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Rega Brio R / Chord Mojo Dac / Q Acoustics 3020 - disappointing !

  1. Iggz79
    Thanks for pointing to pisitioning. It looks a little that in this setup, as much as you want to find whose fault it is, only option that remains to explain the lack of imaging is Positioning. It is a little like saying ‚build a new house that suits the speakers‘

    Although it’s relatively inexpensive speakers I was hoping that at least half of what’s been so ravingly is true. As I said I did place them around as per what is recommended and it doesn’t have much effect. Still same speakers and same sound coming out pf those marketing stunts.

    I also do not quiet believe that changing the speaker will not have much effect in a highly snobbishly priced market. Truly Good speakers sound is privileged to only those who are willing to reach deep - i get that so recommendations please based on personal experience. I actually do not remember any forum opinion or review mentioning to have tried Brio R with q3020. Yes there was one thread with someone who tried 3050 with Rega Brio R and found it alright I think. NAD 3020 btw has a D amp and less power btw do should be worse ? To actually think it’s the amp is last resort.

    Bottom line is, one shouldn’t buy a product that works sort of acceptably in only one perfect position and only in suitable conditions. If you have to buy a new house to make a 200 euro product sound OK then that product is definitely a total failure and shouldn’t be sold as such. I can see that speaker brands having a sweet time getting their ultra sweet general reviews and commenting on people‘s questions directly within forums to avoid inadequate advice (such as return the speakers !) what a sweet life it is for speaker manufacturers if you can always blame the performance of your product on exterior influences. Room, weather, mood, taste or if that’s not helping - hey backup joker - we can always blame it on inferior equipment around the speakers and the good thing it is mostly a unique setup where we can always blame those Rega amateurs for example with their questionable A/B amp (one suggested solution was to get a NAD D amp instead ??) you turn to another opinion posted previously on other threads dooming that same NAD amp with someone saying, you must get an A/B amp such as Brio R if you want that good sound .. done !

    I will look into any speaker recommendation based on personal experience (not press). It is a highly snobbish market where no matter how you try good sound isn’t in for around 200 euros - and thatsq Otherwise what’s the point having 10000 euro speakers right ? Wouldn’t be fair to those guys spending 5 digit numbers on their speakers to have a slightly better sound than our top budget audiophile ace q3020 (compared to Spendors by the developer who should cut down on chemical sublements for that matter) !
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  2. Iggz79
    Also, would you know a great pair of headphones up to 400€. Let’s say that I am not happy with the way my DT990 sound like. I would describe the sound as too artificial lacking that warm touch and depth. It’s purely a budget studio headphone which is supposed to be good value for money. But as we just figured out there is no such thing as value for money - you simply get what you pay for. So is 400€ budget enough to get satisfactory headphones within the world of headphones ? Looking forward to your precious recommendations. I’ll keep the DT990 for direct comparison..maybe give it as a gift to my dad later :)
  3. Iggz79
    hi again,

    I’ve been looking at the Hifiman e400. Any better alternatives at this price level. Apparently sound is slightly on the „dark“ side, whatever that means ! (tester may have been listening to Rammstein or Ozzy ?)
  4. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Basically what I'm planning. I'm on headphones now because of crap acoustics in the house I'm still living in. Largest room isn't the master bedroom but the room my brother and I shared as kids (which also doubled as our console gaming, PC gaming (PC with printer was in the home office, which used to be where we played some PC games before I got into PCs more than consoles), but the ceiling isn't flat and that requires it to be behind the speakers or the listening chair, but that still leaves the concrete exterior walls on three sides and the wooden interior wall into the second floor hallway, and they have very different acoustic properties, even when I lined the concrete wall with acoustic panels (short of cementing over the windows and then totally lining the damn room on all sides). So now what I have sketched out for when I build my own house is a large study that serves as a reading room and ante-chamber housing copies of music and books plus HDDs (and some other toy collections), and there's a room inside it completely lined with acoustic material and ventilation is only through a spit-type A/C and the gap under the door where my speakers will be, and the space just in that listening room will have to be around 4M X 5M plus corners are rounded out so they don't have the soundwaves bouncing around in there.

    Even if the Q Acoustics aren't all that good, those "marketing stunts" are still prototyped in an acoustically well designed room and then the "stunts" are performed by audio reviewers who, surprise, also have acoustically good rooms.

    Not having anything close to an acoustically proper room and not getting the same result is kind of like:

    1) Calling a Porsche a marketing stunt because Road and Track raved about its road-holding capabilities at Laguna Seca, but then tried its road holding on the street and then flipping over the median or center island.

    2) Calling a BMW S1000RR a marketing stunt because the pics and videos show riders turning with their knees scraping the ground but then ended up getting decapitated on a lamp post trying that on a public road.

    3) Calling Brembo brakes a marketing stunt because they kept talking about how they resist brake fade, then going 100 in a 60 zone and rear ended another car in front that hit the brakes after a deer jumped out and ran across the road.

    4) Calling Masamoto and Fujiwara high carbon steel knives a marketing stunt after banging these thin spine, hair thin edged blades taking a chicken apart using these like a cleaver, and at best ended up chipping the edge; or not knowing how carbon steel works so after slicing a bunch of tomatoes, you ended up with rusty knives, which never happened with a Sabatier or Henckels before.

    5) Calling a DeBuyer, Matfer Beourgeat, or Lodge iron skillets marketing stunts after you got some fish stuck on them, without properly building up seasoning, letting the cooking oil come up to the smoke point, or using fresh fish that won't start falling apart when you flip over to the skin side. (A local dept store near me actually put some cheap Taiwanese carbon steel skillets on sale because customers complained that they were not non-stick...I walked off with a 12in to complement my 10in pan, the latter being so ridiculously well seasoned by now that even burgers slide around like hockey pucks in their own fat, and even fermented bean paste as long as it doesn't burn just sizzles across a cooking surface that looks like blackened glass.)

    Basically, my point is, even if I'm not particularly a fan of Q Acoustics (I prefer Focal, Duevel, Sonus Faber, Aurum Cantus, etc), I've heard them in action with a D3020. Still not my favorites, but that being in a well dampened, large room (though the listening seat was only about 1.2M away), they don't sound dull and had some semblance of imaging (and did the low end beats well enough to tap feet to). The room is critical with speakers - you can't use something out of its element and just declare that it isn't working anywhere close to how it is advertised to work. That said, they aren't going to be online, and if that was my basis I wouldn't just get them either. I just stumbled into that set up at the annual HiFi show here. That said, as much as I was surprised at how good they were for that size, I stepped back out and headed to where the Focal Stella Utopia and Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage were.

    Not really. For example, you can still get good imaging in a car other than a Maclaren F1, and you don't need to get Focal Utopias for that. They even hold competitions under EMMA and IASCA for that.

    Speaking of competitions, there was a Honda Accord here in the early- to mid-2000s that had used up the budget tier's equipment MSRP limit on the receiver that had a good processor (something critical when you're not sitting dead center with the tweeter and midwoofer not smack next to each other and the subwoofer behind you), ran locally made $10 tweeters and $15 midwoofers off the higher current amp built into the Alpine receiver, and then used a crap rip off Chinese made "Alpine V12" amplifier on the $35 locally made subwoofer. Scored better on imaging tests than cars that used Focal and DLS. As much as this normally shows how critical a processor is to a car system, in this case it's like wht counts for the room, in the sense of using them properly, on top of which he lined the front doors with Dynamat and mounted the midwoofers on custom angled mounts on the doors and custom angled mounts for the tweeters higher up.

    Similar, there was an Insignia speaker before that used a 6in coaxial driver, and its imaging was surprising for a $100 speaker. Thing is though it isn't surprising - the reality is that the crossover design only has to account for splitting the signal as per each driver's range and not how they should get integrated, because the tweeter is smack over teh middle of the midwoofer like a phase plug, instead of mounted above it and then somebody sitting too close or too high or too low has the tweeters and midwoofers non-equidistant to his head (this is the main problem in a car, x5, because now you have individual speakers at a different distance to the driver's head). And like the people reviewing the Q's above, well, the people who did likely know they have to sit with the center of the drivers as close to ear level as possible, though that's easier when the tweeter is mounted coaxially.

    There's also a third factor here that I haven't tackled yet: your music. If what you listen to has no imaging as recorded and mastered, then no playback system can make that happen after the fact. People reviewing them tend to also use tracks that, while not necessarily their aboslute favorites musically, have imaging information as recorded and mastered. If you don't position the mic properly when recording you're not going to get imaging in the final copy. It's like shooting in low res JPEG and then can't get anything to come out on Lightroom - you need to shoot RAW where even when you boost the exposure by +3 (while keeping the actual exposure as taken by the camera at -1 so as to keep the shutter fast and noise low) it's not going to immediately result in blown highlights other than when there are actual illuminated spots.

    Not really unless you're comparing it to a 0.001% THD, 120dB Signal-to-Noise ratio pure Class A amp. And even then, that assumes that the speakers will get to 100dB at least on the Class A amp, that way the lower power output (due to gobs of energy uptake ending up as waste heat on Class A designs) wont put it at an immediate disadvantage next to a Class D amp with triple the power output.

    Well it isn't necessary to literally build a new house. I haven't yet. But I gave up on using speakers. I don't regard speakers as failures for not having a proper room for them, in the same manner I that you can't call BMW a failed marketing stunt after flipping your M3 on an island or getting decapitated on a lamp post or a parked car turning knee down on the street, all because they tell you to drive fast only on race tracks that 1) don't have traffic that isn't racing nor parked cars and 2) has other safety features like tyre walls, same way I won't go 80 on a 35 zone and end up against a lamp post with a toddler stuck on the grill and then sue Brembo (not to mention their main point is lack of brake fade, ie, braking remains consistent even after several laps, despite how much heat would normally build up that you can literally see these glowing red on race footage when they're about to enter the first corner at the second lap). I also don't use a yanagiba or gyuto to decapitate a salmon (you need a deba for that) and then angrily tell Masamoto and Fujiwara to close their factories, same way I don't cook on carbon steel or cast iron before I've built up a layer of seasoning, nor call up DeBuyer angrily showing them what happened to the seasoning after simmering a skillet lasagne on it (the whole point of oil based seasoning vs teflon though is that you can rebuild it later even if you screw up).

    Again, most other people don't build a new house for $200 speakers, but those who got good enough results probably already had a spare room that they can use that is also large enough that the speakers are far from the walls and they only need a few acoustic panels to combat hot spots for reflections rather than line every square mm of the walls with foam. I wouldn't do like Prince Jeffry of Brunei and build my own race track, but I wouldn't think Ferrari is a failed marketing stunt just because I need to drive to a race track - which is a proper road for these cars the same way you need a proper room - to hit 850rpm on 4th, then slowly squeeze the brakes,work down to 2nd, then take that hairpin and come out of it with the V12 screaming towards 3rd. At minimum, I'd go out to the back roads and enjoy the chassis at the corners (though that doesn't mean I'd go 7/10ths on a public road).

    Bottomline is, the environment the speaker operates in - ie, the room - isn't individually accounted for considering they have to test in an acoustically perfect room to weed out variables, or spend waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more money on RnD testing every possible (and still not absolutely every variable, like my house with concrete exterior walls and wood interior walls), at which point your $200 speakers will end up costing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than $200. What might suit you better is Bose. As much as audiophiles who know how to set up their own gear and understand that larger speakers makes for a wider response down low, in your specific case it might be better tha you have someone go over there and set up a system with some kind of DSP that will try to mitigate the room's issues. If it kind of succeeds it's still not going to be better than a Focal Stella Utopia in a 5m X 6m dampened room, but at least you don't have to stress about thinking how things can work and just have the installation crew deal with it.

    One more thing though - even on headphones and IEMs this is still kind fo a problem. You don't deal with a room, but wearing the headphone or IEM improperly - too loose, too tight, etc sets teh compression on the earpads and distance from the drivers to the ear drums differently, thus altering the sound; or too loose IEM eartips that they either fall off or you don't seal in bass while sealing noise out - can affect the sound. It's just a lot less of a variable than how the soundwaves bounce around in some rooms.

    That's because there are people out there - remember, they aren't monolithic copies of each other - who think that amplifiers should do the job of an equalizer or proper room acoustics, so they get an amp that will make a speaker that is either bright or has bad reflections in a room.

    That's not going to eliminate your problems with feedbacks and reviews. You're obsessing over the conspiracy theory about Q Acoustics' marketing budget corruption. Even if that were true, going with non-journalists who don't have their own blogs isn't going to eliminate biases. You still have those people who think that an amp needs to reshape the response curve of a speaker and source rather than just amplify the source signal into something that won't clip driving whatever speakers one chooses and without introducing distortion and noise. Not to mention that in some cases the bright treble can be the result of too high or too low speaker stands relative to one's head when seated, or the dispersion pattern of the tweeter sending too much of the soundwaves towards walls that are too hard and thus don't absorb but basically spit them back into the room, then hit another part of the room, bounce around again, ad infinitum.

    Note also that the people doing reviews - professionally or not - could have proper rooms as well. Properly dampened, no furniture between the speakers and the listening seat, etc. It's like driving a Maserati on a race track, instead of driving it on city streets and then claiming you can't go 0 to 60mph in 5seconds without having to hit the brakes to keep from running over something, rear ending or t-boning another car, getting a ticket, etc. That Maserati isn't a failed product for how one needs to behave given the realities of public roads, it's succesful in the sense that at least you can also drive around outside of a race track, even though it isn't particularly fun.

    I'm not particularly a fan of Spendors but wht makes you think their engineer is high? Or at least apart from the typical audio industry bull (that gets called out from within the industry anyway) about how $5,000 cables make for a huge difference.

    Maybe try the Grado RS2e if you can find it at that price, or even just the SR225e, but get a cheap amp with a low output impedance. Not going to give you much on imaging (these are definitely not K701s) but as far as subjectively delivering good sound, they'll do it.

    He doesn't mean that the music itself is "bite the head off a bat" or "you hate...you hate,...you hate ME!!!" dark. He means the treble is relatively weak compared to the rest of the range.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
    Iggz79 likes this.
  5. Iggz79
    Hello !

    Before I enter into a more in-depth review of what‘s been stated :) just a quick one up front as I am about to press the button. Kef Q150s or Sonus Faber Principia 3 (you may have listened to those, what’s your take on that) ?
  6. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    First things first...I thought you had a size limit for your WAF? That's why I suggested the Genelecs and the Paradigm Mini Monitor, at least after you stated your size limitation.

    Also, just to check one last bit about speaker positioning, what sort of stands do you have the speakers on? The stands need to be heavy, that way resonance as the speaker moves is less of a problem (not to mention they'd be harder to topple over), which is why normally the stands are loaded with very dry sand (or ball bearings). The stands also need to be about level with your head when you're seated, otherwise you could end up with problems on imaging. If they're on a TV shelf that can be one problem for imaging and even the tonal characteristics if they're set lower, although the thing with a TV shelf is, you don't need to load it with sand (not that you can) - just put cone feet on the speakers to minimize transfer of vibration between the speakers and the stand (you can do that for stands too but that makes them too easy to topple). Just make sure the TV shelf is literally just the shelf and not like a book shelf where you now have the speakers in some sort of three sided chamber, which tends to boost the low end since that space acts as a bass trap.

    As for those speakers: I haven't tried the Principia 3, although generally I've always loved the midrange and extended, airy treble on Sonus Fabers. Take that with a grain of salt though because when I mean I've always liked SF, I mean the Stradivari, Guarneri, Cremona, etc - all at a higher tier than the Principia. I also Googled reviews, and if you've read some of these, note that they're all driven by very powerful amps that basically leave a fair bit more headroom than the Brio R. Note also that it's a 4ohm speaker and some amps might have trouble with that.

    As for the KEF, these are relatively warm, and the Brio R might make that even worse, if indeed what it's doing to the Q 3020 is making it warmer. And this one with the exception of maybe more low end might be worse in all aspects. Sensitivity is also a bit low on these. Overall, probably not the best answer to your problem.

    If you can get around the size limit, maybe look at the KEF RP-160M. It's got a higher sensitivity than practically every speaker out there, although toe in angles are even more critical due to the horn tweeter. RP-160M also has a 6.5in driver comparable in size to the Principia 3.
  7. Iggz79
    Hi ProtegeManiac,

    First of all I need to say, it is pleasant to be in a forum with such in-depth replies. Refreshing to be talking to people who know their stuff and have a good sense of humour.

    As for the quality of my shelves, well that is a definite weak point in my setup. Speakers are on thin shelves with some nasty reflective side shelves. On a scale from 1-10 how much does that effect the SQ ? I will definitely need to improve in this respect.

    It is my burning desire to argue a point here on speaker positioning and the customers point of view. I am seeing it as a value-diminishing factor if speakers are highly dependable on positioning. Think of the value for money as such (though we are in a world where generally you get what you pay for with its up and downsides that have been possibly compromised). Take a speaker that sounds only as promised no matter where you place it and a speaker that delivers only if its certain distance from several points, toe-in angles, height and isolation etc. I do get a lot of value with my all-sound-good speaker and very little from the placement sensitive one. Now, it’s been possible to create such speakers therefore I do not see what obstacle it creates in terms of R&D. Basically the client having to dance around the product to meet it’s requirement is a typically European service mentality. Now, the US mentality towards customers os evolved around the customers needs and obstacles he may face. The product needs adaptation to obstacles, not the other way round. Many even have lots of fun going through all these obstacles to get better sound out of their equipment. Everyone is free to believe in whatever strategy but these two scenarios are pretty much reality. The market knows that, therefore not really bothering about user friendliness, saving huge money on not having to think about speakers effectivity to deliver that promised sound. I see the trend changing with Kef taking this issue seriously. I believe that it would be more transparent to have a standard measurement for sound quality deviation taking into account factors responsible for the effectivity of sound quality. This measurement would not speak about whether it sounds great or not but how effectively the speaker delivers that SQ in volumetric spaces. Maybe some similar parameters that exist give insight on SQ effectivity?

    To cut to the chase, I have looked into all your suggestions and somehow ended up heavily staring at the Dynaudio Emit M10. Your comments on the various effects other speakers would have in combination with the Rega Brio was very useful to get on the right path. Do you think with those I have a chance to solve this puzzle of decent soundstage at the necessary budget. I mean if it’s not going to be a revelation to the Q3020 i will step up my budget and rethink myself into higher territory. What’s expensive and inconvenient is to get speakers which are only slightly better. To me having a strong soundstage as opposed to a sluggish one, is a huge difference. I can only positively believe rega brio and q3020 are a mismatch. I’ve ordered the Hifiman e400, let’s see in a few days if I can at least stop looking for pleasantly sounding headphones. The DT990 is seriously only bearable for 5 min until it fades away into a flat wall of treble and midrange smacked viciously into your glowing ears ! More to come...
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  8. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Also why I don't use speakers as a reference system other than in my car, although that's only "reference" in the sense that I invested on a processor for that car so as I won't get vocals in front of me in an asymmetrical soundstage. And I can line my car with Dynamat, any other surface I can't are at least symmetrical on both sides apart from the steering wheel, but I couldn't block out the windows in my house.

    Speaking of shelves, I actually use them to my advantage in my home office where I have mini fullrange speakers pushed into the shelf space behind where my laptop is. Imaging apart from getting enough left right panning vs the laptop speakers or a single chassis BT speaker sucks, but the trade off is I get more bass. In your case, it sounds dull and boring, but if you took those out of the shelf and drove them with a NAD D3020 (as I heard them together), they'll still be something like a Grado SR80 or SR60, at which point you might hear a lot less bass.

    And this is kind of like everything else in audio - there are always trade offs. Even engineers have to work with those trade offs. Small 2-way speakers image better in smaller rooms because large, multiple driver speakers will have time alignment issues as the distance from your head to the tweeters will vary vs the midwoofers, and the bass drivers. Focal can angle them so the drivers set above and below the center line are moved slightly closer to the listener, but that still doesn't take into account every possible variance like where you listening chair is. If you order these there will actually be a crew to assist the buyers, although people buying such speakers tend to need them less due to knowing what they need to do to get the right sound, but need them more because holy hell they'll do the heavy lifting and then there's no moving these around after that.

    That is actuallly not Frodo Baggins.

    There's your most likely problem. These aren't failed marketing stunts if they're being used in a manner that they totally aren't even designed for, ie, basically putting them in a small chamber blowing out. it's hard to give a number on that but it can potentially be a 10. The rest of the room might still be a problem otherwise, but the sound output is already screwed. Bass reflections bounce around in there making them sound dull along with resonances masking hard bass hits, its sound doesn't radiate outwards into the room as intended and thus it can't even begin to image a soundstage properly, etc.

    That's like pulling a failed marketing stunt by having Andrea Bocelli sing into a sewer line with the audience standing at the main output pipe going into the sea.

    Yeah but where I'm coming from is physics. Even as somebody from the social sciences, which is like your POV as a customer, I wouldn't use sociology, political science, or economics to override physics, which would be like claimingclimate change is a farce because a lot of people think so.

    The reality there is that, like climate change, you can't just override the laws of physics. Some speakers will image better in more positions, true, but that isn't something that comes free. For example, there's the Duevel Jupiter. It's an omnidirectional speaker where the midwoofer fires upward into a wave guide and a tweeter that fires downward onto a complimentary wave guide. All it does for imaging though is that you have a wider sweet spot, ie, even if you sit slightly off-center - like if it's a his+hers seating in the audio room, you'd still be able to hear the vocals dead center between the two speakers, like if an acoustic band was playing there and the vocalist was still singing there in the middle of the stage.

    As much as it improves on that, it still can not override physics, and on a speaker like that, room size is even waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more critical. Since they're omnidirectional, you have more soundwaves emanating outwards 360deg all around the speakers, so these have to be well over 1M away from the rear and side walls, otherwise you get a lot of reflections. Even lining the walls with acoustic material isn't going to solve that on its own if the speakers are just too close to the walls (regardless of how the Duevel Venus looks in House's apartment and clinic, if you've ever seen that show). On top of that, the wave guides need to be properly shaped or they won't work properly (again, you can't just override physics), which adds to the development costs, which is why even the cheapest Duevel Planets still cost around $800.

    This is why I put up all those examples - you can not just override physics (or chemistry). I can't drive or ride like on city streets like I'm on the track and call Porsche a marketing stunt when I flip it over the center island, Ducati when I get decapitated on a lamp post, Masamoto when I use a 2.0mm at the thickest part of the heel (and tapers down to paper thin at the tip) to try to cleave through a chicken thigh and chip the edge or try to rock chop parsley like a long-bellied Wusthoff (which also has a lower ROckwell hardness rating, which need constant honing, unlike how Japanese knives don't need honing but will take more time sharpening due to how stiff the steel is) and break the tip, or cook an egg (or anything, really) on a Matfer Bourgeat or DeBuyer without properly polymerizing a coating of vegetable oil to make a slick surface that also protects it from rust.

    Yeah but American service and customer mentality has lawyer-induced warning signs to idiot-proof everything. Regardless of how one McDonald's exceeded the manual's stated coffee temperature, why the hell would one drive around with their hot coffee - again, regardless of temperature - between her legs? I wouldn't even put my iced frappucino near my dong, not out of fear of getting frostbite, but it will predictably mess up my upholstery and carpeting when my thighs move, which is kind of necessary for, you know, driving. That's the reality of American service and customer mentality.

    At the same time, can you find an actual American speaker that will automatically get around all obstacles? At a minimum you need to buy something that isn't actually American, ie, Bose, and have it professionally installed and let them handle the headache of making it work in the room. Or maybe buy American, like JBL. But chances are you're going to hire someone from Magnolia to get it installed, and chances are they'll still tell you to not put it on the shelf, if not quote you the price to have an acoustic engineer rework the entire room. A small room can sound great, like with nearfield set ups (JBL also has studio monitors), but even speakers intended for that purpose need some acoustic materials on the walls. You can try Magnepan too - great speakers from the USA - but if you look through their websites they'll have a lot of disclaimers about how your room needs to be to make them work, as well as how much amplifier you need, which, in true American fashion, is kind of like a coffee cup that lawyers have made so that they have to say, "CAUTION - COFFEE VERY HOT!!!" so you don't burn your dong and balls while driving with the coffee next to your crotch.

    That "pretty much reality" is actually the second being one of the following:

    1. The speakers image well enough in a less than perfect room, and that room just happens to not have the kind of obstacles that would be a problem

    2. The obstacles aren't a shelf around the speaker, for those who actually care about imaging. While not everyone is in a dedicated audio room, some have them on stands in the living room, and the only "obstacle" is a coffee/magazine table and a couple of soft (ie sound absorbent) fabric lined sofas.

    3. The customer paid a professional installer to deal with the room, effectively not having to be forced to endure the work around that others actually enjoy. They don't actually - they're after the best sound, which is what they actually enjoy, but they don't have the money, same way that people install their own cars' audio systems because the fabrication of the panels that will angle the speakers can cost several thousand dollars if a pro has to do them, or build their own PCs including all the tubing for liquid cooling the CPU, chipset, VRM, RAM, GPU, VRM, and VRAM, because if they paid some pro to do it, it will probably a) cost more than the components that b) it will only be worth it if your components are the best to begin with and can be overclocked to perform well beyond manufacturer official specs given a custom liquid cooling solution, which basically means starting with about $5,000 on a 12 core Intel i9 Extreme, an X399 motherboard, NVidia Titan V, etc, and then blowing another $2,000 on the radiators, fans, pump, and case, then another $1,000+ to have some other guy build it.

    That point source design is still not going to override physics as much as omnidirectional speakers can't. All the point source speaker will do is eliminate the time alignment issues when you sit a a height that makes for enough of a variance in the distance from your head to the midwoofer vs to the tweeter. If you use a tower, even the KEFs that use a point source midwoofer+tweeter, there's still going to be the same problem of the possibility of that variance coming up but this time from your head to the coaxial driver vs to the midbass driver/s. Which, again, is because you can not just override physics - engineers just try to get around them.

    You might notice that none of that addresses how much less they'll be affected by putting them in a chamber like that shelf.

    Yes but what standard equates to all the variances? You're not escaping the aforementioned variances by having that. If anything this is just more "CATUION - COFFEE VERY HOT HOT HOT!!!" American legal system-induced consumer relations, and even then, you'd still have the equivalent of driving with a cup of coffee between the thighs incident.

    I'd just get stands first (get one with a higher load capacity and larger plate in case you get bigger speakers) and put those speakers off the shelf. If the imaging improves and you can hear everything better, then that's one problem solved. Next is the tonality - if you still don't like the Brio R and Q 3020 on that, you can look into replacing either, and the stands will still work with any other speaker.

    If you really want to keep the speakers on the shelf, just get some Bose or whatever and use it for listening when you can't or don't want to use headphones. For headphones, try to get an AKG K1000 - there's no better imaging among headphones than that.

    OK, I'm getting confused. While "strong" can mean "better" soundstage in most aspects, "sluggish" is never a word used to descrie soundstage. Soundstage is how it projects sound with spacing between the instruments - vocals dead center, preferably pushed away from the listener with the percussion pushed farther back (other speakers push the vocals forward, and do it enough to put space between the vocals and the drums) - and you don't look at real estate and describe a cheap Manhattan or London flat as "sluggish." Are we on the same page here?

    If you're talking about the tonality, ie, the Rega making it sound so warm and relaxed to the point that the sound comes out kind of "slow" and "sluggish," ie, like how the bass beat on the intro of Feist's One Evening can sound on an extremely warm system where the bass notes bloom slowly and doesn't fade out vs Focals, Grados, or Sennheisers and AKGs on a proper amplifier where the bass has a sudden hit, fades out, then the sudden hit of the succeeding note, repeat until the next movement, then that's not soundstage or imaging, that's tonal balance (some even misattribute that to some amps having a faster slew rate, but you'd have to have a reeeeeeeeeeeeeally crappy amplifier or preamplifier for that to be the problem). If it boosts the bass enough then the part where the bass note is supposed to fade out remains too loud that it melds with the next note. On the opposing end of that you have something like small Focals or Grado headphones where the boosted upper bass and lack of deep bass makes for bass notes that seem like they're going faster as you get a hard bass hit and barely any of the remaining reverberation of the bass drum before the next hit.

    Note that while this might be tonality this can be caused by any number of things: a too warm speaker driven by an amp that intentionally alters the sound can be one, the other can be - again - the room. Why don't we put speakers close to the walls? It isn't just going to screw up imaging by putting the bass too far forward, it does that by boosting the bass. Put the speakers too close to the corners and you do even more. Put the speakers on a shelf, ie, now you practically have four corners (top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right) instead of one tall corner. You're not even supposed to make a subwoofer enclosure that is a perfect cube in the interior, but now you've basically put your speakers that are producing the more critical parts of the music - ie, practically all of it apart from low bass - into an open cube box.

    If it was purely just tonality you're concerned with and not so much the imaging/soundstage then there's the likelihood that the Brio R is contributing to that, and that a D3020 might help. I still say "might," because your speakers are still on that shelf, and chances are it could be doing even more than the Brio R, because when I compared a bunch of Regas to say Arcams (CDPs to my headphone amp and headphone, CDPs and amps to speakers), they only made Norah Jones sound like she has sinusitis, not make the bass beat on Feist's One Evening sound like the song is slower.

    I still can't find an "E400."

    If you mean the RE400, then depending on what you plug that into, output impedance might be a problem and you might get the same problem, or the opposite.

    If you mean the HE400i, that one's got a flat response from 1000hz to 10hz, which some people perceive as "great, accurate bass" (which it is) while others take it as "where's the bass?!" (these people expect bass to always sound like a Cadillac rollin round in tha hood, with them 22in Spinnerz and four 12in Audiobahn woofaz in tha back). You very likely won't get that glare on the boosted upper midrange and treble on the DT990, but there's still the matter of its relatively low sensitivity, so practically anything you hook it up to short of a good headphone amp or a decent enough DAP is not going to give it enough current. It's not just about going loud, but going loud with clean power so it won't be "sluggish" or have non-existent bass.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  9. surfgeorge
    Igor, I can't comment on the amp or speakers, but I can confidently say that the Mojo sounds excellent with my Stereo. (Karan Acoutsics KA180i + custom speakers)
    It is smooth, with a great 3D soundstage and great dynamics.

    So the Mojo is not the problem.

    To check if the digital source has a problem, please try to simply feed the Mojo some good music directly from a laptop.
    This one is really nice for example:

    That way you can be sure that you're feeding a good signal to your amp, and any remaining issue is upstream.

    Cheers and good luck!

    (PS: don't forget to run Mojo on batteries, not keep it plugged into a charger all the time, because that kills the battery)
  10. Iggz79

    Hi there,

    Very interesting view and I‘ll get to that later :) I got the Hifiman HE400i (hope got reference right now that I was using them for 10 days) and the Dynaudio emit m10. Here is my view on this and without using any of that hifi slang as I obviously don’t understand it.

    Dynaudio emit M10:

    Evenly small but significant improvement on clarity. Treble was ssssming and shhhhhhming a lot but that hiss is gone now. What hasn’t warmed up to expectations is the midrange. I still keep looking for the mid-range turning up the speakers. Would have done same for bass if I cared about it but I guess it’s impossible to feel treble, mid-range and bass in a satisfying way from just two 30cm large speakers. Bass, which I don’t really care for, is more defined I would say. I wouldn’t call it more base in the sense of presence but more efficient in terms of refinement. Generally speaking a more studio sounding speaker (whatever that means whenever the term studio is added to someething). A more intelligent sounding speaker overall with more potential for further improvements for sure. I can see how that Brio R warmth is well tackled by the precision of the Dynaudio speaker. What all these setups are screaming for is still an equalizer, as I can see a relatively noticeable difference of response to every single song I play on Spotify with same rate. But then I would end up adjusting my equalizer to every single song i hear as I am doing in my car and there again we are talking about America, capitalism user-friendliness and non-existent value for money :) let’s not go back there and focus more on listening than getting the references of our precious equipment right ! :)

    Hifiman HE400i:

    A slight improvement on clarity but generally not worth the change. Clearer treble and a little more definition. Nothing more to say really. It’s sound banging right against your ear-drums, what do you expect ? But seriously, don’t know how all these guys can almost orgasmically speak about amazing, genious sound coming from those donuts. Don’t think I will go further trusting anything else out there and will only consider giving headphones another chance, if I listen to one and seriously get blown away compared to those paranoid lies about products that are being posted while we speak.

    Thanks to all! (I’m not exiting this forum yet fyi :) )
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  11. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Likely just needed to break in the suspension on the tweeter needed to break in.

    Dynaudios aren't well known for having an unequal emphasis on the midrange over the rest of the range. Not to mention there's nothing out there yet given current technology that has everything flat from 20hz to 20,000hz, so speakers and headphones aren't a choice of which are better, but which combination of compromises the buyer can live with.

    It's more detailed because there is less distortion either from an underpowered amp, acoustics (ie if you had these and the Q3020 on stands instead of the bass boosting chambers the Dynaudio would sound like they totally have no bass), or even a native boost to the drivers usually via port tuning (although I've observed more of that on small desktop satellites like the A2's port tuning that forces the drivers to produce more bass than the tiny drivers can deliver neatly).

    A more commonly used audiophile term would be that the bass is "tight," but if you don't have them on the shelf, chances are they'd be "lean" as the shelf boosts the bass. The old Audience 42 was kind of lean as well.

    Meaning it's closer to a perceivably "flat" response, no range is emphasized to the point that it's obviously too much - no bloated bass, no ear grating treble if a bit lackluster for soprano vocals (unlike Sonus Faber), midrange isn't particularly boosted (if not slightly recessed given the human hearing bias for midrange) so it doesn't have that "sweet" midrange that people get out of using Marantz if not deliberately warm tube amps with certain speakers with a midrange emphasis, like Spendor.

    That deepends. If you have them on the shelf now that's boosting the bass; as much as a very heavy stand preserves bass by minimizing vibrations, the boost by the shelf does more than that, so putting them on stands might actually give you leaner bass than the "kind of just right" bass levels you're getting now.

    I personally prefer the Contour S5.4 far above the other Dynaudios below it, unlike how as much as I like the Stella Utopia and Electra Be, I can still enjoy the Chorus 706.

    That's primarily because no speaker has a perfectly flat response from 20hz to 20,000hz yet, so inevitably none of them are perfect. On top of which, there are individual preferences, so you might not exactly be trimming the excesses or filling in weaknesses, but tailoring it to your preferred sound. Not to mention other variables, like...

    ...mastering quality or preferences of the audio engineer who did the work, compression ratio that affects some tracks (ie they have more at the bottom end) than others, etc.

    Hard not to go back to it if you're insisting on an uncompromising misunderstanding of how these things are, like how there aren't any objectively perfect (much less subjectively perfect) speakers nor headphones that are flat from 20hz to 20,000hz, not to mention room interactions on speakers and how headphone fit on each head can alter what each person hears (until everybody gets a standardized clamp force measurement, which isn't any easier than finding a standard room).

    It's like seeing a Road & Track article on how a car is described to handle well, but without paying attention to details like how (older) Porsches and Lamborghinis can snap their tail and send your car rear first against the guardrail, and then demanding that the dealer repair it for free.

    That's the thing though. After an initial set up whether it's my car's angle mount fabrication and installation, time alignment, crossover, gain structure, etc, or the EQ on my headphone system, I spend the rest of it listening until something breaks and I have to blow some time finding a replacement.

    1. Most other people are using a more powerful, lower distortion, lower noise amplifier on that lower sensitivity headphone.

    2. Most other people also likely have not tried a Focal Stella Utopia and therefore think that whatever headphones that are good are that good. (Or at least, having dealt with acoustic issues like I did, would lower expectations because, well, short of getting a new room, there's not much that can be done)
    Iggz79 likes this.
  12. rudy49
    i have the newer Rega and it sounds lovely with the Rega RS1 speakers. i would suonly component i use that is not Rega is the NAD DAC. waiting foggest that you try a total Rega approach including their cables. ther a third incarnation from Rega of their DAC?
  13. rudy49
    i have the new Rega Brio and it's a champ. does not sound dull. very musical and detailed. heard it a a show and bought one the next week with the Rega RS1 speakers. superb match. really the next step up would probably be a very very expensive Ayre integrated which i also liked. i reccomend that you use all Rega cables. my source is a NAD DAC. i have my eye's on the next version of the Rega DAC. also very musical.
  14. smallcaps
    There's a lot of good discussion and recommendations in this thread. Well done, community.

    However there is one factor we have not touched upon, and while a technological or systems-based solution is certainly applicable, the "challenge" may be human-centred.

    I have reason to believe you are experiencing the phenomenon known as "upgradeitus". This is a syndrome where the subject is so overwhelmed by choice, they feel any incremental upgrade is simply not enough. The subject longs for a quantum leap in sound quality, and in this case no amount of system configuration will alleviate these urges to upgrade.

    I for one have succumbed to upgradeitus, and to manage my addiction, I purchase, return and sell as much gear as I can, recovering costs in order to continue facilitating said addiction. Maybe an option for you is to sell parts of your current system in order to fund others. If you can find a store with a good return policy in order to cycle through components more efficiently and with less detrimental impact on your wallet, this may help you manage this addiction, and maybe find a way for you and your loved ones to live with it.

    But if it's not the above, I would look to the space you are in and how you may optimise positioning of your speakers and listening position (seating configuration). Using a mic and measuring dynamics based on both your listening and speaker position can help you understand why the sound isn't right for the space you're in. You can try software like Room EQ Wizard (REW) to do acoustic room analysis and then adjust to correct for any aberrations in your setup.

    Good luck and enjoying this thread :)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
    Iggz79 likes this.
  15. Iggz79

    Yes I am definitely suffering from the upgradeitus addiction. Have upgraded my mains power supply to some fancy thick Ricable cable. Have upgraded my interconnects to Audioquest Yosemite and Diamond cables etc. You know the vicious circle of addiction is hard to get out from without a support group, which I seem to have found here. Its an endless story of chasing the ultimate high in sound that seems to get further and further away from you with the tolerance level of equipment and funds to support it getting out of scope...

    Is it worth it ? Definitely! :)
    smallcaps likes this.

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