(Update: 3/19/14) Arx A1b vs Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE vs Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 vs Energy RC-10 vs Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 267 Old 01-17-2014, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently decided to upgrade my computer speakers. Being that I am an audio enthusiast, getting some tiny logitec speakers which most people consider as being “good” computer speakers wasn't going to satisfy my needs. Prior to this I was running some old Onkyo stand-mount speakers from a 7.1 HTIB(my first real sound system). While they were far better than most computer speakers that you can go out and buy from a major retailer, my ears have been spoiled by my SVS Ultra Towers which I have in my bedroom ( see my review here http://www.avsforum.com/t/1464525/review-svs-ultra-towers-now-with-pics)

Before I jump into the review ill first go over why I chose these two speakers, if you don't care feel free to skip to the important stuff. I tend to research things to death before I buy them. I spent a solid 2 weeks narrowing down the vast sea of stand-mount speakers out there in this price range. I narrowed it down to 3, the Wharfedale 10.1, CBM-170 SE and the Emp Tek E5Bi. At the time I didnt have enough money to get all 3 so I went with the first 2.

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1



I decided to go ahead and purchase these speakers for auditioning because people praised them for their smooth sound. Everyone mentioned that they are very easy to listen to. I myself am very sensitive to high frequencies and cant stand any sign of sibilance. I find myself having to tone down the treble on most cheaper sound systems I come across. I prefer a neutral speaker, sometimes with a slight touch of warmth to make for a non fatiguing listening experience. They are also gorgeous. Some people don't care what their speakers look like, only if they sound good, but to me speakers are a form of art.




The 10.1's came in about a week before the CBM-170 SE's so I had some time to try them out on their own. First impressions were that they are certainly very smooth. There was no sign of harshness to be found. However I felt that something was missing. I let my girlfriend who has a good pair of ears give them a listen. I brought her along when I went and listened to Hi-Fi setups costing 50k when shopping for my SVS Ultras, so shes somewhat educated. Without saying anything to her she came to the same conclusion that I came to. While they are smooth and easy to listen to, they sound a bit too relaxed to the point of losing detail. She put it very well, “It sounds like I could reach out and pull off something thats covering the speakers” (note, all speakers I evaluate are done with grills off, because thats how I like to keep them).

Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE




I decided to get these as well because of the overwhelming amount of positive reviews. I read through at least 100 user reviews and NEVER read a single bad review. Thats saying something since speakers are so subjective. The first thing I noticed when these came in is that they are BIG. A fair bit larger than I expected. Also, something I was prepared for, they are somewhat ugly frown.gif ….in my opinion. Ill be honest, I'm not too impressed with their fit and finish. The black matte paint doesn't bother me, its things like the non flush face plate, rear plate and screws. Some other reviewers have mentioned that Ascend Acoustics doesn't spend money on fancy cabinets or finishes(on this model)but instead chose to put the money into the components. Fair enough, if its indeed true, I can respect that design approach. So...how do they sound? My initial impressions are that they are in-fact a neutral speaker. I wish they had a bit more bass but ill get into that in a second when I compare them to the 10.1s



This is a comparison after all, so lets get to it.



I set my AVR to Pure Direct and used banana plugs in order to switch the speakers out as quickly as possible. Auditory memory is very very short and while I wish I had a way to do AB-X testing this will have to do. Right away I noticed that the two speakers sounded quite different. The CBM-170's sound a lot more neutral and forward compared to the 10.1's. When listening to Lindsey Stirlings Crystallize the 10.1 sounded as if the violin was located behind the plane of the monitor, the CBM-170's sound a fair bit more forward. I did find something I didn't expect to. I did all my listening in pure direct(no subwoofer), the 10.1s with a 5.25” woofer appear to have more bass than the CBM-170's with their 6.5” woofer! I cant really explain it, it might have something to do with the fact that the 10.1's have dual rear ports vs the CBM-170's single rear port. I am confident in saying that the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1's are in fact not a neutral speaker, they do color the sound in my opinion. If I had to pick a colored speaker though, I would much prefer the 10.1s coloration to that of a cheap speaker with over emphasized hi frequencies.




At this point I think its safe to say that the Diamond 10.1s are going back. I will emphasize however that I don't think they are a BAD speaker by any means. They sound quite good and for long listening sessions with a near-field placement they aren't a bad choice to consider – especially if you prefer a warmer sound. I myself use to be a fan of very laid bad high's, before I started seriously getting into audio I would turn down the treble quite a bit. As Ive matured and started listening to more and more expensive setups ive grown to appreciate a more balanced sound. That and I cant hear up to 24khz like I use to be able to when I was 16 smile.gif I think the younger me would have preferred the 10.1's to the CBM-170's. However, those looking for a neutral speaker that is fairly clear and revealing given its price point, the 170 SE's are the way to go between these two. On the other hand if you want a stand-mount with great bass, easy to listen too, stunning looks and fantastic fit and finish I would get the Wharfedales. I'm going to be sad to see the Wharfedales go, they are stunning to look at and my sample had impeccable craftsmanship.

Update: I ran MCACC on the Wharfedales and the CBM-170s. The Wharfedales needed a 4.5dB boost around 16khz In order to measure flat. The CBM-170s measured pretty much flat in the upper frequencies, they didn't require any boosting or attenuating. This confirms shaft I heard in my listening. Even when corrected however, the Wharfedales still don't quite have the same clarity or air that the Ascends do.

I went ahead and ordered the E5Bi's since they seem like they will compare similarly to the Ascends. In about a week we will see!


Part 2


Its time for round 2!!!!!!!!!

CBM-170 SE vs Arx A1b




The CBM-170's and the A1b are a much closer match than the 170's and the Wharfedale 10.1's(in my opinion). So this review is going to be much more in depth. I spent 11 hours straight doing cable switches between the 170's and A1b's the first day. So here we go.

I decided to try out the A1b because I heard it was a neutral speaker and It may have more bass than the CBM-170. Also, Ive never tried a speaker with a planar tweeter before, so I decided it was the perfect time to try out a different technology.

I tested both speakers in two different rooms to try and mitigate any negatives that might be room/positioning dependent.

Unless otherwise stated, both speakers are being tested without room correction on pure direct and level matched.



The A1bs narrowly escaped damage. It looks like something heavy with a pointy end was dropped on the box. This is a photo from the inside of the box. Luckily there was enough mechanical offset from the sides of the box, so the A1bs arrived without a scratch.



Clint Mansell - Lux Aeterna,. The A1b's sound darker/smoother, more restrained. Violins dont carry as much energy in the higher notes. CBM-170's sound more open and engaging. They seem more dynamic. Instruments are more likely to pop out. The A1bs sound like your sitting in the front rows of a concert, the CBM-170's sometimes sound like your leaning over listening to the instruments

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son, In the intro, some guitar notes hang in the air significantly longer with the CBM-170s than with the A1b's. I'm not sure how the recording engineers wanted it to sound like, but I prefer how the A1b's handle those notes. The aforementioned notes seem more dampened through the A1b's.

Papa Roach- Last resort, The lead singers voice seems further back on stage and doesn't stand out as much on the A1bs.

Imagine Dragons – Radioactive, When tested in far-field placement, this is the only song I tried where the Arx A1b take a clear win. CBM-170s have an unrealistic top end emphasis here. Most of the time their top end emphasis makes songs sound more alive and vibrant(typically not in a unrealistic way). For whatever reason though on this song that vibrant quality is negative. Note: I played this song again when I set the speakers up for near-field, and I didn't notice as much of an overemphasis here with the CBM-170s as I heard before. However, I still felt the A1b's were a little more calm and composed on this track.


Master and Commander- This is the only movie content I tested, and I did it mainly to test the bass output - I don't normally watch movies on my computer. The A1b seemed like they had a bit more impact during scenes with cannon fire. The slightly more in your face CBM-170s were a bit harder on the ears during movie playback, I would probably throw an X-Curve on there to tone down the high frequencies for this type of content. The A1b's were easier to listen too.

Finally I did some somewhat objective testing to see which speakers have greater resolution and detail. I did some Abx testing between flac and 130kps mp3 as well as flac and 225kbps mp3. I don't have the patience to sit all night Abx testing so I picked something easy enough but not so easy that it wouldn't test the speakers out at all.

Here are my logs for the CBM-170

foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.1
2014/01/29 22:25:05

File A: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\15 He's a Pirate.flac
File B: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\(130kbps)He's a Pirate.mp3

22:25:05 : Test started.
22:26:08 : 01/01 50.0%
22:26:46 : 02/02 25.0%
22:27:10 : 03/03 12.5%
22:27:36 : 04/04 6.3%
22:28:32 : 04/05 18.8%
22:29:36 : 05/06 10.9%
22:30:27 : 06/07 6.3%
22:31:07 : 07/08 3.5%
22:31:56 : 08/09 2.0%
22:33:10 : 09/10 1.1%
22:33:16 : Test finished.

Total: 9/10 (1.1%)

Here are my logs for the A1b

foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.1
2014/01/29 22:39:21

File A: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\15 He's a Pirate.flac
File B: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\(130kbps)He's a Pirate.mp3

22:39:21 : Test started.
22:40:30 : 01/01 50.0%
22:40:54 : 02/02 25.0%
22:41:38 : 03/03 12.5%
22:42:27 : 04/04 6.3%
22:42:59 : 05/05 3.1%
22:43:22 : 05/06 10.9%
22:44:19 : 06/07 6.3%
22:44:58 : 07/08 3.5%
22:45:42 : 08/09 2.0%
22:46:16 : 09/10 1.1%
22:46:21 : Test finished.

Total: 9/10 (1.1%)




My ears were tired so I decided to give it a break and try again the next day with a higher bit-rate.

CBM-170

foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.1
2014/01/30 17:28:32

File A: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\15 He's a Pirate.flac
File B: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\(225kbps)He's a Pirate.mp3

17:28:32 : Test started.
17:29:30 : 01/01 50.0%
17:30:45 : 01/02 75.0%
17:32:17 : 02/03 50.0%
17:33:15 : 03/04 31.3%
17:34:29 : 04/05 18.8%
17:35:53 : 05/06 10.9%
17:36:19 : 06/07 6.3%
17:36:21 : Test finished.

Total: 6/7 (6.3%)


A1b

foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.1
2014/01/30 17:18:35

File A: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\15 He's a Pirate.flac
File B: C:\Users\Danny\Desktop\Music\Scores\(225kbps)He's a Pirate.mp3

17:18:35 : Test started.
17:19:57 : 01/01 50.0%
17:21:04 : 01/02 75.0%
17:22:06 : 01/03 87.5%
17:23:23 : 02/04 68.8%
17:24:24 : 02/05 81.3%
17:25:32 : 02/06 89.1%
17:26:36 : 02/07 93.8%
17:26:40 : Test finished.

Total: 2/7 (93.8%)


The limit of my ears, on this song, on these speakers, and in this room is right around 225kbps. Obviously the CBM-170's did much better here,(6/7) compared to (2/7) . This confirms what I felt originally, that the CBM-170's seem more detailed and revealing. Is this because they have a higher resolution than the A1b's, or because they have a greater emphasis on high frequencies which makes it easier to spot the differences in compressed tracks? I can't say. Its just as likely that its either one, or both. I would feel obligated to do at least a few more trials using different songs before I declare anything, and honesty, I hate ABx testing. Its boring and tedious. Thats why I could only tolerate doing 7 trails on the last run, its hard for me to concentrate like that. Take it for what its worth.



Miscellaneous notes:

There is a significant difference in sensitivity(~5dB, assuming Arx's spec is for in-room sensitivity) between the CBM-170 and the A1b(the 170's are louder). If your looking for the maximum output for large spaces and you only have an AVR(like me) then the CBM-170s are probably your ticket. If I'm doing my math right, you will need almost 4x the power to get the same output out of the A1b's. However, this is a non-issue if your playing at only modestly loud levels in medium sized rooms. I had no trouble getting the A1bs to play loud enough to be uncomfortable. I did find myself turning up the A1bs louder than the ~5dB needed to match the CBM-170s, they weren't as dynamic at low volumes and needed a little boost to get them there.

Both the CBM-170's and A1b's sound like they have a bit of a “gap” in-between the tweeter and woofer. The gap on the CBM-170's sounds like its in the lower midrange and the gap in the A1bs sounds like its in the upper midrange. I'm not sure what frequency the tweeter on the A1b is crossed over at but maybe what I am hearing has something to do with their respective crossovers, or maybe it's that they are only 2 way speakers and I'm use to listening to 3 way speakers. Take this with a grain of salt. They are budget speakers and neither you or I can expect them to sound perfect. They both still sound very good, I'm just nitpicking.


I didn't find any off axis problems with the planar tweeter on the A1b's. They seemed to project a reasonably large sweet spot for the applications I tested them in.

A1b's feel more sturdy, they weigh 3lbs more than the 170's. The cabinet on the A1b's is fair bit more inert. Both cabinets are constructed reasonably well, but it looks and feels like Arx took a little more care constructing theirs. I already mentioned I'm not a fan of the non-flush face and back plates on the CBM-170s, it looks sloppy in my opinion. The woofer on the A1b is held in with 6 screws vs the 4 found on the CBM-170. The economy finish on both of these speakers is acceptable given the cost saving standpoint. I slightly prefer the matte black finish on the CBM-170's, my brain associates black faux wood vinyl wrap with cheap. I didn't find any obvious flaws with either one and there were no obvious sonic differences that I could attribute to the cabinets, they both do their jobs well enough.

Note the uneven face-plate on the 170's


The A1b has a much larger and longer port than the CBM-170. The port on the CBM-170 is made of solid plastic and is not flared, The port on the A1b is made of plastic and cardboard and appears to be flared at both ends. I was pleased to find at the cardboard section of the port seemed very ridged, its not made like a toilet paper tube.



The A1b's grills are much nicer. They are made of a very thick MDF and are attached to the speaker via 4 ball joints. The CBM-170's grills are fairly flimsy, and are attached with plastic ball joints. From a sonic standpoint I'm not sure if these things matter at all. I don't ever use speaker grills anyways, so it really doesn't matter to me. However, if I did use speaker grills, I have no doubt the grills on the A1b's would outlast the ones on the CBM-170, for what its worth.

I didn't get the significant increase in bass with the A1b that I was hoping for. The XBL2 motor design in the A1b seems to only have a slightly higher output than the CBM-170. Granted, there is a significant driver size difference(170=6.5inch vs A1b=5.3 inches). I have no doubt that if the A1b had a 6.5 inch driver as well it would have a significantly higher output.



Aesthetically, I can see the A1b's having a higher WAF. That said, they are both medium-ish size stand-mount speakers, if your wife has a problem with them – its time for a new wife.


The A1b's are taller than the CBM-170s, in my application this is a good thing as I don't have to use something to raise the A1b's tweeter to ear level like I do the 170's.

I have not noticed any sonic changes due to "break-in" throughout my review process.

Sonic signature: A1b vs CBM-170 SE

As Ive mentioned before, the A1b's do not seem to be quite as clear or revealing as the 170's. The A1b's still have some top end sizzle, the main area they are different in is the midrange. This makes me think the difference in sound might be related to the crossover or slight variations of the frequency response curve. I can't say for sure. Another way I can describe it is that the A1b's are “softer”, a lot of instruments aren't quite as sharp or crisp. The CBM-170's seem very dynamic and engaging. They are exciting to listen to. I think a lot of people might find the CBM-170's sonic signature more appealing. There are those who prefer a smoother more laid back sound, in which case the A1b's may be a better fit for you. I think the A1b's are somewhere in-between the Wharfedale 10.1s and the CBM-170 in terms of warmth. The Wharfedales were very warm to the point of losing detail. The A1bs are on the warm side of neutral and the CBM-170s are on the brighter side of neutral. The SVS Ultras are in-between the A1b's and CBM-170.

I decided run MCACC and see what in room frequency response of each of these speakers is like. Since I'm trying to be as thorough as possible, I ran MCACC in not one, but two different rooms. That way we can compare the graphs and if an anomaly shows up on one graph it can be compared to another to see if its just caused by the room or if it might be something else.

This is the correction table that MCACC applied to get each speaker to read flat in my computer room. Note, these first two are done in all channel adjust. I took pictures of what the right speaker in each case measured as.

CBM-170


A1b


I then went ahead and ran MCACC again in my main listening room. Note the differences in the way data is displayed is due to the fact that I have a newer Pioneer receiver in this room. Also, this was done in symmetry mode so the corrections are averaged. I think this is a better way to show how the in room response is vs the first way i did it. You can ignore that the information in the pictures below show one reading from the L side and one from the R side, in symmetry the corrections are averaged between the left and right.

CBM-170

A1b




I let my girlfriend Kate spend some time with each speaker. Her sonic preferences are fairly similar to mine, but different ears and brains hear things differently. I did not tell her what I thought about each speaker so she could form her own opinions. When I went to audition speakers before I purchased the SVS Ultras I took Kate along, so she has heard some very nice systems(some worth over 50k). Basically, her ear is somewhat trained and she goes to live concerts far more often than me. Below are her notes on each.

CBM-170

“They sound more detailed”
“brighter”
“Backround sounds are brought more into the foreground, but its not always a good thing as it can be fatiguing to listen to for a prolonged period of time (it wasn't mastered to be that way)”

A1b

“They sound more cohesive”
“They have a richer sound”.


Side note: I realized something pretty funny about half way though this review, funny to me anyways. The A1b's sound like what I imagined the CBM-170s would sound like, and the CBM-170s sound like what I imaged the A1b's would sound like! This was my first experience with Planar tweeters, and I cant wait to try out more non-dome tweeters in the future. If I have one piece of advice to those who are new to audio, it would be, don't worry so much about what a tweeter is made of or if its a planar/dome/ribbon etc. I use to be “that guy” who only brought speakers with silk dome tweeters, because I hadn't heard any well executed metal dome tweeters. I took a chance with the SVS Ultras(which use an aluminum dome tweeter) and I can easily say its one of the smoothest sounding tweeters Ive heard. That said, I've heard that soft dome tweeters are easier to implement, where as its a lot harder to implement a hard dome tweeter properly. So when shopping for very cheap gear, from questionable company's, it may be a safer bet to go with a soft dome tweeter. Otherwise, a properly designed tweeter is a properly designed tweeter. YMMV.

Summary: I've tested these two speakers to exhaustion. I spent yesterday ripping out the receiver from my main listening room and placing it in my computer room so I could do some A/B switching between the two speakers(for whatever reason the existing pioneer receiver that is in the computer room wasn't cooperating when I tried to A/B switching). I originally said that these two speakers are very similar. I hate eating my own words but I'm going to have to. They are not as similar as I originally thought. I didn't learn much from the hours of A/B switching I did that I didn't already know, but it did make it easier to grasp how these two speakers differ.(Note: A/B switching was done on pure direct with no correction to eliminate as many variables as possible). The original notes I made about each speaker still hold true. I talked a lot about the positives of each speakers before, so I am now going to focus on the negatives.

The CBM-170's are detail oriented for sure. Thats why I think a lot of people give them such praise. However, to my ears they sound thin and lack a certain lower midrange warmth that makes music sound well rounded. At first, it didn't bother me but after listening to the Whafedales, A1b's, and SVS Ultras I began to realize what each speakers were missing. Its really this absence of lower midrange warmth that sealed their fate in my opinion. They managed to stay detailed in the highs without being overly harsh most of the time, which I found impressive.


The A1b's as I mentioned before, very different than the CBM-170s. They have that lower midrange warmth I was missing with the 170's, however they traded this for clarity and openness. I will go out on a limb and say it, the A1b's sound a bit veiled to me, somewhat like the Wharfedales. As seen by the ABx trails, I wasn't able to distinguish 225kbps from FLAC, where as I scored quite well with the CBM-170's. They do have a certain top end sizzle though that the Wharfedales didn't have(biased on memory), so while sounding overall veiled when it came to vocals and violins, they still managed to sparkle with other instruments(such as high pitched cymbals and special effects such as sparkling effects in electronic music). As mentioned, violins and some vocals were the downfall of the A1b's. Violins lacked energy and female vocals sounded a bit too recessed.


CBM-170's

The Good:

-Reasonably high resolution/Detailed
-Live sounding
-Dynamic
-Great sensitivity
-Sounds better at lower volumes

The Bad:


-”Thin” sound due to recessed lower midrange warmth
-Can be fatiguing under certain circumstances such as near field at higher volume
-Light on bass considering their size
-Non-flush face plate and back plate make it look cheap

A1b

The Good:

-Solid cabinet
-Attention to detail(grills, finish etc)
-Better lower midrange than the 170's
-Easy to listen too
-5.3” woofer that puts out as much bass as some 6.5” woofers
-Sounds better at louder volumes

The Bad:

-Upper midrange seems recessed which makes the A1b sound veiled.
-Takes a fair amount of juice to get them going, although thats only a problem for large spaces.
-Lacking in dynamics, too restrained on scenes that should be a little more in your face.
-Vocals and some instruments lack energy


I have decided that these two don't really give me what I need. I feel like these speakers don't get me in the goldilocks zone. The CBM-170's are a little too hot and the A1'b are a little too cold. I could choose to settle for one of these two, throw more money and time at the problem to get to where I really want. I see speakers as a long term investment so at this point my plan is to bite the bullet and spend more money than I wanted too in order to find the right speaker.

With that said, if I had to pick one I think it would be the Arx A1b. The CBM-170's do better with classical music, however for causal listening (EDM on Spotify) I find the A1b's are a little better at near-field.

I want to emphasis that I am being pretty hard on these speakers. In general I'm hard to impress, and am very critical. They are both are well regarded speakers and are loved by many.





Final Summary Compilation



Wharfedale Diamond 10.1

Build Quality: 8.5/10

Attention to Detail: 8.5/10

Treble: 6.5/10 – Treble seemed recessed

Midrange: I don't remember enough to give them a rating.

Bass: 9/10

Treble smoothness: 9.5/10 They are smooth but at the cost of detail/resolution

Tonal Balance: 8/10 Everything was pretty good other than the highs and resolution.

Resolution: 5/10

Imaging/sound-stage: Don't remember.

Value: 7/10 Decent performance, great looks.

Packaging: 9/10

Customer Service: N/A


Ascend Acoustics CBM-170

Build Quality: 6.5/10 – Finish was easily damaged and uneven face/backplates look cheap

Attention to Detail: 8/10

Treble: 8.5/10

Midrange: 6.5/10 Lower midrange recessed, other than that it is good. That is the reason for the low score.

Bass: 7/10 Not much bass for their size.

Treble smoothness: 8.5/10, fairly smooth for how detailed they were

Tonal Balance: 7/10 – Apparent lack of lower-midrange warmth made them sound flat which was their Achilles heal in my opinion.

Resolution: 8.5/10

Imaging/sound-stage: 9/10

Value: 7/10 – Pretty good performance, not so great looks

Packaging: 7.5/10

Customer Service: 7/10 – They will not talk about any other speakers other than their own, even if they have heard them before. Other brands such as Aperion were willing to not only willing talk about other companies speakers but even recommended some of their competitors models. Calls were answered and emails were responded to with acceptable delay.

Arx A1b

Build Quality: 8/10 Really great cabinet especially at their price point. Midrange driver is beefy and appears to be well built.

Attention to Detail: 8/10. Some vinyl is raised here and there around the driver area. Nothing major. Corners are pretty good.

Treble: 7.5/10 – Some parts of the treble seem a bit recessed.

Midrange- 9/10

Bass- 8.5/10

Treble smoothness: 9/10

Tonal Balance: 9/10

Resolution: 7/10

Imaging/sound-stage: 7.5/10

Value: 8/10 Good performance with decent looks.

Packaging: 8.5/10

Customer Service: 9.5/10. Jon Lane was willing to talk for a very long time on the phone and was willing to provide feedback on some of the other speakers I was looking at. He even offered to extend my auditioning period if I needed more time for the review. A lot of companies wont do that for amateur reviewers. Really great to work with.

Energy RC-10

Build Quality: 8/10

Attention to Detail: 8.5/10

Treble: 8.75/10

Midrange: 8/10

Bass: 7/10 - Some of the upper bass seemed a bit muddied.

Treble smoothness: 9/10 – Tweeter is quite smooth and easy to listen too

Tonal Balance- 8.75/10

Resolution: 8.5/10

Imaging/sound-stage: 8/10

Packaging: 7.5/10

Value: 10/10 – At $200 you might as well be stealing them.

Customer Service: N/A


Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1

Build Quality: 8/10

Attention to Detail: 6.5/10 – Gloss finish is not pristine. It is swirled/marred. I use to detail high end exotic cars for a while so I feel that I am qualified to be critical in this department. While I have not personally seen a speaker that has a flawless 100% micro scratch free finish, these CSB-1s are definitely what I would consider below average. The finish looks like it was not handled with as much care as it should have. Either they dusted the speaker off frequently during assembly or they did not do a good job polishing the finish. Either way, its not terrible and most people wouldn't notice as its not visible unless you look at the finish under a direct light source. From a few feet away they look just fine. Possibly more of an issue was that I found metal pieces stuck to the magnets of the tweeter on the outside. I had to use some pliers and carefully remove the metal debris from inside the tweeter grill. It was blatantly obvious and it should have not passed QC with those metal debris in the tweeter. As a side note, the Arx A1b has a fine mesh grill over the tweeter to prevent such a thing from happening.

Treble: 8.5/10 The highs are detailed and extended although at times they can be a little too sharp.

Midrange: 8/10

Bass: 8.5/10

Treble smoothness: 7/10

Tonal Balance: 8.75/10

Resolution: 9/10

Imaging/sound-stage: 9/10

Packaging: 9/10

Value: 8/10 – I feel they are overpriced at their MSRP but the B-stock price is a fair deal IMO.

Customer Service: 4/10 I attempted to contact Carnegie by email and phone. I never received a response on the email and their phone number appears to be incorrect as a gentleman picked up and told me that I had the wrong number and people keep calling him asking for Carnegie. Also it appears that I was given an incorrect tracking number and was not able to receive a correct one after attempting to get a hold of them.


Brightest

CSB-1 ~ CBM-170
RC-10
A1b
Wharfedale 10.1

Warmest



Most Favorite

CSB-1
RC-10
A1b
CBM-170
Wharfedale 10.1

Least Favorite





Here are some pictures of the internals on the A1b, RC-10 and CSB-1

A1b Midrange driver:

Notes: Cast metal basket, vented pole piece. It is the heaviest driver of the 3.


A1b Crossover:



RC-10 Midrange driver

Notes: Stamped steel basket, no vented pole piece(but it does have voice coil cooling via the phase-plug so it may not be needed)



RC-10 Crossover



CSB-1 Midrange driver

Notes: Plastic basket, lightest motor of the 3, vented pole piece. I was a little surprsied when I saw this driver. I am not expert by and means but from a lay persons perspective it does not look to be of the same quality of the other 2 drivers. Very surprising since this speaker retails for quite a bit more than the other two. Maybe someone with more technical knowledge than I can shed some light on why this driver isn't as beefy as the other two.



CSB-1 Crossover



Update 3/11/14

I went ahead and took the CSB-1s and RC-10s outdoors today to do some free field measurements. It didnt really turn out as expected. For some reason there was a nasty dip at 200hz with all speakers tested, there was also another dip, although not quite as significant at 500hz. I cant figure out why those dips occurred. So I decided to forgo posting any graphs. However, I did get agreeable, and what I believe to be accurate data from 20hz to 100hz and from 1khz-20khz. I will summarize the results.


Measurements were done with a UMIK-1 calibrated microphone and taken with REW, 1/3 octave smoothing. The microphone was about 2m away from the speakers with the microphone aimed between the tweeter and midrange. I tried to get as far away from any reflective objects as possible, I placed the speakers on the grass(on stands) to avoid any floor bounce. I took 2 measurements, and averaged them. Surprisingly even with a highish noise floor(I did the sweeps at high volume to compensate) the difference between the sweeps was pretty much non existent. They were within tenths of a dB.


The RC-10s are very flat throughout the midrange, they measured to within +/-1.5dB from 1khz to 20khz. The CSB-1s aren't too bad, they deviate by +/-2.5dB throughout the same passband. The CSB-1s play a few hz lower. The CSB-1s seemed like they were on the verge of bottoming out during the sweeps(I heard some mechanical noise, but I didn't get any pop or smack).
Being able to hear things and then test them was a real treat. I wish I could go back in time and measure all of the speakers I auditioned. When I upgrade in the future I may try out something with a ribbon tweeter, I haven't had the opportunity to do any critical listening with ribbon tweeter speakers.

Something I think is important to note is that the CSB-1s gave me hell when trying to get them to where I really wanted them to be. I took about 5 days of moving things around inch by inch while spending about 40 hours total in REW doing sweeps and real time analysis. Granted, most of that was me learning how to do all of that stuff in REW. I feel like the upper midrange/treble of the RC-10s, while not as detailed, are easier to get good results with. That might stem from the fact that the RC-10s have a flatter midrange/treble. Also its important to note that I am not running the CSB-1s flat, like all of my speakers I prefer to apply a house curve(+1.8dB/octave starting at 200hz and -1.4dB/octave starting at 2,000hz). While I was messing around with the house curve on the CSB-1s I thought about the CBM-170's. I feel like I might have been able to get them where I wanted using all this new tech I have acquired. They were really missing that lower midrange and I feel like a house curve might be all they needed. Flat frequency responses tend to not sound so good to most people(see Harmon, B&K study etc), any that might have been the issue. They were too flat, something that I could easily fix now that I couldn't do then. Alas, I will never know.

So after 2 months, 5 speakers and about 40 hours buried in software - I am content.



Note: After analyzing the CSB-1s with all my new gadgets I decided to go ahead and put them on stands behind the desk as some previously suggested before. In the end it was not so much that they measured better from there; the difference was slight, I did it more for the vast improvement in sound-stage.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
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Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #2 of 267 Old 01-17-2014, 06:44 PM
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I have not heard the EMP Impression series bookshelves, I have the towers...so I am familiar with the drivers EMP uses! I would describe EMP Impression speakers as neutral, but a very pleasing emphasis on mid bass. They don't hit very low and the high are abit repressed by the crossover, which can be EQ'd.
I have compared my Emp e5ti to the ascend cmt340s that my friend Ray owns and we came to the conclusion that they are very comparable ( and yes, the AA speakers are ugly). We both gave a slight preference to the 340 for music and a slight preference to the EMPs for Ht! For what it is worth...

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post #3 of 267 Old 01-17-2014, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

I have not heard the EMP Impression series bookshelves, I have the towers...so I am familiar with the drivers EMP uses! I would describe EMP Impression speakers as neutral, but a very pleasing emphasis on mid bass. They don't hit very low and the high are abit repressed by the crossover, which can be EQ'd.
I have compared my Emp e5ti to the ascend cmt340s that my friend Ray owns and we came to the conclusion that they are very comparable ( and yes, the AA speakers are ugly). We both gave a slight preference to the 340 for music and a slight preference to the EMPs for Ht! For what it is worth...

All you've done is make me want to try them more! If they can give me more mid bass, the same neutrality and detail while being smaller for a hundred bucks less I would take them in a heart beat.

My girlfriend just got home and is trying out the 170s with her own music right now. She likes them.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
Computer System: Carnagie Acoustics CSB-1 - 12' Onkyo sealed subwoofer - Pioneer VSX-92 THX
Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #4 of 267 Old 01-17-2014, 09:55 PM
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These are in your price range and would seem to be a good candidate for desktop use with their front ported design.

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-41245-focal-chorus-705v-bookshelf-speakers-pr.aspx
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post #5 of 267 Old 01-17-2014, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gmash View Post

These are in your price range and would seem to be a good candidate for desktop use with their front ported design.

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-41245-focal-chorus-705v-bookshelf-speakers-pr.aspx

They were definitely one of the contenders but I took them off the list because I read from a number of people that they are a bit edgy/can be harsh. If i had an unlimited budget I would definitely audition them though.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
Computer System: Carnagie Acoustics CSB-1 - 12' Onkyo sealed subwoofer - Pioneer VSX-92 THX
Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #6 of 267 Old 01-21-2014, 11:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Unfortunately the Emp Teks won't make it in before my auditioning period with the Ascends will be up so I won't be able to review them.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
Computer System: Carnagie Acoustics CSB-1 - 12' Onkyo sealed subwoofer - Pioneer VSX-92 THX
Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #7 of 267 Old 01-22-2014, 07:30 AM
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I'd call Ascend and ask them to let you keep them for a little longer. Most places will have no problem doing that. Especially if you're reviewing them against a direct competitor

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post #8 of 267 Old 01-22-2014, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmithandWesson View Post

They were definitely one of the contenders but I took them off the list because I read from a number of people that they are a bit edgy/can be harsh. If i had an unlimited budget I would definitely audition them though.

Well, I have owned them and they were not harsh to me - it is not easy to
perceive how a speaker is really going to sound, by subjective reviews.

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post #9 of 267 Old 01-22-2014, 08:04 AM
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Focal speakers have a reputation for being very even-tempered speakers; if someone suggested that they sounded harsh I would strongly suspect the amplifier and other gear being used with them.

That is not something that is characteristic of them at all; quite the opposite is normally the case.

I suggest that you get a pair of the new Cambridge Audio SX-50 speakers to audition. At least one online retailer will give you 30 days to try them. They could be just what you are looking for, and they are amazingly inexpensive.



P.S.-Regarding the comments on high-frequency hearing; 99.9% of ALL musical content is below 5 Khz. It has been demonstrated by Bell Laboratories that you can filter out everything above 6 Khz and it is impossible for most people to hear the difference in the music. One of the very few things that is above 6 Khz is the brushing of cymbals. When a speaker sounds "bright" or "edgy" to people it is usually because of a frequency response rise in the 2 to 3 Khz region, which is a very sensitive area to the ears.



Quote:
Originally Posted by SmithandWesson View Post

They were definitely one of the contenders but I took them off the list because I read from a number of people that they are a bit edgy/can be harsh. If i had an unlimited budget I would definitely audition them though.
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post #10 of 267 Old 01-23-2014, 02:25 PM
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Nice review SmithandWesson... I too am looking at the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1's....

Can I ask what AVR you are using?

Any particular cables used?

I think a lot goes into the overall sound IMHO but you can't include everything in every review.... rolleyes.gif
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post #11 of 267 Old 01-23-2014, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazmo View Post

Nice review SmithandWesson... I too am looking at the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1's....

Can I ask what AVR you are using?

Any particular cables used?

I think a lot goes into the overall sound IMHO but you can't include everything in every review.... rolleyes.gif

as long as you have decent well made cables, they will not affect the sound quality, same goes for the AVR in general.
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post #12 of 267 Old 01-23-2014, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazmo View Post

Nice review SmithandWesson... I too am looking at the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1's....

Can I ask what AVR you are using?

Any particular cables used?

I think a lot goes into the overall sound IMHO but you can't include everything in every review.... rolleyes.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark62 View Post

as long as you have decent well made cables, they will not affect the sound quality, same goes for the AVR in general.


^ +1

I'm not quite sure what cables have to do with anything. They are made of copper and are off appropriate gauge for the distance I am running them.

Im using a Pioneer Elite VSX-92THX

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
Computer System: Carnagie Acoustics CSB-1 - 12' Onkyo sealed subwoofer - Pioneer VSX-92 THX
Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #13 of 267 Old 01-23-2014, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Focal speakers have a reputation for being very even-tempered speakers; if someone suggested that they sounded harsh I would strongly suspect the amplifier and other gear being used with them.

That is not something that is characteristic of them at all; quite the opposite is normally the case.

I suggest that you get a pair of the new Cambridge Audio SX-50 speakers to audition. At least one online retailer will give you 30 days to try them. They could be just what you are looking for, and they are amazingly inexpensive.



P.S.-Regarding the comments on high-frequency hearing; 99.9% of ALL musical content is below 5 Khz. It has been demonstrated by Bell Laboratories that you can filter out everything above 6 Khz and it is impossible for most people to hear the difference in the music. One of the very few things that is above 6 Khz is the brushing of cymbals. When a speaker sounds "bright" or "edgy" to people it is usually because of a frequency response rise in the 2 to 3 Khz region, which is a very sensitive area to the ears.



I get what your saying about the Focals but I don't have unlimited money so I can't afford to try everything unfortunately. More than a few mentioned they can get edgy and thats good enough for me since I'm particularly sensitive to that.

The SX-50s were on the short list, I'm sure their great but again, funds are the limiting factor.

Im not so sure about the last comment you made. I can absolutely hear a massive difference if I attenuate frequencies in the 10khz-20khz range. Even if a instrument has a fundamental frequency of say 6khz it may contain significant content in the 10khz + range.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
Computer System: Carnagie Acoustics CSB-1 - 12' Onkyo sealed subwoofer - Pioneer VSX-92 THX
Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #14 of 267 Old 01-30-2014, 10:52 PM - Thread Starter
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OP has been updated with a part 2.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
Computer System: Carnagie Acoustics CSB-1 - 12' Onkyo sealed subwoofer - Pioneer VSX-92 THX
Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #15 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 05:04 AM
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Great review OP; out of curiosity, do you plan to review any others? The NHT Absolute Zero might be worth a try, slightly more expensive than the ones tested but they measure incredibly well and look a lot nicer than the Arx and Ascend. They are sealed so don't expect as much bass, but I think they might be a step up in SQ.

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post #16 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 05:54 AM
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Did you ever get the EMP e5Bis? I know you said they couldn't get them their in time for a direct comparison...

Set up #1: EMP e5ti, e5Ci, and SLS Q line Audio surrounds, EMP 10i10i sub
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post #17 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Great review OP; out of curiosity, do you plan to review any others? The NHT Absolute Zero might be worth a try, slightly more expensive than the ones tested but they measure incredibly well and look a lot nicer than the Arx and Ascend. They are sealed so don't expect as much bass, but I think they might be a step up in SQ.

First let me qualify this by saying I haven't heard them for awhile... but given what I remember of the NHT Absolute Zero... and having the A1b now, I don't think the AZ is a step up in sound quality. In fact, probably the opposite. Looks is another story... although some don't like the look of the NHT Classic series (to be honest, I really don't, and I'm not a fan of gloss black in general).

That said, I have a pair of NHT Two's on the way, so I will A/B compare them directly to the A1b soon...
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post #18 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

Did you ever get the EMP e5Bis? I know you said they couldn't get them their in time for a direct comparison...

I'd like to know too! Hopefully you can pick up the EMP's and have a listen.

Looks like the ARX needed a boost in the computer room from about 1.5kHz to 3kHz, which could be the resolution loss or gap near the crossover that you heard. Did that go away after room correction? Looks like either speaker is a great buy. Nice test by the way. Enjoyed reading it smile.gif

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post #19 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 08:38 AM
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Nice , detailed review of your experiences ( so far) with the Ascend 170SE's and the Arx A1b's............kudos.

Very similar to my experiences with them ~ 1 year ago..........I just preferred the sound of the Arxs over the Ascends, personal preference.

I don't think you can wrong with either speaker in your setup ( or any reasonable setup, for that matter). Have fun deciding!!!
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post #20 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 08:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ousooner2 View Post

Looks like the ARX needed a boost in the computer room from about 1.5kHz to 3kHz, which could be the resolution loss or gap near the crossover that you heard.

That appears to be room/placement related, since the MCACC did not boost that region in his main room, but kept it flat. Also, it is boosting the CBM-170 in that region, just not as much... whereas in the main room its again left relatively flat (-0.5db cut)...
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post #21 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 08:45 AM
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^ Right. That's why I just mentioned it in the computer room. If he still heard it after correction then it was something that he was hearing inherent to the track, not the speakers themselves. Anxious to see if ARX ever does anything with an A7 tower.

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post #22 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

That appears to be room/placement related, since the MCACC did not boost that region in his main room, but kept it flat. Also, it is boosting the CBM-170 in that region, just not as much... whereas in the main room its again left relatively flat (-0.5db cut)...
I would think that the designers who do good crossover work, would listen for gaps in the crossover.
Their speakers for sure, are not rushed to market. It is unique that the receiver set option, comes up
with the so called flat EQ. I do not like much with what I see, is the difference between 63 and 125 hz.

I guess smooth is so called smooth

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post #23 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Great review OP; out of curiosity, do you plan to review any others? The NHT Absolute Zero might be worth a try, slightly more expensive than the ones tested but they measure incredibly well and look a lot nicer than the Arx and Ascend. They are sealed so don't expect as much bass, but I think they might be a step up in SQ.

I would be open to trying another speaker, but at this point I would really have to believe it would offer me something that these two do not. Proper integration with a subwoofer seems to be the biggest issue for me (in this room specifically), therefore I don't think a reduction in bass would be something I could live with.
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Did you ever get the EMP e5Bis? I know you said they couldn't get them their in time for a direct comparison...

The E5Bi is really the only other stand-mount that has me thinking I may be missing out, especially at its price point. There is the E41....which is in stock but then the bass issue comes into play again. It sports a tiny driver and I'm already having issues with sub integration in this room.
Quote:
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I'd like to know too! Hopefully you can pick up the EMP's and have a listen.

Looks like the ARX needed a boost in the computer room from about 1.5kHz to 3kHz, which could be the resolution loss or gap near the crossover that you heard. Did that go away after room correction? Looks like either speaker is a great buy. Nice test by the way. Enjoyed reading it smile.gif

I haven't done any listening post room correction. Thats the next step. If you ask me what really matters is how they will sound like after its all setup and corrected. However, I wanted to get a really good feel for what the speakers sounded like "naked" so that I can see which one might do a better job in the future when I move. If one does great in my computer room at near-field placement when corrected but is crap in other rooms and without correction that won't do, because If I move to another house/apartment it may do poorly there as well.
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I would think that the designers who do good crossover work, would listen for gaps in the crossover.
Their speakers for sure, are not rushed to market. It is unique that the receiver set option, comes up
with the so called flat EQ. I do not like much with what I see, is the difference between 63 and 125 hz.

I guess smooth is so called smooth

MCACC is a pretty rough EQ....it doesn't have a very high resolution and its overall accuracy is questionable. However its the best objective measurement I could get right now.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
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Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #24 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 12:55 PM
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I haven't done any listening post room correction. Thats the next step. If you ask me what really matters is how they will sound like after its all setup and corrected. However, I wanted to get a really good feel for what the speakers sounded like "naked" so that I can see which one might do a better job in the future when I move. If one does great in my computer room at near-field placement when corrected but is crap in other rooms and without correction that won't do, because If I move to another house/apartment it may do poorly there as well.
.

I agree. I think DSP is extremely important, but also agree that the no-dsp route should also be looked at. Looking forward to hearing the impressions post-dsp

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A note about field measurements that I think any designer will agree with: Deviations in the crossover region around a few thousand cycles are related to a myriad of factors not necessarily part of the speaker. The A1b, for example, measures as well as +/- 1dB, depending on axis, distance, and technique.

It's entirely expected that an in-room speaker, when measured relatively casually by consumer tools, is going to deviate. It's all but guaranteed.

I bring this up to point out that "correcting" responses is not what it may appear. (In fact, we've had a couple of drivers broken in the field by re-EQing what is already a flat response because either conditions or technique returned a non-flat response.)

I'd highly recommend using the speaker as-is above the bass region. Down there advanced EQ is a real boon to setups, but the delicacy of design, tuning, and voicing well up into the treble - especially involving the crossover region in a 2-way design - is not something to overwhelm with equalization.

Thanks and happy listening.
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post #26 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmithandWesson View Post

MCACC is a pretty rough EQ....it doesn't have a very high resolution and its overall accuracy is questionable. However its the best objective measurement I could get right now.

I fired Audyssey, MCACC, YPAO and the like, a while back - if I do EQ, it will be 200 hz down.
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post #27 of 267 Old 01-31-2014, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Lane View Post

A note about field measurements that I think any designer will agree with: Deviations in the crossover region around a few thousand cycles are related to a myriad of factors not necessarily part of the speaker. The A1b, for example, measures as well as +/- 1dB, depending on axis, distance, and technique.

It's entirely expected that an in-room speaker, when measured relatively casually by consumer tools, is going to deviate. It's all but guaranteed.

I bring this up to point out that "correcting" responses is not what it may appear. (In fact, we've had a couple of drivers broken in the field by re-EQing what is already a flat response because either conditions or technique returned a non-flat response.)

I'd highly recommend using the speaker as-is above the bass region. Down there advanced EQ is a real boon to setups, but the delicacy of design, tuning, and voicing well up into the treble - especially involving the crossover region in a 2-way design - is not something to overwhelm with equalization.

Thanks and happy listening.

I think in an ideal room or close to ideal room EQ'ing the upper frequencies may not be necessary or warranted. However I have noticed substantial improvements from running MCACC in general. It doesn't always get it right though, and when thats the case it allows me to go in there and modify it as needed. As you can see MCACC isn't making any radical changes(except for that 4.5dB boost at 8khz, not sure whats going on there), its mostly just a dB here and there.

You said you broke a few drivers in the past? eek.gif I haven't heard of an auto calibration software breaking a speaker before but I also have much less experience with audio then you. I can't imagine a few dB here and there could break a speaker unless it was being used during very high SPL playback and the boosting of certain frequencies caused clipping sooner than expected which cooked the driver. Could you elaborate? Maybe we can all learn something smile.gif

Also on an unrelated note, does the A1b have a high pass filter to protect it from mechanical damage and keep it from using power inefficiently on frequencies it cannot effectively reproduce?

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
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Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #28 of 267 Old 02-01-2014, 05:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmithandWesson View Post

As you can see MCACC isn't making any radical changes(except for that 4.5dB boost at 8khz, not sure whats going on there), its mostly just a dB here and there.

You said you broke a few drivers in the past? eek.gif I haven't heard of an auto calibration software breaking a speaker before but I also have much less experience with audio then you. I can't imagine a few dB here and there could break a speaker unless it was being used during very high SPL playback and the boosting of certain frequencies caused clipping sooner than expected which cooked the driver.

4.5dB is the very high level of EQ that, when running a speaker hard, could break a tweeter. This is what we've experienced and it's one reason we strongly advise against re-EQing a speaker with a flat, designed, and voiced response.

(You could be picking up an angular response artifact that the speaker as a whole does not have. I assure you it's not in its response profile - a couple other user response plots in our forums show a very tightly controlled response, as do our own.)

Even a robust tweeter like this planar has its limits, and when a clean, low-distortion design is naturally run hard and loud, that much EQ might break things.
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Also on an unrelated note, does the A1b have a high pass filter to protect it from mechanical damage and keep it from using power inefficiently on frequencies it cannot effectively reproduce?

It does not, and with roughly twice the linear excursion of a conventional driver - plus a usual 80Hz highpass applied when multi-channeling it - it doesn't benefit a great deal from a global passive highpass.

Speakers very rarely have an internal highpass because of the audible penalties they impose. They interact with the speaker's reactances and upset its response.

Use them w/o EQ across their native bandwidth for best results.

A related topic I won't go into is a discussion of the relative merits of electronically "fixing" rooms versus the raw, initial sound of a well-tuned speaker. Our users consistently find that a good sounding speaker calls to mind the effects of a "bad" room to a much smaller degree. Apparently when the speaker is right, the room begins to recede from importance.

I realize that having the tools to electronically adjust a room presents a compelling urge, but if the speaker has its response upset for want of a better room or setup, what we've really decided is to impair its first arrival response - it's inherent, natural sound, and one that should have been well-composed by its designer - in favor of making a secondary flat line on a screen that is variable and conditional, and which alters that critically important first arrival. I think this balance should be a conscious one at all times.
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post #29 of 267 Old 02-01-2014, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Lane View Post

4.5dB is the very high level of EQ that, when running a speaker hard, could break a tweeter. This is what we've experienced and it's one reason we strongly advise against re-EQing a speaker with a flat, designed, and voiced response.

(You could be picking up an angular response artifact that the speaker as a whole does not have. I assure you it's not in its response profile - a couple other user response plots in our forums show a very tightly controlled response, as do our own.)

Even a robust tweeter like this planar has its limits, and when a clean, low-distortion design is naturally run hard and loud, that much EQ might break things.
It does not, and with roughly twice the linear excursion of a conventional driver - plus a usual 80Hz highpass applied when multi-channeling it - it doesn't benefit a great deal from a global passive highpass.

Speakers very rarely have an internal highpass because of the audible penalties they impose. They interact with the speaker's reactances and upset its response.

Use them w/o EQ across their native bandwidth for best results.

A related topic I won't go into is a discussion of the relative merits of electronically "fixing" rooms versus the raw, initial sound of a well-tuned speaker. Our users consistently find that a good sounding speaker calls to mind the effects of a "bad" room to a much smaller degree. Apparently when the speaker is right, the room begins to recede from importance.

I realize that having the tools to electronically adjust a room presents a compelling urge, but if the speaker has its response upset for want of a better room or setup, what we've really decided is to impair its first arrival response - it's inherent, natural sound, and one that should have been well-composed by its designer - in favor of making a secondary flat line on a screen that is variable and conditional, and which alters that critically important first arrival. I think this balance should be a conscious one at all times.

Thanks for the insight! I follow what you're saying. Now that I think about it I may have experienced what your talking about. One time I decided to fool around with an aftermarket EQ program to train my ear to hear peaks and nulls in a speakers frequency response. At the time, not understanding the relationship between dB vs watts, I caused what sounded like clipping when I boosted an upper frequency by quite a bit(although I wasn't playing that loud and I don't think i exhausted the reserve of my amplifier, so maybe what I was hearing was some other type of artifact, and not clipping). Either way, I wised up quickly and didn't fry my Ultras tweeter.


I went ahead and created an EQ profile that has no auto calibration done at or above 1khz. I am going to compare it to the standard fully calibrated curve with a 0-20ms capture time.

Main System: SVS Ultra Towers - 15" custom ported subwoofer - SVS PB-1000 - Yamaha RX-A740 Aventage. 125dB @30hz, 16hz @ -3dB
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Other speakers owned or auditioned: Aperion T6 - Ascend CBM-170 - Energy RC-10 - Wharfdale 10.1 - Arx A1b
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post #30 of 267 Old 02-01-2014, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
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I went ahead and created an EQ profile that has no auto calibration done at or above 1khz. I am going to compare it to the standard fully calibrated curve with a 0-20ms capture time.

1khz is too high in many opinion. You should also try what zieg suggested:
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I fired Audyssey, MCACC, YPAO and the like, a while back - if I do EQ, it will be 200 hz down.

My system (Sherwood R972 w/Trinnov) actually allows for a full range EQ or just below 300hz(which is what I use).

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