Works for me. Small(er) room that is. Larger speakers in a larger room usually compensates for the size of the room and you can experience a larger soundstage etc, but you can overdrive any room (and/or system) and its important to not do so just because you can. If I want really 'big' audio I simply go to symphony hall, sit in the center/orchestra and get blown away, especially listening to some Mahler! :-).
When you describe the sound of the mega $$ system you’re referring to as "somewhat larger than life," then what do you gather is your predominant reference here - live acoustic sound, or mainly the sound presented by your own setup? In your last paragraph, you wrote:
I believe it would be fair to say that if what you’re being treated with sonically on a daily(?) basis is from a near field listening-based set-up with small 2-way "mini monitors" as seen on your systems page (and a great setup it appears to be - I know those Sonus Faber’s quite well, and they sound exquisite), then judging whether what’s heard from a much bigger system/room is actually larger than life-sounding may be somewhat hampered or "colored" as a credible observation. The question remains whether a larger set-up by necessity does hold the potential to give a more accurate representation of a live event, but in my experience that’s a definite ’yes.’
This to me sounds like an acoustically related issue and a listening space being "saturated" at higher SPL’s (and room modes excited at low frequencies), and it points to the need to properly accommodate a setup capable of higher SPL’s + prodigious LF-output within a given acoustical context. Large direct radiating speakers of low efficiency and more wide and uneven dispersion (if such is the case here) in my experience are typically more challenging in this regard compared to a higher eff. segment of speakers.
If you’re referring to your specific experience then it sounds like a flawed outset that isn’t representative of what a larger system is truly capable of in a home environment. There’s also taste and what one is habitually exposed to. What I have myself (though in a more moderately sized listening space) is definitely the type of presentation I’m after, and that setup could fill cinema auditoriums with sound effortlessly.
Absolutely - or in varying ways at least. That is, price isn't as much a factor here than overall implementation and the segment, principle and configuration of the speakers used.
Fitting the speakers to the size of your room is a thing. Acoustical treatments can help adjust, but usually the best bet is to get speakers that operate within the sound pressure levels you enjoy without overloading the room. I chose Sonus Faber Amati Traditional… not the line below or above for that reason.
Most folks who would contemplate buying this system, will have the requisite space to put it…would be my guess. However, I think the sound they are going to get will be highly dependent on how well the room will be treated. Without treatment, almost all home living spaces will exhibit a nasty room resonance.
@phusis When I say, larger than life, I am referring to what I hear when I attend a live event. For example, the sound of a small acoustic ensemble in a hall. While the system I heard can somewhat portray the sound of the hall, it also made the instruments sound as if they were about ten feet wide! Not that realistic, imho.
You hit on the main issue all speakers have, and that's integrating with the room. The dragons live in the lowest two octaves and published measurements don't help you at all.
So, if investing $100K or more it is worth it to get measurements and professional room treatments, and consider EQ when and where possible.
With larger speakers, more money is being spent on low frequency extension... extension that interacts with the room... extension you usually cannot adjust for the room / placement. When you think about it, large, floor standing speakers without low end adjustment are a recipe for compromise.
So, if indeed you are talking about a $300k Wilson Audio speaker... well, I have no problem telling it like it is.
My Wavetouch audio system consists small 2 ways speakers (a 5.25" woofer) with a Velodyne 8" SPL s2 powered sub. Can any system beat my system's sound and musicality? The Time (Pink Floyd) requires a good bass and I think my system is doing better than any system. Alex/Wavetouch
Headphones. Bookshelves near-field. Towers midfield. Large towers at a distance. Those setups will have their inherent strengths and weaknesses.
You may prefer one the most, or you may just have the most intimate experience with one type for longer periods. Someone else suggested as 'your reference point'.
I like crawling inside a mix. Headphones and near-field bookshelves firing directly at my ear holes with subs to pressurize a small to medium sized room is the most financially "sound" way for me to truly feel the music and indulge my listening.
My PBN Montana XPS speakers are designed for rooms larger than 2,700 cubic ft. My house of stereo is only slightly bigger than that. With the proper acoustic treatment, they sound magnificent and 100% worth the investment. They replaced the also excellent Ascent Acoustic Sierra towers with raal tweeters. While those were deeply satisfying, the PBN take it to an entire different level. GRAND is the best one word I could use to describe the experience and that's exactly what I go for. If I were a chamber music type of guy, the Sierras would still be my reference speakers. Meaning it cones down to multiple factors, size room, acoustic treatments and type of music preferred. I found my combo and it includes LARGE speakers.
I’d like to present 2 examples of the extremes in room/enviroment that we were involved with.
First, back in the disco era we provided music systems for highly energetic young people at the peak of their physical attractiveness and athletic dexterity, not afraid to put both out there on display. One such system was designed for outdoor use with bass bins large enough to sit in. (One participant actually did). I also recall a tweeter array with 16 piezo-electric tweeters. Hey, these were good enough for Jon Dalquist, so why not outdoor venues? (I think the design goals and application might have been slightlly different). I’m pretty confident these would quality as "big speakers" designed to play very loud, full bandwidth sound in a 1 billion cubic foot "room."
One the other end of the spectrum, we decided to build a project where we installed a full 7.1 surround system in a 30" x 30" replica of a British phone booth. We removed the front baffles of B&W mini-monitors (3 1/2" 2-ways), hand built a fascia, and made custom enclosures for a pair of JL audio thin-profile 10" subs mounted in the floor. The system was powered by a high quality 100x7 AV receiver, with outboard mono amp running the subs. Our quick math determined that it was the equilivant of large speakers driven by 4k of power in "average" listening room. Yes, it got loud. And raised eyebrows (and skirts) when the bass hit.
Moral of the story: Related to speaker size: the room matters.
There is no issues or relationship between room size and speaker size.
When you fix and adjust those issues:
Fix and adjust is just like Erik saying:
But it is correct that small speakers don't go that low and not that loud at those low frequencies and therfore someone can easily get away with not setting up a "good" listening space by skipping those two things!
Bigger speakers usually has bigger drivers that are able to pressurizeing lower frequencies and louder at those frequencies.
And standard consumers they get to the conclusion oh those big speakers "is overloading the room" or "the room is to small or vise versa".
Yes, that might seam to be the "logical" conclusion when there is a rather big knowledge gap and the general listeners don't know and don't have the experience of what a treated room and what issues that are able to solve. And the same goes for modern PEQ (DSP).
To be brutal honest there is the majority that JUST plop a speaker of any size into room of any size. Without doing any room treatment or PEQ whatsoever..
And then it is the "fault" of the speaker or the room! (think again) 🤔
So do you know how, where and what to do as sound treatment. And know how to measure, use a computer and upload PEQ to your DSP (fix also issues with "dedepending on music" with different presets,) .
Then room or speaker SIZE is no issue or relationship in my opinion.
It is just simple relationship in physics as bigger speaker need more adjustment when it is working in a range there smaller once don't and that is independent of room size.
It is as simple as that. 🤫💖
(A tip for getting the "best" sound and better than the sound that OP listened to, cost no object. Is to learn and master those two aspects. Then you can get whatever sound quality that your hart desires.
The other road is if you don't learn and evolve you are stuck in buying of the shelf speakers all your life in hope of that maybe one day. You will get something that is super on some tracks and less good on other tracks just like the OP describe. In the long run it will pay off.)
Until recently I’d never been able to treat a room to optimize the sound. When I was a younger man my solution was to take my speakers outside away from all reflective surfaces, with a lounge chair centered just right... I lived out in the country so the birds were really the only noise distraction.. My “large speakers” sounded infinitely better outside versus my small 2 ways, even though the smaller ones were a “higher end brand” and big ones were not. No comparison. Inside my house, the small 2 ways sounded better and I could listen for hours - but they did not sound as pleasing as the big boys sounded outside. Obviously many other factors could be considered in my little indoor/outdoor “experiment” .. but I think the people talking about room treatment etc. are on the right path here. All else being equal bigger is probably better…and YES to using dedicated subs to allow for low frequency tuning.
We must learn basic acoustics...
The size of the speakers is secondary provide they are of good design ...They for sure must correspond to your goal and room dimension ... But this factor so important it is to begin with is secondary relatively to the basic acoustics knowledge necessary to well embed the speakers for your ears in this room ...
I own 4 inches active speakers in near listening i modified and i had clear 50 hertz...
I am in heaven ...
Boomieness happens when someone hasn’t run REW on their system and confirmed the (size/dimension driven) room modes - and corrected for them.
The reason big speakers appear to produce them, when smaller, speakers don’t in the same room- is it a small speakers roll off sooner, so may benefit from the additional reinforcement below 100 Hz- even if peaky.
And although not everyone has room correction DSP in their pre-amp, if you’re using Roon, you can add it there- or more importantly, for this conversation “subtract it there”
Narrow Q cuts aligned with your measured room Modes do wonders for full range speakers and subs - anyone who would invest big dollars for a truly full range speaker - should also set aside the time for this step (And room treatments)
TLDR boomieness isn’t inherent in big speakers - it’s a function of your room - and it is revealed by them.
While I agree that room treatment is extremely important, the system i was listening to in my OP had been treated. The demo was done by folks who I believe actually do know how to set up a room! ( I am not sure why folks here many times come to the conclusion that room acoustic set up is something that experienced a’philes and dealers fail to do??). The question, and I believe this is where I was going with my OP, is such a large and ambitious speaker with the ability to easily override a room really what we want in our listening room? To that, is it possible that even with room treatment ( and a very large room) that a speaker can still sound too large? I believe the speakers in question ( which admittedly I have only heard this one time) could possibly have a design flaw that actually appeals to some, and not others (like myself).
@baylinor Your post is interesting. Every time I have heard PBN’s, and I have heard them many times, since they are a local company to me, they do nothing for me at all. This tells us that in this hobby, everyone has a different taste and expectation of what is right to their ears. Clearly, the Montana’s work for you, and you appreciate their sound.
In the right room, yes, large speakers are the best way to get the most accurate sound.
I have had quite a few opportunities to hear large speakers: Von Scheikert Ultra 11, large Wilson's (can't remember which), Acapella Audio CAMPANILE, Acora Acoustics VRC-1, Estelon Forza, and others.
Their ability to reproduce realistic scale, cannot be equaled with smaller speakers.
Having heard the Von Schweikert Ultra 11's quite a few times, I have heard them reproduce a full orchestra at realistic scale as if I was sitting 12-15 rows back at Disney Hall, then be able to reproduce a solo singer with a guitar, also at accurate size and scale, is hard not to be impressed with.
Most of us have had that experience - go to a show or dealer, listen to an ostentatious 6-figure dollars (or more) huge speaker, and think to ourselves "god this sounds mediocre or even outright BAD; I vastly prefer my own system!"
This IS a good representation of how hard it is to get a large-speaker system right. It can be much harder than with more moderately sized speakers. This IS NOT a good representation of what a truly well crafted mega-budget large system CAN do. The upper limit is much higher, but getting there is the trick. Amp matching is also crucial at this level.
Two of my major "meh" moments were with Focal Utopias a few years ago - Stella III and Grande III. Driven by electronics deep into 6-figures themselves (Soulution). But then I really dug the much cheaper Sopra 3’s in the next room (VAC Statement tube amps)! Maybe Utopias are just the wrong speaker for me, or maybe I just haven’t heard them yet in the right system. Another time, much longer ago (15 years), I had a "meh" experience with very large Wilsons (Maxx?). I sort of remember enjoying them more than I did the Utopias, but still not nearly enough to justify their expense. In another room at that same event, there were huge McIntosh line arrays which I though sounded VERY good (of course driven by Mc amplification), and at least made a good run at justifying their cost!
@mulveling Agreed. Getting large speakers to really work well does take more time and expertise. The system i heard had what appeared to be the right upstream gear and was carefully put together. I just think that perhaps the speakers in question could not live up to either their hype, or their price. I also have heard the large Focal’s and come away less than impressed. The interesting thing is that they seem to be highly dependent on room interaction. The first time I heard the Utopia’s, I was impressed, but every time since, they have done absolutely nothing for me.
One other thing, and perhaps we all suffer from this..as the price rises to the heavens, our expectations may rise there also???
OP, “…I think the overall sound will be unlike what hears in a ‘live’ setting, due to the seeming inability of speakers like these to sound intimate enough, when called for.”
I am not sure how many of these large speaker systems / electronics are really trying to sound like the real thing. They take you for a sound spectacular (when properly set up). The holographic abilities of Wilson for example is simply incredible. Lots of speakers are made to sound great, exaggerating details to amaze folks by treating the listener to details they have never heard before or making solo performances out of background instruments or giving physical impact to the bass where this would normally not happen.
I think these are design goal choices of the companies making them.
There are a few brands who’s goals are the natural reproduction of live / realistic music. These include Sonus Faber for speakers and Audio Research, Conrad Johnson and others. They don’t design for flash, they design to get the gestalt right, the overall presentation… and are incredibly intimate.. conveying the musical essence of the performances.
So, it is a question of aligning your values with the values of the company.
It took me decades to figure this out (ok, I’m slow)… but the journey and destination has been worth it for me.
@ghdprentice Good points. I agree that there are certain brands that design for a ‘show’ sound. Not trying to create the sound of real and unamplified instruments in an acoustic space. I guess that sound..one wherein your friends are initially impressed, is not really what I am looking for. Personally, I prefer a reproduction that is more correct to my remembrance of what I hear live.
What is it about a local context of a large system + listening space that makes you deduce the observations made here translates into a general characteristic of other, similarly-ish sized systems - the astronomical price of +$1M? - does that make it a representative for all larger sized speaker setups? If anything it goes to show price in itself doesn’t tell you much about the potential at hand (as you have indicated yourself), also not knowing about the hardware specifics, nor the overall implementation acoustically or otherwise.
Why the secrecy - what’s so important to keep the lid on exposing the speakers at play here? It’s just your opinion - calling out über-expensive speakers + gear for sounding less than ideal shouldn’t be a more precarious matter than saying the same of less expensive speakers. I take it there’ll be no red dot placed on your forehead for spilling the beans, as they say.
You mentioned earlier that a live event is indeed your reference about the statements made on the size of the presentation, and yet to my mind it’s not wholly compatible with your home speaker choice in a small listening space (as well as the Quad’s mentioned above) that I’d say your preference and habitual, sonic exposure is indicative of something other than what emulates of large (or even more intimate), live acoustic space with full dynamic range and frequency extension into the lower octaves.
Larger, more SPL savvy and true full-range speakers, as is also pointed to in other posts above, can more easily trigger and challenge an acoustic space into saturation and nasty room modes, but it needn’t be the case depending on how one goes about the implementation and the choice of speakers + their configuration.
What’s more the general notion of the need of fitting large speaker systems in comparatively large listening rooms is blown out of proportion, as I see it, but let those quarrel about that who have neither the inclination nor can find the spousal approval or monetary means (i.e.: because they favor speaker brands, models and segment that already in their mini monitor iterations are insanely expensive) to realize such a project.
True, and an important observation, but the physicality of a larger speaker setup more readily holds the potential to emulate a live setting, certainly in the parameters of dynamics, ease, scale and full-range capabilities.
My personal journey away from flash and towards realistic musical reproduction began with the observation that an upgrade would improve the music on my test disks and make much of the rest of my music sound worse. This initiated a two decacade odyssey of learning what real acoustic instruments sound like and their venue. It includes ten years of season tickets in 7th row center seats in the symphony. A seat where I could carefully listen to the subtitle echos around the symphony hall… arrival times of instruments in front and back. Also, solo piano, violin, and cello had their sound holes pointed right at my seat. The recording mikes when they recorded for publication were very nearly over my head. Hundreds of concerts are very informative.
From the symphony and lots of small acoustic jazz concerts… and listening to individual pianos and cymbles made me realize that most HiFi systems are tuned for detail and slam. So the perspective was all wrong… the venue was overemphasized and often the mastering techniques. Going through my memory of all the speakers I had heard over the years, Sonus Faber stuck out as very different sounding… ones that I felt sounded like the real thing.
So, over the last fifteen years I proved my hypothesis about Sonus Faber… and started with used, then new Olympica, and now my Amanti… and while I started with a Audio research preamp and phonostage, I upgraded those and added all Audio Research components. Now, when there is a crescendo in a symphony… the rumbling bass of combined instuments comes as a huge wave… instead of a slap over a microsecond. The venue details are there, but you have to turn your minds eye to listen for them, instead of having them hit you in the face.
Also, all kinds of music sounded better as I made this journey… instead of some getting better and some worse. When I listen to my system, I listen to the music, not the system… the snappyness of the treble, the bass slap… I am emotionally connected to the music… not the system. I get to listen three hours a day, and have to drag myself away. My old reference… highly detailed / slam system would get boring after an hour.
I consider myself extremely fortunate that, in my listening room, I don't need any room treatments, nor do I think I need any. My living/listening room is connected to my dining room, which is connected to my kitchen. It measures 16.6" W X 34.6 D, with cathedral ceilings in the living room/dining room. The kitchen floor is uncovered, all else is carpeted.
I use two 12" Dual Concentric Stereo drivers, one 15" subwoofer, and two 12" subwoofers. Nothing is being overdriven (the nice thing about subs is they're volume is easily controlled). My room seems to have the right amount of clutter to help keep thing easier to adjust.
I also have a multi-channel system lashed in, and it has all worked out very well for me, which I am extremely grateful for.
While the speakers I had the pleasure of hearing definitely seemed to not portray what I felt were the same level of specific detail and intimacy that other smaller systems I have heard can; I do agree that a generalization cannot be made. I do not believe I was trying to say that ALL large speakers fall down in this way, although most that i have heard certainly do. What would be point of disclosing the speaker in question, besides to feed your curiosity? It is a model that has- and is receiving the highest in hype and praise (as it should for its asking price!) To many on this forum, I suspect they would consider it to be SOTA, which just goes to show the variety in tastes.
As to what I hear live, I am an ex-pro studio musician, so i have had some exposure to the ’live’ unamplified sound... mostly fairly close up, although also many times in large halls. This is where I come from as a 'frame of reference'. What is your 'frame of reference'?
None of the megabuck systems I have heard were anywhere near worth the money. The size of speakers can be misleading. From LS3 5As to monster Wilson's or Magicos it all comes down to one tweeter. It is mostly the visual overload of these large speakers that impresses. My opinion is jaded by the fact that I will only listen to Dipole, Line Source ESLs and the very best of them cost $45,000.00. My subwoofers technically cost more. The system in total costs about $100,000 and that is chump change compared to other systems and IMHO are far more convincing. On the downside, they (the ESLs) are rather plain looking. The new subs will spruce things up a bit.
The best dynamic loudspeakers I have heard in a long time are the Franco Serblin Ketemas and they are a relatively inexpensive at $40,000. Only the lowest octave is missing. They are also handsome, beautifully made devices.
@daveyf Great post. I thought it was just me. I have enjoyed some big rooms at AXPONA but doubt that it translates to my space. My tendency when I buy is to want the top of the particular line. I need to change that attitude.