can someone explain this to me?

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ratso

can someone explain this to me?
« on: 17 Oct 2011, 10:13 pm »
i wasn't at this years RMAF but i was at last years. it's a great show and this comment has nothing to do with RMAF, it's about audio shows in general. it seems at this years show (and last years, and ALL audio shows) that you always get a ton of comments that speakers/rooms don't sound good because of the crappy little hotel rooms that people are forced to use at shows. shouldn't a $50,000 speaker sound better than a $500 speaker even if it's in a not so great room? are we all supposed to have perfect rooms to make our speakers sound great? i get the idea that it's not ideal, and that the $50K speaker should sound BETTER in a great room, but should it sound BAD in a bad room? i went to RMAF on a mission last year to find out if there is really that much difference between my $5000 salks and the megabux speakers. to my ears there just simply wasn't. i wonder how much diminishing returns are at play here. pez stated in one of his reports that part of the problem is too big of speakers for the rooms. why can't a big speaker sound good at lower volumes? the drivers can't be so big and inefficient that they only sound good when cranked to 100 dB can they? i'm not trying to start a flame war here, just trying to figure out the reality from the excuses.

Bob in St. Louis

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #1 on: 17 Oct 2011, 10:35 pm »
Guys....I think he's figured it out.
Sssshh, Ratso......It was suppose to be a secret.  :shh:

Bob  :wink:

django11

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #2 on: 17 Oct 2011, 11:23 pm »
I haven't figured it out.  I had the same questions listening to megabuck stuff and thinking my (very) modest system sounds better...

*Scotty*

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #3 on: 17 Oct 2011, 11:36 pm »
ratso,actually a speaker system regardless of size can sound dynamically dead at lower SPL levels,say below about 90dB. You frequently see this commented on in reviews in the audio magazines both in print and online when the reviewer says the speakers really come alive at higher volumes,what they have actually said is that the speakers sounded dead until they turned them up loud enough to cause listening fatigue if listened to for more then about 15mins. Just what makes a speaker sound dead unless it is played at a higher than average listening level remains a mystery to me. Just speculating here, but the total number of parts used in the crossover and the amount of padding necessary to match efficiency levels between the tweeter.mid-range and woofer may play a part in creating the problem.
 That being said one of my major criteria for judging the worth of a loudspeaker is its ability to sound alive at the very lowest listening levels,like those that one might encounter during late night listening sessions.
Scotty

Bob in St. Louis

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #4 on: 17 Oct 2011, 11:49 pm »
I haven't figured it out.  I had the same questions listening to megabuck stuff and thinking my (very) modest system sounds better...
That's what I'm saying. Exactly.

JohnR

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #5 on: 18 Oct 2011, 12:24 am »
Hard to know without going in there with measuring gear... however, a couple of theories. One is that larger speakers tend to produce lower bass. And will thus be more likely to excite problem modes. For example I have helped someone a couple of times integrating subs with his main speakers, which roll off around 60 Hz. They sound very good by themselves, but as soon as you add in subs, you run into a monster mode at 30 Hz. We used some EQ to tame it but you still have huge variation depending on where you are in the room.

Second theory is that larger speakers are, um, larger. The lobing effects from separate drivers may be more apparent at distances closer than what they were really designed for. Just speculating on this one, it would be interesting if any speaker designers have a say in it.

THROWBACK

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #6 on: 18 Oct 2011, 12:40 am »
Good question. One thing sometimes is the lack of systems engineering. A speaker manufacturer might try to pair up with an amp manufacturer just to save money on the room. They might not go together. Also, it takes time to tweak a system in a room. If a manufacturer has not been in a room before, he/she might not get things right until the third day of the show.

To me the most satisfying and enjoyable systems at RMAF 2011--not necessarily the most accurate (I don't really know) but the ones that just made me want to be a chair hog and listen to more and more music--were three, not necessarily in this order.
1. A 1947 (yes, I said 1947) pair of Western Electric speakers in crappy boxes driven by modern sources (including a Frank Schroeder tonearm and table). Talk about live sounding and exciting. I could have stayed there all day.

2. Roger Sanders' esl system. Talk about systems engineering!

3. Danny Ritchie's GR research speakers powered by Gary Dodd's wonderful electronics. Again, beautifully systems engineered (including the room!).

Three totally different technologies, but all three beautifully on the mark.

cujobob

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #7 on: 18 Oct 2011, 01:10 am »
Some speakers do sound better after certain points SPL-wise...there are a variety of reasons for this.

You can't really lump all speakers into one category when it comes to comparing $500K to $50K or less because some designs are great, but have tiny sweet spots and others have larger sweet spots. It takes a long time to perfectly dial a speaker into a room, but a few simple measurements and basic room treatments should fix it up to a point where they're on SOMEWHAT level playing field WITHIN the sweet spot (with music one is familiar with, etc.)

If the point of an audio show is for a vendor to market his product, why do it poorly then blame it on other factors? If they believe bad press is better than none at all, be my guest....but to me, it's just bad business.

ratso

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #8 on: 18 Oct 2011, 02:03 am »
yes i do think some speakers handle lower sound levels better than others, but i'm not so sure it's size related. i think  it's more a visual thing - gargantuan speakers just don't look like they can do low volumes. but what about my larger point - shouldn't a $50,000 speaker sound good in ANY room, no matter how "audiophile impaired" it is? and if it doesn't maybe you just don't have a very good speaker. again, i get that it will sound better in a better room. but for a speaker that much, i would think it should sound pretty good in a bathroom  :?

Gopher

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #9 on: 18 Oct 2011, 02:23 am »
I haven't figured it out.  I had the same questions listening to megabuck stuff and thinking my (very) modest system sounds better...

I have a theory that the room is just as crucial, if not more so then any of your speakers.  On top of that, this critical component is constant variable in our own rigs and we spend a painstaking amount of time choosing the associated equipment both the complement this room and voice to our preferences. 

*Scotty*

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #10 on: 18 Oct 2011, 03:12 am »
Quote
shouldn't a $50,000 speaker sound good in ANY room, no matter how "audiophile impaired" it is?
ratso, in reply to this question, ah, basically no.
The best speaker in the world will be fundamentally limited by two things, first what you feed it and second what kind of room it is in.
There is no way around these two factors.
Scotty

eclein

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #11 on: 18 Oct 2011, 03:24 am »
I think the room is 50% and the equipment you choose to put in that room is the other 50% of your sound. The most important thing though is to know what sound you like and how to purchase gear that will interact with your room to get that sound.
   
  I've cobbled together what to me and my ears is the best sound I have ever had and I did it pretty inexpensively. I personally don't think twice about what others think of my sound, to my ears it sounds excellent. What they think is irrelevant because they don't hear what I do.
 
  If you stay aware of what type of equipment will get your room to sound the way you enjoy it and make your purchases based on that premise I think you'll enjoy the hobby more.  Once you start to achieve that the rest is overkill regardless of the amount of money spent. If I go out and buy 20K speakers for my room because they are the "in thing" and expect them to make my sound happen I'll be lucky if it happens.
  If I go out and spend 20K on a speaker that I know will improve my sound because of the way it will interact with my room, and part of that 20K goes to a subwoofer or two to add to that sound and maybe some room treatments if I hear certain aspects of my room that they will help then I have a much better chance of enjoying this hobby.

 ...and thats my story and I'm sticking to it!! :thumb:

ratso

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #12 on: 18 Oct 2011, 03:38 am »
ratso, in reply to this question, ah, basically no.
The best speaker in the world will be fundamentally limited by two things, first what you feed it and second what kind of room it is in.
There is no way around these two factors.
Scotty

right, absolutely agreed. but if i put a $500 speaker in a bad room, and a $5,000 speaker in the same bad room, shouldn't the more expensive speaker sound better? and if it doesn't, isn't it not a better speaker? or if the room drags everything down to the same level, than what the hell are we buying nice speakers for? we should all go out to radio shack and buy $99 speakers because it's all room dependent anyways. and save our money for bass traps and acoustic panels.  :duh:

sebrof

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #13 on: 18 Oct 2011, 03:46 am »
right, absolutely agreed. but if i put a $500 speaker in a bad room, and a $5,000 speaker in the same bad room, shouldn't the more expensive speaker sound better? and if it doesn't, isn't it not a better speaker? or if the room drags everything down to the same level, than what the hell are we buying nice speakers for? we should all go out to radio shack and buy $99 speakers because it's all room dependent anyways. and save our money for bass traps and acoustic panels.  :duh:
Or you could get good speakers and put them in a good room  :scratch:
Am I missing something?

ratso

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #14 on: 18 Oct 2011, 03:51 am »
of course you could. and should. that's not the point here. the point is, when people at an audio show say a room sounds bad the manufacturer goes "well, it's all this room's fault". however, then you walk into a room next door which is EXACTLY THE SAME and you like the sound. so if it's the room's fault, why do some exhibitors sound better than others? isn't it really the ugly truth that it really isn't the room's fault - it's an excuse.

*Scotty*

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #15 on: 18 Oct 2011, 05:57 am »
ratso, agreed  :thumb: , some of what you hear is an ugly truth! I think in many cases the room is not the dominant factor. Something or things in the chain are the causative factors, the result of which is a sound you run the other way from.  As far as the $500 speaker being out performed by the $5000 dollar speaker every time,I wouldn't take the bet under show conditions. There are just too many variables in play.
 By the same token there are going to be times when what you think sounds bad sounds perfectly fine to somebody else. :duh: Of course we know that those people are deaf and their opinion doesn't count.  :lol:
Scotty

doug s.

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #16 on: 18 Oct 2011, 06:14 am »
right, absolutely agreed. but if i put a $500 speaker in a bad room, and a $5,000 speaker in the same bad room, shouldn't the more expensive speaker sound better? and if it doesn't, isn't it not a better speaker?
not necessarily.  too many unknown wariables to answer that question, as you posed it.  the $5k speaker may be a worldbeater at its price - but it may simply overload a small room that it could typically be put in, at a show like rmaf - say 12x15.  mebbe it's a big montser that is a true full-range overachiever for $5k.  now, a little diminutive $500 2-way, for example, may be great in a 12x15 room, so it could outperform it there.

here's a real-world example, tho the pricing is not the same 10:1 ratio - proac 1sc's sound much better in a smaller room than the proac 2.5's.  both speakers are 2-ways, using similar drivers, but the more expensive floorstanding model is woiced differently and goes lower.  it will overload a small room, where the smaller standmount 1sc won't.  does it mean the 1sc is a better speaker because it will outperform the more expensive 2.5 in a 12x15 room?  no, it means you should take the room size into account when you are wanting to buy speakers.

or if the room drags everything down to the same level, than what the hell are we buying nice speakers for? we should all go out to radio shack and buy $99 speakers because it's all room dependent anyways. and save our money for bass traps and acoustic panels.  :duh:
see above.  yes, it is room dependent.  yes, room treatments can be effective, especially in smaller rooms.  but, you should still be taking the room into consideration in a major fashion when trying to get the best speakers possible.  if you have a smaller room, and are still really wanting to break the bank, and get great sound, it seems the tad cr-1's will do the job for you.   :wink:

doug s.

Tyson

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #17 on: 18 Oct 2011, 06:50 am »
Fck, why isn't my lambo kicking butt in rush hour traffic?

eclein

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Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #18 on: 18 Oct 2011, 07:00 am »
+1 Tyson...thats why I say its a 50/50 split between room and equipment. Not to mention the dynamics of a room at a show with people walking in and out all the time.


ratso

Re: can someone explain this to me?
« Reply #19 on: 18 Oct 2011, 02:32 pm »
Fck, why isn't my lambo kicking butt in rush hour traffic?

a good point tyson (and doug i think was making roughly the same point also). some speakers may be "voiced" for larger rooms, much like your lambo is built to do 175mph and not 55. but to me it seems a little too convenient to think that all those bad sounding speakers tyson heard at RMAF would blossom into world champions if you moved them into a bigger room. maybe i'm wrong. i personally would want a speaker that can do it all well. seems to be a lot of speakers out there that can only do jazz, only rock, only big rooms, etc. of course, a little bookshelf cannot move enough air to fill a big room, which is no fault of the speaker.