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If a speaker manufacturer cannot create a speaker that cannot work in the real world without having to create a 'perfect environment', then they probably won't be in business for long.
A good speaker will sound good in any environment, and will sound great in a properly set up room.
Just my 2 cents...
I listened to Dr Toole's lecture discussing speaker sound and measurements backed by blind, sighted, dbl blind, etc and take it or leave it 89% of random listeners of all groups pick the same speaker regardless of room! He goes further to say above 300hz a rooms effect on speaker sound is minimal. I can't imagine a carpeted room sounding the same as a hardwood so maybe I missed a clarification in there somewhere. I wholeheartedly agree have bought more than a couple pair of speaker that sounded amazing in the shop or owners home just to buy them and struggle for months to achieve the same sound at home. I've read threads where you speak of tune able speakers? how's that work progressing? mind you i'm not in the market for speakers.
Hi Steve, I’ll give you my take on HEA in general (briefly) and then talk tunable. As listeners we’ve all seen it unfold in front of us, but now is a good time to move toward answers.
You hit the nail squarely on the head "struggle for months to achieve the same sound at home". And most of the time the speakers (and other components) don’t click, and so we get back in that revolving door and start over with the next round of products. I came on the scene as a HEA dealer in the early 80’s fresh out of the pro world. In the music world I was use to tuning everything, even modifying studio equipment. Everything needed calibrated, EQed or tuned. No big secret right, every recording is made with a different sound. Then, Boom, out of the blue discrete hits high end home audio, and if you owned anything remotely resembling a tone control, balance, or even sub woofers for a while you were no longer "High End". Recordings didn’t stop being tunable (different), which was the whole reason for adjustments in playback. The HEA magazines in haste jumped all over "discrete" as being a marketing tool to sell and resale and even resale again to the same client. They never even stopped to see what they were doing. As designers you either jumped onboard or you got a less than favorable review, that’s a fact.
In 1989, in my HEA store I said "enough of this crap" and I started applying what I had learned in music. I first came out with RoomTune and TAS called it the "revolution". I visited about every HEA reviewer at the time and tuned their rooms up. In the next year I found myself having a factory and gained over 50,000 RT clients in 3 years. Easy to research this in the older HEA rags. Next was the tuning of equipment "ClampRak" and "AmpClamp" right along with that came the Tunable Speakers "Chameleons and Revolution Series". Everything kept evolving right up to the Tunable Room and reviewers were coming to TuneVilla to learn about tuning and I was also on the road teaching the Tune. It was still pre internet so I traveled non-stop. Then a few things happened in mid 90’s. Shortly after my first speaker review came out MGD (michael green design) vs Gallo and B&W, something happened that was weird. Certain magazines stopped visiting my show rooms. The behind the scenes gossip was HEA didn’t want to go "tunable". The high end had invested their money and placed their bets on big expensive chassis that produced One Sound (discrete). Tunable is the opposite of One Sound as we were demonstrating. Some designers came to me as friends and told me just to stick with RoomTuning, I was ruffling features and it was a matter of ad money. Keep doing reviews and following MG or have ads pulled. That’s when I started working again in the pro world. There’s more but that’s the history.
Bringing it up to date. Now the tide has turned from paperback magazines to online and anyone now with enough energy can be heard.
I want you to know I am a fan of the designers. I don’t think anyone is interested in making bad sounding products, not one. But we need to move to the next chapter or HEA will stall out. Listeners don’t want to keep buying a different sound, they want to be able to play their music collection to it’s best possible sound. Recordings are all different and we will end up back where we were when we had adjustability only more advanced now. I truly believe the big one sound systems days are numbered. Not because they don’t sound great in the right conditions but because this hobby is not about one sound.
Steve, you asked about my speakers.
Back when those few speaker reviews came out we did some production runs, I think 450 pair per run. I wasn’t particularly happy with some of the production decisions that were made without my approval, and my cocky self said these aren’t going to cut it as "A" stock, so a deal was made with Audio Advisor and the Revs were sold for pennies on the dollar. Funny now they are collectables. After those 3 or 4 runs I started only doing small runs, up to 40 pair max. During my away from HEA years I did between 10-30 pair (per year) for Tunees then I took about 3 years to really refine things. I wanted a speaker that was an instrument, even more then the past. Lower mass, real instrument wood and drivers that had mostly wood baskets. I also wanted to use even less crossover parts so you didn’t have parts distortion on the way to the drivers. I got it down to one cap, and if needed one cap and one resistor. There are other cool things about having a speaker built like an instrument. One, they’re super easy to drive and very dynamic. Most important they are built to be a part of the environment not working against it. There’s a lot of cool DIY designs out there that use the room as well and that’s the direction of the future.
The audiophile world is in a good place as we continue to simplify and cut down on the needless and harmful to the sound mass. Prices in this hobby are and will drop dramatically and we will be able to play far more music on one variable system instead of a few pieces of music on many one sound systems. It’s a win win.
I think what Bob was thinking most normal rooms won't need to be turned into a science project to achieve fine results if you have a great speaker, to begin with.
If the Prize-winning violinist plays in an elevator or Bobs TV room she
still sounds great.
Hey by the way which one of your adjustable speakers and which adjustment was most faithful to the Microphone?
I don’t have a problem with Bob. I have a problem with HEA pushing a volume control and that’s all. I have a problem with an industry not telling the whole story and charging people way too much money without a plan to deliver. I think HEA Plug & Play is nothing more than a science project and somewhat of a marketing scam that failed and is dying with this generation. I also think a much smarter hobby is starting to replace the amp of the month club and the hobbyists who financed the HEA discrete experiment by buying and trying many different components are disappointed that they can’t play their whole music collection and have been told to use the excuse "it’s a bad recording". That excuse will die right along with the ’one sound’ systems.
It use to be a customer walked into a stereo store, bought a system and came home to play their music collection. Then comes HEA telling a customer to throw away their variable controls. They play that system in the store for the fella, the guy buys it, takes it home and it sounds nothing like it did at the store. The HEA customer puts that one volume control system in his living room and next month starts looking for another component. That same guy ends up buying several systems, all sounding different, and still can’t play his collection. Something is very wrong with that picture.
A listener should be able to have a system that is compatible with their lifestyle, and have it perform to their personal expectations without having to dedicate a storage room for depreciating boxes.
Yep, I deal with the dedicated room hobbyist. The guy or gal who wants to be in control of their sound. It’s a different breed from the component collector. These extreme listeners have learned that the audio signal is a variable and apply a "method of tuning" that involves Acoustical, Mechanical and Electrical tuning. Tunees don’t have a problem with folks who don’t want to go that far, but we do question the whole "only a volume control" mentality. Especially seeing them spend so much money and then not even setting it up to it’s fullest potential and only able to play a few select recordings. Doesn’t make much sense to us who can play everything and play it any way we wish.
Johnny here’s something your statement overlooks.
"If the Prize-winning violinist plays in an elevator or Bobs TV room she
Only if her violin has been tuned and stays in-tune.
It’s a great lifestyle, big enough for all of us.
While I'm gabbing I'd like to give an example.
Tonight I was listening to Mozart Requiem on the EMI label. I forward through a couple of tracks so I could see how I wanted to layout the singers in relationship to each other and mellow the choir to a nice full body tone. There were a few other things I wanted to do stage size wise before settling in on the performance. Took me all of 5 minutes to adjust the sound and I was off into London Philharmonic Land. Most of the tuning was done to the CDP and one RoomTune adjustment. I listened to it tonight and will leave it play through the night and have another listen in the morning.
Could I have enjoyed it set the way it was? Sure, but why not set the tone and stage the way I want it. Or, what if I wanted to make a change part way through, like fill in the hall sound around my seating. I'm not interested in listening to a system interpretation, I want to hear the performance, and hear it in a way that makes me feel a part of the event.
Having the ability to make the desired changes without a major component swap out is heaven.