Forward or laid back


To quote a recent comment by a member: "The most salient characteristic (to me) is that the acoustic presentation of some of these speakers seemed quite forward (row D), whereas that of others was really quite laid back (row M). There was also, quite often, a second correlation between that forward presentation and a (relative) brightness in the treble. As far as I can tell, these features are often preferred and indeed seem to be aimed for in the voicing of many models during their development. To my ears, speakers in this category were the Treos, O/93s, and Veneres. Somewhere in the middle were the CM10s and the Liutos. A bit more laid back were the Dynaudios and the Vienna Acoustics"

You may be in the minority but then so am i! However, little do these audiophile misanthropes know that they do not or can not hear or appreciate the sound of an orchestra or a vocalist in a natural concert hall setting!

I agree again on another point. I can not STAND most of these so called " reviewers" who have lynched the press with their stupid ass observations about live acoustic sound and what it is to appreciate its truthfulness. Every word they utter is punch, Liveliness, BOOGIE (lmao) , exciting, drive etc, etc. Is that how a frickin orchestra or a female ( operatic) voice should sound??? I read their source material used and I want to throw up!! ( not because of the music per say , but that this is the material they use to evaluate loudspeakers??? ( Maybe they've picked the wrong hobby..?) They can spend their money on these components and fool themselves into believing this hobby they enjoy (high end audio) is fulfilling their supposedly objective needs; which is all well and good. It's not , however, the" real " sound of unamplified music. 
I guess, in the final evaluation, their " employers" no little either, or why would they adhere to or accept the rantings  of kids who are engulfed in this music for evaluating music reproduction in the home??????
So admittedly, not having heard everything of the newest designs around today, I can still proudly look back and thank a few people ( some gone now) who have truly..... contributed to the development of natural sound reproduction: Nelson Pass, Spencer Hughes, Peter Walker, to name a few!
PS. I used to publish a small subscription newsletter review myself in the early 1980's.

hm1
I sit in the second row for my San Antonio symphony concerts because I love that really up close sound. My stereo system is voiced the same way. Very much like the control room of a major recording studio where I worked for 25 years. I enjoy the physical feeling of sound. I quickly read your post and am not clear of your point. To say one point of view is right and the other wrong is nonsence. To each his own
Alan
I love the near field listening of my set up. It's very intimate. 
Indeed, I sit sometimes in the 5th row. When I am hearing the music, naturally it emanates closer and I can hear, feel and see, as you say, the performer. This does not mean that when I sit in my listening chair ( in my room....) about 10-12 feet from my loudspeakers, that I want a loudspeaker to push its presentation to me as if the orchestra is "in my face". 
To say that this is an accurate way to record the event is fine or subjective, I agree. The speaker will take your recording and play it as such. ( reproducing it hopefully as you recorded it , up front. However, a speaker that is balanced properly, will push the listener closer... Only to the degree of its limits and hopefully its PROPER design parameters. ( voicing has more to do with how the designer hears and adjusts his final design towards the speakers brightness, presence and tonality... all of which some people are BETTER at psychoacoustically than others) . Hence , the final experience in your home may be a closer one but will not have the performer literally in your face when your sitting in your say, 22 by 15 foot listening room. 
Point being... Loudspeakers should be balanced or voiced at a neutral distance with no part of the frequency spectrum " standing out" per say. This way, people like you can make a recording and its " in room" balance, while more up front, will not be excruciatingly and ridiculously ( lol) 
singing 3 feet away from your ears.!!!

On top of that, the most accurate and useful frequency response measurements of a final and hopefully well designed transducer should have its "in room" response curve as its final destination .(as opposed to an and anachoic chambers readings).
these are the hallmarks of a great loudspeaker design, with relatively few peaks or abnormalities as possible. That may...put my point in a better perspective.

I Can add a few more names to my previous list. As for reviewer(s) I do trust would be Martin Colloms and the late John Crabbe. Speaker designer Laurie Finchman and Roy Allison. I must get out to hear the MAGICO speakers and see how much their accolades can stand up to my personal dissemination ( and pocketbook).

PS. Any loudspeaker that makes a decent if not exceptional recording of an orchestra sound "exciting, punchy in the bass, more "present" in the midrange or LIVELY in any part of its frequency range is NOT... An accurate transducer. That is an incontrovertible fact!!!
I suggest you lose the attitude; you certainly do not have a lock on how to set up speakers and how to do this hobby. :(



Great answer. I suspect that many people who proclaim to know something actually know very little!
There are also many people who proclaim to know something actually do know something. While at times it is not so easy to differentiate, in some cases it is.
Hm1, welcome to Audiogon.

Am I the only one who cannot understand what the original post means.  I've read it twice and I don't understand what his point is.
If a person doesn't know anything how can he tell when someone knows something?  Answer at 8.

I took the quote from a member but the gist of what I got from it was of speakers he auditioned at the high end show and his disagreement as to speaker design visa vie voicing, neutrality and live orchestral sound. He also stated he did not trust any of the current crop of reviewers opinions; something I wholeheartedly agree with.
I always wonder what people mean when they refer to accurate. As soon as you set up mikes to record an event so called accuracy is gone. The sound I here in the control room is totally different then the live sound in the studio. Recording is an art form. It is the creation of a performance envisioned by the artist, producer and recording engineer. In my case as the engineer it usually was always what I wanted. .Also regarding accuracy the mixdown also sounds totally different then the master multitrack. The mastering engineer  again changes the sound. So accurate to what. It is all an illusion. The in room speaker response for a speaker is different in every room. Bottom line is you find a speaker that you can emotionally connect with on music you love. Period.  By the way the Magico's are the real deal
Alan
Interesting observation. I suppose you could go another route if need be. A direct feed say, of a bbc or American broadcast of a live orchestra, operatic or jazz, pop concert . Now the big caveat:most likely the engineers TODAY.... Will not use a cross pair, blumlien microphone technique. It is not in fashion anymore. You can buy some older EMI recordings from the late 50's or early 60's but the mikes, in either case, are there naturally. 
Martin Colloms, however, many years ago, tested each speaker with blind ( curtain covering speakers in the listening room) live vs. recorded music and instruments in his hi fi choice publications. Some of those reviews were eye openers at the time.

Try if you can one time to get a broadcast of exceptional quality ( any microphone technique I guess) and listen to it through your audio set up with a pair of Spendor BC1's or a Quad 63 properly angled toward your listening seat. You might be astounded by what you hear... They used to call it real " drama". The stereo effect is something no less than thrilling!
It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
 - Mark Twain

HM1
 You are right
I come home from my live symphony concerts and turn on the stereo and marvel how close the sound is to the live event. By the way I use Maggie 3.6's setup so the speakers literally disappear from the room. It is much easier to hear how close you can get with a single instrument. However as musicians will tell you if you know the live sound you fill in what is missing in the reproduced sound. Still with a single instrument 5 different mikes will all sound different but will still pass the test "Is itlive or is it Memorex"
Alan
The setup For my 3.6's is called the Limage/hk setup. You can do a search for more info.
Alan
MM1:

Your use of "accurate transducer" tells me all I care to know about you.

Go fish.
just came home from my trip and caught a lot. I see all you ever cought in your life is bass and a bevy of red herring.... Tiny  ones at that! 
Far to many variables and subjective preferences to be as rigid as hm1 presents himself to be.  I am sympathetic to the "symphonic" experience as a gold standard, but as we know there are innumerable differences even in the great halls across the globe. What remains is the core fundamentals of live music...clarity, wide dynamic contrast, accurate instrument voicing/tone, unrestricted frequency range and zero distortion!  Not all of this is perfectly obtainable in a system, but one can try to replicate these crucial aspects of the "live" experience.  
Don't we have to start with how the recording was recorded? Some audiophile records and some classical and jazz records were set up to get a pretty natural perspective on the proceedings. (Simple two track recordings of a blues band, or man + guitar can be riveting-I'm thinking here of Hoodoo Man Blues or Chris Whitley's Dirt Floor). When I listened through Quad electrostats, (for decades), all that sort of thing sounded good, but it failed on bigger orchestral or hard rock (scale and dynamics). In addition, a lot of stuff is gimmicked in the process from the event (if there was one) to the finished product. So, there isn't necessarily anything 'natural' about the recording itself to begin with, but the trickery may be necessary to better create the illusion at home.
 I don't want to confine myself just to stuff that sounds good, or to one type of music- I can go from reggae to cello music to progressive rock to whatever. I want all of it to sound as good as possible at home. And in each case, the recordings dictate what I'm hearing, at least from the standpoint of "perspective." Getting piano to sound 'right' is really hard; far less weight, power and fewer harmonics if recorded with other instruments in a natural perspective- think about how much better it sounds when things are less congested and only the piano is playing. Or close-miking, which gives you the 'in your face' qualities of being almost inside the piano, but all perspective is lost- it sounds too big and too close. I think that all gets manipulated through multi-miking and mixing (along with EQ) so what the recording is doing isn't exactly "accurate" but the process makes it sound more real in some ways. But the perspective, up front or laid back, really starts with the recording, doesn't it (along with the processing it goes through)?
And, I do like my hard rock to be punchy! :)
Hard rock, amplified music is not a concert hall. An electric guitar hooked up to an amp and speakers playing on a stage in a " hall" is not or should not be portrayed as 'accurate reproduction' of the absolute sound. A loudspeaker that portrays your recording of that music in that fashion, in your home is not accurate, per say. So if the speaker in your system at home sounds like the amplified electric guitar on stage, you're not listening to an accurate loudspeaker. It may sound the way you like it to sound, but it's not a neutral transducer

Post removed 
bcgator....such a bastion of unquestionable insight on the human condition as it pertains to audio and a true master grammarian.  Now that the acknowledgements portion of our program is done, let's move on to hm1's rather meaningless, albeit correct, statement regarding the recording process and it's irreducible effect on the resultant listening experience.  We can not change what we can not change....move on.  There has always been variability in the recording chain.  To argue the point is absurd as it is outside the realm of our control.  As I stated, we are left with the fundamentals of music as is demonstrable in the live concert experience.  Of course, acoustic instruments would be considered the most accurate representation of said experience, but even an amplified concert shares some DNA with the former.  The common denominator(s) is zero added distortion, unrestrained dynamic range and full frequency extension.  One could even argue that certain amplified instruments still retain their unique acoustic signatures through the recording process.  Our ears know when something sounds live or not...still the best tool ever!  When you hear those unique clues of a live performance in a stereo system, you have achieved something very special.  Enjoy the process and play around with what works for you and remember to relieve yourself of the stress regarding things outside of your control.  
hm1- I don’t think you get away that easily. Please re-read my previous post: the question of "perspective" that you seem to be complaining about really starts with the recording. And much of what I described pertains to orchestral recordings and other acoustic instruments as well as hard rock. Multi-miking and mixing changes the perspective, even of the best symphony in the best hall. So, your complaint about gear that deliberately pushes the perspective forward or is more laid back seemed to miss the first (and in my estimation often controlling) factor in this- the recording itself. This is true no matter how "accurate" you judge the system to be. Much of what you described about the "truth" of the audiophile quality recording has only served to limit many people from listening to music they like. I got over that after years of audiophilia - I will listen to a wide variety of music, and admittedly, some of these recordings are not ’system demo’ material. Unfortunately, as the poster above said, we have little control over the recording process or product as consumers. I’m familiar with the the audiophile memes of accuracy, acoustic instrument portrayal, etc. I just don’t hold myself captive to it.
hm1 " ... if the speaker in your system at home sounds like the amplified electric guitar on stage, you’re not listening to an accurate loudspeaker ..."

This doesn’t make sense. If the recording is of an amplified electric guitar on stage and and your audio system makes it sound like an amplified electric guitar on stage, then your system is relatively accurate. Speakers aren’t "smart." They don’t know what signal they are being fed. They just try to reproduce the signal; the better they can do that, the more accurate they are.
At first I thought the title "Forward or laid back" was a a question for debate or preference but I now see it is really an adamant statement of "Not forward or laid back".  Neutral this and that.  Fair enough.   But why start a new thread instead of responding where the quote originated?  I'm guessing you did not want to rant all over someones thread.  That's a positive for a first time poster I suppose.  Thank you.

My main and essential points are as follows. If we assume a loudspeaker is designed to deliver an essentially flat or neutral response with particular emphasis on the in room characteristics of the reproduction, it would be quite obvious  that Acoustic  instruments and vocals were or should have been the test material that was used for final evaluation. Why?...because people are most familiar with the sound of real instruments and voices. Heavily-processed electronic synthesizers have no real-life reference of naturalness, since those sounds don’t exist in nature. Same thing for movie sound effects—no one knows what an Exploding Death Star or the Enterprise’s warp engines are supposed to sound like, because they don’t exist in real life. If that is a criticism to audiophiles who enjoy and use hard rock and electronic music to evaluate loudspeaker performance,  so be it. I do not trust their opinions.
Simple and to the point!
I already covered the essentials of "realistic" sound, but hm1...you are chasing your tail to some extent.  Speakers reproduce everything that comes before them, which is alot!  Systems and how they interact between their constituent parts and environments yeild a resultant sound.  It all matters and how each piece of kit responds is variable and interdependent based upon their individual electrical parameters.  Go listen to a system and decide if it does it for you....or demo your candidates in your home setup.  Basically, it's a crap shoot...good luck and enjoy the journey.
hm1 " ... My main and essential points are as follows. If we assume a loudspeaker is designed to deliver an essentially flat or neutral response with particular emphasis on the in room characteristics of the reproduction, it would be quite obvious ..."


This not only isn’t obvious to me, it doesn’t even make sense. It’s as nonsensical as your claim that, " ... if the speaker in your system at home sounds like the amplified electric guitar on stage, you’re not listening to an accurate loudspeaker ..."

Yet, you rail against reviewers, e.g. " I can not STAND most of these so called ’reviewers’ who have lynched the press with their stupid ass observations ..."
hm1 - with due respect, I think you are still stuck in the '80s. Most of us don't even bother to argue these issues any more. But, don't let me stop you. Thanks for visiting planet audio. 
If I am stuck in the 80's lol... I'm certainly glad that most respected designers and technicians basically still agree with my contentions on how they proceed to define an accurate loudspeaker; wise up!
Creeds: a loudspeaker can not be judged for its accuracy as to how it reproduces live instruments with recordings of amplified or electronic music .... It's not real! You may be a head banger; and enjoy it. But don't tell me that that music as recorded should be used to source the "accuracy" of live sound or a properly designed loudspeaker . Get a boom box and have fun!
hm1    " ...  don't tell me that that music as recorded should be used to source the 'accuracy' of live sound or a properly designed loudspeaker . "

I'm in no position to argue with you, hm1, because I honestly have absolutely no idea what it is that you're trying to say.

Sounds like a very frustrated audiophile to me.   Please relax hm1 and find yourself a nice hr2!  Your gonna blow a circuit man...geez
That's your problem! 
Electronic or amplified music sources.........
" If we assume a loudspeaker is designed to deliver an essentially flat or neutral response with particular emphasis on the in room characteristics of the reproduction" 
Since you've ruled out anechoic response as a reference, who's room is the reference?   Without a standard, there is no reference. Just your ears in your room and your subjective interpretation.  Fine for you.  But only you.
I think we need an intervention for hm1....I'm worried about him.  He's starting to babble and blurt out statements directed toward no one in particular:()
I would hope the designer would measure the response anechoically and within a somewhat average sized, every day room without to many reflections or distortions 
obviously.....lol... You must start with a speaker or sound producing device that can accurately reproduce sound energy and do it so all frequencies are represented and presumably smoothly balanced; hard to understand I guess

Not that hard hm1, but all this stuff isn't new or particularly insightful.  Just sounds like whining and generalized grievances aimed at anyone who isn't you!  At least Your last post was fairly coherent.  So what are your favorite components and transducers?

You said "most accurate and useful frequency response measurements of a final and hopefully well designed transducer should have its "in room" response curve as its final destination (as opposed to an and anachoic chambers readings)."   You are, I think, attempting to communicate that a speaker may meet an anechoic standard but, like an amplifier with good specs, may not pass the ear test.  It's not a difficult concept to understand but, in your case, apparently a difficult one to clearly express.
Mark Twain: it ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble, it's what you know for certain which turns out not to be true. 
I often zit zomehere in zee middle.