Neither, for me the biggest importance is tone. Don't care much about resolution, but fullness of sound would be pretty important.
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It's not an either or question to me. If it is full sounding but does not resolve harmonic and spacial information, this is a shortcoming. If it resolves spacial information and sounds say, lean or veers in that direction this is a shortcoming. We all hear things and value them to varying degrees. There are MANY other aspects to include besides the two you mention. Overall I want natural musical and spacial resolution and the low level information on the recording, natural timbre and tone neither overly rich but definitely not lean, natural dynamic contrasts. In other words, I want the music to sound convincing. The above items are ALL equally important for that to be realized IMHO. I find too much richness or fullness to become as fatiguing as leanness. It's all about balance and this is the hardest part.
Gotta do both pretty well and sound good overall. Lots of good affordable gear is capable of both.
The main keys to both together is often getting a good integration with room acoustics and an amp that is 100% up to the task of driving the speakers to the max. Power needed to do this with many modern speaker designs, especially at higher volume levels and with many modern "louder" recordings in particular is often underestimated.
After that is done well, the rest is more or less "fine tuning" the sound. Everything else will have an impact in all ways and no two combos are likely to sound exactly the same, so individual preferences come into play to a large extent, assuming gear is good quality in general.
I actually agree with the OP's premise - that it's almost always a trade off. More "warmth" in the upper bass ("fullness") tends to obscure resolution in the lower mids to some degree. I also agree with Viridian that tone trumps all.
In my main system, I employ traditional, dynamic speakers from Merlin - which maximize resolution at the expense of (a bit of) fullness/warmth, and Verity - which offer more fullness/warmth at the expense of (a touch of) resolution.
Some A'goners seem to find the Merlins too "lean", but it's rare that I have a problem with their tonal balance. On most material, they're great. Same with the Verity: It's very rare that I'd ever crave more resolution. Yet, side by side, each speaker does illustrate the other's strength and weakness.
Dipoles and omnis can skin the cat a different way. Purportedly, the lightweight drivers of a planar (I own Maggies, too) provide resolution, while the reflected energy provides a sense of fullness. If an omni (eg Ohm) is voiced a little lean, you get a similar effect; resolution fleshed out with reflected energy. Some might argue that the latter (reflected energy) ends up obscuring the former (high resolution direct signal), but IME, that's highly room and set-up dependent.
All three approaches have their appeal, but most often I end up trying to split the baby with the Ohms.
Like Virdian, I want something close to authentic tone reproduction. Add clarity to the mix and I'm happy. I guess that puts resolution in the second ranking and fullness is down a bit on the list.
Come to think of it, I don't believe fullness can ever realistically be achieved since it would require quite a large and powerful set up. One can hint at it or design a speaker to favor that part over others but it would be at the expense of something else.
All the best,
If I could choose only one, well then... when I listen to jazz (which is 50% of my listening) then I choose fullness (size, palpable presence, body, heft, etc). Small ensembles need that richness.
When I listen to classical chamber music --- about 30% of my listening --- again I choose fullness. When I listen to symphonic music (20% of what I listen to) --- then resolution is needed to delineate all the complex passages of the multiple instruments.
So... seems to me it depends a good deal on what type of music one has in view. Of course... having both is awesome.
"Some might argue that the latter (reflected energy) ends up obscuring the former (high resolution direct signal), but IME, that's highly room and set-up dependent."
I'm in the opposite camp.
Sound (including detail) is a 4-d (including time dimension) phenomenon, not 3 or 2.
Most recordings have spatial cues captured in the sound. I view being able to hear those properly reconstructed (in 4 dimensions) as part of being able to hear the detail effectively. Soundstage and imaging are the things most commonly cited that enable this.
That cannot happen without reflected sound. Try to get a "soundstage" and imaging from speakers set up outdoors for proof. OR from most conventional head or ear phones.
Delivering the sonic spatial cues present as best as possible is ALL about room and setup (also listening position and associated timing between direct and reflected sound) as Marty indicated. This is the case with all speakers, directional, bi, omni, whatever. How to accomplish best with each will vary.
The key is to get the timing of the reflected sound correct correct so that they are delivered accurately. Not addressing this along with all the other aspects of setup is a common problem. Detail will be masked otherwise, more with some recording than others, but to some extent with most all.
Regarding dimensionality and detail, go see a modern visually detailed/exciting movie in both hi res 2-d and 3-d. WHich enables you to focus in on the details as needed better? Same applies to recorded sound.
Precision, accuracy, quality, innovation of recording art, sound effects captured and emphisized, sound recording art specific to certain music, band, performer or orchestra... That what I would look from the original source. From the playback I don't want to miss any of above, but very often it's not possible. Many vintage records would describe methods of recording and placement of the mikes. It's interesting to read off its jackets, great to hear and compare with maximum precision.
Fullness is like foolness that either present or not on the original source. For this I join those who supports an authentic tone of reproduction.
Clarity is my crazyness. Plus perect treble. The rest can be merely very good, but thses two things: Clarity and perfect treble are must haves for me.
Bryston 4B-SST² and Furman REF20i conditioner.. The VAC Standard u iuse to buffer digital gear is a great.
The Pangea powercords give back the mid bass the conditioners take away..
So for me it is resolution first.. and IMO 'fullness' is usually a FLAW, indicating a midrange bump so it sounds fat. bloated..
All other parameters being equal, I would lean toward the fullness side. This is another way of asking detail (resolution) or musicality (fullness).
I have gone in both directions, but I find that when I go towards musicality my listening sessions last longer. When I have leaned towards resolution, it can be intoxicating for demoing gear to friends, but ultimately, I find that listener fatigue starts setting in sooner and sooner, and my listening sessions start becoming shorter. As always, YMMV.
My experience in general is similar to Jmcgrogan2's.
My longest listening sessions tend to be with my speakers
that sound fuller. I am able to enjoy the music more for
longer periods of time.
Listening to/for "resolution" is harder work
mentally and requires more "attention to detail"
(no pun intended) and focus. It has its own rewards but I
find I'm ready to take a
break sooner. Fullness provides easy musical satisfaction to
just soak in and is
conducive to a more relaxed experience just enjoying the
music. The detail becomes a supplemental thing to enjoy
either more or less as desired as the music unfolds.
fullness of sound could mean a lot of things
I have often wondered if a system has perfect dynamic range (impossible I know) would that not mean it would have to also have perfect resolution because you need those absolute tiny bits of information to achieve the lower dynamic range.
In other words dynamic range is important to me and more important than either fullness or resolution.
I did not mean to steal the post OP...
I want the speaker to sound as close as possible to what I hear in live jazz concerts and symphony halls. This means natural warmth (not bloat) quick transients, but no brightness and as transparent from top to bottom as possible with great inner detail. You should be able to get all this at low or high volumes. Pin point imaging, depth, width all fall into play when you get all the other parameters, unless of course you are using omnidirectional speakers, which never seem to have precisely focused images. I also don't want the speaker to be a one guy or gals speaker were the sound is only good sitting in the middle. The speaker should be efficient and easy to drive and have beautiful WAF.
There's no strict audiophile vocabulary so people will naturally apply different meanings to terms. In the spirit of the OP where it's either/or I'll take fullness. I've heard too many components that in the name of resolution and detail are presenting the sound as bright, lean, thinner and bleached. Strip away the true fullness and body of instruments and you're left with an artificial, canned, unconvincing replica of the music.
The good news is that both resolution (natural) and realistic fullness/body are certainly achievable with some well implemented components. We can have resolution and fullness simultaneously.
Although the subject line of this thread pertains to imaging and soundstaging, I think that the OP and others will find it to be relevant and of interest. My priorities, as listed in that thread in descending order of importance and based on terminology specified by that thread's OP, are:
1. timbreAs others have noted above, these kinds of terms will be defined differently by different audiophiles. That is perhaps especially true in the case of "fullness." But however it may be defined, it seems to me that "body," as referenced by Charles and Robsker, is one of it's essential ingredients, while also being an essential ingredient of timbre, which is no. 1 on my list and the lists of several others in the referenced thread.
While the majority of posters claim to favor fullness over resolution (for the most part)then why are there so many complaints of harsh systems and posts about how to tame a bright or forward sound? Unfortunately, people are seduced by systems that are highly resolving (in the negative sense)in that they can "hear things they haven't heard before in the recording" and end up with a system that eventually sounds too annoying.
As in relationships with people, as one matures they (hopefully) learn that everyone and everything has faults and you have to know the faults you can live with and those you can't.
I think we all know that the question is simplistically worded and that most audiophiles seek, or claim to seek, a balance between resolution and fullness. The point I was trying to make is that so many people claim to value fullness, but when purchasing time comes, they purchase components based on perceived resolution.
But, not to avoid the question, badly-worded as it may be, I would have to say yes, between the evils of (excessive) fullness and (annoying) resolution, I would choose fullness.
A lot of what you are looking for comes from your preamp IMO. The preamp has to send a signal through your speakers that is quite, filters noise to provide a blacker background. It has to provide the soundstage depth and width, it then has to have dimension, clarity, detail, tone and the right space. Then balance top to bottom presentation so that it all blends seamlessly. The right preamp will let you system sound good with whatever speaker you choose. The speaker then becomes more of a fine tuning of the front end of you system and your room.
I think this is the very first time, ever, that I disagree with, or don't understand a comment by Almarg, whose posts are always a model of clarity and sanity. When I read the subject line, imaging and soundstaging were probably the last things I thought of. I also don't understand why many feel that if one has resolution it has to also mean lack of fullness.
While resolution certainly affects soundstaging, I have heard many speakers that have good tonal resolution but poor spatial resolution. I value tonal resolution above all else (except micro-dynamics which is first in my book), and while I love a good soundstage as much as anyone else, I need my system to have good tonal resolution even when I am sitting nowhere near the sweet spot, which is how I do much of my listening.
I think part of the problem, like in the "what is neutrality" discussions, is that fullness is thought of as something that one adds to the sound via choice or tuning of components, and that resolution is the absence of fullness. Music has a lot of natural fullness and is something that should be considered a positive result of good resolution. Good resolution reveals the natural and very rich harmonic information in the sound of musical instruments and that is where natural fullness comes from. You can't have too much resolution. Systems that sound thin and thread bare (as many do) often sound that way because there is harmonic information that is missing, so one gets the impression of high resolution because what is there is highlighted due to the absence of other information in the balance. My Stax F-81's are a case in point. These electrostats have little bass to speak of, yet have the most naturally full midrange and highs that I have ever heard; they have great tonal (harmonic) resolution. Conversely, I have heard speakers that have very full bass and still sound thin and threadbare through the midrange which is where most of the music is.
Thanks for the nice words. I'm not sure if it was clear to you that my reference to the subject line of "this thread" as pertaining to imaging and soundstaging had the words "this thread" hyperlinked. What I was saying is that ALTHOUGH the subject line of that OTHER thread referred to imaging and soundstaging, I felt that much of the discussion it contained had relevance to the subject matter of this thread.
As for the rest of your post just above, I agree 100% with all of it, and you make great points IMO. The upshot of my post was that IMO realistic reproduction of timbre is the no. 1 criterion in quality music reproduction. Per your excellent explanation, that requires BOTH "fullness" and resolution, and good resolution is a necessary ingredient if realistic fullness is to be achieved.
You are so correct when you say you can't have "too"much resolution. I've believed for a long time that there's no such thing as too much resolution or transparency. The more the better as it just results in less veiling of what you hear.
When people say too much I think they're referring to pseudo detail and resolution which is a artificial presentation that is bright, thin, edgy and lean and this is mistakenly called transparency ( or even worse referred to as accurate). Natural sound can't be too much(live voice or acoustic instruments) , but artificial certainty can be .
I think this http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/sound/timbre.html might clear up some of the misunderstandings. It's what our ears perceive as natural that allows us to enjoy the moment and all of is somewhat tied together.
All the best,
Excellent comments and thoughts by all participants. Frogman, you should be an equipment AND music reviewer. Your explanations are always so lucid and clear that even a layman reading these threads in which you are a participant could understand. I'm just so envious of your skills at communicating your thoughts on matters to the written word, you have a true gift for this my friend.
I think I saw neutrality only pop up on one post, but naturalness showed up on that same post and a few others. I believe naturalness addresses the timbre and tonality mentioned and, is for me too, very important. Neutrality, in my mind, is unabtainable (as a true musical reproduction). All equipment is on one side or the other of absolute neutral. Definition (which includes some soundstage depth) and fullness are the side where I lean. At my age, resolution, transparency, air and the like are things I HAVE to listen for rather than simply enjoy.