How important (really..) are good surround speakers? - Page 3 - AVS Forum
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post #61 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 06:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by audit13 View Post

The P363 are currently on sale at Frys for $117 each. Seems to in-store only though.

http://www.frys.com/ads/audio-video-television-cameras-portable-car-electronics

After living with a pair of the Pioneer SP-FS52s for a week and watching a couple of movies, they are excellent value.

That wasn't really my point. I should have been more direct....

Debating value in a luxury item market segment, like consumer electronics, is futile. Being a luxury item, everyone will value different aspects of the product with different weight - personal to them. The best value in speakers is the cheapest one on the planet. Period. If noise comes out of it at the cheapest price point = best value. When you start adding desires to it, that's what drives price up. I'm sure there is some solar powered radio that makes noise and we can debate that since radio is free and it requires no power cost to run IT, is indeed, the best value.

HERE! Best value in audio: http://www.amazon.com/Timex-T065S-Powered-Controlled-Atomic/dp/B002IY76Z8/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1364775654&sr=8-14&keywords=solar+power+radio $17.39, consumes NO power, and uses a NO COST source.

Bottom Line & Inescapable Truth: Needs are cheap. Wants will cost you. tongue.gif
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post #62 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

That wasn't really my point. I should have been more direct....

Debating value in a luxury item market segment, like consumer electronics, is futile. Being a luxury item, everyone will value different aspects of the product with different weight - personal to them. The best value in speakers is the cheapest one on the planet. Period. If noise comes out of it at the cheapest price point = best value. When you start adding desires to it, that's what drives price up. I'm sure there is some solar powered radio that makes noise and we can debate that since radio is free and it requires no power cost to run IT, is indeed, the best value.

HERE! Best value in audio: http://www.amazon.com/Timex-T065S-Powered-Controlled-Atomic/dp/B002IY76Z8/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1364775654&sr=8-14&keywords=solar+power+radio $17.39, consumes NO power, and uses a NO COST source.

Bottom Line & Inescapable Truth: Needs are cheap. Wants will cost you. tongue.gif

Oh, I see now. My bad.

I only posted the link for people that may be have been reading your post and were interested in the speakers you referenced.
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post #63 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

In the example you gave, I would give someone the advice to get the best you can while still being able to afford daily life. You have to have priorities in life and having speakers is a luxury/lifestyle choice where the necessities are exactly just that.

Exactly smile.gif This is a fun just a fun hobby not a necessity!... Only build what works for you, Sh|t I would love a killer dual sub setup and some
super high end this and that but gotta keep the priorities ( family ) first. Happy Wife is a happy life.

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post #64 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 07:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

Let's assume arguendo your 90% figure is true. It's still the answer to the wrong question.

The relevant and material question is not "how much content is back there?" Rather, the important question is "how discerning is the human auditory system to differences in spectral balance and location cues in the rearward hemisphere, compared to the front hemisphere?"

The answer to the question that matters is, in short, "not very."
The Absolute Zero may be a bit light for some uses, depending on the size of the room, but it is a speaker with wide and fairly even horizontal dispersion.

Dr. Floyd Toole makes some interesting recommendations for surrounds, too. Here's how he starts 18.4.4, which he titled "The Perfect Surround Loudspeaker"

"A very wide, uniform horizontal directivity pattern is needed to provide the localization cues for directed sound effects and to establish the basis for the perception of envelopment. Conventional forward firing or bidirectional in-phase on-wall loudspeakers are eminently capable of delivering those experiences, but excellence is guaranteed only for the central seating area. As listeners move toward the sides, sounds arriving from the nearer loudspeaker get rapidly louder, and those from the opposite loudspeaker get quieter. The sense of envelopment is progressively diminished, and it eventually disappears, replaced by sound emerging from the nearby loudspeaker. Figure 16.8 explains the cause— propagation loss—and proposes one solution: full-height line-source loudspeakers. However, as good as they may be, for reasons of size and cost they are not practical solutions for the mass market. A target performance for “the perfect surround” loudspeaker was also proposed: a loudspeaker with, in effect, no propagation loss."
Toole, Sound Reproduction, at 407.

It's worth noting what is completely absent here, or elsewhere in the book: any reference to the surrounds "matching" the mains in any way.

I've considered buying a pair of the smaller JBL CBT speakers (the ones with 8 or 16 2-inch drivers) to see if they are indeed an improvement over the standard "concentric driver firing up" approach that I've consistently found to offer the best compromise thus far.
That is also my experience. A while back now (2005 or 2006) I spent a fair bit of money to upgrade my side and rear surrounds. My previous surrounds were KEF Q-Compact speakers, which were solidly in the good-not-great category. On the plus side, they had wide and even dispersion in the midrange, though some audible flaring in the penultimate octave (5-10 kHz). On the minus side, when used as front speakers they sounded nasal, and with just a 5" concentric driver they couldn't go that loud. Their replacements used Tannoy 8" Dual Concentrics and were very similar to the front three speakers. (The front three speakers did use Tannoy's "next level up" 8" concentric driver, in stouter cabinets.)

I eagerly cued up my multichannel SACD's and DVD-A's. (I'm more a music guy than a movie guy - honestly, I'm not sure I've ever intentionally planned to re-watch a movie.) The result was..."really, that's it?"

I was so puzzled that I put two of Q-Compacts up front, turned off all processing, and listened in stereo. Sure enough, they sounded rounded off compared to the Tannoys, and nasal. The highs sounded slightly less natural too. Then I tried the Tannoys I bought to replace them, crudely level-matched (the Tannoys were considerably more efficient), and they were just much much better all around.

Since then, I haven't much cared about surrounds. I do prefer surrounds that are more-or-less similar to the mains, but on aesthetic rather than functional grounds.
"Matching" is a BS marketing conceit with no basis in reality. (Unless one's talking about a cosmetic match.)

In the real world, there is "identical," and there is "not identical." If some marketer says "matched" on its own or paired with some adjective such as "voice" or "timbre," one can intepret that word/phrase simply as "not identical."

The front three mains should be identical, if at all possible. ("Identical" here meaning same speaker, same height, same orientation.) Speakers to the sides and rears need not be identical.

To make sure I understand you correctly, you feel that it is marketing hype and NOT a performance consideration as to why people voice match their surrounds?

Let me attempt to use real world, practical example as to why I disagree....

I consider the entire room to be the "stage". The idea of front stage, rear stage, side, etc. is a little strange to me because the idea for a multi-channel system, to me, is to immerse yourself into the film's "stage" in it's entirety, so to speak. Now, I will often refer to the "front stage" as such because it's easier to do when speaking on the front three speakers but, other than that, I refer to multi-channel rigs as complete systems.

I find it incredible to believe that people feel there is a definite, indisputable, difference in interaction between Left, Center, Right to the point where they DEFINITELY must match those three speakers but... the sides and rears... not so much.

Using this image as an example:
Optimized by JPEGmini 3.7.23.0 Internal

For practical purposes, there is similar distance between the seating position and the front left & right, and the left & right surrounds. There is not some gaping chasm of space that is so different (only a few feet for most rooms - and sometimes, not even that) that there is such a separation that the listener cannot tell a difference in voicing.

Does that make sense what I am trying to explain? It definitely would be easier to show in an actual room. If there is (say) 10' between the Front Left and center, and then maybe 15' between the Front Left and the Left Surround, how can one need to be voice matched and the other not? The difference in space and timing is virtually identical, so why does the rule change? Even if the surround was 25', 30', 40' from the mains, this should not be considered very far in comparison at all because of the speed of which sound transfers and is mixed in the content.

There is a tremendous amount of content now that is mixed for multi-channel that uses the rear surrounds heavily. Even ambient sounds like crowed noise, soundtrack overlays, etc. will simultaneously come from front left, right, and surround left, right.

I disagree with the idea of fronts match, surrounds don't because of the reasons I listed above.

But, you don't have to believe me (ask Billy F, I'm just some guy on the internet rolleyes.gif)? But, you can definately believe Dolby, they invented the stuff. I will paste the section #15 below, but here is the entire link for people who care to dork out and read it all smile.gif : http://www.dolby.com/uploadedFiles/Assets/US/Doc/Professional/42_DDFAQ.pdf



15. What kind of
speakers should I get for
an all-new Dolby Digital
system?

The ideal Dolby Digital
playback system would use
identical full-range speakers for
the left, center, right, and each
surround channel. If this is
impractical, be sure that the
overall tonal characteristic, or
timbre, of all the speakers is
similar. This is equally important
for both Dolby Surround Pro
Logic and Dolby Digital playback.

I find part of their statement about full range and then what they say in section 16 to be contradictory to another one of their published Dolby AC3 papers I have read through (about 53 pages) that discussed the detriments of having full range speakers crossed over below 80hz. What that paper said completely made sense so, I will have to research this some more.
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post #65 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 07:21 PM
 
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To my above post with the DolbyLabs original AC3 whitepaper...

That is pretty old (note the mention of Laser Discs smile.gif ) but it does hold true that the surround speakers should ideally be timbre matched to the mains.

I had a white paper that was more modern from Dolby Labs that discussed large vs. small speaker settings on processors and what should be set to what.

Basically, here is what they said: When using a subwoofer for LFE, set the speakers to small even if they can play full range. This will allow for the best placement of the subwoofer(s) for the non-directional, 80hz and lower, bass from the soundtrack. Having the mains and surrounds be full range and playing that low will possibly cause bass management issues because where the actual channels 1-7 go in the room may or may not be the proper placement for the best low frequency response in the room. It also stated the recommendation of multiple subwoofers in the room to use for bass management in smoothing out room response.

I will try to find it and post it at some point.
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post #66 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by quiksr20 View Post

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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post


In the real world, there is "identical," and there is "not identical." If some marketer says "matched" on its own or paired with some adjective such as "voice" or "timbre," one can intepret that word/phrase simply as "not identical."

The front three mains should be identical, if at all possible. ("Identical" here meaning same speaker, same height, same orientation.) Speakers to the sides and rears need not be identical.

I meant matched as in the same family... IE I run PSB Image T5 mains & a C5 center ( same tweeter / same woofer ) and for rears I will be getting matching as in a small book shelf from the same family a B5
( there bookshelf with same woofer as mains ( 1 ) and same tweeter. Hope that makes sense what I meant by matching def didnt mean marketing talk.

That is absolutely just marketing talk. Exactly the kind of marketing BS I was inveighing against. The same drive units means nothing when the cabinets are totally different and the spatial relationships between said drive units is totally different!
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To make sure I understand you correctly, you feel that it is marketing hype and NOT a performance consideration as to why people voice match their surrounds?

It's not what I "feel."

"Voice matching" is a BS marketing conceit without any basis in reality.

It's just not a thing.

There is the same speaker, and there is a different speaker. Some speakers may indeed superficially look similar to others, but below the skin they are different. Not "matched," different. The same drivers in a different cabinet with (hopefully!) a different crossover is simply speaking a different loudspeaker!
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Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

I consider the entire room to be the "stage". The idea of front stage, rear stage, side, etc. is a little strange to me ***

Me, too. There is simply "the performance" as far as I'm concerned.

But that doesn't change the basic reality that the human auditory system simply isn't as sensitive to timbre and location cues in the rearward hemisphere as it is in the forward hemisphere.
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Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

I find it incredible to believe that people feel there is a definite, indisputable, difference in interaction between Left, Center, Right to the point where they DEFINITELY must match those three speakers but... the sides and rears... not so much.

Keep in mind that I would never say "match" the front three speakers, because "matched" is a marketing conceit without basis in reality. I say use identical speakers, in the same orientation, at the same height. If that is not possible, use concentric drivers (KEF, TAD/Pioneer EX, Tannoy, Gradient, etc.) or at least a very small midrange with a very close tweeter, and employ enough damping material (felt, open cell foam, etc.) on the baffle to minimize differences due to cabinet diffraction. That won't be perfect, but chances are it will be acceptable.

Also, again, the reason surrounds needn't be identical but can in fact be different from the mains (leaving aside the marketing BS nonexistent category of "matched") has nothing to do with the characteristics of source material, and everything to do with the way the human auditory system actually works. It may make a room look better if the mains and surrounds look similar. But it's really just an issue of looks.
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post #67 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 07:37 PM
 
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That is absolutely just marketing talk. Exactly the kind of marketing BS I was inveighing against. The same drive units means nothing when the cabinets are totally different and the spatial relationships between said drive units is totally different!
It's not what I "feel."

"Voice matching" is a BS marketing conceit without any basis in reality.

It's just not a thing.

There is the same speaker, and there is a different speaker. Some speakers may indeed superficially look similar to others, but below the skin they are different. Not "matched," different. The same drivers in a different cabinet with (hopefully!) a different crossover is simply speaking a different loudspeaker!
Me, too. There is simply "the performance" as far as I'm concerned.

But that doesn't change the basic reality that the human auditory system simply isn't as sensitive to timbre and location cues in the rearward hemisphere as it is in the forward hemisphere.
Keep in mind that I would never say "match" the front three speakers, because "matched" is a marketing conceit without basis in reality. I say use identical speakers, in the same orientation, at the same height. If that is not possible, use concentric drivers (KEF, TAD/Pioneer EX, Tannoy, Gradient, etc.) or at least a very small midrange with a very close tweeter, and employ enough damping material (felt, open cell foam, etc.) on the baffle to minimize differences due to cabinet diffraction.

Also, again, the reason surrounds needn't be identical but can in fact be different from the mains (leaving aside the marketing BS nonexistent category of "matched") has nothing to do with the characteristics of source material, and everything to do with the way the human auditory system actually works. It may make a room look better if the mains and surrounds look similar. But it's really just an issue of looks.

Please refer to the Dolby AC3 decoding white paper that I linked and the section 15 that I pasted in my post #64.

Also, matched speaker systems DO exist. One of them can be found here: http://phasetechnology.com/darts.html (reviews are at the bottom of the page)

With a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGbpfiX47j4
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post #68 of 90 Old 03-31-2013, 09:23 PM
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In the example you gave, I would give someone the advice to get the best you can while still being able to afford daily life. You have to have priorities in life and having speakers is a luxury/lifestyle choice where the necessities are exactly just that.

The Infinity P363 has a street price of $200(ish). 5 of those and someone would be at $1,000 total.

The savings difference, between the P363 and the other model, P163, you listed is over 50% at street pricing. $500+ is a tremendous amount of money if your budget is $1000. I completely understand making the cost cutting move. At $1000 for all 5 channels, there is not going to be any sort of perfect system performance or anywhere even close when comparing to more expensive rigs so concessions at these lowest possible price points are certainly not anything someone should fret about one way or the other.

Systems at price points of (arbitrarily) $3,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, etc., etc. and on and on up will be able to strive for and achieve different levels of performance than someone at $500 or $1,000 should expect to get.

Say they are the same price. What would you rather have?

5 identical p163's or 2 p363's for left/right, and 3 163's for center and surround.

For me, p363's for surround will not work as there is no room in my living room. Also, they would need to be raised as well. This just doesn't apply to these infinity's, I'm trying to figure if I should go without identical 5.0 all around or get bigger floorstanders for the front left/right channels.
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post #69 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by PlexMulti View Post

Please refer to the Dolby AC3 decoding white paper that I linked and the section 15 that I pasted in my post #64.

An unsupported throwaway assertion from a thirteen year-old Dolby marketing document is just not relevant or material here. Sorry.
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Also, matched speaker systems DO exist. One of them can be found here: http://phasetechnology.com/darts.html (reviews are at the bottom of the page)

Sort of. That's a bunch of different speakers they attempt to stitch together with room correction. And poor quality speakers at that. I mean, a toppled-MTM center channel? That wasn't a credible option in 2006, and it certainly isn't in 2013! Phase Technology makes much more advanced loudspeakers than their models in that link above. For example, Dr. David Rich wrote a positive review of how three of their PC-3.5 standmount models (and two of the company's smaller speakers), set up properly and EQ'ed with the best currently-available room correction system (Anthem's ARC) perform with multichannel music.

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post #70 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Please forgive this question; and let me assure all that there is no sarcasm or tone in. But with all the discussion over "identical" and "matched" speakers (for SS), then doesn't this make a case for the "HTIB" systems? Of course this question puts aside the quality of the speaker in these packages, but merely speaks to the underlying principal.

My low end Infinity Primus speakers used in this thread, were originally part of a "packaged system". At first I could not fathom how anyone would want to use these speakers for "fronts or centers". But now I am seeing some merit in the "marketed" package.

Obviously, (going back to the "Hi Fi" days), you do not buy fronts/mains as two different speakers, the same with surrounds. You buy a "matched" pair, it does seem logical that this paradigm be extrapolated to 5.1, 7.2, 11.4 etc. However, the majority of speakers are still marketed/sold as separates...

Overall, do most feel that a matched or identical speaker set up makes a significant qualitative difference in audio quality/experience?

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #71 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 08:57 AM
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Please forgive this question; and let me assure all that there is no sarcasm or tone in. But with all the discussion over "identical" and "matched" speakers (for SS), then doesn't this make a case for the "HTIB" systems? Of course this question puts aside the quality of the speaker in these packages, but merely speaks to the underlying principal.

This is mostly a question of cost, although some HTIB systems can be pricey. I would suggest that the neophyte begin with an HTIB for those unwilling to spend thousands. If one is then satisfied, that's it. But if one begins to upgrade a piece or two at a time, one can learn a lot. Sometimes there is no substitute for direct experience.
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My low end Infinity Primus speakers used in this thread, were originally part of a "packaged system". At first I could not fathom how anyone would want to use these speakers for "fronts or centers". But now I am seeing some merit in the "marketed" package.

Obviously, (going back to the "Hi Fi" days), you do not buy fronts/mains as two different speakers, the same with surrounds. You buy a "matched" pair, it does seem logical that this paradigm be extrapolated to 5.1, 7.2, 11.4 etc. However, the majority of speakers are still marketed/sold as separates...

Overall, do most feel that a matched or identical speaker set up makes a significant qualitative difference in audio quality/experience?

Identical speakers can have its problems in placement. For floor standing speakers that means that the surrounds have to be raised significantly off of the floor to avoid directionality (the tweeter pointed directly at one's ears). And they are lot easier to move around because they will probably not be wall mounted. That also implies that bookshelf speakers also need to be raised off of the floor and probably wall mounted because those complementary stands from the manufacturer aren't tall enough. A big factor is always going to be cost. And then there is the WAF or GAF that usually have to do with esthetics..........................
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post #72 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 01:40 PM
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So do you think it would be wiser to forego better fronts to match surrounds? Like mentioned in this thread regarding infinity p163 for all 5 channels. That versus having 2 infinity p363 and 3 x p163's for center and surround.

Generally the surrounds only need to match closely enough to not be distracting, and using better speakers at the front will give you more of a benefit overall. That said, what would be best always depends on the specific case, based on your budget, the size of the speakers you can accommodate in each location, output requirements, and what speakers you happen to like or are available for your situation.

For example, in my case I needed wall-mounted bookshelf speakers at the front, and given my budget I chose the best that I could find and accommodate. As it happened, I had enough left to buy two of the very same speaker for my surrounds, so that's what I did, and I think the fact that they match makes a significant positive difference--not important enough to sacrifice quality at the front in the general case, but still a nice thing to have if your overall situation allows for it.

In the case you're describing, I feel that the P363 offers noticeably better midrange performance, so in the absence of other considerations (such as budgetary limitations) I may be inclined to recommend going with those rather than a fully-matched set. Then again, if the system is only going to be used for home theater, then the center speaker would be the most critical, and I may recommend upgrading that to a three-way Infinity Primus center (or better yet, a third P363 if possible), or else sticking with all P163s (in a small-to-medium room) to save money and get a perfect match--it's actually easier to figure out the best way to go when there are additional factors to consider, and in this case just about every option makes compromises in some way.
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The relevant and material question is not "how much content is back there?"

And yet I can easily tell when there is more or less content in the surrounds, as well as how diffuse or directional and clear it sounds.
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Rather, the important question is "how discerning is the human auditory system to differences in spectral balance and location cues in the rearward hemisphere, compared to the front hemisphere?"

The answer to the question that matters is, in short, "not very."

Maybe yours, but not mine, and therefore not everybody's. I can even tell who is speaking to me from behind just from the timbre of their voice (even if they have similar pitch), as well as where they are located in space. Does this mean that I have amazing superhuman hearing perception, or can ordinary humans do the same? This is a rhetorical question that everybody can answer for themselves, based on their own experiences in the real world, not just home theater surround sound.
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post #73 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Please forgive this question; and let me assure all that there is no sarcasm or tone in. But with all the discussion over "identical" and "matched" speakers (for SS), then doesn't this make a case for the "HTIB" systems? Of course this question puts aside the quality of the speaker in these packages, but merely speaks to the underlying principal.

Even if we put aside sound quality, which is more important than matching the surrounds (despite my preference for the latter), not all HTIBs have matching speakers--many use larger ones that may even have tweeters at the front, and smaller, cheaper surround speakers that often have only a single full-range driver, for example.
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Overall, do most feel that a matched or identical speaker set up makes a significant qualitative difference in audio quality/experience?

It is more important to match the fronts with one another and the surrounds with one another, but there is something to be gained from matching the surrounds with the fronts, too--the latter can be quite important for some content, or not important at all for other content (examples can be found for both cases).
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Say they are the same price. What would you rather have?

5 identical p163's or 2 p363's for left/right, and 3 163's for center and surround.

I guess my answer would be the latter because I think the floor-standers are better speakers. On the other hand, because in real life money and other factors matter, I may recommend going with five identical bookshelf speakers of better quality instead in a small room like yours (I know that it's open and has a high ceiling, but you're only sitting 7-8 feet away) if their price would be comparable. That's what I had thought you were leaning toward in your speaker recommendation thread. By the way, have you reduced your budget?
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For me, p363's for surround will not work as there is no room in my living room. Also, they would need to be raised as well. This just doesn't apply to these infinity's, I'm trying to figure if I should go without identical 5.0 all around or get bigger floorstanders for the front left/right channels.

Normally I would not sacrifice sound quality at the front just to get a perfectly-matched system, but in your case, in which usage will consist of 90% movies and 10% music, you'd be limited by the P163 center anyway. So maybe you should just save the money and go with five P163s and get a perfect all-around (and front) match as a bonus. Going with the towers would bring the price closer to that of the next significant step up in sound quality (with all bookshelf speakers), and upgrading the center to something like the PC351 would make their prices equal, in which case I'd recommend the better speakers (the one that I recommended in your thread is the one that I use myself, and it can get louder than the P163 while holding its composure, if that is an issue).
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post #74 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 03:17 PM
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Rather, the important question is "how discerning is the human auditory system to differences in spectral balance and location cues in the rearward hemisphere, compared to the front hemisphere?"

The answer to the question that matters is, in short, "not very."

Maybe yours, but not mine, and therefore not everybody's. I can even tell who is speaking to me from behind just from the timbre of their voice (even if they have similar pitch), as well as where they are located in space. Does this mean that I have amazing superhuman hearing perception, or can ordinary humans do the same? This is a rhetorical question that everybody can answer for themselves, based on their own experiences in the real world, not just home theater surround sound.[/quote]

Well, guess what: you'd be able to tell those things if it were a Bose cube instead of a person behind you, too. Your retort has nothing to do with the points made, and doesn't change the physical reality.

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post #75 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 05:18 PM
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Well, guess what: you'd be able to tell those things if it were a Bose cube instead of a person behind you, too. Your retort has nothing to do with the points made, and doesn't change the physical reality.

Alright then, more to the point I can easily tell the difference between surround speakers, too--when there is high-fidelity content in the surround channels, it sounds better on better speakers. Therefore the type of content that is found in the surround channels matters, and so does the quality of the speaker. The amount of content also matters, to some folks, when determining the relative importance of the surround speakers, and what level of investment to make in them. Volume, bass, and dynamics of surround channel content should also be characterized and considered.
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post #76 of 90 Old 04-01-2013, 09:47 PM
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I guess my answer would be the latter because I think the floor-standers are better speakers. On the other hand, because in real life money and other factors matter, I may recommend going with five identical bookshelf speakers of better quality instead in a small room like yours (I know that it's open and has a high ceiling, but you're only sitting 7-8 feet away) if their price would be comparable. That's what I had thought you were leaning toward in your speaker recommendation thread. By the way, have you reduced your budget?

Normally I would not sacrifice sound quality at the front just to get a perfectly-matched system, but in your case, in which usage will consist of 90% movies and 10% music, you'd be limited by the P163 center anyway. So maybe you should just save the money and go with five P163s and get a perfect all-around (and front) match as a bonus. Going with the towers would bring the price closer to that of the next significant step up in sound quality (with all bookshelf speakers), and upgrading the center to something like the PC351 would make their prices equal, in which case I'd recommend the better speakers (the one that I recommended in your thread is the one that I use myself, and it can get louder than the P163 while holding its composure, if that is an issue).

I haven't really reduced my budget, but just want something that will give me bang for my buck. If I can get a noticeable improvement, then I'm willing to pay more. But I don't want to pay a lot more for minimal gain. Plus, spending less on my movie/gaming speakers, means I'll have more money for my music desktop speakers. I was very close to pulling the trigger on 3 ascend cmt-340se's with cbm-170's for surround. But decided against it because of the center channel being MTM design and not having 5 identical speakers. Yeah, maybe I'm overthinking things, but I don't want to have to buy/return/resell too much. I'm still considering 5 ascend cbm-170's but question if I will notice the difference between those and infinity primus or pioneer budget speakers.

I actually previously had the primus series. 2 x p362's and a pc350 center. I was never fully satisfied with the dialogue clarity through the center. But, I never set up the pc350 center channel optimally though. It is a sealed speaker, and I placed towards the edge of tv stand to reduce reflections but it was sort of inside a cabinet. I get the feeling a vertical bookshelf will get me better dialogue clarity. I should have done more testing when I had those speakers.

Also, most bookshelf speakers are sold in pairs makes will make me purchase an extra speaker, which seems to limit my choices for having 5 identical speakers.
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post #77 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
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As the OP, this thread has been very eductional and thought provoking. So, I've decided to experiment a bit, to see what makes a difference, and perhaps more importantly if I can tell a difference.

By design I have thrown off my system a bit. I have changed out ONE of my fronts, from a PSB 400 to a PSB Image 2B. I have changed out one of my surrounds from an Infinity Primus to a PSB "Amazing Alpha". In fairness, the PSB Alpha is a larger speaker than the Infinity Primus. But that will be part of the experiment.

After changing, I checked the levels via test tone, with some surprises. The Image 2B was distinctly louder than the PSB 400, the PSB Alpha distinctly louder than the Infinity. However, I have decided to leave them at these levels (0.0 dB) for a trial comparison. All the speakers are set to "Small", and the crossover is set to 80Hz. I am running with no equalization. No speaker distances were changed, nor any positioning.

My first incidental reaction is that the PSB Alpha (as a surround) seems to sound better than the PSB 400 did as a surround; hmmm..... But we will give this some listening time and different media to better judge.

A question to some of the posters; "The Lord of The Rings" was suggested as a reference media for SS, I'm assuming you are speaking of the Blu Ray version, but just want to ask. Is the DVD of LOTR mixed in the same manner as the Blu Ray version?

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #78 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay, what I've learned from this thread....

In attempt to answer my original question, "does the quality of surround speakers really matter?", this thread has taught me a lot.

First, I think the best answer derived is that "surround speakers" are the first to hit the "law of diminishing returns" leveling off.
The next answer is that the "slope" of the "return" for surround speakers is very relative and subjective to the listener.
Third, surrounds are more sensitive to the "non-audio" factors: i.e. aesthetics (wife/girlfriend factor!), room layout and size, furniture, etc.
Fourth, surrounds are not as "active' as the fronts and center speakers (though this is a variable depending upon the media)
Since we are referring to "surround sound", perhaps the factors of speaker position, system set up, and personal media use mix of use are more of an influence.

To clarify, when I refer to the "quality of surround sound", my definition is that it is as accurate a reproduction of the "true source". Let's face it, I have no idea what the "true source" sounds like, I would have to be in the studio where the Sound Engineer recorded, mixed and mastered the tracks and media. So, I try to judge how "real" the sound of a door shutting, an automobile engine, sound from the surround speakers. I also try to sense what I would hear if I were in that movie setting. So again, the "surround sound" goal is the truest possible reproduction.

Lastly,a large (but important) variable is the auditory acuity of the "listener"; this is compounded for many of us that this is a plural meaning "family". In this category is the difference between "liking" and "appreciating" a difference.

Personally, I have to come full circle and ground myself to the question; "does this system/set up make the "media" more enjoyable?" My family loves the surround sound for movies, and yes they "judge" mostly on the "boom" factor, and perhaps if surround sound increases the "sneak up" factor of a scene or adds some "intensity" to the movie.

So, I have learned that the speakers used do/can make a difference, but it seems more important to make sure you are optimizing any surround speakers (via position & set up) first. But the most important lesson I'm learning is "not to stress about it!". I need to get comfortable with the simple analysis tool of "does this (change) add to enjoyment".

Like many of us, I do stress that my system is not good enough, or could be better. I have to admit that a large part of that is wondering if "my ears are good enough?". If I spend good money on equipment, I "WANT" to say/think it sounds better, but does it really?

In summary, I think the answer to my question is: "let your own ears tell you...."

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #79 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post


A question to some of the posters; "The Lord of The Rings" was suggested as a reference media for SS, I'm assuming you are speaking of the Blu Ray version, but just want to ask. Is the DVD of LOTR mixed in the same manner as the Blu Ray version?

I own the LOTR trilogy on blu-ray, and although the soundtrack is solid I don't consider it to be anything special in terms of surround effects. Some of the battle sequences are good, but in general the movies are pretty "talky."

From my personal collection, Tron Legacy has the best surround effects (and overall best soundtrack).
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post #80 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 09:53 AM
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My opinion on all this without reading all 3 pages fully:

Any speakers for surrounds will do the trick along with any position.
You will notice as you try different speakers in different locations, how the size/quality/location of said speakers will make the difference.

I upgraded my fronts and thought I would stick with my old smaller satellites at first. While this worked, I noticed an immediately difference by series matching my surrounds. Also tone matching them to the same volume and finding the correct position for my room layout.
I tested mine with a Lucas demo disc that had some Dolby/THX opener demos from theaters and the change was unreal between the sets of surrounds and locations.

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post #81 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

After changing, I checked the levels via test tone, with some surprises. The Image 2B was distinctly louder than the PSB 400, the PSB Alpha distinctly louder than the Infinity. However, I have decided to leave them at these levels (0.0 dB) for a trial comparison.

Well, for a FAIR comparison you need to match their levels--to each other at least, if not the other channels (which would also be preferable).
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Okay, what I've learned from this thread....

In attempt to answer my original question, "does the quality of surround speakers really matter?", this thread has taught me a lot.

First, I think the best answer derived is that "surround speakers" are the first to hit the "law of diminishing returns" leveling off.
The next answer is that the "slope" of the "return" for surround speakers is very relative and subjective to the listener.
Third, surrounds are more sensitive to the "non-audio" factors: i.e. aesthetics (wife/girlfriend factor!), room layout and size, furniture, etc.
Fourth, surrounds are not as "active' as the fronts and center speakers (though this is a variable depending upon the media)
Since we are referring to "surround sound", perhaps the factors of speaker position, system set up, and personal media use mix of use are more of an influence.

That's pretty much what I think you should have gotten out of this, as long as you realize that there are benefits to using bigger and better surrounds sometimes, even though they are of lower relative priority. For those who want a system that can handle everything, however, it's relatively more important than for others, much like having a subwoofer that is strong in the range of 25 Hz and lower.
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To clarify, when I refer to the "quality of surround sound", my definition is that it is as accurate a reproduction of the "true source". Let's face it, I have no idea what the "true source" sounds like, I would have to be in the studio where the Sound Engineer recorded, mixed and mastered the tracks and media. So, I try to judge how "real" the sound of a door shutting, an automobile engine, sound from the surround speakers. I also try to sense what I would hear if I were in that movie setting. So again, the "surround sound" goal is the truest possible reproduction.

This brings to mind another aspect of surround sound that we haven't touched on much in this thread--some folks prefer for surround channel reproduction to be less clear and distinct than that of the fronts, as well as less directional and in general more diffuse--regardless of the quality of the content in the surround channels. Frequently bipoles and dipoles are used to help create this effect, and in such cases, I don't see much (if any) of an advantage in using surrounds of higher quality and cost. My view in this regard is the same as yours, pretty much--that it's good to have high fidelity surround channel reproduction for content that merits it, but there are others who feel differently (yet many of them pay substantially more for "matched" dipole surrounds that don't sound anything like the fronts anyway, which makes no sense to me).
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Lastly,a large (but important) variable is the auditory acuity of the "listener"; this is compounded for many of us that this is a plural meaning "family". In this category is the difference between "liking" and "appreciating" a difference.

This and personal standards also apply to the front speakers, however, and only less so for the surrounds because the content itself is generally not as critical, and there is less of it.
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Personally, I have to come full circle and ground myself to the question; "does this system/set up make the "media" more enjoyable?" My family loves the surround sound for movies, and yes they "judge" mostly on the "boom" factor, and perhaps if surround sound increases the "sneak up" factor of a scene or adds some "intensity" to the movie.

What surround sound should do most of the time is immerse the audience in the environment of the movie, thereby involving them more in the story, and while the big effects are important in this regard at times, usually it's the subtle stuff that helps keep people more involved. Speaker size helps with the big stuff, and quality speakers, in my experience, helps with the subtle stuff.
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Like many of us, I do stress that my system is not good enough, or could be better.

There is a certain peace of mind that is gained by building a system that is equipped to give you everything that soundtracks contain, at least. That's why I went with relatively large surrounds of good quality--now I don't have to wonder so much. Others may have to make more compromises, and the point of this thread, in my view, is for these people to know what those compromises are so that they can make them with some confidence.
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In summary, I think the answer to my question is: "let your own ears tell you...."

And then there are those who ask for advice and do not have various speakers that they could easily experiment with themselves. wink.gif
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I upgraded my fronts and thought I would stick with my old smaller satellites at first. While this worked, I noticed an immediately difference by series matching my surrounds. Also tone matching them to the same volume and finding the correct position for my room layout.
I tested mine with a Lucas demo disc that had some Dolby/THX opener demos from theaters and the change was unreal between the sets of surrounds and locations.

I went through a somewhat similar process with my current system, reaching the same conclusions. I had already bought all five speakers, but I hadn't decided how to mount the surrounds yet, since they were larger and heavier than the old ones. So I stuck with the old surrounds for a while, and this seemed to work OK, except that I could notice that they sounded quite different. I used to listen to some music with PLII, but it didn't sound right to me anymore, so I stopped doing that (the new fronts sounded so much better with 2-channel material that I probably would have stopped using PLII anyway).

When I finally put my new surrounds up and calibrated their levels, I thought that they weren't working right at first because I couldn't perceive the surrounds as being separate speakers from the fronts. They imaged so well with the identical fronts that it was effectively a single surround soundstage, at least relatively speaking from previous experience (the new speakers were also more "transparent," which added to the effect). Frankly, I did not think that this was possible due to placement, but using matched speakers of good quality really made a very noticeable difference in the "cohesiveness" of my system (previously, my personal systems were either unmatched or of low quality). That said, in general "your mileage may vary."
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post #82 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 01:28 PM
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I haven't really reduced my budget, but just want something that will give me bang for my buck. If I can get a noticeable improvement, then I'm willing to pay more. But I don't want to pay a lot more for minimal gain. Plus, spending less on my movie/gaming speakers, means I'll have more money for my music desktop speakers. I was very close to pulling the trigger on 3 ascend cmt-340se's with cbm-170's for surround. But decided against it because of the center channel being MTM design and not having 5 identical speakers.

I'll post my response in your other thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1465948/need-help-with-5-0-speaker-selection-1500-maximum-budget/0_100
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post #83 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 05:08 PM
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Alright then, more to the point I can easily tell the difference between surround speakers, too--when there is high-fidelity content in the surround channels, it sounds better on better speakers. Therefore the type of content that is found in the surround channels matters, and so does the quality of the speaker. The amount of content also matters, to some folks, when determining the relative importance of the surround speakers, and what level of investment to make in them. Volume, bass, and dynamics of surround channel content should also be characterized and considered.

You think you can, anyway. Doesn't actually make it so, of course.

And I never said the quality of the speaker was irrelevant. It's just not nearly as important. I wouldn't use a 7" 2-way with a flush tweeter anywhere. A speaker that has directivity errors in the midband - such as the ones you recommend above - is going to be crappy no matter where it is. Controlled, even, and wide midband/lower treble directivity is important for surrounds, just as it is for mains.

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You think you can, anyway. Doesn't actually make it so, of course.

And I never said the quality of the speaker was irrelevant. It's just not nearly as important. I wouldn't use a 7" 2-way with a flush tweeter anywhere. A speaker that has directivity errors in the midband - such as the ones you recommend above - is going to be crappy no matter where it is. Controlled, even, and wide midband/lower treble directivity is important for surrounds, just as it is for mains.

Look, I was fine leaving you to your own idiocy and hypocrisy after your painfully ignorant response to me in your post #69, but your replies to people having a legitimate discussion are repeatedly nothing short of rude, obnoxious, and grossly uninformed. Ignorance and arrogance when coupled with a closed mine is not a healthy combination for discussion and learning.

I provided links and quotes from Dolby's white paper on what is today used as the basis for the standard in multi-channel audio and you IGNORANTLY dismissed it as, and I quote, "An unsupported throwaway assertion from a thirteen year-old Dolby marketing document". "Unsupported marketing document?" You know who "supports it"? Every company on the planet who makes A/V receivers and processors because they all have it embedded in their chip-sets. Oh, and the people actually making the movies, and DVDs, etc. Dolby Labs INVENTED THE STANDARD FROM WHICH YOU ARE NOW TRYING TO CONTRADICT THEM ON. What, exactly, is Dolby marketing with their white paper? Dolby Digital? To whom? You then LAUGHABLY spewed forth UNSUBSTANTIATED MARKETING CRAP about Anthem's ARC - which is completely opinion based, nor an adopted standard by anyone BUT Anthem - and then compared it IGNORANTLY to what Phase Technology's dARTS does. This is essentially comparing a dune-buggy to a Humvee.

I still can't get over the fact that you're going to tell Dolby Labs that they are wrong on the standard that they invented! Are you kidding me?! It's their's.... They made it and clearly felt it was important enough to make a specific section on it in their standards paper. Yet you're going to tell them they are wrong?

The ONLY thing that I can say in your defense is that THX standards are written (as marketing, BTW) that as long as all speakers are THX (note the "all speakers are THX" bit of marketing spin in there) the front 3 need to match each other and the back 4 need to match each other as a minimum. Having carried a lvl 2 THX cert for home theaters over the years, I will relay to anyone reading this that our instructor made it perfectly clear that timbre matching the entire speaker system (subs excluded) was the ideal and that if the rear four speakers had to be of a different brand/series from the mains to at least make sure they were THX for calculating output (again, THIS is marketing spin as many speakers can have THX level output without being certified to do so).

I, however, am open minded. Provide links from credible sources that substantiate what you have continued to diarrhea from your keyboard in this thread, or kindly shut the "flip" up. You talk talk talk, but never post anything to back it up or to teach others something new. Now would be a great time to start.
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You think you can, anyway. Doesn't actually make it so, of course.

And I never said the quality of the speaker was irrelevant. It's just not nearly as important. I wouldn't use a 7" 2-way with a flush tweeter anywhere. A speaker that has directivity errors in the midband - such as the ones you recommend above - is going to be crappy no matter where it is. Controlled, even, and wide midband/lower treble directivity is important for surrounds, just as it is for mains.

Directivity errors in the midband??
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post #86 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 08:47 PM
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Alright then, more to the point I can easily tell the difference between surround speakers, too--when there is high-fidelity content in the surround channels, it sounds better on better speakers.

You think you can, anyway. Doesn't actually make it so, of course.

Prove it. rolleyes.gif I hear the same content out of the surrounds whether I'm facing forward or facing one of the surrounds--my hearing acuity and perception don't go to crap just because I turn my head 90 degrees. People can decide for themselves whether this is true for them (when there is high-fidelity surround content playing).
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And I never said the quality of the speaker was irrelevant. It's just not nearly as important. I wouldn't use a 7" 2-way with a flush tweeter anywhere. A speaker that has directivity errors in the midband - such as the ones you recommend above - is going to be crappy no matter where it is. Controlled, even, and wide midband/lower treble directivity is important for surrounds, just as it is for mains.

You think it's crappy, anyway. Doesn't actually make it so, of course.
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post #87 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

You think you can, anyway. Doesn't actually make it so, of course.

And I never said the quality of the speaker was irrelevant. It's just not nearly as important. I wouldn't use a 7" 2-way with a flush tweeter anywhere. A speaker that has directivity errors in the midband - such as the ones you recommend above - is going to be crappy no matter where it is. Controlled, even, and wide midband/lower treble directivity is important for surrounds, just as it is for mains.

Directivity errors in the midband??

Yes. Incompetently designed speakers have a "mushroom cloud" polar pattern at the bottom of the tweeter's range. Simply speaking, they throw too much energy into the room in the frequency band where human ears are the most sensitive (2-4 kHz). The attendant coloration from that in-room spectral imbalance is very obvious to people used to the sound of live, unamplified music, unless the room is turned into an eyesore with "room treatments" to tame reflections. (Good speakers don't require heroic room mutilation.) A competently designed speaker will have even coverage in the midband, and progressively narrow in the top octave-and-a-little due to the size of the tweeter.

To use Stereophile's measurements to provide examples, here are the horizontal off-axis measurements of three incompetently-designed loudspeakers they've measured recently

1) Vandersteen Treo


2) DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96


3) Aperion Verus Grand


And three standouts among the speakers they've reviewed:

1) Revel Salon2


2) TAD Compact Reference 1


3) KEF LS50


Note that one of the competently-designed examples uses a waveguide to restrict the tweeter's pattern down low, and the other two use a concentric driver where the midrange is the tweeter's waveguide. The bottom line is that the easiest way to tell if any actual thought has been put into a loudspeaker is to see how the designer attempted to control the tweeter's directivity at the bottom of its range. Even midband directivity control is not sufficient to make a speaker good, but it is necessary.

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post #88 of 90 Old 04-02-2013, 11:42 PM
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The competent speakers you mentioned without mushroom clouds are very expensive.

Which would you recommend on a more tighter budget? Kef q-series, if so which models for a 5.0 system? Revel f12, c12, m12? Infinity primus series looks to have a shallow waveguide. Pioneer budget speakers have waveguides as well.
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post #89 of 90 Old 06-13-2013, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by csgamer View Post

The competent speakers you mentioned without mushroom clouds are very expensive.

Which would you recommend on a more tighter budget? Kef q-series, if so which models for a 5.0 system? Revel f12, c12, m12? Infinity primus series looks to have a shallow waveguide. Pioneer budget speakers have waveguides as well.

The least expensive speakers I can recommend for any non-sub position in an audio system the Pioneer SP22's. Incredible what they did for the money. (I have a pair in the guest room, along with a little Parasound Zamp, for visitors to use.) The KEF Q100's are another fantastic cheap speaker. (I use a pair for surround-rear, and a pair for background music in the bedroom.) I've not heard anything else that's relatively inexpensive that's in the same price-range that's as good. The Q300 is markedly inferior to the Q100 in the midrange.

The NHT Classic Three is good if you want very very wide coverage. I've not heard the small Revels.

For integrated systems, the KEF KHT3005SE is also very good, provided one buys two more of the "center channels" to have an identical front stage. The center egg does have a different character from the others.

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post #90 of 90 Old 06-13-2013, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Okay, what I've learned from this thread....

In attempt to answer my original question, "does the quality of surround speakers really matter?", this thread has taught me a lot.

First, I think the best answer derived is that "surround speakers" are the first to hit the "law of diminishing returns" leveling off.
The next answer is that the "slope" of the "return" for surround speakers is very relative and subjective to the listener.
Third, surrounds are more sensitive to the "non-audio" factors: i.e. aesthetics (wife/girlfriend factor!), room layout and size, furniture, etc.
Fourth, surrounds are not as "active' as the fronts and center speakers (though this is a variable depending upon the media)
Since we are referring to "surround sound", perhaps the factors of speaker position, system set up, and personal media use mix of use are more of an influence.

In summary, I think the answer to my question is: "let your own ears tell you...."

I'm a little late to the game but glad to join. It looks like you've learned quite a lot smile.gif Media content is the number one factor on how much content comes through your surrounds. If it's labeled 5.1 and higher, you're going to get activity, but depending on the movie's audio track will depend on what you hear through the surrounds.

Does the quality of surround speaker matter? IMO, most certainly, YES. I have used 4 different speakers for surround; 2 different bookshelves, 1 four driver tower, and lastly, a dipole/bipole speaker.

The bipole speaker nails it! With a single driver and opposing tweeters, this speaker immerses you in a sound field like no other speaker can. Once you go bipole, you never go back smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post


Overall, do most feel that a matched or identical speaker set up makes a significant qualitative difference in audio quality/experience?

Again, I'll say a big YES to this one. I did read through this thread and remember a mention or two about timbre matching. The most important rule of thumb, is to make sure your front stage is timbre matched. After that, matching the surrounds usually isn't that important, but when all of your speakers are timbre matched, your goal of creating a seamless sound field is well on it's way cool.gif

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