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Audioengine A5+ Powered Speaker Review

QMuse

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#81
With that experience behind me, I figured I knock out the resonance around 900 Hz which happened to also coincide with peak distortion. Wow, that cleaned up the distortion very nicely without hardly any impact on tonality. You could so easily hear it in vocals and even higher frequency notes. Transient notes because much cleaner and less grungy for lack of a better word. I need to record this effect some day so you all know what I am hearing.
So, assuming you were listening at 86dB/1m level distortion at 900Hz was 1% or -40dB. Once you lower it for 2dB with your filter it is at -42dB which corresponds to 0.8%.

Are you sure you were hearing a difference in the distortion of only 0.2% (1% vs 0.8%) or maybe you were hearing a difference because you reduced that peak at 900Hz? :D

Regarding your filter at 4438Hz, as you can see from the filter simulated response below, it actually dug quite a dip in that region.

Capture.JPG


To correct the uneven response in the 3kH-8kHz region you need 3 filters and then you end up with this, which looks nice and flat:

Capture1.JPG


Capture2.JPG
 
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Thomas savage

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#82
Lucky me. My LSR 305 Mk11s don't audibly hiss, or hum. And no, it is not my hearing. :)

Today the lass who sold me a lottery ticket, today, said, after my bemoaning(take note Thomas) my lack of any lottery success, "Well you must be lucky in other ways". Dammit, is she psychic? :rolleyes:
If only there were prizes for moaning .., a world championship even .
 

Billy Budapest

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#83
I’d like to see the Audioengine HD6 speakers reviewed—that’s the model that has audiophile pretensions.

I agree with other comments that Audioengine really should go with active crossovers via DSP (a la KEF LS50W) rather than the passive traditional ones, but I’m sure that would require a complete redesign and that might not be something they want to do. Audioengine is comprised of ex-Apple and Harman engineers and Audioengine is obviously a much smaller operation and a redesign would take significant resources!
 

tomstoll

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#84
i have the Audioengine A5+ for office/desktop usage and paired with a Monoprice studio sub and im very happy with the performance.

i have it output via a Monoprice usb DAC from my older macbook.
 

ROOSKIE

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#85
So, assuming you were listening at 86dB/1m level distortion at 900Hz was 1% or -40dB. Once you lower it for 2dB with your filter it is at -42dB which corresponds to 0.8%.

Are you sure you were hearing a difference in the distortion of only 0.2% (1% vs 0.8%) or maybe you were hearing a difference because you reduced that peak at 900Hz? :D

Regarding your filter at 4438Hz, as you can see from the filter simulated response below, it actually dug quite a dip in that region.

View attachment 67301

To correct the uneven response in the 3kH-8kHz region you need 3 filters and then you end up with this, which looks nice and flat:

View attachment 67303

View attachment 67305
I have also been a bit skeptical of these adjustments to reduce distortion. Obviously I can not say for sure, it does seem like confirmation bias which is of course understandable since amir made the changes himself and he believes in them.
Bias is so weird like that, it isn't something you ever decide whether or not you have it is something you come to find out you have. (if you come to find out)
Really the in room frequency response before and after the EQ adjustment would nice to see. (just a quick moving mic window) More work, but without it we can't see what the frequency response charges are that attempting to mitigate the distortion creates.
 

QMuse

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#86
I have also been a bit skeptical of these adjustments to reduce distortion. Obviously I can not say for sure, it does seem like confirmation bias which is of course understandable since amir made the changes himself and he believes in them.
Bias is so weird like that, it isn't something you ever decide whether or not you have it is something you come to find out you have. (if you come to find out)
Really the in room frequency response before and after the EQ adjustment would nice to see. (just a quick moving mic window) More work, but without it we can't see what the frequency response charges are that attempting to mitigate the distortion creates.
What I can offer is simulated predicted in-room response and LW once correct filters down to 300Hz are applied based on NFS measurements. IMHO opinion it looks pretty good..

Capture.JPG
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #87
So, assuming you were listening at 86dB/1m level distortion at 900Hz was 1% or -40dB. Once you lower it for 2dB with your filter it is at -42dB which corresponds to 0.8%.

Are you sure you were hearing a difference in the distortion of only 0.2% (1% vs 0.8%) or maybe you were hearing a difference because you reduced that peak at 900Hz? :D
Much more sure than your analysis. :D

You are assuming that distortion scales with volume linearly. If this were so, then these two relative levels would be identical but they are not:



I know, because I tested this hypothesis before running these new level standardized tests. I thought I could simply compensate for SPL differences in software given fixed input to speakers. I tested that hypothesis and it was wrong. Non-linear distortions get proportionally worse as levels increase. They are not predictable because they highly depend on the design of the speaker and sources of distortion.

You can see this effect in amplifier measurements for example:



Distortion level changes in character just when we hit a massive brick wall. Surely around that corner point, you can't use the linear math for prior to that.

Importantly, staying away from that massive peak will make a huge audible difference in distortion levels.

With speakers, there are many distortion factors, some of which have catastrophic consequences with respect to distortion and level. Imagine a woofer bottoming out. A moment prior to that distortion is far, far lower, just like the amplifier above.

Keep in mind that much of my audio training is around detecting small distortions and well below levels we are talking about here. If 2.5% THD in the most sensitive region of our hearing has no audible effect, we better pack our bags and go home. :)

Also, your guess that I was listening at 86 dB SPL is just a random one. I was near causing the speaker crackling and losing its mind as I reported in the review.

Granted, unless you perform the experiment, you won't know what I am talking about. So try to run some distortion tests on your own speakers and do as I did in slightly dialing down the points of peak distortion and report back.

Until then, odds of your analysis being wrong is higher than my hearing perception being biased in this regard. :)
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #88
I have also been a bit skeptical of these adjustments to reduce distortion. Obviously I can not say for sure, it does seem like confirmation bias which is of course understandable since amir made the changes himself and he believes in them.
Bias is so weird like that, it isn't something you ever decide whether or not you have it is something you come to find out you have. (if you come to find out)
Really the in room frequency response before and after the EQ adjustment would nice to see. (just a quick moving mic window) More work, but without it we can't see what the frequency response charges are that attempting to mitigate the distortion creates.
Please take this in the right context: you all have many doubts about many things. You can help reduce those doubts by conducting your own experiments. The moment removing your doubt, requires me doing extra work, I pull back. It is your theory, do something to validate it. It is not like you can't measure distortion or apply some EQ and do a blind test.

Casting doubt on my work "just because" is not a constructive way to move forward. There is basis for what I am doing and that basis predicts the subjective results. A resonance that is pulled down is exactly what we do with room modes and no one complains that there is no audible effect there.

Now if I had done something random like changing the response at 30 kHz and such, sure, you could have doubts and ask me for more. But making objective changes like I did and say I probably didn't hear anything?
 

QMuse

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#89
Much more sure than your analysis. :D

You are assuming that distortion scales with volume linearly. If this were so, then these two relative levels would be identical but they are not:



I know, because I tested this hypothesis before running these new level standardized tests. I thought I could simply compensate for SPL differences in software given fixed input to speakers. I tested that hypothesis and it was wrong. Non-linear distortions get proportionally worse as levels increase. They are not predictable because they highly depend on the design of the speaker and sources of distortion.

You can see this effect in amplifier measurements for example:



Distortion level changes in character just when we hit a massive brick wall. Surely around that corner point, you can't use the linear math for prior to that.

Importantly, staying away from that massive peak will make a huge audible difference in distortion levels.

With speakers, there are many distortion factors, some of which have catastrophic consequences with respect to distortion and level. Imagine a woofer bottoming out. A moment prior to that distortion is far, far lower, just like the amplifier above.

Keep in mind that much of my audio training is around detecting small distortions and well below levels we are talking about here. If 2.5% THD in the most sensitive region of our hearing has no audible effect, we better pack our bags and go home. :)

Also, your guess that I was listening at 86 dB SPL is just a random one. I was near causing the speaker crackling and losing its mind as I reported in the review.

Granted, unless you perform the experiment, you won't know what I am talking about. So try to run some distortion tests on your own speakers and do as I did in slightly dialing down the points of peak distortion and report back.

Until then, odds of your analysis being wrong is higher than my hearing perception being biased in this regard. :)
Well ok, the difference may be slightly larger than 0.2% but the fact that you reduced the level only by 2dB wouldn't imply much bigger difference than that, so comparing it to when you raise the level by 10dB isn't really telling the truth.

One other thing is that your 4438 filter actually caused a pretty wide dip but you didn't seem to notice it while listening. :)

Anyway, as you are mentioning your listening training so often here is my proposal: why don't you listen the next speaker you'll be measuring and tell us your listening impressions distortion wise (and linearity wise) BEFORE you see any of the NFS response charts? I mean, if @Kal Rubinson dares to take that challenge each tim he reviews the speaker I'm sure you can do it as well. In this case we would of course count on your moral integrity not to peak into NFS charts before you listen. :D
 

Robbo99999

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#90
Hmm. I am listening to a pair of 305P ii right now as I type. I can hear exactly no hiss.
I don't hear any hiss on my 308Ps.
I got the 308p Mkii as well, I can hear the hiss in a quiet room from about 1 metre if no music is playing. The reality is that it doesn't matter because it's not noticeable when playing music and I sit over 1 metre away from them...now if they were sat on my desk next to my PC monitor or something it would annoy the hell out of me....but how I use them it's not an issue. (It's hiss from the tweeter, woofer is essentially silent).

On topic of this thread though, I'm surprised this speaker scored so highly, after seeing the measurements and some of the issues I thought it was gonna be quite a lot less, surprised to see it scoring higher than the 305p Mkii, I don't think the 305p had the distortion/resonance issues of this speaker.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #91
Anyway, as you are mentioning your listening training so often here is my proposal: why don't you listen the next speaker you'll be measuring and tell us your listening impressions distortion wise (and linearity wise) BEFORE you see any of the NFS response charts? I mean, if @Kal Rubinson dares to take that challenge each tim he reviews the speaker I'm sure you can do it as well. In this case we would of course count on your moral integrity not to peak into NFS charts before you listen. :D
I gave you that impression in the review. I explained how it sounded the moment I played. This is what I do in my listening tests. I go back to the measurements only when I try to see if I can improve it. Other than noting that it would have more bass, I didn't draw more conclusions than that prior to listening. Seeing how my subjective results often are in dispute with objective scoring at least, there is no automatic bias there.

I am of firm belief that me listening blind as you state serves a lessor purpose than what I am doing here. I try to find correlations between subjective and objective. JA does that routinely in stereophile measurements and his comments about listening.

In the case of distortion, it is its absence that makes an impression, not its presence. Unless you reduce it, you don't know what effect it had. I think this is a new development that longer term may have substantial value as it is under-researched.

I want to again caution against creating FUD around my reviews with no evidence. Just because you worry I have bias, doesn't mean anything. Demonstrate using your own experimentations and bring that data here. To wit, demonstrate to me that Kal's reviews are more accurate than mine. Can you do that?
 

richard12511

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#92
I had the LSR308 and the 306p MARK II. Both had hiss. Very noticeable, I could hear it across the room if it was quiet. I would have never been able to use these near-field. I did appreciate very, very much their sound quality vs price. Would still recommend them for most folks as long as I tell them about potential hiss issues.
I don't have either set anymore or I would measure the frequency of the hiss. Maybe it was out of your hearing range or maybe you got lucky. Nearly everyone I have ever talked to or heard from about any of the 3 series JBL's had some amount of hiss.
I doubt it's out of my hearing range, as I'm still pretty young and I can hear up to around 17k. I also don't think it's a luck thing, as I have 4 of them, and none of them have it.

Maybe there is something going wrong with your amp or something else in the chain causing it? I know when I first hooked them up in my living room to my AVR there was a loud "hum"(maybe you could call it a "hiss"?), but it was a ground loop issue. Once I moved them to my office that noise disappeared.

Also when did you buy them? Mine are brand new, so it's possible that something may have changed.

I actually can hear a noise, but it's completely different than what you are describing, so I don't think it's the same thing. I wouldn't call it a "hiss", but more of a "white noise", like an old tv that can't find a channel. It's also way too quiet to be what you're describing, as I can only hear it when I turn off the AC, turn off the fan, and pray that my dog, traffic outside, and birds all behave themselves :p(Listening distance is ~2m). It would be completely swamped out of audibility with any content playing at all.
 

Yuno

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#93
I got the 308p Mkii as well, I can hear the hiss in a quiet room from about 1 metre if no music is playing. The reality is that it doesn't matter because it's not noticeable when playing music and I sit over 1 metre away from them...now if they were sat on my desk next to my PC monitor or something it would annoy the hell out of me....but how I use them it's not an issue. (It's hiss from the tweeter, woofer is essentially silent).

On topic of this thread though, I'm surprised this speaker scored so highly, after seeing the measurements and some of the issues I thought it was gonna be quite a lot less, surprised to see it scoring higher than the 305p Mkii, I don't think the 305p had the distortion/resonance issues of this speaker.
I had the same experience with original lsr305. Constant hiss which made me quickly return speakers. My speaker placement was close enough that I would hear it at all times when not playing music.
I'm actually surprised to hear there are people who have hiss less lsr's. I thought this is just a characteristic of the amplifier they use.
 

ROOSKIE

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#94
I doubt it's out of my hearing range, as I'm still pretty young and I can hear up to around 17k. I also don't think it's a luck thing, as I have 4 of them, and none of them have it.

Maybe there is something going wrong with your amp or something else in the chain causing it? I know when I first hooked them up in my living room to my AVR there was a loud "hum"(maybe you could call it a "hiss"?), but it was a ground loop issue. Once I moved them to my office that noise disappeared.

Also when did you buy them? Mine are brand new, so it's possible that something may have changed.

I actually can hear a noise, but it's completely different than what you are describing, so I don't think it's the same thing. I wouldn't call it a "hiss", but more of a "white noise", like an old tv that can't find a channel. It's also way too quiet to be what you're describing, as I can only hear it when I turn off the AC, turn off the fan, and pray that my dog, traffic outside, and birds all behave themselves :p(Listening distance is ~2m). It would be completely swamped out of audibility with any content playing at all.
Howdy, it was a white noise sound. To me that constitutes the hiss.
Yes it is inaudible when playing music except during silent passages.
As I said I found the speakers have excellent sound for a low price. They would not work for me in near-field, unless I was going to constantly be switching the power to them on and off when I was not using them for playback. In the far field it didn't really bother me but I could most certainly hear it. (again not normally with content playing)
Anyway the point is to point it out for those who would not like the noise. There are plenty who consider various noises a no deal, such as I can't stand loud computer fans. There are plenty who won't notice or could care less if it is audible.
Nobody expects zero flaws especially at the low prices they retail for.
The hiss of this JBL line has been discussed many times in many places, it not new information. Many looking here will be cross shopping the JBL and Audio Engine sets. If these Audio Engine speakers do not have the noise/hiss of the JBL's then some folks will want to include that in a buying decision. Simple as that, no need to argue this - only interested in being helpful.
 

ROOSKIE

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#95
Please take this in the right context: you all have many doubts about many things. You can help reduce those doubts by conducting your own experiments. The moment removing your doubt, requires me doing extra work, I pull back. It is your theory, do something to validate it. It is not like you can't measure distortion or apply some EQ and do a blind test.

Casting doubt on my work "just because" is not a constructive way to move forward. There is basis for what I am doing and that basis predicts the subjective results. A resonance that is pulled down is exactly what we do with room modes and no one complains that there is no audible effect there.

Now if I had done something random like changing the response at 30 kHz and such, sure, you could have doubts and ask me for more. But making objective changes like I did and say I probably didn't hear anything?
Hi Amir,
I realize that I am peon here. Just to be clear any time I write anything here my intentions are to make anything happen on this site better, not worse. I deff don't enjoy stepping on the toes of the head of the site. It is always a risk.
I know you do a ton of work, that is not taken for granted, I am grateful. (as so many here are)
Given then that I do not have a fancy for any confrontation with you, I most certainly did not question the distortion based EQ settings without being very careful. I think they are important. In this light I likely should written a much fuller post rather than a quick comment. I assure you though there was no "just because".

I have no doubt that you are doing the very best you can and I have no doubt that you are qualified to present your work with a very high level of confidence.
The point is to work this out, as what you are currently doing seems to be worth debating (specifically with regard to addressing the distortion levels, I am not referring to any other aspect of the work) and at the very least having a discussion around it. One that I am hoping more talented folks here will chime in on. Especially because speaker harmonic distortion is not well understood so many gains may be made.

As I understand it, the resonances with room modes are not an apples to apples with re-guard to trying to reduce the distortion levels of the speaker. Nor is it apples to apples when compared with EQing for even response/preferred response in the frequency spectrum.

As I understand, if a speaker is flat at say 3krz but has some higher levels of 2nd and 3rd order distortion and you pull down the response there you now have a dip. This may not matter, it might still sound good. (It ought to sound at least a tiny bit different of course as now the frequency response is different.)
But how much did you reduce the distortion levels and is the sound change due to the reduced distortion or changes to frequency response or both combined?
If a speaker has 2.5% distortion at 3k at 85db and if you are playing at 85db and drop the 3khr region by say 3db to reduce distortion that area is now around 82db. As we know, that change in distortion percentage is not the whole 2.5% but a fraction of it.

Now, I know this unit had a frequency response peak and a distortion peak in the same zone. I understand you clarified that the improvement by EQing this 900hrz distortion peak was most beneficial when using this speaker at its limits. I am wondering what about at the lower levels - even just slightly lower (still loud). Additionally what about those smaller peaks at 500 & 1500, do you think the threshold around that region may be starting to show?

Unfortunately I do not have this AudioEngine unit. I do have the R162 so I can repeat the EQ you used on that speaker when I get a chance. I did notice that on the R162 dropping the zone of distortion may have created quite a dip. I can also try the ELAC UB5, that system has very high distortion so likely easier to hear differences.

I'll finish my overly long post by saying for the sake of the research and since it would be a super fun experiment, try what others have suggested and listen to at least one or two speaker systems first thing before everything else. I can't see any reason not to myself and as other suggest it would be really interesting. This would not be to prove you right or wrong, who cares who is right/wrong, but simply as an experiment. Anyone of us could try this but since you have already published so much it would really be far more interesting than if I try plus I then have to ship the gear to you anyway to measure with the unit.
 

digicidal

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#96
Lucky me. My LSR 305 Mk11s don't audibly hiss, or hum. And no, it is not my hearing. :)

Today the lass who sold me a lottery ticket, today, said, after my bemoaning(take note Thomas) my lack of any lottery success, "Well you must be lucky in other ways". Dammit, is she psychic? :rolleyes:
You guys make me wish I had the patience to keep returning and rebuying them dozens of times. I think my 305P's and my 306PmkII's both sound pretty good... but when they're not playing anything or I put them back on my desk... the hiss is really distracting at first. Eventually my brain's filters kick in and I no longer notice it until I listen for it. Maybe the white noise calms me down after a bit. ;)

I tried a few 305's over a couple months when I thought it was an anomaly - but I figured more than 4 pairs returned to the same GC was likely to wind up with me not being welcome there much longer. If they were $1500 monitors, I'd have kept going or given up on them entirely. For 10% of that cost (actually less on sale) - 4 tries was already excessive IMO.

Although maybe I've been looking at this all wrong, and the real problem is I haven't been gambling (I'm a Vegas native, so I have a very dim view of it). Maybe I can hit the lottery now that I've been enduring all that JBL hiss in my monitors. :p
 

Xyrium

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#97
Is it passe to consider performing step response measurements on speakers in the future? I've never had the opportunity to hear a claimed perfectly aligned system, but I've read things about brands like PSI who make strides in this area, for the sake of grasping that last bit of timbral accuracy out of musical instrument reproduction.

When I got into audio, companies like Fried, Snell, and Thiel were the big dogs (I suppose B&W and Wilson as well). I remember almost all three of them maintaining a focus on time alignment. So, I'm curious if that is no longer a concern, and everything these days is designed well enough to achieve a reasonable amount of alignment.
 

ReaderZ

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#98
I guess Zeos is much more sensitive to that bass dip, he just reviewed them yesterday and said:
"These are some of the most boring speakers ever."
I agree with Z, you can get 8 inch M Audio at this price and they are waaay more fun.
 

QMuse

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#99
In the case of distortion, it is its absence that makes an impression, not its presence. Unless you reduce it, you don't know what effect it had. I think this is a new development that longer term may have substantial value as it is under-researched.
IMHO in the case of such small change in the distorion it is about expectation bias. I sincerely doubt such small change in the distorion level is audible to anybody.

Just because you worry I have bias, doesn't mean anything. Demonstrate using your own experimentations and bring that data here. To wit, demonstrate to me that Kal's reviews are more accurate than mine. Can you do that?
Of course you have bias as you are seeing mesaurements before doing the review - it simply cannot be avoided as you can't unsee what has been seen.

And no, Kal's reviews are certainly not more accurate than yours. In fact nobody's review can be more accurate than yours as your reviews are based on NFS charts and nobody has listening skills to beat that. :D
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #100
IMHO in the case of such small change in the distorion it is about expectation bias. I sincerely doubt such small change in the distorion level is audible to anybody.
And what is that opinion based on? Wet thumb in the air? What experiments have you conducted in this regard or research you have read?
 
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