Making speakers sound tonally similar with an equalizer


Can two different speakers be made to sound similar by adjusting their frequency response to mirror each other with an equalizer? I'm sure it's not as simple as that but would it be possible. 

Can one, for example, reproduce a harbeth like sound by doing that?

Just curious.

jaferd

Don’t know,  but a 4 band EQ has been a Godsend for me since my hearing is deteriorating.  

Speakers can have very different sound "signatures" e,g,

  • some might sound natural
  • some might sound "boxy"
  • some might sound "dull"
  • some sound "lively"

That type of difference cannot be rectified with an equalizer

If one speaker is brighter sounding, you might be able to correct for that with an equalizer - that’s about it.

There are even different sound signatures even between models within a product line from the same manufacturer.

In fact, I cannot even remember liking all models from a single manufacturer to date.

The closest I have come to liking most speakers in a product line is Tannoy

Regards - Steve

OK. Figured there would be some unique sound signatures that cannot be duplicated easily and I presume is mostly sound emanating from the enclosure, construction, etc.

In an anechoic space you can equalize and correct the phase of speakers by using FIR filters and make them sound more similar on axis than I think most people would admit, at least up to the volume where the speaker starts to distort audibly. In real listening environments it’s not possible to make speakers with different cabinet shapes and arrangements of drivers to sound indistinguishable because they radiate sound into the room differently and so the combined direct and reflected sound effect is quite noticeably different no matter how you equalize or phase correct. I would bet though that if you took two different reasonably well designed speakers with the same baffle shape, same driver sizes and driver placements on the baffles, let’s say a 5" woofer and 1" dome tweeter on 16" x 7" baffle, they could be equalized and phase corrected to sound similar enough under blind testing that most typical listeners and even a lot of seasoned audiophiles would have a hard time distinguishing them. Any differences that could be heard would most likely be from differences in the specific dispersion characteristics of the different drivers chosen.  

Short answer, no.

You can’t easily improve dynamics, dispersion or bandwidth via equalisation. Not without introducing additional distortion artefacts.

However you could make their frequency responses sound a lot closer.

In fact quite a few people already do this with headphones.

 

They simply dial in their saved preferred equalisation via the method of choice for every headphone they use. I tend to use some equalisation for every headphone I use. It’s not always easy as what can sound like an improvement with certain music/recordings can sound like distortion with other types.

 

Dynamic range matters.  A lot of highly regarded speakers have a lot of compression and distortion which is impossible to replicate with simple EQ.

Then the issue is that there is no single universally accepted standard for measuring the frequency response of a speaker in a room.  Consider a planar or horn speaker, vs. traditional dynamic. The integration of the speaker's signal with the room over time varies a great deal here.

 

I will not agree to making one speaker sound like another similarly designed speaker by way of EQ alone. Even if that were the challenge, specific drivers can be different as according to the magnets used, surround material, cone material and more. How would you replicate 'speed' or even extension if a driver simply cannot comply? In some cases, it would more likely become attainable if certain speaker parameters were derivable.

 Having said this, I used a program that tried to do just what you asked. I'm sorry, but I forget the name. Point was that not only EQ was used, but variety of other changes were produced with this 'program'. The trouble was, even though the different programming made my speakers/headphones sound different, I could not say as to how close they came to the replication of a chosen speaker or concert hall, etc.

 It was fascinating to be sure, but because I am not very good when it comes to technology, frustration won over curiosity.

If you are asking the question of high fidelity consumer equipment… no. Equalization always has negative impacts on sound… so while you might make a few gross changes… you are going to lose fidelity by putting a bunch of pots or digitally manipulating the signal. For high fidelity the only serious game in town is get the signal right, pass it as transparently as possible through the amplification chain to the transducers.
 

In a high end research and development facility with many many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment,  sure. 

Make no mistake about it, the fun you can have with a $300 Schitt Lokius slightly modifying/shaping the sound of your speakers a no brainer.  No, of course it won’t change the sound of one speaker to sound like another.

While I say EQ's are a bad way to try to make one speaker sound like another, I've also seen Stereophile adopt B&W speakers as their reference, and Golden Ear matched it and got rave reviews... so... maybe there's something to it.

I’ve owned many speakers and they all sound different. I would say very difficult or impossible. Maybe if the speakers are in the same line- cabinet materials, driver materials, crossover components, etc. otherwise too many variables. I suppose frequency is frequency so there is an argument for it, but I say no way.

You might have better luck with a Realiser A16 and headphones trying to replicate certain speakers.

IMO no you can bandaid but can’t replicate something better. I had the Lyngdorf 2170 and it made Tekton Double Impacts sound amazing when room correction engaged. The difference with some other speakers was actually worse than natural. So dunno. My guess is efficient speakers are much easier to voice with EQ or room correction. 

I should have said it would be hard to replicate but with a great room correction software you can improve like a MF. Depending on the speaker. EQ however ehhh I tried that a little and your always dicking with it. 

No.  An equalizer can not remedy slow transient response, compressed dynamics or many other characteristics.

Lots of EQ experts here, but how many of them have actually used one? Great review on the Loki Mini+ in this months TAS. I hope all the “experts” here read the review.

I use my loki to reduce some of the digital glare and to also add midbass to my proac d30r.  Without it, string instruments sound a bit anemic. Much cheaper than to replace the speakers imo.

 

Roon has an eq feature. I tried to remove a frequency in the 2-4k range that drove me crazy with a pair of speakers. I found it actually ended up being a resonance or property of too much being expected of a bass driver playing this frequency. I also tried the Fozgate tube buffer on another speaker, but it took away from the transparency of the system- added more connections, wires, outlets, etc. 

Roon does have an EQ headphone catalog where they've tried to match the sound of various headphones. Interesting feature- anyone payed with that?

It would be great if we could buy a $5,000 speaker and add the Alexia EQ, or change that EQ to the Rockport Lyra for the day. I'd like an 8 foot pair of horn please.

Lots of EQ experts here, but how many of them have actually used one? Great review on the Loki Mini+ in this months TAS. I hope all the “experts” here read the review.

I have used various DEQX preamp/DSP units for seventeen years with my tri-amplified fully horn loaded DIY speakers so I feel qualified to answer.  I still say no.

@asctim 

I would bet though that if you took two different reasonably well designed speakers with the same baffle shape, same driver sizes and driver placements on the baffles, let’s say a 5" woofer and 1" dome tweeter on 16" x 7" baffle, they could be equalized and phase corrected to sound similar enough under blind testing that most typical listeners and even a lot of seasoned audiophiles would have a hard time distinguishing them.

 

I guess you could say the same about a lot of speakers put to a blind listening test.

Anyway, I don't think anyone is actually suggesting you can make 2 different speakers sound the same, only more similar in frequency response.

Whatever else, tonal balance is still a pretty important part of a speaker's sound, and it's good to know that adjustments can be made.

You might say that a flat pair of speakers in a flat room doesn't need tonal correction, but not everyone has that luxury.

I can recall an enthusiastic review for the diminutive Harbeth P3 where the reviewer felt it sounded remarkably similar to the vastly larger M40, just missing the (all important?) bottom octave.