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Old 24th September 2013, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Loudspeaker technology is truly primitive

I've been wondering if there is any technology as primitive as loudspeakers. By "primitive" I mean that you can't sit down to design and then produce a system that meets high expectations*. A reasonable comparison might be the "science" of automobile tires.

At the low end (and to an extent at the high end too and we are obliged to use cross-overs in the middle), we are outside the capable range of available drivers. We have to make up for their shortcomings by trafficking in various box resonances and in-phase boosting.

None of the ordinary drivers are seriously smooth, even when examined in a limited range.

Putting it all in a room, we are even further from delivering good sound to even one listener's ear.

For sure, we patch together and fine-tune a large collection of elements and end up with something we like. Just like we kind of like the tires we put on cars.

Seems strange.

Ben
*When stepping down the hall or into another room, have EVER thought Rene Fleming was singing in your music room? Or even a simple flute or guitar? My system can fool me into thinking it is my cellphone with an electronic ringtone ringing. That's not great.
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Last edited by bentoronto; 24th September 2013 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 25th September 2013, 12:28 AM   #2
gedlee is offline gedlee  United States
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I don't know about you but I have seen dramatic improvements in sound reproduction in the nearly 50 years I have been doing it. Revolutionary? - No, but highly evolutionary with large improvements at every step.

I have a recording of a classical pianist playing a piano with no room acoustics. When played back in my room, the piano IS in the room with you. It can be done.
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Old 25th September 2013, 03:29 AM   #3
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentoronto View Post
*When stepping down the hall or into another room, have EVER thought Rene Fleming was singing in your music room? Or even a simple flute or guitar?
Yes, and trumpet and saxophone - even a drum set. Often better out of the room than in it.
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Old 25th September 2013, 04:05 AM   #4
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Another example might be "progressive addition" eyeglass lenses. They involve unavoidable compromises: a lens cannot simultaneously have variable power and no distortion. Segmented multifocal lenses (bifocals and trifocals) will always provide clearer vision over wider areas.
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Old 25th September 2013, 05:55 AM   #5
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You are not looking at a horn loaded comp driver a direct radiating woofer in a box. You are not looking at a horn loaded comp driver and a direct radiating woofer in a box. Gaze into my eyes. You are not looking at a horn loaded comp driver and a direct radiating woofer in a box.

" I am not looking at a horn loaded comp driver and a direct radiating woofer in a box. I am not looking at a horn loaded comp driver and a direct radiating woofer in a box"

Hey this works for me! I like those kind of speakers.
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Old 25th September 2013, 08:17 AM   #6
graaf is offline graaf  Poland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentoronto View Post
I've been wondering if there is any technology as primitive as loudspeakers. By "primitive" I mean that you can't sit down to design and then produce a system that meets high expectations*. A reasonable comparison might be the "science" of automobile tires.
...
*When stepping down the hall or into another room, have EVER thought Rene Fleming was singing in your music room? Or even a simple flute or guitar? My system can fool me into thinking it is my cellphone with an electronic ringtone ringing. That's not great.
this is not a problem with loudspeakers - it is not the loudspeaker technology that is the limiting factor - it is the speaker-room interface and the conventional geometry of the stereo triangle
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Old 25th September 2013, 09:03 AM   #7
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Another example might be "progressive addition" eyeglass lenses. They involve unavoidable compromises: a lens cannot simultaneously have variable power and no distortion. Segmented multifocal lenses (bifocals and trifocals) will always provide clearer vision over wider areas.
Very interesting example and closer to home than car tires. Not sure it has direct bearing on hearing (due to differences between sense modalities) except metaphorically.

I respectfully feel there is a crucial error in your otherwise insightful example. Shouldn't the term "clearer vision" really be "optically correct"? For sure, my perception of the world through my Nikon Digital progressive lenses is a whole lot more veridical or natural than those looking at the world with segmented lenses which divide the visual experience into pieces... not that anybody with "lines" in their lenses ever sees the abrupt discontinuies.

While you are entirely correct to say the physical optics are always compromised with progressive lenses in a way not true of segmented lenses, but the human perceptual experience is a lot better.

Ben
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Old 25th September 2013, 09:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gedlee View Post
I don't know about you but I have seen dramatic improvements in sound reproduction in the nearly 50 years I have been doing it. Revolutionary? - No, but highly evolutionary with large improvements at every step.

I have a recording of a classical pianist playing a piano with no room acoustics. When played back in my room, the piano IS in the room with you. It can be done.
There are various accidental echo-free recordings out there - made in the open air, like a few parts of the famous "Queen's Birthday Salute of 1957" or Danley's fabulous firecrackers and trains recordings (steel wheels rolling over joints between rail segments are an ultimate bass test).

Didn't somebody say the piano is one instrument that can't be successfully recorded?

On the other hand.... what about kunstkopf headphone recording? Isn't that the reverse-side of your echo-free recording? Perhaps I just imagined it, but didn't somebody once hook up headphones to a live music room in a way that rotated the mics when the person rotated their head?

Ben
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Last edited by bentoronto; 25th September 2013 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 25th September 2013, 09:27 AM   #9
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Yes, and trumpet and saxophone - even a drum set. Often better out of the room than in it.
"Down the hall" is a less stringent test than in the room. Which itself is a disparaging comment about the state of music reproduction.

Does your "yes" mean that you'd really have trouble saying if it was a saxophonist or a recording?

I love playing my ancient KLH demo recording of elaborate old floor-standing music boxes (1970?) and maybe it would sometimes pass the down the hall test with my ESL system. Perhaps judging the sound of a music box is closer than other "instruments" to an electronic cellphone ringer than to a musical instrument.

Ben
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Old 25th September 2013, 09:36 AM   #10
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Yes, the greatest piano recordings exhibit some major degree of suckage, piano big, mic small. I have been involved in piano sample discs, unbelievably complex! So what will do it and can (almost) be successfully recorded? Snare drums are small enough, contained enough.. A snare will do it and due to extreme FR range and extreme dynamics it most certainly will separate the men from the less than men, Quite quickly too. It's usually obvious dynamic compression that fails the stink test.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bentoronto View Post
There are various accidental echo-free recordings out there - made in the open air, like a few parts of the famous "Queens Birthday Salute" or Danley's fabulous firecrackers and trains recordings (steel wheels rolling over joints between rail segments are an ultimate bass test).

Didn't somebody say the piano is one instrument that can't be successfully recorded?

One the other hand.... what about kunstkopf headphone recording? Isn't that the reverse-side of your echo-free recording? Perhaps I just imagined it, but didn't somebody once hook up headphones to a live music room in a way that rotated the mics when the person rotated their head?

Ben
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