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Well, but in RELATIVE terms, a speaker that has a flat response anechoic is more likely to have much fewer peaks/dips in-room than one that does not, correct? So by all PRACTICAL means, I don't see any FUNCTIONAL difference in what these 2 terms actually describe. I mean, have there ever been speakers that were not flat anechoic, yet somehow managed to have very few peaks/dips in-room? Or vice versa?
Well, I think the main point where the distinction becomes important is that many folks know that a flat in room response does not sound good. So when they hear things like "speakers that measure flat sound better" this is immediate proof that the science is wrong and the only way to know if a speaker is good is to listen to it at Best Buy. But they simply have a poor understanding of what the science actually says. Neutral would be a better term that doesn't imply flat in room. Lack of resonances. Smooth response. Off axis that closely matches on axis. But the research does show that a downward sloping in room response is what is preferred...not flat.

What many naysayers don't realize, as they are not familiar enough with the material to speak of it intelligently, is that subjective preference came first. *Then*, it was determined which measurements matched up with peoples subjective preference. It's just that the majority of people all tend to prefer a similar sound...neutral and accurate.

So instead of relying on a random crapshoot to select a speaker that will sound good, we know how a speaker should generally measure to sound really good to most people. Once you have a handful of really good measuring speakers, subjective preference could swing things one way or another of course. But a great measuring speaker will most often be subjectively preferred over one that measures(and sounds) poor. That's the beauty of measurements. We can use them to rule out poorly designed speakers. And electronics for that matter.
 

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FFS - measurements are a toole(e) and nothing else!
It is a piece of information - and a SMALL one, that can ASSIST in purchasing loudspeakers.
Toole and Olive are only TWO people involved in loudspeaker design.
To abruptly discount any speaker that doesn't live up to your oh-so-important "spinorama" is giving a gross disservice to other speakers and designers.
Once the world gets beck in order (unfortunately, the Excited States of America will take forever) you should go out and listen to a whole bunch of different speakers. You may surprise yourself that you might actually -gasp- LIKE speakers that don't follow the Toole (Tarkin) Doctrine...
 
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So in this instance then, flat = best, no? Which was my initial point.

As for who was doing the subjective listening I'm going to guess it was not Joe Schmo or Jane Doe grabbed from the nearest Walmart but those more familiar with audio.

All I was saying is that for the majority perhaps vast majority of people who buy some type of audio system the speakers that have the that flat anechoic response is not what would sound best to them. Similar thing with TVs coming from the factory in torch mode, brighter is better. Phones with cameras that "enhance" the image with HDR effects that look nothing like real life. Anything but reality is seemingly preferred by the masses.
They actually did test with Joe Schmo and Jane Doe, as well as testing with trained listeners. The results showed that both trained listeners and Joe Schmo/Jane Doe preferred the same (more neutral) speakers. The biggest difference - if I remember correctly - was that the untrained folks tended to not mind exaggerated bass as much.

I'm more in the camp of measurements are a good starting point, but with two speakers that measure at least relatively well, you really need to hear both speakers in your own home to truly know what you like more
 

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Just what in the helllll happened to my poor thread..?
I told you in your other thread...if you'd still like opinions on the Ascends please ask relative question in the dedicated Sierra thread.:)
 
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I owned the Ascend Towers Raal and demoed the Tekton Double Impacts right beside them . I sent the Demos back ...I will say though, for a movie only speaker, they sound impressive. They sound "Big" and solid. But Tektons don't have near the clarity and airiness that the Ascends had .

Fair enough, I do agree the Ascends had more refinement in the mid and upper ranges, just for me they had less than inspiring soundstage, coherency and bottom end. For mid dominant music like vocals and simple strings, I would prefer the Ascends, but my musical taste is much broader than that. I can appreciate your personal experience with both, and again audio comes down to preference and musical taste.
 

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Fair enough, I do agree the Ascends had more refinement in the mid and upper ranges, just for me they had less than inspiring soundstage, coherency and bottom end. For mid dominant music like vocals and simple strings, I would prefer the Ascends, but my musical taste is much broader than that. I can appreciate your personal experience with both, and again audio comes down to preference and musical taste.
I've had a lot of speakers in and out of here, but one thing I've always had is two subs. I've had 8 inch ones, 12 inch, now I have two 18. I don't recall which subs I had at the time I demoed the Double Impacts. But the combination of two subs for bottom end with Ascends mid and highs was an awesome combination .
 

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Pretty set on Sierra Raal Towers at the moment but if you were buying for yourself.... 60/40 movies/music.

Just wanna see other options and opinions. Will be ran off my Yamaha 2080 (140 watts @ 8ohms)
I've never heard the Sierra Tower with RAAL, but I own the Revel F206 and preferred the Sierra 2-EX to them: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/3121386-listening-impressions-ascend-sierra-2-ex-vs-revel-f206.html

I would imagine the Sierra Tower is a step from the 2-EX.
 

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I've had a lot of speakers in and out of here, but one thing I've always had is two subs. I've had 8 inch ones, 12 inch, now I have two 18. I don't recall which subs I had at the time I demoed the Double Impacts. But the combination of two subs for bottom end with Ascends mid and highs was an awesome combination .



I wouldn't expect most everyone who is bargain shopping Ascend speakers to have the budget for 2 decent subs. Having experienced speakers like the Focal Sopra 2, and B&W 801D3, tower speakers with quality bass changes the experience completely, and will be made even better with high quality subs.


That being said, I had subs with the Ascend as well, and they were not easy integrate well in my room even with REL's high level inputs. In fact Ascend's driver integration from mid to high were not great either, hence my previous comment on coherency, I keep on hearing different drivers. Now I have Raidhos which also use ribbon tweeters, but have no such problems whatsoever. Again, perhaps different rooms, different ears.
 

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I've posted this before but the early Harman studies don't 'exactly' conclude that a neutral speaker is almost always preferred.

The early studies show that the neutral, well-behaved (no egregious dips/peaks/resonances/distortion and generally consistent off-axis behavior) speakers were almost always preferred over the non-neutral, non-well-behaved speakers being tested.

We cannot use this to make the conclusion that a neutral, well-behaved speaker is always preferred over a less-neutral but still well-behaved speaker.

Harman had a later 2013 study which tested headphones and speakers at randomized starting tone control positions for bass and treble and users could adjust their preferences. General trends emerged: younger listeners enjoyed more bass than neutral; older listeners enjoyed more treble than neutral. There were also differences among sexes. What does this tell us? That the science determined there were "significant variations" in taste from neutral (the quote was taken from the white paper which I linked to below). Preference was ultimately subjective if you give the listener the ability to adjust to taste, as opposed to testing full loudspeaker systems that could not be adjusted. Floyd Toole, himself, is an advocate of tone controls to adjust to preference.

The science shows the hierarchy of preference is user-adjusted/well behaved > neutral/well behaved > non-neutral/non-well behaved.

Conclusion: If the speaker is well behaved/well engineered as a starting point, listener subjective preferences take over from there. Science and subjectivity agree on something and we can stop arguing about this topic forever ;)

Sources:

Sean Olive's blog:

"The early studies involved comparison of different speakers that varied more than bass and treble balance. Some speakers had resonances that produced serious colorations, distortions, differences in directivity. The headphone study basically takes a flat neutral headphone and asks people to adjust the bass and treble. That's where experience and age seem to take over. The same holds true for loudspeakers when we did a similar experience. "

"Prior to this study, I nor anyone I know had published a study where trained and untrained listeners were given a bass and treble control and asked to adjust to taste. In previous studies, trained and untrained listeners were asked to give preference ratings to speakers that varied in ways other than bass and treble. It seems that given some finite choices people will pick the most neutral speaker or headphone (no resonances), wide bandwidth. However, given some tone controls they will adjust for variations in program and taste. "

Source: http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2015/11/factors-that-influence-listeners.html

Here is the link to the white paper "Listener Preferences for In-Room Loudspeaker and Headphone Target Responses": http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=17042 The abstract itself says the following: "There were significant variations in the preferred bass and treble levels due to differences in individual taste and listener training. "
 

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I wouldn't expect most everyone who is bargain shopping Ascend speakers to have the budget for 2 decent subs. Having experienced speakers like the Focal Sopra 2, and B&W 801D3, tower speakers with quality bass changes the experience completely, and will be made even better with high quality subs.


That being said, I had subs with the Ascend as well, and they were not easy integrate well in my room even with REL's high level inputs. In fact Ascend's driver integration from mid to high were not great either, hence my previous comment on coherency, I keep on hearing different drivers. Now I have Raidhos which also use ribbon tweeters, but have no such problems whatsoever. Again, perhaps different rooms, different ears.

I certainly believe you. Different rooms and ears (and likes). When we tested the Tektons, my wife, who has quite the ears on her, said of the Tektons midrange, "That sounds like a WHOLE LOT of nothin".. we just don't like his tweeter arrangements. Now for movies, you didn't notice it, but on 100db music, which we frequently play, coherency or not, it was muddled, not nearly a transparent and in your face compared to the Ascends. On recordings where you could "hear the breath" of the singer with the Ascends, Tektons were comply lacking . It just wasn't there...
 

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Source: http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2015/11/factors-that-influence-listeners.html

Here is the link to the white paper "Listener Preferences for In-Room Loudspeaker and Headphone Target Responses": http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=17042 The abstract itself says the following: "There were significant variations in the preferred bass and treble levels due to differences in individual taste and listener training. "
Yes but like I mentioned at ASR this study is only relevant to headphones, it doesn't challenge any of the previous research on loudspeakers, it just means people prefer slightly different response over headphones, likely because of the absence of reflections. Here is the quote from the study that makes it clear:

The experiment was repeated for both loudspeaker and headphone playback conditions to determine how closely the two results matched. The average preferred bass and treble levels were 4.8 dB and -4.4 dB, respectively for headphone playback, and 6.6 dB and -2.4 dB for
loudspeaker reproduction. In other words, listeners on average preferred about 2 dB less bass and treble when listening to the same music tracks over headphones compared to loudspeakers.
 

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What many naysayers don't realize, as they are not familiar enough with the material to speak of it intelligently,...
And some have read the material, familiarized themselves with it, and come to different conclusions. I, myself have purchased and read Dr. Toole's book and I've joined AES. I have read and analyzed the literature produced at the NRC and at Harman. My own conclusion is that the work done at the NRC was valid, unbiased work. However, the papers produced at Harman have morphed into something other than that. In some instances, steps were taken that made the Harman conclusions less than "unbiased."

For example, in a paper comparing Room Correction Systems, one system was found to consistently set the speaker/subwoofer crossover to 800 Hz. EIGHT HUNDRED HERTZ! Something was clearly wrong. The technicians spent some time trying to correct the problem but never could. Rather than do the right thing and remove that system from the comparison, they decided to simply reset the crossover to 80 Hz. In the results, they found that one system sound worse than no EQ at all. They didn't identify the systems in the test, but it's not hard to deduce that the one that sounded worse than no EQ was the one that was not working properly. Good scientific method would have dictated removal of that malfunctioning system from the experiment. Yet they didn't.

In another test where they compared the performance of trained vs. untrained listeners, all 12 of the trained listeners listened individually and they all sat in the same seat, on axis of the speaker. The 184 untrained listeners listened in groups of 8 seated in 2 rows of seats. This means that the large majority of listeners were listening to the off-axis response of the speakers. If you've ever been to a speaker demo or comparison with multiple listeners, you know that there is a significant difference to listening from the on-axis sweet spot vs. listening off axis. Moreover, it is much harder to concentrate on the sound when surrounded by other people. They cough, sneeze, make comments, move around in their seats and generally become a distraction. Whenever I've been in those situations, either at shows or store demos or AVS GTG's, I've always tried to find my way to the seat in the sweet spot before drawing any conclusions about speakers. Using two very different listening environments to compare the performance of two different groups of listeners, makes the conclusions about the comparison something less than scientific. When I asked Dr. Olive about this, he replied that it didn't make any difference in the results. (Disclaimer: I've never been to a speaker demo that used a single mono speaker. They've always been stereo or multi-channel demos, where imaging is one of the primary factors under consideration, at least for me.)

...is that subjective preference came first. *Then*, it was determined which measurements matched up with peoples subjective preference. It's just that the majority of people all tend to prefer a similar sound...neutral and accurate.
Yes, and the spinorama was developed at the NRC and was unbiased and valid science. However, that only makes the findings relevant to the test conditions. In a blinded listening test with a single, monophonic speaker playing a specific set of music selections, the spinorama is an excellent representation of the preferences of listeners. When bass is accounted for by using subwoofers, it's certainly plausible that many, if not most listeners will prefer the speakers identified by the measurements as best IN THAT CONTEXT. Extrapolating that to speakers preferred in a multi-channel system used for movies, or other genre's of music doesn't necessarily pass muster. Nonetheless, the next time I put on a blindfold, turn off all my speakers but my CC and listen to Tracey Chapman and James Taylor, I'll be sure to note how my CC sounds.

So instead of relying on a random crapshoot to select a speaker that will sound good, we know how a speaker should generally measure to sound really good to most people. Once you have a handful of really good measuring speakers, subjective preference could swing things one way or another of course. But a great measuring speaker will most often be subjectively preferred over one that measures(and sounds) poor. That's the beauty of measurements. We can use them to rule out poorly designed speakers. And electronics for that matter.
I agree that a "good measuring speaker" is likely to sound good, at least in terms of the timbre of the sound. But the spinorama only provides *direct* info about the timbre of the speaker. There are MANY other properties of speakers that make them "preferred" by some people for multi-channel use. Sensitivity, power handling and SPL output are very important to many people, myself included. The spinorama provides zero information about these properties. Having said that, if all else is equal, (the speakers have 94+ dB of sensitivity, 300 to 500 watts of power handling, and can hit 105 dB with 6 dB of headroom at 12'), then I'll pick the speaker with consistent off-axis response over one that is flat on-axis but has anomalies off-axis.

The spinorama also can't describe anything directly about the ability of a speaker pair, or multiple speakers to portray a sonic image. Things can be inferred from the spinorama about imaging, but there is no direct evidence included in the measurements that can be used to directly describe these properties.

Off-axis performance is not as important to me as I use acoustic absorption to reduce the impact of the most influential, early reflections. In addition, I toe my speakers in so they aim directly at my ears. IOW, I listen directly on-axis to my speakers and I reduce the levels of the early reflections. If one aims their speakers straight into the room, (i.e., they listen off-axis), and one prefers to allow the early reflections to persist, then the off-axis response becomes more important, but its a lower priority for me.

Timbre is VERY important, and I personally prefer "neutral" speakers. I don't like "bright. I don't like "warm." I don't like laid-back, recessed or forward speakers. I prefer speakers that don't add to, or subtract anything from, the sound. I also put a lot of effort into minimizing the room's contribution to the sound. Many will say that I've over-dampened my room and the sound will be dull and lifeless... until they actually hear my speakers in my room. I've never had a single visitor mention "dull and lifeless" when describing the sound of my system.

So the spinorama may be the ideal set of measurements for blinded listening to one monophonic speaker when listening to soft rock music. It can tell you everything you need to know... about the timbre of the speaker. I think that's all that can be said. Feel free to use the Spinorama however you prefer, and chose your speakers accordingly. I'll do the same.

Craig
 

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And some have read the material, familiarized themselves with it, and come to different conclusions. I, myself have purchased and read Dr. Toole's book and I've joined AES. I have read and analyzed the literature produced at the NRC and at Harman....

Craig
Thanks for your detailed reply, I enjoyed reading and considering your thoughts on the matter, especially coming from a position of a good understanding of the subject matter.

Edit: Brevity for OP :)
 

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In another test where they compared the performance of trained vs. untrained listeners, all 12 of the trained listeners listened individually and they all sat in the same seat, on axis of the speaker. The 184 untrained listeners listened in groups of 8 seated in 2 rows of seats. This means that the large majority of listeners were listening to the off-axis response of the speakers. If you've ever been to a speaker demo or comparison with multiple listeners, you know that there is a significant difference to listening from the on-axis sweet spot vs. listening off axis. Moreover, it is much harder to concentrate on the sound when surrounded by other people. They cough, sneeze, make comments, move around in their seats and generally become a distraction. Whenever I've been in those situations, either at shows or store demos or AVS GTG's, I've always tried to find my way to the seat in the sweet spot before drawing any conclusions about speakers. Using two very different listening environments to compare the performance of two different groups of listeners, makes the conclusions about the comparison something less than scientific. When I asked Dr. Olive about this, he replied that it didn't make any difference in the results. (Disclaimer: I've never been to a speaker demo that used a single mono speaker. They've always been stereo or multi-channel demos, where imaging is one of the primary factors under consideration, at least for me.)
Now that seems like some egregious negligence, hardly the impeccable scientific rigor that these Harman studies are claimed to have by their proponents. It's devastating to what I've always felt to be the most sketchy/dubious of their claims, that measurements can be used to predict which speakers "the vast majority" of people will prefer.

Thanks for sharing that bit of info, Craig. You just saved me $12 and hours of eyestrain going through a 568 page book on my little 6" Kindle screen. :)
 

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I wouldn't expect most everyone who is bargain shopping Ascend speakers to have the budget for 2 decent subs. Having experienced speakers like the Focal Sopra 2, and B&W 801D3, tower speakers with quality bass changes the experience completely, and will be made even better with high quality subs.


That being said, I had subs with the Ascend as well, and they were not easy integrate well in my room even with REL's high level inputs. In fact Ascend's driver integration from mid to high were not great either, hence my previous comment on coherency, I keep on hearing different drivers. Now I have Raidhos which also use ribbon tweeters, but have no such problems whatsoever. Again, perhaps different rooms, different ears.
What a completely condescending post. You may have a better budget for audio equipment, but to call those who have purchased Ascend speakers have "bargained shopped".
Your sub-integration problem lies in the fact that you use horrible subs.
Rels are pretty, but they are pretty dismal when it comes to being a good subwoofer. I suggest you research bass management.
Then again, you are an anonymous internet person. No way to verify you actually have the equipment you mentioned, so I will take your suggestions with a tonne of salt...
 

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What a completely condescending post. You may have a better budget for audio equipment, but to call those who have purchased Ascend speakers have "bargained shopped".
Your sub-integration problem lies in the fact that you use horrible subs.
Rels are pretty, but they are pretty dismal when it comes to being a good subwoofer. I suggest you research bass management.
+1!
 
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