Design flaw with Paradigm surrounds - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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The issue has been discussed in the "Paradigm Owners Thread" but I feel that it is important enough that this deserves its own thread since many don't follow the lengthy owner thread and would miss it.

I noticed that the current ADP-590 V.4 are not marked left and right. Since these are dipole speakers (at least for upper frequencies) as confirmed by another poster's tests, one cannot properly set up these speakers without their own testing. I'm not sure whether the issue extends to other ADP models - but I wouldn't be surprised.

Apparently Paradigm has answered an inquiry about the issue and completely dismisses it, saying that it doesn't matter. But of course it does matter and it makes a difference. I understand that it makes good business/manufacturing sense to make only make identical surrounds (vs a left and right version), but the solution is very simple. One of the speakers should be wired out-of-phase and we need to know which one. However Paradigm is not supplying us with that information. According to the tests of one poster, it seems that it's the right speaker that needs to be out-of-phase - but how consistent will that advice be?

I feel that this is unacceptable behaviour by Paradigm. They need to acknowledge the problem, update the manual to tell us that one of the speakers need to be wired out of phase, tell us which one it should be, and make sure that the phasing of the speakers is consistent so that the out-of-phase speaker does not change. Better yet, make the terminals A and B instead of + and - and give instruction for wiring left and right surrounds.

Ed

Edit: I realized that the solution is not as simple as connecting one speaker out of phase because these are not full spectrum dipoles. See my post #8 below.
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post #2 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ekb View Post

Apparently Paradigm has answered an inquiry about the issue and completely dismisses it, saying that it doesn't matter. But of course it does matter and it makes a difference.

Ed

I guess they don't label them right or left because they are in fact identical.

I'm not expert on dipole speakers. Perhaps you can explain to us why it should make a difference, and how we should be able to determin which should be wired out of phase?

Thanks.

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
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post #3 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

I guess they don't label them right or left because they are in fact identical.

Apparently so.
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I'm not expert on dipole speakers. Perhaps you can explain to us why it should make a difference, and how we should be able to determin which should be wired out of phase?

It makes a difference because the drivers facing forward in the surrounds need to be in-phase with the fronts so that you get proper and smooth imaging between the surrounds and fronts. If you have 2 identical dipoles then one side will be good while the other side will have the forward driver in the dipole out-of-phase with the front. The 2 surrounds need to be mirror images and positioned correctly wrt left and right.

If the surrounds acted as full frequency dipoles, then one could connect a 9V battery and see which woofer moved in or out to figure out which way to wire up. But the Paradigms are only dipole at upper frequencies and I expect that the movement of the midrange driver would be too small to determine whether it moved in or out. Hence, one needs to play special test tones to determine whether the surround is in-phase or out-of-phase with the front speaker. This is much harder to do. A 3rd way is to open up the speaker and examine the wiring - probably the best choice in this case.

But none of this would be necessary if Paradigm simply gave you the information.

Ed
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post #4 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 02:21 PM
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Again, I am not an expert. Are you?

I took a look at the ADP-590. It has a single bass driver, and two mids and two tweaters.

I'd think the most important thing would be to have the bass driver in phase with the other bass drivers in the system. Hence I'd be reluctant to wire one out of phase. Since the midrange and tweeters both reflect almost immediately off the wall I suspect paradigm is right - it really doesn't matter how they are wired.

On this one I'd trust paradigm. They put alot of time and research into their products. If they say it does not make a difference I'd tend to believe them, unless I had direct evidence to the contrary. Perhaps they should have included a right-left switch to reverse the polarity of the mid and tweeter. But they did not. Strange. Such a switch would only cost a couple of bucks. If Paradigm thought it was important I can only assume they would have included such a switch.

I know the phase of woofers can make a big difference, but, does the phase of tweeters matter at all in rear surround speakers? Maybe, but I'd guess the sound field back there was so diffuse (on purpose) that it doesn't really matter.

Have you tried switching polarities? Is there one you prefer?

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post #5 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekb View Post

Apparently so.
It makes a difference because the drivers facing forward in the surrounds need to be in-phase with the fronts so that you get proper and smooth imaging between the surrounds and fronts. If you have 2 identical dipoles then one side will be good while the other side will have the forward driver in the dipole out-of-phase with the front. The 2 surrounds need to be mirror images and positioned correctly wrt left and right.

If the surrounds acted as full frequency dipoles, then one could connect a 9V battery and see which woofer moved in or out to figure out which way to wire up. But the Paradigms are only dipole at upper frequencies and I expect that the movement of the midrange driver would be too small to determine whether it moved in or out. Hence, one needs to play special test tones to determine whether the surround is in-phase or out-of-phase with the front speaker. This is much harder to do. A 3rd way is to open up the speaker and examine the wiring - probably the best choice in this case.

But none of this would be necessary if Paradigm simply gave you the information.

Ed

It seems to me that it is not necessary which is why Paradigm considers it to be a non issue. If it's such a big deal then a simple listening test should be all that is necessary to wire the speakers in phase. That is certainly the case with the front left and right speakers. Connect them out of phase and you will immediatley hear the difference. Dipole surrounds were meant to be used in home theater applications and the phasing of those channels is so wierd I am not sure you will ever hear a difference or if the phasing in the encoded channels is even consistent from one scene to the next. Try this. Connect the dipoles to the front left and right channels and play some legacy stereo recordings. Then reverse the polarity on one side and see if there is a noticeable difference. If there is then make note of it and connect the surrounds accordingly.
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post #6 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 04:41 PM
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If it is like the PSB models, and it probably is, you need to put the one on the left (or is it right?) upside down. Then they are in phase with each other. Yeah, it's kind of the cheap way out and yeah, they should explain it better.

John
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post #7 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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Things are also more complicated because they are not dipole in the strict sense, they switch between dipole/bipole based on freq so they don't lose all the bass.

I don't agree with the concern about the phase issues though and would have to agree with paradigm in that it doesn't make a difference. The bass drivers should be in-phase with everything else if properly wired, the high frequency stuff doesn't matter as much and the phase is really not even an issue because of the fact that they're dipole up high so all the reflections are going to be phase-delayed and all that anyway. The concern with phase is with imaging, and the whole point of dipoles is to avoid strong imaging and aim for diffusiveness, so again I really think that the OP is off the mark with his worries and also his claims of a "design flaw."
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post #8 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

I'd think the most important thing would be to have the bass driver in phase with the other bass drivers in the system.

You are correct. When I was thinking that you only need to reverse the phase on one speaker I was forgetting that the design was not a pure dipole. So it appears that the only solutions are to either hang one of them upsidedown, or to open up the speaker and change the polarity on both the mids and both tweeters (or the woofer and connect out-of-phase).
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post #9 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 04:53 PM
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Are they set up to hang upside down? If so, there's your explanation. That's how PSB does it. We don't sell dipoles for many reasons, but that certainly adds to the case.

John
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post #10 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 05:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

Are they set up to hang upside down? If so, there's your explanation. That's how PSB does it. We don't sell dipoles for many reasons, but that certainly adds to the case.

I wouldn't do it just from an asthetics point of view. In the owners thread, it was mentioned that the top and bottom panels were the same and hence both had the mounting contours - but maybe there was a missing recess on the bottom side.

Ed
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post #11 of 235 Old 03-10-2007, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

Things are also more complicated because they are not dipole in the strict sense, they switch between dipole/bipole based on freq so they don't lose all the bass.

Yes I realized this and was posting about it at the same time that you posted this. So that means that the solution is not to simply reverse the polarity on one speaker but to get inside and change the polarity on some of the drivers.
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I don't agree with the concern about the phase issues though and would have to agree with paradigm in that it doesn't make a difference. The bass drivers should be in-phase with everything else if properly wired, the high frequency stuff doesn't matter as much and the phase is really not even an issue because of the fact that they're dipole up high so all the reflections are going to be phase-delayed and all that anyway. The concern with phase is with imaging, and the whole point of dipoles is to avoid strong imaging and aim for diffusiveness, so again I really think that the OP is off the mark with his worries and also his claims of a "design flaw."

Strictly speaking, the design is flawed. But it's a matter of degree/opinion of how important it is. You are arguing that that you won't notice the problem. But I doubt that you be so indifferent about the midrange and tweeter being out-of-phase in one of your fronts. Also, I would say that the goal of dipoles is not to be very localizable (if that's a word) as opposed to avoid strong imaging. You still want to create stable images and smooth panning between the fronts and the surrounds.

Ed
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post #12 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 04:14 AM
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Paradigm is a world class designer and manufacturer of first rate speakers.If they say it does not matter then it does not.What I see here is not a design flaw but mis-information being spread.All speakers are wired in phase at the terminals.
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post #13 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 06:06 AM
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I own ADP470s, they are marked L/R. If I'm not mistaken, the Signature v1 surround model is similar to the new Studio ADP. Are they marked?

I recommend you grap a Chesky"Ultimate DVD surround sampler & setup" disc, it has a front to back phase test, for both left and right sides. You will be able to tell if there is a problem or not.
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post #14 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by brendy View Post

What I see here is not a design flaw but mis-information being spread.

There is no mis-information. It's a fact that they are not marked because they are identical and not mirror images. Anyone can go and verify that.
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All speakers are wired in phase at the terminals.

Do you understand what a dipole speaker is?

Ed
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post #15 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brendy View Post

Paradigm is a world class designer and manufacturer of first rate speakers.If they say it does not matter then it does not.What I see here is not a design flaw but mis-information being spread.All speakers are wired in phase at the terminals.

World class? Gimme a break. Paradigm makes mass market speakers that are increasingly over priced. They're a good alternative to Bose or JBL, but making one dipole when they should be mirror-imaged is CHEAP!!!!! A world class speaker company wouldn't do that to save $3.

As ekb implies, I don't think you understand dipoles and why they have to be mirror-imaged to work.

John
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post #16 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 08:42 AM
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has anyone talked to someone at paradigm about the surrounds and i have heard them
called a lot of things but mass market is a first i believe you have to be a authorized dealer
with a demo room to sell them.
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post #17 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 08:58 AM
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Paradigm reminds me of Polk in the 70's. They made excellent value entry level speakers with many of the attributes of what some of the best had to offer. They grew and diversified from their reputation, and started offering many models (product lines) at different price points to gain more market share. Nothing wrong with that.

Problem is they're no longer an excellent value entry level unit and they're sure not high end. Seems like it puts them in the mass market area. Or, one man's ceiling is another man's floor.
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post #18 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 09:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brendy View Post

Paradigm is a world class designer and manufacturer of first rate speakers.If they say it does not matter then it does not.What I see here is not a design flaw but mis-information being spread.All speakers are wired in phase at the terminals.

You're not understanding what Ed is saying. They're dipole on the top and bipole for lower frequencies. So if the speakers are identical one front set of tweeter and midrange will be out of phase with the main speakers.

Opening the speaker and wiring the front tweeter and midrange of one ADP seems to be the only fix.
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post #19 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 09:27 AM
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A speaker is mass market when it has cheapened models simply to fit a price point, rather than to offer a specific performance parameter for a different usage. It is mass market when it has made up "technologies" that are thrown out by the marketing department.

Paradigm may be "upper mass market", but they are mass market. You can even be mass market and be in a salon. B&W is mass market, PSB is mass market, Energy, Mirage, etc.

High-end manufacturers design each model as a specific product and have fewer models with far more space in price. Thiel is high-end, for instance. Even NHT, affordable as it is, would be "high-end" based on design. So price alone has nothing to do with whether a product is aimed at the masses or at more serious shoppers.

When you have a $2000 speaker with two or three cheapened derivatives of it, that's price point engineering, which is a hallmark of mass market design. Now, a smart, astute buyer may know that the top of each series is the only one to buy, and all the others buy the crippled versions, but still, it's mass market oriented because they know that the top of the series is mainly there to get people to buy the lesser models based on the reputation of the unaffordable top end model. A more disturbing trend in mass market is the use of "modules" that drop in several different modules woofer or mid/tweeter modules. You can't design a speaker like that and get maximum performance with the same major parts in multiple products.

No offense, it is what it is. Most people shop with a mass market attitude and that's where the money is. Not making mirror imaged dipoles is a way of saving.

John
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post #20 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuthed View Post

Opening the speaker and wiring the front tweeter and midrange of one ADP seems to be the only fix.

I think it is far more likely that they expect you to mount it "upside down", that is what PSB does on theirs, but they're somewhat clear about that in the paper work. Either that or they just expect no one to notice, which they probably wouldn't normally.

John
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post #21 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

I think it is far more likely that they expect you to mount it "upside down"

Although this is a solution to the problem, I really don't think that's what Paradigm has in mind. First, the speaker has an emblem on it and it would look odd upside down. Second, I believe that the mounting configuration is only partly there for upside down mounting. Third, there are no instructions telling you to do this, nor which speaker to do it with if you wanted to. And fourth, an email from Paradigm that is posted in the "owners thread" says that they don't think it matters that the speakers are not mirror images.

Ed
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post #22 of 235 Old 03-11-2007, 02:12 PM
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In that case, they've just sunk below many mass marketeers in terms of bad design. PSB designs the speakers to flip for left or right use. A bit confusing at first, but it works. Just setting it up that way is ridiculous. I've been slowly losing respect for Paradigm (their crappy rep doesn't help) over the last 5-10 years, but even this is a bit surprising.

John
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post #23 of 235 Old 03-12-2007, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm really surprised how little interest there is in this topic given how popular Paradigm speakers are. This potentially would stop me from buying Paradigm speakers - that is, if a solution cannot be found. If you can't get the surrounds set-up correctly, and you want to match all your speakers, then there's no choice.

Ed
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post #24 of 235 Old 03-12-2007, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekb View Post

I'm really surprised how little interest there is in this topic given how popular Paradigm speakers are. This potentially would stop me from buying Paradigm speakers - that is, if a solution cannot be found. If you can't get the surrounds set-up correctly, and you want to match all your speakers, then there's no choice.

Ed


Like I said earlier, I have the ADP470s. Today I checked out any phase differences using both the above-mentioned Chesky disc, also my Avia test disc, which has a similar test.

I had a real hard time with both DVDs hearing any difference. In fact, on the Avia disc, the text on the screen describing the test basically stated this was only for non-dipole speakers, their opinion was also with dipoles it wasn't an important issue.

Have you in fact tried your surrounds either way and heard a problem?
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post #25 of 235 Old 03-12-2007, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jkhome View Post

Have you in fact tried your surrounds either way and heard a problem?

My surrounds are mirror image pairs. It was a friend's recent purchase of the ADP 590's where I became aware of the problem.

Ed
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post #26 of 235 Old 03-12-2007, 09:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekb View Post

I'm really surprised how little interest there is in this topic given how popular Paradigm speakers are. This potentially would stop me from buying Paradigm speakers - that is, if a solution cannot be found. If you can't get the surrounds set-up correctly, and you want to match all your speakers, then there's no choice.

Ed

But as I asked before, I don't understand why this is a significant issue? You're in a null, so what's the problem. Everything you're going to be hearing is going to be reflected and out of phase with the other driver on the speaker anyway. If you did have L and R surrounds that were wired differently, what would that accomplish? You'd still have a dipolar speaker with things out of phase with each other, you'd still be sitting in a null and getting most of that speakers' energy from room reflections anyway. It seems like the difference would not even be detectable, let alone of any significance.

If coherence to the fronts is a goal, it seems like the choice to use dipole/bipole/ADP type surrounds is the far larger mistake than the desire to wire certain drivers in phase for arbitrary reasoning. It seems to me that this whole issue is simply irrelevant. If keeping things in-phase for coherent imaging through the surrounds is a goal, why on earth would you go with ADP surrounds? It's completely bizarre that one would choose to use dipole surrounds and then start to worry after the fact about imaging precision and keeping everything in-phase. It's completely irrational.
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post #27 of 235 Old 03-12-2007, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekb View Post

I'm really surprised how little interest there is in this topic given how popular Paradigm speakers are. This potentially would stop me from buying Paradigm speakers - that is, if a solution cannot be found. If you can't get the surrounds set-up correctly, and you want to match all your speakers, then there's no choice.

- But the question is... how many people in this forum own the ADP's versus a normal Paradigm speaker for their surrounds.
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post #28 of 235 Old 03-13-2007, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

But as I asked before, I don't understand why this is a significant issue? You're in a null, so what's the problem. Everything you're going to be hearing is going to be reflected and out of phase with the other driver on the speaker anyway. If you did have L and R surrounds that were wired differently, what would that accomplish? You'd still have a dipolar speaker with things out of phase with each other, you'd still be sitting in a null and getting most of that speakers' energy from room reflections anyway. It seems like the difference would not even be detectable, let alone of any significance.

If coherence to the fronts is a goal, it seems like the choice to use dipole/bipole/ADP type surrounds is the far larger mistake than the desire to wire certain drivers in phase for arbitrary reasoning. It seems to me that this whole issue is simply irrelevant. If keeping things in-phase for coherent imaging through the surrounds is a goal, why on earth would you go with ADP surrounds? It's completely bizarre that one would choose to use dipole surrounds and then start to worry after the fact about imaging precision and keeping everything in-phase. It's completely irrational.

You are trying to reason from a theoretical point of view and concluding that it doesn't matter. Maybe you are correct, maybe not. My feeling is that it would be subtle but detectable with a good setup and careful listening. Maybe analogous to MP3 at 128 kbs - many people regard that as essentially identical to CD, but controlled experiments have demonstrated that it's not. It seems that playing with phasing and matching polarity would have a much larger effect than changing electronics or cabling. And we all know about those debates.

It's way too hard to get an audio system to sound real good - and so why throw in configurations that at least theoretically aren't optimal. In the entire history of dipole surrounds, manufacturers felt that it did make a difference and that's why they were sold as mirror image pairs and marked left and right. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

In the end, it would be nice to have a controlled scientific experiment to actually determine the audibility.

Ed
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post #29 of 235 Old 03-13-2007, 03:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tokerblue View Post

- But the question is... how many people in this forum own the ADP's versus a normal Paradigm speaker for their surrounds.

I vaguely remember polls in this forum asking what types of surrounds people have. A substantial fraction do have dipoles.

Ed
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post #30 of 235 Old 03-13-2007, 04:03 PM
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Hi Ed,
Good thing you don't own these huh . . . I suggest you do not buy them.
Why all the fuss about something that may or may not even be a problem?

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
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