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Ha - this caught me by surprise!

Found it on Tidal, let's hear what this is.. some singers, and yes, they are to the left, from just outside the left speaker, spread out towards center, and reverb from a large space, noticeable from right and a little up front (deeper), you can possibly sense a high ceiling.

Decided to sit just a few more seconds, and then the whole composition changes dramatically - there singers spread out, not only just beyond the speakers, one is now located right to the left side of the lp, and the image still holds up - it is a singer, with body, not some faint sound coming from far left. Amazing.

This recording places singers around me, from 90 degrees left and around towards and past center, they are all separately distinguishable, and the walls of my room are replaced by the larger pace of the recording.

Thank you for this tip, this is music I would never have found, I don't play much of this sort, but this one I will definitely listen more to.

To put this in relevance to the thread - speakers are one thing, but room acoustics together with the radiation pattern is what determines how this scene will be rendered and perceived.

Roll Jordan Roll was recorded a few times by Fairfield Four in different venues. It was from the album Standing in the Safety Zone is the one I've been talking about. It's at the min 2:15 point. There are five of them in the Fairfield Four. This one was on my top ten 'Recordings to Evaluate Systems with' thread from January 2016. I found it from the Martin Logan Neolith demo at the Munich audio show around that time. Or to be more precise, it was These Bones that ML was playing and I searched through the rest of Fairfield Four's recordings and found several great albums.
 

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John, thank you and your team for the hard work put into this event. I'm convinced everyone had a great time and took it very seriously so that our results are as valid and absent of bias as possible.

While this is my first post to AVS, I'm not brand new to audio. To give a brief background, I'd call myself a skeptical audio enthusiast whose unwilling to pay money for something that I have not experienced as appreciably better. Sorry expensive cable companies.

I currently own a set of 12 year old Klipsch RF-82 mains, RC-62 center, and RS-400 surrounds. While I think they are great for dialog clarity, I find them too directional, a little bright (or perhaps lacking a little in the midrange), and too forward to thoroughly enjoy with music. I find it less of a problem on rock or other energetic music types than I do for something soft and delicate. About two years ago I purchased a set of JBL LSR308 monitors for my desk next to my computer and it was amazing how much I prefer them over my Klipsch. What was especially noticeable was the width of the sound stage that I was not hearing with my Klipsch. Enter an awakening that has me almost ready to replace them. After attending last year's RMAF and going to the local Listen Up store for a couple hours of listening, I discovered the Revel F208 was my speaker. I fell in love with the soundstage presentation and I am currently saving up for a pair.

Now for the part everyone reading this is interested in reading:

I attended the social on Friday, the full event on Saturday, and the last half on Sunday. On Friday we walked through some of the immersive content from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X demo discs. We did this with John's M2 front LCR speakers, JBL LSR708 surrounds and Revel C763l overhead. I was thoroughly impressed with the experience and the sound impact.

I arrived Saturday afternoon just before we were ready to start the double-blind test. We all stayed out of the room while John's team finalized the setup. I sat in the listening space while the first person started the test. We were instructed to stay silent and avoid any expression of gesture that would indicate anything about the sound, the speaker playing, the track, or really anything at all.

I must admit I did something I now regret I did - I attempted to associate a sound with each speaker early on. When it was my turn (I was either #3 or #4) , I identified similar characteristics and was convinced I know which speaker was A and which was B. With that said, I had zero preference toward either speaker. In my mind, the M2 was most obvious because the upper middle range was seemingly forward and direct. In at least one or two of the song clips, I wrote a note that I preferred the vocal clarity from the M2 but in all cases I felt the Salon2 provided a fuller sound (bass extension), a smoother treble, and a wider presentation. At the same time, I kept thinking that the M2 was perhaps the more accurate speak and I might like a little "fun coloration" added to the sound, even if just slightly. Continuing through the track list, the most consistent difference to me was the deeper and fuller bass from the Salon2. But again, I was questioning whether it was somewhat enhanced in that region to provide a trait appealing to many listeners. The bass was generally very tight and punchy except for one song, I believe the Adele track, where it was clearly accentuated. I don't think that was the fault of the speaker but rather a combination of the room and the speaker interacting without any room correction applied and the recording.

I was one of the listeners who placed an "X" in the speaker column versus a score and did so by selecting the speaker I would purchase in that situation. I believe I selected the Salon2 all but one time although on two or three occasions it was pretty close to a tie. I wouldn't say they sounded the same in those cases, it was just, for example, I preferred the bass and stage on one (Salon2) and the vocal clarity on the other (M2).

I returned the next day in the middle of the afternoon to see if the Sunday group came to the same conclusion. I sat on the steps that separates John's dining area with his theater. The location is not ideal being ~30-40 degrees off axis and next to a wall. But nonetheless, I tried to determine the speakers again. Much to my surprise, I was completely wrong. In fact, I thought they were joking but in fact I completely switched the Salon2 and the M2. Either due to the location (or my imagination), the exact qualities I recognized from the previous day I applied to the other speaker. I didn't get a chance but kind of wish I would've asked to sit back in the listening position to see if I was able to accurately pick between the speakers.

I'm not sure if this helps or confuses people. But either way, I had a great time and I sincerely appreciate John for hosting the event and his team for making it happen. I recognize this is not free or easy and recommend he either charge a minimal fee or ask for tips/donations to at least cover the food and drinks he provided. I certainly want him to host another shootout in the future and look forward to it.

Last, I wanted to thank the other participants that I met at the social and the shootout. It was good to meet others that share the interest and appreciation of music and audio reproduction. I was also happy to add a few extra songs and artists to my music collection - always good to find new music!
 

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Great comments. One thing I noticed is that I liked the sound of the M2 a lot more from the back row than the front. It was closer to a tie in that circumstance. Maybe the extra distance lifted the upper bass / low mids enough to warm the sound of the M2 but swamp out more details on the Salon 2.

A major confounding factor concerns the response of bass and low mids, which will depend quite a bit on the driver layout, room placement, and listening position, even for speakers with the same anechoic response. The three 8"s on the Salon 2 likely interacted with the floor a bit different from the single 15" on the M2. Of course, the Salon 2 is not exactly flat, as I comment on below.

While I made extensive notes about these things, I tried to judge more on the range from 500 Hz and up. That's easier said than done. The stronger low mids on the Salon 2 may have helped to mask the upper mids that I sometimes felt were overly forward on the M2s. In hindsight, these overly aggressive upper mids may have been the fault of the track or perhaps a side effect of our rather high listening level for the audition. It'd be nice if in future experiments, we could loudness normalize the tracks beforehand.

Perhaps the one quality that was unmistakably better on the Salon 2 was the high frequencies. This may be because of the Beryllium tweeter, but it could also be because of the response shape at the top. The M2 is just a little bit hotter up at the top, and it might be just a little bit too much. I had previously said that the top end of the M2 narrows more rapidly than the Salon 2, but upon more careful inspection of the data, I see that this is not actually the case. They both narrow at about the same rate above 8 kHz. The M2 is narrower to begin with though.

With all this said, I looked at the Salon 2 spin more closely and noticed some other interesting points. First, the response is slanted down toward the high frequencies ever so slightly. Compared to the response above 1 kHz or so, it's about 1 dB hotter from 250-1000 Hz and almost 2 dB hotter in the 100-250 Hz range. These differences, while hard to see in the picture, are quite substantial and likely contribute a warmer sound at the expense of upper end detail. It may also tend to make the bass seem to be more dynamic and to have more impact. Also, there is a slight dip in both the listening window and early reflections / power response around 2.5 kHz, which may reduce ear discomfort with some content.

Knowing these things, I am inclined to believe I may have favored the M2 more with some higher quality source material. A lot of stuff were either older recordings, which are often rougher in the upper mids and treble, or pop music which is often intentionally hyped up there. Given more cleaner recordings with more natural balance, I might have given the M2 more points. A lower auditioning level for auditioning may also have helped. Only the quietest tracks were playing in the low 80s dBC, which could be considered about optimal. Some of the louder ones were averaging in the low 90s. Next time this is done, I think it might help to try to normalize the tracks for loudness.

Still, the one thing that really stands out is that the M2 had a sound that was boxy and localized; whereas, the Salon 2 sound seemed to be more freed from the speaker. This perception was consistent from track to track. Why did this happen? Is is because of the increase in dispersion? If so, then the M2 might sound better in a different room. Or maybe it was the rounded cabinet sides of the Salon 2, which theoretically reduce diffraction? Or maybe it was the top end frequency response shape? This latter hypothesis could be tested using a minor EQ tweak.

Anyway, the fact that I'm going through these possibilities goes to show that they really are quite close in performance. As John said, it's not like the comparison was a blow out.
 

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A couple of thoughts that haven't been mentioned.

Dome vs CD
If you go back and listen to the HTgeeks podcast about the M2s, then Scott grilled the JBL guys on this subject. IIRC they admitted that a dome would be superior, but that they needed a CD to get the output that they wanted. I think this is were Scott kept asking them how dangerous it is to listen at levels that high.

For me, I don't like sound that loud, so a CD would be overkill. I don't think it was as bad last year at Cedia, but the previous two years JBL seemed like they were in a car audio competition.

Beryllium
www.audioheritage.org/vbulletin/attachment.php?attachmentid=40060

It is almost a decade old, but it gives a good overview of Be.

I think troelsgravesen has mentioned the differences between Be tweeters and other materials in the same design.


I asked Floyd about the Yamahas and his thoughts are in the other thread. Not sure how good the new 5000 is with Zylon, as I know nothing about the material. I should reach out to Dr. Dog, since he is probably familiar with it in his work with NASA. Hopefully Yamaha will have these on display and in a room to listen to instead of that awful Atmos bar they had last year.

Oh one more thing. I hope PBN is doing their speaker in cooperation with JBL. It takes a lot of balls to name the speaker M2!5
 

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Perhaps the one quality that was unmistakably better on the Salon 2 was the high frequencies. This may be because of the Beryllium tweeter, but it could also be because of the response shape at the top. The M2 is just a little bit hotter up at the top, and it might be just a little bit too much. I had previously said that the top end of the M2 narrows more rapidly than the Salon 2, but upon more careful inspection of the data, I see that this is not actually the case. They both narrow at about the same rate above 8 kHz. The M2 is narrower to begin with though.
Personally I think this is key to the results. I'm not sure the driver material makes a significant audible difference, but the frequency response most certainly does. Harmon's own research has indicated listeners prefer a gradually downward sloping frequency response as it sounds more natural. The Salon 2's are engineered to do this out of the box (bear in mind the Salon's 2's tweeter sits above the head of a seated listener by design, presumably also to create greater high frequency roll off by virtue of being off axis), where the M2's are design to give a completely flat frequency response so they can be more easily shaped to a chosen house response curve during installation - I believe there are at least two M2 owners on this forum that either manually adjust high frequency roll off via EQ, or achieve it by virtue of their installation.

It would have been interesting if the response of the M2's had been shaped to closely match that of the Salon 2's in room, to see if the listener preference differences became more narrowed. Were any measurements taken during the session - it would be interesting to see them?

NB - I'm also assuming here the Input panel controls for bass and treble on the Salon 2's were set at 'Normal' and '0' respectively.
 

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It would have been interesting if the response of the M2's had been shaped to closely match that of the Salon 2's in room, to see if the listener preference differences became more narrowed.
Great initiative guys. But I think having the very same frequency response like Wookii points out here should have been used to get a trustworthy result.
A flat frequency response is seldom optimal for listening.
 

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Lol.

Both of these speakers have a lot of compromises, but I agree they are among the better commercial ones out there.

As an example: A huge well designed horn speaker with constant directivity down to 300 Hz, lower crossover between top horn and mid horn, and with a separate bass solution (preferably horn loaded) is in another league, but it's also a size few can live with.


.
 

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more reflections => great perceived spaciousness.
this, through a reduction in inter-aural cross-correlation.

off axis response of salon 2.
-6db at 90 deg off axis out to almost a 1 kHz.
-6db at approx. 70 deg off axis out to almost 10khz.
much less directional behavior than the m2.




results of this "shootout" are interesting. kind of reminiscent of the results when the "IMP" (comprised of four radio shack in-wall speakers arranged to optimize room reflections/interaction) were preferred in a blinded test over the linkwitz orion.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/103681479/SLReport10-05

also kind of explains the success of the 901 'direct/reflecting' despite doing just about 'everything wrong'.

but, as some others have asked, what happens when the content is switched to a human speaking and/or when there are discrete 5-7 source channels, as one finds in movies?

btw, kudos to all involved.
 

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Lol.

Both of these speakers have a lot of compromises, but I agree they are among the better commercial ones out there.

As an example: A huge well designed horn speaker with constant directivity down to 300 Hz, lower crossover between top horn and mid horn, and with a separate bass solution (preferably horn loaded) is in another league, but it's also a size few can live with.


.
lol it does make that 75" LCD TV look small! :D
 

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Lol.

Both of these speakers have a lot of compromises, but I agree they are among the better commercial ones out there.

As an example: A huge well designed horn speaker with constant directivity down to 300 Hz, lower crossover between top horn and mid horn, and with a separate bass solution (preferably horn loaded) is in another league, but it's also a size few can live with.


.
Where is the high end CBT?;)
 

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Under construction :)
Which is another speaker design which beats these two here IMO.
I will take your word for it, as I still haven't heard one. Floyd did comment on them in the other thread.

By the way, I have followed your posts on CBTs with great interest. There are so few new, interesting and unique designs that come out that it is like a breath of fresh air when one does.;)
 

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Great initiative guys. But I think having the very same frequency response like Wookii points out here should have been used to get a trustworthy result.
A flat frequency response is seldom optimal for listening.

A few around here have been saying for quite some time that frequency response is far from all there is to all of this.
 

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Listen guys, Salon's won, M2's lost. Get over it :D

Not everyone gets a trophy :p:)
If not getting a trophy means you have M2's in your place, I think you still win :)

I have been lurking on this thread and it is fascinating to see the role of science and engineering in audio! Thanks to all for participating, and for Dr. Toole's great insights.
 

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If not getting a trophy means you have M2's in your place, I think you still win :)

I have been lurking on this thread and it is fascinating to see the role of science and engineering in audio! Thanks to all for participating, and for Dr. Toole's great insights.
Lol, no doubt. I didn't want Salons before the shootout, and I don't want them after :).

Besides, as was mentioned, the M2's have EQ built-in to deal with many of the "differences" cited by the listeners. Given the comments that preferences flipped in different room positions, and the nature of the comments, it leads me to believe that with proper room setup and judiciously applied EQ, much of the differences may have disappeared. Maybe :D

Regardless, I like horns, CD's, and significant wasted headroom :)D), so the Salon's are not on my list. When you find a reasonably sized horn/CD that beats the M2 you might get my attention :D. But there is literally nothing about the M2's I dislike, or that bothers me in my room, so there is little incentive for me to move to something "better".
 

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As a M2/Sub18/Crown Itech5000HD owner, I must confess a little surprise concerning the results of this exercise. I love my JBLs, but would consider Revels in an upgrade to other systems where the amps need to be in the same room as the speakers. Any word out there concerning a replacement of the Salon 2, a Salon 3 perhaps?

I have found interesting the ancillary discussions concerning the perception of height and pin point positioning in the sound stage, especially when it is argued that some positions on this matter, when taken to the extreme, are basically a figment of the imagination. I can't think of any other hobby with so much BS.
 
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