I have to admit that I am a bit of a gear-head when it comes to audio. I take great interest in reading the graphs and measurements on various components to see how they objectively stack up, especially for speakers that I have either auditioned or owned over the years. It is fun to see how the measurements correlate with what I hear. I have looked at the frequency response graphs for more speakers than I can count, but recently I've been taking more interest in Cumulative Spectral Decay plots (waterfall plots). These 3D graphs show both how fast the midrange and tweeter drivers are able to stop after a signal burst is feed to them and if there are any resonances in the drivers. Subjectively, the performance measured here is supposed to correlate with how clean, detailed and uncolored the sound of the driver should be.
MA owners should be very proud to know that the RS and GS lines have the best CSD plots I have seen in the dozens of measurements I have reviewed. Better than even some very expensive, popular, and generally well-regarded speakers.
Here's a speaker that retails for $12K a pair. You may know them -- they feature a diamond tweeter.
Relatively speaking, the performance is quite good in the treble really, with just a little bit of low-level hash in the mid and lower treble. But you will notice that starting at around 2kHz and moving down into the midrange there is quite a bit of delayed energy.
The Stereophile technician that took the measurement had this to say about their objective performance:
The 802D's cumulative spectral-decay plot is very clean in the treble region, suggesting that the B&W's midrange unit and tweeter are world-class.
Now take a look at the plot for the MA GS10:
This is just remarkable performance. No hash, virtually no delayed energy in the treble, and substantially less delayed energy in the midrange. (BTW - ignore the ridge just above 10kHz, this is due to a reflection off of the measuring equipment.) So if the $12K speakers have "world class" performance, then how do we classify the performance of the GS line?
Now I know some will look at the tweeter's resonance peak in the graph (at roughly 27kHz) and say that is a problem, but I just had my hearing tested along with several audiophile friends of mine and none of us can hear much above 16kHz. And besides there is no musical energy to speak of at 27kHz. Not even much in the way of low-level harmonics. So subjectively, it is highly unlikely that the average listener will hear that resonance at all.
I know you can't judge the performance of a speaker on measurements alone. However, in this case, it has been my experience and several others that have heard the MA speakers, that they are in fact some of the cleanest and least colored sounding speakers around, at any price. This correlates nicely with their CSD measurements. In fact, it was the clean and uncolored sound of the MA GS line that got me looking into "why" they sounded so good.
Hope you all find this as interesting as I do.