My Theory of Sonic Cues to Explain Different Sounding Systems

Ron Resnick

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Do you realise that horns often have the biggest drivers moving lots of air faster than other speakers?

By biggest drivers do you mean driver surface area or size of horn "mouth"?

I suspect electrostatic is technically faster in some way.
 

bonzo75

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By biggest drivers do you mean driver surface area or size of horn "mouth"?

I suspect electrostatic is technically faster in some way.

yes stats are very fast but there are no stat woofers. The electronics to drive them are slower.

two 15 inch or 18 inch drivers are big ass woofers
 
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Ron Resnick

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I owned planar speakers for a long time before finally moving (back) to horns. My first horns were an old, beat up pair of Klipsch La Scalas I had in college...they did things I had never heard in a speaker before (and I had already been a budding audiophile for a long time by then). The dynamics and impact was simply amazing...and that was with mostly rock/pop music as that was most of my consumption in college.

The last pair of speakers that I owned where rock/pop was still the majority of my home listening was a pair of Dynaudio Contour 1.8MkII small floor standers. By this time, however, my musical tastes were getting more sophisticated because I was going more and more frequently to live concerts of Jazz and classical music. What I observed was this: The Dynaudios were superb at rock/pop music when played at moderately loud levels (say 75-85 dB) but struggled when trying to listen at lower, late night volumes and would start to sound compressed at higher volumes. This didn't matter when the music itself had very little dynamic range (some of the best rock/pop recordings were decent in this regard and made up a lot of my demo material) but it mattered a lot with my new desire to hear good Jazz and Classical recordings at home. The system just sounded dead and lifeless or I had to pump it up way too loud and then fatiguing. I tried all kinds of amps to solve the issue...even got my first tube amp (a Jolida PP EL34 amp), which solved some problems (like better tone and somewhat better dynamics) but caused others (weak bass). The last amp I had in that set up was a Moon W5, which was considered to be one of the better, less SS sounding, amps of the time...and the amp that resulted in SimAudio changing its name to Moon.

From that speaker I moved to a pair of AudioStatic ES100s, after remembering their remarkable sound at a show...a complete sea change in sound! Now Jazz and classical (at least smaller ensembles) sounded stunning, so transparent, alive and 3d (with appropriate amp) and this started an Odyssey into planar land. Pop/rock was much less consistent sounding on these speakers due to their revealing nature (one of the most revealing I have owned to this day I would say) and I started listening only to the best recorded material from those genres. Then Infiinty IRS Betas. Now these did big scale classical like a champ! With 4 x 12 inch woofers per tower and separate planar panels they were the second to big boy IRS V (later Genesis 1). So, I know very well what you experience with your Gryphons. IRS Betas were every bit as powerful as your speakers. But they sort of lost the plot at lower volumes...unlike the AudioStatics, which lost the plot at higher volumes.

From there Apogees for a few years (great all around, not as responsive as the AudioStatics, not as bombastic as the Infinities), great with Classical instruments, vocals, choirs etc. just the last bit of bass lacking and ultimate dynamics. Then i got Acoustat 1+1, which had everything one might desire except huge dynamics in the bass. My ex fell so in love with them that she bought them off of me when we broke up. At the same time I had STAX ELS-F81, the ultimate low level resolution, low volume listening speaker...but quite limited in bass and dynamics. My final forays into planars Acoustat Spectra 2200, which had everything the 1+1 had plus bass power and Spectra 4400, which weren't great full range but made the most amazing bass I think I have still heard to this day...so I made them subwoofers, using an Accuphase F-25. I also did my DIY BG ribbon hybrid at this time, using the same Accuphase for it.

So, I think i know where you are in your audio journey and to be perfectly frank, I could have easily stayed there. It had nearly all that was right if you had speakers that worked well at low levels (Maggies, IMO do not, for example). The planars have to be BIG and/or have big subs (like my Betas and your Pendragons) to get similar dynamics to even moderate horns but it can be close enough not to sweat it. You can even use SETs on them (I had two KR Audio VA350i on my hybrids and on my 4 panel Acoustat monstrosity) despite what the naysayers here think. I believe planars are a valid way to deliver high resolution, realistic sound, if you partner with appropriate electronics.

Use of planars reduced my listening to rock/pop at home to the levels they are today. Other kinds of better recorded music just sounded much more realistic with them...and it was what I was going to hear live anyway.

I actually migrated to horns because A) I found a pair that didn't have horn coloration, B) I had fond memories of the La Scalas, C) They gave me that last bit of "live" feel and D) they allowed the full blossom of SET amps.

The point of this long winded story is that while my music taste was primarily pop/rock, a system like the Dynaudios with a powerful SS amp was perfectly fine. It was more than good enough to connect with that music and hear everything in it. But it was wholly inadequate for wide dynamic range, well recorded Jazz and Classical. Planars were basically good enough (at least most of the ones I had...I think the Betas were lacking in subtlety) and could have been a good endpoint...they weren't any better for rock/pop though than the Dynaudios really.

Very interesting chronology! Thank you!

I would say that after your long history with a wide variety of loudspeakers (I agree on low level playback disadvantage on Maggies, and lack of subtlety from Infinity Betas makes sense to me) your evolved sonic cue was the "last bit of 'live' feel" you achieved through horns.

Did you ever have occasion to hear the Martin-Logan Statement E2? Or the Infinity IRS V or later Genesis evolutions of the IRS V?
 

DasguteOhr

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yes stats are very fast but there are no stat woofers. The electronics to drive them are slower.

two 15 inch or 18 inch drivers are big ass woofers
Find a used pair Capaciti electrostatic speakers model E 2.5 then your hear way
down to 30 hz. Exsample pic Unfortunately the company doesn't exist anymore and sold DIY electrostatic speakers
 

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morricab

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Very interesting chronology! Thank you!

I would say that after your long history with a wide variety of loudspeakers (I agree on low level playback disadvantage on Maggies, and lack of subtlety from Infinity Betas makes sense to me) your evolved sonic cue was the "last bit of 'live' feel" you achieved through horns.

Did you ever have occasion to hear the Martin-Logan Statement E2? Or the Infinity IRS V or later Genesis evolutions of the IRS V?
I heard some big Genesis speakers at shows many years ago and the biggest ML speaker I heard was the Neolith. I never found the ML speakers to be as good as the Acoustats. The bigger Acoustats didn't need cone woofers as they were very powerful in the bass and flat in-room to 20hz!

I think it is just the capture of that dynamic envelope, where the peak is not rounded off, that gives that last bit of realism...and capture at the other end of the spectrum, the softest instrumental and ambient cues without the loud smearing over the quiet parts. My late friend Allen Wright of Vacuumstate called the ability to preserve and hear the softest sounds in the presence of much louder sounds downward dynamic range. Horn and electrostatic speakers (Allen used modified Acoustats...interestingly so does Steve Deckert of Decware) I think are the best speakers I have heard at doing DDR. The best electronics I have heard at this are tube, SETs and OTLs for amps, tube preamps etc. Allen's own 300B amp (which was a kind of push/pull amp but superb) was one of the best I ever heard at doing DDR...so Allen walked the walked...also with his silver foil or ultra thin, silver wire cables (with thin lacquer only as dielectric).

This is what I find in the Aries Cerat and big Living Voice speakers...from commercial offerings. That dynamic envelope being more complete and correct to real life. it makes music breathe as it does live and with most systems it just sits there and doesn't breathe. There is no suspension of disbelief as a result. On a much more modest scale, I am very selective of my speakers to give me at least a glimpse of this and getting the electronics that let this happen as well (again nearly all fail, IMO).
 

Lagonda

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My question then is, why would you buy them in the first place if the tweeter was so hot?
They sounded OK at this dealer event in Florida where Jacques Mahul presented them. I had been interested in a pair of Grande Utopias for my home, but decided to get Martin Logan Statement E2 instead. I felt guilt, i really liked the dealer, he had been great with all my Theta purchases. Jacques Mahul promise he would specially make a set in silver/ black to go with the funky vibe in this programming room at he studio and i ordered them. I still have the sitting upstairs in my equipment graveyard ! :rolleyes:
 

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morricab

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yes stats are very fast but there are no stat woofers. The electronics to drive them are slower.

two 15 inch or 18 inch drivers are big ass woofers
Again, you show your ignorance of what is possible. Your comment about electronics being slower than a stat panel is absurd and just...well nonsense. A big flat panel electrostat can make earth shattering bass with ultimate control. My big Spectra 4400 panels had better bass than either my Infiinty IRS Betas (with 4 x 12 inch woofers per side) or my Genesis VI speakers (with 3 x 8 inch servo woofers per side) or my friend's Dynamikks Monitor 12.18 (with 18 inch woofers).
 

bonzo75

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Again, you show your ignorance of what is possible. Your comment about electronics being slower than a stat panel is absurd and just...well nonsense.
At least try to understand properly. I am getting bored of your trolling.

SS electronics for me are slower than SETs on appropriately matched speakers.
 

Lagonda

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My home listening is probably as follows:

Jazz: 50%
Classical: 25%
Rock: 10%
Electronic: 15%

Most of the recordings I listen to that are of unamplified music at home. There I have a quiet environment where I can listen to the subtleties of the music without distraction and allow my system to do what it does best. Good electronic music also has lots of interesting structure and layers in a similar vein to classical music but with less demand on subtlety.

I like rock music, and the system plays it fine but i want it loud and at home there is not much opportunity to do this. Therefore, I tend to rock out in the car, where the background noise level is too high for well recorded Jazz and classical but fine for compressed Rock...and I can crank it up a bit to help overcome the flatness of most Rock recordings and drown out the road noise.

If someone is listening 75% or more commercial pop/rock recordings then i really don't see the need to purchase a high end system at all. I think one only really gains a benefit from a high resolution, high dynamic system in a quiet environment, playing wide dynamic range recordings. To rock out doesn't require this...to listen to pop singers doesn't require this...or even benefit from it all that much. A good classical or Jazz recording most definitely benefit from having everything at the top class.

One of the larger JBL bluetooth pills will perfectly suffice (they actually don't sound too bad...at least with pop music). We have one at home that my wife streams Spotify through for her pop music fix...it is fine for her and I think it is a single driver inside with two passive radiators at each end of the tube. It sounds better than one might expect as it is quite mid-centric and pop music is a lot about vocals.
There are plenty of well recorded albums in rock, folk, country/bluegrass and international music. I try to stay away from recordings made after 1980 unless they are by my favorite artist. But Bob Dylan, Poul Simon Emmylou Harris Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison all made great sounding albums with real instruments. Classical or Jazz are not prerequisite for good sound. :)
 
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morricab

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At least try to understand properly. I am getting bored of your trolling.

SS electronics for me are slower than SETs on appropriately matched speakers.
That is not at all what you said, why do you try to spin everything?! Look at what you wrote not what you THINK you wrote. You wrote that stats are fast but there are no stat woofers...no mention of SS vs. SET vs. PP tube etc. You just state electronics to drive them are slower. Which electronics? ALL electronics are fast enough to drive them although not all will be stable due to the capacitance of the stat.

I am getting bored with your nuggets of "wisdom". Please explain how it is possible that any SS electronic is slower (or faster) than a SET? the signal determines what "speed" (i.e. frequency) an amp runs...it's ultimate bandwidth might affect phase shift, which could affect perception of speed; however, it is typically bandwidth limited SETs that have more of that than SS amps. So, even this supposition is silly from you.
 

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Gentlemen, a difference of opinion should never translate into personal attacks. Please refrain from such attacks or we will have to take action.

Please treat other members of this forum as you would treat a respected loved one.

Tom
 

morricab

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There are plenty of well recorded albums in rock, folk, country/bluegrass and international music. I try to stay away from recordings made after 1980 unless they are by my favorite artist. But Bob Dylan, Poul Simon Emmylou Harris Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison all made great sounding albums with real instruments. Classical or Jazz are not prerequisite for good sound. :)
Yes, the older ones tend to have wider dynamic range before the loudness wars started to rage...
 
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treitz3

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This thread was temporarily closed, so the moderating team could enjoy their holiday with loved ones. Please allow me to remind you to stay on topic and do not discuss or attack another member of this forum.

There were two people that kept going at each other (they both know who they were) and this was the reason the thread was temporarily closed. Each and every member of this forum must abide by the TOS, or they do risk administrative action taken against them, up to and including no longer being a member of this forum. If you are unfamiliar with the TOS of this forum, here is a link - https://www.whatsbestforum.com/help/terms/

Being a member on the WBF is a privilege and not a right. Please keep that in mind when responding or posting on this board.

The thread has been cleaned up for the second time. Now, lets please resume the discussion and stay on topic.

Tom
 
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PeterA

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Glad to see this temporary closed thread has been re-opened.

Is it prioritizing different sonic cues or lets call them audio file attributes defined by the glossary of terms, or simply that different people have different values and targets for their systems in their rooms?
 

Ron Resnick

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I think you are treating "sonic cues" as a synonym for "hi-fi attributes."

One person's sonic cue may be another person's hi-fi attribute. One person's sonic cue may also be that same person's hi-fi attribute. The noun (for example, "transparent") may be the same word for both a sonic cue and for a hi-fi attribute.

In this theory an audiophile may talk about a lot of different hi-fi attributes, but only a relatively smaller number of sonic cues will be distilled from the sound of live music and selected by him/her to trigger most effectively in his/her mind from reproduced music the sound of live music.
 
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PeterA

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I think you are treating "sonic cues" as a synonym for "hi-fi attributes."

One person's sonic cue may be another person's hi-fi attribute. One person's sonic cue may also be that same person's hi-fi attribute. The noun (for example, "transparent") may be the same word for both a sonic cue and for a hi-fi attribute.

In this theory an audiophile may talk about a lot of different hi-fi attributes, but only a relatively smaller number of sonic cues will be distilled from the sound of live music and selected by him/her to trigger most effectively in his/her mind from reproduced music the sound of live music.

Yes. I assume your sonic cues are also Harry Pearson‘s glossary of terms.

my question is this: do those differing among different people explain why systems are different or is it that different people have different values and targets? For instance, in my case my target is natural sound based on live unamplified music as the reference. Other people don’t care about that. And there are many other choices. Can’t this be the reason that systems sound different?

Or borrowing from your other thread about music genres and speaker types, why do people who like The same genre have different speakers or people who value the same sonic cues have different sounding systems? There seems to be something missing from your theories.

Do you think with technological advances that there is a convergence of experiences when listening to what Mike Lavigne calls top-tier systems? Or do you think there is a divergence?
 
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Ron Resnick

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Yes that’s what I wrote. Your sonic cues are also Harry Pearson‘s glossary of terms.

They do not have to be. They are not my sonic cues.

A sonic cue is how any particular audiophile describes what he/she distills from live music to trigger in recorded and reproduced music his/her memory of live music.
my question is this: do those differing [sonic cues] among different people explain why systems are different

Unrestricted by factors such as cost, domestic living situation, partner acceptance factor, aesthetics -- by non-audio considerations -- yes.
or is it that different people have different values and targets?

Does "different values and targets" mean different high-end audio objectives?

If yes, then yes, different people have different high-end audio objectives. And those different objectives -- as well as different subjective sonic preferences -- will cause different people to distill from live music different sonic cues.

If no, then I do not know what you are referring to here.
 
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Ron Resnick

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Or borrowing from your other thread about music genres and speaker types, why do people who like The same genre have different speakers or people who value the same sonic cues have different sounding systems? There seems to be something missing from your theories.

This is a social science theory, not a natural science theory. So the correlation is not going to be nearly 1.0. The correlation might be .6 or .7 -- something statistically significant.

Do you think with technological advances that there is a conversion of experiences when listening to what Mike Lavigne calls top-tier systems? Or do you think there is a divergence?

Putting technological advances to one side (because I think that complicates unnecessarily the question), I think that regardless of one's sonic cues and regardless of one's sonic preferences top-tier systems achieve a greater suspension of disbelief for most people.

You can think of it as that the top-tier systems converge to sound more like each other, or you can think of it that they don't converge, but that each top-tier system in its own idiosyncratic way achieves a more convincing sound and a more believable experience.
 

PeterA

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They do not have to be. They are not my sonic cues.

A sonic cue is how any particular audiophile describes what he/she distills from live music to trigger in recorded and reproduced music his/her memory of live music.

I mean what you refer to as sonic cues for your theory. Not yours per se.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Yes. I assume your sonic cues are also Harry Pearson‘s glossary of terms.

my question is this: do those differing among different people explain why systems are different or is it that different people have different values and targets? For instance, in my case my target is natural sound based on live unamplified music as the reference. Other people don’t care about that. And there are many other choices. Can’t this be the reason that systems sound different?

Or borrowing from your other thread about music genres and speaker types, why do people who like The same genre have different speakers or people who value the same sonic cues have different sounding systems? There seems to be something missing from your theories.

Do you think with technological advances that there is a conversion of experiences when listening to what Mike Lavigne calls top-tier systems? Or do you think there is a divergence?
i assume what you meant to say is a 'convergence' of experiences, not a 'conversion' of experiences.

where do i reference 'top tier systems'? or describe them? maybe i did? what i might have said at some point (don't recall exactly) is that the best speakers of any type in mature systems will tend to sound more alike as all the systems reach optimization. then have more in common than not. the best of any driver type will sound somewhat like all types, overcoming it's weakest parts. there will be less 'divergence' to distinguish them. there is a common musical ground that we all share. but reaching that convergence is not trivial. each type has it's aspects needing to be overcome.

never that all would sound the same, only that the differences in what we hear will be quite minimal.....as much as we can compare systems and rooms. i think i would avoid any thought of defining 'tip-top' systems. a land mine if there ever was one. best left open ended.

and part of that process is to be open to all types of drivers and presentations to keep pushing, finding those attributes from other driver types, which ends up moving us toward that convergence.

in my mind i have thought this was more likely than not.

but it's not provable, only something that might reduce some of the conflict and degrees of righteousness that can flare up from time to time. if we are open to lots of ways to reach musical reproduction bliss.
 
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