Standmount speakers for people who dislike any brightness?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by back2vinyl, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. hesson11

    hesson11 Well-Known Member

    In addition to the Vienna curve above, here's a look at the Linn Majik 109, courtesy of Stereophile. You might want to look up the full review. I believe it said that the speaker compensates for this notch in its off-axis response.

    [​IMG]
     
    Shivermetimbers likes this.
  2. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    what amp did you use to do the test? your Anthem?
     
  3. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    I just cant believe a company would release a speaker measuring like that
    what a joke
     
  4. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    There's many great speakers that don't measure very well. There's also great measuring speakers that sound lifeless or fatiguing.
     
  5. Shivermetimbers

    Shivermetimbers Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Auditioned the 109s once (in a dealer's, not home). Noted they had a silky-sounding and non-fatiguing delivery compared to the others at the time. Could be worth checking out for the OP.
     
    eirismania likes this.
  6. layman

    layman Active Member

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    You may not be able to tell the difference between two amps based on distortion figures alone but you can definitely hear a difference, especially when moving to Class A. The dry, sand-papery, gritty sounding distortions are usually not present with Class A amplifiers. I think the OP is on to something important.
     
  7. bhazen

    bhazen Re: Member

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    I tried out a used pair of 109s ... thought they sounded very good, until I put on Nick Drake's Pink Moon. His acoustic guitar just sounded "wrong" ... I then noticed that other instruments and voices sounded recessed, so I took 'em back to the shop. Shame, 'cos they were great in almost every other category -- resolution, clarity, punch, etc.
     
  8. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    London, UK
    That's quite a notch but it would probably need to be a couple of kHz higher to suit my ears. When I look at that, it reminds me of my old Harbeth SHL5 speakers - not the current Plus model but the previous one. It's superficially appealing because it sounds so smooth but after a while you start to hanker after the lost detail.

    It's in the quote you quoted! "We played them back through some fancy Bel Canto amp they had wired up." The whole idea was to try a different amp with the same speakers in order to find out whether it was the Anthem causing the problem. When I found I could still hear the same thing with the Bel Canto amp, I concluded there must be something wrong with my ears. And yet, I don't hear this distortion with any live music. I now think the Bel Canto has crossover distortion too, since it's only class AB. This would explain why I was still hearing the distortion even in the dealer's showroom, and even with the Spendor speakers too. I should know in a few days when my new valve (tube) amp arrives.
     
  9. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    I have an experiment for you. Try crossover the freq to the sub real high like 150 Hz and let the speakers handle 150 Hz and up. See if the problem improves or not.

    My theory is that your speakers' woofer can't handle the bass guitar and drum without also causing issue with the vocal. By relieving the speakers from the low bass, it can handle vocal better.
     
    Helom likes this.
  10. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Keep in mind that when listening to live music, the amps and speakers are often only handling the frequencies of a single instrument and it hasn't been through the digitization stage.

    I haven't heard of any class AB Bel Cantos. I believe they're typically class D, or a hybrid of class A input and class D output.

    I think you were in the right track with the headphones vs the speakers, but not regarding the response characteristics. Rather, you have $4k planar magnetic headphones vs $2k dynamic cone speakers.
     
  11. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    London, UK
    Yes, sorry, my mistake - the Bel Canto is class D. The point remains the same, however, which is that, so far, I've heard the distortion on all non-class A amps but not with my class A headphone amp so the thing I want to do now is to test a class A amp with my speakers. The tube amp is in transit but it's coming from Germany, and very slowly.
     
  12. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    London, UK
    So, the tube amplifier arrived at last. It’s a Boyuu A10, a Chinese amp that seems to be fairly well known in the tube fraternity especially among modders. Very nicely built and a pleasure to use. (Link was given in post #97.)

    I let it warm up for an hour and then tried my torture tracks through it. At first, I thought it might actually have solved the problem – there did seem to be an improvement in sound on some tracks. But as I continued, on the next day as well, I began to feel that the improvement was illusory. What I mean is, the distortion was still there, and only sounded less bad because the amp was rolling off the top end, taking some of the distortion with it.

    I then set up a simple test. I recorded pink noise coming out of the front left channel only by rigging up a condenser microphone in front of the front left speaker. I did several recordings using the Anthem MRX 520 A/V receiver with the room correction switched off, and then, changing nothing except the amplifier, and being careful not to nudge the microphone even by 1 mm, I did several more recordings using the Boyuu A10.

    Having checked that the test racks recorded through each amp were consistent with one another, I took an MRX 520 test track and compared it with a Boyuu A10 test track in software (Voxengo CurveEQ). Here is the result - the dark green is the MRX 520, the white is the Boyuu A10, and the orange dotted line tells you how the Boyuu differs from the MRX 520:

    [​IMG]

    I found the amount of deviation surprising. As you can see, going from left to right, the Boyuu has a very large spike at 80 Hz, then reverts to flat, then almost immediately starts rising to a prominent midrange hump (+3 dB) peaking at 1.2 kHz, then reverts to flat by around 3 kHz before gradually rolling off the rest of the top end to the point where it’s -4 dB at 20 kHz.

    Please bear in mind that neither the speaker nor room effects will have influenced this comparison because they remained identical in both tests. Only the amp was changed.

    Of course, you could say it might be the MRX that’s wrong, but since the MRX is specified to be virtually flat while no claims at all are made as to the frequency response of the tube amp, it seems pretty clear to me that it’s the tube amp that’s responsible for the deviation.

    It also confirms what I was hearing – that the tube amp was rolling off the top end. One thing I quickly noticed was that all the esses seemed to have disappeared from the vocals, yet paradoxically, that hump peaking at 1.2 kHz gave quite a brightness to the sound. Looking at the chart, it fits very well with what I was hearing from the Boyuu.

    So the tube amp hasn’t solved my problem and I’m left wondering what to try next. I don’t think I’m ready to give up on class A just yet – I think I need to try another class A amp with a better frequency response. But I am somewhat coming back to my previous theory: that my ears are over-sensitive to a particular frequency around the 4 kHz mark, and that the Audeze headphones sound nice to me because they happen to have a very big dip in the frequency response at this point.
     
  13. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    This may be a stupid question, but do you listen to your speakers off-axis or are they pointed directly toward your ears? That can make a huge difference. A description of your exact speaker placement and room characteristics might give some insight.

    I think there's likely more than one culprit here, probably a combination of your hearing sensitivity, the accurate monitor-like speakers, room/placement effects, and sub-optimal amplification.

    I'm also very sensitive upper midrange frequencies, and my main system was quite a challenge despite the room's theoretically good proportions. It required a combination of finding the right amp, sources, speakers and treatments to arrive at a completely non-fatiguing sound. It was an expensive, and tedious process. Ultimately, the speakers and placement (especially in terms of listening axis) made the most significant difference. I found that my speakers often had too much toe-in, and listening with grills in place is worth the small sacrifice in detail once you factor in the lack of fatigue. I realize ATCs don't have cloth grills, but you might try the aforementioned tissue trick.
     
    33na3rd likes this.
  14. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    London, UK
    The speakers are toed-in but not all the way to the listening position so they're slightly off-axis, and I've experimented with having them forward-facing with no noticeable effect. I wouldn't pretend that it's a good room or that speaker placement is optimal, but I did go to the dealer's and found the same problem in their room which suggests to me that this isn't the answer, or at least not the whole of the answer. I think you could well be right about the combination - people instinctively look for a single solution to a single problem but often it's a combination of factors.
     
  15. bruce2

    bruce2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    For a long time I left the grilles off on my Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1s. However after doing some comparisons I now prefer the sound with the grilles on. It is like you say there may be a slight loss of detail but I find the sound with grilles on better balanced and less fatiguing.
     
    Helom and jupiterboy like this.
  16. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    wow
    that tube amp is messed up. send it back. i feel its almost impossible. are you sure you havent made a mistake while measuring? if not, you need to send it back, its not working properly

    with the anthem amp, its normal. your speaker are badly placed in the room, you have your speaker literally -6db from 100hz down. with better speaker and listening placement, you should at least have a flat response down to 60hz.

    as some have also said to you, the new atc tweeter is good but can sound bit bright. I use my atc scm7v3 curved with a marantz 2238b and use the treble tone control to tone down the tweeter a little.
    helps a lot. maybe try some gentle analog EQ. either the schiit loki or a integrated amp with tone control would be very worthwhile if you want to keep the speakers
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 8:49 PM
  17. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
  18. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    London, UK
    I'd be the first to admit I have almost no experience with tube amps but that said, I don't think there's anything wrong with my amp (and yes, I'm certain the curve is correct). Is there any tube amp that claims to have a flat frequency response? I don't think so - this is not what you buy a tube amp for. Tube amps are not at all good at doing the extremes of the frequency range so it's not surprising to me that they would insert a bump at either end of their "doable" frequency range in an attempt to compensate for the missing frequency extremes.

    I would be interested to see frequency response curves for other tube amps - I don't think I've ever seen one. Two other things worth mentioning: first, just to repeat that the curve isn't the absolute frequency response of my tube amp, it's the difference between the tube amp and my Anthem A/V receiver, though the A/V receiver claims to be flat; and second, the maker of the tube amps claims it takes time to settle down.

    The thing with all this is that although I started by talking about brightness, I don't think that's the problem - I think it's some from of distortion that's completely absent with simple sounds but becomes very evident with high, complex sounds, especially vocals (most of all, nasal vocals) and violins. It sounds to me how I imagine intermodulation distortion would sound and I find it's possible to eliminate it by inserting a very deep notch at around 4 kHz. Placement can help a little bit and so can other measures but what I'm still puzzling over is whether this is just a hearing defect or whether the distortion is real and if so, if it's possible to eliminate it.

    Many thanks for the suggestions, which I appreciate.

    That's what I already have!
     
  19. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    seriously, I have measured many tube amps, I own two very good tube amps. they measure flat just like all my SS amps.
    your amp is ****ed. the measurements is absurd. a 9 db peak at 60hz, another peak at 1khz then a serious high roll off is not normal for any tube amp.

    this is as far as hi fidelity as you can. youd be better off with a cheap class d amp at this point. send that tube amp back.
    or dont, but I wouldnt want this even in my kitchen system.
     
  20. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    Did you measure your tube amp using speakers? What brand of tubes amp and speakers?
     
  21. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I think maybe you missed the point that he is measuring the speaker output. Most tube amps that don't use a lot of negative feedback will have a relatively high output impedance, so the response measured at the speaker output will somewhat follow the speaker impedance curve. The peak is likely near the speaker low frequency resonance, though 60Hz seems a bit high. Not sure which speaker outputs he connected to, 4 or 8 ohm, but may look better on the other one too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017 at 4:30 PM
  22. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Also, in room. But yeah, impedance.
     
  23. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    For comparison, maybe. Nobody judges an amplifier based on the in-room response of speaker though. :sigh:
     
    Helom likes this.
  24. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    For comparison, maybe. That was my previous comment, repeated here, as if there's an internet echo.
     
    murphythecat likes this.
  25. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    folks, sorry. I was very confused. I thought the orange line was the tube amp. LOL. false alarm lol

    OP forgot everything I said bout your tube amp. so sorry lol.
    I think you should try to find a better speaker placement. you have a severe problem under 300hz. and your resonse under 100hz is clearly rolling off badly. not surprising that you find the sound a bit bright, it measure that way as well.
     

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