Some thoughts on ASR and the reviews

I’ve briefly taken a look at some online reviews for budget Tekton speakers from ASR and Youtube. Both are based on Klippel quasi-anechoic measurements to achieve "in-room" simulations.

As an amateur speaker designer, and lover of graphs and data I have some thoughts. I mostly hope this helps the entire A’gon community get a little more perspective into how a speaker builder would think about the data.

Of course, I’ve only skimmed the data I’ve seen, I’m no expert, and have no eyes or ears on actual Tekton speakers. Please take this as purely an academic exercise based on limited and incomplete knowledge.

1. Speaker pricing.

One ASR review spends an amazing amount of time and effort analyzing the ~$800 US Tekton M-Lore. That price compares very favorably with a full Seas A26 kit from Madisound, around $1,700. I mean, not sure these inexpensive speakers deserve quite the nit-picking done here.

2. Measuring mid-woofers is hard.

The standard practice for analyzing speakers is called "quasi-anechoic." That is, we pretend to do so in a room free of reflections or boundaries. You do this with very close measurements (within 1/2") of the components, blended together. There are a couple of ways this can be incomplete though.

a - Midwoofers measure much worse this way than in a truly anechoic room. The 7" Scanspeak Revelators are good examples of this. The close mic response is deceptively bad but the 1m in-room measurements smooth out a lot of problems. If you took the close-mic measurements (as seen in the spec sheet) as correct you’d make the wrong crossover.

b - Baffle step - As popularized and researched by the late, great Jeff Bagby, the effects of the baffle on the output need to be included in any whole speaker/room simulation, which of course also means the speaker should have this built in when it is not a near-wall speaker. I don’t know enough about the Klippel simulation, but if this is not included you’ll get a bass-lite expereinced compared to real life. The effects of baffle compensation is to have more bass, but an overall lower sensitivity rating.

For both of those reasons, an actual in-room measurement is critical to assessing actual speaker behavior. We may not all have the same room, but this is a great way to see the actual mid-woofer response as well as the effects of any baffle step compensation.

Looking at the quasi anechoic measurements done by ASR and Erin it _seems_ that these speakers are not compensated, which may be OK if close-wall placement is expected.

In either event, you really want to see the actual in-room response, not just the simulated response before passing judgement. If I had to critique based strictly on the measurements and simulations, I’d 100% wonder if a better design wouldn’t be to trade sensitivity for more bass, and the in-room response would tell me that.

3. Crossover point and dispersion

One of the most important choices a speaker designer has is picking the -3 or -6 dB point for the high and low pass filters. A lot of things have to be balanced and traded off, including cost of crossover parts.

Both of the reviews, above, seem to imply a crossover point that is too high for a smooth transition from the woofer to the tweeters. No speaker can avoid rolling off the treble as you go off-axis, but the best at this do so very evenly. This gives the best off-axis performance and offers up great imaging and wide sweet spots. You’d think this was a budget speaker problem, but it is not. Look at reviews for B&W’s D series speakers, and many Focal models as examples of expensive, well received speakers that don’t excel at this.

Speakers which DO typically excel here include Revel and Magico. This is by no means a story that you should buy Revel because B&W sucks, at all. Buy what you like. I’m just pointing out that this limited dispersion problem is not at all unique to Tekton. And in fact many other Tekton speakers don’t suffer this particular set of challenges.

In the case of the M-Lore, the tweeter has really amazingly good dynamic range. If I was the designer I’d definitely want to ask if I could lower the crossover 1 kHz, which would give up a little power handling but improve the off-axis response.  One big reason not to is crossover costs.  I may have to add more parts to flatten the tweeter response well enough to extend it's useful range.  In other words, a higher crossover point may hide tweeter deficiencies.  Again, Tekton is NOT alone if they did this calculus.

I’ve probably made a lot of omissions here, but I hope this helps readers think about speaker performance and costs in a more complete manner. The listening tests always matter more than the measurements, so finding reviewers with trustworthy ears is really more important than taste-makers who let the tools, which may not be properly used, judge the experience.


It is hard to argue in favour of bad engineering.

Present thinking is that the original AR speakers were muffled/dull.

I had 3’s then 5’s (vastly underrated)

When Vilchur,Kloss and Hoffman released their epochal design, they deliberately rolled them off with the pots in mid-position because of the harsh recordings of the day. They knew exactly what they were doing, but they measured first. The most neutral response was with the pots cranked up. Of course, if your tube amp rolled off the highs....

The ’Live vs recorded’ demonstrations that they made (eg Grand Central Station) proved their point.

Glad to see Amir-ASR here. Takes some guts given how he gets bashed around in here. I like ASR and think there’s valuable info there. In addition to reviews, Amir’s general write ups on digital audio are very good. HDMI was eye opening. Thanks, Amir. 

Saw Tekton Eric’s FB post this morning and his refusal to post measurements. For a long time I listened to pro monitors for my stereo and in my studio. The vendors always provided frequency plots. Very helpful for room setup and subwoofer integration. When I went to electrostatics, Quad and Sound Lab do the same. So this is nothing new.  

But speakers are hard no matter what because our rooms are extensions of the speakers. And all our rooms are different. I don’t think you can judge entirely on measurements, but neither does Amir, as he stated above. Because after all, us humans like a little harmonic distortion. Oh! I mean that Warm Tube Sound. B-) 😎

Not that Amir is always right or every conclusion and argument is unimpeachable.

But..he has a hell of a lot of knowledge and experience, and many of the criticisms that from sites like this come from audiophiles who "don’t know what they don’t know." In other words, they project their own ignorance about measurements and the science of psychoacoustics on to ASR and Amir. "Measurements don’t tell us x or science hasn’t determined Y..." are often statements of personal ignorance, not actual knowledge of the engineering or science itself.

Anyway, somewhat along those lines...


ASR emphasizes how it measures and not how it sounds, which is missing the subjective musicality in the equation. I would encourage their members to go to concerts and recitals and listen to more live music and well recorded and well interpreted music as these are important dimensions beyond test measurements. Don’t just test the car, but look out the window and enjoy the journey it takes you on.

That’s a very common mischaracterization. For one thing, that ASR just cares about measurements not how things sound. That’s ridiculous. The whole POINT of caring about the measurements has to do with how things sound! Amir is appealing to plenty of good engineering and science which correlates measurements to how things sound! So for instance once you have distortion measured at certain levels, it’s beyond our capability to detect. Likewise power and impedance measurements of speakers and amplifiers can help put in to context the possible sonic consequences of various pairings.

And of course frequency responses for speakers relate to how they sound. Look at a B&W frequency response and if you know something about correlating the measurements to sonics, you’ll have some idea of how they will sound, especially the upper frequency emphasis. Many people who say "you can’t tell a speaker’s sound from the measurements" are mostly talking about themselves. Just because they haven’t learned the correlations doesn’t mean other people haven’t and don’t find speaker measurements informative about possible sonic issues.

And Amir appeals to some well established science in terms of how certain suites of measurements predicting speaker sound quality and preference ratings - see the research done by Floyd Toole and others. So this idea that it’s "just about the measurements not how things sound" is frankly just ignorant.

Now, though I’m an ASR member I don’t think the ASR approach is the only one for enjoying the hobby or choosing gear. I personally am usually curious about how something measures but, especially with loudspeakers, I always have to listen and go with what I perceive. But on the other hand there is no reason whatsoever to disparage an educated audiophile for buying gear based on measurements. If they know what type of performance they are seeking that’s perfectly fine, and it’s clear many on ASR and elsewhere have had success with that approach too!

I think Amir ASR is instructive and useful...

But i dont like their general ideology and there is one...

But insults dont replace arguments and science...

I think the same as prof here :

I always have to listen and go with what I perceive. But on the other hand there is no reason whatsoever to disparage an educated audiophile for buying gear based on measurements.



ASR thinks $300 class D amps outclass 5k Pass and the like purely based on measurements. In reality it’s far from the reality unless you’re deaf!