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omnidirectional loudspeakers = best design available

Duke

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As I mentioned earlier, I absorb the contralateral reflection from my left speaker, because my right wall is too close. So the idea of directional speakers allowing for a smaller room is rather suspect to me.
I suspect the asymmetry of your room is your issue, not contralateral reflections in general. I've yet to encounter an issue with them, but I've yet to try it in a room like yours. And it sounds to me like you've found an effective solution.

This Subject and subsequent conversation applies to some degree to Electrostatic Speakers as well, correct?
The short answer is, I think so. And as you can already tell, I have a longer answer in mind.

You see, imo yours is an excellent question because its implications reach far beyond electrostatics: Just how widely applicable is this subject and the subsequent conversation?

I think there is potentially significant common ground among omnis, dipoles, bipoles, other polydirectionals, cardioids, constant-directivity narrow-pattern monopoles, well-behaved wide-pattern monopoles, Live-End/Dead-End, Reflection Free Zone, multichannel upmixing, and doubtless other approaches.

Their conceptual common ground, subject of course to appropriate set-up, is imo articulated well by oivavoi:

FWIW, my own preference is to listen to wide-dispersion speakers (in the future possibly omnis) in the near-field. That way one gets much late indirect sound which is similar to the direct sound, but the direct sound still dominates the perception and creates good stereo images. [emphasis Duke's]
Imo what all of these different approaches have in common is the pursuit of “much late indirect sound which is similar to the direct sound, but the direct sound still dominates the perception and creates good stereo images.”
 
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MattHooper

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I don't see any inconsistency with what I've previously said. I interpret Toole as basically making the same point, albeit more eloquently. I'll counter your take with my own emphasis.

"Which, of course, is quite impossible with only two channels! What we hear is only hints of what might have been, as tweaked by recording and mastering engineers. Nothing approaching the original sound field is captured, stored or reproduced. An active imagination is required, and that very likely is strongly individualistic. The problem is the "system" (stereo), not the loudspeakers. This does not mean that music cannot be extremely pleasurable, but the expanded "circle of confusion", if reality is the goal, is not a circle at all. It is a dead end, so long as we stick with two channels. Let the flames begin . . ."

My point is that Omni speakers can't take music recorded and mastered for conventional stereo reproduction and recreate or "restore" it accurately to the original live performance. No speakers can, including conventional forward firing loudspeakers.
Right, we both just got done saying that. Not sure why it would have to be repeated. Seems we are essentially on the same page there.

That is if we are agreeing on that basic, academic point.

But though "perfectly accurate recreation" may be impossible, it seems we can still talk about "closer" and "further" from recreating the original sound of instruments and voices contained on a recording. Remember, breaking the original sound down in to tiny microphone vibrations, on to electrical signals, then to digits, to an analog signal to speaker drivers...it's all an illusion, right? It's never actually "real" so we can talk about which version of the illusion gets closer to the effect of hearing the live sound. And then we are right back to the pertinence of whether an omni can do as well, or better, in any sense, than the average front firing speaker. As I've said, in my experience, the omnis did it better.

And it gets down to niggly details as to what one would accept as getting closer to "reproducing the experience produced by the original live instrument/voice." I recorded myself playing acoustic guitar parts that me and my other musician pals always loved. So when one of my musian friends would come over sometimes I'd take the opportunity to do the live vs reproduced test with the speakers I had at the time - he'd play the part I'd recorded, sitting between the speakers with me at the listening position eyes closed, and then I'd play the recording, just to compare and analyze the difference between live vs reproduced. The guitar recording played through the omnis sounded most like the real guitar in the room.

Further, my son used to practice sax both in the basement and sometimes in my listening/multi-purpose room. So I was used to hearing that sax playing from outside the room, just a little down the hall. I wanted to see how close I could re-create that and recorded him practicing. I'd play it back on every speaker I owned over the years and NOTHING sounded more like the real thing coming out of that room than the omnis. It just sounded like it did, indeed, recreate the "live performance" that I was so used to hearing. And as I mentioned, I fooled a few people who thought it was my son playing sax in another room.

So if we are talking about whether a speaker can "recreate the live performance" - the sound of the live instrument being played in front of the mics, rather than what the mic heard - I don't see how my direct experience testing this phenomenon doesn't bear on the question. The omni I owned did better than all the forward firing speakers I owned. Doesn't mean a forward firing speaker doesn't exist that might do better. But the omni sure seemed to get there more effortlessly than the many speakers I've owned.


People who state that this magic is somehow possible either don't understand what they're talking about or are drinking their own cool aid.
Possible like what? Like being able to recreate such a close approximation of the live sound that it sounds live, and can even fool people?
Actually: been there, done that. No cool-aid was necessary; only experience testing the hypothesis. From outside the room it was close to perfect. From inside my room at the seated position it was less perfectly convincing, but BETTER than the forward facing speakers. And since no one is arguing about "perfect" but rather if one may get "closer" to the live sound, that is pertinant. Have you actually tested these things yourself? I do get the feeling you are speaking more from theory than experience (?)


Alternatively, the benefit of conventional forward firing loudspeakers is that you get to listen to the music through the same type of setup that it was mastered and approved on by the artist who created it. Being that most music is made in a studio this way you have a much higher chance of hearing it as it was intended to be heard by the artist who created and released it. Throwing Omni into that chain adds permanent embellishment to the entire system.
Again: That's a sweeping generalization. There's nuances here.

The "embellishment" you credit to the omni no doubt are the room reflections. But in the big picture, that's the case with virtually ALL speakers, which interact with the room.

And rooms are different. So it's going to depend on the speaker type, the type of room (size, how live/dead surfaces), listener position to the speaker (far or nearfield for direct sound?).

You could play an omni in an acoustically "dead" room, and even include listening more in near-field, and you'll be percieving predominantly direct sound. Whereas you could take a forward firing loudspeaker in a very "live" room, sit further and soak in much more "embellishment" by way of room reflections than the omni set up described.

In fact...I've done just that. I can make my room much more dead than the average room, and I often sat very close to my omnis, and the sound was more precise, direct and accurate sounding than plenty of forward firing speakers I've listened to in big, live rooms with lots of room sound.

So this sweeping "omnis do this/forward firing speakers don't" thing you've got going in terms of coloration is, I suggest, just too simplistic.

And as I said, your claim the omnis won't sound "as the artist heard it" 1. goes down the rabbit hole, since you don't have the room and speakers the artist used. 2. Is someone's forward firing speaker set up in their live room listened at a distance automatically "less embellished" than my omni in my more dead room listened nearfield? Is he in a position to say "YOU opted for embellishment of the sound by choosing omnis. I chose an accurate pair of forward firing speakers, so I'm the one hearing the signal with the least embellishment!" ? I don't see how, if by "embellisment" one is simply referring to the audible addition of room sound. And, as I mentioned, having actually compared the omnis many times to forward firing speakers, I did not hear any major departure in the details of the mix or any of the artistic elements.
 
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oivavoi

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He [Toole] has certainly used both stereo and multichannel in his own listening setups over the years, so why do you think he would not have formed a comparison-based opinion? And of course he can turn off an upmixer any time he wants.
Yap, of course. What I meant was that he hasn't performed systematic blind listening tests with others on stereo vs multichannel. So in that way his preference for multichannel over stereo is based on his own subjective listening impressions, just like Linkwitz' preference for the reverse is based on his subjective impressions. The difference is that Toole's preference is broadly in line with what subjects have reported in blind tests (with exceptions, as always). But like the discussion here shows, there is no guarantee that one's own indvidual preference will be in line with the statistical average in such listening tests.
 

oivavoi

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BTW, I'm somewhat shopping for a decent omni for my garage setup, but nothing super expensive. The Revel M105s are oddly not wide enough dispersion for the amount of pacing around I do while working out. Any measurements out there of reasonably priced omnis? I was looking at Ohm, but it seems they're not well regarded here. I've heard and enjoyed the giant $200,000 MBLs, but no way can I afford even 1/10th of that for a secondary system. Morrison audio has been brought up a few times, but they're still too expensive(from what I've seen). Maybe if I can find a really good used price, but still, I can't find good measurements, and I'm super hesitant to buy speakers sans measurements these days.
Never heard them, but for such a setup I would probably look for a set of Linkwitz plutos with subwoofers. Either used, or attempt to build a set yourselfs. Plans are now available for free. Measurements are available, decently omni up to a certain frequency. Alternatively a pair of Apple homepods or Samsung R7s for simplicity.
 

q3cpma

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I would say no. At least with the electrostats I've heard(ML), they have more in common with a narrow dispersion horn speaker than they do an omni speaker. The electrostats I've heard throw a super clear and precise, yet super unstable image, which is the same as what my JTRs do, and it's the exact opposite of what a good omni will give you.

I get why you asked that, though. They do seem to be getting somewhat lumped together here, and I'm not sure I totally understand why. I think @Duke has actually made some really great points re: min/maxing early vs late arriving reflections, but (at least based on what I've heard) his points are good arguments in favor of dipoles, not omnis.

BTW, I'm somewhat shopping for a decent omni for my garage setup, but nothing super expensive. The Revel M105s are oddly not wide enough dispersion for the amount of pacing around I do while working out. Any measurements out there of reasonably priced omnis? I was looking at Ohm, but it seems they're not well regarded here. I've heard and enjoyed the giant $200,000 MBLs, but no way can I afford even 1/10th of that for a secondary system. Morrison audio has been brought up a few times, but they're still too expensive(from what I've seen). Maybe if I can find a really good used price, but still, I can't find good measurements, and I'm super hesitant to buy speakers sans measurements these days.
https://teenage.engineering/products/od-11
 
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I actually proposed to Don Morrison to send one of his speakers to Amir. Still waiting on my pair to get finished, but when they do get finished I have thought about making Amir a stopgap, if he's interested and they haven't been measured by then.
Should be so very useful to have a full set of measurement for those speakers!
 

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