• 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.

Natural Sound NS17 Review (Speaker)

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
34,673
Likes
126,447
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Natural Sound (NS) Audio NS17 speaker. It was sent to me by their distributor, Aoshida Audio and costs US $2,300.

These speakers are designed and built in China. The latter is not unusual but the former is. The selection of finish and material on this sample seems first class:

Natural Sound NS17 Review passive flagship bookshelf speaker.jpg


You can see the gloss finished veneer better from the back:

Natural Sound NS17 Review back panel passive flagship bookshelf speaker.jpg


The picture does not do it justice as far as the luxury feel it imparts. Alas, as you may be able to see, there is chip around the port which has been patched. And there is a foggy spot on the top left of the speaker. Don't know if this is limited to my sample or general defects/lack of quality control in building them.

To be honest, my first reaction when I was approached to test the NS17 was to say no. Figured they are mimicking the look of a high-end speaker but that there is no design involved there. A quick look at the product page changed that opinion and fast:

bd987f5a17.jpg


They are calibrating each sample manufactured in anechoic chamber??? I don't think there is any other speaker company doing that. They use the chamber for design but manufacturing QC is done elsewhere. Another unique thing here is distortion graphs directly from Klippel analyzer as I run them:

a93829e6c1.jpg


Alas, the scale on the top graph is way too large, making the frequency response look flatter than it is. Still, they should be commended for producing more measurements than I have seen any manufacturer produce including high-end professional monitors.

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. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of about 1%.

NS Audio NS17 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:

Natural Sound NS17 Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagship bookshelf speaker.png


I was impressed with the ruler flat in bass to lower midrange and again in upper treble. Unfortunately in between things get a bit messy with two broad peaks comprised of smaller variations. Near-field response gives some clues here but not a complete answer:

Natural Sound NS17 driver port Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagship boo...png


Port resonance is kept at lower frequency so it should not interfere as much as it does in other designs. There is a notch in woofer response.

The second issue which is visible easier in early window is the sudden narrowing of the tweeter response:

Natural Sound NS17 early window Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagship bo...png


There is no waveguide so the tweeter starts to beam as soon as it takes over. Vertical dispersion has created a dip at 2.3 kHz as well.

Putting the two together we get a very unique predicted in-room frequency response:

Natural Sound NS17 Predicted in-room Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagsh...png


Ideal response is a sloping down one. Here, we have a flat response and then the slope. What do you think this will sound like? Not an easy question to answer.

Looking at the 1000 to 3000 Hz response we see the disturbances in the middle:

Natural Sound NS17 3D Radiation Pattern Mesaurements back panel passive flagship bookshelf spe...png


Beamwidth graph shows the directivity issue:

Natural Sound NS17 horizontal beam width Mesaurements back panel passive flagship bookshelf sp...png


Here is our colored directivity graphs:

Natural Sound NS17 horizontal directivity Mesaurements back panel passive flagship bookshelf s...png


Natural Sound NS17 Vertical directivity Mesaurements back panel passive flagship bookshelf spe...png


As noted, you should sit at or above tweeter axis so you don't fall in the "eye" between 2 and 3 kHz and have more of a dip there.

A highlight of this speaker is the very low distortion in bass frequencies at 86 dBSPL:
Natural Sound NS17 THD distortion Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagship ...png


Something is going on though between 1 and 2 kHz though:
Natural Sound NS17 distortion Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagship book...png


There is a switch in the back that tailors the high frequency response. Here is the effect:

Natural Sound NS17 dip switch change Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagsh...png


So looks like it does what it says.

Finally, impedance is reasonable at above 5 ohm:

Natural Sound NS17 impedance and phase vs Frequency Response Mesaurements back panel passive f...png


I liked that no resonances are visible in there.

For those of you up to no good which keep asking me for "timing" graphs, here is the impulse response:
Natural Sound NS17 Impulse Response Mesaurements back panel passive flagship bookshelf speaker.png


Don't say I never listen to you. While it is true that I don't, I don't want to hear it from you....

NS Audio NS17 Speaker Listening Test and Equalization
This speaker had me stomped for nearly 24 hours. I played it, it could handle tons of power. The sound was clean but bright sounding. I toggled the switch to -2 dB but that didn't help much. Tried to EQ down the two broad areas but in AB testing, I did not always prefer the equalized setting. After a few hours of listening and experimentation, I thought maybe it is me and not the speaker. To verify, I replaced the NS17 with Revel M16. Wow, was this a huge improvement. The sound was now warm, inviting, and just enjoyable. I went back and looked at the measurements of the M16, specifically the predicted in-room response:

index.php


We have a sloping down response and a bass hump around 100 Hz. I switched back to NS16 and dialed in the same hump:

Natural Sound NS17 equalization eq back panel passive flagship bookshelf speaker.png


That was it! Now the NS17 was also warm sounding and quite inviting. The response in NS17 is too flat up too flat and even peaky up to lower treble and hence the brightness. I suspect you could keep the bass the same and fix this and the upper mid-range but it was easier to just boost the bass.

Once there, the effortlessness of the NS17 showed its value as I cranked up the volume and enjoyed the tracks being played.

Conclusions
There is clearly good effort and engineering that has gone into the design of this speaker. They have the right tools to measure and optimize the drivers and overall design. I think smaller detailers are getting in the way such as not using a waveguide and/or having the tweeter way away from the woofer that is causing directivity errors in vertical direction. I confess that I don't have 100% confidence in my subjective evaluation. It was a challenge and I think I got to some place decent, but not going to swear by it. You have the data and you judge.

Overall, I am going to recommend the Natural Sound NS17 if you use equalization to impart a sloping down target.

-----------
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/
 

Attachments

  • Natrual Sound NS17.zip
    88.3 KB · Views: 25

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
1,320
Likes
1,662
That PIR is bizarre. I've never seen anything like that. That isn't an old school design causing that, that's deliberately designed in!
 

YSC

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 31, 2019
Messages
1,369
Likes
931
Nice looking speaker but the in room seems weird. I wonders the woofer is made of wood?

anyway for that price… it’s not for me
 

vkvedam

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 12, 2019
Messages
423
Likes
466
Location
Coventry, UK
Very interesting. Surprised to see that the final testing is carried out by using LMS which we use for automotive applications day in day out :)
 

wwenze

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
May 22, 2018
Messages
712
Likes
968
If <400Hz was just shelved up 2dB, it likely would make a decent improvement.

I don’t think I’ve seen a 1” tweeter change so much in dispersion, you could ride the ER & SP curves like a slide.
Also, that woofer doesn’t look like 6.5”.

As is the tweeter's own FR. Seems to be correlated: The louder the FR the lower the DI.
 

617

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Messages
1,357
Likes
2,911
Location
Somerville, MA
That PIR is bizarre. I've never seen anything like that. That isn't an old school design causing that, that's deliberately designed in!

Looks like fairly typical tweeter roll off to me? I mean I agree there is probably a series resistor in the tweeter network causing it to tilt like that. A voltage divider would bring the level down in a flatter manner.
 

Beave

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
473
Likes
848
Their specs list sensitivity at 87dB, but their own measurement of frequency response shows it's at least a couple dB less than that.

Does the small gradual rise in its response imply a little lack of sufficient baffle step compensation?

Is the filter on the woofer a notch filter at 3.8kHz or is that dip part of the woofer's inherent response?

Is the large THD peak around 1.5kHz from the woofer or from the tweeter?
 

Blumlein 88

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
12,325
Likes
18,480
Quite often in subjectively judging sound balance, you'll hear brightness, and the only right adjustment is to the bass. The reverse also happens. You'll hear too much or not enough low end. The correct adjustment is the tweeter.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
34,673
Likes
126,447
Location
Seattle Area
Their specs list sensitivity at 87dB, but their own measurement of frequency response shows it's at least a couple dB less than that.
It is way less than that. It is about 82 to 83 dB. I had to pump a lot of power into it to play loud.
 

Beave

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
473
Likes
848

Beave

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
473
Likes
848
It is way less than that. It is about 82 to 83 dB. I had to pump a lot of power into it to play loud.

Maybe they take sensitivity to mean the output at that peak just under 1kHz, where it does hit almost 87dB. :rolleyes:
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2021
Messages
8
Likes
9
That's a "boutique" speaker if I've ever seen one. The speaker has a nice visual appeal compared to the all black designs that seem to dominate the market - at least in my price range. Additionally, the contrast between the black face of the speaker and the wood mid/woofer makes the driver appear much smaller than it is. I thought the speaker has a 4" mid/woofer but according to the mfg. it is 6.5" driver. Overall It seems the mfg. is just a few tweaks away from having a really competitive speaker.
 

Beave

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
473
Likes
848
That's a "boutique" speaker if I've ever seen one. The speaker has a nice visual appeal compared to the all black designs that seem to dominate the market - at least in my price range. Additionally, the contrast between the black face of the speaker and the wood mid/woofer makes the driver appear much smaller than it is. I thought the speaker has a 4" mid/woofer but according to the mfg. it is 6.5" driver. Overall It seems the mfg. is just a few tweaks away from having a really competitive speaker.

They have a model with a smaller mid/woofer, the NS15. That one is claimed to be 5 1/4" but appears closer to 4".

This one is claimed to be 6 1/2" but appears closer to 5 1/4".
 

Exprymer

Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2021
Messages
19
Likes
34
Wow! That's a interesting Speaker for sure. The Estimated in Room response actually reminded me of the RT30 Tolerances on the Ebu Tech 3276, which is still largely used for studio and multimedia applications.

China has taken over the IEMs market with incredibly good products for cheap. When they expand it's expertise to studio monitors, perharps we should have more for less on that too.

Thanks for the Impulse Response, Amir. Hope it's not too much trouble.

God, i love this website.
 

oversky

Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2021
Messages
18
Likes
5
Amirm, do you have time to measure the other speaker to verify the claim?

3PxTuc4.png
 
Top Bottom