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

is that the same song 10 times or 10 different songs?

My poor wife... this is going to cost me more than I paid for the DAC.

The issue is the gain and getting them to match blindly.  I'm running them both directly into my integrated  amp so it's easy to switch sources the problem is the gain is much higher on the SMSL which doesn't have a volume control if it was the other way around I could set it on the PSAudio and then just switch back and forth.  I do have a preamp that that has the option of a passive attenuation and can match them that way but that could  alter the outcome by introducing additional factors??? I'll give it a go and am pretty positive on certain tracks I can get 10 out of 10 while there are other tracks that don't have such obvious markers and I'm not as familiar with which might be able to trip me up on occasion  but I"m game.

I am very interested the results of your test although I’m pretty sure you will pass it with flying colors unless you are hearing impaired. Amir will find some reason your test was invalid and the 80 buck China dac is superior. 

@amir_asr  @erik_squires  and all the ships as sea.  Only 14 more posts to hit the milestone of 1000.  And what have we learned?  Absolutely nothing IMHO.  We all knew that ASR likes to use measurements and we already knew a whole lot of Agon members don't care for Amir's methods.  Has anyone changed sides?  I doubt it. Is continuing the back and forth ad nauseam proving anything.  I seriously doubt that too.  Isn't it time for everyone to put on their big boy/girl pants and get on with their life now?  Yes I know I don't have to read this thread but for some reason it bugs me to be associated with a group that carries on this way.  Let's all go back to discussing things that really matter.  Like tighter bass with a better power cable.  🤣

We did learn one significant thing for you all to chew on.  Amir uses software to identify mention of ASR so he can jump in and correct misinformation.  Let that sink in.  That is someone driven by massive ego self absorbed narcissism.