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Binaural blind comparison test of 4 loudspeakers

Which loudspeaker sound do you personally prefer?

  • Loudspeaker A

    Votes: 7 13.5%
  • Loudspeaker B

    Votes: 42 80.8%
  • Loudspeaker C

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Loudspeaker D

    Votes: 7 13.5%

  • Total voters
    52
  • Poll closed .

richard12511

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My guesses would be(based of memory):

A: Almost neutral, but not a neutral as B, and maybe a little darker. Maybe Sonus Faber, Harbeth, Canton? I'm guessing it's shooting for neutral, and probably a cone and dome with no waveguide

B: Based on what I know of my personal preferences, I think it's something neutral, like Revel, KEF, Genelec, etc.

C: Knowing now that it's expensive, I'm thinking it has to be some "solo venture" high end effort. Doubt it's a huge company with big engineering. Guess would be some kind of horn or some kind of full range driver speaker. Zingali? Volti? Zu? Voxativ?

D. This speaker did sound great in some ways. The fact that I enjoyed the vocal track(almost the best) on this speaker makes me think something like Harbeth(since they are known for vocals), but when I try to estimate the tonal balance, I think more B&W or Paradigm. Maybe one of those 3?

That's just going off of memory, which we know can be rather poor.
 

LeftCoastTim

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My opinions.

C sounds like a boom box stuffed inside a cardboard box.

D sounds like the same boom box outside a cardboard box. I can now tell that it has a bright and thin sound. There is some bass, though.

A sounds better, but too much emphasis in low frequencies.

B sounds better than A, has more highs, but not enough.

For all the tracks, the drums and brass coming in at around 0:25 was the most revealing.

If this is what 10kUSD HiFi sounds like, call me disappointed.
 

GXAlan

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There is of course a big difference if you have a binaural recording of a real acoustic event or one of 2 hifi loudspeakers in a typical hifi listening setup and too high listening distance playing a stereo recording, which is also the difference between "live" and typical stereo reproduction.

The thing is that it doesn’t sound like two speakers to me. Which I would have expected for a reasonable binaural recording. The one thing is that I did test my hearing and it does go above 16kHz which these files apparently do not.

I was just responding to the idea that you need dedicated HRTFs for everyone. Since you’re trying to reproduce the effect of speakers, things like room echo should sound real but in this case it does not.

My hearing with sine waves drops precipitously where even if I can hear something my sensitivity is not as high. But I wonder if this adds to spatial cues.

This whole process is super exciting overall and I thank you for setting it up. Just sad that I haven’t been able to participate since all 4 sound bad to me. :(. I also know that you didn’t make the recordings yourself, so it’s not your fault. It also seems I was the only problem to have an issue with the test files but potentially I am one of the few who still have the ability to hear high frequency noises.

Truly my first instinct was that these were recordings of biwire capable speakers where you only powered the lower frequencies and not the tweeter to see if anyone would point this out. Or if no one realized this it would be a “haha, isn’t it incredible that for all our talk about being audiophiles, no one could tell that these speakers had the tweeter completely disconnected.”
 

eyes-on-you

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My guesses are:
A is KEF. I think it is the narrowest. I think it has coaxial sound signature according to my experience. Dark but natural sound

B should be wide dispersion. Open sound, lively presentation but i did not like its tonal balance. Sound is hifi rather than real to my ears.

C should be a bookshelf. Lack of low bass and i think it has compressed boxy sound.
My guess Harbeth or 2 way coax. Maybe Tannoy. horrible tonal balance

D i have no idea about that.

So, it’s time to show speaker names :)
 

Thomas_A

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If all speakers were similar size and in that price range, I would suggest floor standers.

Speaker C I guess is some kind of poor implemented horn-type speaker. It has a very unpleasant sound in the voice range. I have no idea about the other three at all. As mentioned previously the bass response indicate both vented and closed boxes.
 
OP
thewas

thewas

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So, it’s time to show speaker names :)
Sure :) , I will just leave this day some time for possible posts to the people in US time zones and will post them tomorrow morning here in Europe time zones, also as I want to write few more words about them and its late here now.
 

gags11

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My guess would be:
A: B&W or alike
B: Revel, Kef or similar with good bass
C: lacks bass, so could be a bookshelf, possible horn loaded
D: horn loaded with good bass drivers
 

LTig

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Sure :) , I will just leave this day some time for possible posts to the people in US time zones and will post them tomorrow morning here in Europe time zones, also as I want to write few more words about them and its late here now.
One more sleepless night o_O
 
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thewas

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So, here are finally the results, but let me first write few words about my motivation and choices. :)

Many years ago I was sent many binaural recordings of loudspeakers which were performed in the mid '00s from the German magazine Audio (issue 7/06).
In this forum often discussions pop up about loudspeakers preference in the famous Harman tests, like for example if the results would be significantly different if performed in stereo (usually they are done in mono), if the BBC dip is preferred by many, if large dipoles like magneto- or electrostats are preferred etc.

Most of the recordings I had were from rather lower price loudspeakers and from different sessions unfortunately using different music but I found 4 that were from the same session and reminded me of this famous Harman test:

1632991395258.png

Source

R and I were Revel and Infinity models from the Harman group, B was a B&W (802N I think) as a representative of the BBC dip school of design ad M was a Martin Logan electrostatic as a representative of the the large dipoles.

So I took 3 loudspeakers which were the most similar I had to those and one as a low anchor test as it had significant and audible colorations:

Loudspeaker A Votes: 7 13.5% B&W 802D (as a BBC dip representative, similar to B above)
Loudspeaker B Votes: 42 80.8% Revel F52 (as a Harman group representative, similar to R and I above)
Loudspeaker C Votes: 0 0.0% Klipsch Klipschhorn KH 60th Anniversary (as a low anchor test)
Loudspeaker D Votes: 7 13.5% Quad ESL 2805 (as a large dipole representative, similar to M above)

Here also some measurements of each:

1633255735284.png


Despite the limitations of the recordings and the method in the last hours quite some good/close guesses were posted by some members, also the ASR members voting preference doesn't seen too different to above Harman test.

Hope that this first, rather just fun and limited amateurish attempt might lead to more and better such tests in the future which as shown in existing research can work quite well and you had some fun.
 
Last edited:

GXAlan

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Nobody liked C, and Klipsch certainly is polarizing but were this corner loaded? That generation KH requires the speaker to be put in a corner of a square room.

What a win for Harman and blind testing. EVEN with limited recording quality, it stood out!
 

oivavoi

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So, here are finally the results, but let me first write few words about my motivation and choices. :)

Many years ago I was sent many binaural recordings of loudspeakers which were performed in the mid '00s.
In this forum often discussions pop up about loudspeakers preference in the famous Harman tests, like for example if the results would be significantly different if performed in stereo (usually they are done in mono), if the BBC dip is preferred by many, if large dipoles like magneto- or electrostats are preferred etc.

Most of the recordings I had were from rather lower price loudspeakers and from different sessions unfortunately using different music but I found 4 that were from the same session and reminded me of this famous Harman test:

View attachment 156338
Source

R and I were Revel and Infinity models from the Harman group, B was a B&W (802N I think) as a representative of the BBC dip school of design ad M was a Martin Logan electrostatic as a representative of the the large dipoles.

So I took 3 loudspeakers which were the most similar I had to those and one as a low anchor test as it had significant and audible colorations:

Loudspeaker A Votes: 7 13.5% B&W 802D (as a BBC dip representative, similar to B above)
Loudspeaker B Votes: 42 80.8% Revel F52 (as a Harman group representative, similar to R and I above)
Loudspeaker C Votes: 0 0.0% Klipsch Klipschhorn KH 60th Anniversary (as a low anchor test)
Loudspeaker D Votes: 7 13.5% Quad ESL 2805 (as a large dipole representative, similar to M above)

Here also some measurements of each:

View attachment 156343

Despite the limitations of the recordings and the method in the last hours quite some good/close guesses were posted by some members, also the ASR members voting preference doesn't seen too different to above Harman test.

Hope that this first, rather just fun and limited amateurish attempt might lead to more and better such tests in the future which as shown in existing research can work quite well and you had some fun.

Thanks, that's really interesting!
I'm surprised that the Klipschhorn was that bad, TBH. But also intriguing that it was so universally rejected among us.

It's also interesting that there were distinct minorities who preferred the B&W and the Quad. I'm somewhat content about my impression about D, which I thought had "wide dispersion". Turns out that it's not wide dispersion, but the airiness I perceived probably had to do with the back wave and the increased sense of spaciousness it can provide. It also makes sense that some preferred it on vocals, but less so on more punchy and dynamic music.

Thanks again for undertaking this!
 
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thewas

thewas

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Nobody liked C, and Klipsch certainly is polarizing but were this corner loaded? That generation KH requires the speaker to be put in a corner of a square room.
Yes, those Klipschorns should be placed directly in the corners, unfortunately no detailed information was given about the individual placements, but the test crew back than at least knew about how it should be placed.
 

LTig

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Science works, it seems.
EDIT:
  • I never heard a Klipsch horn but still I'm surprised how bad it is. Where's the bass? I thought people buy it because of its bass.
  • Let's hope no recording studio uses this B&W and counter-EQs the BBC dip into the final recording :(
  • Add a sub to the Quad and it may sound really good
 
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thewas

thewas

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Science works, it seems. I never heard a Klipsch horn but still I'm surprised how bad it is. Where's the bass? I thought people buy it because of its bass.
As said Klipschhorns need corner placement and even then its not really its bass what it is famous about, but its very high sensitivity. We also shouldn't forget that its earliest version is now over 70 years old (where high sensitivity was very important due to the usually very low amp powers) and what was legendary back then is nowadays of course long superseded.
 

TimVG

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Just as we adjust to rooms, it seems we adjust to situations like this as well, and we still are able to pick out the least flawed DUT despite using a variety of listening devices (headphones, in-ears, ..). Very interesting test for sure. Thanks for doing this.
 
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thewas

thewas

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Just as we adjust to rooms, it seems we adjust to situations like this as well, and we still are able to pick out the least flawed DUT despite using a variety of listening devices (headphones, in-ears, ..). Very interesting test for sure. Thanks for doing this.
You are welcome, glad you find it interesting and I agree that this is an interesting outcome.
 

LTig

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Just as we adjust to rooms, it seems we adjust to situations like this as well, and we still are able to pick out the least flawed DUT despite using a variety of listening devices (headphones, in-ears, ..).
I agree - this is what I meant when I wrote that science works. My conclusion is that these parameters are the most important (in this order):
  • smoothness of the frequency response (no resonances, no dips)
  • extension of the frequency response (bass, highs)
  • flatness (? don't know the proper word) of the frequency response (no falling or rising curve)
I don't think that distortion (HD, IMD) has played a role in this comparison, because the speaker with the highest sensitivy and hence the (hopefully) least distortion came out last.
 

Triliza

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Thank you for all of this, we all need something playful once in awhile, and despite its shortcoming in the methodology, it confirms that there is an auditory language that makes all discussions possible and meaningful.
 

LTig

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Thank you for all of this, we all need something playful once in awhile, and despite its shortcoming in the methodology, it confirms that there is an auditory language that makes all discussions possible and meaningful.
Just wait until the owners of B&W and Klipschhorn stumble over this thread ... :confused:
 
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