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Speakers that measure well and work in small room

andrew

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#1
I'm after a direction on some stereo speakers for a 12'x16' room. The set-up has a pair of Gale 401a in horizontal orientation with 3 sealed subs that are fed a <80Hz mono signal with crossover done in the digital domain based on filters generated from Audiolense. My basic issue is that in this orientation the Gale 401a are a bit impractical in the room. My criteria, then, is that the speakers work well in near-field (listening distance is about 6'), have good off axis performance as I'm unable / unwilling to treat the first reflection points and aren't too imposing. I've got no preference for stand-mount vs floor-stand or hi-fi vs pro-audio or passive vs active. The budget is circa USD$5k for the pair. Some pro-audio options that I've identified include the JBL LSR708p or Neumann KH310a whilst on the hi-fi side the Revel F208 and Elac Adante AS-/AF-61 ared available locally. All these, with the exception of KH310A, are ported which might make integration to the subs more complex but presumably this will just be catered for during x/o design within Audiolense? And the F208 - which sounded very good in the show room - is quite imposing in my room. Any suggestions as to other options to assess?
 

andreasmaaan

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#2
Sub integration shouldn't be a problem with ported speakers using Audiolense, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

I think you're probably on the right track with LSR708P, i.e. an active speaker with a large-ish woofer and evidence-based design. If you've heard the Revels and liked them, that's also probably a good sign. I've never been a fan of Neumann personally...
 

jtwrace

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#3
JBL M2 if there is budget for them
 
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#5
Sub integration shouldn't be a problem with ported speakers using Audiolense, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

I think you're probably on the right track with LSR708P, i.e. an active speaker with a large-ish woofer and evidence-based design. If you've heard the Revels and liked them, that's also probably a good sign. I've never been a fan of Neumann personally...
I'm curious about what you don't like about the Neumann speakers. I purchased a pair of KH120a for studio monitors. I felt it was one of the worst sounding speakers I had ever purchased for this purpose, and god awful for fun listening. I was really surprised, as this was almost universally acclaimed in the pro sound world, I thought it was a sure thing.

To my ear, it sounded over bright, and "fake". I couldn't put my finger on it, but it almost sounded like the speaker imparted a character to everything I played through it. It was superficially impressive but rendered a sound that I considered "unmusical."I also noticed the hiss from the tweeters, as I was sitting relatively close. In retrospect, I wonder if they would have sounded better in a mid-field position.

I sold them after a few weeks.

But I've been trying to get my mind around the discussions of speakers that "measure well" and supposedly these speakers did.
 

andreasmaaan

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#6
I'm curious about what you don't like about the Neumann speakers. I purchased a pair of KH120a for studio monitors. I felt it was one of the worst sounding speakers I had ever purchased for this purpose, and god awful for fun listening. I was really surprised, as this was almost universally acclaimed in the pro sound world, I thought it was a sure thing.

To my ear, it sounded over bright, and "fake". I couldn't put my finger on it, but it almost sounded like the speaker imparted a character to everything I played through it. It was superficially impressive but rendered a sound that I considered "unmusical."I also noticed the hiss from the tweeters, as I was sitting relatively close. In retrospect, I wonder if they would have sounded better in a mid-field position.

I sold them after a few weeks.

But I've been trying to get my mind around the discussions of speakers that "measure well" and supposedly these speakers did.
I had a similar experience. Had a pair at one point and never liked the sound of them. One obvious problem was the cabinet resonances, which were more pronounced in one cabinet than the other for some reason, and at higher SPLs manifested as distinctly audible rattling. The other issue was to do with crossover integration. On the unit I tested, the outputs from the two drivers didn't sum correctly on-axis (IIRC it was about 15° vertically off axis that the outputs summed to flat, with a dip on-axis at the crossover point that suggested a time misalignment between the drivers). The speakers were also very limited in terms of output, with severe amplifier clipping at only moderate-loud levels.

I never liked the bass alignment either, although this is a purely subjective observation - I never took the time to take proper measurements of the speaker below about 300Hz.

I have absolutely no experience of the KH310A that the OP has in mind, however, so my comments should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I also have no way of knowing that the KH120A that I measured was not broken (it was not purchased new), so I'd be reluctant to place too much weight on my observations here.
 
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Ilkless

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#7
I had a similar experience. Had a pair at one point and never liked the sound of them. One obvious problem was the cabinet resonances, which were more pronounced in one cabinet than the other for some reason, and at higher SPLs manifested as distinctly audible rattling. The other issue was to do with crossover integration. On the unit I tested, the outputs from the two drivers didn't sum correctly on-axis (IIRC it was about 15° vertically off axis that the outputs summed to flat, with a dip on-axis at the crossover point that suggested a time misalignment between the drivers). The speakers were also very limited in terms of output, with severe amplifier clipping at only moderate-loud levels.

I never liked the bass alignment either, although this is a purely subjective observation - I never took the time to take proper measurements of the speaker below about 300Hz.

I have absolutely no experience of the KH310A that the OP has in mind, however, so my comments should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I also have no way of knowing that the KH120A that I measured was not broken (it was not purchased new), so I'd be reluctant to place too much weight on my observations here.
This contradicts Neumann's extremely detailed datasheet, third-party lab measurements and hobbyist measurements. So I'd reckon its safe to say the set was broken.

I'm curious about what you don't like about the Neumann speakers. I purchased a pair of KH120a for studio monitors. I felt it was one of the worst sounding speakers I had ever purchased for this purpose, and god awful for fun listening. I was really surprised, as this was almost universally acclaimed in the pro sound world, I thought it was a sure thing.

To my ear, it sounded over bright, and "fake". I couldn't put my finger on it, but it almost sounded like the speaker imparted a character to everything I played through it. It was superficially impressive but rendered a sound that I considered "unmusical."I also noticed the hiss from the tweeters, as I was sitting relatively close. In retrospect, I wonder if they would have sounded better in a mid-field position.

I sold them after a few weeks.

But I've been trying to get my mind around the discussions of speakers that "measure well" and supposedly these speakers did.
We have discussed your very specific preferences under sighted conditions that contradict all evidence over several threads. Your sighted anecdotal listening doesn't invalidate both the blind test results and psychoacoustic principles that underpin it (eg. precedence effect).

As Earl Geddes eloquently puts it:

Personal preferences have such a low stability as to be an almost completely pointless thing to stake a claim to. “Hi-Fi” does not mean “pleasant” — it means “accurate”; accuracy, as opposed to preference, is absolutely quantifiable and extremely stable – as stable as I care to control in my lab from day to day or test to test (but in any case its uncertainty is easy to quantify and understand). Decisions based on accuracy are therefore much more likely to be valid than decisions based on “how it sounds.” I do not see how one could ever support a position that “preference” trumps “accuracy.” That’s simply taking a giant step backwards in the evolution of Hi-Fi.
I am not saying that measurements are infallible, and I don’t believe that measurements are likely to ever be 100% reliable, but that does not mean that we cannot obtain measurements that are far better than the unstable subjective opinions that are so often relied upon.
...

One could argue that we have all become “acclimated” to the sound signature of our loudspeakers, but at least this signature can objectively be shown to be free from significant sonic aberrations. If you are going to get acclimated to a particular sound, then it only makes sense to get acclimated to the most accurate one.
 

andreasmaaan

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#8
This contradicts Neumann's extremely detailed datasheet, third-party lab measurements and hobbyist measurements. So I'd reckon its safe to say the set was broken.
Yeh, that certainly seems to be the most likely explanation of the apparent time misalignment between the woofer and tweeter.

In terms of the cabinet resonances, this is not investigated in that lab report, nor in Neumann's published data, so I'm not sure. Potential signs of the odd-sounding bass alignment do appear to be borne out in both sets of measurements you linked, however: note the sharp peak at the port tuning frequency followed by a wide-band shallow dip between 70 and 200Hz evident in both measurements.

Anyway, looking at those two sets of measurements, I agree that the KH120A appears to be an excellent-performing speaker in the midrange and high frequencies.

If anyone in Germany/EU has a pair, I'd love to borrow them to run a more thorough set of measurements...?

Also FWIW, nothing in my measurements or the measurements linked by @Ilkless suggest that the speaker should sound "bright" or "fake". Indeed, my pair sounded a bit on the dull side, possibly due to the lack of energy in the presence region caused by the crossover misalignment.
 

andrew

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#9
Another option might be the Tannoy XT8F which have a narrower dispersion than the other options (specifically JBL / Revel) which might do well in the smaller room (as sidewall reflections aren't significantly delayed from the direct signal)?

JBL M2 if there is budget for them
The budget doesn't, unfortunately extend this far - but it does go to the JBL LSR708p option with a hope that the one gets most of the mid-high goodness and subs providing the bottom-end. I've not yet seen these in-person but the pictures aren't exactly flattering which is another consideration.

Good idea.

I'm curious about what you don't like about the Neumann speakers. I purchased a pair of KH120a for studio monitors. I felt it was one of the worst sounding speakers I had ever purchased for this purpose, and god awful for fun listening. I was really surprised, as this was almost universally acclaimed in the pro sound world, I thought it was a sure thing. To my ear, it sounded over bright, and "fake". I couldn't put my finger on it, but it almost sounded like the speaker imparted a character to everything I played through it. It was superficially impressive but rendered a sound that I considered "unmusical."I also noticed the hiss from the tweeters, as I was sitting relatively close. In retrospect, I wonder if they would have sounded better in a mid-field position. I sold them after a few weeks. But I've been trying to get my mind around the discussions of speakers that "measure well" and supposedly these speakers did.
I've seen this comment a few times re K&H but haven't had an opportunity to listen to the K&H310a. Strange, though, given the excellent measurements. Edit: One afterthought is that perhaps with the flat on-axis and well managed off-axis response these are speakers that will do well with a room correction target applied via DSP
 
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#10
We have discussed your very specific preferences under sighted conditions that contradict all evidence over several threads. Your sighted anecdotal listening doesn't invalidate both the blind test results and psychoacoustic principles that underpin it (eg. precedence effect).

As Earl Geddes eloquently puts it:
It’s true that my sited anecdotal observations don’t invalidate blind listening tests or psychoastic principles.

I’m just trying to get my mind around the root of my perceptual paradox. I have a few theories, my main contenders are:

—My subject preference is for speaker designs that date to the time I grew up, and which my taste in music was formed. (Which remainec surprisingly stable, resistant to styles of music popular before and after the 1970s). Music is a meaningful experience, which involves extensive cultural influence and learning. The sound of the reproduction devices themselves are inextricably linked with the meaning of the music. (As well as visual and design elements.) I don’t think dismissing this as nostalgia acknowledges the significance of the experience.

— My musical taste reflects recordings that were created on speaker designs of the era. My thesis is that similar designs better represent this music. They are more “accurate” to the “sonic” signal, which is the medium upon which the artist create, not the electronic signal. (Working on “colored” speakers encodes a kind of “inverse signature” into the signal)

— Most of my listening to the kind of “accurate” speaker designs which objective evidence points to as being generally preferred has been in recording studios which present a very non-typical listening environment. They are treated to heavily control reflected sound, and to absorb low frequencies. Attempts are made to decouple the speakers from the physical structure, which leads to less subjective experience of the bass frequencies.

Conversely most of my experience with “hi-fi” speakers has been in untreated homes. Perhaps if the experience was more evenly mixed, my subjective preference would change.

— That “boxy” sounding speakers provide a final level of integration for poorly integrated multitracked recordings, with the physical nature of the box adding an element of “realism” to the sound. I’ve heard the sentiment expressed that a truly “good” loudspeaker will clearly separate the “good recordings” from the bad. I question whether this is truly an ideal in a world where “bad recordings” outnumber the good.

The Earl Geddes quote reflects a point of view that I think is unsupported, verging on non-sensical. When people talk about audio equipment being “accurate” it generally refers to a narrow perspective on wether a non-transducer device preserves the integrity of an electronic signal.

The reason that the psychoacoustic research was able to apply this more generally to the realm of speakers was because this research showed that listener preferences corresponded with speaker designs that could accurately reproduce electronic signals in a way that allows another transducer to recapture the signal. The basis of the research is the subjective responses, not the “accuracy”, and it is the reproducibility that gives confidence that this is an objective phenomenon. This is the entire foundation that allowed careful measurements to be made that teased out the measurable components of the effect. Without this research on subjective preference, there would be very little meaning in calling a three-dimensional transducer “accurate” compared to a one-dimensional electronic signal.

As someone who is both interested in my personal experience with audio, and the larger, very rich, very complex, multi-subjective, cultural experience of audio reproduction, this view of accuracy has an uncertain role. Ironically, the debate between “objectivists” and “subjectivists” is a red herring when it comes to considering the real experience of listeners. This debate reflects the narrow concerns of neurotic audiophiles, who become convinced that the meaning of their experience is dependent on inaudible differences in audio equipment.

Ironically, considering the results reported by the research of people like Toole and companies like Harman, the real world listening environment is deviating at an ever rapid pace from the traditional notions of “high quality” stereo reproduction.

My step children listen to music generated largely by entirely non-acoustic, non-electronic, signals. Their most common listening environment are Bluetooth earbuds. One of them will also walk around holding a little Bluetooth speaker with some kind of bass enhancer in his hands. Then there is the car, in which they inevitably will crank the bass given a chance. It’s only because I have an actual stereo system setup in front of the TV that they even hear such audio, which is mainly when they play video games. They never notice when I change the speakers!

Add in car audio. Add in speakers on phones, laptops, TVs. True multichannel audio does not appear to be taking off, instead we are getting crazy sounding sound bars which are using DSP to attempt to create 3D sound fields.

On the production side, accuracy in digital audio represents a dilemma. While useful for ensuring storage and copying of data, it has notabil limitations as an artistic medium. This has brought unprecedented development in DSP distortion in attempts to introduce the non linearity of legacy mediums.

My point is that the obsessive focus on accuracy in things like amps and DACs is a sideshow at best, and meaningless in most context because the differences aren’t audible, or if they are it doesn’t matter. My subjective experience is the attempts to apply this type of critical analysis to loudspeakers are frought challenges.

I don’t accept that my subjective preferences in loudspeakers are akin to nutjobs who insist that their “tube rolling” is the magic ingredient that cause their esquisite playback systems to generate a “transcendent listening experience, subtle yet palpable, capable of communicating, the cosmic intent of the artist in a truly musical way.”
 
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#12
My step children listen to music generated largely by entirely non-acoustic, non-electronic, signals. Their most common listening environment are Bluetooth earbuds. One of them will also walk around holding a little Bluetooth speaker with some kind of bass enhancer in his hands. Then there is the car, in which they inevitably will crank the bass given a chance. It’s only because I have an actual stereo system setup in front of the TV that they even hear such audio, which is mainly when they play video games. They never notice when I change the speakers!

Add in car audio. Add in speakers on phones, laptops, TVs. True multichannel audio does not appear to be taking off, instead we are getting crazy sounding sound bars which are using DSP to attempt to create 3D sound fields.
I mean a lot of this is practicality and cost. Real estate has become very expensive, especially since pretty much all the areas you want to work as a young person are urban areas these days. Rural areas are dying and the immediate suburbs of most major cities are too expensive for a median income. All the wealth is owned by older people. Sound bars are a direct response to the desire for convenient, reasonably priced sound improvements over TV speakers. Some of them sound pretty good for what they are. I do know some younger(I'm 36, so late 20s and early 30s) people who are into audio, and the reason they're able to be into it is because they're past that early point in their career, have more disposable income and aren't sharing their living space with others anymore.

This is also why headphones have taken off, even a $2000 headphone is more practical in a small apartment or shared space than a pair of speakers.
 

andreasmaaan

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#13
Without this research on subjective preference, there would be very little meaning in calling a three-dimensional transducer “accurate” compared to a one-dimensional electronic signal.
I agree with many of your points @b1daly. This is the one point I think needs to be qualified though.

Yes, it’s true that the concept of “accuracy” is fraught given the loudspeaker reproduces a two-dimensional signal (frequency and amplitude) in 3D space.

However, in my view, the only metric that this complicates is that of directivity. All other metrics can be referred back to the signal without complication (examples: nonlinear distortion, phase distortion, spectral decay, etc).

In other words, accurate reproduction of the signal dictates that the speaker should produce a flat axial frequency response with as little nonlinear distortion, phase distortion, spectral decay, etc, as possible - or at least to keep these deviations from the input signal below or as close as possible to thresholds of audibility.

What it doesn’t dictate is what the speaker’s polar response should be. That metric alone is one about which I think various competing arguments can be made, possibly with reference to listener preference.

Do you believe that these other metrics are also problematised by the fact that a loudspeaker reproduces the signal in 3D space, or are we more or less on the same page?
 

RayDunzl

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#14
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#16
I agree with many of your points @b1daly. This is the one point I think needs to be qualified though.

Yes, it’s true that the concept of “accuracy” is fraught given the loudspeaker reproduces a two-dimensional signal (frequency and amplitude) in 3D space.

However, in my view, the only metric that this complicates is that of directivity. All other metrics can be referred back to the signal without complication (examples: nonlinear distortion, phase distortion, spectral decay, etc).

In other words, accurate reproduction of the signal dictates that the speaker should produce a flat axial frequency response with as little nonlinear distortion, phase distortion, spectral decay, etc, as possible - or at least to keep these deviations from the input signal below or as close as possible to thresholds of audibility.

What it doesn’t dictate is what the speaker’s polar response should be. That metric alone is one about which I think various competing arguments can be made, possibly with reference to listener preference.

Do you believe that these other metrics are also problematised by the fact that a loudspeaker reproduces the signal in 3D space, or are we more or less on the same page?
I definitely accept at face value the implications of the research, as it's being reflected back to me through various secondary sources. (I am going to read Mr. Toole's reference one of these days.)

I'm mostly trying to analyze my surprise at how this research differs from my own limited subjective experiences. I'm pretty confident that there is an objective element to what I am perceiving. But I could be mistaken. Maybe it's not as stable as I think. It could be that I am a weirdo who actually has different preferences than most people. (In discussions I've seen this argued as being a myth, but that is based on a statistical sample. If a person really has repeatable preferences that are stable, then that's all there's to it.)

From what I'm gathering, people's preferences have consistency across different listening environments, based on the brain's ability to distinguish direct and reflected sound. (This blows my mind, but we really do have amazing filtering going on in our brain all the time.)

But maybe the polar pattern response preferences are more affected by room treatment than the direct? Simply put, maybe a di-pole design has a different optimum listening environment from a conventional box speaker? Some speakers seem to be more sensitive to placement, is this a quantified effect in the preference testing?

If I had to put my finger on one aspect of the "accurate" bi-amped studio monitors that I find disturbing, is that the cabinets are often so dense, damped, and unboxy. One issue is that this exposes weaknesses in the drivers, so if there is an annoying sound in the tweeter, for example, it's plain as day. There are some big problems with commercial recordings being way overemphasized in the high frequencies, with not only signal but nasty distortion. Some tweeters seem to handle this better than others. (Out of the 30 odd sets of speakers I have, I have an old Polk Monitor 5A, and it has that original Peerless tweeter with the rectangular plate. I bought a Chinese made reissue, and that tweeter is the most forgiving I have ever heard for high-frequency distortion. The speaker sounds good, not great, but it has an amazing consistency in that almost everything I play through it sounds pretty good, compared to some more "detailed" sounding speakers where certain recordings sound shrill, the tweeters just can't handle the distortion in a flattering way.)

A lot of people like this "boxless" sound, but I find it uncanny, lacking in "solidity". My pet theory is that sounds don't just appear in space, they come from objects. On such a system a listener is presented with an experience where sounds that should be "coming from somewhere" don't appear to be coming from any discernable object. The sound is "disembodied." This is where I think vision must play some role in the listening experience simply because it's part of location sensory system.

One thing I don't have any perspective on is the relationship between frequency response and SPL from the speaker. Is this reflected in the distortion measurements like one finds here? https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/energy_rc_10/

My wondering is along the lines of cabinet resonation, which to my ear seems to increase its contribution to the sound the louder the speaker is playing. This would be reflected in the 3D measurements if they tested at different power levels.

I think among our inbuilt pattern recognition are filters related to understanding the relationships between sound energy levels and things like physical resonance and distortion. A vibrating box has a very distinct sound, and I've always felt like it was part of the overall presentation.

I listen to music at very low levels, rarely exceeding 90db spl, usually averaging about 82-83 db. This presents some challenges. The loudness curve of the old days was an attempt to help this type of listening, which involved boosting bass and treble. It can work well sometimes.

Rock music presents a special problem for reproduction...unless you are young and crazy and blast the music. Audio producers put a lot of work crafting a signal that reads as "loud" when played at any volume. This effort is more or less successful, and it's based on manipulating the ambiance and timbres contained to "fake" those cues. This is very hard to do convincingly with DSP...actually getting loud objects going, with a lot of sounds and electrical energy input, will create very complex sound signatures, and when captured these can be incorporated to create psychoacoustic effects.

If you have an actual box, that vibrates, driven into distortion even, this can "help" in the creation of having a "loud" signal. I find that small computer type speakers can really help "glue" my own mixes together, giving a kind of natural, tough sound, because the amp overdrives, the whole cabinet resonates profoundly, and I know that they are really being "energized." Unfortunately, such speakers fail to communicate many other important aspects of a mix, and cannot be relied upon:)

I see this all over...people drive their playback systems into distortion. With rap and other electronically/digitally created music, the intended effect is only fully expressed on specific playback systems. A lot of people have these crazy subwoofer systems in their cars, they crank the shit out of them, and the very low frequencies found in rap music come "vibrantly to life" as they are actually vibrating the whole vehicle! Same thing with electronic dance music. It is intended to be played on very loud club systems, with a lot of bass, rendering a mix that sounds pretty flat on a decent system at a low volume, into a very exciting experience.

Anyhow, I'm brainstorming for myself along two tangents. I worked full time as a recording engineer for about 20 years, and I didn't even have a home stereo, because I couldn't listen to more sound. Now I'm only part-time, and I'm rediscovering home audio! And my home systems kick the ass of my studio systems in terms of my own subjective experience. (This might be because of other associations, work related stress, overly damped rooms).

I'm sick of working on systems that I think "sound bad" and I am looking for improved sound at home. Having mixed success so far, but I think it will try to find an affordable set of "well measuring" speakers like the Revel line to see what I think.

I see no reason why all sound characteristics of a speaker couldn't be measured, but maybe there are parameters that are quite in resolution yet.

I also think subjective experience is indeed the ultimate judge of an audio system. The foundation of the Toole research are such experiences, it just happens that group preference aligns with notions of "accuracy" in the electrical domain. It seems entirely plausible to me that processing devices, whether speakers or otherwise, could be created that would decrease accuracy and increase subjective listening pleasure.

For example, implementing frequency dependent dynamic limiting I think could be very helpful in "normalizing" the listening experience across varied sources. This might not show up clearly in controlled study, but something that is experienced over a longer time. (I think Denon is actually doing this in their AVRs). Or a magic distortion algorithm could, on average, make systems "sound better." The problem with such approaches so far, is that they are too dependent on the program, but my gut feeling is that we are going to get there.
 
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#17
I could really use an example here.
If you have access to something like Apple music or Spotify, go to the top charts. In almost every song, probably every, the only acoustically generated sound is the voice. And even the voices these days are processed to unreal levels. You won't hear drumsets, piano, guitars, shakers, strings. Some of these sounds are represented in sample instruments, but these are manipulated into a different thing altogether. You also won't hear musical "performances" in the traditional sense. The music is almost entirely programmed and constructed in non-real-time methods. So the sound energy is not related to the activity of human muscles. It is an abstract expression of the brain, closer to writing or moviemaking.

Most of these synthetic sounds are generated by virtual instruments in the computer. So, unless a recording went through an analog mastering (or mixing) process (which many still do as a final step) what you are hearing is data-data-data...data-sound.
 

andreasmaaan

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#19
One thing I don't have any perspective on is the relationship between frequency response and SPL from the speaker. Is this reflected in the distortion measurements like one finds here? https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/energy_rc_10/
That’s an older set of soundstage measurements, but shown in their more current measurements is the difference in amplitude response between (usually) 70 and 90 or 95dB. There are typically differences of up to 1-2dB at different frequencies, even in well-performing speakers.

My wondering is along the lines of cabinet resonation, which to my ear seems to increase its contribution to the sound the louder the speaker is playing. This would be reflected in the 3D measurements if they tested at different power levels.
What do you mean by 3D measurements?

I listen to music at very low levels, rarely exceeding 90db spl, usually averaging about 82-83 db. This presents some challenges. The loudness curve of the old days was an attempt to help this type of listening, which involved boosting bass and treble. It can work well sometimes.
That’s about the level music is mixed and mastered at. I’d speculate that you should be hearing the music as it was intended to sound if you listen on accurate speakers at that level.

If you have an actual box, that vibrates, driven into distortion even, this can "help" in the creation of having a "loud" signal. I find that small computer type speakers can really help "glue" my own mixes together, giving a kind of natural, tough sound, because the amp overdrives, the whole cabinet resonates profoundly, and I know that they are really being "energized." Unfortunately, such speakers fail to communicate many other important aspects of a mix, and cannot be relied upon:)
I tend to agree with this, but would have thought it was the job of the engineers producing the recording to include such distortions. Perhaps you’re simply saying that your taste is for a higher level of distortion than that preferred by most engineers? There’s actually quite a bit of experimental evidence supporting the view that most listeners prefer additional distortion than that provided by a typical recording / accurate playback system.

And my home systems kick the ass of my studio systems in terms of my own subjective experience. (This might be because of other associations, work related stress, overly damped rooms).
I think you’re into something with the room damping question. Have you tried setting up your best-measuring monitors in your home to see how they sound there?

It seems entirely plausible to me that processing devices, whether speakers or otherwise, could be created that would decrease accuracy and increase subjective listening pleasure.
IMO these “systems” are in fact the effects units and other processors that engineers use in the recording/mixing/mastering process.

This might not show up clearly in controlled study, but something that is experienced over a longer time.
Why couldn’t a controlled study be based on long-term listening? But in any case, there is overwhelming evidence suggesting that if something is not audible with very short-term listening, it is not audible with longer term listening.
 
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