Speaker upgrade

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,054
2,208
660
North Shore of Boston
#61
Hey Peter, us critics need jobs too. :)

To answer your question: Not many! :) Most suck and most are filthy, disgusting scum.

Look, this is a subjective hobby. People imagine all kinds of things inside their heads. The guy I'm talking to is not the guy who has been reading Stereophile for the last 20 or more years and learned that type sound. But it's the guy who likes music more than the audiophile vocabulary.

They are rare but they do exist. For that type of guy: I have had A LOT of stuff in my house over the years and don't want him carrying heavy shIt if they don't need to.
Now I understand. Thank you. You are another member's alter ego then. I like that. And I am weaning myself off of the audiophile glossary of terms too as I have allowed both Stereophile and TAS subscriptions lapse while trying to unlearn previous truths. Less stuff, more music.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,694
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#62
Peter, this idea deserves it's own thread. How many people truly buy blind on basis of "received wisdom" ie big cheese reviews, and get lucky? Or unlucky, as Caesar is suggesting?

I am soon hosting a guest who was going down a very standard direction on Wilsons/DAgs or AR, has been to demos in Central London, most likely as a result of the big splash reviews we read, but his experience has been mixed to say the least, and he now could easily dive down a radically different rabbit hole than the one he seemed destined for.

Caesar is suggesting that my guest is someone who could easily have succumbed to review buzz and just bought these "off the shelf", and gone on to become disappointed or unfulfilled.
 

Skanda

Active Member
May 3, 2020
109
137
43
#63
This is just the nature of the beast, but I get @caesar distaste for audio reviews. as i've discovered on my own, writing about audio is hard - i started that thread on my taiko extreme and i enjoy writing updates but finding the correct language to describe what i'm hearing can be difficult. to that end fremer is a fantastic writer (though i like a different type of sound than he does) and atkinson is great at delivering the facts - note his review of the s5mk2 compared to any of fremer's reviews: no fluff, straight to the point. this is good writing and great fun to read. however, the problems arise when a reviewer pushes too much hyperbole. why? because great gear is great gear and its very fun to listen to and its easy to get caught up into it.

but consider this, there is only so much information in a recording. if you buy an mbl extreme or a magico m6 or m9 today, can you honestly tell me that in 10 years the flagship will be so good that the m6 or what have you "sounds broken". technology improves but that's a laughable assertion. it will be better - yes - but to what extent? and that's where the reviews get tiresome. it's not explaining how something is new and great but the constant "it makes the old version sound broken". on a personal level that's why i've become enamored with brands with long history that have been perfecting a design: mbl, burmester, symphonic line come to mind but there are many others...i would even put wilson and magico in that grouping but they have a more predictable upgrade cylce. in my opinion they are kinda like iphones, if you have an 11, the 11s is not a huge improvement but the 12 will be and if you hold off for the 13 there is a nice jump in quality. a reviewer - whether purposeful or not - is wont to tell you that improvements are marginal as everything is seemingly a huge leap. the hyperbole is a reason why this hobby is mocked from the outside. you want someone to take you seriously? maybe don't be so insistent that a $10k usb cable change is up there with with a speaker change or that putting a little metal disk under your amp is so transformational that your previous system sounded broken. that's before we even get into the economics of the reviewer and advertiser industry.

then sometimes you run into a product that is truly changing the playing field. i would say that so far my experience with the taiko extreme has been in line with that. what i'm hearing is a change in sound that is frankly unexpected. i think for those interested in digital audio and have the funds for it, it's an upgrade i would suggest before looking at new speakers but that's just me.

end rant and thank you for reading :). seems like i've woken up on the cranky side of the bed today haha.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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#64

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,694
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#65
Ked, quite literally a stairway to heaven.
 
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the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
2,227
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420
#66
You're intrigued by the concept of horn speakers, and I'm intrigued by that incredible room you have.

We both know that what I build doesn't meet your criteria, but now I WISH that I had an easily-shippable high-quality horn speaker which you could try JUST to see if horns really are a direction worth pursuing. Unfortunately "easily shippable" and "high-quality horn speaker" don't normally go together.

Hmmm.
You need a challenge Duke... something on the boil that opens new markets for horns... maybe not absolute money no object Sota but just brilliant and musical and still reasonably affordable maybe :D... a flat pack 2 way in laminated bamboo baffles perhaps with very high quality crossover parts and an exceptional wide ranger CD. Less parts but really great ones.

Can you convince TAD to start making the TD-4003s again. I’d be there in a flash.
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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#67
For TAD 4003 you just need to make me an offer I can't refuse.
 

sbnx

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2017
278
181
115
#68
I hate to bring this thread back on point but maybe the OP could consider the gryphon trident. Sealed bass...check. You only drive the tweeter/mid so any amp works (season to taste)...check. Adjustable bass...check. Look at Phillip’s room. So we know this speaker can drive a large space...check.
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
2,227
1,968
420
#69
How about the saucy files of the Iphone videos I saw circulating of you eating vongole post eating a bowl of tiramisu in Italy :eek: ... actually in truth I’ve got an unfortunate insufficiency I fear for that fantastic slice of unobtainium-ableness :D and I’m too polite to low ball.
 
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HughP3

VIP/Donor
Apr 25, 2019
209
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#70
I hate to bring this thread back on point but maybe the OP could consider the gryphon trident. Sealed bass...check. You only drive the tweeter/mid so any amp works (season to taste)...check. Adjustable bass...check. Look at Phillip’s room. So we know this speaker can drive a large space...check.
I am biased of course as I own a pair, they are exceptional but your budget from the M3 will need to expand a bit. They are rare, but my system is always open for visitors.
 

Duke LeJeune

[Industry Expert]/Member Sponsor
Jul 22, 2013
584
662
340
Princeton, Texas
#71
You need a challenge Duke... something on the boil that opens new markets for horns...
Thanks for the encouragement!

One of the reasons I hang out here is that I LEARN from you guys in unexpected ways. And one of those unexected ways just might open up new markets for horns!

You see, I learned from Newtoncr that there are people in situations where a high-quality horn system MIGHT be an excellent solution, but there is no practical way for them to take a "test drive" in their own homes, so they can actually find out.

Not yet anyway... but my little wheels are a-turnin'.

maybe not absolute money no object Sota but just brilliant and musical and still reasonably affordable..."
Workin' on it! Our little Gina is the first of a new breed which will include several larger variations on the theme.

At the more "affordable" end of the spectrum we have something in the pipeline as well, which will use off-the-shelf horns to hit its price point.

maybe... a flat pack 2 way in laminated bamboo baffles perhaps with very high quality crossover parts and an exceptional wide ranger CD. Less parts but really great ones.
A kit would be further down the road, but is not out of the question. One attractive aspect of a high-efficiency kit is, the builder can save a lot of money because the inevitably large enclosure is usually the most expensive piece of the puzzle.

Can you convince TAD to start making the TD-4003s again.
Nope. But imo there are better horn designs available today, which would not have been compatible with the TADs anyway, and ime the horn makes a bigger difference than the compression driver does. I helped conduct a controlled blind listening test once in which a $75 B&C compression driver was preferred over a TAD TD-2001 (which was MY dog in the fight), probably because the horn that they both used was a better match for the B&C than for the TAD.
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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#72
"But imo there are better horn designs available today, which would not have been compatible with the TADs anyway, and ime the horn makes a bigger difference than the compression driver does. I helped conduct a controlled blind listening test once in which a $75 B&C compression driver was preferred over a TAD TD-2001 (which was MY dog in the fight), probably because the horn that they both used was a better match for the B&C than for the TAD."

Hi Duke, by better horn designs, do you mean horn speaker designs, or just the horn - if the latter, are you referring to Constant directivity? If yes, CD is compatible with TAD (as well as others). Personally, I have yet to hear a good CD, but all the CD users seem to be using DSP or very high EQ in the crossover to flatten out the sound. However, if I was commercial, I would use CD for smaller sized speakers, and also because I believe many buyers are indifferent to DSP. One can get sales either way.

regarding blind testing, there are many reasons to choose or not to choose a paper driver vs a Be driver, blind or otherwise. It is similar to cartridges, there is a range in sound. If you listen to the Scheherezade videos, many will prefer the Anima, which is very low priced Fostex modded driver in a wooden horn. That's why DIYers roll drivers.

Personally, I disagree there are better horn speaker designs today. Once Western Electric came out with the mirrophonic and RCA with the Shearer, the dual woofers FLHs from JBL and Altec descended from that and still provide the best sonics imo. Today, manufacturers get into all sorts of twists trying to come up with a bass solution that's smaller and better suited for smaller rooms, and yes, there is some advancement on size in low end extension, but not on sonics.

Regarding horns, it depends on the horn speaker design. Altec, JBL, TAD, Radian have their larger format drivers crossing over at a similar point. For a two way, I would go with wooden multicells, but CD is the other approach. My highest WAF is wooden Radial, followed by CD. For three way, I would do JMLC with a smaller format compression driver on top, like Leif and Universum have. If I had a design with lower crossover points, I would have tractrixed. Or Satoed.

Regarding matching on horns and drivers, this has been done. It is easy to come up with the matches unless someone is experimenting with something new. I understand that manufacturers have to be different rather than copying existing designs. As mentioned, the best analysis I know of incorporating both measurements and listening with open mindedness was done by Leif and his friends. 4 of them ended up with 4003 over Radian, ALE 7550 De, various JBL, TAD, and Altec. Jdza owns JBL 435, 476Be, and a few others, and ended up with 4003 (and Altec woofers iirc). The Lansingheritage forum is comprised of many who all seek out 4003, but can't get it. Ralph of Cessaro is developing his own driver more to get to the 4003.

Finally, I could have gone with the Radian for the Beryllium option. But as an audiophile, I knew that if I ever built a speaker with the Radian, in a few years I would be chasing the 4003. And by then the price would have doubled. So, it is easier to get an out of production sought after component now, when you find it, and buy Radian later. Much easier to settle with been there, done the 4003, now sold it and settled with current production driver. Just scratches the audiophile itch. Also, with any out of production compression driver, it is very difficult to come up with unused stock with consecutive serial numbers - otherwise, far off serial numbers can sometimes mean trouble.

I will have phenolic and/or paper drivers as alternative sounds, and they are much cheaper.
 
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caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,500
242
498
#73
This is just the nature of the beast, but I get @caesar distaste for audio reviews. as i've discovered on my own, writing about audio is hard - i started that thread on my taiko extreme and i enjoy writing updates but finding the correct language to describe what i'm hearing can be difficult. to that end fremer is a fantastic writer (though i like a different type of sound than he does) and atkinson is great at delivering the facts - note his review of the s5mk2 compared to any of fremer's reviews: no fluff, straight to the point. this is good writing and great fun to read. however, the problems arise when a reviewer pushes too much hyperbole. why? because great gear is great gear and its very fun to listen to and its easy to get caught up into it.

but consider this, there is only so much information in a recording. if you buy an mbl extreme or a magico m6 or m9 today, can you honestly tell me that in 10 years the flagship will be so good that the m6 or what have you "sounds broken". technology improves but that's a laughable assertion. it will be better - yes - but to what extent? and that's where the reviews get tiresome. it's not explaining how something is new and great but the constant "it makes the old version sound broken". on a personal level that's why i've become enamored with brands with long history that have been perfecting a design: mbl, burmester, symphonic line come to mind but there are many others...i would even put wilson and magico in that grouping but they have a more predictable upgrade cylce. in my opinion they are kinda like iphones, if you have an 11, the 11s is not a huge improvement but the 12 will be and if you hold off for the 13 there is a nice jump in quality. a reviewer - whether purposeful or not - is wont to tell you that improvements are marginal as everything is seemingly a huge leap. the hyperbole is a reason why this hobby is mocked from the outside. you want someone to take you seriously? maybe don't be so insistent that a $10k usb cable change is up there with with a speaker change or that putting a little metal disk under your amp is so transformational that your previous system sounded broken. that's before we even get into the economics of the reviewer and advertiser industry.

then sometimes you run into a product that is truly changing the playing field. i would say that so far my experience with the taiko extreme has been in line with that. what i'm hearing is a change in sound that is frankly unexpected. i think for those interested in digital audio and have the funds for it, it's an upgrade i would suggest before looking at new speakers but that's just me.

end rant and thank you for reading :). seems like i've woken up on the cranky side of the bed today haha.
Any real discussion of reviewers needs to take into into account their incentives, as incentives drive human behavior. Most reviewers are just like that worthless pro at your tennis or golf club, telling that lady “great shot!”, as she has twisted her body into a pretzel and hit the ball on the roof.

Those guys need their next dopamine rush from new gear, so too scared to tell it like it is and piss of the manufacturers. But hard working guys and those who worked their entire life to get great high end gear , wind up wasting their time and money, frequently traveling to different continents....See the vac amp thread for further discussion Of reviewers...

yes ,,I agree, John Wilson- Atkinson is pretty much milquetoast. Personally, I’d rather watch flies fukk than waste my time on him. And to his credit he and his guys compare gear.

But as head of a top audio magazine and as an ambassador for the industry , he has been a true Failure. He established a Wilson First culture at stereophile. Virtually every reviewer at stereOphile uses Wilson as his reference. And there has been a true lack of diversity in coverage of other speaker technologies than hard to drive box speakers , other than an occasional horn review by art Dudley.

But its virtually impossible to hear the gear Dudley raved about.

so box speakers, wilson, and gear that works with Wilson have big winners under john Wilson-atkinson.

as for Feemer, great ambassador for vinyl.And a great writer, thanks to sharp analytical comparisons. But when he likes Wilson, Dagostino, and Lyra cartridges - sh!t , just had to cover my ears writing this - ouch!!!! That hurts!
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,694
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E. England
#74
Well Caesar, I have Fremer to thank for one nudge, pushing me to Soundsmith Straingauge ownership. His review was pivotal.
 

Joe Whip

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2014
1,266
113
285
Wayne, PA
#76
Gee, i can’t say that I find reviewers of audio to be all that helpful. I have known some personally, some nice guys others not so much, but I have sat in too many rooms with them listening to systems I found unlistenable that they were a Gaga over So I take them all with a huge grain of salt.
 
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spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,694
2,488
603
E. England
#77
Well, Fremer highlighted the many positives and some negatives as he heard it, I thought it was a pretty balanced, honest review. A world away from Roy Gregory and his pseudo-Shakespeare prose posing as "informative" reviews.
 

Duke LeJeune

[Industry Expert]/Member Sponsor
Jul 22, 2013
584
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Princeton, Texas
#78
Hi Duke, by better horn designs, do you mean horn speaker designs, or just the horn - if the latter, are you referring to Constant directivity? If yes, CD is compatible with TAD (as well as others).
Yes, I was referring to midrange/high frequency horn(s), not to the complete loudspeaker system. I should have been more specific. I have NOTHING against horn-loaded midbass and bass, and agree that it can sound magnificent, but I'm in the biz and huge enclosures are tough to sell. My forthcoming "statement speaker" will have two 15" midwoofers, but they will not be horn loaded because that would roughly quadruple the size just to get down to 80 Hz. Maybe one day I'll go there, but not right now.

So regarding horns for the upper end of the spectrum, imo the MOST IMPORTANT consideration is minimizing coloration. In my opinion all of the other advantages of horns are of academic interest only if the horns themselves are superimposing their signature atop every piece of music.

Next, something which imo would be very nice to have is indeed Constant Directivity (CD). With constant directivity, the reflections sound like the direct sound, which is a characteristic of live music that few loudspeakers can replicate.

In my experience most Constant Directivity horns which rely on diffraction slots or abrupt angle changes to widen the high frequency dispersion have colorations which disqualify them. There is however a different approach to Constant Directivity which is inherently extremely low in coloration, and that is the Oblate Spheroid profile and its derivative the Super Elliptical Oblate Spheroid. The "Min-Phase" horn made by Autotech used in the hORNS Universum [edit: I now think that's incorrect] seems to be a cross between the L'Cleach horn and the Oblate Spheroid and from what I understand is essentially Constant Directivity over most of its passband, with some pattern-narrowing at the top end.

Personally, I have yet to hear a good CD, but all the CD users seem to be using DSP or very high EQ in the crossover to flatten out the sound.
Yes, true Constant Directivity horns require aggressive EQ. You see, the power response of any compression driver peaks maybe an octave or so above its resonant frequency, and then slopes downward above that. MOST horns have a radiation pattern which narrows as they go up in frequency, which largely if not entirely compensates for the compression driver's innate downward-sloping power response BUT results in a spectral mis-match between the direct and reflected sound. A Constant Directivity horn's on-axis response slopes downward with increasing frequency just as much as its off-axis response does, but when you have fixed the on-axis response via EQ, you have SIMULTANEOUSLY fixed the off-axis response! The downside is, the on-axis SPL will not be as high at high frequencies, which limits system efficiency (unless you are using DSP to correct it).

So as in most things audio, there is a tradeoff for using Constant Directivity horns, and that is system efficiency. They put out just as much high-frequency energy as a Tractrix or Exponential horn, but the energy is spread out much more, such that the on-axis Sound Pressure Level is not as high. By way of analogy, when you adjust the nozzle on a garden hose to give a wide pattern, the same AMOUNT of water comes out, but the on-axis PRESSURE where the water hits is less than with a narrow pattern.

I use passive crossovers (no DSP), and usually get all of the equalization needed to correct for the inherently downward-sloping response with no additional crossover components. But the component values I use in my highpass filters are drastically different from the "textbook" values.

Regarding matching on horns and drivers, this has been done. It is easy to come up with the matches unless someone is experimenting with something new.
In my opinion an important part of matching horns with compression drivers is that the exit angle of the compression driver match the entry angle of the horn. When there is a significant mis-match, that discontinuity is a source of diffraction, which in turn can cause a harshness which becomes progressively more audible and objectionable as the SPL goes up.

Which brings us to the point of why you might not want to put new wine in old bottles... or new-style compression drivers on old-style horns: Old-school compression drivers tend to have a long, narrow-angle internal passageway between the phase plug and the exit, while new-style compression drivers tend to have a much shorter and somewhat wider-angle internal passageway. While the length of that internal passageway makes a difference particularly at high frequencies, the exit angle is what matters most as far as compatibility with a given horn's entry angle.

So when someone does a "shoot-out" comparing different compression drivers and different horns, they are actually comparing FOUR things: The horns; the compression drivers; how well the driver's exit angle matches the horn's entry angle; and the combination's crossover/EQ filtering. So, doing a truly "apples to apples" comparison of dissimilar compression drivers is a lot more complicated than simply trying them on the same horn.

Finally, I could have gone with the Radian for the Beryllium option. But as an audiophile, I knew that if I ever built a speaker with the Radian, in a few years I would be chasing the 4003.
I have NOTHING against the 4003! But for what I'm trying to do, which calls for a particular type of horn, imo it's the wrong tool for the job. You see, even if I make an Oblate Spheroid horn whose entry angle matches the exit angle of the 4003, the latter's long internal passageway between phase plug and exit effectively controls the high frequency dispersion and constrains it to a narrow angle. Imo the solution would be to use a separate tweeter, which is what most people do when building a system around an "old school" format compression driver like the 4003, which in turn is another juggling of trade-offs.
 
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Robh3606

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2010
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Destiny
#79
If yes, CD is compatible with TAD (as well as others). Personally, I have yet to hear a good CD, but all the CD users seem to be using DSP or very high EQ in the crossover to flatten out the sound. However, if I was commercial, I would use CD for smaller sized speakers, and also because I believe many buyers are indifferent to DSP. One can get sales either way.
Hello Bonzo

You have not heard a CD horn that you liked?? What have you listened too??

You don't have to use DSP you can go with a passive crossover as well. With passive crosover the EQ is all attenuation so you are not driving the Compression drivers any harder in the upper octaves than you would with a conventional non CD horn.

You just trade off midband effciency using a series cap at the hinge of parametric using series or parralel notch filters or combinations to get the correct voltage curve for your target response,

Rob :)
 

Robh3606

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2010
1,107
127
485
Destiny
#80
So as in most things audio, there is a tradeoff for using Constant Directivity horns, and that is system efficiency. They put out just as much high-frequency energy as a Tractrix or Exponential horn, but the energy is spread out much more, such that the on-axis Sound Pressure Level is not as high. By way of analogy, when you adjust the nozzle on a garden hose to give a wide pattern, the same AMOUNT of water comes out, but the on-axis PRESSURE where the water hits is less than with a narrow pattern.
Hello Duke

Ok but if you are going passive I don't see any advantage SPL wise. I am looking at it from the point of view that if you were building a passive system the woofer sensitivity is going to determine what your SPL is at crossover. Since you would be setting any attenuation in either a CD or non CD horn to match the woofer any SPL advantage would be lost. The net result would still match the woofer at crossover.

Rob :)
 
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