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.

erik_squires

Amir calls himself a professional listener. He sets up "one" Magnepan LRS panel and calls that his listening experiences for the common audience. 

Pretty absurd, isn't it?  Even more absurd is you go to your doctor wondering if you have broken your arm.  He turns on this machine that outputs invisible rays.  Yet he claims he can get a picture out of that showing your arm is broken!!!  They must create these X-ray pictures in photoshop!

Not everything in audio needs to make lay sense to you.  Same as X-ray being able to go through your body and show your bones.  You trust your doctor to know that X-ray can show you that information.  You should trust people who have research single-speaker vs stereo vs multi-channel and found that single speaker is far more revealing of speaker flaws than when you add more channels.

I have a video on that:

 

My job as a reviewer is to give you accurate assessments of products and single speaker is a critical component of that.  Use stereo for enjoyment but if you are evaluating speaker performance, do it with a single one.

Read the Yamaha white papers and dump the Harman curve. The button pushing, chart generating Harman sinad moron seems to think he understands music better than the guys who made all your musical instruments.

By that notion, those engineers should be creating your music as well.  After all, they know more about those instruments than any musician!  

We trust Harman because they don't make lay claims like that.  They perform controlled studies across different sets of populations.  That testing instructs us what is likely to sound good to majority of people. 

My Kawai digital piano sounds like crap due to poor sound system.  The fact that they create great acoustic pianos didn't at all enable them to produce an electronic one.

To wit, this is the performance of a clone of Yamaha NS-10M one of the most famous monitoring speakers of its era:

This is a highly colored and bright speaker.  No way you want to use this speaker for any use, playback or music creation.  Clearly no one recorded one of their Pianos and then played it back on this speaker and said they sounded the same.

This is what a proper monitoring speaker looks like (the Neumann KH120II):

 

Clearly building musical instruments it not a requirement for building proper speaker.

So please stop appealing to authority this way.  We know how to measure speakers and determine what is or is not a good product.  If a company knows what they are doing, it would be reflected here.  Not in some lay argument as you put forward.

Your thinking is wrong. All testing is done in time domain. The graphs are shown in frequency domain since it is hard for a human to tease out the noise and distortion from a waveform display in time domain. Keep in mind again that based on Fourier Theorem, time and frequency domain are interchangeable.

 

 

What are the REAL value of your information if the ears/brain do not work in the linear frequency/time domain of Fourier maps but in his own non linear time domain and recognise and decode what it was trained for by evolution for millenia and personal history of each one of us (QUALIA in speech and music and spatial attributes of sound)?

As it is proven already by acoustics research...And i already gives many articles about that...

Nothing can replace hearing ...

You put at the core of S.Q. analysis a peripheral set of tool at best...

But it is useless to discuss because what i say put your measuring set stance as a secondary tool unable to replace listening at all..

Then it is impossible for you to recognize truth here...It is the cost you must pay for promotion of your tools.

We must evaluate a piece of gear in a specific system for a specific room and by specific ears/brain.

His verified specs are in spite of their importance only secondary data relative to psychoacoustics parameters and system parameters in the room in the REAL evaluation and cannot replace it.

You sell as science about S.Q. a set of measures which so useful it could be are not the truth about S.Q.

It is an ideology.

😊

I bought the Fosi SK1 headphone ampli/preamp not because it measured well in your review but because you want to keep it for your headphone.

If you had not said so about your subjective experience i would never had bought it only because of good specs... It is not enough...

 

 

@amir_asr
"My job as a reviewer is to give you accurate assessments of products and single speaker is a critical component of that.  Use stereo for enjoyment but if you are evaluating speaker performance, do it with a single one."
You appear to know as much about what you are posting as the man in the moon.
You DO NOT give accurate assessments of products else you would assess the quality of the workmanship, and as we can all see, Topping's quality control is crap.You never mention this of course.

Secondly only a half wit assesses speakers by testing only one. Spakers are listened to in pairs.

Thirdly you are a hypocrite - you throw people off your own site for expressing contrary opinions yet come here and bleat your opinions like a goat.

You DO NOT give accurate assessments of products else you would assess the quality of the workmanship, and as we can all see, Topping's quality control is crap.

Your statement is "crap."  No audio reviewer gives you reliability assessments.  We all focus on performance.  Now, I do perform teardowns which they don't do, and provide that information from time to time.  Indeed, we have a completely subforum for that on ASR: 

 

As for topping reliability, they have had some issues with some products.  But countless others have been quite reliable.  But let's say you are right.  Where you get that information about reliability of Topping and other similar brands is ASR! 

Secondly only a half wit assesses speakers by testing only one. Spakers are listened to in pairs.

Just today I post that video that provides multiple research papers on why listening to one speaker is more revealing of their flaws than stereo.  I don't know why you all don't let this concept sink in by spending just a few minutes learning about the topic instead of relying on your lay intuition.

Thirdly you are a hypocrite - you throw people off your own site for expressing contrary opinions yet come here and bleat your opinions like a goat.

If you act this unprofessional on ASR, regardless of whether you are in favor our mission or not, we walk you out.  Period.  ASR is a professional organization.  If you cant keep your emotions in check, I don't care how valid your opinion may be.  We don't want you there.

If you are going to show up expressing opinions like you just did, and insisting to be right even though you are wrong as a matter of science and engineering, you are going to get strong pushback.  Don't go to a Chinese restaurant and demand that they make Pizza for you!  We have a mission of trusting data, repeatability, and science and engineering.  If you all you are after is feeling good about what you think is right without the benefit of those, then you are not going to do well on ASR.