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Yes that's what kind of sparked this question in my head. It was remarkable how many times that came up - that a speaker didn't have any significant flaws and yet didn't captivate. I don't recall reading this in the previous event - maybe I need to go back and read it again.
 

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I thnk of frequency response sort of like color in displays. We tend to accommodate variances quite well over time. This is why I believe that there is much more to the sound of a speaker than just frequency response. Low distortion allows us to hear detail, clean impulse response lets us hear is without ringing or overdamping. Of course these interact so frequency response is important, but relative levels are just like a gray scale shift. We adjust for it to hear the music. Other characteristics like consistency of character between drivers and channel balance contribute to the character of a speaker as well.

Certainly, frequency response anomolies can attract one's attention and make a speaker sound more attractive or not. And over time, even though we can accomodate variance, some speakers will fit the preference of certain listeners better than others. Sonnie clearly prefers a balance to more bass than I do. Put it all together and my conclusion is that we really don't have good objective ways of describing the experience. I think we could do better in terms of what and how we measure speakers, but it would be a very complex problem.

That is why I try to listen to reference tracks for a range of characteristics that identify problems or give a speaker a chance to excel, then rely on my gut reaction, my overall sense of how well I can get lost in the music and forget that I am listening to speakers (much different perhaps than reproducing a live sound) and how much I experience the emotion and facination with the performance. That is certainly not a reliable measure, nor objective in any way, but it seems to be the best I can do to communicate the experience at this point. After all, it is that magic, the connection with the music that calls me to listen to my system. I am not one that likes to listen to pick out the intricacies of the sound of the system itself. Getting to do so with the team once in a while is fun, but when it comes down to what makes me want to listen at home, it is my interest in the music.

I conclude from these trials that any of the speakers in the last round would be great for someone. That is probably true for all of the speakers we have tested, but more so for these. There were certainly a few in the earlier rounds that I know I would have become tired of quickly. I really think that any of these are speakers I could live with for a long time. The Polks did not create the magic for me that certain others did, but they were still very very good and I heard everything that I listen for in them.

This is tricky business, evaluating speakers. I just hope that I communicate something of value in the reviews. If there is something more that I might say to give better context to the sound of each, please tell me.
 

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Great discussions here; I'm curious: we measure speakers for their frequency response and look for it to be flat. We have various listeners: do their auditory senses hear those reproduced sounds as the speaker provides them? In essence, do the listeners favor speakers based on their own auditory 'signature'? Perhaps this provides a reason why a particular speaker's flat response is not favored over another with a different/unique response: I'll have to ask an audiologist friend about this.
 

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That is why I try to listen to reference tracks for a range of characteristics that identify problems or give a speaker a chance to excel, then rely on my gut reaction, my overall sense of how well I can get lost in the music and forget that I am listening to speakers (much different perhaps than reproducing a live sound) and how much I experience the emotion and facination with the performance. That is certainly not a reliable measure, nor objective in any way, but it seems to be the best I can do to communicate the experience at this point. After all, it is that magic, the connection with the music that calls me to listen to my system.
This is what it's really all about. If I were to rank, in order of importance, my priorities in terms of speaker performance this would be a higher priority than flat frequency response. Ideally, I would get "that magic" first and then improve room variables to flatten response if possible.

If frequency response (among other measurements) was all-important there would be no need to read all of your impressions. I can't think of a better way for you guys to convey this information than to just tell us what you really think. Your subjective reviews are quite valuable and I appreciate your willingness and honesty.
 

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Yep I agree. At the end of the day what matters is whether you like to listen to the system you dropped a bunch of money and spent a bunch of time on.
 

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Captivate is a good word.

I have owned some speakers, that some measurement purist people
would be offended by - however, they worked for my nit-picking ears.
 

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Discussion Starter #267
I have wondered about this before, and thought it might spark some discussion since things have slowed down around here. A couple of speakers in this evaluation seemed to stand out for one thing or another, but three or four models seem to not quite have the "magic" that draws the listener in to listen more and more.

In what ways (if any) do we want a speaker to stand out? Are there some ways of standing out that impress at first and become annoying after living with a speaker for several months? Are there other ways of standing out that are good over the long haul?

On the other hand, regarding the speaker that does not stand out on first listen, how does it fare several months down the road? Does it remain "boring" and unengaging, or does one come to appreciate its simple, unassuming way of going about things (this absent any significant flaws, as all the speakers here seem to be)?

Obviously this is rather subjective, depending on what the listener wants from a speaker. Some people want things to stand out or be emphasized, which might be considered by others who are "purists" to be an alternate version of reality or hyper-real, or whatever. Just wondering, for those of you who have listened to and, more importantly, lived with for a long period of time, several different pairs or sets of loudspeakers.

What has your experience been? Have you ever bought a pair of loudspeakers because they sounded exciting at first blush, but ended up realizing they were fatiguing or annoying much later? Or have you ever bought a loudspeaker and found several months down the line that you've become bored with them and wanted to move on to something more exciting?
I find it ironic, yet somewhat not surprising, that you guys found the speakers with the flattest frequency response unengaging. Not to mention that they were very accurate, detailed and had no real weaknesses.

A lot could be taken from that and discussed about the objective and the subjective.
Of course frequency response is far from representing the total experience of a speaker, but it does tell us a lot. One trend I have noticed in the frequency response curves of the models we have evaluated in our speaker events is that the "interesting" ones tend to have a presence peak of some kind around 2 kHz (somewhere between 1 and 3 kHz). That one feature seems to add some zip to the sound, and without it, speakers with otherwise great characteristics seem to sound a bit drab.

One of the models I heard at RMAF in October was the Grimm Audio LS1 with incredibly flat response for use in mastering rooms. My first impression was "the definition of neutral," another way of saying accurate but not exciting.

Flattening the response with Audyssey MultEQ can eliminate that zip factor, but often brings enough other benefits that the loss of that zip goes unnoticed.
 

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Did I miss the results? How were they ranked? Who got poll position?
 

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Well, they weren't ranked and it was never intended that they would be. It was more like a series of mini-reviews conducted by a few people in the same room with the same music over the course of a few days. However, if you read the reviews in detail (all posted on the first page of this thread) and read between the lines a bit, you will see that each reviewer favored one or two speakers, depending on their own preferences and priorities.

This is, in my opinion, the proper way to do a comparison test. The very fact that there is no universal consensus among the reviewers proves that ranking the speakers would do disservice not only to the manufacturers but also potentially to the readership, many of whom would take such rankings as gospel and buy the top-rated speaker without realizing or having pointed out to them that they might prefer one of the others.
 

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Well, they weren't ranked and it was never intended that they would be. It was more like a series of mini-reviews conducted by a few people in the same room with the same music over the course of a few days. However, if you read the reviews in detail (all posted on the first page of this thread) and read between the lines a bit, you will see that each reviewer favored one or two speakers, depending on their own preferences and priorities.

This is, in my opinion, the proper way to do a comparison test. The very fact that there is no universal consensus among the reviewers proves that ranking the speakers would do disservice not only to the manufacturers but also potentially to the readership, many of whom would take such rankings as gospel and buy the top-rated speaker without realizing or having pointed out to them that they might prefer one of the others.
Agreed. Its also tells us how subjective one's hearing is and whats good for the goose may not be good for the gander. :) . Being a PSB fanboy/owner of two different series, I can relate to what was said about these speakers. :)
 

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HTS Reviews of this kind are far superior to most others where everything is a ridiculous competition to the death. The ubiquitous shootouts found elsewhere are just juvenile IMO.

There is no way that products (such as speakers) that are rated so subjectively by an individual or testers can be be given a numerical score that is meaningful. If speakers A,B,C & D are tested & I like 'C' the best, it doesn't matter to me what the others might think. 'C' would be my choice even though it might not be for others.

Kudos to HTS for testing in this manner. It shows maturity, professionalism & for me is the reason why HTS remains a cut above the rest ...

TAM
 

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Of the three speaker review events, the only one where a "winner" was attempted to be defined was the first. The criteria was all about what fit Sonnie's need at the time. As it turned out, there was a general concensus around two of the speakers, but we quickly learned that all of the speakers had aspects which would be of value to some and few attributes that would lead us to reject them. That makes sense if you think about the market and how we picked from very reputable vendors. And there are many of those.

If you read carefully you will see that we were careful to include much information about placement and how easy or difficult it was to get what we expected in terms of soundstage presentation, and were not concerned so much with frequency response. This is because while speakers are highly subjective with respect to overal frequency balance, the room affects this so much that the combination of room, placement, and speaker may yield very different results for most users.

Bottom line is that we agree with exlabdriver's comment above in principle, though by the standards of posting here, we would not be so harsh in criticizing other reviews.
 
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