How to Choose a Loudspeaker -- What the Science Shows - Page 99 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #2941 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tonygeno View Post
Very good comments re the B&Ws. So why do they design speakers with this type of response? While they may stand out in a demo, long term satisfaction is going to be compromised. I know this having succumbed to their marketing in the past. Fortunately, I have left those days way behind me.
" While they may stand out in a demo, long term satisfaction is going to be compromised."

I think that may be the reason why these speakers sell as well as they do and why B&W designs it that way.

Reminds me of Bose. Arguably world's most successful speaker company by revenue and profits. Once I saw the frequency response for one of their $2 to 4k speakers. It also had a frequency response like this one, only worse. But during dealer demos they consistently beat out competition and sell a lot.

Comments?
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post #2942 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SunByrne View Post
It looks like it will sound how I think most B&W speakers sound: scooped-out mids, especially upper mids. My favorite comment ever from a reviewer (I do so wish I could remember who said this originally so I could give appropriate credit): they are like listening to music with a heavy beige quilt draped between you and the music.



I know some people love B&Ws, but I have never heard one that I thought was competitive in its price class, and I'm pretty sure it's because of the V-shaped response. The FR graph (especially on-axis) looks terrible, like they're not even trying--that dip at 2K is something like 7dB below the average and is around 14dB less than the peak at 9K. 14dB! That's crazy.



Loved this comment in the review: "These speakers will take on a fairly different sound character depending on the angle they are listened to." Translation: you need to be at 30deg off-axis to keep your ears from bleeding from the pushed treble.



The measurements don't provide a complete spinorama, but if we had those, I bet they would show that the directivity index on these speakers is a disaster.



Also, the impedance curves are also straight-up awful—these are going to be wicked to drive. Here's what you can be getting for that kind of money.



I'm totally underwhelmed by these measurements from speakers that go for $1800/pair. I bet both the PSB Imagine X1T and the QAcoustics Concept 40 measure better than these (except maybe bass extension) at about half the price (probably add the Chane A5.4 and Emotiva T2 to that class as well). And at a similar price, I'm positive the Revel F35 and the Ascend Sierra Tower (and surely many others) measure much better. So color me underwhelmed.
Here are some additional measurements on this speaker.

Still not quite spinorama but more that what was presented in the review.

https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/in...nts&Itemid=153
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post #2943 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by SouthernCA View Post
New B&W 603 speaker review in audioholics shows the following frequency response. Clearly not enough data but still it shows the design intent.

Any comments on how it will sound and why?Attachment 2581940

5dB per line in vertical Axis and a dip at 2k.

And here it the review

https://www.audioholics.com/tower-sp...eviews/b-w-603


Pioneer makes a set of speakers that retail for $99/pair that measure, and likely sound, better than those when crossed to subs.


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post #2944 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by tonygeno View Post
Very good comments re the B&Ws. So why do they design speakers with this type of response? While they may stand out in a demo, long term satisfaction is going to be compromised. I know this having succumbed to their marketing in the past. Fortunately, I have left those days way behind me.
There is the B&W signature look to their oversized midrange. Looks cool but beams and has uneven frequency response.
They sell a lot of them...


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post #2945 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RichB View Post
There is the B&W signature look to their oversized midrange. Looks cool but beams and has uneven frequency response.
They sell a lot of them...


- Rich
I am beginning to believe there is something to this V shaped frequency response. Many speaker manufactures follow them and many of them are very successful financially. B&W and Bose are two of them but there may be others.

That begs the question:. Are there large number of people who really like this frequency response compared to a flat frequency response? And if that is true, why that group of people did not show up in the Harman blind tests?

And why don't room correction software companies (Dirac and Audyssey) create a V profile to cater to this group of people?

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post #2946 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by SouthernCA View Post
I am beginning to believe there is something to this V shaped frequency response. Many speaker manufactures follow them and many of them are very successful financially. B&W and Bose are two of them but there may be others.

That begs the question:. Are there large number of people who really like this frequency response compared to a flat frequency response? And if that is true, why that group of people did not show up in the Harman blind tests?

And why don't room correction software companies (Dirac and Audyssey) create a V profile to cater to this group of people?
My guess is that people buying those speakers have never really heard great sound. Of course they like it when they hear it in a Harman test or from a Dirac result. But before that, the V shape was tops for them.

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post #2947 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by SouthernCA View Post
I am beginning to believe there is something to this V shaped frequency response. Many speaker manufactures follow them and many of them are very successful financially. B&W and Bose are two of them but there may be others.

That begs the question:. Are there large number of people who really like this frequency response compared to a flat frequency response? And if that is true, why that group of people did not show up in the Harman blind tests?

But are they listening with their ears or their eyes?

That is important.

If it did not show up in the blind testing, then....
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Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #2948 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by SouthernCA View Post
" While they may stand out in a demo, long term satisfaction is going to be compromised."

I think that may be the reason why these speakers sell as well as they do and why B&W designs it that way.

Reminds me of Bose. Arguably world's most successful speaker company by revenue and profits. Once I saw the frequency response for one of their $2 to 4k speakers. It also had a frequency response like this one, only worse. But during dealer demos they consistently beat out competition and sell a lot.

Comments?
Did Bose have a dedicated rooms like they do at malls?
Where competitors allowed to play their speakers in those rooms too?

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post #2949 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
My guess is that people buying those speakers have never really heard great sound. Of course they like it when they hear it in a Harman test or from a Dirac result. But before that, the V shape was tops for them.
Most people do audition many speakers before their purchase. And there are plenty V shaped frequency response and flat frequency response speakers in that mix. And then often they choose Bose or B&W. Why?

Marketing has something to do with it and looks also matter. But it is hard to believe that flat frequency response speaker manufacturers can not hire smart marketing folks or don't know how to create a good looking speaker.
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post #2950 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 07:16 PM
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Did Bose have a dedicated rooms like they do at malls?

Where competitors allowed to play their speakers in those rooms too?
Yes. The strategy to create dedicated rooms help Bose. But if it was such a good idea in helping sell more speakers, Harman and others would have done it too.

Besides in BestBuy and elsewhere, consumers can walk to the next room and listen to other speakers.
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post #2951 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by SouthernCA View Post
I am beginning to believe there is something to this V shaped frequency response. Many speaker manufactures follow them and many of them are very successful financially. B&W and Bose are two of them but there may be others.

That begs the question:. Are there large number of people who really like this frequency response compared to a flat frequency response? And if that is true, why that group of people did not show up in the Harman blind tests?

And why don't room correction software companies (Dirac and Audyssey) create a V profile to cater to this group of people?

the db level one listens to is very important. also the v shape curve may not be noticed til more than 20 minutes of high volume listening. I bet most dont listen more than a song before switching.
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post #2952 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 08:14 PM
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I've always thought the concept of the V-shaped frequency response is similar to why food companies add so much sugar and high fructose corn syrup to processed foods. Our palates and ears can easily get hooked on overly sweetened food and sound, making naturally flavored food and flat frequency response seem dull and bland by comparison.
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post #2953 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
I've always thought the concept of the V-shaped frequency response is similar to why food companies add so much sugar and high fructose corn syrup to processed foods. Our palates and ears can easily get hooked on overly sweetened food and sound, making naturally flavored food and flat frequency response seem dull and bland by comparison.
This is likely. I used to prefer a more v-shaped EQ way back in the day, in my teens. I naturally came to prefer the detail I get from a flat response. If you scoop out that midrange, I don't want your speakers.

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post #2954 of 3783 Old 06-19-2019, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
I've always thought the concept of the V-shaped frequency response is similar to why food companies add so much sugar and high fructose corn syrup to processed foods. Our palates and ears can easily get hooked on overly sweetened food and sound, making naturally flavored food and flat frequency response seem dull and bland by comparison.
Yep. That really makes sense to me. I remember Coke came out with a new formula which was much sweeter. In numerous head to head tasting tests (one to 3 sips each) the new coke beat the old Coke convincingly. But when people took them home, they did not like it.

Something similar may be happening here. Are B&W and Bose show up on eBay more often? For that to be meaningful, we probably need to know the number of such speakers in the population.

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post #2955 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 08:46 AM
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Yep. That really makes sense to me. I remember Coke came out with a new formula which was much sweeter. In numerous head to head tasting tests (one to 3 sips each) the new coke beat the old Coke convincingly. But when people took them home, they did not like it.

Something similar may be happening here. Are B&W and Bose show up on eBay more often? For that to be meaningful, we probably need to know the number of such speakers in the population.
Most people who take their B&W speakers home, love them. Check the B&W thread for verification. https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...-s-thread.html Over 900 pages, 27,000 posts, almost 3 million views, and doubt you'll find more than a handful of unhappy owners.

Who's to say whether those owners would pick B&W in a "blind" scenario? The Harman science certainly says they wouldn't. Nonetheless, they love them anyway.

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post #2956 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 10:41 AM
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If people fall in love with the V-shaped speaker sound at least there aren't serious health risk side effects as there are for those who fall in love with sugar-laced foods. Preference for a particular sound profile is nothing more than a personal choice similar to people having different favorite colors. Who really cares what others prefer as long as we get to choose what we like.
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post #2957 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 11:23 AM
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the db level one listens to is very important.
Indeed.

Equal loudness curves suggest that people who listen at volume levels similar to what the mixing and mastering engineers use would be expected to prefer a flatter response like what Revel shoots for, while people who listen at lower volumes would be expected to prefer some bass and treble boost.

I can think of one loudspeaker designer, Michael Børresen, who seems to utilize these curves in his designs. I've seen measurements of Raidho speakers online and their FR roughly mimics the shape of the Fletcher-Munson equal loudness contours, with a dip in the low treble where the ear is most sensitive, a flat midrange, a rising response in the upper treble, and a rising response in the bass. IMHO, they sound particularly good when demonstrated in quasi-nearfield setups at moderate volume levels, but if you turn up the volume the bass gets overblown and the top end sounds a little hot.

In contrast, here is the on-axis FR of a loudspeaker that is well known for not being that great for low volume listening:


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post #2958 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by SunByrne View Post

I'm totally underwhelmed by these measurements from speakers that go for $1800/pair. I bet both the PSB Imagine X1T and the QAcoustics Concept 40 measure better than these (except maybe bass extension) at about half the price (probably add the Chane A5.4 and Emotiva T2 to that class as well). And at a similar price, I'm positive the Revel F35 and the Ascend Sierra Tower (and surely many others) measure much better. So color me underwhelmed.
Measurements from Germany's Stereo Magazine March, 2016 of the Concept 40.
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post #2959 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 11:39 AM
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Indeed.

Equal loudness curves suggest that people who listen at volume levels similar to what the mixing and mastering engineers use would be expected to prefer a flatter response like what Revel shoots for, while people who listen at lower volumes would be expected to prefer some bass and treble boost.

I can think of one loudspeaker designer, Michael Børresen, who seems to utilize these curves in his designs. I've seen measurements of Raidho speakers online and their FR roughly mimics the shape of the Fletcher-Munson equal loudness contours, with a dip in the low treble where the ear is most sensitive, a flat midrange, a rising response in the upper treble, and a rising response in the bass. IMHO, they sound particularly good when demonstrated in quasi-nearfield setups at moderate volume levels, but if you turn up the volume the bass gets overblown and the top end sounds a little hot.

In contrast, here is the on-axis FR of a loudspeaker that is well known for not being that great for low volume listening:

A good example of why equal loudness should be implemented in the source electronics and not the speakers, ala Dynamic EQ.
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post #2960 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 12:00 PM
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A good example of why equal loudness should be implemented in the source electronics and not the speakers, ala Dynamic EQ.
Loudness compensation can only work properly for music that has no dynamic range. Sadly that is almost true for much popular music. If the music has dynamic range, the compensation must anticipate each momentary change in loudness and make the appropriate adjustment - which is obviously impossible. Fortunately humans are very accommodating . . .

See Section 4.4.1 in my book for elaboration.
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Indeed again.

And that may be why I haven't heard a dynamic EQ system that doesn't have a sweet spot on the volume scale. Audyssey XT32 in my current Marantz pre/pro seems to work well for very low volume/late night listening, but it exaggerates the bass at the 70-75 dB level where my family and I spend most of our time. YMMV.

In my stereo system, I spend nearly all my time listening at average volume levels between 75 dB and 85 dB and want my speakers to sound best within that window.

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post #2962 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 12:11 PM
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Indeed.



Equal loudness curves suggest that people who listen at volume levels similar to what the mixing and mastering engineers use would be expected to prefer a flatter response like what Revel shoots for, while people who listen at lower volumes would be expected to prefer some bass and treble boost.

:




Ok that also makes sense. Now the question is:

What level were the Harman double blind tests done where most people preferred flat freq response speakers?

Hopefully, @floydtoole le or someone else can answer that question.

If these tests were done not at reference level but at normal listening level, it will say that answer lies somewhere else.

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post #2963 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 12:33 PM
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Ok that also makes sense. Now the question is:

What level were the Harman double blind tests done where most people preferred flat freq response speakers?

Hopefully, @floydtoole le or someone else can answer that question.

If these tests were done not at reference level but at normal listening level, it will say that answer lies somewhere else.
There has been no significant change in spectral balance preference from the blind tests I did in the late 1960s to now. All listening is done at what I would describe as serious "foreground" level. There is no "reference" level for music. Obviously, in an exhaustive evaluation some higher sound levels are used for appropriate music, but all of it is "civilized". One cannot specify a playback loudness for music having dynamic range, and different recordings often have different average loudness levels.

If you spend any time in recording studios there is clearly no agreement on playback levels. Some are absolutely deafening, others quite normal.

But none of it is done at "background" level. That is what loudness or tone controls are for - do not use loudspeakers as tone controls; they can't be changed as needed. Start with neutral.
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post #2964 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 12:36 PM
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What level were the Harman double blind tests done where most people preferred flat freq response speakers?
When I did the tests most recently, I was able to control the level and I used that power over a wide range.
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post #2965 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Red MC View Post
Indeed again.

And that may be why I haven't heard a dynamic EQ system that doesn't have a sweet spot on the volume scale. Audyssey XT32 in my current Marantz pre/pro seems to work well for very low volume/late night listening, but it exaggerates the bass at the 70-75 dB level where my family and I spend most of our time. YMMV.

In my stereo system, I spend nearly all my time listening at average volume levels between 75 dB and 85 dB and want my speakers to sound best within that window.
At least you can dial in an offset to reduce its effect. Use "Reference Level Offset".
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post #2966 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd Toole View Post
There has been no significant change in spectral balance preference from the blind tests I did in the late 1960s to now. All listening is done at what I would describe as serious "foreground" level. There is no "reference" level for music. Obviously, in an exhaustive evaluation some higher sound levels are used for appropriate music, but all of it is "civilized". One cannot specify a playback loudness for music having dynamic range, and different recordings often have different average loudness levels.

If you spend any time in recording studios there is clearly no agreement on playback levels. Some are absolutely deafening, others quite normal.

But none of it is done at "background" level. That is what loudness or tone controls are for - do not use loudspeakers as tone controls; they can't be changed as needed. Start with neutral.
Would that there were a reference level for music. When I go to Symphony Hall, Boston and hear the BSO perform the Mahler 2nd, I am hitting peaks of 105db (admittedly) from only ten rows back. Although I don't always do it, I try and replicate the sound pressure (and excitement) at home. The lack of a true reference for these kinds of recordings is frustrating as it's hard to know at what level I am replicating what was heard in the hall.
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post #2967 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 02:06 PM
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There has been no significant change in spectral balance preference from the blind tests I did in the late 1960s to now. All listening is done at what I would describe as serious "foreground" level. There is no "reference" level for music. Obviously, in an exhaustive evaluation some higher sound levels are used for appropriate music, but all of it is "civilized". One cannot specify a playback loudness for music having dynamic range, and different recordings often have different average loudness levels.



If you spend any time in recording studios there is clearly no agreement on playback levels. Some are absolutely deafening, others quite normal.



But none of it is done at "background" level. That is what loudness or tone controls are for - do not use loudspeakers as tone controls; they can't be changed as needed. Start with neutral.
Agreed completely.

We were just trying to speculate why speakers with V shaped frequency response (B&W and Bose and others) sell so well. Someone opined that at lower volumes V shaped frequency response is preferred due to Fletcher Munsen curve and since most dealer auditions are at low volumes , that may explain why many prefer speakers with V shaped freq response curve compared to flat speakers with flat response curves.

Your opinion will be very useful here.
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post #2968 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 02:27 PM
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I am beginning to believe there is something to this V shaped frequency response. Many speaker manufactures follow them and many of them are very successful financially. B&W and Bose are two of them but there may be others.

That begs the question:. Are there large number of people who really like this frequency response compared to a flat frequency response? And if that is true, why that group of people did not show up in the Harman blind tests?

And why don't room correction software companies (Dirac and Audyssey) create a V profile to cater to this group of people?

Hi,

Audyssey actually does have a curve with mid-range compensation, centered on 2500Hz. As I recall, it is a gentle curve about 3db deep. That MRC was also referred to as the BBC dip at one time. My understanding is that some speakers were thought to crossover poorly from the mid-range driver to the tweeter, so a dip was introduced between 2000Hz and 3000Hz to soften the transition between the drivers. Whether it was ever really necessary or helpful is something I can't answer, but Audyssey incorporated it into their default Reference curve, and most people may not ever notice it is there.

I have always preferred Audyssey Flat, which is just that. From "Flat", if I want to add/subtract bass or treble, that is what the tone controls are for, as Dr Toole said.

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post #2969 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 03:28 PM
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Agreed completely.

We were just trying to speculate why speakers with V shaped frequency response (B&W and Bose and others) sell so well. Someone opined that at lower volumes V shaped frequency response is preferred due to Fletcher Munsen curve and since most dealer auditions are at low volumes , that may explain why many prefer speakers with V shaped freq response curve compared to flat speakers with flat response curves.

Your opinion will be very useful here.
In my approximately 50 years of observing loudspeaker performance and purchasing habits/profitable speaker manufacturers I have yet to discern any consequential pattern. "Successful" loudspeakers from the business perspective have had all manner of aberrant frequency responses - on and/or off axis. Remember a single curve does not describe the sound of a loudspeaker in a room, and a room curve, by itself, is not a reliable indicator of sound quality.

Chapter 18 in my book shows measurements on many speakers over 50 years, and I have not included the obvious failures.

Humans have been able to "break in" to accept all of them, at least for a while, as being "musical" or whatever poetic term is contrived. Somewhere I commented on a Stereophile reviewer who waited three months to accept the sound of a significantly flawed loudspeaker (by our and John Atkinson's measurements) - he thought the speaker finally broke in.

The dip that appears in many room curves around 2 kHz is due to physics - the jump in diameter/directivity between a woofer/mid or mid to 1-inch tweeter. If the speaker is flat on axis, it cannot be flat off axis and there is a slight overall energy deficiency. See Figure 12.4 in my book. Is it audible? In some circumstances, especially when one is dealing with the directivity disparities of 6" or 8" two ways. Waveguides on tweeters alleviate some of this problem. This is one of the main justifications for three-way speakers and why small bookshelf two-ways with 5-inch woofer/mids sound good (they just need a woofer to be a decent three-way).
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post #2970 of 3783 Old 06-20-2019, 03:33 PM
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Hi,

Audyssey actually does have a curve with mid-range compensation, centered on 2500Hz. As I recall, it is a gentle curve about 3db deep. That MRC was also referred to as the BBC dip at one time. My understanding is that some speakers were thought to crossover poorly from the mid-range driver to the tweeter, so a dip was introduced between 2000Hz and 3000Hz to soften the transition between the drivers. Whether it was ever really necessary or helpful is something I can't answer, but Audyssey incorporated it into their default Reference curve, and most people may not ever notice it is there.

I have always preferred Audyssey Flat, which is just that. From "Flat", if I want to add/subtract bass or treble, that is what the tone controls are for, as Dr Toole said.

Regards,
Mike
The dip in the Audyssey target curve is there so that the system does not try to fill the dip and thereby screw up the direct sound. See my previous post.

EDIT: But not all loudspeakers have the dip, or the same magnitude of dip. So, without comprehensive anechoic data, e.g. a spinorama, one is flying blind if relying on in-room data.

Last edited by Floyd Toole; 06-20-2019 at 03:59 PM.
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