What is Stereophile smoking? "Finest loudspeaker to ever grace my home"

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by MichaelXX2, Oct 13, 2021.

  1. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    Wow ! This must be THE most ragged loudspeaker freq response graph EVER ! Even I cringed at it.
    head_unit and timind like this.
  2. Davey

    Davey NP: Maarja Nuut ~ Hinged

    SF Bay Area, USA
    The Quad ESL speakers have always been one of those type where the frequency response plots seem to have little bearing on the appeal they have to so many that have heard and loved them, it's hard to convey that midrange magic, and they tend to integrate better in a room than the pseudo-anechoic response would indicate ... below from the ESL-989 Stereophile review ...

  3. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Forum Sciolist

    Tri-Cities TN
    I'm listening with budget pro movie theatre (screen channel system) speakers and I'm loving them, who knows that the plots look like! I don't care!
  4. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Some measurements are good others meh. Don’t tell the full story.
    the whole reason for measurements is to quantify an aspect of sound

    some do. Some don’t and some are vague.
    That’s my experience.

    I haven’t listened to a lot of speakers which are touted to measure super well yet.
    But at some point I will.
    I think speaker measurements have got much better as more research is done.

    things like amps and DACs? Meh. Some are ok but most imho don’t quantify much at all.
    No measurement can really quantify timbre for example.
    You can kinda guess. But science around that isn’t robust yet.

    my two cents worth
    timind and The Pinhead like this.
  5. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco

    Yeah , it great that people are doing research. But at the same time I think people have read way too much into it.

    It’s not like people in the 70’s didn’t get goosebumps from listening on their stereos back then and only we are privy to goosebumps now that things measure better.

    The cool thing is we have a bit more research to help develop audio products now.
  6. ejman

    ejman Music, fountain of life!

    I've noticed the same thing, speakers that have that boosted bass, dip in the midrange and then somewhat boosted highs seem to have a lot of listeners that like that particular shape as opposed to the sort of ruler flat speakers that really sound obnoxious to many. My guess is that there is some psycho acoustic mumbo jumbo that is going on in a lot of folks (moi included) brain/ear interface that makes that particular shaping of the frequency response pleasing and engaging.
    The Pinhead likes this.
  7. Kyhl

    Kyhl On break

    It is generally accepted that to get pinpoint imaging you want the varying waves to arrive at the listener at the same time. In practice very few speaker manufacturers strive for this.

    What we are seeing is that the tweeter is a few cycles out of time from the mid and woofer.

    As JA mentioned this isn't that unusual for cabinet with horns mounted on the front board.

    When that happens the horn openings are at the same point on the face of the cabinet. However the horn throats are different lengths. The tweeter horn being shortest. This makes the tweeter frequencies arrive at the listener a few cycles before the mids.

    One adjustment on more time aligned speakers is to lean the face back to line up the drivers physically. That won't work with short horn tweeter combined with long horn mids.

    Then there are crossover choices that move things out of time which is why you sometimes see a driver with flipped polarity but closer in time.
  8. h1pst3r88

    h1pst3r88 Forum Resident

    Boston, USA
    The graph looks a lot like many guitar cab speakers that most players would say "sound good": the bump at 100hz and then the scooped middle (git speakers never go as high as hifi speakers on the high end) is indicative of what many, though not all by any means, guitarists would consider a nice tone.

    It will sound comfy and smooth; like a velvet-lined coffin... but it won't be accurate or particularly revealing in a way where a flatter speaker would be more faithful of the original recording.

    Put another way (inverted)... few would use a microphone with that speaker's response to capture source unless it was for a deliberate effect.

    There's nothing wrong with a comfy old pair of jeans and a cotton T-shirt... but if I wore that to the Boston Symphony's opening night, most people would wonder why I wasn't better calibrated to the intent of the performance.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  9. ejman

    ejman Music, fountain of life!

    Ah, the eternal question when it comes to hi-fi - ruler flat response ubber alles even if one's immediate response is "turn that down!!!!" well, to each his own. I'd rather enjoy my few remaining years on this earth enjoying the music I love to listen to rather than wanting to turn the sound down or off because I can't stand it anymore! For those that think ruler flat response accomplished thru an incredibly complex crossover circuit and zero measured THD distortion regardless of the amount of negative feedback required to get there in the amplification side - well - go for it, good luck. I hope you are still enjoying your tunes a few years down the line.
    bever70 likes this.
  10. vinylkid58

    vinylkid58 Forum Resident

    Victoria, B.C.
    Notice the minus amplitude swings are literally half (-5 db) what the Volti measures. I think that is quite significant. This Quad plot is almost benign in comparison.

    patient_ot and The Pinhead like this.
  11. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Iowa, USA
    The ole smiley face is popular amongst the masses.
    h1pst3r88 likes this.
  12. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    Wished I could lay eyes on a freq response graph of my speakers. I've searched online but apparently no one ever measured them.
  13. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    great explanation, thank you.
  14. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    And that is the anechoic response.
    Which is typically much better than in room.

    The lateral dispersion is bad, falls off a cliff off axis.

    The Z
    Magnitude 3 to over 20 Ohms in wild swings
    Phase 75 deg swings
    It is above or below 45 deg 4 times.
    That means only 70% of the amps power is making sound. It would need a very stout amp even though it has very high efficiency.

    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
    head_unit and The Pinhead like this.
  15. Wow, looks like my latest electroencephalogram.
  16. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    That is much better than this
    100-10000 +/- 5 dB

    the below, +/- 10




    Another speaker
  17. Ro-Go

    Ro-Go Forum Resident

    Hudson Valley
    The opposite may also be true.
    BrentB likes this.
  18. jtw

    jtw Forum Resident

    Yes. Equal loudness or Fletcher-Munson curves.
    ejman likes this.
  19. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    I would like to reviews run pink noise thru speakers. imo a better test than a sweep, all frequencies simultaneously.
    Exposes xover issues better, etc.

    I believe a speaker should be a linear transducer. With the least amount of phase shift.

    If someone wants to tailor it use the cover adjustment ot tone controls.

    I would like to hear that speaker to see if it correlates to the measurements.
  20. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    The most sensitive is the 3-4 kHz range, but very little musical content/energy there.
    1/2 lies below 1000, the rest above on average.
    If average is 1000 Hz and 80 dB, the FM is fairly flat. EL is different.
    At 30-40 Hz we would need 110 dB to perceive at the same level as something at 1000 Hz and 80 dB. That is way to loud.

    We want the music to be at the same relative levels it was recorded and mixed by the engineer for playback thru a flat system.
    At low volumes use a loudness button or bump up bass/treble.

    But a 80 dB I'm guess that speaker would be harsh and fatiguing. Some may love it.

    The definitive curves are those defined in ISO 226 from the International Organization for Standardization, which are based on a review of modern determinations made in various countries.

    The curves
  21. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Regarding the idea of "sound bad but measure well", I'd like to see an example of this with modern measurement results. I've asked folks to provide an example over the years but have never seen a good case of such a thing.

    Obviously there's no saying what kind of subjective preferences people like or what kinds of rooms people use their equipment in. Ultimately if all we're saying is that someone, somewhere, will like a particular device, I'm sure you'll find positive testimonies and a subjective review to come with that for anything!

    Assuming the measurements of this speaker are accurate in Stereophile, then I think we can with good confidence say that this speaker can still sound "good" to some but it's not a particularly "accurate" device for high-fidelity reproduction of the source material. Frequency response is idiosyncratic and will need some DSP to straighten out if one desires. That step response is rather dire and time-domain looks "problematic" if one is into soundstage nuances like the perception of depth. Would have been interesting to see what the in-room response looked like in Micallef's small room; even more interesting to see a picture of the room itself and where he was sitting to audition these!

    So, the DeVore O/93's are "more colored" than these, eh? Hmmm...

    I noticed the Volti Audio Razz also measures rather... em... unusual. The designer must really like that 100Hz accentuation and uneven treble.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  22. head_unit

    head_unit Senior Member

    Los Angeles CA USA
    Oh come on, what's a few dozen huge peaks and dips between friends?!? :p
    ...but YEAH, WTF?!?
    Just goes to show most horns are crap. (OK actually I love horns but believe many are poorly designed by folks who don't really know what they are doing and are copying old formulas or physical units, and not availing themselves of the latest knowledge.)
    *some* yes but Lordy not all of that. "Bootylicious" comes to mind and not in a good way.
    MichaelXX2 and Kyhl like this.
  23. head_unit

    head_unit Senior Member

    Los Angeles CA USA
    As dipoles, the pseudo-anechoic measurements are less indicative of in-room performance, especially over time. Did they do an in-room curve in that review?

    Anyway it could be the Volti Razz(berry?) has some nice characteristics in the sound. Yet those should be achievable without building in a smiley-face EQ :drool:
    ...or maybe that's exactly what the designer wanted...
  24. Lenny99

    Lenny99 The truth sets you free.

    Clarksburg WV


    I get ur point. However I believe we are left with one of three choices, give or take a few. (For our situation I don’t believe we have to be that accurate. We simply need to cover all the bases).

    1) The reviewer is exaggerating and/or purposely misleading the reader.

    2) The reviewer is honestly mistaken due to various issues such as his listening room or equipment etc…. perfectly compensates for the speaker’s deficiencies.

    3) They sound good (for whatever reason) despite the graphs.

    My thoughts are:

    I believe the reviewer is highly respected in his field. I’m somewhat familiar with his work. I don’t remember him given to this much hyperbole. Also, it’s hard to believe he would sacrifice his credibility in this manner. I don’t think #1 is the answer.

    On the other hand, I find it hard to believe a reviewer with his experience could be so easily mistaken or make such a grave error. He has been at this a long time and has a lot of experience. I can’t imagine how he could do easily error. I think #2 is out.

    That leaves us with #3. And , I believe it’s the answer. For whatever reason, the speakers just sound good despite the graphs. Perhaps his other equipment is such a high grade that they helped the speakers. They usually list the equipment they use. And I would think that had been taken into consideration Could the charts be wrong? Perhaps a misprint? Could his measuring equipment be in error or need recalibrated? Or do they sound good regardless of the specs.

    I’m actually a very cynical person. But for this reviewer to be so wrong in this mag doesn’t add up. We have discussed the issue of “never a bad review before” but from what u have posted it appears the reviewer has went overboard with his praise. If the speakers were as bad as the chart seem to indicate (and I’m not good at reading charts) how could he even begin to give them a positive grade let alone the superlatives u have mentioned.

    Something is off, but I’m not sure what. I don’t want to assume the reviewer is purposely misleading the reader or had made such a terrible error without further info. I don’t think we know enough to come up with an answer. Given the info we have, I believe #3 is the most logical answer.
  25. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    There is a saying - "Dynamics are the Lifeblood of Music" and Volti largely gets that right - generally true of higher efficiency speakers and horns. I chose the Volti Rival speaker as a runner-up at the California Audio Show a few years back because it had some (more than some) get up and go and was exciting to listen to. They're not froo froo audiophile boring-ass speakers. I owned the KEF LS-50 for 4 years - a measurements darling. I'll take the Volti even with some of its audible idiosyncracies because the dynamics (micro, midi, macro) are all vastly better. Music is more involving. The KEF is great for $1500 but that's all it is and not any more than that.

    Granted KM does note that he is more of a music reviewer than an audio equipment reviewer - he specializes in Jazz.


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