How to Choose a Loudspeaker -- What the Science Shows - Page 19 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #541 of 5319 Old 01-09-2019, 08:25 PM
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Thank you Floyd Toole for creating this thread! This thread has got to be 1 of the best audio conversations I have read on the net.
I agree! Fantastic read.
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post #542 of 5319 Old 01-09-2019, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by BP1Fanatic View Post
Thank you Floyd Toole for creating this thread! This thread is 1 of the best audio conversations I have read on the net.
avkv is Dr Toole?
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post #543 of 5319 Old 01-09-2019, 09:18 PM
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post #544 of 5319 Old 01-09-2019, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf7002 View Post

Throughout the years, I've always heard people refer to some speakers as being more revealing, with comments on how much a speaker is able to resolve inner detail. What makes a speaker more revealing than another, and does that show up in the measurements? I've always wondered what I'm supposedly missing out on.
I'm usually skeptical about comments like that unless they've left no doubt their basis for comparison is valid. Things like: Are they actually listening to the same recording played on the same or similar system (except speakers of course) in the same room with no variations in background noise, one right after the other?

Fairly tall order to check all of those boxes when a reviewer makes a statement like that. If it's not the same recording then one recording may be noisier or have more distortion than the other. Let's say we heard one speaker system in a soundproof HT and the other at an audio show, and the one we heard in the custom theater seems to have better "inner detail." Shocking!

Once you remove all those variables it comes down to the things Floyd mentioned....though I suppose it may not matter under what conditions you listen to a system with horrible resonances.
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post #545 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 04:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BP1Fanatic View Post
Thank you Floyd Toole for creating this thread! This thread is 1 of the best audio conversations I have read on the net.
Actually, Kevin Voecks started this thread. He has been extremely busy working to post more information here, I know he intends to keep adding to it when his time permits.

So, we thank Kevin, and of course we thank Dr. Toole for his valuable contributions in every thread he visits to answer our questions and his efforts to help educate us!
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post #546 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by chikoo View Post
avkv is Dr Toole?

No, it's Kevin Voecks
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post #547 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 04:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Rex Anderson View Post
Actually, Kevin Voecks started this thread. He has been extremely busy working to post more information here, I know he intends to keep adding to it when his time permits.

So, we thank Kevin, and of course we thank Dr. Toole for his valuable contributions in every thread he visits to answer our questions and his efforts to help educate us!
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No, it's Kevin Voecks
Hey, you guys agree on something!
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post #548 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 05:28 AM
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Hey, you guys agree on something!

Yesh, funny, it's looks like we were responding at the same time. I'm on the road using this miserable laptop and didn't see his response, but also true, that we were bound to agree on something eventually.
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post #549 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Floyd Toole View Post
The results of the usual sighted - i.e. biased - subjective evaluations lacking the ability to do level matched blind comparisons are open to serious criticism. But trust what you want - it is a free world.
As Gordon Holt said a long time ago: "As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me"

Unfortunately, that will never happen. The current Stereophile and TAS would fold and so many snake oil products would disappear!!
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post #550 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 05:57 AM
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@Floyd Toole - Do you remember the JBL XPL-200? It was in production between 1989-1992,placing it in production at the beginning of your tenure at HARMAN. I am curious if they were ever measured and how they compare to modern offerings. I have a pair, but they are 1,400 miles away in storage with family. I have considered planning a trip to pick them up to restore them, but I honestly don't remember what they sound like after all these years other than remembering I really liked them. I don't want to waste time, money, and effort if it was a poor performing speaker falling victim to the "fog of time" and nostalgia. However, if it is a timeless gem as many say, I will take on the project. Any information you can share or recall would be much appreciated.
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post #551 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by audioguy View Post
As Gordon Holt said a long time ago: "As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me"

Unfortunately, that will never happen. The current Stereophile and TAS would fold and so many snake oil products would disappear!!

Nope, it won't, not as long as I'm still on this planet. However, I think you might be confusing truly snake oil products with those of serious folks such as some of the serious amp/preamp, turntable/cart, etc., manufactures
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post #552 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Rex Anderson View Post
Actually, Kevin Voecks started this thread. He has been extremely busy working to post more information here, I know he intends to keep adding to it when his time permits.

So, we thank Kevin, and of course we thank Dr. Toole for his valuable contributions in every thread he visits to answer our questions and his efforts to help educate us!
My fault! After reading so many post and the way Floyd Toole took ownership of the responses, it seemed like he was the original poster.

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post #553 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
Nope, it won't, not as long as I'm still on this planet. However, I think you might be confusing truly snake oil products with those of serious folks such as some of the serious amp/preamp, turntable/cart, etc., manufactures
I believe ALL product testing should be done blind. I went through a reasonably rigorous blind testing procedure to hear (or not hear) the actual sound differences between a $25K surround processor and a $2500 processor. EVERYONE is subject to "expectation bias" and the only way to eliminate that is listening blind.

What I was trying to suggest with my snake oil reference, is that those products are just that and blind testing would eliminate them from the market place.

Actually, now that I think about it, that would not eliminate them. I am aware of someone who went on (on line) about how a specific product was better than another product. Finally succumbed and did the blind test and FAILED. So he now refuses to do blind testing and still believes what his ears tell him. His money and his hobby so he gets to do what he wants to do.
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post #554 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 08:09 AM
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But my question is about intermodulation distortion. Have you performed any tests showing that the intermodulation distortion on the current crop of KEF speakers (or earlier ones with similar drivers and crossover regions) is audible to such an extent that it compromises the accuracy of the speakers? Most of these speakers cross over between the woofer and midrange at about 400 Hz. I understand and agree with your conclusion that the spinorama measurements correlate well with listening tests. Have you performed listening tests that show a similar relationship between listener preference and intermodulation distortion?
IMO there's some weird but apparently long-standing institutional bias going on at Harman against concentric drivers. I speculate, but maybe this unwarranted bias stems from ALTEC having the niche as the American coaxial speaker company with their (not very good) 604 coax, or because the Urei “monitors” Harman finally killed off genuinely sounded bad?

At all but one of Andrew Jones' stops - KEF, Pioneer/TAD, ELAC - he introduced new and innovative concentric drivers. Two very different ones (IRIS and CST) at Pioneer/TAD. The one exception: Infinity!

It's their one blind spot, and an unfortunate one because it slightly undermines the wonderful and beneficial work they’ve done and shared.


The "air" stuff is also a little disingenuous, because air in the treble depends on the dispersion of the waveguide, which to large extent boils down to the depth of the waveguide. That waveguide can be a midrange cone or a fixed piece. Some concentric drivers, such as the TAD units, have quite shallow midrange cones. Also, as Dr. Toole points out in his excellent book, different listeners have different preferences as to directivity. Dr. Earl Geddes asserts that some of it is based on program preferences: wider dispersion for people who judge speakers based on orchestral or chamber music, narrower for studio work. I do not know of support for that theory in the literature though.

IMD - sure, I guess, in a small coax asked to play too low too loudly. Here is a great article with demo recordings comparing a JBL cinema setup with little KEF LS50s, with and without subwoofers on the LS50s. I've personally tried to listen for it in speakers based on concentrics from KEF, Tannoy, TAD, Elac, and Pioneer. I’ve never really managed to hear it.

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post #555 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by audioguy View Post
.

Actually, now that I think about it, that would not eliminate them. I am aware of someone who went on (on line) about how a specific product was better than another product. Finally succumbed and did the blind test and FAILED. So he now refuses to do blind testing and still believes what his ears tell him. His money and his hobby so he gets to do what he wants to do.

I've seen that many times. It's particularly common among subjectivist reviewers who have done blind tests. For instance, Stereophile's Jason Serinus took part in a blind test many years ago:



https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_1...s-12-2004.html


The lesson of that blind test didn't stick and he (like many reviewers) go for all the tweaky psuedo-science stuff in their set ups. You'll see the typical squishy-thinking looking for a space in the "unexplained" in which to justify belief in tweaks. And he writes "I feel no need to defend my perceptions,."


Most people just don't have a scientific mindset - either by lack of education in that form of thinking, or perhaps just constitutionally. It makes sense to some degree because our subjectivity, understanding the world as we seem to perceive it, is how we go through life. To have confidence in one's own perception and subjective experience challenged is too disorientating for many people and they are inclined against it. When I bring up the problem of sighted bias I hear from many audiophiles "Look, I've got along very well with my senses leading the way through my life. Who are YOU to tell me I can't rely on them??!!"


Where some of us truly enjoy learning about how and why we are wrong about things. I love learning about how the human mind works, including biases. It's just as exhilarating to find out via blind testing I'd misperceived a phenomenon as not, since in either case I'm learning something new about reality.
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post #556 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 08:47 AM
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From above: And he writes "I feel no need to defend my perceptions,."

This kind of person sometimes responds to the McGurk Effect (search for the Youtube video). I fail this test every time I watch it. I've never met someone that has watched this and gotten it right. IMO it's a good reason to question your perceptions.

EDIT: Here's a link.

Just one more upgrade and things will be perfect.

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post #557 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 09:07 AM
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From above: And he writes "I feel no need to defend my perceptions,."

This kind of person sometimes responds to the McGurk Effect (search for the Youtube video). I fail this test every time I watch it. I've never met someone that has watched this and gotten it right. IMO it's a good reason to question your perceptions.

Yes, I'm familiar with that effect and, interestingly, I experienced something yesterday that put me in the mind of the McGurk Effect (though it was not strictly a case of that effect).



I was watching a youtube video someone posted here of someone playing a Strat guitar, acoustically. Something that jumped out at me was how "realistic" the sound was. And this was through the basic speakers on my iMac 5k desktop computer. It just seemed to have a sort of clarity and accuracy to the sound of an electric guitar (unplugged) in a way that seemed to often evade what I hear through many sound systems. I first wondered if it could be the simplicity of the micing - a single guitar in front of a mic. Without other instruments competing in the mix, maybe it was just easier for the complexity of the guitar to be captured.


But then...I closed my eyes to listen. Almost immediately that puzzling sense of realistic sound quality vanished and if I just examined the sound quality it sounded just like what it was...a low quality sound through computer speakers, nothing at all impressive. Upon opening my eyes and seeing the close up of the guitar while it was being played, the sound snapped back in to seeming to be more impressive again! There was something about how the picture was influencing my perception, mapping the sound on to an actual guitar playing, the made my mind just accept "that's accurate."


It was an interesting little moment in the power of sighted influence on sound.
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post #558 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 09:08 AM
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@Floyd Toole - Do you remember the JBL XPL-200? It was in production between 1989-1992,placing it in production at the beginning of your tenure at HARMAN. I am curious if they were ever measured and how they compare to modern offerings. I have a pair, but they are 1,400 miles away in storage with family. I have considered planning a trip to pick them up to restore them, but I honestly don't remember what they sound like after all these years other than remembering I really liked them. I don't want to waste time, money, and effort if it was a poor performing speaker falling victim to the "fog of time" and nostalgia. However, if it is a timeless gem as many say, I will take on the project. Any information you can share or recall would be much appreciated.

Here is an interesting review:
https://www.audiophilenirvana.com/au...0a-holy-grail/

I had those and a pair of XPL140's. They are what first turned me on to midrange that had excellent directionality and dynamics (by subjective observation only). I first heard in XPL140's in Phoenix with a CD player directly connected to an amp playing Van Morrison's Moondance. I have never heard this recording sound better. I bought them soon after


I bought the XPL200's used and in 2000 searched for a center channel that could match. My fiancée, tired of my weekend searches, bought me a Revel Voice for my birthday. This eventually led to replacing the XPL's with Salons and Studios, and now Ultiima2's.


- Rich
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post #559 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 10:15 AM
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@Floyd Toole - Do you remember the JBL XPL-200? It was in production between 1989-1992,placing it in production at the beginning of your tenure at HARMAN. I am curious if they were ever measured and how they compare to modern offerings. I have a pair, but they are 1,400 miles away in storage with family. I have considered planning a trip to pick them up to restore them, but I honestly don't remember what they sound like after all these years other than remembering I really liked them. I don't want to waste time, money, and effort if it was a poor performing speaker falling victim to the "fog of time" and nostalgia. However, if it is a timeless gem as many say, I will take on the project. Any information you can share or recall would be much appreciated.
I recall the XPL-200s. They existed when I arrived at Harman in 1991, but back then measurements were in a primitive state: the only data stored for each loudspeaker model was an analog Bruel & Kjær on axis plot. and a THD sweep. Off-axis data were not recorded and evaluation usually involved waving a microphone around the speaker in a room while watching a 1/3-octave real-time analyzer. Sadly I have no useful measured data. I don't remember why they were discontinued.

One day, early in my tenure, I had the audacity to ask to see off-axis anechoic measurements on a loudspeaker. It resulted in most of the engineers walking out in protest; taking the rest of the day off. Needless to say, their strange aversion to off-axis data did not last long. Both sad and amusing in retrospect.

It was about this time that the aversion to blind listening tests was challenged, resulting in an AES paper that is widely quoted: Toole, F. E. and Olive, S.E. (1994). “Hearing is believing vs. believing is hearing: blind vs. sighted listening tests and other interesting things”. 97th Convention, Audio Eng. Soc., Preprint 3894. It is discussed in Section 3.1 of my book. Up to that time all listening was done sighted - all biases in place.

Figure 18.4(i) shows curves on a JBL 250Ti, then regarded as a" reference" sounding speaker by the brand. These data were measured in the NRCC chamber as part of a collection of loudspeakers sent to me by John Eargle, then in JBL Engineering. He had visited and concluded that Harman had no means to accurately measure its own products. From these measurements it was clear that there were no brand performance targets. This led eventually to my being hired to change things.

Memories . . .
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post #560 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 10:24 AM
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Here is an interesting review:
https://www.audiophilenirvana.com/au...0a-holy-grail/

I had those and a pair of XPL140's. They are what first turned me on to midrange that had excellent directionality and dynamics (by subjective observation only). I first heard in XPL140's in Phoenix with a CD player directly connected to an amp playing Van Morrison's Moondance. I have never heard this recording sound better. I bought them soon after


I bought the XPL200's used and in 2000 searched for a center channel that could match. My fiancée, tired of my weekend searches, bought me a Revel Voice for my birthday. This eventually led to replacing the XPL's with Salons and Studios, and now Ultiima2's.


- Rich
I quote from the linked review: "The LSR6332 and M2 systems are too revealing of the recording, and allow the listener to hear every studio error. They take the enjoyment out of listening to many older recordings. Whereas the XPL-200A, by stopping just short of this level of detail, makes listening to many older recordings more pleasant than on any other loudspeaker system we’ve ever experienced."

So, there we are, the XPLs were good enough for faulty old recordings!!!!
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post #561 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 12:15 PM
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Here is an objective review of speakers: https://www.consumerreports.org/wire...luxury-models/

from the research posted previously in this thread, even if they didn't review based on the soundest possible review methods, they still would have ranked preferences in a very similar way as industry professionals.
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post #562 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 12:47 PM
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you should check out dynaudio emit m 10's and / or nht c-3's.. there are a lot of decent options under $1000



I'd be happy to check those out! I'll mark them down. As long as they measure well with spins, I want to give them a listen. I know there are a lot of good choices for speakers, but I'm particularly interested in speakers that measure well so I can hear how the measurements relate to my preferences. I've always hated the hyperbole and flowery speech describing speakers. Don't just tell me how they sound, SHOW ME how they sound! Proper measurements can do that. I'm limiting myself at first to just speakers that measure well, and I'm sure I'll listen to some others in the showrooms while I'm there, but what I'm interested in right now are proven accurate speakers. And with luck I'll end up with a new set of speakers out of this exercise!




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In that price range, there will be several good choices that have reviewed well, even if there are no spins for them. Klipsch, Chane, Emotiva and I'm sure plenty of others. Do your research, you'll find something good. Remember, most stuff can had at discount, don't pay MSRP for non id brands. Even id brands usually have small sales now and then.

I recently picked up a Chane A2.4 to replace an old failing center channel, and I'm happy with it for those duties. It sounds very much like my towers. It wasn't a step up, but it wasn't a step down, so am happy with the purchase.





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I'm usually skeptical about comments like that unless they've left no doubt their basis for comparison is valid. Things like: Are they actually listening to the same recording played on the same or similar system (except speakers of course) in the same room with no variations in background noise, one right after the other?

Fairly tall order to check all of those boxes when a reviewer makes a statement like that. If it's not the same recording then one recording may be noisier or have more distortion than the other. Let's say we heard one speaker system in a soundproof HT and the other at an audio show, and the one we heard in the custom theater seems to have better "inner detail." Shocking!

I agree. Descriptions of how a speaker sounds gets so romanticized. I do the same thing. It's unavoidable, we are all passionate about our audio. In the past I've usually relied on a frequency response graph that is usually taken straight on and then smoothed, then had to rely on others peoples opinions of the speakers to narrow down my choices. When it was time to replace my center, I relied on the high opinions of the people in this forum to purchase the Chane A2.4. They didn't lead me astray and I feel it is a good speaker. For my next speakers tho, I'd like to use science and good measurements as a guide to get me pointed in the right direction. This thread is going to really help with that!
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post #563 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 01:56 PM
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Many of these older designs can be significantly improved if you bypass the original crossover, and use a DSP based one instead with high order LR crossover slopes, and time alligned drivers (by DSP) in the vertical plane. It takes some time, a decent calibrated microphone, REW and some basic speaker design know-how. Nothing that can’t be learned.

If you can take the speaker outside on a raised platform, and measure from there, all the better. But even indoors it’s possible to get decent resolution from the midrange and up with time-gated measurements along with additional near field measurments. In the bass the steady state room curve is all you need.

70 precise, high resolution measurements (plus the calculation method) are all you need to produce your very own spinorama!
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post #564 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanion View Post
Here is an objective review of speakers: https://www.consumerreports.org/wire...luxury-models/

from the research posted previously in this thread, even if they didn't review based on the soundest possible review methods, they still would have ranked preferences in a very similar way as industry professionals.
Interesting. Most JBL, Harman and KEF Bluetooth speakers were rated at the bottom.

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post #565 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanion View Post
Here is an objective review of speakers: https://www.consumerreports.org/wire...luxury-models/

from the research posted previously in this thread, even if they didn't review based on the soundest possible review methods, they still would have ranked preferences in a very similar way as industry professionals.
You said: "Here is an objective review of speakers". Sorry, but all I could find were subjective evaluations: of sound quality, Ease of Use and Versatility. I'm not complaining, because this is better than what Consumer Reports used to do before Sean Olive did his subjective/objective correlations. They used to rate the speakers on a calculated "accuracy score" based solely on 1/3-octave sound power modified in ways that were unsubstantiated. Finally, as a result of our published data, they stopped doing such misleading reviews. See Section 5.7 in my book.

With the current ratings, it would be good to know how the subjective evaluations were done:
- speaker on a table?
- how far from a reflecting wall?
- on a sandy beach?
- program?
- blind or sighted?
- and on and on. See Chapter 3.

With small speakers like these bass is very important and very much affected by placement. Bass, by itself, accounts for about 30% of an overall sound quality rating.
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post #566 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 03:14 PM
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I've seen that many times. It's particularly common among subjectivist reviewers who have done blind tests. For instance, Stereophile's Jason Serinus took part in a blind test many years ago:



https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_1...s-12-2004.html


The lesson of that blind test didn't stick and he (like many reviewers) go for all the tweaky psuedo-science stuff in their set ups. You'll see the typical squishy-thinking looking for a space in the "unexplained" in which to justify belief in tweaks. And he writes "I feel no need to defend my perceptions,."
A sad statement on the state of High End audio, one I think illuminates the fact that $ is the guiding light. The fact is that a 6 $ digit power cord can't possibly have any audible effect on any properly designed component is totally ignored in the face of what is a financial advantage for everyone involved in todays high end marketing. Way past time to call out these snake-oil peddlers with real controlled demos at some of the big hi fi shows. We need someone with the financial ability to stand up for a position of integrity.
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post #567 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 03:59 PM
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Sal,

Is that you or David Gilmore?

Mike Miles
[email protected]
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post #568 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 04:40 PM
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I'm glad Dr. Toole is retired. Apparently it gives him lots of free time to share his knowledge with us here on AVS.
Much appreciated.
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Last edited by DavidK442; 01-10-2019 at 07:13 PM.
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post #569 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd Toole View Post
You said: "Here is an objective review of speakers". Sorry, but all I could find were subjective evaluations: of sound quality, Ease of Use and Versatility. I'm not complaining, because this is better than what Consumer Reports used to do before Sean Olive did his subjective/objective correlations. They used to rate the speakers on a calculated "accuracy score" based solely on 1/3-octave sound power modified in ways that were unsubstantiated. Finally, as a result of our published data, they stopped doing such misleading reviews. See Section 5.7 in my book.

With the current ratings, it would be good to know how the subjective evaluations were done:
- speaker on a table?
- how far from a reflecting wall?
- on a sandy beach?
- program?
- blind or sighted?
- and on and on. See Chapter 3.

With small speakers like these bass is very important and very much affected by placement. Bass, by itself, accounts for about 30% of an overall sound quality rating.
I think he meant unbiased rather than objective.

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post #570 of 5319 Old 01-10-2019, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by SouthernCA View Post
I think he meant unbiased rather than objective.
I read the report but there was no description of the basis of their evaluations, just a few paragraphs of their conclusions. How can one say it is unbiased or objective or not?

Kal Rubinson

"Music in the Round"
Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile
http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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