Originally Posted by cel4145
Sorry for the confusion. I was talking about the idea of how they are interested in seeing how people respond to frequency response, not pick the better speakers. While speakers in a different room will sound different because of the room acoustics, one can still test to see which type of measured response people like the best if the goal is to see whether people like flatter vs. more colored, although certainly room influence might cause all of the speakers to be so non-neutral that any test for that might be inconclusive for finding any correlation.
The problem is that there are just so many variables. It's almost impossible to get a flat frequency response from speakers, as I've mentioned. Then of course there's the fact that frequency response is only one of the factors which affects perception. For example we have the curious effect that 85dBSPL at the listening position in a large room, like a cinema, sounds almost half as loud as 85dBSPL at the listening position in a small room, like a sitting room. This appears due to the timing relationship of the initial early reflections to the direct sound, rather than to any frequency response issues. We've got problems with room acoustics affecting the duration of some frequencies. In other words, it can measure flat on a spectrum analyser but still have significant frequency imbalances, which can only be measured with a waterfall graph. We've also got different preferences as we get older, due to the ageing of the ears' physiology and changing perception of volume and relative balance. You've probably noticed that older people are far less tolerant of loud music. It's not because they are old, boring and out of touch, it's because their ears cannot physically handle high volumes and it causes discomfort/pain! And, putting aside all these acoustic and physiology issues we got the fact that there is no standard frequency response of any recording we are listening to. The perceived frequency response of each recording is created according to the personal tastes of the individual producer and mastering engineer and to further complicate matters every genre has it's own individual rough guidelines for frequency response, for example, EDM would be expected to have a great deal more perceived bass content than say acoustic jazz. So how do we decide what is a flat response from a recording? Maybe we can avoid this whole issue by avoiding different recordings and different biases towards different genres and just test with say pink noise. But then as far as creating a test for preference is concerned we'd essentially be asking "do you like the reproduction of pink noise better on this speaker than on that one or with this or that colouration"? I'm not sure if that is going to tell us anything other than the fact that almost no one likes listening to pink noise!
Originally Posted by cel4145
Although nearfield listening reduces the impact on (what's the term) 2nd order reflections because they are more reduced in SPL, as opposed to sitting in a living room far away from speakers where more types of reflections are likely to become more of a problem. So the odds are better that a speaker can sound more like its anechoic response nearfield.
Well, that's essentially the theory. Sitting much closer to the direct sound source will make the indirect sound (reflections) appear much quieter and therefore reduce the impact of the room's acoustics. All well and good in theory but as with so much in the audio world, we can't just take an isolated theory/fact and apply it regardless, there are virtually always conditions attached. We can't, for example, just say that cables don't make any perceivable difference, we have to attach certain conditions to this statement in order for it to be true, such as basic standards of cable construction and the right type/gauge of cable for the job. Same with nearfield speakers but unfortunately, the conditions of nearfield monitoring to fulfil the theory are frequently not met. Many people put nearfield monitors on a desk and that desk is often pushed against a wall. By the time your ears are a couple of feet or more away from the nearfields, much/most of what you are hearing is reflections from the desk and back wall. We are certain to get some significant phase cancellations from the interaction of these reflections, phase cancellations which we wouldn't get from ordinary (not nearfield) speakers placed on appropriate speaker stands, a little way from the wall behind them. Although of course you'd get other reflections and phase interactions affecting the frequency response. I've measured phase cancellations at the listening position in certain frequencies from nearfields placed on desks which are over 30dB and the professionals using them hadn't realised and were totally shocked at the measurement results! If you were to place nearfields on appropriate stands, away from the wall, without a desk (or other highly reflective surface) between you and the speakers and obviously sitting close to them (nearfield is generally considered to be around 3-4ft) then yes, you will usually get a much flatter response than sitting further away from mid-field speakers in an untreated room. It's still unlikely to be anywhere near as flat as it's anechoic response though, without some acoustic treatment.