Measurements and review of the X-LS Encore kit by www.audiosciencereview.com

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Tyson

He didn't build it at all. It says right there in the first paragraph of the review. Plus, if the "spec" is not the build plans, then what is? In what way does the speaker not meet that "spec"? http://gr-research.com/pdf/X-LS%20Encore%20box.pdf


Mainly in not using the NoRez.  Which is funny because he tested several different damping materials and proved that different damping materials DO make a difference in the measurements.  I've used several different types of damping materials and Danny's right, NoRez is the best.  So why wouldn't the builder use NoRez?  Even after his own measurements clearly showed differences between the materials he had on hand?  That's crazy. 

The other thing is the non-rounded over front baffle edges, but I looked at the build plans you linked to and I see that's not spec'd, so I was wrong about that part. 

genjamon

The collective project over there is more like a hunting trip for snake oil salesmen to call out.  The only products that seem to survive the hunt are cheap and cheerful types, that measure well at a low cost. 

So it’s no surprise that the question they’re trying to answer isn’t whether a nice build of the X-LS is a good speaker.  Instead, it’s whether the cheapest implementation of the X-LS is better than the best cheap and cheerful alternatives on the market. So, the No Rez is categorically excluded from the analysis due to price. As are many other things included in the various Stage-“X” upgrades. 

Danny was the latest target of their hunting expedition, it seems.  But the design seems to have largely survived the analysis, except for those looking to pick at minor issues that can indeed be addressed by further investments in build/parts.

sts9fan

Quote
Conclusions
The GR Research X-LS Encore DIY KIT build as I tested shows very good performance which with a bit of EQ, rose up to near excellent. Yes there are some technical errors in directivity but otherwise, good attempt has been made to produce near neutral presentation which is what we strive for.

He clearly says in this positive review that it is “build as I tested shows very good performance”. Do you expect a $250 set of speakers to be perfect? What sort of echo chamber review would make you happy?  Everything is not outrageous.
I would also add that the expensive capacitor crew is definitely not “the middle”.

roscoe65

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I read the build thread after the review thread.  Both the builder and Amir appeared determined to test the lowest possible performance version of the speaker.  Amir insisted that because no damping material (No Rez or otherwise) was included in the kit, none should be used.  The thread continues with a mix of:

1.  Some members objecting to the approach of “playing dumb” and not building the speakers the way anyone with any experience would naturally do.  This includes using No Rez where Danny recommends it.

2.  Other members insisting to building this at the rock bottom price, insisting that the upgrade options are limitless.

3.  Other members recommending to do a genuine test of the speaker with No Rez after testing without damping material.  Others noted they said the same thing about the CNote kit but they never retested it.  Amir made remarks that if Danny, Madisound, or Parts Express did not specifically include damping material in the kit that there was no way the builder could know what damping material to use.

4.  Members quoting text from Danny’s site, poking fun and saying they can’t wait to comment on the test.

In other words, other than a few members who urged them to build the speaker as is properly should in the interest in hearing the speaker as the designer intended (within reason) Amir, the builder, and a plurality of members were insisting on building the speaker as literally described, knowing that it will not perform as built.  The builder did add some damping material, but the process appeared to be disingenuous.  Anyone purchasing the XLS Encore kit will know about it from Danny’s site or the AC forum.  I can’t think of any reasonable person who would build this speaker without consulting the build threads or numerous other thread discussing the speaker.

I like this speaker.  Built and finished by a cabinet maker with standard upgrades makes this a $1,000 speaker.  Do the work yourself and it is half that.  I also know that it isn’t perfect.  Hell, Danny knows and admits it isn’t perfect and will tell you in what ways.

Jmitchell3

I like this speaker.  Built and finished by a cabinet maker with standard upgrades makes this a $1,000 speaker.  Do the work yourself and it is half that.  I also know that it isn’t perfect.  Hell, Danny knows and admits it isn’t perfect and will tell you in what ways.
That’s what blows my mind tho like going from $250 to $500 per our and you get the crossover upgrades and norez. And that’s double the price but my goodness...$500 for a pair of killer bookshelves is cheap. Weird why people pan that upgrade as worthless.

roscoe65

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That’s what blows my mind tho like going from $250 to $500 per our and you get the crossover upgrades and norez. And that’s double the price but my goodness...$500 for a pair of killer bookshelves is cheap. Weird why people pan that upgrade as worthless.

After finishing reading the build thread, I note the most if not all of Amir’s comments were direct attacks on Danny.  It was outright hostile.

I don’t see the point of reviewing speakers specifically not to like them, especially if the reviewer is complaining about his tight schedule.  I also found the comments by the reviewer as well as another kit manufacturer in the thread to be incredibly unprofessional.  Unfortunately, we have a lot of that in this hobby.  The closest negative comment I have heard from Danny has been regarding the crossover component quality in high dollar speakers.

Regarding the sound quality of the XLS Encore:  Danny states that the optimum vented volume is twice that of the XLS Encore but that would result in a floor standing speaker.  The bookshelf design is actually the optimum size for a sealed enclosure.  This would likely make a better option for near wall use or when using a subwoofer.  We could also experiment with aperiodic loading by stuffing the port with drinking straws (a la Proac) or rubber banding a couple layers of fleece over the port tube opening.

rotarius

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I think of Amir's posts as a test report rather than a review.  I am not going to hear that .001% THD difference between dacs that they all seem to obsess about over there.  Does he ever "review" tube equipment?

Tyson

He clearly says in this positive review that it is “build as I tested shows very good performance”.

That's a good point. 

Hobbsmeerkat

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I had a post all typed up, looked away for 5 seconds, and somehow deleted it.. lol

Despite some hyperbole about shoe polish and $3000 "grounding boxes" Amir's most recent post does have some good points to consider. Namely about doing tests to show that paying for extras/upgraded parts does have a measurable difference, (ie iron-core vs air-core vs foil etc. Or untreated cabinet vs PE Sonic Barrier vs No-Rez.

And maybe for the sake of semantics, the front baffle round-overs and no-rez placements should be included in the build sheets (and how many sheets are recommended for the pair, as they have in past cabinet plans like the N-3. But I know with the current website undergoing major updates, its just another thing to add to the list.

But at the same time maybe that's something they could be testing as well? If they're audio science review shouldn't it be on them to find evidence to support or break down the myths of tweaks, esp those that can be fairly easily tested like capacitors, inductors, resistors, connectors, cabinet dampening/stuffing etc.

I do appreciate the overall positive review, despite the qualms many share with some of the points many have brought up

Skilly

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It took a while but I read all the comments on both series of posts. I am left with the impression that amir was fishing for a fight with Danny. It is clear from his history that he is firmly in the camp of "measurements" over "listening experience." By that I mean, his view is tends to be, "if it can't be measured than its not really there." I am not sure that applies to his analysis of one sparsely constructed XLS encore. It takes a long time for him to get to it, but later in the thread, he makes his pitch for someone to send him an upgraded speaker so he can compare the base with the upgrades to declare that they measure the same not withstanding Danny's views on the value of upgraded parts. At least that is the way it seems to me. He is baiting him to engage in battle, but on his terms and turf.

I have to admit, I would like to see it happen. I love my encores, and I do not wish to part with them to give amir the opportunity. Part of me would love to see Danny send one of the units he is building for the Tuesday tech talks series so he will eat his words. But I suspect it is a no-win situation for Danny since if he did send one in that measured "better" Amir would merely claim that the submitted speaker is no longer the base model and therefore not "the Kit."

Ultimately, the issue is not relevant, as I am very happy with my speakers and pleased with the experience of making them. In the end, that is the only measurement that matters.

corndog71

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  • Some people call me Rob.
I had a post all typed up, looked away for 5 seconds, and somehow deleted it.. lol

... this... so many times.

Folsom

I have no problem with using measurements to get better sound.  I do it all the time, in fact. 

But IMO there is a problem with what Amir did.  He did not build the speaker to spec and then measured a non-standard build and posted the results of that non-standard build.  That's careless and unprofessional.

That's Amir for you. Don't expect anymore. He's measured things effectively, shown the difference, and called it null. He's also measured incorrectly and found false positives... When I want measuring I look for other sources.

Read the entire thread and it appears that the main takeaway is that Danny didn't supply enough detail on how to build the speaker. Fair enough. The question has to be asked though, how much detail do you need to give? He took the Liquid Nails reference literally, as if that is the only thing that could be used to attach the braces. How did he decide what glue to use on the cabinet? How did he know to use glue and not nails? staples? duct tape?  So yes, he DID make basic assumptions on how to build the cabinet as if he had PRIOR knowledge on how to do it, so why not use the assumption to use some kind of dampening material...which to their credit they eventually did. I'm thinking almost anyone who is new to speaker building would make the phone call and seek help, which Danny is more than willing to give. "Duke" on that thread had the most sound advice IMO in that regard.

And Amir saying that Danny's video on how to build the speakers was "useless" tells me all I need to know about never going to that site again.

My $0.02

Gary

It's called DIY, not hold a little princess's hand. Seriously, it's about discovery, learning, doing for yourself. Why turn that into a story you read?

Hobbsmeerkat

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Not sure if anyone has been paying attention to the thread on ASR:

Quote
Quick update: Rick has been going back and forth with Danny. Where we landed is that Danny will be sending me a pair he has built for testing. I am assuming his pair has all of his optional components.

I'm interested to see how this plays out. I don't know if Amir will come to the same conclusions as Danny, and I appreciate that Danny is willing to put up a fully built speaker for Amir to test and come to his own conclusions being able to compare an absolute base kit, against a fully modded kit.

Despite our disagreements on Subjective vs Objective observations and measurements, I'm glad to see that there's been a continued dialogue behind the scenes. Regardless of the conclusions, we may come to an agreement or not, but the fact progress has been made is a positive thing.

hawkeyejw

Not sure if anyone has been paying attention to the thread on ASR:

I'm interested to see how this plays out. I don't know if Amir will come to the same conclusions as Danny, and I appreciate that Danny is willing to put up a fully built speaker for Amir to test and come to his own conclusions being able to compare an absolute base kit, against a fully modded kit.

Despite our disagreements on Subjective vs Objective observations and measurements, I'm glad to see that there's been a continued dialogue behind the scenes. Regardless of the conclusions, we may come to an agreement or not, but the fact progress has been made is a positive thing.

Very cool that Danny is going to do that. Will be interesting to see their reaction if the new set measures better, which seems assured since they’ll be built and assembled optimally. Too bad they won’t actually set both pairs up and do some good faith A/B listening.

JohnR

So why wouldn't the builder use NoRez?

Presumably because a. it's not specified (recommended, but not specified); b. it costs more; c. then it's no longer clearly identifiable as a specific configuration - i.e. which specific set of upgrades "should" have been built for testing?

I mean, honestly, the measurements are very decent for a cheap speaker of this form factor and the reviewer recommended it. Even as built in the base configuration.

JohnR

I'm interested to see how this plays out.

I would hope you would be referring to the measurements and not the ensuing soap opera. What specific differences would you expect to see in the measurements, and why?

Texbychoice

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Kudos to Danny!!!  Will be interested in the measurements and follow on comments.  It would be great if Amir listened to 2 speakers.  A listening panel doing blind A-B comparison between the already tested build and Danny's build would provide added valuable information.  I know higher quality crossover components improve sound quality, no Vodoo involved.  Have no idea if they test "better".   

Hobbsmeerkat

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I imagine that overall measurements will be quite similar, since the volume of the box and the drivers aren't changing.
However, I do think we'll see some improvements in the impedance sweeps and thanks to the norez, and small improvement thanks to the cabinet roundovers.

That said, maybe having both cabinets in-house & playing them side by side there will be a discernable difference. While it may not be measurable by current methods, it could lead to a new way of testing that might better explain what different quality components may provide, beyond just their standard measurements/values.

mlundy57

I imagine that overall measurements will be quite similar, since the volume of the box and the drivers aren't changing.
However, I do think we'll see some improvements in the impedance sweeps and thanks to the norez, and small improvement thanks to the cabinet roundovers.

That said, maybe having both cabinets in-house & playing them side by side there will be a discernable difference. While it may not be measurable by current methods, it could lead to a new way of testing that might better explain what different quality components may provide, beyond just their standard measurements/values.

Provided that he actually listens to music on both pairs of speakers rather than just taking measurements. Also, that he listens to both pairs of speakers with different levels of electronics. Of course this would depend on whether he thinks all electronics sound the same or not.

Hobbsmeerkat

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Yeah, and while measurements are a good thing, i don't always agree that they're the only thing that matters. In most case measurements are done with spectral sweeps or white noise, not with music. So its going to be harder to distinguish what may actually be different, since they're only reproducing a frequency sweep.
Ideally, one thing Amir could test is playing music thru both speakers, be it lossless digital or viny in mono. And see if there are any audible differences between them, be it a difference in texture, clarity or tone, that might not otherwise be readily visible in typical testing.

Having upgraded my speakers/amps/headphones a few times now over the last 3-4 years, each time its become rapidly more apparent when you're listening to a good recording, an "okay" recording, or a heavily compressed or poor one. With my original speakers id never be able to tell the difference between "okay" and "good" or "great" its all pretty similar.

I wish i could A-B my base level kit against a fully upgraded set with Copper bypass caps & such. But i doubt my current front-end would be enough to bring out what they can really do.