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Buchardt S400 Speaker Review

Vacceo

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I didn't say that we can always listen to speakers or other audio products before we buy them, I said that is the ideal situation, especially for speakers. For example, the S400 is only available via direct order from the manufacturer in Denmark. Did you read any listening test reviews before hand? Why does the creator of this Audio Science Review website perform listening tests in addition to measurements?
Amir clearly answered to that. He got the "but do you like it?" question again and again, hence the listening test.
 

Dennis Murphy

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Sorry, that is not a satisfactory answer.
Is that really the only reason Amir listens? I hope not. You can't judge precisely how a speaker will sound just by looking at the measurements. For example, look at the results for the KEF LS50 Meta. It's pretty smooth overall, but the upper midrange and lower treble are a little rough and the trend is recessed somewhat, and there's a peak just below 5 kHz.. Do those departures from linearity really color the sound? I wouldn't know without listening. I have a definite opinion after listening, and it's not what I would have guessed beforehand.
 

Chromatischism

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I didn't say that we can always listen to speakers or other audio products before we buy them, I said that is the ideal situation, especially for speakers. For example, the S400 is only available via direct order from the manufacturer in Denmark. Did you read any listening test reviews before hand? Why does the creator of this Audio Science Review website perform listening tests in addition to measurements?
Because he got enough requests that he finally gave in, despite not wanting to inject subjectivity. Also, he is personally interested in how the CTA-2034 standard lines up with his personal listening experience. However, he always makes it clear (or when he doesn't, he should) that he is only one pair of (trained) ears.
 

Mark_A

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Is that really the only reason Amir listens? I hope not. You can't judge precisely how a speaker will sound just by looking at the measurements. For example, look at the results for the KEF LS50 Meta. It's pretty smooth overall, but the upper midrange and lower treble are a little rough and the trend is recessed somewhat, and there's a peak just below 5 kHz.. Do those departures from linearity really color the sound? I wouldn't know without listening. I have a definite opinion after listening, and it's not what I would have guessed beforehand.
I agree, especially with speakers.
 

Mark_A

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Because he got enough requests that he finally gave in, despite not wanting to inject subjectivity. Also, he is personally interested in how the CTA-2034 standard lines up with his personal listening experience. However, he always makes it clear (or when he doesn't, he should) that he is only one pair of (trained) ears.
On one of his latest reviews, he admitted that at his age, his hearing is not the best. Maybe that is part of it. Yes, there is subjectivity when doing listening tests for speakers, which is one of the points I made about this whole discussion of the Buchardt S400 review by Audio Excellence in Canada.

BTW, I am not ruling out that all differences between speakers could be scientifically measured. That is possible. But I don't think frequency response, distortion, and impedance tests, etc, tell the whole story. Plus, there are so many differences in room response, our own hearing, etc, that speaker reviews will always be somewhat subjective.
 

Chromatischism

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I don't think frequency response, distortion, and impedance tests, etc, tell the whole story.
Everything we hear extends from the pressure the drivers exert on the air. I do think we can measure everything. I also think we underestimate how audible some differences in measurements are (and we overestimate others).
 

MaxBuck

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I don't believe the difference between Class A and Class A/B or Class D is 100% psychoacoustics (based on my listening experience with headphone amps), at least not for me. Whether a preference that is based solely on cost is psychoacoustics, is an entirely different matter. Even though not all Class A amps sound better than all other Classes of amps, they often do, and they are more costly to make. Class A amps are not a gimmick, unlike some high-end cables, power cords, network switches, etc. Whether Class A amps are worth it, is an entirely different question. Someone who has $200 million may not want to spend the time and hassle of trying different equipment, and just get what most consider to be the best, even if they are not sure they can hear the difference.
Well designed amplifiers driving speakers sound so similar to one another as to be indistinguishable, so long as there are no (rare) impedance mismatches. You can't get better reproduction than with Class-D Purifi and Hypex designs.

You seem to base your judgments of amplifiers on headphone listening. I don’t use headphones (aside from Bluetooth sets for voice media like audiobooks and podcasts), but perhaps impedance matching is more critical in such applications.
 

Mark_A

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Well designed amplifiers driving speakers sound so similar to one another as to be indistinguishable, so long as there are no (rare) impedance mismatches. You can't get better reproduction than with Class-D Purifi and Hypex designs.

You seem to base your judgments of amplifiers on headphone listening. I don’t use headphones (aside from Bluetooth sets for voice media like audiobooks and podcasts), but perhaps impedance matching is more critical in such applications.
You are just going way too far off the deep-end in your broad statements about all amplifiers sounding the same. First of all, you say well designed amplifiers "sound" indistinguishable. That's like saying all intelligent and hard working students get good grades in school. That is not any kind of revelation, nor is it any kind of information that one can hang their hat on.

However, I am not a believer that amplifiers make huge difference in the sound of most home hi-fi stereo systems (within reason). For example, my loudspeakers are PSB Synchrony 2, and my amp is an Onkyo 85 WPC integrated amp, both purchased in 2009. Hardy a state of the art amplifier. But I think they sound very good together, and I am not inclined to upgrade my amp until it breaks. Your attempt to paint me as some kind golden ear audiophile who claims to hear huge differences in amps is completely inaccurate.

But no, I don't just base my experiences just on headphone amps, although my old Creek Class A headphone amp was the only Class A amp that I have extended listening time on (over 24 years using that amp). I used several different headphones of varying impedance (most of them of pretty high quality), so it is not just impedance matching. I also used different headphone amps, and a variety of headphones over that 24 years.

But I also said that not all Class A amps sound good. For example, the much ballyhooed Sangxer SA-1 Class A headphone amp (Amir from ASR said it measured well and sounded good) is one of the worst amps of any kind that I have ever heard, although many say that if the internal modification is performed to bypass the DC protection capacitors, then the sound is a little more, or much more (depending on who you ask) transparent. My current headphones are the Sennheiser HD-660 which are quite revealing and transparent IMO, so actually it is probably easier to hear the difference between Class A and D with high quality headphones than if comparing a Class A and Class D speaker amp with speakers.

There are also speaker and amplifier interactions that sometimes need to be considered. Obviously, the SPL rating of the speaker is important, relative to the ability of the amp to deliver a lot of power in transient peaks (versus continuous RMS). For some speakers, the damping factor of the amp can make a big difference in bass response, depending on the configuration of the bass drivers in a speaker, which is also significantly affected by the room dynamics at lower frequencies. Flat Panel or electrostatic speakers like Magnepan, Martin Login, etc are not going to sound very good on all amplifiers, for a lot of complex reasons that goes beyond just power rating.

Probably most of all, it depends on what kind of music one is listening to, plus the recording quality of the music. Obviously, it also depends on the hearing ability of the listener, which is probably one of the biggest variables in the whole equation.
 

Mark_A

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Everything we hear extends from the pressure the drivers exert on the air. I do think we can measure everything. I also think we underestimate how audible some differences in measurements are (and we overestimate others).
I already admitted that all differences in the sound of a loudspeaker could be measured in theory. But in the real world that is not practical and for all practical purposes not even possible.

Immanuel Kant (1790-1835) inaugurated a Copernican revolution in philosophy, when he claimed that the subject doing the knowing constitutes, to a considerable extent, the object—i.e., that knowledge is in part constituted by a priori or transcendental factors (contributed by the mind itself), which the mind imposes upon the data of experience. Far from being a description of an external reality, knowledge is, to Kant, the product of the knowing subject. When the data are those of sense experience, the transcendental (mental) apparatus constitutes human experience or science, or makes it to be such.

What does that mean? It means that not everyone hears the same, and certainly not every human (much less other animals or humans as they evolve) hears the same as instruments "hear" things. The differences in hearing ability is much wider from person to person than most people realize, and even if two people have the same measured hearing ability (almost always measured with headphones), not everyone has the same size, same shape, and same angle of their earlobes. Try cupping your ears with your hands when listening to music, and you will probably find the difference to be astounding. This subjectivity, especially with regard to speakers, obviously goes way beyond this, such as how the listening room (not just our ears) vary from one to another, or from one place in the room to another, etc, etc. The permutations are infinite,

Then there are complexities of measuring the speaker system itself. Almost all measurements that I know of are done a single frequency at a time. Even a frequency response curve is done with a frequency sweep, but measuring a single frequency at a time. But in music, there are almost always going to be multiple frequencies coming out of the same driver at the same time. This can drastically alter the performance of a speaker driver, and the speaker system.

For example, when Amir (ASR) evaluated the GR Research LGK 2.0 (see link below), he noticed during a listening test (some on this forum claim Amir doesn't think listening tests are useful, so I guess he was forced to do it at gunpoint), that when a female voice and a bass note were playing at the same time, this single driver speaker system completely fell apart, even though it measured well and sounded good when the individual notes were played. So how would one measure this? Yes, some objective tests could be devised to measure the distortion when multiple frequencies are playing on the same driver, but there are an infinite number of different frequencies (and an infinite number of combinations of frequencies) that could be measured. And even if that could be done, how would one know which where the most important combinations, and which were unlikely to make a difference with real-world music (not to mention that not all music has the same frequencies, and people have different music preferences, and there are big differences in the hearing ability of people). So all this talk about objective testing is fine and very useful, so long as one does not take it to the extreme and erroneously believe that measurements represent some kind of absolutely true and objective testing that can always be relied on to determine the differences in speakers.

 

Chromatischism

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What does that mean? It means that not everyone hears the same, and certainly not every human (much less other animals or humans as they evolve) hears the same as instruments "hear" things. The differences in hearing ability is much wider from person to person than most people realize, and even if two people have the same measured hearing ability (almost always measured with headphones), not everyone has the same size, same shape, and same angle of their earlobes. Try cupping your ears with your hands when listening to music, and you will probably find the difference to be astounding. This subjectivity, especially with regard to speakers, obviously goes way beyond this, such as how the listening room (not just our ears) vary from one to another, or from one place in the room to another, etc, etc. The permutations are infinite,
We're going to have to step away from headphones in this discussion about speakers in a room.

Floyd Toole, the famous audio researcher who doesn't need an introduction on this site, came to the opposite conclusion. You should look into his work. In a nutshell, we all hear differently, but we fit tight enough on a bell curve that speaker preference is mostly predictable.
 
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Chromatischism

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I do agree that multi-way speakers can potentially* handle content more effortlessly. We just need to be careful not to assume that is always the case. We also need to be careful in our comparisons. You could take a multi-way speaker like a Philharmonic BMR for example, but note that the midrange dispersion is so much wider it is going to present things differently with the room. There will be more reflected energy. Because variables like that are changing it makes it hard to compare 2-way vs 3-way IMD subjectively. The brain could easily and mistakenly attribute what it's hearing to the wrong variable.

*When I say potentially, I mean I would like to see a standardized test that can reveal such a thing.
 

Mark_A

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We're going to have to step away from headphones in this discussion about speakers in a room.
My discussion about headphones was related to comparing Class A vs other kinds of amps, and nothing to do with speakers. Using high quality and revealing headphones can help in evaluating the differences in amps, if any. So we don't have to step away from anything.
 

Mark_A

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I do agree that multi-way speakers can potentially* handle content more effortlessly. We just need to be careful not to assume that is always the case. We also need to be careful in our comparisons. You could take a multi-way speaker like a Philharmonic BMR for example, but note that the midrange dispersion is so much wider it is going to present things differently with the room. There will be more reflected energy. Because variables like that are changing it makes it hard to compare 2-way vs 3-way IMD subjectively. The brain could easily and mistakenly attribute what it's hearing to the wrong variable.

*When I say potentially, I mean I would like to see a standardized test that can reveal such a thing.
Your comments seem to concede that there are not now enough tests to determine ALL the differences in speakers. It is true that some additional standardized tests could help, but there will never be enough tests to uncover 100% of the differences, for reasons I explained previously.
 

VintageFlanker

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For example, when Amir (ASR) evaluated the GR Research LGK 2.0 (see link below), he noticed during a listening test (some on this forum claim Amir doesn't think listening tests are useful, so I guess he was forced to do it at gunpoint), that when a female voice and a bass note were playing at the same time, this single driver speaker system completely fell apart, even though it measured well and sounded good when the individual notes were played. So how would one measure this?
Measured well?! Have you even red the review at all?
Danny GR Research LGK Little Giant Killers 2.0 THD distortion percentage Measurements.png
Danny GR Research LGK Little Giant Killers 2.0 THD distortion Measurements (1).png
 

Mark_A

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Measured well?! Have you even red the review at all?
It's a speaker with a single 3" driver, to be used as a desktop speaker. It was not designed to play at 86 db.

I referenced a listening test that was used by Amir where he discovered a problem (massive distortion) when both bass notes and high-midrange notes are played at the same time. What standardized industry test is used to measure that? What frequencies does the test use, and how many different frequencies are played at the same time in such an objective test. If such a test were developed, subjective decisions would have to be made about all these parameters and permutations to use with such a test.

Also, regardless of what distortion shows up in those graphs, the extra distortion that reveals itself when playing two frequencies at once (bass and high-midrange) is not shown in those graphs.

I watched the YouTube video, not the written review, although he displayed web pages of the written review in the video. Did you watch the YouTube review, and see his comments about listening tests?
 

LTig

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I don't know anyone who prefers a Class D amp over Class A or class A/B, except that Class D for the same power output is much less expensive, is much more compact, and develops much less heat. The McIntosh Class D amp is designed for multi-channel home theater use, where absolutely best fidelity is not so critical in the rear or side channels.

Please don't try and tell me that if you won $200 million in the lottery, that you would be buying a Class D amp for your best 2-channel stereo system. Please don't tell me that.
I don't care about amplifier designs, because I buy whatever the designer of the active speaker did chose to use. That is because active speakers are where the real advances in SQ are.
 

Mark_A

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I don't care about amplifier designs, because I buy whatever the designer of the active speaker did chose to use. That is because active speakers are where the real advances in SQ are.
I like that idea also, however, I don't like the idea of trying to fix, or completely replace it just because the amp failed. Speakers tend to last longer than amps.
 
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