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Chane A1.5 Review (Bookshelf Speaker)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Chane A1.5 bookshelf 2-way speaker. I purchased it at suggestion of members and donations toward it. It costs US $329 a pair from the company as of this writing. It is apparently the fifth revision of this design and hence the numerical designation.

Despite being small, the cabinet feels quite heavy and solid:

Chane A1.5 Review Bookshelf Speakers.jpg


I like the binding posts but they are too close to each other making it hard to run them:

Chane A1.5 Review back panel Bookshelf Speakers.jpg


This speaker seems to have a massive following ignited by a review of earlier version of it by CNET praising it.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Using computational acoustics, far-field response is computed and that is what I present. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of about 1%. Clean high frequency response is responsible for ease of measurement in this regard.

Reference axis is approximately the center of the tweeter (vertically and horizontally). As a funny aside, when I was searching for measurements of this speaker, I landed on a massive thread in AVS Forum with a person claiming I will be botching this as I am supposed to contact the company to get the acoustic center. Well, if it is very different than assumed, company best to provide that information to all of its users. More on this later.

Chane A1.5 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Chane A1.5 Frequency Response Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Ouch. This is not what I expected to see for a speaker with so much praise. Efficiency was low as also evidenced by me having to crank up the levels to get it to measurement point. Response peaks in treble region and there is some nasty business both in on-axis and off-axis response around a few hundred hertz to nearly 2 kHz. By measuring the drivers and port we get some clues as to potential reasons:

Chane A1.5 Driver Frequency Response Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


We see the classic budget speaker cabinet/port resonance peaking as the woofer response is going down causing it to be much more of a problem than it would be otherwise. Tweeter response is also quite uneven.

Early window response due to poor directivity is a mess:

Chane A1.5 Early Window Frequency Response Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Normally I could tell you to both absorbers here and there to help the situation but I can't think of anything. Each reflection contributes randomly to the response -- by eye anyway.

No wonder then that our predicted in-room response is quite choppy:

Chane A1.5 Predicted In-room Frequency Response Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


It also appears to not slope down much so likely sound bright.

Company talks a lot about the distortion levels in the woofer and seems like there is something to that:
Chane A1.5 Distortion Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


As seen though, they need to do something about the tweeter.
Chane A1.5 THD Distortion Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Even during the sweep with hearing protection I could tell at 96 dB SPL there were problems.

As we would expect, horizontal beamwidth cannot be described at any fixed angle:

Chane A1.5 Beam width Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


It is so uneven and broad at some frequencies that I think the sound will be very room dependent. Same is seen in our contour map:

Chane A1.5 horizontal directivity Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Vertically the tweeter heavily beams at the top of its range with strong narrowing of the response:

Chane A1.5 vertical directivity Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Symmetry of the measurements is very good which means we did nail the acoustic center! :D

Here is our 3-D balloon plot at three mid frequencies;

Chane A1.5 Baloon 3-d Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Sound source starts as a uniform surface but then splits into two before unifying back again.

Impedance for the most part is high so your amplifier should be happier:

Chane A1.5 Impedance and phase  Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Then again the low sensitivity as noted earlier will require a powerful amplifier to play loud.

You all have asked for impulse response, so here it is:

Chane A1.5 Impulse Measurements back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


Chane A1.5 Listening Tests and EQ
I must say, despite glancing at the measurements before listening to the A1.5, I was not ready for the experience that greeted me. The sound was hyper bright and was energizing the room in a way that I have rarely heard. Higher notes would linger in my large space. The combination at first was impressively addictive until you some notes literally poke a hole in your eardrum and you realize you are listening to the classic "showroom sound." Mind you, it is one of the best implementations of that besting what even Klipsch does but wrong it is. So out came the EQ tool with shelving to bring the highs down:

Chane A1.5 Equalization back panel Bookshelf Speakers.png


That wasn't enough so I went after the irregularities in 500 to 1500 hertz with dual filters to build a flat top (I did it visually and hence the fractions). Once there, I tamed 90% of the brightness but some notes would still stand out. I tried adding a bit of bass boost where there is a dip in upper bass/lower mid-range but that caused the speaker to run out of headroom and distort. And kind of made it boomy so I omitted it.

Power handling was very good. The little woofer doesn't upset easy. But something else was nice: there was this great spatial qualities to the speaker which I think is due to very wide directivity in lower treble area. This may also be why it sounds bright because I don't have any side wall absorption.

With all the filters in place, I listened for a good bit and soon I lost track that I was testing the speaker and instead enjoying its sound.

Conclusions
Objectively the Chane A1.5 violates many rules for good sound in speaker design. Sadly the same was present in listening tests. Unless the showroom effect is in play, I can't figure out why the speaker is so popular. Maybe people are using it in home theater applications where equalization is very common. If so, sure, I could get pushed to get on board if you EQ them well.

As is, I can't recommend the Chane A1.5. You must use EQ and if you do, then you can get good sound out of it and maybe some unique characteristics.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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amirm

amirm

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Oh, I ran a quick test on effect of port closing (they supply a foam for this purpose):

Chane A1.5 Port Frequency Response Measurements Bookshelf Speakers.png


I put my ear next to it while playing and it sure sounded distorted. But since it is pointing to the back, if you are not having it close to a wall it should be OK.
 

DanTheMan

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Woofer looks good, but above that I’ve got nothing good to say so I won’t say anything at all ;)
 

Chromatischism

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I can't figure out what is wrong with the tweeter here. It is not as anyone else has described it sounding, and that distortion looks defective. Amir, did you end up with a pair or just a single speaker to test? Hate for you to spend more time measuring but perhaps another sample test is in order, if you have it.
 

voodooless

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Actually, now you ask.. would be even better if you could show the time axis as cycles instead of constant time. That would give a more consistent view that you can interpret the same for all frequencies :cool:.

It’s curious that the tweeter has so much distortion. Usually these devices should do much better.
 

MZKM

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Actually, now you ask.. would be even better if you could show the time axis as cycles instead of constant time. That would give a more consistent view that you can interpret the same for all frequencies :cool:.

It’s curious that the tweeter has so much distortion. Usually these devices should do much better.
I have seen a lot of AMT tweeters have high distortion, and don’t forget the super low sensitivity of this speaker means these distortion tests are done at much higher input wattages compared to your average speaker.
 

Chromatischism

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You're the first to use the Klippel, but here is what I can find.

Here is the prior version, the A1.4. On-axis, gated:

b0505e2975f485a13958cf6f674345e1.png


Here is the typical production from the company, which is less detailed, but mostly corroborates the on-axis above:

A1.4 hor.jpg


Rust: on axis
Blue: 10 degrees (horizontal)
Green: 20 degrees
Gold: 30 degrees
Black: 40 degrees


Unless they drastically departed from this response with the A1.5, I'm puzzled.

Of course the Klippel has much more resolution, but even a simple measurement like these would show the massive rise in the tweeter, and we aren't seeing it. Then all the comments I've read over the years about how they don't sound bright at all. People who have listened to these and the Infinity bookshelves say the Infinity's have the more energetic-sounding treble of the two. Your Klippel measurements just aren't showing that. That's why I scratch my head.

Reference axis is approximately the center of the tweeter (vertically and horizontally). As a funny aside, when I was searching for measurements of this speaker, I landed on a massive thread in AVS Forum with a person claiming I will be botching this as I am supposed to contact the company to get the acoustic center.
I found that, too!

Jon worked for the world's largest planar driver manufacturer for a number of years. To my knowledge, nobody from ASR has reached out to him yet to even ask a simple question like "where is the acoustical design center of the speaker?". Hint: it's not dead center of the tweeter driver, which is where they are likely to assume it is. If Amir measures it like that, the data will be skewed negatively.
Who knows. Maybe they decided to depart from neutral with the A1.5, but they have been very reluctant to post measurements. Unless we can get to the bottom of these measurements, it will only bolster Chane's insistence on undermining the importance of measurements, which the designer often publicly does.

So, best to stack up the empirical defenses for the coming spears :)
 
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MZKM

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You're the first to use the Klippel, but here is what I can find.

Here is the prior version, the A1.4. On-axis, gated:

View attachment 149600

Here is the typical production from the company, which is less detailed, but mostly corroborates the on-axis above:

View attachment 149601

Unless they drastically departed from this response with the A1.5, I'm puzzled.

Of course the Klippel has much more resolution, but even a simple measurement like these would show the massive rise in the tweeter, and we aren't seeing it. Then all the comments I've read over the years about how they don't sound bright at all. People who have listened to these and the Infinity bookshelves say the Infinity's have the more energetic-sounding treble of the two. Your Klippel measurements just aren't showing that. That's why I scratch my head.


I found that, too!


Who knows. Maybe they decided to depart from neutral with the A1.5, but unless we can get to the bottom of these measurements, it will only bolster Chane's insistence on undermining the importance of measurements, which the designer often publicly does.

So, best to stack up the empirical defenses for the coming spears :)
Do note the 100dB scale of the second photo.

Where did you find those? I found the second photo on his Instagram but was lower resolution.
 

Chromatischism

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amirm

amirm

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Unless they drastically departed from this response with the A1.5, I'm puzzled.
You are comparing fuzzy measurements of an older generation against mine and trying to conclude something? Why would the difference not be due to their measurements and older version as opposed to sample differences?
 

Chromatischism

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It’s curious that the tweeter has so much distortion. Usually these devices should do much better.
It really is, considering there are $20 tweeters that can do this (of course, waveguide-loading and crossover matters, but still):

index.php


Some people seem to overlook soft dome tweeters because they aren't "exotic". I think that's a mistake.
 
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