Must speakers have certain volume to sound convincing ?


Panels have no volume, yet some like them a lot. Horns are, well, horns. Small dynamic speakers never impress me, that's for sure. 
What do you think?
inna
In my opinion, "yes". If a speaker isn't adequately "pressurizing"  the listening environment it doesn't sound "convincing". In my experience I've found that there typically is a "sweet spot" volume - much like a sweet spot listening position. To low a volume or too high a volume simply does not strike the same "chord" in me as the "right" volume. And the "right" setting is also a variable depending on many things such as the type of music, particular song, and even the time-of-day/night.
My EgglestonWorks Fontaines do need a kick in the pants to sound good. For me, not that the room is inadequately pressurized but seems more like the drivers, which are quite robustly built, need some power to move optimally. Not so with my desktop Adam F7 Active monitors - they sound exquisite even at low volume.
I think this very much involves the psychology of each person and thier listening habits and enjoyment. I like low listening very much. I also think planars give enough info at low volume for enjoyable sound. Just my opinion...
BTW even my neighbors Sonos speakers sound clear and fantastic at low levels. Not as much bass as my Monitor Audio Bronze but just as clear and articulate.
I’m assuming by volume you mean volume of dynamic peaks.

Bottom line is some live music is loud and clear so for me speakers should be able to do the same. Otherwise I would feel I was missing an important aspect of being able to enjoy music fully. That’s just me though.

Music in real life occurs at certain volumes. Many factors affect that volume heard in real life such as distance to source.

Some do not like music loud or with loud dynamic peaks like can occur in real life. They are more easily "convinced" I would say.

Myself, I know what live music can sound like and I want it to be able to sound that way at home at least sometimes if not always (prolonged exposure to loud music at higher levels that might be heard is bad for the ears). It may sound lovely at lower volumes in some cases, but in many cases it will only always sound convincing to me at higher levels.

That’s because I enjoy and listen to all kinds of music, from soft and relaxing to loud and in your face. Variety is a big part of what appeals to me about listening to music. I don’t expect or want everything to always sound the same. Good dynamics is key for that.

So like most things it depends mostly because people’s expectations vary. That’s what makes the world go round.


I agree with gdhal. The system needs to pressurize the room. For the mood, the song, day or night. Even low volumes interact with the ROOM. My small system needs a small room, Main system needs its own room. But my body wants a remote volume control for those needed/ wanted tweeks!! Plan to add one to my Steelhead shortly!
" Panels have no volume" What nonsense. My 3.6's can blow me out of the room and with the right amplification the dynamics are sensational. 
Alan
I agree with Alan about panel speakers. They can rock.
I use horn speakers which are known to be good at low levels, but even they need a certain amount of volume to be really convincing.

Besides what Mapman said I also meant internal physical volume of speakers.
Panels sound nothing like real music, as beautiful as they can do. They are for dreamers not for those who want to hear it as it is.
As for horns, it's a different matter.
All else held constant, in order to be able to produce flat response down to lower frequencies, you need larger drivers in larger rooms. In the case of "box" speakers you also need larger boxes ie more internal volume. I think its that simple.
Right, size does matter.
Panels sound nothing like real music, as beautiful as they can do. They are for dreamers not for those who want to hear it as it is.
totally weird statement Inna. Sorry to read that your panel speaker experience has come up really short...

I particularly like horns because they can sound dynamic, lively, and satisfying at quite low volume levels.  It is just a guess, but, I bet that is part of the reason they are so popular in Japan where everyone lives close together and no one wants to offend or inconvenience their neighbors. 

I think there are quite a few panel speakers that sound VERY realistic and are capable of playing at respectably high volume levels.  I would never categorically exclude them from ANY list for any particular performance parameter, except perhaps, compatibility with very low-powered tube amps (Quad 54 fans might disagree on this exception).  Can soundlab U-1s rock, or Sanders Sound Model 10 or almost any Maggie? You bet they can.

I guess everyone hears things differently, but one of the greatest impressions a speaker has ever left on me was Stan Getz's sax and Astrud Gilberto's voice on Girl from Ipanema as reproduced by large SoundLab panels.  I'm not sure what Inna considers "sounding like real music", but that sure convinced me.

FWIW, I spend a few hours a day with an acoustic guitar in hand or (less commonly) seated at a piano.  I do have the reference at hand on a daily basis.
Well, Getz's sax and even more Gilberto's voice don't impress me regardless of speakers.
Everyone hears differently or processes what is heard differently? Assuming good hearing, of course.
Hello Roxy54, 
You clearly  appreciate both panel and horn speakers.  Which would you choose to build a system around if you could only have one?
Charles, 
I suspect it has a lot to do with how much damage your ears have sustained. 

I think any speaker has to play loud enough to:
1) sound convincing or somewhat realistic
2) portray dynamics
3) pressurize the room
4) reveal, or at least, plumb the lower regions convincingly
5) reveal ambience
One can always go louder but I find that proper matching (or just serendipity) can negate the need to go really loud and still be convincing.

All the best,
Nonoise
Inna,

Too bad you are not impressed with Getz and Gilberto.   Everyone has their preferences.  I happen to like the music, the playing, and the singing, but that was not remotely the point of my post.

The music/playing/singing is a matter of taste.  The SQ on the both the SACD and the Analogue Productions 45 rpm LP is not.  (The former was playing when I heard the SoundLab system that so impressed me.  I own the latter). By virtually anyone's standards (assuming good hearing), it's a very good recording.  By most people's standards, it's better than that.  When you've heard the recording on a well set-up SoundLabs system and still find the recording unconvincing, let me know.

Til then,  I'll file your comment under "not my taste in music" rather than as any kind of informed judgement on panel speakers.
I've found that different recordings have a loudness sweet spot where it sounds right, Peter Walker of Quad fame said this many years ago.
That sense of aliveness with all its tonal colours and dynamic shading is gold when it isn't driving me from the room, you know what I mean when your head is trying to tell you this is great and your heart is hiding under th couch, maybe that's what fatigue is.
















Should i make a you tube video for evidence panel speakers can play loud ? 
I think it is more about how loud you want your performance to sound. Scaled back, intimate, or lively and present. Some systems can pull both of these off, but me personally, if it is good, I want to turn it up  :)

I particularly like horns because they can sound dynamic, lively, and satisfying at quite low volume levels. It is just a guess, but, I bet that is part of the reason they are so popular in Japan where everyone lives close together and no one wants to offend or inconvenience their neighbors.

I think there are quite a few panel speakers that sound VERY realistic and are capable of playing at respectably high volume levels. I would never categorically exclude them from ANY list for any particular performance parameter, except perhaps, compatibility with very low-powered tube amps (Quad 54 fans might disagree on this exception). Can soundlab U-1s rock, or Sanders Sound Model 10 or almost any Maggie? You bet they can.

Different drivers as well as different architectures will play at low levels differently. One of the reasons I’m a horn-guy is because of the remarkable (in general) resolution at low listening levels. The fact that they can go out to "ffff" as well is an added bonus.

Many electrostats can do the low level thing as well. This isn’t about panels however. The older Magnepans needed a solid kick in the rear in order to come to life. They sounded a bit dull at low levels. I haven’t heard their recent efforts.

Low level listening (and whether it’s important to you) is frequently overlooked, and in no way am I diminishing the importance of playing at realistic levels, but let's be honest with ourselves - how often are you going to play The Who's "Live at Leeds" at "correct" SPL's?

Cheers,
Thom @ Galibier Design
...since the dust is being knocked off this ancient argument....*G*

Not a single mention of ribbons or AMT's, which I suppose one could place in the 'planar' column in a stretch.  Or my preference for a 'well-done' omni, which IMHO actually reproduces the 'original environment', but that starts an entirely different 'discussion' that can also go on forever, much like cables 'flavours', tube vs. solid state, TT/arm/cart combinations, etc.  It reminds me of boxers vs. briefs vs. none at the end of the day.....

There is no 'perfect reproducer', and all the 'upstream' hardware is flawed in some fashion.  'Perfection' existed at the moment of creation of the music itself, and everything deteriorates beyond that in the capture and reproduction of that moment.  We simply exhibit our tastes, preferences, and budget in the pursuit of one's goal to hear that moment, be it aria or zydeco.

And then there's the differences in the original instruments that created the music in the first place.  Stradivarius vs. 'student' violin, the latter in the proper hands can be made to sound wonderful despite it's shortcomings I suspect.  Much like us, different 'voices', subject to skill and combination.

I tire of the argument, another endless 'tail chase'.  Enjoy what you have, pursue what you must.....;)

Play on....
I definitely play my system louder, maybe just because I can, sometimes too loud. But I do remember way back when listening to my Pioneer HPM40's with my Pioneer turntable and Yamaha integrated in my late teens in my bedroom at much lower volumes and actually enjoying it more, amazed at the sound!
Stradivarius will sound great in anyone's hands just as great speakers will sound great regardless of what kind of junk they are forced to play by some so-called audiophiles and giftless musicians.
It's quite telling that no-one so far asked me why I think panels don't sound real. In any case, that notion of mine was not the main line.
It also appears at the moment that what I said about proccessing of perceptions may be an incomprehensible remark. No matter, let's continue with usual bullsh-t.
One hears with their brain not their ears. That was my point early on. We are all slaves to our experiences, education and preferences built over our lifetime.
Also it was mentioned "assuming good hearing". I would bet our hearing abilities across the frequency spectrum are all over the place...collectively. "When is the last time YOU had your hearing evaluated?" I agree with asvjerry. Also the set of preferences, qualities or the like ....with what sound should be is also different for everyone. Each of us will place a higher or lower value on such tags as "soundstage, dynamics, bass depth, etc"

Your hearing is only as good as the best HiFi system you ever heard. 

"Stradivarius will sound great in anyone's hands "--this simply is not true.  It takes years to learn to produce a good tone and to play in tune on the violin.  And not everyone who tries achieves that goal even with the years of effort.  So, no, it's just not true.
Right. We live for the chase and thrive on arguments.
Never played Stradivarius but once I did play a very high level custom classical guitar. It sounded spectacular, and my skill as a guitar player is rudimentary. True, violin is a more difficult instrument than guitar or piano, generally speaking, but I am quite certain that this makes no difference. I heard excellent violins played by lousy musicians.
geoffkait, Absolutely.  And then it was subject to the space it was in, how it was set within it, the materials within that space, the equipment combination....were there others in the room (audio show 'extravaganzas'), what was being played, any predispositions you may or not have held at that given time....
inna's 'processing of perceptions' seems rather apt to moi'.  I'm sure we as a group could essentially agree when a 'system' behind a curtain sounds like pounded poop.  It's when we reach the 'extremes' of our selection of equipment and the above variables I've noted that we launch into our perceptions of what we're hearing....this 'n that nuance, shortfalls, strident, 'forward', 'restrained'...we begin to parse ourselves into our subjective perceptions of what and how is happening to our ears, inside our heads.  And 2psyop is right in that respect....we listen with our brains, or what's left of them, given modern uncivilization and the daily dose of it.  We'll agree on some aspects, argue endlessly on others of what we 'hear'.
And then there's our 'listening systems', the ones our DNA has gifted or cursed us with.  I find it fascinating that there are people who apparently relate what they hear as colors....I can't do that.  My spouse says I can't hear her at all, but that may just be 'selective' on my part. *L*
I know my hearing is faulty, due to age and abuse.  I have mild tinnitus, which I only have full awareness of when I go to bed.
As for what's in my skull...having had an MRI recently of it, I can verify that at least there's something in there.  I got a cd of the imagery as proof of some content.  Function?  Well, there's something else we could argue about...;)
My personal 'system' can't be regarded as 'high end'.  I don't have the budget to pursue such, and frankly I'm not interested in the pursuit of it anymore.  I do know what I like to listen to, and have my own thoughts as to how to attain that, given the space I have to work with.  Within that envelope, I listen to what I like to spend the time doing so.
In some respects, IMHO, we're alike in that pursuit. *S*
It should be the music that's important.  The 'how' to do so is up to the individual to decide what limits to set, where one can 'stop' and be satisfied with that....
...and going back to the original query by the OP....

How loud is loud?  When the sheetrock cracks?  When the neighbors give up banging on the door and call the cops?  When the cannons in the 1812 ov bust the windows?  When you ears begin to leak?  When you can smell the voice coils give it up?

MHO, for what it's worth, nil or not...

Floyd in concert, loud enough.
Smashing Pumpkins, same venue, way too much.
I wear hearing protection when setting up the active eq on my system, just because white noise is irritating at high db's.
I take them to concerts (yes, I get stared at...).  Not because of the band...because of US.  That racket we make when a set concludes freaks my ears out.  WE are Too Loud.
I used to take them to audio shows when I used to bother to go.  Saved my ears for what I wanted to hear.  'Selective listening' in action....*G*
I have Quad ESLs and they are plenty loud. Quality not quantity. (Okay... I do have another rig for the loud stuff!)
I am neither a musician nor consider myself an expert in the field of acoustics but regardless, I think the question asked by the OP is completely pointless and his (or hers) views are narrow and being expressed just to start a more pointless argument. I personally don't care how many times s/he's posted on this site but his responses on this particular topic are troll-like.
asvjerry
142 posts
10-03-2016 12:09am
geoffkait, Absolutely. And then it was subject to the space it was in, how it was set within it, the materials within that space, the equipment combination....were there others in the room (audio show ’extravaganzas’), what was being played, any predispositions you may or not have held at that given time....
inna’s ’processing of perceptions’ seems rather apt to moi’. I’m sure we as a group could essentially agree when a ’system’ behind a curtain sounds like pounded poop. It’s when we reach the ’extremes’ of our selection of equipment and the above variables I’ve noted that we launch into our perceptions of what we’re hearing....this ’n that nuance, shortfalls, strident, ’forward’, ’restrained’...we begin to parse ourselves into our subjective perceptions of what and how is happening to our ears, inside our heads. And 2psyop is right in that respect....we listen with our brains, or what’s left of them, given modern uncivilization and the daily dose of it. We’ll agree on some aspects, argue endlessly on others of what we ’hear’."

IMHO you can forget about all of that as I’m talking about the sound of the system. All those things you mention are simply variables. Each person judges the sound of any system by comparing it to the best sound HE has heard, whatever the variables happen to be. Sound quality is not absolute, it’s relative. You don't even have to have a degree in neuroscience or analysis how we hear or how the brain works


cheers

Post removed 
The OP poses a very good question that simply defines my struggle over 20 years of owning Thiel CS5i loudspeakers. Until very recently, I was increasingly compelled to listen at very high volumes to achieve an elusive "volume of auditory satisfaction", moving through several more-and-more powerful amps to drive the Thiels to perfection at higher-and-higher volumes.

I often call upon my golden-eared wife to evaluate changes in componentry/cabling/VTA adjustment, etc. She demands a listening level so faint that I can hardly believe it, yet ALWAYS perfectly nails the sonic differences, both good and bad, at this "ridiculously low volume", and often instantly. This leads me to believe that the elusive "volume of auditory satisfaction" is definitely brain and not ear-related and qualitative, not quantitative.

Very recently, two equipment changes have fundamentally changed my listening experience in this regard. The first is replacing the incredibly powerful Krell amp with a vintage Classe’ Audio DR-9. Avoiding the usual audiophile adjectives, I will summarize the change as one that draws me into the sound of individual instrument timbres and micro-dynamics (qualitative) vs my prior insatiable need for ultimate macro-dynamics (quantitative), although the latter quality is still there in spades, should I choose to use it, with the DR-9. The DR-9 brings a beauty to the sound that is immensely satisfying. I would attribute this contrast to critical "sins of omission" by the more powerful, yet musically inferior amp.

The second change was even more dramatic: addition of a SR Powercell 10 UEF with the FEQ reclocking unit between my dedicated 30 amp lines and my componentry. The effect of lowering the noise floor several notches and whatever else this thing does to refine the sound is revelatory. The music just comes through with astonishing clarity and finesse at any volume. This has changed my whole listening approach, now consistently preferring lower volumes, not because of a hit to the sound quality at high volume, but because of the more "mind-pleasing" musical effect at lower, "VENUE AND CONTENT ACCURATE" volumes compared to before. This second contrast I attribute to critical "sins of commission" by my AC quality sans the Powercell.

I now strive to reproduce what I perceive to be the "venue and content accurate" listening level for each recording and find myself appreciating the importance of it.

In closing, I would submit that, if your system fails to provide you with ultimate musical satisfaction at "venue and content accurate" volume levels, it is due to sins of omission and commission in your AC/equipment chain that must be weeded out and my experience tells me that the pursuit of "more volume" is, over the long term, fools folly.







...and then there's the aesthetic approach...;)

Agreed, dl.  Sheer volume/db's and the pursuit of more of it in the final analysis is ultimately silly.  Rock concert levels in your living room or wherever is OK, but isn't what one would normally do, daily....IMHO...

Louder does have certain effects on nuance, but one's perception and processing of what's occurring (or seems to be)....should remain...'stable', still 'perceivable'....hmm, 'uniform'....
I appreciate the 'venue appropriate' thought; chamber music vs. small club jazz vs.*insert your favorite here*.  It's a judgement call as to the appropo, but a nice view to take...
Sounds like your line conditioner was your best investment....although the Thiels' + Classe' sounds like a promising match....

Enjoy.....play loud...;) *L*

I have found that how loud a system needs to be played to be satisfying is not just a matter of the type of speaker or particular models of speakers.  The nature of the amplifier is as important.  I have been at demonstrations where people who are new to tube amplifiers are amazed at how "loud" they sound even though they have a much lower wattage rating than the solid state that it is being compared to.  Some people even talk as if a "tube watt" delivers more volume than a solid state watt.  I don't think so.  I think that, at any given volume a good tube amp sounds more satisfying and engaging that one just thinks it is playing louder.  I don't find better solid state amps to be grainy or harsh or thin or bright (the common accusations leveled at solid state), what I find is that most sound a little lifeless and I tend to lose interest and concentration quicker when I listen to solid state.  In fact, those negative attributes are, to me, much more common to high-powered tube amps than solid state ones.

I have found that, as I have improved my system over the years, I tend to play it at lower and lower volume levels; I don't look at ability to achieve higher volume levels as a major objective.  As to "realistic" sound, I again don't think high volume capability is paramount.  For classical music, even if one could achieve comparable peak volume levels, one would never play the system that way because the quieter parts of the music would be WAY too loud (recordings do not have realistic dynamic range).  For jazz and smaller ensemble music, I actually prefer listening at levels below that of live venues.  I don't really want to reproduce the live experience of a rock concert at home either; that experience is really not about the sound (if my system ever sounded as bad as that of a live concert, I would junk it). 

I have found having a sub helps to find that Magic volume where things sound real, even if not that loud.  

Funny someone mentioned pioneer hpm series.  I used to own the hpm100 as a teenager also.  I eventually rewired that speaker bypassing the tone controls and binding posts and even today a friend has them and they sound fantastic.  Of course no where near my current "pioneers" the Tad cr1.   

Yeah, subs 'liven up' low volumes, even with larger speakers as mains.  Bass comes down to moving lots of n2o2co2ar about, and one can't seem to get it to move enough. *G*