Nearfields for audiophile listening?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by sashafuckinggrey, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. saint.panda

    saint.panda Friend

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    Good suggestions. I think I'll stay with the P3ESR/Vidar combo for a while and put a hold on the upgrade train. Pretty clear that the next step would also involve an amp that has the Vidar's power but also more refinement in the midrange and highs.
     
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  2. yunie_

    yunie_ Acquaintance

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    Anyone tried rega with harbeth/ ls3/5a? Heard good things. I'm looking at rega brio
     
  3. Adrien

    Adrien RobS / neomax

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    You sit only 1.2m from your speakers? How did the Aegir not work? You'd barely be using a watt from that position. It's more likely the Harbeths are gimping what the Aegir can do.
     
  4. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    I am still planning to replace my Totem Hawks/Bryston 4BSST combo with studio monitors, but so far my experience with KRK 10-3 G4 was not very encouraging.
    But recently I had a chance to hear Presonus Sceptre s8 and s6. I really like them, they are much quieter than KRK, almost no hiss, slightly forward mids, good bass extension. I want to use those monitors with two 12' subs and RME ADI-2 DAC, and therefore I also like a low frequency filter at 60,80,100Hz with -24dB drop.
    Two questions:
    - any opinions about the sceptre s6 or s8?
    - considering two subs, would I be better off with s6 or s8? Crossover to 8" woofer must be a bit more challenging than to 6" although it is just my speculation
     
  5. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    What don't you enjoy with that combo? I really liked the Totem Hawk!
     
  6. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    Totem Hawks do not do very well with 4BSST, I do not know why. It is good bass, definitely, good imaging but the upper register on some of the strings recordings is just unbearable.
    One more reason I want to change the setup is I just want as few boxes as possible. At some point I realized how much time it takes me to pinpoint even simple problems decide on interfaces etc...That's for different thread but I would like to end up with RME ADI-2 DAC and powered speakers for two channel, and ideally one box for headphones. Two RPi 3 with Digi+ Pro as Roon Endpoints, I am planning to upgrade both to PI2AES Pro.
     
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  7. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    My experience with Totem is that they like powerful tube amps with quality power supplies -- adds some body and sweetness to the midrange/highs while keeping the bass fairly taught. The unbeaerable top end with a Bryston isn't too surprising actually ha. Less boxes is always handy.
     
  8. yunie_

    yunie_ Acquaintance

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    Anyone heard the new rogers ls5/9?
     
  9. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    I finally sold my Totem Hawk speakers, and for the last five days I have been listening, many hours each day, to Adam A7X monitors paired with RME ADI-2 DAC. From the first hour I realized that I am entering a new world. I decided on A7X plus two stereo subwoofers instead of A8X because I had some reservations about a crossover to the 8.5 inch woofer.

    Some pictures and the core playlist


    PLACEMENT:
    6 ft apart, 13 inches from the front wall, 2 feet from the side walls, on ISO-200 stands and on the top of two SVS SB100.
    Sub isolation: 15x15 Pyle pad. My room is an acoustic disaster, starting with large vibrating French door at first reflection points, the only thing I can do is to keep the door wide open

    Initial impressions, without subwoofers:
    PRO
    • Unlike KRK 3-10, Adams are very quiet, there is no hiss unless l put my ear few inches from a monitor. That was my biggest fear that Adams would be like KRK 3-10. Even at very low volume levels I do not hear any hiss. The RME ADI-2 DAC Loudness feature works great with A7X
    • Finally I can listen to orchestral music, I am mostly a classical music guy but 80% of it was chamber music. I was never able to figure out large orchestral works, the music structure and texture was unreadable to me. Adam is recommending 8h of burn and so I put on the Karajan Beethoven set, mixed with some pink noise, and I left the house. When I came back it was the second part of the Seventh (for the third time) and I noticed right away that I am hearing it differently. Overcrowding of the sound stage was gone, the placement and separation of the groups of instruments was better than I ever heard before
    • Bass is very robust and very well controlled, the lower mids have a great texture and it is almost, not exactly but almost as good in the upper and mid bass. To get any better I will have to wait for miniDSP SHD, backordered, and proper setup of subwoofers.
    CONS-
    • User manual is a disgrace, at least comparing to RME ADI-2 DAC
    • Unlike Totem Hawks, with Adams there is no off axis dispersion, that is a bit of overstatement, but they are very directional, I literally could hear the difference in a single sound of 8-9 kHz, when I shifted on my listening chair. That was somewhat resolved with better placement , and there is also a bright site of this.
    • when twitters are pointing at your ears you cannot help noticing where the speakers are, even with really good stereo sound stage I was tempted to turn on a crossover. Maybe more tweaking of the placement is required.
    • those ribbon twitters, the first encounter must be a shock for most of the unsuspecting users of hi-fi speakers. I parted with Bryston plus Totem Hawks to have fewer boxes and simpler setup, but I also wanted better treble. I am listening to better treble now, afer doing some work, but the twitter is very hot, it helps that it has a separate control knob. In any case, treble and upper mids need a separate paragraph
    • It is difficult to properly setup subwooferss because A7Xs extends to about 50Hz but not in a good way, mid and upper bass is very good but high pass will be necessary and that's what miniDSP SHD will let me do properly, I hope.
    • It was clear to me that I will not be getting the great mid-upper bass and lower mids tonality of Bryston/Totem Hawks but, I taking into account the cost of my old setup, I was prepared for some sacrifices
    • shitty recordings sound really shitty,
    TREBLE and UPPER MIDS
    After a lot of experimenting, and very primitive measurement of FR I settled on the following EQ:
    - A7X twitter: -2dB
    - RME ADI-2 DAC EQ:
    B2: 370Hz, +3dB,Q 2.2
    B3: 2kH, +1dB, Q2.2
    B4: 5.9kHz, -5.5dB, Q:2
    The big, wide peak between 4 and 8kHz is probably created by my room because it shows on every piece of electronics I ever tried. The treble is still very, very prominent, good thing for 69 old guy, but unlike Bryston/Hawks combo, it is not piercing, and it adds to the listening experience instead of screwing it up.

    The overall results can be best described by the fact that every time I start listening, I am involved and focused from the first to the last note. It may be a novelty thing, but it is more of it than with any other setup. Yes, the ribbon twitter sound is still a bit different but the macro details, stereo image, equal space given to all instruments groups that's what makes A7X very attractive to me. And because I am still buying the music I really like, this system offers some protection against crappy recordings no matter how "reputable" is the label or how compelling is the performance.
    And A7Xs are really good for fun music, on Qobuz "The greatest guitar solos" sounds very powerful.

    And finally, this experience confirmed my initial motive for moving to headphones. There is not way I would be willing, or able, to spend enough money to get a proper listening room, and speakers that would not compromise anything.
    Yes, headphones are expensive but with HD800S, HEK v2 and TR-000 I can taste different flavours of sound for different type of music, and enjoy superb level of details at the fraction of the cost of any high end 2 channel system. And I have been spending 80% of my time on headphones anyway But for large orchestral works A7X will be my platform of choice.
    Funny and surprising part is that, when I put HD800S on my head after four days of listening only to monitors, now there is much less difference between the 2 channel and the headphones experience than I ever remember.

    Finishing touches will have to wait for the arrival of miniDSP SHD.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  10. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Longtime lurker here/still reading all that came before. I have much interest in/experience with nearfield monitors, powered or passive, on my space-constrained desktop. The 6th set of monitors I tried (only the 2nd passive set) was a home run:
    • ATC SCM12 Pro studio monitors: purchased gently used, these are large, heavy 2-ways. They're sealed/acoustic suspension, which obviously works best here. I put them on Auralex mopads to cut down on desk-slap.
    • Wyred4Sound ST-500 amp: purchased this gently used class D amp based on many positive comments & good reviews (all proved true). I can only fit this by standing on one side (mfr OK'd this).
      • NOS DAC is MHDT Labs Orchid. Preamp is Violectric V281
      • JL Audio e110 subwoofer is connected via Marchand electronic crossover set to 70 or 80 Hz
      • The ATCs are 10"-12" from front wall
    With everything dialed in, this system is extremely dynamic. I've heard floorstanders w/less jump factor than these 2-ways. Bass is tight, impactful, very musical: it's easy to hear subtle timbral differences between all manner of bass instruments. Midrange is large & detailed without being edgy; treble goes all the way up, but again, is not tiresome or edgy. They can go way louder than my hearing will take.

    All previous systems in this nearfield setup to some degree failed to give a full accounting of mid-bass, never sounding as full as music IRL. But this system has realistic fullness/tightness from the mids down. The ATC "house sound" is high resolution/accuracy, big dynamics, and ability to let music come through. Essential for me, they sound just as good at low volumes as they do as top volume.

    I hadn't cranked the system for a couple months, finally did so again yesterday. GODDAMN...that was a brain-wipe. I've had big audiophile setups over the years but basically had given up hope of having a high-resolution, music-first system in nearfield/home office. And now I have it.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  11. yunie_

    yunie_ Acquaintance

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    do you happen to have other amps that you can try the atc scm12 with?
     
  12. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I do, but for practical reasons probably won't do so:
    • I have a 30+ year old SS amp by B&K (150 WPC). It has that classic mosfet sound that helps offset SS edginess. It has been installed in a challenging location in my sitting area audio system & I always liked its sound. But it would be challenging to get it out of there just to try in home office, where the desktop system lives.
    • I also have a 30+ yr old Perreaux SS amp (200 WPC). I used it as a subwoofer amp in our 1st house. I suppose I could wrestle it in here, but then the other factor comes up--there's no way to put this on the desktop w/o completely disrupting the desktop computer the audio system shares space with.
    I'm always half-looking out for this or that newer class D amp to try in the system (based on favorable comments & reviews), but it's not a priority. The Wyred4Sound sounded great from the 1st note and I feel little compulsion to change it out.
     
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  13. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    6 month update...

    Dynaudio BM12A are still outstanding. After rearranging my room and achieving great bass from them, I gave someone my subwoofer. No need.

    I still want to grab a better DAC/Amp for them than the RME Babyface Pro FS that I have, but I need the RME for guitar and mic and the work from home situation has cost me a bunch of money, so I'm holding off.

    These nearfields are my equivalent of the Sennheiser HD650 in speakers; I'd love some variety, but I don't really need something else.

    At this point, something like 75% of my listening is on the Dynaudios, and the rest is split between my Sennheiser HD650 and Future Sonics MG5HX.
     
  14. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Had pretty eye-opening listening session yesterday. Brought my own Neumann KH310 down to the lab of Reflector Audio, a local speaker outfit whom I used to help out market stuff. Their shtick is baffle-less, coax systems which achieve a "correct" impulse response over a large area. Last system we set up was at Chris Lord-Alge's studio live room for demo purposes, here's how it measured.

    Q1818.jpg

    All of this results in a very true-to-source impulse response and well, a damn good listening experience.

    Q1818-step.jpg

    You can clearly see that there's a pronounced leading edge in the step response and individual "ways" of the 3-way system are indiscernible. There's a rub, however. The Q1818 system costs 90kUSD and is friggen huge. It was designed to mop the floor with big PMC, Augspurger and Ocean Way studio mains, so it hits 130dB comfortably and that comes at a price.

    Let's look at how a traditional 3-way works time and frequency domain wise. Take the KH310, which uses 4th order LR crossovers at 600Hz and 2000Hz to divide up the frequency range to its 8.5", 3" and 1" drivers. The following are simulations done in REW of such a system with ideal drivers.

    3-Way_600Hz_2000Hz_LR24_PR_FR_cut_off_40Hz_LR24.jpg

    The bass driver also has a simulated LF roll-off characteristic of a closed box construction. As you can see, despite having a perfect frequency domain behavior, the phase response is imperfect. This kind of goes against the theory of minimum-phase systems as they state that the transfer function of a system can be viewed in frequency or time domain thus a perfect frequency response should imply a perfect phase response. The thing is - the above simulation actually shows a system which consists of three chunks.

    3-Way_X-Over_Filters_600Hz_2000Hz_LR24_FR_cut_off_40Hz_LR24.jpg

    Each of the drivers exists as a combination of LP and HP filters which is demonstrated in the phase graph. Their integration with one another is perfect in the frequency domain, but time domain remains imperfect. The effects of this are best illustrated by the step response graph.

    3-Way_600Hz_2000Hz_LR24_Step_Response_cut_off_40Hz_LR24.jpg

    Here you can see that on the timeline each of the three drivers fires off separately - first goes the tweeter, then the mid, followed by the bass driver. When we measured my KH310 monitors, they repeated the simulations almost perfectly. A fantastic achievement of Neumann engineers. Contemporary psychoacoustics are very unclear about the audibility of phase distortion. There are papers which prove audibility of very large phase distortions which are better expressed as group delay. Even then the audibility was repeatable with test signals and seemed to go away with musical signal. The ability of the ear to discern three separate acoustic events in a 1.5ms timeframe has pretty much been disproven. Anything under 20-30ms is perceived as one thing.

    The speaker I compared my Neumanns to is very similar in bandwidth. However it's been engineered to deliver a coherent step response, similar to the 90kUSD system. LF wise it went to roughly 35-40Hz and employed a set of four 18Sound 5W430 drivers coupled to a compression driver, whose model I can't recall. The target impulse response of the system looks something like this:

    Full_Range_Step_Response_LR24_40Hz_Cut-Off.jpg

    Subjectively the largest difference was in soundstage and transient coherence. Make no mistake, on their own my KH310 sound absolutely fab. Only when compared to the other speakers, their soundstage seemed about as wide, but lacking depth. Mind you, they were driven from a DCS Puccini DAC, so the source wasn't to blame. The competitors used a Hypex Fusion amp plate and their newest ADC/DAC/DSP board which is anything but exotic. As far as I could tell the DSP wasn't doing any time domain correction because overall electronics delay was around 2.5ms, which means that most of the magic was done through enclosure construction. The same Puccini DAC was also feeding the ADC portion of the amp plate. Generally I'd say that this was one of the more illuminating listening sessions I've had. My Neumanns are going up for sale!

    As this was a prototype I was listening to, I'm not at liberty to share any pictures. The actual speaker release is about a month away, as port geometry needs some work and the upper octave of the compression driver needed some love as well.
     
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  15. murphythecat

    murphythecat Self Imposed Exile

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  16. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    Tannoy Gold 7 - Initial Impressions:

    First, I must thank @famish99 for guiding me on the speaker front, and @Koth Ganesh for putting me in touch with his dealer. Also, many thanks to numerous other SBAF folks here, who provided invaluable feedback/insights on both forums and PMs.

    Intro:
    For a while now, I have been wanting to get into speakers. Long story short, due to budget, lifestyle and practical reasons, I decided to test the water with studio monitors. Was intending on getting a pair of Kali LP-6, but my dealer was recommending the Tannoy Gold 7 so highly that, he was willing to bet his life on it. I ended up choosing the Tannoy over the Kali for the following reasons:
    - Fully Analog (actually I am not 100% sure about this)
    - Class AB Amplification and No Hiss
    - Better Build and 3yrs Warranty

    Non-Sonics:
    - Build quality is pretty good. The front control panel in the middle of the port looks a bit cheap, and the power switch has a soft flick. Otherwise nothing really to complaint on the build quality for a monitor in this price range.
    - During my research, I kept reading that a lot of affordable studio monitors have an audible hiss when no music is playing. I was prepared for a very slight hiss, but I am relieved that there is no audible hiss on the Tannoy.

    Chain: MacBook Pro > Modius > Mackie Big Knob Passive > Tannoy Gold 7
    Setup: See picture attached in the bottom

    Sonics:
    Although I am coming from a headphones/IEMs background, I got to listen to some speaker setups (Klipsch Forte 3, R7 M3, KEF LSX) in the past few months, so I had a rough idea on what to expect. All three of those speakers exhibited some form of character or coloration. Relative to those speakers, Gold 7 sounds free of character or coloration, for the most part. I can totally see the appeal of studio monitors for music listening now. Contrary to my concern that studio monitors might sound analytical, these actually sound neutral and transparent, in a positive way.

    There is a slight mid-bass hump, which I assume is an artefact of the room. During busy passages, especially in the presence of mid-bass notes, the bass hump can cast a slight veil on the mids. But in the absence of the bass notes, the mids are sufficiently bodied, clear and transparent sounding. The treble, overall is quite linear and not bright. But what's weird is, some of the albums that don't cause any fatigue even on my bright sounding HD800, start to sound bit fatiguing on the Tannoys, after listening for more than 30mins. I wonder if this is a characteristic of the metal tweeter or, if there is a peak in the upper-treble. While the overall tone as such seems fine, I am not too impressed with the timbre. But it is possible that Modius is the culprit there, because Modius’ timbre doesn’t come across as realistic or convincing to my ears. I have a Bifrost 2 on the way, so I should know soon how much the DAC is playing a part in the timbre aspect.

    I am unable to judge the speakers on micro-details and plankton, as I am hearing some new details now, while also missing some details that I usually hear on my headphones/IEMs. But what I can say is that the micro-dynamics is very good and I am able to hear those minor fluctuations and gradations in the notes. Macro-dynamics are also very good, although not explosive in nature. Mid-bass hits decently hard and finds a nice balance between articulation and authority. And it goes without saying that the sub-bass is quite lacking and I can definitely hear the port chuffing, when deep sub-bass notes are playing.

    Now the transients and instrument separation are fantastic. Also, the speakers create a clear, fairly palpable, phantom-center and makes it easy to follow the reverbs. But the imaging precision of instruments located, in-between the phantom-center and the speakers, are smeared a little bit. I
    But I think this is more a case of non-ideal placement and lack of room treatment. The soundstage is large, but doesn’t extend beyond the speaker boundaries. Putting more distance between the speakers does seem to help with improving the perception of soundstage. But that seems to come with compromise in transparency. The depth and layering leaves a bit to be desired. But I think a better DAC will help here too.

    So far, I am liking what I am hearing out of the Gold 7 and I feel there is a lot of potential to these speakers, than what I am hearing in the way they are currently setup. With a better DAC, stands, better placement and room treatments, I feel I will be able to achieve better results and also fine tune things per my liking.

    IMG_0748.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
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  17. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    I read somewhere there's also a 12" version on the way. Could be pretty nice as well.
     
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  18. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    @EagleWings How are you connecting your Macbook to the Big Knob? Optical to Modius?

    Tannoys can sound bright and the titanium tweeter likely isn't helping. It's not until the GR series that I started lusting for a Tannoys (which of course is a whole other price bracket all together).

    All in all, they look good and sound pretty promising considering the form factor and price point!
     
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  19. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    Interesting. Wouldn’t it be too big for mid-field?

    Oops, fixed that. Mac is connected to the Modius via USB.

    They do sound quite promising. But as a speaker noob, I am unable to comment how good they are relative to the competition. What I can say though is, it is better than the KEF LSX in all aspects I could think of. But that doesn’t tell much.
     
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  20. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    It should be fine being point source tbh, hell it’d probably work in nearfield...
     
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