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post #111 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 01:42 PM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

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RonN5 wrote: View Post
Thanks for the hard work and the great write up. The real winner here is the customer…as your review clearly shows, there are a number of really good choices for under $1k.

A year ago, when I began my own search for a new loudspeaker for a 2 channel setup, I really liked the sound produced by the folded motion/ribbon transducers in the Motions and Goldenears (very smooth and 3d)…so I’m not surprised that the Arx sound so good with their planar tweeters.

I ended up buying the Tekton Lores, probably because of their dynamics and low end. Your evaluation of the Lores at the 20 hour break in point is pretty similar to my own experience.

If you manage to get another pair of Lores for extended evaluation, I suspect you will find that with extended break in (I’m now around 220 hours), the mids, highs and soundstage keep getting smoother and more dimensional while the low end just keeps getting deeper.

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Based on the frequency response, it seems a little odd that the Lores would be bright or harsh.

What I noticed on my own lores was that that the "just out of the boxes to 50 hour sound" had a little more high end emphasis...but not bright or harsh...then as the 10" eminence drivers broke in....around 100-150 hours, the mid range filled out, the tonal balance was better, the bass went deeper and the soundstage became even bigger. But never was the music bright or harsh, no matter how loud the volume was turned up.

From a reference standpoint, I'm using an Oppo 103 into a Parasound 2100 into a Crown Drivecore 2000.
I had a nice phone visit with Eric at Tekton Design earlier this week. We talked about our experience with the Lore's and about his design philosophy and approach. He believes a design should be as simple as possible, but no simpler - didn't Einstein say something like that? - and my read on that is that his designs may look simple in the end but it takes a whole lot of work and consideration to get them to that point. Elegance is not free, it usually results from an understanding of every variable and finding a way to get them all working together harmoniously in a way that appears simple.

I will tell you that the guy LOVES what he does, he loves speakers and speaker design. He definitely has the right job.

Eric made no apologies for the Lore design or sound. He readily admits the design of the Lore's to be a bit forward, referring to it as a "lively" sound that can be appreciated without the need for higher volume levels, although they can certainly deliver them.



Here are a couple alternate views of the Lore's response as we measured it. It is a little hard to see in the 1-octave averaged plot, but there is a midrange plateau from 400 to 2K that sits 1.5 to 2.5 dB above the rest, enough to really stand out. When Sonnie was auditioning the Lore's, we left our measurement mic running into REW's Spectrum Analyzer, set to average "forever," and could see that very same region of build-up on the Analyzer screen. The 1/3-octave averaged plot shows a peak just below 2 KHz that definitely stood out. The detail was terrific, very clear and precise, but it felt like it was being beamed right at you in the LP, like the Lore's directionality characteristics might be different over that frequency band. That is what I suspect, anyway. Other speakers had 2 KHz peaks that did not stand out nearly as boldly as with the Lores. That range is handled by the 10-inch driver, by the way, not the tweeter.

I will not disagree that it is possible that further break-in time could have tamed our Lore's somewhat, but I have to go with my own engineering and listening experience that the effects are usually not of the magnitude that we would have needed to see to turn them into the kind of speaker we were looking for. This is not a statement against the Lore's or the design or Tekton or anything else, just that they are of a different voicing than we were after.

The possibility also exists that driver variations batch-to-batch resulted in a brighter set of speakers that we heard. The pair was well matched, no doubt, as witnessed by their performance. But I can see in more "elegant" design that tiny design parameter variations could pass spec but sound different in that design while not elsewhere.

As I said in the review, their soundstage was monstrous, the imaging sharper than anything else we heard, the hass was deep and smooth... I can see falling in love with a pair and taming the mids with EQ or working with Eric to find an electro-mechanical solution. I still need to read up on what he has suggested to others. And there are two other Lore models that do not use a driver with a whizzer cone - a tamer midrange might be found there, but I need to follow up with Eric on that for sure.

=================

More on Eric's designs... When I took a close look at Tekton's open-baffle model, with the second driver cancelling the rear wave and providing deeper bass via the lower tuned enclosure, it really knocked me out! The guy is an innovator. I would love to hear the high-end version of that with the added tweeter. I am guessing he is able to control the rear wave even better by selecting a driver with a natural HF rolloff where the tweeter takes over, needing less behind-the-baffle HF wave cancellation and giving better HF control along with improved HF responss. Nice.

Eric also hinted at a totally new design and we (HTS) hope to be able to get early evaluation privileges with a pair in the year-end time frame. He gave no details because the intellectual property legal side is still being finalized, but he said he believes it could be a game changer in some markets. Don't know about you, but I am a bit excited already!

I think Tekton is going to be a company to watch, and is certainly on my short list for speakers to evaluate and/or own as opportunity arises.

=================

As Sonnie has said, we will be auditioning Tekton Pendragons in November, and I believe they are slated to see some cinema duty as well as being part of the 2-channel evaluation. Sonnie says to plan on two movie nights, so we will give them a good trial in that setting. Alright, Sonnie. It is tough duty, but someone has to do it.
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post #112 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 02:41 PM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

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BufordTJustice wrote: View Post
I can't say too much about the line arrays....but numbers are being crunched....pictures drawn on napkins....and plenty of chalk on the chalkboard for a line array.

Yes, I was the one who begged Jon to build the A5s. I feel very validated that Sonnie, Wayne, Leonard, and Quentin all had very similar experiences to what Jon and I wanted to craft as the signature sonic character of the A5s. Detail without harshness. Delicacy with plenty of output. A large soundstage with excellent imaging...and well-damped, accurate bass. Speakers that disappeared into the room, behind a wall of sound.

-Collin
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That's astute, Icaillo. I can answer that the A5 is the product of a purposeful philosophy in which driver combinations and their transfer functions are most important. Types are too but they must be woven together well.

Systems sound different for important reasons that just don't show up in the theory, the specs, or the measurements. I happen to believe that the advent of more formulaic, even corporatized design and product engineering has not well served the user. In fact friends and I tend to feel that in places it's has given us an audio dark ages at the same time as knowledge about the field has expanded.

This should not be so.

The trick to good sound is summed up in the combination of low distortion and fine attention to design - meaning, not necessarily in abstract, theoretical engineering. Those two ideals are intangibles yet they inform the basis of better sounding systems across audio. I think we're hearing them in our preferred speaker systems while not always finding theoretically better components adhering to narrow "rules" inherently musical.

There is no reliable, hierarchal, and universally accessible list of does and don'ts that defines good sound. Good sound is an art that employs the sciences and is not bound to respond to what's commonly said to work.
First of all, Applause Applause for Jon Lane and all who contributed to making the Arx A5's a reality. They were a joy to NOT hear - and that is a big deal for speakers under $1000.

Discussions will never end, nor should they, about the art of speaker design reigning over the science and vice versa. Bottom line for me: the objective and the subjective depend upon each other as much as the left brain and right brain. It is in trying to find and keep the proper balance that we sometimes get lost. Jon refers to sterile corporatized speaker design where every design decision is dollar driven and must be justified in those terms. Yet who has not been frustrated to come across a design of some type where even basic specs are not given because they "don't matter anyway?"

The field of audio is as prime an example as any of one where aesthetics rule, yet are totally dependent upon high-technology for their delivery. The number of measurements necessary to fully specify every aspect of what we can hear from speakers like the A5's approaches the infinite. If Jon was to go "Mr. Science" on us and insist that every important characteristic of the A5s be measured and controlled, they would not be designed yet and we would be talking about a different brand and model. But he clearly understands the science and its limitations, as well as the limitations of our beloved ears and aesthetic sensibilities. Betcha he has some good lab equipment AND takes good care of his ears!

The human psycho-acoustical brain is such a marvelous integrator/differentiator/evaluator/thrill-seeker (speaking in audio terms here) that it is still way ahead of what equations and specs and measurements can achieve in our field. Will that always be the case? I kinda hope so, believing our capacities as humans to be limitless, at least in present-day terms. But i also hope the the science geeks never give up chasing after the aesthetic with calculations and measurements. The healthier that race - between the art and the science sides of speaker and audio design - the more we all win out with great products like the Arx A5. Their sound is a testament to the expert balancing of the art and science sides of his craft/business.

Questions he must have clearly defined while bringing us the A5's:
  • What are we after?
    • What should it sound like?
    • What are the important measurable characteristics to track?
    • What can we sell it for, and how do we build it profitably?
    • What aesthetic characteristics must we not sacrifice at any cost?
  • How much is good enough? Here it gets tougher. At what point do you say "Done!"?? I venture from the way they sounded that he went back to the drawing board, and the listening room, many more times than most in his shoes would have done.
    • Attention to which details?
    • What details matter the most?
    • What listening parameters are primary, secondary, third tier?
    • How much of this can even be written out, at what point do you rely on intuition?
    • How do you keep your intuition in check and not end up chasing the impossible?
It is no leap to say that a good speaker designer is as much artist as scientist, I am first to agree with that. Which side is ruling the other probably depends on what day it is, the task at hand, the checkbook balance, and a lot of things going on in her/his brain that we may never understand. Aren't human beings just the coolest creatures EVER??!!
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post #113 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 03:01 PM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

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bibeed wrote: View Post
I was very disappointed to read that the HTD Level 3 speakers had a bad driver. I'm sure that could sour someone's impression of a company. However, one shouldn't let someone else's bad experience with a company deter them from hearing what they have to offer. I've been extremely satisfied with my dark cherry Level 3 bookshelves and black B stock center Level 3. What swayed me to try them was shipping for the two bookshelves was only $15 and they have a 30 day in home trial in which if you aren't satisfied, they will pay for you to ship them back. However, I didn't need that as I quickly realized how great the speakers sound. I've really been satisfied with my purchase through Home Theater Direct. It was a toss up between them and the Arx bookshelves, but I really liked the Dark Cherry finish on the HTD speakers. I too can't wait for the Level 3 tower review. Maybe someday I'll get those for my front LR and put the bookshelves to surround duty. Anyway, just thought I'd give my two cents on the Level 3 performance/quality matter. Loved the shoutout. Looking forward to the $2500 range shoutout as well.
-DB
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Thanks for your comments on the HTD's. I believe they get shipped to Wayne tomorrow (or it may have been today). I really can't speak for him on his timeline, but I personally would like to see it published as soon as possible... hopefully in the next 3-4 weeks, if that is not rushing him too much.

I really hope no one holds the issue against HTD, as it can happen to anyone... and it could have been something in shipping that got damaged in some way, we just don't know yet. Maybe once they investigate it, they will let us know. Also keep in mind that those speakers were very good speakers even with the issue... and in the right room would no doubt be perfect for a LOT of people. I hate it especially because they are a sponsor, but when we do these evaluations, we have to look past that part of the equation when reporting what we test and hear, and be honest in our findings, whether it ultimately hurts us with a sponsor or not. I also do not believe our sponsors expect us to do anything but the right thing too, even as much as we all wish there was someway to make it go away. It was unfortunate, but perhaps redemption is coming with the review.
I understand the folks at HTD are alternately kicking themselves for not checking out the Level THREE Towers before sending them to us, and congratulating themselves for treating us as they would any potential customer and sending us a pair straight from the line. I am glad they did the latter so we know there was no special treatment involved.

Of course we are more than happy to give them a chance to sound their best - acknowledging the possibility that rough handling was involved, they are heavy speakers could have taken a tumble en route = and I am looking forward to spending some quality time with them - sounds like it will be very soon! As follow-up to the $1000 event, I will jump on them quickly and possibly leak my findings and progress along the way, but hope to have some time to live with them, too, see how much they grow on me, work them in different rooms, etc, before publishing a final report. Since they were designed to serve home cinema and 2-channel markets, I will give them some time in both areas of use, but will emphasize 2-channel per our $1000 event. Naturally, there will be some measurements taken immediately, and I will get them posted as a starting point. Their planar tweeter promises to put out a sweet-sounding high end, and it will be fun to get to know them. They had a lot going for them in our first evaluation, but I admit to being a little distracted by the tweeter imbalance and the imaging, so a good second listen is in order.
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post #114 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 03:12 PM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

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Pilk wrote: View Post
Thanks for the replies on the HTD's. I may wait for the follow up. However, I noticed the ML Motion 12's are selling at NewEgg for $599/pair shipped. Not the best price they've had (some managed to pick them up for under $500 shipped) but still a nice deal on speakers that seem to impress. So I wait for;
1. The ARX new center to come out and package up the A5's with it.
2 The follow up on the Level 3's.
3 Or the ML 12's to bottom out on price. I've got about a month before I can work on the HT.
If Motion 12's can be had for $500 shipped with 30-day return privileges, that is a pretty fine price. Remember that most of the differences between them and the Arx A5's were only clear in a side-by-side comparison.

The dipole midrange driver will probably want to be placed well into a good-sized room, though. No idea how it might act in a small room or close to walls. Anyone have any experience to share with the Motion 12s in a small room?
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post #115 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 05:21 PM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

As I said in an earlier post, I really like the mid/top end of the ML Motions with their folded motion tweeter (which I understand is actually a version of the Heil AMT). Its really interesting that the review group found the Arx A5 and Motion 12 to sound very, very similar overall. Since the Arx has the planar magnetic tweeter and the Motion has the folded motion ribbon tweeter, I would have expected more difference...especially since the mid bass drivers are also different.

I'm hoping that Jon Lane can add some insight as to why the magnetic tweeter and the folded motion ribbon would sound so similar.

Again, this was a great service to all of us that love music and audio...looking forward to the $2500 review!
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post #116 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 09:11 PM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

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If Motion 12's can be had for $500 shipped with 30-day return privileges, that is a pretty fine price. Remember that most of the differences between them and the Arx A5's were only clear in a side-by-side comparison.

The dipole midrange driver will probably want to be placed well into a good-sized room, though. No idea how it might act in a small room or close to walls. Anyone have any experience to share with the Motion 12s in a small room?
My HT is 12 x 17.5...so a decent room. I went with HTD in ceiling side and rear surrounds to keep the clutter down. For movies, I'm not a real picky about sound effects, but appreciate excellent vocals. And I get a kick out of a great set of mains...so I'm focusing my search on the LRC and a quality SQ sub (or two). I did a whole house music solution with HTD in ceiling too. That's why I was focused on the HTD LRC (and because the value seemed to be there). I'm really interested to see if the update redeems the Level 3's.

BTW...any GTG's in SW MO? I'd love to hears some of the gear I read about here.
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post #117 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 09:35 PM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

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RonN5 wrote: View Post
As I said in an earlier post, I really like the mid/top end of the ML Motions with their folded motion tweeter (which I understand is actually a version of the Heil AMT). Its really interesting that the review group found the Arx A5 and Motion 12 to sound very, very similar overall. Since the Arx has the planar magnetic tweeter and the Motion has the folded motion ribbon tweeter, I would have expected more difference...especially since the mid bass drivers are also different.

I'm hoping that Jon Lane can add some insight as to why the magnetic tweeter and the folded motion ribbon would sound so similar.

Again, this was a great service to all of us that love music and audio...looking forward to the $2500 review!
I scratched my head about that too. The dipole midrange (Motion 12) vs. front-radiating midrange (A5) seems like a huge difference that might be audible in a close comparison. It may be that the room and the final positioning where we compared them worked together to minimize the differing results for our test. The tweeter difference, too, although both are similar in size and dispersion characteristics might be close. All in all, it is fascinating that the two designs would end up sounding so close.

You WERE switching those cables back and forth, weren't you Leonard?
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post #118 of 158 Old 09-13-13, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

Is that what was happening... the cables were not getting switched?

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post #119 of 158 Old 09-14-13, 03:19 AM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

Ooops.
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post #120 of 158 Old 09-14-13, 04:43 AM
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Re: The Official $1,000 Speaker Evaluation / Home Audition Event Results

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RonN5 wrote: View Post
Its really interesting that the review group found the Arx A5 and Motion 12 to sound very, very similar overall. Since the Arx has the planar magnetic tweeter and the Motion has the folded motion ribbon tweeter, I would have expected more difference...especially since the mid bass drivers are also different.

I'm hoping that Jon Lane can add some insight as to why the magnetic tweeter and the folded motion ribbon would sound so similar.
By comparison to 1" domes, both tweeters have three or four times larger area radiators whose fundamental distortion factor will be proportionally less than domes. The principles differ but they're acoustically loaded and radiate similarly.

The midranges are both 5.25", and even the woofer volume displacements are going to be as or more similar to one another than the other candidates. Box volume and tuning and even system efficiency are also similar, as are crossover points (and possibly types).

I promote comparing acoustically similar systems more than similarly priced systems, which means examining the foundational bass and midpass profile up through the middle hundreds. This is the speaker's basement, what everything else is built on. Here the ML and Arx are parametrically alike. They just happen to share other aspects, apparently including design style and tuning.

Oh, and about design I'd add that its philosophy has as much or more to do with sonic signature than anything else, at least outside major parameters like bass extension and available power. Design is the intangible factor but determines nearly the entire personality of the speaker system. It's not uncommon to find so-called house sound shared across models, and in some cases, even brands. Individual drivers each have their sound but their system's personality is at least as important.

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