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Old 10th August 2010, 03:09 AM   #1
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Default Toole makes a grown man (who likes ESLs) cry

I've been reading that amazing book by Floyd Toole (on psychoacoustics, "Sound Reproduction" 2008, 600 pp). In a couple of places he shows listener ratings of ESLs - particularly one very expensive speaker "M"..... Got that, "M"?

And they seem to come out with truly lousy approval ratings. Got to say, I like sizzling clean ESL sound and the other virtues and wouldn't think of other drivers since middle 70s.

So I wanted to start a thread, only partly psychotherapeutic, about why the ratings look so bad despite his methods that look so good.

Any ideas? Please no random attacks on blind listening tests but only if you're acquainted with his methods and see shortcomings in them.
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Old 10th August 2010, 04:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
And they seem to come out with truly lousy approval ratings. Got to say, I like sizzling clean ESL sound and the other virtues and wouldn't think of other drivers since middle 70s.
Have you heard the "M" speakers yourself??


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about why the ratings look so bad despite his methods that look so good.

Have you heard the "M"s blind compared to another speaker type that looks "better" in his ratings??

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Any ideas? Please no random attacks on blind listening tests but only if you're acquainted with his methods and see shortcomings in them.
What if you don't?? There are measurements that accompany the ratings. Are you questioning the measurements as well or just the ratings??

Rob
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Old 10th August 2010, 04:27 AM   #3
cuibono is offline cuibono  United States
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I was a little surprised by that myself. I don't listen to ESLs, but I do dipoles, almost exclusively.

AFAIK, this is the only time Toole compared a non-box speaker to other (box) speakers, and maybe just had a bad one. Or maybe there is some issue with the test protocol puts them at a disadvantage. Listener preference could also be at play (different types of polar patterns have inherently different presentations).

I really wish Toole would revisit non-box speakers - I, and a number of others, find them much preferable to box speakers.
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Old 10th August 2010, 04:43 AM   #4
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Robh3606... if you are trying to say something, I wish you would just say it. I can't decipher your point, or even if you are making one.

To answer your questions straight, if that is what you intended (I can't tell), I have no idea what the other speakers are or if "M" stands for "Martin." Yes, I rather like Martin Logans. I've done a bit of blind ABX listening (in Stan Lipshitz' music room, no less) and certainly endorse the principle.

Toole's methods seem pretty clean. But here are some shortcomings I see immediately. First, he and Olive seem to find snippets from pop female singers to be the best test material. Besides the choice of genre, these are generally overblown fabrications from studio processing. Hard for me to imagine they would show off a great system well although he seems to think so.

True, some special material may result in numerically well-behaved stats. And Toole seems to dwell on that virtue in his tests and in his favorite testees, but that isn't the ultimate criterion of value for a test. Validity is the ultimate criterion of a measure.

Second, if you listen to 16 woofer-and-dome speakers, that sets your "adaptation level" just as sitting in bar with red lamps will make the white washroom garishly green looking. Many such illustrations in psychology textbooks. If then one speaker has a different nature (like ESLs), that will certainly sound odd.

Third, while Toole often says they have the same preferences, my sense is that his "trained" Harmon listeners may become "trained" to like certain sound qualities. He tries to say that certain physical measures duplicate the listener ratings but there is some circular reasoning in there and the correlation sometimes seems weak.
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Last edited by bentoronto; 10th August 2010 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 10th August 2010, 06:11 AM   #5
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The "M" speaker in Toole's test is the Quad ESL 63 if I recall correctly.

Although dispersion was the main design criteria for the Quad ESL 63 and it's probably better than most other ESLs, it's still not very good compared to modern 'constant directivity' speakers. It does have a distinctive 'sweet spot'. In his tests he has multiple listeners so inevitably not all of them can be in that sweet spot. In fact an ESL is probably the best example of a bad speaker according to Toole's criteria (if you don't mind my short summery): very flat frequency response, extended bass response and wide dispersion.

@bentoronto:
Toole also discusses the results of different test music and found that one guitar, one singer simple Jazz etc is not ideal for testing, but complex music like big classical orchestra's is. The latter showing defects better according to his findings. So I'm a bit surprised by your statement that he prefers 'snippets from pop female singers'. What is your source for this information?
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Old 10th August 2010, 07:56 AM   #6
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Hi,

What exactly does "M" stand for?

Wachara C.
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Old 10th August 2010, 09:18 AM   #7
Elias is offline Elias  Finland
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Hello,

Let's not forget Toole bases all of his analyses on personal preference. Yours may differ!

I don't think "M" was ESL63, but rather ESL with monopole bass box (if I remember correctly)


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Old 10th August 2010, 09:20 AM   #8
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Yes, it was Martin Logan Vista, see here:

Audio Musings by Sean Olive: Some New Evidence That Generation Y May Prefer Accurate Sound Reproduction
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Old 10th August 2010, 10:41 AM   #9
SY is offline SY  United States
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Question: is the ESL position optimized for a dipole or is it stuck in the same position that is optimum for a more conventional point-source-with-decreasing-directivity?
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Old 10th August 2010, 01:53 PM   #10
Rudolf is offline Rudolf  Germany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentoronto View Post
I've been reading that amazing book by Floyd Toole (on psychoacoustics, "Sound Reproduction" 2008, 600 pp). In a couple of places he shows listener ratings of ESLs - particularly one very expensive speaker "M"..... Got that, "M"?

... And they seem to come out with truly lousy approval ratings.
Please don't generalize. It is one particular model which gets one lousy rating. If you look at the corresponding respones curves, that rating seems to be well deserved.

Quote:
Got to say, I like sizzling clean ESL sound and the other virtues and wouldn't think of other drivers since middle 70s.
Later on you talk about "adaptation level". If you really like the sound of the "M" speaker, you really need to think about your own adaptation level again .

Quote:
Toole's methods seem pretty clean. But here are some shortcomings I see immediately. First, he and Olive seem to find snippets from pop female singers to be the best test material. ... Hard for me to imagine they would show off a great system well although he seems to think so.
His preference list does not look thaaat bad to me:

Click the image to open in full size.

And everything is better than that ubiquitous jazz trio ...

Quote:
Second, if you listen to 16 woofer-and-dome speakers, that sets your "adaptation level" just as sitting in bar with red lamps will make the white washroom garishly green looking. Many such illustrations in psychology textbooks. If then one speaker has a different nature (like ESLs), that will certainly sound odd.

Third, while Toole often says they have the same preferences, my sense is that his "trained" Harmon listeners may become "trained" to like certain sound qualities. He tries to say that certain physical measures duplicate the listener ratings but there is some circular reasoning in there and the correlation sometimes seems weak.
I believe you have read this study too: www.aes.org/tmpFiles/elib/20100810/12206.pdf

As you can see in Olives "MP3 Preference Study" the Harman trained listeners are more discriminating than untrained students, but good stays good and bad stays bad in both groups.

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Originally Posted by SY View Post
Question: is the ESL position optimized for a dipole or is it stuck in the same position that is optimum for a more conventional point-source-with-decreasing-directivity?
If the test was done in stereo mode (which I don't know), all speakers were positioned 1.3 m in front of the front wall and 1 m from the next side wall. I have seen no information about toe-in.

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