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Old 28th May 2016, 10:31 PM   #1
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Default How to design speakers for Stereophile reviewers

A recently deleted comment at Stereophile (or maybe I can't find it) compared the frequency response of the B&W 802 D2 vs. D3. The author's point was that there was no significant difference. The original author did it with PhotoShop skills but I decided to do the same with SPLCopy and OmniMic. When I did so I discovered something else quite special. The Golden Ear Triton has a very similar frequency curve. Here I've been thinking they were being influenced by advertising dollars when a completely new hypothesis for the incredible reviews has come up: They just have hearing loss.

Check it!

Click the image to open in full size.

You can do the same, with SPLCopy or something like it. Just grab the online FR images and chart them, then you can use OmniMic, Google Sheets, Excel, whatever.

I did not apply any scaling deliberately. They just lined up that way, but I may not have gotten the sensitivity right on each chart.
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File Type: jpg B_W_802_D2_vs_D3_vs_Golden_Ear.jpg (73.9 KB, 1411 views)
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Old 28th May 2016, 10:43 PM   #2
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Same data, but offset for clarity. New plot is the Wilson Sabrina in purple.

Click the image to open in full size.
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File Type: jpg B_W_802_D2_vs_D3_vs_Golden_Ear_vs_Wilson.jpg (87.4 KB, 1577 views)
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Old 28th May 2016, 10:54 PM   #3
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Your plot (in the first post) has 3dB grid lines and so it does not make it easy to distinguish the red and black curves. Even MINUTE differences over a wide enough band can be discerned in blind testing. At the extreme width of the entire audio band, less than 0.5dB of level difference can be detected. For example, this is why it is important to have levels matched to less than that threshold when comparing speakers in A-B type listening tests. The tendency is to prefer the "louder" speaker. As the bandwidth of the frequency response difference gets smaller, the amount of difference grows larger. There are studies in which an "EQ peak" having some gain and Q is introduced and the threshold of audability versus Q (e.g. how "high" the peak must be in dB for a given Q) was studied. Can't recall a reference for that study but maybe someone else can chime in on that.

I would label these curves as being quite different. Anyway, there is much more to a loudspeaker than its frequency response measured on *some* axis!
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Old 28th May 2016, 11:03 PM   #4
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Hi Charlie,

I'd suggest you go to the original graphs, as there's no way a copy from a chart will do any speaker justice. What I can say is that there is a common behavior of a dip at around 6 kHz and a broad hump centered around 11 kHz. I can also say I don't like any of those speakers (except the Wilsons).

My point was not that you couldn't hear the difference between a D2 and D3. My point is that all three of these highly touted speakers are gimmicked the same way.

BTW, I don't dislike the sound of the Wilson's, I just can't imagine paying the prices they are asking for the value presented. If they were invisible, tiny and free, I could use them as surrounds I guess.

Best,


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Old 28th May 2016, 11:14 PM   #5
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I am not a fan of Wilson, nor Stereophile, but your curves and curves based arguments
are simple ********...
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Old 28th May 2016, 11:23 PM   #6
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The curves aren't meaningless and I think the conclusion that one can draw from them is simply that the reviews are quite happy to listen to (and highly rate) speakers that are quite less than neutral.

Then again it's their job to be diplomatic as they don't stay in business for slamming products. Even when something sucks they try and find some kind of justification for it. As a 'this speaker has X' the designed probably chose this because of 'Y' to make it seem like a niche advantage rather than simply saying, this speaker has 'X' and it is simply wrong and a huge design error.

B&W have been known to design to a 'house sound/house methodology' for years now and it doesn't seem like they are going to change that. I mean of all the praises they sang of the continuum cone and the issues it was going to solve the 800 series still have the same crappy issues at the top of the midrange/tweeter transition. You solved nothing B&W just more marketing hype to justify a rehash of the old series. Maybe the continuum cone, in isolation, is a step in the right direction, it's still been used badly.
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Old 29th May 2016, 03:20 AM   #7
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Charlie, I think it was Toole's research that found the unexpected effect (that low-Q resonances tend to be much more audible than high-Q resonances of similar energy). Kind of flies in the face of all the attention that CSD waterfalls get, as they highlight the high-Q not the low-Q resonances.
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Old 29th May 2016, 04:51 AM   #8
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My argument is simple. Stereophile is praising hearing aids masquerading as speakers. If they sincerely want to praise speakers this far from neutral I sincerely, and without insult, want to know if they are suffering from complementary hearing loss.

If manufacturers are designing speakers for rich old white men with common loss in the last octave, this explains much. Im middle aged, and can't afford anything I don't build myself, but my hearing is fine.

Those speakers (Well, OK, haven't heard the D3) sound exactly as the graphs would lead me to believe by the way. We can argue about the subtle scents wafting in off the speaker's cone till the cows come home, and about the images of flaura and fauna playing the 18th copy of Vivaldi's tribute to his cat, but these is not a subtle tuning.
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Old 29th May 2016, 04:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriksquires View Post
my argument is simple. stereophole is praising hearing aids masquarading as speakers. if they genuinelyvpraise speakerz this far from neutral i sincerely, and without insult, want to know if they are suffering from hearing loss. if manufacturers are designing speakers for rich old white men with common loss in the last octave, this explains much. im middle aged, but my hearing is fine. those three speakers sound exactly as the graphs would lead me to believe.
Your hearing is fine but your writing could use some work.
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Old 29th May 2016, 04:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamalama View Post
Your hearing is fine but your writing could use some work.
That will always be true I'm afraid. Sorry was typing from a bar at the end of a basketball game.

Erik
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