How to Choose a Loudspeaker -- What the Science Shows - Page 102 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #3031 of 3761 Old 06-23-2019, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by aats View Post
That can possibly only work for systems with the same lf extension, doesn't it?
I don't think it's necessary for the speakers to have the same extension, is it?

In my case, I test for midbass, midrange, and treble quality, because I'm using subs anyway. I try not to let a speaker's LF extension affect what I think of the speaker because when it's good, it can make you forgive other issues. Then you cut the bass by turning on your crossover and realize how bad the speaker really is.

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post #3032 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aats View Post
That can possibly only work for systems with the same lf extension, doesn't it?
I don't think it's necessary for the speakers to have the same extension, is it?

In my case, I test for midbass, midrange, and treble quality, because I'm using subs anyway. I try not to let a speaker's LF extension affect what I think of the speaker because when it's good, it can make you forgive other issues. Then you cut the bass by turning on your crossover and realize how bad the speaker really is.
So what bandwidth your pink noise would be then?
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post #3033 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 03:22 PM
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A question for those who insist on level matched, blind, quick A/B switching to select speakers: Where do you go to do this? I've seen speaker switcher setups before, but only in big box retailers. And those setups weren't level matched, and the speakers weren't properly placed. They were usually all against the wall, next to each other, in a noisy environment.

I've done level matched speaker comparisons at high end dealers before, but speaker switching requires a pause to power off the amplifier, disconnect & move the speakers, place other speakers in their place, reconnect and power back on. That's been OK with me. A bigger issue is that one dealer will have one speaker I'm interested in, while another dealer on the other side of the city will have another speaker I'm interested in, and so on. So even trying to hear them all in one day is a logistical challenge.

Home auditions are an obvious solution, but while a lot of dealers have been willing to let me borrow electronics for a home audition, I haven't had such luck with loudspeakers.

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post #3034 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Red MC View Post
A question for those who insist on level matched, blind, quick A/B switching to select speakers: Where do you go to do this? I've seen speaker switcher setups before, but only in big box retailers. And those setups weren't level matched, and the speakers weren't properly placed. They were usually all against the wall, next to each other, in a noisy environment.

I've done level matched speaker comparisons at high end dealers before, but speaker switching requires a pause to power off the amplifier, disconnect & move the speakers, place other speakers in their place, reconnect and power back on. That's been OK with me. A bigger issue is that one dealer will have one speaker I'm interested in, while another dealer on the other side of the city will have another speaker I'm interested in, and so on. So even trying to hear them all in one day is a logistical challenge.

Home auditions are an obvious solution, but while a lot of dealers have been willing to let me borrow electronics for a home audition, I haven't had such luck with loudspeakers.
IMO, having one amplifier connected to both speaker A and speaker B is better than disconnecting things.

Also, don't fall for dealer tricks like "make sure you spend a lot of time with one speaker, and have only one speaker in the room at at time". This prevents you from easily A/B'ing speakers and hopes you'll form some kind of connection to their model that may not be based on the sound differences that you would have otherwise heard.

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post #3035 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
If you can do it properly, that is, switch from Speaker A to Speaker B while a musical passage is playing, it's easy to hear the tonality change. You do not need to be blind to do this.

If you are at a point where two different speakers sound the same unless and until you blind yourself, then pick the one that's cheaper or better looking to the spousal unit. It's obviously not going to be about sound differences (miniscule, if any) at that point.
The issue with throwing the A/B switch yourself is that you know which speakers are playing at any given time. It's been demonstrated in a controlled environment that people can fool themselves into believing they prefer the sound of the speaker they think they ought to prefer. Letting someone else control the A/B switch and having a setup where you can't know which speaker is playing at any given time takes preconceptions and biases out of the equation. The element of thinking we hear what we think we ought to hear shouldn't be underestimated.
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post #3036 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 04:30 PM
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The issue with throwing the A/B switch yourself is that you know which speakers are playing at any given time. It's been demonstrated in a controlled environment that people can fool themselves into believing they prefer the sound of the speaker they think they ought to prefer. Letting someone else control the A/B switch and having a setup where you can't know which speaker is playing at any given time takes preconceptions and biases out of the equation. The element of thinking we hear what we think we ought to hear shouldn't be underestimated.
I have no problem with letting someone else press the button.

But that doesn't change the fact that, if there are only 2 speakers and 2 buttons, you will always know which speaker is playing because they will alternate.

You would need a third. And, make the switch choose one of the three at random so you can do it yourself. Now we're getting somewhere!

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post #3037 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
I have no problem with letting someone else press the button.

But that doesn't change the fact that, if there are only 2 speakers and 2 buttons, you will always know which speaker is playing because they will alternate.

You would need a third. And, make the switch choose one of the three at random so you can do it yourself. Now we're getting somewhere!
If someone else pushes the button and you can't see which button is being pushed you will always know that one of the two speakers is playing but not which one is playing at any given time. You could push the button yourself and not know which of the two speakers is playing at any given time if someone else did the setup and you were not informed as to which speaker was connected to A and which to B. If you do the setup yourself and you know which speaker is connected to A and B and you do the switching from A to B you certainly ought to know which speaker is playing unless you happen to have very poor memory. Of course you could always do the setup yourself, hold the switch behind your back so you couldn't see the A/B markings and achieve the same results as having someone else do the setup and/or throw the switch. All the last option requires is that you aren't a cheater.
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post #3038 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 05:27 PM
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I've always preferred to see the speakers and go back and forth replaying the same track. I want to hear the differences, make notes and then analyze the data.
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post #3039 of 3761 Old 06-24-2019, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red MC View Post
A question for those who insist on level matched, blind, quick A/B switching to select speakers: Where do you go to do this? I've seen speaker switcher setups before, but only in big box retailers. And those setups weren't level matched, and the speakers weren't properly placed. They were usually all against the wall, next to each other, in a noisy environment.
This would be a great opportunity for Home audio dealers to step up and offer blind auditions, many of them don't believe in it though so good luck, it would be nice if Revel dealers let you bring your speakers in to blind test against theirs though.

Anyway, what I do now is at home, I'll order a speaker that I've been curious about and then measure it to compare with my own and estimate how much of a cut 1 needs to be balanced. Then I use a MiniDsp, but any A/B switcher would be fine, to have someone switch back and forth without me knowing which one we started with. Last time I used about 6 songs that I'm very familiar with and that had a variety of male and female vocals and instruments. All I knew was which side I preferred until the blindfold came off. You just need 1 other person in order to do this type of blind test and I would think in your home with your electronics would be the best way to do it. Some dealers will let you bring home a speaker to audition and if not Crutchfield has a very good return policy.
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post #3040 of 3761 Old 06-25-2019, 08:44 AM
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In the past, I have taken speakers to dealers for auditions, but they were small stand mounted speakers that were easy to box up and throw in my car. It's more of a pain with floorstanders or stand mounted speakers with integral stands. Likewise, I did have one dealer willing to let me take home a pair of stand mounted speakers for the weekend. But I'm not a big enough spender for them to come to my house and set up equipment for an audition.

In addition to the fact that dealers are not set up for blind comparison testing, another limitation is that you can't place two pairs of speakers in the same spot. In setups like this:

AB..........BA

I usually have a preference for A because of the larger soundstage presentation from the speakers placed further apart. The following placement seems fairer:

AB..........AB

But then you need to move yourself when switching in order to remain centered between the speakers that are playing.

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post #3041 of 3761 Old 06-25-2019, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Red MC View Post

Home auditions are an obvious solution, but while a lot of dealers have been willing to let me borrow electronics for a home audition, I haven't had such luck with loudspeakers.
Crutchfield will, ($10/box for stand mount speakers, $75/pair for towers), and the give you 60 days.

Some great brands and at least two that subscribe to the philosophy expressed in this thread; PSB and Revel.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #3042 of 3761 Old 06-25-2019, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Floyd Toole View Post
As requested: the JBL Arena 120
Now posted in a more prominent, permanent place and also scaled to be directly comparable to many other Spinoramas: https://speakerdata2034.blogspot.com...rama-data.html
Any comments or corrections are welcome!
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post #3043 of 3761 Old 06-25-2019, 04:00 PM
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Some thoughts on listening tests

Doing a test blind, or double-blind, is essential. But the test method matters greatly to what the test can reveal.

Listening to a single loudspeaker - the single stimulus method - is not very useful as it relies heavily on our poor auditory memory. Only if the speaker has an obvious flaw, like a howling resonance, is it likely to stand out. Listening to different speakers in different rooms is almost useless. Speakers with minor flaws, especially those associated with spectral balance or uniformity (on or off axis) can be adapted to - the human "breaks in". Prolonged listening to a wide variety of material is useful.

An A vs. B test is excellent at revealing differences - remember to balance A to B and B to A sequences. Problems shared by both speakers may go unnoticed, though.

Multiple comparisons of three or four loudspeakers are best, and of course, the most difficult to organize. It is good that mono listening is the most revealing listening format . Why? Because what listeners are required to do in a test is to:
1. separate the sound of the speaker from that of the room - which is why we do all tests in the same room, using positional substitution or at least close spacing to minimize room interaction variations, especially in the bass.
2. separate the sound of the program from that of the speaker and the room.

Having multiple loudspeakers makes all of this very much easier. It is quickly obvious how timbre is modified by each of the speakers, and having varied programs will reveal different kinds of defects. The most obvious problems are associated with resonances and the associated spectral irregularities. Inconsistent off axis performance is likely the second most common issue.

Low-frequency extension is a significant factor, as bass contributes about 30% of the factor weighting in an overall sound quality evaluation. Other things being equal the speaker with the lowest bass will have an advantage.

Equal loudness presentations are the goal, but with the differences in frequency response it may not be possible to achieve perfectly. The good news is that resonances, the most common flaws, are not very sensitive to playback level. Spectral balance is more sensitive because of the equal loudness contours (a.k.a Fletcher/Munson curves). But this is also an issue in program - the circle of confusion - which is why varied program sources are needed. Solo voices and musical instruments are good for demos, but not very revealing in listening tests. Don't get hung up on your favorite recording.

Good luck.
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post #3044 of 3761 Old 06-25-2019, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Floyd Toole View Post
Doing a test blind, or double-blind, is essential. But the test method matters greatly to what the test can reveal.

Listening to a single loudspeaker - the single stimulus method - is not very useful as it relies heavily on our poor auditory memory. Only if the speaker has an obvious flaw, like a howling resonance, is it likely to stand out. Listening to different speakers in different rooms is almost useless. Speakers with minor flaws, especially those associated with spectral balance or uniformity (on or off axis) can be adapted to - the human "breaks in". Prolonged listening to a wide variety of material is useful.
Thanks Dr. Toole, as always, for passing along your experience with us.

My experience has been that very good loudspeakers, but with minor flaws, take me many months of listening to a wide range of material for the flaws to become apparent. But I have not "broken in" to these loudspeakers. Instead, once I identified a flaw after extended listening I could not seem to "unhear it". It seemed to actually grow in prominence until I could identify it in more and more program material. Then the speaker hunt would begin again .

But an A/B with truly neutral speaker reveals those flaws in spades in seconds. Take that same flawed speaker in isolation, even 10 minutes later, and it would sound very good again without the foil of the better speaker. Pretty amazing. Audio memory pretty much sucks .
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post #3045 of 3761 Old 06-26-2019, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SDX-LV View Post
Now posted in a more prominent, permanent place and also scaled to be directly comparable to many other Spinoramas: https://speakerdata2034.blogspot.com...rama-data.html
Any comments or corrections are welcome!
These have been known to go on sale for $50 a pair but it seems black friday or refurb would normally get them to the $100/pair range. Same speaker w/different grill is designated B15. I've not had any issues with 4 of them as atmos heights blending with 705Ps as beds. Combine 6 pairs of these with 2 550P's that normally go on sale for $200 per and it'd be a very interesting $1k 7.2.4 speaker setup for small-medium rooms.
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post #3046 of 3761 Old 06-26-2019, 07:08 AM
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Thanks SDX-LV , This is a very useful resource. Fortunately I had eventually found most of these through my own searches .
I don't believe it should be up to some interested person to search for this data but that it should be provided by manufacturers at least via their web sites as KEF now are doing with their newish R series.

When a company like Revel or JBL who say spinoramas are critical in confirming the quality of a loudspeaker release a new speaker spinorama data should be made immediately and easily available.
When this doesnt happen I am left to wonder whether or not they are really serious about their stated beliefs .

It appears that the F208 is incorrectly labeled an F206. Also, the F208 is an earlier version but it may be better to just treat is as a different model since the F228be does not replace the F208.


https://speakerdata2034.blogspot.com...evel-home.html


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post #3047 of 3761 Old 06-26-2019, 07:26 AM
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These have been known to go on sale for $50 a pair but it seems black friday or refurb would normally get them to the $100/pair range. Same speaker w/different grill is designated B15. I've not had any issues with 4 of them as atmos heights blending with 705Ps as beds. Combine 6 pairs of these with 2 550P's that normally go on sale for $200 per and it'd be a very interesting $1k 7.2.4 speaker setup for small-medium rooms.
They do look like decent surround speakers, though I worry about the DI increase and the dips in the HF. They might not sound as spacious as other speakers, sending less HF sound to your walls. Small rooms tend to need help in that area.

Also, I am unable to find the Stage speakers that supposedly replaced them on their website. The Stage series takes me to car audio?

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post #3048 of 3761 Old 06-26-2019, 10:38 AM
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Also, I am unable to find the Stage speakers that supposedly replaced them on their website. The Stage series takes me to car audio?
That is the crazy nature of Harman consumer hi-fi products - they seems to be sold sporadically around the world and often only a few models from a series are still available... I found Stage series on the USA website: https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STAGE+A170.html and https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STAGE+A130.html
If you look at the tweeter waveguides for different cheap JBLs - they are all different, and the woofers seem to be different as well, so only JBL people know how good are those different models.

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It appears that the F208 is incorrectly labeled an F206. Also, the F208 is an earlier version but it may be better to just treat is as a different model since the F228be does not replace the F208.

https://speakerdata2034.blogspot.com...evel-home.html

- Rich
Thanks, I think it is now fixed.
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post #3049 of 3761 Old 06-26-2019, 01:25 PM
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That is the crazy nature of Harman consumer hi-fi products - they seems to be sold sporadically around the world and often only a few models from a series are still available... I found Stage series on the USA website: https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STAGE+A170.html and https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STAGE+A130.html
If you look at the tweeter waveguides for different cheap JBLs - they are all different, and the woofers seem to be different as well, so only JBL people know how good are those different models.
So what is the point of the change? Seems like a meaningless expenditure of R&D.

Also, I'm confused - that link doesn't take me to a sealed, wall-mountable surround?

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post #3050 of 3761 Old 06-26-2019, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by SDX-LV View Post
That is the crazy nature of Harman consumer hi-fi products - they seems to be sold sporadically around the world and often only a few models from a series are still available... I found Stage series on the USA website: https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STAGE+A170.html and https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STAGE+A130.html

If you look at the tweeter waveguides for different cheap JBLs - they are all different, and the woofers seem to be different as well, so only JBL people know how good are those different models.





Thanks, I think it is now fixed.
I am confused. The listing for A170 says that it has powered subwoofer. See the screenshot below. But the specs don't mention anything about it having a powered subwoofer. What gives? If I didn't know any better, I would say it is a pure case of lying. But maybe I am not reading it right.
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post #3051 of 3761 Old 06-26-2019, 01:40 PM
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I am confused. The listing for A170 says that it has powered subwoofer. See the screenshot below. But the specs don't mention anything about it having a powered subwoofer. What gives? If I didn't know any better, I would say it is a pure case of lying. But maybe I am not reading it right.
Lying is a bit strong. A mistake. Someone screwed up the layout of the page, and put the powered subwoofer image there instead of whatever is actually supposed to be there. The image is on two other speakers(at least) one of which is a bookshelf. Someone must have switched images somehow, and the website guy just put up what he was given, probably.
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post #3052 of 3761 Old 06-29-2019, 11:19 AM
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An A vs. B test is excellent at revealing differences - remember to balance A to B and B to A sequences. Problems shared by both speakers may go unnoticed, though.
Maybe slightly off topic but a question for you.

What is your experience with speaker age and effect on performance?

Perhaps you have measured a speaker when it was new and then decades later.

There are some that believe that a 15 year old speaker, even one not exposed to temperature extremes or jostling effects and whatnot, has deteriorated enough to degrade the sound.

My personal experience comparing a quality speaker that I bought 25 years ago to a modern quality speaker that has measured well were that, to my ear, in an A/B situation, sounded equally good in frequency response and "punch."

Is that possible in your experience or am I fooling myself?

Thanks.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #3053 of 3761 Old 06-29-2019, 12:11 PM
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Maybe slightly off topic but a question for you.

What is your experience with speaker age and effect on performance?

Perhaps you have measured a speaker when it was new and then decades later.

There are some that believe that a 15 year old speaker, even one not exposed to temperature extremes or jostling effects and whatnot, has deteriorated enough to degrade the sound.

My personal experience comparing a quality speaker that I bought 25 years ago to a modern quality speaker that has measured well were that, to my ear, in an A/B situation, sounded equally good in frequency response and "punch."

Is that possible in your experience or am I fooling myself?

Thanks.
I can provide this link to a recent discussion about measurements done on the same speaker 20 years apart, but keep in mind that measurement conditions may be slightly different so you can only conclude so much.

A better test would be to compare T/S properties of the drivers when new and at 5-year intervals using the same equipment.

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post #3054 of 3761 Old 06-29-2019, 12:19 PM
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This would be a great opportunity for Home audio dealers to step up and offer blind auditions, many of them don't believe in it though so good luck, it would be nice if Revel dealers let you bring your speakers in to blind test against theirs though.

Anyway, what I do now is at home, I'll order a speaker that I've been curious about and then measure it to compare with my own and estimate how much of a cut 1 needs to be balanced. Then I use a MiniDsp, but any A/B switcher would be fine, to have someone switch back and forth without me knowing which one we started with. Last time I used about 6 songs that I'm very familiar with and that had a variety of male and female vocals and instruments. All I knew was which side I preferred until the blindfold came off. You just need 1 other person in order to do this type of blind test and I would think in your home with your electronics would be the best way to do it. Some dealers will let you bring home a speaker to audition and if not Crutchfield has a very good return policy.
You could use a switchbot on the speaker selector switch. Of course someone else would have to hook the speaker wire up to the selector switch so you don't know which switchbot is for which speaker lol.

https://www.switch-bot.com/

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post #3055 of 3761 Old 06-29-2019, 12:31 PM
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...
In this thread, we will publish the results of these measurements. In addition, we will discuss their correlation to double-blind listening tests, http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2008/1...udspeaker.html as well as publishing the results of formal listening tests, when available. We will add measurement results as they become available. ...
Thank you so much for all your work/contributions to the field. I have been eagerly following this "Harman research" as best I can for a couple years now. It's the reason I bought my current living room speakers--a pair of Infinity Reference R253s--with the assumption that they were designed according to this research.

Can I ask that you post the spin-o-rama plot for the Infinity R253, and also the R162 (since I'm considering buying a pair and using them as computer speakers).

I assume you have these plots on file as they are Harman speakers. Much appreciated!
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post #3056 of 3761 Old 06-29-2019, 12:47 PM
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I can provide this link to a recent discussion about measurements done on the same speaker 20 years apart, but keep in mind that measurement conditions may be slightly different so you can only conclude so much.

A better test would be to compare T/S properties of the drivers when new and at 5-year intervals using the same equipment.
Thanks.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #3057 of 3761 Old 06-29-2019, 08:04 PM
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This is an excellent thread (although with a large number of nugatory posts). My hat is off to Floyd Toole who deserves many thanks for his effort and patience in "re-explaining" the science. His book, along with his well-known AES articles, have been an excellent resource for me and countless others.

Some years ago I attended a lecture by Sean Olive in Los Angeles who summarized the same research. Perhaps the most memorable aspect of his presentation was data from some impressively bad-but-expensive commercial products. It is my impression that "most" competent designers recognize and accept the Toole-Olive correlations between smooth radiation patterns and subjective preference. Among competent DIY forum designers, for example, you will mostly see differences of opinion about filter orders, filter crossover frequency, phase tracking, time alignment, and some subtle tuning descisions (for example, how strongly should the power response tilt downward). You won't see disagreement about the necessity of a smooth off-axis response.

By now, we know that some very expensive loudspeakers are flawed according to the Toole-Olive metrics. If you posted the design data (raw SPL, transfer functions, crossover topology, etc) from some of these lesser-quality but expensive commercial products on a forum like diyaudio, the experts there would be very critical/dismissive. So, one might then ask why some companies release "crazy" speakers (say, a 2-way with an 8-inch woofer or something with 16 tweeters). At least part of the answer is offering the allure of something different and magical.
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post #3058 of 3761 Old 06-29-2019, 11:20 PM
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Maybe slightly off topic but a question for you.



What is your experience with speaker age and effect on performance?



Perhaps you have measured a speaker when it was new and then decades later.



There are some that believe that a 15 year old speaker, even one not exposed to temperature extremes or jostling effects and whatnot, has deteriorated enough to degrade the sound.



My personal experience comparing a quality speaker that I bought 25 years ago to a modern quality speaker that has measured well were that, to my ear, in an A/B situation, sounded equally good in frequency response and "punch."



Is that possible in your experience or am I fooling myself?



Thanks.
Dr. Toole will provide a better answer but based on my experience, most drivers dry out the oil that is between coil and the magnet in 20 years. It is very difficult to get the right kind of oil and then put it in the driver (at least for me).

That must change the sound profile.
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post #3059 of 3761 Old 06-30-2019, 03:50 AM
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gajCA,

Perhaps I can give you a partial answer. The National Research Council in Ottawa has up until recently still used a PSB Avante from the late 70's as a reference standard, often included in double-blind screen listening tests. It was good then. It is still is, though often bettered by more recent designs.
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post #3060 of 3761 Old 06-30-2019, 04:09 AM
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So, one might then ask why some companies release "crazy" speakers (say, a 2-way with an 8-inch woofer or something with 16 tweeters). At least part of the answer is offering the allure of something different and magical.
Would you car to elaborate on this point? I haven't seen the consensus that this would be a poor design choice.
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