How to Choose a Loudspeaker -- What the Science Shows - Page 23 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #661 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by BP1Fanatic View Post
Excellent read!

"Urban Legend:
1. Fancy parts improve sound (ca-
pacitor dielectric, DACs, etc.).
2. Fast bass (small woofers are more
linear than big ones).
3. Rhythm and pace (a playback
component can change tempo).
4. Low bass is impossible in a small
room.
5. Fancy cables improve sound
quality.
6. Non-audio tweaks improve
sound (change placed on the
speaker, tiptoes, green ink, at al.).
7. DVD players sound inferior to
CD players.
8. LP sounds better than CD.
9. Data reduction always lowers
sound quality.
10. Small amplifiers burn out
tweeters.
11. Equalization is bad.
12. Negative feedback is bad.
13. Short signal paths are good.
14. Multichannel is a step backward.
15. Auto sound is bad.
16. Film sound is bad."
I also like...

"This is an example of the kind of tolerances applied to
loudspeakers—and here, to make things worse, it is a steady-
state measurement in a room. This is not a single perfor-
mance objective. It implies that all variations that fall within
the limits are audibly acceptable. Rubbish! Why do we
change the rules for loudspeakers? We shouldn't! The same
rules apply.
How did we get into this situation?
• Technically, loudspeakers are difficult to measure.
Many anechoic, high-resolution measurements and com-
puter processing are needed. That's expensive and time-con-
suming. Few people in the world are able to do it.
• Subjectively, many factors can introduce bias and vari-
ability into opinions. Selecting and training listeners, and
controlling the "nuisance variables," are expensive and time-
consuming. Few people in the world bother to do it."

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post #662 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BufordTJustice View Post
Fascinating.

So, what is the best way to push a signal through that test system? Are mono recordings used or is stereo downmixed to mono? Or a combination?


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Section 3.5.1.7 in my book discusses the selection of program material, as does: Olive, S.E. (1994). “A Method for Training Listeners and Selecting Program Material for Listening Tests”, Audio Eng. Soc. 97th Convention, preprint 3893.

Once the program has been selected it is auditioned for any channel summing artifacts when they are added. Using only one channel, as some have suggested, throws away half of the band; not a good idea. Such audible degradations are very rare because fundamental ingredients of the soundstage are mono; mono left (hard panned), mono right (hard panned) and double-mono for all amplitude panned phantom images between the speakers, including the featured artist. These components sum perfectly.

To these images are added spatial cues created by uncorrelated information in the channels which do not contribute to audible interference effects. That said, one always should listen because of the multitude of electronic manipulations available to mixers.

What are mono recordings? Last ones I can remember were on 78s (joke!).
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post #663 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 04:35 PM
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I also enjoyed The Audio Critic, and have actually been going through back issues again over this last year.


That said, I'm glad there were alternatives to The Audio Critic and to his viewpoints as well. (If the Aczel's ran the audio world, the offerings would be severely restricted from what we have now, and there would be no tube amps ever made after the first decent SS amps were designed. And he would utterly poo-poo the comeback of vinyl. And...I really enjoy tube amps, and vinyl has revitalized my music listening!)



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"Urban Legend:
3. Rhythm and pace (a playback
component can change tempo).

What audiophiles are talking about, of course, is a component changing the *perception* of tempo. When it comes to speakers, depending on the design, how it's interacting with a room etc, I've certainly experienced this. If you lean out the bottom end, for instance, the instruments in the bass region can sound "faster" less turgid. I demoed a speaker in my own home with a whole bunch of tracks I've played forever on my systems and I was utterly taken aback by the weird way this speaker seemed to slow apparent pace of the music, mostly due it seems to how it handled the bass frequencies. If I flipped back and forth between my existing speakers and the new one, it was bizarre because it really did give the perception that the bass player was playing in a slower, lazier way, where the other speaker sounded taught and fast and propulsive, making the energy feel "faster."


It's true that audiophiles have believed a lot of untrue things. But I do reject the idea that the descriptive terms and concepts they have come up have no relevance. We hear sound. It sounds different. We like to talk about it and communicate about it, so we come up with words and concepts to do so.


If an audiophile says a speaker sounds "dark" or instead that it has an "airy high end" I *know* what he is getting at. At least, how it sounds to him/her.

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post #664 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Floyd Toole View Post
Section 3.5.1.7 in my book discusses the selection of program material, as does: Olive, S.E. (1994). “A Method for Training Listeners and Selecting Program Material for Listening Tests”, Audio Eng. Soc. 97th Convention, preprint 3893.

Once the program has been selected it is auditioned for any channel summing artifacts when they are added. Using only one channel, as some have suggested, throws away half of the band; not a good idea. Such audible degradations are very rare because fundamental ingredients of the soundstage are mono; mono left (hard panned), mono right (hard panned) and double-mono for all amplitude panned phantom images between the speakers, including the featured artist. These components sum perfectly.

To these images are added spatial cues created by uncorrelated information in the channels which do not contribute to audible interference effects. That said, one always should listen because of the multitude of electronic manipulations available to mixers.

What are mono recordings? Last ones I can remember were on 78s (joke!).
Do you keep referencing your book for sales? Not all of us have your book or are likely to buy it. It seems out of scope to keep referencing it. In professional circles people don't require you buy their book to have a discussion.
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post #665 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 06:08 PM
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Do you keep referencing your book for sales? Not all of us have your book or are likely to buy it. It seems out of scope to keep referencing it. In professional circles people don't require you buy their book to have a discussion.
If I wrote a book that answers in great detail many of the same questions repeatedly posed within this thread and in the ongoing Revel owners thread, I for sure as hell would be quoting from it and referencing it.

Why go through all the effort of repeating yourself time and time again when most of the answers to these questions are already available? Life is too short for that.

Besides that, Mr. Toole DOES answer many of the questions here regardless of when they are already covered within the book. He may give a somewhat condensed version of the answers here, often followed up with specific references of where to find further elaboration within his books (for those who may wish to dig into these subjects more in-depth).
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post #666 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 06:12 PM
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Too bad there isn't a dislike button.
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post #667 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 06:16 PM
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Too bad there isn't a dislike button.
Just another reminder that you cannot please everyone all of the time, I suppose.
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post #668 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 06:20 PM
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In professional circles people cite the sources that support their claims/statements, even if it is their own work...
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post #669 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 07:10 PM
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According to Harman, their science tells you to choose Harman. Clever marketing angle I must say.
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post #670 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanion View Post
Do you keep referencing your book for sales? Not all of us have your book or are likely to buy it. It seems out of scope to keep referencing it. In professional circles people don't require you buy their book to have a discussion.
Just in case you were having trouble finding it...

https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reprodu...ok+floyd+toole

Just one more upgrade and things will be perfect.
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post #671 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 07:53 PM
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According to Harman, their science tells you to choose Harman. Clever marketing angle I must say.
Nonsense!!
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post #672 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 08:02 PM
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This is really the topic of Chapter 7 in the book. In general listeners prefer some amount of laterally reflected sound, and the more that sound resembles the direct sound in timbre, the better it sounds. Raw stereo is, as I keep on saying, a directionally and spatially deprived format, so some room reflections are almost always preferred, just as a tasteful multichannel up mix can be a useful enhancement.
My concern was about the benefits heard in mono comparisons remaining merely "technical" for everyday stereo listening (esp with live recordings)
Though same is true about loudspeakers and many bad recordings (but good music) which we would be listening in general, in case of referred tests, I guess, the best possible recordings of the time would have been used.

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post #673 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 09:28 PM
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Do you keep referencing your book for sales? Not all of us have your book or are likely to buy it. It seems out of scope to keep referencing it. In professional circles people don't require you buy their book to have a discussion.
Please. The space in this forum is not big enough to provide a detailed explanations. So if you need more info, you can go to the book and get additional details.

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post #674 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 09:30 PM
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According to Harman, their science tells you to choose Harman. Clever marketing angle I must say.
BS.

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post #675 of 3728 Old 01-13-2019, 10:39 PM
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According to Harman, their science tells you to choose Harman. Clever marketing angle I must say.


Tell us about your research on the subject.


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post #676 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 01:45 AM
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According to Harman, their science tells you to choose Harman. Clever marketing angle I must say.
The science was established long before Floyd Toole joined Harman. As said previously, more and more brands and home enthousiasts are using the results of this research.
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post #677 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 06:27 AM
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Don't feed the troll. It'll derail the thread again. Ideal would be if this particular thread were a bit more heavily moderated to remove blatant heckling.
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post #678 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 09:32 AM
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According to Harman, their science tells you to choose Harman. Clever marketing angle I must say.
This raises a legitimate concern, even if the tone is dismissive. The concern is understandable given that Harman just posted a blind listening result showing Harman speakers winning over competitors. In other industries, studies will also be criticized for being sponsored by a company that stands to benefit from its results. Just because this expresses a sentiment unpopular in the thread, doesn't mean it should be dismissed as trolling, or else each thread would exist in its own bubble, making its discussion less convincing.

The answer to the concerns is the very reason this is considered science in the first place: the testing methodology and results are published, and can be duplicated and verified by others. Any person or manufacturer who has an issue can voice their disagreement by publishing their own methodology and results, such as by showing their own speakers winning, showing that mono preferences differ from stereo, or showing how measurements don't predict preferences. That's the way to present opposition, not by attacking motivations and people.
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post #679 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 09:56 AM
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This raises a legitimate concern, even if the tone is dismissive. The concern is understandable given that Harman just posted a blind listening result showing Harman speakers winning over competitors. In other industries, studies will also be criticized for being sponsored by a company that stands to benefit from its results. Just because this expresses a sentiment unpopular in the thread, doesn't mean it should be dismissed as trolling, or else each thread would exist in its own bubble, making its discussion less convincing.

The answer to the concerns is the very reason this is considered science in the first place: the testing methodology and results are published, and can be duplicated and verified by others. Any person or manufacturer who has an issue can voice their disagreement by publishing their own methodology and results, such as by showing their own speakers winning, showing that mono preferences differ from stereo, or showing how measurements don't predict preferences. That's the way to present opposition, not by attacking motivations and people.
Is anyone else doing the same research in parallel? If there were negative results with the same research out there, would publication bias (file drawer effect) be an issue in this research area?

I can sympathize with the cynicism when considering research studies in other fields that design the studies to positive results or file away negative outcomes when they're unexpected. Still, I don't see how a rational person could believe that a wildly non-linear frequency response is beneficial. It seems like common sense that you would want to replicate the original sound as closely as possible.
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post #680 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 10:17 AM
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Just because this expresses a sentiment unpopular in the thread, doesn't mean it should be dismissed as trolling...
Other way 'round. Outside this thread, I would have viewed that comment as skepticism (albeit snarky). But making that same comment in this thread, AFTER the science has been repeatedly explained, comes off as trolling.

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post #681 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 11:37 AM
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This raises a legitimate concern, even if the tone is dismissive. The concern is understandable given that Harman just posted a blind listening result showing Harman speakers winning over competitors. In other industries, studies will also be criticized for being sponsored by a company that stands to benefit from its results. Just because this expresses a sentiment unpopular in the thread, doesn't mean it should be dismissed as trolling, or else each thread would exist in its own bubble, making its discussion less convincing.

The answer to the concerns is the very reason this is considered science in the first place: the testing methodology and results are published, and can be duplicated and verified by others. Any person or manufacturer who has an issue can voice their disagreement by publishing their own methodology and results, such as by showing their own speakers winning, showing that mono preferences differ from stereo, or showing how measurements don't predict preferences. That's the way to present opposition, not by attacking motivations and people.
I understand the problem when only one company does the research and publishes the results that show the company's product winning. It is there. There is no denying it. But having said that, let's move forward and try to learn from that company's research.

If other companies also do research and show how their products are the best (read KEF white papers), let's try to learn from them as well.

Also the research conducted at NRCC can be taken as independent and we can learn from that.

So the inherent problem is noted in several comments above, now let's move forward and learn from the research.

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post #682 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 11:49 AM
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I understand the problem when only one company does the research and publishes the results that show the company's product winning. It is there. There is no denying it. But having said that, let's move forward and try to learn from that company's research.

If other companies also do research and show how their products are the best (read KEF white papers), let's try to learn from them as well.

Also the research conducted at NRCC can be taken as independent and we can learn from that.

So the inherent problem is noted in several comments above, now let's move forward and learn from the research.

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I said the same thing a while back. Seems some folks are just jumping in and have not read all the posts or they just want to keep beating that same poor old dead horse....
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post #683 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Other way 'round. Outside this thread, I would have viewed that comment as skepticism (albeit snarky). But making that same comment in this thread, AFTER the science has been repeatedly explained, comes off as trolling.


And the reason Harman speakers win these blind listening tests is because they are designed to produce the sound listeners prefer in blind listening tests. If designers believe the tests validly show the parameters relevant to listener preferences, and believe that they have developed measurements relevant to those parameters, they would design with those preferences and measurements in mind.
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post #684 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 12:17 PM
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Is anyone else doing the same research in parallel? If there were negative results with the same research out there, would publication bias (file drawer effect) be an issue in this research area?
With so many manufacturers with a stake who have the means to do their own research and publicize their own results, we would think that if there were contradicting results, they would have been published by now, given the 20+ years time they've had.

Publication bias in organizations such as AES is unlikely to be an issue in this field, since much of the discussion (on this forum at least) is around results published by manufacturers themselves, such as the KEF paper referenced earlier.
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post #685 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 12:47 PM
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At low frequencies it is volume velocity not particle velocity. What it the volume of air displaced by a diaphragm per unit movement. 18" woofers are great for cinemas, but are overkill for homes - as I describe in Chapter 8 multiple smaller subs are more efficient and sound better for more listeners. Nevertheless, transitioning any sub at 80 Hz or so to a 5.25 inch main is definitely a stretch - at low sound levels maybe, but not for movies or lots of modern music.
Interesting.

In my secondary room, mostly for music, I have two 8" subs mildly eq'd by the MiniDSP I use as an outboard crossover with my ancient NAD7250PE stereo receiver, (thankfully with pre outs/main ins), with my two way 5.25" speakers and it sounds great with no apparent holes in the crossover region when I used REW and my Umik.

Obviously I can't play at ear shattering levels as neither the 5.25" bookshelves or 8" woofers are capable of such dynamics.

But it will handle volumes that are loud for me, (and WAY to loud for my wife)!

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post #686 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by neutralguy View Post
With so many manufacturers with a stake who have the means to do their own research and publicize their own results, we would think that if there were contradicting results, they would have been published by now, given the 20+ years time they've had.

Publication bias in organizations such as AES is unlikely to be an issue in this field, since much of the discussion (on this forum at least) is around results published by manufacturers themselves, such as the KEF paper referenced earlier.
Thanks for the defense. I would hope by now that it was not necessary. Let me add:

Over the years I have received several awards for my published research. All came from large international organizations populated by Harman competitors, so it is clear that this is not a "company" or "brand" thing. This is from my current bio.

"For his scientific contributions to the audio industry he has been recognized with:
• Two Audio Engineering Society (AES) Publications awards (1988, 1990).
• The AES Silver Medal award (1996).
• The AES Board of Governors Award for service to the society (2003).
• CEDIA Lifetime Achievement award (2008).
• Beryllium Driver Lifetime Achievement award from ALMA (Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics International) (2011).
• The AES Gold Medal award (2013).
• Inducted into the Consumer Technology Association Hall of Fame (2015).
• The Peter Barnett Award from the Institute of Acoustics (UK) (2017).
He is a Fellow and Past President of the AES, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and a Fellow of CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association)."

So, it appears that the scientific knowledge has value in the eyes of Harman competitors. It is all published, in the public domain. Whether a company uses the published knowledge in their product development is up to the company. Several do, but not all of them admit it, probably because it detracts from the image that they alone are responsible for how their products sound. Others do admit it, and a few are even proud that they know about the science, use it, and have benefitted from it. My book is not just about my/NRCC/Harman research. It is a summary of relevant science from many international sources.

The reality is that there are very few commercial or academic organizations with the money, time and facilities to perform serious research in this area. Loudspeaker companies are generally busy designing new products. These may or may not contain genuinely new technology or knowledge, but the scientific publication route is available to share and publicize such information.

As I have said elsewhere, the foundational research work done at the NRCC was funded by the Canadian government and I was employed as a research scientist. I and the measurement facility I created were used by several Canadian and US loudspeaker companies because of the lack of commercial bias. I travelled internationally lecturing on the scientific material to professional organizations and to individual loudspeaker manufacturers. As a consequence of that success I was invited to move to Harman as Corporate VP of Engineering. That Harman approved my request to set up a corporate research group independent of the brands, and allowed the publication of all findings was a truly remarkable thing. Many companies would not have done this. Several million dollars have been spent over the intervening 27 years providing facilities for state-of-the-art technical measurements and unique subjective evaluation rooms incorporating positional substitution hardware. Included was an educated staff - not inexpensive.

So, here we are in this forum, with a Harman brand that makes use of the research knowledge displaying evidence that it works. Any manufacturer who chooses to display accurate and reasonably comprehensive anechoic data on their loudspeakers is able to join the discussion. A few already do this. I don't recall seeing any statement that Harman/Revel is uniquely capable of designing neutral sounding loudspeakers. The knowledge of how to do it is published in numerous AES papers and in my books - and in summary form in this and other AVS forums. See the attachment to my post #220 .
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post #687 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 02:18 PM
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This is a great discussion and totally worth the read with a ton of useful information.


From a business perspective, it is completely reasonable to assume that Harman would fund research relating to measurement and preferences…and then choose to use none, part or all of the findings in their own products if they felt it would be beneficial to their business…this happens in many industries all of the time and is considered normal (and most research is considered proprietary so good for them for sharing).


Recently, I was re-reading Blink by Malcom Gladwell. Chapter 5 is devoted to various examples of the right and the wrong way to ask people what they want (assuming you want to get useful answers). Specifically, the Pepsi Challenge (p.155), reminds me a little of the Spinorama/listener preference question.


For those old enough to remember, Pepsi started running television ads where actual people tested Pepsi and against Coke in blind (maybe even double blind) comparisons. As it turned out, 57% of those tested preferred Pepsi to Coke.


Years later, what the analysis would show is that when taking a sip of Pepsi and a sip of Coke, people preferred Pepsi (because it was sweeter). But when living with Pepsi at home and having to drink whole bottles/cans, the sweetness was a turnoff and people switched back to Coke.


In other words, the blind test answered the question, between a sip of Pepsi and a sip of Coke, which do you prefer…it did not answer the question…which would you rather have in your home to live with over the long term (and why).


So, it seems reasonable that the Harman/Spinorama method answers the immediate question of which loudspeaker you might prefer between the ones you just heard side by side…but not…which loudspeaker is going to be most satisfying to you for the next 3-5 years?


Personally, I think that the science and the Spinorama method are a great advancement away from the voodoo marketing we all experience. If you don’t own a loudspeaker and are thinking of getting into the hobby…or if you do own loudspeakers and are thinking of a change, then the Spinorama indications are a good place to start.


They are not, however, a guarantee. Otherwise, planars, stats, Walshs and others would not exist. The next challenge will be for the science to figure out what other measurable parameters when added to Spinorama, will better predict long term happiness/preference.



At this point, there is no substitute for having the speakers you are hoping to live with (whether chosen by way of data or voodoo marketing), in your home and played through your gear for at least 3-4 weeks. How else are you going to realize that you really don’t like the dynamics…or the way it portrays cymbals, or female voices, or the stage width…and so on and so on.
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post #688 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 02:47 PM
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With so many manufacturers with a stake who have the means to do their own research and publicize their own results, we would think that if there were contradicting results, they would have been published by now, given the 20+ years time they've had.

Publication bias in organizations such as AES is unlikely to be an issue in this field, since much of the discussion (on this forum at least) is around results published by manufacturers themselves, such as the KEF paper referenced earlier.
Like, I said in the second part of my post, that was left out of the quote, the overaching principles are basically common sense. Why would you make a speaker that doesn’t preserve the fidelity of the original signal as much as possible?

My familiarity with the AES is super small. I enjoy utilizing the fruits of research concerning audio, but I don’t have time to get mired in the granularities or politics (enough of that in my field already...). I’ve read the Master Handbook of Acoustics and memorized all the basic ideas I will likely ever need in my lifetime to set up audio rooms for myself anytime I move or buy new speakers. I actually have Dr. Toole’s book (1st edition) that I bought at the same time a number of years ago. I just haven’t had the time to read it. At this rate, it will be in the 7th edition before I have time. Not sure why I picked one book to read over the other all those years ago. Flip of a coin...
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post #689 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 02:48 PM
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This is a great discussion and totally worth the read with a ton of useful information.

They are not, however, a guarantee. Otherwise, planars, stats, Walshs and others would not exist. The next challenge will be for the science to figure out what other measurable parameters when added to Spinorama, will better predict long term happiness/preference.
.
Guaranteeing lifelong contentment with a purchase is beyond the capabilities of technical science and psychoacoustics. Such a result incorporates all non-auditory influences, and it is well known that the placebo effect is a powerful influence.

However, as far as identifying loudspeakers that are free of spurious resonant and other colorations - surely a good thing - spinoramas and any reasonable collection of anechoic data can do it and they can do it for "planars, stats, Walshs and others" as is illustrated in my book. A good - neutral - loudspeaker can come in many physical forms, as can those with never-ending, built-in, timbral colorations. The latter, one might reasonably think, are contraindicated for long term pleasure.

Beginning with a timbrally neutral loudspeaker, however the air is moved, allows the details of the music to be revealed. Circle of confusion program problems and personal tastes can be catered for by tone controls or more elaborate EQ. This has the advantage of being infinitely adjustable, and an "off" button or icon is an option. As the circle of confusion becomes less of an issue - and it is - neutral loudspeakers are nice to have.
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post #690 of 3728 Old 01-14-2019, 03:01 PM
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This raises a legitimate concern, even if the tone is dismissive. The concern is understandable given that Harman just posted a blind listening result showing Harman speakers winning over competitors. In other industries, studies will also be criticized for being sponsored by a company that stands to benefit from its results. Just because this expresses a sentiment unpopular in the thread, doesn't mean it should be dismissed as trolling, or else each thread would exist in its own bubble, making its discussion less convincing.



The answer to the concerns is the very reason this is considered science in the first place: the testing methodology and results are published, and can be duplicated and verified by others. Any person or manufacturer who has an issue can voice their disagreement by publishing their own methodology and results, such as by showing their own speakers winning, showing that mono preferences differ from stereo, or showing how measurements don't predict preferences. That's the way to present opposition, not by attacking motivations and people.


It is just trolling. This topic has been covered repeatably in this thread. The mods should be giving warning points to people like him. When they don’t it leads to people trying to control it themselves leading to others getting warning points for no good reason when they are trying to keep the thread on topic.


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