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Audioengine A2 bass is problematic with classical piano

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi:

 

I just bought a pair of these.  They sound great with rock/blues, such as BBKing:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fk2prKnYnI&ob=av2e

 

However, when I play this classical piano piece (which is mainly what I listen to--reviewing performances for reference for my daughter's piano practice), the bass is quite muddy:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey4n8vqlX_o

 

Note that the Beethoven Moonlight mvmt. 1 is very hard to find a good recording of, since it must be played very softly.  This particular recording is fairly good.  When I play the downloaded .mp3 through my Cowan + Koss Porta-Pro headphones, the bass notes are not muddied and the midrange melody is clearer and stands out a little better.

 

I feel like A2's have some mid bass peaking, which makes the midrange in general not stand out.  So for this recording of this piece, it might be particularly pathological, resulting in the melody being barely audible.  But it is clear to me that the headphones reveal that the recording is satisfactory, and some loss of clarity is resulting from the A2's.

 

The following recording of Moonlight is a bit better:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHd8jwXBzXE

 

On this one at least the notes are distinct, but there's still a boxiness to the bass.

 

This one is a wreck, with the lower G#s on the right hand making a boxy resonance every time she hits them.  Unlistenable:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH2pOUxmAHM

 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these things.  I'm contemplating trying to test the flatness of the built-in amp response to see if they are equalized to have a bass peak, or if it is the cabinet acoustics.

 

Considering the price, I guess they are still impressive speakers.  But they are seriously questionable for classical piano.  I guess I'm slightly disappointed.  It will also probably make me seriously psychoacoustically confused when I listen to the Dali, since they have a not particularly loud, but very clean and decently extended bass.

post #2 of 17

Are you using the actual Youtube links you listed as your reference or are you just linking to digital copies (FLAC, MP3 etc.) you play from your computer?

 

Honestly I think you're just expecting too much from a 2.75" woofer ... the amount of bass the A2s put out for their size is impressive but I doubt anyone would expect it to be a clean bass due to its size.

post #3 of 17

I'd expect a 2.75" woofer with "good bass" to have a large mid-bass hump to it to make up for its lack of extension.  My guess is you're hearing some of that along with the youtube videos being less than ideal.  Something like a 5 inch woofer is the minimum for linear bass extension down to like 60hz before it starts to rolloff.  I can't see a 2.75inch woofer going anywhere near that without utilizing a couple tricks and paying severely for it.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtkversion View Post

Are you using the actual Youtube links you listed as your reference or are you just linking to digital copies (FLAC, MP3 etc.) you play from your computer?

 

Honestly I think you're just expecting too much from a 2.75" woofer ... the amount of bass the A2s put out for their size is impressive but I doubt anyone would expect it to be a clean bass due to its size.


I'm not sure about your first question.  I linked the YouTube videos, so that anyone who is bored can listen to what I am listening to.  Are the links not working for you?

 

 

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

I'd expect a 2.75" woofer with "good bass" to have a large mid-bass hump to it to make up for its lack of extension.  My guess is you're hearing some of that along with the youtube videos being less than ideal.  Something like a 5 inch woofer is the minimum for linear bass extension down to like 60hz before it starts to rolloff.  I can't see a 2.75inch woofer going anywhere near that without utilizing a couple tricks and paying severely for it.


"Paying severely for it."  I think you are on to something.  It does seem to be the case as well that the rather suboptimal source material isn't helping things.  On one hand:

1.  I can detect a definite muddiness to the mid bass that my headphones reveal much more clearly.  So the speakers are part of the problem.  Even the mediocre source material is more listenable on the headphones, and/or speakers that don't attempt to produce a bassy sound.

2.  On some digitally mastered pro CD recordings of piano, the speakers are much more acceptable.

 

Thanks for the input.

post #6 of 17

I stumbled onto those youtube piano selections myself and am listening to them with my A2 speakers and small Yamaha sub. I find nothing wrong with the piano sound here although it is compressed. This the standard youtube sound as far as I know. I may have a tin ear but it sounds good to me.

 

I really like this woman's playing. Why haven't we heard any of her CDs on radio before? Her Rachmaninnoff is something else!

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digiti View Post

I stumbled onto those youtube piano selections myself and am listening to them with my A2 speakers and small Yamaha sub. I find nothing wrong with the piano sound here although it is compressed. This the standard youtube sound as far as I know. I may have a tin ear but it sounds good to me.

 

I really like this woman's playing. Why haven't we heard any of her CDs on radio before? Her Rachmaninnoff is something else!



Because classical music is a very small niche in the record industry and there is only room for a handful of "household name" stars.....doesn't mean that there aren't countless numbers of amazing players out there.  There are many pianists out there that are much better than Lang Lang and Helene Grimaud but do not have as catchy of names or are not as beautiful.

 

As for your music listening, I highly recommend supporting the arts by actually purchasing some music.  It will serve two great purposes:  1. It helps employ those who are working so diligently to play for you 2. You will get much better sound than listening on Youtube. 

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatsudaMan View Post



Because classical music is a very small niche in the record industry and there is only room for a handful of "household name" stars.....doesn't mean that there aren't countless numbers of amazing players out there.  There are many pianists out there that are much better than Lang Lang and Helene Grimaud but do not have as catchy of names or are not as beautiful.

 

As for your music listening, I highly recommend supporting the arts by actually purchasing some music.  It will serve two great purposes:  1. It helps employ those who are working so diligently to play for you 2. You will get much better sound than listening on Youtube. 


There is no question that there is more talent out there other than the big names. I think youtube helps these unknowns get the exposure they deserve. As to buying CDs you are preaching to the choir here because compressed music is a quality compromise that is all too prevalent today.
 

 

post #9 of 17

Yea the a2's aren't great and rubbish sound quality wise for the money, for a quick fix you could eq down the 100-150hz range that should help a bit, and also eq 12khz , 13khz , 14khz , 15khz , 16khz to get some treble extension I found the treble to be very lacking aswell.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digiti View Post

I stumbled onto those youtube piano selections myself and am listening to them with my A2 speakers and small Yamaha sub. I find nothing wrong with the piano sound here although it is compressed. This the standard youtube sound as far as I know. I may have a tin ear but it sounds good to me.

 

I really like this woman's playing. Why haven't we heard any of her CDs on radio before? Her Rachmaninnoff is something else!



Which one are you talking about, Valentina Lisitsa?  Or Tiffany Poon?  Tiffany is still a student, though she leaves some pros in the dust.  I will be very eager to purchase her recordings when she gets to that stage.  Valentina Lisitsa has many recordings going back many years.  Another student pianist who will become one of the world's greatest is Aimi Kobayashi.

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post

Yea the a2's aren't great and rubbish sound quality wise for the money, for a quick fix you could eq down the 100-150hz range that should help a bit, and also eq 12khz , 13khz , 14khz , 15khz , 16khz to get some treble extension I found the treble to be very lacking aswell.


Can you suggest any superior alternatives which are 1.  <=$200 ,  2.  less than 6.5 inches high ,  3.  self-powered  ???

 

For that matter, how about slightly easier constraints:  1.  <=$300 ,  2.  less than 7.5 inches high ,  3.  self-powered ?

 

How about something less than 6.5 inches that sounds superior for any price?  B&W perhaps?  Any others?

 

post #12 of 17
creative t20 & t40 , behringer ms20 , ms40 , m-audio av 20 , 30 , 40 , samson media one 3A , genelec 6010A

Why not a passive set-up the t-amp's are very small and cheap?.
Edited by JRG1990 - 1/25/12 at 3:00am
post #13 of 17

You can fish out Polk M30IIs if they are on sale and a T-amp

post #14 of 17

The A2's are great for near field listening (inside 5 feet).  I have the A2's w/ the Audioengine D1 DAC.  What a pairing!  The DAC really smooths out a lot of the bass muddiness.  For the muddiness that's left over, I just use the equalizer in iTunes to reduce it.  I think the reason so many reviews of the A2's are polarized (either love or hate) is because people try and use them for what they are not intended.  All you need to do is look at the speakers and use some common sense.  They won't fill a large room with music.  They won't rattle your windows with bass.  What they do provide is a high-level of musical detail, natural sounding mids, and a good soundstage (albeit, not expansive).  

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xe54 View Post



Which one are you talking about, Valentina Lisitsa?  Or Tiffany Poon?  Tiffany is still a student, though she leaves some pros in the dust.  I will be very eager to purchase her recordings when she gets to that stage.  Valentina Lisitsa has many recordings going back many years.  Another student pianist who will become one of the world's greatest is Aimi Kobayashi.



 I was referring to Valentina Lisitsa who is new to me. I will have to investigate her past recordings. I will also search out Kobayashi.

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