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Sound Quality:* What matters and what doesen't?

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  • Sound Quality:* What matters and what doesen't?

    Hi Gentlemen,

    This is a bit of a follow up to my query as to what speaker folks found most impressive. I just finished reading Floyd Toole's book, Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms, Third Edition and his view is that sound quality is primarily related to very flat on axis response, smooth off axis response and bass quality. He seems to think issues of driver construction, cone material, cabinet design, crossover topology, phase, distortion and component quality are much less critical in and of themselves and will be reflected in the FR. That is, as if, " When you get the on and off axis FR right, it is due to everything else being right."
    On the other hand, on Tech Talk it is not infrequently said the a speaker can measure well and sound lousy. I noticed that many of the speakers refferenced in the "most impressive" thread had very expensive drivers and wonder if something about driver quality is a key to great sound. So, what in your experience, are the key factors in putting together a great sounding speaker. Can a speaker using, say a Dayton RS series woofer, Peerless XT series tweeter and a well designed crossover with Dayton quality components, sound as good as one using the NLA Hiquiphon tweeter, Seas $285 woofer and boutique crossover parts?
    Of course, crossover design is a key and synergy is significant, but in your personal view, where should one focus the most energy and money and what is your mental design process when considering building your next truly excellent DIY speaker?

    Best,
    Jay

  • #2


    Over the years some of the best sounds I’ve compiled in a system resulted in paying more attention to the overall compilation and interactions than the quality of the components.....couldn’t afford high end.
    .
    As I get older I’m able to afford (supposedly) better quality components and find it harder to get the overall blend.....as in it seems one must target a more specific genre of music and tune to a certain volume level......no free lunch is basically what I’m saying.

    Seems as though these people that have several systems in the same room have already figured this out.

    I like loud blues,country,southern rock, I’m finding source quality also comes more into play the better the components are......the better my system becomes I find I can no longer listen to many recordings I used to enjoy because now every flaw is overwhelmingly apparent.

    Some of the better ‘pro’ sound’ stuff when forced to comply to audiophile standards has been working for me......cheap, accurate and easy to power.

    there are differences in crossover components especially caps (don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t) BUT......those differences as I’ve stated above, may not compliment your system on a whole and make for a worse sound. It’s a game of checks and balances.

    bob

    Comment


    • #3
      Not to get too into the arguing about Caps mattering a lot, but have seen many pro's in our field say they do not matter, and have seen many armchair audiophiles claim caps matter a lot.

      I have never seen any for sure evidence by the audiophiles that back up what they say, beyond the claim they make...

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by kevintomb View Post
        Not to get too into the arguing about Caps mattering a lot, but have seen many pro's in our field say they do not matter, and have seen many armchair audiophiles claim caps matter a lot.

        I have never seen any for sure evidence by the audiophiles that back up what they say, beyond the claim they make...
        The pro’s in our field usually have one thing in mind......the bottom line.

        The differences are quite apparent if you ever took the time, and money to experiment......whether it’s ‘better’ is debatable.

        experimentation on does not get a lot of encouragement here, almost as though it’s all black and white and finite.......I don’t see it that way at all.

        ”many of the things you can count, don’t count.....many of the things you can’t count really count”

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Drjay View Post
          Hi Gentlemen,

          This is a bit of a follow up to my query as to what speaker folks found most impressive. I just finished reading Floyd Toole's book, Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms, Third Edition and his view is that sound quality is primarily related to very flat on axis response, smooth off axis response and bass quality. He seems to think issues of driver construction, cone material, cabinet design, crossover topology, phase, distortion and component quality are much less critical in and of themselves and will be reflected in the FR. That is, as if, " When you get the on and off axis FR right, it is due to everything else being right."
          On the other hand, on Tech Talk it is not infrequently said the a speaker can measure well and sound lousy. I noticed that many of the speakers refferenced in the "most impressive" thread had very expensive drivers and wonder if something about driver quality is a key to great sound. So, what in your experience, are the key factors in putting together a great sounding speaker. Can a speaker using, say a Dayton RS series woofer, Peerless XT series tweeter and a well designed crossover with Dayton quality components, sound as good as one using the NLA Hiquiphon tweeter, Seas $285 woofer and boutique crossover parts?
          Of course, crossover design is a key and synergy is significant, but in your personal view, where should one focus the most energy and money and what is your mental design process when considering building your next truly excellent DIY speaker?

          Best,
          Jay
          I'd never count on, or expect the cap brand to change my opinion of one of my speakers. But.... I'll try different brands, if I have them on hand, and see. It's fun. However, I'm not willing to spend more for a small cap than a tweeter. A small change in the cap value sometimes makes a significant difference. Good engineering of a design will get you good sound. Small design details make a difference (sometimes, and with some music).

          I take great pains to absorb sound inside the box, and I look closely at driver responses above, or below their pass-band. So, for example, if my woofer is crossed at 2k, I'm still looking closely at what it's doing at 4k and higher. Same with the tweeter I'm not shy on adding a notch if I think it's needed.

          I think lower distortion drivers are important, if you are pushing the spl limits with them.

          Currently, my favorite speaker uses a 10" RS270P-4, in a 2-way. It probably isn't ideal for everyone, but it checks all the right boxes for me. Particularly the bass quality.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mountainman Bob View Post

            The pro’s in our field usually have one thing in mind......the bottom line.

            The differences are quite apparent if you ever took the time, and money to experiment......whether it’s ‘better’ is debatable.

            experimentation on does not get a lot of encouragement here, almost as though it’s all black and white and finite.......I don’t see it that way at all.

            ”many of the things you can count, don’t count.....many of the things you can’t count really count”
            The pro's I referenced, were speaking directly about sound quality, not considering bottom line at all.
            I have tried some fancier caps over the years, found only very modest changes.

            I was referencing some audiophiles that claim a huge improvement in sound. I never see more than claims.
            I guess not that big a deal, or by now there should be universal agreement about it.


            Things that are highly debated,(on other audio forums) tend to usually not be true.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think Toole is pretty much spot-on, and confirms what has evolved somewhat naturally.

              That is, 6.5" two-way designs. They're basically the least expensive way to achieve simultaneously good on- and off-axis response with a shot at fairly decent bass.

              Things get a bit more complicated and expensive when you need higher output. That is where you begin to see the need for three-way designs or the combinations of fairly exotic (at least by 6.5" two-way standards) components. Or, you can add subs.

              The numerous bandwagons that pull through these forums with new and pricey woofers and tweeters are just a means of trying new stuff and seeing what you like. You CAN do wonders with reasonably priced woofers and tweeters. The spendy woofer may get you more extension/lower distortion and the pricey tweeter may put a little more smile on your face, sometimes that and a beer is all it takes to make it a good day.

              Comment


              • #8
                Dr, if you can get yourself to any of the DIY events, I think you'll find that you'd be (very?) happy with probably at least over half of the designs (and most likely consider them "upgrades" to your current system - unless you've $pent lot$ of ca$h on the best commercial stuff). 10 yrs ago (W-A-A-Y fewer "competent" XO designers back then) it was quite a bit different - but today nearly all of them sound pretty dang good.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kevintomb View Post

                  The pro's I referenced, were speaking directly about sound quality, not considering bottom line at all.
                  I have tried some fancier caps over the years, found only very modest changes.

                  I was referencing some audiophiles that claim a huge improvement in sound. I never see more than claims.
                  I guess not that big a deal, or by now there should be universal agreement about it.


                  Things that are highly debated,(on other audio forums) tend to usually not be true.
                  I dated a girl in my younger yrs that thought her table top radio sounded better than my kenwood / ppi / mb quartz system in my truck....I suppose it’s all in the ears of the beholder!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Here is an interesting experiment that I did with active vs passive. My final thought (post 19 of the thread) was that the main difference in sound quality was the amp and headroom. The passive version didn't sound different when using an amp with more headroom. So IME the crossover components had a much smaller significance than the amplifier as the speaker whether active or passive didn't sound noticeably different when I switche the passive to an amp with more power and headroom. http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...continuum-3way

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rpb View Post

                      I'd never count on, or expect the cap brand to change my opinion of one of my speakers. But.... I'll try different brands, if I have them on hand, and see. It's fun. However, I'm not willing to spend more for a small cap than a tweeter. A small change in the cap value sometimes makes a significant difference. Good engineering of a design will get you good sound. Small design details make a difference (sometimes, and with some music).
                      I wholeheartedly agree. There are so many variables to consider when designing a speaker that make a clearly audible and measurable difference that I don't worry too much about the brand of cap I'm using. And let's not even talk about the effect your room has on things!

                      I would rather spend the money (if I had it to spend) on better drivers vs. boutique crossover parts. Heck, I can't really speak to the sonic differences between an electrolytic or film cap. I've never actually compared them because I don't use eletrolytics in my MT designs. I use film types because the tolerances are almost always tighter, they are not too expensive, and life expectancy longer. As I branch out and finally tackle a 3-way design, I probably won't be spending the money for large film caps in the LP shunt position - at least not right away.
                      Co-conspirator in the development of the "CR Gnarly Fidelity Reduction Unit" - Registered Trademark, Patent Pending.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Some very large values of capacitance in a polypropylene film cap, at a very reasonable price, are found if you look for motor run capacitors. Ebay has a good collection, or probably even Home Depot etc. Note that motor start caps are usually bipolar electrolytic. Those may be ok for audio, but the polypropylene is definitely the better cap. Out of curiosity I bought some and measured them in the lab, they are the real McCoy.
                        Francis

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tom_s View Post

                          There are so many variables to consider when designing a speaker that make a clearly audible and measurable difference that I don't worry too much about the brand of cap I'm using. And let's not even talk about the effect your room has on things!
                          That’s kindly what i’ve been getting at all along.......once your positioned in your room you can then tune the xo to your space.

                          In this Capacity ;) different brands do indeed sound different from one another......I don’t know why this isn’t more acceptable, it seems easier then spending thousands on room treatment.

                          Along the same lines why would you go through the trouble of (for example) baffle step correction if what your actually doing is making it worse for your room?

                          i’m well aware the need to be flat and ‘correct’ if your selling speakers or designing a diy project.....and then there’s the whole ‘show’ thing......but for people that know where their speakers are going to be I think there’s an untapped well of tuning to be utilized?




                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm a firm believer that caps make a difference, but not all caps are worth the money, nor do all caps actually make the difference appear. It was most apparent on the AMTs in my Nephila, and at least distinguishable on the others I've done. Identifying what brand? Forget about it unless it's a Solen. That grit on a tweeter is easy to know.

                            I was told by a prominent xover guru that he heard the difference between the poly and NPE on the woofer in the Attitudes test at Iowa. He stated, " I thought sure I wouldn't be able to tell the difference in that test, but $H-- I was wrong!"

                            Drivers if well designed will make a great difference and some are worth more money than others depending on application. Application is definitely key.

                            Minimalism with respect to necessity is how I design. If that means more parts, it means more parts.

                            Later,
                            Wolf
                            "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
                            "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
                            "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
                            "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

                            *InDIYana event website*

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                            My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
                            http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

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                            • #15
                              Getting away from caps and back to driver quality... One of the descriptions that more expensive drivers seem to focus on is low distortion, so it would make sense that low distortion is one of the key things "that matters". However, I have read that Accuton drivers can sound amazing but supposedly don't measure that well on distortion.

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