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Passive Speaker Recommendations for USA (by @sweetchaos)

It allows you to perfectly EQ your units without any concern about unit to unit variation, which is always a potential problem with Erin/Amir's data.

Is that worth $500 on $1500 speakers that already have pretty good on-axis? No, but it's a cool value add for nerds basically. Also, it does provide some very precise QC so you can be extra sure your units are perfect, I suppose.
The latest March Audio hubbub just answered this question.. ;)
 
Why does the BMR get recommended as a center channel with the tweeter rotated? Was it specifically measured this way?
 
Where are the omni / dipole speakers ? - no mention of Martin Logan or Quad ESL's?

Are they disqualified by the measurement methods?
 
First off @sweetchaos you're a saint for doing this, and I'm anticipating your beautification. Having read through this thread, my understanding is that this list is good source of information, but should definitely not be considered a buyer's guide by any stretch. I.e. if you have some speakers in mind, you can compare their scores here, and maybe see how much more you might eke out of them by adding a sub or two.

Is there any guide to ballpark estimate what room size a speaker would be suitable for and compare speakers of similar-ish output, or is that too complex to boil down to a simple list?
 
Why does the BMR get recommended as a center channel with the tweeter rotated? Was it specifically measured this way?
It was measured with Klippel NFS in a normal configuration (tweeter, mid, woofer).
But changing the orientation of tweeter by 90deg and then laying the speaker on it's side for center channel use, wouldn't change the spin data in any significant way...because the distance from tweeter to midrange is still the same, regardless of tweeter orientation.
It gets recommended because this speaker measured very well and came in 3rd in terms of PS for US$1700/pair.
If another bookshelf speaker's tweeter could be rotated the same way, but didn't have a high PS, then it wouldn't have made my recommended list.

For example, another manufacturer, Adam made their latest generation, A series, with rotatable tweeters. We have yet to see their spins.
Where are the omni / dipole speakers ? - no mention of Martin Logan or Quad ESL's?

Are they disqualified by the measurement methods?
You mean Martin Logan speakers that look like this?
Martin Logan Prodigy:
CEA2034.jpg
Martin Logan Vista:
CEA2034.jpg
You see anything worth recommending for an average consumer who wants a neutral speaker?
The spinorama looks awful, plus the PS will be bad accordingly.
Electrostatic speakers have a sound signature that only a few people enjoy, due to their design methodology.
It's not something an average consumer prefers, and the preference score (and spinorama) shows this.
Plus, their pricing is completely out of whack, and overpriced (vs traditional speakers anyway).
So there's little chance for them to compete with traditional speakers, and make it on my list.
If you bought electrostatic speakers, my list isn't for you. But then again, you already know they're not neutral speakers, so you don't care about that and want their "sound character" above anything else.

First off @sweetchaos you're a saint for doing this, and I'm anticipating your beautification. Having read through this thread, my understanding is that this list is good source of information, but should definitely not be considered a buyer's guide by any stretch. I.e. if you have some speakers in mind, you can compare their scores here, and maybe see how much more you might eke out of them by adding a sub or two.

Is there any guide to ballpark estimate what room size a speaker would be suitable for and compare speakers of similar-ish output, or is that too complex to boil down to a simple list?
Thanks. :)

Yeah, output capability of a speaker is not a single metric. I wish it was.

You can look at both Amir's and Erin's distortion handling to see 2 things: how much distortion there is, relative to another speaker, and whether the frequency response changes at that level of distortion (for example: studio monitors with a limiter will likely compress frequency response because the limiter protects the speaker from exertion).
Here's an example of speaker (Neumann KH420) with a limiter kicking in to protect the tweeter at 106dbSPL. Look at the frequency response line on top, which starts to drop beyond 10khz.
index.php

Erin goes further and provides us with his "Dynamic Range (Instantaneous Compression Test)", which is very useful to illustrate how much (if at all) the output changes as a speaker’s components temperature increases (i.e., voice coils, crossover components) instantaneously. Here's 8331A:
Genelec%208331A_Compression.png
You can see the limiter kicking in and at what frequency. Based on this, you can easily see the limitations of the speaker and as at what frequency you should be crossing over to a subwoofer.

Lastly, you can also look at general information like how many woofers and size of woofers the speaker has, to get a general sense of their performance. Example is Kef R5, R7 and R11. Just on the fact that Kef R11 has more woofers, means it will output more power than R5, R7.
But like I said earlier, we have no way of relating power output of speakers against each other with a single metric.

Also, depending on your sitting distance, you have to consider what is the minimum distance you need to sit from a speaker.
For example, here's what Genelec recommends:
correct-monitors-direct_sound_dominance-chart.jpg
Look "not recommended distance". When distance to the monitor is too short, summing of sound from multiple drivers is not happening as designed, and this effects flatness of the frequency response. A flatter and more stable frequency response is obtained by a larger distance.
You can get a sense of what distance by looking at this chart. Also, by knowing the size of the woofer, you can estimate this distance for non-Genelec speakers.

I hope that helped.
 
It was measured with Klippel NFS in a normal configuration (tweeter, mid, woofer).
But changing the orientation of tweeter by 90deg and then laying the speaker on it's side for center channel use, wouldn't change the spin data in any significant way...because the distance from tweeter to midrange is still the same, regardless of tweeter orientation.
It gets recommended because this speaker measured very well and came in 3rd in terms of PS for US$1700/pair.
If another bookshelf speaker's tweeter could be rotated the same way, but didn't have a high PS, then it wouldn't have made my recommended list.

For example, another manufacturer, Adam made their latest generation, A series, with rotatable tweeters. We have yet to see their spins.

You mean Martin Logan speakers that look like this?
Martin Logan Prodigy:
CEA2034.jpg
Martin Logan Vista:
CEA2034.jpg
You see anything worth recommending for an average consumer who wants a neutral speaker?
The spinorama looks awful, plus the PS will be bad accordingly.
Electrostatic speakers have a sound signature that only a few people enjoy, due to their design methodology.
It's not something an average consumer prefers, and the preference score (and spinorama) shows this.
Plus, their pricing is completely out of whack, and overpriced (vs traditional speakers anyway).
So there's little chance for them to compete with traditional speakers, and make it on my list.
If you bought electrostatic speakers, my list isn't for you. But then again, you already know they're not neutral speakers, so you don't care about that and want their "sound character" above anything else.


Thanks. :)

Yeah, output capability of a speaker is not a single metric. I wish it was.

You can look at both Amir's and Erin's distortion handling to see 2 things: how much distortion there is, relative to another speaker, and whether the frequency response changes at that level of distortion (for example: studio monitors with a limiter will likely compress frequency response because the limiter protects the speaker from exertion).
Here's an example of speaker (Neumann KH420) with a limiter kicking in to protect the tweeter at 106dbSPL. Look at the frequency response line on top, which starts to drop beyond 10khz.
index.php

Erin goes further and provides us with his "Dynamic Range (Instantaneous Compression Test)", which is very useful to illustrate how much (if at all) the output changes as a speaker’s components temperature increases (i.e., voice coils, crossover components) instantaneously. Here's 8331A:
Genelec%208331A_Compression.png
You can see the limiter kicking in and at what frequency. Based on this, you can easily see the limitations of the speaker and as at what frequency you should be crossing over to a subwoofer.

Lastly, you can also look at general information like how many woofers and size of woofers the speaker has, to get a general sense of their performance. Example is Kef R5, R7 and R11. Just on the fact that Kef R11 has more woofers, means it will output more power than R5, R7.
But like I said earlier, we have no way of relating power output of speakers against each other with a single metric.

Also, depending on your sitting distance, you have to consider what is the minimum distance you need to sit from a speaker.
For example, here's what Genelec recommends:
correct-monitors-direct_sound_dominance-chart.jpg
Look "not recommended distance". When distance to the monitor is too short, summing of sound from multiple drivers is not happening as designed, and this effects flatness of the frequency response. A flatter and more stable frequency response is obtained by a larger distance.
You can get a sense of what distance by looking at this chart. Also, by knowing the size of the woofer, you can estimate this distance for non-Genelec speakers.

I hope that helped.
On doing further research into the cognitive disconnect between the superb sound of certain panel / dipole speakers, and their low spinorama based scores....

There appear to be issues with the measurement method when applied to very large radiating surfaces (panels), dipoles, or according to some comments designs such as line arrays...

There appear to be some assumptions baked into the measurement and scoring methodology, which deserve further investigation.
They appear to assume certain types of room / layout, penalising those speakers that are best suited to different rooms

And the testing on which the entire model is based (Harman) - did not include dipoles/omnis or line arrays - so realistically, all that can be said of it, is that it is a valid ranking system for a particular speaker topology, in a particular type of room.... and much like the rest of the Harman measurements - much of it is based on "the majority prefer ... " - and that majority is circa 60% (leaving a whopping circa 40% who prefer something else!)

I'll add this link to a thread that touched on these issues a while back:
 
RE: rotating the tweeter

Apparently I've got some more reading to do, as I was under the impression that speakers laid on their side with the tweeter rotated won't sound as good as in a vertical orientation.
 
On doing further research into the cognitive disconnect between the superb sound of certain panel / dipole speakers, and their low spinorama based scores....

There appear to be issues with the measurement method when applied to very large radiating surfaces (panels), dipoles, or according to some comments designs such as line arrays...

There appear to be some assumptions baked into the measurement and scoring methodology, which deserve further investigation.
They appear to assume certain types of room / layout, penalising those speakers that are best suited to different rooms

And the testing on which the entire model is based (Harman) - did not include dipoles/omnis or line arrays - so realistically, all that can be said of it, is that it is a valid ranking system for a particular speaker topology, in a particular type of room.... and much like the rest of the Harman measurements - much of it is based on "the majority prefer ... " - and that majority is circa 60% (leaving a whopping circa 40% who prefer something else!)

I'll add this link to a thread that touched on these issues a while back:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but among a subset of like for like speakers (e.g. monopole bookshelves) wasn't the predicted preference confidence like 95%?
 
Improvements:
- Added "on-wall speaker" section. Hint: Don't mount speakers on-wall.
Some speakers are intentionally designed for on wall mounting - and incorporate that effect into their design.... eg: Anthony Gallo Reference AV
 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but among a subset of like for like speakers (e.g. monopole bookshelves) wasn't the predicted preference confidence like 95%?
Within like for like - without looking at preferences for other categories and tunings - when "voicing" was considered, the Harman curve (as I recall) came out around 60% preference.

So you have to seperate user preferences for voicing out from like for like.... which seems a little ridiculous?

The base comparisons come from a time, not so long ago (10 years!) - when speakers determined your voicing - and it was dramatically affected by your room and setup.

Assuming a specific room/setup would therefore determine the speaker type to some degree (and vice versa) - for "optimum" results.

Now, we are in a day and age, where Digital Room / Speaker EQ has reached the stage, where we can to some degree CHOOSE our voicing.

The room still drives many aspects - but still, the reference tables based on something like Spinorama, and the "scoring" associated is a very very 2 dimensional view of a 3 (maybe 4 or 5 ) dimensional problem.

It only really fits when you choose a specific room type, and speaker type, (limit 2 of the key variables, and make them constants).

Within those constants, the scoring is valid.

My own long term experience with dipole/bipole panels, and fleeting experiences with omni speakers - tells me that this comparison misses a huge number of relevant possibilities - and from my personal experiences, those possibilities are frequently within my preferred options!
 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but among a subset of like for like speakers (e.g. monopole bookshelves) wasn't the predicted preference confidence like 95%?

In my experience, the preference scores are of little value. You really have to listen to the speakers and see what you like. I have the Revel M105 and the BMR Monitor. The BMR monitor is 100x better to my ear yet both speakers appear in these lists only a few notches away. Don't expect to select your favorite speaker by simply picking the top listing. The only way you can discover that is with AB listening tests. At best, this list gives you some ideas of what you might try. At worst, this list will give you a false sense of what will sound best in your room. :facepalm:
 
In my experience, the preference scores are of little value. You really have to listen to the speakers and see what you like. I have the Revel M105 and the BMR Monitor. The BMR monitor is 100x better to my ear yet both speakers appear in these lists only a few notches away. Don't expect to select your favorite speaker by simply picking the top listing. The only way you can discover that is with AB listening tests. At best, this list gives you some ideas of what you might try. At worst, this list will give you a false sense of what will sound best in your room. :facepalm:

To be fair those are both excellent scoring speakers, and the BMR's are a bit of a special case, being the widest dispersion "box" speaker in existence. I take your point that the score doesnt take that into account, but at the same time, the BMRs uncharacteristic dispersion was a nonpreferred detriment for Erin and his room, so perhaps that's why it's best not considered. The real value of the score imo is comparing those that vary by a full point or more, not a few percent.
 
The preference score doesn't take an amazing amount of things into consideration. So many that it's pretty worthless for making a serious choice in a speaker without AB listening tests. The preference score is popular among those who really haven't tested large groups of speakers. If you go through the effort you start to see the emperor has no clothes.

One example is how bookshelf speakers can have the same preference score as a large tower yet they can easily sound inferior in listening tests. Look at the Revel F328Be and the M105. The M105 score is very close to the F328Be. But in AB tests the M105 sounds like a toy compared to the F328Be. Displacement absolutely matters yet it's totally ignored in the score.

There are so many exceptions for why the score doesn't work here or there that it's best to look at it as a tool to introduce you to speakers but NEVER use it as a final speaker selector. There are too many variables not considered. The speaker materials are not considered, distortion, displacement, number of drivers also ignored. Dynamics and power handling ignored. It's like picking your bride based on her measurements without knowing her disposition or passion. Expect to be disappointed in the long run. :p
 
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It's funny, but in thread after thread after thread........., I've NEVER seen anyone say to use the score as a final speaker selector although an argument could be made that a casual purchaser operating within a strict budget could do worse especially given the near impossibility of comparing speakers head-to-head in your room.

I would also correct you on the assertion that the score does not take into account dispersion and to a lesser degree displacement based on the fact that much of the score is based on low frequency performance.
 
To be fair those are both excellent scoring speakers, and the BMR's are a bit of a special case, being the widest dispersion "box" speaker in existence. I take your point that the score doesnt take that into account, but at the same time, the BMRs uncharacteristic dispersion was a nonpreferred detriment for Erin and his room, so perhaps that's why it's best not considered. The real value of the score imo is comparing those that vary by a full point or more, not a few percent.
I think THAT is a reason why the scoring system fails....

it penalises wide dispersion (including bipole / dipole and omni) speakers....
 
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