Originally Posted by Alimentall
PS - did you just say "sexy looks"?!?
I live with black utilitarian Mackies. I value function first. However, if performance isn't compromised, I'll take anything shagedlic with relish. Why not?
Granted, the NHT Xd is amazing. But when I refer to the Beolabs as exceptional and even revolutionary, I don't use the words casually. It entails a significant leap forward. Those who've followed the acoustical master thread discussions on early reflections have a good inkling on why the Beolab is so intruiging.
An NHT Xd reveiwer laughably highlighted as a positive that it isn't quite as ultrawide in its dispersion, and so you don't get "too many reflections." It's an understatement that such sentiments are deeply entrenched in the audiophile and professional communities, along with boatloads of other myth. The apparent logic goes:
1) that early reflections add their own signature to what was initially recorded, and in essence you'd be listening to two venues; the one where the recording took place, and your own room. Hardly a pristine way of going about business!
2) that comb filtering via early reflections is a horrible form of distortion.
3) that reflections help localize a sound source, whereas what is desired is that the loudspeakers disappear within a soundstage.
4) Reflections confuse the brain and causes the image to be obscured.
Beolab engineering ethos debunks such conventional wisdom. There are a handful ribbon tweeters and waveguide designs that yield a respectable response over a 90 degree horizontal arc, but hardly anything matches the 180 degree spread of the Beolab. The science behind it is well established, from work done by Haas in the 50's, to physicist Arthur Benade in the mid 80's, to Moulton, Olive and Toole and others in the last decade. Yet the Beolab is the rare gem that pays full heed to this know-how. It is one thing to be a step ahead. It is another when just about everyone else is utterly flummoxed. Indeed, a majority of professional acousticians are deeply hostile to the new (old?) views on the role of reflections in sound reproduction.
So how runs the "unconventional" wisdom?
1) As long as tonally accurate reflections are within a certain time span (such as is typical in a domestic listening room), they assist (note, not meld) with the musicality and intelligibility of the direct sound, without imparting any unique character of their own. All of the direct sound, including the recorded reflection cues from the original venue, are reproduced with enhanced fidelity.
2) The binaural hearing mechanism and the brain in between uses time cues not to be confounded by any room comb filtering, and if anything extracts from the ensuing chaos the richness within that sound field.
3) Reflections do help localize a sound source. But when you have a pair or more, the brain uses the phase locked output to triangulate an image. It is the very heart of stereophony, and image stability is that much better. Moulton postulates that the reason stereo imaging phenomenon exists is because the the brain just sees two "reflections" without the original event, but that's enough to fill the picture!
4) A tonally accurate reflection will spread an image, but this is hardly a bad thing. It only gives a pleasant and realistic dimension to the instrument being reproduced.
These then, John, are some cardinal areas the NHT Xd design somewhat addresses, and why it sounds so darn good. And it is why the Beolab 5 sounds even better. It's a class act for the central ideas around which it is designed. It is unique.