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"House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

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  • #46
    Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

    I'd like to add a little addendum to what I said earlier. DDF (Dave) and Craig are right on their points, or at least I agree with them anyway. Based on my experience: voicing is about tonal balance more than anything, but this isn't as simple as it sounds. As much as we would prefer that the room not be looked at as part of loudspeaker, its influence is there and there's no way around it. Sure we can take gated measurements to a point, but it's hard to measure the low frequency balance in a room, as a result the proper bass balance is something we have to work out based on the diver's intended position in the room, and personal preference plays a role here.

    DDF is also correct when he says sometimes a speaker needs to measure non-flat in order to be perceived as flat. This may sound counter-intuitive, but the LS3/5a is an excellent example of this. Most measurements of the speaker show it to not be perfectly flat, but when used as intended most people would describe it as a very flat sounding speaker. It is the speaker's interaction with its environment that makes the difference, combined with the way we tend to perceive tonal balance as a whole.

    The upper end of the the spectrum isn't much better. You would think it would be, but here's a little anecdotal story to explain: When I was tweaking the SpiritWinds I had what looked like a very flat and smooth frequency response. Anyone would have agreed that it was flat. However, the treble region just did not seem exactly right to me with some of my reference music. I began to play with small changes in the tweeter's resistors until I had it sounding exactly the way I wanted, and what seemed correct to my ear with my reference music. The change was about 1 dB in tweeter level. This doesn't sound like enough to matter, but raise an entire tweeter's range by 1 dB and it is clearly an audible change. The frequency response, however, was superfluous at this point, because both before and after response curves appeared to be flat. In fact, even side by side it was difficult to discern the difference between them visually, but audibly, they were clearly different sounding. For those who say, "make it flat, and be done with it" are failing to understand how much audible difference can exist between two seemingly flat response curves. This is voicing of a flat speaker. (I am sharing things that took me years to learn guys, you don't always get this kind of insight).

    Finally, as I mentioned above - for a given flat on-axis response between two loudspeakers - where the crossover point is will still make them sound different. Different slopes in the crossover will make them sound different. Different directivity and off-axis response will make them sound different. Monopole or dipole, it will sound different. It's never as simple as flat response.

    Jeff B.
    Last edited by Jeff B.; 08-24-2015, 06:32 AM. Reason: typo
    Click here for Jeff Bagby's Loudspeaker Design Software

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    • #47
      Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

      I definitely have a sound that I like. Friends have told me I have a house sound. I end up voicing speakers to that sound. St least they tend to end up that way. Most of the voicing is work in the crossover region and along with it massaging the tweeter response. I don't tend to deviate much from flat, but I can sure tell when it start to snap into my sound.

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      • #48
        Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

        Originally posted by Jeff B. View Post
        I'd like to add a little addendum to what I said earlier. DDF (Dave) and Craig are right on their points, or at least I agree with them anyway. Based on my experience: voicing is about tonal balance more than anything, but this isn't as simple as it sounds. As much as we would prefer that the room not be looked at as part of loudspeaker, its influence is there and there's no way around it. Sure we can take gated measurements to a point, but it's hard to measure the low frequency balance in a room, as a result the proper bass balance is something we have to work out based on the diver's intended position in the room, and personal preference plays a role here.

        DDF is also correct when he says sometimes a speaker needs to measure non-flat in order to be perceived as flat. This may sound counter-intuitive, but the LS3/5a is an excellent example of this. Most measurements of the speaker show it to not be perfectly flat, but when used as intended most people would describe it as a very flat sounding speaker. It is the speaker's interaction with its environment that makes the difference, combined with the way we tend to perceive tonal balance as a whole.

        The upper end of the the spectrum isn't much better. You would think it would be, but here's a little anecdotal story to explain: When I was tweaking the SpiritWinds I had what looked like a very flat and smooth frequency response. Anyone would have agreed that it was flat. However, the treble region just did not seem exactly right to me with some of my reference music. I began to play with small changes in the tweeter's resistors until I had it sounding exactly the way I wanted, and what seemed correct to my ear with my reference music. The change was about 1 dB in tweeter level. This doesn't sound like enough to matter, but raise an entire tweeter's range by 1 dB and it is clearly an audible change. The frequency response, however, was superfluous at this point, because both before and after response curves appeared to be flat. In fact, even side by side it was difficult to discern the difference between them visually, but audibly, they were clearly different sounding. For those who say, "make it flat, and be done with it" are failing to understand how much audible difference can exist between two seemingly flat response curves. This is voicing or a flat speaker. (I am sharing things that took me years to learn guys, you don't always get this kind of insight).

        Finally, as I mentioned above - for a given flat on-axis response between two loudspeakers - where the crossover point is will still make them sound different. Different slopes in the crossover will make them sound different. Different directivity and off-axis response will make them sound different. Monopole or dipole, it will sound different. It's never as simple as flat response.

        Jeff B.
        As an amateur designer, I found this post most helpful.

        Thanks for posting, Jeff.

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        • #49
          Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

          Originally posted by Jeff B. View Post
          The upper end of the the spectrum isn't much better. You would think it would be, but here's a little anecdotal story to explain: When I was tweaking the SpiritWinds I had what looked like a very flat and smooth frequency response. Anyone would have agreed that it was flat. However, the treble region just did not seem exactly right to me with some of my reference music. I began to play with small changes in the tweeter's resistors until I had it sounding exactly the way I wanted, and what seemed correct to my ear with my reference music. The change was about 1 dB in tweeter level. This doesn't sound like enough to matter, but raise an entire tweeter's range by 1 dB and it is clearly an audible change. The frequency response, however, was superfluous at this point, because both before and after response curves appeared to be flat. In fact, even side by side it was difficult to discern the difference between them visually, but audibly, they were clearly different sounding. For those who say, "make it flat, and be done with it" are failing to understand how much audible difference can exist between two seemingly flat response curves. This is voicing or a flat speaker. (I am sharing things that took me years to learn guys, you don't always get this kind of insight).
          Agreed 100%. Good information and well written! I would also like to add that I feel even more than saying "entire tweeter range" here I would nitpick and say: changes of as little as half a DB (or perhaps smaller) are clearly audible to me specifically in the range of 1000 to 4000 hz. Guess where most of our crossover points end up - and you can see how tweaking subtle values can lead to changes in that range which are audible with critical listening. I don't find myself as sensitive to changes above and below that range, for the record.
          Audio: Media PC -> Sabre ESS 9023 DAC -> Behringer EP2500 -> (insert speakers of the moment)
          Sites: Jupiter Audioworks - Flicker Stream - Proud Member of Midwest Audio Club

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          • #50
            Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

            Originally posted by Jeff B. View Post
            Wolf and I cook with very different recipes, as an example, so even if both of us target a flat axial response our speakers will likely still sound different , and each will reflect our individual design methods.
            Jeff,
            Great wisdom throughout this thread by you, DDF, Craig, wolf, several others. Really good stuff.

            I like how people on forums will espouse how flat is best and only way. But, you go to a DIY get together and talk to people, and there will be people you meet who like the laid back relaxed speakers with depth and presentation. There will be people who like the every so slightly forward breathy bass thin speakers. There will be people who are digging the waveguides, while others are hating them. While I think we all agree that generally flat is best, there can be huge sound differences within a +-2 db range.

            I was wondering if you could expand on some of the differences between your approach and say Wolf's. I got to hear several of his designs this weekend at Chicago and enjoyed them thoroughly. You were represented by your Carritas, which I'm still amazed is less than $90 for the kit.
            - Ryan

            CJD Ochocinco ND140/BC25SC06 MTM & TM
            CJD Khanspires - A Dayton RS28/RS150/RS225 WMTMW
            CJD Khancenter - A Dayton RS28/RS150/RS180 WTMW Center
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            • #51
              Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

              Originally posted by ---k--- View Post
              ........ But, you go to a DIY get together and talk to people, and there will be people you meet who like the laid back relaxed speakers with depth and presentation. There will be people who like the every so slightly forward breathy bass thin speakers. There will be people who are digging the waveguides, while others are hating them. While I think we all agree that generally flat is best, there can be huge sound differences within a +-2 db range.
              ......
              These sentiments speak to my earlier post encouraging the OP to find 'his voice'. However, I suppose, the sound from Wolf's and Jeff's designs are quite popular, but may or may not be to an individual's likings after hearing them.

              YMMV.

              Our audio hobby has many likes and dislikes. Seeking what voicing others tend to favor more is like asking builders which tweeter cap do you favor in an effort to poll the building community to find out which cap is the most popular.
              Live in Southern N.E.? check out the CT Audio Society web site.

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              • #52
                Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                Fantastic thread, for a new guy like me, is like watching "inside the actors studio". Can't wait to build some of your designs guys!

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                • #53
                  Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                  Originally posted by ---k--- View Post
                  There will be people who are digging the waveguides, while others are hating them. While I think we all agree that generally flat is best, there can be huge sound differences within a +-2 db range.
                  I still cannot reconcile flat with unique.

                  I can understand a designer's approach to getting flat, but it would seem any deviation from flat in order to achieve a desired sound may appeal to an individual designer or others that like that particular sound. But presumably (if you're to believe Toole) in large-scale testing, speakers without a clearly recognizable trademark sound would be preferred by the masses?

                  Edit to add: I'm not sure I buy Toole. A part of me thinks that beyond a certain point, people's preference for one very flat speaker vs. another even more flat speaker would be a crap-shoot. Certainly extended listening by experienced ears may make some difference. But the problem with the research in the way it was presented in the video at least is that I have no idea of thresholds, or points where problems become clearly problematic. It seems that the longer you listen to a particular speaker, the more keen you may become of any inadequacy.

                  Pretty interesting topic, though. Don't mind me for not getting it, it is mostly my lack of experience.

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                  • #54
                    Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                    Originally posted by DDF View Post
                    Great vocal recordings are notoriously flattering of a speaker and are much more tolerant to a non-ideal crossover than other types of music, in my experience. I even use slightly compressed but very spectraly wide stoner rock tracks and they often tell me more about what to tweak than wonderfully recorded voice.
                    Ding ding ding ding! Right on the money. And people wonder why you hear so much "girl + guitar" stuff at HiFi shows!

                    It's great to have you back, Dave!
                    Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

                    Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
                    Twitter: @undefinition1

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                    • #55
                      Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                      @Paul

                      Clutch fan????

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                      • #56
                        Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                        I buy Toole's conclusion...given a well set-up, acoustically good to excellent listening room. Many don't have that, and even with room treatments are stuck with less than ideal listening conditions.
                        Francis

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                        • #57
                          Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                          Originally posted by philthien View Post
                          I still cannot reconcile flat with unique.

                          I can understand a designer's approach to getting flat, but it would seem any deviation from flat in order to achieve a desired sound may appeal to an individual designer or others that like that particular sound. But presumably (if you're to believe Toole) in large-scale testing, speakers without a clearly recognizable trademark sound would be preferred by the masses?

                          Edit to add: I'm not sure I buy Toole. A part of me thinks that beyond a certain point, people's preference for one very flat speaker vs. another even more flat speaker would be a crap-shoot. Certainly extended listening by experienced ears may make some difference. But the problem with the research in the way it was presented in the video at least is that I have no idea of thresholds, or points where problems become clearly problematic. It seems that the longer you listen to a particular speaker, the more keen you may become of any inadequacy.

                          Pretty interesting topic, though. Don't mind me for not getting it, it is mostly my lack of experience.
                          I see no reason to not accept Toole's research. But we're still back to two things: that the one dimensional metric of axial frequency response can't tell you everything. And what exactly is "flat " anyway? No speaker produces a flat line, they all have deviations. It's all about scale. I work in a world where some parts are cut to fairly large tolerances, and others are cleaned with plasma and measured to the millionth of an inch, and a film of oil has to be dimensionally accounted for.
                          Click here for Jeff Bagby's Loudspeaker Design Software

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                          • #58
                            Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                            You can actually deviate quite a bit in terms of minor xover tweaks and still be relatively "flat". Voicing for me is playing with resistors for the most part (and mainly in tweeters). But, there's also that point where you choose some drivers that end up either hating each other, or you hate them, at which point voicing becomes a redesign and you end up with a pair of speakers sitting on your pool table that you'll never use. I prefer my mids a little forward, and while I love detail, I'm not a fan of bright speakers.

                            Originally posted by Pallas View Post
                            Voicing is often the term used for band aids to cover for initial design/planning errors, such as failure to ensure a midrange/tweeter directivity match by using too large a mid or an inadequate waveguide (often, and astoundingly to me in 2015, 180 deg, i.e. a flat baffle) on the tweeter. My preference is to avoid those errors on the front end.
                            I'm really curious which speakers you designed and built that didn't require a resistor swap or maybe a cap or inductor tweak. I'm going to assume there aren't any, because based on your description of voicing it's very obvious that you don't have a clue what you're talking about. If I'm wrong, I'd love to know. Please... take us all to school Pallas :rolleyes:.
                            "The ability of any system to produce exceptional sound will be limited mainly by the capability of the speakers" Jim Salk
                            "Audio is surely a journey full of revelations as you go" JasonP

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                            • #59
                              Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                              "Flat" is all relative. If your frequency response doesn't seem "flat" enough for your liking - then just zoom out the scale. This is the trick that many speaker manufacturers use (i.e. TB and some older Dayton graphs). The more you zoom out on the scale, the more "flat" the response appears.

                              Now - in response to the actual question, yes - there's a "house" sound. Nearly everyone has it. I've spent the past 15 years tuning many of the computers that you guys use on a day-to-day basis. I'm really good at it. But, that being said, I don't actually tune the computers the way that I would want to tune them if I were completely in control.

                              The majority of people (80-90% of the general public) actually prefer a recessed midrange and screaming highs. Really!! Think of the "smile" curve, but with a heavy emphasis placed on treble. Just how recessed the mid-range and how elevated the highs is unique to each person. Now, part of this has to do with SPL. With the micro-speakers used in today's consumer electronics, it's easier to get SPL with an emphasis on the treble. It's really difficult to push these micro-speakers with bass frequencies. "Smart" amplifiers that monitor and adjust for voice coil temperature and excursion really help, but there's still a natural physics issue in terms of moving air.

                              When I "voice" my own speaker designs, I prefer a much warmer tone. Generally speaking, I'll use simulations to get the response curve "flat" and then I'll put the microphones away. I'll listen to music that I know and love very well, and I'll use my "A/B" comparison device that I built to compare my designs against a known design (usually the Continuum's). I'll then tweak the components of the crossover until I get it "right". What's right to me may not be right to you.

                              I encourage you to go to a DIY event and listen to as many designs as you can. I'm extremely happy with my Continuum's and I use them as my reference design. I have no issues with building any of Jeff's or Ben's designs, mainly because I love how those guys tune their speakers. I would compare most of my designs to something like one of those guys. There are other people out there who voice slightly different (Carmody and others) and many people prefer those type voicings. Make your own decisions, and just enjoy whatever you decide to do.
                              DARPA Jr - 2015 InDIYana Winner - RS180-8 + RS100P-8 + ND25FA
                              The Aria's - RS150-4 (or RS150-8) + XT25SC90
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                              • #60
                                Re: "House sound" Do the designers here have a "house sound"?

                                I used to rely heavily on a few resources as absolute authority on the subject - primarily the same Toole often invoked, and the guys at Harmon. That is no longer the case, however, as I have heard too many superb systems that defy the Toole/Harmon descriptions.
                                Don't listen to me - I have not sold any $150,000 speakers.

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