Can Music and Home Theater speakers be one and the same? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I am interested to hear from members whether when building a system a compromise is needed when buying speakers. If you want to have the best (that your budget will allow) for both music and your surround system what to you do? What are some of the best speakers for this purpose or do you need separate speaks for each. Can vintage speakers play a part here?

Would love to hear insight on how you might have resolved this if it applies to you. What are some speakers to consider in low/med/high price ranges.

Currently, I have two sets of speakers side by side. Mirage towers for my HT and A/D/S monitors for my music. But looking to see if these can be combined w/ a new purchase, vintage or otherwise.

Thanks for the input.

Keith
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post #2 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 10:38 AM
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They can be, but I personally have two different main setups in two different rooms. For movies I LOVE my Definitive Technology setup (BP7000sc mains, CLR3000 center, two pairs of BPX for surrounds) but music on this system isn't super involving for me. I bought these speakers specifically for my theater so when I was shopping for them I listened to systems with no other consideration in mind as I wanted the best I could afford for that particular application. When it came time for my two channel listening room, I had a different set of wants so I listened to speakers with music only in mind as that was my intention. I prefer to separate my systems so I can optimize each to be the best for what they're meant to do. This obviously isn't practical for everyone, but if I had to consolidate down to one system I would choose speakers that sounded best with music and build from there.
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post #3 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 12:37 PM
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I battled this for a good two years (actually much longer, but more dliigently in the last two). My priority was music, and almost unanimously showroom salespersons told me not to pursue a set of speakers that works for both. All heavily pushed a move to home theater, probably for two reasons - more speakers sold, and an attempt to veil the coloration (reduced accuracy) of many mainstream speaker manufacturers. This left me in a longstanding quandary and a lot of road trips listening to different speakers. Breaking it all down I came upon two data points important to me.

  • I would not notice any untoward deviation from accuracy during movies, I would while listening to music
  • I'm not sure the overall ratio, but in breaking down what happens outside of my center channel speaker a large percentage of this content is - wait for it - music!


Long story short, I dismissed the perception that music speakers weren't valid for home theater. I don't smile when an explosion happens or helicopters pan across the screen, but I grin bigtime when for example Jim Croce's I Got a Name (Django Unchained) sneaks in among the action.

I do have two additional systems dedicated to music, and while that equipment (IMO) is quite good, it pales in comparison with my theater. The HT was the first to get a revamp, and the excellence achieved here prompted me to seek more transparency in my other rooms.

One caveat - I have no interest in reference level and above volume, speaker efficiency was not a factor in either my search or my decision.

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post #4 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 02:17 PM
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Accurate reproduction is accurate reproduction, no matter what the usage. Speakers don't know or care what's being played through them. The only difference between the requirements for music only versus HT is how low the subs go; 35Hz is adequate for music, HT as much as an octave or more lower, depending on personal taste.
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post #5 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

... 35Hz is adequate for music, HT as much as an octave or more lower, depending on personal taste.

Depends on whats being played, the piano goes to 27.5hz and I've heard some music with relaxed bass guitar strings that go there too not to mention some synth stuff out there that will go even lower. Granted it's not common place for music that low, but depending on your tastes in music (and obsession level) you may want that response for those bottom notes.
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post #6 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 09:41 PM
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Some electronic music is just annoying with the ulf being mixed to hot. I like that my mains are solid to 40hz, so I can have the subs on or off depending on what I'm listening to.
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post #7 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 03:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Accurate reproduction is accurate reproduction, no matter what the usage. Speakers don't know or care what's being played through them. The only difference between the requirements for music only versus HT is how low the subs go; 35Hz is adequate for music, HT as much as an octave or more lower, depending on personal taste.

 

I think it is worth repeating.

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post #8 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 04:57 AM
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Accurate reproduction should be the goal but every piece of your system colors the sound to a certain extent and speakers are probably the worst culprit. Most people will be happier buying what sounds best to them over what is more accurate. Besides which accurate do you shoot for? The performers? The producers? The Dolby guys? It can get to be a slippery slope.
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post #9 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ien2 View Post

Depends on whats being played, the piano goes to 27.5hz and I've heard some music with relaxed bass guitar strings that go there too not to mention some synth stuff out there that will go even lower.
In theory, yes. In practice you're hearing very little, if any, of those fundamentals. This explains:
http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f15/bass-frequency-waterfall-plots-what-they-mean-rigs-510749/

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post #10 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwinand View Post

I am interested to hear from members whether when building a system a compromise is needed when buying speakers. If you want to have the best (that your budget will allow) for both music and your surround system what to you do? What are some of the best speakers for this purpose or do you need separate speaks for each. Can vintage speakers play a part here?

Would love to hear insight on how you might have resolved this if it applies to you. What are some speakers to consider in low/med/high price ranges.

Currently, I have two sets of speakers side by side. Mirage towers for my HT and A/D/S monitors for my music. But looking to see if these can be combined w/ a new purchase, vintage or otherwise.

Thanks for the input.

Keith
Sell your Mirage towers and use the funds to add subwoofers to your A/D/S speakers. Problem solved.

Craig

Lombardi said it:
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

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post #11 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

In theory, yes. In practice you're hearing very little, if any, of those fundamentals. This explains:
http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f15/bass-frequency-waterfall-plots-what-they-mean-rigs-510749/

As someone who has played piano for most of his life, I disagree. The lowest 4 keys are easily heard and distinguishable for me and for that matter I'm also able to discern the 32' pipes on an organ which play at 16hz (though that's getting hard). Perhaps a part of it is that I've been trained to pay attention to it.

I've noticed that a lot of people on various forms treating hearing as roughly the same for everyone (assuming no damage or defect), but that's not the case at all in reality. Last I was tested I was also able to hear into the mid 30k range and I really miss the upper harmonics past 22k that I'm used to hearing in a live symphonic setting vs your standard CD. When recommending for music it's not a one size fits all 35-20k. For probably a large majority of people it's fine, but you really do need to see where they are coming from.
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post #12 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ien2 View Post

As someone who has played piano for most of his life, I disagree. The lowest 4 keys are easily heard and distinguishable for me and for that matter I'm also able to discern the 32' pipes on an organ which play at 16hz (though that's getting hard). Perhaps a part of it is that I've been trained to pay attention to it.
What you're hearing in those cases is primarily harmonics, not fundamentals. In the case of 16Hz chances are it's all harmonics, as 16Hz isn't audible at all at less than 130dB or so, and that much power at 16Hz would cause even the largest cathedral structural damage, assuming you could even find a system capable of that output.

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post #13 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwinand View Post

I am interested to hear from members whether when building a system a compromise is needed when buying speakers. If you want to have the best (that your budget will allow) for both music and your surround system what to you do?

A reallly good music system and a really good A/V system can and should be the same system.
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What are some of the best speakers for this purpose or do you need separate speaks for each.

There are a lot of good speakers, so rather than favor speakers undeserving favor or ignoring speakers that deserve favor...
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Can vintage speakers play a part here?

The SOTA of speakers moves more slowly than some other areas of audio, but it still moves. your best choices are probably contemporary.
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Would love to hear insight on how you might have resolved this if it applies to you. What are some speakers to consider in low/med/high price ranges.

I personally have some Infinity Primus towers and a 12" Paradigm subwoofer. Neither are *The best* but as I have matched them to the room, etc. they do very well for the money.

I think that if money wasn't an issue, I would have Paradigm Monitor 100s and some high end subwoofers from SVS, Hsu, or build some of my own design.

However, my next investment will probably relate to room acoustics.
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Currently, I have two sets of speakers side by side. Mirage towers for my HT and A/D/S monitors for my music. But looking to see if these can be combined w/ a new purchase, vintage or otherwise.

Seems very old school. I would have none of that, and I would have one or more very fine subwoofers. Better speakers would not diminish my interest in room acoustics.
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post #14 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by ien2 View Post

As someone who has played piano for most of his life, I disagree. The lowest 4 keys are easily heard and distinguishable for me and for that matter I'm also able to discern the 32' pipes on an organ which play at 16hz (though that's getting hard). Perhaps a part of it is that I've been trained to pay attention to it.
What you're hearing in those cases is primarily harmonics, not fundamentals. In the case of 16Hz chances are it's all harmonics, as 16Hz isn't audible at all at less than 130dB or so, and that much power at 16Hz would cause even the largest cathedral structural damage, assuming you could even find a system capable of that output.

One important point being that most acoustical instruments that put out serious power in the bottom few octaves (e.g. pipe organ), still put out a higher percentage of their power into the harmonics, as opposed to the fundamentals. That is usually at least partially a consequence of the laws of physics.

I'll make no such generalizations about electronic instruments because they can be whatever the musician and sound tech want them to be.
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post #15 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 12:09 PM
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One important point being that most acoustical instruments that put out serious power in the bottom few octaves (e.g. pipe organ), still put out a higher percentage of their power into the harmonics, as opposed to the fundamentals. That is usually at least partially a consequence of the laws of physics.
The physics always win. For instance, for the lowest A note on a standard piano to be flat to the 27.5Hz fundamental the string would have to be at least 10 feet long, and the sounding board 40 feet in perimeter.
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I'll make no such generalizations about electronic instruments because they can be whatever the musician and sound tech want them to be.
Electronic instruments only go as low as the speakers that they're played through allow them to. Since significant content below 30Hz can't be heard on the average system few producers bother to put it in the mix. In live situations there's little content below 30Hz, even with multi-million dollar pro-touring systems. FOH engineers typically high pass the subs at 30 to 35Hz, as they're not big fans of replacing drivers on a daily basis. Pressurizing stadiums is a bit of a fruitless quest.

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post #16 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 02:33 PM
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Wait, you think I'm talking about being flat to 27.5hz on a piano? That's nonsense and nowhere did I imply that. When you are that low, I do know most of the energy goes into harmonics instead of the fundamental. What I am saying is that you still hear the fundamental. You are using an argument akin to "why write for the flutes when the brass is going full force during certain parts of the score". That's absurd, just because the brass is overpowering the flutes by a very significant margin doesn't mean you stop hearing the flutes, is this what you are suggesting? (sort of bad analogy I admit since there is timbre differences)

No, the notes below 35hz do put more and more energy into the harmonics instead of the fundamentals but no where does that mean you stop hearing them. That's easy to demonstrate, just feed a sine wave and multiples of it at the correct spl's for each multiple and then remove the fundamental.

With a speaker/sub that rolls off at 35 you are just increasing that natural roll off so instead of something that is very subtle there that you can hear, you now have nothing that you can hear...at least for some people. There are people who can't hear or make out pitches that low, but there are some who can hear and discern different pitches below 25hz. You're doing a big disservice for some people by implying that 35hz is adequate, you really need to ask them what they listen to and explain what various genres use in the low end.
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post #17 of 17 Old 06-21-2013, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Accurate reproduction is accurate reproduction, no matter what the usage. Speakers don't know or care what's being played through them. The only difference between the requirements for music only versus HT is how low the subs go; 35Hz is adequate for music, HT as much as an octave or more lower, depending on personal taste.

Thanks for this intelligent reply. I was battling this issue and now I feel better.

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