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Newbie Hi-Fi questions

mlid49

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(My impressions are that this is somewhat of a fact-based forum, so please do answer my questions with empirical evidence rather than just objectivist buzzwords)

1. Is there such a thing as a good speaker that doesn't measure flat (warm)? Or is a product of that nature just something with inherent tonality issues from an objective standpoint? Admittedly, I'm a fan of warm sounding headphones, even if they don't measure well.

2. Headphone users are told to EQ to get the desired response they want. Why do I never hear any mention of it in the speaker realm?

3. In your experience do DACs/Amps sound different :)? Okay, but somewhat serious though, I've heard the argument of "all DACs sound the same" and "all SS amps that don't have audible distortion pretty much sound the same" From a headphone analogy: how audible, for instance, would the difference be between a KGSSHV and Stax SRS-252S? (Do amp designers like Kevin Gilmore and ones from boutique Hi-Fi manufacturers (McIntosh, Luxman, hell even Arcam) spend their days developing products with marginal increases in quality that cannot be further improved upon? [of course, I understand the money factor lolol])

4. What are the measurements/design factors that matter the most for speakers? (diffraction, baffle/driver material, off-axis [horizontal or vertical] response? etc...)
 
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RayDunzl

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2. Headphone users are told to EQ to get the desired response they want. Why do I never hear any mention of it in the speaker realm?

I do.

Consider "room correction" or the application of a "house curve", and DSP controlled "active" speakers, or the use of subwoofers to extend (warm?) the lower ranges.
 

amirm

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2. Headphone users are told to EQ to get the desired response they want. Why do I never hear any mention of it in the speaker realm?
Somehow there has been more embracing of equalization in headphones than in speakers. But fear not: equalization for speakers is adopted by many including myself. There, what we mostly try to do is to reduce the impact of the room on speakers, mostly in low frequencies where that effect is the highest.

It is best to get a speaker that doesn't need correction just to behave. Here, research is well ahead of headphones and shows that speakers that have good direct *and* indirect angles of radiation sound the best to listeners in controlled tests. Headphone testing is difficult due to poor repeatability and hence not as conclusive.

As to warmth, that you can get with equalization and is a different matter than what I am describing above (i.e. correctness). Once you have DSP and EQ capabilities, that is easily applied, usually in the form of a sloping down response that emphasizes bass at the expense of highs giving you the warmth you are asking.
 

VMAT4

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In respect to your question on speakers, I say picking speakers is like picking neckties. It's a matter of taste. Incidentally, I use an Emotiva MC 700 to equalize my Emotiva Airmotiv T1 speakers.
 

solderdude

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1: Very likely they exist. Even a 'flat measuring' speaker can sound warm and bassy.
This largely depends on the room it is in and its positioning in that room as well as the listening position.

2: see answers above.

3: The amps you talk about are NOT your typical headphone amps. Designing amps that have a huge voltage swing and can drive a pure capacitive load is no easy feat. Depending on the circuits/practical solutions used these amps may differ so much in performance it is measurable and even audible.
DAC's and 'normal' headphone amps is another story.

4: Many design factors matter but probably placement and room condition matters most. Hence the above answers on topic 2.

Audition speakers in your own home.
The one(s) you like most you can choose to EQ them with room EQ software or to your personal taste.

The same with headphones... audition them and (if so desired) EQ them to your taste.
 

sergeauckland

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In respect to your question on speakers, I say picking speakers is like picking neckties. It's a matter of taste. Incidentally, I use an Emotiva MC 700 to equalize my Emotiva Airmotiv T1 speakers.
It may be, but my starting point is what's right technically. I've equalised my loudspeakers to be flat pseudoanechoically to +-1dB above 200Hz, and sensibly flat below that, without specifically equalising further as it happily wasn't necessary in my room. Other parameters like distortion are also sensible.
I really don't care if there would be loudspeakers I might like more, as I'm happy that what I'm listening to is technically as correct as I can get it.
HiFi for me isn't about what I like, but what measures right.

S
 
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mlid49

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1: Very likely they exist. Even a 'flat measuring' speaker can sound warm and bassy.
This largely depends on the room it is in and its positioning in that room as well as the listening position.
2: see answers above.

3: The amps you talk about are NOT your typical headphone amps. Designing amps that have a huge voltage swing and can drive a pure capacitive load is no easy feat. Depending on the circuits/practical solutions used these amps may differ so much in performance it is measurable and even audible.
DAC's and 'normal' headphone amps is another story.

4: Many design factors matter but probably placement and room condition matters most. Hence the above answers on topic 2.

Audition speakers in your own home.
The one(s) you like most you can choose to EQ them with room EQ software or to your personal taste.

The same with headphones... audition them and (if so desired) EQ them to your taste.

1. Wouldn't that be perceived as innacurate though? Don't audiophiles try to take the room out of the equation with treatments and DSP? I was wondering more along the lines of if a speaker could deviate from a flat response and still measure brilliantly. (What about design compromises? My current bookshelves are rear-ported, but I've read that this is not good for transients and is just there to increase bass extension)

3. Of course, when I refer to those brands I'm thinking comparisons to cheaper priced stereo amps from brands like Emotiva, I understand that they can sound different but would this difference be necessarily perceived as better? What about power amps from Crown?
 
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mlid49

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Somehow there has been more embracing of equalization in headphones than in speakers. But fear not: equalization for speakers is adopted by many including myself. There, what we mostly try to do is to reduce the impact of the room on speakers, mostly in low frequencies where that effect is the highest.

It is best to get a speaker that doesn't need correction just to behave. Here, research is well ahead of headphones and shows that speakers that have good direct *and* indirect angles of radiation sound the best to listeners in controlled tests. Headphone testing is difficult due to poor repeatability and hence not as conclusive.

As to warmth, that you can get with equalization and is a different matter than what I am describing above (i.e. correctness). Once you have DSP and EQ capabilities, that is easily applied, usually in the form of a sloping down response that emphasizes bass at the expense of highs giving you the warmth you are asking.

Radiation as in on/off axis? I'm not sure if you saw my other thread, but I believe I'm in a situation where there seems to be unwanted room gain (one speaker is close to a side wall while the other isn't) I'm wondering if active moniters/DSP can fix that?
 
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mlid49

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I read that Salk sometimes uses drivers to change sound signature. Despite all their speakers measuring close to flat would a change in driver material really make a speaker seem less harsh sounding?
 

amirm

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Radiation as in on/off axis? I'm not sure if you saw my other thread, but I believe I'm in a situation where there seems to be unwanted room gain (one speaker is close to a side wall while the other isn't) I'm wondering if active moniters/DSP can fix that?
For bass response, yes, you can correct for that to some extent. For higher frequencies you can put absorbers on the wall to make it look like the one without a wall next to it.
 

solderdude

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1. Wouldn't that be perceived as innacurate though? Don't audiophiles try to take the room out of the equation with treatments and DSP? I was wondering more along the lines of if a speaker could deviate from a flat response and still measure brilliantly. (What about design compromises? My current bookshelves are rear-ported, but I've read that this is not good for transients and is just there to increase bass extension)

3. Of course, when I refer to those brands I'm thinking comparisons to cheaper priced stereo amps from brands like Emotiva, I understand that they can sound different but would this difference be necessarily perceived as better? What about power amps from Crown?

1: Who cares what audiophiles think ? If you want 'warm' then what's wrong with that ? If you want accurate, there is nothing wrong with that either.
Use an accurate speaker and EQ it to sound warm and most likely you will like the result.
Use a poor performing speaker and EQ it to perform better and you still may not like the result.
It can go either way. Depends on your room, speaker, positioning and personal taste.

Are you not satisfied with your current speakers ? Who cares what someone wrote down about porting. Porting is there to get better bass extension.
There is a price to pay for every 'trick'. When a trick is done right AND the positioning of the speaker AND the room interacts well then I see no reason not to use 'trickery' when it improves results.

3: When you use the term perceived it becomes a personal thing. There can be measurable differences between amps that may not be audible. There can also be measurable differences that are audible. Some brands can have excellent and poor products. Generalizing brands and performance is not the best way to go about this.
 

PierreV

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Short answer: it is always matter of taste. :)

Longish answer:

1) the speakers are the most important part of any setup, room behavior may have a big impact (but I feel a better - to my taste - speaker remains a better speaker regardless of the room). You don't buy a speaker based on test results, you hear it first, ideally in your rooms as others have said. Measures, internet review may guide you in a certain direction, but listen, listen, listen.

2) EQ, room EQ for speakers is definitely a thing. Even cheap 5.1 AV receivers support it. Sometimes, people will buy expensive mono amplifiers, flashy preamps and leave the EQ to expensive magical interconnects ;) - that's their problem, not yours.

3) current DACs roughly sound the same and are mostly transparent these days. However, what's around the DAC can significantly change the character of the sound imh non specialist opinion. I confess I am quite fond of the old Wolfson 8740 for example, for certain types of music vs several Sabre implementations I also own. But, and that is a big but, I am unable to say if it is intrinsic to the WM8740 behavior or the implementation around it. It is a bit warmer to my ears by the way. Amplifiers definitely do not sound the same. While I don't switch often on my main system (too much work) I have four amps in my office (on KEF LS50), that I swap depending on what I want to listen to - the differences are very audible. I tend to use a japanse class A/B one for rock, a "mild audiophile" class D from Marantz (HD AMP1 which I believe to be based on OEM Hypex modules) which I see as non-tiring general purpose amp, a tube hybrid which I like for jazzy stuff (very warm, but no punch) and a cheap Chinese pure digital which I bought for fun and his surprisingly good on modern percussion but maybe a bit tiring

4) afaic, the box should not exist. That issue is pretty much solved in competent modern speakers. Then the room. But again, don't focus on tech stuff, listen, listen, listen. Decent horns sound very different from decent ES speakers but it is perfectly legit to like both, only one, or none :)

Benchmarks and tests (again imho) will not give you the magic "buy this" equation. What they do is

- reveal the over hyped (or dangerous) implementations for what they are.
- allow you to save a ton of money by discovering devices that offer good bang for the buck.
- are just interesting on their own :)
- reveal the weakest link in a chain (who cares if your DAC has 130 dB SNR if your amp has 65)

My (again) personal opinion is that, in the current state of affairs

dac is a "solved" problem, and the solution becomes cheaper every day.
interconnects are a thing of the past, provided the data is properly buffered, and even if not, jitter is a non issue in most cases.
amps are solved "theoretically", matching amps with speakers is another story. all-in-one matched designs are impressive and probably the future if the industry/pres doesn't kill.
room EQ is solvable

but, you will not necessarily prefer to listen the solution that measures best. In my setups, I know I don't.
 

sergeauckland

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Shows we're all different. I never listen to anything before buying, just look at the numbers. If the numbers are OK, and I like the ergonomics, serviceability and build quality, I buy it.

S
 
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