Are they all badly designed?

Hello everyone. I've been digging on Youtube and found a Mr. who designs, builds and measures other builders' speakers.
I see that he performs measurements of different well-known brands of speakers, finding defects in their frequency response and in turn making modifications in order to improve them.
I see brands like KEF; B&W; Klipsch; paradigm; Focus Chorus; Etc finds them poorly designed. This is so?. The big manufacturers do this on purpose? Is it good or bad to get a speaker to have a flat frequency response?
I have a B&W DM602, and although I find it too analytical and a bit bright, I don't see it as a bad thing, on the contrary, I like it.
Greetings to all.
https://www.youtube.com/@GRResearch/videos
 
I think he has been discussed on the forum before but I would like to hear the thoughts of the expert members here again.

I can understand the use of cheap parts and problems caused by cabinet aesthetics but I don’t understand why so many of the crossovers in the speakers he tests seem so poorly designed. Are the designers trying to produce crossovers with a low part count to save money? Or, like you ask, how important is a flat frequency response? I would have thought it is very important.
 
I have not seen the videos but I’m not surprised. I used to work in an audio retailer shop (long time ago) and I was never impressed with any system we sold. All the speakers almost at any price sounded muddy, small and compressed. Like a pillow was in front of them. I realized long ago that only PA systems gave me any sort of satisfaction in terms of dynamic performance and the ability to pull me into the soundscapes of the music and fill a room with sound. There were exceptions but I think since mid 90s consumer audio has been mostly polluted by waf. Slim speakers with nice looks to please the wife and expensive drivers to fool the enthusiast. I’m not sure the crossovers are to blame directly but the more fancy the driver the worse the breakup resonance and the more crossover parts will kill the dynamics. To this day I think large paper drivers sound the best assuming a simple crossover is used. It’s not flat but that should be dealt with on the amplifier side using parametric equalizer to match the speaker to the room and deal with the peaks of the drivers.
 

GM

Member
Joined 2003
Historically the goal is first and foremost to be a commercial success, not technically correct alignments that only 'work' in an anechoic chamber and/or buried flush in ground outdoors in an acoustically ~infinite 2pi space (billiard table flat field) and everyone hears the same, yet not so much and every room's acoustics are different and there's always been some form of frequency shaping devices (tone controls/equalizer, etc.) to deal at least somewhat with these variables, so depending on one's POV, yes, with rare exception all are in some way technically poorly designed.
 
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GM

Member
Joined 2003
Depends on the kit and whether or not it meets one's basic performance goals of course. ;) If a (wood working) DIYer or have access to affordable woodworking, then hard to go wrong building some of the better published DIY kits/designs such as these. They don't look like expensive pieces of art, but will to a greater or lesser extent technically 'blow the doors off' all but the vanishingly few technically best consumer offerings I've had the misfortune to audition over the decades.
 
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frugal-phile™
Joined 2001
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I think he has been discussed on the forum before but I would like to hear the thoughts of the expert members here again.

He definitely has his following and his own preferred compromises.

The only real experience i have had with his XO designs is that they all had to be redone.

Take with a BIG grain of salt.

dave
 
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only PA systems gave me
After fiddling with diy audio for many years, I've come to the conclusion that some PA speakers and a 3watt chip amp is probably the most practical way to enjoy music at home. The PA crowd have been building speakers with high sensitivity and controlled dispersion long enough to know how to do it well. I like paper cones, and woven glass fibre, but I find polypropylene sounds dead, and sucks the life and energy out of music.
If hi fi speaker manufactures made good cheap speakers, no one would buy their expensive models, so they have a vested interest in selling mediocre budget speakers.
 
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Businesss :) say, you are speaker manufacturer, sell well made good sounding but cheap speaker, and also more expensive good sounding speaker. Which one a customer would buy? the cheap one, because it sounds as good to them, or almost as good!

So, in order to cater various price points the cheaper must aso sound noticeably worse than the more expensive ones.

Well, I'm not in business and know nothing about the markets, or history of hifi market so it's just speculation. But, since we live in capitalist system it's very likely even more weird than that for the most part.

Think about it, there is not much secrets, I bet every manufacturer knows exactly how to make good speakers, so why make bad ones at all?? its not about good, but making profit.

Luckily, one just have to wake up on it, stop being consumer, a person who consumes without having second thought. It's demise for the planet and doesn't get you good sound. Now, waking up on it and as diyer you can focus on making a playback system you want, and not what the marketing teams want you to think you want:) but first, you have to figure out what is it you want, then how to achieve such thing, and then build it. It's not cheap, or quick, and I suspect it's quite big, and likely looks quite ugly at first, but what a fun hobby :) Have fun!
 
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Speaker designs can have many goals, and possibly a production design from the big boys has had several different presentations to a listening panel before a design gets released. This hopefully ensures it will be a success in the market.

Those iterations of the designs at the listening tests may only differ in a very subtle change in certain frequency level or may have a notch filter implemented, a bit of a dip at a certain fequency or more bracing or some such, at the end of the day the one with the highest score should get released, or the one that meets the designers technical requirements and hopefully gives the best fit to what the designer had in mind.

However at the factory where they are made who can guarantee the component quality, or in fact they may not be to the same quality standard as the original parts.
Sourcing good components is not easy, or as cheap as it once was. Also note that the EL caps caps in older designs maybe not be in their tolerance band after ten or fifteen years especially if they were low quality to start with.

However, your room is likely to be different to the development lab or test rooms., and maybe your hearing response has been degraded by noise at work or old age. But as a consumer hopefully you take the opportunity to listen to the speakers in a dealers dem room and compare them against the competition .

Back home you may think they will soften up a bit or need more running in for the bass to open up a bit etc. Or, may be you are so happy with your new purchase that you do not actually realise that they are no better, or maybe worse than the ones you owned before. After sometime you definitely realise that they you no longer like the sound and decide on a particular aspect that you are not happy with.
----------- You know what I will send them to GR research for a fix.

A quick tear down reveals real commercial manufacturing quality, and maybe a frequency response aberration.

Now throw in some No Res, damping materials, connectors, new Xover to take care of the original designs intended frequency response, or re shape the frequency response to provide something more normal?? Then provide before and after graphs detailing the difference or changes made what's not to like.

There is still no guarantee you are going to like the changes? And actually a lot more graphs would reveal other unseen aspects of the original and re design, e.g.. frequency response with tweeter or mid inverted, acoustical phase, impedance / phase, tweeter step and impulse responses. Full VituixCad data would be great at 12th octave smoothing.

I cannot guarantee that if I recommend a world class co axial design with meta material chamber on the tweeter with with matching sub or subs and tell you not to worry about the sound ever again that you will even like them.

Over the generations there have been some low priced, mid priced, high priced, killer audio combination be they specific to the UK, France, Germany, America, Holland, Brazil, Sweden, insert your favourite audiophile country.

Even though they brought joy and happiness to their listeners you could have been one of the few for who actually didn't like the sound and wanted a different presentation. Possibly there will always be a need by some individuals to employ a tuner, be it for their car, motorcycle, musical instrument etc.
 
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I've read that some mid priced headphones are the same as the expensive models, but they add a dampener to make them sound worse than the expensive ones, so the mid priced headphones cost more to make, just to make the expensive ones "worth" the extra money.
I guess if you have a bronze, silver and gold range of speakers, it's easiest just to use three different cross overs (and perhaps different internal wire) to give the different price points.
 
I have a B&W DM602, and although I find it too analytical and a bit bright, I don't see it as a bad thing, on the contrary, I like it.
That is actually a great point. Sometimes perfect isn't best. People have different preferences, rooms have different affects on the sound, often speaker placement and seating position can't be perfect and sometimes they are just downright awful. Some of our amps even interact with the speakers, changing the sound.
If there was one perfect for everyone in every situation then Mr. Pass would have only ever made 1 amplifier :)
 
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I never understood the reasoning of having many models of something in the same line with varying levels of performance ie gold, silver, platinum, etc. Sort of like buying a Lexus which is an overpriced toyota camry

Fact of the matter is the crossover in most speakers ends up being the most expensive part if truly high end components are used. Thats why electrolytic caps and small sintered core inductors are typically used in even the most high end speakers. Upgrading the crossover makes a big difference in 99% of designs, but it depends on what shortcuts they took when designing them ie. thin gauge high DCR inductors to increase enclosure Q and drop sensitivity with more BSC. Anything worth hanging onto wont have cheap electrolytics in it, especially in series

The other place they save money is on the chassis itself. Stamped steel is alright for small bookshelf speakers, but you'll want to see them use cast aluminum or magnesium on better, larger drivers with heavy magnets. DIY cares more about this because a cast basket looks better, which you won't really see on a typical store bought speaker. Obviously cast basket drivers are better for many reasons, but you can get very good performance from a properly designed stamped basket. Its just not as pretty.

Paper cones are almost always better than plastic. Some poly cones are actually pretty good, but they have special features like tapered cone thickness and varying spider profiles. I used to frown upon PP cone drivers, but some of them are very good. Most of them sound veiled and lifeless though.

You almost never see copper induction control sleeves or rings on drivers used in commercially made speakers, yet most better DIY drivers have them. Thats mainly because DIY people expect more from individual drivers just for bragging rights alone, even if they never know what it actually does or hear the difference. OEMs can get around induction shorting rings by designing the LP series inductance into the LF driver VC, which makes it much cheaper. For DIY its more important to have a well behaved rolloff curve to make crossover design easier and it shows quality, which can demand a higher price.
 
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I think TG uses expensive Xover components, with the cost reflecting his overall component quality.
At the same time what do GR charge for their kits ?

Isn't GR Research quality linked to Peerless India manufactured plastic framed paper cone drivers, company X inductors, company Y capacitors and company Z cables . I assume because he isn't buying at 10000 qty level his costs are naturally high?

In "general" the speakers and crossover component at TG's site are in advance of the quality of the components used in many commercial designs. If you don't want to pay for this quality of component I think there are differing stages of quality 1 and 2 available to make some cost savings. At the same time he publishes enough information that with a bit of skill you could reverse engineer the crossover and use the cheapest components to realise a clone of his designs

Remember economies of scale come into play, so if you know you will sell at least 5000 units worldwide, then when you place an order for 10,000 capacitors that are $1 cheaper you have just saved $10,000 . Then assume 6 component in your Xover you could save $60,000. You will get a small reward if you save a company $60000. You can understand how this plays out, and where savings are made and corners cut.