RA Labs. These were done by Roy Allison in the 90's. They excel at acoustic music, especially the female voice.
8 responses Add your response
That, my friend, is an impossible question to answer. The reason is that each of us has our sonic priorities listed in a different order. Some of this ordering is conscious and other parts of it are subconscious.
Take a very simple example. You mention "super deep bass." The lowest note on a typical double bass is E1 which is about 41 Hz. Lots of speakers will give a credible rendering of that note. However, that is at or just below the lower end of things for many speakers (especially the smaller ones). You apparently have this one factor further toward the top of your list than it is on mine.
On the other hand, I am probably more sensitive about different issues. I've heard lots of speakers with high end energy that simply sounds harsh and gritty to me. Some one else may hear that and find it "revealing."
As such, different people are going to give you different answers depending on the characteristic being discussed.
A second part of that equation is the recording. Very few modern recordings don't involve some degree of multi-miking and subsequent mixing and processing. This may make the recording sound better in some respects, but it rarely adds to a sense of live accuracy.
Even if you have a perfect recording (which doesn't exist) look at what you're asking the speaker to do. A speaker may have a balanced response and be very good in many respects, but it will never have the same radiation pattern as the instruments it is reproducing. A piano doesn't radiate sound the same way as a guitar, or trumpet, or drum, etc. No speaker can change its dispersion from moment to moment based on the instrument (or group of instruments) being played.
In short, it is impossible at the current state of audio technology to capture every characteristic of live sound in a recording and then have it come back out of a box with every characteristic intact in your room. That leaves you to figure out which set of complex compromises gives you the best results for recreating a convincing illusion. What convinces you may leave me less than satisfied, and vice versa.
Speakers is one issue but the recordng is another ....you mentioned drums and these are always compressed on recordings ( to protect consumer equipment that can't handle the dynamics of real instruments )...ATC main montors and other big bad studio main monitors will come close as they are often used to monitor music PRIOR to it being compressed for consumers....nevertheless nothing beats the reall thing!
Check out Sheffield Labs Drum Track CD for something uncompressed...
I have a friend who plays drums...they "are not" an instrument that you would want to hear at full dynamic range (not for very long anyway)....in an typical audiophile listening room.
Very good point - if you exceed what the room can handle then it can becomes deafening. The loudest sound in the room is after all the "drum hits" and then the long tail of reflected energy from the walls in the room adds to it - this increases the RMS or average SPL energy dramatically compared to a drum set in a large open space (think 6 surfaces - each reflecting a drum - as opposed to only one in an open space). So the smaller and more lively (reflective) the room the lower the loudness level that can be enjoyed for a sustained period of time.
This is probably the best reason for "compressing" drums on audiophile quality media (drums are universally compressed on recorded music).