Basic Tweeter Explanation for Newbies. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 65 Old 10-15-2013, 02:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Edited Article.

http://www.electronichouse.com/article/understanding_differences_in_tweeter_technology/C155/D1/




Top-notch tweeters are capable of relaxed, airy signal reproduction that transcends listeners and emotionally connects them to music or movie. Here’s a look at some pros and cons of the major tweeter types called on to reach those sonic highs:



Dome

Villchur’s invention is still the most common tweeter type; probably about 95 percent of all speaker systems use dome tweeters. This tweeter is very well developed and are easy to manufacture and they are mass-produced, mostly in China.

The design features a dome with integral suspension and aluminum wire voice coil attached to the rim. This moving piece is then mounted on a plastic frame and positioned in a ring magnet motor system. A faceplate is installed from the top. (A shallow waveguide or small horn can be used instead of a faceplate to control directivity, response and/or increase sensitivity.)



Dome tweeters have very smooth response, good dispersion, and average sensitivity. Some designs employ ferrofluid (a viscous emulsion of magnetic particles in mineral oil) in the magnetic gap around the voice coil to improve cooling and to boost power handling. While it has clear benefits, it also introduces additional dampening and potential long-term issues related to fluid thickening, and many top designs avoid ferrofluid.

A good dome tweeter can be made for a manufacturer’s of about $5, though some high-performance tweeters from companies like Scan-Speak and Dynaudio can cost as much $300 to $400 on a retail level.

Electrostatic

Instead of being driven by electro-dynamic force applied to a voice coil that carries signal current and immersed in a magnetic field, electrostatic speakers rely on an electrically-charged diaphragm.

An electrostatic speaker has a thin (6-12 microns) polyester film diaphragm that’s coated with an electrically conductive layer with high resistance that provides a constant surface charge. The diaphragm is tensioned on a frame positioned between two stators.



The stators are made of a perforated metal coated with an insulating layer, and an extra high voltage (EHT) source creates a bias voltage between diaphragm and stators. When an audio signal is applied to stators through step-up transformer, the bias voltage is modulated and the diaphragm vibrates between stators driven by electrostatic force.

Electrostatic tweeters and speakers have some important advantages that allow them to reach extremely high levels of performance and realism. The diaphragm is extremely light and responsive, it uses voltage instead of current and it does not produce heat. They also don’t have distortion related to cone and dome break-up resonance, voice-coil inductance, and non-linearity and magnetic field modulation that are detrimental to sound quality in electro-dynamic drivers.

However, there are also attributes that limit them to mostly high-end stereo. First, they need external high voltage supplies that plug into wall outlets. Second, their diaphragms have to be large to get a reasonable sensitivity. That size works against wide and constant dispersion, and this is a serious problem especially at high frequencies. Electrostatic technology’s sensitivity to dust accumulation, humidity and other factors is also a consideration.

Piezo

Tweeters that employ piezo technologies have only been used on a limited basis. The main advantage is that they are very inexpensive and they do not require a crossover. They are resonant transducers

The most widely used piezo tweeter has a thin (0.1 mm) piezo ceramic disc of about 1 to 2 inches (25-50 mm) in diameter, bonded to an aluminum or bronze disk of slightly larger diameter. When voltage is applied, the piezo disc expands and contracts (changing its diameter on a very small scale).



A metal substrate rigidly bonded to the disc transforms tensile and compressive deformation into bending deformation, and the bending disc vibrates and radiates sound. A small-diameter (1.5-2 inch) paper or polymer bonded by its apex to the center of the piezo transducer can be added to increase sensitivity. A cone can also be added by loading it with a horn to further increase sensitivity.

Piezo tweeters are not high fidelity tweeters and are mostly used in inexpensive combo and car stereo systems (mostly with just piezo disc) and some commercial speakers. Motorola has been the most frequent supplier of piezo tweeters to the commercial market.

Plasma/Ion

This exotic transducer is based on the principle of modulating ionized plasma by using the audio signal.

Plasma can be generated either by gas ionization by high-voltage electric fields (corona discharge) or by burning gas at a very high temperature. Plasma speakers have the shortest path from electric signal to oscillating air - it happens directly. There isn’t even a small diaphragm like in electrostatic or ribbon speakers, the response is immediate and there is no distortion related to mechanical or electromagnetic components.



One could argue that plasma tweeters are the closest design to ideal tweeter. The sound of plasma tweeters is exceptionally transparent and free from any apparent distortion. However, the price of an Acapella plasma tweeter, for example, is about $9,000 each, and they are not environmentally friendly.

Ribbon

This has a very thin, pleated aluminum foil diaphragm between two magnetic poles to the left and to the right. The diaphragm is very fragile and about 20 to 30 microns thick. It’s about 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. It looks like a ribbon, and the diaphragm is a current conductor.



Signal current passing through the diaphragm makes it vibrate. Ribbon tweeters have been known for extremely airy and transparent sound. The absence of voice coil inductance, its mostly linear magnetic field and its extremely light diaphragm all contribute to exceptional sound quality.

Ribbon tweeters are expensive, they require transformers for impedance matching and their aluminum ribbon is fragile and prone to sagging with time, which may result in response deterioration.

Air Motion Transformer (AMT)

Using a folded thin film diaphragm with aluminum conductors that are formed similar to an accordion squeezebox, this tweeter’s diaphragm is placed between opposing magnets. When signal current is passed it starts oscillating in the plane of the diaphragm with folds contracting and expanding and thus squeezing air in and out.



AMT drivers are relatively complex and expensive to manufacture, and in the case of units with extended operating range down to 1kHz, they are bulky. They do possess all the advantages of transducers with light diaphragm and flat voice coils with negligible inductance, producing a very transparent, natural sound.

Planar Ribbon (planar-magnetic, ribbon, magnetostatic, isodynamic)

Planar ribbon tweeters have been experiencing a surge of popularity in the high-performance market. New Neodymium magnets and high-tech PEN and polyimide (Dupont’s brand names Teonex and Kapton) materials are facilitating new designs with high sensitivity, robust field operation and cost-effective manufacturing. In planar ribbon tweeters, a thin diaphragm consisting of foil/film laminate with etched flat conductors is stretched and positioned between high-energy magnetic systems.



Planar ribbon drivers possess all the benefits of thin film “zero” inductance tweeters, including electrostatic. They produce transparent, natural sound and are relatively easy to manufacture at a reasonable cost. They also offer high sensitivity up to 103dB/1m/1W with some pro devices, and they can be made small without sacrificing output.

Planar ribbon tweeters do not require any matching transformers or wall outlet power. Their diaphragm is very robust and weather resistant. Unlike other thin film tweeters planar ribbons’ form factor ideally suits contemporary trends in the loudspeaker market and are very design and application “friendly.”
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post #2 of 65 Old 10-15-2013, 04:03 PM
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Have you found some totally awesome Planar Ribbon based speakers at a low, low price???

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post #3 of 65 Old 10-15-2013, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Low cost is subjective but one that popped in my head are the Arx.

http://www.theaudioinsider.com/manufacturers.php?mPath=13
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post #4 of 65 Old 10-15-2013, 06:41 PM
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SaviorMachine - ARX speakers have a 3" planar magnetic speakers for a good budget price. I can't comment directly about the sound as I've not gotten mine yet, but it's what they list on their specifications. I'll comment on them whenever they hit my doorstep as I'm ordering a pair of the A2rx-c. I'm pretty sure they're quality speakers as the owners of them love them, and their A5 towers recently won a small competition at Home Theater Shack in a $1000 speaker shootout (Link: http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/two-channel-audio/69421-official-1-000-speaker-evaluation-home-audition-event-results.html)


To the OP - nice little summary! I'm glad to have it as I'm considering building a small pair of bookshelf speakers for my wifes PC just to say I've done it (and learn something new while I'm at it).

EDIT: Naim101 beat me to it by a minute....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

Edited Article.

http://www.electronichouse.com/article/understanding_differences_in_tweeter_technology/C155/D1/




Top-notch tweeters are capable of relaxed, airy signal reproduction that transcends listeners and emotionally connects them to music or movie. Here’s a look at some pros and cons of the major tweeter types called on to reach those sonic highs:



Dome

Villchur’s invention is still the most common tweeter type; probably about 95 percent of all speaker systems use dome tweeters. This tweeter is very well developed and are easy to manufacture and they are mass-produced, mostly in China.

The design features a dome with integral suspension and aluminum wire voice coil attached to the rim. This moving piece is then mounted on a plastic frame and positioned in a ring magnet motor system. A faceplate is installed from the top. (A shallow waveguide or small horn can be used instead of a faceplate to control directivity, response and/or increase sensitivity.)



Dome tweeters have very smooth response, good dispersion, and average sensitivity. Some designs employ ferrofluid (a viscous emulsion of magnetic particles in mineral oil) in the magnetic gap around the voice coil to improve cooling and to boost power handling. While it has clear benefits, it also introduces additional dampening and potential long-term issues related to fluid thickening, and many top designs avoid ferrofluid.

A good dome tweeter can be made for a manufacturer’s of about $5, though some high-performance tweeters from companies like Scan-Speak and Dynaudio can cost as much $300 to $400 on a retail level.

Electrostatic

Instead of being driven by electro-dynamic force applied to a voice coil that carries signal current and immersed in a magnetic field, electrostatic speakers rely on an electrically-charged diaphragm.

An electrostatic speaker has a thin (6-12 microns) polyester film diaphragm that’s coated with an electrically conductive layer with high resistance that provides a constant surface charge. The diaphragm is tensioned on a frame positioned between two stators.



The stators are made of a perforated metal coated with an insulating layer, and an extra high voltage (EHT) source creates a bias voltage between diaphragm and stators. When an audio signal is applied to stators through step-up transformer, the bias voltage is modulated and the diaphragm vibrates between stators driven by electrostatic force.

Electrostatic tweeters and speakers have some important advantages that allow them to reach extremely high levels of performance and realism. The diaphragm is extremely light and responsive, it uses voltage instead of current and it does not produce heat. They also don’t have distortion related to cone and dome break-up resonance, voice-coil inductance, and non-linearity and magnetic field modulation that are detrimental to sound quality in electro-dynamic drivers.

However, there are also attributes that limit them to mostly high-end stereo. First, they need external high voltage supplies that plug into wall outlets. Second, their diaphragms have to be large to get a reasonable sensitivity. That size works against wide and constant dispersion, and this is a serious problem especially at high frequencies. Electrostatic technology’s sensitivity to dust accumulation, humidity and other factors is also a consideration.

Piezo

Tweeters that employ piezo technologies have only been used on a limited basis. The main advantage is that they are very inexpensive and they do not require a crossover. They are resonant transducers

The most widely used piezo tweeter has a thin (0.1 mm) piezo ceramic disc of about 1 to 2 inches (25-50 mm) in diameter, bonded to an aluminum or bronze disk of slightly larger diameter. When voltage is applied, the piezo disc expands and contracts (changing its diameter on a very small scale).



A metal substrate rigidly bonded to the disc transforms tensile and compressive deformation into bending deformation, and the bending disc vibrates and radiates sound. A small-diameter (1.5-2 inch) paper or polymer bonded by its apex to the center of the piezo transducer can be added to increase sensitivity. A cone can also be added by loading it with a horn to further increase sensitivity.

Piezo tweeters are not high fidelity tweeters and are mostly used in inexpensive combo and car stereo systems (mostly with just piezo disc) and some commercial speakers. Motorola has been the most frequent supplier of piezo tweeters to the commercial market.

Plasma/Ion

This exotic transducer is based on the principle of modulating ionized plasma by using the audio signal.

Plasma can be generated either by gas ionization by high-voltage electric fields (corona discharge) or by burning gas at a very high temperature. Plasma speakers have the shortest path from electric signal to oscillating air - it happens directly. There isn’t even a small diaphragm like in electrostatic or ribbon speakers, the response is immediate and there is no distortion related to mechanical or electromagnetic components.



One could argue that plasma tweeters are the closest design to ideal tweeter. The sound of plasma tweeters is exceptionally transparent and free from any apparent distortion. However, the price of an Acapella plasma tweeter, for example, is about $9,000 each, and they are not environmentally friendly.

Ribbon

This has a very thin, pleated aluminum foil diaphragm between two magnetic poles to the left and to the right. The diaphragm is very fragile and about 20 to 30 microns thick. It’s about 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. It looks like a ribbon, and the diaphragm is a current conductor.



Signal current passing through the diaphragm makes it vibrate. Ribbon tweeters have been known for extremely airy and transparent sound. The absence of voice coil inductance, its mostly linear magnetic field and its extremely light diaphragm all contribute to exceptional sound quality.

Ribbon tweeters are expensive, they require transformers for impedance matching and their aluminum ribbon is fragile and prone to sagging with time, which may result in response deterioration.

Air Motion Transformer (AMT)

Using a folded thin film diaphragm with aluminum conductors that are formed similar to an accordion squeezebox, this tweeter’s diaphragm is placed between opposing magnets. When signal current is passed it starts oscillating in the plane of the diaphragm with folds contracting and expanding and thus squeezing air in and out.



AMT drivers are relatively complex and expensive to manufacture, and in the case of units with extended operating range down to 1kHz, they are bulky. They do possess all the advantages of transducers with light diaphragm and flat voice coils with negligible inductance, producing a very transparent, natural sound.

Planar Ribbon (planar-magnetic, ribbon, magnetostatic, isodynamic)

Planar ribbon tweeters have been experiencing a surge of popularity in the high-performance market. New Neodymium magnets and high-tech PEN and polyimide (Dupont’s brand names Teonex and Kapton) materials are facilitating new designs with high sensitivity, robust field operation and cost-effective manufacturing. In planar ribbon tweeters, a thin diaphragm consisting of foil/film laminate with etched flat conductors is stretched and positioned between high-energy magnetic systems.



Planar ribbon drivers possess all the benefits of thin film “zero” inductance tweeters, including electrostatic. They produce transparent, natural sound and are relatively easy to manufacture at a reasonable cost. They also offer high sensitivity up to 103dB/1m/1W with some pro devices, and they can be made small without sacrificing output.

Planar ribbon tweeters do not require any matching transformers or wall outlet power. Their diaphragm is very robust and weather resistant. Unlike other thin film tweeters planar ribbons’ form factor ideally suits contemporary trends in the loudspeaker market and are very design and application “friendly.”


Ridikus. (sp.) Is that you??? biggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gif

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CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), default quality
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WTF? Dude, get some help.

EDIT: Oh now I get it lol. I looked at you equipment list and see that you have EMP speakers which use $5.00 dome tweeters LOL.
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post #8 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 04:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

WTF? Dude, get some help.

EDIT: Oh now I get it lol. I looked at you equipment list and see that you have EMP speakers which use $5.00 dome tweeters LOL.

why do you cast judgement on members based on their choice of gear? I've seen you do it many threads. Does equating gear to self worth allow you to feel better about yourself? Or is it a matter of compensating for something?

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #9 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

why do you cast judgement on members based on their choice of gear? I've seen you do it many threads. Does equating gear to self worth allow you to feel better about yourself? Or is it a matter of compensating for something?

It is just trolling and finding ways to be at the center of attention.
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post #10 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 05:23 AM
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NAIM101 and his vast experience with EMP speakers. Never mind that audoholic magazine said the EMP speakers had "impressive" quality drivers for a speaker of that price (in the review of the Impression series)...
Please tell me how long you have owned EMP speakers? How extensively have you listened to them? And please provide a link for the cost of the EMP dome tweeter...

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post #11 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

WTF? Dude, get some help.

EDIT: Oh now I get it lol. I looked at you equipment list and see that you have EMP speakers which use $5.00 dome tweeters LOL.


Wheres your equipment list??? Huh? tongue.gif Troll.

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pure troll/idiot he's been called out many times on what equipment he has with zero input.

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Sorry guys! I just couldn't resist messin' with this clown! smile.gif

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But aren't we all better now that we have this copy/pasted internet article to read, and as a bonus, all of us who own dome tweeter have been told we have cheap crap !

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post #16 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

NAIM101 and his vast experience with EMP speakers. Never mind that audoholic magazine said the EMP speakers had "impressive" quality drivers for a speaker of that price (in the review of the Impression series)...
Please tell me how long you have owned EMP speakers? How extensively have you listened to them? And please provide a link for the cost of the EMP dome tweeter...
They may well be nice speakers but it pays to keep in mind that AH has a long standing cordial relationship with RBH and sells the EMP line from which it derives a profit. And what does "impressive" mean unless it's fleshed out with appropriate references to drivers from other ID speaker brands in and around similar price ranges? Impressive how? Well, off to drink some Snapple made with the best ingredients on earth. biggrin.gif
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my sense of self worth has gone completely out the window.....i think im gonna go hide in a corner and cry.

i just don't know what i woulda done if it wasn't for the enlightenment that naim has brought to the table.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #18 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
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I have heard many many speakers and to tell you the truth, at this point I will never go back to dome tweeter. Its either AMT (well integrated one) or RAAL ribbons.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

I have heard many many speakers and to tell you the truth, at this point I will never go back to dome tweeter. Its either AMT (well integrated one) or RAAL ribbons.

Great you have a PREFERENCE! Doesn't make any other peoples PREFERENCES wrong now does it?

Can you provide evidence that EMP's tweeters only cost $5.00?

Can you also answer the questions posted to you in post #8?

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #20 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Great you have a PREFERENCE! Doesn't make any other peoples PREFERENCES wrong now does it?

Can you provide evidence that EMP's tweeters only cost $5.00?

Can you also answer the questions posted to you in post #8?

Oops, there are exceptions like Dynaudio's dome. I dont know how they do it but their tweeter sounds smooth, and airy but not heavy at the same time. Just right. Very good speakers. And also the Ascends NRT's, not heavy at all but the Dynaudio's tweeter is better imo. Other than them, not going back.
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post #21 of 65 Old 10-16-2013, 10:55 PM
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Naim. Where's your equipment list??? And a pic please!!! Lol! biggrin.gif You douche bag!!!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

They may well be nice speakers but it pays to keep in mind that AH has a long standing cordial relationship with RBH and sells the EMP line from which it derives a profit. And what does "impressive" mean unless it's fleshed out with appropriate references to drivers from other ID speaker brands in and around similar price ranges? Impressive how? Well, off to drink some Snapple made with the best ingredients on earth. biggrin.gif

Dang Chu Gai, You on NAIM's side?

Yamaha RX-V765 Behringer A500 x2 (for now) FL/R/C
EMP E55Ti, E5Ci, E5Bi
OPPO BDP-83
HSU VTF-2 MK3
Klipsch KSW-10

Headphone rig:
Grado RS1i
Little Dot 1+ w/ Tung-Sol jan-6028 and LM4562 OP Amp.
Kimber Kable PBJ interconnects.
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post #23 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by toddt007 View Post

Naim. Where's your equipment list??? And a pic please!!! Lol! biggrin.gif You douche bag!!!



??? It would've taken me 5 minutes too take a pic and post it. Got something to hide? Or are you ashamed of your Dell computer speaker setup?

Yamaha RX-V765 Behringer A500 x2 (for now) FL/R/C
EMP E55Ti, E5Ci, E5Bi
OPPO BDP-83
HSU VTF-2 MK3
Klipsch KSW-10

Headphone rig:
Grado RS1i
Little Dot 1+ w/ Tung-Sol jan-6028 and LM4562 OP Amp.
Kimber Kable PBJ interconnects.
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post #24 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Great you have a PREFERENCE! Doesn't make any other peoples PREFERENCES wrong now does it?

Can you provide evidence that EMP's tweeters only cost $5.00?

Can you also answer the questions posted to you in post #8?


Oops, there are exceptions like Dynaudio's dome. I dont know how they do it but their tweeter sounds smooth, and airy but not heavy at the same time. Just right. Very good speakers. And also the Ascends NRT's, not heavy at all but the Dynaudio's tweeter is better imo. Other than them, not going back.

Please answer the questions.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #25 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

They may well be nice speakers but it pays to keep in mind that AH has a long standing cordial relationship with RBH and sells the EMP line from which it derives a profit. And what does "impressive" mean unless it's fleshed out with appropriate references to drivers from other ID speaker brands in and around similar price ranges? Impressive how? Well, off to drink some Snapple made with the best ingredients on earth. biggrin.gif

Dang Chu Gai, You on NAIM's side?
Nope, just havin' a little fun with the whole review hyperbole thing and this one in particular.
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"I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - Gregory House
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post #26 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 04:10 AM
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This reminds me of that guy with the HSU speakers who didn't think anyone needed anything more than a STF-1 subwoofer... rolleyes.gif

Living Room
Samsung PN60F5300 | Denon DBP-1611 | Roku 3
Denon AVR-1713 | EMP E55Ti | EMP E56Ci | EMP E5Bi | BIC F-12

Computer
Topping TP23 | NHT SuperZero 2.0 | Velodyne DEQ-8R
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post #27 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 04:39 AM
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Hahaha, I casually dropped a poo on this garbage thread a couple days ago and I return this morning to find a mighty forest commemorating the gift of my fertilizer. Thanks guys (NAIM especially)

Once again, I am sorry to take a sledgehammer to so small and fragile a nut. -- Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show On Earth
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post #28 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 05:22 AM
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Chu, I am aware of the AH/RBH relationship, and the fact that most professional reviews are "loaded" going in...however, all professional pubs have some credibility to maintain, so usually they refuse to review a speaker that they know will end up getting negative reviews. I take it all with a grain...

As for naim, well, personally, I don't like the majority of horn tweeter that I have heard...especially for music. But I would never call another person's choice cheap or poor and based on speaker prices, they are some cheap horn tweeters! And while he claimed to have heard "many" speakers (maybe he was a Best Buy employee)...he refuses to name one that he owns.

Set up #1: EMP e5ti, e5Ci, and SLS Q line Audio surrounds, EMP 10i10i sub
Set up #2: Def Tech SM450, CLR2002, SLS Qline surrounds and Klipsch 12wD sub
Set up #3: JBL130, JBL120C and Klipsch synergy sub
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post #29 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Please answer the questions.

I'm still waiting on him to explain why he firmly stated in another thread that a subwoofer will draw 75% of a receiver's power rolleyes.gif
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post #30 of 65 Old 10-17-2013, 07:18 AM
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I'm still waiting on him to explain why he firmly stated in another thread that a subwoofer will draw 75% of a receiver's power rolleyes.gif
Really? When it doesn't draw any? Assuming a powered sub of course, but that is 99.9% of the market where HT is concerned.

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The Laws of Physics aren't swayed by opinion.
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