Pictures of your speaker system

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Cspirou, Nov 6, 2015.

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  1. Tobes

    Tobes Acquaintance

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    Haha, I know where you're coming from.
    Not even sure I'm allowed to use that acronym, my 19y/o daughter rolls her eyes whenever I throw something like that into conversation (to get a reaction;)).
     
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  2. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    When I rolled out of bed this Canada Day weekend I had no idea I would end the day having assembled a stereo system. I've been browsing audiomart's for a while now looking for speakers suitable for use with my new amp. I had the opportunity to visit a lot of local audiophiles to audition their speakers, their systems, chat with them and expand my audio horizons. These experiences have been invaluable, interacting with people with different tastes, backgrounds and approaches to system building has been humbling and caused me to re-evaluate a lot of what I know about audio.

    This past Friday was the latest of those experiences. I visited a local to hear his custom open baffle speakers which he had assembled himself with vintage drivers he had collected over the years. They were cool, but not quite my taste, and I spent more time talking with him about audio than actually auditioning anything. As I was about to leave, he suggested I listen to his Pioneer bookshelf speakers that I barely noticed in the corner as they were hidden under an assortment of equipment and CDs. He thought they would be more my taste after he saw the CDs I brought along with me. He was right! These vintage three-ways (I don't remember the model) were awesome rock n roll speakers. They had great guitar tone and I was much more engaged in the music. As soon as I left his place I spent the rest of that day and the next browsing for vintage 3-way speakers with a similar driver arrangement and size.

    I found a pair of Sony SS-G3 monitors locally. There was pretty much nothing about them online but the guy was close enough for me to go audition. I listened to two tracks on his system (which was all vintage and very nice) before haggling him down to 300 moosebucks and buying them cash in hand. I honestly couldn't find much wrong with the sound and they were just about the right size for my space.

    Here they are sans grill, as the grills are quite ugly:

    [​IMG]

    They are 3-ways with a 10" woofer, 3" mid and 2" titanium tweeter. Apparently the driver magnets for the woofer and mid are alnico (!). They have separate adjustments for the mid/tweeter level but I haven't touched those yet. It looks like Sony was trying to rip off JBL here with the level controls, orange logo and square lattice front baffle.

    Realizing I would now need an amp for them, I went back to audiomart to check the countless # of ads for stereo receivers in the Toronto region. I wanted a receiver so I could occasionally listen to FM and a phono input for adding a turntable later. A friend of mine who recommended the Arcam CD73 I wrote about previously here had experience with Akai receivers and urged me to look for one locally. Lo and behold I found a minty AA-1040 that looks like it just stepped out of a time machine from the 70s. I've seen the inside of this Akai model and several others and they have amazing builds. Since Akai isn't as sought after as Pioneer/Marantz/etc. they are still quite cheap second hand and this unit was $100.

    [​IMG]

    Lastly I added the trusty Arcam CD73 as my source, crudely set up the speakers using lamp cord for speaker wire and old college textbooks as risers and listened. I wasn't expecting miracles but what I heard honestly dumbfounded me. This is some of the best sound I have ever heard in any context. These speakers have incredible tone, air and pretty good dynamics for an acoustic suspension design. I've been playing CDs from Suzanne Vega, Pink Floyd, Megadeth, The Smiths, etc. since I brought them home a few hours ago with a stupid grin on my face. Total system cost: $600 CAD (not including college textbooks valued at $100).

    [​IMG]

    My ultimate goal is to get some L100 style metal-frame stands to rise them up off the floor, which should improve soundstage height and bass response. As it is now though, with the tweeters pointing up and slightly outside my ears, I get a pretty wide and tall image. I'm hearing the righteous and unmistakable alnico tone in guitars and vocals that I love. Apparently once upon a time Sony actually made decent equipment. I'm ashamed to admit I have spent more on a single set of tubes than this entire system cost. I've been doing it wrong for a very long time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  3. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Does that amp have a phono input? Don't know about audio, but that setup is visually incomplete without a deck!
     
  4. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    That's it. Checking out vintage 3-ways
     
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  5. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    I have access to some old Technics SB-400's. Tried them a while back and they did sound interesting but a bit too forward for my tastes. Could only test them on a class d receiver so probably worth a revisit, acoustics were pretty shit as well.
     
  6. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    Hah, it's but one approach. My honest problem was that I was (and am) hopelessly in love with SET amplification. Searching for speakers that would mate well with a 2-4 wpc amp in a domestic environment is very much a challenge. It's compounded by the fact that I am a rare breed of SET aficionado who seems to listen to rock music rather than jazz and 80dB female vocals. I spent a lot of time barking up the wrong tree and put too much weight into the opinions of individuals on forums who were after different things than I was.

    Some rambling of what I learned about my own taste:

    I really despise polite sound. It's the antithesis of what I'm looking for. The most popular speakers in Canadian households are smaller British monitors and towers. Other than the commonwealth connection, this is because our modern floor plans are just not designed with two channel listening spaces in mind. The majority of fellow audiophiles I have visited seem to make do with a corner of the living room or basement. Very lucky few actually have spacious finished basements with acoustically elegant dimensions. So while I understand the attraction to small space saving speakers, it never ceases to amaze me how boring the vast majority of these British speakers are. They homogenize the differences between recordings and equipment (Spendor, Rogers, Harbeth). Those that are more revealing do so at great cost to other areas of listen-ability (ATC dryness).

    Speaking of polite sound, I hate soft/textile dome tweeters. These are prevalent in the aforementioned two-way monitors and skinny towers; as the crossover point dictates that these tweeters are responsible for a large frequency portion of the human voice and so high frequency extension and vibrancy are sacrificed so that the speaker never sounds 'bad' or 'harsh'. Moving to a three-way with a dedicated midrange dome we are free to use materials other than polypropylene and silk for actual high frequency air and transients. How is a cloth dome going to reproduce the harmonics from several pounds of hammered metal being smashed with sticks?

    I love a well behaved metal dome tweeter. I think metal domes get a bad rap with most serious audiophiles when they experience Focal (god awful) and stuff like certain JBL control monitors which are designed to make everything sound as unpleasant as possible. Aluminum and titanium domes can begin to reproduce the bright, raw sound one would naturally expect from overdriven guitar amps. Beryllium and magnesium have even better break-up characteristics further outside the audible region but they are $$$.

    Lastly, real woofers are required for me. My wizardry level is not high enough yet to entertain T/S parameters and the fine points of cabinet design but all of my experiences have led me to conclude bigger is better with regards to cone surface area and magnet size. Skinny towers with babydick 6.5" drivers cannot do bass. Trying to coax bass out of a small driver using a folded enclosure is even worse to my ears as I can hear the time delay between the low frequencies and the rest of the spectrum easily with the type of music I enjoy.

    Unfortunately integrating all of this comes at a cost, which is overall system efficiency relative to speaker size. At 92db-ish the Sony's are hardly SET friendly. I look forward to trying them with a good 20-30W push-pull amp but that's an adventure for another day. This traditional speaker approach dictates traditional amplification. For now I love what I got!
     
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  7. Tobes

    Tobes Acquaintance

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    Not sure I agree with this.
    I've owned 3 different Harbeths models over more than 10 years. While they have brand 'signature', they were all rather good at showing differences in recordings - mainly due to a fundamental midrange neutrality. Actual midrange detail from the Harbeth 'Radial' mid/bass driver is also quite good (significantly better than, say, the Proac R2 mid driver which superficially can sound more 'exciting'). Driver to driver crossover and coherence was excellent. Dynamics was not their strong suit though, nor was strict bass neutrality and punch. The ATC's are far better in these regards.
    I've read in many places about ATC 'dryness', but admit to being baffled by this description. Maybe this is true of the older models (?), but I have no experience with them.

    What I do know is that I took my Benchmark AHB2 amp into a store to listen to the ATC SCM19's, kind of expecting them to be a bit hard and dry. The preamp was a Sugden model and the source was Tidal via a Naim streamer of some sort - an all solid state chain.
    I was blown away and sat transfixed for an hour and a half - at the end of which I had to buy them!
    They sounded even better at home.
     
  8. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    Well, the fact that you can tolerate Benchmark gear should highlight the rapid divergence in our tastes and definitions of dryness 8)

    Yes, Harbeth are a little better than the rest and that's why they command a price premium. They are 'neutral' in the mids, except for the large depression in the presence region which is part of what gives them their polite character and hardly accurate for any genre of music using electric instruments. This is less of an issue in the .2 and 40th anniversary series.

    The other part of it is the lengths taken to add rigidity to their cones and optimize in the frequency domain has compromise in the time domain. They do not have the ability to reproduce lifelike transients especially between 2 - 4 kHz and will always come across as sluggish when faced with power chords and start/stop riffs.

    Lastly, the cabinets resonate and are ported to be able to even reach 50Hz on a graph. Individual notes in drum fills will turn into an episode of Will It Blend? All of this is what I mean by homogenization. No hate on anyone who owns them and enjoys the music they make. Just musings on why they are not for me.
     
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  9. Tobes

    Tobes Acquaintance

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    Indeed. Sometimes extension and lack of harmonic distortion is mistaken for 'dryness'. Some other popular DAC's/amps just sound coloured to me.
    But we're all different, maybe my 50+yr old ears can accomodate it better?;)

    The Harbeth C7es2 was a bit laid back and the sound lacked presence. The C7es3 and M30.1 were pretty neutral in perspective.
    The presence region is typically 2560-5120Hz. Take a look at the frequency response graphs for the M30.1 - remarkably flat: "From 220Hz up to the graph limit of 10kHz, it’s within ±1.25dB."
    https://www.avhub.com.au/product-reviews/hi-fi/harbeth-monitor-301-loudspeakers-488463

    I used to play all sorts of music through the Harbeths, but definitely not at their best for Hip Hop, bass driven Rock etc.
    I'd imagine plenty of other speakers do this better - heck even my old Electrovoice Interface 2's, which were my first real speakers back in the 70's. But if I wanted natural voice reproduction, realistic piano tone etc - the Harbeth would slay the EV 2's.

    I don't fully disagree here. Dynamics are not IMO a strong suit with the Harbeths. They are what they are, essentially broadcast monitors. A lot of music lives in the mids though and their driver to driver coherence is formidable.

    This old chestnut - yes that's the BBC design on which they're based. It's really about trying to push resonance out of the mids to where it's less bothersome (to most). Some people hate the 'honky' 'cupped' or otherwise coloured mids caused by other, less considered, cabinet design - with certain genres this might not be an issue.
    Of course you can eliminate cabinet resonance completely with heroic cabinet design like Magico and Wilson, but look at the $'s needed for this approach. The BBC approach was one of practicality and cost effectiveness (government $'s) - it's stood the test of time.
    Obviously there are other companies achieving essential neutrality with fairly conventional MDF cabinets - e.g. ATC - and many of their models are quite accessible.
    In the end I agree, no hate on anyone liking a certain sound, horses for courses and all that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  10. DigitalMaven

    DigitalMaven Rando

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    I guess you don't have any experience in speaker building? The 6.5 inch sb acoustics paper or aluminum drivers go plenty deep as they're midbase drivers. Also I would think the many of the 6.5-7 inch drivers from scanspeak also go low. Sb acoustics and seas make fairly good metal dome tweeters too.
     
  11. Tobes

    Tobes Acquaintance

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    Something else I missed. I don't want to bang on about this and I don't really feel I need to defend Harbeth speakers, which I no longer own - so I guess I'm partially kind of in agreement with @k4rstar . ;)
    However it's worth noting that both the Harbeth C7es2 and es3 had aluminium tweeters. Harbeth crosses over their 200mm 'radial' bass/mid driver (used in both the above as well as the M30.1/30.2, SHL5, M40.2) at 3.5Khz. Quite high for a driver of this size and possible because of its rigidity and lack of breakup. This encompasses the full range of male voice and most of the female range. This is probably a primary reason for their famed vocal coherence. Actually a reason people tend to like Harbeth is their full bodied sound that doesn't emasculate the mids/lower mids.

    BTW, I agree that a big bass driver brings a sense of scale, fullness and airiness to entire soundscape that smaller drivers can't manage. This is one of the things that I really like about my big ATC's.
     
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  12. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Going low =/= doing proper bass
    I've heard plenty of low efficiency designs with good bass extension from small drivers and cabinets and they're just never effortless, dynamic and low distortion. The SB paper driver design I heard was probably one of the closest, but also one of the larger ones. The Accutons have a different character that I know lots of people like.
    Still, I gotta admit that I'd rather have the extension than not. Tuning ports low also lowers group delay in the midbass, which I think is more important than group delay sub 35Hz. Eventually you just trade off max SPL capabilities, dynamics and resolution for size, with similar bass extension.
     
  13. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    It's likely more about well damped cone (polyprop with mineral fill is good for that) than lack of breakup.
    Until there is an impedance graph to show, it's speculation.
     
  14. Tobes

    Tobes Acquaintance

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    Yeah, don't know. The Harbeth Radial material is not a polyprop but a proprietary plastic with tiny glass spheres infused. Its very rigid compared to polyprop - think I've seen someone stand on a upended cone - also had some sort of pronounced flare happening. All these things probably contribute to it's excellent behaviour over a wide range.
     
  15. Tobes

    Tobes Acquaintance

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    .....having said the above, I tend to think ATC's bass/mid driver from the scm19 is even more impressive. That uses some type of doped paper cone - and has the 75mm ATC mid dome grafted into centre driven by a 75mm voice coil. The driver weighs 9Kg and makes most similar diameter drivers look like toys.
    [​IMG]
    ATC 150mm 'Super Linear' mid/bass driver (used in the SCM19 and SCM20 variants)
    [​IMG]
    the slightly larger 200mm Harbeth RADIAL mid/bass driver (C7, M30, SHL5, M40) for comparison:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
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  16. DigitalMaven

    DigitalMaven Rando

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    ATC Has a nuce woofer...I think the entire speaker is 85 db and requires at least a 150 watt amp to sound its best. Nothing wrong with any tweeter if it's well designed and engineered.
     
  17. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Does it really decouple from the woofer at higher frequencies? I've always seen it as a fancy dustcap.
     
  18. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    They do claim so:

    "In all cases you mention, the soft domes are fixed to the edge of the voice coil. Both the SCM7 and the SCM11 use a 45mm voice coil, so the dome is quite small. On these two models the dome performs the role of a simple dust cap and the high dome profile is designed to break up any cross diaphragm sound pressure waves. The SCM19 is different. In this case the voice coil is 75mm (3”) in diameter, so the dome is larger; in fact the dome grafted to the former is the same as that used in our mid-range dome. The dome is designed to decouple from the cone at higher frequencies where it performs the role of the primary acoustic radiator."

    http://www.acousticfrontiers.com/atc-speakers-technology/
     
  19. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Indeed they do! Interesting, to say the least. I wonder what's the behavior of the rest of the cone during these higher frequency excursions.
     
  20. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Yup, Harbeths. I've heard so much good about their 40.1 and one of the most important local journos has been rolling with this one for years. He matched hi 40.1 to... Soulution.
     

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