KeithR's "Dream Speaker" Search

tima

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Yes, there are no speakers without colorations. With box speakers what extraordinarily bothers me is a "boxy" sound.
I don't know if I hear a "boxy sound" from my Alexia v2s, perhaps because I don't go looking for colorations. Is it something immediately obvious or is it heard by way of comparison? What are the telltale of boxy sound?
 

Folsom

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I would say box speakers take on a "boxy" sound when the electronics dictate they do... it's not a for sure thing, all the time. It could also partly be related to reflections from the larger shape in some cases of floor standers.
 

Al M.

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I don't know if I hear a "boxy sound" from my Alexia v2s, perhaps because I don't go looking for colorations. Is it something immediately obvious or is it heard by way of comparison? What are the telltale of boxy sound?
To me boxy sound is obvious on its own. Telltale signs:

1. You can clearly hear the cabinet vibrate with the music. For example, some speakers have a "wooden" sound because of audible vibrations of the wooden cabinet. There are even speaker manufacturers who want their cabinets sympathetically vibrate in tune with the music, enhancing the "musicality" of the sound. Really bad idea, in my opinion. A cabinet should be as inert as possible. I like a "wooden" sound, for example from string quartets. But that should be, if the recording allows, the result of electronics and speakers being able to transmit the character of the natural wooden resonances from the string instruments, while the speaker cabinet itself is silent about that character.

2. A "boxed in" sound, one that does not fully break free from the cabinet. It can even be a generally rather "open" sound, but with some aspects or frequencies of the sound having a closed in character due to the cabinet effect. That becomes clear in comparison with a good electrostat, for example -- or in comparison with a box speaker that does not show the "boxed in" character of sound. But if you are sensitive to it, it easily is obvious on its own.

I should note that the "boxed in" character, the inability of the sound to fully break free from the cabinet, has little to do with dynamics. A speaker can be restricted in dynamics, but its sound seem to propagate unrestricted from the cabinet. The opposite can be true as well. A speaker's sound can be dynamic, but still to some degree have a boxed in character.

I know, at least #2 may be a wordy, and perhaps a bit diffuse, explanation, but it's the best I can come up with right now.
 
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the sound of Tao

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Al that’s great, I definitely get the awareness of the box whether it’s the resonance of the material the box is made of or the nature of the box itself, I’d maybe add another distinction that might be specifically in ported or transmission line speakers where awareness of the port effects or the compression at the elbows of the folds in transmission lines that create audible chuffing effects.
 

the sound of Tao

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^^ Meh??? Lore? Fairly broadly reported and common knowledge I’d figure. Folsom I’ve owned both transmission lines (lovely IMF RSPM mkiv) and good ported speakers including Proacs and even lovelier still the Harbeth 40.2s... when you’ve lived with the speakers it becomes fairly easy to identify... and when you’ve owned good panels and good horns for a time all the various characteristics become even more obvious. Ymmv
 
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Folsom

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I was refering to Al's post, you posted between. I'm not overly convinced you actually hear the box itself (it would be to be pretty awful for that to happen). And resonances can be controlled, so I'm not all in on the idea that inertness inherently is the most advantageous thing always. Consider that ports are resonating devices... and a lot of people like old Altec speakers where if you make the box really inert then people don't like them as much... There are a lot of things going on with that, and it's not as simple as one might think. Consider that boxes aren't springs, for one.

I would say the speakers that sound the most like a given character are typically sealed, super inert boxes. They don't sound bad, but there is a flavor to them IMO. There's nothing to dampen it because highly damped drivers don't work in sealed boxes. But if the box wasn't as inert it might dampen some of it. The trick is understanding what frequencies are doing what, and controlling it. It's a case by case thing between speakers - obviously there can be horrifically bad loosey boxes, too.

On my speaker prototypes I actually had to change a brace because it robbed the midrange severely. You can get cancellation issues if the box resonance isn't far enough in one direction, or is in the wrong place. So maybe I could brace my way out of it, but in a prototype it isn't worth the trouble and the losses are pretty negligible.

Inertness of a box doesn't remove resonances, but it does move them up in frequency. Mass moves them down, stiffness moves them up... Stiffness typically will end up dominating. Is that the best way to arrange excess energy, turning it into really high frequencies? or does it makes some kind of sense to reduce the vibrations? It's an interesting question, and obviously different manufacturers have different approaches.

What I generally think though is the electronics are more likely to give you the impression of a particular speaker enclosure, than the speaker itself. Swapping electronics can often completely change how much sound appears like it's coming from inside a speaker or is just around it and there's no way to tell it came from it - so I'm not overly quick on the draw to blame speakers all the time.
 

the sound of Tao

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Ahhh timing :) I do get what you are saying Folsom but I do find that what materials are in the speaker and how the speaker is constructed all contribute along with driver material and speaker dispersion pattern and definitely the wire, connector materials and crossover parts all add to the near infinitely variable cocktail of the end sonic character of a speaker... and definitely some speaker manufacturers take a tonewood approach to resonance within a speaker design with the choice of timber in a box speaker. In the end it’s all about the mix.

I did a lot of trial over years of different materials for damping components with the Maggies as the review tool. Marble and granite sound different... calcite or glass, metal, hardwood, bamboo, carbon fibre... it all added to the subtle characteristic flavour within the sound. My least favourites were invariably granite and acrylic. I am allergic to both musically. The first rings like tinnitus and the other is musically numb and unfeeling like floating on a sea of anti-depressants (I imagine).
 
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tima

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To me boxy sound is obvious on its own. Telltale signs:

1. You can clearly hear the cabinet vibrate with the music. For example, some speakers have a "wooden" sound because of audible vibrations of the wooden cabinet. ...

2. A "boxed in" sound, one that does not fully break free from the cabinet. It can even be a generally rather "open" sound, but with some aspects or frequencies of the sound having a closed in character due to the cabinet effect. ...

I should note that the "boxed in" character, the inability of the sound to fully break free from the cabinet, has little to do with dynamics. ...
Thanks for that Al. Given your description I guess I haven't lived with a boxy sounding speaker. I went from Maggies to Thiels to Audio Physics (both wood cabinets) to three pairs of Wilsons, mostly boxes. Wilson places a great deal of importance on their cabinet with different formulations of their composite materials (X,S,W, etc.) designed to deal with different resonances on different parts of a speaker - and they continue making advances there. I don't know if they are what Folsom is calling "super inert" but they are inert and they're also ported. I have no sense of a box or a vibrating cabinet. I don't believe Wilson sees their speakers as musical instruments meant to contribute their own tone.

I think your point about boxy sound being immediately obvious on its own is an important one.
 

KeithR

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Keith, too bad you missed the chance to hear the Duos optimally set up at Blue58. You may still have drawn a mixed conclusion, but you would certainly have heard Duos really singing in his room.
Sorry if it came across that way, but that wasn’t the case - in fact I really liked them. I’m just commenting that I might prefer an amp a hair warmer than the Nagra or a different 300b tube.

Speaker/amp synergy is a big deal to me. ARC with Devore is perfectly balanced, just like I preferred Dart with Zu over warmer Audion and other combos. There was nothing wrong with tonality in my demo.

Also, to Al M- I don’t find horn coloration related to warmth. It’s hooded sound and lack of clarity.
 

morricab

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Sorry gents, have been traveling in europe and no time for a proper post. Short of it was that I was quite impressed- big, open, dynamic sound with excellent presence that didn’t have the horn coloration or handoff problems that some horn designs have. The Nagra 300b didn’t sound like any 300b I’ve heard before. A Siltech preamp was used.

On the criticism side, felt the system lacked a bit of warmth (maybe tube rolling would do it) and that the big horns don’t disappear or at least in that room. I’ll have some additional thoughts on that when I return to the States tomorrow.
The Nagra 300b is not the warmest sounding 300b amp.
 

Al M.

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I think your point about boxy sound being immediately obvious on its own is an important one.
Yes, but I qualified it with "to me, boxy sound is obvious on its own". Later in the post I qualified one aspect with "if you are sensitive to it". I bet that some would find nothing wrong with certain speakers that I would find sound "boxy".

I also don't think it's always immediately obvious. Sometimes I sit there and am bothered by something, and only after a while can point out clearly a "boxy" character. It is often fairly subtle, too, and hearing it may also depend on the musical material. Yet once you have identified it, you cannot 'unhear' it. At least I can't.
 
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Al M.

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What I generally think though is the electronics are more likely to give you the impression of a particular speaker enclosure, than the speaker itself. Swapping electronics can often completely change how much sound appears like it's coming from inside a speaker or is just around it and there's no way to tell it came from it - so I'm not overly quick on the draw to blame speakers all the time.
If you mean that the sound is "glued to" the speakers or develops freely into the room, I agree that electronics can play a major part in that. It's about soundstage and energizing the room in that case. Speaker set-up in the room often also plays a major role for these two things.

But this is different from the "boxed in" coloration that I was referring to, which seems to be related more to artifacts induced by the cabinet itself.
 

Folsom

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Ahhh timing :) I do get what you are saying Folsom but I do find that what materials are in the speaker and how the speaker is constructed all contribute along with driver material and speaker dispersion pattern and definitely the wire, connector materials and crossover parts all add to the near infinitely variable cocktail of the end sonic character of a speaker... and definitely some speaker manufacturers take a tonewood approach to resonance within a speaker design with the choice of timber in a box speaker. In the end it’s all about the mix.

I did a lot of trial over years of different materials for damping components with the Maggies as the review tool. Marble and granite sound different... calcite or glass, metal, hardwood, bamboo, carbon fibre... it all added to the subtle characteristic flavour within the sound. My least favourites were invariably granite and acrylic. I am allergic to both musically. The first rings like tinnitus and the other is musically numb and unfeeling like floating on a sea of anti-depressants (I imagine).
Everything has an effect, maybe bigger, maybe smaller. It's all about implementation. It'll define these things a lot. For example this one swiss manufacturer did a video of their speakers I'll see if I can find... they defy half of all "speaker logic" that's used for marketing, yet they produce freakishly low distortion.

If you mean that the sound is "glued to" the speakers or develops freely into the room, I agree that electronics can play a major part in that. It's about soundstage and energizing the room in that case. Speaker set-up in the room often also plays a major role for these two things.

But this is different from the "boxed in" coloration that I was referring to, which seems to be related more to artifacts induced by the cabinet itself.
That's fair. I think we're on a similar page. Where I disagree is that I hear lots of inert boxes that have a character more than ones that aren't heroically inert, but pretty much exclusively sealed boxes. When it comes to ported, I think a box that's too sloppy will negatively effect the sound but I can't identify the character as easily because it tends to be unique.

Sorry if it came across that way, but that wasn’t the case - in fact I really liked them. I’m just commenting that I might prefer an amp a hair warmer than the Nagra or a different 300b tube.

Speaker/amp synergy is a big deal to me. ARC with Devore is perfectly balanced, just like I preferred Dart with Zu over warmer Audion and other combos. There was nothing wrong with tonality in my demo.

Also, to Al M- I don’t find horn coloration related to warmth. It’s hooded sound and lack of clarity.
Well this is an interesting development. If you are going to go with them, do you think your Arc is warm enough? Is it really "warm" you want, or less analytical? More bloom?

I guess the overall sound is appealing less some soundstaging?

I'm not surprised you like an active bass solution. But I have a question you should ask the dealer, that might be a make/break deal for me (pretending I'm you, but with my tech knowledge); can you adjust the Q of the bass drivers through the DSP?
 
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christoph

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pretending I'm you, but with a little more tech knowledge
This one and lately the one with your better young hearing (compared to the rest of us old deaf geezers, I just turned 50 btw.)...
Are you aware that you can come over as a "little condescending" sometimes? :rolleyes:
 

Folsom

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This one and lately the one with your better young hearing (compared to the rest of us old deaf geezers, I just turned 50 btw.)...
Are you aware that you can come over as a "little condescending" sometimes? :rolleyes:
While I would say yes, I don't understand your examples. I'm not trying to bugger Keith, just saying that's a question I'd be asking if I had his preferences but had some of my knowledge about integrating bass.

And I have no idea what condescending nature there is when I'm trying to guess if some people are hard of hearing so they like stuff I find fatiguing. There's nothing "superior" in the mix, it's just natural aging - which I'll probably experience plenty of myself before long.
 
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If you mean that the sound is "glued to" the speakers or develops freely into the room, I agree that electronics can play a major part in that. It's about soundstage and energizing the room in that case. Speaker set-up in the room often also plays a major role for these two things.

But this is different from the "boxed in" coloration that I was referring to, which seems to be related more to artifacts induced by the cabinet itself.
Stereo speakers only manage to move a source point between the two speakers playing with relative intensity, manipulating the phase sound engineers manage to create a rough 2D map. However, very few recordings have enough natural phase information to create a soundstage developing physically freely in the room. Most of the time it is our brain that re-builts the soundstage, using minimal clues, such as microdetails and decays, and our own experience of placement of sources in the real world.

I remember reading psycho-acoustic tests where listeners were asked to draw a map of the instruments of a recording of a chamber orchestra playing Mozart wind serenades. Although most listeners would consider that soundstage delineation was excellent, their maps showed many times a strong disagreement with the real positions, but also with other listener maps.

Electronics or speakers coloration will surely affect localization, as they change the microdetail and decay maps, but can add envelopment and enjoyment. IMHE the Quad ESL63, properly positioned and amplified, has the best localization properties of any speaker I have owned.
 

tima

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Most of the time it is our brain that re-builts the soundstage, using minimal clues, such as microdetails and decays, and our own experience of placement of sources in the real world.
Yes, the ear-brain system - as Kant would say, concepts without percepts are empty, percepts without concepts are blind.

Localization by sound is an ancient skill ... when the twig snaps behind you... . Then based on our experience - the concert master is always near the conductor, the conductor is usually in the middle, basses are far right, etc, etc. - we build the 'picture's in our mind's ear. But the 'input data' drives, so I wouldn't say "re-builds".

Observing myself in the concert hall, I find I do not do what I do in front of my stereo. Instead it is my brain connecting site and sound, the oboe player with the oboe sound
 

Al M.

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Also, to Al M- I don’t find horn coloration related to warmth. It’s hooded sound and lack of clarity.
O.k., thanks Keith.
 

bazelio

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+1 to horns lacking clarity and detail. Super dynamic, lackluster on detail... IME.

Also +1 to cabinet resonances being a primary association with boxy sound. Think: Harbeth.
 

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