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Serious question-How do you deal with people thinking a DAC has a SOUND SIGNATURE?

andreasmaaan

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I have no idea if he said it or not.
All I know is that Harman speakers (Revel, Infinty, budget JBL) have very wide dispersion characteristics, flat into the high-thousands and with very little attenuation as you move away from the axis. There's a fair chance that he is practicing what he preaches.
Hey @tuga, I'm afraid I have to walk back from what I said on this question earlier today. Have just re-read the 2004 study and indeed there are target slopes specified for the various indices that take into account off-axis radiation.

This is what Olive states by way of explanation:

"For each of the 7 frequency response curves, the overall smoothness (SM) and slope (SL) of the curve was determined by estimating the line that best fits the frequency curve over the range of 100 Hz-16 kHz....Smoothness (SM) values can range from 0 to 1, with larger values representing smoother frequency response curves."

"Target slopes were determined separately for Test One and for our larger test sample (70 loudspeakers) used for the generalized model described in section 5. The target values are based on the mean slope values of speakers that fall into the top 90 percentile based on preference ratings. Target slopes are defined for each of the 7 frequency curves (see table 2). The ideal target slope for the on-axis and listening window curves (0 and –0.2) is identical for both test samples, which indicates that the on-axis curve should be flat, while the off-axis curves should tilt gently downwards. The degree of tilt varies among curves for Test One and the larger sample. Test One includes mostly 2-way designs whereas the larger sample includes several 3-way and 4-way designs that tend to have wider dispersion (hence smaller negative target slopes) at mid and high frequencies. This suggests that the ideal target slope may depend on the loudspeaker’s directivity."

And then he provides this table:

1582308870531.png


The abbreviations correspond to "on-axis", "listening window", "early reflections", "predicted in-room", "sound power", "early reflections DI", and "sound power DI" respectively.

In other words, while stating that "the ideal target slope may depend on the loudspeaker’s directivity" (where I thought he stood), in effect his model is indirectly specifying a target beamwidth (where you thought he stood), since the beamwidth will be the primary determinant of all these target slopes other than the first two.

A.k.a, you were right and I was wrong ;)

So thanks for bringing that to my attention.

And yeh, this is a problem with the model IMO!

TBH, I don't understand why smoothness of these curves ("SM" in his nomenclature) was not left as the only criterion, as this would be more consistent with his stated position, it seems to me.
 

Frank Dernie

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Would any of you who are saying that flat-measuring speakers are not the most preferred be willing to suggest how you believe speakers should measure if they're to be preferred?
I have no experience of the testing but I went to a talk about the Linn Exakt system by one of the Linn engineers a number of years ago.
He said "people prefer a smiley frequency response" as if it was a well known thing.
Plenty of speakers have a recessed mid range compared to bass and treble, if not Harman originating ones, perhaps it is a common view held elsewhere?
The Harman research is widely published, perhaps other makers keep their research to themselves?
While I was designing and running Formula 1 cars I never told a journalist what I was doing, usually threw around some red herrings even, so you are not able to find out what is important by reading enthusiasts magazines, and never were.
Nobody who has successfully designed winning Formula 1 cars has written a technical book about it either.
 

Purité Audio

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I listened to a ‘smiley frequency response ‘ just this week, I didn’t find it in the least amusing, boom and tizz.
Keith
 

andreasmaaan

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While I was designing and running Formula 1 cars I never told a journalist what I was doing, usually threw around some red herrings even, so you are not able to find out what is important by reading enthusiasts magazines, and never were.
Do you believe the same goes for audio? And for Olive in particular? It seems unlikely to me, given Harman's own speakers tend to follow Olive's prescription.
 

raistlin65

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I'm not convinced of how useful it is to determine what user preference is for anechoic speakers since most speaker usage is impacted by room interaction, as most consumers are not using their speakers nearfield in a desktop setup with minimal room interaction and have less than perfect rooms. I also think these kinds of questions and debates are problematic because people don't define what a linear anechoic response is. Is it a +/-3db response through a certain range? I think for me, it would be +/-2db from the F3 point up to around 16 to 20khz. In other words, not sure people have common agreement on what neutral vs. non-neutral speaker is. And then, of course, preferred listening volume will skew user preference due to equal loudness contours. In other words, two listeners might like Speaker A over Speaker B at 85db, but one listener might not end up enjoying Speaker A for his own use because he tends to listen at 75db.

As for me, I'm much more interested in measured response at the primary listening position. In my own experience, my favorite speakers have not been the ones with very linear frequency response when used nearfield with minimal room interaction.

But to go back and to sort of answer your question regarding user preference for speakers, but at the listening position (not anechoic), I suspect that a flat response is generally not offensive, whereas many non-neutral responses would be. However, I suspect that for many people there may be a non-neutral response that is more appealing than a neutral one. In other words, a neutral response generally sounds very good, but individuals may have a particular non-neutral response that they like better.

Consequently, A/B listening comparison tests of user preference will often provide neutral response speakers, but they aren't going to necessarily hit on the particular frequency response that is non-neutral that the listener might like better. How do we find out if there is a non-neutral response that an individual generally prefers over neutral? It would require working with parametric EQ and a lot of experimentation.
 

Frank Dernie

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Do you believe the same goes for audio? And for Olive in particular? It seems unlikely to me, given Harman's own speakers tend to follow Olive's prescription.
I understand that Harman follow the lessons from Olive's work, which was for them after all.
OTOH has any other manufacturer been as open in publishing the reasoning and results behind any work they have done? I think not.
I was speculating that whilst Olive's work is published maybe there is other research reaching slightly different conclusions which they keep to themselves.
Cabinet colouration, which afaik isn't separated out in a "spinorama" is considered by the speaker designer I know best to be a critical part of producing a good sounding speaker but the Harman approach glosses over it, perhaps because it is difficult to measure using their method, is just one example.
 
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There is a huge difference between buying a product that is likely over-engineered for one's needs vs. believing in trusting your own ears and saying you can't trust graphs and measurements. A lot of audiofoolery is more akin to flat earthers who also choose to rely on human perception and deny accepted science.

However, if you truly believe those things are all alike, you are in the wrong place, dude.
Do I need to repeat again?

Look at this forum, where some people are a little obsessed about DAC measurements (even those these are inaudible). Is it that so different to Reddit?

The most important consideration when buying a DAC are its connections, its reliability and its guarantee/return policy.
 

raistlin65

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Do I need to repeat again?

Look at this forum, where some people are a little obsessed about DAC measurements (even those these are inaudible). Is it that so different to Reddit?

The most important consideration when buying a DAC are its connections, its reliability and its guarantee/return policy.
I guess I need to repeat it again, "There is a huge difference between buying a product that is likely over-engineered for one's needs vs. believing in trusting your own ears and saying you can't trust graphs and measurements."
 
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I guess I need to repeat it again, "There is a huge difference between buying a product that is likely over-engineered for one's needs vs. believing in trusting your own ears and saying you can't trust graphs and measurements."
Who is saying "you can't trust graphs and measurements"?

The point is that people are obsessing about measurements which are not audible (and almost all of this particular product category - DACs - sound the same, so why so much interest in such measurements for a product category that does not vary much in audible terms?).

While the important issues for this product category (reliability, build quality, guarantee policy) are often not being measured.
 

majingotan

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The point is that people are obsessing about measurements which are not audible (and almost all of this particular product category - DACs - sound the same, so why so much interest in such measurements for a product category that does not vary much in audible terms?).
These past 4 years have been interesting in terms of drastically improvement in price to performance ratio as well as exposing the audiophoolery of high end audio market (except for some SOTA performing audio bling). IMO, lots of people that are just getting started in the hobbyare tech savvy so they have been conditioned to have a "performance oriented" mindset (i.e. they correlate the audio performance to GPU or CPU performance) in choosing the best price/performance ratio regardless of the notion that they're inaudible below redbook dynamic range
 

Sal1950

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The most important consideration when buying a DAC are its connections, its reliability and its guarantee/return policy.
Yes, unless they've been terribly designed with possible audible problems
Amir's measurements found a few of them too.
 
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Yes, unless they've been terribly designed with possible audible problems
Amir's measurements found a few of them too.
Yes but here there is more obsession (i.e. more posts) about ones which are not "terribly designed with possible audible problems".

At the same time, often the only important thing for this product category ( connections, its reliability and its guarantee/return policy) are overlooked in what is being discussed and recommended.
 
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These past 4 years have been interesting in terms of drastically improvement in price to performance ratio as well as exposing the audiophoolery of high end audio market (except for some SOTA performing audio bling). IMO, lots of people that are just getting started in the hobbyare tech savvy so they have been conditioned to have a "performance oriented" mindset (i.e. they correlate the audio performance to GPU or CPU performance) in choosing the best price/performance ratio regardless of the notion that they're inaudible below redbook dynamic range
Yes but obsession about inaudible measurements, on products which all sound the same (DACs) doesn't improve the sound you will hear at the other end.

Of course, the audiophile world outside this forum, in which people obsess about magical vibrations on CD players, or speaker wires, can be even worse. But do you notice some more similarities than differences between this forum (when it comes to superstitious interest here about inaudible DAC measurements) and the other audiophile forums which obsess about equally inaudible speaker wire differences? I notice more similarities.

From a consumer point of view, there is more useful information about DACs in the Amazon reviews, which usually focus on the important thing for DACs - reliability and guarantee policy.
 

Sal1950

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Yes but here there is more obsession (i.e. more posts) about ones which are not "terribly designed with possible audible problems".

At the same time, often the only important thing for this product category ( connections, its reliability and its guarantee/return policy) are overlooked in what is being discussed and recommended.
True but different people place different things on their priority lists. Staying away from the audiophool imaginary world let me compare this to the world of cars, sports cars in particular. Some buyers will fret over the smallest differences in HP, top speed, skid pad numbers, braking distances, etc. But in the real world not 1 in 10,000 has the abilities take full advantage of the performance or a place to exercise them.. But that's fine too, whether it's for bragging rights or the piece of mind that comes from knowing the car has these capabilities. In motorcycles I told customers it's always better to own a machine with capabilities that exceed your riding talent, than to own one who's handling is so compromised you can find yourself over your head no matter you driving level.
 

majingotan

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True but different people place different things on their priority lists. Staying away from the audiophool imaginary world let me compare this to the world of cars, sports cars in particular. Some buyers will fret over the smallest differences in HP, top speed, skid pad numbers, braking distances, etc. But in the real world not 1 in 10,000 has the abilities take full advantage of the performance or a place to exercise them.. But that's fine too, whether it's for bragging rights or the piece of mind that comes from knowing the car has these capabilities. In motorcycles I told customers it's always better to own a machine with capabilities that exceed your riding talent, than to own one who's handling is so compromised you can find yourself over your head no matter you driving level.
You remind me of this graph sourced from the site that must not be named comparing DACs to sports/super cars

upload_2019-3-15_10-56-41.png
 

majingotan

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But do you notice some more similarities than differences between this forum (when it comes to superstitious interest here about inaudible DAC measurements) and the other audiophile forums which obsess about equally inaudible speaker wire differences? I notice more similarities.
I disagree with that. The differences is that we recommend products that are known in their price range to perform exceptionally well with objective evidences unlike those audiophile forums where more buzzwords like Golden ratio sized strands, Gold-Silver-Palladium alloy wire, Type 6 Litz with woven Kevlar core etc, are being obsessed without any objectifiable proof that those fancy wires are actually audibly different upon DBT ABX. Another difference is that we recommend any DAC that perform well in its price range, heck if bare bone functionality is what is being asked for recommendation, we would recommend the 99dB SINAD $9 Apple dongle over the 120 dB SINAD Topping D90 given that the chances of both DACs being audibly different through unbiased and proper DBT ABX is next to nil. We do recommend the DAC to your liking in your price range as long as the performance is on the "Blue" tier of the graph or in the "green" if your priority is features or looks or brand loyalty first then competent performance as second as this ensures that you're getting a more competent/engineered DAC rather than a poor one. On other audiophile forums, it's more of brand loyalty + more snake oil oriented manufacturing design (for cables) rather than being rational about purchasing decisions
 
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Yes but obsession about inaudible measurements, on products which all sound the same (DACs) doesn't improve the sound you will hear at the other end.

Of course, the audiophile world outside this forum, in which people obsess about magical vibrations on CD players, or speaker wires, can be even worse. But do you notice some more similarities than differences between this forum (when it comes to superstitious interest here about inaudible DAC measurements) and the other audiophile forums which obsess about equally inaudible speaker wire differences? I notice more similarities.

From a consumer point of view, there is more useful information about DACs in the Amazon reviews, which usually focus on the important thing for DACs - reliability and guarantee policy.
Sometimes products are just horribly designed and defective, and these reviews and measurements highlight what you should stay away from. But even if the differences are inaudible (and mostly they are), the higher performing products demonstrate a technical knowledge and commitment to engineering that should translate to other aspects of the design. You should expect fewer problems with ground loops, better reliability (although DACs do not seem to be products that are highly prone to failure), and just fewer glitches and odd behaviors from the products that measure better. Is that worth paying a huge differential for? Possibly not, but the reviews here have demonstrated that some products perform highly even at modest price points. Do I think you should scrap your DAC from a few years ago that topped the charts at the time and buy the new best measurement darling because it's got 4-5 db higher score in SINAD? Definitely not. And features do matter, so get what fits in your system. But you should definitely factor in the measurements as indication of engineering quality as well.
 
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