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Multi-Way Conventional loudspeakers with crossovers

Analytical or Laid Back
Analytical or Laid Back
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Old 5th December 2018, 05:30 PM   #1
Oneminde is offline Oneminde
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Default Analytical or Laid Back

The analytical vs the laid back loudspeaker.

I have auditioned multiple loudspeakers since I discovered that which fit the high end description and managed to hone in on what I personally like. And what I personally like is somewhat of an issue, allow me to explain. There are generally two types of loudspeaker categories: The analytical and the laid back or "dampened" loudspeaker. I think its fairly easy to draw the conclusion that laid back is the dominant group with perhaps more than 80% of the market and this is to a degree mind boggling to me, and to shed some light on the matter, I think I need to explain my perspective.

I have a reference instrument for tweeters and that is the triangle instrument.

Click the image to open in full size.

While there are differences between them, be that quality or size, they have one thing in common: A unique acoustical signature with complex harmonics and decay. I will go so far as to say that it is instantly recognizable, but will leave some room for "no its not". And with that reference, lets get into the core of why I started this thread.

There are generally speaking, 4 types of tweeters:
- Soft Dome
- Hard Dome
- Ribbon or Foil
- Plasma.

- Each type has its advantages and disadvantages and I have personally not listened to every tweeter ever produced, that might be an impossible task, but I have listened to what can be considered cheap or high quality in each category and sometimes the difference between a bad and good one within the same category bridges the gap's and make it difficult to conclude what type it is.

- This indicate to a degree that the material itself is less important and that other quality's of the tweeter make up a larger portion of that which signify the over all performance.

- Personally, I used to look at two factors: Frequency response and material. While this can tell you certain things, its by no stretch of the imagination enough. And you will often hear statements such as; "you are listening with your eye's, that will never work, you have to actually listen with your ears in order to judge a speaker driver". And I do agree on this statement. But... There is one type of measurement that will reveal so much in fact that you can almost tell before you listened whetter it is going to be worse or better than X. This type of measurement look at the harmonic / distortion in the driver.

- And finally, we can include cone breakup. Regarding cone breakup, there is a rule. Hard domes have a more pronounced breakup and when it happens, it hits hard, while soft domes is less pronounced and well, softer aka its more discrete. This soft and discrete breakup can be and are by many seen as a superior advantage. The downside can be speculated as stretched out into lower regions where it contribute to a damping factor as such that harmonics is introduced and mess up the fundamental.

- So, lets get back to the triangle instrument. Very few tweeters manage to playback a recording of this instrument without discoloration or a general damping factor which removes the HF behavior and harmonics, and my impression is that one of the reasons that what I consider poor tweeter quality is used in 80% of loudspeakers is down to 2 reasons.
  1. The general public cannot hear higher frequency's (>12kHz) that well and therefore things are hidden or masked for them.
  2. The general public has not be educated in listening for details as with the triangle instrument as a reference and are therefore not aware of information this instrument provide - which is more than the fundamental and harmonics.
- As for me, for good and bad, I can hear things up to 18kHz, so for me, 10-18kHz often contain a large amount of acoustical information, its natural for me, and so when playback is damped, I notice, simply because it is a deviation from that which is normal.

- Regarding training. I tested my teases on a friend who also has excellent hearing and used 2 different loudspeakers [A Dali with soft dome tweeter and B&W 800 diamond which is a hard dome]. I was amazed that he was unable to pickup the differences even if they where there. I then explained to him to listen for the triangle instrument and played on one to give him a fresh reminder how it sounds in real life to freshen up his memory. All of a sudden when we again listened to both loudspeakers, he had no problems distinguish between both loudspeakers and the differences was not subtile anymore. Not only did he suddenly hear things in the HF region but started to notice much more in the MF and LF. It was as all obstacles was removed for him.

- Two individuals is not enough to draw any objective conclusion, but it is for me personally.

- I have gathered some tweeters (8) that are well known and included their fundamental and harmonic response (see attachment). And just to give you an idea of what is good and bad. The SB Acoustics TW29B and Accuton BD25-6-258 has been hailed as among the best, spite the huge price difference. Closely followed by the SEAS 22TAF/G which is despite its modest price is regarded as a very competitive driver compared to many times more expensive ones. To the mystery of "Why does this tweeter sound better than X" is perhaps not as mysterious after all if we look at harmonic distortion. The lower distortion the cleaner the fundamental will be.

- In the end, acoustical behavior can be viewed from a physics perspective, charted and defined. It is one thing to have a personal preference where psychoacoustics play a huge role as it does for all of us, and it is another to say this should affect the objective side of things, that is just wrong.

- To give you and idea that price is NOT the quality revealing factor, take a look at the behavior between one of the worlds most expensive tweeter, the Accuton BD25-6-258 and the more modest (but still expensive) Viawave foil tweeter.

I will end on this note. What say you. How come the market is filled with fairly damped tweeters and drivers in general ? is it a pure production cost affect or is it more related to what people are used to ?

Oneminde
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tweeter_freq.resp_vs_harmonics.jpg (658.8 KB, 330 views)
File Type: jpg Harmonics.jpg (363.6 KB, 331 views)
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Old 5th December 2018, 05:47 PM   #2
Speaker Dude is offline Speaker Dude  United States
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I'm not sure that you can listen to 2 different tweeters in 2 different loudspeakers and conclude that the difference is due to harmonic distortion in the tweeter. There are so many other factors that may account for the difference, most importantly frequency response and off-axis response. It may be harmonic distortion, but then it would have occur between ~2KHz and 9KHz or lower depending on your individual hearing and most decent tweeters have very low distortion in this area.
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Old 5th December 2018, 07:26 PM   #3
Oneminde is offline Oneminde
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You bring up an interesting argument which many do, and that is: There are too many differences - This indicate that loudspeakers cannot be compared UNLESS they are equal in terms of cabinet and x-over.

Should one also - perhaps - conclude with: Drivers cannot be judged individually, only as a whole package together with complimentary drivers, cabinet and crossover filter ?
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:35 AM   #4
madisonears is offline madisonears  United States
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Very nice presentation of data.

How do these measurements correlate to performance in the "triangle test"? Of course, crossover and implementation means a lot to overall speaker performance, but the triangle by itself might be a suitable test for the raw driver.

Peace,
Tom E
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:54 AM   #5
The Space Egg Corp is offline The Space Egg Corp  England
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Hi Tom


In terms of tweeter problems generally, in the 80% of speakers you mention ...

... my personal experience says it is simply the electrolytic capacitor in those 80% that is often the main culprit !


I have DIYed most of my speakers for 40 years & simply always used polypropylene capacitors.

I've been SPOILT !


A good friend who is less keen with the saw, has always bought speakers

( within my idea of your 80% )


B&W something from the late '80s he did have for a while ...

... nice speaker, sounds OK, then you swap the capacitor for an 'ordinary' MKP ...

... WOW ! chalk & cheese !!


First time I showed him THAT, he felt like he'd just got the 805s, or whatever he couldn't afford !!


A couple of years later, his new B&W DM602s got the capacitor binning job as well ...

... WOW ! what soundstage ( which was already pretty darn good ! ) what clarity at last !


5 spent on some 'Solen' 2x 4.7uF & 2x 10uF ... absolutely NO ! snake oil ... just brilliant !!


He said to me :- " Why don't they put 'em in ALL the models if it's so cheap to do so ? "

Why indeed ?

Perhaps they wouldn't sell so many of the more expensive models ? !


My JBL Control 1s on the kitchen wall here.

BOOM ! ... New tweeter capacitors ... a 2 upgrade + an air-cored inductors & 'Neutrik' Speakons(TM) on those as well.


Pretty cheap a$$ looking tweeter ... sorta.

That capacitor swap, plus taking the silly protector/diffuser thingy off ...

... & a thin mini grill-cloth circle just for the tweeter.

( JBL metal grills were long gone in the dumpster )

WOW ! ... Not bad for the kitchen & a 3 uprade !


I have a pair of DIY Jordan JX92s as well, no tweeter OR capacitor of course ...

... not everyones cuppa char ...

... I just play the bumpin' house, Wagner & Thomas Koner on my DIY transmission lines !

( MKPs fitted of course )


Si.

t.S.E.c

.
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:30 AM   #6
The Space Egg Corp is offline The Space Egg Corp  England
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Whooops ... wrong ^^ name.

Should have been ... Hi Oneminde.

Si.

t.S.E.c

.
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:45 AM   #7
olsond3 is offline olsond3  United States
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Thank you for posting the excellent tweeter data. Perfectly presented with identical scales just like a dream. I can now confidently order an SB dome.
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Old 6th December 2018, 06:59 AM   #8
madisonears is offline madisonears  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Space Egg Corp View Post
.

Whooops ... wrong ^^ name.

Should have been ... Hi Oneminde.

Si.

t.S.E.c

.
I was wondering what you were going on about!

Besides, I am almost certain that anyone interested in this thread is pretty far beyond using 'lytics in their tweeter xover. I took the 'lytics out of my B&W DM6's 30+ years ago.

And I now use very high quality film/foils for my SB Satori TW29RN's. I wonder how those compare to the beryllium tweeters shown here. They sure sound good to me.

Peace,
Tom E

Last edited by madisonears; 6th December 2018 at 07:03 AM. Reason: added info
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Old 6th December 2018, 07:18 AM   #9
The Space Egg Corp is offline The Space Egg Corp  England
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" I think its fairly easy to draw the conclusion that laid back is the dominant group with perhaps more than 80% of the market and this is to a degree mind boggling to me "

- - - - - - -

Just agreeing with the original poster.

& speculating that the 80% of "laid back" designs may well have poor capacitors fitted.


If for example B&W DM602s (not exactly cheap) have electrolytic capacitors in ...

... it's fair to say that perhaps 80% of the market does as well.


The REAL question is WHY ?

Perhaps this is the DESIRED effect & really NOT about budget after all.


Just thinking OUTSIDE of the box.


Si.

t.S.E.c

.
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Old 6th December 2018, 07:36 AM   #10
Boden is offline Boden  Netherlands
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Take 2 physically identical dome tweeters. One has a, say 28 mm softdome, the other a 28mm titanium.

Suppose the tweeter is part of a well designed 3 way system.

Optimize the hi-pass sections of the tweeter filter in such a way that these sections, loaded by the tweeter, yield identical acoustic transfer functions/output.

You will not be able to distinguish between the tweeters.

Forget about THD or capacitors, it is the on-axis and off-axis behaviour of the entire hi-pass section.

Laid back is usually the result of a recessed power response/off axis dip in the mids, not the tweeter.
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