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When is good too good?

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  • fpitas
    replied
    I agree that you can't overdo clear and detailed. But don't make the assumption that high buck commercial speakers are "better". Often the frequency response is mediocre to frightening.

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  • Geoff Millar
    commented on 's reply
    Most people have their 'top ten' recordings, but a list of 'bottom 10 unlistenable recordings' could be interesting, rather like the 10 worst films ever made.

    Or not...

    Geoff

  • jhollander
    replied
    Also depends how the designer voices or controllers the driver with the crossover. There are some revealing speaker drivers such as aluminum cones that need extra attention to prevent them from sounding harsh and fatiguing. Agree also there are also a lot of bad recordings or "dolby"ised recordings that are unlistenable.

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  • Geoff Millar
    replied
    Interesting topic.

    Our music collection ranges from pop/rock to classics to jazz, much of which - I would say at least 40% - isn't that well recorded or mixed. Some of it, on LP or CD, dates from the 1920s, such as early Louis Armstrong or old classical recordings. We have a few badly compressed/limited modern rock records which I find un-listenable on anything. I don't have an equaliser so can't follow JR's good suggestion above, but I use Audacity to clean up and adjust the gain on
    some of our music.

    When trying to choose which speakers to build, I made a CD which ran the gamut of genres and recording quality and listened to a few options in a DIY speaker showroom. In particular, I looked at metal v paper woofers and fabric v metal dome tweeters. Of course, their sound depends on the implementation , but paper/fabric sounded more natural with our range of music.

    I still couldn't decide what to build, so I asked the designer of one of PE's favourite kits what he would suggest for our requirements and budget - music taste, room size, receiver power etc. His recommendation was spot on: MTMs with RS180P woofers and Morel tweeters. They sound great with 95% of our collection - detailed, great bass, vocals, cymbals and violins sound just right, etc. Not 'high end' cost, but definitely high end sound.

    For the other 5%, mainly low-fi bootlegs and 1920s - 1940s recordings , I find the Classix IIs cope better with material such as Dylan's Basement tapes, early Beatles and stuff like Django Reinhardt. There are bum notes, rumble, hiss, '78 crackle' etc and the MTMs reproduce those extras well as they tend to extract everything out of a recording. The Classix use relatively cheap drivers, but as Paul Carmody says on his web page, they tend to 'gloss over' less well recorded music.

    That said, the music is what matters: my brain soon tunes out from hiss, tinny drums or rumble and I just enjoy the track.

    Geoff

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  • DeZZar
    replied
    Originally posted by JonathanPenner View Post
    At what point does a speaker become so clear and detailed that it makes good sound great and bad sound awful?
    I don't think its really an issue of clarity - I personally don't believe there is anything considered "too" clear. Clear being the absence of harmonic distortion and the ability to reproduce fine detail.

    More often than not it will come down to the distortion characteristics of the drivers and how the final system is 'voiced'. A lot of people don't find a perfectly flat response that pleasing to listen to. But I've never come across anyone that wanted more harmonic distortion in a music reproduction environment.

    Originally posted by JonathanPenner View Post
    eventually I'd also like to make a higher end 3-way speaker with drivers in the 30$-80$ price range.
    As with many things the law of diminishing returns applies here. By the time you've paid the money required to have good basket construction & materials, decent cone materials and a strong motor system with low distortion characteristics - anything costing more is unlikely to materially improve on the results. What's considered cheap vs expensive is actually not a definitive thing though, its relative to each person - but regardless, in my experience, the above rule applies.


    Originally posted by JonathanPenner View Post
    Is it possible for a speaker to make every song sound great, even with their flaws?
    Define great? It's possible for something to make everything generally listenable (like for example a Sonos system) but will it be the absolute best and most enjoyable reproduction of any one song - probably not. That why you start to get into questions around what sort of music you like listening to when you walk into shops selling high end gear. They know that a system that's going to make you feel like Diana Krall is singing right in front of you in your living room is probably going to make metal by comparison sound like a bag of snakes.

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  • AEIOU
    commented on 's reply
    MAYNARDG Don't try to peel the raisins either!

  • maynardg
    commented on 's reply
    Please no peeling of grapes.

  • johnnyrichards
    replied
    I have a pair of the Rokit 5 G3 in my home bar. They used to be my desktop speakers. They are pretty nice in my considered opinion, hard (if not impossible) to beat for the $300-350 you can pick up a pair.

    This is the progression we almost all experience - enjoy our music on middling quality systems - upgrade the speakers and then search for better recorded music and so it goes. The only recommendation I have is to experiment with the EQ when listening to music that doesn't sound good on a certain pair of speakers. There is zero shame in doing so. I know people that have remastered songs/albums in software like Audacity so they sound better. Obviously you cannot restore dynamic range, but you can definitely add/remove emphasis on frequencies etc.

    Unless you want to listen to Diana Krall the rest of your life, you will eventually realize that your experience is all that matters and if that involves "tampering" with the engineers end result to make it listenable than go for it.

    At the extreme (silly) high end of things, companies like Wilson etc will sometimes actually introduce linear distortion in their speakers. This is no accident. They make them bassy or forward or trebly to try and make sure if a lottery winner with a taste for 2000's hyper-compressed pop music walks in to a showroom they will drop the $100,000 on a pair of speakers. So there is a precedent for modifying the output signal on a pair of speakers to target personal tastes.

    Leave a comment:


  • JonathanPenner
    started a topic When is good too good?

    When is good too good?

    Hey all,

    Disclaimer: I know driver selection isn't everything and it's the design of the speaker as a whole that determines final quality. You can't just throw money at drivers and expect something great at the end.

    I recently finished my first speaker build using TCP115s and ND25FAs. They're pretty inexpensive drivers and I know their quality is pretty low even compared to the RS line of Dayton Audio drivers, let alone super high end ones like Scan-Speak. I have a few other build ideas in mind, mostly using inexpensive Dayton Audio drivers, but eventually I'd also like to make a higher end 3-way speaker with drivers in the 30$-80$ price range.

    I remember listening to KRK Rokit 5s (nearfield reference monitors) with a reference subwoofer and hearing how they made good recordings sound absolutely incredible. The songs opened up and came alive. But I also remember listening to other music I liked that wasn't recorded very well and hearing just how awful they sounded. Not even a verse into a song I wanted to shut it off, where on other systems I'd have it on repeat.

    Since speakers are ultimately to listen to music we like and not just reference tracks, I'm wondering if there's a middle ground. At what point does a speaker become so clear and detailed that it makes good sound great and bad sound awful? Is it possible for a speaker to make every song sound great, even with their flaws? Is it to do with driver material design (metal, paper, poly, etc), distortion characteristics, etc.? Or are there voicing decisions that help mask flaws in tracks?

    Or do I have a misconception that all high end speakers are going to have the same issues I heard from the KRK setup?
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