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Et tu, PSB?

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#1
We've seen a number of companies release newer speakers that don't measure as well as older models. The latest Soundstage/NRC measurements seem to show this for the PSB Alpha P5 in comparison to the Alpha B1's results from 2006.

Although both are similar in price & size (with a 0.75" tweeter & 5.25" woofer), I see significant regressions in sensitivity (4dB!), FR flatness & THD. Off-axis FR & compression appear to be a bit worse as well. The results are formatted differently, so perhaps they're not directly comparable. But I certainly expect the NRC's methods to be more consistent than these results.

Having recommended PSBs to numerous people & gifted B1s, I am disappointed. Am I missing something?
 

sergeauckland

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#2
I am proposing this as a hypothesis.

Loudspeaker manufacturers have a problem that as loudspeakers got better, in that they had a flatter frequency response and lower distortion, they became similar sounding, and thus harder to distinguish in quick dealer demos and HiFi shows. In order to stand out, they had to be different, so frequency responses became more ragged, with excessive HF (listen to all that detail and air round the instruments) and LF distortion (listen to that bass thump). This has given rise to something of a 'signature sound' for manufacturers, but consequently the technical performance is actually worse.

I don't have proof of this, but as evidence, I propose the frequency response of some very expensive 'boutique' manufacturers like Boenik and Zu, and even some established manufacturers like B&W.

S
 

watchnerd

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#3
I don't have proof of this, but as evidence, I propose the frequency response of some very expensive 'boutique' manufacturers like Boenik and Zu, and even some established manufacturers like B&W.

S
At first, I thought it was a difference in R&D budget / access to testing facilities vs "artisanal" shops like Zu.

But that doesn't explain the PSB case, who have access to the NRC, so I also have to conclude it's an intentional exercise in "house sound".
 

Krunok

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#4
I am proposing this as a hypothesis.

Loudspeaker manufacturers have a problem that as loudspeakers got better, in that they had a flatter frequency response and lower distortion, they became similar sounding, and thus harder to distinguish in quick dealer demos and HiFi shows. In order to stand out, they had to be different, so frequency responses became more ragged, with excessive HF (listen to all that detail and air round the instruments) and LF distortion (listen to that bass thump). This has given rise to something of a 'signature sound' for manufacturers, but consequently the technical performance is actually worse.

I don't have proof of this, but as evidence, I propose the frequency response of some very expensive 'boutique' manufacturers like Boenik and Zu, and even some established manufacturers like B&W.

S
Interesting thought - may as well be correct!
 

Soniclife

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#5
But that doesn't explain the PSB case, who have access to the NRC, so I also have to conclude it's an intentional exercise in "house sound".
Cost savings might explain it for some manufacturers, hold to the same target price by making things cheaper.

But in most cases I've always assumed it's deliberate. There is a comment in a B&W review in stereophile from JA that having seen their factory the treble lift could only be deliberate as they clearly have the resources to ensure it wasn't there.

I think the nature of dems lead to some impressive sounds selling better than neutral. Even more cynically you could say that dealers know deliberate errors in products are likely to bring more repeat business.
 
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#6
I agree that "more impressive demos" can explain the treble boost from B&W, recent Paradigms, etc. The P5's response is rather weird though, so I suspect lower costs drove this design. Better bass measurements could help the analysis, since we can't really judge the sensitivity drop without considering Hofmann. If PSB's next, more expensive models are relatively neutral, this is likely about cost in the Alpha series, not sound signature.

Either way, it is unfortunate to see this happen even while JBL, Kali, Vanatoo, etc. offer improved fidelity in low-price, active monitors. That said, as the cost of electronics falls, active designs should offer increasing value.
 

Frank Dernie

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#7
I am proposing this as a hypothesis.

Loudspeaker manufacturers have a problem that as loudspeakers got better, in that they had a flatter frequency response and lower distortion, they became similar sounding, and thus harder to distinguish in quick dealer demos and HiFi shows. In order to stand out, they had to be different, so frequency responses became more ragged, with excessive HF (listen to all that detail and air round the instruments) and LF distortion (listen to that bass thump). This has given rise to something of a 'signature sound' for manufacturers, but consequently the technical performance is actually worse.

I don't have proof of this, but as evidence, I propose the frequency response of some very expensive 'boutique' manufacturers like Boenik and Zu, and even some established manufacturers like B&W.

S
Do you remember those guys demonstrating DSP crossovers at Scalford using the Linn software? I remember being horrified when they referred to the desirable frequency response target as "smile shaped"
 

sergeauckland

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#9
As I understand it, the BBC dip was to help hear HF anomalies, whilst not totally screwing up the frequency response. Something similar was used by EMI on their 801s using the 801's 'environmental controls'. This was valid as there was little if any EQ used, so nobody would try and equalise for the dip, which in any event was only some 2dB. It was particularly used for classical music recording or speech and drama broadcasting.
Later, when the BBC were dragged kicking and screaming into broadcasting live pop recordings, they used monitors like the KEF KM1 at Maida Vale or PMCs which didn't have the presence dip.

S
 

sergeauckland

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#10
Do you remember those guys demonstrating DSP crossovers at Scalford using the Linn software? I remember being horrified when they referred to the desirable frequency response target as "smile shaped"
Yes, boom and tizz was something Linn was known for going back to the Kan and Isobaric.

S
 
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