heard the JTR single eights at HuskerOmaha's sub meet), I've heard the CHT Sho 10's once (also at HuskerOmaha's sub meet). I'd never before heard the DR-250s. I've had my current Wharfedale setup for a long time - over a decade. I've gone through a lot of subwoofers over the years until I landed on my JTR Captivators (which I absolutely love), but in contrast of streaming through sub purchases - I've always just retained my Wharfedale SP 89 towers as my front mains, since I purchased them in the year 2000 (I think). I like my speakers and so far have not heard any speaker that is a must buy over my current speaker equipment. It seems that any speaker that is significantly better than my Wharfedales in some aspect is slightly worse than my Wharfedales in some other aspect, so it makes the upgrade/swap some what less attractive. My Wharfedales seem a bit of a blance of all the things I like --- or in reality perhaps I'm just used to their sound after owning them for a decade and so that's the sound I like --- regardless of whether something is significantly better to an unbiased ear.
I've attended several speaker meets(Wisconsin 2012, Iowa 2012, KC 2012), and several subwoofer meets (KC 2011, Omaha 2011, KC 2012) - and been to a LOT of people's houses to hear their equipment, or help them setup their room in the last couple years. In my mind subwoofers make more difference to the overall sound experience than speakers. Speakers all seem to have admirable traits and then the very next clip might reveal something you don't like as much. This series of tradeoffs is why I understand some people use two different pairs of speakers in their home theater. To me subwoofers have more clear tiers of quality, and more importance to your overall sound. And they seem easier to judge without so much disagreement on those tiers. Case in point, one of the guys who I won't name individually has heard speakers that cost up to $6K a pair and he still prefers his cheap $150 pair of Andrew Jones Pioneers in the realm of bang to buck to the other speakers he's heard. That same guy knows a subwoofer is very important and so owns a Submersive. Funny eh? Nah --- not really - - - A great sub will help out budget speakers. A budget sub won't do a darn thing for a set of great speakers. For my part I'd rather have a $2000 subwoofer and $500 pair of speakers than a $2k pair of speakers and a $500 sub. So needless to say the dual submersive HP setup was (as always) quite impressive adding the ever important low end reinforcement to the various speaker setups in carp's house.
Of all the speakers I've ever heard there isn't a single speaker that trumps the others in every other category across the board, and that includes some of the top tier players in this community - Salk, Ascend, JTR, Seaton, Klipsch --- whatever. What a shame, but then I guess it'd be too easy to pick a single winner and we'd all own the same speaker. Instead you pretty much have to choose your priority and pick a speaker that best plays to those specific criteria --- realizing that it may miss the mark somewhat on other lesser categories.
These are the songs I picked as my demo tracks, and they are the songs I listened to in the sweet spot when it was my turn.
here are the titles
For my turn in the hotseat I tried to follow the same pattern every time.
For the first three songs of the list I listened to them at reference level
On the fourth song by Dr. Dre I turned the speakers up 3.5dB hot over reference
For the fifth song, Tarzan Boy, I turned the speakers up to 10dB hot over reference - This is the beginning of the Tarzan boy song and it's a simplistic synthesized chorus, which is both easy and fun to listen to quite loud.
When the sixth song started I would let it start at the +10dB from the Tarzan boy track but quickly felt I needed to turn it down for every speaker except for speaker C. Speaker A, B, and D, all sounded harsh, or overdriven on DeadMau5 at +10dB over reference.
To my ears --- for my specific clips and for my time in the sweetspot chair - Speaker C was absolutely unique in that when I heard it at +10 on the DeadMau5 track, I didn't rush for the volume control. I looked at carp and was like YEAH!!! --- now we are talking! It was super clean and sounded Awesome! I started edging up the volume and it just stayed clean. I kept inching the volume up and got to +16.5 dB over reference and it still sounded absolutely Awesome! At that point even I quit moving the volume up because it was beyond extreme and still AWESOME -- there is no way I could need more spl even if the speakers still possessed the capability of more. It was everything you could hope that track to sound like. Joel Thomas Zimmerman himself would have been grinning ear to ear on this track. I don't know how Speaker C could have played this track any better, and the submersive HPs were taking it all in stride and sounded fantastic as well. A+ A+ A+ A+ A+. I immediately thought these speakers had to be the JTR because what else could possibly generate that much SPL and stay clean? I exclaimed to those sitting next to me that for my part we could stop the Speaker C audition right there for this set of speakers and that would be sufficient. I knew which speakers I most liked because these seemed to have so much more ridiculous headroom and sounded nearly as good as anything else we'd heard in the other categories to this point --- but I'm glad we didn't stop the audition, because there was more to learn about these speakers. This was early in the audition as my clips were second. Alas, as the other attendees clips went on I realized Speaker C wasn't as clearly superior to Speaker B (which I thought at the time was the DR-250) on all things. Turns out by the end of Speaker C's audition I could have flipped a coin and been happy with B or C. I felt like B was more refined and lacked some of the harshness I detected at times on Speaker C, but Speaker C dynamics sure were impressive to the ninth degree! Midbass was crazy. Gunfire during the movie scenes was just beyond fantastic. At the end of that session I was thinking that the Speaker C was definately JTR. Though I was a bit frustrated because Speaker C didn't cleanly sweep Speaker B. After the full Audition I actually found myself thinking Speaker B was probably the more realistic pick for me because of some of that harshness I heard in some of the later music on Speaker C, but man I loved the headroom on the Deadmau5 track - LOVED IT! And the gunfire on Speaker C was the stuff home theater dreams are made of.
Individual Speaker Impressions -
Speaker A -
Bright Speakers - Very Crisp
Maybe finding limits at around 3-4 over reference on DeadMau5 track -- more volume than I actually need, but I don't like finding limits on equipment -- and I know I'm just happier with a product if I don't know limits exist or at least can't find them)
Harsh on the classical music clips that Grant selected (but I don't like those tracks anyway. )
Fantastic imaging in just a single seat. No imaging anywhere else --- very much left channel dominant if on left side, or right channel dominant if on right side as I moved around the room during the music, but the sweetspot was very good! I scored it a 4 on imaging, but if you were only talking about the center main seat it would be a 5
Center Channel sounds very good, better than most center channels I've ever heard.
Great Dynamics on the Book of Eli scene
The chain falling down the well in the LOTR is a bit too harsh/intense/sounds like a mesh of sizzle rather than chain links clinking
Goosebumps? 1 time on the Michael Jackson - This Is It demo track -- very brief - like one second in the dynamic horn blast. Not as much emotion created from these speakers as I would hope for.
Overall I liked them for movies, but didn't like them as much for music. The treble bias was too strong for my tastes.
I figured these were the CHT SHO10's
I was wrong - these were the ED Cinema 12s.
Does it make sense? I was surprised with this because I always like the Cinema 12's in carps house, but on a recent loan of carp's ED cinema 12 front soundstage I did think the treble was too strong in my untreated tile floor room. In hind sight this makes sense because the center channel is especially strong on these speakers, and I thought the movies were great. I didn't much like the music on the cinema 12's in my room, and I think this was recreated in the blind testing, but I failed to identify them correctly as the ED Cinema 12s.
Speaker B -
First Impressions is that this speaker is a bit less treble biases which is good!
I thought it was excellent on my song selections, excellent on my acapella track - excellent on guitar rifts, excellent on rap, excellent on 80's music.
I definitely liked these speakers more than Speaker A for music.
I stll had to turn down the Deadmau5 tack to +3.5 dB over reference or so --- cause like the first speaker audition this one sounded bad at +10 on that track IMO.
I thought these speakers were a bit closer to what I'm used to at home -- though still perhaps a bit brighter than I prefer.
The Chain on LOTR falling in the well actually sounded like a chain. Much better than speaker A as there was no harshness on speaker B
Fantastic center channel experience! Just no strain at all. Very Good!
Clear Clear Clear on the Michael Jackson Track. I loved it, but I felt I'd heard better on this track when I demoed the ED's at my place a few weeks back.
I felt the imaging on these was the worst of the group, as I didn't hear a center channel presence at all when I was in the sweetspot. YET oddly enough when you were off axis the sound was more enjoyable to me. Sitting on the left or right side of the room didn't mean you only heard the left or right channel as strongly as speaker A I felt.
Good for Movies too!
Goosebumps? yes 2x's. Once in one of Carp's rock songs on a guitar solo of all places??!???!? That never happens to me on that kind of music. I don't even like that music? But guitar rifts sounded great on this speaker. Then a second time and for a longer period on the Michael Jackson track.
Overall I liked these quite a bit better than Speaker A. They sounded pretty similar for movies with the slight edge going to speaker B, but for Music I really liked Speaker B quite a bit more. Speaker B seemed to be a very refined speaker.
I figured these were the DR250's if only because I couldn't place their sound. They felt warm, and refined.
I was wrong - these were the JTR Triple Eights.
Does it make sense? This is a resounding NO. I've heard the JTR speakers before and felt they had a brighter treble bias than what I heard in the blind testing of Speaker B. Also while I really liked these speakers at reference level, I did not like them at +10dB. I would have figured the JTR should have made mincemeat out of the +10dB DeadMau5 track. I recently heard the Triple Eights at bluesprings1's house at +16 and they rocked! So I can't understand this one. Yet overall these or Speaker C was my favorite speaker of the meet. They traded punches. I'd be happy with either. My purchase of one or the other probably would have depended on the room I was going to use them in. If I was going to have a live room I would buy Speaker B because it was less harsh, and a bit more refined. If I was going to have a treated room or large room I would buy Speaker C to enjoy the dynamics and just enjoy the crazy SPL without the fear of the extra brightness overwhelming. I think I may have liked Speaker C a tiny bit better overall, but it was close and I do believe Speaker B would be a better match for my room because of my lack or room treatments and tile floor. Treble bias just hurts with too much reflectively in your room. Even though Speaker B was the least treble heavy speaker - it still was just a tiny bit more than I prefer when compared to my accustomed Wharfedale sound. I would be glad to own these speakers!
Speaker C -
First Impression through Michael's track list is that these are a bit brighter than B, but not as bright as A. Okay so far. Then we get to my tracks. Sounds good!
Then we get to the point where I start turning my tracks up. +3.5dB on Dr Dre sounds great, +10 on Tarazan boy sounds the best so far. I get my finger ready on the volume control for the inevitable turn down when DeadMau5 comes onboard, and WOW! I didn't have to turn it down! It sounded fabulous. At this point look a few paragraphs up for my notes on "To My Ears" Suffice to say these are my new favorite speakers of the meet so far and by no small margin. They reproduced the loud volumes I asked of them with nothing short of excellence. Think about this. The first two times we played this clip I reduced the volume from +10dB over reference to +3.5dB over reference because the other speakers didn't sound up to the task for this song. On Speaker C I'm now cranking the tune out at +16.5dB and it SOUNDS FREAKING AMAZING! Take a look at my score sheet and see just how darn enthusiastic I was about the speaker at this point. For the love of all things holy these speakers can rock it out when called upon! If I'm not making it clear - I was BLOWN AWAY BY THESE SPEAKERS on the DeadMau5 track!!!! Like blown away to the point of --- stop the audition -- which speakers are these? Pull out my wallet and buy them right now regardless of cost. Anyone there will attest I was really loving that moment. Stereo imaging was the best so far on these speakers in the sweet spot to boot. I would swear up and down the center channel was on and the vocals were coming directly from the center of the room. I gave it the only five on imaging. As I retired from the sweetspot and listened to the remaining 18 minutes or so of music from other positions a little of the enthusiasm wore off. There was some harshness caused by too much treble. The classical music Grant had didn't sound good again. Some of carp's rock was too treble heavy. Not as harsh as Speaker A, but definitely a bit more harsh than speaker B. But wait!!!! At the end of the rock selection carp put together I had a solid like minute and a half of chills on three different rock clips. One starting with a female rock artist, then into the same guitar solo that gave me a chill on Speaker B, and then into the following rock chorus track. It was intense! Like 1.5 minutes of intense, exciting chills/goosebumps. OH YEA! This is fantastic once again!!! --Wait...I don't even like hard rock. What am I saying? ...Whatever! - I love this! For the first time I didn't get chills on the Michael Jackson clip ---- BUT it was still fantastic. Now onto the movie clips. Gunshots are pure insanity. Best so far by no small margin. Midbass on gunshots is just pure bliss. A shotgun blast on open range is everything it should be! The book of Eli scene sounded like real gun blasts. I look at desertdome and tell him these things have to be running hot don't they? He says no - the speakers are calibrated to the same level. Now carp had been messing with the sub settings on all of these clips during his music section so who knows what was up --- BUT REGARDLESS of that - these things went to +16.5 on the Deadmau5 track and still sounded AMAZING --- BEFORE carp got his mitts on the remote. That has nothing to do with the subs when the other three speakers all sounded harsh (to me) and had to be turned down on this particular track (when tested at the admittedly silly volume of +10dB) Left and right separation for movies seems to be the best of the night. I hear distinct channels in movies - which I like! The worst of the treble issues in Speaker A are not present, but there are still some treble issues compared to speaker B. --- None the less - the chains on the LOTR scene zings in for a close second best of the night so far.
Goosebumps? yes for like 1.5 minutes straight -- read the paragraph above. no goosebumps on the MJ clip though like the first two speakers. And while I didn't have goosebumps during my particular song selection I did have incredible emotional attachment to that clean and crazy SPL ceiling --- it was outrageous and provocative and made me hoop and hollar!!!
Overall - When this speaker shines it REALLY shines! Not as refined as speaker B - but it is off the hook on loud and clean in my book for music. I felt the dialogue clarity was a bit less than the previous two speakers which was unfortunate since that's really important for movie watching at reference levels. I felt the highs were a bit harsher than Speaker B. This audition made me go back and adjust a couple scores from previous auditions up or down accordingly and start using half scores. Overall these speakers scored the highest for me, and with the right room (treated, carpeted and somewhat non reflective - they would likely be my recommendation). All was not roses however, and as the attendees will attest - as pumped up as I was about the SPL levels they cleanly played, I had some reservations about the sound when compared to Speaker B after the full length of their demo session.
I figured these were absolutely the JTR
I was wrong - these were the CHT SHO 10 (what the heck?)
Does it make sense? This is a no as well. I've heard the Sho 10's at HuskerOmaha's meet and I recall specifically liking the sound of his speakers and telling him and others such, however these were the smallest, least expensive, and least formidable looking speaker of the meet, and it seems they just edged out to either be neck and neck or in the lead for my personal favorite of the day. Those of you who followed the KC Blind Sub meet earlier in 2012 realize there is a bit of bad blood between Craig Chase and I. I'll leave it at that - - so I personally wouldn't buy these speakers because of that interaction. But I will call a spade a spade and say plainly these CHT SHO 10's to my ear represent a fantastic value and I was very impressed by their capability.
Speaker D -
These speakers had the most treble. It started out being very clear treble, and it typically was very clean --- but it was just twice as much treble as anything else it seemed, and by the end of the audition it was just aggravating. I didn't hear much midbass either. It was like the longer these speakers played the less I liked them. The few times I looked around half the group was holding their ears. The volume seemed MUCH louder on these, and it was if you had a treble dial and cranked it all the way to the max. It was overbearing to say the least. You can see in my notes as I progressed from mild to stronger comments. On my DeadMau5 track I had to turn it down and it wasn't because it was distorting, but because it was sooooo incredibly treble laden that i couldn't personally stand it at anywhere near those volumes. A track that Kwarny had chosen that I nicknamed the weed song, had the singer whistling like a train. It was offensive on these speakers. On that same track there was a drumline, and I heard drums on all the other speakers, but didn't heard much in the way of drums on these speakers. To me these speakers don't seem like the kind you would listen to in an intimate setting like carp's room. There are 20 tweeters on each speaker in a line arrray, and you know there are 20. When you are listening to all four speakers in two line arrays stacked you are listening to 80 tweeters and it's not good, at least with the EQ settings we were using --- giving this speaker the benefit of the doubt. It's as bright a speaker as I've ever heard, and I don't like bright speakers -- so this one wasn't going to win my heart. We spent time re-equing it after the blind audition, to listen to it again and it was still rough to me. I don't think I was alone in my feelings on this speaker. Carp had been listening to his rock as high as +4dB above reference and on previous speakers, but on the DR250's he ended up turning them down to -15dB with a grimace. There was a bit of an enigma I couldn't figure out with this speaker. Would you believe it sounded the absolute best of the night on the Michael Jackson track to me? The horn dynamics were incredible! the live sound was amazing. The finger snapping was other worldly good! Unfortunately, and honestly that is the only track I enjoyed during the entire audition of these speakers, both during the blind testing and the subsequent retry after re-eq. If you are treble sensitive - you need not pursue these speakers unless it's a live event, a TOTALLY dead room, or a large space. Sitting 10-15ft away from these things wasn't my cup of tea. For the movie tracks I didn't enjoy these speakers either. The Book of Eli dialogue was terrible the entire way through. Again strangely we watched two Open Range clips and one had great dialogue and one had terrible dialogue. We'd watched these two clips on the other speakers and neither sounded bad on any of the other speakers. Truly an Enigma. DesertDome can plot the frequency responses we gathered. We did spend some time on EQ and plugged in 10 parametric EQs as recommended by REW based on the FRD we imported. We checked the resulting FR post EQ and it did look pretty flat, but man --- you just couldn't knock down that enormous treble bias on these speakers it seemed. Perhaps in a heavily treated room, behind an acoustic transparent screen that might be the ticket. MKTheater seems to like his, but I've got to assume his didn't sound like what we heard at the blind meet. Finally --- everything sounded louder on the DR250. Treble, Bass, overall volume. Only midbass seemed a bit lacking --- with the exception of the Book of Eli clip.
Goosebumps? no way. not even close. I disliked the sound of these speakers on every track save one, and when that track came on I was so agitated from the rest of the demo session it wasn't going to happen. I'll give the benefit of the doubt and blame our EQ. DesertDome just acquired these speakers and hasn't had time to play with them yet and by accounts I've heard - once they are setup correctly they are quite the speaker!
Overall - What more is there to say. Not my cup of tea. I don't like treble bias and these are all that and a bag of chips. Maybe we needed a different EQ curve. I don't think it was that we needed a flatter eq. We had a relatively flat EQ in the sweet spot listening position. DesertDome will likely post the measurements. I rated the treble higher than speaker A only because Speaker A's treble was sometimes a mess, and Speaker D's treble always seemed clear - but just intense to the point of sometimes being painful. I also gave the DR250 a 5 on dynamics - because it was quite apparent it could nail you to the wall with volume if it needed to - it's just we couldn't take it the way it was sounding. They look intense --- I joked they looked like some sort of clam shell based medieval torture device. Don't put your hand in there!!!
I had no Idea what these were at first, but I knew no other speaker I'd ever heard sounded like this so I ended up guessing DR250 and swapping up some of my previous guesses.
I ended up guessing right - these were the DR250.
Does it make sense? I don't know. My listening experience sure doesn't jive with MKTheaters, and I know nothing about these speakers otherwise. I'd be willing to give them another try after someone dialed them in the way they should be. If we were actually listening to it these speakers they way they are designed to be heard then I never need to hear this speaker again. If MKTheater ever holds a subwoofer or speaker meet in the future, then I'll hopefully enjoy getting to hear them the way he loves them.
Here is a link to page 2, post 30 - where all the unaltered score sheets from each of the blind voters are scanned and uploaded.
Here are my original unaltered scoresheets with notes taken during each audition, and my guesses in the top right corner of my scorecard.
Thanks for hosting carp. Thanks for building the blinds, thanks for putting up with the mess, buying so many drinks, and taking the screen smudge all in stride. You are a fabulous host, and this event was a great time. As I've told you time and time before You have a fantastic room.
Thanks to carp for hosting, he was excellent as always. Thanks to desertdome and kwarny for running sighted and switching/level matching the speakers. Thanks to everyone who brought or loaned gear for us to hear, and thanks to Dennis for loaning his soldering skills. The first part of the night was a little frustrating due, I think, to being a little overambitious with our initial gSoals given that we were starting at 6PM instead of early in the day. The good news was it gave us a little time for casual conversation which often gets cut way short or is nonexistent when you've got such a full lineup. However, once we got that first set started I had an absolutely fantastic time. I've never compared more than two sets of speakers in the same room at the same time, let alone four (5 if you count tesseract's that we heard sighted later) and let alone blind! Listening blind simultaneously adds a degree of excitement (which one is this?!) and a degree of fear/uncertainty (which one is this!?).
Speaker A - My Guess: eD Cinema, Actual Speaker: eD Cinema:
I thought these were very dynamic. I hated the Kansas track, way too harsh. In my opinion we were listening to most of the music on this first playthrough about 5dB or so too loud. I think these would've sounded much better for me if they were turned down or the treble was brought down some. I wondered once if I was hearing some strain but I couldn't be sure because I wasn't too familiar with the track where I heard it. Music was just ok for me, way too much high and on songs with a lot going on it sounded muddy, without as much separation in instruments/layers as I would like. I thought male vocals were pretty good, I didn't like female vocals as much. I thought these were much better for movies and that some of the dialog on Eli wasn't perfect for me. I thought the center channel was good, better than most I've heard. My first guess on these was the CHT speakers, changed to eD for my final submitted guess.
Speaker B - My Guess: DR-250, Actual Speaker: JTR T8:
These were way less harsh than speaker A. I knew within 30 seconds of the music starting I was going to like these much much more for music. I could definitely see how someone who liked speakers that brighter or more forward would've wanted to boost the treble a bit. I didn't feel like male vocals were any or appreciably better than speaker A but I thought female vocals were MUCH better. I really liked these speakers for music. For movies I didn't feel they were as much of an improvement over A as they were for music though I still thought they were better. The center channel was fantastic, I didn't hear any of that "tiny" sound that I hate hate hate with movie dialogue. I guessed DR-250 because I thought they'd be the most "different" while the eD/CHT/JTR would all be very very similar. I was wrong and couldn't believe these were the JTR! I helped Archaea over at bluesprings1 house and while I really liked the JTRs I did think they were bordering on a bit bright/harsh. Here they had the least treble of all, probably too little for some people, though it was just about right for me! At the end of the day on my scorecard these went punch for punch with speaker C, each trading off in some areas. If I just had my choice to take a set of speakers home (without considering cost) it probably would've been these by an extremely slim margin.
Speaker C - My Guess: JTR, Actual Speaker: CHT:
Treble was somewhere between A & B. My guess of JTR started when Archaea cranked them during Tarzan and Deadmau. Tarzan sounded amazing, first time I'd gotten goosebumps this early in a demo session. In my notes I noted that aside from being brighter than B they didn't have quite the smoothness to them. I have no idea where the limits were for this but we didn't find them and I'm not sure we would've before we really put the hurt to carp's receiver. Imogen sounded the best so far on these speakers and I thought this was true for all the female vocals. I thought the MJ stuff was good though not sure it was better than on speaker B. I thought the Open Range shootout scene was the best on these speakers and the shotgun from the other scene was just insanely great. I thought the mids were better here than on speaker B, they felt more dynamic, I liked music vocals the best here, and the seemingly limitless headroom is a huge plus. Movie dialog wasn't as good as B, I heard just a touch of that "small/tiny" sound I don't like but not too bad which didn't make any sense to me given my preference for music vocals on these. Movies in general still fantastic. I felt speaker B had the edge on the highs and were smoother with better overall music performance. Movies were closer to me between B & C, but dialogue is the most critical element for me hence my comments above about probably choosing B overall by a very slim margin. HOWEVER, for $395 apiece these speakers absolutely absolutely mopped the floor with everything else in the performance per dollar category and in my opinion it wasn't even close. Very impressive offering. Grants comments about a lot of people having these higher for music and that affecting our opinions is very valid. I tried to keep my music volume the same for each speaker and I did the vast majority of my music scoring on my tracks since that's when I was in the sweet spot. For the rest of the demos I was sitting on the floor just in front of the sweet spot and slightly right of center.
Speaker D - My Guess: CHT, Actual Speaker: DR-250:
I didn't like these at all. I understand they require very specific EQ and MKTheater even had some trials with his first pair never sounding right so I have no idea if we were doing things right with them or not. I know that it didn't help even when we did more EQ'ing with them later after the blind testing was over. It's important to note that we demo'd these at around 1-2 AM so my brain and ears were tired by this point and this could've impacted things as well. They were loud and very harsh and I broke my own rule and turned my music way down here. Movie dialogue sounded bad as well. Bizarrely, the MJ stuff sounded amazing. The finger snaps were just incredible and the horn sounded the best I've ever heard. At this point I was very very confused and just wanted the demo to be over so I could find out what was what and try to reconcile and understand what I was hearing and what was going on. We went from music making me not want to listen anymore to the MJ stuff sounding absurdly fantastic to movie dialogue being bad again. I'd love the opportunity to hear these in a vetted setup like in MK's room to be able to compare to this experience. I guessed CHT because B sounded the most different of the four (meaning my guess was locked in as the DR) and of the three, CHT was the least expensive with the smallest driver, plus I was pretty sure A was the eD's, so it was a combination of bias (due to cost) along with the process of elimination (due to my "locked in" guesses). Of course, I was wrong about both B and C, so there was that. Part of the fun of being blinded though, as long as "fun" is feeling totally ridiculous the entire time you're writing things down knowing you are probably incorrect about every guess you made! Honestly though, I still think the CHT's would've sounded very good to me if we'd listened sighted and I don't think the eD's would've sounded magically better than the CHT's just because they are more expensive or have a larger woofer in them. Obviously I have biases as everyone does, one of those comes in the forms of assuming that performance will be proportional to cost (whether it be in audio or food or whatever). This is a bias, but most of the time it serves pretty well as a baseline, the important thing is not getting locked in because of it and being able to adjust things accordingly. Obviously being blind helps the ability to do that!
All things considered this was very fun and a very interesting albeit frustrating experience. I definitely left here being even more confused as to where I want to go in terms of front speakers.
Do not base your purchasing decision on these impressions! We could have been far more scientific about the whole process. Many things went wrong and we were unable to EQ appropriately. Carp already mentioned the bass leveling inconsistencies. It ended up being a speaker comparison that just happened to be blinded instead of a rigorous experiment with few variables. I am sure that every one of these speakers can sound better and in fact would sound different in your room. That said, it was a blind test and I gave my honest opinions as best I could. Limitation aside I think there are still some take aways from this GTG and I am fairly confident that my rankings would not change radically if I had the speakers dialed into my own room.
My current speakers are Klipsch RF-83’s and Definitive Technology Mythos STS’s. I was recently very impressed with the Procella P8's and also enjoyed the Monitor Audio Platinums in other members theaters just to give you an idea of my personal tastes.
(Spoilers) I am looking into replacing my Klipsch with JTR’s for HT use (budget allowing)
A. ED Cinema 12
These were the only speakers that I had previously heard. I had been to Carps before and really liked them especially for the money. I posted my impressions in his “room configuration” thread a few months ago. I would say my opinion is largely the same with a few caveats. Tesseract67 mentioned (and I agreed) that the ED’s were pushed pretty hard and that might explain why I noticed a slight bit of harshness on the highs that had never popped in before.
I will keep my notes short on movies because my impressions were largely the same between music and movies (with a few exceptions). My order for the speakers is the same for music as it is for movies. I did not feel like there was a marked difference and I realize that other participants felt there was a huge difference. I tried to listen for dynamics and dialogue clarity for the most part but my opinion did not change dramatically after listening to the movie clips.
B. JTR Triple 8
My favorite by a good margin for both music and HT. These speakers were NEVER harsh for me. They are the ONLY speakers that I did not get even the slightest amount of harshness and I wanted to turn them up but I resisted ( I wanted to keep the volume consistent with my material for all the speakers and that is exactly what I did). They did not seem like they were playing very loud but the SPL meter next to me told a different story.
The extra mid bass vs the previous speakers was immediately apparent and was hugely significant in my enjoyment. They win the mid bass hands down for me. They are the best all around speaker and I can really find no fault considering the price one would pay for a better all around speaker with an emphasis on HT.
I thought they were a bit less forward sounding than the ED’s. I do like a speaker that is kind of in your face especially for movies but others may not.
These were the most dynamic speakers. It was not as apparent in music as it was in movies. Best dialogue clarity but I liked the others as well. I did not feel the speakers differentiated themselves quite as much on movies. There were bigger differences for me in music.
C. CHT SHO-10
My second favorite speaker and a good speaker for those on a budget. I felt they were the most similar to the JTR’s but there were still many differences. I did notice slight harshness on highs but a bit less fatigue vs the ED’s. I thought they were less dynamic and a little mellow compared to the JTR’s. The mid bass was second best but I was less impressed with it vs the JTR’s and I do think it was even slightly muddy in parts and when we listened very loud.
I realize many thought these were best and they turned the volume up more when it came time to listen to their clips. That is fine as long as we realize how effects our perception of sound. In some cases the volume was turned up more than 10 db compared to the others. I did enjoy this and in some cases I felt they sounded better louder. As long as the speaker does nothing that hurts my ears I will probably always prefer the louder speaker. I wrote that I liked the Dead Mau 5 clip and thought it was awesome (at +16db) and indeed it was. I do think I would have enjoyed the JTR’s even more if it was cranked up as loud as the SHO-10’s but they never were.
Wow. Great for movies. Great dynamics. Big soundstage. It felt louder than the others. I thought the tonality of the vocals was strange. It was a bit off but I cannot put my finger on it. There were things like the clanking of the chains on the LOTR scene which were not as distinct or detailed compared to the JTR.
D. BFM DR250
First of all we know this speaker needs significant EQ and it did not get what it deserved. I can only post my impressions of the speaker having no idea which one I was listening to. The speaker was extremely harsh with the treble. There is no other way to say it. I have no doubt that this could be helped with proper EQ but we were unable to tame it to my satisfaction even after the blinded portion was finished. It was so severe I had to cover my ears. At that point some listening fatigue had set in anyways. The speaker sounded louder overall. It was difficult for me to evaluate other characteristics because the treble was so distracting.
Same problems. I did feel the MJ scene was an improvement but I was not nearly as impressed as the others in the room and I just didn’t say anything. I did feel the dynamics were very good but I was influenced by everyone else in the room wanting to listen to the “dynamic horn” scene over and over. I don’t think I would have been as impressed without the others excitement.
Before listening to this speaker I thought I had the order figured out and expected this one to be the ED’s but after listening I knew it could not be true so I flipped my guesses for A and D. We need to add that we did talk between demo’s and because of an error that occurred during demo B we all thought that it was the DR250. Without that faulty assumption I may have guessed differently.
(remember that the impressions that I wrote down are more telling than a numerical score)
B. JTR Triple 8
I felt these were the runaway winner and what I would buy. Great all around speaker. I expected to like many of these for movies but I was very keen to listen to how they handed music and these were fantastic. If you want an HT emphasis speaker that does justice to your music at very high SPL’s you should give these a listen.
I need to admit here that I was influenced by other impressions of the JTR’s that I have read here on avs and I expected to hear some harshness to the treble. All I will say is that knowing what speaker one is listening to dramatically influences our impressions of a speaker. In many instances one will hear what they expect to hear. The JTR is the ONLY speaker that I NEVER heard a hint of harshness in the treble region. Listening blindly to the JTR gives me the impression that I could just keep turning up it up and never hear compression or get listening fatigue.
The most dynamic speaker.
The best dialogue clarity.
The best mid bass.
The best non fatigue treble region.
I remember at the KC blind sub GTG I wrote about the Orbit Shifter that it did not seem to draw attention to itself or color the music and that this could be a good thing. Well, I wrote in my impressions of the Triple 8’s that they were maybe not as “exciting” to listen to but they were very well behaved. This is kinda like two ways to say the same thing. And guess what. I ended up buying the Orbit Shifter.
C. CHT SHO-10
Second best and great bang for the buck. I really enjoyed this one and the price point is low. Again, I think my impressions of this speaker were influenced by what others thought of it and the ED’s are very close to this speaker in performance and cost. If you are on a budget demo both of them and send the loser back.
A. ED Cinema 12
Very close to the SHO-10’s for a similar price. It is baffling to me that I heard a few negative things from these in blind listening that I never hear prior. Like I said for those on a budget just get them both and send the loser back. Your room and tastes will inevitably be different.
D. BFM DR250
Buy these with an intent to do a proper EQ. I have no such ability. I do wonder what these speakers would sound like if done justice to. I think we all realize the limitations of this blind GTG and take the results with that in mind. We did the best we could with a limited time frame and lots and lots of “technical difficulties”. In the end it was a bunch of guys listening blindly to mostly un EQ’d speakers with too many variables to count. And I would do it again.
Level matching - Omnimic with track 2 (repetitive short sinewave sweeps) was used and the volume was increased until the entire frequency response averaged around 83 dB. The volume was then set to 0 for the reference for each speaker. The zero setting was -17 dB for the eD, -16.5 dB for the JRT and CHT, and -21 dB for the DR250's. The DR250 were later lowered to -25 and still seemed louder than the other systems.
- All the speaker setups were the same distance apart. They were placed at the side of the room on top of the Submersive HT subs with the center located below the screen. I didn't discuss soundstage since it is very dependent on speaker placement. I would have had the speakers 3-6' closer for the best music listening.
- Carp has a nice room setup that works well for many people. Like HuskerOmaha, his rack is easy to access from the back by being located in a utility room.
- Carp's 50 gauge speaker wire was so small that it came loose from the JTR center speaker. When playing audio it was fine, but as soon as we played a movie clip the center channel info caused the receiver to shutdown. We thought it was the receiver or HTPC until kwarmy and I had everyone leave the room and figured out the problem. I like Speakon's a lot better than banana or bare wire.
- The lossless audio clips had more reverb or spaciousness to the sound. I don't know if this was due to the actual song or because it was lossless. There were 128, 256, and 320 MP3 clips being used.
- Was I the only one drinking the Papa John's garlic butter all by itself?
- From a logistics and setup standpoint, the speaker blind listening is a lot easier than dual subwoofer GTG's.
- The listening levels were all a lot higher than I would normally use - even for movies. However, my ears didn't hurt at all afterward and I've been to concerts that are more painful.
- We listened to the Master and Commander Blu-ray (DTS-HD) and DVD (DTS) opening battle several times. It was very hard to tell much difference with some scenes preferred slightly on the DVD and some on the Blu-ray. The overall dialogue and surround was better on the Blu-ray.
- I heard the Pulse clip for the first time. Wow!
- Carp had a 5.1 system with eD[c]6 surrounds. The surrounds were great and really complimented the front speakers for all the setups.
- I liked the Salk Songtower and dual JTR S2 sub setup I heard in Des Moines, IA a couple weeks ago better for music than any of these setups.
Since I did all the setup and was paying attention to settings and other stuff, when it came time to listen I pretty much just relaxed. However, here are a few comments.
Elemental Designs eD[c]12
This speaker was the harshest sounding to me. The DR250's were too loud in the treble, but never hurt my ears. My ears hurt a little when we finished with the eD speakers. I really liked the look of the speakers, but they were probably too big for most rooms. The JTR and CHT speakers had a much smaller footprint. Music was very detailed
JTR Triple 8
These were very smooth and enjoyable to listen to. They were my favorites of the evening. The midbass was the best and they didn't have too much high frequency energy. I loved the huge binding posts. I think they accept 4 gauge wire. The cabinets were the nicest and these were the heaviest speakers. The imaging was very good with a great soundstage (see placement comments above). After the DR250's these had the most clarity. Their frequency response including subs in Carp's room sloped down gently from 10hz to 20kHz.
This was my first time to spend an extended time with high sensitivity speakers. While they have great dynamics, I found this isn't the greatest priority for me and there are things I like better with lower sensitivity speakers. With the way these speakers sounded in Carp's room, the JTR's are the only ones I would own for music listening out of these setups.
The SHO-10 had the quickest rolloff on the bottom end of any of the speakers. This led to a more uneven frequency response in the bass since they weren't providing the same levels as the previous two speakers. I've also seen this at HuskerOmaha's room so it wasn't just Carp's room. If I was using them in my room I would use a 100-120 Hz crossover.
These were my second favorites in overall sound. I think the lower midbass actually helped the dialogue sound better. They never seemed harsh.
These speakers had a higher sensitivity at around 106 dB. I ended up lowering the volume by 8 dB and they still seemed louder. What is strange is that the Omnimic sweep measurement matched up in levels, but the SPL meter showed it at a higher volume. We really should have measured them with periodic pink noise and an RTA instead of the short sinewave sweeps. I think this would have been more representative of the actual SPL at the listening position. I also realized after getting home that I had forgotten to add the center speaker to the EQ group so it wasn't even EQ'd. This setup needed the speakers to be delayed further than the subs to get the crossover to integrate best. With any external EQ, this would have been hard to do. Horn speakers and subs have a further acoustical distance than their actual measured distance. For example, the JTR Orbit Shifter needs about 14' more distance than the actual measured distance for the best integration.
To me, these had the greatest clarity and detail. They also had the best dynamics but this could have also been due to too hot of a high end. However, the volume increases for explosions and gunshots seemed instantaneous and very realistic to me.
The voices did sound off and the high end was too hot. Bill suggested earlier to wire the tweeters so that some can be turned off. I did some searching on his forum and found that some use a switch to change the number of tweeters being used depending on the size of the venue. We were using all of them and at close proximity it was just too much energy.
Carp - Thanks for hosting, the two Sprites, and paper plate. Your dogs are well behaved compared to Desertdome and HuskerOmaha’s dogs and Archaea’s cats at GTGs. Congrats on the new personal record of 48.67 seconds from changing the distance from 20 ft to 0 ft.
Stich1 – Thanks for blocking the piercing sounds during certain moments.
MrSmithers – Nice to meet you. Thanks for handing me the scorecard, the cake magazine to write on, and the keyboard. Did you take your score sheet to the bathroom (just look at it)?
Archaea - Thanks for making the connector things. You looked like a fool trying to open the back of the Suburban. If only I had my flip recorder.
JediMasterGrant - Thanks for finding the 1/4 “ connector things after I searched for a half hour, ordering the pizza, and letting DD and I stay over. It was cool to see your golden retrievers, the twins, the 12” Rythmik, and your future theater room. I refused to sleep with the K-State blanket though.
Tesseract – Thanks for soldering the cables, the exchange of the Soundfield Sam1 Monitors, and the multiple offers for Empyrean Ale Watch Man I.P.A..
Desertdome – Thanks for letting me see LS speaker cabinets and kit, the mini Submersive, letting me park my car on the secured lot, bringing all the gear, driving, the Jimmy Johns #2 slim sandwich, and doing all the technical work.
Seating Location – I kneeled, crouched in the area behind the main listening position so I could move my head around and get an idea of the soundstage and hide from the piercing highs behind the listeners and couch. I based impressions off this and sweet spot. Everyone hears difference, looks for different things, and other levels such as volume were not controlled.
Music Selection Tracks - Not enough EDIT - [time] for instrumental songs
City and Colour – O’ Sister 1:19 – 1:58 (seen Dallas Green, Tegan & Sara live so familiar with voice, recorded in a church, backing vocal that is not always recognizable)
Angus and Julia Stone – Draw Your Swords 3:29 – 4:19 (needed a slightly compressed track, not enough time to hear Angus and Julia both in a song)
Right Away, Great Captain! – Memories From the End Pt. 1 0:45 – 1:21 (reverb, awesome vocal dynamic range, could not choose from album)
Hugh Masekela – Stimela 2:05 – 2:43 (good laughs even though it is a serious song, very dynamic drums, just need to turn it up).
Speaker A – Ed Cinema 12
- Thin depth to the soundfield.
- When moving a few inches from the center, the nearest speaker dominates the soundfield. Can pinpoint where the closer speaker is and the other seems much much lower in level.
- Crisp vocals in the midrange (higher up in frequency in what I heard with JTR). Also noticed this crispness with the recording reverb/ambiance.
- Snappy highs.
- Seemed like giant people were singing and playing instruments. The vocal imaging size was huge (estimated that the singers mouths were 4’ wide). The instruments were also abnormally larger. Might be sweet for voiceless trance.
Speaker B – JTR 10 (should not be triple 8, DDD is better known as F)
- Much smoother highs from start. Seemed a little recessed later on and missing some cymbals, bells.
- The imaging width/height seemed more appropriate. Moving my head did not result in the closest speaker dominating the soundfield.
- This speaker was the closest to presenting a realistic soundstage such as an unamplified indoor music venue. It was the only one that provided some depth to the presentation. I enjoyed the more immersive feel for movies too. The Book of Eli brought back memories of nerf gunfights so it has to be realistic. The Rain scene was the most immersive on this setup too.
- The reverb/ambiance still did not have the relaxing airy feel. Something a little crisp with the reverb.
- The upper bass seemed louder.
- Seemed to be some coloration somewhere in the lower midrange. Also missing some detail in the recording.
Speaker C CHT Sho-10
- The presentation seemed the clearest but there was also some nasal quality to vocals. Not like Lois Griffin nasal but seemed more like undeveloped teenagers vocals, maybe due to recessed high end (NOT the haaaaaaa or maybe it is huhhhhhhhhh sound you hear with prepubescent kids, I remember listening tests over this in middle school, has this singer’s chords matured yet?).
- The soundfield depth was thin and like speaker A, it was easier to tell the location of the speakers by moving your head. Not as dramatic though.
- Missing air on bell, most of the cymbal energy is gone, and some detail was missing on songs.
Speaker D – Dr 250 Odd-Ball, meant for large venues
- Mother Hubbard!, the top end was harsh but at least back. My eardrums were ringing like a bell on certain notes. Had to throw a notch filter on eardrums, suck extra air into inner ear canal to further reduce highs, and add fingers to outer canal. The 10 kHz area was still hurting even after PEQ that area and reducing the channel levels.
- The tone was clean. I bet these measure well in harmonic distortion.
- Sounded like Nilsy boy was using a flanger/phaser (have hard time telling the difference between those pedals) pedal on guitar and voice. Most of the tracks sounded this way. Not full flanger/phaser effect but with some level. Very noticeable with the center channel during movies.
- The speaker sounded much better in the sweetspot. Everywhere else the imaging was missing, whats the popular word, oh swag, or maybe saying it was vague is better?
- Could tell where the sound was emitting from the easiest.
- Is this what 3D sound sounds like cause 3D movies hurt my eyes?
- The only center channel for movies that I really enjoyed was the JTR. I prefer a more immersive soundfield. The others seemed too localizable. The JTR was even.
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge - Stephen Hawking
Kyle Bosso - SOB
Sorry I won't be in attendance, will be up in the Twin Cities for a conference.
(Please disregard the multiple drill/screw holes and the heat altered finish on the SHO-10s. )
Sure man, come on over if you can, you have PM.
The Laws of Physics aren't swayed by opinion.
We haven't planned on EQing higher than about 200 Hz when taking measurements from the listening position. Do you recommend EQing the full frequency bandwidth? If so, what suggestions do you have regarding number of filters and maximum cuts? In other words, what would you do if you were the FOH engineer for the GTG?
Yeah, Desertdome told me they are 22x22x22, so I built the blind frames pretty big - thanks though. The center channel will block some of the screen for movies, but oh well it shouldn't be that big of a deal.
Here is a picture of what the seating area will look like, I really want to avoid doing folding chairs. The seats aren't all optimal of course, but I figure all of us can take turns sitting in the sweet spot. If we get more people coming we can set folding chairs up in the back... wish I hadn't sold the bar stools years ago...
I have to work Friday, what time are you starting? I might be able to leave a little early. I have a pair of 2012 SHO-10's for judging consideration, and a pair of Soundfield Audio Monitor 1's just for fun music listening after the shootout.
"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein
Volunteer Moderator for the Chase Home Theater forum
Reserved. Oh wait. I'm not coming but my SHO-10s just left my basement and I'm lonely. Does that count?
Sorry I won't be in attendance, will be up in the Twin Cities for a conference.
(Please disregard the multiple drill/screw holes and the heat altered finish on the SHO-10s. )
Screws in the holes will help keep box tuning.
"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein
Volunteer Moderator for the Chase Home Theater forum
Starting at 5:00, that's when DD and Kwarny will get here and we can set up the blind listening. Before that some of us will be listening to Jedimastergrant's Orbit Shifter, that should start shortly after 1:00 or so.
Glad you can make it, feel free to get here as soon as you can.
My participation is tentative at this point. If work can spare me, I'm there!
EDIT: My blind listening impressions, hind sight is 20/20. I tried to limit scoring my card to my impressions from the sweet spot listening chair. Not easy when you only have 30 seconds or so of music clips, and one of my chosen clips didn't make it to the HTPC hard drive, so I had the least amount of time in this chair. I did save Dynamic impressions for movie/concert clips, during which time we would all move about the room trying the sweet spot chair and alternate positions. I decided to call the category "Lows" Mid bass, because true bass (lows) were filtered out and handled by the subs.
Speaker A: Didn't sound bad, just not what I am used to listening to at home. It handled Dynamics pretty well, male/female singing voice and movie dialog came across with very good Clarity, but A was a little rough around the edges at the high levels we were listening at. I would have liked to give it another go at lower volumes. I think that being the first speaker put it at a disadvantage. All participants lowered the volume for B, C, and D at one point or another during their time in the audition chair, even if levels were cranked later on.
Speaker B: I really enjoyed this speaker, it didn't have any glaring faults except for imaging was vague for me. Could have been improved with setup, possibly, but that takes experimentation and time. Dynamics were impressive, B sounded the same at higher levels as it did with lesser.
Speaker C: By this time in the audition, we were trying wider ranges of listening levels. This made scoring a little tougher, and I made some changes to my sheet when the movie clips were played. Midbass was best of the bunch, and may have masked the midrange a bit. I've listened to these speakers in two other environments (I own the 2012 version and bought them based on hearing HuskerOmaha's in his room), and they excel in the midrange.
Speaker D: This speaker started off with levels noticeably higher than the others (5-7 dB higher average), especially the highs. I had to plug my ears, looking around I noticed Carp and kwarny sitting in the back row with me did the same. The rest of the guys in the front row did not and I was concerned for their well being! I did ask that the volume be reduced so that I could get a better handle on the speaker's sound. When levels were reduced, I could hear the potential the speaker had, especially with the well recorded Michael Jackson clips while listening in the sweet spot chair. I asked a few participants to sit and listen to these clips and I think they were in agreement that D did very well with that material. I scored my card based on lower listening levels and ignored the blast we experienced at the beginning of the audition. Mid bass was thin, which didn't help with impressions of the highs. In spite of my scoring or the impressions of the other participants, this was my favorite speaker and I really would like to hear it at it's best. D didn't get to put it's best foot forward, but it's potential was evident to me. Imaging was best of the bunch..
Optimizing a speaker to the room takes time, time we did not have. As a result, no Goosebumps were experienced by me, or by my 2 channel Nebraska brethren.
"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein
Volunteer Moderator for the Chase Home Theater forum
The Laws of Physics aren't swayed by opinion.
so do you think that is true of all the speakers being tested
Pre-Pro: Emotiva XMC-1, DSP: Mini DSP 2x4 balanced
Amplifier: Sunfire TGA7400, Lab Gruppen FP10000Q
Speakers: JTR Noesis 212HT (LCR), JTR Slant 8's (surrounds), 3 Orbit Shifter LFU's
Sources: PS3, HTPC, Dish Network
Projector: Epson 8350
Screen: Seymour XD AT 138" diagonal 16:9
I would say as long as the crossover region is smooth the LFE can be turned up to the attendee's liking. You have to EQ, level match, and especially make the settings for each speaker ideal to sound their best. The eD speaker may be smoother with a 80hz crossover and the DR might be smoother with a 100hz crossover. My DR-200's liked a 100hz crossover for a smooth transition(measured). As I told Carp and Desertdome, if you guys like the tone of the tweeters on the DR it will win hands down. Better dynamics and awesome clarity with big sound always wins for me. However, if you don't like the tone then all that stuff won't matter. I happen to like it so I picked accordingly. Since I already tested these here is how I ranked them.
2. eD but mine was upgraded
Now the best part is that even the cheapest SHO-10 did a fantastic job and some might think for the price the others are not worth it. My eD had the DE-250 compression driver and 3012HO woofer. I bet that speaker can compete with almost any for HT. I just happen to like the DR's presentation more for HT. I wish I lived near you guys, we could have tested everything out that is worth a crap. My biggest problem is not having the help around me.
BTW, any of these speakers can be ranked differently by different people. The DR's with it's 106 dBs sensitivity should always have the best dynamics and big sound for its sure size but other may not like the tone of the tweeters so it can be ranked lower. I usually rank these based on a few things and I could give you a break down.
dynamics, clarity, big sound, feeling(that goosebump feeling), and midbass. I would rank them from 1-4 based on each category(this is what I did) with 1 being the best and 4 the worst of this group.
I am sure if I had more time to break in the feeling on the eD would have gone up because that is what happened on the SHO-10's. I had 3 sets of DR-200's and the first set sound awful and I could not get them right for whatever reason and sent them back. My second set was lousy without any EQ but once I dialed them in it was a whole new speaker. Then I decided to stack them as one speaker and for me, nothing has been better in any category(well, the dual 2226's still have the midbass advantage). All these speakers have great dynamics, clarity, and big sound but I had to do something. Now my comparisons were sighted so a blind test will be very interesting indeed.
If one is going to make a simplistic assessment of the value of different alignments, it would be that sealed/IB goes the lowest, at the highest cost per dB; horns have the lowest cost per dB at the expense of size, and vented box characteristics lie in between the other two. None is inherently superior across the board, neither is any inherently inferior across the board. The one to use is the one that fits your response and output needs, available space and bank account. -BFM
I enjoyed seeing everyone again and hearing all the equipment.
I didn't guess correctly on the blind testing.
Much more tommorow, I just got home!
Thanks carp for hosting!
Speaker A - Elemental Designs Cinema12
Speaker B - JTR Speakers Triple 8
Speaker C - Chase Home Theater SHO-10
Speaker D - Bill Fitzmaurice DR250
I've made an album in photobucket to hold the scoresheets from this blind meet.
Here are the other's score sheets.
Two notes: I deleted a line from carp's scoresheet at his request before publicly posting his sheet. Kwarny didn't score because he was helping Desert Dome setup and so was not blinded.
All other attendees were 100% blind and in talking to each of them --- none of us had any clue what was what during each audition, and what's more the ones we thought we SURELY KNEW --- several of us found out were wrong (myself included)
Archaea's Score Sheet
Carp's Score Sheet
DesertDome's Score Sheet
(Was setting up EQ - did you make one?)
JediMasterGrant's Score Sheet
Kwarny's Score Sheet ( was setting up and tearing down blind speakers - no scoring since he knew what was what )
MrSmither's Score Sheet
Stitch1's Score Sheet
Tesseract's Score Sheeet