AV NIRVANA Speaker Evaluation Event - Tower Speakers $1200 or Less (Results)

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
In the hallway between Sonnie's home and his home theater/listening room are standing 10, yes ten, count them TEN pairs of speakers to be evaluated over the next three days. This event will go down in the history books! (*Now 9 speakers after discovering the late arriving Klipsch speakers had a bad tweeter.)

hall_of_speakers_DY.png


As you can see, the Klipsch suffered a good bit of damage in shipping.

The Speakers (Alphabetical Order)
Chane A5rx-c ($860 for the upcoming A5.4 Gen3)
ELAC Uni-fi UF5 ($1000)
Emotiva T1 ($750)
JBL Studio 590 ($950)
KEF Q900 ($1200)
Klipsch RP-280F ($1080) *Eliminated due to bad tweeter - likely damaged in shipping.
Monitor Audio Bronze Series 6 ($1100)
Polk Signature S60 ($900)
Scansonic M9 ($1200)
SVS Prime Tower ($1000)

Equipment

Yamaha CX-A5100 Processor (Pure Direct Mode)
Emotiva XPA-1 Gen2 Class A/AB Monoblock Power Amps
OPPO UDP-205 (USB Input)
miniDSP DDRC-88 (Dirac Live - Testing with and without)
Canare 4S11 Speaker Cables
Epson Pro Cinema 4040 Projector / Elite Screen

Here is a pic of the listening room with the reference system, including the MartinLogan ESL speakers. Reflective panels will be removed for the evaluation.

reference_system.png


Our main goal will be to evaluate each speaker on its own merits, not comparing them to the others, or ranking them. So basically you get ten separate speaker reviews, with comments from three listeners.

We'll have one session with the speakers placed closer to the front wall, approximately 3ft from the front of the speaker to the wall. We'll have one session without Dirac Live and one session with Dirac Live. Next we will move the speakers out into the room, placing them in the approximate location that Cardas Room Setup Guide recommends (as a starting point). We will listen for the best imaging and sound stage placement as we move the speakers around to find that best placement. Once we find the sweet spot for the speakers, we'll each listen without Dirac Live and with Dirac Live... and share our thoughts for each speaker.

Perhaps a bit over-dramatic, but Sonnie, Dennis, and I could not be more excited about the task before us. The speakers are ready to play, formidable Emotiva monoblock amplification is warmed up to drive them, our all-lossless evaluation tracks are queued, and the we are ready to listen!

Hold on to your reclining audio seats, check back often for updates, we are about to begin....

Acronyms
FR = Frequency Response
HF = High Frequency
MF = Mid Frequency
LF = Low Frequency
LP = Listening Position
SS&I = Soundstage and Imaging
SS = Soundstage
IC = Image Clarity, same as Imaging

The Evaluation Environment
Our listening room, Sonnie’s Cedar Creek Cinema, measures 19.5 ft wide, 23.5 ft front to back, and 8.5 ft floor to ceiling (not at the riser), with corner bass traps and absorptive panels at critical first-reflection points, including on the ceiling. There is a small equipment stage with cutouts where speakers can be located close to the wall if desired (virtually never, except to satisfy readers who insist on evaluation or measurements there), and a riser for the second row of seats. The room is fully carpeted. I have listened to speakers in this room for hundreds of hours, Sonnie for many thousands (tens of thousands?), and Dennis, a seasoned evaluator, for easily a hundred or more, so we are all very familiar with the room and its characteristics.

There are seven reclining theater seats, three on the front row and four on a riser behind them. The center seat on the front row is our evaluation seat, the Listening Position (LP). It is unfathomable that anyone would build a theater or listening room with an even number of front-row seats, not allowing for a centered listening position for the main listener, but it happens. While we are evaluating, the listener who is “at bat” sits in the LP with the other front row seats empty so there are no distractions or odd sonic effects from someone’s body. Minimizing variables is always a top priority for us.

Frequent breaks and even optional hearing protection for those not actively evaluating in the LP help us avoid fatigue.

Our main listening seat has a plush blanket custom made into a seat-back reflection absorber to minimize reflections close to the listener’s ears that can disrupt imaging. While not perfect, the technique works very well to eliminate the mid- and high-frequency reflections most detrimental to image clarity and precision.

Speaker Position
Without fail, the best position for any speaker we have worked with has been well into the room, away from the front wall, widely spaced, with some toe-in, but rarely aimed directly at the listener. The only exception to the toe-in guideline is with horn-loaded or waveguides for the HF driver, which tend to sound best pointed at the listener, or even crossed slightly in front of the listener. This position is best for soundstage and imaging (SS&I) with only a small but easily tolerable sacrifice in high frequency response, if any. We have worked with enough speakers in Sonnie’s room that we can usually find this sweet position quickly now, except for an occasional tougher model. During this evaluation, a number of the models were pulled directly to that spot and the result was so good that only minor toe-in adjustment might be needed. Position and angle measurements are always carefully matched for symmetry using a laser distance meter. Setup symmetry is essential for good SS&I. A difference of an inch can shift the center image enough to be very distracting.

As much as we have emphasized speaker position well out from the front wall, we have been asked by readers to briefly listen to each pair of speakers close to the wall, so we have done this to satisfy them and to demonstrate what a difference it usually makes. There has been an occasional surprise in that we have found a model that performs well close to the wall. The fact that most models are not at their best close to the wall should not be held against the manufacturer or or be considered a design deficiency. Soundstage development and image clarity depend on room reflections and ambiance, Tradeoffs that lead to good at-wall performance would have to be traded off in many cases, making regular in-room performance suffer.

Port Plugs, Base Plates, Spikes
The number of variables to deal with during a event like this can be overwhelming if one does not limit them. We decided beforehand to not work with port plugs if supplied, although only the Chane came with them. Base plates were installed, but spikes make a speaker very difficult to move or adjusts, so we elected to leave spikes off. Most models were supplied with them.

Our Measurements
Rooms and speakers work together. Manufacturer’s measurements are taken under ideal conditions, not in real-world rooms. The measurements we have taken and included in this report show the effects of the room on these speakers. We urge the reader to not jump to conclusions because of anomalies in our measurements. The same speakers in another room will surely measure differently.

We used 12th-octave smoothing for our measurements. This yields a bit more detail than is normally considered useful, but we lean toward having more detail in our data than is absolutely necessary. This is especially true for speaker setup and for EQ decisions. Before one decides to add another filter to one’s EQ apparatus, one should always dig deeper into the data to be sure he is taking the right course of action. What appears to be a broad dip in the FR with 6th-octave smoothing, perhaps worthy of a little bit of low-Q boost, might actually be a couple of side-by-side narrow notches in the FR, the type of anomaly one should NEVER try to boost. Only by digging a little deeper can one see the underlying detail to make the best decision.

Note that many of our Room EQ Wizard plots have a manually inserted 10 dB offset to separate curves and make them easier to read.

Using Dirac Live
The debates about whether or not to use room EQ will go on forever, and can be discussed in detail elsewhere. We have found it to be beneficial, with little or no downside when applied intelligently. And Dirac Live, with its mixed-mode filter strategy and proprietary processing, making use of minimum phase and FIR filters where each works best, and with imaging and avoidance of negative effects, has given us excellent results.

We always found the best speaker position we could, giving SS&I the main priority, and used Dirac Live to flatten frequency response. A final polishing of image clarity always results, and in many cases the soundstage was also expanded and spread more evenly across the front of the room.

For this event, we quickly ran a Dirac Live calibration with a single mic position. My own experience has been consistent with instructions given by Dirac Research, that a number of calibration mic positions is beneficial, starting at the center of the sweet spot and, for single-seat optimization, using a small random spread of position around the listener’s head area. But for our event this would have taken far too long, and we have found the single mic position calibration to work very well. FR measurements were taken with and without, both at the wall and out from the wall at the final listening location.

Dirac Live reveals mountains of detail in many recordings. Flattening FR can uncover sounds that are being masked in the frequency domain. Reducing the amplitude of resonant peaks helps tame ringing that can obscure detail in the time domain. And cleaning up the soundstage can reveal small sounds between other bigger ones in the psycho-acoustical processing of the spatial domain. Our advice concerning Dirac Live: Don’t leave home without it!

Target Curve Variations
We always started with Dirac Live’s default target curve. One variation that we found necessary to implement a couple of times was to shift the LF (high-pass knee) end of that curve and to shift the LF “end of processing” point on the Filter Design page of the Dirac Live application associated with the miniDSP DDRC88-BM. Not doing this had the lowest frequencies being amplified enough that LF driver distortion resulted. These changes involved a few mouse clicks and were quite painless, giving marked improvement where applied.

Evaluation Process
We knew that getting through ten pairs of speakers in three days would only be possible if we stuck with an efficient process. Here is how we approached the task:
  • Bring one set of speakers into the room. We went in alphabetical order by manufacturer.
  • Set up at the wall.
  • Run Dirac Live calibration.
  • Measure frequency response (FR) with and without Dirac Live.
  • Each evaluator listen without Dirac, then with Dirac;
  • Move out from the wall and find the best position for that model. Many of the speakers ended up at the same location and angle.
  • Run Dirac Live calibration.
  • Measure frequency response (FR) with and without Dirac Live.
  • Each evaluator listens without Dirac, then with Dirac.

Tracks and Playback
All tracks were in lossless FLAC or WAV format, accessed from a USB memory device plugged into the OPPO player using the built-in navigation menus and a programmed remote.

Setup Tracks
Periodic pink noise, mono mix
Sharp image clarity. All frequencies are tightly centered through the spectrum, the image is a sharp vertical line, usually very short, with zero width. No parts of the spectrum should seem fat (fatter than a golf ball) or undulate or smear or move. The overall sound should be sharply mono, as though coming from a single center-channel speaker. and never have any stereo qualities.

B-52’s, Revolution Earth, mono mix
Sharp image clarity. In this case, one has individual voices and instruments to listen for, rather than the whole audio spectrum at once. As each appears in its turn, one can focus on that particular part of the spectrum and listen for images that seem fat (fatter than a golf ball) or undulate or smear or move on different notes. The overall sound should be sharply mono, like a center channel speaker, and never have any stereo qualities.

B-52’s, The World’s Green Laughter, original stereo mix
There are many small rhythm instrument sounds and vocalizations distributed through the soundstage, and each should own its own space with the impression of darkness around it. There should be no smearing on sibilants, no pulling or expanding, no notes or sequences that wander in the soundstage, although each sound is pretty much from a separate instrument on this track. Each should be stable, and tightly focused. The big floor tom should be focused and punchy despite its low fundamental frequency.

Wayne’s Evaluation Tracks
Radiohead - “Packt Like Sardines In a Crushed Tin Box” - nickname “Sardines”
The opening kick drum sound should be focused and punchy, tightly centralized despite its low-frequency fundamental. It should ring very little and sound well-damped, although there is a finite decay time in the recording. The lead vocal and bass notes on the electric piano should not receive only minimal emphasis from bass peaks due to room modes, and should remain clear, never muddy. The soundstage should be very wide, with most images originating from outside the width of the speakers.

Midlake - “Roscoe” - nickname “Roscoe”
Voices and guitars on the chorus should be equally spaced across the soundstage with tight image clarity and the spaces between them should be clear and empty, not mushed together or overlapping. I visualize the tines of a comb and the empty gaps between them.

deadmau5 - “I Remember (Vocal Mix - from Random Album Title)" - nickname “Remember”
The huge reverberant space of this track should be evenly spread across the width of the soundstage. The kick drum should be strong and go deep and should be tightly centered and focused. It should be quickly damped out with no ringing.

Rachmaninoff - “Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42” - nickname “Variations"
This recording was made on an Overs piano, which has a very even tone across the keyboard and throughout its wide dynamic range. There should be a hint of a “tinkle” on each note. A speaker should be able to handle the dynamics of the fortississimo passages with plenty of volume with no sign of distortion or breakup.

B-52’s - “Ain’t it a Shame” - nickname “Shame”
Harmonica notes during the intro should all be centered. This is difficult to accomplish for most speakers, because each note has only a few distinct harmonics and they are widely spaced in the upper audio spectrum. They should not wander at all, but usually do, with each note coming from a different position in the soundstage. Only on an expensive high-end electrostatic have I ever heard them rock solid with no movement. The HF sheen on Cindy’s voice should be centered on the rest of the vocal sound and should exhibit no smearing or spreading. Vocal echoes should appear well-formed and almost solid, like instruments in their own right. The most telltale echo is after the word “and” at 1;17, which should appear high and way to the right, should be strong, about the size of a basketball, almost seeming to have a solid outline.

Dennis's Evaluation Tracks
The songs I used for auditioning were picked for several reasons. Joshua Bell: Chopin's Nocturne in C Sharp Minor is a great capture of acoustic instruments and gives a sense of performers in realistic proportions on a stage, good for SS&I. Deadmau5: Ice Age (Deadmau5 Remix) features beautiful female vocals, explores the frequency extremes and the incidental digital effects have enormous scope, giving the sense of an extremely large concert performance. AC/DC: TNT is a rough, raw recording, with clear left/right pans of the guitars and piercing, high frequency Bon Scott vocals that push midrange and tweeter limits.

Sonnie's Evaluation Tracks
Awolnation – Sail: This song has a fairly nasty bass note between 40-50Hz that hits hard and will test what I expect to be the minimum of what I’d like to hear a tower speaker be able to handle relatively easy at louder volumes.

Cassandra Wilson – Strange Fruit: A favorite song of mine for sound stage, imaging and depth acuity. Do the speakers disappear and the location of the instruments become identifiable, such as the trumpet player being on the far back left of the stage and just left of the Cassandra, who is just ever so slightly left of center stage. Is the big bass to the right of her and front of stage.

Trilok Gurtu – Goose Bumps: With the right speakers and proper placement, this song has a super wide sound stage, stretching the width of the room and out to the side of the listener.

Jay McShann – My Funny Valentine: A saxophone and piano masterpiece… and a great demo song to show off the qualities of those instruments.

Yello – La Habanero: This song has all kinds of sounds to test speakers… but my favorite is the mid-bass that kicks in at about 2:10 of the song.

Setup At The Wall
These dimensions apply for all the models we evaluated when set close to the front wall of the room.
134 to ear
120 c to c
36 to fr wall
51 to side wall
32 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
Chane Music and Cinema A5rx-c

chane_a5_in.png chane_a5_out.png

The Chane A5rx-c is a 3-way ported design that features three split-gap 135 mm mid-woofers, a dedicated 135 mm midrange driver with aluminum phase plug and heat sink, and a planar magnetic tweeter plus a molded aluminum treble faceplate for smooth, extended frequency and phase response, all housed in a rear-ported cabinet with heavy 18 mm braced construction and a simulated black ash PVC finish. Efficiency with 1 W @ 1 m = 90 dB, and with 2.83 V @ 1 m = 92 dB. This is an updated version of a speaker we have auditioned before. Driver improvements in the woofer section are intended to deliver lower distortion. an improvement to a speaker that, to my ears, needed none. The planar-magnetic tweeter gives a very clean and even high end. Designer Jon Lane tends to prefer it "for power handling, grace under pressure, and in a more designerly sense, for how it integrates."

This is the only model which came with port plugs for the rear-mounted ports. We had decided to not use port plugs if supplied in order to reduce variables and help keep a lid on evaluation time. But performance against the wall for the A5rx-c was boomy and muddy at certain frequencies, so we decided to measure a snd briefly evaluate them with port plugs installed.

At wall, no Dirac Live

Bass was a bit uneven and boomy from a strong resonant peak at this placement. When certain vocal and piano notes on Sardines hit those peaks, they really stuck out and got quite muddy. The kick drum was under--damped and very ringy. I noticed no distortion in any frequency range, this is a very clean-sounding design. FR evenness through the mids and highs was very smooth and even, a little laid back at HF but well-represented, as is usual for a design with a planar magnetic tweeter. SS&I was quite good for that close to the wall, a pleasant surprised. The SS was very wide and had some depth as well. IC was distinct but not really sharp the way I like it. The vocals and guitars on Roscoe did not have the separation I knew was possible. Remember's kick drum did not ring at all. It was very focused and deep and solid. The harmonica on Shame moved around a bit when it played.

Supplied port plugs tamed the LF resonance. The notes that had boomed out at us before were well controlled and did not jump out at all. The kick drum ringing on Sardines was well tamed and sounded properly damped. Overall bass performance on deeper sounding instruments like the kick drum on Remember was a little weak, however. Other aspects of performance were unchanged.

At wall, with Dirac Live

Bass performance was much smoother and seemed somewhat tighter, although not as tight as it could be. Mids and highs were slightly better represented. The piano tinkle on Variations, which I did not hear without Dirac, was now noticeable. SS was improved but still lacking in depth. IC was very sharp. Overall FR evenness was much improved, with no downside that I could detect. On Sonnie’s “Sail” track, bass was strong, but never bottomed out. The A5rx-c handles strong bass very well.

Optimum position, no Dirac Live

The sound stage became gargantuan, extremely wide and quite deep, and IC became very sharp. There was some distinct depth acuity as well, and this is really difficult to achieve for the majority of speakers. With the image clarity we started to hear new details that were obscured before.

On Sardines, the kick drum was sharp and well-localized, and even its lowest frequencies seemed localized, with good depth acuity for that instrument. There was still a little boominess on certain notes, which also got a little muddy, but nothing like it had been at the wall. The damping on the kick drum could have been a little better. The port plug would have helped this, but then the bass balance would have been pulled back unless flattened again by Dirac. Although we measured with port plugs out from the wall, I did not have time to listen during the evaluation process.

The overall cleanness and naturalness of the presentation from the A5rx-c was superb. The SS was so natural that the speakers made their job seem easy, effortless, the muffled low notes from room effects aside. With flattening and dampening of those few notes, these would just about be perfect speakers.

Optimum position, with Dirac Live

I first noticed that depth acuity was improved from the fair level to good. The image clarity became extremely precise. The harmonica on Shame was very steady, shifting slightly with the melody, but not jumping around or wandering. The bass notes that had still stood out a little were now completely flattened, and all evidence of ringing of the kick drum was gone, as was any evidence of FR irregularity. Lots of terrific detail was uncovered and laid bare in the big, deep SS with its incredible image clarity. On Roscoe, the voices and guitars were well defined and separated. A separate speaker for each of them would not have given more precise imaging.

The SS was so BIG! The center image was shifted left about six inches, an artifact of our setup and possibly due to delays or slight level changes by Dirac Live. Jon Lane's designs have never disappointed us. The A5rx-c is refined and so easy to listen to, not a mean bone in its body.

Dennis's Comments
The A5rx-c is a hefty speaker, moving it required extra effort. Placed at the front wall, I started off with Joshua Bell: Chopin, sans Dirac. The midbass of the stringed instruments at the very beginning of the song had nice weight. The piano enters, underpinning this impression. Dirac pulled the midbass down and restored the hall sound reverberation that was lost without correction. In the Cardas position, no Dirac, the depth acuity increased as did the width and breadth of sound stage, placing more air between the performers. With Dirac, bass returned and highs seemed extended.

Deadmau5: Ice Age, no Dirac. The female vocals not quite as sharply defined. I was not able to hear her "breathiness" quite as well as I am accustomed to. Dirac returned the song into its proper state. SS&I was impressively wide, Dirac corrected or not. Cardas - No Dirac. With the speaker now out into the room, it is like an entirely different pair of are being auditioned, that much has changed. Big air between performers, more dynamic punch. With Dirac, the low bass was filled in to the point of almost not needing a subwoofer, the listening chair shaking with bass.

AC/DC: TNT, with Dirac, the rhythm guitar was projected left of the speaker, outside a few inches. This collapsed a bit without correction, the instrument's sound coming instead directly from the left speaker. With no Dirac, Scott's vocal sharpness was blunted. With Dirac, that sharpness is returned. No Dirac, midbass is a bit heavy but the floor tom sounded great. Overall SS&I is really good, depth was reasonably portrayed. Lots of detail across the frequency spectrum. Cardas - No Dirac, Bon's vocal, razor's edge (pun intended) bite was returned. Still a bit fuzzy and full in the midbass. Big air, more dynamic, less bass. With Dirac, the guitar fuzz/distortion became more apparent, midbass fuzz went away.

Sonnie's Comments

Jon Lane impressed us with his first iteration of the A5 speakers back in 2013 via the Arx name brand. Now under the Chane Music and Cinema name, these are his 2nd generation that I picked up a few months back. According to Jon, the woofers were improved to help speed up the break-in period, and the treble circuit was refined slightly to smooth the response, otherwise they are very similar. I am not sure why I allowed Leonard (previous evaluation reviewer) talk me into letting him take my 1st generation A5’s home with him after one of our events. He later sent me a check in the mail and stated I wasn’t getting them back. Yes… I did pout a little… grumbled, then threatened him, but he didn’t care. I knew I’d have another pair at some point… and sure enough, here they are, an updated version in yet another speaker evaluation event.

We started out placing speakers close to the front wall, and these had a bit more bass than I would like, with the mid-bass not as defined. The bass can be softened with use of the port plugs, which we eventually used, although Dirac Live proved to be the better answer with extension at 3-4Hz lower without the port plugs. If you don’t have some sort of processing and need to place them near the wall, the port plugs should help with any bass issues if you end up with any… as it can be different from room to room. While closer to the wall, the overall imaging was good, although the sound stage was narrower than what we typically get when the speakers are farther out from the front wall, and I expected the same. I would not be unhappy with the sound of these near the wall, but knowing they can do better, I would choose not to place them near the front wall without some sort of processing, which is sure to help tame the sound, and exactly what we verified during our next listening session.

Once we applied Dirac Live (without port plugs), the bass and mid-bass became more refined and the sound was impressively good for speakers being placed that close to the wall. The sound stage was still not as wide as it could be, nor was the depth as good, but again, this is nearly a given for most speakers near the front wall. Remembering back at the very first evaluation event in 2013, we did not do any processing of the speakers when they were placed close to the front wall, and we were not very complimentary of most of the speakers near the wall, save a couple of the models we evaluated. These are also an exception, as I could definitely live with these near the wall if I had no choice to move them, provided there is satisfactory processing available.

After getting them out from the wall and well into the room, the width and depth of sound stage came alive, as anticipated, after having countless speakers in the room to confirm the same. Even without Dirac Live, these sounded really good, although I did notice that Cassandra Wilson’s voice on Strange Fruit sounded slightly muffled. I may not have noticed this if I had not listened to a lot of speakers with and without Dirac Live to realize the difference. When Dirac Live was applied, these speakers became near perfect for what I want to hear. Everything came together with more precise imaging and an extremely wide sound stage with excellent depth acuity. They were super clean with exceptional clarity. The bass was also excellent and extended to the mid 30Hz range. While a sub might be appreciated on some songs, it would not be necessary for most music.

I must admit… I am no longer a fan of listening to speakers without processing, and I am sure I’ll mention it again and again… Dirac Live is the best I have experienced at what it does. Rooms are far less than perfect and they have an adverse effect on every speaker I have ever listened to, including all of the hundreds on hundreds I have heard at all the various audio shows. Very few sound like I would like them to sound because they either aren’t setup that well and/or the room causes the speakers too much grief. Occasionally I hear a good system, but I also firmly believe I could make it sound even better to me with Dirac Live. The so-called “purist” will hate on me, and I am fine with that… it’s their ears getting punished, not mine. :whistling:

The A5’s are the kind of speakers you will not get tired of listening to for hours on end. They are one of the few that are not difficult to find the ideal placement for, and don't necessarily need processing to sound great. Jon Lane has done a wonderful job improving on a speaker that was already superb… and he will soon release the 3rd generation 5.4 model, which touts more improvements. When you think it can’t get much better, it gets better.

Measurement Plots

Chane A5rx-c At Wall No Port Plug With And Without Dirac, 10 dB offset.

Chane A5rx-c At Wall With Port Plug With And Without Dirac, 10 dB offset.

Chane A5rx-c Out From Wall No Port Plug With And Without Dirac, 10 dB offset.

Chane A5rx-c At Wall No Dirac With And Without Port Plug.

Chane A5rx-c At Wall With Dirac With And Without Port Plug, 10 dB offset.
Notice that bass extension goes several Hz deeper with the port plug installed.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall
97 in speaker to LP
120 in center to center
76 in to front wall
53 in to side wall
17 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
Elac Uni-fi UF5

elac_in.png elac_out.png

The Elac Uni-fi UF5 is a 3-way ported design with a 1 in soft dome tweeter concentrically mounted in a 4 in aluminum cone midrange, accompanied by three 5.25 in aluminum cone woofers. Crossovers are at 270 Hz and 2.7 kHz. Efficiency with 2.83 V @ 1 m.= 85 dB.

At wall, no Dirac Live

Located close to the front wall, bass FR peaks accentuated the low vocal and piano notes on the Sardines track and made them quite muddy. The kick drum on that track was also underdamped and very ringy, so LF clarity close to the wall was not great. Kick drum on Remember was strong and deep, low enough in frequency to avoid the underdamped resonance, so it seemed solid and tight. The SS was very wide, and image clarity was quite sharp.

Midrange tonality was pleasing, driven by a lively little midrange voicing accent, along with a small dip in the same range that stood out on the Variations track. A hint of midrange distortion was hard to overlook on the vocals on Sardines, on Roscoe, and on Remember, just present enough that I could not ignore it.

At wall, with Dirac Live

Activating Dirac did a good job flattening the response and dampening the kick drum and lower vocal and piano notes on Sardines, I listened closely for any sign of ringing of those LF tones and heard none. Nice! Image clarity sharpened right up on Roscoe, and the SS got even bigger than before.

Given time, I would have modified the Dirac Live target curve to preserve that little midrange accent, except that its disappearance had taken with it all but the faintest signs of the distortion I had witnessed earlier, a fair tradeoff.

The wider and deeper soundstage, so sonically addictive, brought with it the strong beginnings of depth acuity, perhaps the most addictive of all the sonic addictions, the one that “messes with your head” the most.

Optimum position, no Dirac Live

A single move put the UF5 right where they would stay for the rest of the evaluation. We are getting good at that part of the process, plus it might be that speakers are getting easier to position for SS&I. The soundstage was huge, very wide and very deep, and depth acuity was improved. IC was precise. The voice and guitar images on the Roscoe chorus were very tight and precise.

The punchy kick drum in Sardines was nicely concentrated, but still slightly heavy and bloated. Bass emphasis from room effects remained a little heavy, although much improved, but had the effect of reducing the clarity for other parts in the recording. The mid emphasis I had enjoyed was less noticeable, a result of the more off-axis listening angle.

Optimum position, with Dirac Live

All unevenness, heaviness, bloating, and ringing were readily subdued. Roscoe’s voices were separated and precise. The midrange distortion was almost inaudible, but still showed up now and then on a sustained vocal or synth note. The Harmonica on Shame stayed close to center, only shifting slightly as the notes played. Echoes mimicked solid shapes, and depth acuity was quite good from the little UA5.

The Elac Uni-fi UF5 left very little lacking in this final stage of my evaluation. Overall, the UF5 wanted to do more, and they almost get there, but not quite. And it was that extra effort that was noticeable. They were just trying a little too hard where effortless transparency has become an irreplaceable prerequisite,

Dennis's Comments
ELAC UniFi UF5: Not a heavy speaker, I found the ELAC tower easy to move into position. At front wall - Chopin: No Dirac, highs are well balanced, bass is a bit lacking. SS&I is slightly compressed, no real depth to the soundstage. Ice Age - the slightly compressed soundstage impression carries over, as does nice balance for the upper frequencies. TNT - Appropriate amount of vocal bite, a little light in the lower resisters/midbass region. The ELAC did not appreciate being pushed over the -8 dB mark, highs got a bit ragged.

Front wall with Dirac - Chopin, frequency balance achieved! 2D depth. In Ice Age, vocals and high frequency sound effects brought forward in the mix, still a tad (pun intended) 2D flat as far as depth is concerned. TNT, the rhythm guitar was sonically placed well outside the left speaker. Signature Bon Scott vocal bite was retained.

Cardas - No Dirac, Chopin... BANG, there is the depth. SS&I is much improved. Last little bit of HF extention is still muted. Ice Age - the vocals are no longer forward in the mix, but centrally recessed nicely about 3 ft. behind the plane of the speaker baffles. TNT reinforced this impression, even the forward nature of Scott's rambunctious voice was placed well back. Treble reticence came in handy here, taming the bite.

Cardas with Dirac, Chopin snapped into focus, SS&I was huge, almost like a first or second row seat from a stage. Ice Age became hyper-detailed, the mellow highs nature lending itself well to a natural sound. TNT still had that bite and the impression of a wide soundstage was retained. Bass and treble frequency extremes seemed to be lessened, probably due to Dirac balancing everything out.

Sonnie's Comments
This was a speaker company that I’d never heard of, although I am familiar with Andrew Jones (designer), and have read some reviews of the speakers he designed for Pioneer. As I understand, he also helped design KEF’s Uni-Q driver. This is my first real experience with the concentric drivers, referring to these and the KEF’s we’ll evaluate later during this evaluation session. The UF5 is the flagship of the Uni-Fi model line.

Placed up closer to the front wall, I was surprised by the bass response. It was very strong, perhaps on the heavy side, although it still sounded good. The sound stage was narrow, yet the speakers sounded big to be on the smaller side. Imaging was not as pinpoint as what I am accustomed to, but still not terrible. I noticed some edginess in the mid to upper range that bothered me. With Dirac Live applied, the bass tightened up and sounded better, and the imaging improved. The edginess was still there, so I would probably experiment with the toe-in more if I were to keep these and be forced to place them closer to the wall. I believe I could get rid of the edge and improve the imaging, given enough time. This is one of the drawbacks of not having more time evaluating the speakers and/or not being able to live with them for several weeks. We are limited to how much experimenting we can do, especially when we don’t feel like you get as much from the speaker near the front wall as you would out in the room, where we put more emphasis on final placement. It is what it is, and perhaps a compliment to other speakers that do not require as much time to setup. However, to be fair, anyone buying a pair of speakers for their home would likely take the time to fully experiment with placement of the speakers they are auditioning.

Once we got the Uni-Fi speakers pulled on out into the room, as expected, the sound stage got wider and deeper, but the imaging was still not as precise as I am accustomed to on Cassandra Wilson’s Strange Fruit. The bass also softened a bit, losing that front wall boundary. That edginess mentioned previously also eased up, so I was looking forward to hearing these in their current location with Dirac Live processing to see if it would further improve on the sound. Sure enough, with Dirac Live processing it all gelled quite nicely. The bass came back, along with depth of sound stage, and that slightly harsh edge was subdued. I was truly impressed with the overall sound quality with processing applied. These speakers were pretty nice for such a small package, but definitely in need of processing from what I was hearing... and perhaps a little more attention will need to be given to placement, depending on the buyer's room and placement flexibility.

Measurement Plots

Elac Uni_fi UF5 at wall with and without Dirac, 10 dB offset.

Elac Uni_fi UF5 out from wall with and without Dirac, 10 dB offset.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall
94 in speaker to LP
120 in center to center
82 in to front wall
56 in to side wall
10 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
Emotiva Airmotiv T1

emotiva_in.png emotiva_out.png

The Emotiva Airmotiv T1 is a ported 3-way design featuring an Airmotiv (TM) folded-ribbon tweeter, a 5.25 in woven fiber cone midrange, and dual 6 in woven fiber cone woofers with high-temperature voice coils and vented pole pieces in a rear-ported cabinet. Crossovers are at 275 Hz and 2.7 kHz. Efficiency with 2.83 V @ 1 m = 88 dB. Emotiva’s Minimum Acoustical Signature (TM) cabinet design with its angled exterior contours minimizes diffraction effects and room interactions. Terminals allow optional bi-amping or bi-wiring.

At wall, no Dirac Live

The first thing I noticed about the T1 was how good the SS&I performance was at the wall location. I do not remember a speaker design set that close to the wall that even came close to performing a disappearing act, but the T1 was almost completely invisible sonically, even though still displaying some of the typical “at the wall” imperfections, like the boomy, underdamped bass on certain low notes and on the kick drum on Sardines. The SS was huge, with tight, sharp image clarity, and extended well out in front of the plane of the speakers. The harmonica on Shame did shift around somewhat as each of the notes played, the one imaging perfection noted at this point for the T1.

The piano tone on Variations was a bit laid back, but overall response through the mids and highs was very smooth, with excellent tonality, except the desired tinkle on each note was not there. The sound was very lifelike and natural and did not really sound like it was coming from speakers. In fact, where the LF resonances were not being triggered by lower notes in the recordings, they did not seem to have a sound of their own at all, they just emanated pure music. The soundstage had declared its independence from the T1 speakers

At wall, with Dirac Live

The T1 were totally invisible in the SS. The MF and HF ranges were very smooth and very clear, there were no tweeter artifacts to witness whatsoever. Kick drums and bass notes were appropriately deep, strong, and very focused and punchy, with no ringing. The low kick drum on Remember was really moving air, and the T1 made it seem easy. Vocals were very natural sounding. All evidence of bloating or roughness was gone.

The SS now invaded the listening space. It almost felt like the SS swelled in size as the volume swelled, filling the room with ease. The Piano’s tone - including the tinkle - and dynamics on Variations were accurately reproduced and remained crisp, even with the volume turned up quite high for that track. Image clarity was very focused and tight, although the harmonica on Shame still shifted around somewhat as each of the notes played. The SS was natural and easy to listen to and enjoy. Overall an effortless performance.

Optimum position, no Dirac Live

The LF peaks reappeared, but not as strong as with the T1 at the wall. A slight flabbiness was also back, although much less so than at the wall. Image tightness was improved, and depth acuity was about the same as at the wall with the T1, a good beginning with promise of better things to come. Cindy’s vocal on Shame was hanging in space before me. The echoes on Shame were more palpable and solid, and more detail had been uncovered to be discovered. The SS was reaching out and trying to engulf us, and gave the overall impression of being very natural and cohesive. The disappearing act was not quite repeated like at the wall. I am confident that a few more placement adjustments would have gotten us there. The harmonica on Shame still shifted around somewhat as each of the notes played. The T1 handled deep, heavy bass with ease.

Optimum position, with Dirac Live

With Dirac active, LF response was well smoothed out, all the resonance and flabbiness was eliminated, SS&I were extremely sharp, although the SS was still not quite free of the T1, and seemed to shrink slightly compared to without Dirac. I have heard this complaint before and have not really noticed to be a big enough shift to be a drawback, but with the T1 it was noticeable. The harmonica on Shame continued to shift around somewhat as each of the notes played. This was the case with all configurations for the T1. Still, the clarity, the added detail, the natural, effortless delivery were hard to turn off when my evaluation time ended.

The Emotiva Airmotiv T1 is a speaker you will quickly forget is there in the room with you. Such big, natural, effortless delivery from a small, inexpensive tower speaker is hard to come by.

Dennis's Comments
Front wall - Dirac off. Chopin, midbass was quite full, adding body to the mix, soundstage flat with that at-the-wall 2D quality, but presented performers forward of the speaker plane. Slightly recessed ultra high frequencies. Ice Age vocals cemented the impression of forwardness. This was presented in a fashion that was not thrust into the listeners face, but proudly put forth for consideration. TNT, the left-panned guitar was located just outside of the speaker position, Scott's vocal sharpness was intact. All songs seemed to require less throw on the volume control, hinting at medium-high sensitivity.

Front wall - Dirac On. SS (soundstage) is dialed back about a ft, the previous forward presentation reigned in a bit, becoming more refined. Better, yes, but quite frankly, I am OK with the T1 running naked, sans Dirac. Ice Age continued the theme of refinement, the bass becoming more controlled and extending a bit deeper. TNT with Dirac took the jagged edge off of the lead vocals while leaving enough sharpness to cut the air and ears as it should.

Cardas - With no Dirac, sounded similar to the front wall placement with Dirac, the soundstage pressing left and right a little wider and a bit deeper. Ice Age vocals, on the other hand, went back to being a bit forward on the stage, like with no Dirac on the front wall. TNT had this same forward presentation.

Cardas - Dirac on put the polish on TNT, restraining the vocal bite without blunting the edge. Ice Age, too, with the expanded SS that comes with moving the speakers out, showcasing this song's expansive sound. Chopin, as well, more refined, larger SS&I. A little less UHF top end, likely Dirac doing itsjob of balancing the frequency spectrum.

Sonnie's Comments

I heard the Emotiva speakers at Axpona, but it was in a less than desirable setup for two-channel, with too many people around and not the best seating for two-channel listening. For a movie surround sound setup, it was no doubt one of the rooms to hear. You can probably imagine my anxiousness to hear their Airmotiv speakers in a good two-channel setup, such as my own listening room. I’ve been a big fan of the Emotiva amps, owning some of just about all they have, including my second round of the XPA-1 Monoblocks, in use for this evaluation event. We tried desperately to get a pair of the T2’s sent to us, but after their recent Emofest event, they sold out of all of their latest arrivals. While we would love to have had the T2’s, we don’t feel slighted with the T1’s, with the main difference being the bass drivers. I am not sure we could have withstood the loss of the folded ribbon tweeter, which we are all quite fond of.

Starting out near the front wall, immediately I was astounded by the bass response of these speakers. I was seriously asking myself who would need the larger drivers of the T2’s. These speakers rock! Okay, so maybe I was diggin’ the over-emphasis in the bass region, but it sounded acceptable with these speakers. Mid-bass was also good, until Cassandra Wilson’s voice kicked in, then it was clear the mid-bass needed to be tamed. Once Dirac Live was engaged, they were near the perfect speaker up closer to the wall, lacking only in width and depth of sound stage. It’s almost a given that overall sound stage improves as you bring speakers out from the wall and closer to the listener. However, I don’t know of many speakers at $699 or less that can perform anywhere close to as good as these sound near a wall, so if you can get them at least 3ft from the front of the speaker to the wall, forming a fairly equilateral triangle to the listening position, you will likely be very pleased with these speakers. You might experiment with the toe angle to meet your preference of how they sound in your room.

Raving about how good they sounded nearer to the wall, assuredly they would only get better when pulled out into the room... and they were indeed stellar performers. I am having a hard time thinking of any negatives these speakers have, other than they need Dirac Live in this room to sound there best… just as I suspect it would most likely help in any room. Switching Dirac Live in and out while listening is very revealing of how well the processing works. Purist or not, I would have a very difficult time suggesting these speakers sound better without Dirac Live. The bass is extended and also much smoother, as is the mid-bass. The voices are fuller and clearer. Imaging is tighter and more precise. Everything about the music gets better with Dirac Live, and it makes these speakers really explode. I was shaking my head that they only cost $699 for the pair. Emotiva has done a marvelous job with these speakers. While maybe not the absolute best speakers I have heard in my room, they are at least near the top, and at a crazy good price.

I am driven by extended bass, especially when it is lean and clean. After listening to the T1’s, I don’t think you’d need the T2’s for two-channel, even if there were no subwoofers in the room, as the T1 speakers are that good in the bass region, extending well into the mid 30Hz range. Certainly, if you have subwoofers, the T1’s will save you a few bucks and provide exceptional mid-bass and smooth highs. I suppose if you desire to gain that extra 2-3Hz in bass extension, and you have no plans to add a subwoofer, the T2’s may be better for you. Not having heard the T2’s in my room, there might also be some other characteristics about them that would impress. Either way, the T1’s are highly recommended for a listen from this fellow.

Measurement Plots

Emotiva T1 at wall with and without Dirac, 10 dB offset.


Emotiva T1 out from wall with Dirac.


Emotiva T1 Out From Wall With And Without Dirac - Dirac Live Plot.

Somehow, the original REW plot was lost, so this plot from the Dirac Live calibration tool is being substituted.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall

94 in speaker to LP
120 in center to center
82 in to front wall
56 in to side wall
10 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
JBL Studio 590

jbl_in.png jbl_out.png jbl_crossed.png


The Studio 590 is a ported 2.5-way design consisting of dual 8-inch LF drivers with ribbed PolyPlas cones, and a 1-inch HF compression driver mounted on a glass-filled bi-radial controlled-directivity horn, all with a 2.5-way low-loss 1.5 kHz crossover in a rear-ported cabinet.

The JBL Studio 590 might look a little over-priced for this evaluation, with its $2k retail price tag, but its street price regularly drops to the under-$1,000 range, so we decided that it qualified.

At wall, no Dirac Live

The LF range was dominated by the effects of the room on the rear-ported cabinet. The kick drum and lower notes on Sardines were boomy and flabby, masking clarity. The high end sparkled, sounding very sweet. That Sardines kick drum was BIG, really dominated the sound and the soundstage, its image larger than life. Image Clarity in general was a bit soft, especially on male vocals (Sardines, Roscoe) and the SS was wide but not very deep. The FR was just what the piano on Variations called for, tonality was spot on, even the tinkle was present. I listened in on a few of Dennis’s tracks, and noticed the violin on his Chopin piece seemed a bit strident, but only in this at-wall no-Dirac configuration. The highs from the 590 were quite forward, but seemed very smooth for the most part, a combination I enjoy. The kick drum on Remember was powerful and deep, making LF promises the 590 would find it a challenge to deliver on when Sonnie came to bat. The harmonica on Shame had a stable image that only wandered a little. Echoes on that track were well-formed and strong, another good sign of things to come.

At wall, with Dirac Live

As expected, the bass resonances and flabbiness were flattened and tightened by Dirac’s tummy-tuck, and the SS became deeper with beginning signs of depth acuity, especially for Haley’s voice on Remember and Cindy’s on Shame. Image clarity for male voices was much improved.

Optimum Position 1, Out from the Wall, no Dirac Live

Since the Studio 590 was our only specimen with a horn-loaded tweeter (shipping damage took our other hopeful out of the running), we gave it a good run through, starting with a wide listening angle setup like the others we were working with (Position 1), and then toeing them way in to point directly at the LP, actually crossing just in front of the listener’s face. This later configuration can be just what a horn needs to really shine (Crossed).

At position 1, the 590 SS filled the front of the room clear to the listener, inviting to step right in and be part of the music. That was a neat effect. Depth acuity improved, and was the same in this position both without and with Dirac activated. Imaging was well defined, and Roscoe’s vocalists were well separated. There were still some noticeable bass peaks, but no muddiness or masking of other sounds in the mix. The kick drums on Sardines and Remember were strong, punchy, and tight, both just right.

Piano tonality on Variations was wonderful, almost sparkled, with that beautiful little tinkle I was looking for. The harmonica on Shame was almost still, moving barely enough note-to-note to be noticed, and the echoes on that track were congealing like phantoms in the rafters.

The soundstage was so inviting, like it wanted to adopt the listener right into the mix. The speakers almost completely disappeared, but not quite. Depth acuity REALLY adds to the experience.

Optimum Position 1, Out from the Wall, with Dirac Live

Now the 590 disappeared completely, no sign of them at all sonically. Depth acuity was getting quite good at this point. The opening bongos on Sardines gave me chills, that is what that kind of depth acuity can do for you. Guy Confession - I have had to choke down tears a few times in recent years when face-to-face with a truly stunning level of depth acuity, it is that much of a grab-you-by-the-gut experience. The chills I got from the 590 were a diminuendo version of that response.

All FR abnormalities were flattened and clean, no bloating or ringing, every sound was tight, well defined, punchy, dynamic, delivered with impact. I really cranked up the Variations track, and enjoyed a very dynamic performance, almost like live piano.

The horn never sounded at all like a horn to me. And it usually sounded exceptionally clean. But once in awhile I detected an edge of distortion that I tried to convince myself I must be imagining, then it would hear it again. My suspicion was confirmed by measurements of harmonic distortion approaching 0.5 % in the MF range from the driver/horn combo.

Optimum Position 2, Crossed, Dirac Live on/off

The FR was forward, approaching bright, but very flat. Occasionally, a brighter instrument would be too much for me, like the guitars during the chorus on Roscoe, but not often. There was almost no difference between Dirac off and Dirac on, only a little taming of bass notes and refining of image clarity when on. More chills. These are really impressive speakers. Piano tonality on Variations was near perfect, with just the required amount of upper-mid tinkle. Each note of the piano had its own point claimed inthe soundstage space.

The huge soundstage was deep, about like the Position 1 SS, but more engulfing, if possible, and the depth acuity was quite good. Switching DL off and on showed no shift of image positions in the SS, a controlled-directivity-highs delivery effect.

We realized on Sonnie’s tracks that they could handle his bass pummeling with a little help from a friendly change to the target curve’s bass cutoff point. We usually let Dirac determine where the rolloff should be, but with the 590, that point was set low enough that the lowest bass notes on his evaluation tracks were pushing about 12 dB of gain into those drivers, and they could not keep up, try as they might. On longer bass notes, there was a “wobbling” effect added in, and the entire bass range seemed affected by the strain of it. Moving the rolloff point of the target curve solved the problem (see plots below) with a minor (to me, medium-large to Sonnie) sacrifice in bass extension and a big return of LF clarity on those tracks.

Dennis's Comments
The Studio 590 is a moderately imposing speaker, with the heft to match, one finds when moving it into place.

Front wall, no Dirac. Chopin, leans toward warmth in the midbass region. No stridency in the upper regions, perhaps lacking at the very top. Ice Age bass response was extended, my eyes grew wide with the accompanying thump. Vocals were not quite as vivid, soundstage was a bit compressed, with images crowded together. TNT, the left hand guitar came directly from the loudspeaker. Bon vocals lacked bite, sharpness blunted just a bit, making it easy to TURN IT UP. Details in the music were still easy to unravel even at high volumes.

Front wall, Dirac on, Chopin midbass filled in even more without being overbearing, just becoming even more full-bodied. The UHF high extension improved noticeably. Ice Age, the soundstage widened significantly with improved highs as well. TNT, the guitar was moved outside of the left speakers physical position, the right had that signature distortion fuzz. Scott vocals almost completely lost their edge, making 0 dB reference level listening easy. I do feel the speakers were more exciting to listen to without Dirac, even though response without was obviously less accurate.

Cardas, no Dirac. Chopin, SS&I is much improved, more natural presentation of performers spaced realistically. With Dirac, the sound became a little strident, the main instrument, Bell's violin, distracting attention away from the other instrumentalists. Ice Age, no Dirac. I thought that the images might be posed a little higher in space due to the height of the speakers, this was confirmed by this song, the lead singer seeming to tower over me, just in front if the baffle plane. With Dirac, image height was retained but the lead singer was stepped back behind the baffle plane. Once again, the sound was more exciting sans Dirac. TNT, no Dirac, had a vocal bite that was missing with the front wall placement. Left guitar was pinned slightly left of the speaker position. Dirac retained image height, recessing it slightly. Conversely, the right guitar was brought noticeably forward in the mix.

An extra step was added, wide placement with an extreme toe-in. I took no notes during this particular audition but do remember almost every attribute I liked about the Studio 590 was improved. One thing that did not improve was the mid-highs, which became very sharp and pronounced. This was the only time any type of "horn sound" made itself known to me.

Sonnie's Comments
When someone first recommended these, we were reluctant to review them in this session due to the normal price being $2,000/PR. However, JBL has placed these on sale at least three times this year that I can verify for only $950/PR shipped. From what I read in various places on the Internet when searching for pricing, it seems like JBL sells quite a few of these when on sale, perhaps with the sale price representing a more realistic street price. As I type this, the Studio 580 speakers (a notch below the 590) just happen to be on sale at half price thru JBL.com… and Newegg has the 590 speakers at only $899 shipped, 50 bucks less than JBL has them for when on sale.

When the truck delivered these, I thought for a minute they had sent the wrong speakers. The boxes were huge, and there was good reason… the speakers inside are huge, at least comparing them to most speakers in this price range. As I consider speakers for us to review, I hardly ever account for the size or weight, and the pictures I look at can be deceiving at times. Not that it matters, but I was in no way expecting speakers this large.

I was anxious to hear how they sounded, being one of only a very few horn type speakers I have had in my listening room. While up close to the front wall the bass on Awolnation’s Sail was incredibly powerful with impact that will make you sit up straight. Admittedly it wasn’t accurate (over emphasized), but it was fun. The kick drum on that song is in the 40-50Hz range and so is the 12-15db peak in the response, which explains why I heard what I heard. Yello’s La Habanero also sounded really cool and impactful. Measurements confirmed these extend well below their rated response, down to about 28-29Hz. Adding Dirac Live in the loop actually took away the fun. What I didn’t like about these speakers up closer to the wall was the lack of imaging. The speakers just did not disappear and the sound stage was super narrow, even with Dirac Live engaged. I will give the speakers the benefit of the doubt, as this may have been corrected with more experimentation on the toe-in. It’s unfortunate that we did not have the time needed for it.

With placement out in the room, the sound stage and imaging improved drastically… as some would claim “night and day” difference. However, at loud volumes I heard some strain in the voices during deep bass notes, which is result of the bass drivers handling mid-range duties up to 1.5kHz (crossover point) … and Dirac Live boosting the low end a little too much. On the positive side, placing the speakers out in the room will tremendously help sound stage and imaging. On the negative side, the bass rolls off prematurely, and Dirac Live will account for it with filters to smooth the drop off back up to the target curve. Some speakers can handle it better than others, particularly if they are a 3-way design where the mid-range is not handled by the bass drivers. However, you may still experience some distortion in the bass region at loud volumes. This can actually be controlled by moving the low-end target point to a higher frequency so that Dirac Live does not attempt to fix it. The downside to that is you may lose some of the bass. Despite their large size and larger drivers, these did not seem to handle that added bass boost that well when brought out into the room. When they were up against a wall, they had that natural room gain and it sound good, Dirac Live took that away. These were a mixed bag for me, fun against the wall, but not so fun at louder volumes out in the room. They would probably be fine with a subwoofer involved and crossed over at about 50-60Hz. I did think that they were a little brighter than I prefer for a speaker, and that I might get burnt ear listening to the for long periods of time.

At one of our moderator’s suggestions (MjPoes12), we later decided to set these up per waveguide recommendations, cross firing them just slightly in front of the listener. Running Dirac Live again we noticed the bass response improved and allowed us ample room to move the target curve correction to begin at about 35Hz, the point at where the speakers are actually rated. This prevented Dirac Live from boosting the lower frequencies and putting too much strain on the drivers as those lower frequencies. They sounded about the same for me (less the bass strain), as they handled the bass much better, yet still a little too bright for my listening pleasure.

Measurement Plots

JBL Studio 590 At Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 dB offset.

JBL Studio 590 Out From Wall Position 1 Dirac Project. There is almost 12 dB of gain at 24 Hz.

JBL Studio 590 Out From Wall Crossed Dirac Project. With the LF cutoff point moved up to 36 Hz, gain is 6 dB or under at for the lowest bass notes.

JBL Studio 590 Out From Wall Crossed With And Without Dirac, 10 dB offset.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall, Position 1
92 in speaker to LP
116 in center to center
84 in to front wall
57 in to side wall
17 degrees toe-in

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall, Crossed
98 in speaker to LP
120 in center to center
80 in to front wall
56 in to side wall
39 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
KEF Q900

kef_in.png kef_out.png

The KEF Q900 is a 2.5-way bass reflex design with an 8-inch Uni-Q concentric HF/MF driver array, an 8-inch woofer, and two 8-inch ABR passive radiators. Sensitivity with 2.83 V @ 1 m = 91 dB.

KEF has always had a nostalgic hold on my ears and heart because the first high-end speakers I ever heard years ago were made by KEF. They continue to have impressive demo rooms at audio shows like AXPONA.

At wall, no Dirac Live

Performance close to the wall was fairly good in that, although some bass boost was there on tracks like Remember, it was not severe, nor did it sound muddy. The kick drum on Sardines was concentrated image-wise, but loose-sounding, and this opening track showed some distortion in the mid frequencies that was troublesome. The SS was wide but with no depth. Image clarity was also quite good, the voices on Roscoe were quite clearly placed and well separated.

Tonality was not what I expected. The tone of the piano on Variations simply sounded weird, different. Vocal and instrument on Shame also sounded different tonally from what I am used to.

At wall, with Dirac Live

The SS, which had been somewhat bunched to the middle, spread out more evenly with Dirac Live. The kick drum on Sardines tightened up very nicely, became very concentrated and punchy, with impact. Image clarity sharpened up, but there were still instruments and voices that sounded abnormal and the MF distortion haunted most tracks. I am not sure why Dirac Live did not cure the tonality issues for me.

Optimum position, no Dirac Live

It took awhile to find the best placement for the Q900. After many moves, we finally settled on a position which had “okay” SS&I performance, but not great. About all I could focus on was the mids distortion and the odd tonality that persisted regardless of toe-in or position in the room. Image clarity was improved and bass performance tightened up as expected.

Optimum position, with Dirac Live

In this configuration, the tonality issues finally started to settle down. The piano sound on Variations was much better. The kick drums on Sardines and Remember now sounded tight like they should. IC was also nice and sharp. The SS was spread more evenly, as it did when located close to the wall. Alas, clarity in the mids and highs was simply not to be found in our room.

The evaluation of the KEF Q900 came at a point in our sequence where we were realizing that we had a lot to get done and could ill afford to spend a huge amount of time on a speaker that appeared to have difficult flaws, although we did spend far more time attempting to discover the optimum room position for SS&I with the Q900. We decided to move on to other models and might have come back to the Q900 if time allowed at the end of our weekend. Unfortunately, it did not.

Dennis's Comments
Q900 - Front wall, Chopin no Dirac. SS&I has the typical 2D depth, tonality seems fine. Turning Dirac on raised the overall volume and brought the mix forward, out from the wall a foot or so. That was an interesting turn of events.

Without Dirac, Ice Age gave the same lack of depth impression, with noticeable improvement in clarity gained with Dirac on, adding 3D depth to the previous 2D sound. TNT, the left guitar was projected well to the left, separate from and in front of that speaker. Scott vocals had a bit of bite. Dirac on made the sound a bit more focused and intelligibility increased, but it did collapse the sound stage a bit.

Cardas - No Dirac gave a nice SS&I with a V-shaped frequency balanced character that added excitement to the audition. Dirac seemed to reign in the FR, but returned a sound that made the violin sound as if it were playing out of a can. Ice Age without Dirac had forward, somewhat ragged, indistinct edges around the images. Dirac cleaned it up nicely, walking the performers back in space a bit, separating them from the speaker positions and putting space between them.TNT, no Dirac, guitar is hard left, right has that nice buzz. Bon vocals had a decent amount of bite. With Dirac, his voice was thrown into my face, taking on a nasal characteristic. Kinda of a mixed bag between Dirac and no Dirac.

Sonnie's Comments
Although still available, these have been replaced by the Q950. The new model had not been released when I purchased these last year. The Q900 can be purchased directly from KEF and other outlets at a reduced price of only $1,200. I have read a lot of reviews on the KEF speakers and most were very good. It seems KEF has a pretty serious following, and I was looking forward to getting these in the house and giving them a listen.

While placed near to the front wall, the sound stage was very narrow and imaging was poor without Dirac Live. Once Dirac Live was turned on, they sounded better, but still not what I would want up close to the wall. During the 45Hz drum kick from Awolnation’s Sail, the KEF’s bottomed out much more easily than expected. This was pretty significant in my opinion, due to the fact their response is rated to 32Hz. We were not able to measure that response under any conditions, and I could clearly recognize the lack of extension in my listening sessions. I would think if they were going to dig that low, they would be able to do it closer to the wall where they have boundary gain to help, but it wasn’t happening in this room. They also had a slight tinny sound to them that was prevalent on nearly every song without Dirac Live... but not an issue with it engaged. Perhaps some toe-in experimenting would help as well, but it was not something we had time to do given our schedule, at least not with the speakers close to the wall. That time is better spent where the speakers are going to sound there best out into the room.

These were somewhat more of a challenge to find the best placement out in the room, although we ended up where we initially started, going in circles. The spot where they initially didn’t sound quite right ended up being the spot where they sounded the best. Ultimately, they did sound much better out in the room vs. near the wall. The sound stage and imaging were both significantly improved with Dirac Live engaged. Switching Dirac Live on and off revealed the speakers’ ability to disappear with Dirac Live on. The bass handling capabilities were the only issue for me, otherwise, I liked the way they sounded out in the room with Dirac Live. At lower volumes the bass handling was obviously not an issue, but I thought they were a bit bass shy. At louder volumes, they were simply a no go for me without a sub. I think in most home theaters, they will be fine crossed over at 60-80Hz. At $1,200, these may be a bargain vs. their regular price, that is if you plan to add a sub or don’t play bass heavy music without subs at very loud volumes.

Measurement Plots

KEF Q900 At Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 dB offset. Notice the steepness of the cutoff at LF.

KEF Q900 Out From Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 dB offset. The LF cutoff is even steeper than at the wall, if that is possible.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall
91 in speaker to LP
115 in center to center
81 in to front wall
57 in to side wall
10 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
Monitor Audio Bronze Series 6

monitor_audio_in.png monitor_audio_out.png

The Monitor Audio Bronze Series 6 is a ported 3-way design consisting of dual 6.5 inch woofers, a 6.5 inch midrange driver in its own chamber, topped with a gold-dome tweeter, all in a front/rear-ported cabinet with HiVe II port technology. All drivers drivers feature a C-CAM Cone Profile. Crossovers are at 150 Hz and 2.5 kHz. Sensitivity with 1 W @ 1 m = 90 dB.

At wall, no Dirac Live

Some of the usual bass peakiness was there, but not in a huge amount, and with minimal muddiness on the vocal and piano for Sardines. The kick drum on that track was punchy and concentrated with only a little ringing. The vocals on Roscoe were well separated in the wide SS, but there was no depth at all to it. Haley’s voice on Remember felt particularly accurate and clear, the kick drum on that track deep, strong, and quick.

The Series 6 handled the cranked-up piano dynamics with ease on Variations, delivering the piano sound with great tonality and the perfect tinkle. Image clarity continued to be excellent through Shame, Cindy’s vocals were all from the same golf-ball sized image, echoes were tight and well defined, and the harmonica tones DID NOT MOVE, they all came from the same point in the SS, just like a real harmonica! Nice!

At wall, with Dirac Live

All those great qualities were snugged down even tighter with Dirac Live applied, except for the one that we always want to let loose with a new pair of speakers, the fun factor! It seems that these evaluation weekends deliver enough "same-old" that it is not always easy to tell the models apart. But then something will jump out at you in a particular way that you remember, and you experience a magic moment! With the Series 6, especially on Remember, the soundstage was big, fun, inviting. It felt like it was drawing me closer, promising of more to come. At this point, the SS was still pretty flat, with no depth, but it seemed to be ready to attack when set loose out from the wall. Piano tonality and dynamics were beautiful and clean, popping out of the Series 6 with enthusiasm.

Out from wall, no Dirac Live

The peaky bass persisted in this configuration, although it was never very annoying even close to the wall. Just a little more damping on the kick drum on Sardines would have been nice. Overall, though, the Series 6 were performing admirably in Sonnie’s room, and the flaws mentioned were relatively minor. The soundstage now had some depth, but not overly so, yet it was was still inviting and had a liveliness that was unmistakable.

Out from wall, with Dirac Live

I hoped for more SS depth, but at the same time was not disappointed. The Series 6 had a bit of pop to their delivery, a liveliness that showed up in the piano tinkle on Variations, in the congealing echoes and rock-solid centered harmonica on Shame, in the image clarity and separation on Roscoe.

The Monitor Audio Bronze Series 6 were not perfect, but they were very good in the ways that mattered to me. This is an engaging speaker that would be fun to spend more time with.

Dennis's Comments
Monitor Audio Bronze Series 6 - Front wall, no Dirac. Chopin, SS&I were removed from the wall, 2D still, but in front of speaker plane rather than pinned along the wall. Mellow sound with dished out midrange. Dirac added width to the soundstage and boosted the overall volume a bit. Ice Age, no Dirac, bass plodded along, ill-defined, walking over everything else. Vocals were recessed, pushed down by this perceived bloat. Dirac reversed both of this, while broadening the left/right width of the soundstage. Depth had that 2D front wall presentation, but still with the pleasing, forward-of-the-baffle staging. TNT, no Dirac, left guitar was projected left and forward of the speaker position. The right guitar buzz was muted, lead vocal muted as well, not much bite to it. Dirac added another dimension to the sound, once again spreading it horizontally and even adding a bit of depth, drawing the stage from speaker baffle to the front wall.

Cardas, no Dirac. Chopin, still has that V-shaped sound, recessed and pleasing, but was not as full in frequency balance or staging as with Dirac. Ice Age, vocals are recessed, more distant, with a narrow soundstage, images appearing small as if I were seated toward the back of the hall. Dirac filled in the vocals, making it sound more natural, soundstage widened greatly, highs became less ragged, vocals and digital effects became more distinct. TNT, with no Dirac, the left hand guitar maintained its separation from the speaker, vocals were a bit sharp, the right guitar string buzz present and accounted for. Dirac had little effect on the main vocal sharpness, but did bring the background singers into back into the mix and flattened out the bass hump, which seemed to be a distraction in this bass-light song. Soundstage was widened, too, which was a lot of fun considering the sound was well separated from the loudspeakers themselves, already.

Sonnie's Comments
I first heard Monitor Audio at Capital Audio Fest several years ago. Those were the Platinum Series PL200’s and they were something special… one of my favorites at that show. I begged the guys at Monitor Audio to send us speakers for an evaluation, but they never would oblige us. For this round we managed to get our hands on a pair of the Bronze Series 6. The Series 6 have the C-CAM® drivers, a 2.5-way design with dual 6.5 bass drivers with their HiVe® port technology claiming “seismic low bass”, plus a 6.5” mid-range driver in a dedicated chamber, and their new C-CAM® gold dome tweeter.

After getting them placed close to the front wall and beginning my listening session, I found the Series 6 to have good bass extension, tight, not bloated like we sometimes get close to a wall. However, it sounded like the majority of the sound was coming from a funnel just right of center and mid-height in a very reserved sound stage. Triggering Dirac Live brought more life to the sound, centering the image and broadening the sound stage. They were no different than any other speaker I’ve ever heard close to the front wall in that the width of sound stage was still limited, even with Dirac Live, and depth was minimal at best. The bass still sounded good and the speakers were able to handle loud passages with ease. These were not bad at all for near the wall placement, although I would definitely recommend sufficient processing.

Out in the room we found placement relatively easy and the sound was excellent once Dirac Live was processing the signal. I pointed out to Wayne how I could actually hear the string buzz on the big bass during Cassandra Wilson’s Strange Fruit with Dirac Live engaged, and could not hear it nearly as well without it. I can’t think of a speaker I have heard that did not sound better with some sort of processing, whether it be Audyssey or Dirac Live, and Dirac Live is my preference, as I have seen and heard much better results using it vs Audyssey. I can’t imagine even bothering with setting up a system without it now… it really is that good, and can make the average speaker sound pretty good.

Overall, the Series 6 speakers are yet another excellent speaker with a lot going for it, with good tight extended bass and smooth midrange and highs. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these speakers. They will work near a front wall, and sound even better if you can pull them out into the room and find the right placement, which shouldn’t be too difficult to do.

Measurement Plots

Monitor Audio Bronze Series 6 At Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 dB Offset.

Monitor Audio Bronze Series 6 Out From Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 dB Offset.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall
93 in speaker to LP
118 in center to center
81 in to front wall
56 in to side wall
12 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
Polk Signature S60

polk_in.png polk_out.png

The Polk Signature S60 is a “4-driver cascading tapered crossover array” design featuring a 1-inch Terylene HF driver and three 6-inch MF/LF drivers with mica-reinforced polypropylene cones and 4-layer voice coils, and the Polk Power Port omnidirectional bass port on the bottom of the cabinet. The tapered crossover array helps smooth driver integration. Anti-diffraction cabinet and grille designs promote sharp imaging. Sensitivity with 1 W @ 1 m = 90 dB. The Polk Power Port makes the S60 more placement-friendly, balancing boundary reinforcement and smoother bass response when located closer to a wall.

At wall, no Dirac Live

The mid-frequency trough in the frequency response was quite obvious close to the wall, forcing tonality issues upon most of my tracks. The kick drum, vocals, and piano on Sardines were all very thick and heavy, with the vocal/piano combo especially bloated and muddy on more resonant notes. On Roscoe, the SS was very wide with good separation above the lower-mids muddiness, but had no depth.

The kick drum on Remember was deeper than the frequencies of those response peaks, so that track came across fairly clean. Goes to show that one or two test tracks are not enough, you have to make sure your tracks hit all the potential trouble-trigger points to really know what a speaker will do in a given configuration.

Piano dynamics were handled well on Variations, although overall tonality of the Overs piano was less than true. On Shame, Cindy’s vocals were off-center and the HF sheen on her voice was not centered on the main vocal image.

At wall, with Dirac Live

The main tonality issues were resolved by the addition of Dirac Live. The piano sound was true, but still no magical tinkle. All muddiness and bloating were completely gone and the sought-after punch and impact were just what was needed for the kick drum on Sardines. The difference experienced by applying Dirac Live would stump most listeners in a blind test, myself included. Same speaker? No way! The difference is one of the more dramatic I have heard simply by applying Dirac Live.

In fact, I realized, the S60 had completely disappeared, like a magic trick! Impressive! The SS had grown but still had little depth. But what was there was spacious and open, with improved precision and image clarity..

Optimum position, no Dirac Live

Some of the tonality issues had returned, although the muddiness was only slight on the worst of those resonant notes. Other than an occasionally, the presentation was now quite clean, the SS was very wide and had some depth and good depth acuity. Images were only somewhat sharper on Roscoe, but the depth acuity on those voices was distinctive. Cindy’s vocal on Shame was also a little sharper than before, with a disproportionate - but welcome - improvement in depth acuity.

The soundstage was actually quite fun. I especially noticed on Roscoe, with the distance to each of those voices pegged before me in the air. The overall sound was a tad raw, but in this case it had the effect of enlivening the soundstage.

Optimum position, with Dirac Live

Soundstage depth and depth acuity were further improved, IC in general was sharper and clearer. Tonality was finally right on, even the required tinkle was present. SS was very wide and had decent depth.

The Polk Signature S60 performed very well for us. I even found myself rooting for them. With image clarity a little sharper and more SS depth, they would be awesome speakers indeed. The real surprise, however, was how well they sounded close to the wall with Dirac Live on. Even though some SS&I qualities were not at their best, the S60 did a complete disappearing act in the soundstage, and that is not an easy thing to pull off. Where a “close-to-the-wall” solution has been mandated, and room correction is on the menu (DL specifically), the S60 should be considered.

Dennis's Comments
Polk Signature S60 - Front wall, no Dirac. Chopin, does impressively well on the wall, but Dirac did improve everything across the board. Ice Age, on the other hand, had bloated midbass, chesty female vocal quality and the highs seemed rolled off. Dirac, switched on, transported me into a whole 'nother room, seemingly much larger in scale. TNT, no Dirac, the guitar is a nice far left, Bon vocal has bite, but not overly so. Right guitar is there, but at reduced level, further back on the stage rather than upfront with the rest of the guys. Dirac cleaned these anomalies right up, taking a little bit more of the edge off of the vocals while leaving some sharpness intact. Dirac took the SS&I out in width, but still in 2D in depth.

Cardas, no Dirac. Background instruments are not divorced from the speakers, main violin is central, but too wide in image, the performer is overblown in scope. Dirac did step the background instruments back, away from the listener, located well behind the loudspeaker plane. Violin image became smaller in scope, gaining a more life-like size and perspective. Ice Age - SS&I was, for the most part, placed behind the speaker plane, but was still a bit diffuse with images somewhat instinct. Dirac pinned everything back onto a virtual stage and refined the images into pinpoints, placing air between the performers. TNT, no Dirac, the left guitar came directly from that speaker, centrally, Bon's head was 2 ft. wide, with the vocal bite moderate, the right guitar buzz was indistinct, however. I admit puzzlement, here. Dirac, once again, snapped the entire picture into focus. I could actually hear the bass drum clearly, hard to do on this album which lacks any real bass, a testament to Polk and Dirac. Guitars still came right from the speaker locations, although Bon was set back a few feet on the stage, physically. His vocal bite was accentuated with an increased sharpness over no Dirac.

Another mixed bag for DSP or not, in my experience.

Sonnie's Comments
The first Polk speakers I heard were the LSiM705’s in this same room over 3 years ago. We were all raving about how well they performed near the wall. The S60 speakers are about 1/3 the price of admission vs the 705’s and would have some big shoes to fill if they were to perform as well as the 705’s did a few years back. However, the S60’s will have an advantage the 705’s did not have a few years back… you guessed it, Dirac Live. That is at least as far as what I prefer. I realize not everyone agrees with processing like I do… it is certainly the option of each listener. The S60’s are good looking speakers, very solid and well built. They have what Polk has labeled their “exclusive Power Port bass enhancing technology” with claims of extension to 26Hz… and Terylene tweeters for “crystal clear highs”, a soft dome material I had not heard of until now.

Right out of the gate and near the front wall, these speakers were absolutely awesome when tuned with Dirac Live. I won’t say much about what they sounded like without it, but they weren’t bad, just not as good. The sound stage width was surprisingly about as good as it gets near the wall, nice and wide, but it still lacked that depth that I prefer and have become accustomed to with speakers pulled out from the front wall. The bass was deep and articulate, hitting hard… I liked it. The mid-range and highs were well balanced and presented the music very well. While I surely did not expect it, in my opinion the S60’s filled the shoes of the 705’s and then some.

All that good talk about them… all excited about pulling them out from the wall, and thud! Then comes the big disappointment for me (I really hate when this happens) … a super great sounding speaker near the wall loses that deep extended bass when it’s brought out into the room. Granted we expect it to lose some, but there was a good 10Hz drop-off from the near wall response, and I could easily recognize the loss. Dirac Live can’t make up for that kind of loss without putting too much strain on the bass drivers, if we had tuned it to boost the low end to match the near wall response. Don’t get me wrong, all the great qualities of the near wall sound were there and the depth of sound stage was very good, but the bass all but disappeared. I sure was looking forward to this speaker being outstanding all around, but it didn’t quite make the mark. As hard as it is to say it, I believe I would prefer these nearer to the wall with the deeper bass qualities and loss of sound stage depth.

The S60’s could possibly perform better in a narrower room where the down firing power port could take advantage of boundary gain from the side walls. Then, with them placed out from the front wall, you might very well get the deep bass and depth acuity. Naturally that is all speculation, but it sounds logical. Again… not a bad speaker, but just not necessary a good fit for my room. I would not at all let this evaluation prevent you from trying them in your own environment. Under the right circumstances, I believe these could be great speakers to listen to.

Measurement Plots
Polk Signature S60 At Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 DB Offset.


Polk Signature S60 Out From Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 DB Offset.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall
90 in speaker to LP
110 in center to center
84 in to front wall
60 in to side wall
4 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
Scansonic M9

scansonic_in.png scansonic_out.png

The Scansonic M9 is a ported 3-way design featuring a sealed tweeter with sandwiched kapton-aluminum membrane for extended highs and fast transient response, dual paper-propylene mid-bass drivers in an MTM arrangement with the tweeter, and a single side-firing 8-inch woofer in a front-ported cabinet. The M9 comes with a base plate that tilts the cabinet back slightly and puts the LP closer to the vertical tweeter axis.

The side-firing woofer threw an additional variable into the mix. We started our evaluation with the two cabinets set so those 8-inch drivers faced outward, then wondered if swapping cabinets might improve SS&I. Using the same floor locations, we traded places for the two cabinets, and found that the soundstage went from fairly good to muddled and incoherent. Experience and finite time limitations told us to go with the better-sounding and and easier-to-determine configuration, with woofers pointed outward.

At wall, no Dirac Live

On Sardines, the kick drum was a little ringy, not tight, while having the concentrated and punchy quality that I appreciate. There was a BIG bass peak that got triggered by certain vocal and piano notes and really sounded bloated. Overall tonality was a bit off with a scooped midrange sound. SS was very wide, image clarity was fair. There was something about highs that I was not not crazy about. On Roscoe, image clarity was fair, the voices were not very well separated. Remember’s kick drum was tight, SS was quite wide.

On Remember, the lower frequency range of the big drum kept it out of the trigger range that excited the LF bloating or ringing, so that sound was quick and tightly damped. Dynamics from the piano on Variations were handled with ease. On Shame, the harmonica tones were all over the place in the SS, but the echoes were well formed.

At wall, with Dirac Live

Sardines - the Dirac Live did a great job of bringing sanity to the sonic situation, the kick drum was very punchy, focused, and tight, with no ringing, and very even FR and tonality, with no bloated notes. The SS was very wide, imaging was tighter, the hf “problem”’ was not in evidence and was not heard again. Roscoe’s image clarity was a little better. The piano on Variations now had some tinkle. The image clarity on Shame was still off a little with the sheen on Cindy’s voice being not quite on target with the rest of that image.

Optimum position, with and without Dirac Live

The soundstage grew, with improved image clarity, but some of the LF room anomalies returned, including bass peaks and a little bloating on the occasional low note. The Overs piano on Variations sounded more like a Bosendorfer with the scooped midrange, not a bad piano sound, but also not true to the recording. The beginnings of some depth acuity were appearing along with the deeper, wider soundstage.

Applying Dirac Live in this speaker position really dressed up the sound of the M9. Image clarity became very sharp and precise. The soundstage, which was clearly pulled toward the middle of the room without the processing, was pulled outward and evenly distributed, feeling better organized with good separation on the voices of Roscoe. Harmonica tones settled down, the HF sheen on Cindy’s voice was on target, depth acuity improved a little, and the M9 were acting very grown up. The piano sound was truer, back to the desired Overs sound with the perfect amount of tinkle.

Our Scansonic M9 experience provided a great example of what room placement do for a speaker.
  • At the wall, no DL, “OK” SS&I performance with bloated bass and inaccurate FR. There are exceptions to this, but they are difficult to predict. A front-ported cabinet can help, but is not a cure-all.
  • At the wall, with DL, SS&I greatly improved along with FR, still some imperfections in evidence.
  • Optimum position, no DL, SS&I gathered to the middle, FR good but not great.
  • Optimum position, with DL, SS&I now all sorted out, big, coherent, with wide-open spaces between images, and FR anomalies all put to bed so the grownups can crank it up and have some fun.
Here is a good place in our evaluations to reiterate the role of room with any speaker type. I believe our experience will be reflected, in essence, in most typical or well-treated rooms, but there will certainly be exceptions.

The Scansonic M9 is not the best choice for a close-to-wall setup, but out in the room, as we recommend, especially with a touch of the right correction, they sounded excellent, and were a very enjoyable speaker to experience.

Dennis's Comments
Scansonic M9 - Front all, no Dirac. Chopin, 6 seconds in, and again at 15 seconds, I heard a resonance (recording venue, instrument?), a small detail I had not noticed before. SS&I were bunched up in the center on a 2D plane with little separation between the performers. Dirac retained the resonance heard before as well as widening the 2D soundstage, putting air between the instruments. Ice Age, no Dirac, the lead vocal image is huge and a few feet forward of the speaker plane. Lots of detail, with accompanying digital sounds spread medium-sized across the front wall. Dirac, dialed the vocals back and tamed the treble considerably, treble that was a bit bright but not really troublesome. TNT, no Dirac. "Warm" and fuzzy in the midbass, vocals pierced a bit. Left guitar was almost detached from that speaker's physical position. Right guitar seemed a bit distant, the string buzz came through OK. I did prefer this song without Dirac.

Cardas, no Dirac. Chopin had lots of depth to the SS, accompanying instruments projected far left and right behind the speaker plane, but were just a bit thin in sound, midbass seemingly depressed. Dirac added body to the presentation without adversely affecting the spacious soundstage. Ice Age had larger than life vocals, digital sounds were panned over quite a large area, even to the front outsides if the speakers. Amazingly, Dirac was able to expand the already grand soundstage even further. TNT, the left guitar seemed to hang in midair, vocals had the perfect amount of edginess, right-side guitar had the buzz intact, a bit reduced but present and accounted for. Once again. Dirac collapsed the soundstage and took some of the top end sparkle away. Low bass and kick drum were improved, becoming more defined.

Sonnie's Comments
Mention “ribbon planar tweeter” and you get my attention. Scansonic speakers are made by the same company and design team as the well regarded Raidho speaker line. The M9 is on the lower end of the price spectrum, but it is one nicely finished speaker. It’s a 3-way design with a pair of 4.5” mid-bass/mid-range drivers, an 8” side-firing woofer, topped off with a sealed ribbon tweeter with a Kapton/aluminum sandwiched membrane. Upon delivery, I was shocked at how small they were… very narrow with only 4.5” drivers. These were not speakers I was interested in owning, so I did not investigate them prior to having Walter at Underwood HiFi ship them to me. Walter sent out one of his broadcast emails and I happen to see them listed among all of the very nice high-end gear he sells. They caught my attention with the price and I immediately thought these would be good to have as part of our evaluation event. I did not research them at the time and I did not realize the drivers were only 4.5” (they looked bigger in the email pictures). I shot him an email and asked him to ship them to me. They came in and sat in my shop for quite some time before I eventually unboxed them. I am not sure how I missed it, but when I unboxed them, I was not only surprised by the small speakers… but I also did not remember the side-firing woofer, so that relieved my concerns about how this small speaker was going to reproduce any worthwhile bass.

We placed these up near the front wall for our first listening session, as we typically do in these events. When I initially listened without Dirac Live, I was sorely disappointed… something about the sound wasn’t right. I was thinking it had something to do with the side-firing woofer. Perhaps we should have them firing inward instead of towards the outer wall. I have a hard time describing what I heard, but it was if the sound was coming from a big hole in between the speakers. Fortunately, engaging Dirac Live made a huge difference. I would not be able to live with these without Dirac Live… and with it in the loop, they sounded phenomenal near the wall. The bass was well extended with a very smooth mid-range and top end. I was really liking how nice and smooth the top end sounded.

Placing these out from the wall was a challenge. Facing the side-firing woofer inward cut off about 15-20Hz of the lower frequencies vs firing them out, but the imaging was sharper. Ultimately, we were able to find better placement for imaging and regain most of the lower frequencies by firing the woofer out towards the wall. I say “most” of the lower frequencies because for improved imaging we had to move the speakers closer together by about 6-8”, which caused us to still lose a slight amount of boundary gain. Much to my surprise, the bass was still excellent and the sound stage was nice and wide, with good depth. The only issue I had with these speakers is when Dirac Live was disengaged the bass was muddy and the imaging muffled, which tells me the room was heavily influencing how these speakers sounded, in a much more negative way that what I typically hear. Thankfully Dirac Live made these speakers sound super nice, and it represented the most drastic difference I have heard to date between processed and non-processed sound. Overall, these speakers are superb, they look sharp and have one of the smoothest sounds I’ve heard in a speaker.

Measurement Plots

Scansonic M9 At Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 DB Offset.

Scansonic M9 At Wall_ Woofers To Inside, With And Without Dirac, 10 DB Offset.

Scansonic M9 Out From Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 DB Offset. Soundstage and imaging (SS&I) were improved with woofers to the inside, but bass suffered. This configuration had woofers firing outward but speaker-to-speaker placement reduced to give acceptable SS&I and bass at the same time.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall
87 in speaker to LP
100 in center to center
83 in to front wall
65 in to side wall
40 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
SVS Prime Towers

svs_in.png svs_out.png

The SVS Prime Tower is a ported 3.5-way design with a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter, a 4.5-inch midrange driver sealed in its own chamber to reduce coloration, and dual 6.5-inch woofers, each in its own sealed chamber with its own crossover frequency and custom port tuning. Cabinet chamfers reduce diffraction and improve image clarity. Sensitivity with 1 W @ 1 m = 87 dB.

I reviewed the Prime Tower shortly after they were introduced and was both baffled and impressed by its ability to image flawlessly and cast a grand soundstage regardless of setup toe-in angle, a critical parameter for most speakers. I could hardly wait to hear them in Sonnie’s room, but had to wait for their turn last in our lineup.

At wall, with and without Dirac Live

Close to the wall, the Prime Tower was not immune from room effects. There were some of the same LF response peaks and muddiness we have noticed with other models when they were triggered by corresponding vocal and piano tones on Sardines. The soundstage was wide but gathered somewhat to the center. Image clarity was quite good. Loud piano passages on Variations were handled with no sign of breakup or distortion, those dynamics reproduced faithfully.

Switching on Dirac Live spread the soundstage evenly and tightened the imaging. Image clarity on Roscoe was tight with clear space between the voices, all nicely sorted out and organized. What a great little sonic housekeeper, that Dirac Live, sometimes I wish it did vacuuming and putting loose cables away, too. Low frequency response was evened out as well, and the kick drum on Sardines, a critical and telltale test sound for me, was tight, impactful, and focused. The deep kick drum on Remember had all the right depth and punch and was quick and clean.

Optimum position, with and without Dirac Live

As expected, pulling the Prime Tower out into the room was a simple operation, with a minor adjustment needed to tame the HF end slightly. A good performer already, they had left little room for improvement out from the wall. The raw soundstage was slightly compressed, still with tight image clarity, and that SS compression was only noticeable via direct A-B comparison with Dirac Live switched on and off. The soundstage now took on greater depth and quite noticeable depth acuity. With Dirac applied, the soundstage was spread out more evenly, but there was little difference other than that, and little need for further change. Kick drums were tight and properly damped, vocals were free of muddiness, very clean. Image clarity was exceptional, handling of dynamic piano on Variations was clean and had the desired tinkle in its tone. The wandering harmonica notes on Shame were tightly grouped, but not perfectly so. The vocals on that track imaged just right, the background synth present in the right amount, the echoes tightly coalesced.

The SVS Prime Tower is an impressive little powerhouse, and yet another model in our group that is easy to place in a room. SVS, and companies like them, give me hope. Soundstage and imaging, once left up to luck and ingenuity and a ton of experimentation on the part of the user, are now being given design priority, and the audio world is better off for it. Listen and enjoy!

Dennis's Comments
SVS Prime Tower - Front wall, no Dirac. Chopin had surprising depth, or rather, a projection of the soundstage from the front wall, about 3 ft. into the room. Dirac maintained that moderate sense of depth while leveling out the frequency balance. Ice Age, no Dirac, had peaked midbass response, with natural vocals and a 3D layer of the incidental digital sounds. Dirac added a few more layers to the depth and width perception, balancing the midbass and was able to improve the already wonderful vocals even further. TNT, no Dirac, the background vocals, "Oi, oi!", had an edge to them, main vocals had a bit of bite, too. Left guitar was detached from the left speaker location, the right guitar included that nice string buzz sound and the snare drum had wonderful rasp and pop character. Dirac smoothed the frequency response and allowed me to crank up the volume.

Cardas, no Dirac. With Chopin, as would be expected, this position increased the perception of depth, giving a full dose of the hall sound. Dirac on narrowed the soundstage, softened the midbass peak and reduced the main violin highs. Ice Age, no Dirac, vocals and digital effects have mid-high sparkle, a little bite added. Dirac tamed this and expanded the soundstage slightly, detaching digital background effects from the speakers. TNT, no Dirac, the Bon bite is sharp, left guitar sound came directly from speaker, right guitar buzz was softened. Dirac corrected this and brought the snare and bass guitar more into the mix, too. I was left with the final impression that these speakers can CRANK and still unravel the music's details.

Sonnie's Comments
I worked for SVS back when the Prime Towers came out and never could get them to send me a pair for evaluation. It wasn’t their fault… the speakers were selling like hot cakes and simply were not available to spare. This is my first time hearing the Prime Towers, a 3.5-way system with the bottom 6.5” woofer handling frequencies up to 165Hz, the top 6.5” woofer crossed over at 350Hz, with a 4.5” mid-range working from 350Hz up to 2.1kHz, and a 1” aluminum dome tweeter handling the higher frequencies. The piano black finished pair we received were good looking speakers, and possibly the shortest tower speakers I have had in this room. That did not stop them from producing big sound.

Near the wall the Prime Towers were another one of those speakers I would call fun to listen to without any processing, with a nice room boundary gain boost in the right spot, although knowingly it was not as accurate as it should be. While the sound stage had the width it should have had, the imaging was not quite spot on. The trumpet on the left side of the stage on Cassandra Wilson’s Strange Fruit was too centered, with or without Dirac Live. I would still consider these good speakers to own without any processing, and they would be fine contenders for near wall placement. I believe most listeners would like the bass response with or without processing, naturally depending on the music being played.

Placement out from the wall was relative simple with the Prime Towers, and with these speakers there was probably the least variance in sound between Dirac Live engaged and disengaged. There were some differences, but not to an extent I couldn’t live without processing. Okay… I had my fingers crossed, I must have processing, I cannot lie… it is what it is. I thought the sound stage was good and wide, with plenty of depth, and the bass was excellent with good extension. I noticed they might have been just ever so slightly on the bright side, so Wayne and I changed the angle of the toe out to about 5 degrees and it was gone without sacrificing imaging, which is a compliment to the ease of placement these speakers possess. I would still say these are more on the forward side vs the laid-back side, but in a good way. It depends on what I am listening to as to what I might prefer from the mid to upper range area. All in all, I like these speakers and how easy they are to setup with minimal variances between Dirac Live processed and unprocessed sound. You don’t find these often. I am not sure how SVS accomplished it, but it’s good that they will likely work in a variety of settings. Kudos to SVS!

Measurement Plots

SVS Prime Tower At Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 DB Offset.

SVS Prime Tower Out From Wall With And Without Dirac, 10 DB Offset.

Physical Measurements, Optimum Position Out from the Wall
96 in speaker to LP
120 in center to center
79 in to front wall
56 in to side wall
11 degrees toe-in
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
speakers_all.png wayne_dennis_sonnie.png

The speakers and the evaluators.
 
Last edited:

AudiocRaver

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
773
Location
Lincoln, NE, USA
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Onkyo TX-SR705 Receiver
Main Amp
Crown XLS 1502 DriveCore-2 (x2 as monoblock)
Additional Amp
Behringer A500 Reference Power Amplifier
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Electromotion ESL Electrostatic (x2)
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom Center
Surround Speakers
NSM Audio Model 5 2-Way (x2)
Subwoofers
JBL ES150P Powered Subwoofer (x2)
A few thoughts in summary:
These evaluation GTG weekends are always a lot of fun. But there are usually a few specific unpredictable factors that make them special. A big surprise for me was the number of models that gave us a great SS&I performance and were quite easy to set up. We have done these speaker evaluation events in the past and had to spend awhile adjusting most speakers for best image clarity and soundstage. Of the speakers on hand for this event, it seemed that about half of them set up quickly with little or no adjusting, and that only a couple were really troublesome. There are two possible explanations. One is that we have done this enough times with enough different models and types of speakers that we are getting pretty good at it. The other is that speakers are being designed with better SS&I performance in mind.

I would be tickled to think that there is some truth in both of these possibilities, but it is the latter that is really satisfying, that with all the fuss we make about SS&I, that maybe a few designers are listening and making soundstaging and image clarity a priority, rather than crossing fingers that it will somehow be OK and maybe blaming our approach when it is not.

Of course, we are not the only reviewers who put a premium on SS&I. But speaker builders must be at least a little market driven, so until a part of the market is making a big deal about a listening parameter, especially one that is hard to define and plan for, it is reasonable to think that parameter might not get the emphasis we would like it to. If we at AV NIRVANA have made even a tiny difference in getting speaker buyers and speaker manufacturers thinking about the best possible qualities of the best possible sound, we are happy for the benefit it brings the audio community.

The other thought I had concerning a few specific moments during our listening time, is how an emotional moment can really sneak up on you. There are usually at least one or two of these for me over an intensive three-day work/fun GTG like this. They strike fast and hard when they do show up, and then are gone again just as quickly. And they might be associated with a speaker that is not even a favorite, or that has other serious strikes against it.

As important as it is to keep our objective and subjective wits working together as one during these evaluations, so we can keep our heads on straight and report accurately in a way that is meaningful to our readers, I also feel it is important to give you a peek at these inner experiences when they do occur and to relate the objective drivers leading up to that experience as best I can. After all, it is the little thrills and chills, the catch in the throat, maybe even an occasional tear about an image that sounds like the real deal, a soundstage that bristles with energy like some alien entity, a revelation of inner detail never before laid bare in quite the way a certain speaker can, those are the moments we remember, the moments we treasure as listeners and love to reproduce to pass along to our friends. So, sappy as it might sound in a serious review, and without going overboard, I enjoy sharing those moments and experiences with you. If they can be made somehow reproducible and be duplicated for a few of you, it is worth any personal wear and tear. And what are a few tears and hugs among friends, anyway?

THANK YOU!
I wish to thank Sonnie for hosting and grilling and procuring a stellar lineup of speakers to evaluate, and Angie and Gracie the cat for putting up with us. The moment I first saw Angie, I started out, “Well, here goes again!” and she joked back, “I know it, you crazy men and your house full of speakers again!” She is a good sport and a wonderful hostess.

Thanks ro Sonnie and Dennis for their ears and for a way of listening and communicating that helps keep us all honest and accurate in our assessments and our reporting. And although Todd was unable to join us for the weekend, he was there in spirit and support and I thank him for his fine writing and reported on our writing and reporting. My thanks to Sonnie, Dennis, and Todd for their friendship and the brotherhood we share in this play that we call work.

Thanks to the manufacturers and marketeers for sharing their wares with us to pick apart and analyze and enjoy. We are honored to be trusted as they do, that we might open a window that accurately sheds light both subjectively and objectively on their products. We do take that role seriously.

And thanks to you all, our members, readers, contributors, sponsors, and advertisers for your help, comments, questions, and mouse clicks, and for much of the equipment and test gear we have for this task. We value you all and appreciate your involvement in this fun venture. Thanks for following us to AV NIRVANA and allowing us to feed your informational hunger concerning audio products and technology.

We are beginning to plan for our next evaluation event already. Watch for news of the when and where and what, to be announced soon. In the mean time, stick around!
 
Last edited:

bkeeler10

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
297
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
NAD T758 v3
Main Amp
Outlaw Model 7125
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Oppo BDP-103/Panasonic UB820
Front Speakers
Revel Concerta2 F36
Center Channel Speaker
Revel Concerta2 F36
Surround Speakers
Revel Concerta2 M16
Surround Back Speakers
Revel Concerta2 M16
Front Height Speakers
Tannoy AMS 6DC
Rear Height Speakers
Tannoy AMS 6DC
Subwoofers
Rythmik F18 (2)
Other Speakers or Equipment
miniDSP 2x4
Video Display Device
JVC DLA-RS440
Screen
Seymour AV retractable 110" 2.35 AR (UF material)
Ah, this is like the good old days. Looking forward to everybody's comments. Have fun gentlemen!
 

Todd Anderson

News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
4,964
Location
Balt/Wash Metro
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha RX-A3050
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-5
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Gen 2 4xStereo 2XSingle
Other Amp
VSX-1016THX
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-203
Front Speakers
SVS Ultra Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Ultra Center
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC RS520
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, OPPO Sonica
I'm definitely curious to read the results of this session... tons of of awesome gear there!
 

tripplej

AV Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Messages
3,807
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
NAD T-777
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Oppo 103 Blu Ray Player
Front Speakers
7 Paradigm Reference series 8" in ceiling speakers
Subwoofers
2 Paradigm SE Subs
Other Speakers or Equipment
Nintendo Wii U Gaming Console
Video Display Device
Samsung UN75F8000 LED TV
Remote Control
Universal Remote MX-450
Other Equipment
Sony PS4 Gaming Console, Panamax MR-5100 Surge
Yeah, Inquiring minds are curious. .:)
 

JBrax

Senior AV Addict
VIP Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
1,409
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Marantz sr7010
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-3
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Samsung K8500
Front Speakers
Klipsch rf-7 II
Center Channel Speaker
Klipsch rc-64 II
Surround Speakers
Klipsch rs-42 II
Surround Back Speakers
Klipsch rb-51 II
Front Height Speakers
Klipsch rb-51 II
Rear Height Speakers
Klipsch rb-51 II
Subwoofers
SVS PB12-NSD (X2)
Other Speakers or Equipment
Panamax M5300
Video Display Device
Sony Bravia XBR65-930D
Remote Control
Logitech Harmony One
Other Equipment
PS4
Looking forward to this evaluation. It would be cool if you could livestream these events!
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2017
Messages
10
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Arcam AVR300
Main Amp
Adcom GFA-5500 rebuilt with Silmic II caps (L+R)
Additional Amp
Acurus/Mondial A200x3 (Center + Surround)
Other Amp
Arcam AVR300 for 7.1 option in future
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Panny DMP BDT500, Toshiba SD9200, Chromecast Audio
Front Speakers
Chane A2.4 Prototypes
Center Channel Speaker
Phantom (for now)
Surround Speakers
Chane A3rx-c
Subwoofers
None (for now)
Other Speakers or Equipment
MiniDSP 2x4HD, Darbee DVP-5000s
Video Display Device
Vizio 55" XVT w/ FALD LED Panel
Remote Control
Factory/OEM (all ten of them)
Other Equipment
Belkin PureAV PF30, TrippLite IsoBar 4 Ultra
Can't. Hardly. Wait.

I'm very interested to see what the listeners impressions are on the Dirac vs No-Dirac for both the near wall and far wall series.

I've got a MiniDSP 2x4HD that can be upgraded to full Dirac Live capability via software from MiniDSP. This might push me over the edge toward that upgrade.
 

Sonnie

Senior Admin
Staff member
Joined
Apr 2, 2017
Messages
2,095
Location
Alabama
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
NAD T-758 AVR
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-1 Gen 2 Monoblocks
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Seven
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-205 4K UHD Player
Front Speakers
Emotiva T2
Center Channel Speaker
Emotiva C2
Surround Speakers
Emotiva T1
Front Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Rear Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Subwoofers
Dual Custom Built 18" Subs
Video Display Device
Epson 4040
Screen
Elite Screen
Remote Control
Universal MX-890
I almost feel like this was as much about Dirac Live as it was the speakers for me... I made comparisons with and without in every listening session. It just makes so much difference in how the speakers sound.
 

bkeeler10

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
297
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
NAD T758 v3
Main Amp
Outlaw Model 7125
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Oppo BDP-103/Panasonic UB820
Front Speakers
Revel Concerta2 F36
Center Channel Speaker
Revel Concerta2 F36
Surround Speakers
Revel Concerta2 M16
Surround Back Speakers
Revel Concerta2 M16
Front Height Speakers
Tannoy AMS 6DC
Rear Height Speakers
Tannoy AMS 6DC
Subwoofers
Rythmik F18 (2)
Other Speakers or Equipment
miniDSP 2x4
Video Display Device
JVC DLA-RS440
Screen
Seymour AV retractable 110" 2.35 AR (UF material)
Sonnie,

After having listened to all the speakers Dirac'd, do you feel like the various speakers stand out less in terms of their character? That is, do they all basically sound the same tonally after Dirac, (except in the bass where their abilities differ, no doubt)?
 

Sonnie

Senior Admin
Staff member
Joined
Apr 2, 2017
Messages
2,095
Location
Alabama
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
NAD T-758 AVR
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-1 Gen 2 Monoblocks
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Seven
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-205 4K UHD Player
Front Speakers
Emotiva T2
Center Channel Speaker
Emotiva C2
Surround Speakers
Emotiva T1
Front Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Rear Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Subwoofers
Dual Custom Built 18" Subs
Video Display Device
Epson 4040
Screen
Elite Screen
Remote Control
Universal MX-890
Not at all... they do not all sound the same with Dirac Live. While Dirac Live improves them all to some extent, they each still have their own character, although some may have similar characteristics about them.
 

Mark C Flick

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 17, 2017
Messages
347
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Denon 3805
Main Amp
Acurus A250
Additional Amp
Acurus 200X3
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP-S5100
Front Speakers
RBH Signature Classic 1266-SE
Center Channel Speaker
RBH Signature Classic 661-SE
Surround Speakers
RBH Signature Classic 66-SE
Subwoofers
RBH Signature Classic 1212-SE
Other Speakers or Equipment
Kenwood CT-406
Video Display Device
Sony KDL-40S5100
Other Equipment
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC)
That's a bit disappointing, I was really looking forward to hear what you all thought of the Klipsch. There has been a lot of good press about them and I was really curious to know if that tweeter had been tamed.
 

Sonnie

Senior Admin
Staff member
Joined
Apr 2, 2017
Messages
2,095
Location
Alabama
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
NAD T-758 AVR
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-1 Gen 2 Monoblocks
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Seven
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-205 4K UHD Player
Front Speakers
Emotiva T2
Center Channel Speaker
Emotiva C2
Surround Speakers
Emotiva T1
Front Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Rear Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Subwoofers
Dual Custom Built 18" Subs
Video Display Device
Epson 4040
Screen
Elite Screen
Remote Control
Universal MX-890
Yep... we were really looking forward to hearing them, at least I was, but it wasn't to be this time around.
 

Tonto

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2017
Messages
445
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha RXV-795a
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
X-Box 1s
Front Speakers
Chane A5rx-c's
Center Channel Speaker
Chane A2rx-c
Surround Speakers
A1rx-c's
Surround Back Speakers
A1rx-c's
Subwoofers
SVS PB13U
Other Speakers or Equipment
APC S15
Video Display Device
Samsung Smart TV
Other Equipment
Yamaha S796 DVD Player
Sorry guys, I was just too busy to play with this thread this weekend! I have some catching up to do! So what happened with the Klipsch's? Also looking for some very vague, generalized hints on the speakers!!! Gotta have something to wet the old whistle on.
 

Sonnie

Senior Admin
Staff member
Joined
Apr 2, 2017
Messages
2,095
Location
Alabama
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
NAD T-758 AVR
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-1 Gen 2 Monoblocks
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Seven
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-205 4K UHD Player
Front Speakers
Emotiva T2
Center Channel Speaker
Emotiva C2
Surround Speakers
Emotiva T1
Front Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Rear Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Subwoofers
Dual Custom Built 18" Subs
Video Display Device
Epson 4040
Screen
Elite Screen
Remote Control
Universal MX-890
Klipsch was DOA.

HINT: We heard some really nice speakers!! :bigsmile:
 

Matthew J Poes

Staff Writer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 18, 2017
Messages
1,827
Not at all... they do not all sound the same with Dirac Live. While Dirac Live improves them all to some extent, they each still have their own character, although some may have similar characteristics about them.
This really makes perfect sense. Dirac is able to fix some room related distortions and most speaker related distortions (linear distortions). However it can’t fix or change the speakers own peak output limitations, it’s own non-linear distortion, and most importantly its dispersion. Because it can’t fix dispersion it can’t fix how it interacts with the room above the Schroeder frequency. Yes it can fix phase and flatten the response, but it can’t change the response of the early reflections, their decay rate, etc.

I am curious to see measurements with Dirac across the speakers. I suspect that Dirac will flatten the response to a similar overall degree and this should give them a similar tonal balance. However differences in their harmonic distortion could change how that tonal balance is perceived.

I’ve also found that Dirac can’t really do a lot to tame a really harsh sounding speaker. Especially true when it’s a horn or waveguide speaker with a poor design (for instance diffraction slot designs).

It’s also good that Dirac can’t make all speakers sound the same. If it could then speaker designers would be out of a job and life would be a lot more boring.
 
Top Bottom