$15,000 Speaker Does Not List Freq Response Specs

Am I being too picky here? I came across a speaker mfg that does not list the frequency response specs for their speaker.

I think that may be asking a little too much by a mfg to not list this specification...especially in this price range.
The speakers in question are the Bob Carver Amazing Line Source speakers. They are sold via internet-only and there is nowhere to audition them....and no frequency response specifications. At $15k, I'd like a little more info.

Bose does not list any specs for its 901 flagship speakers, but, that's Bose. I expected Bob Carver to be a little more forthcoming with that type of info, especially since his tube amps are aimed squarely at the audiophile market.

The concept is interesting. The link to the speakers is below.

"I came across a speaker mfg that does not list the frequency response specs for their speaker."

They leave it out because some speaker designs just don't measure well. Panels and horns are a good example. They measure terrible.
Why not ask Mr Bob directly:

I read in Absolute sound that the speaker is a steal at 15k. I believe it also comes with a subwoofer. Who ever wrote the review said there was no need to spend more money on a speaker.
This speaker was just reviewed by The Absolute Sound in the October 2015 issue. They list the frequency response as being from "18Hz to beyond audibility (main speakers to 80kHz)". Of course the low frequency limit includes the powered subwoofer and there is no tolerance (+/- dB) given for the range specified. Hope this helps!
Who cares? Those numbers are always so cooked and then measured in non-real world spaces with God knows whose microphone and "weighted" formulate that what you hear in your room bears little to no resemblance to specs given.
Who cares? Those numbers are always so cooked and then measured in non-real world spaces with God knows whose microphone and "weighted" formulate that...

..interesting. With that logic, why would any speaker mfg bother to post frequency response specs if they're all meaningless?
Frequency response stats on a speaker are useless...the number may be listed but only in an anechoic environment. Much of a speaker's sound is how it performs in YOUR room, with your components. If there is no way to listen to it, it must have a generous return policy.
With "frequency response specs," do you mean curves (and +/- dB tolerances) or simply numbers indicating frequency extension up- and downwards?

If the latter in particular I'd say specs are pretty much worthless. Of course a stated steep roll-off below 80-90Hz would indicate to most, or so I gather, that sub-augmentation is needed, but hopefully a purchase is based on actual audition (and the added information that can be had by simply looking at the speakers and knowing their driver implementation) than dwelling on mere numbers. Certainly the actual bass quality (what's the spec-numner for that?) in its central region is wholly more significant.

Whether a speaker rolls off above 16-17kHz or 35kHz (or even 80kHz) and what this means in regards to audible significance at large I'd say is completely irrelevant; in fact I'd call it marketing BS to claim otherwise. If anything frequency irregularities (i.e.: peaks) above what is regarded the limits of human hearing may or may not impact on perceived sonics.

Where curves are supplied the challenge, as with spec numbers, is their measured context and overall trustworthiness, and in any case I don't see what can be deduced from them being remotely as informative as actual listening. It's indeed critical, and oddly interesting when so much emphasis is placed on frequency extremes, primarily from reading specs, when what's audibly between is so much more interesting.
Wow that really IS amazing! 😱

Finally a speaker that truly lives up to its name. ☝️
The speakers in question are sold via internet only.
No place to audition them. I wrote to the internet dealer that is selling them online. He said that because of his margins, that he cannot afford to do at-home trials.
..oh well.
Mitch - I believe that Carver sells them direct with a money back trial period, but you'd have to pay for them upfront.
Wow i think your busting chops!!
10-06-15: Stringreen
Frequency response stats on a speaker are useless...the number may be listed but only in an anechoic environment. Much of a speaker's sound is how it performs in YOUR room, with your components. If there is no way to listen to it, it must have a generous return policy.
That's true. It's one thing to measure a speaker anechoic, quite another to measure how a given speaker couples to your room. For example, dipoles placed very close to an uneven front wall would be a poor match and likely measure poorly. Similarly rear-ported speakers placed in the same room would likely measure poorly in situ. It's all about finding the right speaker for *your* room and tastes.
Btw, Bob Carver has quite a lot of experience with ribbon drivers & supplied the ribbon midrange panels for the original Genesis 1 speakers. Of course from the G1.1 onwards Gary switched to German Bohlender Graebener RD48 Planar midrange panels.
I went to an audio showcase in Los Angeles yesterday to hear and view Bob Carvers new speakers. The room and setup was not optimum. The speakers were not played with Bob Carver's subwoofer, the dealer played them with a REL sub.

Bob Carver offers an in-home trial with these speakers. Buy them and he'll ship them to you. If you don't like them, send them back at your expense and he'll refund your money.

Bob Carver was in attendance at this event.
Mitch - That's what I told you in a previous post regarding their evaluation and return policy. So, what's your opinion on how they sound??? Please share your thoughts, TIA.
Bill, too many people in the room and too much noise.
Some of the recordings were not very good. I just couldn't form an opinion. I was standing way off to the side at the back of a packed room with the door opened to the outside with music playing that I was unfamiliar with.

I do think that I'm going to take Bob up on his offer to audition them in my home.

Bob Carver surely needs to hire a professional photographer to shoot photos of the speakers...they are gorgeous! The website photos of them don't do them justice. Even though the website mentions that they are 8 feet tall, you really don't get the scale of them until you see them in person.
You can't just listen around all that minor stuff?
Zd542, I attended as a serious listener with intent to buy
and not just out of curiosity. I didn't hear enough to
convince me to pay the $15k price of admission.

The dealer did invite me back for a private audition.
Ultimately, I'd need to hear them in my
own room...which has probably four to six times more cubic
feet than the room at the dealers' place.
Mitch, your listening room is so big, don't be surprised if you need to add a second Sunfire SubRosa subwoofer to energize the room and get a better in-room tonal balance.

I have no doubt that 44 mid/woofers could make 120 dB, but in a room that size, I also wouldn't be surprised if the last octave would need a little help to keep the tonal balance even.
Mitch, I think the Bob Carver ALS would be a great match for your large listening room. 44 side-firing mid/woofers should go a long way toward energizing that very large area. Unlike most installations of the ALS, however, don't be surprised if you need to add a second Sunfire SubRosa subwoofer to fully energize the room and get a complete in-room tonal balance.
Johnnyb53, as you can see by the size of my room, I need a lot of speaker. I'm kind of exited by the idea of $15k giving me a speaker that would do my room justice. At the demo on Sunday, the dealer played the Carvers with a REL sub, he did not use the Sunfire sub. He also played the Carvers using a pair of super-tweeters. The attendees kind of groaned because he insisted on demoing them with the super-tweeters. So, I attended a demo of speakers augmented by super-tweeters and a sub that is not a part of the package. It seemed the dealer was intent on hawking his own wares as part of the demo. The REL 212SE sub was superb. So, I did not hear the Carver speakers in their advertised configuration. I have the feeling that I will need subs more substantial than the Sunfire sub(s). That of course is going to drive up the price of the total speaker system. I'm going to have to figure around total $25k or so to get it right.
Mitch4t, my perspective is that I would be very cautious about jumping for a speaker that you have heard in audition and were not so impressed, unless I misread your posts. Frankly, I would guess the combo of the REL sub to be as fine or better than the Carver sub. That might have been why it was paired with the speakers.

I suspect the presence of the supertweeters were to address a suspected deficiency in performance. I would consider this a negative for the demo, i.e. that the speaker "needs" assistance in this regard. Not hearing it without the supertweeters is a negative.

My guess is the dealer attempted to optimize the sound of the Carver, and it took such things as adding a better sub and supertweeter to do so. Likely, with the stock version you would not have heard as good sound as you did. However, that cannot always be assumed, as the REL may be more beneficial to the dealer selling them paired with the speakers.

Frankly, it sounds like it was not an overwhelmingly great experience, which would suggest that they are not the right speakers for you. Speakers will not magically transform into radically different sounding transducers simply because they are put in your room. So, I would suggest you go hear some other offerings. Just saw your comment, "... not convinced worth the $15K price of admission." So, it's time to go hear something else. I believe that when you hear the correct speaker you will adore the sound.

It should be understood that this is in no way a condemnation of the Carver speakers; I'm assessing the setup and experience of Mitch4t.
"Zd542, I attended as a serious listener with intent to buy
and not just out of curiosity. I didn't hear enough to
convince me to pay the $15k price of admission."

I was joking. Show conditions are usually very bad and almost impossible to "listen around".
Excellent point made above by Douglas Schroeder!
Too many options out there for that budget, many good ones costing much less, to go with something that failed to wow you in the first place.
How long ago was that demo? There's a lot of speculation about what did or did not go on there and why., But in its present form, the ALS includes a supertweeter and a fast, deep reaching powered sub designed and integrated by the designer of both. Let's not forget Bob Carver's history in reinventing the powered sub several years ago.

In The Absolute Sound, Robert E. Greene's review was an out-and-out rave, which qualified it by going into some detail concerning EQ profiles, placement, and subwoofer integration options.

The ALS includes EQ for bass, upper midrange, and treble. Also, since the mid/woofers are side-firing, there should be a lot of space to the sides (no problem for Mitch's room), but it was a problem somewhat for the TAS review and I don't know how they were set up for the demo Mitch saw/heard.

Anyway, it's the October 2015 issue of TAS. It's worth picking up for a read and perhaps an email to reviewer Robert. E. Greene.

Also, given the money involved and the prospect of affordably acquiring something that can credibly play back a 100-piece orchestra at full tilt, maybe you could fly out to Washington and audition it live (if Carver is set up to do so). It shouldn't be much more than the cost of return shipping.
Can you specifically name this model? Can you provide any home speaker that actually DO provide frequency response?
Do you understand frequency response specs and how do you choose speaker by frequency response? Does it help you much if you read 20Hz...25Khz?
Czarivey - Here's a link to the exact speaker being discussed - http://www.bobcarvercorp.com/#!als/cwgy
Thanks Bill_K,

Carver Amazing speakers used to be ribbon/panel, but now they're fully ribbon. Amazing indeed.

My point was very clear that specification such as 24Hz...24KHz is useless. So why post it? Why provide something that is NEVER true? A detailed plot of speaker response measured in anechoic chamber likely not be understandable by casual consumer while typical Hz...kHz numbers are truly misleading.

I have datasheet for my Aerial 10t speakers provided by Mike Kyle after I requested it. Bob Carver is highly respectful engineer designer of consumer and professional sound won't mind sharing datasheet if requested.

Hopefully I made it clear after all.
You're right, Czarivey. Giving performance specs for the ALS is particularly difficult, as it is with any bipole or omnidirectional speaker designed to energize the listening area in a certain way. The ALS has a very unconventional driver layout:

13 ribbon panels facing front in a line array
Small ribbon tweeter at the tiptop of the array, almost 90" above the floor
22 high excursion (0.48" exc) ~4" dia. mid/woofers, eleven each facing to the right and to the left.

The included SubRosa *does* have printed specs, which includes 18-110 Hz and max spl of 110 dB.

The array is pretty unconventional, especially the side-firing dynamic mid/woofers, and which obviously rely on room reflections to work as intended. They are probably sensitive to the distance between drivers and side walls. Any setup with less than 4 feet to the side walls will probably be compromised.

Back in 2007, Ultimate A/V->Home Theater->Sound&Vision mag (operated by S'phile) did a review on the Mirage OMD-28 floorstanding towers plus matching center, surrounds, and sub. The OMD-28 is an omni and since it radiates in all directions, the tweeter as a point source is shelved down to compensate for all the room boundaries that will reinforce (i.e., flatten) the treble response.

And yet, the reviewers still measured the speakers with their close-miked "quasi-anechoic" measurements, which produced this frequency response curve with a 10+dB dip at 5Khz, which implies that the treble would be dull and lifeless, which is totally untrue. In fact, Thos. J. Norton's commentary at that point stated:
The measured responses of both the OMD-28 and the OMD-C2 are relatively disappointing, and surprisingly uneven considering the system's admirable sonic performance. However, speakers with unusual radiating patterns—dipole, bipole, and omni—are notoriously difficult to measure in an anechoic or pseudo-anechoic way that relates to their performance in real rooms. They often sound better than they actually measure, and this is certainly the case here.
Mirage's designer Andrew Welker took exception to this hamfisted handling of their flagship OMD-28, the result of years of measurements and calculations at Canada's National Research Center, and responded in part:
Judged against the accepted "flat frequency response" goal of a directional forward-radiating system, any Omnipolar design will appear down-tilted and show an apparent "excess of bass". However, any anechoic measurement, by it's very nature, will not take into account the reflected energy that will be present when the loudspeaker is placed in a listening room. An Omnipolar loudspeaker will also not follow the inverse-square law at mid and high frequencies. Both of these facts suggest that an Omnipolar speaker should NOT measure "flat" otherwise it will sound excessively bright and thin in a typical room.

And lest we take the ALS's $15K purchase price for granted, it was originally $23,500, the new price will be $17,995 and the $14,995 is a limited time offer. Considering it includes a high powered $3500 sub and room-tuning tools, that's an attractive deal.
This speaker is a line source omnipolar up to about 3 kHz, so a anechoic freq response is pretty much useless. I do know those ribbon tweeters go up to 26 kHz, no problem. Publishing FR of speakers makes sense for forward firing point source speaker, but in the real world it still is a bad measure of how a speaker sounds. For dipole, omnipole, planar, line source/array speakers, FR can be very misleading so I can understand why designers of such speakers don't publish such an archaic measurement.

The OP went to a showing of this speaker and stated it didn't impress him, even though he admitted he was way in the back of the room off to the side with people packed in the room. Can you draw a valid conclusion based on this experience? This is the worse show condition one can imagine. Why did he decline offer for a private audition by the dealer? That would have been much more informative, best thing next to having them in your own room.

I have no idea why the dealer wanted to use a super tweeter with this speaker. I heard the preproduction version of this speaker, and it needed no extra help above.

As for the Rel subwoofer, some speculate it is better than Bob's own subwoofer that he designed to work with the ALS. I would speculate Bob's dedicated subwoofer likely sound just as good if not better than the Rel.

The dealer did not use Bob's tube amp with the ALS. Again another mistake. His tube amps are fantastic and should have been paired with the speakers. After all, Bob voiced his speaker with his tube amp.

I posted a thread on Bob's ALS without realizing this thread was about his speaker.

Anyways, just my two cents.
The dealer did use Bob's tube amps in the demo, they are gorgeous.

I did not draw a conclusion. I stated my opinion was inconclusive based on the listening conditions and the
non-Carver components added to the system.

Bob's website allows an in-home trial. I am going to try them in my own home. My room is nothing like the room where the demo was held....and the conditions will be infinitely better.

For the record, I'm a huge fan of Bob Carver. If you look closely at the photos on my system page, you'll see at least four of Bob Carver's Silver 9t monoblocs on the floor near my speakers. I've had numerous Carver components in my systems over the years and loved most of them.

The addition of the REL sub and the $3,600 super-tweeters were probably more of the dealer attempting to hawk his wares rather than to augment Carver's speakers. I just didn't see the logic of not using Carver's sub and adding the super-tweeter. Adding those items was more of a sales pitch than anything else.

I want to be clear that this was not an attempt to bash the Carver speakers...far from it. I still want to give them a serious audition in my home...and I will. The thought of not having to spend upwards of $50k to get serious sound in a room of my size is enticing, and I won't pass it up.
Before reading this thread, I hadn't really considered that this speaker didn't lend itself to anechoic measurement and I might have been critical of Carver. However, the posts here have built a solid case that that's not true.

Maybe Carver could include a brief note in the spec section from the manufacturer indicating that the broad dispersion pattern of this particular design makes posted anechoic specs misleading. That might be useful to anyone hesitating on a purchase due to this lack of info. If anyone here is inclined, forwarding a link to this thread to Carver might not be a terrible idea.
The super-tweeter used in the demo was the Enigma Acoustics.

Enigma Acoustics Supertweeter
Mitch, thanks for the clarification. I tend to agree the dealer appears to be hawking those electrostatic tweeters.
Robert E. Greene of The Absolute Sound was also in attendance at the demo. He played a live violin solo along with a violin recording played with the speakers.
Yes, I spoke to someone who was also there. His experience was very different than yours but he was up front near the center.
To expand on what has already been said "unless you're listening in an anechoic chamber, aneechoic measurements are useless" is spot on. No audiophile has an anechoic chamber.

How a speaker controls itself independently of the room is a much more valid measurement- this can be observed by polar patterns and how the dispersion is controlled across the frequency range.
Ok. Enough speculation: 1) The system consists of four components--two triangular-section 90" aluminum tube cabinets, one dual-driver (powerful) sub and an outboard amp/crossover. 2) The introductory demo was hosted by a high-end dealer who did indeed intend to "hawk his wares". In fact, he never unpacked our woofer! He has never heard it. Ever. The add-on tweeter was his choice and considered destructive by all who attended. Still, he's a quality guy with his own opinions. That said, I will not ship a system without the woofer. We designed this as a system. 3) there are two dealers on board and more to come. Being hand assembled and using special CNC milling machines, we can only make so many per day. Each finished unit is supplied to my partner, Bob Carver, who personally QCs every damn part and yes, we do frequency measurements before re-packing for shipment. 4) the price is $17,495. Bob had the wrong price on his site so we've already corrected the error and the site needs further mods which I'm attending to. Absolute Sound had the wrong price as they had the prototypes for a full year! Didn't want to give them up. 4) We've sold out the entire first two production runs, half because of the review and half due to the audition that one of our members above found wanting. In fact, the response to the demo was overwhelming resulting in multiple $5,000 deposits from the early adopters. Word spread across the country and we've sold systems from LA to NY and Chicago. 5) want more details? Call me, Frank Malitz at 847-668-4519. This is not a commercial announcement. Note that I've not referred to the actual sound quality as I've never heard it! My samples are on the way but I'm filling orders for you guys first. You might love it or not but it is pretty much room independent and you will have a money-back guarantee. 

Finally, and I've left the most intriguing aspect for last, it cannot be compared to any other speaker in terms of technology. The 22 mid-woofers per tower are wound with high back-EMF voice coils. Each functions as a microphone as well as a speaker. We listen to the room constantly and force a correcting voltage into your amp's feedback loop so the system is self-equalizing. Nothing like this exists nor has it ever from anyone else.

And oh yes, speaker specs are meaningless. When I started Onkyo USA in 1976, I couldn't believe how terrible their speakers were (Onkyo is a huge OEM speaker manufacturer) so I set up a lab and each measured very well. All had, essentially, the same specs and yet sounded competently different. Over 250 speaker brands claim flat response, etc. Almost no designer has the requisite science to design a perfect speaker. Bob had to resort to a very clever correction architecture because of this fact and he's a true genius.

feel free to call. I don't bite. I'll also help you with any Sunfire questions or backup simply to keep Bob's good name.
Peace and harmony to us all.
Thanks! for sharing- guys.
What’s it’s all about, Alfie? You don’t really think (manufacturer) frequency response measurements or data translate into real world frequency response, do you? Even if the speakers weren’t measured in an anechoic chamber, who knows how they were actually measured, every room is different in terms of frequency response and that response can vary quite a bit from location to location, for speakers as well as the listener, in the same room. Many folks are blissfully sitting right smack dab in the middle of a standing wave or reflected wave or wall echo. What's needed is a SPL meter and set of test frequencies and a lot of patience.  Hel-looo!
Fmalitz, thanks very much for providing the info in your post above. I have a couple of questions concerning the following statement:
Finally, and I’ve left the most intriguing aspect for last, it cannot be compared to any other speaker in terms of technology. The 22 mid-woofers per tower are wound with high back-EMF voice coils. Each functions as a microphone as well as a speaker. We listen to the room constantly and force a correcting voltage into your amp’s feedback loop so the system is self-equalizing. Nothing like this exists nor has it ever from anyone else.
Would it therefore be undesirable to use the speaker with an amp that doesn’t have a feedback loop?

Also, how does the self-equalization function take into account that different amplifiers may incorporate very different amounts of feedback, and may also subject the back-EMF to very different output impedances and damping factors?

Thanks again. Regards,
-- Al
I may have been wrong about the outboard boxes. Might be two. Just sent a note to Bob to clarify--the result of my being in the Chicago area and Bob being in Washington state. I'll be back.


Thanks for the post. I have no idea how good this speaker is or isn't, but you do have to love the ambition behind the design.  Best of luck with the venture!
I wasn't there but after listening to you're story about the dealer adding super tweeters and a Rel sub I would bet you were at David Weinhards store in Bel Air, California.
Yes, Taters, it was Dave's place. Good call. Bob was not supposed to pick dealers. As CEO, that's my job. I inherited the account. Now, I'm glad I did. I've come to respect David for his absolute dedication to providing his clients with the best audio possible. His opinions and mine often are at odds but his heart is in the right place. He does have extensive experience. I value the relationship.

Next, I don't bullshit about sound--ever. I too have little direct knowledge of the speaker's performance capabilities. I don't have my samples yet. Frankly, I'd prefer the purchaser to form his own opinions anyway. I may comment later when I hear them but am uncertain about breaking Audiogon rules since the phrase "conflict of interest" raises questions about my objectivity.

Now, onto a clarification: you get two towers, one subwoofer, one carton with two crossovers and one sub amplifier. I'm considering selling the woofers separately for those rooms with non-uniform coverage. Using two would be preferable under those circumstances. David was concerned about the thinness of the woofer cabinet--like 3", but at four feet tall, there's enough internal volume to allow very deep and powerful bass. Bob designed the shallow drivers for bore and stroke despite their slim profile. The woofer cab is georgeous with its multiple layers of hand-rubbed lacquer. You can use it in any way you can imagine. It won't shake since it has an internal mechanism to cancel cabinet vibration. Hell, make a coffee table with legs if you like. You'll not spill the wine!

There's more than one way to wire it and you'll be guided by a quick-start guide. One scheme utilizes an umbilical we provide which obviates the need for at least one run of expensive cables while simplifying hookup. Bob has provided terminals for bi-wiring but neither Bob nor I feel the benefit outweighs the cost (David Weinhart will throw a fit).

When we finally get feedback from you guys who actually purchase this system, I'll post updates from time to time. Maybe bi-wiring will improve it; I have no way to know at this time.

 I'm not much of a forum guy and that's why I left my phone number. If you have a pressing issue, post it here but if I don't respond in a day or so, call me. There's far too much subjectivity and pseudo-science on forums and I tire of explaining things like specs are meaningless, which, sadly, in the real world, and not on paper, they are.
Back in the 70's when we had Stereo Review and High Fidelity, I would regularly read the equipment reviews and look at all the specs to see who had the best numbers and try to make my choices accordingly.

These days, I'm inclined to take a selection of familiar recordings and just let my ears be the judge.  Trust your ears
Joe, I remember going to my college library to read the reviews in the magazines I could not afford--hour after hour (ca. 1968). I also remember the transition from tubes to solid state in 1964 or so.  the SS stuff had far better specs but I was baffled at the utterly dreadful sound. 

You are entirely correct. One must listen.  Trust your ears on,y as Joe suggests. I can easily attack any specifications generally employed by most companies. Still, there are manufacturers like Bel Canto who provide incredible S/N ratios and yes, their stuff sounds great. Is it simply due to their specs? If it was, how do we reconcile the superb performance of units with lesser specs? Admittedly, tubes usually have mundane numbers but one must agree many sound wonderful.

Some day perhaps we can finish the science and all enjoy the expressive communication all too often at great financial cost these days. Thank goodness for Andrew Jones who demoed a pair of Elac speakers at CES for $500 RETAIL! They positively murdered a $100,000 system from a very famous company in the same hotel in the same size room. If this industry is to survive, it'll be due to folks like Elac who subverted their German pride, hiring an Englishman to bring young people an astonishing listening experience. They deserve our gratitude and support.

i forgot to respond to Almarg: even solid state amps with very low source impedance can be manipulated by the ALS. With an amp with zero feedback, the ALS is still  going to have the same basic character. The equalization is very subtle. One cannot make a significantly crappy speaker sound good with all the band aids in the world. I set up a huge system for a dealer show with the new Yamaha 11-channel separates which use proprietary EQ developed in cooperation with their pro division (it uses two different filtering schemes and sounds pretty good sans EQ anyway) but yet dealer insisted on Polk speakers.  The Polk guy was terrific. Worked his ass off. We used at least four of his subs and all 11 channels but my car system sounds better. As I recall. The Polk stuff was top of their line. Very disappointing for all the work we did.

Sorry about the length of these posts.