FR Graphs vs Auditioning - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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FR Graphs vs Auditioning

When buying a speaker, do you think just reading the frequency response graphs of the speaker is enough or do you think listening to the speaker is more important? I ask this because nowadays I find many people who give their 'verdict' on a speaker by googling a FR graph of the model, even though they've never heard it.
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post #2 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 02:38 PM
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The frequency measurements and spinoramas help you identify a speaker that is accurate. Signal in and signal out with as little variance as possible is the goal. This isn't a sure-fire method of identifying a speaker that you will find pleasing. Research has shown that people tend to prefer speakers that measure well and have good off-axis response. One caveat to remember is that flat lines are boring to the ears. Once you own the speakers, you should season the EQ to taste. Measurements are an indicator of accuracy, the flatter the better. EQ/PEQ/Target curves are for the individual to shape the sound to their liking once its in your home. To answer your question, I bought all of my speakers without hearing them based on their measurements. In my room, I have a target curve that looks like a ski slope. I have not been disappointed thus far. I hope this helps.

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post #3 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 02:45 PM
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Sure. It’s easy to give a verdict on a speaker like the B&W 702D2. Peaky, non smooth frequency response, should sound unbalanced, bright, anemic, based on the charts. I went out and listened, nailed it right on the head.

It’s a good basis, but ultimate selection will come down to hearing the speaker with your *ears*, not eyes or wallet. This is where double blind tests help out.

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #4 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
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But a FR graph does not take into account that people have different hearing capability. Someone might have hearing losses in a certain frequency range and another might do so in a different range. Do an audiogram on two people, it will never give the exact same results. A FR graph can never account for that. And so the person hearing the speaker for himself should be the better way to judge a speaker, shouldn't it?
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post #5 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Rysa_105 View Post
But a FR graph does not take into account that people have different hearing capability. Someone might have hearing losses in a certain frequency range and another might do so in a different range. Do an audiogram on two people, it will never give the exact same results. A FR graph can never account for that. And so the person hearing the speaker for himself should be the better way to judge a speaker, shouldn't it?
Your or my hearing has nothing to do with the accuracy of a speaker and it's off-axis response. If you have poor hearing, you will poorly hear an accurate speaker and you will likewise poorly hear an inaccurate speaker.

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post #6 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 03:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Molon_Labe View Post
Your or my hearing has nothing to do with the accuracy of a speaker and it's off-axis response. If you have poor hearing, you will poorly hear an accurate speaker and you will likewise poorly hear an inaccurate speaker.
Are you sure about that? If a FR graph shows dips or peaks in a range i cannot hear (or cannot hear well) or it shows its low end response goes down to 25hz but i cannot hear frequencies that low, then how does the FR graph give a correct assessment of the speaker's sound to me? Would it not be better to go listen it?
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post #7 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysa_105 View Post
When buying a speaker, do you think just reading the frequency response graphs of the speaker is enough or do you think listening to the speaker is more important? I ask this because nowadays I find many people who give their 'verdict' on a speaker by googling a FR graph of the model, even though they've never heard it.
I think the graphs are a good starting point, but I think most people here would argue that listening in your own space will always been the best way to determine what speakers sound good to you.

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post #8 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 03:46 PM
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You can't choose a speaker by graph.. But you can rule some out using a graph.. That's as clean and easy as i can say it
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post #9 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Rysa_105 View Post
Are you sure about that? If a FR graph shows dips or peaks in a range i cannot hear (or cannot hear well) or it shows its low end response goes down to 25hz but i cannot hear frequencies that low, then how does the FR graph give a correct assessment of the speaker's sound to me? Would it not be better to go listen it?
Yes, I am sure about that. Frequency measurements are like an engine dyno at sea level. The dyno graph is the unadulterated truth of the engine's horsepower and torque at a specific rpm or rpm range. The dyno doesn't lie - that is the baseline capability of said engine - period. This has no bearing on how fast that engine will perform on the track. Car weight, drive-train loss, elevation, temperature, tire compound, tire size, auto/manual transmission, gear ratio, etc all have a bearing on the track times. An anechoic measurement is the unadulterated truth of how well a speaker measures at a specific frequency or frequency range. A speaker's final listening experience/performance will vary based on the room its placed, the speaker placement within that room, the electronics driving it, excessive or lack of acoustical room treatments, room correction algorithm type, EQ etc. Back to the car analogy, the performance of the car will also be dependent on the driver skill. An 10 sec 1/4 mile car in the hands of a poor driver may yield a track time of 14 seconds. Likewise, a well measuring speaker, in an excellent room will sound "less" to someone who has hearing loss. The speaker, measurements, and the room didn't change, you just can't hear it.
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My opinion is use the graphs to identify a well engineered speaker, then go audition it and see if it’s what you like or not. I haven’t hated all poorly designed speaker nor loved all well designed ones either, but I have felt overall, well designed ones always at least sound pleasant, which the converse isn’t true.
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post #11 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 09:05 PM
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There is no substitute for listening.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #12 of 34 Old 12-02-2019, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Rysa_105 View Post
Are you sure about that? If a FR graph shows dips or peaks in a range i cannot hear (or cannot hear well) or it shows its low end response goes down to 25hz but i cannot hear frequencies that low, then how does the FR graph give a correct assessment of the speaker's sound to me? Would it not be better to go listen it?
This gets a little tricky. A truly accurate speaker will sound to you much like the original performance would have sounded if you were there at that performance (ignoring what the recording engineer did in his mixing studio, the natural limitations of stereo reproduction, and probably a bunch of other stuff). If there was no content in the deepest bass, or if you couldn't hear that low, a speaker's capabilities down there would just be irrelevant, but not really misleading for that particular recording. Similarly, if you have a hearing loss up high or anywhere else, an accurate speaker will still sound to you like what you would have heard at the performance, and in general like what you're used to hearing in real life. That doesn't mean that someone with a hearing loss might prefer a speaker with a rising high end response, and that person should definitely audition the speaker. However, for this situation, the speaker is being used as a hearing aid, not strictly as an accurate sound reproducer. And a better alternative would be to choose an accurate speaker and then adjust it to your liking with tone controls of some kind. None of this means that you shouldn't audition speakers if you can. Based on my experience, that would be a near-necessity if a given speaker employed a wave guide to control dispersion, even if it has what look like exemplary Spinorama measurements. It may sound very different from what you might expect from the measurements.
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post #13 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 06:12 AM
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And a better alternative would be to choose an accurate speaker and then adjust it to your liking with tone controls of some kind.
Thank you. That is what I was trying to convey.

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post #14 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysa_105 View Post
Are you sure about that? If a FR graph shows dips or peaks in a range i cannot hear (or cannot hear well) or it shows its low end response goes down to 25hz but i cannot hear frequencies that low, then how does the FR graph give a correct assessment of the speaker's sound to me? Would it not be better to go listen it?
Add me to the "you have to listen in your own home" list which, at least in the US with bookshelf speakers, is quite easy and inexpensive to do.

I have to main setups; one speaker pair measured "well" the other not so much.

I like them both.

Have I recently heard a well received speaker that sounded horrible in my home?

Yes.

So let your own ears be the judge in the end.

If the desire is to only get towers then the process of in home auditioning gets quite a bit harder and more expensive.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #15 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 12:14 PM
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yes, it is not an either/or, IMHO. You can use the FR as a guide, if you know what type of speaker you prefer, but...there is no substitute for listening in home.

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post #16 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 04:34 PM
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The speaker with the superior measurements (spinorama) will sound better to the vast majority of people. In fact, if they have similar bass response, this will happen 99% of the time. That has been scientifically proven.

So, as an example, if you are considering two different speakers, each a similar price, and one clearly has a better spinorama, then you can base a decision on the measurements alone. The spinorama will actually be a more accurate way of judging which sounds best, since there are so many other complicating variables involved in auditioning a speaker which have an affect on our perception of how it sounds.

If, however, you are considering two different speakers, one has a better spinorama, but the other one costs a lot less, then it would probably be helpful to demo the two speakers in the same location to see if the better measuring one sounds better enough to justify the price increase to you.

Another scenario is you have a spinorama for one speaker you are considering, and don't have one for another, in which case you would have to listen to them (again in the same location) to see for yourself.

But like I said, when auditioning speakers, there are many variables that can affect our judgment of which one sounds best. So even auditioning speakers does not mean you will select the one that actually sounds best.
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post #17 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by buckchester View Post
The speaker with the superior measurements (spinorama) will sound better to the vast majority of people. In fact, if they have similar bass response, this will happen 99% of the time. That has been scientifically proven.

So, as an example, if you are considering two different speakers, each a similar price, and one clearly has a better spinorama, then you can base a decision on the measurements alone. The spinorama will actually be a more accurate way of judging which sounds best, since there are so many other complicating variables involved in auditioning a speaker which have an affect on our perception of how it sounds.

If, however, you are considering two different speakers, one has a better spinorama, but the other one costs a lot less, then it would probably be helpful to demo the two speakers in the same location to see if the better measuring one sounds better enough to justify the price increase to you.

Another scenario is you have a spinorama for one speaker you are considering, and don't have one for another, in which case you would have to listen to them (again in the same location) to see for yourself.

But like I said, when auditioning speakers, there are many variables that can affect our judgment of which one sounds best. So even auditioning speakers does not mean you will select the one that actually sounds best.
That's nuts! Of course a person will pick the one that sounds best ... to them. A person may not select the one that measures the best, but the one that measures the best is not necessarily a better speaker, contrary to popular opinion. Best is a subjective term, and subject to the whims of the listener.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

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post #18 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
That's nuts! Of course a person will pick the one that sounds best ... to them. A person may not select the one that measures the best, but the one that measures the best is not necessarily a better speaker, contrary to popular opinion. Best is a subjective term, and subject to the whims of the listener.
I know it might sound counter-intuitive, but it's true. And it's been proven. Scientific studies have shown that if our listening tests are sighted, visual cues can, or rather, will, interfere with our judgement. For example, people will choose the more expensive speaker in a sighted test, but they will choose the better measuring speaker in a blind test.

That is just one variable. Another variable is the room. If two different speakers, are in different positions in the same room, they can still sound different. This is because the room dominates the sound below the room transition frequency (usually around 200-300hz in most rooms). So if one speaker is in a better position, it may sound better, even if it measures worse. If you were to test both speakers in the same position, the better measuring speaker wins 99% of the time in blind tests. And if you hear two different speakers in two different rooms, all bets are off.

If you still don't buy what I'm saying, then I would suggest you check this out:

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post #19 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 05:36 PM
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You can't choose a speaker by graph.. But you can rule some out using a graph.. That's as clean and easy as i can say it
That's what I do, rule speakers out by graphs. My ears are sensitive in the fatiguing 1-4khz range, so I need speakers that have a 3 or 4db cut in that area.
I tried the Kef LS50's for example, and they bothered my ears no matter what I tried. I later seen on a graph that they have about a 2db peak around 2khz.
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post #20 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 06:05 PM
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I chose my speakers by their measurements. Along with price, size, aesthetics, and specs. Couldn't be happier, and the amount of effort it would take to accurately compare with a handful of other options would have consisted of massive shipping costs and a tremendous amount of time and effort to try and compare...very thankful for the work that has been done that correlates measurements with subjective sound quality. Their certainly may have been a handful of other speakers in the same price range that I would likely have been happy with sonically, but the measurements clearly show that I got speakers that won't be easily beaten if at all. At this point, it came down to aesthetics and specs as the dominant factor.

So glad I didn't have to rely on subjective audiophile reviews by paid reviewers, or in person demos which limits things to a very very tiny % of speakers available , not to mention the pitfalls and fallacies of demoing in a showroom.
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post #21 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 06:06 PM
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That's what I do, rule speakers out by graphs. My ears are sensitive in the fatiguing 1-4khz range, so I need speakers that have a 3 or 4db cut in that area.
I tried the Kef LS50's for example, and they bothered my ears no matter what I tried. I later seen on a graph that they have about a 2db peak around 2khz.
Yep.. Lots of us have similar issues .. I like a little dip at about the normal crossover point for 2 way books....it's easier to not waste time with bright speakers when you have access to a graph...

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Originally Posted by buckchester View Post
The speaker with the superior measurements (spinorama) will sound better to the vast majority of people. In fact, if they have similar bass response, this will happen 99% of the time. That has been scientifically proven.

So, as an example, if you are considering two different speakers, each a similar price, and one clearly has a better spinorama, then you can base a decision on the measurements alone. The spinorama will actually be a more accurate way of judging which sounds best, since there are so many other complicating variables involved in auditioning a speaker which have an affect on our perception of how it sounds.

If, however, you are considering two different speakers, one has a better spinorama, but the other one costs a lot less, then it would probably be helpful to demo the two speakers in the same location to see if the better measuring one sounds better enough to justify the price increase to you.

Another scenario is you have a spinorama for one speaker you are considering, and don't have one for another, in which case you would have to listen to them (again in the same location) to see for yourself.

But like I said, when auditioning speakers, there are many variables that can affect our judgment of which one sounds best. So even auditioning speakers does not mean you will select the one that actually sounds best.
BS because I think PMC sounds better then Revel. The Revel had better bass but voices, woodwind and brass instruments and acoustic guitar and pianos were clearly better on the PMC for tonality and timber and more importantly felt more engaging.there were a couple times I felt the PMC had slightly exaggerated highs at small moments, but that withstanding the PMC was so much more enjoyable to listen to. Even made me question how my Dynaudios sounded.

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post #23 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
That's nuts! Of course a person will pick the one that sounds best ... to them. A person may not select the one that measures the best, but the one that measures the best is not necessarily a better speaker, contrary to popular opinion. Best is a subjective term, and subject to the whims of the listener.
I know it might sound counter-intuitive, but it's true. And it's been proven. Scientific studies have shown that if our listening tests are sighted, visual cues can, or rather, will, interfere with our judgement. For example, people will choose the more expensive speaker in a sighted test, but they will choose the better measuring speaker in a blind test.

That is just one variable. Another variable is the room. If two different speakers, are in different positions in the same room, they can still sound different. This is because the room dominates the sound below the room transition frequency (usually around 200-300hz in most rooms). So if one speaker is in a better position, it may sound better, even if it measures worse. If you were to test both speakers in the same position, the better measuring speaker wins 99% of the time in blind tests. And if you hear two different speakers in two different rooms, all bets are off.

If you still don't buy what I'm saying, then I would suggest you check this out:

Calling BS again.... in the above post I’d never heard of PMC and the prices where never disclosed to me because they weren’t in a price category I was shopping, but I was allowed to audition them anyways “for fun”. Both looked like a black speaker. Both speakers setup by the dealer for ideal imaging and soundstage, same room, same gear, same listening positions, not SPL measure but about the same listening volume.

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post #24 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
That's nuts! Of course a person will pick the one that sounds best ... to them. A person may not select the one that measures the best, but the one that measures the best is not necessarily a better speaker, contrary to popular opinion. Best is a subjective term, and subject to the whims of the listener.
Home auditions are fine but one is listening to the room interactions almost as much as they are listening to the speaker. Take the same speaker, place it in another room, and see if it sounds different. I remember auditioning and buying speakers I loved at the audio store to only find them "meh" at home. Sometimes the results were so shocking I couldn't believe it was the same speaker. I am not sure why there is such adversity to measurements. It is just a baseline for how accurate the speaker is reproducing the signal fed to it in a controlled environment. At least I know the speaker is doing what it is intended to do. After that, its up to me to fix the room, EQ, etc. It is just a tool to help validate my purchase decisions. I have been happy with the results of that tool thus far. You can either find a speaker by multiple purchases/demos that suites your room and ears or buy a known good measuring speaker and then fix the room and adjust that speaker to your ears. I chose the later method and found that I have consistently gotten better results with this method versus years of driving around/ordering speakers, auditioning, purchasing, wash, rinse, and repeat. My speaker journeys are finally over. For the first time in decades, I no longer have any speaker itches that I feel the need to scratch.
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Originally Posted by Williams2 View Post
That's what I do, rule speakers out by graphs. My ears are sensitive in the fatiguing 1-4khz range, so I need speakers that have a 3 or 4db cut in that area.
I tried the Kef LS50's for example, and they bothered my ears no matter what I tried. I later seen on a graph that they have about a 2db peak around 2khz.
May I suggest active speakers? Having onboard PEQ allows one to adjust those problem areas and may provide you a wider variety of speaker choices, especially in bookshelf sizing. Dirac Live room correction is also very flexible and powerful is shaping the sound to your liking.
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post #25 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Molon_Labe View Post
Home auditions are fine but one is listening to the room interactions almost as much as they are listening to the speaker. Take the same speaker, place it in another room, and see if it sounds different. I remember auditioning and buying speakers I loved at the audio store to only find them "meh" at home. Sometimes the results were so shocking I couldn't believe it was the same speaker. I am not sure why there is such adversity to measurements. It is just a baseline for how accurate the speaker is reproducing the signal fed to it in a controlled environment. At least I know the speaker is doing what it is intended to do. After that, its up to me to fix the room, EQ, etc. It is just a tool to help validate my purchase decisions. I have been happy with the results of that tool thus far. You can either find a speaker by multiple purchases/demos that suites your room and ears or buy a known good measuring speaker and then fix the room and adjust that speaker to your ears. I chose the later method and found that I have consistently gotten better results with this method versus years of driving around/ordering speakers, auditioning, purchasing, wash, rinse, and repeat. My speaker journeys are finally over. For the first time in decades, I no longer have any speaker itches that I feel the need to scratch.

May I suggest active speakers? Having onboard PEQ allows one to adjust those problem areas and may provide you a wider variety of speaker choices, especially in bookshelf sizing. Dirac Live room correction is also very flexible and powerful is shaping the sound to your liking.
People don't believe what they don't understand... I see it all the time in the news.. They think that an election is fixed just because they have zero idea how the electoral college works .. They ignore weather forecasts because they heard a guy miss a rain forecast once..same with audio...and people would rather argue with fact than learn why they are ignorant.. It's epidemic in the internet age..

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post #26 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Molon_Labe View Post
Home auditions are fine but one is listening to the room interactions almost as much as they are listening to the speaker. Take the same speaker, place it in another room, and see if it sounds different. I remember auditioning and buying speakers I loved at the audio store to only find them "meh" at home. Sometimes the results were so shocking I couldn't believe it was the same speaker. I am not sure why there is such adversity to measurements. It is just a baseline for how accurate the speaker is reproducing the signal fed to it in a controlled environment. At least I know the speaker is doing what it is intended to do. After that, its up to me to fix the room, EQ, etc. It is just a tool to help validate my purchase decisions. I have been happy with the results of that tool thus far. You can either find a speaker by multiple purchases/demos that suites your room and ears or buy a known good measuring speaker and then fix the room and adjust that speaker to your ears. I chose the later method and found that I have consistently gotten better results with this method versus years of driving around/ordering speakers, auditioning, purchasing, wash, rinse, and repeat. My speaker journeys are finally over. For the first time in decades, I no longer have any speaker itches that I feel the need to scratch.

May I suggest active speakers? Having onboard PEQ allows one to adjust those problem areas and may provide you a wider variety of speaker choices, especially in bookshelf sizing. Dirac Live room correction is also very flexible and powerful is shaping the sound to your liking.

I've already found several speakers at different price points that suit me well without wanting to EQ anything but the bass.
Also have an Anthem receiver that has made the bass from my sub and speakers very accurate and seamless.
But I do wish things like room correction and active speakers were more common several years ago.
I find it hard to believe that when I go into some high end audio stores around the GTA, and they're still trying to show off very expensive systems with boomy bass and sounds like crap, and they don't even know it.
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post #27 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Lp85253 View Post
People would rather argue with fact than learn why they are ignorant.. It's epidemic in the internet age..
Fortunately ignorance is curable. Ideologies can be difficult to overcome but be patient and fight the long battle. For the reader that mocks, there is one who is listening. Play chess, not checkers
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Originally Posted by Williams2 View Post
I've already found several speakers at different price points that suit me well without wanting to EQ anything but the bass.
Also have an Anthem receiver that has made the bass from my sub and speakers very accurate and seamless.
But I do wish things like room correction and active speakers were more common several years ago.
I find it hard to believe when I go into some high end audio stores around the GTA, and they're trying to show off very expensive systems with boomy bass and sounds like crap, and they don't even know it.
I may be guilty of the heavy bass myself since I run a ski sloped house curve within Dirac Live. Dirac does tame the bloat but I am definitely hot on the bass. I only EQ up to 200hz and then its entirely speakers and room. I guess my years of car audio in the 80s and 90s seasoned my ears to a heavier bass that many purists may not like. The bass is not crazy hot to where it dominates and smears the imaging, but its definitely more than the mastering artist probably intended. Modern day EQ and room corrections have spoiled me. It is so easy to try different things. If you don't like it, erase it and start over. Separate tuning/EQ configurations can be loaded for mood or genre. I am glad you found a winning combo. Happiness and contentment can be rarities in this hobby.
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post #28 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Molon_Labe View Post
Fortunately ignorance is curable. Ideologies can be difficult to overcome but be patient and fight the long battle. For the reader that mocks, there is one who is listening. Play chess, not checkers

I may be guilty of the heavy bass myself since I run a ski sloped house curve within Dirac Live. Dirac does tame the bloat but I am definitely hot on the bass. I only EQ up to 200hz and then its entirely speakers and room. I guess my years of car audio in the 80s and 90s seasoned my ears to a heavier bass that many purists may not like. The bass is not crazy hot to where it dominates and smears the imaging, but its definitely more than the mastering artist probably intended. Modern day EQ and room corrections have spoiled me. It is so easy to try different things. If you don't like it, erase it and start over. Separate tuning/EQ configurations can be loaded for mood or genre. I am glad you found a winning combo. Happiness and contentment can be rarities in this hobby.
I had 2 cars with subs in the late 90's and loved the bass then, but now I prefer more accurate with only slightly heavier low bass. I found the Anthem set it just a little too lean for me, so I bumped the sub level up in the receiver by 1 or 2db.
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Last edited by Williams2; 12-03-2019 at 08:39 PM.
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post #29 of 34 Old 12-03-2019, 11:05 PM
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Thanks, for not disappointing me, "science" guys. Keep worshiping at the feet of Toole, and I'll continue to use the right tool (pun intended) for the job, my ears.

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post #30 of 34 Old 12-04-2019, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's another question, I brought up the question of varying hearing loss among people, there's another thing a FR graph doesnt take into account, speakers using different tweeter material. I have always found that a diamond tweeter, AMT/Ribbon tweeter, Silk dome tweeter, aluminium tweeter etc. 'sound different' in tonality. An AMT tweeter does not 'sound the same' as a dome tweeter with upper mids/highs even if measurably the speakers had a similar frequency response.
A manufacturer may have accurately tuned the FR response of a speaker using a dome tweeter and another manufacturer may have accurately tuned the response of a speaker using a AMT/ribbon tweeter, and both their FR graphs may look similar, but how are FR graphs taking into account the difference in tonality that will be present because of the speakers using different tweeter material? For a new buyer researching speakers, how would he get to know by a FR graph alone, that which of the AMT tweeter or dome tweeter 'sounds' better? There is no scientific consensus on which tweeter is 'better' all the time. So again, would it not be better to listen the speakers with different tweeters instead of only looking their FR graphs?
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