Stereophile review of the Wilson Audio MAXX2 - Page 7 - AVS Forum
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post #181 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 11:53 AM
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Craig,

I'm not convinced that this is the best approach for the reasons mentioned, but in the end, you've got to pick *a* method.

But don't forget this technique - if you want to truly subjectively match a speaker, put one of the speakers on the left, the other on the right, put on a voice and adjust the levels until you get a perfectly centered image on the voice. Raw SPL levels won't work and will lead to false results. Basically, if the meter says "equal", but you brain hears that the voice is a little stronger in one speaker, you will almost automatically register a preference for that speaker. The volume seems matched overall, but our brain is focusing on the volume of the voice, which is entirely natural.

I just attended a talk last night by an ex-Dolby engineer and they found that perception of loudness is tied very strongly to the voice, certainly in a movie, but probably also in music. So, if you think about this, if you're hearing a voice from two different speakers and the voice is shifted right, even if the SPL meter says they're the same, your brain is literally telling you that the right speaker is louder because it is interpreting it that way. And so your brain won't always agree with a meter (which is why subjectivity, in the end, will *always* matter). But this gives you a tool for matching the speakers *subjectively* since that is how you will be listening.

John
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post #182 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 11:54 AM
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craigsub, that test setup would confuse me, too. If you are trying to tell if a person can hear differences between speakers, then randomly switching makes sense. But probably for only 2 samples - I imagine there's a reason why ABX testing only tests between 2 at a time.

In trying to form an opinion, I'd want to know at least which sample I'm listening to.

Too bad you can't get Harman to let you borrow their listening room with a conveyor belt so that you can identically place the speakers and remove a bit more of the room interactions.
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post #183 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cme
craigsub, that test setup would confuse me, too. If you are trying to tell if a person can hear differences between speakers, then randomly switching makes sense. But probably for only 2 samples - I imagine there's a reason why ABX testing only tests between 2 at a time.

In trying to form an opinion, I'd want to know at least which sample I'm listening to.

Too bad you can't get Harman to let you borrow their listening room with a conveyor belt so that you can identically place the speakers and remove a bit more of the room interactions.
cme - If I need to, I will do a search and post the thousands of quotes from various people who say just HOW superior/inferior a particular speaker is.

Here we have a test which will have three speakers being done under blind conditions. Let's say we play David Sanborn's "Snakes" (lots of percussion, brass, etc ...). It will be played on all three speakers, and notes taken.

Next, we use Steely Dan's "Janie Runaway", again all three speakers will be played. Notes will be taken. But they MIGHT be in a different order than in the first round.

If these speakers (and EVERY speaker company has had owners talking about how the other guy's speaker sucks in comparison to his) are THAT much different, this should be pretty easy.
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post #184 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buddyhinton
Those are some notable measurements.

It will be interesting to see if the same people that trash other speakers for having less than ruler flat frequency responses will heave scorn at these speakers as well.
I have it on good authority that people listen with test graphs and other people's ears. ;)

If anyone trashes this speaker based on this, they should be excised.
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post #185 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall
But don't forget this technique - if you want to truly subjectively match a speaker, put one of the speakers on the left, the other on the right, put on a voice and adjust the levels until you get a perfectly centered image on the voice. Raw SPL levels won't work and will lead to false results. Basically, if the meter says "equal", but you brain hears that the voice is a little stronger in one speaker, you will almost automatically register a preference for that speaker. The volume seems matched overall, but our brain is focusing on the volume of the voice, which is entirely natural.
The problem with that, of course, is that the speakers will, of necessity, sound different simply due to the separation that puts them in two different places. But also, see below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall
And so your brain won't always agree with a meter (which is why subjectivity, in the end, will *always* matter). But this gives you a tool for matching the speakers *subjectively* since that is how you will be listening.
Yeah. The meter, if a good one, is unbiased by dint of it not having a brain.

Kal

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post #186 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigsub
Joel, By your professional opinion in the audio business, what does a speaker need to be able to do in these 5 areas to be "truly great?"
Plus, that speaker may sound like trash while hitting all of the "important" test marks.

Anyone who's dabbled in audio knows that a ruler-flat frequency response can be one of the more grating things you'll ever hear.
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post #187 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:13 PM
 
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[quote=Grandarf]Hahaha, we have almost exactly opposite opinions. Though I would not say Golden eyes, maybe more like golden mics.

Look at the state of audio today, its plagued with voodoo, snake oil, and misconceptions.

The sooner the (more often then not) golden ears are out fo the equation and are replaced by cold, hard facts, the better this hobby will be. The graphs now do give us a fairly good idea of the performances of a product. The day it can give us an absolute, and we're able to exactly quantify and measure what makes a good piece of hifi equipment, maybe even assign a grade, we'll be far better off then we're now...

Don't trust your own ears, eh? :rolleyes:

Theoretical perfection may not be your cup of tea.
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post #188 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:15 PM
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If each speaker is consistent for a track/disc, then I suppose you could formulate preferences for one of the speakers for that type of music. That may or may not be interesting to compare preferences with other genres.

Test setups comparing A v A provide meaningless (and often embarrasing) results.
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post #189 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson
The problem with that, of course, is that the speakers will, of necessity, sound different simply due to the separation that puts them in two different places.
Nonetheless, if a voice is centered between two different speakers, it is because we are sending the same subjective volume. This is a technique not often used, but it should be.
Quote:

Yeah. The meter, if a good one, is unbiased by dint of it not having a brain.
Unbiased, but that doesn't necessarily match what our brain says. Hot chile, for instance, doesn't "burn" in anyway. However, we perceive it as though we are being harmed. Pepper spray is used because it fools your senses, quite effectively, I might add. Temperature is another thing. That's why we make adjustments for perceived temperature based on other factors that are added in.

So, if you take an SPL reading, at what frequency? All frequencies? Midrange only? Using white noise? Pink noise? A bass bump in one speaker could cause the SPL reading to be 1dB "hot" and when you reduce it, the voice is 1dB behind another speaker and it will almost automatically lose. Subjective tests require that the speakers are being perceived to be the same volume, not objectively the same volume. If one speaker is obviously superior, it might not throw the results, but often, in this industry, the difference between "good" and "bad" isn't as big as we'd like to think it is.

In the end "phantom center matching" is the best way for doing subjective A/B evaluation. Unless you want to dismiss, as it is always called "the all too critical midrange"

John
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post #190 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cme
If each speaker is consistent for a track/disc, then I suppose you could formulate preferences for one of the speakers for that type of music. That may or may not be interesting to compare preferences with other genres.

Test setups comparing A v A provide meaningless (and often embarrasing) results.
We will have some Rock, Jazz, Classical, and Country. And again, notes will be taken by the "panel" for each "round" ... then the speakers will be posted when all listening is done, and results matched up to each speaker.

So yes, Mr. "Axioms Rule" may actually end up preferring The Paradigms.

Or, Mr. "Paradigm Rocks" may pick the NHT's (or whatever speakers are the 3rd selected).

If this is confusing to anyone listening at the GTG, it will only be due to the fact they cannot tell the difference between the speakers.

and THAT would be interesting ... :p
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post #191 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:23 PM
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[quote=iboon]Plus, that speaker may sound like trash while hitting all of the "important" test marks.[quote]

Perhaps, but that would be a subjective evaluation that would vary by individual. One person's "trash" is another person's "manna from heaven"
Quote:

Anyone who's dabbled in audio knows that a ruler-flat frequency response can be one of the more grating things you'll ever hear.
Huh. I've dabbled in audio and I can tell you that this is not true. If the sound of a "ruler-flat" speaker is grating it is:

a. The CD
b. The room
c. upper range dispersion issues
d. upper range distortion issues
e. upper range spectral decay issues
f. all or much of the above.

John
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post #192 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:24 PM
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Well, knowing your talent for debate, I will only say that I do not think this an adequate way to equalize levels since (1) it adds the bias of the different acoustic positions (identical speakers often perform as subjectively unbalanced under such conditions) and (2) it is based on a limited range of frequencies which, nonetheless, have psychological significance for humans. I'd sooner put the speakers side-by-side and A/B them with pink noise until the switchover is no longer distinguishable. Of course, that may never happen with non-dentical speakers. :D

Other than that, I'd stick with a calibrated mike/SLM and pink noise.

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post #193 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:35 PM
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craigsub, I agree that it will be interesting to see what listeners prefer on a blind basis versus their stated preferences.

In a marketing class I took once upon a time, we did the whole Coke v Pepsi v RC v Safeway blind comparison. First we rated how we liked the brands, then we rated which (unnamed) cola we liked best. Unsurprisingly, the results were pretty different.

One drawback to this test was exposure to each sample. I've found that what I enjoyed in small quantities is sometimes very different than what I'd want to consume in large quantities.

The other test samples can also confuse the consumer. If I hate bright speakers and listen to 3 bright speakers, I may find I like the least bright of those best (and might even think it sounded dark)...
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post #194 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cme
craigsub, I agree that it will be interesting to see what listeners prefer on a blind basis versus their stated preferences.

In a marketing class I took once upon a time, we did the whole Coke v Pepsi v RC v Safeway blind comparison. First we rated how we liked the brands, then we rated which (unnamed) cola we liked best. Unsurprisingly, the results were pretty different.

One drawback to this test was exposure to each sample. I've found that what I enjoyed in small quantities is sometimes very different than what I'd want to consume in large quantities.

The other test samples can also confuse the consumer. If I hate bright speakers and listen to 3 bright speakers, I may find I like the least bright of those best (and might even think it sounded dark)...
A few things on this:

1. With my TrueRTA, M-audio Mobile Pre, and Earthworks Microphone, we will level match the speakers,

2. They will also be tweaked as best as possible with the TrueRTA at 1/24th octave for the closest thing to uniform response from each. This may include an A-B-C A-B-C arrangement.

3. The test can NEVER be perfect for everyone.

4. If we need to, we can have 6 hours of listening.

5. And no drinking until after the listening is done.
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post #195 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 01:11 PM
 
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[quote=Alimentall][quote=iboon]Plus, that speaker may sound like trash while hitting all of the "important" test marks.
Quote:

Perhaps, but that would be a subjective evaluation that would vary by individual. One person's "trash" is another person's "manna from heaven"

Huh. I've dabbled in audio and I can tell you that this is not true. If the sound of a "ruler-flat" speaker is grating it is:

a. The CD
b. The room
c. upper range dispersion issues
d. upper range distortion issues
e. upper range spectral decay issues
f. all or much of the above.

Read the post again. I was referring to oob specs, as mentioned on page one.
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post #196 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 01:34 PM
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Craig:

Just wanted to know how your ACI Protege's are doing? Have you received them yet? Also, are you still enjoying your Essence's or have you move onto something else...since you are always changing speakers :D
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post #197 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by eros28
Craig:

Just wanted to know how your ACI Protege's are doing? Have you received them yet? Also, are you still enjoying your Essence's or have you move onto something else...since you are always changing speakers :D
The sale of the Ref 3's fell through, so the Protege's will have to wait.

And The Essence are still here - fantastic loudspeakers !
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post #198 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson
Other than that, I'd stick with a calibrated mike/SLM and pink noise.
I understand, but what would you think might happen if the speakers have the same average volume, but the voice is 1-2dB louder in one speaker?

John
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post #199 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigsub
5. And no drinking until after the listening is done.
No fun!
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post #200 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cme
No fun!
And knowing the group that will be here, after 3 minutes of listening someone will declare a draw between all the speakers, so we can open the bar.

You know - Instead of a regular blind test, we COULD have a blind drunk listening test ... :D
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post #201 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:26 PM
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So, anyone read the Stereophile review of the Mardaunt-Short Performance 6 this month? Impressive set of measurements (JA goes so far as to call them "beautifully engineered"), but the best that PM was able to muster is "impressively neutral." That, and pointing out that since this speaker doesn't have the typical house curve, it might sound thin/dry/bright.

Seems like pretty faint praise...
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post #202 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:31 PM
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Stereophile loves coloration. Actually, the a "cup is half full" characterization is that they support all the colors of audio in a way that offers maximum freedom of choice at the expense of serious progress towards full transparency.

Saying great things about a neutral speaker is like praising a 45 year old white male in this culture.

John
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post #203 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigsub
Instead of a regular blind test, we COULD have a blind drunk listening test.
Nothing like a little fire in the belly to add warmth to the sound... ;)
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post #204 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall
Stereophile loves coloration. Actually, the a "cup is half full" characterization is that they support all the colors of audio in a way that offers maximum freedom of choice at the expense of serious progress towards full transparency.

Saying great things about a neutral speaker is like praising a 45 year old white male in this culture.
As a 45 year old white male, I am not sure how to take that ... :eek:

And John, remember, the Stereophile guys use this Chronology:

1. They listen to the speakers.
2. They report what they heard.
3. THEN JA does the measurements.

In other words, they have to put their opinion on the line with no knowledge of measurements.

That takes a certain amount of courage.
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post #205 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:48 PM
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Yeah, except in this case the reviewer did take some handheld measurements to determine that the response was basically flat in his room. In fact, I'd be surprised if any reviewer didn't take some measurements - I certainly wouldn't want to miss something that can be easily measured. From the review:
Quote:
...I do find that a few very basic in-room measurements are useful...

Hooked up to my regular Naim-based system, positioned about 3.5' from the wall behind them and 4' from the sidewalls, and measured under farfield averaged conditions, the Performance 6 delivered an in-room response that was exceptionally flat and smooth...

However, it's debatable whether true flatness under these conditions is exactly what's required. The overwhelming majority of speakers opt for a slightly down-tilted trend from bass to treble in their in-room response, as the best subjective compromise; in this regard, its averaged room response suggestst that the Performance 6 will sound a little more thin, dry and bright than usual.
I apologize for any typos.

It does seem like neutral is boring... and honestly probably not even my preference. I love Kevin Voecks' work - I own a few of his Snell models - and I would suggest that they are just slightly dark (in the case of the Type A Reference) or rolled off (I believe he also designed the Type C/V). That darkness seems to play better with my ears.
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post #206 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:54 PM
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How about these quotes -

"This speaker isn't doing anything to draw me into the music" "Shouldn't the music be doing that?!?"

"No, that isn't right, this speaker makes the trumpet sound 'brassy'" "Ummm, I hate to tell you this but......."

"The snare drum is too percussive sounding" "I'm sorry, what did you just say?"

In the same day - "I don't like this speaker, it's too bright" and "I don't like this speaker, it's not bright enough"

At a bar - "I'm not sure why you don't like Klipsch, we just did a $50,000 surround sound system with all Klipsch speakers" "I'm sorry, I can't talk to right now, I have to leave, it was nice seeing you".

John
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post #207 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
I see green and red differently from other people, but I still see it. Therefore, I can still say "that grass looks natural" or "wow, that looks like it's florescing". Same thing with sound. We are all referencing reality. So a speaker that is objectively more transparent *should* sound more "real" to everyone. And a sound that doesn't bother you in real life shouldn't bother you when played by a speaker. You don't often see people saying "could you put more green in that image, I don't see greens well". People want it to seem like their reference - life
Actually I often have a hard time differentiating certain greens from greys from browns, and a brother of a friend of mine who is an optician says that either I "am seeing more of the light spectrum and having trouble defining it or less and having trouble seperating it...whose to say?" ....we have the same problems here...I have seen a field of grass on a football field and thought the tv was gained to high in green tint while others thought it was dead-on perfect.....

Seeking a speaker recomendation? Compare for yourself or be swayed by others who hear differantly, or by marketing, or just save time and get the cheapest , nicest looking, or smallest.
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post #208 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall
Stereophile loves coloration. Actually, the a "cup is half full" characterization is that they support all the colors of audio in a way that offers maximum freedom of choice at the expense of serious progress towards full transparency.

Saying great things about a neutral speaker is like praising a 45 year old white male in this culture.
I think it depends on the reviewer, just like with most publications (net or otherwise). As I have stated before, I believe Revel to have a very un-colored, natural sound; and reading comments from their designer that seems to be a design goal. Kal reviewed the Studios very favorably, and ended up buying them (got a third not long ago for multi-channel music). The Salons and F30's also received good reviews (the F30's not quite as much of a 'rave'; obviously they are in a much lower price class; and this was from Kal as well, IIRC). Other Revel systems have also received excellent subjective reviews from Home Theater Mag and UAV, both sister pubs of Stereophile. I'd have to go back and see what they said about NHT; but my take on their reviews is that (surprise) they are subjective, and it depends on what impresses a particluar reviewer, what his tastes are.

I've generally felt JA's comments to favor neutrality as well; mostly after taking measurements that leave him "scratching his head" or other commentary like that. I get the impression that his perfecet world is kind of like mine; everything sounds and meausures just like real music; with no "smiley faced" graphic equalizers built into the speakers :D.

I'm sure someone can find some comments of various writers that contradict this, but that's my overall impression. Other reviewers, who highly value dynamics, low distortion, high output, perfect time/phase response, etc will be more effusive in their praise of speakers which emphasize those attributes. Remember, unlike Craigs' blind listening, these guys know exactly what they are listening to; and if they'be been conditioned to believe that a certain speaker sounds 'dry', 'musical', or any other particular way, they don't have to have seen the measurements to have their expectations adjusted. I know that's what I'd do; it's human nature.

Hal
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post #209 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Neutral Speakers that I like ....

Veritas 2.4 i's :

http://www.soundstagemagazine.com/me...ningwindow.gif

Paradigm Studio 100's :

http://www.soundstagemagazine.com/me...ningwindow.gif

NOT so neutral speakers that I like ...

Legacy Focus :

http://stereophile.com/images/archivesart/LEG20FIG5.jpg

Quad 989's

http://stereophile.com/images/archiv...uad989fig2.jpg

Reference ? Stuff like the live jazz band we are going to hear tomorrow ...
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post #210 of 515 Old 08-19-2005, 08:09 PM
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I have to repeat though, I've said many times that distortion, dispersion, spectral decay, overall tonal balnce etc are more important overall to the perception of quality than pure, flat response. However, I also believe that you should strive for tonal accuracy *while* you are dealing with these other issues. And you certainly should not claim "+0/-3dB" response when the measured response is more like "+/-7.5dB", 5 times as inaccurate.

John
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