Thiel Model 04 loudspeaker Larry Archibald on Loudspeaker Time Alignment
We at Stereophile are not given to open dissension, but I must profoundly disagree with J. GOrdon Holt's dismissal of time alignment as a significant factor in loudspeaker design. Granted, the earliest attempts at time alignment were not far from marketing gimmicks, although some of the speakers on which it was tried have remained favorites of the public (the Dahlquist DQ-10 comes to mind) and not merely because of successful marketing.
One of the problems with early designs was that the effect of crossover time delays and phase alteration was not correctly understood and, compensated for, nor were the complexities of driver behavior adequately understood. I was struck at the last CES by the fact that the most impressive systems were all time-aligned; this includes the various Thiels, the new Spica TC-50 (very impressive), an excellent little speaker called Triad (manufactured in Aspen CO), the $35,000 WAMMs, and a few others. And, of course, our long-term favorites have been the many electrostatics which do not require time alignment—they start out time-aligned.
JGH's overwhelmingly positive review does little to dispel my conviction that uniform acoustic wavefront arrival, which is what time alignment is all about, will come to be an accepted criterion by which to judge all loudspeakers, much as flat frequency response is now.—Larry Archibald