How do you know what you want from your audio system?

marmota

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Feb 3, 2016
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I am interested in this post from the perspective of you being a "new generation" audiophile.

What led you to speak in such a detailed manner so directly to your priorities in a system/loudspeaker?

What music and audio educational experiences contributed to this very defined POV?

As someone who has studied and immersed oneself in performance audio for decades, I find your post fascinating.

Thank you so much!
Less than you would think, I've listened to some audio systems the last 8 years, and researched lots of info about audio. From the speakers I've heard, I was always "distracted" by tweeters tonality even if they are very well integrated within the system, I'm very sensitive to tone and it's continuity. I've also dislike the sense of compression (even at low volumes) of the speakers with smaller drivers I've heard. I've figured out that a speaker setup that would suit my tastes perfectly must have all the characteristics mentioned above using research and common sense. I also have a pretty vivid imagination and can "imagine" how something would sound with more treble, bass, depth etc so I can build expectations or a desired sound mentally before hearing or changing something.

Currently I have no speaker setup, but plan to build one according to my desires (ie: pay someone to build drivers according to my needs, the cabinet, crossover, assemble the speaker etc) once I have enough time and money for it. Same for the custom amp. Currently I'm focused on different, more necessary and mundane projects. I really like lurking here because of the quality of the content and the very welcoming members in general.
 
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marty

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1. Me as an individual:
I'm relatively young at 30 years old, 95% of the music I listen is not on vinyl or tapes. If I buy a turntable or a tape machine, it would be for a minor amount of music that I can also listen digitally, so it would be a huge investment for a better experience of a very small % of music enjoyment. As such, only source will be DAC until I have boatloads of money to buy a top analog rig (no need for a mid-fi anything, life is too short and good to waste with mid tier stuff). I like colorful but linear and resolving sources, like the Rockna Wavedream DAC.

2. Coherence:
speaker has to have all drivers made of the same materials and type of construction. All cones. Must be a 2 way with a filler driver, with driver sizes preferably being 15', 8' and waveguided 1'6 cone tweeter taking into account that the speaker only has 3 drivers. Passive filter must be phase coherent and speaker must produce perfect impulse response. Passive filters must be 2 cascaded 1st order for woofer and tweeter, and none for midrange which should have "built in" 1st order roll off at both ends, baffle step compensation taken into account. Crossover parts must be all of the same materials and construction. All drivers must be loaded the same, with a sealed transmission line carved in multiple translaminated wood panels being the best possible method (custom molds being terribly expensive unless planing to start a speaker company with prospect to sell 100+ pairs of speakers, which is not the case with me). Speakers must be decoupled from the floor with a proper method, such as Boenicke swing bases. Room must have at least 2x PSI active bass traps and be of proper dimensions. Impedance must be linear due to drivers having a second voice coil that counteracts impedance peak, like 18sounds "AIC", not because of extra crossover parts. Impedance must be 16 ohms flat and efficiency over true 90db 1 watt.

3. Headroom:
10' is the mininum size for a "bass" driver, anything less is a midrange driver. A small speaker is not a good speaker, because it doesn't have headroom or plays well at low volumes. It doesn't have efficiency to play with good sounding amps either. In my opinion, small speakers are ok for desktop listening and discovering music with Youtube, not for true high end audio.

4. Lack of molesting artifacts:
smooth but not dull treble, linear midrange and bass. Proper micro and macro dynamics, due to drivers being efficient, well behaved and using good sounding materials, such as paper or hemp, coupled with good sounding magnet materials (alnico, neodymium and various field coils).

5. The ability to properly convey tonal colors:
due to all the characteristics mentioned above, the speaker can be used with good sounding, properly built pure class A amplification. 20 watts of pure class A1 being optimal, something like a custom Sakuma style GM70/GM70 with full custom finemet transformers and chokes would be ideal. Preamp must be as minimalistic as possible, a passive autoformer volume control built into the amp being preferred.

6. Conceptual coherence with regards to cabling:
cables must have custom connectors made of the same materials as the conductors, non negotiable. Equipment's connectors must be custom made out of the same materials as the cable's connectors too. Same for wall AC outlets. All of this for maximum performance.

7. Imagination is the only valid standard:
I couldn't care less about what reviewer a or b thinks or what next equipment piece is the "best", I have an imagined sound in my mind that my future speaker setup must reproduce. I've made a thread about it called "Do you have a dream sound in mind", on which people replied that they didn't, they just bought equipment, listened, bought new equipment, listened...repeat cycle. That results in chasing the next best thing instead of self education and discovering what is your ideal sound and what it takes to achieve it. Imagination is the biggest standard and it must be met or exceeded by the equipment, not backwards where the sound is only experience without imagination and direction of any future endeavors. Influence from inside you must be bigger than influence from outside you (reviewers, forum members, etc). Describing things as "real" and "natural" doesn't count either, it's like wow you got the sound you wanted in exchange of forgetting how to describe sound. Such pedestrian descriptions are not useful for anyone.

These are my observations of what I want for my personal audio system and why I think that way, please don't take them as gospel, they are just my desires and my opinion.
Loved you post. Not saying I agreed with all of it but that's both to be expected and equally irrelevant. The point is, I respect your perspective. You are on a journey much like all of us. So many of us started with DIY or modifying gear, especially with the budget constraints all of had when we were young. What I would recommend is to print your comment, frame it, put it on your desk, and revisit it every 10 years. You may think this is a trivial exercise but I contend it will be a rewarding one. Who knows, you may be the next Dave Wilson or Alon Wolf if your design turns out to be commercially viable! I wish you every success (although a 16 ohm speaker is a tough mountain to climb!)
 
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marmota

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Loved you post. Not saying I agreed with all of it but that's both to be expected and equally irrelevant. The point is, I respect your perspective. You are on a journey much like all of us. So many of us started with DIY or modifying gear, especially with the budget constraints all of had when we were young. What I would recommend is to print your comment, frame it, put it on your desk, and revisit it every 10 years. You may think this is a trivial exercise but I contend it will be a rewarding one. Who knows, you may be the next Dave Wilson or Alon Wolf if your design turns out to be commercially viable! I wish you every success (although a 16 ohm speaker is a tough mountain to climb!)

Thank you so much!
I will do the exercise you propose, I'm sure it will be quite revealing and interesting.

A 16 ohm speaker is as tough to build as a 4 ohms one IMO, when comissioning a one off it comes down to finding the right people to work with, having money and patience. I'm not the first one to propose this route, way before me Romy the Cat did something very similar with his Macondo speaker system. He envisioned Macondo and had a one off Raal driver built for him. If you can get past the insults (which are a lot) and his very dense writing, he really does have quite interesting threads about building his speakers and his amplifier.
Mine will have all drivers custom built and will be quite different, but to be fair this route is not new.

I don't know if I will be a speaker designer or have a speaker company, that would really be a tough mountain to climb (having employees, having to sell very big speakers constantly, etc), way more than building a one off pair of speakers. Time will tell but it's not in my plans actually.
PS: I plan to build a very cheap, very ugly open baffle speaker with commercially available drivers first to have something to listen to in the meantime, the "good" speaker is a very long time, future oriented project.

Again, thanks for the encouragement! :)
 
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marty

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6. Conceptual coherence with regards to cabling:
cables must have custom connectors made of the same materials as the conductors, non negotiable. Equipment's connectors must be custom made out of the same materials as the cable's connectors too. Same for wall AC outlets. All of this for maximum performance.
I loved this comment. I've raised this point repeatedly. It's not just the metals of your cables and conductors that matter. It's what they are plugged into that are just as important. Your premise is actually well grounded in the physics of metallurgy.


Unfortunately, there are some pragmatic limitations. For example, I have no intention of changing some IEC termination on gear since that's a pretty sure fire way to de-value gear on the used market. I learned that many years ago when I started changing all my RCA signal inputs to BNC inputs since I was convinced they were the best impedance match possible between cable and gear. Technically and sonically a good choice. Yet the re-sale price of those Rowland amps did not validate my decision! However, Herve Deletraz did that very thing on all his DartZeel gear years later to great success and for good reason! It still makes sense to me as it has many inherent benefits.

chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/http://www.townshendaudio.com/PDF/Impedance_matching%20deletraz%20paper.pdf

That said, I'm still learning and experimenting. I just bought 3 sets of Viborg AC terminations (copper, gold, silver) to play with on some copper litz power cable. Just for fun. It's part of the hobby as I see it.

Enjoy the ride!
 
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gleeds

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Marmoto, too be clear fascinating In a good way:)
I am interested in this post from the perspective of you being a "new generation" audiophile.

What led you to speak in such a detailed manner so directly to your priorities in a system/loudspeaker?

What music and audio educational experiences contributed to this very defined POV?

As someone who has studied and immersed oneself in performance audio for decades, I find your post fascinating.
 
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marmota

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Feb 3, 2016
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I loved this comment. I've raised this point repeatedly. It's not just the metals of your cables and conductors that matter. It's what they are plugged into that are just as important. Your premise is actually well grounded in the physics of metallurgy.


Unfortunately, there are some pragmatic limitations. For example, I have no intention of changing some IEC termination on gear since that's a pretty sure fire way to de-value gear on the used market. I learned that many years ago when I started changing all my RCA signal inputs to BNC inputs since I was convinced they were the best impedance match possible between cable and gear. Technically and sonically a good choice. Yet the re-sale price of those Rowland amps did not validate my decision! However, Herve Deletraz did that very thing on all his DartZeel gear years later to great success and for good reason! It still makes sense to me as it has many inherent benefits.

chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/http://www.townshendaudio.com/PDF/Impedance_matching%20deletraz%20paper.pdf

That said, I'm still learning and experimenting. I just bought 3 sets of Viborg AC terminations (copper, gold, silver) to play with on some copper litz power cable. Just for fun. It's part of the hobby as I see it.

Enjoy the ride!

Awesome thread, will take time to read it properly tomorrow.
I think the best solution may be a custom alloy (think silver or copper + small percentage of platinum or gold, in single crystal purity), because it won't oxidize when exposed to air like pure silver or copper, yet would be very high conductivity and could be used for both connector and conductor. It's a balancing of compromises while trying to not compromise, IMO. Downside is that it probably would be super expensive in small quantities.

I really agree with you in that it is an overlooked aspect and is quite interesting, you too enjoy the ride!
 

thedudeabides

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Jan 16, 2011
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3. Headroom:
10' is the mininum size for a "bass" driver, anything less is a midrange driver. A small speaker is not a good speaker, because it doesn't have headroom or plays well at low volumes. It doesn't have efficiency to play with good sounding amps either. In my opinion, small speakers are ok for desktop listening and discovering music with Youtube, not for true high end audio.
Interesting post and I appreciate your perspective. A good speaker, in my mind, is a design that allows the listener to emotionally connect with the music. I have no idea if your speaker criteria would produce such a result. But here is what I do know based on 40 years or so of being an audio enthusiast.

I now have the Pulsar. Previous speakers include the Dahlquist DQ10, the Acoustat 1 + 1, four different models of Martin Logans and the MBL 116. The Pulsar is my last speaker and is a two way with a 5-1/2 inch driver that reproduces the lower octaves and will plays quite loud and dynamic down to 40 hz. It also sounds very good at low volumes. I have REL sub that supplements the bass and gets me down to 28 hz or so.

The Pulsar, and other well designed two ways, excel at imaging, tonal coherence and musicality. It is a very good speaker whose design and performance would be grossly undeserved as a desk top speaker.

With all due respect, I find your generalization of a "true hi end" speaker (whatever that means) to be seriously flawed like most generalizations. Bigger does not always necessarily mean better within the context of musical reproduction. In fact, one can argue that a simpler design (fewer drivers, cross over points, etc.) is superior and the opposite may be true. Something to consider.
 
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Robh3606

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I want a system where I don't listen to the the system. One that just gets out of the way no distractions just music.

Rob :)
 
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Bobvin

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To be captivated by the music no matter the genre.
I will tell you, for me that would be an exceptionally magical system — one that makes rap music captivating! I feel very blessed that my current system draws me in, on occasion, to classical. It’s rare, but it does happen.
 

ACHiPo

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Interesting thread! Especially @marmota ‘s perspective caused me to reminisce about my evolution as an audiophile. Many of my hypotheses regarding design still survive (like the importance of phase coherence) and many died along the way (like ”cables don’t matter” and “power cords don’t matter” and “if you can’t measure it it must not matter”). Realistic imaging remains a desire, but yields to emotion and tonal accuracy. I long for live sound, yet settle for emotionally engaging totally accurate sound.
 
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I will tell you, for me that would be an exceptionally magical system — one that makes rap music captivating! I feel very blessed that my current system draws me in, on occasion, to classical. It’s rare, but it does happen.
Need to broaden your horizons. :)
 
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tima

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7. Imagination is the only valid standard:
I couldn't care less about what reviewer a or b thinks or what next equipment piece is the "best", I have an imagined sound in my mind that my future speaker setup must reproduce. I've made a thread about it called "Do you have a dream sound in mind", on which people replied that they didn't, they just bought equipment, listened, bought new equipment, listened...repeat cycle. That results in chasing the next best thing instead of self education and discovering what is your ideal sound and what it takes to achieve it. Imagination is the biggest standard and it must be met or exceeded by the equipment, not backwards where the sound is only experience without imagination and direction of any future endeavors. Influence from inside you must be bigger than influence from outside you (reviewers, forum members, etc). Describing things as "real" and "natural" doesn't count either, it's like wow you got the sound you wanted in exchange of forgetting how to describe sound. Such pedestrian descriptions are not useful for anyone.

If you have a stereo system would you share it with us?

I say "if you have a stereo ..." because presumably if you have one it either realizes your imagined ideal sound and that would be real interesting to know, or it does not realize your imagined ideal and is a compromise to that, or paying for less than ideal is unsatisfactory to you and you do not want to buy equipment then buy something different because that would be chasing the next best thing.

If you have not quite sorted out what is your imagined ideal sound and you are living with a compromise, what will you do next? How will you know what you want - by more closely following your list of specifications ... or?
 

tima

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Forget natural, sublime, and all the other descriptives bantered around and argued over and over in the various forums subsets

I want my system to sound real

We all know real when we hear it......

Is 'real' something more than the difference between a performance and the reproduction of a performance?
 

andromedaaudio

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All i can say is that i appreciate my own system ( speaker design) even more after the Munich show .
A lot of the big names were a complete let down .
Sterile thin uninvolving
If a system can display a bit of the musicians intent i m already happy .
Being it on a car radio a hifi system what ever its all good with me.
Its all about product voicing.
i couldnt care less about graphene carbonfiber precise machining nanotechnologie lol.

Things i picked up that i could possibly upgrade my system with are ;

Wadax
The gryphon Apex
R koda.

Tubes
VIVA
ARC
 
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marmota

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Interesting post and I appreciate your perspective. A good speaker, in my mind, is a design that allows the listener to emotionally connect with the music. I have no idea if your speaker criteria would produce such a result. But here is what I do know based on 40 years or so of being an audio enthusiast.

I now have the Pulsar. Previous speakers include the Dahlquist DQ10, the Acoustat 1 + 1, four different models of Martin Logans and the MBL 116. The Pulsar is my last speaker and is a two way with a 5-1/2 inch driver that reproduces the lower octaves and will plays quite loud and dynamic down to 40 hz. It also sounds very good at low volumes. I have REL sub that supplements the bass and gets me down to 28 hz or so.

The Pulsar, and other well designed two ways, excel at imaging, tonal coherence and musicality. It is a very good speaker whose design and performance would be grossly undeserved as a desk top speaker.

With all due respect, I find your generalization of a "true hi end" speaker (whatever that means) to be seriously flawed like most generalizations. Bigger does not always necessarily mean better within the context of musical reproduction. In fact, one can argue that a simpler design (fewer drivers, cross over points, etc.) is superior and the opposite may be true. Something to consider.

I encourage you to re read my post, a speaker design can't be simpler than what I described while being big, it's still a two way like your Pulsar with way less crossover parts due to filter topology. You speakers have " Asymmetrical Infinite Slope" while being a two way (read: greater than 48db crossover slope). My proposal has 2 cascaded first order (12db) on woofer and 2 cascaded first order (12db) on tweeter, with none on the mids which are a filler driver. Simpler than the Pulsar. 5 1/2 inch is good down to 300-400hz or so IMO, sub won't fix much because you need a bigger driver covering the lower mids-upper bass. Needless to say, we can agree to disagree if you want. I think that "simplest possible" beats "simplest" and "complicated". Again, in my opinion and with all due respect, not meant to offend by any means.

If you have a stereo system would you share it with us?

I say "if you have a stereo ..." because presumably if you have one it either realizes your imagined ideal sound and that would be real interesting to know, or it does not realize your imagined ideal and is a compromise to that, or paying for less than ideal is unsatisfactory to you and you do not want to buy equipment then buy something different because that would be chasing the next best thing.

If you have not quite sorted out what is your imagined ideal sound and you are living with a compromise, what will you do next? How will you know what you want - by more closely following your list of specifications ... or?

I wrote in another post in this thread:
" I plan to build a very cheap, very ugly open baffle speaker with commercially available drivers first to have something to listen to in the meantime, the "good" speaker is a very long time, future oriented project."

I plan to have something cheap, not as optimal first, and something "much more aligned with my ideas" in the future due to how expensive and time consuming would be getting custom, one off speakers made. Currently focused on different projects than audio.

To clarify, I say "chasing the next big thing" as buying things because they are trendy, not because it is something that would align the individual's desires. Of course trial and error are necessary with buying, but it could be greatly reduced if the individual did instrospection in terms of what he really wants with sound.

I know what I want with experience + extrapolation + research. Pretty common process and not the first person doing it (Romy the Cat, Lynn Olson or Harvey Rosenberg come to mind).
 
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thedudeabides

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To clarify, I say "chasing the next big thing" as buying things because they are trendy, not because it is something that would align the individual's desires. Of course trial and error are necessary with buying, but it could be greatly reduced if the individual did instrospection in terms of what he really wants with sound.
I find it interesting that you can apparently create the ideal transducer in your mind without having the slightest idea how the nonexisting end product will sound. And your basis for criticizing my speaker system absent hearing it. Please elaborate.

And can you please elborate on your process of "introspection" to ensure that the Individual gets what they really like sonically. And how does this process account for room / speaker placement interface and equipment synergy issues?
 
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marmota

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Feb 3, 2016
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I find it interesting that you can apparently create the ideal transducer in your mind without having the slightest idea how the nonexisting end product will sound. And your basis for criticizing my speaker system absent hearing it. Please elaborate.

And can you please elborate on your process of "introspection" to ensure that the Individual gets what they really like sonically. And how does this process account for room / speaker placement interface and equipment synergy issues?

No need to further elaborate, it's quite self explanatory and my other posts here say everything needed about the topic. It's just plain common sense (selecting the right speaker for your room and amp for the speakers included).
 

Robh3606

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No need to further elaborate, it's quite self explanatory and my other posts here say everything needed about the topic. It's just plain common sense (selecting the right speaker for your room and amp for the speakers included).

Well as long as you understand the conflicting requirements you are imposing of you future system all is good.

Rob :)
 
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