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Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

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Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby OK1 » Wed May 23, 2018 1:28 pm

https://www.soundonsound.com/people/fake-vs-natural

Absolutely enjoyed reading Paul White's opinion. especially this :

"You see the problem — the microphone vouches for the loudspeaker while the loudspeaker vouches for the microphone. It’s rather like two crooks providing alibis for each other".

In all our efforts to get to accuracy, no two speakers sound the same, yet they are possibly "accurate" and measure well.

I also read the reviews of the Neumman KH80 with a maximum deviation of +/-0.6dB - wow even better than the Kii Three, then I ask myself (not in anyway attempting to detract from these excellent measured claims from highly respected speaker manufacturers), from what point in vertical space/distance from the speaker was this measured.

I find I always have to sit at a minimum distance from speakers to allow the sound from all drivers to blend together (non concentric speakers that is), otherwise too close and I'm hearing more of the tweeter.

Notwithstanding it does demonstrate the advances that have been made from a while back when most speakers measured +/-3dB variation, or +/-2dB at best, in their published specs.

On that note, is there a measure for transient response of speakers?

I have two types of speakers in my home studio/listening bedroom, one with a silk dome tweeter the other uses a compression driver tweeter, after all manner of eq attempts, based on measurements and manual/automated eq adjustment experiments, and some room treatment, (I'm back to manual by ear adjustment after automated adjustments seem to overshoot their correction), I have finally got both of these speakers sounding "accurate" and both revealing/enjoyable to listen to across a whole range of music. Amazingly I tend to absolutely enjoy listening to one speaker of each in mono, switching between them (level balanced).

Yet one is comfortable and warm - with the silk dome tweeter on this Alesis speaker - is definitely less fatiguing, for casual listening, but sounds like its harmonic distortion is higher - definitely a sweeter but somewhat grainier speaker to listen to.

While the other with a much more recent pedigree- and a compression driver - is also comfortable to listen to, but more revealing - life like - more "accurate" unrestrained/less compressed, like the performer is right in the speaker - more 3Dimensional - much better imaging of the front to back (i.e level) of the elements in the mix, like a television with absolute black blacks. contrasts are far more apparent between different tracks of music - nothing added or taken away. Close miked voices are right up front, and backgrounds are exactly that, in the background - I can picture the band playing behind the singer - with significantly greater ease.

Two versions of the truth, and I love both. I'd hate to be without one or the other. Speaker polygamy. Different points of view - vintage(even sounds grainier like watching an old movie) and its more modern equivalent.

Looking forward to the emergence of the DSP enhanced versions of Neumann's larger speakers. Their products seem sensibly priced for the performance and excellent comments gleaned from Hugh's reviews.

Must start saving up for these, the ultimate Neumann's .......
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed May 23, 2018 5:31 pm

OK1 wrote:On that note, is there a measure for transient response of speakers?
I think it was Phil Newell who did a series of so-called waterfall tests to show the response rate for various studio monitors and published them in the defunct mag Studio Sound.

Here is the famous NS10 -
Image

And here you see why the makers of cheap bass-reflex studio monitors were on the phone to the publisher, complaining about the tests -
Image

The fact remains that most budget priced so-called studio monitors are very, very poor, esp. those that rely on a reflex opening to extend the bass response. You are (IMO) ALWAYS better off with small two-way monitors in fully enclosed boxes, with a sub or two to cover the bottom end.

It is not just the NS10 that is a star - the B&W DM600 S3 is small and relatively cheap and as long as that stupid opening at the back is fully closed, is a really good mastering speaker when coupled with something like a Genelec sub. The larger speakers such as the DM601 and 602 and above and all the fancy speakers from B&W that cost thousands do not have my stamp of approval - the drivers are just too large and the cones are too heavy to have a good impulse response.
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby James Perrett » Wed May 23, 2018 8:58 pm

I must admit that I think that there are flaws in Paul's reasoning regarding microphones. You don't have to use a speaker to generate a stimulus for the microphone as there are plenty of well defined sources that can be used to check different aspects of a microphone's performance.

Microphones also tend to have fewer performance compromises than speakers - especially measurement microphones - so Paul is rather over simplifying things there.

I'm a big fan of Phil Ward's speaker reviews as they don't just give a surface impression of what the speakers are like. He really gets into the detail of the speaker's design in an interesting way and I come away feeling that I've learned something worthwhile. While Paul may be dubious of measurements (and his reviews tend not to feature them), Phil tends to use the measurements to back up his listening test findings.
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Forum Admin » Wed May 23, 2018 9:04 pm

+1 re: Phil’s speaker reviews.
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby OK1 » Wed May 23, 2018 11:26 pm

+1 Re Phil Ward's speaker reviews. But I guess this should not come as a surprise - I gleaned from one of his posts or reviews that he has been a speaker designer for quite a while, which explains the technical comprehensiveness of his speaker reviews.
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby OK1 » Thu May 24, 2018 12:17 am

James Perrett wrote:I must admit that I think that there are flaws in Paul's reasoning regarding microphones. You don't have to use a speaker to generate a stimulus for the microphone as there are plenty of well defined sources that can be used to check different aspects of a microphone's performance.

Microphones also tend to have fewer performance compromises than speakers - especially measurement microphones - so Paul is rather over simplifying things there.

As Paul's summary ended with the dilemma we experience when we hear more "accurate" renditions of live or recorded music, having become accustomed to the combined influence, I think his reference to microphones was more about the coloration of the typical microphones (e.g Ribbons, U47, U87, AKG C12's, etc) as well as the preamps/compressors/eq's, and other gizmos's used to record most of the music we have heard and the kinds of speakers on which we have listened to these.

Speakers were expected to reveal the truth, but the microphones were already lying to us anyway, which I think was Paul's point ..
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby OK1 » Thu May 24, 2018 12:25 am

The Red Bladder wrote:
OK1 wrote:On that note, is there a measure for transient response of speakers?
I think it was Phil Newell who did a series of so-called waterfall tests to show the response rate for various studio monitors and published them in the defunct mag Studio Sound.

Here is the famous NS10 -
Image

And here you see why the makers of cheap bass-reflex studio monitors were on the phone to the publisher, complaining about the tests -
Image

The fact remains that most budget priced so-called studio monitors are very, very poor, esp. those that rely on a reflex opening to extend the bass response. You are (IMO) ALWAYS better off with small two-way monitors in fully enclosed boxes, with a sub or two to cover the bottom end.

It is not just the NS10 that is a star - the B&W DM600 S3 is small and relatively cheap and as long as that stupid opening at the back is fully closed, is a really good mastering speaker when coupled with something like a Genelec sub. The larger speakers such as the DM601 and 602 and above and all the fancy speakers from B&W that cost thousands do not have my stamp of approval - the drivers are just too large and the cones are too heavy to have a good impulse response.

Thanks - Sure I'll use REW to measure this and see if my new speaker fares any better in this regard - via the waterfall plot.

Interestingly I bought my Alesis speakers based on Paul's positive review - well over a decade ago, and I did not have peace until I blocked its ports completely - although in all fairness, the manual does cover this optimisation very well, sacrificing bass extension for tighter bass response.
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu May 24, 2018 10:48 am

James Perrett wrote:I must admit that I think that there are flaws in Paul's reasoning regarding microphones. You don't have to use a speaker to generate a stimulus for the microphone as there are plenty of well defined sources that can be used to check different aspects of a microphone's performance.
Unfortunately, you can measure microphones until you are blue in the face (or indeed any other interesting parts of your anatomy!) and come out with wonderfully linear, distortion-free mics that sound dreadful and are largely useless.

For example, Neumann mics are far from perfect, if distortion, linearity and directional characteristics are all we go by. But Boy, do they sound good on voice!

I have never found any mic produced today that can reproduce that lovely bass oomph one gets from a bass fiddle, plucked or bowed - so I had to build my own 4" ribbon mics. Yes four inches is what it takes to capture that special sound that only a bass fiddle can produce, but none of the mics built today can capture.

Anyone who has put a couple of AKG C414s over a drum kit will know how they accurately reproduce the top-end silky sound of good cymbals., but also know that they seriously suck on some other studio tasks.

So the mic has to match the sound - there are no good 'all-rounders'. D202 or MD421 on toms, yes. On vocals - not so great. OK, but not so great!

OK1 wrote:Interestingly I bought my Alesis speakers based on Paul's positive review - well over a decade ago, and I did not have peace until I blocked its ports completely - although in all fairness, the manual does cover this optimisation very well, sacrificing bass extension for tighter bass response.

The same thing in reverse (as implied in Paul's piece) applies to speakers. There are no good two-way speakers for the full range of sounds we expect to hear through them. It's all a compromise. Block the ports (or set the filters on your small Genelecs, Neumanns, whatever) and add a sub - that is a reasonable compromise for most things.

Rather than having a bass-management system, I use two subs, but have a management system for 5.1, 7.1 and Atmos and we have to have different speakers for different tasks - M&K for tracking, Genelec for surround mixing - and so on. And each time, set up differently for the type of noise going through them! But every time a compromise!
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby OK1 » Thu May 24, 2018 12:00 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:For example, Neumann mics are far from perfect, if distortion, linearity and directional characteristics are all we go by. But Boy, do they sound good on voice!

.....................
The same thing in reverse (as implied in Paul's piece) applies to speakers. There are no good two-way speakers for the full range of sounds we expect to hear through them. It's all a compromise. Block the ports (or set the filters on your small Genelecs, Neumanns, whatever) and add a sub - that is a reasonable compromise for most things.

.....................
Rather than having a bass-management system, I use two subs, but have a management system for 5.1, 7.1 and Atmos and we have to have different speakers for different tasks - M&K for tracking, Genelec for surround mixing - and so on. And each time, set up differently for the type of noise going through them! But every time a compromise!

Very true - on the input, we compromise to suit the source. I once ran out of microphones for an event and attempted to use a measurement microphone for a vocal backup - it just sounded weird - huge surprise to me cos I thought - oh this will be nice and flat and realistic !! Not quite.

And as I recently discovered same on the outputs - one speaker - my Alesis (even after port blocking) is sort of slow - wonderful for tracking - kinda smooths things out during the performance - adds a bit of what I can describe as a "delay" stretching out the sound a bit longer like a kind of reverb - so even without a compressor on the way in, it sounds nicer - even though I know its lying a bit too much - this presentation best serves this phase of creativity. More forgiving to listen to.

The other speaker will let me know - hey - that sampled digital piano sounds terrible on this specific key, and this layer of the sample ! What were you thinking - that vintage Roland sound module - sounds terrible and only has one or two decent sounds - you really wasted your money on that brick.... - When composing, or tracking I may not cherish/need that level of detail - I just need a good performance which can be difficult when the speaker is pointing out every flaw. At this stage I want vibe, and inspiration, not the whole truth!

During mixing I work mostly on the more accurate speakers, which leads me to apply effects minimally - just enough - cos I can hear the change so much more easily - I add less of it. (or more of it in the case of reverb), When it sounds right on both speakers - I'm done.
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Phil Ward » Thu May 31, 2018 2:02 pm

Afternoon all,

Thanks for the kind comments. Nice to know somebody appreciates my witterings....

The Philip Newell measurements that were mentioned earlier in the thread were from an Institute of Acoustics paper that Phil wrote, along with Keith Holland and Julius Newell, back in 2001. As mentioned, the paper, or an edited version of it, did indeed appear in the final and hen's teeth rare issue of Studio Sound magazine. I've no idea if anybody complained about it, although doing so would have been somewhat academic as the magazine had already closed by the time anybody got to read the piece. Having said that, I also vaguely remember that the final issue of Studio Sound was printed in very small numbers so only its advertisers got a copy (and hence had to pay their ad fees). No actual readers or subscribers ever clapped eyes on it.

Anyway, I also referred to the Newell/Holland paper in my 2008 SOS piece on the NS10 (https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/yamaha-ns10-story) and ever since it's been free to download from a link in the piece. To save you the trouble, I've pasted the link: https://dt7v1i9vyp3mf.cloudfront.net/as ... 1aJ4mEwV4P.

The paper makes fascinating reading and actually was a significant inspiration behind the Acoustic Energy AE22 – although that's another story.

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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby desmond » Thu May 31, 2018 3:31 pm

Phil Ward wrote:As mentioned, the paper, or an edited version of it, did indeed appear in the final and hen's teeth rare issue of Studio Sound magazine. I've no idea if anybody complained about it, although doing so would have been somewhat academic as the magazine had already closed by the time anybody got to read the piece. Having said that, I also vaguely remember that the final issue of Studio Sound was printed in very small numbers so only its advertisers got a copy (and hence had to pay their ad fees). No actual readers or subscribers ever clapped eyes on it.

This one?

Studio Sound, December 2001 (final issue)
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Studio-Sound/00s/Studio-Sound-2001-12.pdf

Page 44, "Why the NS10?" article...
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu May 31, 2018 4:05 pm

Well I got a copy and I had stopped writing for them many years earlier and also I was a new subscriber, as I moved from Germany to the UK - in fact, I think I may still have that copy!

But thanks for posting the entire tests and it is a pity that most of those speakers are nowadays either no longer in production, or have been altered.

Any protests by manufacturers were indeed muted by the demise of the magazine. It was being published by Joe Hoskens at the time and he received orders from United Newspapers to close down or sell off all the mags with low circulation. Of course the spirit of the magazine lives on in 'Resolution', now with Dave Robinson at the helm.
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Phil Ward » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:08 am

desmond wrote:
Phil Ward wrote:As mentioned, the paper, or an edited version of it, did indeed appear in the final and hen's teeth rare issue of Studio Sound magazine. I've no idea if anybody complained about it, although doing so would have been somewhat academic as the magazine had already closed by the time anybody got to read the piece. Having said that, I also vaguely remember that the final issue of Studio Sound was printed in very small numbers so only its advertisers got a copy (and hence had to pay their ad fees). No actual readers or subscribers ever clapped eyes on it.

This one?

Studio Sound, December 2001 (final issue)
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Studio-Sound/00s/Studio-Sound-2001-12.pdf

Page 44, "Why the NS10?" article...

Yeah, that's the one. I had no idea it was available on line.

P
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Phil Ward » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:17 am

The Red Bladder wrote:Well I got a copy and I had stopped writing for them many years earlier and also I was a new subscriber, as I moved from Germany to the UK - in fact, I think I may still have that copy!

But thanks for posting the entire tests and it is a pity that most of those speakers are nowadays either no longer in production, or have been altered.

Any protests by manufacturers were indeed muted by the demise of the magazine. It was being published by Joe Hoskens at the time and he received orders from United Newspapers to close down or sell off all the mags with low circulation. Of course the spirit of the magazine lives on in 'Resolution', now with Dave Robinson at the helm.

I stand corrected then. It was the dear and much missed Zenon Schoepe who told me that the last issue had gone out to advertisers only. He sent me a copy of it too.

And yes, most of those monitors are no longer in production, but in terms of the fundamentals of monitor performance that the paper uncovers, not all that much has changed – there are still an awful lot of monitors out there that extend LF bandwidth at the expense of time domain performance.

P
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:37 am

Phil Ward wrote:I stand corrected then. It was the dear and much missed Zenon Schoepe who told me that the last issue had gone out to advertisers only. He sent me a copy of it too.

Controlled circulation is often 'graded' and I think it was for Studio Sound, meaning that there is a priority for distribution such as advertisers, A-list readers, B-list and so on.

Added to which, the minimum print run size will always be quite large -- in the thousands of issues, at least, probably -- just because of the practicalities of running a printing press. So the final print run would have been much larger than the few hundred (at most) regular advertisers, and hence those on the A-list (and many more) would have been sent copies too. I know Andrew is special, but he isn't unique -- even I got a copy of that final issue! :-D

...there are still an awful lot of monitors out there that extend LF bandwidth at the expense of time domain performance.

In the professional TV/film world, the monitor screens are graded to indicate their quality and resolution, with the very best and most accurate being 'grade 1'. I wish we did the same for loudspeakers. The monitors you describe above would be 'grade 3' (or lower)... they make noise, but they are severely compromised!

H
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:46 am

Phil Ward wrote:
desmond wrote:
Phil Ward wrote:As mentioned, the paper, or an edited version of it, did indeed appear in the final and hen's teeth rare issue of Studio Sound magazine. I've no idea if anybody complained about it, although doing so would have been somewhat academic as the magazine had already closed by the time anybody got to read the piece. Having said that, I also vaguely remember that the final issue of Studio Sound was printed in very small numbers so only its advertisers got a copy (and hence had to pay their ad fees). No actual readers or subscribers ever clapped eyes on it.

This one?

Studio Sound, December 2001 (final issue)
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Studio-Sound/00s/Studio-Sound-2001-12.pdf

Page 44, "Why the NS10?" article...

Yeah, that's the one. I had no idea it was available on line.

P
Just had a read, thanks Phil and Desmond. :)
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby desmond » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:56 am

blinddrew wrote:Just had a read, thanks Phil and Desmond. :)

Almost the full collection of Studio Sound is available there - one of the reasons why I wouldn't consider it for mu:zines - and there's a wealth of stuff there. If I didn't have, ugh, other magazines* to read, I'd like to dip into the content of those for sure...

* Currently, issues of International Musician from 1975 - which is a whole other world for me...
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:07 am

It's a useful resource, but such a shame the scans are so awful -- it makes a lot of the detail from adverts and diagrams unintelligible.

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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Phil Ward » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:24 pm

desmond wrote:
blinddrew wrote:Just had a read, thanks Phil and Desmond. :)

Almost the full collection of Studio Sound is available there - one of the reasons why I wouldn't consider it for mu:zines - and there's a wealth of stuff there. If I didn't have, ugh, other magazines* to read, I'd like to dip into the content of those for sure...

* Currently, issues of International Musician from 1975 - which is a whole other world for me...

Oh god now I'm going to have to try and resist reading old bass guitar reviews and features in International Musician.....
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Re: Leader opinion - May 2018 and Speaker Measurements

Postby Phil Ward » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:35 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
In the professional TV/film world, the monitor screens are graded to indicate their quality and resolution, with the very best and most accurate being 'grade 1'. I wish we did the same for loudspeakers. The monitors you describe above would be 'grade 3' (or lower)... they make noise, but they are severely compromised!

H

Yes Hugh that'd be cool. Maybe we should do something like that in the reviews?

Have you seen this:

https://www.thxstandard.com/#!/category ... rs/sub/40/

THX has started publishing tests on active nearfield monitors and calculating an overall "score" for each one. I think they're doing a reasonably job of it except for one fatal elephant/room error – it's all frequency domain. As you might imagine, I've been in touch. They responded with, "We agree that adding time domain parameters will augment the frequency domain characterization and it is something we are considering for the future." I wonder if anything will happen :-)

P
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