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Polk R200, Investigation Re: I am very Disappointed with Dull non HiFi sound.

napilopez

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The difference looks like a lot on the graph, but IMO it is within the range that is possible for unit to unit variation for cheap tweeters. It's a bit of an excessive case(if the measurements are comparable, umiks can be weird in the upper treble) but certainly possible.

Unfortunately we don't really know how good unit variation is between mfgs except for some of the studio monitor companies.
Eh, I wouldn't count that as expected unit to unit variatoin. Remember it's not just the reserve series; it's the same tweeter used in the Legend series, and this is one of only like 2 measurements I've seen without at least a bit of elevated treble. That said, this tweeter is incredibly sensitive to positioning, but as ROOSKIE said they measured several times to the same results, I take his word for it. Just some examples beyond my measurements of the R200 and L200:

Stereophile l100:
920Polkfig3.jpg

Hifites.de R600:
lautsprecher_multimedia_polk_audio_reserve_r600_bild_1625772635.jpg


Audioholics L200:
image

Audioholics R700:
image


Audioholics L800:
image


i-fidelity R100:

Pol_R100_horizontal.jpg


Polk R350 ASR (not that elevated but still a little):
index.php


Polk R100 Erin's Audio Corner:
CEA2034%20--%20Polk%20R100.png


Joe N Tell R200 (measurements look weirdly scooped but tweeter runs hot nonetheless:

index.php


There's one more measurement behind a paywall too.


One counterpoint I found, Stereo.de Polk R600, but I don't know much about their measurement setup and I've seen them be a bit inconsistent before:
002053-0.jpg



I suppose one could make the argument that we reviewers get golden samples but in my experience that's definitely not been the case.

Overall, ROOSKIE's measurements definitely seem like an outlier to me for this tweeter barring anything wrong with the measurement setup
 
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Desmo

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Here is a Czech website that does measurements too. They also measured the R500, R600 and the L600.

 
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Davidpurton

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It's clear in the plots. Utterly awful off axis response at hf. This is a classic problem of traditional two way speakers that take no account of off axis problems caused by different dispersion angles, particularly at crossover.

The lumpy off axis power delivery accentuates room problems resulting in the horrible hot seat effect.

I'll stick to my 90 x 40 horns flat on axis to 16kHz and flat to 10kHz at 15, 30 and 45 degrees off axis (H). The "in room" from Omnimic v2 shows a ruler flat response from 800- 16kHz on axis...(my own passive eq and rcl circuit to flatten impedance too!). The csd shows nothing above -20dB with most resonances held below -25/30dB...the compression driver shows a little break up around 16kHz, damped with a sharp passive switchable rcl filter, which in truth does little to change the sound (at my age, 67!)...but does register a flatter hf response on the analyser...

Think the audio world is getting fatigued with lousy design becoming the norm and bs and subjectivism becoming the new gods..

Well, not in my listening room!!
 

beaRA

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I suppose one could make the argument that we reviewers get golden samples but in my experience that's definitely not been the case.
Erin's measurement came from my consumer bought pair where one speaker developed a crackling sound. We can rule that one out as a golden sample :p
 

Rick63

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I can't help but think that maybe Polk changed out some components of the crossover at some point, either due to part shortages or as a cost saving measure.

I'm also curious about the drivers - I keep reading that the R and L Series both use the same drivers. Has anyone confirmed that a driver from an R Series has the exact same part number as one in the comparable L Series model? I ask because often manufacturers use similar looking drivers in different speaker series when in actuality it's just the woofer cone/tweeter dome itself, but the motor structure and frame are different.
 

mhardy6647

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The main thing that confuses me a bit is why there is a mindset that everyone must like a speaker if it seems to measure decently. The way I see it, I look at the data, make an educated guess on if I'll like it, try it at home. Usually the data fits with what I'd expect, sometimes it doesn't. That's fine. I try to see if there's something in the data I missed to explain it, sometimes I don't find it, then I move on. I'm sure we could find a reason if we had access to an anechoic chamber and a blind testing facility, but we do the best with what we have.
This is profound and (I'd argue) profoundly important. I also think it's the value that a fairly systematic evaluation of a loudspeaker's measureable properties may be invaluable to folks who "know what they like" in terms of a speaker's tone and presentation. Armed with some objective data, they (we... or, more to the point, I!) might be able to correlate the subjective (de gustibus non est disputandum) and the measureable (Eppur si muove ;) ).
That's nontrivial nowadays, since it's ever-harder to try before you buy. Having some sense of how measurements correlate with one's taste might help avoid expensive (or, at least, logistically awkward) mistakes.

Obviously, just my opinion(s), offered as-is and FWIW. ;)
 

Rick63

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@ROOSKIE - since your pair is past the return window, if you feel comfortable going inside to take a peek at the crossover here are photos of a crossover before and after an owner upgrade. That way you could see if your pair has any different components than his did. Just a thought.


xj0r5jtc6iaq.jpg
 

sdiver68

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I also don't care if someone likes or dislikes any particular speaker.

When someone creates a post with that headline completely and inaccurately describing 1 of the objectively measured and best reviewed speakers the alarm bells ring. It's usually either a troll post, a competitor, or something is wrong in the system.
 
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R

ROOSKIE

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Thank you for sharing your measurements! Always good to have more data, and it helps make these discussions more objective and friendly =]

First I want to make one important point:

The main thing that confuses me a bit is why there is a mindset that everyone must like a speaker if it seems to measure decently. The way I see it, I look at the data, make an educated guess on if I'll like it, try it at home. Usually the data fits with what I'd expect, sometimes it doesn't. That's fine. I try to see if there's something in the data I missed to explain it, sometimes I don't find it, then I move on. I'm sure we could find a reason if we had access to an anechoic chamber and a blind testing facility, but we do the best with what we have.

Although keep in mind for most of my speaker reviews, including the R200, I listen first -- usually for a month or longer. My listening impressions are mostly written before my data assessment is.

Point is, it is totally fine to recognize a speaker measures decently and note that at the same time you just don't like it. There's no such thing as a speaker everybody likes. I don't personally love every great measuring speaker -- as I've said many times, I will pick a decent directivity wide directivity speaker over a perfect but narrow directivity speaker any day of the week -- but I do generally like them more than poor measuring one. That's all the data is about.

So it's totally fine for ROOSKIE to not like this speaker. Likewise it's fine for other people to like theirs. ROOSKIE's data and impressions is an interesting counterpoint, and I will take that into mind when recommending this speaker, but I don't see why the outlier impressions of one user should dissuade other people for trying it out for themselves.

Believe or not, there are people out there who hate revels and genelecs =] The other day I was in another forum and someone asked about speakers. I recommended Genelecs and someone doubted it and said "I don’t recall anybody raving about Genelec on any audiophile forums" and I had a little chuckle.

Anyway, onto the data.

To me the fact that your tweeter output is so much lower basically settles it. It's essentially a different/EQ'd speaker. It measured duller than every other speaker you tested both on axis and off axis, and it 100% makes sense that it would sound duller too. End of story.

For reference, here are your measurements vs mine. Problem is, we don't know if our microphones are of similar accuracy. What are you using for your measurements @ROOSKIE ? I have the CSL calibrated umik-1, which I've tested to generally match soundstage network almost perfectly, as well as Amir's more recent measurements.

View attachment 189172

Changed to a proper aspect ratio and smoothed to 1/6th for clarity.

Likewise, if you think the R200 is bad and believe the measurements mean anything, then there's evenless reason that you would've liked the L200, which you mentioned you liked in the other thread. It has nearly identical measurements, except it has at least two very pronounced resonances due to noisy port.

Here is how the R200 compares to the L200. On axis and PIR:

View attachment 189173

Throughout the full data set, the L200 has far more pronounced port resonances, and the CSD is worse too, highlighting those resonances. L200:

View attachment 189175


R200:
View attachment 189176

So again, I find it puzzling that you liked the L200 and not the R200, and to me suggests something else might be at play. I realize you only had the L200 for a few days, but just something to keep in mind. Given the same drivers and similar crossover, it's hard to imagine distortion being a factor either.

On a speaker with a beaming tweeter like this, it's important that the last couple of octaves is elevated to some degree to maintain a neutral balance in most rooms. So the fact that yours has less treble energy than most speakers already spells a bad story and I would certainly expect such a speaker to sound at least somewhat dull.

But I also want to point out that a don't think a beaming tweeter isinherently a bad thing. I imagine it might make a speaker a bit more picky about a room and placement. But in my experience the main effect is on the spatial presentation.

You mentioned that in your room the sidewalls are open. That could somehow factor into it -- it would mean the angle for your sidewall reflections is steeper than most, potentially making the effect of the beaming even more pronounced, especially if your room happens to already be otherwise absorptive.

Edit: Anyway, these are all just interesting thoughts. But at the end of the day, your tweeter seems to be running low on energy, so to speak, so that explains the differences in impressions more than anything else.

I am very curious whether this an issue with your units (both would indeed be weird, though, unless Polk is somehow pair matching speakers that are off spec), if its a bad batch, or if polk changed the tuning slightly at some point. The majority of impressions I've read, where they not a bright vs dull character, have suggested these leaned toward being bright speakers, and that was my impression on axis, so who knows if polk decided to turn that data down. I highly doubt it though.


I know it's fun to hate on a popular product and all, but lets take a step back. What exactly makes every measurement "very poor?" If you think these measurements are poor, you also have to acknowledge that a significant number of other speakers that are popular here also measure "poorly."

To be clear, I don't care at all if individual people like this speaker or not lol. But I do think there is a difference between liking a speaker (an individual opinion based on a variety of individual specific conditions) vs something being a good speaker (whether it's likely to be enjoyed by the majority of listeners).
Wait, I think I've found the answer @ROOSKIE! Can't believe I missed it: It's obviously because you haven't burned them in for 1,543 hours. :)
Huh, break in?
Howdy friend, not sure what to say.
Are you reading my posts fully?
I am posting as currently this is an outlier measurement wise and I want to find out why. Come on this is ASR.

I am not challenging your measurement accuracy, nor did I mention that everyone needs to like a speaker. I actually said "To each their own though and nobody needs to not like how they sound. I just didn't and thus investigated and found a potential issue worth discussing IMHO."

While possibly I just do not like how they sound, I'd also like to find out if the newer batches have an issue. It is pointless to post so much old info again unless it adds to the current question of whether this speaker is defective/changed. Ultimately I find your response distracting and way to full of extra stuff. What I get from it, is that you really want to defend yourself but I am not attacking you so lets move on please. I have lot of respect for your reviews and always read them when I get the chance. I have also read every review that you have screenshots from. Why do you think I bought a pair of these to test? Good reviews and measurements.

I do think the extreme off axis decline in output of the R200 is something to take note of & you did in your own review. I also think until one hears it, it might be hard to imagine what it means. Especially right after hearing a speaker with a very different off axis sound. The buying public would be wise to try several speakers at once before assuming this one is going to work. It is not the only speaker like this but it is a strong trait here. It is unusual severe compared with a lot of other design types. (and again mine might have an issue so the subjective quality might change if the tweeter was stronger, which have not checked yet but I do use DSP so can eventually adjust it)

As far as my measurements I will say it again, they are all from the same day taken in exactly the same fashion.(and compare exactly with other taken earlier) They are therefore all relative to each other, you can see how the R200 pair that I have compares with several other speakers. It would not matter if the mic was very accurate as long as it was consistent and did change between units. The mic is the umik-1, factory calibrated that I have used for several years now is a little beat up. (I am still waiting for a Cross Spectrum calibrated one but stock being late oh well, patience is key) The mic was carefully positioned exactly 1 meter from the tweeter directly on axis.

The L200 as stated I liked them at the time but it was I different space and I don't have them here. To be clear I am not stating I had a great amount of experience with them nor did I talk much about them. It was a different(slightly smaller) room and if those tweeters were leveled up then yes maybe I did like them. I did compare them that day with the JBL 530 and remember thinking the L200 gave it run for it's money in terms of which one I like more, though I did not keep the L200 around if that tells you anything. I did find it a nice speaker in that room on that day and I understand why a companies top line speaker may not be priced as affordably as one would like.
I also don't care if someone likes or dislikes any particular speaker.

When someone creates a post with that headline completely and inaccurately describing 1 of the objectively measured and best reviewed speakers the alarm bells ring. It's usually either a troll post, a competitor, or something is wrong in the system.
Click on my user name, click on "messages". A few are crass, most are thoughtful enough and couple I spent some real time on.
I prolly work for Audioquest tho.
You can block my posts there as well.

I have invested a lot of time in what I have to share here.
The title is exactly what my post is.
Take what you will from the information, if I am a troll then so be it. In the end we are all people and if one of us is a troll then we all have part troll in us. It is always good to a have mirror around.
If you feel up for it check your R100's with a mic and REW. Especially if you purchased them recently. Anyway be well fellow.

@ROOSKIE - since your pair is past the return window, if you feel comfortable going inside to take a peek at the crossover here are photos of a crossover before and after an owner upgrade. That way you could see if your pair has any different components than his did. Just a thought.


View attachment 189254
Yes, I will open them up.
Ended up busy this weekend though so likely Monday.
Thanks for that pic, I was actually going to do this and look for a pic or have someone else take one. Appreciated.
 

napilopez

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This is profound and (I'd argue) profoundly important. I also think it's the value that a fairly systematic evaluation of a loudspeaker's measureable properties may be invaluable to folks who "know what they like" in terms of a speaker's tone and presentation. Armed with some objective data, they (we... or, more to the point, I!) might be able to correlate the subjective (de gustibus non est disputandum) and the measureable (Eppur si muove ;)).
That's nontrivial nowadays, since it's ever-harder to try before you buy. Having some sense of how measurements correlate with one's taste might help avoid expensive (or, at least, logistically awkward) mistakes.

Obviously, just my opinion(s), offered as-is and FWIW. ;)

Right, it's very simple in my view. Measurements and our interpretation of them are incredibly useful predictors, just definitely not absolute in their application to individual listeners in specific rooms. In an ideal world, everyone would know what sort of performance they personally prefer for their own rooms and could use that data to find their ideal speaker. I've done this enough to have a pretty solid sense of how I'll feel about a speaker when I've seen measurements before listening, though occasionally there are surprises.

That's why I prefer to err on the side of not being too critical of speaker measurements unless there is something that is obviously a big flaw. I often see people suggest such and such company should throw in a waveguide on a speaker to clean up directivity for instance, as if that wouldn't fundamentally alter the directivity and sonic character of a speaker. And often there are things that look like a big deal but aren't, other times there are things that look like a small deal, but are big. Happens all the time with low-Q vs high-Q deviations.

Again, I think measurements are super useful, but I still think they are kind of 'fuzzy' so to speak, in large part due to the Circle of Confusion. When comparing measurements for two speakers, Speaker B has to be very significantly worse than Speaker A for me to be confident A is the better speaker, and past a certain point, I expect there are diminishing returns as well. In terms of preference score, I need to see a 2+ point difference to be convinced one speaker is straight up "better" than the other if they have similar directivity behavior -- more if they have different directivity as directivity preference has been established to be more variable from user to user than, say tonalitypreferences.


As a community, I think us here at ASR have seen data from a relatively small pool of higher performing products in the speaker market, leading to what I'd consider to be many comparisons of speakers that I think fall into the 'fuzzy' zone.

That's probably because the people here tend to buy products that are likely to measure well. Compare the typical speaker measured here vs, say, the average speaker reviewed by other publications or talked about at other forums. With a few overlaps (KEF, mainly), the selection is quite different. Much more genelecs and revels, much fewer B&W and klipsches =]

I can't help but think that maybe Polk changed out some components of the crossover at some point, either due to part shortages or as a cost saving measure.

I'm also curious about the drivers - I keep reading that the R and L Series both use the same drivers. Has anyone confirmed that a driver from an R Series has the exact same part number as one in the comparable L Series model? I ask because often manufacturers use similar looking drivers in different speaker series when in actuality it's just the woofer cone/tweeter dome itself, but the motor structure and frame are different.

Would be good to check for that, although polk itself was rather clear they were the same drivers. In the press release:

"The Reserve Series use the same custom-made transducers originally developed for Polk’s award-winning Legend Series loudspeakers,” said Frank Sterns, president of Polk Audio." and “You’d be wrong to think the Reserve Series is just ‘Legend-lite’ though,” said Scott Orth, director of audio and acoustical systems at Polk Audio. “While Reserve does use the same transducers as Legend, it also features multiple new developments of its own, including a new patent-pending X-Port filter and advanced cabinet construction to minimize undesirable resonances."
 

Walter

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It's usually either a troll post, a competitor, or something is wrong in the system.
2 minutes of research before being insulting would have shown you that the first two are highly unlikely, and his measurements and description of his testing methodology should have shown you that the first and third were.
 

napilopez

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Huh, break in?
Howdy friend, not sure what to say.
Are you reading my posts fully?
I am posting as currently this is an outlier measurement wise and I want to find out why. Come on this is ASR.

I am not challenging your measurement accuracy nor did I mention that everyone needs to like a speaker. I actually said "To each their own though and nobody needs to not like how they sound. I just didn't and thus investigated and found a potential issue worth discussing IMHO."

While I possibly just do not like how they sound, I also like to find out if the newer batches have an issue. It is pointless to post old info again unless it adds to the current question of whether this speaker is defective. Ultimately I find your response distracting and way to full of extra stuff. What I get from it you really want to defend yourself but I am not attacking you so lets move on please. I have lot of respect for you reviews and always read them when I get the chance. I have also read every review that you have screenshots from. Why do you think I bought a pair of these to test? Good reviews and measurements.

I do think the extreme off axis decline in output of the R200 is something to take note of & you did in your own review. I also think until one hears it, it might be hard to imagine what it means. Especially right after hearing a speaker with a very different off axis sound that one would be wise to try several speakers at once before assuming this one is going to work. It is not the only speaker like this but it is a strong trait here, it is unusual severe compared with a lot of other design types. (and again mine might have an issue so the subjective quality might change if the tweeter was stronger, which have not checked yet but I do use DSP so can eventually adjust it)

As far as my measurements I will say it again, they are all from the same day taken in exactly the same fashion.(and compare exactly with other taken earlier) They are therefore all relative to each other, you can see how the R200 pair that I have compares with several other speakers. It would not matter if the mic was very accurate as long as it was consistent and did change between units. The mic is the umik-1, factory calibrated that I have used for several years now is a little beat up. (I am still waiting for a Cross Spectrum calibrated one but stock being late oh well, patience is key) The mic was carefully positioned exactly 1 meter from the tweeter directly on axis.

The L200 as stated I liked them at the time but it was I different space and I don't have them here. To be clear I am not stating I had a great amount of experience with them nor did I talk much about them. It was a different(slightly smaller) room and if those tweeters were leveled up then yes maybe I did like them. I did compare them that day with the JBL 530 and remember thinking the L200 gave it run for it's money in terms of which one I like more, though I did not keep the L200 around if that tells you anything. I did find it a nice speaker and I understand why a companies top line speaker may not be priced as affordably as one would like.

Click on my user name, click on "messages". A few are crass, most are thoughtful enough and couple I spent some real time on.
I prolly work for Audioquest tho.
You can block my posts there as well.

I have invested a lot of time in what I have to share here.
The title is exactly what my post is.
Take what you will from the information, if I am a troll then so be it. In the end we are all people and if one of us is a troll then we all have part troll in us. It is always good to a have mirror around.
If you feel up for it check your R100's with a mic and REW. Especially if you purchased them recently. Anyway be well fellow.


Yes, I will open them up.
Ended up busy this weekend though so likely Monday.
Thanks for that pic, I was actually going to do this and look for a pic or have someone else take one. Appreciated.

Hi @ROOSKIE , i suppose my joke didn't translate over text :). I was certainly kidding about break-in being an important thing, never would I think break-in actually matters. 1,543 hours is a very specific time haha.

I also fear you misinterpreted my part about saying not everyone needs to like a speaker, which is likely my fault because upon rereading I see how it could have come off that way.

That wasn't directed at you specifically, but rather a general comment about people's expectations on ASR about measurements -- both when liking a speaker and not liking a speaker. I'm also not at all trying to defend myself or my measurements to you, that would be strange as you've always had kind words about my work and you noted in your opening post that your tweeter was not as bright as mine. No worries and no hard feelings.

I posted a lot of data because that's just what I always do =] My goal in posting all that old data was simply trying to zero in on the data I had to figure out the reason you didn't like the R200s. Often times I find revisitng old data reveals things I might have not noticed before. As noted by my conclusion, I do agree your units are an outlier . Ithink the mostly likely reason is just that your tweeters are running low by a few dB for whatever reason. That's why I'm also curious if EQing the region about 6kHz up by 2-3 dB would do the trick or whether the tweeter beaming inherently does not work for you and your space.

Actually on the microphone point, I thought factory calibration showed less treble than the CSL calibration, hence the reason for me bringing it up because I thought maybe it could account for differences. But aside from what you mentioned with it being the 'darkest' of your speakers, which would already of course make it dull, for my specific microphone at least, factory calibration actually shows more treble energy than the CSL one. So it's possible your speakers in reality have even less treble relative to my measurement. Which, again, would definitely contribute to them sounding dull!

For example, here's my R200 on-axis measurement using the CSL calibration (blue) vs using the Factory calibration(red, dotted):
CSL Umik R200.png

Lastly I brought up the L200 because it's a useful comparison with a speaker we have both heard that is similar to the R200. I know you only had it for a few days as I mentioned. The reason I think it's interesting is because you clearly had a strong negative impression of the R200 and didn't have that with the L200, while I 100% think the R200 is better than the L200.

I didn't test them at the same time or in the same space, but I enjoyed the R200 significantly more. Even if someone were to find the L200 new for the same price as the R200 I'd tell them to get the R200 lol. I thought it sounded better and it also definitely measured better, so for me unless someone prefers the design of the L200 (which I don't, I think they're kinda ugly lol), the R200 are simply the better speaker. But your post brings up potential quality control issues so I guess we will have to find more measurements in the field!

I also don't care if someone likes or dislikes any particular speaker.

When someone creates a post with that headline completely and inaccurately describing 1 of the objectively measured and best reviewed speakers the alarm bells ring. It's usually either a troll post, a competitor, or something is wrong in the system.
There's no need for this, @ROOSKIE's never trolled around here. Seems he was just surprised he didn't like the speaker and is trying to figure out why.

It's good to have dissenting opinions that are backed up by data because then we can arrive at stronger truth about a speaker's performance out on the market. Now if someone on gets this speaker and they find it sounds dull, they can do a search on Google, find this post, and know that there might be something wrong with their unit.

I do still personally think the R200s are one of the absolute best deals on the market, and this post doesn't really change my opinion of that, but the important thing to keep in mind with speakers and their measurements is that the best speakers are those "with the least audible flaws," as Dr. Toole puts it. Almost all speakers have their flaws, and in some spaces and setups, some flaws are more audible than others. So any time a speaker does have a flaw, such as the crossover issues and beaming tweeter, it has the potential to sound bad to someone, even if . Especially if it turns out those tweeters are somehow defective.
 
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sdiver68

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Hi @ROOSKIE , i suppose my joke didn't translate over text :). I was certainly kidding about break-in being an important thing, never would I think break-in actually matters. 1,543 hours is a very specific time haha.

I also fear you misinterpreted my part about saying not everyone needs to like a speaker, which is likely my fault because upon rereading I see how it could have come off that way.

That wasn't directed at you specifically, but rather a general comment about people's expectations on ASR about measurements -- both when liking a speaker and not liking a speaker. I'm also not at all trying to defend myself or my measurements to you, that would be strange as you've always had kind words about my work and you noted in your opening post that your tweeter was not as bright as mine. No worries and no hard feelings.

I posted a lot of data because that's just what I always do =] My goal in posting all that old data was simply trying to zero in on the data I had to figure out the reason you didn't like the R200s. Often times I find revisitng old data reveals things I might have not noticed before. As noted by my conclusion, I do agree your units are an outlier . Ithink the mostly likely reason is just that your tweeters are running low by a few dB for whatever reason. That's why I'm also curious if EQing the region about 6kHz up by 2-3 dB would do the trick or whether the tweeter beaming inherently does not work for you and your space.

Actually on the microphone point, I thought factory calibration showed less treble than the CSL calibration, hence the reason for me bringing it up because I thought maybe it could account for differences. But aside from what you mentioned with it being the 'darkest' of your speakers, which would already of course make it dull, for my specific microphone at least, factory calibration actually shows more treble energy than the CSL one. So it's possible your speakers in reality have even less treble relative to my measurement. Which, again, would definitely contribute to them sounding dull!

For example, here's my R200 on-axis measurement using the CSL calibration (blue) vs using the Factory calibration(red, dotted):
View attachment 189331
Lastly I brought up the L200 because it's a useful comparison with a speaker we have both heard that is similar to the R200. I know you only had it for a few days as I mentioned. The reason I think it's interesting is because you clearly had a strong negative impression of the R200 and didn't have that with the L200, while I 100% think the R200 is better than the L200.

I didn't test them at the same time or in the same space, but I enjoyed the R200 significantly more. Even if someone were to find the L200 new for the same price as the R200 I'd tell them to get the R200 lol. I thought it sounded better and it also definitely measured better, so for me unless someone prefers the design of the L200 (which I don't, I think they're kinda ugly lol), the R200 are simply the better speaker. But your post brings up potential quality control issues so I guess we will have to find more measurements in the field!


There's no need for this, @ROOSKIE's never trolled around here. Seems he was just surprised he didn't like the speaker and is trying to figure out why.

It's good to have dissenting opinions that are backed up by data because then we can arrive at stronger truth about a speaker's performance out on the market. Now if someone on gets this speaker and they find it sounds dull, they can do a search on Google, find this post, and know that there might be something wrong with their unit.

I do still personally think the R200s are one of the absolute best deals on the market, and this post doesn't really change my opinion of that, but the important thing to keep in mind with speakers and their measurements is that the best speakers are those "with the least audible flaws," as Dr. Toole puts it. Almost all speakers have their flaws, and in some spaces and setups, some flaws are more audible than others. So any time a speaker does have a flaw, such as the crossover issues and beaming tweeter, it has the potential to sound bad to someone, even if . Especially if it turns out those tweeters are somehow defective.

It's not what he's saying, it's how it's being said
 
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ROOSKIE

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While I have been busy with some other things I did test the R200 in a smaller room and I took a look at the crossover.

Before I begin again here, I find this bears saying. I find it worth reporting my findings here as I believe my subjective experience is fully supported by objective data. I also believe that I am touching on an aspect of these speakers, that while well demonstrated in the data presented by myself and especially previous reporting by reviewers, has not been adequately discussed.

You may love the sound and that is great, my investigation was due to the fact that I do not and wanted to know why. I have nothing against Polk and anticipated liking these speakers. In fact that is why they sat so long here before being used, I actually assumed they would be great and was in no hurry to meet the return deadline. I tested several other speakers first and left these for last.
In other words ,while it is difficult to assess one's own bias, I do not believe that my subjective impressions have been overly tainted by unconscious, unintended or unexamined bias.
I therefore think that some others, people who would like a sound similar to my preferences would like to know what I found. If your tastes are similar to mine you might appreciate some objective data to support why staying away might be a great idea despite the near universal praise of the speaker line.

My conclusion is very simple and straightforward and I am writing it in the hopes of reaching a broad spectrum of buyers so I am going to end up explaining some stuff loads of folks at ASR are very familiar with - however, others are not.
I am not a writer so I have to hack this out as best as I can.
I don't like these speakers because I do not like the dispersion pattern of the speaker and this pattern is a common trait of many ring radiator designs. It is possible that I won't like many other designs using this tweeter at this point in my journey.

This tweeter falls of rapidly from 5k onward off axis, this decline is special in that is unusually severe. It is much more than most contemporary designs and vastly more than many.
This is so prominent, one could fairly say that the design has very uneven off axis response(more on that later).
Again, I know this is old news to many, yet I suspect for many more it is not.
Why does it matter?
Because dispersion is a huge factor in the sound you will hear in your space.
Dispersion is also essentially a fixed trait of the loudspeaker.

I have been testing dozens of designs, why is for another day, reality is more often that not the speaker is designed in some way to address widening the dispersion of the tweeter. The Polk R200 is NOT one of those designs, in fact of all the speakers I have tested it actually appears to have been designed to accentuate the narrowing of it's dispersion from 5k up.

The 1st day I really listened to my pair of the R200's, I happened to be switching it in and out alongside the Revel M16. The difference between the two was pronounced to say the least, prompting my girlfriend to ask what the heck did I do to the sound.
The M16 has a fairly even dispersion pattern over a broad range, which can be seen in the original post in this thread where I show the 0,30,60 degree measurement I took alongside the R200(on the left).


0d-30d-60d R200 M16 painted.jpg


Polar Plots show the horizontal dispersion from a birds eye, top down viewpoint and that may make it easier to see what the above infers.
Here is the M16 taken from here at ASR, clipped to show about 200 degrees and alongside it is the Polk R700(on the left, taken from Audioholics) which is similar to the R200 using a 6.5" with the same tweeter.
The width scale is different but the idea is present and both cover about 200degrees. The black circles are the 5k-20k region and the scrunching of the R700 actually makes it look better than it is, however the fall off is presented well.

R200 M16 Polar.jpg


Here I present the R100 next to the KEF R3 and below that next to the JBL 708p all of this is data from Erin's Audio Corner and for those new, taken with a Klippel just like here at ASR.

R100 KEFR3.jpg

R100 JBL708P.jpg

In all of these notice how for the R line the response falls off rapidly of axis above 5k and because of this how different the radiated sound becomes in relation to the direct sound as one measures off axis.

These diagrams are a very good representation of the speakers dispersion.

This is an idealized Polar Plot courtesy of Audioholics. (Speaker dispersion very likely involves loads of personal preference so to truly know what is ideal is a hard one, lets just look at this anyway.)
I've drawn in the same square around the region in question from my R200 testing.




Idealized Polar Map Audioholics Painted.jpg

Here is the Philharmonic BMR speaker's polar courtesy of Audioholics, wow is it a close match to the Audioholics "ideal".
Polar Map BMR Audioholics Painted.jpg


Here is the same information from Stereophile magazine in their review of the Polk L100 using a very similar design to the R200, (they call it lateral response and show it a bit differently. Same info though.)
Note the quote in yellow. I take issue with this quote below.

Lateral Responce Polk L100 Stereophile Painted.jpg

"As I have found with other ring-radiator tweeters, the L100's dispersion dramatically narrows in the top octaves, which will work against the audibility of the excess of on-axis energy in the same region. This behavior also suggests that the Polk's treble balance can be fine-tuned by experimenting with toe-in." John Atkinson, https://www.stereophile.com/content/polk-legend-l100-loudspeaker-measurements

John Atkinson has more experience then I do. However based on following the information disseminated by Olive and Toole and reading Tool's book I think it is fair to question if this is just a matter of toe in.
Maybe outside with no walls, inside with walls a HUGE amount of what we hear is reflected sound and the 1st reflections are a massive component of the Harman score. We hear more reflections in typical room than direct sound by a large factor, especially in a typical farfield set-up.
Floyd Toole states in many ways throughout his book that reflected sounds contribute best to the perceived sound quality of the speaker when they are similar to the direct sound and additionally the sense we have of spaciousness is very dependent on the quality of them.
Now what is perceived as the fundamental sound becomes less dependent on reflections as one moves up toward the higher octaves, but how much less and when?

I am not qualified to answer that.
Anecdotally I subjectively noticed the sound of the R200 in my main room was missing a sense of spaciousness, vibrancy, air and energy in the music. It was not subtle. It was immediately obvious and did not sound good to me at all.
Over the past couple years, I am sure my audiophile preferences have evolved and I know more about what I like and can hear it faster than I could pre-dozens of models. I did not enjoy the R200 right away and knew I did not need to. Just as I have no reason to attack this speaker I have no reason to defend it. I have plenty of other speakers I do like and after this testing is done I am going to have a few pairs of speakers I love. Most folks are going to try 1, 2, maybe 3 or 4 pairs and not likely all at once. Whatever the case, if you love the R200, no worry. Please.
Usually when I test I can see why a speaker is liked and loved, even if it wouldn't be my final choice. The KEF R3 is one such speaker, I can easily see why it is popular and while I wouldn't choose it over my favorites, I could live with without to much longing for another.
In fact most speakers I have tested fall into the I could live with it category and maybe they need a sub or they need some PEQ or maybe an SPL limitation, but having those available I am good.
I could not live with the R200. No chance, it became painful to test, it is one a few speakers I really do not like. Since the dispersion is practically a fixed trait, there is no way to adjust for my current (hopefully fairly fully formed now)taste.

TEST in 2nd ROOM...........................................................................
I did take the speaker and set-up a 2nd system in another room to test.
The room is smaller and not set-up for top acoustics but it was a 2nd space to try.
9.5ftx23x8ft ceilings.
There is a protrusion on the right wall of about 9" that seemed to really affect the bass of the R speaker.
A metal old school radiator on the left that affected the L speaker.
The speaker were 5ft from the front wall with a couch BEHIND them. (did not want to move it)
Speakers were 6.5 feet apart and I sat about 7.5-8 feet away, so notably smaller than my normal space.
My girlfriend tested it all out as well.

I played with the R200 and the Revel M16. I did not have time for more speakers here.
It took 3-4 songs on each before my ears adjusted to the new space, that was pretty cool.
At 1st everything sounded like total crap and then fairly quickly it came in focus. I believe Tool when he says folks can hear through the room as I really experienced a drastic shift.
The M16 sounded closer in here to what it sounds like in the main room, the R200 changed a bit.
Okay here the R200 tweeter had more energy. It was brighter.
Still no sense of spaciousness, minimal enjoyment on some tracks and decent on others. At times the speaker still seemed dull and on other tracks it was quite frankly bright and even a bit harsh sounding.
When my girlfriend and I sat side by side in the small area, the R200 soundstage fell apart and she especially noticed how the sound appeared to come from the speaker. She found that distracting.
The M16 lost really nothing for two, other than a shift off center so the stage was horizontally moved over. Great sense of spaciousness, really enjoyable for both of us. I was impressed with this speaker as 2 listener option, even in a small set-up it works extremely well.
We both preferred the M16 on every track.

Here are some MMM's from the small room which needs some work, not sure what 1100hrz junk is. Pretty wild bass response difference between the L & R considering the room is symmetric except for that radiator on the L and the 9" protrusion on the R. Luckily the bass is usually mono and so the L & R sum pretty well. (not shown though)
Interesting while R200 (yellow with M16 in fade behind)has only gained just a little treble energy in MMM's it sounded much brighter here and maybe as stated on a few tracks hard to take and subjectively much hotter then the M16.
These MMM's only tell so much.

R200 M16 small room MMM L-R.jpg


Obviously we like the Revel M16. That does not mean you will nor does it mean the R200 is crap for you. We are not influencers working for Revel or anyone, we are nobody's. We happened to just start testing the M16 and the R200 the same week. What I want to point out is that they sound fantastically different over the course of even just a few tracks.
Try a few different speaker designs in your own space before you finalize a choice.

I just don't think that reviewers are pointing out the nature of the R200's arrow shaped dispersion strongly enough. Nor do I think that this all comes down to simply proper "toe". This is a large band of energy, you are in a room and the off axis sounds are bouncing all around. The R200's high frequency characteristic could easily be considered really positive in that is does reduce itself smoothly viewed with one type of lens or quite negative in that it could also be equally viewed as very non-flat off-axis in response.(very not constant directivity)
Imagine if the midrange had a narrowing response like these highs, what would you think then? Yikes right?
Anyway you make up your mind and hopefully you will do that while trying out a variety of cool gear.


PS There is still more I have left to try but I likely won't report any more. I think this is enough from me for most folks but in case anyone is waiting for more from previous posts I followed through as best I could for now.
 

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Walter

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This could pretty easily be deduced from your previous posts, but it is nice of you to explain it in detail. The main question that remains is one you cannot solve, at least not alone--why some people like these speakers so much better than others do. I'm inclined to think that Amir would not like them, nor would I. I actually thought that as soon as I really took a good look at the measurements from @napilopez excellent review.

FYI, I hope you DO choose to post any further results.
 

raindance

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I find this thread very interesting. I had the LSiM703 speakers for a short while. Their measurements show an upward tilt to the treble, also from a ring radiator tweeter. They also have beaming in the high treble.

In my room, I found them alternately dull and harsh. They managed to have no "air" or extension regardless of toe in and sibilance was harsh and "sandpapery". I loved the bass response and the mids were excellent too, music with percussion, such as tom toms played by hand, sounded like the percussion instruments were spot lighted.

Measuring at the listening position using REW showed a fast treble roll-off.

I couldn't help thinking that they'd have been fantastic with a normal tweeter.

Anecdotally, I've often found that speakers with compromised treble extension in room also sound harsh. It's almost like sibilants require more high frequency harmonics to sound "smooth".
 

mhardy6647

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The main question that remains is one you cannot solve, at least not alone--why some people like these speakers so much better than others do.
I do believe that this is why there is still more than one loudspeaker manufacturer* in the world today. :)
Although, with the conolidation in the industry, that bon mot may not be true in a couple of years any more.

There are definitely two sides to this hobby.

________________
* Not to be confused with loudspeaker brands. ;)
 

hardisj

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Since I see my name being mentioned wrt my review of the R100, let me be clear:
I was not a big fan of the R100. I said as much in my review.

The reason I didn't much care for the R100 is because it was "bright". Based on the set of contour plots above, one would wonder how in the world I'd think that. How can it sound bright when it falls off so sharply off-axis? The answer is simple: the crossover. If you look at the estimated in-room response it clearly shows a +3dB "shelf" in HF (above about 3 or 4kHz, IIRC). From what I could tell, this is due to the midwoofer's LPF having a shallow slope which leads to a directivity mismatch in addition to a slight treble boost >8kHz on the RR on-axis response.

Edit: They had to be toed off-axis quite a bit (+20 degrees, IIRC) to get rid of the harshness.
 
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