Official JBL Synthesis / Pro / Revel Home Theater Thread - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 3888 Old 07-14-2016, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
I think a dedicated thread is not a bad idea, but too many threads could be confusing. It does seem like some of the Pro guys have a little animosity towards the more refined products so I can see the need for this thread. The Revel and Synthesis crowd gets somewhat excluded because the high cost of entry scares the majority or folks into a negative attitude so they don't understand or see value very well as the result. While some of the higher end Harman stuff does at times get pricey, I always looked at it from the point of view that generally speaking Harman stuff is a good value compared to the more esoteric options that cost more and perform worse. It's just the high cost is because it's actually pretty good, I feel like the cost is warranted by the refinement and quality rather the opposite point of view where the cost is unwarranted or the performance isn't up to par with the price. I can think of many examples in marketplace where the opposite exists so it's always been ironic to me so many view the high end Harman stuff like that. But I guess it's the interwebs so you get it all too. Revel and Synthesis isn't well represented in the current plethora of JBL threads IMO. The M2 is kind of like a bridge between PRO and synthesis so it's got a place in both conversations.
Exactly my thinking. To me, it's just a little weird that a speaker like the Revel Salon2 - which constantly wins double blind listening tests no matter what competing speaker gets thrown at it - could be considered "expensive" at $22K per pair when the speakers it gets pitted against during the double blinds can literally run up to 10 times that price. Then you've got the Revel F208, which possesses many of the same qualities of the Salon2s, at $5K per pair, well, to me the value proposition seems obvious. And now you have the Concerta2 F36 at $2K per pair. WOW, IMO.

And that's just Revel. On the Synthesis side we have the Arrays, the M2s, the 708s, the SAM modules, the 4367 etc, which are still much less than some of the "high end" competition out there. I do understand the frustration some have with the amps and DSP required for the M2 and LSR708, but now we have speakers like the 4367 and SCL3 and 4 that DON'T have those requirements.
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post #32 of 3888 Old 07-14-2016, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bigguyca View Post
It's nice to have multiple threads. One thread may be discussing amplification, another room interactions, another Dr. Toole's work, another comparing two or three speaker models, and yet another with reports on newly purchased items. Only one or two threads could get very boring (personally to me). With multiple threads, a thread may be boing, but a week or so later it may have great insight into a subject, or be very entertaining.

@John Schuermann puts a lot of work into these threads and that is appreciated. John also has a good way of contributing to the discussions so that they can explore both positive and negative aspects of Harmon products and their use.
Yes, I particularly love the discussion in the M2 thread, as there are people posting there who know far more than I do from an engineering perspective. Quite a bit of discussion about the solid science behind these products and the work of Drs. Toole and Olive. I always learn something

And thanks for your comments about my posts. I try to put the theoretical into practical terms; hopefully that's what comes across.

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post #33 of 3888 Old 07-14-2016, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
Here you go:
(snip)


Hope that helps!
That helps immensely, thanks much! I'm thinking the S3900 are at a really sweet spot for price/performance, especially for a 2-channel bass-managed system. Will need to arrange an audition someday.
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post #34 of 3888 Old 07-14-2016, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post

I do understand the frustration some have with the amps and DSP required for the M2 and LSR708, but now we have speakers like the 4367 and SCL3 and 4 that DON'T have those requirements.
John, the SCL3/4 don't require the JBL/Crown amps with DSP? I thought they were just in-wall versions of the LSR5/7's?

Those could be very interesting then. I believe you said you were getting a set in and I know you have the LSR708's so I am very interested to hear your thoughts about how the two compare.
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post #35 of 3888 Old 07-14-2016, 10:56 PM
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Would it be okay to transport the M2's (still sealed in their box) on their side for a short 5-6 mile ride, as opposed to me renting a truck to carry them upright?

Thanks
No problem. The are very well packaged. I've traveled hundreds of miles with mine
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post #36 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by dschulz View Post
That helps immensely, thanks much! I'm thinking the S3900 are at a really sweet spot for price/performance, especially for a 2-channel bass-managed system. Will need to arrange an audition someday.
So,

I have the S3900's. They are an excellent speaker. I was going to sell mine along with my SAM3HA center channel due to budgets, but now things are looking better and I am keeping them (though now I am thinking I want to upgrade further!)

Over the past few years I have owned several speakers (Golden Ear Triton 2, Klipsch Palladium P37, Salk SS8, NHT 3.3...and now the S3900's).

I listen to Rock and Roll, Blues, and some Reggae, along with using the speakers in my home theater.

But Rock and Roll is 75% of the use of my system.

I like dynamics, midrange, and a bit of attack - but I do NOT like when things get too bright above 85dbs (which is what happened to me with the Palladiums, the NHT's, and even the Salks to some extent). Some of that is crappy rock recordings.

The JBL's have all the dynamics I like, and a kick drum really sounds like a kick drum. They are fast dynamic speakers. They also manage to do all of this without getting bright. They don't dig incredibly deep in the bass department, but I X-over mine at 40-60hz to my SVS SB13 and man it's a great sounding system.

I've got upgraditis (which is stupid as I am pretty darn happy with my system right now) but I do have a hankering to try the S9900's at some point if I ever find a great deal. I've demo'd a ton of speakers over the past year and even the past few months including some of the Revels. What I have found is that it is going to be tough to beat the JBL's for what I like and listen to.

The Salk SS8 was one heck of a speaker also and with a few tweaks I could be really happy with those, I like the Dynaudio Focus 380 also. But I've listened to the new B+W D3 stuff and like my 3900's better, the Golden Ear Triton 1 (found it lacked midrange and was a little muddy). I've demo'd some that are a bit less expensive like the Revel 206 (didn't find it all that exciting), and the new Paradigm Prestige 75 (felt it was awful) and the Prestige 95 (thought it was actually pretty darn nice). Martin Logan Summit X (does what it does REALLY well, but for rock and roll didn't think it was right, but if I could have a second system I would consider ML in a heartbeat).

For fun I compared the Big Revel Ultima's to the B+W 802D - the 802D is really nice at lower volumes as it does stay detailed, but when pushed got wayyy too bright for me. The Ultima's are very nice but maybe not quite exciting enough, but I want to listen to them a lot more as they did a lot I liked (and at that price darn well should)

Speakers that I felt did rock and roll well (that I have actually listened to) - JBL S3900, Dynaudio Focus 380, Legacy Siganture and Focus SE, PSB T3 (though I would want more time with them to make sure they don't get too bright when pushed), The JTR speakers were a lot of fun. I also believe I liked the Tyler Acoustics D2xSE at Axpona 2015, but memory is fleeting.

That said, I really feel the S3900 is a GREAT speaker. Would I like to upgrade - sure, because that is fun, but if I keep these for a while I'll be pretty happy.
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post #37 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 09:37 AM
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For fun I compared the Big Revel Ultima's to the B+W 802D - the 802D is really nice at lower volumes as it does stay detailed, but when pushed got wayyy too bright for me. The Ultima's are very nice but maybe not quite exciting enough, but I want to listen to them a lot more as they did a lot I liked (and at that price darn well should)

If you go back for another audition, see if they can bi-amp the Salon2s.
It makes a noticeable difference in my system, tightening the bass and allowing the upper end to be utterly clean even at very low levels.


- Rich
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post #38 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
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John, the SCL3/4 don't require the JBL/Crown amps with DSP? I thought they were just in-wall versions of the LSR5/7's?

Those could be very interesting then. I believe you said you were getting a set in and I know you have the LSR708's so I am very interested to hear your thoughts about how the two compare.
Yes, they appear to be in-wall versions of the LSR7 series since they are using the same tweeter and essential waveguide designs. However, they have a built in crossover while the 7 series do not (the 7 series have a rudimentary "crossover" with the processing is done in the amp instead). How close they get to the sound of the 708 is something we hope to find out soon

Yes, we have some of the first SCL3s and 4s off the production line. Right now both Brad and I are trying to clear our schedules so we can set up some real listening / evaluation time. I just got in my pair of F208s too, so I'm just as anxious to give those a spin.

I will say this - the F208s are beautiful.
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post #39 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 10:38 AM
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One issue with there being less chat about Synthesis has less to do with it self then the customers. Besides the DIY crowd that help them the whole build and are interested in it all, a lot of Sythesis system customers are the turn key customers that gets the system bought and doesn't know what half of it does, is for, or understands anymore then they desire. Not everyone just a hunch of mine.

I use JBL Pro cinema gear and I've lusted after JBL Synthesis systems for years and have always loved the approach. To me it represented what JBL learned in the comm theaters and refined it as you had said. The true magic lies in the EQ process/setup and that's hard to explain. They just need wowed in a demo. Speaking of wow Alcons Audio. They got the magic soup.

I think JBL is like Klipsch in a way to were its been around so long and so important to audio I don't think 10 threads would cover it all.

JBL Pro/JTR/JVC/Denon/Oppo/Monoprice/Elite Screens/Furman/Seatcraft/Acoustimac/AudioQuest/Roku

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post #40 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Honestly, I dont think its animosity, but rather indifference. Posts like the one below go greatly ignored - but to each their own. Everyone discusses measurements, but when nearly identical measurements are posted, there is always another extenuating circumstance as to why spending another $20k+ is justified. When your business model is built on the accuracy of a speaker i.e recording studio, theatrical studio, etc then I can see where every ounce of accuracy is worth it's weight in gold regardless of price. With that said, more money is probably spent on the room acoustics, treatment, and design than the speakers themselves. Rarely, will these two lines cross in a home theater environment except for the very wealthy or moderately wealthy and single I think the M2 is probably the top of the mark from a spend on a home system and those are a very, very small percentage of AVS enthusiasts. It isn't a thread issue but a target audience issue. Maybe there should be separate forums like the display forum with separate areas based on cost of product.
I am basing much of what I post upon my own conversations with JBL Pro, Synthesis and Revel engineers. A great deal of what I learned from them is: the right tool for the job. As I pointed out months back in the 708 thread, most of the Cinema models are designed for large spaces, with acoustic summing and overall accuracy being issues in smaller listening spaces. I understand that many are enjoying their 4722s and other Cinema speakers, however.

Synthesis represents adapting Pro / Cinema standards for the home, and there is a reason why actual Cinema speakers are not included in the Synthesis lineup. And there is a reason why Cinema speakers are not on the Blu-ray mastering stages, either. As I've repeated ad nauseum, over 90% of Blu-rays are mastered on a JBL Synthesis system. Speakers like the M2 and 708 are making their way into these kinds of spaces more and more, because they are designed for accuracy and near to mid field listening (just like what we do in the home).

My own home theater company has as its philosophy trying to recreate the filmmaker and sound designer's intent as closely as possible. To me, this is best accomplished by trying to replicate what was heard on the mix stage, not what was heard in the theater. Synthesis has this as its prime goal, because the filmmaker / mixer can control what goes on in the mix stage, but not what goes on once the film is dropped into the theaters.

I *kind of* agree with you about the M2s being at the top end of what many will spend, at least in regards to the typical poster here on the Forum (though there are plenty of Revel Salon2 owners, at $22K per pair). I own a set of LSR708s myself, which are very much like the M2's little brother, and about 1/3 the price. And, as mentioned, the M2 and 708 / 705 are finding their way into Synthesis systems.

As I posted at the top of this thread, "JBL Synthesis systems are designed for residential rooms—no matter how large—and are optimized for such rooms which are much smaller than the large theaters for which JBL Professional is famous." This is the actual Synthesis philosophy, not my words. And it explains why a Synthesis system is used for most Blu-ray mastering.

RE: measurements. As you can see in Harman spinorama graphs, there are many factors that can be measured that most "speaker measurement" graphs leave out, but that greatly affect sound quality (this is briefly touched on in the post you quoted). I will post a Harman Spinorama graph with a primer here momentarily, as it can really help put what matters and what doesn't into perspective.

RE: studios spending more on treatments, room design, etc. That is true to some extent, but one of the things that Harman's research has shown is that mix rooms, etc, are all over the map in terms of how flat the response is at the mix position, no matter how much effort goes into room design and treatments. Again, this is part of the Synthesis philosophy and design goal - to fix this problem, by using speakers with known high performance characteristics calibrated using ARCOS / SFM to make sure that one mix room will sound like another. This goes to Dr. Toole's famous "Audio Circle of Confusion," which I will also post about shortly.

Part of what has come out of Toole's work is that room design and treatments are only a part of the equation, and flat, even response can be achieved in even average rooms when multiple subs are used and combined with Harman's SFM technologies. Toole just wrote an article about that on Audioholics, for anyone interested:

http://www.audioholics.com/room-acou...-multi-sub-sfm

Lastly, in regard to system cost, etc, JBL Synthesis systems start at around $18K for a 5.1 system and work there way up from there (plus calibration cost, which can vary). I would say the average Synthesis system is in the $50K to $150K range, but they can top out at half a million.

Hope this helps clarify at least my own position on these things, even if it differs from your own

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post #41 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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One issue with there being less chat about Synthesis has less to do with it self then the customers. Besides the DIY crowd that help them the whole build and are interested in it all, a lot of Sythesis system customers are the turn key customers that gets the system bought and doesn't know what half of it does, is for, or understands anymore then they desire. Not everyone just a hunch of mine.

I use JBL Pro cinema gear and I've lusted after JBL Synthesis systems for years and have always loved the approach. To me it represented what JBL learned in the comm theaters and refined it as you had said. The true magic lies in the EQ process/setup and that's hard to explain. They just need wowed in a demo. Speaking of wow Alcons Audio. They got the magic soup.

I think JBL is like Klipsch in a way to were its been around so long and so important to audio I don't think 10 threads would cover it all.
RE: your thoughts about who buys Synthesis systems. I think you are partly correct, which is a source of frustration for me. Synthesis represents what so many of us want - a finely tuned and accurate representation of what was intended by filmmakers and musicians - yet most home theater enthusiasts are not really aware of Synthesis at all. Yet many times these same enthusiasts will drop thousands and thousands of dollars on things that don't really matter - obscenely priced cables, power cords and line conditioners, for example. While a Synthesis SDEC and the accompanying calibration are not cheap, the cost can really pale in comparison to what someone can drop on the above mentioned items or on so called "high end" speakers that are really anything but! And, in the end, after calibration is done in your home (often by the same engineers who have just tuned a high end performance venue or mix stage), you have a system that is literally certified to exceed THX and SMPTE specs.
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post #42 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 12:51 PM
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I agree that Harmon has some "special sauce" with room EQ and total presentation that is above and beyond a speakers measurement. It requires the complete package/presentation to work. However, I think Dirac Live narrows that secret sauce of Harmon down to almost trivial differences. The secret sauce is out and is more readily accessible. Dirac Live took my room to another level far and beyond what I anticipated. My room is also heavily treated with 3rd party analysis and products. Get a speaker that measures well, treat your room, and combine it with Dirac Live and the results are going to be close. Is Harmon better? I would have to hear it to believe it but for arguments sake, I will grant that. Is the difference worth the price delta? Only the buyer can decide.
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post #43 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 12:53 PM
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Does JBL synthesis technicians that come to calibrate/setup the system set up the FR to the way the buyer wants it...house curve...or do they do their best to make the FR flat. what are their goals when setting up the system for in room response?

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Subs: Rythmik FV25HP, Rythmik FV15HP
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post #44 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
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The first of a couple of informational posts, this one about Harman's "Spinorama" speaker graphs and how to read them. Instead of just having a single line showing supposed "frequency response," the spins measure much more in the way of speaker performance - on and off axis frequency response, sound power response, listening window, etc.

Pay particular attention to a speakers' output far off-axis horizontally, since all the research that Harman has done demonstrates that those first reflections are of extreme importance in determining overall sound quality. More detailed info on this is in the Primer below the graphs, which is a must read!:

JBL M2:



JBL LSR708:



Revel F208:



JBL 4722n:




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 a 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. These curves describe very good behavior.
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post #45 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Molon_Labe View Post
I agree that Harmon has some "special sauce" with room EQ and total presentation that is above and beyond a speakers measurement. It requires the complete package/presentation to work. However, I think Dirac Live narrows that secret sauce of Harmon down to almost trivial differences. The secret sauce is out and is more readily accessible. Dirac Live took my room to another level far and beyond what I anticipated. My room is also heavily treated with 3rd party analysis and products. Get a speaker that measures well, treat your room, and combine it with Dirac Live and the results are going to be close. Is Harmon better? I would have to hear it to believe it but for arguments sake, I will grant that. Is the difference worth the price delta? Only the buyer can decide.
Can't argue with your last four sentences

RE: Dirac Live, I haven't heard it so can't really comment from personal experience. I can tell you that Harman would strongly disagree, but you would expect that I'm calibrating with Audyssey Pro right now, so who am I to talk? The pros and cons of Audyssey have been well debated.

Here's a major difference between Synthesis / ARCOS / SFM calibration and other systems. With a Synthesis calibration, the ideal characteristics of each speaker are a known quantity that gets loaded into the ARCOS calibration software. In other words, the software *knows* what speakers you own and their specific characteristics. You actually load each speaker profile into the software - a trio of M2s, a set of 8 SCL4s, four JBL S2S-EX subs - and then ARCOS compares what is measured in your room with the actual data accumulated in Harman's test facilities. The difference is then EQ'd out, to the best of the software's ability. A Synthesis calibration takes an entire day, involves two technicians, and eight microphones placed in different locations. But. as you say, there is a corresponding cost.

With systems like Audyssey, ARC, and Dirac, the speaker models are not a known quantity, so at best such systems are shooting in the dark. If Audyssey, for example, decides that your main speakers need a boost of 4.5 db at a certain frequency, how does it know if your speaker is even capable of handling that boost? (In defense of Audyssey, it usually does far more cutting than boosting, knowing that this is a much safer approach).

Please know that I am not trying to bash other systems (or speakers, for that matter), but simply trying to illuminate what Synthesis is all about. Most people have no idea.
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post #46 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Does JBL synthesis technicians that come to calibrate/setup the system set up the FR to the way the buyer wants it...house curve...or do they do their best to make the FR flat. what are their goals when setting up the system for in room response?
Harman has there own target curves, based upon all the research that they have done over the decades. However, they can specify different targets based on preference, etc, plus set up different profiles for music, movies, different surround formats, etc.
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post #47 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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RE: the graphs above. One of the things that confuses people about measurement graphs - especially when they see all kinds of little bumps, dips and ridges - is that there is no standardized reference for when comparing to other manufacturer speaker graphs (that's why I posted the "Primer" below the measurements). Harman is trying to correct for this with the new CEA 2034 speaker measurement standard, which should allow for a standardized speaker measurement system. Over the years, Harman has done so much research in relation to how a speaker measures in relation to listener preference that they can now predict which speakers will win double blind, scientifically controlled listening sessions - just based upon the spinorama measurements alone, and with 86% accuracy. Dr. Sean Olive discusses all of that here:

http://www.soundandvision.com/conten...Sf7kTmVqquA.97

From the article: At Harman we can characterize and predict the sound quality of loudspeakers with 86 percent accuracy based on a set of comprehensive anechoic measurements. Our measurements are now the basis for a new ANSI/CEA 2034-A Standard: Method of Measurement of In-Home Loudspeakers so there is hope that eventually these will be adopted as standards for the industry.

I also thought I'd post a bit here about how comparing speaker measurement graphs can be so confusing:

The above speaker graphs are all high resolution, so appeared less uniform than other typical speaker FR graphs that typically apply 1/3 octave or greater smoothing. That is what most people are used to looking at.

The fact that JBL / Revel provide high resolution graphs to share shows that they are committed to high resolution measurements. But the fear in sharing them has to do with possible misinterpretation. If JBL used typical industry practices in this case, several of the lines above would be almost perfectly smooth.

Good article about this on Audioholics here, showing the effects of smoothing and resolution on frequency response graphs:

http://www.audioholics.com/loudspeak...o-measurements

Below are two graphs from the article, one with 1/12th octave smoothing, the second with 1/3 octave smoothing. These graphs are measurements taken of an RBH T30-SLE. The graphs I shared here had a 1/24th octave resolution, which is greater than even the "rougher" looking, 1/12 octave graph taken from the Audioholics article. I think everyone reading can see why context is all important when reading graphs:



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post #48 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Last of my "informational" posts for today - hopefully these are not too boring! This one about the "Audio Circle of Confusion" Drs. Toole and Olive talk so much about, which is a problem that Synthesis directly aims to address. Most of this information is from Sean Olive's blog post about this, which can be found here:

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/1...confusion.html

A most excellent read, for someone wanting to really take the time to fully understand this.

First off, here is a picture of the measured room response of 250 identical high quality reference monitors but placed in 164 different control rooms. Theoretically, all the measurements should be the same since the speakers are the same - but they are not. The differences are due to the room itself. And keep in mind that these are professional audio control rooms, with acoustic treatments, optimized room designs, etc:



All of this leads to the dreaded Audio Circle of Confusion:



Since mix engineers cannot rely upon their mix environments to be perfectly flat and accurate, how can they expect their mixes to be perfectly flat and accurate? And, since they are also evaluating their own setups based on mixes created in OTHER mix environments - which will have problems of their own - how can they trust the recordings created by others when they are using them to check their own systems and mixes?

This is exactly the kind of research Harman does - to try to equalize all of these elements out so that one room will "sound" like another. And this research is what has led to the creation of ARCOS, SFM, and other technologies (as well as speakers such as the M2, 708, etc). In addition, it was research into solving the bass issues - which is where most of the problems lie in the graphs above - that led to the multiple subwoofer solution that the engineers at Harman developed (referenced in depth in the Floyd Toole article I mentioned above - here it is again for ease of access: http://www.audioholics.com/room-acou...-multi-sub-sfm).

All of these things converge in Synthesis, and why a Synthesis system is used for final Blu-ray mastering in most cases.

One of the things that you find with extremely accurate speakers like those from Revel and JBL is that deficits in the original recording are laid bare. If the recording was mixed on bass heavy speakers (or in a bass heavy room), the recording engineer may have rolled off the bass in the recording to compensate. Now what we have is a "bass-shy" recording. Often just the opposite is true. As Sean Olive says, the recording itself becomes the "nuisance variable" in the equation. As I've stated elsewhere, IMO this is not an argument for less accurate speakers, it becomes an argument for better quality recordings.

So, by trying to solve this Circle of Confusion, Harman is working hard to take these variables out of the recording and mastering process so that we can all benefit. Good sounding recordings will sound best on the widest variety of speakers, but best on the most accurate speakers.

Here is essentially the majority of Sean's article:

Audio’s “Circle of Confusion” is a term coined by Floyd Toole that describes the confusion that exists within the audio recording and reproduction chain due to the lack of a standardized, calibrated monitoring environment. Today, the circle of confusion remains the single largest obstacle in advancing the quality of audio recording and reproduction.

The circle of confusion is graphically illustrated in (the illustration above). Music recordings are made with (1) microphones that are selected, processed, and mixed by (2) listening through professional loudspeakers, which are designed by (3) listening to recordings, which are (1) made with microphones that are selected, processed, and mixed by (2) listening through professional monitors...... you get the idea. Both the creation of the art (the recording) and its reproduction (the loudspeakers and room) are trapped in an interdependent circular relationship where the quality of one is dependent on the quality of the other. Since the playback chain and room through which recordings are monitored are not standardized, the quality of recordings remains highly variable.

A random sampling of ones own music library will quickly confirm the variation in sound quality that exists among different music recordings. Apart from audible differences in dynamic range, spatial imagery, and noise and distortion, the spectral balance of recordings can vary dramatically in terms of their brightness and particularly, the quality and quantity of bass...

The most likely culprits are the loudspeakers and rooms through which the recording were made. While there are many excellent professional near-field monitors in the marketplace today, there are no industry guidelines or standards to ensure that they are used. The lack of meaningful, perceptually relevant loudspeaker specifications makes the excellent loudspeakers difficult to identify and separate from the truly mediocre ones. To make matters worse, some misguided recording engineers monitor and tweak their recordings through low-fidelity loudspeakers thinking that this represents what the average consumer will hear. Since loudspeakers can be mediocre in an infinite number of ways, this practice only guarantees that quality of the recording will be compromised when heard through good loudspeakers...

Another significant source of variation in the recording process stems from acoustical interactions between the loudspeaker and the listening room. Below 300-500 Hz, the placement of the loudspeaker-listener can cause >18 dB variations in the in-room response due to room resonances and placing the loudspeaker in proximity to a room boundary....Below 100 Hz, the in-room bass response can vary as much 25 dB among the different control rooms! You needn’t look any further than here to understand why the quality and quantity of bass is so variable among the recordings in your music library.

Loudspeaker manufacturers are also trapped in the circle of confusion since music recordings are used by listening panels, audio reviewers, and consumers to ultimately judge the sound quality of the loudspeaker. The problem is that distortions in the recording cannot be easily separated from those produced by the loudspeaker. For example, a recording that is too bright can make a dull loudspeaker sound good, and an accurate loudspeaker sound too bright...Through 25+ years of well-controlled loudspeaker listening tests, scientists have identified the important loudspeaker parameters related to good sound, which can be quantified in a set of acoustical measurement...By applying some statistics to these measurements, listeners’ loudspeaker preferences can be predicted...Good bass is essential to our enjoyment of music, which unfortunately is a frequency range where loudspeakers and rooms are most variable...Controlling the behavior of loudspeakers and rooms at low frequencies is essential to achieving a more consistent quality of audio recording and reproduction. Fortunately, there are technology solutions today that provide effective control of acoustical interactions between the loudspeaker and rooms...the key in breaking the circle of confusion lies in the hands of the professional audio industry where the art is created. A meaningful standard that defined the quality and calibration of the loudspeaker and room would improve the quality and consistency of recordings. The same standard could then be applied to the playback of the recording in the consumer’s home or automobile. Finally, consumers would be able to hear the music as the artist intended.
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post #49 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 03:31 PM
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RE: your thoughts about who buys Synthesis systems. I think you are partly correct, which is a source of frustration for me. Synthesis represents what so many of us want - a finely tuned and accurate representation of what was intended by filmmakers and musicians - yet most home theater enthusiasts are not really aware of Synthesis at all. Yet many times these same enthusiasts will drop thousands and thousands of dollars on things that don't really matter - obscenely priced cables, power cords and line conditioners, for example. While a Synthesis SDEC and the accompanying calibration are not cheap, the cost can really pale in comparison to what someone can drop on the above mentioned items or on so called "high end" speakers that are really anything but! And, in the end, after calibration is done in your home (often by the same engineers who have just tuned a high end performance venue or mix stage), you have a system that is literally certified to exceed THX and SMPTE specs.
I bet that can be a real sore to the side. Especially taking it to the Nth degree like I see you do. While some judge only by $$$. Just keep up that great work your posts are extremely interesting too.
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I agree that Harmon has some "special sauce" with room EQ and total presentation that is above and beyond a speakers measurement. It requires the complete package/presentation to work. However, I think Dirac Live narrows that secret sauce of Harmon down to almost trivial differences. The secret sauce is out and is more readily accessible. Dirac Live took my room to another level far and beyond what I anticipated. My room is also heavily treated with 3rd party analysis and products. Get a speaker that measures well, treat your room, and combine it with Dirac Live and the results are going to be close. Is Harmon better? I would have to hear it to believe it but for arguments sake, I will grant that. Is the difference worth the price delta? Only the buyer can decide.
DiracLive is fantastic. Trinnov has some magic too. As you said the better the room is designed and treated before you commence EQ the better the results. Funny how good audio would be if every room was just setup properly lol.

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John,

Not that it matters too much but the graph you posted of the 708 is actually the one for the 705
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John,

Not that it matters too much but the graph you posted of the 708 is actually the one for the 705
What are you talking about? Just look at it now.


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I want to cross-post and re-post something I post in the the other M2 thread. It bolsters what John is talking about but may have made no sense without my further explaining it...

"Here's an interesting story... When Bob Hodas finished tuning my room years ago, my NS10's and ADAM S5A's sounded darn near identical. We would get confused on which set we were actually mixing on at times. The 10's were on the meter bridge, and the S5's on huge stands behind the console. So they were completely different setups in other words. You could shut your eyes and switch between them and literally lose track. When Carl Tatz did his Phantom Focus System in the same room a couple of years ago, the same thing happened, except the speakers were the S5A's and Dynaudio M1's. Once again, you could get confused about which set you were on at any given moment. This was even in spite the S5's were big ribbon drivers. When you get setup and response right in a room using good speakers, the results will often end up the same despite brand name/driver differences.... Both of these guys spent hours laser aligning things exactly right. It was very cool..."


So my point of originally posting this was to point out that measurements from the speakers themselves are only one part of the equation. The room in and of itself is really another speaker. Failure to integrate further downline pretty much renders the original lab grade measurements worthless as displayed in several of John's posts above. Does this mean original measurements aren't important? No, it simply means that a well designed speaker deserves a well designed, and properly implemented room to put them in. Then they need to be tuned and integrated to match. In the end, if done properly, those properly integrated and well designed speakers, even of different brands and/or types, will behave very similarly to each other. It blew my mind when Bob got done. We literally couldn't tell the difference at times from which set of monitors we were on. And of course our mixes ended up translating much better to the outside world (the point of doing this in the first place) which helped to break the "Circle of Confusion". Of course the mastering engineer next in line could likely butcher everything you did do to "Loudness Wars". That's why you always attend mastering sessions if at all possible.
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Really great stuff John. Real great. The kind of stuff my audio geeks sit around and ponder so to speak. Great audio is like fine dining. Most wouldn't notice or appreciate it or are educated enough to know it. A guy with the fresh caught trout diner enjoys it just as much as another guy loving his Big Mac. First gentlemen thinks of it swimming and living in a wonderful stream, and how thru all that this perfect dish is the end result after the fisher and fillet guy and chef worked in unison. The Big Mac guy liked how there was two drive thru lines Most of my non audio friends think this way. I'm wasting time and money on something silly like a stereo. Its all perspective mostly. What your doing is fantastic tho for the industry. It's the public that scares the crap out of me. Most just don't care. Not all but some
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post #55 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 05:26 PM
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I still stand by my position that EQ above the transition frequency is only a detriment to good speakers.

So I don't really get the point of ARCOS. Do you think you could get some clarification from your contacts please, John?
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Yes possibly, but what do you do if the room calls for it? I will say great EQ's applied properly will cause far less damage than one would think.
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post #57 of 3888 Old 07-15-2016, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Really great stuff John. Real great. The kind of stuff my audio geeks sit around and ponder so to speak. Great audio is like fine dining. Most wouldn't notice or appreciate it or are educated enough to know it. A guy with the fresh caught trout diner enjoys it just as much as another guy loving his Big Mac. First gentlemen thinks of it swimming and living in a wonderful stream, and how thru all that this perfect dish is the end result after the fisher and fillet guy and chef worked in unison. The Big Mac guy liked how there was two drive thru lines Most of my non audio friends think this way. I'm wasting time and money on something silly like a stereo. Its all perspective mostly. What your doing is fantastic tho for the industry. It's the public that scares the crap out of me. Most just don't care. Not all but some
Thanks for your comments, but I'm just piggybacking (and quoting) the great work done by all the fine folks at Harman - people like Drs. Toole and Olive, Kevin Voecks, Charles Sprinkel, Tim Gladwin, and others
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I still stand by my position that EQ above the transition frequency is only a detriment to good speakers.

So I don't really get the point of ARCOS. Do you think you could get some clarification from your contacts please, John?
Sure. If you want, PM me a more detailed question and I'll pass it on - I know you have a much more in depth understanding of the physics and engineering than I do, so can probably word things more precisely.

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i suppose that we are just going to have to agree to disagree.


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I am basing much of what I post upon my own conversations with JBL Pro, Synthesis and Revel engineers. A great deal of what I learned from them is: the right tool for the job. As I pointed out months back in the 708 thread, most of the Cinema models are designed for large spaces, with acoustic summing and overall accuracy being issues in smaller listening spaces. I understand that many are enjoying their 4722s and other Cinema speakers, however.

Synthesis represents adapting Pro / Cinema standards for the home, and there is a reason why actual Cinema speakers are not included in the Synthesis lineup. And there is a reason why Cinema speakers are not on the Blu-ray mastering stages, either. As I've repeated ad nauseum, over 90% of Blu-rays are mastered on a JBL Synthesis system. Speakers like the M2 and 708 are making their way into these kinds of spaces more and more, because they are designed for accuracy and near to mid field listening (just like what we do in the home).

My own home theater company has as its philosophy trying to recreate the filmmaker and sound designer's intent as closely as possible. To me, this is best accomplished by trying to replicate what was heard on the mix stage, not what was heard in the theater. Synthesis has this as its prime goal, because the filmmaker / mixer can control what goes on in the mix stage, but not what goes on once the film is dropped into the theaters.

I *kind of* agree with you about the M2s being at the top end of what many will spend, at least in regards to the typical poster here on the Forum (though there are plenty of Revel Salon2 owners, at $22K per pair). I own a set of LSR708s myself, which are very much like the M2's little brother, and about 1/3 the price. And, as mentioned, the M2 and 708 / 705 are finding their way into Synthesis systems.

As I posted at the top of this thread, "JBL Synthesis systems are designed for residential rooms—no matter how large—and are optimized for such rooms which are much smaller than the large theaters for which JBL Professional is famous." This is the actual Synthesis philosophy, not my words. And it explains why a Synthesis system is used for most Blu-ray mastering.

RE: measurements. As you can see in Harman spinorama graphs, there are many factors that can be measured that most "speaker measurement" graphs leave out, but that greatly affect sound quality (this is briefly touched on in the post you quoted). I will post a Harman Spinorama graph with a primer here momentarily, as it can really help put what matters and what doesn't into perspective.

RE: studios spending more on treatments, room design, etc. That is true to some extent, but one of the things that Harman's research has shown is that mix rooms, etc, are all over the map in terms of how flat the response is at the mix position, no matter how much effort goes into room design and treatments. Again, this is part of the Synthesis philosophy and design goal - to fix this problem, by using speakers with known high performance characteristics calibrated using ARCOS / SFM to make sure that one mix room will sound like another. This goes to Dr. Toole's famous "Audio Circle of Confusion," which I will also post about shortly.

Part of what has come out of Toole's work is that room design and treatments are only a part of the equation, and flat, even response can be achieved in even average rooms when multiple subs are used and combined with Harman's SFM technologies. Toole just wrote an article about that on Audioholics, for anyone interested:

http://www.audioholics.com/room-acou...-multi-sub-sfm

Lastly, in regard to system cost, etc, JBL Synthesis systems start at around $18K for a 5.1 system and work there way up from there (plus calibration cost, which can vary). I would say the average Synthesis system is in the $50K to $150K range, but they can top out at half a million.

Hope this helps clarify at least my own position on these things, even if it differs from your own
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Thanks for your comments, but I'm just piggybacking (and quoting) the great work done by all the fine folks at Harman - people like Drs. Toole and Olive, Kevin Voecks, Charles Sprinkel, Tim Gladwin, and others
Sure thing John no prob. Hey nothing wrong with that at. Everything is one giant continuation it seems so what a great revolutionary list of minds to learn from and mimic.

What's your thoughts on the current state of horns and where they are evolving to. Close to reaching points of diminishing returns I'd guess with all the man hours JBL/Harman has dedicated or is there still some scientific breakthroughs left? I often ponder that idea.

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