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Buchardt S400 Speaker Review

ROOSKIE

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That was the Harbeth schtick. But think about it, why use such an uncontrolled, imprecise and inconsistent method when you can simply engineer away cabinet contribution and focus on using more precise transducers to yield whatever the desired sound is?
On one hand I agree as I personally like the feel and idea of a strong enclosure. On the other hand I read an interview with Floyd Tool where he downplayed cabinet construction and bracing and talked about using lasers to measure the cabinet contributions amount other cabinet design banter.
I had a pair of the JBL 3 series intro level studio monitors. The big 8" woofer set. No bracing, plastic front pannel, thin metal backside plate and darn they sounded good for the money ($200 a pair shipped from b&h BF) I did not keep them as they were not quite my jam but man they had a lot on offer for nearly no money and no $$ in cabinetry as I understand it.
 

maxxevv

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It would seem to me that there is no reason, especially on a site that claims frequency response is what you hear, not driver materials that a resonate cabinet can't be a part of the system if well designed. It is really just a potential source of some output.
Obviously I can't say for sure on my own as I am not a expert.
I'm looking at products like stealth acoustics invisible speakers https://www.stealthacoustics.com/
They essential vibrate the enclosure wall. Read an interview where they plan to make boxes speakers with no visible drivers. Just a square that makes sound.
There are speakers that vibrate glass panels and some new car audio OEM systems that will vibrate the plastic interior panels.
https://www.digitalengineering247.com/article/speakerless-sound/

Now don't get me wrong. I like a hearty build on my speak but how much of that is just in my head as far as reality???

Maybe you can take a look at this video on flat panel speakers

 

ROOSKIE

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About € 1,400 with electrolytics and sand resistors.

I guess you will not give importance, in cars, the brakes (disc or ABS) or the seat cover, no matter what the vehicle cost you.
Well maybe component quality does factor though Id guess an apples to apples would be something like do leather seats give better gas mileage vs cloth?
How many folks here bought a BMW? Is that honestly better than a Honda CR-V at navigating to work, getting groceries and picking up friends and other really important driving tasks? Not at all IMHO but folks still drop 80k.
 

maty

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In cheap loudspeakers it is logical to find cheap components in the filter, but these are not cheap. I do not ask that they be expensive, exotic, but that more money be spent on them with respect to the final price of the product.
 

Absolute

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In cheap speakers it is logical to find cheap components in the filter, but these are not cheap. I do not ask that they be expensive, exotic, but that more money be spent on them with respect to the final price of the product.
Why? Its all means to an end regardless.
It's the end we need to be concerned about.
 

ROOSKIE

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In cheap loudspeakers it is logical to find cheap components in the filter, but these are not cheap. I do not ask that they be expensive, exotic, but that more money be spent on them with respect to the final price of the product.
Personally until expensive crossover component quality is demonstrated, Id honestly rather have the money invested in something else. These crossovers seems well constructed and of pretty high quality as compared with typical competitors. Spend the profits you make off me elsewhere, including marketing so a decent company can find customers and stay in biz. I rather my $5 go there.
Better tires = great, better brakes = great, gas mileage = great, leather seats nope.
 

tuga

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So, given Amir's impedance curve lacks any of the usual fluctuations from a driver or cabinet resonance, your model suggests that the 500 Hz spike is due to diffraction.

As the data suggests some indirect acoustic event AND the S400 cabinet has sharp edges,, diffraction seems most likely bet at this point.

Nice work!

According to this formula, the baffle step for a 7"-wide baffle is 651Hz.
 

gfx_1

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"no bracing and is only using half inch MDF?"
yikes. same build as the c-note....
The C-note is smaller and a budget speaker :) But when DIY-ing it's easier to go for 3/4 inch MDF.
I got a 2-way bookshelf kit with 22mm MDF sides and 5mm heavy damping (mass loaded vinyl) aprox. $300 per speaker.
 

tecnogadget

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Seriously, I can understand about profit margins or not doing over-engineering (instead of airplanes and aerospace industry does) since the components used already does the job.
But for god sake, couldn’t all the big player brands start using better than Benic just for the looks? I could walk down the street and buy them for cents (well actually now I can't since of COVID).

There should be an implicit consensus between all speakers $1k/$2K and above of using just a little bit better parts since they are all going to be torn apart for reviews & audio porn. I don’t think it could hurt them so much investing in manufacture/ownership pride and aesthetical proposes. However, I do not own any speaker brand so I'm sure I'm talking nonsense :p.
 

hardisj

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Not at all a “diss” to Amir, but I can’t help but think this thread would look totally different if all he had posted was the data and not also provided his subjective impression. You have to admit that it almost seems counterproductive because the data shows a pretty good set of measurements as well as a good Preference rating (indicating most would like it) but the poor subjective analysis has seemingly been given more weight. Interesting case study.

Edit: IMHO, I think it would be useful for Amir to provide a head-space moving mic measurement of each setup. I plan to do this so when/if my subjective evaluations contrast sharply with the data I can use the head-space measurement to help me determine if there's a reason for the break in correlation. If nothing else, it's another piece of data to help me with the overall analysis. I know others do this as well.
 
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koro

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Not at all a “diss” to Amir, but I can’t help but think this thread would look totally different if all he had posted was the data and not also provided his subjective impression. You have to admit that it almost seems counterproductive because the data shows a pretty good set of measurements as well as a good Preference rating (indicating most would like it) but the poor subjective analysis has seemingly been given more weight. Interesting case study.

I think one of the issues is that the panther “score” seems to be based more on the subjective impression than measurements.
 

Francis Vaughan

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I really don't get this constant carping we hear about "sand" resistors. I thought that was done and dusted in another thread. What if I called them ceramic packaged wire wound? Would that help? There is nothing special about resistors needed for crossovers. Indeed, apart from power handling it is one of the most undemanding uses. Precision isn't needed. A bit of inductance or capacitance (within reason) makes no difference - there is so much additional stray inductance and capacitance in a crossover anyway. Ceramic resistors are just a cost effective way of packaging a perfectly normal wire wound resistor. Complaining they are cheap and thus can't be good puts one in exactly the same camp as speaker cable believers.

Same can be said for those that look at a crossover and complain about how thin the inductor wire is. Of course there is resistance in the inductor. The designer includes that in the design. Nobody complains about how thin the wire in the voice coil is. But there is this strange attitude that because it is inside the speaker driver, it somehow doesn't count. Making crossover inductors out of thicker wire is not simple game. The physical inductor gets bigger, so the wire gets longer, and you find yourself with a very fast and expensive escalation in cost to effect only a small reduction in resistance. In the end, the only thing that matters is that the crossover integrates with the rest of the speaker to yield a final working unit. There is no magic in special components. (Things like inductors wound from flat tape are just plain stuid, as are litz wire inductors. We are not engaged in RF engineering, and any slight change to the crossover parameters due to the additional losses is simply tweaked out in final tuning.)
 

Bear123

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Since this is Audio Science Review, and not Audio Subjective Review, perhaps this speaker should have gotten the good panther award since it objectively scores better than other speakers that have been given the highest rating. I understand many of us appreciate Amir's subjective assessment, but unless something is egregiously wrong such as massive distortion or bottoming the woofer *very* low in level...

As far as the panel resonance issue, this is included in the measurements, which are good. So perhaps its not that big of an issue? Don't get me wrong. I'm glad the cabinets of my speakers are well constructed and inert, but objectively, cabinet resonance is part of the measured response, so should we be overly concerned with this in isolation?

On the flip side, I think its a valid criticism as perhaps another $5(?) should have been spent to put a window brace around the top, bottom, and side panels(about 0.3% of the price). Better yet, pressure the cabinet vendor to add a cheap window brace without raising price if sourced externally.
 

aarons915

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Since this is Audio Science Review, and not Audio Subjective Review, perhaps this speaker should have gotten the good panther award since it objectively scores better than other speakers that have been given the highest rating. I understand many of us appreciate Amir's subjective assessment, but unless something is egregiously wrong such as massive distortion or bottoming the woofer *very* low in level...

Agreed, I think the Klippel is just brutally honest and shows flaws we don't normally see so there are many "flaws" that probably aren't that big of a deal but don't look pretty, I'm not sure if there is any smoothing at all on these graphs but I believe Harman uses 1/20 smoothing at least. I think once we measure the Salon 2's it should put many of these measurements in perspective. I personally think the S400 measure pretty well, along with many other speakers that others think measure poorly.

What people need to keep in mind is how audible the flaws in the measurements really are, I run LS50's currently, which don't look good at all if we're being honest about the measurements. The most useful thing about these measurements in my opinion is using them to EQ above the transition frequency and the odd thing is when I make the LS50 dead neutral through PEQ, I notice only a subtle difference with the EQ on vs off. As bad as the LS50 measurement looks at first glance, the listening window fits in a 3db window, my EQ shrinks that window down to 1.5db with a subtle improvement in sound quality, this tells me that we don't need ruler flat response to perceive a speaker as neutral. As long as a speaker fits in a reasonable listening window of 3db or so, with a smooth directivity and doesn't have audible resonances, it should sound pretty good.
 

Mads Buchardt

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Dear Amir.

First of all thank you for taking the time to do the review. The results really shocked me as you can imagine. I was pretty confident with this review as, from a science point of view we know the S400 looks very good which is why we dare to share so detailed measurements on our website as well, we are pretty proud of them even though they are not perfect. Why our data look so different to yours needs to be investigated, its especially odd as we both use the Klippel NFS….

Looking past these differences, I think it's very important to the readers to know that using such advanced equipment as the Klippel NFS, really allow all to look deep into the rapid hole here where many manufactures don't want you to look. It starts to show how many “issues” we deal with in speaker designs (especially passive speakers), and showing it like this, pointing at all issues can make nearly all passive speakers look bad. The Klippel NFS which is arguably the most powerful tools in the speakers development business today, it can give us an insane amount of resolution to our work when designing speakers. I think it's fantastic to utilize this to really take speakers under the loop and showcasing all the potential compromises the designer had to make in the given design. Transparency is fantastic so keep that up. What i'm afraid of, is that your review here completely end up being a tunnel vision hunt for issues and flaws, without giving a second thought to what the manufacturer was trying to achieve with the given design.


Could we have designed them to perform better on paper? sure. Are there better measuring options out there? for sure. Price as an indicator that more expensive speakers mesures better is rarely the case. If making a speaker that looks perfect on paper was our goal, we would have done that, and it could be done much cheaper than the S400 as well. But let's take a step back and ask the question on what we wanted to achieve with the S400?

Now as many know, i'm no engineer, and i'm not the guy that does all hard work to make our speakers perform like they do. What I do is to come up with the design concepts which sadly end up giving me a lot of sleepless nights as I just can't stop thinking about speaker designs!! :) S400 was a personal dream project to make an all in one compact speaker, a speaker that tries to move just slightly on what people would think possible for a speaker of this size. A speaker that can work well in difficult rooms, at difficult placements. Uses all high quality parts (even in the crossover for a product at this price), but again as small as possible and with a minimalistic scandinavian design approach to it. It's aimed for the customer that value visuals and size, but still want something that has performance as its first priority. And a design that can actually stand by its own without the use of a subwoofer (although adding subs can be great!). It's much to ask from a small speaker, not something I have seen been done elsewhere to the same degree as the S400 does it. It's still not perfect, nothing is. But sadly a large chunk of what we tried to achieve is more of less overlooked in this review which I think is a shame. Now you can argue that this is not your area as this is mainly a science based review where measurements is the center of attention which i completely understand.

To the mention on the cabinet. Yeah its correct, there are no bracings, it's a tiny cabinet and we did a lot of testing on this and found it not to be necessary. If the cabinet was larger, then we would have had bracings in there for sure (like the A500). You can knock on them and think they might need it, but in practice they don't, and we have never had a single complaint about audible resonances from the cabinet either. Since we can't replicate these issues you are seeing and hearing, we would need to look for a possible issue that might be related to your pair, or maybe even the single speaker you measured on, I'm currently waiting for the engineer to give me some answers to what these artifacts could be that show up on your measurements but now ours.

I see that many question the break in importance of the S400. The S400 is a rare example on how important break in can be on some speakers. Now i know where you stand in this. But here I have to say that it really comes down to the woofers design especially. When we get samples from our supplier (SB Acoustics in this case) we get measurements with the samples units before and after break in (which they do on samples). For these woofers, there is significant changes in multiple parameters. So yes, for the S400 its important which i think all my customer base can agree on :)


I can't stop to wonder when i read through the review why there seems to be an unnecessary focus to highlight only the negatives, there is really not much positive in here which is the complete opposite to what nearly all other have to say about the S400 around the world, so what happened? One thing is for sure, this surely will start, and have already started a big debate online, so it's surely a successful review considering the views and attention it gets. We have been so fortunate and lucky to have created a product that have been highly praised to the point of hyped. With hype comes extreme attention to them that goes against the stream. Has the s400 been over hyped? I don’t know, but my job is basically telling interested people to still have realistic expectations from this shoebox sized speaker can do. Luckily they have exceeded many people's expectations, otherwise it would never had become a hyped product in the first place right?. Even though this is not the first negative review, I think it would be the most popular as it's SO negative.

It's clear that the sound signature might not be to your taste, that's completely okay as it's impossible to create something that suits all peoples taste. We aimed for a pretty transparent and neutral tuning, which compared to many other brands does come across as slightly warm as we don't follow the trend of the extra focus on the treble. It's all personal preference of course and clearly your listing test are strongly influenced by your taste which did not fall into the favor of the S400 unfortunately.



Lastly I need to get something off my chest that is a bit more on the human and personal side of things. Please don't take this the wrong way, it's more of a general theme towards many reviewers out there. I personally think that as a reviewer, you do have responsibilities. Reviewers are key in especially the audio business. They can have more power than what a million dollars in advertisement can have so it's an important task, trust me, i would piss my pants sitting an evaluating people's work everyday :) It's important to remember that there are real people behind these companies, people that have given their lives to creating something that people hopefully like. Many of us are smaller niche companies that rely on reviews and cross their fingers every time a review sample is shipped out the door. It's a huge responsibility to hand over and I think it's VERY important that a reviewer can be subjective in reviews, set aside personal taste in some areas. Only reviewing under what you think and feel is correct for you alone, without any thought to other people's opinions and taste, especially on the subject of sound which is so subjective, then I think there’s an important part missing.

I think most that know, have heard or read anything about Buchardt Audio would find this review unnecessary harsh. I'm not stubborn, or completely ignorant to criticism, in fact I welcome it as it makes our future designs much better which are based very much on the feedback to what we could do better. This is what I love about being so close to the end user and the community. You have way more power than I have in this business, I hope you can take some of my "defence" as positive feedback as well :) And I hope you would take our next product in for review.

All the best Mads Buchardt
CEO Buchardt Audio
 

goldark

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Not at all a “diss” to Amir, but I can’t help but think this thread would look totally different if all he had posted was the data and not also provided his subjective impression. You have to admit that it almost seems counterproductive because the data shows a pretty good set of measurements as well as a good Preference rating (indicating most would like it) but the poor subjective analysis has seemingly been given more weight. Interesting case study.

Edit: IMHO, I think it would be useful for Amir to provide a head-space moving mic measurement of each setup. I plan to do this so when/if my subjective evaluations contrast sharply with the data I can use the head-space measurement to help me determine if there's a reason for the break in correlation. If nothing else, it's another piece of data to help me with the overall analysis. I know others do this as well.

I may be in the minority, but I feel the subjective listening impressions are also important. Biases aside, it's another data point using a trained listener (Amir) that can either help validate or invalidate the preference rating. There have been a couple of speakers with pretty good preference ratings (Buchardt S400, KEFQ100) that Amir did not like subjectively, while some others with worse preferences ratings have fared better subjectively.
 

hardisj

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I may be in the minority, but I feel the subjective listening impressions are also important. Biases aside, it's another data point using a trained listener (Amir) that can either help validate or invalidate the preference rating. There have been a couple of speakers with pretty good preference ratings (Buchardt S400, KEFQ100) that Amir did not like subjectively, while some others with worse preferences ratings have fared better subjectively.

I am 50/50. I don't put much stock in to them alone. But I try to look at the data and see if I can make a correlation to the reviewer's subjective impressions. That's also why I suggested Amir do some head sweeps and post the result so we can have three sets of data to correlate: NFS, his subjective, and his measured in-situ. The in-situ may not tell us everything about what he's hearing but there's enough data to help understand at least some of the factors.

I personally plan to provide subjective reviews for this reason, like I said. It's another data point. But I will try to stay away from straight up giving a thumbs up or down (unless there's a very bad test result) because the truth is there's a lot more to a speaker's overall value than what I think it sounds like.
 
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