Once more unto the breach...

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jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #20 on: 11 May 2022, 06:07 pm »
Hi Josh,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’ve enjoyed your writing one more time as I don’t think I can do the same in my native language, let alone in English. We maybe were looking at the x series around the same time and I got my x4 2 weeks ahead as I wasn’t as due diligent:)

I was trying to imagine your listening experience with the x4 and x5 based on your words. And was wondering how much of that difference was from the equipments and how much from the rooms/environment. As you described with the x5 with atma-sphere it’s mainly a new total surrounded by music experience, the room has to meet certain requirements (ie treated, more breathing room behind the listener etc). Any light you can shed on this front would be greatly appreciated.

Like you, I found my x4 to be much better than what I had before right out of the box. It’s certainly very close to my satisfaction sound wise. It’s refined after 2 weeks but I can’t describe the difference fully. I have a very similar situation around and behind the speakers as yours and have no room behind me. So I suspect it would be very difficult to get close to what you have experienced at Mark’s home even if I have the same gears. But I am willing to learn and experiment to see how far I can go. But to be honest that’s just an audiophile journey having much less to do with enjoying music.

Steve

Hi, Steve,

Sorry for the late reply.  This was the earliest I could sit down and make an honest effort to answer your questions.  I meant to address the issue of the rooms in which I listened to the X4s and X5s, as well as the degree of room treatment in them, in the piece I wrote, as it was worth mentioning, but, in my haste to get it done and posted, I inadvertently left it out. 

So, regarding the rooms themselves, they were nothing special.  The room at Spatial is rather narrow - 10' wide, 11' at the most, and maybe 20' deep, opening up on one side in the back to a larger work space.  The speakers were pulled about 3' or so from the wall, with at most 2', possibly less, from the speakers to each side wall.  The listening position was between 6' and 8' from the speakers (I moved it back a bit to better emulate my room at home), with the rear wall approximately (I'm guessing here) 10' behind me.  The ceiling was typical, between 8' and 9'.  The room treatment consisted only of carpeted floor and two probably 2" thick absorptive panels leaned against the wall behind the speakers.  That's it.  Not a carefully engineered or high-end setup.  I actually was glad the room wasn't acoustically dialed in, as so often such fully treated rooms can lead to a sound you have no hope of recreating in your own living space.  I understand that dealers want to show the gear at its best, but I think there's something to be said for hearing the gear in less than ideal circumstances.  I doubt that is Clayton's intention - it's just very much a working shop and not a showroom.  I imagine he'd rather have a polished room in which to show off his speakers, but I, and I may be alone in this, appreciate hearing the speakers when the room is somewhat militating against their best efforts.  I suppose the ideal, or my ideal, would be to have one untreated room and one full-on professionally treated room, but then the speakers would cost $20K to pay for all that square footage.  I'm all for the sub-par room and more affordable speakers.  But I digress.

Mark's room, where I listened to the X5s, was also quite modest.  As it was in his home and not a workshop, it was more, well, homey - no cluttered workbenches or drivers and components stacked on shelves or empty baffles leaning on walls - but it was still more a normal living than listening space.  It was a bit wider than the room at Spatial, say 12', considerably shallower, with 8' or so to the wall behind the listening position, with the ceiling, again, around 8'.  The speakers were situated much like those at Spatial, approximately 3' from the wall behind them and about the same from the side walls.  For acoustic treatment, he had, also similarly to Spatial's room, a couple of relatively thin absorptive panels behind the speakers and then a small tapestry at each first reflection point on the side walls.  It was very comfortable, but, acoustically, far from overboard or what most treatment-minded people would consider even sufficient.

I describe the acoustic aspects of these rooms in some detail in response to your concern that you couldn't possibly achieve in your room the same level of sound quality I heard at Mark's.  Neither of these rooms was anywhere close to treated in such a way as to, theoretically, get the most out of the speakers, nor were the the dimensions of either room, according to the severe strictures I've heard laid out for the best room size relative to speaker size, close to ideal.  Yet, against all odds, the sound. was. glorious.  Would it have been better in better rooms?  Possibly.  Even likely.  But you needn't despair of getting truly wonderful sound just because your room doesn't match up to a theoretical ideal.  I understand that sound propagation is a matter of physics, not opinion, but, while the best room may give you the best sound, there is a vast quantity of good, and very very good, between bad and best.  My own room is roughly 15'w x 30'l x 9'h.  Good sized, but with a lot of unfortunate nooks and angles and all hard surfaces.  The cabinet with all my gear in it sits in the unholy place between my speakers, though behind them by about 4', and has glass doors, and there's a large window behind that.  On one wall, too damned close to the first reflection point, is a massive flat-screen tv.  You can see from the photo I posted the short false-wall behind one speaker and the stairway leading to an opening leading up the stairs and out of the room.  All of these things are anathema, according to room aficionados, to good sound, and, in an absolute sense, I don't disagree with them.  But I'm here to tell you that, despite these egregious shortcomings, my previous speakers, the Dynaudio Heritage Specials, sounded beautiful, imaged with clarity and substance, and disappeared to the point that it was impossible to listen to and look at them and imagine any of the sound coming from them.  And my new X5s, with virtually no break-in (if you believe in such things) are repeating this performance in spades, with everything the Dyns did in terms of beauty, clarity, resolution, and disappearing act, but all on a larger, fuller, grander, more (yes) spacious, scale, and still with heartbreaking sweetness and delicacy when called for.  All this, in my highly compromised, entirely untreated room.

Now, all of that said, does that mean I don't believe in room treatment or that it can help?  No.  I absolutely do believe it can make a huge difference.  In my last home, I had a pair of B&W 802 Diamonds.  Despite some snobby poo-pooing you might hear from the odd anti-big-name audiophile or two, these are tremendous speakers, at least according to my possibly somewhat dim lights.  But I was never able to get the most out of them in my room, which was 12' x 18'.  Not a small room, but not big enough to accommodate such large speakers.  Then a friend of mine bought a massive collection of room treatment - acoustic panels of various sizes and thicknesses and several corner bass traps.  We stacked the corner bass traps floor to ceiling in the corners behind my speakers, put two 2" panels on the wall directly behind the speakers, two of the same at the first reflection points, and a 4" thick panel in the rear corners of the room.  Voila!  A sonic miracle.  What had been a jumble of instruments and voices piled on top of each other in a heap between the speakers, suddenly spread out and became a stage with instruments and voices in their proper places, with, on some recordings, the stage seeming to extend beyond the boundaries of the room.  It was amazing and made me a believer in the efficacy of room treatment.  And this was a practically random, entirely uneducated disposition of the treatment.  But, again, all of that said, in my current room, with no treatment whatsoever and all sorts of acoustic bugaboos, I'm getting wonderful sound, a wide, deep soundstage, tremendous separation and resolution, and, most importantly, the music is alive and full of feeling.  Could it be improved with treatment?  I have no doubt.  But, man, it is, as it is, pretty damned good.

I hope that answers your questions.  Your own experience may never coincide exactly with my description, as my description comes out of the fund of images and associations peculiar to my imagination, but, my own descriptions notwithstanding,  I think you can easily achieve the same level of sound quality.  From your description of your room, the main issue (in my very inexpert opinion) will most likely be from your listening seat being so close to your rear wall, which can result in exaggerated bass.  I suspect you can alleviate some of that by putting some kind of absorptive panels on the wall.  My guess is, even a little bit will help.  If you're up for the experiment, you could also put traps in the corners behind the speakers and a panel at each first reflection point.  I've no doubt it will make a difference.  Beyond that, you work with what you've got, and I'm betting what you've got will be plenty.

Josh           

Desertpilot

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #21 on: 11 May 2022, 07:54 pm »
Hi, Steve,

(after installing room treatment)  ...Voila!  A sonic miracle.  What had been a jumble of instruments and voices piled on top of each other in a heap between the speakers, suddenly spread out and became a stage with instruments and voices in their proper places, with, on some recordings, the stage seeming to extend beyond the boundaries of the room.  It was amazing and made me a believer in the efficacy of room treatment. ...

Josh           

Good to hear your success with room treatment.  I spent a fair amount on GIK panels.  I could use way more panels and bass traps.  But, the WAF was hard enough to convince with the panels I did purchase.  As it is, I am very pleased with the sound from my X3s.  I'm sure the panels helped a lot.
The listening portion of my room, part of a great room, is about 15 feet wide and 30 feet long.  Ceiling is vaulted 11 feet up to 14 feet.  So, a huge space to fill.  I have 6 inch alpha panels behind my speakers plus a couple bass traps and a couple 2 inch absorption panels flanking the speakers.  More alpha panels on the rear wall.

Thanks again for continuing to answer questions.
Marcus

jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #22 on: 11 May 2022, 08:49 pm »
Good to hear your success with room treatment.  I spent a fair amount on GIK panels.  I could use way more panels and bass traps.  But, the WAF was hard enough to convince with the panels I did purchase.  As it is, I am very pleased with the sound from my X3s.  I'm sure the panels helped a lot.
The listening portion of my room, part of a great room, is about 15 feet wide and 30 feet long.  Ceiling is vaulted 11 feet up to 14 feet.  So, a huge space to fill.  I have 6 inch alpha panels behind my speakers plus a couple bass traps and a couple 2 inch absorption panels flanking the speakers.  More alpha panels on the rear wall.

Thanks again for continuing to answer questions.
Marcus

Hi, Marcus,

I'm sure it's clear by now that I enjoy answering questions, posing questions, and just generally propounding where possible, but you're welcome.  Regarding room treatment, while it's true that, with those speakers in that room, even such slapdash treatment as I applied there did make an enormous improvement, it's equally true that I've needed no treatment whatsoever to get an equivalent level of sound quality with these speakers in this room.  When I first moved into this space, I was fully prepared to fairly well blanket half the room in acoustic panels when, lo and behold, just more or less plopping my speakers down (at that time the Dynaudios) resulted in every bit, and in some ways more, the sonic success I had with my previous treated room with the B&Ws.  And that success has now been repeated and again improved on (with pretty much equal inexactness in regard to speaker placement) with the X5s.  I'm sure the size of the room has something to do with it, and probably the design of the speakers.  I'm also sure that some modest treatment would improve the sound quality (breadth and depth of soundstage, imaging, clarity, resolution, etc) even more.  But, for now, sans treatment, I can't say I feel I'm missing anything.  Of course, it could be a classic case of ignorance being bliss.  We'll find out when I finally do install some treatment.  My point to Steve was just that I believed his system was probably capable of sound quality equal to that which I heard at Spatial and at Mark's and in my own home, that such quality was not dependent, as he thought it might be, on an extensive amount of treatment.  My own next investment will not be on treatment but on either an outboard DAC or a tube amp or integrated amp.  I really want to have the sound I heard from the Don Sachs Valhalla or Atma-Sphere S-30 / MP-3 combo.  Right now I'm on the fence, which is, like all fence sitting, uncomfortable.  My consolation is, whichever way I fall, it's likely to be a soft landing.  Thanks for your comment.  I'm sure we'll cross keyboards again.

Josh   

Tyson

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #23 on: 11 May 2022, 09:01 pm »
For full range sound, box speakers are actually quite fussy.  They almost always need a great room and room treatment to really sound good.  Smaller, bookshelf sized speakers are less fussy about the room so we often end up with small speakers in imperfect rooms. 

Well designed OB speakers however are not fussy at all about the room.  You can easily get much better performance out of them in an average room than just about any other speaker type, especially if you are running full range (ie, with deep bass).

rcatch

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #24 on: 11 May 2022, 09:53 pm »
Hi, Steve,

Sorry for the late reply.  This was the earliest I could sit down and make an honest effort to answer your questions.  I meant to address the issue of the rooms in which I listened to the X4s and X5s, as well as the degree of room treatment in them, in the piece I wrote, as it was worth mentioning, but, in my haste to get it done and posted, I inadvertently left it out. 

So, regarding the rooms themselves, they were nothing special.  The room at Spatial is rather narrow - 10' wide, 11' at the most, and maybe 20' deep, opening up on one side in the back to a larger work space.  The speakers were pulled about 3' or so from the wall, with at most 2', possibly less, from the speakers to each side wall.  The listening position was between 6' and 8' from the speakers (I moved it back a bit to better emulate my room at home), with the rear wall approximately (I'm guessing here) 10' behind me.  The ceiling was typical, between 8' and 9'.  The room treatment consisted only of carpeted floor and two probably 2" thick absorptive panels leaned against the wall behind the speakers.  That's it.  Not a carefully engineered or high-end setup.  I actually was glad the room wasn't acoustically dialed in, as so often such fully treated rooms can lead to a sound you have no hope of recreating in your own living space.  I understand that dealers want to show the gear at its best, but I think there's something to be said for hearing the gear in less than ideal circumstances.  I doubt that is Clayton's intention - it's just very much a working shop and not a showroom.  I imagine he'd rather have a polished room in which to show off his speakers, but I, and I may be alone in this, appreciate hearing the speakers when the room is somewhat militating against their best efforts.  I suppose the ideal, or my ideal, would be to have one untreated room and one full-on professionally treated room, but then the speakers would cost $20K to pay for all that square footage.  I'm all for the sub-par room and more affordable speakers.  But I digress.

Josh           

Josh,

Again appreciate your long thoughtful post with much logical info than I could ask. I had to read several times to fully grasp everything, but time was much worthwhile spent.

I am trying to come to the conclusions from your experience. Here it goes,

1. Since neither of the spatial or Mark’s room was heavily treated, the difference between the two combos your heard was big enough for you to go with the X5 route with something at least close to the performance of Alma-sphere.

I wasn’t sure this was the case from your original impression post and I am glad I asked.

2. Spatial X5 was able to outperform right out of the box with most if not all the audiophile attributes you care about. And it could only get better from there.

This coincides with my experience. I felt I could be very happy with the sound right out of the box. I’ve lived with a pair of Paradigm signature S4 in my last home for almost 20 years. With this new home, everything started from scratch. Before stumbling on to Spatial, I was waiting with frustration for a Magnepan 1.7i for 10 months(long story), during which I also tried a few others. I didn’t have as much of a gear experience but after Spatial I give up the idea of looking for more performance with less cost.

3. Not only sound wise, it’s capable of great imaging and disappearance, with less than idea room.

I don’t have an ideal room, but based on what I can hear now I am fortunate to say my room is pretty good. I don’t crave for more bass. And the vocal which is the most of what I care is up to my standard which is capable of moving me.

I can make a conclusion that the less than ideal imaging and disappearance issue must be the less than ideal room I have, with a 77” TV and cabinet behind and everything else.

Your suggestion and experience with the treatment difference gave me confidence to try the front and back panels you suggested. I’d like to also get other owners’ input on what sort of treatments are most common and effective with the x series. I will open another thread for that after first getting input from Spatial.

Back to enjoying music!

Steve

jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #25 on: 12 May 2022, 06:02 pm »
Josh,

Again appreciate your long thoughtful post with much logical info than I could ask. I had to read several times to fully grasp everything, but time was much worthwhile spent.

I am trying to come to the conclusions from your experience. Here it goes,

1. Since neither of the spatial or Mark’s room was heavily treated, the difference between the two combos your heard was big enough for you to go with the X5 route with something at least close to the performance of Alma-sphere.

I wasn’t sure this was the case from your original impression post and I am glad I asked.

2. Spatial X5 was able to outperform right out of the box with most if not all the audiophile attributes you care about. And it could only get better from there.

This coincides with my experience. I felt I could be very happy with the sound right out of the box. I’ve lived with a pair of Paradigm signature S4 in my last home for almost 20 years. With this new home, everything started from scratch. Before stumbling on to Spatial, I was waiting with frustration for a Magnepan 1.7i for 10 months(long story), during which I also tried a few others. I didn’t have as much of a gear experience but after Spatial I give up the idea of looking for more performance with less cost.

3. Not only sound wise, it’s capable of great imaging and disappearance, with less than idea room.

I don’t have an ideal room, but based on what I can hear now I am fortunate to say my room is pretty good. I don’t crave for more bass. And the vocal which is the most of what I care is up to my standard which is capable of moving me.

I can make a conclusion that the less than ideal imaging and disappearance issue must be the less than ideal room I have, with a 77” TV and cabinet behind and everything else.

Your suggestion and experience with the treatment difference gave me confidence to try the front and back panels you suggested. I’d like to also get other owners’ input on what sort of treatments are most common and effective with the x series. I will open another thread for that after first getting input from Spatial.

Back to enjoying music!

Steve

Hi, Steve,

Just to be clear, while hearing Mark's combination of the X5s with the Atma-Sphere gear was the final push that sent me over the edge, my decision to go with the X5s wasn't due to Mark's system sounding better than the X4/Valhalla combination I heard at Spatial.  I went with the X5 more because its 8 ohm impedance, higher sensitivity, and active subwoofer appealed to me.  I've never owned particularly sensitive speakers or one with a powered sub, and I liked the idea of the amplification range those two aspects of the X5s made possible.  Though, for that matter, at 4 ohm impedance and 93 db sensitivity, the X4s were driven by the 30 wpc Valhalla every bit as well as the Atma-Sphere rig drove the X5s.  In my, I'm quite sure unreliable, aural memory, the sound presentation was somewhat different, with (though I hate these hopelessly inadequate generalizations) the X4/Valhalla combo being (maybe) slightly more forward, more of a presentation, while the X5/Atma-Sphere combo was (maybe) a bit darker and laid back.  I don't know.  The differences I'm describing could be down to the room, my mood, the volume I was listening at, or they could be wholly fabricated out of some strange psychological need to make distinctions.  What I can say with confidence was, that both systems produced music that was compelling enough for me to buy the speakers, covet the amps, and write reams of seemingly interminable gushing prose on their virtues.  What I don't want (again) is to leave you, or anyone who might read this, with the impression that I purchased the X5s driven by the S-30 because they sounded better than the X4s driven by the Valhalla.  I just liked the idea of being able to avail myself of the, at least in theory, varied amplification possibilities the X5 afforded.  And I liked, for no readily apparent reason, that the X5s were 97 db sensitivity.  I don't know why.  Maybe to compensate for my own lack of sensitivity.  I'm not going to pretend my decisions around hifi are entirely rational.  At best, I glue a veneer of logical argument over the over the irrational fiberboard of impulses underneath.  It's a funny hobby/obsession and, as with all obsessions, has all its own quirks and demands and psychological imperatives, but, as obsessions go, it is (except perhaps financially) harmless and provides hours of immersion and joy in searching and comparing and finally manifesting satisfaction-inducing gear and beautiful music.  Speaking of which, as you say, back to enjoying music!  Good luck with your room.   

Josh     

DBT AUDIO

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #26 on: 12 May 2022, 09:03 pm »
I went with the X5 more because its 8 ohm impedance, higher sensitivity, and active subwoofer appealed to me.
I have the X5s and I’d like to know what your opinion is on the difference in bass between the X4 and X5?  Was the bass about the same or did the active subwoofer provide more bass over the X4s?  Thanks

rcatch

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #27 on: 12 May 2022, 09:42 pm »
Hi, Steve,

Just to be clear, while hearing Mark's combination of the X5s with the Atma-Sphere gear was the final push that sent me over the edge, my decision to go with the X5s wasn't due to Mark's system sounding better than the X4/Valhalla combination I heard at Spatial.  I went with the X5 more because its 8 ohm impedance, higher sensitivity, and active subwoofer appealed to me.  I've never owned particularly sensitive speakers or one with a powered sub, and I liked the idea of the amplification range those two aspects of the X5s made possible.  Though, for that matter, at 4 ohm impedance and 93 db sensitivity, the X4s were driven by the 30 wpc Valhalla every bit as well as the Atma-Sphere rig drove the X5s.  In my, I'm quite sure unreliable, aural memory, the sound presentation was somewhat different, with (though I hate these hopelessly inadequate generalizations) the X4/Valhalla combo being (maybe) slightly more forward, more of a presentation, while the X5/Atma-Sphere combo was (maybe) a bit darker and laid back.  I don't know.  The differences I'm describing could be down to the room, my mood, the volume I was listening at, or they could be wholly fabricated out of some strange psychological need to make distinctions.  What I can say with confidence was, that both systems produced music that was compelling enough for me to buy the speakers, covet the amps, and write reams of seemingly interminable gushing prose on their virtues.  What I don't want (again) is to leave you, or anyone who might read this, with the impression that I purchased the X5s driven by the S-30 because they sounded better than the X4s driven by the Valhalla.  I just liked the idea of being able to avail myself of the, at least in theory, varied amplification possibilities the X5 afforded.  And I liked, for no readily apparent reason, that the X5s were 97 db sensitivity.  I don't know why.  Maybe to compensate for my own lack of sensitivity.  I'm not going to pretend my decisions around hifi are entirely rational.  At best, I glue a veneer of logical argument over the over the irrational fiberboard of impulses underneath.  It's a funny hobby/obsession and, as with all obsessions, has all its own quirks and demands and psychological imperatives, but, as obsessions go, it is (except perhaps financially) harmless and provides hours of immersion and joy in searching and comparing and finally manifesting satisfaction-inducing gear and beautiful music.  Speaking of which, as you say, back to enjoying music!  Good luck with your room.   

Josh   

Josh,

Thanks for the clarification! I did get the impression that the x5 combo left you with something you didn’t experience before. But even with that, I won’t dump my x4 for x5. With the x5 you do get vast more amp choices higher sensitivity, but the deciding factor for me is the worry free without the onboard amp for as long as I own it. I know I am worrying too much about the future as opposed to enjoying the moment but that’s just me.

My Holo May dac is 3 weeks young and my Hegel H390 amp is less than a year old. I did place an order with Don for his Valhalla. I am expecting it to be more to my taste than the Hegel when I do get it this fall. So I believe I am done with major components. The next step will be room treatment, power treatment and cables. I won’t go overboard on these and hopefully it’s something that won’t take me several tries to get it right. Then I will probably get on Audio Circle just for “the music circle” section from then on to make it truly an end game setup.

Steve

jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #28 on: 13 May 2022, 04:55 am »
For full range sound, box speakers are actually quite fussy.  They almost always need a great room and room treatment to really sound good.  Smaller, bookshelf sized speakers are less fussy about the room so we often end up with small speakers in imperfect rooms. 

Well designed OB speakers however are not fussy at all about the room.  You can easily get much better performance out of them in an average room than just about any other speaker type, especially if you are running full range (ie, with deep bass).

This makes a lot of sense and corresponds pretty much exactly with my experience.  It’s interesting.  Obviously, the design of the open baffle speaker, or at least Clayton’s design of his, does something to compensate for the driver size which allows it, in terms of room reaction, to perform as forgivingly as smaller stand-mount box speakers.  I’d be curious to know what Dennis Foley, who makes the strictest pronouncements I’ve read or heard on the necessity of a room’s acoustics, treatment, and speaker size relative to room dimensions, following the laws of sound propagation physics for just tolerable, let alone the best, sound.  I don’t know if his strictures are correct - I haven’t the knowledge of physics to judge - but I do know that he pronounced a veritable acoustic death sentence on my previous room, for various reasons, not the least of them being the size of my room relative to the size of my 802s.  I was, with a modest amount of inexpertly placed treatment, able to make a quite substantial improvement in the 802s’ performance in that room, though I’m sure they’d’ve sounded better still in a better treated or more appropriate room.  The X5s have even larger drivers than did the 802s, and I heard them in rooms smaller and less treated than the one that housed my 802s and that Foley consigned to the realm of the acoustically hopeless, and they sounded marvelous. So marvelous that I ponied up over $8k for them.  That’s why I’d be curious, just for curiosity’s sake, to hear his response to and explanation for, he being the severest and least flexible of room acoustics and treatment proponents, the open baffle performance relative to room size.  In the end, it’s academic, as my speakers sound great.  But I’d be interested to know, from a physics perspective, why open baffle speakers, or at least Clayton’s, are, as you say, less fussy.  Maybe it’s a simple explanation.  Maybe you know?  Thanks.

Josh

Tyson

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #29 on: 13 May 2022, 05:54 am »
This makes a lot of sense and corresponds pretty much exactly with my experience.  It’s interesting.  Obviously, the design of the open baffle speaker, or at least Clayton’s design of his, does something to compensate for the driver size which allows it, in terms of room reaction, to perform as forgivingly as smaller stand-mount box speakers.  I’d be curious to know what Dennis Foley, who makes the strictest pronouncements I’ve read or heard on the necessity of a room’s acoustics, treatment, and speaker size relative to room dimensions, following the laws of sound propagation physics for just tolerable, let alone the best, sound.  I don’t know if his strictures are correct - I haven’t the knowledge of physics to judge - but I do know that he pronounced a veritable acoustic death sentence on my previous room, for various reasons, not the least of them being the size of my room relative to the size of my 802s.  I was, with a modest amount of inexpertly placed treatment, able to make a quite substantial improvement in the 802s’ performance in that room, though I’m sure they’d’ve sounded better still in a better treated or more appropriate room.  The X5s have even larger drivers than did the 802s, and I heard them in rooms smaller and less treated than the one that housed my 802s and that Foley consigned to the realm of the acoustically hopeless, and they sounded marvelous. So marvelous that I ponied up over $8k for them.  That’s why I’d be curious, just for curiosity’s sake, to hear his response to and explanation for, he being the severest and least flexible of room acoustics and treatment proponents, the open baffle performance relative to room size.  In the end, it’s academic, as my speakers sound great.  But I’d be interested to know, from a physics perspective, why open baffle speakers, or at least Clayton’s, are, as you say, less fussy.  Maybe it’s a simple explanation.  Maybe you know?  Thanks.

Josh

I do know, actually :) - the reason well designed OB speakers do better in difficult rooms is that they radiate in figure 8 patterns, thus minimizing room interaction.  On the other hand, box speakers act like pulsing spheres, causing havoc with the room in all directions.  OB speakers also don't pressurize a room the way box speakers do and that causes them to sound faster and cleaner in difficult rooms.

ric

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #30 on: 13 May 2022, 02:08 pm »
Don't forget that Foley, seems to be a purist and that it is his business (literally) to push room acoustics. I like his no nonsense observations and the fact that he designs his own treatments that are complex.
For him to endorse an open baffle speaker, may be a possibility, but it could lose him business. Just conjecture on my part! :roll:

jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #31 on: 13 May 2022, 03:54 pm »
Don't forget that Foley, seems to be a purist and that it is his business (literally) to push room acoustics. I like his no nonsense observations and the fact that he designs his own treatments that are complex.
For him to endorse an open baffle speaker, may be a possibility, but it could lose him business. Just conjecture on my part! :roll:

Don't get the impression I'm knocking Foley.  I really like his videos as well, though I think his emphatic and unbending pronouncements can be despair-inducing in those, like the majority of us, with typically compromised living/listening environments.  The amount and cost of the treatment he recommends are nigh on impossible for many if not most, both logistically and economically, and he's borderline Mephistophelian in his ability to persuade you that, without such treatment to mitigate the failings of your acoustically benighted room, you are doomed to a sonic hell of blunted leading edges, smeared time signatures, and abbreviated decay.  Or maybe he's more like the Pardoner in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, who, in conjoining a long list of venal sins to a couple of mortal ones when reviling his audience with their faults, everyone in the audience is tainted, as no one has avoided every sin, and ends convinced they're in danger of eternal damnation and therefor must buy one of his pardons.  I know I believe him (Foley, that is, not the Pardoner).  To be fair, I also believe that this comparison does Foley an injustice, that, unlike either of these two unsavory characters, Foley is sincere.  Fortunately, having never heard a setup that would constitute Foley's notion of acoustical heaven, my ignorance is truly an instance of being my bliss, and whatever anxiety I have of my system not sounding as it should due to inferior room acoustics is only a tiny theoretical mote in the eye of my listening pleasure.  Yet, even at the risk of disturbing my complacency regarding my current system, I'd still like to hear his analysis of open baffle vs box speakers.  You'd think I'd've learned from Eve and the cat curiosity killed. 

jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #32 on: 13 May 2022, 04:21 pm »
I do know, actually :) - the reason well designed OB speakers do better in difficult rooms is that they radiate in figure 8 patterns, thus minimizing room interaction.  On the other hand, box speakers act like pulsing spheres, causing havoc with the room in all directions.  OB speakers also don't pressurize a room the way box speakers do and that causes them to sound faster and cleaner in difficult rooms.

I had read this and seen stick-figure-type drawings illustrating it.  I'm perfectly willing to believe it, but, due to my being the person who has to resist the urge to bow down in front of my television at the miracle of all those people being contained in that tiny box, I'll have to take it on faith.  Though, it does make me wonder something.  If open baffle speakers are so much more room friendly, why then have they seemingly been, commercially speaking, relegated to the realm of novelty or curiosity?  Why haven't more manufacturers embraced them or magazines extolled their virtues to the audio public?  I'm not questioning their virtues - as I said, their virtues so impressed themselves on me upon first hearing them that I knew immediately that I had to have a pair - but I do genuinely wonder why they haven't caught on more.  Is it because they require a certain amount of space?  But practically all speakers require space, and, at least in my room, my X5s don't require more space than did my 802's or Heritage Specials.  They actually require less space than did the 802s.  So, to me, it's odd that the open baffle technology isn't more widely known or appreciated.  Yes, the open baffle speakers sound different than conventional box speakers, but so do many box speakers sound different from each other, just as I suspect different open baffle speakers sound different from each other, and even then, the difference between open baffle and box sound isn't like comparing an anteater to an ostrich, so it can't be just that they sound different that accounts for their relative lack of popularity.  Is it just marketing?  The inherent difficulty in overcoming years of widespread convention?  You had an answer to why OB speakers are better in difficult rooms, so maybe you have some thoughts on this as well.

Desertpilot

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #33 on: 13 May 2022, 04:53 pm »
... you are doomed to a sonic hell ...

Hahaha.  Truly, Foley will leave you with that impression.  But, to his credit, he does give viewers an excellent education in room acoustics.

Desertpilot

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #34 on: 13 May 2022, 05:06 pm »
... If open baffle speakers are so much more room friendly, why then have they seemingly been, commercially speaking, relegated to the realm of novelty or curiosity?  Why haven't more manufacturers embraced them or magazines extolled their virtues to the audio public?

Just my opinion. 
-- Recently, Steve Guttenberg "Audiophiliac" reviewed the Spatial M4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EqRo9qbWpQ&t=7s  He was very impressed with them.  I think you will see more mainstream reviews of OB speakers.
--  Mass appeal will likely never happen.  The average consumer is more likely to buy a sound bar than fill up their room with speakers.
-- Among audiophiles, well, old habits die hard.  One revolution has already taken place.  SVS, outlaw audio, among others dominate with internet sales.  I looked at GR Research and concluded, I do not have the skill or patience to build one of Danny's excellent speakers (but, boy did I look at them hard).  Spatial became my choice for excellent pre-built and affordable speakers.  I have never regretted my decision.

Bottom line, a consumer has to weigh all the variables.  Choosing a "new" technology (OB) over tried and true (and heavily marketed) traditional speakers is a very difficult decision process.

My 2 cents
Marcus

jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #35 on: 13 May 2022, 05:08 pm »
Thanks for the clarification! I did get the impression that the x5 combo left you with something you didn’t experience before. But even with that, I won’t dump my x4 for x5. With the x5 you do get vast more amp choices higher sensitivity, but the deciding factor for me is the worry free without the onboard amp for as long as I own it. I know I am worrying too much about the future as opposed to enjoying the moment but that’s just me.

My Holo May dac is 3 weeks young and my Hegel H390 amp is less than a year old. I did place an order with Don for his Valhalla. I am expecting it to be more to my taste than the Hegel when I do get it this fall. So I believe I am done with major components. The next step will be room treatment, power treatment and cables. I won’t go overboard on these and hopefully it’s something that won’t take me several tries to get it right. Then I will probably get on Audio Circle just for “the music circle” section from then on to make it truly an end game setup.

Hi, Steve,

I'd read others voicing that concern over the plate amp of the X5s failing and leaving you with a giant doorstop or paperweight.  I, with my customary disregard for the future, dismissed that concern by rationalizing that, really, any component in a system is at risk of failing, and, should it fail, as with any other component, you get it fixed.  Don't get the idea I'm so blithe about these things when they actually occur - my wife can bear witness to my, uh, displeasure - but the possibility of a speaker's amp failing doesn't discommode me more than does the idea of a power or preamp failing.  I suppose one difference is, should a power amp fail, it's a relatively simple proposition to substitute another while the first is being repaired, while, if a speaker's amp fails, it's tougher to get a substitute pair of speakers to tide you over.  Hmmm...now I'm nervous.

I think you've got the right idea of putting your system together, then jumping off the gear-chase merry-go-round to relax and enjoy your music.  At least you've got a right idea.  For me, while I like to flatter myself that appreciation of the music is my highest and noblest aim, I know in my acquisitive heart that I also very much love the gear itself, the stuff.  Apart from the music, I love the researching, the acquiring, the pleasure of looking at the gear.  Maybe it isn't truly, or at least entirely, apart from the music, as it isn't as if I'd buy the stuff if it didn't make music, but it does seem a particular pursuit and pleasure in itself.  If I, like Prospero, could conjure the music without benefit of amp and speakers, etc, I don't know that I would.  I find the physical objects, both how they look and the fact that they can produce such wonderful music, so delightful and perplexing that I'd hate to eliminate them from the equation.  And, though the purist in me finds it somewhat ignoble, I just like getting and having stuff.

Speaking of stuff, how do you like the Holo May DAC?  I'm in the infant stages of a merry-go-round search for a DAC, and the May seems to be well-liked.  Are you using it as a preamp as well?  I'm thinking I'd like to go with a tube DAC, but I'm not counting anything out at this point.  Thanks, Steve.

Josh 

jnschneyer

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #36 on: 13 May 2022, 05:52 pm »
Just my opinion. 
-- Recently, Steve Guttenberg "Audiophiliac" reviewed the Spatial M4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EqRo9qbWpQ&t=7s  He was very impressed with them.  I think you will see more mainstream reviews of OB speakers.
--  Mass appeal will likely never happen.  The average consumer is more likely to buy a sound bar than fill up their room with speakers.
-- Among audiophiles, well, old habits die hard.  One revolution has already taken place.  SVS, outlaw audio, among others dominate with internet sales.  I looked at GR Research and concluded, I do not have the skill or patience to build one of Danny's excellent speakers (but, boy did I look at them hard).  Spatial became my choice for excellent pre-built and affordable speakers.  I have never regretted my decision.

Bottom line, a consumer has to weigh all the variables.  Choosing a "new" technology (OB) over tried and true (and heavily marketed) traditional speakers is a very difficult decision process.

My 2 cents
Marcus

Hi, Marcus,

Your 2 cents make a lot of sense and are largely along the lines on which I was thinking.  The power of custom compels us.  Funny you should mention soundbars, as the search for a soundbar is what got me into this mess in the first place.  I had just bought a Pioneer Kuro Elite plasma tv, one of the best tvs available at the time, and by far the best tv I'd ever owned.  I decided such a tv deserved better sound than its meager speakers could provide, so, off in search of improvement I went.  I ended up in a local, sadly now defunct, hifi shop, where, not surprisingly, they had no soundbars.  The owner did persuade me that, for just a little bit more money (which became the signature rationale for nearly every subsequent hifi purchase since), I could have a decent receiver and pair of stand-mount speakers and have far better sounding tv and music than I would ever get with any soundbar.  He then, and this was my undoing, just for fun, sat me down in front of a pair of B&W 802s.  I had never before heard speakers image like that, and to hear the singer's voice hanging in the empty space between the speakers was a revelation, a revelation that then and there caused a revolution in my audio thinking and needs.  I ended up buying a pair of B&W 804s, two Rotel mono blocks, a Rotel preamp, cd, player, and tuner.  My system has gone through several iterations since then, and, while I've spent, say, oh, let's leave it at far more than I should have, it has also brought me hours and days and weeks and months and years of largely unalloyed pleasure, all for not having gone first to Best Buy and purchased a soundbar.  Such are the vicissitudes by which our fates are determined.

Josh     

Tyson

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #37 on: 13 May 2022, 06:02 pm »
I had read this and seen stick-figure-type drawings illustrating it.  I'm perfectly willing to believe it, but, due to my being the person who has to resist the urge to bow down in front of my television at the miracle of all those people being contained in that tiny box, I'll have to take it on faith.  Though, it does make me wonder something.  If open baffle speakers are so much more room friendly, why then have they seemingly been, commercially speaking, relegated to the realm of novelty or curiosity?  Why haven't more manufacturers embraced them or magazines extolled their virtues to the audio public?  I'm not questioning their virtues - as I said, their virtues so impressed themselves on me upon first hearing them that I knew immediately that I had to have a pair - but I do genuinely wonder why they haven't caught on more.  Is it because they require a certain amount of space?  But practically all speakers require space, and, at least in my room, my X5s don't require more space than did my 802's or Heritage Specials.  They actually require less space than did the 802s.  So, to me, it's odd that the open baffle technology isn't more widely known or appreciated.  Yes, the open baffle speakers sound different than conventional box speakers, but so do many box speakers sound different from each other, just as I suspect different open baffle speakers sound different from each other, and even then, the difference between open baffle and box sound isn't like comparing an anteater to an ostrich, so it can't be just that they sound different that accounts for their relative lack of popularity.  Is it just marketing?  The inherent difficulty in overcoming years of widespread convention?  You had an answer to why OB speakers are better in difficult rooms, so maybe you have some thoughts on this as well.

There's a few reasons I think that OB speakers aren't more popular. 
  • They look weird - especially with their big-ass midrange drivers, most people assume they just won't sound good.
  • Most OB speakers suck at bass.  Not Spatial, they actually kick butt in the bass.  But that's the exception.
  • Many people really prefer the sound of boxes over OB's.  I've had a lot of people over to check out my systems and only about 40% are impressed, the others find the OB sound underwhelming.
  • A lot of people have built a DIY OB speaker.  Those speakers are usually mediocre.  These mediocre DIY speakers are what other audiophiles hear and thus assume OB is a bad design.
  • People are risk averse - when you're spending multi-thousands of dollars, going with a non-traditional design is a bit scary.
  • Not enough hype.  If there were more reviews from big magazines with sexy pictures, more people would take a chance on them.

DBT AUDIO

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #38 on: 13 May 2022, 09:07 pm »
There's a few reasons I think that OB speakers aren't more popular. 
  • They look weird - especially with their big-ass midrange drivers, most people assume they just won't sound good.
  • Most OB speakers suck at bass.  Not Spatial, they actually kick butt in the bass.  But that's the exception.
  • Many people really prefer the sound of boxes over OB's.  I've had a lot of people over to check out my systems and only about 40% are impressed, the others find the OB sound underwhelming.
  • A lot of people have built a DIY OB speaker.  Those speakers are usually mediocre.  These mediocre DIY speakers are what other audiophiles hear and thus assume OB is a bad design.
  • People are risk averse - when you're spending multi-thousands of dollars, going with a non-traditional design is a bit scary.
  • Not enough hype.  If there were more reviews from big magazines with sexy pictures, more people would take a chance on them.
I agree with you 💯%.  I’m willing to bet if Wilson Audio, Magico or any of the other well respected speaker manufacturers decided to build OB speakers and really marketed the product as they do with their current models, you’d have more people pursuing them.  As you mentioned, the OB speakers tend to be very popular in the DIY community and many don’t use woofers designed for OB and they are not as well designed as what you see Clayton and his team has done.  Also, if Stereophile did a nice review of the Spatials and had them on the front cover, they would probably be taken seriously by the Hifi community.  It might be scary for the big name speaker manufacturers to admit that a reasonably priced, well designed, OB speaker can possibly outperform or equally perform on par with their high tiered box speakers.  How would they continue to justify the cost of their box speakers after concluding that an OB meets the Hifi standard for much less?  Notice how Josh mentioned he owned the B&W 802D speakers and seems to love his new X5s as if they are just as good as his 802Ds.  The current B&W 802D4 cost $25k!  The Spatial Audio X Series will give them a run for their money! 

Lastly, the high priced speaker manufacturers probably couldn’t justify the ridiculous prices they charge for their traditional box speakers because the OB speaker doesn’t require all the dampening materials required by a box speaker and a lot of the costs may go into the fancy wood work and paint finishes on the box speakers.  No need for all of that with an OB speaker.

consttraveler

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Re: Once more unto the breach...
« Reply #39 on: 13 May 2022, 09:16 pm »
DBT Audio;

But, they are pretty and the Wife expects them to look like a box.