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What does a speaker "sound" like?


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I was at a friend's place last night listening to his system. He has a set of Kii3 speakers. 

These are astoundingly good, tonally balanced, imaging like crazy, deep deep bass and they have a high waf to boot!

But the thing that confounded me was that they have inbuilt DSP. You can adjust them for your room or your preference. 

 

So I got thinking... what do these speakers sound like? How can you say they have a particular 'signature' if you can change their sound?

 

Then thinking some more... I run DSP in my system... so what do my speakers sound like?

 

When you listen to speakers in a showroom or at a friend's place, they will sound different to listening at home. 

Could you really tell just by the sound, that the speakers you heard at the showroom are the same as the ones your brought home?

Edited by Sir Sanders Zingmore
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Guest Muon N'

@Cardiiiii Likely not :)

 

I always find it funny that many will say I want it to sound as the artist intended. Do they need to know the conditions present when the artist was listening and giving it the thumbs up, likely studio gear and a studio environment.

 

not precisely the same as what you referred to, but in that situation you outline It's live so, so very different again and very, very difficult to reproduce.

 

I just go for what sounds good to me, regardless of what sounds good to the artist.

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5 minutes ago, Muon N' said:

@Cardiiiii Likely not :)

 

I always find it funny that many will say I want it to sound as the artist intended. Do they need to know the conditions present when the artist was listening and giving it the thumbs up, likely studio gear and a studio environment.

 

not precisely the same as what you referred to, but in that situation you outline It's live so, so very different again and very, very difficult to reproduce.

 

I just go for what sounds good to me, regardless of what sounds good to the artist.

And another interesting point is when we talk about 'soundstage'. How much soundstage can there be when a track is recorded in a studio? I'm not a sound engineer, but I guess that is down to the producer/the chap with the moving tabs. A live performance I can understand. I hope we aren't de-railing this thread!

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4 minutes ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

It would be nice if there was at least one reply on topic !!

Apologies, but coming back to my original post, you'd only have an idea of what a speaker adds (or sounds like), if you knew what the artist really sounds like.

Edited by Cardiiiii
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4 minutes ago, Cardiiiii said:

Apologies, but coming back to my original post, you'd only have an idea of what a speaker adds (or sounds like), if you knew what the artist really sounds like.

Are you not then ignoring the contribution of the rest of the playback chain if you are attributing the difference to just the speaker?

I don’t think we can isolate the sound of just the speaker as it/they work in concert with the entire playback electronic chain.

We could perhaps compare multiple speakers on common electronics to get a feel for the general differences between those speakers.

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8 minutes ago, rawl99 said:

Are you not then ignoring the contribution of the rest of the playback chain if you are attributing the difference to just the speaker?

I don’t think we can isolate the sound of just the speaker as it/they work in concert with the entire playback electronic chain.

We could perhaps compare multiple speakers on common electronics to get a feel for the general differences between those speakers.

Yes I completely agree, since the topic started with the speakers, I thought I'd refer it back to that, but you're absolutely right, it applies to everything in the chain.

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Guest Muon N'

Maybe the issue is the question?

 

No offence implied, Trev'.

 

I tend to look at the system as a whole circuit, maybe I'm strange in ways I'm unaware of  :blush:

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I'm not so much familiar with dsp in many scenarios but yeah... 

 

I've had my speakers in a few different rooms and on a few different amps. Also used to move speakers between multiple rooms and set ups every other day. 

 

Would often sound different or have issues but always the same signature and the same speaker to my ears especially my own speakers. 

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49 minutes ago, rawl99 said:

Are you not then ignoring the contribution of the rest of the playback chain if you are attributing the difference to just the speaker?

I don’t think we can isolate the sound of just the speaker as it/they work in concert with the entire playback electronic chain.

We could perhaps compare multiple speakers on common electronics to get a feel for the general differences between those speakers.

A good point. 

I guess we could broaden the question to include all components. What does any component in the chain sound like?

 

And then even identical components will sound different in different rooms. So we are left not really being able to say anything other than “this particular set of components in this particular room sounds like this..”

 

But that’s just silly innit?

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1 hour ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

But that’s just silly innit?

no it's not...

no matter what you do it'll always sound different, the level of difference depends on many factors so hard to judge

 

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The question then would be if you both have DSP, can you make both speakers sound the same?

If not, then that may be the sound signature of that set of speakers?

 

I would think DSP is just to dial your speakers in.

Edited by rocky500
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7 hours ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

A good point. 

I guess we could broaden the question to include all components. What does any component in the chain sound like?

 

And then even identical components will sound different in different rooms. So we are left not really being able to say anything other than “this particular set of components in this particular room sounds like this..”

 

But that’s just silly innit?

 

Well, I don't think it's all that silly, because as you state, a different room is going to influence the way the loudspeaker is going to sound/perform. With regard to the DSP, if you replicate the settings for EQ/crossover to an otherwise identical loudspeaker, they should perform the same or at least very close to it. You are then back to allowing for a different room and or different equipment, such amplification, source etc.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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13 hours ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

A good point. 

I guess we could broaden the question to include all components. What does any component in the chain sound like?

It is very difficult to ascertain the nuance of sonic character of a component within a given system. Always the sum of the parts

If we listen to a given component in a number of systems and hear a common house sound then imo it will be attributable largely to the particular component.

Quote

And then even identical components will sound different in different rooms. So we are left not really being able to say anything other than “this particular set of components in this particular room sounds like this..”

 

But that’s just silly innit?

Silly?  Absofreekinlutely not.

I am with all of the other responses to your question.

I think your quoted words in your post summarises it nicely.

Edited by rawl99
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On 22/02/2019 at 9:34 AM, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

Could you really tell just by the sound, that the speakers you heard at the showroom are the same as the ones your brought home?

 There is the preliminary question of the extent to which particular units of a model vary. If you buy the actual floor stock Front Left and Front Right speakers you auditioned, you'll have the same Front speakers. If you buy unboxed Front speakers of the same model, you will get similar sounding speakers to the ones you auditioned (well probably so similar as to be indistinguishable, but that is not guaranteed).* 

 

My answer would be no. I think you could probably not tell, at least not with any great confidence. That is because a quality Front speaker will produce a colouration that although different from the colouration of other quality speakers in a similar price range may be difficult to identify without other reference points. In the showroom,  the model speakers you chose to buy may have sounded the "warmest, "clearest" or "least distorted" of those you listened to. If you returned to the showroom the next day, and were only permitted to listen to one model speaker and then be forced to say whether it was or was not the model you had chosen the day before, well you could find yourself in a state of doubt...

 

Obviously it will be even harder to tell if the speakers are the ones you heard before if the listening room is not the same as the one where you auditioned the speakers.

 

On 22/02/2019 at 9:34 AM, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

So I got thinking... what do these speakers sound like? How can you say they have a particular 'signature' if you can change their sound?

Well you could set the DSP for the active speakers to "off" or "flat", as far as possible.

 

(From a quick look at the manual for the speakers you mention in the opening post the DSP doesn't seem to be an advanced room equalisation type set up with a microphone, like Audyssey.)

 

 

_________

* Even if the speakers ended up sounding indistinguishable, there is the question of speaker "burn-in" which could -- possibly -- cause an audible difference when new speakers are first used.

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On 22/02/2019 at 10:34 AM, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

So I got thinking... what do these speakers sound like? How can you say they have a particular 'signature' if you can change their sound?

Paradoxically (?!).... The speaker which has controls to change its sound, has the opportunity to sound the same in each room/situation.   So you may be able to say it does have a certain (constant) sound signature.

 

... where as the speaker system which does not..... could sound different in each room/situation, and the sound 'signature' could be inconsistent.

 

 

Of course, this assume that the controls on the speaker are actually used to optimise the sound.... and not just flavour to taste.

 

... and of course, some speakers (without controls) do have a strong 'signature', that overrides everything.

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23 hours ago, allthumbs said:

More to the point how did the guys that integrated the DSP capability into the speakers know about my living room and allow for the necessary adjustments that would improve the speakers' performance? Huh? How did they know?

Some correction systems come with a microphone which captures this information.

 

Other systems rely on the end use to have/gain this knowledge, and use the controls judiciously. 

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Just watching a video recently with Floyd Toole and he seems to think Room calibration with a mic is a bit of a myth. I think he is a knowledgeable guy?

Does that put us all in a tough spot, trying to calibrate our speakers to our rooms?

 

Around the 38 minute mark

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrpUDuUtxPM

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, rocky500 said:

Just watching a video recently with Floyd Toole and he seems to think Room calibration with a mic is a bit of a myth. I think he is a knowledgeable guy?

Does that put us all in a tough spot, trying to calibrate our speakers to our rooms?

Great link.

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