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The folly of seeking the perfect speaker.

Purité Audio

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As far back as Edison and a female singer.
Keith
 

ferrellms

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I agree with much of what you wrote, especially the "can tell it's live" thing.

I've been able to somewhat slip in to the illusion of hearing live sound from my system, from the sweet spot, but that definitely takes using some imagination, just like watching a movie. But though reproducing the sound of live music may be an unreachable goal (and maybe even one most don't necessarily want), it doesn't mean one can't get closer rather than further to "live sound." I often like when I get, to my ears, closer.

As to actually recreating the sound of live instruments, I've mentioned a number of times that I as near-as-dammit did that with some omnis I owned, the MBL omnis.
Recordings I'd made of instruments we played in our house, e.g. my son practicing saxophone, sounded eerily real from outside the room. That's the important part.
If you are in the stereo sweet spot you are getting cues, due to the inadequacies of the very format, that what you are hearing isn't real. That phantom-like phasiness to the sound among others. But outside the room you aren't necessarily getting those particular artificial cues, and you just get the fact there is a real acoustic source in the room - the speakers - combined with the room sound, which you hear from outside the room. In which case plenty of audiophiles have noted they have heard closer to a live sensation "from outside the room" than from the sweet spot. I actually fooled some guests that my son was playing sax in that room, even though it was just coming through the omni speakers.

BTW, I've found those Aries-Cerat speakers, pictured in your post, very intriguing. They are definitely high on the list of speakers I'd like to hear, just due to their intriguing design attempt and aesthetics. I've "heard" them numerous times on youtube videos through my home theater system, which is a fun way to pretend to hear different speakers.
My experience with the Kii three is that it is very realistic - I was lucky enough to live near Bard College, with its world-class orchestra and concert hall for years and have heard a lot of superb classical music of all types, including monsters like Rite of Spring, Haydn's Creation, all 9 Beethoven symphonies, Mahler, Mozart, and a lot more full orchestral pieces and solo piano and voice, you name it.

When I listen to the Kiis, I can hear the various parts of the orchestra placed in their proper spots, surrounded with ambience, and can hear and place individual soloists on the stage. Horns are rich and full, flutes and strings shine (and can be just a bit harsh like in a real orchestra). Woodwinds sound like wood. The bass rocks my guts just like that huge drum in the back of the rest of the orchestra and is easily discernable among the equally realistic typmani and solid and sonorous basses. It is amazing, (and accurate!)

BUT, the sound is only coming from the front of the listening room whereas in the concert hall it is coming from all directions, so the sense of realism is always dampened, even when I close my eyes. Surround sound would do a lot to complete the illusion. And, of course, similar volume levels cannot be obtained, at least not in my condo.

There are no "perfect speakers", of course, but if you can find some that sound to your ears and experience of listening like the real thing, the search is worth it.
 
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mhardy6647

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Horns, for all their quirks, can give that sense of realism. I've had guests jerk their heads around and stare at the speakers.
Oh, yes, they can.
:)

I look for loudspeakers that are perfect for me -- even then, one of the qualifiers is "perfect for me at a realistically affordable price".
I could spend, say, $50k for a pair of loudspeakers, but I won't.
Heck, I won't spend $50k for an automobile.
 

mhardy6647

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Didn't one of the early speaker companies do a similar demo with a speaker and a musical instrument? Might have been AR with a sealed box woofer approach?
I presume the Villchur post earlier describes their demos.

page03_2-2.jpeg

source: https://classicspeakerpages.net/lib...1970/ar_brochure_1970_pg3.html#previous-photo

see, also, e.g.,
 

MattHooper

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My experience with the Kii three is that it is very realistic - I was lucky enough to live near Bard College, with its world-class orchestra and concert hall for years and have heard a lot of superb classical music of all types, including monsters like Rite of Spring, Haydn's Creation, all 9 Beethoven symphonies, Mahler, Mozart, and a lot more full orchestral pieces and solo piano and voice, you name it.

When I listen to the Kiis, I can hear the various parts of the orchestra placed in their proper spots, surrounded with ambience, and can hear and place individual soloists on the stage. Horns are rich and full, flutes and strings shine (and can be just a bit harsh like in a real orchestra). Woodwinds sound like wood. The bass rocks my guts just like that huge drum in the back of the rest of the orchestra and is easily discernable among the equally realistic typmani and solid and sonorous basses. It is amazing, (and accurate!)

I can see that. The Kiis are full range, coherent, full sounding, and disappear/image beautifully. All the things that would help symphonic (or other) music sound more natural and real.

BUT, the sound is only coming from the front of the listening room whereas in the concert hall it is coming from all directions, so the sense of realism is always dampened, even when I close my eyes. Surround sound would do a lot to complete the illusion. And, of course, similar volume levels cannot be obtained, at least not in my condo.

Y'know, my impressions are a bit different in terms of what stereo can achieve.

My current speakers are about 7 feet from the listening position, 8 feet apart. I carefully set up the reflection points to add a bit of spaciousness without overwhelming the acoustic in the recording. It is enveloping! It feels more like entering the acoustic than it does like the acoustic is some separate space from the room. So I find even symphonic stuff can sound quite convincing with my eyes closed.

My two channel speakers share room with my home theater surround system, and I've done comparisons between the same tracks (jazz, symphony, electronic etc) through my two channel system or upconverted to surround (I have a 7.0 system), and really it doesn't do much more than my two channel in terms of envelopment or realism. And overall the two channel images better so it feels a bit more natural and real.
 

anmpr1

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After so many years, I've come to believe in the "buy what you like to listen to..." It is the best way I've found. This is not to say there are no 'bad' loudspeakers, or loudspeakers that couldn't be better, but there are so many variables that I don't believe a 'one size fits all' solution is very practical.

I recently dug out a pair of 'mini monitors' from a famous Canadian brand, claimed to have been rung through the NRC and (evidently) the Dr Toole paradigm (if you get my drift). And I have nothing really against them--they sound nice and pleasant. But at the same time very 'closed down'; ultimately unsatisfying, to my ears. So I switched back to a set of larger early to mid '70s 'west coast' monitors, which for me are the way I want to hear hi-fi.

Now, I would never advise anyone to go 'my way or the highway', and search out what I use. But they are what I've learned to enjoy, over my many years of audio-foolery. I'm pretty happy with them, and let's face it, we need more happiness in the world.
 

anmpr1

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Yes - Paul Klipsch was famous for doing exactly this with a grand piano and his Klipschorn in the 1940's I believe.

When Richard Heyser, the 'father' of objective loudspeaker measurements, reviewed that loudspeaker in the old Audio magazine, he claimed that it was the only loudspeaker he ever heard that actually sounded like a real piano, when he was listening from another room! I thought his comment was pretty funny. And could certainly be taken in more than one way. :cool:
 

Barrelhouse Solly

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I'm 76 and have been playing acoustic guitar since I was 15. I did a fair amount of choral singing. I've heard amateur and professional orchestras unamplified. I've fooled around with recording using fairly decent equipment and software. I've never heard recorded music that sounds exactly like what I've heard live. I'm especially attuned to flat top steel string unamplified guitar from both behind the guitar and in front of it. I can often tell from recordings where the microphone(s) were placed and what kind of post production was applied. It's pretty clear to me that recordings of acoustic guitar are often made with a particular sound in mind that's often different from the "real" sound.

I don't know much about audio but I know what I like. <g> It applies to speakers for sure.
 

anmpr1

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I'm 76 and have been playing acoustic guitar since I was 15. I did a fair amount of choral singing. I've heard amateur and professional orchestras unamplified. I've fooled around with recording using fairly decent equipment and software. I've never heard recorded music that sounds exactly like what I've heard live.

Somewhere in the long lost archives at ASR, there was a thread linking to a 'live v recorded' demo of an acoustic guitar. Funny thing was, many folks participating liked the sound of the loudspeakers better than the actual guitar.
 

LouB

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Somewhere in the long lost archives at ASR, there was a thread linking to a 'live v recorded' demo of an acoustic guitar. Funny thing was, many folks participating liked the sound of the loudspeakers better than the actual guitar.
Not surprising at all, instrument manufactures do not build instruments to compete with "Hi-Fi" sound.
It's a fools errand to try and achieve recorded music sound to be "exactly" like a live performance.
 

Bugal1998

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I doubt anyone has ever watched a television, or gone to the movies, and had the genuine illusion that the cast was actually in the room with them, or that they were truly at the location in the image. Nonetheless, visual displays can bring great enjoyment and it can certainly be worthwhile to upgrade your display for improved contrast, brightness, color reproduction, motion handling, resolution, etc. Displays continue to improve, but realism in the sense used in audio isn't part of the discussion.

I find audio even more enjoyable than video because of the greater bandwidth, potential for physical sensations, and spatial cues, etc.. But I approach audio with the same mindset as video... I want maximum performance, find it very enjoyable, but realism is not and does not need to be the objective.

I enjoy audio for what it is, and I'm entirely unconcerned by what it isn't.
 

eboleyn

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My current best 2-channel system, when set up right, playing CD quality or better lossless audio that is well mastered or live recordings, and being near the stereo sweet spot, gives me a concrete (and sometimes almost startling) sense of "the person is right there". So far all who I have demoed it for came away agreeing that it achieves that result as well.

I have found that it is distinctly easy to "blur" that level of spatial cues accuracy. Switching any of the elements of the sound chain (DAC/pre/amp/speakers) to ones that are not VERY low harmonic and particularly IM distortion loses it. Audiophile "sweet amplifiers" like tube or various class A transistor amps ruin it quite handily, though the pleasantness of the tonal result is undeniable and I can still enjoy it a lot.

I am actually fascinated with this point and based on my experiences strongly suspect that our "spatial cues bioware" is more sensitive to some kinds of distortion vs. the parts of our hearing system that perceives tonality and interprets sound content.

Having said the above, I have not tried performing careful tests on exactly what level of exactly what kind of distortion creates the blur, and after some experiments with a couple of different combinations of each element of the hardware chain generating that great result (DACs, amps, and some custom speakers I've built) and measuring them all, though all excellent by say ASR recommendation standards, it would still be a bunch more work to establish concretely what's going on... I slowly scratch away at it in my proverbial copious spare time, but the rest of life has kept me from going there fully.

So, in summary, my current best speakers - the 3rd gen, and I'm working on a 4th gen - are arguably well beyond human hearing limits of distortion already. Even my 1st gen custom speaker was reasonably well hitting that "the person is right there" point, and though it seemed to get better from at least the 1st gen to 2nd gen in a perceptible way, I have not done blind listening tests to actually prove there was a non-placebo difference, haha. But I'm having fun at it, and my 4th gen has other characteristics that I want out of it while (probably pointlessly) also minutely pushing the distortion down a bit further.

FWIW, my 2nd and 3rd gen speakers use Purifi mid/woofers and RAAL ribbons. The 4th gen speaker will use an array of Purifi M midrange drivers and the same custom RAAL dipole ribbon that's in the Aries Cerat speakers pictured in the first post in this thread, arguably some of the best out of each of these driver manufacturers.
 
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MattHooper

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I doubt anyone has ever watched a television, or gone to the movies, and had the genuine illusion that the cast was actually in the room with them, or that they were truly at the location in the image. Nonetheless, visual displays can bring great enjoyment and it can certainly be worthwhile to upgrade your display for improved contrast, brightness, color reproduction, motion handling, resolution, etc. Displays continue to improve, but realism in the sense used in audio isn't part of the discussion.

I find audio even more enjoyable than video because of the greater bandwidth, potential for physical sensations, and spatial cues, etc.. But I approach audio with the same mindset as video... I want maximum performance, find it very enjoyable, but realism is not and does not need to be the objective.

I enjoy audio for what it is, and I'm entirely unconcerned by what it isn't.

I can see that perspective and I empathize with much of it. It's one reason why I often say what I'm going for in the movie going experience and 2 channel experience is "believability" vs "realism." Realism is not only mostly an impossible goal; in many cases it's not what I'd want. Rather, I want a moderated experience, cues that allow me to sink in to an illusion (e.g. timbral convincingness, spatial/imaging qualities for stereo). Plenty of movies cast a "believable" spell when done well, even if they depart quite a bit from realism.

But all that said, even sometimes with my home theater set up - which uses a big projected image - I can sometimes be amazed at how it sometimes approaches something *like* realism. I have maximized my system for image quality and immersion - a high end high contrast JVC projector, low artifact white screen, and I have surrounded the screen image in black velvet, even the L/C/R speakers. The ceiling is non-reflective, and I can pull black velvet curtains across every wall surface, turning the viewing room in to a "black pit box." It means the image mostly appears in front of you, surrounded by a non-distracting sea of blackness. Once you don't have all sorts of visual cues of real 3D objects around the image, the effect can be somewhat startling sometimes. It's like your brain looks at the 2D image and says "well, I guess this contains all the depth and perspective cues I've got to work with, so I'll interpret this like I'm interpreting regular life." Especially if there is good contrast in the image, and the camera lens captures a realistic sense of perspective.

So for instance we were watching a horror movie with someone who was creeping around a house at night, the camera carefully prowling behind them, and the sensation became less of a big flat image and more like peering through a gigantic opening in our wall in to the interior of the house in the movie. A real "being there with the protagonist" experience. Very involving when it happens!
 

Bugal1998

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I can see that perspective and I empathize with much of it. It's one reason why I often say what I'm going for in the movie going experience and 2 channel experience is "believability" vs "realism." Realism is not only mostly an impossible goal; in many cases it's not what I'd want. Rather, I want a moderated experience, cues that allow me to sink in to an illusion (e.g. timbral convincingness, spatial/imaging qualities for stereo). Plenty of movies cast a "believable" spell when done well, even if they depart quite a bit from realism.

But all that said, even sometimes with my home theater set up - which uses a big projected image - I can sometimes be amazed at how it sometimes approaches something *like* realism. I have maximized my system for image quality and immersion - a high end high contrast JVC projector, low artifact white screen, and I have surrounded the screen image in black velvet, even the L/C/R speakers. The ceiling is non-reflective, and I can pull black velvet curtains across every wall surface, turning the viewing room in to a "black pit box." It means the image mostly appears in front of you, surrounded by a non-distracting sea of blackness. Once you don't have all sorts of visual cues of real 3D objects around the image, the effect can be somewhat startling sometimes. It's like your brain looks at the 2D image and says "well, I guess this contains all the depth and perspective cues I've got to work with, so I'll interpret this like I'm interpreting regular life." Especially if there is good contrast in the image, and the camera lens captures a realistic sense of perspective.
I agree with everything you just said. A high contrast well calibrated image, with an invisible screen surface can indeed be a highly-involving 3D window-like experience.

Sometimes people worry that if an audio playback system doesn't sound like a real person or band in the room that it will be dissapointing, but that's just not the case... as you indicated, in many ways it can be even more enjoyable than if it sounded "real". Reproduced sound is its own experience and art form, and done right it's pleasureable and engaging.

There are distant mic'd recordings that can be so transparent on playback that there's no sensation of listening to speakers, and the soundfield and ambiance of the venue wraps around the listener giving a profound 'you are there' experience. And there are highly processed studio tracks that paint an entirely artificial soundscape and yet can be just as transportive. In either case, after a few minutes of eyes closed listening it can be jarring to open your eyes and realize where you are, yet always knowing in the back of your mind you're just sitting in a room listening to speakers... Just like when looking up from a good book.

None of this is meant to counter the OP's original premise about perfect speakers, because perfect doesn't exist, though a better playback system does lead to increased enjoyment, at least for this listener.
 
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Jack Harrison

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There are stories from the early days of film of audiences fleeing the theatre when a steam train rushed towards them out of the screen or people fainting when lions and tigers appeared to do the same. So feeling like it’s real whether visually or aurally can be a powerful illusion that’s not a test or proof of absolute fidelity.
I don’t think the finest and most expensive speakers in the world are capable of capturing the full tone, frequency range, or dynamic range of a single trumpet, let alone a Steinway grand. So how they could convey the dynamics of a live performance of say Berlioz Requiem with augmented orchestra, off stage brass bands and a full chorus, with soloists, is beyond my comprehension.
But the illusion can be satisfying all the same, or not, depending on the speakers.
 

Randy Fucce

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I'm not a fan of the perfect speaker.
But we also don't think people who are looking for the perfect speaker are stupid, after all, they have such financial conditions or ability to pay.

for example
The JB Party Box system and Burmester are completely incomparable in terms of listening performance.
 
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