Speaker Shootout - two of the most accurate and well reviewed speakers ever made - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Speaker Shootout - two of the most accurate and well reviewed speakers ever made

Hello all!

Thanks to the powers that be at the AVS Forum, I have been given permission to post about a unique “speaker shootout” / HT get-together to be held mid-August in north Colorado Springs / Monument (about 35 minutes south of Denver). Any and all are welcome to attend this unique get-together, which is not a sales event, but a simple listening test between what can objectively be called two of the very best speakers made at any price – the Revel Salon2 and the JBL M2 Master Reference Monitor. This thread is being set up as a repository for updates on the shootout, plus a place for those who attend to post their comments and impressions.

There are several factors that make this listening test unique:

1. This is a “shootout” between two of the flagship speakers from one parent company, based on all the latest research coming out of Harman labs, still the largest and best equipped audio research facility in the world. Both speakers have earned the utmost respect from not only the audio press, but those who mix and master the content we all so much enjoy (more on this in a moment). In other words, this is not a test of “brand A vs. brand B,” but a test of two flagship speakers from the same parent company, but using different approaches of achieving similar goals.

2. We will attempt to properly blind part of the listening tests and conduct them in a scientifically controlled manner, taking advantage of direct input from Dr. Floyd Toole on testing methodology. (If you are not familiar with Dr. Toole’s work, you must check it out here and
. Dr. Toole literally wrote the book on applying proper scientific methods to understanding what matters when it comes to sound reproduction and loudspeaker design. To say we are honored to have him advising us on how to set up this event would be an understatement).

3. This is an attempt at demonstrating how a speaker listening test should properly be set up, where all factors such as speaker placement, source material, and volume are equalized. In addition, part of the listening sessions will be conducted in a truly blind fashion, with both speakers hidden from view so no one knows which speaker is playing at any given time.

The contenders:

The Revel Salon2: Long a favorite of the audio press as well as those in the professional film and music industries, the Revel Salon2 is unique in that it continues to win the same kind of scientifically controlled, double blind listening tests we are attempting to emulate. Over the years a huge variety of speakers from many different manufacturers have been compared to the Salon2 during these tests, and the Salon2 continues to beat competitors at many times its price point. One can find lots of reviews of the Salon2 by doing a simple Google search, plus it may be interesting to know that one of Dolby Labs’ Advanced Technology Group’s Critical Listening Rooms features nine Salon2s as main and surround speakers. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that Dr. Toole himself has a set of Revel Salon2s in his own personal home theater 😊

The JBL M2 Master Reference Monitor: While technically a “Pro” speaker, the JBL M2 is also a part of the JBL Synthesis line-up of speakers intended for premium home theater and stereo listening applications (you can find several threads dedicated to this speaker and its brethren right here on AVS). It also has an impressive professional pedigree, with the M2 rapidly becoming one of the reference speakers for film mixing and critical music mastering. Again, a quick Google search will reveal a large number of excellent reviews and endorsements of the JBL M2 – users include such industry professionals as Frank Fillipetti, Kenny Mixx, Joseph Magee, and Bruce Botnick. In fact, DeLuxe Toronto just outfitted all the main theaters in their new mix facility with M2 monitors.

So here you have it – two of the most respected speakers in the world going head to head. Both speakers are the beneficiary of the purely scientific peer-reviewed research undertaken by Dr. Toole and others at Harman Labs.

I am also happy to report that Harman is sending us new JBL SDP75 surround processor / pre-amp as a loaner specifically for this event. More on this later, as details come in.

Again, please note that this is intended to be a fun home theater / stereo listening / scientifically controlled listening test, NOT a sales event. The idea is to keep things fun and fascinating, where you can listen to some great speakers and hang out with fellow home theater / audio geeks, just like us 😊

Here are the dates and schedule (Saturday and Sunday feature the same schedule):

August 11, 12 and 13

Location – my house in North Colorado Springs (PM me for details)

Friday August 11th

6 – 9 pm – casual hangout and listening, snacks and drinks provided

Saturday / Sunday Schedule (same both days, August 12th and 13th):

11 -12 pm - demo of the JBL Synthesis M2 / LSR708i / C763L / SDP75 based immersive audio setup
12 pm – Break for lunch
1 – 1:30 pm – setup of blind listening session (you are welcome to observe or assist)
1:30 – 3:30 pm – Blind comparison between the M2s and the Salons (may run shorter or longer, depending on number of attendees)
3:30 – 4:30 pm – Revel Salon2 stereo listening session
4:30 – 5:30 pm – JBL M2 stereo listening session
5:30 – 6 pm – Requests taken 😊

There will be limited seating for these listening tests, so please contact me via PM to reserve a space.

Here are pics of the contenders, which we are calling “Beauty” and “The Beast.” I’ll leave it up to you to determine which is which 😉




John Schuermann
www.thescreeningroomav.com Home Theater Design john@thescreeningroomav.com
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post #2 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 01:44 PM
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I have a feeling those M2's are going to steal some hearts...

Props for putting this on man.
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post #3 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 01:44 PM
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Looking forward to the reviews. I've had both of these speakers and want to see what you think of them compared to each other.


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post #4 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 02:17 PM
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Cool




That will be a class A audition!
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post #5 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 02:21 PM
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Very cool, way out of my "don't wanna get a divorce" league but looking forward to it.

Can you provide the MSRPs?

Thanks.

Geoff A. J., California

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post #6 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
Very cool, way out of my "don't wanna get a divorce" league but looking forward to it.

Pricing I found; "Beauty" about ... "Beast" about ... pr.
Thanks for your comments!

For reference:

Revel Salon2: List $22K per pair
JBL M2: List $12K per pair PLUS the necessary electronics, which can vary wildly in price / capabilities

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post #7 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
Thanks for your comments!

BTW, only MSRP pricing allowed to be quoted on the Forum. And, FWIW, the price on the "Beauty" you found is from a completely non-legit source - check this out on Revel's own site:

http://www.revelspeakers.com/revel-warranties.html

Know you are just trying to be helpful

For reference:

Revel Salon2: List $22K per pair
JBL M2: List $12K per pair PLUS the necessary electronics, which can vary wildly in price / capabilities
Sorry I will edit my post.

Carry on!

Geoff A. J., California
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post #8 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 05:45 PM
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Wish I could go!

Have not heard either of them but they measure well, the pros like them and the M2 just has that look that testosterone was made to match. Yes, my wife would dispise the M2 but would put up with the Salon 2s (until she saw the price and called the lawyers) As speakers become increasingly more expensive, I demand more measurements and both of those speakers provide staggering amounts of information. Not for the brandy snifter types but I don't have bare hardwood floors with a wall made out of windows either.

Pure speaker porn but it don't hurt to look and listen... right? Thank you for doing this and I'm eager to see what the top dogs can do. If they are too large for your house, I'll gladly take them and provide a good home...jus' sayin'...
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post #9 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 18Hurts View Post
Wish I could go!
Me too, these are the pinnacles (in my world) of the two main audio classes, multi and 2 channel.

Someone... started a rumor that every attendee would get a pair to take home...

Spoiler!

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post #10 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 06:35 PM
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I'm in!

Now the contest should begin for who travels the farthest to attend!
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post #11 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18Hurts View Post
Wish I could go!

Have not heard either of them but they measure well, the pros like them and the M2 just has that look that testosterone was made to match. Yes, my wife would dispise the M2 but would put up with the Salon 2s (until she saw the price and called the lawyers) As speakers become increasingly more expensive, I demand more measurements and both of those speakers provide staggering amounts of information. Not for the brandy snifter types but I don't have bare hardwood floors with a wall made out of windows either.

Pure speaker porn but it don't hurt to look and listen... right? Thank you for doing this and I'm eager to see what the top dogs can do. If they are too large for your house, I'll gladly take them and provide a good home...jus' sayin'...
I think I can get away with the look of pretty much any speaker after breaking the WAF in with a pair of 802's the past six months. After all, they do look like R2-D2 with a microphone taped to his head.

When the upgrade occurred, she, the wife, voted for the KEF reference 1's based on looks, but the deal I got on the 802 Diamond's was pretty awesome.

M2's look far less obnoxious IMO, and I'm kind of jonesin to hear a pair properly set up. IMO I think a Salon2/M2/B&W 802 shootout would be useful at that ~$20k price point, as the bowers speakers are pretty popular there.
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post #12 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 06:53 PM
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Are you going to have the Alcons there as well? I know Cineramax has been trying to lay down the gauntlet in the other forum.
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post #13 of 604 Old 07-28-2017, 09:06 PM
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As a former Studio 2 owner (and have heard the Salon 2), I'm going to guess the M2 will win. The titanium mids are a little long in the tooth (the new generation of mids in flagship speakers in the industry are now using carbon composites, diamond, or beryllium) and I remember quite a bit audible noise in the mids at higher volumes, which is backed up by the waterfall measurements of both the Studio 2 and Salon 2, with (compared to new flagship speakers that have come out in recent years) a surprising amount of midrange hash.

The mid driver is just a bit outdated for today's flagships which are moving to higher performing materials. The Paradigm Persona B for example, which I currently use, is leagues ahead of the monitors that I replaced (Revel Gem2s), in terms of midrange speed and detail, and the sensation of speed reminds me of high end electrostatic headphones like the Stax 009s.

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post #14 of 604 Old 07-29-2017, 03:26 PM
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Please excuse my ignorance, but it seems to me that these two speakers are dramatically different in design and that might mean they are also more appropriately targeted toward different applications.

The M2 is a 2-way, 2-driver system with a wide precision waveguide horn controlling the dispersion of half the spectrum and the measured dispersion pattern demonstrates how well it works. The cabinet is wide to accommodate the large drivers. Using fewer drivers with that classy waveguide horn may improve the overall sound for 2 channel listening where dispersion is of primary importance to the sound power component of the frequency response and ambiance. However, that wide cabinet is going to eat up wall space in a cramped multichannel installation and the wide/smooth dispersion pattern could be a drawback for theater, or for acoustically challenged environments where narrower dispersion is possibly better.

The Salon2 is a four-way system with smaller drivers that tend to behave as point sources for much or possibly all of their spectrum in the case of the bass woofers. Several of these cabs in a multichannel installation will eat up fewer radians in a circle surrounding the listener, but the overall smoothness and imaging of the sound may be somewhat compromised by splitting the spectrum into twice as many bands, and by the reduced waveguide control over the dispersion that probably results in a narrower/lumpier beam at mid/higher frequencies (sorry, those are assumptions since I am not familiar with either of these speakers).

I am not sure the Salon2 could always directly substitute for the M2 in 2-channel listening or vice-versa on the M2 substituting for the Salon2 in multichannel listening, so comparing the two with blind testing seems odd to me.

Please forgive me for questioning the premise of the shoot-out. I am still sort of noob at this. For me the discussion is academic. I will never own either of these speakers. By now my ears would not possibly justify the investment even if I had the cash.

I can readily understand the desire to compare them and nominate one or the other king, but that is not really what this art is about IMO. To me, it is more about optimization and that optimization encompasses the choice of appropriate tech more than it encompasses the choice of 'the best' tech.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this.
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Originally Posted by CherylJosie View Post
Please excuse my ignorance, but it seems to me that these two speakers are dramatically different in design and that might mean they are also more appropriately targeted toward different applications.

The M2 is a 2-way, 2-driver system with a wide precision waveguide horn controlling the dispersion of half the spectrum and the measured dispersion pattern demonstrates how well it works. The cabinet is wide to accommodate the large drivers. Using fewer drivers with that classy waveguide horn may improve the overall sound for 2 channel listening where dispersion is of primary importance to the sound power component of the frequency response and ambiance. However, that wide cabinet is going to eat up wall space in a cramped multichannel installation and the wide/smooth dispersion pattern could be a drawback for theater, or for acoustically challenged environments where narrower dispersion is possibly better.

The Salon2 is a four-way system with smaller drivers that tend to behave as point sources for much or possibly all of their spectrum in the case of the bass woofers. Several of these cabs in a multichannel installation will eat up fewer radians in a circle surrounding the listener, but the overall smoothness and imaging of the sound may be somewhat compromised by splitting the spectrum into twice as many bands, and by the reduced waveguide control over the dispersion that probably results in a narrower/lumpier beam at mid/higher frequencies (sorry, those are assumptions since I am not familiar with either of these speakers).

I am not sure the Salon2 could always directly substitute for the M2 in 2-channel listening or vice-versa on the M2 substituting for the Salon2 in multichannel listening, so comparing the two with blind testing seems odd to me.

Please forgive me for questioning the premise of the shoot-out. I am still sort of noob at this. For me the discussion is academic. I will never own either of these speakers. By now my ears would not possibly justify the investment even if I had the cash.

I can readily understand the desire to compare them and nominate one or the other king, but that is not really what this art is about IMO. To me, it is more about optimization and that optimization encompasses the choice of appropriate tech more than it encompasses the choice of 'the best' tech.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this.
The Salon2 also uses a wave guide for the tweeter, so I don't see that as an issue. And both speakers are promoted as highly accurate, and that's the popular perception. If it turns out that they do have very different sonioc characteristics and are not equally suited for music and home theater, I think that would just make the results more useful and interesting.
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post #16 of 604 Old 07-29-2017, 04:06 PM
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Over the years a huge variety of speakers from many different manufacturers have been compared to the Salon2 during these tests, and the Salon2 continues to beat competitors at many times its price point.
Does this mean Salon2 has already beat the M2 in these tests?
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Does this mean Salon2 has already beat the M2 in these tests?
I don't like blind tests that much, being that most people will favor a sound signature that accentuates their favorite music type, over absolute performance metrics. For example, I've been to quite a few headphone audio meets and the most popular headphones tend to be the worst measuring ones, but with the hardest hitting bass line, being that R&B/Rap are the most popular types of music these days, and we aren't talking about Beats fans here but people who will drop $20k into their listening systems.

The Abyss and HE-6 headphones are bass cannons for instance, and tend to be the overwhelming favorites in these meets despite measuring much much worse than say the HD800S, Focal Utopia, Stax SR-009, etc. When you realize the majority of music people are listening to is rap and dubstep on these high end systems, it all starts to make sense. Truth is for most people stock frequency response is everything.

To me I think a blind test needs two phases, one where both systems are played as is, and then another one where both are digitally EQed with room correction so you remove the sound signature bias (i.e., one system is winning just because it has more bass).

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post #18 of 604 Old 07-29-2017, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by astrallite View Post
I don't like blind tests that much, being that most people will favor a sound signature that accentuates their favorite music type, over absolute performance metrics. For example, I've been to quite a few headphone audio meets and the most popular headphones tend to be the worst measuring ones, but with the hardest hitting bass line, being that R&B/Rap are the most popular types of music these days, and we aren't talking about Beats fans here but people who will drop $20k into their listening systems.

The Abyss and HE-6 headphones are bass cannons for instance, and tend to be the overwhelming favorites in these meets despite measuring much much worse than say the HD800S, Focal Utopia, Stax SR-009, etc. When you realize the majority of music people are listening to is rap and dubstep on these high end systems, it all starts to make sense. Truth is for most people stock frequency response is everything.

To me I think a blind test needs two phases, one where both systems are played as is, and then another one where both are digitally EQed with room correction so you remove the sound signature bias (i.e., one system is winning just because it has more bass).
I'm not following what this has to do with blinded vs. unblinded tests. And if you start using digital EQ to fit every speaker to a flat room response from the listening position, you've covered up inherent characteristics of the individual speakers (and probably introduced other problems given my experience with these programs). You can't force people to hear what you think they should hear. That kind of defeats the purpose of letting real people judge speakers. Ideally, it would be nice to have measurements as well so that we have better idea of whether, say, preferences for the bass response of one speaker vs. another reflects cleaner and flatter bass, or just exaggerated bass.
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I think people overthink this stuff way too much on these forums. I love discussing this stuff, but it becomes a little ridiculous at some point.

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post #20 of 604 Old 07-30-2017, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by popalock View Post
I have a feeling those M2's are going to steal some hearts...

Props for putting this on man.
Thanks!

I think both speakers will steal hearts and minds . Have done some listening myself but won't reveal my thoughts in the hopes of not prejudicing the tests. Of course, by keeping things blind that should eliminate that factor.
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Originally Posted by Shadowed View Post
Me too, these are the pinnacles (in my world) of the two main audio classes, multi and 2 channel.

Someone... started a rumor that every attendee would get a pair to take home...

Spoiler!
You spoiled our "SWAG" giveaway!
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I'm in!

Now the contest should begin for who travels the farthest to attend!
Looking forward to meeting you in person!

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post #23 of 604 Old 07-30-2017, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by adrummingdude View Post
I think I can get away with the look of pretty much any speaker after breaking the WAF in with a pair of 802's the past six months. After all, they do look like R2-D2 with a microphone taped to his head.

When the upgrade occurred, she, the wife, voted for the KEF reference 1's based on looks, but the deal I got on the 802 Diamond's was pretty awesome.

M2's look far less obnoxious IMO, and I'm kind of jonesin to hear a pair properly set up. IMO I think a Salon2/M2/B&W 802 shootout would be useful at that ~$20k price point, as the bowers speakers are pretty popular there.
If this shootout is successful (and I have every reason to think it will be), we may start making these regular events. It was even suggested that we hold blind speaker shootouts offsite from one of the big regional audio events, like Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (hopefully to counter some of the snake oil that gets presented at shows like that).

FYI, B&W is one of the speakers that goes most often into the MLL double blind listening chamber at Harman to be tested against the Revels. Perhaps one day we can do something like that here...

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post #24 of 604 Old 07-30-2017, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ericglo View Post
Are you going to have the Alcons there as well? I know Cineramax has been trying to lay down the gauntlet in the other forum.
Nope! Be interesting to test, however. Has anyone ever seen measurements on the Alcons?

Part of what we are doing is piggybacking on the research Harman has done on correlating speaker measurements with listener preference. As I think you know, Harman can now predict which speaker will win a double blind listening test based on a comprehensive list of measurements called a "Spinorama" (which is also the basis for CEA Standard 2034, so that people can make educated choices about which speakers to audition based on measurements such as these).

Here's the link to the standard:

https://standards.cta.tech/apps/grou...project_id=165

And here is an interview with Dr. Olive about the 86% correlation that corresponds to the standard:

https://www.soundandvision.com/conte...uru-sean-olive

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post #25 of 604 Old 07-30-2017, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by astrallite View Post
As a former Studio 2 owner (and have heard the Salon 2), I'm going to guess the M2 will win. The titanium mids are a little long in the tooth (the new generation of mids in flagship speakers in the industry are now using carbon composites, diamond, or beryllium) and I remember quite a bit audible noise in the mids at higher volumes, which is backed up by the waterfall measurements of both the Studio 2 and Salon 2, with (compared to new flagship speakers that have come out in recent years) a surprising amount of midrange hash.

The mid driver is just a bit outdated for today's flagships which are moving to higher performing materials. The Paradigm Persona B for example, which I currently use, is leagues ahead of the monitors that I replaced (Revel Gem2s), in terms of midrange speed and detail, and the sensation of speed reminds me of high end electrostatic headphones like the Stax 009s.
Don't count the Revel out!

I heard the Personas at CEDIA and will say I was very impressed. It's interesting to me that Paradigm and Harman / Revel / modern day JBL have their roots in the research Toole actually started at the Canadian NRC.

RE: "speed." This is one of those nebulous terms that means different things to different people. Sometimes I find myself using poetic audiophile terms myself, because it is so hard to put various aspects of what we hear into words.

Be fun to put a set of Personas in a future blinded test. Certainly the science shows that sighted comparisons are substantially unreliable.

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post #26 of 604 Old 07-30-2017, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
Don't count the Revel out!

I heard the Personas at CEDIA and will say I was very impressed. It's interesting to me that Paradigm and Harman / Revel / modern day JBL have their roots in the research Toole actually started at the Canadian NRC.

RE: "speed." This is one of those nebulous terms that means different things to different people. Sometimes I find myself using poetic audiophile terms myself, because it is so hard to put various aspects of what we hear into words.

Be fun to put a set of Personas in a future blinded test. Certainly the science shows that sighted comparisons are substantially unreliable.
The built-in ARC bass correction in the Persona 9H also seems like sort of a next-level implementation of the RABOS system Harman used on the Infinity Prelude MTS, Intermezzo, and hybrid-powered Interlude lines.
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post #27 of 604 Old 07-30-2017, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by neutralguy View Post
Does this mean Salon2 has already beat the M2 in these tests?
No, it doesn't. I don't think Harman has done a Salon2 vs. M2 listening comparison in the MLL, which may be why they are helping support me here. Mainly I think it's because they are excited about promoting how speaker listening tests should be done, where all the variables such as volume level, aesthetics, and room placement are taken out of the mix (that last is going to be the biggest challenge here, as we don't have a pneumatic speaker mover like they do at Harman). However, Dr. Toole and a few others have been coming up with suggestions to do this on our beer budget.

Most of the time the Revel speakers are shot out in the MLL with competitors, or even other Revel models (like those from the previous generation). When I was at Harman Academy August 2015, they were double blind testing the new Concerta2 models against competing speakers from B&W, Monitor, Polk, and KEF. It was fun sitting in on the session and inspired us to try this!
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post #28 of 604 Old 07-30-2017, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CherylJosie View Post
Please excuse my ignorance, but it seems to me that these two speakers are dramatically different in design and that might mean they are also more appropriately targeted toward different applications.

The M2 is a 2-way, 2-driver system with a wide precision waveguide horn controlling the dispersion of half the spectrum and the measured dispersion pattern demonstrates how well it works. The cabinet is wide to accommodate the large drivers. Using fewer drivers with that classy waveguide horn may improve the overall sound for 2 channel listening where dispersion is of primary importance to the sound power component of the frequency response and ambiance. However, that wide cabinet is going to eat up wall space in a cramped multichannel installation and the wide/smooth dispersion pattern could be a drawback for theater, or for acoustically challenged environments where narrower dispersion is possibly better.

The Salon2 is a four-way system with smaller drivers that tend to behave as point sources for much or possibly all of their spectrum in the case of the bass woofers. Several of these cabs in a multichannel installation will eat up fewer radians in a circle surrounding the listener, but the overall smoothness and imaging of the sound may be somewhat compromised by splitting the spectrum into twice as many bands, and by the reduced waveguide control over the dispersion that probably results in a narrower/lumpier beam at mid/higher frequencies (sorry, those are assumptions since I am not familiar with either of these speakers).

I am not sure the Salon2 could always directly substitute for the M2 in 2-channel listening or vice-versa on the M2 substituting for the Salon2 in multichannel listening, so comparing the two with blind testing seems odd to me.

Please forgive me for questioning the premise of the shoot-out. I am still sort of noob at this. For me the discussion is academic. I will never own either of these speakers. By now my ears would not possibly justify the investment even if I had the cash.

I can readily understand the desire to compare them and nominate one or the other king, but that is not really what this art is about IMO. To me, it is more about optimization and that optimization encompasses the choice of appropriate tech more than it encompasses the choice of 'the best' tech.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this.
Interesting your take on these speakers from the technical point of view. However, I think it's interesting that Dr. Toole himself - whose research in many ways led to the development of these two flagship speakers - essentially considered it a coin toss when it came to choosing speakers for his own personal theater. From my understanding, in the end it came down to aesthetics, and he chose the Revel. He's much less concerned with how you get to the result than he is with the result itself. In this case, you have two speakers that measure extraordinarily well, and have almost identical target goals.

And, to be clear, the goal is not to declare one the "king," it's more a matter of listening to determine preference. Harman's testing has shown a correlation of 86% between measured performance and listener preference. Both of these speakers measure extraordinarily well, and both have done extraordinarily well when compared to other speakers in double blind listening tests.

So, ultimately, what I think these tests are about is seeing how well the two different approaches to achieving essentially the same goal do when compared to one another.

FWIW, the M2 and its smaller siblings are now often used in the critical mixing and mastering of immersive sound formats. For that matter, the Revels are also used for critical evaluations of immersive sound formats (hence my comment about Salon2s in one of Dolby's Critical Listening Labs, as pictured below):

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Since I have been going on and on so much about measurements, I thought it only fair to post the "Spinorama Measurements" from both the Salon2 and the M2:

Revel Salon2:



JBL M2:



And here is a primer on how to read a Spinorama:

HARMAN Spin-o-rama Explanation

On-axis Response - This represents the direct sound heard by a single listener sitting on the design axis of the loudspeaker. A flat frequency response is an
absolute requirement for all electronic devices. Therefore, it is not surprising that loudspeakers with a flat on-axis frequency response have a higher probability of being preferred in double-blind listening tests.

Listening Window - The well-designed loudspeaker should deliver good sound to a group of listeners -- not just the person sitting on-axis. The listening window is the average frequency response measured for listeners sitting on and slightly off the reference axis of the loudspeaker. Loudspeakers that receive high sound quality ratings in double-blind listening tests tend to have listening windows with flat frequency response.

First, or Early Reflections -- Most of the sound we hear is reflected in rooms. The second loudest sound (after the direct sound) is the first reflected sound
produced from the loudspeaker. Therefore, it is paramount that the sounds radiated by the loudspeaker in the off-axis directions generate early reflections that sound good. The shape of this curve should not differ greatly from the on-axis response curve.

Sound Power Response -This is a measure of the total sound radiated by the loudspeaker without regard to the direction in which it is radiated. The shape
should be smooth and slightly downward tilting.

Sound Power and First Reflection Directivity Indices - These directivity indices tell us how the directivity of the loudspeaker changes as a function of
frequency. At low frequencies most loudspeakers radiate sound omni-directionally (DI = 0 dB), where wavelengths are long. In forward-firing, 2-
way and 3-way loudspeakers, as wavelengths get shorter, frequencies get higher, and more of the sound is radiated towards the front. The goal is to
have this trend develop smoothly and gradually.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrallite View Post
I don't like blind tests that much, being that most people will favor a sound signature that accentuates their favorite music type, over absolute performance metrics. For example, I've been to quite a few headphone audio meets and the most popular headphones tend to be the worst measuring ones, but with the hardest hitting bass line, being that R&B/Rap are the most popular types of music these days, and we aren't talking about Beats fans here but people who will drop $20k into their listening systems.

The Abyss and HE-6 headphones are bass cannons for instance, and tend to be the overwhelming favorites in these meets despite measuring much much worse than say the HD800S, Focal Utopia, Stax SR-009, etc. When you realize the majority of music people are listening to is rap and dubstep on these high end systems, it all starts to make sense. Truth is for most people stock frequency response is everything.

To me I think a blind test needs two phases, one where both systems are played as is, and then another one where both are digitally EQed with room correction so you remove the sound signature bias (i.e., one system is winning just because it has more bass).
Interesting your comments about headphone meets. Harman has been undertaking research on listener preference regarding headphones as well, again, blind. In fact, I got this quote from Dr. Olive the other day:

Right now we can predict listener preferences for in-ear headphones with 91% accuracy based on their measurements, a little bit higher than the 86% accuracy for predicting loudspeakers.

With headphones there are no loudspeaker-room interactions to deal with but there are interactions between the fit and coupling of the headphone to the listener’s head/ears that impacts the low frequency response.

If you control these leakage effects, people generally agree on what is a good sounding headphone.


More on this here:

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2013/0...ption-and.html

One of the major challenges with headphone tests is doing a legit blind comparison, as most people are well aware which headphone they are putting on (this challenge is discussed in the posts on Dr. Olive's blog).

The scientific research indicates that neutrality is preferred in both cases. You mention rap and dubstep - yet when the artist / mixer is creating the actual content, they are putting in as much or as little bass as they desire. They "season to taste." On the playback end, what we should be looking for is a headphone or speaker that translates that seasoning accurately.

Rap and Dubstep mixes tend to have a lot of bass. Isn't it more likely that the other headphones in question are simply not delivering enough bass, and if they did, they would have won out?

Curious where the measurements are coming from regarding accuracy in headphones, as - from my understanding - Olive's research here is only the beginning of serious, scientifically controlled research into what target frequency response should be when it comes to these devices. It's a much more difficult proposition than determining the same thing for speakers, since the headphone design itself can interact with an individual's ears in a more or less desirable way (as pointed out in Olive's statement in italics above).
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