Blind Listening at Harman International

Revel began demonstrating prototypes of the Performa F228Be, reviewed elsewhere in this issue, at the Consumer Electronics Show and other audio events in 2015, though they had yet to settle on the model name. The most salient feature that distinguished the F228Be-to-be from the established Performa3 F208 was the new beryllium tweeter, and while it sounded more than okay under show conditions, I always heard a bit of brightness and harshness. I knew it was still a work in progress, but I wasn't very eager to want to take it home.

My thoughts began to change after an old friend consulted me about buying some new speakers. After hearing my suggestions, he bought used pairs of his four top candidates and set them up in his apartment. He reasoned that it would be impossible to find a single dealer at which he could compare them side by side, no series of in-store demos would ever tell him as much as hearing the speakers in his own listening room, and he could buy them used and, after choosing one, resell the rest with little or no financial loss. The opportunity to compare, side-by-side in a comfortable domestic space, four well-known, highly rated floorstanders, all costing between $5000 and $10,000/pair? I couldn't resist.

He and I and another friend spent an evening listening to familiar music through all four pairs of speakers in turn. It wasn't a blind test, and going in, we'd each expressed an expectation of a preference for one of them. There was no order to our testing—we listened to a pair as long as we all agreed we wanted to, taking turns sitting in the sweet spot, then unhooked them and moved in the next pair. Back and forth we went, track after track, speaker after speaker, discussing what we heard as went along, until we'd reached a consensus.

I won't reveal the identities of the three other speakers, as the results of our very informal "test" are probably relevant only to the three of us. We share a similar perspective on audio; we listened only to classical music, mostly vocal and orchestral, and heavily late and post-Romantic (Brahms, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, etc.); and our friend's drop-dead view of the Manhattan skyline could not have failed to enhance the subjective impressions of the speakers that framed it.

As I said, our choice was unanimous: the Revel Performa3 F208. I tell this story because the F208s sounded so much better in this room and system than I'd ever heard them, whether in stores or at shows. When the Peforma3 F208 was launched, I'd been disappointed that Erick Lichte was assigned to review them. Now I was downright peeved.

I mulled these results, wondering how I could apply them to my own situation as reviewer and audiophile. Two pairs of speakers at a time is the most I can accommodate in my listening room, and swapping them into and out of their optimal positions is difficult at best. That's why I make most of my comparisons with long auditions of a single pair, supplemented by detailed notes suggesting what to attend to when finally switching to another pair. But there's always the nagging annoyance of not being able to scratch one itch: With the sound of one speaker fresh in my mind, I want to hear right now how another speaker does this!

Well, Harman International's Multichannel Listening Lab contains a way of doing this instantly and effortlessly: the latest version of their speaker mover permits blind, monophonic comparisons of loudspeakers (footnote 1). As I'd just recently installed the Revel Performa F228Be's in my system for the review, I leapt at an offer to visit Revel's Acoustics Technologies Manager, Kevin Voecks at Harman's facility in Northridge, California, and to subject myself to the rigors of comparing three speakers—one of which, I assumed, would be the Performa F228Be.

In addition to strenuous sessions of blind testing, the big day included visiting other Harman and Revel staff. First, I was given a primer in the design of transducers from Principal Engineer An Nguyen, who emphasized how Harman is able to optimize transducer parameters with computer-aided design (CAD)—most potential problems can be anticipated and resolved before the first prototype is built. Afterward, engineer Larry Brown showed me how he incorporates the design parameters for all the components into a comprehensive specification document. That design-spec doc is interactive—as engineering parameters evolve through further testing, individual changes percolate through it, and all related and dependent components are accordingly updated. Finally, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Principal Engineer, Mark Glazer, who guided me through the acoustical and mechanical analysis of the drive-units, as well as the acoustical analysis of complete systems.

One of the important results of that analysis is the generation of what Floyd E. Toole, Harman's former corporate vice president of acoustical engineering, has dubbed Spinorama graphs, which he presents as highly reliable predictors of accurate and satisfying audio listening (footnote 2) What I came to appreciate was how the Spinorama data, particularly the listening-window response (±30° horizontal, ±10° vertical), predicted what I heard in the listening tests.

Harman documents Spinorama results not only for their own speakers but also for speakers made by many of their competitors; other companies, such as Bryston, now offer on their websites listening-window and total-sound-power frequency-response data, along with the traditional on-axis response. By subtracting the listening-window data from the total-sound-power data (or from the early-reflections data), one can derive "directivity index" (DI) curves that reveal the consistency of the off-axis frequency response. The latter don't play a major role in Harman's Multichannel Listening Lab, which compares single loudspeakers (interactions between the speakers of a stereo pair are not involved) placed far away from room boundaries (early reflections play no significant role). However, a smooth, consistent DI curve should indicate greater ease in positioning the speaker in a room, and better in-room sound.

These presentations helped me better understand what goes into the creation and manufacture of Revel and other Harman loudspeakers, and served as respites for my ears and brain between fatiguing audio trials. They also gave senior acoustic engineer Omid Khonsaripour of HarmanX, Harman's research group, enough time to randomize the order of the test speakers for each trial.

The setup: From a list of familiar tracks/albums I'd sent earlier, Voecks selected 10 excerpts of less than 30 seconds each, and loaded a mono channel (left or right) clip from each into the Multichannel Listening Lab's control system. I was told that behind the curtain in front of the listening seat were three loudspeakers, designated A, B, and C. Using a tablet, I could 1) select a track to play, 2) go forward or back within the track, 3) adjust the volume, and 4) select among Speakers A, B, and C.

Because all of these options were available all the time, I could switch speakers within a track, though this interrupted playback for about three seconds as each speaker was actually and automatically physically moved to the same position behind the curtain. At first, I used three of the tracks to get a handle on how I felt about the three speakers, switching among them in each of the six possible permutations. Then I did back-to-back comparisons of the three possible pairs. By then, it had become clear to me that the speakers did sound different, but that some differences were easier to hear than others.

Thus began the obsessive phase. To define the differences, I selected a particular phrase of music, instrumental or vocal, and repeated all of the above comparisons for each. When my notes indicated a consistency of description of the characteristics of the candidates, I realized that I'd been sitting in semidark, focusing my mind on snippets of sound, completely disconnected from reality and the passage of time. How long had I been doing this? Though I felt I'd been doing this all day and into the wee hours of the next morning, it turned out that only 45 minutes had elapsed. I concluded the session by listening to each track straight through with each speaker to confirm the impressions I'd noted down, then bolted from the room to reconnect with the real world.

After lunch came another session with another subset of musical selections, and in late afternoon a third session. During each of these I followed the strategy I'd used in the first. I wasn't informed about which speakers Voecks had chosen, or whether or not Speaker A was the same speaker in all three sessions. I was pretty sure that C was always the same, but I also thought that A and B were swapped for Session 2. As it turned out, the letter assigned each speaker remained unchanged throughout all three sessions.

Who were those masked men? Speaker C was not a Revel, but a speaker very similar to one I'd reviewed, quite favorably, in Stereophile. Its bass reproduction wasn't problematic, but in direct comparison to Speakers A and B it stuck out for its notably recessed upper midrange. Its Spinorama graph (fig.1) also reveals an elevated HF; though I hadn't noticed that as such, it may have contributed to the deemphasis of MF presence.

119Blind_Listeningfig1.jpg

Fig.1 Speaker C (not identified), Spinorama graph.

Speaker A, it turned out, was the Revel Performa F228Be (fig.2), and Speaker B was Revel's top model, the Ultima Salon2. Both seemed open and balanced, with a detailed but subtle treble, but while some tracks favored one or the other, it was ultimately a standoff. I'd thought that Speaker B had a tighter, less prominent midbass, and had guessed it was the F228Be. But Speaker B was the Ultima Salon2, and in nonblind post-test listening it became apparent that its cleaner midbass was coupled with a more satisfying deep-bass experience, especially at high volumes. Nonetheless, it was on that basis that I'd chosen the Salon2 as my preference in Sessions 1 and 3—but had chosen the F228Be in Session 2.

119Blind_Listeningfig2.jpg

Fig.2 Speaker A (Revel Performa F228Be), Spinorama graph.

These results surprised me. Despite their huge differences in price, size, and vintage, the two Revels were so similar in sound quality that I couldn't reliably distinguish them under these blind conditions. I'd fooled myself into believing that Speakers A and B had been swapped for Session 2, then swapped back for Session 3. Perhaps more sessions would have revealed a statistically reliable preference—but no way will I subject myself to that.

I came home with ears and mind refreshed, and certain that any thinking audiophile would benefit from the experience. That said, from now on, good-looking Spinorama graphs or similar data (footnote 3) will be major criteria in my considering what I'll review—and what I'll buy.—Kalman Rubinson



Footnote 1: See Thomas J. Norton's description and experience of listening to Revel speakers in the Listening Lab here.

Footnote 2: For a full description of the development, application, and use of Spinorama graphs (Chapter 5), and Floyd E. Toole's insights and overview of acoustics and loudspeakers, I highly recommend the third and latest edition of his book, Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms (New York: Focal Press, 2017).

Footnote 3: I have thought about duplicating Harman's Spinorama graphs for the measurements that accompany Stereophile's loudspeaker reviews. However, for consistency with the reviews published since 1989, I have stuck with the responses averaged across a 30° window centered either on the tweeter axis or on the listening axis recommended by the manufacturer.—John Atkinson

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

... how various other speakers would fare against the Revel products when using this method of comparison.
Would a Wilson speaker prove to be superior? What about a BBC type speaker, such as from Harbeth or Stirling or Graham? Or a PSB product developed using the NRC facilities? B&W, KEF and Dynaudio should be included, as well. Last, but not least, an Andrew Jones design from ELAC.
Other Stereophile reviewers should get their turn in Harman's listening lab, too.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Do you mean how many over-priced, under-performers out there? :-) ........

Axiom05's picture

The question I have is how much carry-over is there from Harman's test set up to a real-world room? They listen to a single speaker in a large room where side wall reflections are not a problem. Put two speakers in a "real" room where early side wall reflections can be a significant issue and what are the results? I suspect that things are not quite as straight forward as they would like you to believe. A typical listening room is quite complex compared to their set up and far from ideal. Each speaker designer makes decisions based on what they think will work best in a "typical" listening environment. I don't think the Harman test room is "typical" for most people (unfortunately).

This was certainly an interesting article but I'm not sure how exactly to use the information. There is no way to get these Spinorama graphs and even Harman/Revel do not publish them for their speakers. I have been following Floyd Toole's research into this area since the late 1980's, so I have a great respect for what Harman is doing.

beave's picture

Harman, not Harmon. And their room is set up to behave like a "typical" listening room. On the one hand, there is so much variety in what could be a "typical" listening room that it's nearly impossible to call any particular setup "typical." On the other hand their research has shown that speaker preference doesn't tend to change much (if at all) from room to room, even though the sound does change from room to room.

MZKM's picture

As pointed out, Toole’s human trials have shown that in the same position, the better measureing speaker is always chosen, so what room it’s in or where in the room it is does not matter.

As for early reflections, if the frequency response of the early reflections, shown in the Spinoramas, is close to the on-axis and listening window, then our ears are very forgiving. If the early reflections have large mills due to phase issues, poor directivty in the crossover region, etc., then it will be much more audible.

Kal Rubinson's picture

There are many Spinoramas in Floyd's Book and Kevin Voecks has opened a thread on AVS Forum (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/3038828-how-choose-loudspeaker-what-science-shows.html) where he has provided graphs and links, including a few to Parasound, Magico, etc. Some companies like KEF and Bryston offer similar data on their products. Kevin has promised to reveal more. Some of them are quite intriguing. ;-)

FWIW, one can derive similar graphs from JA's data although he has chosen to present it in a different format.

Axiom05's picture

NT

beave's picture

Kal, I know you meant Paradigm, not Parasound. :-)

Kal Rubinson's picture

I did.

Long-time listener's picture

These are used on another reviewing site--I don't recall which one at the moment--and they were useful in revealing to me the rather bad off-axis peaks between 2 and 5kHz in the Dynaudio Special 40s. I hear those and am bothered by them, but they don't show up in any of your measurements.

HammerSandwich's picture

I'd appreciate Speaker B's chart for comparison, especially considering KR wrote, "I couldn't reliably distinguish them..." Seeing A's twice is less useful here.

Axiom05's picture

https://www.dropbox.com/s/quvk1ffpqw9hmyl/Revel%20F228-Magico%20A3-Paradigm%203F%20%20Test%20Report%20Med%20Res.pdf?dl=0

Kal Rubinson's picture

Speaker B was the Salon 2 and an older spinorama is: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/aBFN0WFP0q1XVbjMW4d2PBZN5FsKcLl7LajmdHQR6EzAQcFu1ONOwPIgcw8G2FMVtYhypsmJTLl30dcAD0yGJMQhsMJW3p_QuCd9hCe80_Q2Z8ZEDHSEuOVbu9HQdNH05tNKCBxTWZxhWf77y11sEB7mfquxgEieAJN2VCtOMUDkDaEWHbOKx8zS3rNd5XJJNYRIP_N5V95bBf7Bidcz8OGhpXzxxZWSuI_CKOKRKUYiGsRSCI3KwX2X8p0sEBg5kJrsLzbOm2fVLvC9C588OIEpCjbfAitmLDXEPWksBXvNitCWo4YIRgvLie1nr2BTZ9OFOPfMY2awaMH_bvL4FILvMsd_Lc-bcKMrkJCU0-vfAi-s6bblvrIvF_Ae_WMjBrfYLUrL6LQi1p7LIhyiMZ_aPr9RtZ78PlDJy6zDetz1Ljwhixxm1R2wGEo3F8XAmO_dvlCttCGv59iiamgWjOtoLu4zz_F7LhOW4dmmVjmvokdmRFCMyvUGe48upMSdYDaH3BSYWe5GrrteYwhnq5dX7eGNu6MrZb509scxKm6lW1GGEKlpNkGLJxQtdBdnjWEsyxvw6QxzQKsr0GS0HNRGVPcEl0c1XRbtRqkUon1CLSoxdd1wvISZ=w640-h480-no

HammerSandwich's picture

Thank you!

ok's picture

I wonder if some, say, exalted cup-shaped possible frequency results could ever make it into Harman’s standard hearing model – cause that’s the way most people I know like their music to be heard; save of course for the fact that such people would never statistically make it into Harman’s highly manipulated "blind" audio tests.

beave's picture

The only people I know who prefer a 'cup-shaped' sound are teenage boys and perhaps elderly people with hearing damage.

People with hearing damage are generally excluded from Harman's testing, because it has been shown that their preferences are too varying.

So, yeah, such people would be excluded - and with good reason.

ok's picture

..as far as current audiophiles are concerned, people with hearing damage should be the main target group of Harman’s testing procedures :-}

Kal Rubinson's picture

I've seen some pretty horrible-looking Spinoramas at Harman. Did you think that "Speaker C" looked good?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Did any of those 'horrible-looking' Spinorama graph loudspeakers including 'speaker C' make it to the Stereophile recommended component list, specifically Class-A list ? ......... If the answer is 'no', that answers my question :-) ........

Kal Rubinson's picture

I am not going to answer that with any specifics because (1) my exposure to those graphs was casual, I took no notes and do not trust my memory and (2) the graphs are Harman's property and, until they release them, it is not my prerogative to discuss them. OTOH, the answer is not No.

tonykaz's picture

... what you strive to accomplish with "Music in the Round"?

Your presentation at RMAF brought an explanation about being immersed in a Sound Field that 5.1 can create vs. sitting in front of a Sound field being projected by a Stereo pair. ( and maybe even the "Wall of Sound" Mono experience ).

I'm curious enough to re-think Mark Waldrep.

So, I'm anticipating a KR reveal about how your Sonic experience has changed or impacted by these Revels.

Are Transducer performance levels needing to hit a certain Mimimum performance levels before the effect of "Music in the Round" can work it's Magic ?

I'm kind of finding myself "Reading between the Lines" to Extrapolate a useful meaning on these experiences.

Bob Katz seemed to rely on his Revels, and Mark Waldrep seems to rely on B&W 801s ( that I once Imported ). Music in the Round relys on B&W 802s ( which I also imported plenty of ). All Top of the Line Performance Transducer Systems.

You are under an Exciting Spotlight, working with the Long Term Future of Music reproduction. What you discover will continue thru the decades, you're a Pioneer.

Tony in Michigan

AJ's picture

Pretty sure Katz uses Dynaudio in studio and Waldrep, Revels (at least for MCH demo) now. But I am neither man.

tonykaz's picture

Katz has those lovely Dynaudios, I tried to buy his Revels but was too late.

Waldrep was using B&Ws.

Tony in Michigan

AJ's picture
Quote:

Your presentation at RMAF brought an explanation about being immersed in a Sound Field that 5.1 can create vs. sitting in front of a Sound field being projected by a Stereo pair. ( and maybe even the "Wall of Sound" Mono experience ).

Only 4 channels are required for immersion http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002STIN...0286499H
There is also evidence that synthesized reverberation can sometimes be near indistinguishable from discretely captured real source ambiance http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=18621
So "Stereophiles" need not despair ;-).
Like Dr Toole, I'd rather not dispense with 99% of recorded music, aka spatially deprived "stereo" http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=9136
Upmixing said "stereo" is not verboten, especially when carefully done.

AJ
Soundfield Audio

tonykaz's picture

Thanks, 4 Channel it is.

I'm excited by the effect more than paying attention to the gear making it happen.

Are you also a Revel Loudspeaker user?

Tony in Michigan

AJ's picture
Quote:

I'm excited by the effect more than paying attention to the gear making it happen.

The gear matters when upmixing for MCH vs discrete MCH, which is inherent to the encoding. Not in a brand sense per se, but format.
My preference is for Logic7, both old and new Immersion via Lexicon. But there are others, including Auro 3D etc.

Quote:

Are you also a Revel Loudspeaker user?

No, I thought my (typed) signature made that clear ;-).
Though I am certainly a disciple of the science Toole developed at the NRC, which spawned the Harman research/products. But also Johnston, Salmi, Griesinger et al

AJ
Soundfield Audio

tonykaz's picture

or somewhat clear,

after I brought-up Soundfield Audio on a Google Search but I still don't understand who you are or what your business relates to. I suspect Audio Business, perhaps building Audio Systems. Certainly, you seem an interesting person with experience.

I'm on track to move to Venice Fl. in June 2019, where I'll live in Florida's Incubater for Old People, Fly out-of Venice's Air Port, Swim in a warm & friendly Pool, hit 85 for 9 Holes at the local Golf Course and enjoy the rest of my life.

Bon Vivant

Tony in Frozen Michigan

AJ's picture
Quote:

I still don't understand who you are or what your business relates to.

I am a loudspeaker manufacturer Tony. Signature added for clarity.

Quote:

I'm on track to move to Venice Fl. in June 2019, where I'll live in Florida's Incubater for Old People, Fly out-of Venice's Air Port, Swim in a warm & friendly Pool, hit 85 for 9 Holes at the local Golf Course and enjoy the rest of my life.

Congrats. No snow/ice age here ;-).
When you're not golfing, regarding audio, you'll be 20 min south of the Sarasota Audiophile club with a great bunch of gents and 1.5hr south of their sister, Suncoast Audiophile Society/Tampa with 80+ members, monthly meets. Even better, said clubs have put together a yearly audio show in Tampa, starting this year. We also have classical radio station and lots of live classical etc music venues.
Lucky you ;-).
I'm sure we'll meet at some point.

AJ
Soundfield Audio Loudspeakers

tonykaz's picture

Your Clients must be excited to be able to work directly with the people building their Transducers, what could make a more significant difference than Speakers?
I worked with Tom Thiel on Wood Selections and Finnish qualities but not Jim Thiel on Loudspeaker design stuff.
Egads, you even do Actives.

Thanks for writing, Florida keeps looking better.

Tony in Michigan

Kal Rubinson's picture
    'Upmixing said "stereo" is not verboten, especially when carefully done.'

No argument there. I have played with it on and off for many years, in fact, for many years before there was discrete multichannel for the home. However, I found it tedious to have to constantly tweak, it almost by the track. So, with the availability of discrete MCH, I no longer have much of a desire to continue.

But I was fascinated with Floyd Toole's demos.......................;-)

AJ's picture
Quote:

I found it tedious to have to constantly tweak, it almost by the track.

Well Kal, maybe that comes down to implementation, since I have only 3 settings, On, reduced and off via remote. I use mostly on/off, off for non acoustic classical/jazz.
Of course, as you may know, I do not upmix the LR direct stereo channels, only the indirect LR radiation and rear channels. No center http://www.linkwitzlab.com/Links/Optimized-listening-area-Davies.pdf
The constant tweaking requirement may be system dependent. Or OCD ;-)

Quote:

But I was fascinated with Floyd Toole's demos.......................;-)

Do tell ;-).
I'll have to check my previous correspondence with Floyd, but I believe he also used L7, though again, newer formats have emerged, I'm still sifting my way through L7 Immersion via an MC10. Auro 3D also seems interesting. Unfortunately, JJ's PSR (which JA experienced) appears to be mothballed. Not an upmix though.

AJ
Soundfield Audio Loudspeakers

Kal Rubinson's picture

QUOTE: Well Kal, maybe that comes down to implementation, since I have only 3 settings, On, reduced and off via remote. I use mostly on/off, off for non acoustic classical/jazz.
............................
The constant tweaking requirement may be system dependent. Or OCD ;-)

I rarely listen to anything but acoustic classical and it is the constant
comparison (in my mind or directly) with discrete MCH that makes me unsatisfied.

QUOTE: I'll have to check my previous correspondence with Floyd, but I believe he also used L7, though again, newer formats have emerged, I'm still sifting my way through L7 Immersion via an MC10. Auro 3D also seems interesting.

Floyd is currently playing with Auro 3D, as am I.

AJ's picture
Quote:

I rarely listen to anything but acoustic classical and it is the constant comparison (in my mind or directly) with discrete MCH that makes me unsatisfied.

Yes, but you upmix the front channels, all three! As I stated, I did not prefer any front processing, even with only 2. I presume the discrete MCH is vs the (upmixed) 2ch layer of discs?
That would be interesting to test on audio club members, but my ABX box is 2ch centric. The paper I listed earlier showed that at least with rears, upmix vs real may be about even. I'm not aware of any full MCH vs upmix tests, but they may be there.

Quote:

Floyd is currently playing with Auro 3D, as am I

Interesting, thanks. I intend to try at some point. L7i has me busy enough already. I again presume Floyd uses Auro to upmix?
Sorry to have dragged this far off course, but to get back, the Mark Davis link above is one of the things I consider a blind spot (pardon pun) for mono testing. The very wide dispersion speakers that will "win" in mono, would actually lose in (intensity) stereo vs a tighter controlled directivity speaker (like in paper), precisely for that reason.

AJ
Soundfield Audio Loudspeakers

Kal Rubinson's picture

Yes, but you upmix the front channels, all three! As I stated, I did not prefer any front processing, even with only 2. I presume the discrete MCH is vs the (upmixed) 2ch layer of discs?

The front L/R are unaffected.

AJ's picture

Auro upmix leaves LR untouched?

Kal Rubinson's picture

Auro upmix leaves LR untouched?


It only changes the level of the L/R, by default, to give equal loudness with Auro3D compared to the stereo output. However, you can manipulate the L/R level to taste with the "Strength" control.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Voice Of God" :-) ..........

AJ's picture

John for publishing and Kal for doing, blind/controlled evaluations.
The real "Trust your ears/Just listen" sound evaluation. ;-)
Interesting stuff, including the slight on axis dip at 8KHz.

p.s. John, is there a way to add a signature (other than a re-register-name change) to identify oneself as a manufacturer?

AJ
Soundfield Audio

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The Spinorama graph for 'Speaker-C' looks like kinda 'Fletcher-Munson' curves :-) .........

If the Spinorama graph was taken around 70-80 db, the graph probably could have been even more striking for 'Speaker-C' :-) .........

..... and yes, it could have been a deliberate design choice :-) ........

Tone controls anyone? :-) ............

Lorton's picture

Taken from the Kevin Voecks thread.
I suspect that the mid/highs are similar to the 5F that KR thought was an "excellent speaker". I find the F228 forward sounding. These flat fr look good but hard on the ears. May work for some type of music, but not all.

Axiom05's picture

"I find the F228 forward sounding. These flat fr look good but hard on the ears."

The Air Tight amp discussed further up the page will fix that problem. :-)

Kal Rubinson's picture

Can you give us a link to "the Kevin Voecks thread" so we can see the context of the statement in half quotes?

Lorton's picture

Speaker identification is from the Kevin Voecks AVS Forum thread that you yourself posted a link to. The "half quotes" is from your own SP 5F review.

Kal Rubinson's picture

I just spent 15 minutes searching in the AVS thread as well as in my 5F review to confirm your quotes/references but I was unable to find anything specific. Please, I am asking you for specific links.

Lorton's picture

Identification:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/3038828-how-choose-loudspeaker-what-science-shows.html

Post # 4

Your quote:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/paradigm-persona-5f-loudspeaker-page-2

First line of your conclusion.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Ah. So you made the identification by comparing the Persona 3f spinorama that Kevin posted with "Speaker C" spinorama that I published. Fair enough. And I do see that quote of "excellent speaker" from my review.

What confused me was that your post appeared with the leading quotation mark missing and that lead me to infer that first sentence was quoted from Kevin and left unclear to whom I should attribute the rest. Clear now. Thanks.

Lorton's picture

My comment was to point out that many of SP, or any other audio publication, recommended loudspeakers, including some “product of the year” will have a horrible looking Spinorama (can you imagine how a DeVore Spinorama will look). There is a lot more to this than just a nice smooth looking flat curve.

beave's picture

Don't forget that the speakers recommended by Stereophile are listened to in sighted conditions, where the reviewer knows the brand and model, and possibly the list price, and has even possibly talked to representatives of the company before doing the review.

The lesson here is that all of those things can influence a reviewer.

When those factors are removed, as in the blinded comparisons done at Harman, only sound quality is the determining factor.

Lorton's picture

To the Magico A3?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be that is the reason why many, many years ago JGH said "down with flat" :-) .......

It is well worth reading that 1985 Stereophile article written by JGH one more time to refresh the memory :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

So, we are back to square one ........ Listening is as important as measuring :-) ........

beave's picture

Sure, listening matters the most. But the only way to make sure that it's really listening that is guiding your opinions is to do it without knowing ahead of time what speaker(s) you're listening to, so that conscious and unconscious biases are removed from the comparisons.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Quote: But the only way to make sure that it's really listening that is guiding your opinions is to do it without knowing ahead of time what speaker(s) you're listening to, so that conscious and unconscious biases are removed from the comparisons.

Great thought.

I can think of a few ways to do this but find it hard to imagine how to implement them. It requires a physical facility and staff. That means it will cost money and funding is a problem in terms of the amounts needed, who will provide it and how will they influence the undertaking.

beave's picture

Yep, it gets really hard to implement fully and fairly. Most people don't have the resources.

The best I've come up with in my home is level-matched, quick switched, non-blind comparisons of speakers side-by-side. That still leaves lots of room for my biases to run rampant, but it's better than listening to speaker A at dealer 1 and speaker B at dealer 2 and making determinations based on that.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You should also take into account the associated components used ....... Tubes, solid-state, different amps, pre-amps, wires, analog, digital, type of music, listening room, on and on and on : -) ........

beave's picture

No need for me to worry about those things. I don't use tubes to color my sound. I don't believe s-s amps working within their limits have a sound of their own, and I certainly don't believe cables do (unless designed to be improper).

As for listening rooms, yes, the room acoustics make a significant impact on sound quality, but they don't really alter the ranking one speaker over another.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Agreed. The context should be as neutral as possible with the speaker(s) as the only variable. No tone controls, either.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I'm waiting for KR's review of Revel's sound in the Lincoln automobiles :-) ........

The President may switch to Lincolns after reading the review :-) .........

Kal Rubinson's picture

QUOTE: I'm waiting for KR's review of Revel's sound in the Lincoln automobiles :-) ........

Not in this lifetime.

QUOTE: The President may switch to Lincolns after reading the review :-) .........

I thought of a number of replies to this but none were on topic or printable.

Axiom05's picture

"As for listening rooms, yes, the room acoustics make a significant impact on sound quality, but they don't really alter the ranking one speaker over another."

How do you know this? Where is the data to support such a statement? Link, please.

beave's picture

It's in Dr. Toole's book along with supporting citations.

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