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Buchardt A500 Measurements and Spinorama

napilopez

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I have another measurement for you today!

The Buchardt A500 is really like almost nothing else out there at its price. It's also a pain to measure :) With the various tunings, you basically get several speakers in one. These go beyond basic EQ, affecting directivity properties for the bass in particular.

Then the speakers have automatic loudness compensation, which is subtle and I think works extremely well. They also have a unique room correction system with the wireless hub. For today, I'm only sharing my measurements of the standard 'Nearfield tuning' because it turns out my measurements of the other tunings were corrupted by a damaged microphone :confused:. The nearfield tuning prioritizes the on-axis, as opposed to the other tunings which prioritize the listening window.

Measurement info: 1m distance, 6.5ms gate. Gear: CSL calibrated Umik-1 and a Fiio K3 DAC. The measurement axis was between waveguide and woofer. On axis is merged with nearfield port and woofer summation at ~400Hz, which has been compensated for baffle step. The off-axis bass is simulated by VituixCAD based on the on-axis splice. The bass was measured at a higher SPL than the far-field measurements (roughly 85dB @1m equivalent) in order to negate the effects of loudness compensation.

A500 Standard Nearfield Spinorama.png


Normalized polars, horizontal:
Snag_4f6beae2.png

and vertical:
Snag_4f6cf4a2.png

Needless to say, these are well worth considering as an all-in-one studio monitor solution as well as home speakers. Flatness approaches genelec/neumann levels, but with more extension out of the box. The caveats are they have a bit of hiss (imo not particularly offensive, and buchardt says they're working on a way to reduce it) and are quite sensitive to vertical positioning. But for farfield or midfield in particular, they should work great as long as your SPL requirements aren't ridiculous.

Buchardt also has a tuning that 'only' goes down to 40Hz to have some more headroom, as well as a tuning that boosts the midrange, although I haven't seen measurements or had the chance to try it yet.

Much more to follow once I've finished my reviews and processing the bazillion other measurements for this speaker.
 

daftcombo

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Many thanks for that @napilopez !

If it is as flat down to 25 Hz as the measurements suggest, it must excite room modes like crazy.
 
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napilopez

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Am I wrong for expecting much better on the resonance side for 3500€?

Eh maybe, but that's probably my fault :). Without going into too much detail , some of the narrow spikes may very well be caused my measurement setup. I've noticed some speakers, especially those with big waveguides, seem to be especially sensitive to placement on my measurement stand. I get the cleanest results by placing a weighted blanket over the stand, which often eliminates minor bumps, but it's a pain in the butt. Other times simply moving the speaker a bit is enough.

For example, the vertical measurement of the A500 (V+5 since I don't have a V0), taken in the same session but with speaker on its side, shows less indication of resonances. Here's the A500 vs the KH80 for reference:

A500 KH80.png


Yes, the KH80 -- arguably the flattest speaker in the world, is a little flatter -- but imo the difference is negligible.

And Buchardt's measurements don't show any resonances (different tuning, but just to get the point across, since buchardt's A400):

1598026367046.png

So that's probably on me.

(Ironically, even though we've all heard stands don't make a difference at all, I've quite consistently found small but consistent FR deviations with different stands/positioning on a stand. Whether it's audible is another matter, but it is measureable. Literally half of my time measuring goes to the initial setup. A topic for another day.)

Many thanks for that @napilopez !

If it is as flat down to 25 Hz as the measurements suggest, it must excite room modes like crazy.

Still better than no sub-bass, and that's what the room EQ is for! You need the hub for it but I assume most users are buying it with the hub.

There are also tunings with less extension/more headroom.

image_2020_08_06T13_09_45_375Z.png
 

Kachda

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Thanks @napilopez. Several people on reddit recently received this and are singing praises of it. I was looking forward to one of you, @amirm or @hardisj reviewing since buchardt’s a400 review here was good but not extraordinary. Needless to say an all in one system at this proce can be a great choice if they can offer something close to d&d or kii 3.

The directivity seems pretty wide. Did you get to see if the cardoid bass works ? And what are your subjective impressions ?
 

ctrl

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Thanks for the measurements, confirms the measurements published by Buchardt.

How would you rate the tonal differences in directivity compared to the A400?
The change of the power response or directivity index (whatever you want to look at) by 5dB within less than an octave in the range 1.2-1.7kHz seems extreme to me.

Since the crossover frequency is only at 2.7kHz, the sound pressure drop in the range 1.2-1.7kHz should also be striking in the horizontal plane. Would you be so kind and publish the horizontal axis frequency responses of the A500?
 
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napilopez

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Thanks @napilopez. Several people on reddit recently received this and are singing praises of it. I was looking forward to one of you, @amirm or @hardisj reviewing since buchardt’s a400 review here was good but not extraordinary. Needless to say an all in one system at this proce can be a great choice if they can offer something close to d&d or kii 3.

The directivity seems pretty wide. Did you get to see if the cardoid bass works ? And what are your subjective impressions ?

Last I checked, it's not really 'cardioid' but it does make bass a little more directive - it has the effect of kind of tightening the bass. It's hard to describe, almost like it has a larger woofer, or like a less capable D&D 8C, but I generally like the effect and preferred it to the more regular tuning.

Directivity is fairly wide considering the large waveguide, but that's a function of the small tweeter.

I think the A500 is great. It really is like having 4 or 5 speakers in one, and while you can achieve some of that via EQ with other speakers, it's kind of nice to have different tunings professionally curated. And as mentioned, it somewhat affects directivity too; the kinda-sorta-cardioid-but-not-really tuning sounds very noticeably different from the regular one.


Thanks for the measurements, confirms the measurements published by Buchardt.

How would you rate the tonal differences in directivity compared to the A400?
The change of the power response or directivity index (whatever you want to look at) by 5dB within less than an octave in the range 1.2-1.7kHz seems extreme to me.

Since the crossover frequency is only at 2.7kHz, the sound pressure drop in the range 1.2-1.7kHz should also be striking in the horizontal plane. Would you be so kind and publish the horizontal axis frequency responses of the A500?

It really does depend on the tuning. On the whole, I found it to sound a noticeably more forward than the S400, a speaker whose bigget flaw I thought was a recessed midrange. There's some of that here, but less so. And again, there's a new midrange forward tuning I've yet to try. As for the crossover, there is yet another tuning with a much lower 1.8kHz crossover, which might ameliorate some of the vertical directivity problems, although there are no measurements available for it yet.

Anyway, here are the horizontals for the standard nearfield tuning. Normally prefer presenting the horizontals in REW, but here's a quick look from vituixcad. Remember the low frequency measurements below 550Hz here are simulated by vituixcad based on the on-axis nearfield splice. I'll post the 'raw' horizontals later.

1598030197786.png
 

ctrl

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If I have understood you correctly, you are saying that the three resonance ranges between 500-2000Hz are possibly due to your measurement - right?

I also find the range 4-5.5kHz interesting. There seems to be a disturbance in the radiation pattern of the waveguide under angles.
1598032936362.png

This also seems to be present in Buchardt's measurements. Whereby the comparison is not very easy, since Buchardt has his measurements transformed to a distance of 10m.
1598033304688.png


Does a reflection within the waveguide or from an edge of the cabinet act in this frequency range, which leads to cancellation and peaking in the angular frequency responses?
 

daftcombo

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Touch crowd, now we complaining about a speaker being too full range... Seriously !!
Measurements suggest an exceptional speaker, IME.
Not complaining at all. But curious about subjective impressions and in-room measurements.
 

LearningToSmile

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So with these measurements confirming that Buchardt's low end extension is true to spec, now I really want to hear the A700 - quoted as 17 - 40.000 Hz +/- 1.5dB vs A500's 25 - 40.000 Hz +/- 1.5dB.

I know that subs separate from mains is more practical but I love the idea of true "full range" speakers.
 

Chromatischism

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On the whole, I found it to sound a noticeably more forward than the S400, a speaker whose bigget flaw I thought was a recessed midrange.
Did you listen to the S400 directly on-axis? I don't think they're recessed. In fact I might toe mine out a little because they're slightly too forward for me on-axis. The 600-1000 Hz region in particular has energy above the average. It's only when I don't point them right at me do I find them more laid back.
 

RMW_NJ

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Did you try the Buchardt App? If so, how was usability?

I had considered getting these on the pre-order offer, but was concerned about possibly buggy early software and the relatively short warranty on the amps. I’m slightly regretting it after reading you first impressions.
 

Soniclife

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Will be watching his this goes, especially when you can test the other modes, a very interesting speaker. It's great to see the power of DSP being explored by a manufacturer.

Are the different modes production versions, or are they still tweaking?
 
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napilopez

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If I have understood you correctly, you are saying that the three resonance ranges between 500-2000Hz are possibly due to your measurement - right?

I also find the range 4-5.5kHz interesting. There seems to be a disturbance in the radiation pattern of the waveguide under angles.
View attachment 79169
This also seems to be present in Buchardt's measurements. Whereby the comparison is not very easy, since Buchardt has his measurements transformed to a distance of 10m.
View attachment 79170

Does a reflection within the waveguide or from an edge of the cabinet act in this frequency range, which leads to cancellation and peaking in the angular frequency responses?

I'm not sure, but it does seem to be inherent to the waveguide. You can see it in my S400 measurements as well:

1598036337446.png


Did you listen to the S400 directly on-axis? I don't think they're recessed. In fact I might toe mine out a little because they're slightly too forward for me on-axis. The 600-1000 Hz region in particular has energy above the average. It's only when I don't point them right at me do I find them more laid back.

I mostly listened to them with no toe in as recommended in the manual I believe, but I listened in all sorts of configurations. Not at all a deal breaker, but just the biggest flaw that stood out to me personally other than a narrow vertical listening window. For me the recession was where is is in their posted power response, around 2K. They compensate with extra energy on axis but I still noticed it. YMMV.

Will be watching his this goes, especially when you can test the other modes, a very interesting speaker. It's great to see the power of DSP being explored by a manufacturer.

Are the different modes production versions, or are they still tweaking?

I think they're pretty much always tweaking but the modes are available right from Buchardt's website.

And indeed. Though the way of changing modes is a little clunky, involving a power cycle with a USB stick (the modes are built into the speakers themselves rather than the hub, as opposed to the room correction), it's actually quite fast as the entire process only takes about 20 seconds per speaker if you have a laptop nearby.

Unfortunately I won't be able to make too many more measurements. It's been much too hard to find time to measure during the pandemic without disturbing neighbors and family. I measured the standard tuning with the directive lower mids, which I now need to compensate for my microphone that went out of whack (has some excess treble energy), as well as the nearfield tuning above. But I have more to share still when I get the chance.

Very impressive for a bookshelf most towers cant manage full range.

Indeed, though keep in mind bass is SPL limited of course so these won't be ideal for huge rooms and/or people who like to listen crazy loud. I rarely go above 80dB @3m so it works for me.

I did do a rudimentary compression test early on but for some reason I can't find where I put those measurements... If you do need more output and don't mind sacrificing some bass you can switch to different tunings. I hope Buchardt puts up some more measurements and details for each tuning, as right now it's a bit of a 'try it and see!' scenario.

So with these measurements confirming that Buchardt's low end extension is true to spec, now I really want to hear the A700 - quoted as 17 - 40.000 Hz +/- 1.5dB vs A500's 25 - 40.000 Hz +/- 1.5dB.

I know that subs separate from mains is more practical but I love the idea of true "full range" speakers.

Same. It's not the pinnacle of a full range experience but it's light years beyond the usual $4,000 bookshelf's that offer no customizability, room correction, or anywhere near the extension. And that's fine for some people, but for both tweakers and the 'set it and forget it crowd's these are a very compelling option. Some people like having big speakers and subs and showing that off. For me, the more I can get away with compact speakers the better. The A500 won't be for everyone but I think they will meet that convenience threshold for a lot of people.

Did you try the Buchardt App? If so, how was usability?

I had considered getting these on the pre-order offer, but was concerned about possibly buggy early software and the relatively short warranty on the amps. I’m slightly regretting it after reading you first impressions.

Basic but gets the job done! Room correction is a quick process.
 

FeddyLost

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Very interesting speaker.
Regarding high-tech bells and whistles, one can only want servo woofers (unless they already are), but it will increase cost even more.
Idea about DSP tuning is not new, but very practical.
I'd like to see distortion measurements in 25Hz mode. Sealed 2x6" barely will make even advertised 93 [email protected] at 25 Hz clearly, so it would be interesting to know how this system handle relatively high SPL. Front woofer playing mids might suffer from IMD.
 

Instar

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Very interesting speaker.
Regarding high-tech bells and whistles, one can only want servo woofers (unless they already are), but it will increase cost even more.
Idea about DSP tuning is not new, but very practical.
I'd like to see distortion measurements in 25Hz mode. Sealed 2x6" barely will make even advertised 93 [email protected] at 25 Hz clearly, so it would be interesting to know how this system handle relatively high SPL. Front woofer playing mids might suffer from IMD.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...rdt-a500-subjective-review.15521/#post-493566

There is a THD image by tuning in my subjective review.
 
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