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Omnidirectional speakers

oivavoi

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#1
I'm intrigued by this kind of speakers. I know that there are reasons why I "shouldn't" like them, but nevertheless: Listening to the MBL 101s in a large room rank among my all-time best hifi experiences. (even though I think they have their weaknesses as well)

I would like to open a thread on omnidirectional speakers:

- What do you think of the concept in principle?

- Which omnis have you had the chance to listen to, with what kind of room acoustics, and what did you think of them?
 

Purité Audio

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#2
Good for parties and not much else, the Beolabs 'omni' mode is incredible fun but it isn't hi-fi.
Keith
 
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oivavoi

oivavoi

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Thread Starter #3
Haven't heard the bolabs omni mode. It should be mentioned, though, that the beolab 90s actually measure fairly bad in omni mode. Polar plots don't look very good. The strength of the 90s is in the narrow mode, IMO. The beolab 5 do a much better job as quasi-omnis than the 90s - if measurements and polar plots can be seen as indicators.
 

fas42

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#4
Agree about the MBL 101s - years ago I went stale on ambitious audio; it was all too hard! Then, went to a very high end audio show, and they were being driven by the best electronics done by the same mob. This was the real deal!!, I thought - and got a second wind ...

Concept is perfectly fine - where the sound actually gets fired doesn't really matter, if the quality is there - our human hearing sorts it all out, and reassembles a meaningful representation inside our skulls.

The MBLs were being played in a massive space, echos from the side were irrelevant - and they did a very impressive disappearing trick - nice!!
 

RayDunzl

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#5
They certainly make for some attractive designs...
 

fas42

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#6
Heard the Beolab 5 - sort of OK, but not enough quality ...
 

RayDunzl

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#7
But I see few truly omnidirectional designs - they may radiate horizontally 360 degrees, but the up and down appear compromised.
 

fas42

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#8
Heard some Duevels at an audio club meeting; which were being compared to a conventional speaker box. The omnis were miles ahead in presenting a good acoustic - but the audio identity sitting next to me didn't like that; he preferred the "I can hear the drivers thumping away in the box" approach - which quite astounded me at the time ...
 
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oivavoi

oivavoi

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Thread Starter #9
But I see few truly omnidirectional designs - they may radiate horizontally 360 degrees, but the up and down appear compromised.
Good point. I've been eyeing these speakers: http://www.morrisonaudio.com/
That's about the only design I've seen which is truly omni (ok, almost - they fire evenly in all direction horizontally and up, but they don't fire downwards). The MBLs are not true omnis for example.

The Morrison speakers get exceptional reviews from everybody who's heard them. Those who've heard them are a very select crowd though, as they're literally built by hand by one single man in Toronto. And here in Europe they are nowhere to be found...

Question is though: Can it be a good idea to buy expensive speakers based only on polar plots, measurements of distortion etc and what one knows about the design considerations - and the reviews of others?
 
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oivavoi

oivavoi

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Thread Starter #10
Heard some Duevels at an audio club meeting; which were being compared to a conventional speaker box. The omnis were miles ahead in presenting a good acoustic - but the audio identity sitting next to me didn't like that; he preferred the "I can hear the drivers thumping away in the box" approach - which quite astounded me at the time ...
Thanks for sharing your experiences! Interesting.
 

watchnerd

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#11
Question is though: Can one be a good idea to buy expensive speakers based only on polar plots, measurements of distortion etc and what one knows about the design considerations - and the reviews of others?
If you've heard other speakers from the same manufacturer and know the house sound, I think it's fine. I've done so before.
 

watchnerd

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#12
- What do you think of the concept in principle?
I object the concept in principle. Not because it is wrong, but because none of the monitor speakers used in the recording and production process come close to resembling omni speakers.

As a result, you're more likely to hear something very different from the intended mix.
 
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oivavoi

oivavoi

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Thread Starter #13
If you've heard other speakers from the same manufacturer and know the house sound, I think it's fine. I've done so before.
Nope, never in this case. I just know that they tick many of my boxes, in theory. And the few things I've read about people's impressions of them seem to be in line with what I would expect.
 
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oivavoi

oivavoi

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Thread Starter #14
I object the concept in principle. Not because it is wrong, but because none of the monitor speakers used in the recording and production process come close to resembling omni speakers.

As a result, you're more likely to hear something very different from the intended mix.
Interesting point. But wouldn't that also disqualify any dipole and/or electrostatic speaker? They're almost never used in studios, to my knowledge. Still, many people think that dipoles or electrostats create more convincing stereo images than box speakers for example. Are they distorting the original mix - is it a form of pleasant distortion, just like with some valve amps etc? (for what it's worth, I'm using monitor-style active speakers right now and I love it)
 

RayDunzl

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#15
Interesting point. But wouldn't that also disqualify any dipole and/or electrostatic speaker? They're almost never used in studios, to my knowledge.
Now that I think about it, my old Fender Quad Reverb was...

... a dipole

 

watchnerd

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#16
Interesting point. But wouldn't that also disqualify any dipole and/or electrostatic speaker? They're almost never used in studios, to my knowledge. Still, many people think that dipoles or electrostats create more convincing stereo images than box speakers for example. Are they distorting the original mix - is it a form of pleasant distortion, just like with some valve amps etc? (for what it's worth, I'm using monitor-style active speakers right now and I love it)
Yes.

And I say this as someone who owns electrostats and monitor speakers. Electrostats do not "translate" as well as dynamic speakers.
 

RayDunzl

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#17
Electrostats do not "translate" as well as dynamic speakers.
What does that mean?

(looks it up)

Oh. A mix someone think sounds good on one set/class of speakers sounds bad to someone when played through a different set/class of speakers.
 
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Blumlein 88

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#18
This translation business is tricky.

A supposition. Not a well thought out one either.

Record with two omni mikes and play back over omni speakers (MBL's though more of a pole source are close enough).

Record with two figure 8 mikes and play back over panel speakers.

Record with two cardioid mikes and play back over cone and box speakers.

Record with more mikes than there are channels and play it anyway you want it as it is all chaotic imagination anyway. :p
 

Blumlein 88

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#20
What does that mean?
Translation is what mixers and mastering guys talk about. "Man these XBZ 123 mk3 monitors translate everywhere". Meaning earbuds on an iphone, car speakers, high end headphones, and the finest playback not in Mike Lavigne's lair will all work with the final recording if it was mastered on monitors that translate well. If translation were poor you might love the sound in the mixing/mastering studio, but many real world music listeners would not like the result.

I think it partly is a myth, and partly misconceived. For one thing the optimum mix for headphones will never be optimum for speakers. Full stop. Anything that works for both will be less than the best for each.

Nevertheless, obviously mixing decisions over a highly colored unusual speaker may instead sound highly unusual when other people listen over their own systems. MBL's would not be good translators. So obviously as well mixing over fairly clean mid size monitors won't stray as far from a general good medium solution for many different possible playback systems. Still I don't think there is some optimum translator so your tweaked studio work sounds greatest over everything everywhere.
 
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