• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Do high-efficiency speakers really have better 'dynamics'?

Tim Link

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 10, 2020
Messages
206
Likes
190
Location
Eugene, OR
I don't think you understood the MTF reference it is from the optical domain (a hobby is taking pictures with a telescope) and is a way to measure resolution.


AS applied in audio, it is part of how the STIpa measurement system works (using 7 bands in the voice spectrum) but i am not suggesting STIpa is applicable to audio, only that the MTF method is what that is based on AND late room sound is part of what obscures the information as well as what the speaker does.


If you use ARTA which actually does measure MTF, you will not see perfection in anything real.

Consider the MTF to be more specific, this is a very rapid modulation of say 1KHz, on and off at a rate from say 1Hz up to 100Hz. The "filling in" is the sound filling in the quiet or off parts. In a room, the room sound has an effect of limit how "off" the sound can be and in commercial sound, when the late room sound reaches / exceeds the critical ratio, you can no longer understand random words.
Art Noxon has spoken about MTF in reference to the Musical Articulation Test Tones he developed, which are a series of gated tones in the bass range that can be played through a speaker system and recorded at the listening position. At ASC we have software that can analyze the recording and compare how quiet the quiet spots get compared to the tone bursts, giving an articulation measurement in decibels for what amounts to 16th notes played with 16th note rests between over a range from 20Hz up to about 800Hz. On headphones the pulses can be heard clearly and distinctly, but in listening rooms there are almost always bad areas where articulation is lost. I say almost always because some highly treated studios and hifi rooms have measured incredibly well with no significant issues. We have found that anything below 5 dB tends to sound unclear. 10 dB is pretty good, and 15 dB or better is very tightly defined, dynamic sounding bass. Anything beyond that will not be noticeably better for most listeners, so it gives a pretty good idea of how well a room has "arrived" in terms of bass and lower midrange control. In REW, the C50 measurement happens to correspond pretty closely with our MATT analysis results.
 

dlaloum

Active Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2021
Messages
229
Likes
104
It is a good thing. The experience of the sound gets better because it is more exciting and involving, as tactile feel increases, and mechanisms of hearing deals with the louder peak transients in ways that affect how the sound is perceived. It is a consequency of how we perceive sound - though hearing and tactile bodily sensations - the sound as measured from the speaker is the same, only louder.

As I, and a few others have mentioned, it is not exactly the higher efficiency that creates this difference, it has to do with how the speaker radiates sound. Danley has made several excellent posts on this, in this thread (I believe I saw it in this thread).

This has nothing to do with stiction or other non-linear deficiencies in speakers. Once you have the capacity (combination of sensitivity, power handling and available amplifier power), the speaker can play loud enough, but some speakers simply do not create this excitement even if they have sufficient capacity.

It doesn't sound worse at lower volume - it sounds better even then. Because there is less "noise" from reflected sound.
it is so, that speakers that sound good when loud, also often sound better at low volume - they have a larger usable volume span.

Hmmm excuse by subjective doubts...

I have had speakers that were dynamic at low or high volume - and where the choice of volume did not impact the quality of the performance.

I have also had a number of speakers, where at low volume, they could best be described as beige... bland... nothing identifiably wrong, but, you sort of felt that they would be best suited for Musac rather than Music.... (Klipsch Forte III)

Then you plugged them into a higher powered amp and cranked them up a bit, and wow - they made you want to dance... the party was happening (depending on the music).

The Quad electrostatics and the Gallo Reference speakers are both in the "volume does not affect quality" category. (choose you volume to best suit your taste and music selection - and off you go).

My personal experiences with Horns - limited as it is...Klipsch Forte & LaScala - showed them to be in the "crank them up to make them sing category".

This was completely unexpected to me, as I was looking at options to run high efficiency horns with Tube or Solid State low wattage class A amps.... (at the time there were not many horn designs that didn't sound a bit "honky"... and were available in my neck of the woods)

My own listening told me that this was not going to work... though they were efficient, they still needed some serious power behind them, and they sounded best when cranked up at louder volumes.

I put the horns aside and moved to other speaker designs.

In terms of my own taste in music and volume levels - I tend to prefer things in the quieter range - I am not going to try to replicate a rock concert in my home. But I do want a full symphonic orchestra, to be able to reach its peaks at a close to real level... (so NOT that quiet, with the right music - but loads of dynamic contrast) - I prefer Eric Clapton's Unplugged, to Creame's White Room (although I do like both).

Other speakers I have enjoyed and respected included the classic Boston Acoustics A400.... which I recall managing to fill a Hotel Ballroom with sound during one audio show in the early 80's.... could play plenty loud - but a sealed suspension design, with dome tweeters, not a horn in sight.... and it could party equally well at whatever volume you chose...

Comparisons of efficiency of speakers I have experienced over "long terms":

Quad ESL57 93db/[email protected] - great, but severely FR constrained, and loudness constrained
Quad ESL63 86db/[email protected] - Fabulous, bass constrained - but what is there is wonderful
Quad ESL989 86db/[email protected] - almost perfect speaker - if only it werem't so big (WAF fail)
Boston A400 88db/[email protected] - Lovely, about the same size as the Quad 63 - the ESL does microdetail a little better
Klipsch Forte III 99db/[email protected] - So much promise... but just doesn't play well at lower volumes - sure can party cranked up!
Gallo Ref 3.1 88db/[email protected] - Sounds a heck of a lot like an ESL - but much more WAF (and kid) - friendly

My own experiences at shows, showrooms, demonstrations, and in my own home cause me to question a lot of the assumptions about speaker sensitivity/efficiency....

Focus on very nimble, low mass drivers (so small woofers, and suspension designs rather than ported...) mind you, I always wanted to try out some Transmission Line designs... never had a real chance. - Also experimented for a few years trying to match a Subwoofer to Electrostatics - without ever achieving a result I was happy with. (temporary solution was my move to the Quad 989's for a few years, to provide deeper bass using electrostatic ... they left my premises due to WAF - too big) All the subs I auditioned were best described as "too slow" compared to the rest of the frequency range provided by the ESL's. I think the responsiveness of a very low mass driver is absolutely essential - which makes low frequencies very very hard to do well. The suspension mounted 10" gallo woofer, is as large as I would ever want to get. And I would prefer a design like the Boston A400... with twin 6.5"... the Boston A150 had a single 10" woofer instead... and was not as "tight" in the bass.

Some of what you say seems to imply the speaker radiating from the box rather than the driver, as a means of better reflected overall room sound.... I found that I could quickly identify the sound of "the box" - and it bothered me.... some of the speakers I could sense "boxiness" with were very high end designs.... demonstrated in carefully set up private showrooms.... panels never had that specific type of colouration/distortion - and neither did some "Box" designs.... everything in life is a balance isn't it.... there are a number of speakers that I might have considered over the years, if it wasn't for the sound of the "box" - Bookshelves seem far less prone to it... Gallo's little nucleus micros, for all their limitations, have none of the boxiness... yeah they're a sphere! The large A400's, and the Klipsch Forte didn't show that particular tendency either.
 
Last edited:

tuga

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
2,865
Likes
2,901
Location
Oxford, England
I do wonder why I often end up listening to my more efficient speakers at louder volumes. With my 101dB sensitive speakers, I'll often settle in to a comfortable listening volume that's 5-8dB louder than I do with my less sensitive speakers. If I try to listen to the less efficient speakers at the same volume, it sounds a bit too loud, and I end up turning it down.

It's not a distortion thing(I don't think), as the less sensitive speakers have excellent distortion performance, and heavy handed limiters that warn you when even mild distortion is reached. Best guess is related to dispersion width. The smaller speakers have much wider dispersion, and I feel like my brain starts to get overwhelmed by reflections a bit at super loud volumes.

I call this "clarity", for want of a better word, and I think that it is not only about the ability to play loud without distortion but also how clearly low-level signals are reproduced, which gives the sound an unenforced, fatigue-free quality. I suspect that less early-reflection room interaction plays a part too, which above a certain SPL threshold will create a form of cacophony.
 

puppet

Active Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2020
Messages
220
Likes
134
This has been pointed out several times in the thread already. As the ratio of direct sound vs reflected sound rises so does intelligibility. The ideal ratio is probably room dependent. The ideal ratio will lay bare the loudspeaker(s) dynamic capability. The rooms noise floor will play a part as well I'd guess.
 

kyle_neuron

Active Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
141
Likes
231
Art Noxon has spoken about MTF in reference to the Musical Articulation Test Tones he developed, which are a series of gated tones in the bass range that can be played through a speaker system and recorded at the listening position. At ASC we have software that can analyze the recording and compare how quiet the quiet spots get compared to the tone bursts, giving an articulation measurement in decibels for what amounts to 16th notes played with 16th note rests between over a range from 20Hz up to about 800Hz. On headphones the pulses can be heard clearly and distinctly, but in listening rooms there are almost always bad areas where articulation is lost. I say almost always because some highly treated studios and hifi rooms have measured incredibly well with no significant issues. We have found that anything below 5 dB tends to sound unclear. 10 dB is pretty good, and 15 dB or better is very tightly defined, dynamic sounding bass. Anything beyond that will not be noticeably better for most listeners, so it gives a pretty good idea of how well a room has "arrived" in terms of bass and lower midrange control. In REW, the C50 measurement happens to correspond pretty closely with our MATT analysis results.
I've been really curious about the MATT test and concept, ever since stumbling upon it via the incredibly named Dr. Pigeon's AudioCheck website (which I only found after looking into who was behind the excellent MyNoise.net website, which I've used for nearly a decade!).

If anyone is curious about the test, there's a 'generalised' explanation and some examples here:

And then a listening test based on the concept here:
Using MATT as a Listening Test for Musical Quality instead of a Room Analysis Test.

Can your sound system playback 1/16th notes at 120 bpm? Your speakers can play it but can you hear it? Well, here’s the definitive audio test for the HiFi listening position, the ASC MATT audio playback test. It’s a 7 in 1 listening test. You’ll find you can’t listen to more than one thing at one time, even though in reality varying combinations of these separated listening experiences are going on all the time.
MATT stands for Musical Articulation Test Tones. It was created to help the listener of an audio system to hear and measure the degrading effects of room acoustics on the audio signal. We provide here the updated AudioCheck version (digital). For all variants, including the original analog version, please refer to our MATT Test page.

The MATT signal is a 1/16th second tone burst followed by a 1/16th second period of silence which ends with the beginning or attack transient of the next tone burst. What you hear isn’t the tone, but something more like a “tick-thump” type of sound which precedes the tone. This is the attack transient of the tone burst. As early reverberation and reflections fill the 1/16th second of quiet time preceding the onset of the next tone burst it raises the noise floor and masks or covers over the lower level leading edge detail in the attack transient. This masking effect reduces the listener’s ability to perceive the shape of the leading edge of the tone burst, the tick-thump begins to disappear and all we hear is the tone burst itself. This loss in the perception of attack transient detail occurs before any sense that the staccato of the notes are beginning to blur together. The information in the attack transient is what makes the sound from a particular instrument sound distinctly like it comes from that instrument. It puts the musicality into the music.
All of it runs from your browser via the WebAudio API, so open to all.
 

Kvalsvoll

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Manufacturer
Joined
Apr 25, 2019
Messages
614
Likes
1,106
Location
Norway
Some of what you say seems to imply the speaker radiating from the box rather than the driver, as a means of better reflected overall room sound..
Oh no, please don't do that. I know some brands say the cabinet is made to resonate to create a "sound", and surely it can - create a "sound" - but it will be very difficult to make it work so that this contribution makes the speaker better. But sound radiated through openings - or acoustic ports - can change the pattern of the speaker, and this can be controlled.

I enjoyed your description of the sound form all those very different speakers, and one comparison says a lot - the Quad ESL and the Gallo share some similar characteristics, and this has to do with the radiation pattern.

I remember the LaScala from the 80's, a long time ago now. It sure had its virtues, but I never saw it as a speaker I would want at home. Sure, it could play very loud, but how loud do you need, in a small room. And they had no bass. This lack of bass may be one reason you found them lacking at low volume.

The box-sound can be caused by several issues. One is the box itself, resonating panels, and then there will be leakage through the speaker cones, and bass ports if there are any. But the box also has omni pattern from low mid and down, which causes problems interacting with boundaries in the room. The panel speakers (ESL) do not have those issues, though there are different problems with such designs.
 

Tim Link

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 10, 2020
Messages
206
Likes
190
Location
Eugene, OR
I've been really curious about the MATT test and concept, ever since stumbling upon it via the incredibly named Dr. Pigeon's AudioCheck website (which I only found after looking into who was behind the excellent MyNoise.net website, which I've used for nearly a decade!).

If anyone is curious about the test, there's a 'generalised' explanation and some examples here:

And then a listening test based on the concept here:



All of it runs from your browser via the WebAudio API, so open to all.
Audiocheck.net is great, and makes an important point that I missed - you can just listen to the MATT and learn about what's happening in your room! I didn't know about MyNoise.net. I use Youtube sometimes for ambient background sounds, but this lets you customize the mix.
 

Newman

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 6, 2017
Messages
1,118
Likes
1,270
Because you said objective dynamic range and perceived dynamics are the same thing.
 

gnarly

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
83
Likes
103
I've been really curious about the MATT test and concept, ever since stumbling upon it via the incredibly named Dr. Pigeon's AudioCheck website (which I only found after looking into who was behind the excellent MyNoise.net website, which I've used for nearly a decade!).

If anyone is curious about the test, there's a 'generalised' explanation and some examples here:

And then a listening test based on the concept here:



All of it runs from your browser via the WebAudio API, so open to all.
Thanks for that...had not seen the MATT test before.

Listening, and looking at the recordings.
 

Newman

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 6, 2017
Messages
1,118
Likes
1,270
Cause you are the first person on ASR to ever bring up confirmation bias and visual bias? .... okay.
No, 'cause you specifically said something that denied it as a relevant part of the discussion. Okay?
 

Newman

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 6, 2017
Messages
1,118
Likes
1,270
Nothing was out of context, so ..... you are just digging a hole.

tuga said, "I think objective dynamic range and the perceived “dynamics” as described by some/many listeners are not the same thing."

You quoted that and said, "I think they are. If not, then you are not measuring the right things."

At that point, it is 100% in context and quite right for me to point out that you have overlooked the possibility that the perceived dynamics might not be in the sound waves at all. And hence not the same thing, and also not subject to measurement.

QED

Now all that remains is to see if you are one of those who argue to the death and never admit to error. Hopefully not so.
 

audio2design

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Messages
1,710
Likes
1,653
Nothing was out of context, so ..... you are just digging a hole.

tuga said, "I think objective dynamic range and the perceived “dynamics” as described by some/many listeners are not the same thing."

You quoted that and said, "I think they are. If not, then you are not measuring the right things."

At that point, it is 100% in context and quite right for me to point out that you have overlooked the possibility that the perceived dynamics might not be in the sound waves at all. And hence not the same thing, and also not subject to measurement.

QED

Now all that remains is to see if you are one of those who argue to the death and never admit to error. Hopefully not so.

:facepalm: ... yawn
 

fineMen

Active Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2021
Messages
100
Likes
29
I call this "clarity", for want of a better word, and I think that it is not only about the ability to play loud without distortion but also how clearly low-level signals are reproduced, which gives the sound an unenforced, fatigue-free quality. I suspect that less early-reflection room interaction plays a part too, which above a certain SPL threshold will create a form of cacophony.
Many things to hold against this approach. The recording as delivred to the customer only becomes real, once played. Where is it played? In the room. What did the sound engineer intend, then; have a room or not? Remember, there is no 'original'.

Even with objecting microphones at the acoustical scene, there is interpretation, tainting the real thing.

As long as You or any other believe in an 'original' there is no other than caveat. I personally think, this specific longing for a 'reproduction' of some 'original' is the main, but implicated contributor to uneducated nonsense in the high audio blah world.

Face real reality: there are rooms, there is no real. That simple. Sound engineers train to overcome the limitations by their arts. Any mentioning of that art here --of course not?!
 

Newman

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 6, 2017
Messages
1,118
Likes
1,270
…although some things help to reduce our listening-room awareness and enhance our performance-venue awareness (when the performance venue is a desirable thing to be aware of: not always the case for studio productions).
 

fineMen

Active Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2021
Messages
100
Likes
29
…although some things help to reduce our listening-room awareness and enhance our performance-venue awareness (when the performance venue is a desirable thing to be aware of: not always the case for studio productions).

I don't feel so. First, imagine to sit in a cinema. Would You ever ask Yourself, by which technical measures You might trick Your vision into reducing situational awareness? Of course one might want to feel involved, but that is achieved by intellectually *understanding* the drama, the play, even actless scenes, never by tricking the vision physiologically. So, why is it, that people expect from stereo some kind of virtual reality? Actively tricking oneselves? Illogical! And at least to some degree unfriendly it is, to deal with oneselves as sorts of a brainless hearing-apparatus.

High Fidelity addicts tend to objectify themselves. This is not science.

The abovementioned understanding is supported by good music, second by personal interest, and third by the arts of sound engineering.

The latter is not in the hands of the customer. The hifi buff is a customer. Mostly a clueless customer, regarding the techniques involved in the studio.

Question is: did the sound engineer, as part of her arts, consider some and how much room reverberation? For starters, what about the reverberation in the original performance? Not that the original is "reproduced", but just for the sake of argument.
 
Top Bottom