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Todays Speakers vs Vintage Speakers

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Mark Davis, Jun 16, 2018.

  1. Retrovert

    Retrovert AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yeah, well, the B-209 midrange, at least the aluminum cone version which certainly was in use by '65, is 6.5 inches across and 3.5 inches deep, but it depends upon how you measure, whether this includes the cone or the whole baffle. It is generally referred to as a 6 inch driver. I do not own any of the B-209A aluminum cone units (first model made) so I can't tell you from hands-on experience, but I own very other version. (The A version requires a damping ring and is useless without it, so I never bought any.)
     

     

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  2. Retrovert

    Retrovert AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Sean Olive, who certainly would know, has extensively discussed the problems of sighted, i.e. non-blind, testing. Here's one of his comments.

    And, to forestall the inevitable "who the hell is Sean Olive and why should I care what he thinks":
    Sean Olive is Acoustic Research Fellow for Harman International, a major manufacturer of audio products for consumer, professional and automotive spaces. He directs the Corporate R&D group, and oversees the subjective evaluation of new audio products including Harman's OEM automotive audio systems. Prior to 1993, he was a research scientist at the National Research Council of Canada where his research focused on the perception and measurement of loudspeakers, listening rooms, and microphones. Sean received a Bachelors degree in Music from the University of Toronto, and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Sound Recording from McGill University in Montreal. His Ph.D. research was on room acoustic adaptation and the acoustical interaction between loudspeakers and rooms. Dr. Olive has written over 30 research papers on the perception and measurement of audio for which he was awarded the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Fellowship Award in 1996, and two Publication Awards (1990 and 1995). Sean is the current President of the Audio Engineering Society. For more info see www.linkedin.com/in/seanolive

    One of his many writings on the subject:

    http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/04/dishonesty-of-sighted-audio-product.html
    The Dishonesty of Sighted Listening Tests
    by Sean Olive
    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    An ongoing controversy within the high-end audio community is the efficacy of blind versus sighted audio product listening tests. In a blind listening test, the listener has no specific knowledge of what products are being tested, thereby removing the psychological influence that the product’s brand, design, price and reputation have on the listeners’ impression of its sound quality. While double-blind protocols are standard practice in all fields of science - including consumer testing of food and wine - the audio industry remains stuck in the dark ages in this regard. The vast majority of audio equipment manufacturers and reviewers continue to rely on sighted listening to make important decisions about the products’ sound quality.

    An important question is whether sighted audio product evaluations produce honest and reliable judgments of how the product truly sounds.

    ...

    In summary, the sighted and blind loudspeaker listening tests in this study produced significantly different sound quality ratings. The psychological biases in the sighted tests were sufficiently strong that listeners were largely unresponsive to real changes in sound quality caused by acoustical interactions between the loudspeaker, its position in the room, and the program material. In other words, if you want to obtain an accurate and reliable measure of how the audio product truly sounds, the listening test must be done blind. It’s time the audio industry grow up and acknowledge this fact, if it wants to retain the trust and respect of consumers. It may already be too late according to Stereophile magazine founder, Gordon Holt, who lamented in a recent interview:
    “Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me..”
     
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  3. Tom Bombadil

    Tom Bombadil AK Member Subscriber

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    I purchased a store demo pair of Ohm H's way back in the late 1970s. Owned them for close to 35 years. About 2 years ago I purchased a pair of Focal Aria 906 for $850 used. List of $1500, still in production, has been available new for as low as $999. So I consider these to be today's speakers and available for $850.

    My Ohms could definitely go deeper and play louder. In every other way, I consider the Focals to be better. Better on vocals, more clarity through the midrange, definitely superior on highs and transparency, better imaging. The Ohms can produce a big, full room-filling sound and are fun on rock & roll, but when listening to high quality recordings from the like of Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Yo-Yo Ma, etc., the Focals are much better IMO.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
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  4. 3db

    3db Active Member

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    But unlike you, that seems to decree that vinatge is always better, I said that to me the Energy's sound better. I did not make a categorical decree unlike you. See ya later fluffy!! :rockon:
     
  5. 3db

    3db Active Member

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    Its people like John that give HIFI a bad rep. I wonder how its possible to demag a non ferrous material?? :jump:
     
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  6. Retrovert

    Retrovert AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Because Atkinson's knowledge of physics is worse than that of a medieval alchemist.

    If even 1% of the things for which he writes glowing reviews were actually true, it would be a revolution in physics and materials science.
     
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  7. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    Interesting read. Thanks for posting.

    I don't find the article very convincing, though. The conclusions read like someone with an agenda wrote it. And while I am 100% certain that Mr. Olive knows much more than I about acoustics, and testing, I note that he attributes his conclusion about the listeners' certain biases as proven by the tests entirely to psychological factors of brand preference. However, the test subjects were all Harman employees, and included some their own products. Thus there is the added component of economic bias. Seems questionable to extrapolate the results of the testing to a wider, more diverse group to me, as is implicit in the summary.

    This reads more as an agenda-driven interpretation of a small test done under unusual circumstances.

    Consider this scenario:

    A friend enlists your ears to help him decide upon a speaker purchase. Let's say he's considering the new ELAC B6-2, but is wondering if he should spend more for, say, a pair of LS-50s. The ELACs are well-positioned on stands within the room while the LS-50s are in a bookshelf against the wall. He concludes the ELACs are the better speaker, but you know that moving the LS speakers to stands is very likely to sway him, or at least make a fair test.

    Which speaker sounds better? As placed, the ELACs. So do you recommend your friend save his money, and buy the cheaper model? However, get this. You are not allowed to move the speakers. You are not allowed to explain any factors to your buddy. You are only allowed to note which pair sounds better, with no explanation. Which box do you mark?

    This is essentially the predicament in which respondents were placed, and the administrator concludes it is bias for those unwilling to choose the "ELAC." Yes, it is, but it may well be informed bias. The biases of the administrator in setting up a test, and in interpreting the results seem heavily in evidence in this example. A true scientific approach would seek to eliminate those, and include more diversity in the subject population - one in which there were no vested interests involving people's jobs and pocketbooks, just to begin.

    We all are human, we all have bias, preference, and opinions. I'm sure there are better studies than the one cited above that the poster could cite, and I have no interest in continuing a debate. I simply found this particular test flawed for the purpose of extolling the virtues of 'unsighted' tests, and Mr. Olive's own bias very much in evidence.
     
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  8. RTally

    RTally Speaker addict Subscriber

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    What you describe for your Ohms (low clarity on midrange, highs not good) sounds like the typical vintage speaker that needs to be recapped. Have you recapped your Ohms? If not, I would venture to say that you need to do some maintenance on them and then repeat the comparison. If the Ohms have been recapped, then you have provided an important data point. Thanks.
     
  9. z-adamson

    z-adamson Super Member

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    I said new is better, but vintage is more bang for your buck. Thats all.

    I didn't "review" anything. You did and said that it is all fluff and meaningless without test and measurements. In other words, you claim that your own reviews are meaningless and fluff.
     
  10. Harvestor

    Harvestor Super Member

    I'm biased toward Vintage.
    Real wood veneers, Large Boxes capable of prodigious Bass.
    And vintage speakers came from
    Engineering by some of the Best innovators that contributed to stereo listening in history.
    Design Not influenced by the trendy Anti-Size wife approved thin small unobtrusive cabinet design that Limits the speakers from Full Rich sound that only comes from Large transducers and cabinets.
    Trendy small speakers cost less in materials and are more profitable especially when they get their prices inflated by marketing by fast talking bullshit artist and so called super duper space age Technics & Materials....along with some Artsy fartsy "designer Guru" here's an example... even though they are big..
    kef_muon_ross_lovegrove_1.jpg

    ( " Concept designed by Ross Lovegrove " )

    No I'll be just fine stuck in the past with my vintage Huuuuge box Speakers that were "usually" Made in the United States and well made and Engineered....... try to obtain equal size with all of their characteristics today and it ain't happening for very Low Cost.

    I would like to hear those kef Muon's just for giggles....
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
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  11. Tom Bombadil

    Tom Bombadil AK Member Subscriber

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    I recapped the Ohms some years ago. Maybe 10 years. Refoamed too. Sold them off a year ago as I was no longer using them and I was moving into a smaller place.
     

     

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  12. Retrovert

    Retrovert AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Olive has extensively written that Harman's employees were unable to differentiate between the company's low-end products and high-end ones when the product name was concealed.

    His conclusion stands: "In other words, if you want to obtain an accurate and reliable measure of how the audio product truly sounds, the listening test must be done blind."
     
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  13. 62caddy

    62caddy Trust but verify Subscriber

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    I think you're painting all modern/new speakers with far too wide a brush - any number of which excel in any/all of the criteria you have cited above.

    To assert great performance is restricted to large driver- large cabinet designs of the past is just plain wrong.
     
  14. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Speaking of bias, perhaps you are aware of the conditions behind the Harman speaker testing? The "Shuffler" is used with Lexicon amplifiers solely with mono content. For some reason, these dipoles didn't seem to fare as well as others in this enviroment. ;)

    shuffler.jpg

    I had an exchange with Olive on another forum a while back. It is evident he is disinterested in system optimization as a "fair" evaluating tool. Those are considered "nuisance variables". Right-ty-O!
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
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  15. 3db

    3db Active Member

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    Are you always this confrontational and twist words around? When did I say you reviewed something? Seriously dude, you need to chill or take a mydol
     
  16. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    Yes, this is it, wide brushes for both new and vintage. In fact to hell with brushes, lets go with big paint rollers!
    This is why every vintage v new thread takes the exact same course like water down a mountain. The fact is that every speaker is unique, as is everyone's ear and listening space, goals, musical preference, taste (did I miss anything?) unique as well.. Comparing only by DOM is far too wide to be of any real use.
     
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  17. IPADave

    IPADave Which one's Pink? Subscriber

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    This thread has become a train wreck. It's moved way beyond speakers. It's now about blind testing and bashing the audio press. :blah::whip::blah:

    -Dave
     
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  18. Tom Bombadil

    Tom Bombadil AK Member Subscriber

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    I am not convinced this is always true. Sure, when comparing against the prices of consignment store, garage sale, or auction "scores" where the prices are ultra low, this is true. But if one looks at reseller prices of vintage speakers in very good / restored condition, not so much.

    Today on that auction site there are listings for: AR 3A $1500; Altec Lansing Model 19 $7750; JBL L-300 $8000; Yamaha NS1000M $4000. I've seen Klipschorns going for $4000+.

    Sure one can beat these prices. But if you are comparing new to vintage, at least consider that if one wants "like new" vintage, the prices can be pretty high. I imagine that if an AK'er had a pristine pair of restored classic vintage speakers, that they wouldn't let them go at a garage sale price. The same goes for classic electronics.
     
  19. z-adamson

    z-adamson Super Member

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    With certain items collector value comes into play driving the prices up.

    But look at the top of the line home speakers that can be had today and compare that to top of the line in 1975. The vintage speakers really can't compete.

    For example...

    http://www.rossofiorentino.com/en/collections-florentia.asp

    Then again, top of the line new speakers will run you $100,000 for the pair and up.

    I will stick with vintage.
     
  20. z-adamson

    z-adamson Super Member

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    Are you saying it is a bad thing for discussions to flow from one subject to the next? Pretty normal thing in human behavior.
     
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