• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

The importance of measurements: lot of doubts

choqueiro

Member
Joined
May 15, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
3
Where to start ... I´m really lost. I believe in measurements, even though they are out of my entire comprehension due my lack of technical knowledge. When you start to take into consideration the speaker measurements on the test bench, you discover that hi-fi world is a nonsense with a lot of "experts", "reviewers", enthusiasts and more, trying to create opinions (or to persuade others) about the "amazing" sound and virtues of a model/brand, even though measurements (or science) said the oppositte... When you finally discover that a large part of the speakers are marketing and no more, you know that it´s easy to make a mistake buying something that finally not fulfil your inital expectations. Maybe for some in this hobby, recurrent insatisfaction and perpetual buying need is part of the game. To my eyes, very little trustful opinios/brands and lots of snake oil.

Many questions, many doubts... So many, that I really don´t know how to titled this thread: a mix of my own ignorance. Let´s hope you can help me with some:

1) When I see speaker ratings (https://sites.google.com/view/speaker-data/speakers/preference-ratings-graphs) I see many models more on the analytical, bright, revealing side, instead of the more musical engaging, warm side. Why?? Are the last ones always bad measurement speakers?? Is there a type of sound that will have good measurents and other type of sound that will have necessarily bad results on the test bench?? My impression is that many of the recommended models are more studio/monitor type of speakers instead of home hi-fi speakers. Is there any difference?? For many people, studio monitors are professional speakers, made to meet profesional demands. These type of speakers must be transparent and revealing but they can also be very fatiguing on the long term, not the best quality for a home friendly speaker. There is really a debate between studio/monitors speakers vs hi-fi speakers??

2) To me it´s also curious that the vast majority oh the recommended speakers are cone type speakers. Very few horns, panels, omnis.... Why??

3) Recently I see a thread on this forum talking about the bad measurements of Volti speakers or ATC. Volti has many good reviews on other forums/magazines and some of their products are recommended award speakers (see Stereophile). ATC is even more curious. Is a well known brand with good reputation in the professional market. To some one of the best midranges out there but measurements are not top. It´s possible a superb sound without good measurements as many people defend or it´s a nonsense?? It´s possible to find pleasure on a "imperfect" sound??

4) Is there any high efficiency speaker (99 db or more) with good measurements?? Any horn out there with good test bench measurements??

5) To me the Revel Ultima Salon 2 seems a round product but the design seems a little bit old fashioned and the plastic finish is not really nice. To me, even though it´s an excellent model, seems more a discontinued product. Also Revel it´s not the Revel of the "glorious years". Is there a real alternative to the Salon 2 nowadays with equal or better results on the test bench?? Please avoid bookshelf type speakers. My personal preference are floorstanding.

6) In general active speakers are more prone to have better measurements?? Why??

Thanks to everyone and sorry for my horrible english and my ignorance.
 
Last edited:

mj30250

Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2021
Messages
94
Likes
160
First, just to get it out of the way, start with this book:

Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms (Audio Engineering Society Presents) 3rd Edition by Dr. Floyd Toole

Beyond that, you may receive some very detailed responses. This is not that, but I would personally distill the importance of measurements into two overly-simplified points that have been helpful for me:

  • No one can be expected to audition every speaker within a given price point in their home. And even if one could do such a thing, the perils of acoustic memory would make rendering an accurate final judgement nearly impossible. A flat / neutral measuring speaker can be predicted to perform well in the majority of typical listening environments, and will adhere to the majority of typical listener preferences, which helps the consumer to quickly eliminate large numbers of possible contenders.
  • If you've established that you don't find yourself to be in agreement with typical listener preferences as established by years of research performed by Dr. Toole, Olive, et al, measurements can still be quite helpful. Do you prefer a bright speaker? Measurements will show this. Do you prefer a warm speaker? Measurements will show this. Do you prefer a big floor stander that will pound out authoritative bass down to 20Hz? Measurements will show this. Again, to me, it's mostly about narrowing the playing field.
 

Katji

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
2,660
Likes
1,891
Location
Mzansi
My impression is that many of the recommended models are more studio/monitor type of speakers instead of home hi-fi speakers. Is there any difference?? For many people, studio monitors are professional speakers, made to meet profesional demands. These type of speakers must be transparent and revealing but they can also be very fatiguing on the long term, not the best quality for a home friendly speaker. There is really a debate between studio/monitors speakers vs hi-fi speakers??
If you mean tested+recommended here, it depends what ASR gets to test.
If you mean recommended by general community here...I don't know...maybe many are used in desktop [/near-field] setups where studio monitor type is suitable, or maybe it is the popularity of Genelec [with larger models suited for bigger spaces.]

Listening fatigue can be just physiological or it is related to distortion, including acoustics. Whether studio monitor speakers or something other.

2) To me it´s also curious that the vast majority oh the recommended speakers are cone type speakers. Very few horns, panels, omnis.... Why??
Majority reviewed/tested here or elsewhere, majority of speakers [produced] are cone type.

3) Recently I see a thread on this forum talking about the bad measurements of Volti speakers or ATC. Volti has many good reviews on other forums/magazines and some of their products are recommended award speakers (see Stereophile). ATC is even more curious. Is a well known brand with good reputation in the professional market. To some one of the best midranges out there but measurements are not top. It´s possible a superb sound without good measurements as many people defend or it´s a nonsense?? It´s possible to find pleasure on a "imperfect" sound??
Yes, definitely. Explained by studies in fields of psychoacoustics, psychology, social psychology.
 

OWC

Active Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
121
Likes
80
Some of the best mid-ranges?

Well maybe 20 years ago that was a novelty (I forget when they were initially produced, but it has been a while)
Besides the fact that a good driver doesn't make a good overall speaker design.
Purifi has one of the best speakers in the world atm, but I have already seen designs with it that would probably don't sound so well.

If any recommended literature, I often would rather advise diving into some books of marketing, second into production, third spending more time into these books incl technical books (Eargle, Borwick, Mellow, Beranek etc) instead of hanging out on forums.

In the end it mostly goes to show how we don't listen with our ears, but rather with our eyes and believes.
Which is what Toole basically showed in his book as well, indirectly.
 

DVDdoug

Major Contributor
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
1,009
Likes
1,227
1) ...I see many models more on the analytical, bright, revealing side, instead of the more musical engaging, warm side. Why??
These words are NONSENSE! Most "Audiophiles" talk like that. ;)

There's frequency response, directivity characteristics, sensitivity, distortion, power handling... REAL things with actual dictionary/scientific/engineering meanings. These things are actually related to sound quality/performance and they can be measured.

I don't mind if the reviewer is specific and says something like, "The boost in the upper midrange makes these speakers on the bright side."

There was link recently posted to a video by Dan Clark about headphone measurement. He says headphones with higher than normal distortion are often described as "detailed"!

Ethan Winer has an article about the 4-parameters that affect sound quality.

And I found this amusing: Whaddya' Mean The Sound Is Fluffy?

2) To me it´s also curious that the vast majority oh the recommended speakers are cone type speakers. Very few horns, panels, omnis.... Why??
There are a lot of compromises and design decisions. I assume this is usually the best compromise. Most high-end studio monitors are this design, sometimes with a waveguide for the tweeter. Speakers have been made this way for many decades.

Most of the advances have been in design theory & software, and in measurements, which makes it easier to design a good speaker. There were very good speakers made in the past but nowadays a manufacturer is less-likely to design a bad speaker (assuming they are willing to put-in the effort & cost).

You'll often see horns used in pro-PA setups, where efficiency is important in order to fill a large area with sound. At home, or in a studio, you can just use more power.

If a manufacturer chooses something more exotic they will always tout it as an advantage and use it to differentiate from the competition. IMO - You should treat the speaker as a "black box" and judge it by its sound & performance (and cost, appearance, size, etc.). Leave what's inside up to the manufacturer.

3)...It´s possible to find pleasure on a "imperfect" sound??
Yes, of course. Some listeners are able to enjoy the underlying music without regard to sound quality, or often it's "close enough" to perfect for perfect-complete enjoyment, or some people like to alter the sound, like the "kids' with their boomy one-note car stereos.

6) In general active speakers are more prone to have better measurements?? Why??
Once you have active electronics it's "easy" to bi-amplify or tri-amplify. That means you are using an active crossover and it becomes cheap and easy to make a more-advanced crossover, and you can build-in frequency response correction (corrective EQ). As a bonus there is no power-loss in the crossover. (This does NOT mean that an active speaker is ALWAYS better... trade-offs and compromises...
 

YSC

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 31, 2019
Messages
1,874
Likes
1,391
I would say in simpler terms than the above excellent answers:

in general, if the masters are done by someone with a properly treated studio with reasonably flat speakers, there is a high chance you can have the best/one of the best results using a properly set up neutral speakers at home, as those are the ones the mastering guy thinks is the best. but then here the variables kick in, maybe your favourite production studio uses something far from flat, or maybe it's a neighbour new mastering engineer doing at home with untreated room and a pair of NS10, or tuned using headphone, so on and so forth, you might ended up with dull/boring/piercing/harsh sound in your neutral setup, coz the mastering was done to make it sound nice using those bad studio speakers, so in general, neutral speakers should give you best chance of something sounding nice, but not always, and other speakers can also sounded nice given the right setup and music
 

Ml2316

Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2022
Messages
49
Likes
19
I think the main problem is the preference score. I feel that it would be more useful to have a reporting system which quantifies various characteristics that reviewers normally talk about and that people's tastes in audio vary along, like brightness, warmth, forewardness, detail reproduction etc. there's no one formula that would combine those things into a single number that would work for everyone. the only objective measurement I've found consistently useful is low frequency extension.
 

DMill

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2022
Messages
167
Likes
170
I think the main problem is the preference score. I feel that it would be more useful to have a reporting system which quantifies various characteristics that reviewers normally talk about and that people's tastes in audio vary along, like brightness, warmth, forewardness, detail reproduction etc. there's no one formula that would combine those things into a single number that would work for everyone. the only objective measurement I've found consistently useful is low frequency extension.
I’m also a bit of a newb here and am an ad guy, so some of the technical discussions are beyond my understanding. But, I am now ‘mostly’ able to look at Amir’s review graphs and understand them. And I’m quickly learning many engineering principles by trolling people on this site. For the most part, they are not that hard to decode. Sorry engineers, just like you presume you know marketing, I can presume I know your expertise. :) All said, I come here cause I love music and the gear is cool. Also, I like to learn even at 50. In graphic design, every detail, every kerning decision, every nuance is a conscious decision for a designer. These are things I hold people I work with to. Does everyone appreciate it. Probably not. But it matters. I’ve done way too much focus group testing in my life and as far as preference scores, I now use them as a tool and a way to meet my clients objectives. Same as I like to hear thump in bass cause I really love EDM.
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
14,687
Likes
23,831
Active speakers have an advantage in having either line level crossovers or maybe even digital based DSP crossovers. Plus filters or other DSP built in can correct for flaws in the speakers drivers. Plus each driver has its own amp. So if they do the job right such speakers should be flatter and more even in response.

The way passive speakers work is really not optimum. Throw one big amp on them and bleed off energy to each driver passively at high power levels. It would be better to have an amp per speaker and crossovers done prior to the amps. But over the years since such speakers are easier to sell good designers have done pretty well at making a silk purse from a sow's ear.
 

Frgirard

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 2, 2021
Messages
1,445
Likes
841
Active speakers have an advantage in having either line level crossovers or maybe even digital based DSP crossovers. Plus filters or other DSP built in can correct for flaws in the speakers drivers. Plus each driver has its own amp. So if they do the job right such speakers should be flatter and more even in response.

The way passive speakers work is really not optimum. Throw one big amp on them and bleed off energy to each driver passively at high power levels. It would be better to have an amp per speaker and crossovers done prior to the amps. But over the years since such speakers are easier to sell good designers have done pretty well at making a silk purse from a sow's ear.
Yes everyone know that revel & Co. sell flawed speakers.

:eek:
 

Frgirard

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 2, 2021
Messages
1,445
Likes
841
concrete: structural material consisting of a hard, chemically inert particulate substance, known as aggregate (usually sand and gravel), that is bonded together by cement and water.
In French we say "un argument en béton". Google translate well concrete data.
A subjectivist audiophile (the technophile world is full of them, Some manage to bend the sound with their ears) who has no arguments on the merits, will try to discredit on the form.
 

kokakolia

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2022
Messages
66
Likes
43
I'm in the same boat as the OP.

My journey begun with headphones. I was obsessed with headphone reviews, head-fi forums and other media. I started to see patterns in the types of recommended headphones. Here's my subjective interpretation of the trends:

There's no such thing as too much treble. More treble = more detail = more soundstage. Open backs are immune of criticism and inherently better than closed back headphones. Don't ask why. Mids are secondary to detail, soundstage and bass. It's as if reviewers were more concerned about micro-details and bass speed (not quantity) instead of the overall sound and the timbre. The Philips SHP 9500 sound artificial, bright and fatiguing as heck, but they're highly praised. I personally listen to music to relax. I like a mellower sound, over a bright and revealing sound. Thank heavens for brands like KEF, NAD and Sennheiser.

These trends are changing however. Don't take this as gospel.

I am writing this because headphone forums and reviews have made me purchase a lot of products based on hype. Most of these products disppointed me immensely. I mean the mids always seem scooped and the highs are too sharp. It's as if my subjective preferences were objectively wrong. I had to buy products blindly because they didn't generate hype and the reviews were scarce. I almost want to apologize for my preferences.

After a long search and going through several hi-fi shops in Paris I fell in love with full-range drivers and tube amps. Again, I want to apologize for my preferences. I am certain that these systems don't measure well and that I'm a fool for spending hard cash on them. I kinda accepted I'm cursed with poor taste in hi-fi equipment. Oh well. The silver lining is that I know what I want. And I'm the one using the speakers at the end of the day.

On one hand I can see why somebody can be frustrated because they don't know what to buy. On the other hand you can just ignore what other people say, form your own opinions, purchase your speakers and just listen to your music.

I am also self-aware that my attitude is not conductive towards research and discussion. I go by instinct.
 

Voo

Active Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
103
Likes
60
measurements are nice, but it really boils down to your ears/brain on what you like/enjoy. some of my favorite speakers measure pretty poorly. magnepan lrs
 

HarmonicTHD

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 18, 2022
Messages
532
Likes
566
I'm in the same boat as the OP.

My journey begun with headphones. I was obsessed with headphone reviews, head-fi forums and other media. I started to see patterns in the types of recommended headphones. Here's my subjective interpretation of the trends:

There's no such thing as too much treble. More treble = more detail = more soundstage. Open backs are immune of criticism and inherently better than closed back headphones. Don't ask why. Mids are secondary to detail, soundstage and bass. It's as if reviewers were more concerned about micro-details and bass speed (not quantity) instead of the overall sound and the timbre. The Philips SHP 9500 sound artificial, bright and fatiguing as heck, but they're highly praised. I personally listen to music to relax. I like a mellower sound, over a bright and revealing sound. Thank heavens for brands like KEF, NAD and Sennheiser.

These trends are changing however. Don't take this as gospel.

I am writing this because headphone forums and reviews have made me purchase a lot of products based on hype. Most of these products disppointed me immensely. I mean the mids always seem scooped and the highs are too sharp. It's as if my subjective preferences were objectively wrong. I had to buy products blindly because they didn't generate hype and the reviews were scarce. I almost want to apologize for my preferences.

After a long search and going through several hi-fi shops in Paris I fell in love with full-range drivers and tube amps. Again, I want to apologize for my preferences. I am certain that these systems don't measure well and that I'm a fool for spending hard cash on them. I kinda accepted I'm cursed with poor taste in hi-fi equipment. Oh well. The silver lining is that I know what I want. And I'm the one using the speakers at the end of the day.

On one hand I can see why somebody can be frustrated because they don't know what to buy. On the other hand you can just ignore what other people say, form your own opinions, purchase your speakers and just listen to your music.

I am also self-aware that my attitude is not conductive towards research and discussion. I go by instinct.
Everyone has personal preferences. And what I like, someone else might not like and vice a versa. Waste of time to debate.

However if someone comes here stating that a certain device is superior (sounds better) to another without any scientific proof, the statement will get challenged.

So. There is a big difference between “I like the sound of xyz” and “xyz is better than abc”.
 

kokakolia

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2022
Messages
66
Likes
43
So. There is a big difference between “I like the sound of xyz” and “xyz is better than abc”.
I agree with this statement. The statement "xyz is better than abc" is only true in most scenarios (not all scenarios), scientifically speaking. And then you have to justify that statement with evidence as well.

But I don't want this conversation to devolve into a long conversation about objectivity and measurements.

I'll just say that there is some science (and cost management) involved in building hi-fi gear and that may explain the common traits we see in most speakers. And why horns/open baffles/transmission lines are so rare. Case and point: a ported 2-way bookshelf speaker box. It's affordable. It's easy to build. It's compact. It's easy to power. It sounds good.
 

Katji

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
2,660
Likes
1,891
Location
Mzansi
1653050944547.png


Look up the meaning of "analytical".

Amplifiers/whatever do not do analysis, they cannot "be analytical." No logic. Logic needs computer/software, to me. Chip logic is far from analysing anything, let alone sound.
 

Head_Unit

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 27, 2018
Messages
813
Likes
403
2) To me it´s also curious that the vast majority oh the recommended speakers are cone type speakers. Very few horns, panels, omnis.... Why??
...bad measurements of Volti speakers or ATC. Volti has many good reviews...(see Stereophile)...It´s possible to find pleasure on a "imperfect" sound??
4) Is there any high efficiency speaker (99 db or more) with good measurements?? Any horn out there with good test bench measurements??
Music is mixed on forward radiating cone speakers, maybe with horn mid/highs. So omnis and panel are thus in some sense not accurate, that's one factor. Now they can sound very good (OMG giant MBLs playing a reel-to-reel of "Rapper's Delight" maybe the best thing I've heard ever), however they are especially sensitive to the room and placement so don't work for everybody. Also some panels really can't do bass, maybe not play super loud (unless giant panels with huge amps maybe). Omnis and panels also tend to be more expensive and more niche, "normal people" won't find them so easily.

The Volti, good reviews, the frequency response was not at all flat, very peculiar. Horns can be like that, there is *something* about their sound which can be very compelling. However why should the basic response be [vomit]? Can't we have both? Then to your #4: I'd expect high end JBL should be smoother measuring than horns of old days; newer regular line Klipsch as well. I still dream about horn speakers, I still hope someday to build maybe 12" two-way with giant horns. I just wish there was a good multichannel DSP crossover solution for that.
 
Top Bottom