Are B&W overrated ? Overpriced? - Page 3 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #61 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 02:34 PM
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I doubt they pay BB. More like an agreement is made that they must sell at their desired MSRP. Same at other dealers although many owners have claimed to have gotten discounts at smaller shops (aka not big box stores).
I bought a full set of B&W speakers

CM10s..CM2 center..CM5's and CMsub for 65% off MSRP at Magnolia when they were closing out the S1 and moving to the S2

Magnolia..at the right time..can have some clearance that no smaller shop can match


Warren

Rm 1 LG65E7 Marantz 8802A prepro Sherbourn 5/1500A and HK PA2400 amps B&W CM10s..CM2 center...CM6's.rears
Rm 2 Sony 49x900E Denon X7200 Celestion 305 speaker system
Rm 3 Sony 55x930E Yamaha A1060 Kef 2005.2 speaker system
Rm 4 Sony 65Z9D
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post #62 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 02:42 PM
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I haven't heard many b&w models, but I can say this. I was able to listen to a pair of 800 or 802 D3's, I can't remember exactly anymore it was a couple years ago. They were connected to a pair of McIntosh monoblocks. I think the setup was in the 50k range or something. All I can say is that if I had the 50k to spend they would have been on the way home with me. They were amazing.
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post #63 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
Harman has published, peer reviewed research that shows that they can predict which speaker will win double blind listening tests with 86% accuracy just by looking at a set of graphs called the "Spinorama."
This 100x! Seems like fans of inaccurate and poorly designed speakers will always resort to "why don't you listen to them?". It's very simple, you don't have too. I've never tasted my dogs brown creations before, but I'm pretty sure that based on the ingredients, shape, smell, and production source, that it will not taste very good.

Thank heavens for Harman! Hopefully Samsung will leave them the hell alone. There's so much BS and magical fairy dust beliefs in this hobby, at least we have one massive player who actually publishes their research and designs products based on it.
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post #64 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 04:04 PM
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B&W Overrated? Not really.

B&W Overpriced? Perhaps slightly.

The New B&W 600-S2 series and the New B&W CM-S2 Series are pretty sweet speakers. I've auditioned them several times, and was impressed every time.

But we come to Suitability to Purpose and to Person.

They are only good speakers if they do what you want done and the way you want it done.

I thought 683-S2 sounded very good, a definite improvement over the previous 683, equally the new CM9-S2 and CM10-S2 were an improvement over the original, though the original sounded pretty good too.

The question isn't - Do they sound good? The question is - Do you like how they sound? And that is a very individual thing. I though the speakers sounded balance, controllled, and a bit on the mellow side, which I like. However, someone else auditioned them and though they sounded over bright. Which made no fathomable sense to me based on my own direct experience.

Also, never trust a single Audition. I've listened to speakers that were an incredible disappointment, to the point I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Upon reflections the only thing that made sense is that one of the speaker were wired backwards. I went for later auditions, and the speakers sounded fine.

In some instanced, especially if people have been auditioning on their own without the assistance of a sales-person, they might have cranked the bass or treble up, and totally skewed the sound for the next person to audition.

But in general, I found the 600/600-S2 and the CM/CM-S2 to be very impressive speakers, though a bit rich for my blood. They have managed to stay in business for decades, so they must be doing something right.

Steve/bluewizard
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post #65 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 04:21 PM
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I feel like you can beat their lower end lines for the money. However, the 800 series is a fairly good value for the performance you get compared to the other mega buck speakers out there.

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post #66 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bluewizard View Post
The question isn't - Do the sound good? The question is - Do you like how they sound? And that is a very individual thing.
The science doesn't back this up - as I mentioned in my previous post, peer reviewed, scientific data undertaken by Harman and published with the AES shows that speakers that have flat, neutral response - combined with broad, flat and even dispersion - will win double blind listening tests literally 86% of the time. That's a HUGE correlation between high accuracy in a speaker with listener preference. And these figures still hold true no matter the age, ethnicity or nationality of the listener.

http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=12847

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/0...o-product.html

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2012/0...-japanese.html

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2013/0...-of-sound.html

Of course, the 14% who don't prefer accurate sound are still out there

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post #67 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
The science doesn't back this up - as I mentioned in my previous post, peer reviewed, scientific data undertaken by Harman and published with the AES shows that speakers that have flat, neutral response - combined with broad, flat and even dispersion - will win double blind listening tests literally 86% of the time. That's a HUGE correlation between high accuracy in a speaker with listener preference. And these figures still hold true no matter the age, ethnicity or nationality of the listener.

http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=12847

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/0...o-product.html

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2012/0...-japanese.html

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2013/0...-of-sound.html

Of course, the 14% who don't prefer accurate sound are still out there
John, aren't most of the listeners in the Harmon tests done by trained or professional listeners. I do no think they allow just anyone to walk in and take the listening comparisons.

Also, I would bet that 14% is closer to the number of buyers that buy flat speakers than 86%. I would like to know how the ratio of B&W vs Harman brand owners.
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post #68 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MUDCAT45 View Post
John, aren't most of the listeners in the Harmon tests done by trained or professional listeners. I do no think they allow just anyone to walk in and take the listening comparisons.

Also, I would bet that 14% is closer to the number of buyers that buy flat speakers than 86%. I would like to know how the ratio of B&W vs Harman brand owners.
Most of the tests are done by trained listeners, but if you read the articles linked to above Harman has literally brought in busloads of kids as well as listeners from around the world for their "age" and "nationality" listening tests. They've also done tests of trained vs. untrained listeners to make sure that the trained listeners didn't have different overall results than untrained listeners. Preferences were the same with untrained vs. trained, however, trained listeners could identify more accurately what problems they were hearing ("there's a resonance right around 2 khz," for example).

I would say there are more B&W owners than Revel owners, but if you add JBL to the mix, Harman would win the numbers game. Revel just does not have the brand awareness that B&W has. Yet the Revels consistently beat them in listening tests.

Couple of great videos showing how the listening tests are done here - the first one is pretty old, back when Infinity was a major brand for Harman. The second is only a year old and you can see that one of the speakers being tested against the Revel M16 is a B&W model:


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post #69 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 05:33 PM
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I don't sell audio equipment so I have no financial stake in any of this. I'm not swayed by double blind tests, graphs, and such used to influence me or any other prospective customer. As I said before, I only purchase the things I like, not what others like. So be it.
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post #70 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 05:38 PM
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I don't sell audio equipment so I have no financial stake in any of this. I'm not swayed by double blind tests, graphs, and such used to influence me or any other prospective customer. As I said before, I only purchase the things I like, not what others like. So be it.
Now that I agree with. I purchase what I like. There's a lot of hate for the speakers I buy, but I don't care cause I love them.
I am surprised by this entire thread because I had never heard anything negative about B&W speakers before other than they are expensive but what's expensive to one is a bargain to another.

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post #71 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 05:45 PM
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Never liked the B&Ws; too cold and clinical and don't throw the soundstage I'd like, but they're great as studio monitors.

I've also not liked Revels since the original Ultima Studio and Salon; when they came out with the Salon 2/Studio 2 the speakers lost all their life and I just don't like the way they sound now.

There are way too many speakers on the market to recommend any one brand; the latest Focals sound quite nice as do the higher end Sonus Fabers.

It really is a matter of personal taste and voicing.

Somone mentioned Magnepan earlier which are excellent speakers but are definitely not for bass fans.
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post #72 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Garry R View Post
I don't sell audio equipment so I have no financial stake in any of this. I'm not swayed by double blind tests, graphs, and such used to influence me or any other prospective customer. As I said before, I only purchase the things I like, not what others like. So be it.
Sure, and that's your prerogative. But wouldn't you love to do a speaker listening test under double blind conditions, so you knew you weren't being swayed by confirmation bias, a slight difference in volume, or room placement variations? All of those things can have a massive impact on our perception of sound. I would want to know what sounds best to me after I remove all of those variables from the equation.

Let me put it another way - wouldn't you like to own a speaker that you knew had a frequency response that looked like this:



vs. one that looked like this?



I'm honestly not trying to be obnoxious or rude here, the question is an honest one. If you were choosing a amp or receiver and you had the above graphs to illustrate the frequency response, which would you choose?

There is no question that the second speaker has a huge 10 db dip between 1 and 5 khz. That's roughly analogous to putting a graphic EQ in the signal chain and creating the same curve - except that the curve is built in, and you can't change it. It will color every sound that comes out of the speaker.

One last way to look at it, from my experience mixing films and film scores. When I am choosing a reference monitor to mix on, shouldn't I pick the speaker with the flattest response to make sure I am mixing things properly? If I were to mix on speaker two, above, I would end up boosting the frequencies between 1 and 5 khz to make up for the "hole" in the speaker's frequency response. Then, when you listen to the same mix on a speaker in your home that happens to have flat response, you would have the opposite problem - now you would be listening to a recording with way too much energy between 1 and 5 khz - the energy I needed to put in to overcome the deficiencies of the speaker.

This is what is referred to in the audio mixing world as the "Audio Circle of Confusion." The reality is that we need standards for the accurate reproduction of sound, otherwise we end up with this problem:

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post #73 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Garry R View Post
I don't sell audio equipment so I have no financial stake in any of this. I'm not swayed by double blind tests, graphs, and such used to influence me or any other prospective customer. As I said before, I only purchase the things I like, not what others like. So be it.
Well, at least your avatar indicates you have more refined tastes than the typical B&W buyer...

(No financial stake either, except I'd like audio companies to not make junky product, so I have more choices about what to buy.)
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post #74 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
Sure, and that's your prerogative. But wouldn't you love to do a speaker listening test under double blind conditions, so you knew you weren't being swayed by confirmation bias, a slight difference in volume, or room placement variations? All of those things can have a massive impact on our perception of sound. I would want to know what sounds best to me after I remove all of those variables from the equation.

Let me put it another way - wouldn't you like to own a speaker that you knew had a frequency response that looked like this:



vs. one that looked like this?



I'm honestly not trying to be obnoxious or rude here, the question is an honest one. If you were choosing a amp or receiver and you had the above graphs to illustrate the frequency response, which would you choose?

There is no question that the second speaker has a huge 10 db dip between 1 and 5 khz. That's roughly analogous to putting a graphic EQ in the signal chain and creating the same curve - except that the curve is built in, and you can't change it. It will color every sound that comes out of the speaker.

One last way to look at it, from my experience mixing films and film scores. When I am choosing a reference monitor to mix on, shouldn't I pick the speaker with the flattest response to make sure I am mixing things properly? If I were to mix on speaker two, above, I would end up boosting the frequencies between 1 and 5 khz to make up for the "hole" in the speaker's frequency response. Then, when you listen to the same mix on a speaker in your home that happens to have flat response, you would have the opposite problem - now you would be listening to a recording with way too much energy between 1 and 5 khz - the energy I needed to put in to overcome the deficiencies of the speaker.

This is what is referred to in the audio mixing world as the "Audio Circle of Confusion." The reality is that we need standards for the accurate reproduction of sound, otherwise we end up with this problem:

If I owned the speakers with the hole and you also mixed with them I would end up with a flat response.

I personally own Revels. I have owned and demoed a lot of speakers. Occasionally I hear a speaker that I like. Then after a repeat listen or 2 I realize that there my first impression was not the same as later sessions. I have never thought the Revels did anything spectacular. At the same time they don't seem to do any wrong. They are one of the few speakers that I never tire of when listening. Heck, maybe they are spectacular.

Still, I am dubious about Harman winning every time in listening tests. Maybe that is to be expected in their private facility.
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post #75 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 06:33 PM
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If I owned the speakers with the hole and you also mixed with them I would end up with a flat response.
Yes, that's absolutely true! And it really emphasizes why there is a need for standardization. Accurate is accurate, just like if you are trying to reproduce the green of a golf course on your TV. You want it to match reality.

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Still, I am dubious about Harman winning every time in listening tests. Maybe that is to be expected in their private facility.
It's not a matter of winning every time. In fact, I'm sure there are times when they don't win. But that means "back to the old drawing board." Harman literally has the best equipped acoustic labs in the world. If there is an issue, they can identify it and go back and fix it. It's never claimed that they create the best sounding speaker right out of the gate. The listening lab described above (and seen in the videos) is where the speakers go to live or die. If the Revel model in question is getting bested, the design is tweaked until it does reliably beat the competition.

The thing here is that there is no "magic" involved - invariably, the reason why one speaker rates better than another can be determined by precise measurements. Once those factors are identified, revisions are made to the design.

Remember, too, that these kinds of test results are also confirmed by Canada's National Research Center, which is an independent government funded lab (that's where www.soundstage.com gets their speaker graphs, and where I grabbed the images shown above, lest I be accused of bias).
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post #76 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 06:36 PM
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Also important to point out - Harman's testing is open to peer review, in line with the spirit of pure science. The R&D department of Harman publishes their results so that all speaker manufacturers can benefit.

To be fair, Paradigm uses much of the same basic underlying research in their speaker development program.
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post #77 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 07:58 PM
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The science doesn't back this up - ...

How does what you said contradict what I said? I said in essence - You like what you like, whether right or wrong, you simply like what you like.

I'm not out to satisfy any technical specification. First very few consumer speakers are dead flat. And if it sound good to me, and that sense of good sound sustains over time, then like it or not, it does sound good ... to me.

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post #78 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 08:13 PM
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How does what you said contradict what I said? I said in essence - You like what you like, whether right or wrong, you simply like what you like.

I'm not out to satisfy any technical specification. First very few consumer speakers are dead flat. And if it sound good to me, and that sense of good sound sustains over time, then like it or not, it does sound good ... to me.

Steve/bluewizard
Fair enough. But the idea that speaker sound is purely subjective and that accuracy doesn't matter has been pretty thoroughly been proven wrong. When given a choice, people will overwhelmingly pick the more accurate speaker.

It always surprises me that people want accuracy and transparency to the source when it comes to their choice of receiver, amp, music source, wire, you name it. But then that desire for accuracy goes right out the window when picking out a speaker, when all of a sudden it's "whatever sounds good to you."

So many variables, since recordings are mixed on such a wide variety of speakers, which leads to the Circle of Confusion issues I pointed out. I can't think of any reason why a person would not want the most flattest, most accurate speakers there are, so they can hear exactly what is in the recording - nothing more, nothing less. That's the goal of the best electronics, shouldn't it be the goal of the loudspeaker as well?

I guess there are those who calibrate their flat panels and projectors to display inaccurate colors (based on preference), but I think those people would be in the minority. I think most people value accuracy above all else. And there are very accurate speakers out there at all price ranges.
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post #79 of 95 Old 05-23-2017, 11:25 PM
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Fair enough. But the idea that speaker sound is purely subjective and that accuracy doesn't matter has been pretty thoroughly been proven wrong. ...
But I never said that, what I precisely said was -

The question isn't - Do they sound good? The question is - Do you like how they sound?

The underlying point being that there a lots of speakers that generally sound good, but I don't like the sound of them.

Subjective opinion does come into play, like it or not. And there is an element of Suitability to Purpose. Likely large floorstanding Cerwin Vegas are not the right choice for a 10ft x 10ft bedroom. But they might be the right choice for a large Home Theater or Music Room.

Further, there is a personal bias the determines the speaker you like in the moment. Hard partying college kids probably want killer bass and care about little else. Most certainly in time as they get older, make more money, and gain more experience, they will eventually choose more sophisticated speakers. Someone who like Jazz probably wants a very different speaker that someone into Heavy Metal.

And my statement was relative to Bowers-Wilkins speakers. They definitely sound good, but that doesn't mean you will like them. The same is true of Monitor Audio or Wharfedale, they absolutely sound good, but that doesn't mean you will like them.

Speakers more than any component have a definite voice and tonal characteristic. I find my Wharfedale stunning for Music, but I also find them a bit recessed in the Mid for Movies. They sound good, but they many not sound good for a given specific purpose, room, and taste.

So, the underlying point is, there are lots of speakers that sound good, but what matters is whether I like how they sound and whether their sound is suited to my purpose.

For what it is worth.

Steve/bluewizard
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
Sure, and that's your prerogative. But wouldn't you love to do a speaker listening test under double blind conditions, so you knew you weren't being swayed by confirmation bias, a slight difference in volume, or room placement variations? All of those things can have a massive impact on our perception of sound. I would want to know what sounds best to me after I remove all of those variables from the equation.

Let me put it another way - wouldn't you like to own a speaker that you knew had a frequency response that looked like this:


I'm honestly not trying to be obnoxious or rude here, the question is an honest one. If you were choosing a amp or receiver and you had the above graphs to illustrate the frequency response, which would you choose?

There is no question that the second speaker has a huge 10 db dip between 1 and 5 khz. That's roughly analogous to putting a graphic EQ in the signal chain and creating the same curve - except that the curve is built in, and you can't change it. It will color every sound that comes out of the speaker.

One last way to look at it, from my experience mixing films and film scores. When I am choosing a reference monitor to mix on, shouldn't I pick the speaker with the flattest response to make sure I am mixing things properly? If I were to mix on speaker two, above, I would end up boosting the frequencies between 1 and 5 khz to make up for the "hole" in the speaker's frequency response. Then, when you listen to the same mix on a speaker in your home that happens to have flat response, you would have the opposite problem - now you would be listening to a recording with way too much energy between 1 and 5 khz - the energy I needed to put in to overcome the deficiencies of the speaker.

This is what is referred to in the audio mixing world as the "Audio Circle of Confusion." The reality is that we need standards for the accurate reproduction of sound, otherwise we end up with this problem:
I only use my ears. Its not hard to tell which one pleases me most.

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post #81 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 06:51 AM
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If you can afford any of the high-end Nautilus 800-series (with or without diamond tweeters), then B&W are not overrated. But I find them to be overpriced unless you can buy used off of eBay or other sites.

More than 15 years ago I found a local seller of a pair of N801s (the same model speakers used by Abbey Road and LucasFilm for studio mastering) and got them for 1/2 price. I still have them and absolutely love them, having filled out the rest of the system over the years with used Nautilus 800-series HTM-1 center, and N804 and SCM-1 surrounds, all in matching dark cherry with B&W's yellow mid-rage drivers. (As much as I bought these for the sound, I have to admit I also like the looks of these speakers.) When listening to stereo recordings on just the pair of N801s, the imaging is uncanny; you can easily pick out the location of every instrument.

One key to great performance with these B&Ws is using the right amps. About 10 years ago I was able to find (from multiple sellers) a pair of CinePro 3K6 SEIII Gold 6-channel amps (built when the original Cinepro was still in business) -- rated at 700 WPC into difficult B&W 4-ohm loads. Bi-amping Nautilus 800 series speakers with these amps really makes them sing.

Over the years I've had to replace one of the N801 15-inch woofer drivers, and all of the big power supply capacitors in the Cinepro amps (all electrolytic capacitors break down with old age.) But these may be the last speakers I'll ever buy for critical listening.
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post #82 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Garry R View Post
I only use my ears. Its not hard to tell which one pleases me most.
In the end, we all use our ears. But the graphs and plots are my filters. I can't audition everything. The graphs tell me what not to waste my time on.

I bought my Paradigms because of this graph. The graph matches my impressions. In fact, I liked them so much I bought another pair.

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In the end, we all use our ears. But the graphs and plots are my filters. I can't audition everything. The graphs tell me what not to waste my time on.

I bought my Paradigms because of this graph. The graph matches my impressions. In fact, I liked them so much I bought another pair.
I bought my Tannoys over the others I auditioned because I liked what I heard. Period.

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I like B&W. I hate auditioning speakers. It can be fun, but the problem I've almost always had is that the setups and rooms tend to vary so much that you really can't isolate what the speakers are doing relative to each other, and at the end still have the issue of how they will sound in your room. When I started down the audiophile path long ago I had the advantage of working for or with several high-end (and some lower-end) stores and had the opportunity to listen to some great speakers both in-store and in my own room. These days, it is much harder. Even when a dealer has several models in which I am interested, unless I am clearly (to them) ready to buy and/or looking at higher-end models, the dealers exhibit marked resistance to moving speakers around so I can hear them in the same room with the same electronics. Especially frustrating is when you have say two dealers with different ideas of what rooms should be like, how live, how treated, etc. I've listened to the same speaker at two different dealers and they sounded quite different due to the room. Blah.

By and large the electronics are close enough, but room and placement is such a huge factor in how a speaker sounds that auditioning is all too often a crapshoot. You (maybe just "I") can tell big changes and pick out things like midrange peaks and valleys, but SBIR and such that modify the in-room response make it difficult to tell which one I would really like best at home.

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post #85 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 04:57 PM
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Further, there is a personal bias the determines the speaker you like in the moment. Hard partying college kids probably want killer bass and care about little else. Most certainly in time as they get older, make more money, and gain more experience, they will eventually choose more sophisticated speakers. Someone who like Jazz probably wants a very different speaker that someone into Heavy Metal.
Respectfully, did you take a moment to read the studies I linked to? Some of them directly refute what you are saying. The scientific research shows that people prefer accurate speakers regardless of age, nationality, or music choice. Harman is now doing the same type of studies regarding headphone choice, and guess what - they are finding the same thing. Again, these are peer reviewed scientific studies, not marketing done only for the benefit of a single manufacturer. (For reference, discussion about almost all of the studies I am talking about can be found here, with the headphone research projects being discussed in the most recent posts: http://seanolive.blogspot.com/).

A cello has a certain sound, specific to the room it was recorded in and the microphone chosen. A singer's voice has a specific sound, again, relative to the microphone chosen and the room it was recorded in. When played back, all speakers will color the sound to a certain degree, but we always have the original sound of the cello or the singer as our reference point. And speakers that have the flattest response are always going to get you closest to the original sound of the performance. A speaker that measures like this:



Is always going to color the sound to a far greater degree than a speaker that measures like this:



(This time I used the Paradigm graph posted by @SmittyJS .)

Again, it's like a built in EQ you can't override. All recordings, good bad or indifferent, will have the speaker's sound curve superimposed on them.

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And my statement was relative to Bowers-Wilkins speakers. They definitely sound good, but that doesn't mean you will like them. The same is true of Monitor Audio or Wharfedale, they absolutely sound good, but that doesn't mean you will like them.
I guess I just don't understand what your reference is for "good," then. To me, the only definition of "good" that makes any sense in audio is "as close as possible to the sound of the original performance." A flat and accurate speaker like the Paradigm will get you much closer to the goal than one that colors the sound as much as the speaker in image 1.

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Speakers more than any component have a definite voice and tonal characteristic. I find my Wharfedale stunning for Music, but I also find them a bit recessed in the Mid for Movies. They sound good, but they many not sound good for a given specific purpose, room, and taste.
I guess from my perspective as a film composer that also ends up doing the final mix for just about every film I've ever worked on, the differentiation between music and movies doesn't really make any sense to me either. There is a ton of music in the vast majority of films. And the frequency range is the same whether we are talking about dialogue or vocals. An accurate speaker is an accurate speaker - it doesn't care whether you are playing back either movies or music.

(A quick aside - films mixed for theatrical release often have their final mixes done on huge soundstages the same size as a typical commercial movie theater. Sound propagates differently in large spaces than it does in smaller spaces, so often film soundtracks are remixed in smaller rooms for HT consumption. But again, the targets are the same - flat, accurate, neutral sound).

To be fair, and clear, there are some other factors that come into play. Speakers using compression drivers will tend to have greater dynamics in the higher frequencies than speakers with dome tweeters. And there are many variables here in terms of the monitoring conditions of the studio (whether or not the speakers used for monitoring were accurate, the acoustics of the mastering room itself, etc). These are all "Circle of Confusion" problems that the research I've been describing hopes to cure (now there is a subject that bears its very own AVS Discussion Topic, lol).

Anyway, I'm not trying to be confrontational, just discussing topics I am passionate about
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post #86 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 05:07 PM
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if I compare some stereo speaker graphs from stereophile mag, i can compare a few with really great/flat graphs but they all sound different and get different reviews/critiques about positioning, imaging, depth, etc...

when harmon does their testing, how do they justify all speakers were designed for the position in the room? how much toe in do they use?

just cause they put a speaker in 1 spot aimed at 0 doesnt mean thats the best spot for that design.

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post #87 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
I like B&W. I hate auditioning speakers. It can be fun, but the problem I've almost always had is that the setups and rooms tend to vary so much that you really can't isolate what the speakers are doing relative to each other, and at the end still have the issue of how they will sound in your room. When I started down the audiophile path long ago I had the advantage of working for or with several high-end (and some lower-end) stores and had the opportunity to listen to some great speakers both in-store and in my own room. These days, it is much harder. Even when a dealer has several models in which I am interested, unless I am clearly (to them) ready to buy and/or looking at higher-end models, the dealers exhibit marked resistance to moving speakers around so I can hear them in the same room with the same electronics. Especially frustrating is when you have say two dealers with different ideas of what rooms should be like, how live, how treated, etc. I've listened to the same speaker at two different dealers and they sounded quite different due to the room. Blah.

By and large the electronics are close enough, but room and placement is such a huge factor in how a speaker sounds that auditioning is all too often a crapshoot. You (maybe just "I") can tell big changes and pick out things like midrange peaks and valleys, but SBIR and such that modify the in-room response make it difficult to tell which one I would really like best at home.

FWIWFM - Don
These are all completely legitimate issues, and like you say, it's getting much harder to audition a variety of speakers live, in person. The room becomes the dominant factor below the Schroeder frequency, and some dealers do better than others in terms of either treating the room to compensate, or by properly applying room EQ. I was discussing this with Dr. Toole the other day, and his take is that above Schroeder, the direct sound still dominates and it should still be possible to judge speakers from Schroeder on up in most rooms (barring rooms that are total disasters, anyway ). However, the Harman research still shows that about 30% of our perception of how a speaker sounds is directly influenced by its bass response, which of course is the specific problem you address (as well as SBIR).

The argument that Harman and Paradigm make is that a speaker with broad and flat frequency response off axis (as well as on axis) can actually take advantage of room reflections to give you a more spacious sound (at the minimal expense of "pinpoint imaging'). A speaker that measures well on axis but poorly off axis creates reflections that compete with the direct sound, and end up doing poorly in the double blind tests. This problem used to be extremely widespread with studio monitors, and why it became absolutely critical to tame side wall reflections with the use of acoustic treatments. When you have broad, flat and even response on axis and off, room treatments become less of a necessity.
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post #88 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by torii View Post
if I compare some stereo speaker graphs from stereophile mag, i can compare a few with really great/flat graphs but they all sound different and get different reviews/critiques about positioning, imaging, depth, etc...

when harmon does their testing, how do they justify all speakers were designed for the position in the room? how much toe in do they use?

just cause they put a speaker in 1 spot aimed at 0 doesnt mean thats the best spot for that design.
They are going to sound different because of the other factors I alluded to - dispersion, directivity, and sound power. This is why the Spinorama graphs I mentioned previously are being adopted as part of CEA standard 2034. They take all of these factors into account, and tell you much more about how a speaker is actually going to sound. As I mentioned in my previous post, a speaker that measures great on axis as well as off axis is going to sound better than a speaker that measures flat on axis only. A speaker with broad and even dispersion - paired with a smooth transition between midrange and tweeter - is going to have a more congruent sound, plus will generally have a much greater sense of depth than a speaker that is "beamy" or has really poor off axis response.

I've probably made this more confusing by not putting the measurements I've posted into perspective. The simple frequency response graphs I've posted are useful to show whether or not the speaker is acting like a giant graphic equalizer, but they are not going to tell you how well they do off axis as well as with directivity issues. That's part of why CEA2034 takes all of these factors into account.

Here is a Spinorama graph of the Revel F208:



And here is a primer that tells you how to read that graph, and what the measurements mean (if all speaker manufacturers used a similar system, you would be able to tell much more about how a speaker will actually sound - hence CEA2034):

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.
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post #89 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by torii View Post
if I compare some stereo speaker graphs from stereophile mag, i can compare a few with really great/flat graphs but they all sound different and get different reviews/critiques about positioning, imaging, depth, etc...

when harmon does their testing, how do they justify all speakers were designed for the position in the room? how much toe in do they use?

just cause they put a speaker in 1 spot aimed at 0 doesnt mean thats the best spot for that design.
To directly answer your questions:

They don't use toe-in. Most of the time speakers are tested singly, in mono. Originally tests were done in stereo (and they still occasionally are), but they found over the years that mono tests were much more reliable in revealing specific issues with speakers and speaker drivers. This was compared to stereo testing to see if the preference results were the same, and they are. Dr. Toole discusses this in depth in this video (well worth watching, btw - Dr. Toole has probably done more speaker testing than anyone else on the planet):


He gets into much more detail about all the topics I have been discussing, including the results of the specific studies he did at the Canadian NRC as well as at Harman.

It is possible that a speaker's strengths or weaknesses can be either complimented or exacerbated by room placement. If a speaker already has too much emphasis on a certain part of the audio spectrum and the room reinforces that, it's going to sound even worse. Conversely, if a speaker has a big dip in response, say, around 200 hz but the room boosts that frequency, then you have one problem correcting another

Again, the argument for having the most accurate speaker still stands, as otherwise you would spend almost an eternity trying to find the speaker that's weaknesses are counteracted by those of your room. IMO, it makes more sense to start out with an accurate speaker and then treat the room's problems with treatments or EQ (or a combination of both). Of course, this is not always possible, but nor is it possible to audition every speaker in the world in your own home. The chances of getting a good match - and good sound - are greatly increased by starting out with a speaker that objectively measures well to begin with.

Hope this makes sense...
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post #90 of 95 Old 05-24-2017, 06:02 PM
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it makes sense, but when I auditioned speakers at local dealer, it was clear the speakers in my price range were very different all running off same equipment.

after i made my choice...and reading these forums, and learning still...I just dont have the same opinion that measurements equal best sound. but i wont argue that usually they all sound great.

my ears/brain just must be different...and I am not talking about my speakers per se, I loved alot of more expensive speakers systems from different brands.

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