After having owned a fair amount of speakers I have come to conclusion that that out of room speaker measurements - relative to response - are almost useless and generally misleading below 60hz. I currently own Triangle Celius speakers. Their anechoic bass response is (+/- a couple db) flat to 43hz. However in room, using an RTA, I get flat response to 35hz and only 3db down at 30hz when they are set up right. When I owned Mirage 3si's for a short period the bass below 50hz was way too heavy and could not be corrected. (I suppose a DSP to lower the entire range could be used or copius amounts of room treatment. However it seems to me that the speaker/room interface should solve 95% of the issues and the other remedies should be used very selectively and minimully.) My room is 24X14 and opens on one long side to the entry way which is extremely large - so my room is not small and bass has a bit more room to breathe than in most rooms. I think much more emphasis needs to be placed on in room response and reviewers should not only mention the size of the room they are in but try the speakers is rooms of various size and show us the in room responses. (Another vary important issue is port placement. I have had to make drastic set up changes depending on whether the units had front or rear ports). As such I suggest a minimum of 2 rooms be used and we are provided not only specific set up data - both on where the speakers sound best and where they sound worse (assuming a standard triangular set up). Additionally we should be provided in room response curves for the best set ups in the 2 rooms. Finally - I would like to know what in room responses people are getting from Class A speakers and to see their associated in room response curves. It seems to me that these speakers - which are supposed to be flat to about 20hz - can not sound good unless the owners have very large rooms, employ heroic room treatmment or DSP assistance. Or maybe they just ignore it because they are unaware that they bought too much speaker for the room? (Audio shows are an excellent example of this. Vendors more often than not bring their larger speakers and then expect you to ignore the problems the rooms induce. The only rooms I have heard that had good sound employing large speakers (or subs) were larger rooms. Only stand mounted speakers tended to sound good in the smaller rooms)
I agree. I have asked that Stereophile reviewers publish diagrams of the rooms in which they evalute their systems. Sam Tellig occasionally mentions his two different rooms and John Atkinson spent some time on this matter when he moved from New Mexico to New York. But most mentions of this important data are casual and infrequent. Reviewers do a good job of describing how they move speakers around within the room, but seldom mention exact dimensions.
Thanks for the response
While it is a lot of work I think they should evaluate in 2 different rooms, explain the architecture of the room and provide the in room responses. At the very lest they should provide in room responses for at least the primary room and include they room/treatment data. From that we might be able to ascertain if we can provide similiar set up and if our rooms would be the same, better or worse for that interface. Additionally maybe an in depth article on this interface maybe using a couple different speakers in different environments. I would imagine however that doing so may cause most to change their minds about the need to spend so much money on speakers that are flat below 40hz. .(Just using mathematical limitations I can't imagine most rooms are good for these speakers.) Additionally this would give us more insight in to the reviewers biases or potential hearing irregularities. If one praises a speaker as extremely accurate sounding and we see anomilies in the in room plot then something is amiss and should be explained. Come to think of it maybe each of the reviewers should have a hearing test and those results compared to norms. The reviewers should be treated as another piece of test equipment and baselined/calibrated as such.
Lastly - isn't there a way for the reviewers to use a couple standard selections in their review so I might have something consistent to judge by? While I realize reaching a concensus would be painful and listening to the same cuts boring it would be very helpful to me. I wouldn't even mind if they used Stereophile selections to do this. i would have no problem buying something that I don't have just so I could have the ability to listen to what they did. (Additionally they could point out specific sections in songs and key me in on things I should or shouldn't be hearing. This data has been provided with some Stereophile albums - but not used consistently. Heck - I have cuts that I schlep around with me to stores or high end shows - why can't they? (I think I drove people nuts at the last Denver show by playing Chris Rea's Road to Hell in every room)
Standardizing a few selections seems like a good idea. One for full symphony orchestra (orchestral climaxes that use every instrument, including percussion, and soft passages for microdynamics -- Mahler, for instance, or Berlioz, Elgar, Stravinsky -- something to really test the dynamic limits of the system under review), perhaps a jazz trio, a pop or blues vocal, and a solo piano recording. This is a normal sampling as things now stand; to have a "reference standard" for each type would certainly make it easier for us, the readers, to purchase a half-dozen or so CD's and hear exactly the same software the reviewers heard. Hit or miss, I have many of the recordings Stereophile reviewers refer to, but my collection is larger than the average reader's, and I do sometimes miss not having a disc the reviewer is spending a lot of time with.
One of the big reasons I prefer Stereophile to The Absolute Sound has to do with this very issue. It seems that more and more TAS reviewers are into pop and jazz, and you quite often don't get the sense of how the components could handle the often brutal demands of a full symphony orchestra going all out. I won't mention the pseudo-authoritative tone and pretentiousness of many TAS writers -- with the exception of Robert Harley and, occasionally, Anthony Cordesman, too many of them seem to be merely blowhards, airheads in love with their own posturing. Ooops. I guess I mentioned it. Cheers, Clifton