I promised to elaborate about my nominee for the single worst thing in today’s acoustic systems, so here it comes…
| Romy the Cat wrote:|
Our milage varies and in my case it's still quite short.
In any case, I would place glare on top of my list of appalling qualities of modern high-end loudspeakers.
This glare (unlike clarity) results from an exaggerated high frequency response that produces an apparent sense of audiophile "air" and resolution when in fact it's actually destroying tonal balance and smoothness or "naturalness", a bit like an over-exposed photograph.
It also disturbs me that the majority of these speakers are unable to play smoothly at high SPL levels but I am unqualified to comment on the technical cause of such inability.
Yep, Ric, you described pretty much what I was explaining to my German guy. Later on, when I have time I will elaborate on this subject in more details.
I feel that irrationally-exaggerated high frequency response is the worst and unfortunately is the most characteristic quality for most contemporary acoustic systems.
It started with me year back when I was play with many imaginable tweeters for my AG Trio. Regardless what kind topology, type or quality of tweeter I use I never was able to get sound that like if I had a more or less flat response at 20Hz. Listening, measuring, listening, measuring, again and again I concluded that the whole notion to have flat HF response at listening position is absolutely ridicules. So, when I see a loudspeaker with flat (or -3dB) frequency response up to 20 HF from a reasonable, let say 9 feet distance, then I discard that loudspeaker as I have a very clear vision what kind sonic defecation a given acoustic system is capable of.
Do not anticipate that I would give you some kind of recipe of a quantifiable advised “how HF shall be”. The proper amount of HF has many dependencies: type of HF transducers, type of crossovers, type or amplification, type of room, personal hearing or listener, integration model with MF and many others. However, generally the proper amount of HF is “one sock away“. Under the “one sock away“ I imply that an average contemporary high-end loudspeaker need to have a sock taped over a tweeter to have the HF to be “enough”. I can see the Morons with Kharmas, Magicos, Dynaudio, small Wilsons, Avalons, Veritys, Schwerkerts, JMLabs, Hales, Vandersteens, Aerials, Burmestesr, Thiels, Revels, Krells and many others, reading this post. Are pulling a sock from own leg, attaching it to their beloved tweeters and listening what happen. The reaction will be: “it sounds like crap – what that idiot was taking about”? Well, there is something to talk about but from beginning put your sock back to you leg, get a large condom and stretch it over your head – in your head is the source of your HF problem.
The very HF reproduction is tricky in audio, BTW, no less tricky then the very LF. In past at my site I advocated that very few people in audio heard any more or less properly reproduced LF. People are so not accustom to it that when they hear it they truly are loosing understanding what they hear and in many instances if they have a chance to get it then it takes for them months to get any sense of bass understanding. The very same with HF. The distortion of crossovers, distortion in drivers, distortion in electronics, phase anomalies, electricity problems, devastations by feedback time-misalignment at HF and zillion other problems makes HF very vulnerable to corruption. In the end what we hear is a residual surrogate that has acoustic press but no cultural musical potency. Here is where the Industry comes to “help”, dictating to the ignorant audio folks how good hi-fi shall sound.
Sit with a real-time spectral analyzer and good calibrated microphone in the front rows of your favorite concert hall and measure how response of HF instruments decays at your distance. In the front rows you will have somewhere -3B at 8kHz and 15 rows behind it will be 5kHz. Interesting that listening sound from row 15 at -3dB at 5kHz you will hardly feel any problem with HF. Try to do the same with playback. At -3dB at 5kHz you playback will sound like bad AM radio or like a good telephone. Here is where the “Industry Help” come to the picture the industry teaches: add HF and you will add “quality”. It is like in morgue: add more makes up to a dead body and it will look lore alive… So, as the result we have two consequences:
1) High-End audio providers furnish market with midrange-dead acoustic systems where impotency of MF compensated by inundating sound field with HF surrogate.
2) High-End audio consumers more and more loosing acquaintance with might of the proper MF and recognize “quality” ONLY as the present of the excessive HF pressure.
The stupid industry, saturated with partially-uninformed and partially terminally-idiotic market-makers, go over itself propelling more and more they extreme HF pressure, inventing the BS meanings like “audio resolution”. Thankfully the “audio resolution” is demonstrable and generations of audio sales pimps buy boats juts by treading the “audio resolution”. Still, the original question remind open – why in live sound 7kHz is enough but during a reproduction 40kHz is not enough.
Well the MF in audio mostly is garbage, particularly within the cotemporary speakers. Let cross our playback at 8kHz with first order and listen what we have left. With most of the today 100K loudspeakers you will lose 75% of sound. Ironically making the same experiment with SOME (not all, we are talking about the very best, highly selected models) of the acoustic systems that were made let say 50 years old you will discover that sound was practically not changed. Pay attention that the band-pas is the same with differently made TTH characteristic in MF made all differences and makes very different amount of MF to indicate that “quality” is in presence.
Anyhow, as a very broad observation and with many dependencies I feel a playback need to have somewhere around 10-12 kHz at -3dB and then a different rate of decaying – contingent upon many circumstances. If you feel that you need more HF then… trash your MF Chennai as it underperforms.
I think that this inflated high frequency response is the worst and unfortunately is the most characteristic quality for most contemporary acoustic systems but the biggest problem not even with the pump up HF response itself but the very false and very firmed expectations that most of audio hoodlums are managed to obtain: the feeling that the absence of the excessive high frequency is an indication of “poor” audio sound. At this point I do not know what leads: supply or demand. I think that this “high-endish” HF have passed the level when it was identifiable and nowadays it is not about teaching a cow to be carnivore but about milking the cow. Well, unfortunately very many audio Morons insist that to drink milk they need to wear a condom on own head…Romy The Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche