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tim916
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NHT and Recommended Components

So I just received the recommended components issue and something has struck me as odd regarding the classification of NHT's speakers. The Evolution T6 is placed in "Class A", and the Xd is placed in "Class A - Restricted Extreme LF" with a little note from JA that he wanted to place it in "High Class B" but that he "demurs to KR's class A".

After reading JA's takes on both speakers (including his follow-up on the "commando" T6 configuration), I would not have thought he would pick the T6 over the Xd. On top of this, he personally measured both systems in the lab and in his listening room, and the Xd clearly bested the T6 and even demonstrated deeper bass extension.

Kal and JA: Can you guys offer some clarification?

Editor
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components


Quote:
Can you guys offer some clarification?

As good as as I thought Xd, there was one aspect of its sound that increasingly bothered me, which was its overall lack of transparency. When I went back to conventional speakers, the restoration of this lack immediately struck me.

Whether it is due to the inherent digitization or to some other factor (which could only be determined if the system had a digital input), I do not know. But as much as I respect the Xd system, it does fall behind a conventional system like the T6 in this one area.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John Ashman
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

I see we are now censoring posts that point out the truth. Still, here's the relevant website - http://www.qtips.com

I can provide phone numbers for John to call and speak with people who have traded in T6s for Xd so he can tell them they're not as transparent. I'd love to hear how that conversation goes. What is this, opposite day? Seriously!

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Re: NHT and Recommended Components


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I see we are now censoring posts that point out the truth...

I have no idea what you are talking about, Mr. Ashman.


Quote:
I can provide phone numbers for John to call and speak with people who have traded in T6s for Xd so he can tell them they're not as transparent.

I can only report my own opinion. One thing that concerned me was the phenomenon I reported listening to the stepped toneburst track on my Editor's Choice CD. I discussed this a few weeks back with Keith Howard, who has written in the past about audible problems with high-order crossovers realized in the digital domain (and does so again in the April issue of HFN), but he had not heard something like that. He is investigating.

Don't get me wrong; I feel the Xd is a superb speaker system overall, just lacking slightly in one area that is personally important to me.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John Ashman
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components


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I have no idea what you are talking about, Mr. Ashman.

I'd replied earlier, but it was deleted.

Quote:

I can only report my own opinion. One thing that concerned me was the phenomenon I reported listening to the stepped toneburst track on my Editor's Choice CD.

That is, of course, a reasonable concern.

Quote:

Don't get me wrong; I feel the Xd is a superb speaker system overall, just lacking slightly in one area that is personally important to me.

Let me ask this then. Do you think B&W speakers are "transparent"? I just want to see if we have the same definition of the word. I can tell you that I have Xds and T6s in the same room, well *had*, the T6s are now retired for me, but not a single person has ever felt that the T6s were more detailed in any way than the Xd and many T6 owners have already traded in for Xd or have expressed a desire to do so. The overwhelming reasons? Bigger soundstage, more precision imaging, wider sweetspot and the biggest reason? More transparency.

No technology is perfect, but steep crossovers combined with rigid drivers provide higher resolution, even if there are minor issues buried underneath. Shallow passive crossovers have their own way of butchering the sound. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the "not as transparent as T6s" statement. Have you ever heard the two side by side? I lived with them side by side for almost a year. And I've also heard them side by side with Meridian DSP5500s/DSP6000s, B&W 803Ds/Matrix 801s, Genesis APM1s and other speakers that are not nearly as transparent, so I look at it like this:

Editor
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components


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Do you think B&W speakers are "transparent"?

It depends on which of B&W's many speaker models you are referring to. In the case of the B&W 802D that Kal Rubinson reviewed in the December Stereophile, yes indeed.


Quote:
not a single person has ever felt that the T6s were more detailed in any way than the Xd and many T6 owners have already traded in for Xd or have expressed a desire to do so.

I have not said that the Xd is not a superb speaker system. Quite the opposite.


Quote:
The overwhelming reasons? Bigger soundstage, more precision imaging, wider sweetspot and the biggest reason? More transparency.

Perhaps I am more fussy about this aspect of performance. I fail to understand why you cannot simply accept my true description of my experience of the two speakers. I seem to remember that you are an NHT dealer. Is that correct? If so, then I don't blame you for being upset. :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John Ashman
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components


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Perhaps I am more fussy about this aspect of performance. I fail to understand why you cannot simply accept my true description of my experience of the two speakers. I seem to remember that you are an NHT dealer. Is that correct? If so, then I don't blame you for being upset. :-)

Yes, of course. Now I have to explain to people why someone would imagine the Xds as not being sufficiently transparent, when the audible reality is so obviously different. I can only suspect that you haven't compared to the T6s directly or you'd understand my confusion. And, the 803D is certainly no where near as transparent as the Xd, nor are the Meridian/Genesis speakers. And having heard the 802D at CES, I immediately picked up on the upper midrange funkiness that Xd does not have. So, no, IMO, the Kevlar equipped 802D is not as transparent as Xd and the midrange characteristics are readily noticeable to anyone who, I guess, hasn't gotten so used to it that they can't notice it any more, so I think we have a different idea of "transparent". This is part of the reason I can't accept your description! A +/-5dB speaker is more transparent than a +/-1.25dB speaker? So, yes, I fail to understand your description because I have both at my disposal and can A/B them at will. I don't believe you have done this, so would be in a weaker position to know. Except for the fact that the measurements would readily back me up, which doubles my confusion. And I can produce a long list of people who would be equally confused. The T6s do play louder, however. That's just about it, as good as they are.

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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

This started out kinda funny, but it's turned into righteous indignation over a lack of validation.

Mr. Ashman, is anyone precluding you from listening to whatever speaker you like?

What do you care if JA digs it as much as you, or less?

Other than an underlying fiscal incentive, I see no sane reason for the unhappiness.

Although, maybe I misunderstand. Your revelation that a speaker with a flatter frequency response curve must be more transparent than another based on that statistic is kinda funny. Is this a joke thread?

The part about critical listening at CES was pretty rich, too.

Maybe I could record the sound of a speaker at my house and email you a WAV file and you could tell me how transparent the speaker is?

________________________
________________________

I'm mostly goofing off, but your agenda is showing.

John Ashman
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

Pretty funny stuff. Actually, I just wanted to put it out there that I don't know of anyone that agrees with Mr Atkinson, but that his pronouncements, no matter how little grounded they are in reality, have an impact. I don't mind rational, logical, factual criticism, but this one is simply ridiculous and now *I* have to live with it. Thank goodness Kal actually spent enough time with them to have a better perspective and noticed how resolving they are. Sheesh. At least it's good to know that Baghdad Bob still has a job

As for flatter being more transparent, no, not necessarily, but Kevlar, for instance, is no where near as resolving as metal, let alone magnesium in particular. It's a very lossy material. Magnesium is not. I can't say from CES that a speaker is a *great* speaker, but if the first thing I notice is a raspiness in the upper midrange, one that shows up in the measurements, I think my hearing is sufficiently advanced and I apparently can notice frequency response and distortion issues that most reviewers can't or won't hear. Anyway, no sense in complaining about it relentlessly, but if Xd deserves criticism, than so does Stereophile. It ain't perfect either.

Monty
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

I guess we can expect TAS to declare them the best speakers they have heard in years, now.

gkc
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

I'm late to the fray, as usual. Sorry. You guys are comparing apples and oranges until you get the same software (CD's? SACD's? LP's? Heavily "saturated" full-orchestral music? Chamber? Jazz? Vocals?) and similar electronics and front end system matches (and we haven't even mentioned the room characteristics). To me, "transparency" is a combination of the speakers "disappearing" as an apparent sound source, leaving the illusion of sound-without-boxes, lack of grain, and a palpable sense of the dramatic attack-and-decay "dynamics" one gets at live acoustic concerts. Room and system matches loom HUGE in all of these areas, and I don't think any one aspect of system-matching approaches the differences made among the infinite variety of software choices available to both of you. I have heard systems excel in small combo and vocal reproduction and simply fall apart trying to reproduce the illusion of, say, a Mahler or Stravinsky orchestral climax. I did notice Mr. Atkinson mentioned both a testing situation (tone-bursts) and a few specific CD's he knows well. Perhaps the other party (sorry -- forgot the name already...Mr. Ashman?) could be more specific in his listening set-up? Since these judgments tend to have consequences in the business of selling this stuff, the argument ought to descend from the abstract into the realm of communicable human experience. One last note: both speakers are awarded some form of Class "A" in the ratings. How bad can that be for sales? If I were selling either/both of these speakers, I sure as hell wouldn't be dwelling on negatives...I'd sell a truckload of BOTH models. Cheers and happy listening. Gerald Clifton

Jeff Wong
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

These are not the first speakers to receive a qualified statement in the audio press. There are plenty of companies that have received more critical reviews and still manage to sell gear. Why do these require further explication of an opinion? Sure, some opinions may bear greater weight than others, but, don't buyers ultimately vote with their ears and wallets?

BachToRock
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

I am really surprised more time was not allocated to explaining or trying to figure out what was the cause of the toneburst issue...

"There was also something I noticed with the toneburst track on my Editor's Choice compilation (CD, Stereophile STPH016-2). This track comprises equal-length tonebursts that move from 32Hz up to 3.2kHz in half steps, then back down again. I created this signal to investigate room and speaker-cabinet resonant problems, but when I played it over the Xd system, I was puzzled to hear what sounded like very faint "ghosts" accompanying the sinewave bursts, almost but not entirely like modulation noise. A puzzle, though I did wonder if this phenomenon had something to do with the veiling I had noticed on music."

Let's say he was just testing a new amplifier and was hearing "ghosts" on transients that he had NEVER experienced or heard before... don't you think that would be a red flag raiser?

There is no doubt that the XD achieves an exeptionally flat frequency response, but so do all CD players and some are more transparent and resolving than others... so isn't it safe to say that there is more to the equation than just frequency response?

Would it be unreasonable to assume that the processor and digital switching amplifiers are deteriorating the signal to a degree that low level details are no being produced... this would certainly cause the system to be less "transparent"

jamesgarvin
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Re: NHT and Recommended Components

Mr. Atkinson, in a related note, I was curious why the T6 was elevated to full range class A. I recall your measurements showing that it falls off sharply at 30Hz, and that it's previous ranking was Class A, restricted low frequency because the full range requirement is that the speaker go to 20Hz. So why the elevation for a speaker that apparently does not go to 20Hz? Just curious.

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Re: NHT and Recommended Components


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So why the elevation for a speaker that apparently does not go to 20Hz?

In hindsight, following my experience of the Xd system and after auditioning some other speakers that have been rated in Class A, I felt that the NHT system had originally been under-rated.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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