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Can A Stand Mounted Speaker Be Considered "High Fidelity?"

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MattHooper

MattHooper

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Not if your source is stereo. It at least has the chance to be high fidelity to the source. The source being handicapped in fidelity to the real event.

But that's not the notion of "High Fidelity" posed by many people on this site, which isn't "accuracy to the original event" but "accurately reproducing The Signal." That's the context in which my question has been posed.
 

Longshan

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Hey folks, just curious about opinions on this.

Based off other discussions about the pursuit of High Fidelity - in this case interpreted as reproducing the encoded source signal as accurately as possible - we will come to possibly ambiguous areas. E.g. you could have a tower speaker that plays from 20Hz to 20k, but with some deviations from neutral in the frequency response here or there. On the other hand you could have a stand mounted speaker that measures beautifully neutral through it's frequency range, but if it only goes down to, say, 45 or 40 Hz, it isn't capable of producing content that is on a lot of recordings. It's "distortion by omission." So which owner could lay more claim to getting closer to "high fidelity" than the other? The owner of the speaker that can reproduce the full spectrum of sound, though with some deviation, or the owner of the stand mounted speaker that is neutral but which omits plenty of source detail in it's own way?

The obvious answer to the High Fidelity question would be "A full range system (and if you have a stand mount speaker, employ subs) that has been treated/DSP'd to play the full sound spectrum accurately." Hence you have plenty of people owning subs. Though in the last poll there were still 30% of ASR respondents who didn't use subs (and likely among those, people who aren't using truly full range speakers).

Also, in a forum devoted to high fidelity, we see Amirm giving "recommendations" to plenty of stand mounted speakers that omit the lower bass frequencies.

So...I'm looking for your various opinions. For "stand mounted speaker/monitor, think of those limited in bass frequency response, unaccompanied by a subwoofer. One could also include any speaker that doesn't go down to 20Hz, but I'm using stand mount/monitors as an easy example:

Does it make sense to consider a stand mounted speaker a reasonable purchase for someone who has the goal of "High Fidelity?" Even if it measures picture perfect within it's frequency range?
"High Fidelity" isn't a useful term, imo.
 

Sancus

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Not if your source is stereo. It at least has the chance to be high fidelity to the source. The source being handicapped in fidelity to the real event.

Sure, and I think the first response had it correct: Everything is a compromise. Even the real event is a compromise! Not everyone gets to have a good seat, some concert halls are better than others, etc.

I don't like the whole idea of "high fidelity" being a binary thing. It usually comes from this perspective of, you know, "well I think a system should have no compromises". But your giant stereo floorstanders are a compromise relative to a good 5.1 stand mount system. Your 5.1 system is a compromise relative to an 8361A+W371A Dolby Atmos 9.4.6 system. Your Dolby Atmos system is a compromise relative to the real event. The real event might even be a compromise compared to a 50-speaker spherical Ambisonics array in an anechoic chamber with super-high-resolution data of every sound emitting object at that real event, because you could simulate impossibly perfect acoustics. And the real event is *definitely* a compromise compared to a sci-fi direct brain interface that completely bypasses the limitations of your actual physical ears.
 

antcollinet

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Thanks! That was fast!



Personally I agree with your statement about picking our compromises.

Though your first sentence seems a bit puzzling especially on this site.
High Fidelity is a goal shared by many on this site, and most products are evaluated on their deviations from, or adherence to, accuracy (e.g. looking at distortion levels of various types). Why except small speakers from this evaluation? If it's all about personal compromises anyway, as you seem to suggest, why then look at any audio products for their qualities of high fidelity?
High Fidelity isn't a binary all or nothing concept.

It makes no sense to say speakers that limit frequency range are "not high fidelity" any more than it does to say distorting (to a an extent) full range speakers are not.

Both are imperfect. Both are still (if not seriously deficient) HIFI.
 
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MattHooper

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Sure, and I think the first response had it correct: Everything is a compromise. Even the real event is a compromise! Not everyone gets to have a good seat, some concert halls are better than others, etc.
Yes I think that is a sort of obvious answer though. One sort of presumed from the start.

That's why the real question is in how to think about the compromises...from the standpoint of a devotion to "High Fidelity."
 
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MattHooper

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High Fidelity isn't a binary all or nothing concept.

Definitely!

And that's actually part of the beauty of the concept. If you have a goal of accurate reproduction you have, at least in principle, a "bar" towards which you can be "less" or "more" accurate and even quantify it via measurements! (A speaker producing an audible 3dB dip around 1k at the listening position will be less accurate than a flatter resoponse, a dip of 6dB even less accurate, and so forth).

So, definitely, "High Fidelity" doesn't automatically imply a binary.

It's the gray areas that make the question interesting IMO.
 

flyzipper

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As somebody who always deploys subwoofers, the bass extension of the main speakers isn't the first (or second or third) priority for my main speakers.

The next system I assemble will definitly be in a large enough room where full size speakers could be a consideration (still with subs, of course), so I'm open to hearing what I've been missing -- it's been decades since I've had floor-standers.
 

FrantzM

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As somebody who always deploys subwoofers, the bass extension of the main speakers isn't the first (or second or third) priority for my main speakers.

The next system I assemble will definitly be in a large enough room where full size speakers could be a consideration (still with subs, of course), so I'm open to hearing what I've been missing -- it's been decades since I've had floor-standers.
My way of thinking. Thank You. :D


There are a few speaker systems, for which I would not use subs.
  • Dutch and Dutch 8C
  • Kii with BXT
  • Genelec The ones with the W371A.
  • Beolab 90 and 50

There may be other speaker systems that shape/manipulate the bass in ways that may not be achievable with simple multiple subwoofers ...
Else in any other system.. At least 2 subs.
 
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Killingbeans

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So speakers are often critiqued here for having frequency deviations. For instance a 6dB frequency dip say between 2 - 5k may be cited as a deviation from accuracy, and we want accuracy.

Yes. I guess we can say that "accurate within its limitations" is more desirable than "inaccurate with no limitations"?
 

LightninBoy

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So speakers are often critiqued here for having frequency deviations. For instance a 6dB frequency dip say between 2 - 5k may be cited as a deviation from accuracy, and we want accuracy. Why is this a deviation from High Fidelity to the signal? Well, relatively speaking, it's reducing, hence losing, sonic information in that region. But if we are concerned about losing sonic information, how about losing the entire bottom octave or more of the musical spectrum with a speaker that only goes down to 40 or 45Hz? Why critique the former on grounds of deviating from accuracy/high fidelity, but not the latter? (To use an analogy posed by a friend of mine, someone saying his speaker is "accurate" though it only goes down to 45Hz, missing lots of bass content on many tracks he plays, is in a way like someone saying "I have an accurate Television set. Sure my TV doesn't produce any of the red spectrum, but it's blue and green colors are perfectly accurate!")

Just throwin' it out, seeing how people are thinking about these questions.

I made a similar point here ...


However, IMO, the low frequency extension of a L/R speaker overall has a minor impact on the low end performance of the *system*. It is easily overwhelmed by room and placement issues. I personally don't care too much about low frequency extension of a L/R speaker because I know that, in my system, the room, placement, EQ, and subwoofer integration will be the biggest factor determining the low end accuracy.
 

dfuller

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But then, what about a speaker that, by virtue of only going down to 40 or 45Hz, randomnly "drops" musical information - all that bass information it's incapable of producing from one track to the next - why consider that a "high fidelity" transmission of the signal, if you wouldn't think that of my former example?
Question for you: how much musical information do you think there is under 40-45hz? There is not much.
 

JRS

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Agree with @Killingbeans; my current and past home-brewed standmounts have supplied oodles of audio charm over many years--sometimes, when I want balls to the walls, I switch over to a 3 way, adding bass bins and relieving the 18cm midbass of anything south of 250 Hz. That's a more visceral testosterone juiced experience to be sure, but man, late at night listening at modest volumes to mostly well recorded jazz and vocals from all genres with a bit of a buzz on, the 2 ways just kill it, Whereas the 3 ways just don't seem to cohere and bloom in the same way at that volume as if they were mad dogs growling menacingly and yanking at their chains.

Forgive the choice of phrases, if it sounds all very um er... subjective. o_O

It's probably one of the reasons I resist building dedicated floor standers. That and I don't have a good table saw, but I'm not sure I'd rather have it any other way.
 

FrantzM

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But that's not the notion of "High Fidelity" posed by many people on this site, which isn't "accuracy to the original event" but "accurately reproducing The Signal." That's the context in which my question has been posed.
I disagree... A speaker cannot have any bearing to the original event, only to the signal fed to it... That is what "High Fidelity" is.
Accuracy is defined by numbers, by metrics/numbers that can be verified by Science, in the form of Physics or Psycho-acoustics.
IMO a few notion/metrics/parameters that are important for transducers:
  • Bandwidth/Passband within a dB range plus or minus 3 dB is often given for speakers;
  • Distortion in % or dB at a...
  • Level in dB at a given Listening or measurement distance, in general 1 meter.

These days there a several "stand-mounted" speakers that acquit themselves of being extremely high fidelity, of being extremely accurate and some could qualify for full range as well. My list is all active speakers ;) :

  • Duch and Dutch 8C
  • Kii Three (alone :))
  • Genelec 8361
  • Musikelectronic Geithain RL-901? Don't know much about this one ... Seems to be well regarded and seems to measure well... I'd like to see it reviewed here...
  • ... <place holder for speakers I didn't list :D>


Peace
 
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Pearljam5000

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I disagree... A speaker cannot have any bearing to the original event, only to the signal fed to it... That is what "High Fidelity" is.
Accuracy is defined by numbers, by metrics/numbers that can be verified by Science, in the form of Physics or Psycho-acoustics.
IMO a few notion/metrics/parameters that are important for transducers:
  • Bandwidth/Passband within a dB range plus or minus 3 dB is often given for speakers;
  • Distortion in % or dB at a...
  • Level in dB at a given Listening or measurement distance, in general 1 meter.

These days there a several "stand-mounted" speakers acquit themselves of being extremely high fidelity. of being extremely accurate and some could qualify for full range as well. My list is all active speakers ;) :

  • Duch and Dutch 8C
  • Kii Three (alone :))
  • Genelec 8361
  • Musikelectronic Geithain RL-901? Don't know much about this one ... Seems to be well regarded and seems to measure well... I'd like to see it reviewed here...
  • ... <place holder for speakers I didn't list :D>


Peace
ATC SCM100
Focal Trio 11
 

FrantzM

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Question for you: how much musical information do you think there is under 40-45hz? There is not much.
Well it used to be true.. Not anymore.
ATC SCM100
Focal Trio 11

Perhaps Neumann KH 420. I wouldn't be surprised if it does 30 Hz to 20 KHz +_ 3 dB..
Again waiting for ASR or @hardisj ' reviews. for these mentioned speakers...
 

Soundstage

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@MattHooper
I think you have answered your one question.
More relevant to me is whether or not a stand mounted (bookshelf) loudspeaker is more high fidelity than the tower speaker provided that they are both high passed at 80hz with subs?
 

dfuller

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Well it used to be true.. Not anymore.


Perhaps Neumann KH 420. I wouldn't be surprised if it does 30 Hz to 20 KHz +_ 3 dB..
Again waiting for ASR or @hardisj ' reviews. for these mentioned speakers...
Neumann's quoted spec is F3 of 26hz and F6 of 24.
 

More Dynamics Please

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KEF's description of the early history of "high fidelity" matches my recollection from when I first started getting interested in audio as a kid back in the 1950s:

In the mid-1950s, ‘high fidelity’ began to be used as a marketing term to describe audio reproduction that was of higher quality than the common AM radio and 78rpm acetate records that had ruled the consumer audio market since the 1920s. The post-War 1950s were a time of technological and economic expansion and along with the television, the home ‘hi-fi set’ became the status seekers’ must-have. The arguments over what exactly ‘hi-fi’ was began then and haven’t changed.

 

Sancus

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The next system I assemble will definitly be in a large enough room where full size speakers could be a consideration (still with subs, of course), so I'm open to hearing what I've been missing -- it's been decades since I've had floor-standers.
I've honestly never heard speakers of any size or shape, in any room or venue, that have bass as good as multiple subwoofers especially with individually tuned spatial EQ like Multi-Sub Optimizer. I'm not sure it's even possible to get into the same zip code as a 4-sub setup with only 2 speakers for low-bass sources unless your room is *exceptionally* well treated with extremely thick(12"+) rockwool absorbers and membrane traps or active, frequency targeted bass absorbers.

I haven't been in a serious recording studio with main-sized monitors though, maybe that manages it.
 
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