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B&W 800D4 series

DJNX

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Yes, the yellow line, and surely intentional as well. Not super bright though, perhaps +2-3 dB v 1k Hz and 40-90 Hz. I'd also point out a lot of B&W 801 buyers are over 40, perhaps over 50, and their hearing is compromised in HF, so a bit of extra clarity and width in the soundstage might be welcome.
From my experience with B&Ws at 30°, the brightness problem mostly disappears, when set up that way.
The real problem are the dips. A lot of texture and nuance disappears from the sound, because of those dips.
And you can‘t EQ that back in, because of the erratic directivity.
 
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witwald

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Interesting the article notes - as B&W has generally recommended for decades - to not toe-in the speakers. This perhaps sends more energy to room reflections and less direct HF to listeners.
Is it really a good idea to use the natural on-axis response of the loudspeaker as a sort of de facto room-response equalizer? Such an approach seems to be both counterproductive and counterintuitive.
While B&W bashers often object to harsh or exaggerated HF,
Bashers? Now that sounds a bit harsh. ;)
this difference versus most other speakers AFAIK isn’t really addressed in Toole’s preference research or other testing. I’d like to hear other perspectives.
The issue presented by the non-flat measured response of the B&W 801 D4 is indeed addressed by Toole's research:

"What has been found over several decades of conscientious investigation and publication is [that]...in double blind tests in normally reflective rooms (different ones over the years) listeners give the highest ratings to loudspeakers that measure essentially flat and smooth on axis, and at least smooth off axis in an anechoic chamber or functional equivalent. What they are recognizing and responding favorably to is the absence of resonances - i.e. neutrality."

It would seem that, by definition, the measured response of the B&W 801 D4 is not neutral (i.e., it is colored).

Even as far back as 1975, the B&W DM6 had a relatively flat on-axis frequency response (see below).

1700965081305.png


Then, as tested by Audio (November 1990), the B&W 801 also had a relatively flat on-axis response (see below).

1700965017200.png

Both the B&W DM6 and the B&W 801 avoided having a boosted on-axis high-frequency response.
 

MarcT

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Is it really a good idea to use the natural on-axis response of the loudspeaker as a sort of de facto room-response equalizer? Such an approach seems to be both counterproductive and counterintuitive.

Bashers? Now that sounds a bit harsh. ;)

The issue presented by the non-flat measured response of the B&W 801 D4 is indeed addressed by Toole's research:

"What has been found over several decades of conscientious investigation and publication is [that]...in double blind tests in normally reflective rooms (different ones over the years) listeners give the highest ratings to loudspeakers that measure essentially flat and smooth on axis, and at least smooth off axis in an anechoic chamber or functional equivalent. What they are recognizing and responding favorably to is the absence of resonances - i.e. neutrality."

It would seem that, by definition, the measured response of the B&W 801 D4 is not neutral (i.e., it is colored).

Even as far back as 1975, the B&W DM6 had a relatively flat on-axis frequency response (see below).

View attachment 329384

Then, as tested by Audio (November 1990), the B&W 801 also had a relatively flat on-axis response (see below).

View attachment 329383
Both the B&W DM6 and the B&W 801 avoided having a boosted on-axis high-frequency response.
Maybe B&W figured out way back in the day that a flat response didn't sell like they wanted!
 

MediumRare

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Is it really a good idea to use the natural on-axis response of the loudspeaker as a sort of de facto room-response equalizer? Such an approach seems to be both counterproductive and counterintuitive.

Bashers? Now that sounds a bit harsh. ;)

The issue presented by the non-flat measured response of the B&W 801 D4 is indeed addressed by Toole's research:

"What has been found over several decades of conscientious investigation and publication is [that]...in double blind tests in normally reflective rooms (different ones over the years) listeners give the highest ratings to loudspeakers that measure essentially flat and smooth on axis, and at least smooth off axis in an anechoic chamber or functional equivalent. What they are recognizing and responding favorably to is the absence of resonances - i.e. neutrality."
I understand but that's not what I was referring to. Toole's testing showed that single speakers allow better discrimination, hence, all[?] the testing was done with single speakers on axis. I haven't seen any research (and it's easy to see how that could be very complicated and onerous to do properly) that measures and evaluates different amounts of toe-in for a variety of speakers.

To your first point, "is it really a good idea", absolutely - I thought everyone played with that to some degree when setting up their room. Distance from rear and side walls and degree of dampening of surfaces, too. All will change both the EQ and the soundstage. Tweeter height is another possibility to adjust; Amir specifically calls out speakers that might benefit (or suffer) from non-standard placement.
 

tyreman

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The B&W line I like is the Matrix 800 line up
I still use 803 SII's , used the Matrix 804 and 805's extensively
even have an older pair of DM2000 hanging around

Didn't like the 805S much at all
 

MattHooper

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Maybe B&W figured out way back in the day that a flat response didn't sell like they wanted!

That would be the conundrum.

If the science of blind testing says people will find neutral sounds better, why would choosing a goosed response be more successful for sales?
 

Beave

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That would be the conundrum.

If the science of blind testing says people will find neutral sounds better, why would choosing a goosed response be more successful for sales?

You kind of answered the question in your question. In stores, they aren't being compared blind (or level-matched, likely). The B&W marketing machine, plus the extra sparkle/detail in the treble, wins out.
 

MattHooper

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You kind of answered the question in your question. In stores, they aren't being compared blind (or level-matched, likely). The B&W marketing machine, plus the extra sparkle/detail in the treble, wins out.

Yeah, of course there was the look and the marketing etc. But what I was getting at specifically was the sound. So IF B&W found that moving to a non-neutral frequency profile sold more speakers, even if only an advantage in stores or whatever, then that seems interesting with respect to the results of blind tests suggesting one wouldn't expect that. If the only thing helping the sales was the marketing, aesthetics and of lack of level matching, there'd be no need to change the frequency response as well.
 

MediumRare

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That would be the conundrum.

If the science of blind testing says people will find neutral sounds better, why would choosing a goosed response be more successful for sales?
Because the "science" of audio is not really science. It's just the best we've got in this little obscure corner of the world of knowledge that doesn't justify actually rigorous (expensive and granular) research. Consider this: My 23 year-old can hear at 20k, thinks 80 dB is too loud, and I can't hear 14k and the last concert I attended (a month ago) was clocked at 126 dB SPL. Why in the name of God's green earth should we like the same speakers?
 

Beave

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Yeah, of course there was the look and the marketing etc. But what I was getting at specifically was the sound. So IF B&W found that moving to a non-neutral frequency profile sold more speakers, even if only an advantage in stores or whatever, then that seems interesting with respect to the results of blind tests suggesting one wouldn't expect that. If the only thing helping the sales was the marketing, aesthetics and of lack of level matching, there'd be no need to change the frequency response as well.

The two work together - the sound and the marketing. If a customer heard that exaggerated treble from a cheap speaker with a no-name brand, the salesman might point out that it's harsh or bright. Customer agrees. No chance for a sale. Take the exact same sound profile, salesman points out it's a pricey speaker from a prestigious brand, and now customer hears extra detail compared to other speakers in the store. Sale is made.
 

yanm

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Yeah, of course there was the look and the marketing etc. But what I was getting at specifically was the sound. So IF B&W found that moving to a non-neutral frequency profile sold more speakers, even if only an advantage in stores or whatever, then that seems interesting with respect to the results of blind tests suggesting one wouldn't expect that. If the only thing helping the sales was the marketing, aesthetics and of lack of level matching, there'd be no need to change the frequency response as well.
Selling loudspeakers is similar to selling TV Sets. At least, that’s my two cents.

For TVs, retail outlets usually use setting with oversaturated -but eye popping- colours. In addition, they often have the motion filter turned on. Research / experience has shown that customers prefer those in shops. Those settings are however most often turned off once at home so that the image is more neutral.

The theory goes the same for loudspeakers: there is a frequency response that sells better (typically with stronger highs) and others that are preferred at home. The difference is that, contrary to TV sets, one cannot change the frequency response of loudspeakers that easily at home.
 
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