Wilson Audio !
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I also own Verity P/E and I know exactly what you mean. Unfortunately, most speakers that I've heard with a more forward presentation are, as you suggest, also a bit brighter in tonality. Some of the Pro-Acs come to mind as do Zingali horns which can get downright edgy as the spl goes up . The current Merlin VSM (which I also own) respresents an interesting alternative, but probably won't scratch this particular itch. You might want to look at B+W or Wilson.
I agree with Peterb. Actually a forward presentation will tend to be 'brighter' in the upper mid range. It can sound harsh on some recordings but that is what real music sounds like. If you stand ten feet in front of a trumpet player at a live event then you will know what I mean.
Distance tends to filter out these frequencies....therefore a speaker with a "BBC dip" will sound as if the musicans are much further away...less harsh and more pleasant sounding but less exhilherating and less of a "you are there" sound. A forward sounding speaker should sound as if you are no more than five rows back from the stage and/or the band is in the room with you. It can be an extremely exciting and exhilerating presentation. It will however not flatter compressed pop CD's. This presentation requires powerful dynamic bass to sound correct and not resonant reverberant bass typical of small ported designs with impressive bass extension in a tiny box. Proper bass is difficult/expensive to achieve in a small two way hence the popularity of the "BBC Dip" as it makes a little Rogers LS3/5 sound right (as if you are seated far back...first or second balcony).
I would add ATC to Peter's good suggestion. ATC's are voiced flat in the mid range, which compared to most designs ends up with a very forward but natural presentation...many will find this presentation harsh but that is because the majority of speakers out there are voiced with the more pleasant and less in your face "BBC Dip".
I also own the Verity Parsifal Encore's and know exactly what you mean, though their laid back nature is one of the reasons I love them.
I can't believe that they are not forward enough for you if you've tried Virtual Dynamics cables. VD cables throw the musicians in your lap! Which is why I don't care for Virtual Dynamics cables.
If you want to change speakers though, the aforementioned Wilson's and Von Schweikert's should be more to your tastes.
I owned some Altec 19's for a couple of years. The stereo image is fairly forward and the speaker (a horn with a big cone woofer) is not bright. Good tight bass. The forward part of the image was on a plane with the fronts of the speakers. I understand this is not unusual for speakers with horns (when they are done right).
Lots of suggestions. Thanks everyone. Couple specific response:
Wilson: out of my price range. I need to be able to swap the Verity for the new speaker without losing money.
Merlins: heard them, not sure they'd work in my room, which is sort of large (open loft style apartment). Also, the bass on Merlins was just too nonexistent for me. I don't like boomy bass, but there needs to be something there. The Parsifals are perfect in this regard.
ATCs: the active or passive versions?
Virtual Dynamics: I've done a bunch of cable swapping. It's helped tweak the margins, but overall the sound doesn't change much. I can't imagine that I 'll be able to move the soundstage forward that much w/ a change in speaker/power cables. Am I wrong?
Horns: others on AA have suggested some JBL and other horns. Not sure I'll maintain good tone w/ horns. I love the tone of the Parsifals. Just wish it wasn't so far away!
What do folks think of:
- Audio Physic
as possible speakers to hear that might fit the bill?
I think you would love Focal/JM Lab Electra or Utopia speakers with the Be tweeter. They have absolutely incredible realism, which is something I have never found in laid back speakers. So I know exactly where you are coming from.
The Electras are slightly faster and more forward than the Utopias. From the looks of your room, the new 1037Be would be my choice in terms of cost, frequency extension, technology, style and build quality - and they will love your amps.
ATCs: the active or passive versions?
I would go older passive 20's second hand or 35's (rare) for a modest investment to see if you like the more forward presentation. My concern would be that with the 20's you will want or expect more deep bass and this will require a sub. Not that the 20's do not have bass - they do and it is very punchy or fast - a pretty convincing kick drum...but they certainly do not do the bottom octave (20 to 40 Hz). If you get hooked on the sound then plan later to eventually upgrade to an active version. If not you have not lost too much in terms of an experiment. The forward presentation will take a while to get used to but it seems to be what you are seeking.
Before doing anything drastic you might want to experiment along a different
path. Try a professional quality EQ unit and liberally experiment with
relatively small boosts in the midrange frequencies and/or cuts in the upper
midrange. You could start out with a cheap Behringer unit just to see if it
makes any sense and if you like what you achieve move on to something
more in keeping with the rest of your system. You won't have to change your
speakers (or amps/cables etc.) and the EQ is defeatable when you don't want
Try a professional quality EQ unit and liberally experiment with
This is a good idea, however, one of the ways that designers achieve a "BBC dip" and yet still present a fairly flat on axis response is to lower the off axis response in the upper mid range. This drops the overall upper mid range energy. An EQ will not fix this aspect only a different speaker with wider dispersion will help.
A good way to tell if your speaker is evenly loading the room is to step outside and listen from some distance down the hallway - away from any direct sound. If it sounds totally convincing that there are people with instruments playing in your stereo room then you know the speaker is exciting an even sound field. If it obviously sounds like reproduced "Hi-Fi" then you know it is not evenly loading the room. It is surprising but the ear/brain can recognize this quite easily. The balance of the sound field tells you whether a piano could really be in the next room or not. An unconvincing sound field with a "distant" or far back presentation lets you know that the piano is somewhere else further away and therefore could not be in the next room.
For flexibility, Ohm Walsh 5 speakers have a three way close/medium/far "perspective" adjustment on them for the midrange that enables you to adjust the perspective accordingly. I prefer a more recessed sound stage with the speakers optimally 3-4 feet away from the rear wall, however, and typically use the "far" setting myself.
I also have a small pair of Triangle Titus speakers that naturally are more forward in presentation, yet not fatiguing.
I'm going to audition some Audio Physics in the next couple weeks, spoke to a local dealer here. Will also try and find a place to audition the JM Labs and ATCs.
I don't think going to an Arcam is the best idea, considering I've got an Emm Labs setup, which I think is already pretty forward sounding (or neutral as some would say!).
Dennis, Re horn speakers - AGon's resident 'expert' on horns and other speakers which might have a more forward speaker imaging plane, NOT just increased volume in certain frequencies which often is nothing more than selective brightness to inhance the appearance of greater detail, etc, is Duke, a dealer who has much experience with panels, horns and cones. He is honest and direct. He also just happens to be starting up his own speaker business. He posts here under Audiokinesis. If he doesn't pick up and respond fire him off an e-mail. I'm sure he will be happy to be helpful without sales pressure.
Newbee, thanks for the vote of confidence but I'm really not all that. Heck, I'm not even a real duke... but then you're not a real newbee, are you??
My preference is in the opposite direction of what Dennis is looking for - in general I prefer the illusion that the performers are far away, maybe because that's what I'm more used to hearing at a live performance. So I don't know that I can really take Dennis in the direction he wants to go.
Let's say that at one end of the spectrum there's a presentation that sounds like you're sitting at the front table in a jazz club. At the other extreme, you're sitting near the back of a large concert hall (in the cheap section, next to me).
Comparing these two, the reverberant sound will be a relatively weak up front in the jazz club, but it will be very powerful and envelope you in the back of the concert hall. Also, the spectral balance will have much more treble energy up front at the jazz club because less treble will have been absorbed by the room (and even the air in the room) by the time the energy gets to you.
So if I was shooting for an "up front" sound, I'd want speakers with a pretty much flat on-axis frequency response (no dips and no downward-tilt, but also no peaks in the 3-4 kHz region or else you can expect listening fatigue). I'd want either a fairly narrow radiation pattern (like a horn system), or I'd want to sit very close to the speakers, like within 5 feet of them ("near-field") so that the direct sound dominates over the reverberant sound. No dipoles, bipoles, or omnis. If you plan to sit close, make sure the drivers integrate well at close range - that would be a topic for another thread.
Now you know what's gonna happen? You'll spend a fortune on nice new speakers and set up your nearfield listening position and then you put on your favorite disc - and dammit now the singer sounds farther away than ever! What's happening is, that's the way the recording engineers miked and mixed her to sound. The setup I have described will help minimized your system's adding more ambience and sense of depth than what is on the recording, but it will also unmask the image depth on the recording that might have been previously obscured.
So like I said, in the end I'm not sure my suggestions will take you in the direction you want to go.
edit - on the other hand, maybe Peterb is right. Maybe Dennis the Menace would feel right at home with Mr. Wilson's speakers!
I agree %100 with Mrtennis. Be careful what you wish for. No speaker is perfect and once you get used to the forgiving, sweet, natural sound of the Parsifals, you might find that you have more problems with the change you are looking for. Of course, just my opinion and they just may not be right for you. They are never going to be forward.
I have a pair of Parsifal Ovations and, while I know what you are talking about, they are such a relief from the various speakers that have passed through my system in the last few years. I can't tell you what to do, but I do believe that you can get great sound out of the Veritys. I recently changed my cables to all Crystal Cables Micros and they are a great match with the Parsifals. A couple of recent reviews on Positive Feedback Online included Parsifals and all Crystal Cables. They really opened up with the change, more detail and air, and actually, to my ears, seem to be playing louder. I believe that the problem you have can be fixed a lot easier than trying to go the other way. Cables, source, amps and placement.... Good luck.
thanks duke. appreciate the thoughts. you're right, how the music is miked makes a huge impact. it's just that the parsifals present everything with a recessed midrange.
i know folks recommended the wilsons. i hate how they look, and they're wicked pricey for an ugly box. not sure i could get over that.
i've tried tilting the parsifals up, and out some, and altho that helped some presenting the midrange in a more upfront manner, the soundstage collapsed.
i had a pair of martin logan aerius i a long time ago, and altho they had many flaws, the one thing they had that i loved was a nice forward presence region. i loved it and lived w/ those speakers for 5 years before trying something else, and have yet to find an upgrade that i've been able to live with since then. i dont want to go back, my room isn't right for them anymore, and i'm sure i couldn't live w/ their relatively mediocre integration of electrostat panel + dynamic driver, but it's strange that i've spent so much more and found myself not satisfied.
the flavor of a speaker is so key, and there really are distinct flavors out there. not right, not wrong, but the preferences can make or break a system.
As I read through the responses, I kept asking myself, "What is it that makes a forward sounding speaker?" Is it midrange emphasis, treble emphasis, distortion, or something else?
The most forward speakers I've encountered are the Newform Research, line source quasi-ribbons with cone mid-bass. (They were also the worst sounding speakers from outside the room.) Next would be large panels, e.g., Magnepan, Martin Logan.
What do others think of the following hypothesis?
The beaming of line source and panels 'projects' the sound at the listener, and limits the higher frequency content of the room's reverberant field that exaggerates the localization of the source, thus making a forward presentation.
Sounds as likely as anything I can think of, but I'm not a speaker designer. I've never thought, from what I've actually heard, that bringing the plane of the image forward had much, if anything, to do with frequency response. I've had bright cone speakers, speakers with and without BBC dips, panel speakers and electrostats. None of them brought the stage as far forward as those old Altec 19's I had 25 years ago and they were not near as bright (if at all) as many of the cone speakers that have graced my house. My guess is that it has something to do with dispersion of and room interaction with the signal from the upper-mid range thru the highs. Be nice to know though.
The beaming of line source and panels 'projects' the sound at the listener, and limits the higher frequency content of the room's reverberant field that exaggerates the localization of the source, thus making a forward presentation
My guess is that it has something to do with dispersion of and room interaction with the signal from the upper-mid range thru the highs. Be nice to know though.
I beg to disagree with Duke on this one. To me the narrow or beamed presentation is a dead give away that the vocalist or piano is NOT in the room but at a distance.
Narrow or beaming speakers such as the DAL SC V or panels tend to favor classical music (at a distance) whilst wide dispersion speakers tend to favor a jazz club or rock group more intimate presentation where you feel the singer is in the room (or you are five rows back)
Of course I agree with Newbee that part of the answer is in the way the ear/brain interprets the reverberant field as being realistic or not. A second element is the way the bass needs to be dynamic for listening close up otherwise the illusion in the mid range fails when you hear the kick drum. This is a frequency/dynamic range effect that you can also hear on some bad recordings where you have the disturbing impression that the vocalist is in your room but the drummer is somewhere at the bottom of a tunnel or far away or is somewhere backstage. The third piece is reverberant energy on the recording itself from the recording venue or as deliberately mixed (more often the case today)...this gives spatial cues as to placement of instruments and vocalists and it may easily interfere with the illusion of an intimate presentation if it is not achieved in a convincing manner.
If you want a non intimate presentation try Talking Heads Stop making Sense. An intimate or forward presentation would be Eva Cassidy Live at the Blue Note or Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane". In fact the recording plays a big part of it.
Duke is not infallible. You are more than welcome to disagree with me. However, I don't think I made either of the two statements you quote there (of course if I did... that just proves that I'm right about not being infallible!).
My fall-back position is this: Reduce or remove the room's effects, and the perceived distance to the performers depends more on the recording. If they are supposed to sound like they're far away, they will.
not infallible... yet.
One other thing you might want to experiment with is the jumper cables between the cabinets. Even a short piece of wire in this position can change the perspective quite a bit. I would suggest some silver wire like Audio Magic or silver coated copper DH Labs wire and see what happens. It's a lot easier than going the whole new speaker route and relatively inexpensive. You can buy the wire and connectors and make them yourself if you can solder. Good luck.
i've got a lot of suggestions on both audiogon and audioasylum. before jumping onto a new speaker purchase, i've decided to do a bunch of auditioning of speakers that might be more my liking and are also within relatively close geographic proximity to me.
i've also turned the bass cabinets around, so the woofers fire forward, and removed the washers that were tilting the back of the speaker forward. this has helped some. actually, it's help quite a bit, but before i go off and say "this is great!" i want to listen. my experience is that long term listening exposes the speaker.
i've also been listening to a lot of different cds, and the recordings really vary alot in how they present the soundstage. yes, my eva cassidy cd is actually perfect. this is exactly the presentation i love. i feel like she's right there, and she even has a little bite in her voice when she pushes it. exhilarating! i also have a stevie wonder (fulfillingness) album that sounds awesome.
so, the repositioning will hold me over. and the auditions i think are a constructive way forward without getting myself into more trouble. system synergy is such a huge deal. a new speaker could really cause all kinds of mayhem.
Correct - I didn't quote you - my mistake. My comment was more related to how you consider a narrow dispersion is more of a forward presentation than a wide dispersion...I beg to disagree on that one that is all. However, as Newbee suggests ....there is a lot to a convincing forward or far presentation, it is a combination of many things and dispersion isn't the whole story by far....
John, A very interesting observation about why people rotate gear! Something I've done more out of curiosity than anything else.
But I think its not so much about the need for change to avoid long term listening as the failure of something you've bought to meet your preconcieved, but not necessarily realized, notions of what you want your system to sound like before you bought.
As it may well be the case with Dennis. He feels he doesn't have what he wants soundstage wise and he attributes it to the Verities (as opposed to his choice of ancillaries and set up) and it may well be so, or it may simply not be achievable. BUT what also is in play is that priorities change as one become accoustomed to listening to something new, either for the better or worse.
For example, at one time I couldn't really 'hear' the absence of well defined depth of pin point imaging - now I can, at one time I couldn't distinguish true resolution from tilted up frequencies, now I can. Having reached that level of experience I cannot ignor their absence in equipment including speakers (and set up), and electronics. Equipment I found acceptable 20 years ago might not be so today. We change and we grow.
I think Dennis is wise in his present decision to audition in his own home speakers/set up/ancillaries and see where he ends up. Frankly, he may find out why so many folks own and love the Verities, and find them difficult to improve on in any meaningful way - absent a specific need. He may even come to understand better the imaging issues that he brought up in this thread. (In the long run I felt that the imaging at the plane of the fronts of the speakers was more artificial than listening to a recessed stage and contrary to live experiences. And, for some reason, also shortened the sense of true depth which might otherwise be on the recording).
Facinating stuff......this is one road many of us travel with no clear understanding of where we are going to end up until we get there or run out of gas.
you raise a basic question as to the purpose of a stereo system. should a stereo system be as linear as possible or should it reflect the taste of the owner and change the sound of the recording to suits one's preference ?
which type of stereo system is better and why ?
i believe this issue has been and will be debated forever.
there is no answer. he who has the bucks can do what he wants. thus, if someone wants to take a recording with a deep soundstage and move it forward and color the sound, so be it.
Update... I heard both the Wilson Sophia and Audio Physic Avanti. I didn't feel either outperformed the Parsifal. The Wilson's were more forward, and detailed, and I liked that, but they were also very artificial, they had a very unnaturally truncated decay... every sound felt like it was being produced in a vacuum. The Audio Physics were much more natural, but the bass was too heavy for my taste, and the high-end was lacking air and transparency. That, and the Audio Physics didn't really sound that much more forward, though I wonder if how they presented the soundstage was mostly due to the electronics. Associated electronics were all top of the line Audio Research gear... which was nice, but I wasn't left really wanting to make a change. I've got more auditions setup... ATC, Usher, hopefully Piega, and if I can make it up to NJ, Duke's Jazz Modules.
(Wilson Sophia) they had a very unnaturally truncated decay
What were you listening to? Are you sure it was not the recording? Could it be the setup or room? I find this observation surprising on such respected speakers.
FWIW: It is impossible to truncate the signal. Over damped designs (such as infinite baffle) tend to sound light in the bass but very musical. Under damped designs (more common) have a "bass hump" but tend to oscillate or resonate like a bell long after the sound stops (these do not sound musical as they add their own timbre or "puddingy" sound to the music and have a poor transient response...you can spot these designs from the frequency plot - just look for a bass hump or bump prior to where bass roll off begins)
=> What I am trying to say is that a lack of a resonant decay is actually something to aspire to in a speaker as it means it is highly accurate. The only difficulty with these designs is in getting enough bass output to please people who are accustomed to prodigious bass.
This "clinical" sound may take getting a lot of getting used to as it not common in most modern speakers which tend to favor light weight cones with small magnets and under damped designs that have prodigious bass for a smallish box (great value for money with warm prodigious bass but lacking refinement).
Suggestion => Demo the Sheffield labs drum tracks disc if you get another opportunity to compare these speakers. The "resonant" designs will add their own coloration to the sound whilst the "damped" designs will not. Spend a bit more time auditioning the Sophias if you can - they may be more accurate than you think on a first impression! Another test is to try many different types of music and see which speaker gives you the greatest difference in bass sound => this speaker will be adding the least of its own coloration whilst the "one note bass" or resonant speaker will have a tendency to sound quite similar in the bass on most tracks.
If after a while/more experimentation you still find Wilson Sophia has an "artificial truncated decay" sound that simply does not suite your tastes - then save yourself some trouble and do not go to any lengths to audition ATC (a critically damped type design).
IMHO, you should check out Watt Puppys as they may be more in line with your tastes...a very good dynamic and forward sounding speaker with a lot more warmth in the bass than the Sophias.
I actually liked the bass on the Sophias, it wasn't exaggerated, unlike the Audio Physics which felt too large for the room. I also liked the presentation of the Sophias. But there was definitely something unreal about the decay. The Parsifals don't exaggerate the bass, have nice detail, but also have a much more natural decay. I told the dealer what I thought about the Sophias, and he told me that Wilson actually intentionally de-emphasizes the decay in their crossover. I'm hoping the ATC have a lighter, tighter bass like the Parsifal, but push the soundstage forward without making it sound artificial.
There was something not quite right about the Sophias, this was what I heard, maybe I'm not communicating it correctly.
While I am in no way as learned as the other responders here I would like to relate my experience with sound fields . It does mimic some of the respondants .
I used to use an all in one system . A Rotel 5 channel amp , Rotel pre/pro , NAD CDP and JMLab Electra 926 speakers . This system was set up in a 13' X 24' room with the speakers @ 1' from the side walls , @ 8' out into the room , 11' apart and toed in to the listening position 11' away .
Almost all of the music was presented with a soundstage that was high deep and wide . It seemed to exceed the rear wall and be outdoors ! I could easily pick out each performer , on the discs that were recorded well . Maybe an affect that would approximate the 10th row .
I had a couple of discs that would project some of the sound behind me ! Quite startling !
Another disc did the soundstage thing as usual high , deep and wide . Except for one song that put the singer right at my feet ! Very eye opening !
My point here is could the soundstage thing be dependant on the material itself more than the equipment and setup ?
Just a thought .
I told the dealer what I thought about the Sophias, and he told me that Wilson actually intentionally de-emphasizes the decay in their crossover.
I am not sure what the dealer means here. Any resonance will be controlled by the box volume, porting and woofer selection. Some speakers resonate due to the use of light weight rigid drivers (Ceramic for example) and these ring like a bell ( a sort of gloss or sheen to the music) at some non musical related frequencies that require taming with notch filters but are never completely absent (Audio Physics have ceramic mids in several designs)
Are you hearing something further up in the lower midrange crossover or upper midrange crossover that you don't like? I don't dispute your observations and only you can choose the correct speaker for your tastes. Crossovers are the main compromise in three ways. You may find active speakers sound more natural through the entire range, as there are no crossovers.
What I heard was in the midrange area, and actually, throughout the spectrum. Each note, each instrument and voice, felt dis-integrated from the whole. I could easily analyze every individual note, but never felt like they all came together cohesively in a musical way. It just didn't sound real. I don't know if it was the box, the crossover, the drivers... I just know what I heard. I also have a feeling the electronics played an important part, and from what I heard, I'm not sure Audio Research is for me. Neither the Audio Physics nor the Wilsons felt musical to me, though the Audio Physics were better than the Wilsons.
All that said, I auditioned Usher and Piega speakers today, and both of them were much better than either the Wilsons or Audio Physics. Same amount of detail, more air w/ the Piegas, musical, and more exciting and intimate as well. And although I liked the Ushers, I didn't like them enough to buy them.
The Piega's however rrrreally kicked serious arse (CL 70x). I fell in love with them and am so excited to have found a speaker that has that same transparency and cohesive sound as the Parsifals, but with a more forward, intimate and exciting presentation. Really awesome speakers, I can't wait to get them in my house.
hey Mrjstark... I auditioned both the monitor (218 be?) and the AC 10 Be. Upstream components were a Plinius preamp, a Cary 303 CD player using the solid state output at it's highest sampling rate, and a Cary CAD 120 amp in ultralinear mode. The monitor had big sound for a monitor, and altho the bass was prodigious, it felt forced and a bit boomy. The AC 10 be was actually less bass heavy, better integrated overall, and smoother up top, but still very revealing and detailed. It lost out to the Piega in imaging and overall musicality. The Piega was more musical, more cohesive, airier, and more detailed. All that and it's a much smaller speaker. The Usher was very nice, but it sounded a bit like a box, and somewhat congested. The Piega was really box free and even off axis sounded great. This was the TC 70x, not the CL series. Amazing for a retail price of $12K. Piegas I think are under-appreciated for what they do. I was floored.
Thank you for detail description and associated equipment (I am familiar with above mentioned gear).
However, I have not heard Piegas.....at least I don't remember if...or when.
Dennis, did you had a chance to listen to Usher Dancer 8571 II or Usher Dancer BE10 ??? I believe 8571 are in the same price range as Piegas. It would be interesting to hear a direct comparison between these two. I audition 8571 ones before, so ....I'm familiar with its performance.
It was a surprising experience to say the least.
NO NOT GREAT but heard some mixed reviews....some negative and I thought that they weren't that bad.
(but not for my money)
And Piegas...........well, I will have to give them a try.
If you are saying that they are that good.
Interesting ?!?! (better then Vandersteen Quatro or 5A ???? I doubt it but what you think)