Speakers were not good at low levels but outstanding at mid to loud levels...what does that mean? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 01:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all:

I really really...did I say really...liked the speakers i was listening to today, but I noticed they did not sound good until I got them to a volume that I would not normally play them at in my house (this was a show room.)

At low levels they were all muddled...at higher levels the sound stage enveloped me and the sound became clear ...bass was thumping not boomy...mids were clear and didnt mix with the highs.

At lower levels the speakers seemed a mess though...

They had plent of power being driven by a large NAD reciever ...I think 140 watts per channel..this was just in 2 speaker mode.

Now that I came back and realized I didnt like the speakers until I had the sound way up...I am just wondering what this means? I dont think I would be comfortable playing the speakers at my house at that level all the time, but dang did they sound good when I played them a little loud. (they still had their faults but best sounding speakers I have auditioned yet)
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post #2 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 06:09 AM
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Sounds like you should move on to another brand and get a better situation going for the long term.

Have you auditioned Salks?

I won't get this right, but if you have to turn them up to get them fully performing, then there are many things wrong - crossover, cabinet tuning, driver matching, placement, etc. I did have a local buddy with some speakers that only sounded good to him when he cranked them up - they were pitifully tweaked by previous owner into money pits. Once he heard a better designed speaker perform at low levels and loud levels consistently he dumped those bad boys quickly. He also realized a much lower volume setting was all he needed anyways and his wife also appreciated the improvement. Don't get yourself into a bad situation. Keep shopping.
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post #3 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 07:16 AM
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Look at an equal loudness curve. At low levels you don't hear highs and lows as well. If you're in the habit of listening at low levels you need to EQ to compensate for your hearing response.

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post #4 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Look at an equal loudness curve. At low levels you don't hear highs and lows as well. If you're in the habit of listening at low levels you need to EQ to compensate for your hearing response.

Now that you say that...I have to go back and listen to other speakers to see if I "hear" them at low levels.

As for Sulks... I have not heard them yet. I was looking at Ribbon speakers just the other day..looking as in researching by reading.
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post #5 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 08:07 AM
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To some degree this is true for all speakers. They sound best at levels at which you wouldn't normally listen. Be sure to do apples to apples comparisons, as best you can.
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post #6 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

Now that you say that...I have to go back and listen to other speakers to see if I "hear" them at low levels.
All speakers adhere to the same laws of acoustics. One could incorporate a midrange dip in a speaker to make it sound better at low levels, but then it would sound too shy in the mids at higher levels.
Almost every stereo receiver used to have a loudness control, which boosted the lows and highs at low volume, with the boost gradually rolled off as the volume was increased. It was a very useful feature, and I don't understand why it was eliminated with the advent of x.1.

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post #7 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 12:40 PM
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It means that the speakers are new and are not broken in yet.
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post #8 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

All speakers adhere to the same laws of acoustics. One could incorporate a midrange dip in a speaker to make it sound better at low levels, but then it would sound too shy in the mids at higher levels.
Almost every stereo receiver used to have a loudness control, which boosted the lows and highs at low volume, with the boost gradually rolled off as the volume was increased. It was a very useful feature, and I don't understand why it was eliminated with the advent of x.1.

Finding speakers that sound good at lower listening volumes has long been a priority in my auditioning process as most of my HT and music listening time is after the little one is in bed. After auditioning many speakers I've come to wonder if some/most speakers have a sweet spot (or sweet "range") where volume is concerned.

Bill - within the laws of acoustics, isn't there room in design/engineering to create speakers that might play better at certain volumes?
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post #9 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post


Bill - within the laws of acoustics, isn't there room in design/engineering to create speakers that might play better at certain volumes?
Yes, it's a pretty simple matter to configure the crossover to accentuate the lows and highs and attenuate the mids. But when you crank it up it won't sound right. An easier, and reversible, method is to turn up the bass and treble EQ for low level playing.

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post #10 of 16 Old 02-10-2013, 11:25 PM
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purists will balk, but in my opinion and experience the loudness button or modern equivalents such as audyssey dynamic eq or dolby volume helps tremendously in bringing out a full sound field at low(er) volumes.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #11 of 16 Old 02-11-2013, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

purists will balk, but in my opinion and experience the loudness button or modern equivalents such as audyssey dynamic eq or dolby volume helps tremendously in bringing out a full sound field at low(er) volumes.

I agree 100% with this.

When watching a movie with my wife at night with kids sleeping SHE didn't want the sound to get too loud. So at low levels we were straining to hear things and the range was too big and it honestly didn't sound that great until we turned everything up.

Changing dynamic volume while not near reference has been about the best tweak I've done in the last couple years to my system.
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post #12 of 16 Old 02-11-2013, 09:23 AM
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I'll agree with it, too. Dynamic EQ takes what a 'loudness' button tried and does it a lot better. Dynamic volume improves things still further... well, most of the time.

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post #13 of 16 Old 02-11-2013, 10:21 AM
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I really enjoy Dyanmic EQ and Dynamic Volume. EQ makes the sound more dynamic at lower volumes, and volume bumps the vocals and attenuates the peaks. Perfect for evening or casual listening.

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post #14 of 16 Old 02-11-2013, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAD View Post

Sounds like you should move on to another brand and get a better situation going for the long term.

I won't get this right, but if you have to turn them up to get them fully performing, then there are many things wrong - crossover, cabinet tuning, driver matching, placement, etc. I did have a local buddy with some speakers that only sounded good to him when he cranked them up - they were pitifully tweaked by previous owner into money pits. Once he heard a better designed speaker perform at low levels and loud levels consistently he dumped those bad boys quickly. He also realized a much lower volume setting was all he needed anyways and his wife also appreciated the improvement. Don't get yourself into a bad situation. Keep shopping.

+1 for this take on it. My speaker system sounds great at any volume. No loudness or EQ needed. If you go with these thinking either a) I'll just turn them up when listening or b) maybe they will break in and be OK, you will no doubt end up hating these speakers and be in the market for some new ones again at some later date. In other words, don't compromise on speaker sound quality. You'll regret it eventually.
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post #15 of 16 Old 02-11-2013, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
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So...if I like the speakers ...my Onkyo 818 will take care of the rest. I like that answer.

The whole speaker community is a little "strange" to be honest... Most of the things we dislike about a speaker can be "fixed" by changing the signal. I know that if you change one thing..it can have a cascade effect and ruin / negatively affect other things...but this can be taken overboard too.

Everyone wants great bass in their floor standers...but the vast majority of the industry avoids powered speakers. There are allot of other technicalogoical factors but audiophiles seem to cling to the "old ways". Although beat to death tube amps are another example.

Now I just read some posts again..that tends to confuse me... I can't figure out if its fine to let the AVR adjust at low lvls or something really is "wrong" with the speakers. I guess I need to listen to more speakers again to see if this is part of all speakers.
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post #16 of 16 Old 02-11-2013, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

Everyone wants great bass in their floor standers...but the vast majority of the industry avoids powered speakers. There are allot of other technicalogoical factors but audiophiles seem to cling to the "old ways". Although beat to death tube amps are another example.

I think a lot of us think that bass from floorstanders is something we shouldn't be overly concerned about, given that the optimal positions for main speakers are at best unlikely to be optimal positions for low bass frequencies and are best handled by separate subwoofers.

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