Originally Posted by MarsianMan
I'll make an attempt at clarifying. The Arx A5 treble was crisp and any comments about forwardness was directed at this range only. I just thought that long term listening may lead to a headache or ears hurting. The midrange was not as present as I would want and maybe I mean warm. The midrange (or what i think of mids) just felt overshadowed by vocals and sounds like cymbals. I also thought that voices didn't have the timbre I expected. I think that the issues I noted in the first review remained whether calibrated or direct, it was just a matter of how much I thought it mattered or how noticeable it was. Calibrated and with dynamic EQ it was much less noticeable than in pure direct mode. Yes I did have it miscalibrated originally, but the characteristic sound was still there.
If I may, a point or two. First, designing for good clarity is important to this brand, but designing to a well-tempered mid-treble balance is paramount. This is a primary directive at TAI and so I had to think about the comment above in the context of systems and amplification before it struck me what has probably happened.
I'll use an example. Another customer recently found the A5 - the identical speaker - very good except for excess
bass warmth. Since the A5 uses smaller midwoofers that roll off higher than larger drivers in larger enclosures, I found this curious. He felt the speaker was superior to two trending, popular models from two different ID brands elsewhere in the spectrum - neither of which I would have thought the A5 at its price would have bettered - but in his system the issue was bass bloom. About this time this three-tower shootout happened and if I read it for what the OP meant, in his experience the opposite occurred, more or less.
In the former case the amplifier was a classic design, large push pull beam tetrode tube amplifier, with convertible triode/pentode circuitry. In the latter case where the speaker was less full sounding, even to the point of shout, the amplifier was way over on the other end of the amplifier spectrum, a relatively low current receiver.
Investigating a tube amplifier of this particular circuit's type, especially driving a 5 ohm (dcr) speaker, reveals an already very high impedance device like a penta-element beam tetrode working into the amplifier's highest transfer ratio - into the 4 ohm tap - having first given the output tubes a somewhat mismatched primary impedance - roughly the halfway point between the optimum triode and optimum pentode primary impedances. What we'll end up with is about as low a damping factor as possible from an already completely unregulated vacuum tube amplifier. We could all but anticipate bass bloom and excess warmth.
Over on the other end of the scale a low current receiver will not source the significant amounts of drive that what is basically a 4 ohm speaker requires for adequate dynamic music signal. (The other two towers in this test were 8 ohm systems and larger as well.) To be sure, the receiver will certainly run the speaker, but it will do so without the drive and authority a heavier duty amplifier will where there are ample amounts of instantaneous current on tap. The end result will almost certainly be a leaner, less rich sound, perhaps even bordering on forward as volumes rise.
This range of audible characteristics came from one loudspeaker, and in this case a speaker with the distortion-lowering technologies you'd expect to reveal such differences as its key feature. Regardless of whatever virtues or failings the A5 has - and it is after all a diminutive, economical 5.25" based platform in this field of 6.5" systems - it will be and must be thought of as a system together with its amplifier. In one of these setups other factors entered too, such as auditions occurring within a roughly 3' by 4' wall of loudspeakers with some bass reflex ports on the front and others on the back, but I suspect that when a particular finding shows up as the exception to the user consensus for the model the first place to investigate is amplification, setup, use, and even sources.
It's an odd-sounding statement but I've always said things sound like what they are. Once you know how all the different factors lay out in any one of the infinite system possibilities, generally you'll discover that you could have nearly predicted the outcome. None of this meant to revise anyone's findings as such in a relatively simple matchup between what appear to be similar components. It's intended to offer the reader an insight into just how those seemingly similar components, when driven across class and by strikingly different front ends, will invariably sound the only way then can.