Manger p1 loudspeaker

Everyone who reads my loudspeaker reviews knows: I wish box speakers did not sound like box speakers. Plus! I wish all speakers sounded focused and transparent like LS3/5a's or vintage Quads. I also want them to be uncompressed and play large, with window-shattering power and floor-shaking bass. And while I'm wishing . . . I'll take a little glow and sparkle and voodoo magic as well.

Unfortunately, few loudspeakers do all that. And the ones that can cost crazy cash.

But there might be hope.

I have discovered a radically engineered floorstanding speaker that maybe, just maybe, does a lot of all that—for a lot less than crazy cash. That speaker is the Manger p1, manufactured in Mellrichstadt, Germany. It costs $14,995/pair to $18,995/pair, depending on finish.

The Manger sound transducer
1925: General Electric engineers Chester Rice and Edward Kellogg introduced their radical "Hornless Loudspeakers," which featured a conical paper diaphragm attached to a coil of wire energized by a large magnet structure.

1968: Vexed by what he perceived as the inherent limitations of loudspeaker cones, Manger Audio's founder, Josef Manger (1929–2016), began developing a new cone-less type of loudspeaker driver. His first finished design—a flat, low-mass, wide-bandwidth, multilayered, impregnated-textile disc—appeared in 1974. Manger described this membrane-like disc as "highly elastic in its plane but inelastic in bending." (footnote 1) Unlike most loudspeaker drivers, the diaphragm of the Manger Sound Transducer (MST) does not operate pistonically. Instead, voice-coil excitations generate transverse waves along its flat surface, like ripples in a pond.


Manger described the goal of his research as "[minimizing] time-delaying energy storage during the transformation of the electrical form of energy into the mechanical form." His daughter, Daniela Manger, who now serves as Manger Audio's chief engineer and CEO, explained via email that "the rigidity of this thin flexible diaphragm decreases from the center to the outside at an equal ratio, similar to the basilar membrane in our ear. High frequencies expire quickly in the inner area of the membrane, while lower frequencies move concentrically to the edge; where they encounter a matched termination and, a star-shaped absorptive damper; which, prevent reflections from returning from the edge."

The Manger website claims the MST's bandwidth is 80Hz–40kHz, with a voltage sensitivity of 89dB/W/m and a rise time of 13µs. The website also suggests that the MST "represents a frequency-independent impedance for the driving force. . . . It behaves like an ohmic resistance in a power circuit."

After pestering Daniela Manger to tell me exactly what the MST's membrane is made of, she sent an explanation: "It is a three-layer sandwich, two very thin outer foils and in between there is a plastic with special properties. The recipe was developed by my father and we manufacture the plastics in our own factory."

The Manger website describes another interesting Josef Manger innovation: a single voice-coil that is really "Two voice-coils (on one former), mounted mechanically in series and switched electrically in parallel." According to Ms. Manger, this produces a long but "extremely light" 70-mm driving coil capable of ±3.5 mm of displacement, with a total weight of only 0.4 grams. Manger's dual-coil voice- coil is energized by "no less than 15 neodymium magnets of only 0.95 mm width concentrating their magnetic field of 1.3 Tesla on an air gap of only 0.85mm width." (footnote 2)

According to Ms. Manger, "My father realized about 50 years ago, that a musical instrument reproduced by a cone loudspeaker does not sound natural. The Manger driver was developed because he realized: the problem is not in the frequency domain but in the time domain."

The Manger p1 loudspeaker
The current Manger lineup consists of three two-way floorstanding models: one active (the s1) and two passives (the p1 reviewed here and Manger's flagship passive, the p2). The company also makes two standmount monitors, one active, one passive.

In the slender p1, the MST is loaded by an 8-liter sealed subenclosure and is crossed over at 360Hz to an 8" carbon fiber/paper sandwich bass driver, residing in its own larger sealed enclosure. The p1 cabinet measures 44.8" tall by 10.6" wide by 8.4" deep and weighs 61.7lb. It is available in an almost infinite variety of colors and finishes including various shades of matte or gloss finishes or wood veneer. My review samples were in a Makassar ebony matte finish.


Setup When they arrived, I plunked the fresh-from-the-box but well-used Manger p1s in those spots where most loudspeakers sound the least boomy in my room: facing forward, about 7' apart, and 30" from the front wall. In that position, the p1s sounded smooth and well-focused, but there was a conspicuous, music-spoiling hole in the frequency response—right around 100Hz. Below 100Hz, bass was rolled off.

I sent a worried-sounding email asking Daniela Manger how she recommended positioning them.

"Our recommendation for setup is: The distance between speakers should be 9 feet maximum. The distance from the wall behind should be 2.3 feet or larger. It can be closer (however), as the speaker is sealed and tuned with a low Q, so the increase of bass with a closer distance works without getting boomy. Listening position can be very close as the Manger driver already radiates in far-field behaviors at around 0.45 feet. We recommend a toe-in with the drivers crossing about 1.6 feet in front of your listening position. This gives you a very precise three-dimensional image which is absolutely [stable]."

Daniela's words gave me permission to move the p1s closer to the wall behind them. As I inched the speakers back, the bass region began to fill in. In my final position, with the speakers about 6' apart and only 12" from the cabinet-backs to the front wall, Frank Sinatra's voice (LP, In The Wee Small Hours, Capitol W581) and Vladimir Horowitz's piano (44.1 FLAC, Horowitz at Home, Deutsche Grammophon/Tidal) displayed their proper tone. My Stereophile test CD and trusty iPhone dB meter verified that 50Hz, 100Hz, 1kHz, and 5kHz were all reproduced at the same level.


The Manger p1s are equipped with double pairs of WBT next-gen binding posts and thus are biwirable and biampable. The majority of my listening was done biwired with AudioQuest Rocket 33 loudspeaker cables.

Listening with the Rogue Stereo 100
Because the Manger p1s are built in Germany, I assume they'll play Bach and Beethoven—but when I think of Germany today, I think of Elektronische Musik: a genre that sounds especially good on giant horn speakers but is not as well-suited to those little British monitor speakers I use as references.

Since my art school days, I've been a fan of what Germans call kosmische musik (cosmic music) and the British call Krautrock. It's an experimental art-music genre, inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen, that emerged from the student rebellions of the 1960s and is associated with groups like Can and Faust. Despite its avant-garde character, this music has remained popular and evolved into what I perceive as a sophisticated reimagining of German Romanticism. Typically, cosmic music consists of operatic sound collages featuring dense droning synthesizers, modified instrumental sounds, and myriad forms of circuitry-based sound-making technologies. Kosmische music is brainy and head-trippy.

Footnote 1: See

Footnote 2 See

Manger Audio
US distributor: MoFi Distribution
1811 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
Chicago, IL 60660
(312) 738-5025

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Box loudspeakers which sound box-less :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

They should work well with a couple of powered subwoofers :-) .......

JRT's picture
Bogolu_Haranath wrote:

"Box loudspeakers which sound box-less..."

Boxless open baffle gradient designs can sound boxless if baffles are kept small enough. Well designed fully enclosed gradient loudspeakers (dipole, cardioid, etc.) can also sound boxless, depending very much on specifics of the design.

Opinions vary. Not everybody likes the same thing.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Open baffle speakers like the Pure Audio Project speakers shown at the recent CAF 2019, covered by HR :-) ......

JRT's picture

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Another one is Spacial Audio Sapphire open baffle speakers shown at the CAF 2019 :-) ......

JRT's picture

Note that the dip at 1600_Hz is the result of destructive interference within the Manger MSW driver, and is not something that anyone should try to fix with simple equalization, as that will just result in excessively high input signal and elevated distortion.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

That 'dip' is a very narrow bandwidth dip ........ Should not cause any significant audible problem :-) .......

Kal Rubinson's picture

The "dip" itself may be narrow but it is at the bottom of a broader "bowl" in the FR.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

True ..... That dip is located in the 'bowl' that extends from approx. 1.2 kHz to approx. 3 Khz ....... That bowl is located in the so called famous BBC dip ...... although, the BBC dip usually extends from 1 kHz to 4 kHz ..... That BBC dip is intentionally engineered in some famous loudspeakers ...... That BBC dip can be as much as -5 db ....... Here it is not that much pronounced ........ Anyway, HR did not mention anything about it and didn't seem to be bothered by it :-) ........

music or sound's picture

is that new form of editing comment: when I was clicking on save my comments disappeared!
so again

That dip is existing in MSW drivers in all their speakers for at least 2 decades. I experimented with a MSW using a vibration absorbing gel the measured dip got greatly reduced and lower highs became much more present and alive. So that dip is audible!

JRT's picture

Yes the defect is built into the design of the Manger MSW( Manger Schall Wandler) , and that portion of the MSW has not changed much. I think the only thing that Josef W. Manger did change significantly was the magnet structure, changed from ferrite to neodymium. But he did not much change the pad that connects the rear center of the diaphragm to the "Hochton-Reflexionsdämpfer", the tweeter reflection damper, the material that damps cavity resonance in the "Polkern", the pole piece. Something different is needed there, perhaps different geometry as well as different material, to better damp and terminate the structure borne sound at the center of the diaphragm, so that it does not reflect back outward without more damping.

The source of interference is the structure borne sound within the diaphragm, propagating through the diaphragm from the voicecoil former toward the center and then back outward to the voicecoil former, interfering at the node where the voicecoil former joins with the diaphragm. At 1600_Hz the reflected return arrives in antiphase only slightly damped, and destructively interferes in the sum there.

Did you try drum head damping material, something like Moongel?

Or perhaps drum rings?

music or sound's picture

Yes exactly, there is a thread

JRT's picture

Thank you very much for that link.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wonder whether we can use those Moongel pads on CDs and vinyl records? ....... Then those CDs could sound like vinyl records and those vinyl records could sound like CDs ........ Just a thought :-) ......

Herb Reichert's picture

to clean my styli


Bogolu Haranath's picture

HR could review one of the Cube Audio speakers (preferably, the Nenuphar), and tell us how they compare with the Manger :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

HR could also review the new KLH Audio Ultimate One headphones with Beryllium drivers, $300 :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW ...... There is always room for Moongel(lo) :-) ........

JRT's picture

I bought two pairs of Manger MSW drivers from André Perreault when he was proprietor of (he sold Raven, Manger, PHL, TAD pro drivers, etc.) approximately 1.5 decades ago. Sadly, cancer took André in 2015, and e-speakers is now defunct.

His business was his sideline.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Did you hear any of the current production Manger speakers? ....... TAS also reviewed the Manger p1 recently ....... Also, Twittering Machines reviewed the self-powered version of the same speakers s1, recently ..... Both those reviews are available online ........ Both those reviewers didn't seem to be bothered by any problems in the lower treble region :-) ......

JRT's picture

Joachim Gerhard's Audio Physic Medea was well received back around the turn of the century, but was also rather expensive, so I don't think it sold in large numbers (but I do not know the sales figures and could be wrong).

The Manger Zerobox 103 and 109 were also well received by reviewers.

My point being that loudspeakers utilizing the MSW have been well received by some reviewers, and not just recently, but also earlier.

Not everybody likes them. Narrow directivity at higher frequencies has been an ongoing issue. Off axis response should be similar to on axis response, especially in directions of first reflection.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW ...... There is also another -5 db dip from 700 Hz to 1 kHz :-) ......

JRT's picture

I would hope that most anyone reading the measurements with any significant depth of understanding would have a clear sense of the obvious in looking at the frequency response. But they might not understand the underlying mechanism causing the problem, and might exacerbate the problem with inappropriately applied equalization. It is OK to pull down the peaks a little, but they should not try to lift areas of significant destructive interference.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Agreed ....... They should listen first before applying any kind of EQ ........ Like Confucius said, 'measurements alone won't tell the whole story' :-) .......

Archimago's picture

But there's nothing wrong with pulling down the other frequencies a few dB with DSP. :-)

I would be curious to see what the FR looks like at the listening position though.

I see the Manufacturer Response. Sure, it's great that the step response looks good and the impedance is relatively smooth (although an important portion dips down to 3Ω around 250Hz). But the frequency response is still more important than these other factors in terms of audibility. As such, I think JA is right not to accentuate these secondary factors.

Good looking speakers though.

JRT's picture
Archimago wrote:

"Right... Don't pull up the dip. But there's nothing wrong with pulling down the other frequencies a few dB with DSP."

Note that the depicted response includes significant smoothing.

That smoothing is used because it makes the response easier to read, and it is pretty well correlated to audibility of deviations within the response, but that smoothing is not well correlated to suitable EQ. Rather a different smoothing is better for developing the forcing function.

You cannot lift the center of a destructive interference full cancellation null. But phase sum varies more further away from the center of that null. So throwing more signal voltage into correcting the null can narrow the width of the null, but cannot lift the center of a full cancellation. Partial cancellation can be lifted, but it depends on "partial", and comes at the expense of more signal voltage than might seem necessary by cursory look at response. If the resulting forcing function has big peaks, a very much higher output amplifier is needed to avoid clipping, and nonlinear dynamic compression from voicecoil heating becomes a much bigger problem.

So rather than trying to lift deep destructive interference nulls, it is better to pull down peaks.

Fixing an interference null requires fixing the acoustic interference, not the input signal. If that cannot be adequately fixed, move on to something else.

John Atkinson's picture
JRT wrote:
Note that the depicted response includes significant smoothing.

There's no smoothing in the response graphs in the Stereophile review.

JRT wrote:
Fixing an interference null requires fixing the acoustic interference, not the input signal.

Agreed. You're just pumping more energy that will still cancel at the measurement position, which will be very audible elsewhere in the room. I was at a lecture given by the late Michael Gerzon in Vienna in 1992 where he discussed this problem. He drew a straight horizontal line on the whiteboard. "You all know what that is," Michael said. "It's the target response for room correction. And you should all also know that it sounds terrible!" :-)

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

EQ/DSP/subwoofers 'modify' the signal, not just uniformly increase/decrease the signal ....... Am I right? :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It would be interesting to see the FR measurements of Manger s1, which is the self-powered version of p1 ..... s1, has several adjustments in the back panel :-) ........

JRT's picture
JA1 wrote:

There's no smoothing in the response graphs in the Stereophile review.

Without the usual smoothing of frequency response, I would expect to see something very coarse like the unsmoothed red response rather than like the smoothed blue response shown in the following graphic.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

What loudspeakers are those in your graph? ....... Who did those measurements? ...... What equipment did they use for those measurements? :-) .......

John Atkinson's picture
JRT wrote:
Without the usual smoothing of frequency response, I would expect to see something very coarse like the unsmoothed red response rather than like the smoothed blue response shown in the following graphic.

I window the measured impulse response so the FFT-derived frequency response doesn't show the effect of boundary reflections.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Anyway, your loudspeaker 'smoothed' graph shows that, they have a FR on a downward slope, starting from 90 Hz and reaching -15 db at 20 kHz ...... Kinda nice for skiing :-) ........

jmsent's picture

Looking at the impedance plot you can see a pretty alarming series of small peaks and dips that are indicative of chaotic behavior within the driver itself. This kind of an impedance plot on a standard cone or dome driver would be considered a sign of rather poor design. Such "bumps" are usually an indication of resonances and edge reflections in the driver diaphragm. And that ,of course, is also confirmed rather well by the very choppy response curves. Whatever secondary benefits are being claimed for this driver design, they sure seem to come at the expense of some very basic performance parameters. I'm sure they do indeed impart a "unique tonal character" to the complete loudspeaker system. And I guess, that's the goal in the first place.

JRT's picture

There is no perfect solution to the complex problem. Everything comes with tradeoff compromises. That is what makes the pursuit of a better solution that much more interesting.

Compared to two way coaxial, the Manger MSW does not suffer much diffraction related interference.

In the coax, the tweeter radiates through a large undamped cavity resonance formed by midrange cone diaphragm. That outer cone forms an imperfect wave guide shaped more for structural support of the diaphragm than smooth directivity for the tweeter. And that waveguide moves, excurses with inverse square function with respect to frequency. The tweeter is going to see edge diffraction where it meets the cone, and that edge diffraction will vary with cone movement.

Yet the little KEF LS50 has a pretty good reputation within its significant limitations.

Ortofan's picture

... for about the same price as the Manger (depending upon finish), one could choose the KEF Reference 5.
Their overall frequency response is much smoother and JA1 commented that they "gave me all I need for musical and sonic satisfaction."

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 was being polite and politically correct ........ KEF Reference 5 roll-off from 3 kHz and are -7 db down at 20 kHz ...... See his in-room FR ........ JA1 actually likes Revel Salon2 ....... Just ask him :-) ......

georgehifi's picture

I vaguely remember, kits of these, when they first made an appearance some decades ago, hope it happens, now that they seem to be much better sorted this time around

Cheers George

music or sound's picture

Manger does not sell their Driver for diy anymore

music or sound's picture

Bending wave have the advantage of not trying to be pistonic i.e accelerating an infinitively stiff membrane (not quite possible) but also makes modeling them much more complex (like modeling a violin).
Significant advantages of a single driver covering the low mid to all the highs are that no crossover is required in that region where it is most audible, coming from a single area (avoiding interference) and the lack of intermodulation distortion derived from a woofer low frequency movement superimposed on mids (Doppler like effects) as unavoidable in woofer/mid driver crossed over higher.

tonykaz's picture

... with more bass and dynamics"

I'd have to reflect for a moment and conclude that we all now know just what these things sound like.

Thanks for going to all that trouble.


I'd like to learn what the same Loudspeaker in Active ( about $25,000 ) does, I'll guess plenty considering what I've heard from Genelec and a few others that have 500 Watts built in to each loudspeaker. ( down to 30hz with gazoons full of dynamic Range to scare an innocent Couch Potato into reaching for the Nitroglycerins )

The Quad comparison comment probably brings this Transducer System into accurate perspective: a great system for the mid 1980s Market place, nice engineering, nice-solid construction, living room friendly. Can we put a flowering Plant on it's top ?

Tony bouncing around the frozen North

ps. I'm feeling a bit negative from slushy puddles and freezing cold. I've owned Quad 63s w/ Subs., sold em and never missed em, evahhhhhhh!

JRT's picture

If and when you get to somewhere near Grantham, New Hampshire, perhaps you might try to find time to meet up with Dr. Sheldon D. Stokes, SDS Labs ( Sheldon rebuilds Quad ESLs as a labor-of-love sideline. His website shows that he has a couple of pairs of Quad ESL-63 currently available for sale for $3k and $3.2k.

Just because you have not missed them, does not mean they are not worthwhile loudspeakers. With frank comment risking offense, and with no offense intended, I would suggest that perhaps your hearing perception has changed in recent decades, losing some sensitivity at both ends of the spectrum, and might now be more focused on perception of midrange frequencies, which the Quad ESL-63 are very good at reproducing in the sweetspot listening region.

tonykaz's picture

My ears & hearing are over 8 db down at both ends, my upper droop starts at 8 kHz.

I have Eq. on my headphone rig and room tuning to try to compensate in an approximate manner.

I've had University of Michigan Audiologists assistance in all this, it's a deteriorating condition.

On Quads rebuilding and tuning: I'm aware of Dr.Stokes's work and have applauded his efforts, I've even passed him along ( referred him to my 1980s Quad Customers who still own Quads ).


I'm a dynamic driver type person. I'm also a big Mono SS Amps person and a tube rolling pre-amp sort. I've learned that Mono amps are always better. Even Better yet are Mono Amps driving individual Drivers ( as in Active Loudspeakers ) . So, for me, Active dynamic loudspeakers rule the roost, they get as close to headphone quality as loudspeakers get.

Tony in Venice ( I'm not certain where I am just now )

ps. thanks for taking the time to write, dam good tip on Quads, thanks!

jeffhenning's picture

One of the options you can get with the Mangers is their Holoprofile. It's used to divert part of the radiation of the Manger driver off to the side.

If you delve into their research documentation (if it's still available) were laser interferometry images that precisely showed where the each frequency was radiated on the driver. Starting from center, the highest frequencies emanated there and the lower the frequency, the further toward the edge it was produced in a concentric fashion. By the time you hit about 500Hz, the driver was acting as a piston.

The problem, though, with that concentric radiation means that mid-treble frequencies are produced in a ring that's large enough to cause off-axis lobing. Not a huge problem vertically, but a big one horizontally. Not being in the sweet spot could really change your perception of the sound.

If you, though, divert the upper frequencies on the outside of the driver so that they don't arrive at your ear, that comb filtering is eliminated.

Here's a link:

volvic's picture

On a cold windy day in NYC, Herb Reichert's reviews are like a warm summer breeze. So enjoy reading his reviews. BTW Herb, what happened to the Linn LP12?

Herb Reichert's picture

is sitting right next to me now - begging for a new (better) tonearm.

I haven't made a choice yet.

(Thank you I am honored you enjoy my prattles)

peace and holiday cheer,


Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could review the MAG-LEV turntable? :-) .......

tnargs's picture

Herb has fallen for the common misconception that speakers sound like the sound of their driver material.

This idea is driven by auto-suggestion. You start 'hearing' it, driven by the logic of it. Paper-edgy, metal-ringy, plastic-dully.

Try doing it blind (not even knowing if the speakers on audition are all the same driver material, or not). That will change the opinion very quickly.

The Manger's frequency response errors and beaminess explain the sounds you wanted to attribute to plastic.


ChrisS's picture

...the effect of "auto-suggestion" lasts?

A minute? An hour? A life time?

Are you a Miami Dolphins fan, despite their stats?

Can you "auto-suggest" to everyone that the Ford F-150 is the best truck in the world?

No one does anything "blind".

tnargs's picture

Autosuggestion is just a word for the process where we convince ourselves of things. Autosuggestion is a psychological technique related to the placebo effect. It is a form of self-induced suggestion in which individuals guide their own thoughts, feelings, or behavior.

In the context that I used it, the individual will have their own sense of what paper sounds like when they brush a hand against it, fold it, handle it. This guides the person's perception of what they hear when they know the driver is made of paper. Or metal, or plastic.

There are common themes, for example, the sound of paper or metal being tapped or handled is pretty common, so you might find a group of audiophiles knowing a driver is metal and all agreeing that it has a faintly metallic quality to the sound, but this perception does not persist if they are 'blinded' to the knowledge of the driver material.

So, commonality exists, but there is no universality to it. A reviewer might suggest (or simple inspection might reveal) that a loudspeaker is very solidly built, but one person might autosuggest themselves into hearing solidity as lots of bass, and another might end up 'hearing' it as an absence of boominess. The point is that autosuggestion dominates when one is engaged in sighted listening.

How long does it last? Could be a lifetime, such as Fremer on what digitized music 'sounds like' (tripped himself up lately on Abbey Road, haha, saw that), or could be gone in the next minute, if the individual changes his self-guidance. For example, if someone reading this mini-essay is persuaded by it, both at the conscious and subconscious levels, then he or she might never again autosuggest a material-based sonic overlay on the sound of speakers again. Or there might be resistance, based on something deeper like a belief that you never learn anything from internet comments, or a greater respect for Reichert as a writer, so there is no change. Or one might flip-flop over time: convinced by me for the short term, but then reads something by another reviewer that reinforces the myth and it all comes back. So, there is no answer to how long it 'lasts'; it is an ongoing script that only you can turn off.

I agree, no one does anything 'blind'. But the lessons from formal, statistically-analyzed blind tests deserve serious consideration (as the best source of information about the actual sound waves as perceived by listeners separately from autosuggestion effects), instead of serious attempts to discredit just because they contradict what we hear from sighted listening. (Cue Stereophile staff in unison)


Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be something similar to 'confirmation bias'? :-) ........

tnargs's picture

Auto-suggestion is bigger, but includes confirmation bias.

ChrisS's picture

...listening skills, or hearing ability, or etc, etc, etc is not taken into account, then does it matter how a component is tested or reviewed?

Nowadays we see that facts do not matter.

ChrisS's picture

...inappropriate for audio reviewing. This discussion has been more than adequately covered on this forum and by John Atkinson. It's not going to happen.

The only tests that really matter are the ones we conduct with our own ears with our own equipment in our own listening environments with our own music. And ultimately, with our own beliefs.

Stereophile does an excellent job telling us about items to check out and considerations and issues to ponder.

AJ's picture

Not according to the founder of Stereophile

"Remember those loudspeaker shoot-outs we used to have during our annual writer gatherings in Santa Fe? The frequent occasions when various reviewers would repeatedly choose the same loudspeaker as their favorite (or least-favorite) model? That was all the proof needed that [blind] testing does work, aside from the fact that it's (still) the only honest kind. It also suggested that simple ear training, with DBT confirmation, could have built the kind of listening confidence among talented reviewers that might have made a world of difference in the outcome of high-end audio."


The only tests that really matter are the ones we conduct with our own ears

..and eyes and mismatched volume and...
As JGH also said:
"As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me, because I am associated by so many people with the mess my disciples made of spreading my gospel."

Stereophiles founder was quite aware.

ChrisS's picture

...reviewing for Stereophile.

Check with John Atkinson.

JA and Michsel Fremer were challenged years ago to test their listening skills by doing DBT's, and after proving their success at identifying the test components, neither they nor anyone else have ever used DBT for audio reviewing.

AJ's picture

No need, you missed that he wrote the article and presumably accurately transcribed what Stereophiles founder stated unequivocally, whether one can follow the argument or not. Whether the arguer has done so or not is irrelevant. Plus it's clear that they did attempt some form of blind testing, were you to read.


JA and Michsel Fremer were challenged years ago to test their listening skills by doing DBT's, and after proving their success at identifying the test components

Correct, they completely debunked the misinformed types assertions that controlled testing "hid" audible differences if real/non-imaginary.
I have congratulated both on confirming this previously.


neither they nor anyone else have ever used DBT for audio reviewing.

You can't possibly know whether "anyone else have ever used DBT for audio reviewing" on earth...and to compound, appeal to popularity is also logical fallacy.
Par for course though.

ChrisS's picture

...that DBT is nowhere to be seen as an audio reviewing tool nor common practice with any audio magazine.

So is appeal to "Science" when the science is misapplied.

John Atkinson's picture
ChrisS wrote:
JGH never did DBT's for audio reviewing for Stereophile. Check with John Atkinson.

That's correct. Despite his strong advocacy of double-blind testing later in life, he didn't use DBTs during his tenure at Stereophile. He did take part in blind tests for the magazine in the 1990s, but these were organized by Tom Norton and myself.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Just curious ........ Did JGH correctly identify the audio equipment(s) in that DBT? ....... Was there an article published in Stereophile about that DBT? ...... If there was an article published, could you please provide that link? :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I think, if we did a DBT between Pass XA-25 and Border Patrol or BAT or Cary Audio amps, there is a good chance, we could tell them apart and, identify the Pass amp ....... OTOH, if we did a DBT between Border Patrol, BAT and Cary Audio amps, it may be difficult to identify each and every one of them :-) ......

ChrisS's picture

People do not shop by doing DBT.

AJ's picture

Chris you can't know this, but you're projecting again.
Not everyone holds vehement anti-science views, despite the current popularity.
Kal Rubinson, for example, shopped his current speakers via DBT.
He trusts his ears and just listens.
Understandable why you don't, but those are your own personal issues, not everyone.

ChrisS's picture

...constitute a crowd nor statistical significance.

But "he trusts his ears and just listens...." Isn't that what all the staff at Stereophile do? And the rest of us?

Just anti-scientism.

You misunderstand my vehemence. It is towards the mis-application of science.

AJ's picture

..a natural progression ;-).
Kal alone disproves your false assertion. You are simply projecting as usual.


Isn't that what all the staff at Stereophile do? And the rest of us?

No. Once again, plagued by lack of cognizance, you can't realize "trust ears" and "just listen" are blind/controlled conditions, the opposite of what you favor, which is don't trust ears and stare, know, etc, etc.
One doesn't need eyes and knowledge etc, etc, to "just listen" either.
Unfortunately you can't know these simple concepts, despite their self explanatory nature, basic word meanings, etc.

ChrisS's picture

Have you verified that Kal did a proper DBT?

After all, we are talking "science" here...

AJ's picture

When one is testing for established, audible differences, such as a special effects tube processor and a straight wire type amp, it makes more sense to simply do a blind preference test.
That's what Harman does with speakers.
I have done a number of those type tests with Chris types, sometimes with or without their knowledge, with rather amusing results.
What peoples ears prefer, is not always what they believe.
However, no one I know listens blind casually, so obviously all factors that makes one happy must be considered.

ChrisS's picture

Harman does DBT's for R&D.

SBT (single blind testing) can be fun and informative, even for audio reviewing, or shopping for perfume, or choosing between Pepsi or Coca Cola...

But "casual" testing, especially for consumer products, is not "science". It's called marketing.

Preference? I know people who say they'll never buy a Ford product, even though they've never driven one in 30 years.

tnargs's picture actually called shopping. :)

Casual reviewing for public consumption is actually called deception.

Publishing casual reviews without even knowing it is deceptive is actually called unprofessional.

Like the new JA has said, audiophile marketing publications like Stereophile cannot afford the time or cost of doing statistically viable DBT reviews of equipment. In other words, it is too slow and costly to do it right. What's left is actually called doing it wrong.

JGH appears to have concurred.


ChrisS's picture

...DBT is still an inappropriate tool for audio reviewing.

Do a college-level course on research design and testing.


AJ's picture

Yes, if you neither "Trust Your Ears" and can't "Just Listen". True.


Do a college-level course on research design and testing.

Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger research and testing
already has you covered, so no need. Thanks.

ChrisS's picture


That's the "market" for you!

And especially now, politics.

ChrisS's picture

Let us know your results.

And we will pat you on the back.

ChrisS's picture the guy who has a "rec room" in a metal quonset hut on a concrete pad? Who is especially proud of his vintage Sansui speakers?

Or another buyer who has a room with an 8ft fireplace, a wall with floor to ceiling windows covered with heavy velvet curtains, a wall covered with books, another wall covered with paintings of beloved ancestors, plush carpets, heavily upholstered furniture, and a metal stamped ceiling with a fan? Who listens only to opera...on vinyl...?

What does the "average" listening environment sound like?
An anechoic chamber?
A hockey arena?

How about music choices?

The listening/hearing abilities of each individual?

Etc, etc, etc....

There are an infinite number of variables that affect the "sound" that each of us hear.

If you understand the "scientific method", will you need an "infinite" number of DBT's to account for all those variables?

tnargs's picture

..the one variable that we are discussing?!? Namely that every one of those people, in every one of those situations, if they want to choose their equipment based on their preferences for the sound waves and sound waves alone, will need to control their auditioning test conditions to eliminate non-sonic variables. And when they do that, they will find that they have preferred the sound -- the actual sound of sound waves -- of different gear than they chose in uncontrolled test conditions.

Kal Rubinson's picture

.........every one of those people, in every one of those situations, if they want to choose their equipment based on their preferences for the sound waves and sound waves alone, will need to control their auditioning test conditions to eliminate non-sonic variables.

If this was possible, it would resolve a lot of issues but, let's be practical, how do individuals do this?

AJ's picture

If this was possible, it would resolve a lot of issues but, let's be practical, how do individuals do this?

I can think of 2 off the top of head. But yes impractical for the majority.
The same majority oblivious to the basic word/term meanings they constantly use (see my comments to Chris S above).
Now if said folks would just say "experience" with A was better than B and stop using terms like "trust ears" and "just listen", leave specious blind/controlled test bashing out, all might be well. Maybe.



ChrisS's picture

I'm curious to know what you understand about DBT...

Also, how you would set up a DBT to get the information that you want...?

Let's go step by step.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Why not use EQ/DSP for individual listening preferences and listening rooms? :-) .......

ChrisS's picture

I'm wondering if they know what a DBT is and how to use it...?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

My question was for AJ :-) .......

AJ's picture

Ok, I give up, why not?
I've never objected to doing so...
Of course EQ can only do so much

AJ's picture

Well, you can debunk audiophile type "empirical" belief that horses can count, for starters. Go from there.


Also, how you would set up a DBT to get the information that you want...?

Carefully! Depends on what I/you want. For ear training (real. non-imaginary), online courses by Harman, Philips, Klippel, etc. only setup needed is good stereo speakers or headphones.
For personal hardware testing/product development, an AVA ABX box.

ChrisS's picture

Debunking what? Your statement is too general...

What do you want to research?

Whether Listener A can tell the difference between Amplifier X and Amplifier Y?

Or does Listener A prefers Amp X or Amp Y?

Or something else?

Go from whatever it is you want to find out and tell me step by step how you will set that up... and include how you would set up the test equipment...

AJ's picture

Your type beliefs.
The horse comment is very specific, if one had the slightness clue about DBTs, which of course you can't.
That's why it whooshed over your head, without cognizance ;-)

ChrisS's picture

"Your type beliefs"?

I'm curious how you have "interpreted" my posts here...

ChrisS's picture

..."audiophile type 'empirical' belief"?

ChrisS's picture

If you do, what kind of farm is it?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

True ..... According to Google search, horses demonstrated, ability to count ....... scientific research :-) .....

ChrisS's picture

I'm still waiting to find out what makes "Horses can count" an audiophile type "empirical" belief...

AJ's picture

Yes, to Chris et al.
Gish Gallop types can't know why I cited that particular example, but it is important when determining knowledge of controlled/blind testing.The question was of course rhetorical. Adds to the amusement of the Sea Lioning ;-).
"Subjective" is not the same as "uncontrolled" (even though this is intellectually beyond the grasp of some). So its entirely possible to be both "subjective" and controlled for confounding factors.
Of course if one seeks only to find whether someone enjoys the experience of something, no "test" at all is needed.

ChrisS's picture

Look around, AJ.

DBT doesn't happen as an audio reviewing tool.

Lovely word salad, by the way.

ChrisS's picture

How do you choose?

How do you guarantee maximum "transparency" so that all one hears is the test component?

ChrisS's picture

...all "non-sonic variables" must be eliminated, he's quite right!

To be truly "blinded", all test equipment must be hidden too. The "tester" too, if possible.

As tnargs has also pointed out, to eliminate the influence of room sonics, one must test in an anechoic chamber.

Got one?

(Is there more than one of you, tnarg(s)? Is that why you are a plural?)

tnargs's picture

No need for an anechoic chamber -- in fact it's a terrible idea. Some speakers are great axially but terrible off-axis, and will get a misleadingly high subjective rating in an anechoic chamber.

There is such a thing as a standard listening room -- I forget the specifying document number -- this is the way to go if you want some universality to the outcome.

But one's own listening room is the obvious place to do the blind testing. If the sound waves of component X are preferred by you in that room, you have your answer.


ChrisS's picture

Lash's picture

15k is not crazy cash, eh? No wonder the industry is dying.