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RobertSlavin
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Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended components

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jazzfan
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp

Excellent post - well thought out, well researched and with the facts to back things up.

I have an additional question for the Stereophile editors and writers. Why is there even a "Class A restricted extreme LF speakers" catagory?

The low frequency information is part of the music, is it not? Apparently some, if not all, of these speakers cannot reproduce these low frequencies, so why are they even considered Class A?

If an amp or CD player did not reproduce these same low frequencies it would never be considered for the any Class, let alone the Class A category. So why doesn't the lack of the ability of a speaker to reproduce these same low frequencies disqualify it from inclusion in the Class A category? Or to put it another way, why does Stereophile treat these low frequencies as so unimportant? Would they do the same if a speaker had great high and low frequency response but very poor midrange response? Would there be a "Class A restricted midrange speakers" category? I think not.

All the frequencies within the range of human hearing should be of equal importance as far as Class A ratings go, anything else is just unfair.

Monty
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp

JA doesn't measure speakers in an anechoic environment and uses nearfield measurements as a matter of practicality. His measurements rarely correlate with the manufacturer's measurements due to the difference in techniques employed.

In reference to your observations regarding flat frequency response: Human hearing perceives the broad mid frequencies to be louder due to our natural acuity in this region. If a loudspeaker were to actually produce a flat response from 20hz to 20khz we would still perceive the frequency extremes to be shelved down a bit. In effect, to perceive a flat response we need the old "equalizer smile" to compensate for our ears.

In general, this is why a flat response isn't necessarily the most appealing to our ears.

johnmarks
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Here's one answer

Speaking only for myself.

By my lights, a speaker that sounds "better" with less bass extension than a speaker that sounds "worse" with more bass extension, is "better."

Yes, the generally-accepted limit of human bass hearing is 20 Hz. But, if you only listen to Baroque recorder sonatas, trio sonatas, or string quartets of whatever era, the octave between 20 Hz and 40 Hz is only dedicated to room ambiance.

A speaker that has output that is relatively flat (in-room) at 40 Hz can handle most music, and, a speaker that begins rolling off at 50 Hz can acquit itself surprisingly well.

At the end of the day, I'd hope that I would buy a speaker to enjoy the music I listen to, rather than to satisfy some abstract idea of what a speaker should measure like.

I did a (if I may say so myself) excellent pipe organ recording, and most of the bass energy was clustered around 74 Hz, despite the fact that the organ had pipes going down to 18.5 Hz.

Cheerio,

JM

ohfourohnine
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Re: Here's one answer

Thanks, John, for making the salient point. How much of my music collection visits the range below 30Hz? Virtually none of it. It makes sense, nontheless for the Recommended to identify speakers which perform well down to 20Hz given that some folks care about that sort of thing. If they didn't there'd be lots fewer bucks spent on subs and lots less time trying to integrate the damn things into a good two channel system.

jazzfan
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Re: Here's one answer

Hi John,

As I stated in my post the only component in an audio system which can get a Class A rating while no being able to accurately reproduce all the frequencies within human hearing is the loudspeaker.

Applying your logic regarding listening to music which does not have the lower frequencies present, why not change the rating system from Class A through E to something along the lines of "Good for Full Orchestral Music", "Good for Chamber Music ", etc.

Now mind you, I'm not saying that there isn't many things of value in your statement but I truly don't understand why only loudspeakers and only the lower frequencies get this special treatment.

Editor
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Re: Here's one answer


Quote:
I truly don't understand why only loudspeakers and only the lower frequencies get this special treatment.

It's a good point, but one that is too black and white, I feel.

I created the category because there are many loudspeakers that are superb but their designers have made the deliberate decision not to aim at a bass that extends to 20Hz because of the compromises that would be necessary in other areas of performance. Without such a class in "Recommended Components," such loudspeakers could not be recommended at all because they would be too expensive for Class B. Such an omission, I felt and still feel, would be doing our readers a disservice.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Elk
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp


Quote:
The low frequency information is part of the music, is it not? Apparently some, if not all, of these speakers cannot reproduce these low frequencies, so why are they even considered Class A?

It is relatively "easy" to produce a CD player or amp that is essentially perfectly flat in frequncy response. It is exceedingly difficult to do the same with speakers. Given that so much music doesn't contain super low frequencies it seems reasonable for there to be excellent speakers that do not even attempt to reproduce these very low tones.

I understand your point however.

jazzfan
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp


Quote:

Quote:
The low frequency information is part of the music, is it not? Apparently some, if not all, of these speakers cannot reproduce these low frequencies, so why are they even considered Class A?

It is relatively "easy" to produce a CD player or amp that is essentially perfectly flat in frequncy response. It is exceedingly difficult to do the same with speakers. Given that so much music doesn't contain super low frequencies it seems reasonable for there to be excellent speakers that do not even attempt to reproduce these very low tones.

I understand your point however.

Elk,

I am and was well aware of the difficulties involved in producing a loudspeaker which can plumb the bottom depths of music and I'm also aware that there is plenty of music which does not contain much, if any, extreme low frequency information. And I also understand Stereophile's need to alert their readers to many of the very fine loudspeakers represented within the "Class A restricted extreme low frequency" category. Nevertheless it doesn't mean that I agree with the use of that category. Perhaps a different title for the category would sit better with me, something like a completely separate group for loudspeaker's with restricted extreme low frequency output.

In other words, the difficulties involved in reproducing extreme low frequencies and the lack of extreme low frequencies within lots of enjoyable music should not influence the fact that these speakers, by Stereophile's own definition of Class A, are most definitely not Class A.

Elk
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp

We are definitely on the same page. I agree with you that a speaker that cannot reproduce all tones used in reproducing music, by definition, cannot be considered to be among the best of the best. I just had trouble with the analogy to electronics.

Instead of calling those excellent speakers with limited low frequency,"Class A restricted extreme low frequency", what would you title a list of such speakers?

jazzfan
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp


Quote:
Instead of calling those excellent speakers with limited low frequency,"Class A restricted extreme low frequency", what would you title a list of such speakers?

Here's a list of possible titles:

Class A Apartment Friendly Speakers

Speakers for Chamber Music Snobs

Speakers for People Who Hate Hip-Hop

Way Overpriced Bookshelf Speakers

Monitors Too Expensive To Actually Be Used In Any Recording Studios

Class A Speakers: Subwoofer Required But Not Included

Two Way Speakers That Cost Four Times As Much As Most Three Way Speakers

I could go on but you get my point.

RobertSlavin
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp

This thread seems to have gotten away from the points I was originally trying to make. I generally disagree with the points that Jazzfan and Monty made in their first responses to my post. However, I do not want to discuss them now.

My points are fairly simple. First, there are many speakers in the full range categories that are not full range. Second, there are some speakers in the restricted low frequency categories that do not extend down to 40Hz as the editor's note says they do. And third, there appears to be some speakers like the Vandersteen Quatro that are in the restricted low frequency categories but available evidence would suggest that they should not be there.

I am calling for the renaming of the categories or the rewording of the editor's note and (in either case) the moving around of speakers from class to class so that the speakers are where they should be.

I wish Mr. Atkinson would address my objections.

Toussaint

jazzfan
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp

Toussaint,

Sorry if I moved the thread a bit off the issues you had originally intended for it to address. I do agree that your points are quite valid and need to be addressed, however, it's just that I've always had an issue with the "restricted extreme low frequency" subcategory within the loudspeaker group and this seemed like a good place to air them out.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp

The real problem here lies is speaker placement that can make all the diff and each of our listening rooms will play a major part. I am not sure I can blame all of that on the speaker designer.

We have all read reviewers who have stated similar problems with tweeter height. I have found a better cohesion (?) for want of a better word siting further back in my vaulted LR which opens to our kitchen. I choose not to sit at my kitchen table to fully appreciate that effect. 18 feet vs 10 feet. The Triangles are still magical, if not optimal placement.

Elk
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Re: Problems with the loudspeaker categories in recommended comp

Jazzfan, I got it!

Toussaint, you raise some excellent points. Very careful reading and thought on your part.

Beetlemania
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Re: too bad that Mr. Atkinson has not responded

Toussaint, You make a valid point here, I've also noticed the inconsistencies regarding "full range" ratings. It is too bad that Mr. Atkinson has not responded. Stereophile, IMO, is the best audio mag in the US - by far. Beyond the generally high quality and entertainment of writing, the main reason for this is the inclusion of objective measurements. Thus, I find it highly ironic that objective standards are disregarded when it comes to classifying "full range" speakers.

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