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Reproduction of timbre

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by old tech, Apr 23, 2019.
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  1. Daniel Johnston
    So you essentially "timbre matched" your system. The goal is to have seamless acoustic blending of the speakers. I once tried an all Magnepan home theater. Never could get it to sound right. You could always tell what was coming from the center channel (all dynamic driver) and what was from the maggies (I didn't have the space or money for the maggie center channel at the time). Don't get me started about blending in the sub.

    You accomplished timbre matching (I assume) by using different speaker types in different places based on their characteristics with room correction. I did this by sticking with one style of speaker, speaker position and room EQ. If I had the room, I would've used 4 more RF 7 IIs for the surrounds. Mains make great surrounds, overkill, but great.

    Unless there is another obscure audiophile definition of timbre matching, we are talking the same idea but with different methods.
  2. old tech
    Sure, but the point I'm trying to make is that if the frequency response is linear by +/- 0.5 db, then timing must also be perfect within the +/- 0.5 db range across the frequency spectrum - or am I missing something here?
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  3. bigshot
    The timing should be correct at least to the length of the highest sampling rate. But response is measured with tones usually. Tones don't necessarily reveal problems with larger timing issues like group delay.

    Daniel Johnson, I wanted certain speakers to be more directional (like the center channel) and others to be more broad dispersing (the rears). The sub isn't a problem because it's automatically non directional. My music listening doubles with a projection system with a ten foot screen. I needed to create a soundstage that was about 18 feet across and seven feet tall. That goes beyond just timbre matching. Matching the response was fairly easy. Getting everything to present a clear large soundstage from a range of sitting positions was the trick. That required picking a speaker design that fit the position, carefully balanced levels, speaker placement and room acoustics. Multichannel is MUCH more complicated to balance than plain old stereo.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  4. Daniel Johnston
    I understand. I was trying to answer your question about timbre matching as explained to me by audiophiles and audio enthusiasts who believe is such things. Trust me, I understand the complexities of multichannel audio. Cheers.
  5. bigshot
    I've spoken to audiophiles who think that if they buy all the same make and model of speakers, then they don't have to do any EQ. There are a lot of theories among online audiophiles that just aren't based in truth. I don't think having all the same kind of speaker is necessarily an advantage, even if it is common knowledge on sound forums.
  6. bfreedma

    It's not a requirement and still needs EQ, but using speakers from the same manufacturer and product line typically simplifies the process. Particularly for people who want to allow an automated EQ do the work and may not have the knowledge (and tools) to do manual enhancement.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  7. Daniel Johnston
    ^ This.

    I want the best quality sound possible, but have no desire to invest the time or the tools to do manual enhancement. ARC is pretty slick. If you can do such things manually, that’s fantastic.
  8. bigshot
    It depends on the dispersion pattern. In the front of a 5.1 system you have a center channel, in the rear you don’t. In a large room, you would need speakers with wide dispersion in the rear to bridge the gap to the phantom center. But if you have a wide dispersing center up front, you might end up with unfocused vocals. Everyone seems to think that wide dispersion is better than focused directionality, but it all depends on what the speaker is being used for.

    Personally, I think any automatic EQ system is going to need manual adjustment to sound the best. An auto EQ will get you in the ballpark, but a machine algorithm isn’t going to be able to make the intelligent compromises you have to make to balance the requirements of room, ears and equipment. There’s no shortcut to that.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  9. bfreedma
    No disagreement. When I wrote "speakers from the same manufacturer and line", it didn't mean 5 identical speakers. I use the same line, but two towers for mains, a 3 way center (non MTM alignment to avoid combing and lobing), and two bipolar speakers for surrounds. My subwoofers come from another source. Setup consists of Audyssey XT32 Pro, manually adjusted using in room measurements.

    That said, not everyone is going to take the time and make the expenditure for learning and executing post automated EQ setup. For those looking for a simpler solution, the appropriate speaker models from the same manufacturer's line using automated EQ is the most likely way to realize a decently setup MCH HT.

    Some of the newer auto EQ solutions are reducing or eliminating the need for post EQ adjustment as they address both time and frequency domains. Both Trinnov and Dirac are very accurate assuming the end user follows the correct implementation process. When I find reason to buy a new AVR, I'll be abandoning Audyssey for one of those products - probably when we remodel the room the HT is in and I can install speakers in the ceiling to support ATMOS.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  10. bigshot
    If anyone wants tips on how to tweak an automatically set curve, just let me know. It's drop dead easy... not technical at all. It just takes a little time and critical listening. It isn't at all about technical calibration. That is already done. It's about making the unavoidable compromises in a smart way to make it sound good for how you use it.

    People get WAY too hung up on "accurate" response. It can't be 100% accurate without turning your living room into a recording studio. Your furniture isn't optimal. Your walls aren't optimal. The various seating positions aren't all optimal. It's a living room. It has to be livable. An automatic EQ system can only measure from one point in space with a microphone that may or may not be similar to your ears. It isn't absolute.

    You have to make compromises. You can let a machine make those choices arbitrarily for you and just live with it, or you can do a little finessing and make it sound the way YOU want it to. It isn't hard at all, and no one should be afraid to improve their own system.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  11. bigshot
    I missed this before... I think planar speakers like that are better for a 2 channel system than a multichannel one. They spread the sound all around, when with mains in a multichannel system, you might want more of a pinpoint sound location left or right (especially if you're trying to relate the sound source to a large projection screen). They would make good rear channel speakers, but I don't know anyone rich enough to be able to afford that sort of thing for the rears! I'm guessing to blend the sub, you'd have to raise the crossover to around 120Hz, which would probably mean that you'd need two subs.

    There are reasons for different types of designs. I have a non-standard combination of 1970s studio monitors with highly directional tweeters, modern JBL towers, directional horn loaded and a super wide dispersing radial design speakers. It gives me a wide even spread of sound with directional at the ends and in the middle, with an even spread in the rear that isn't as differentiated. It doesn't follow the rules, but it works great in my particular room. You usually have to experiment to get acoustics to work right. It isn't good to stick mechanically to theory. There are too many variables for that.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  12. bfreedma

    It seems like we just transitioned from reference to preference.

    The comment about auto EQ only measuring from a single location is dated. Most of the current auto calibration solutions utilize multiple locations for measurements, then create a solution with weighting given to the first location which should be taken at the MLP. Audyssey Pro, for example, supports measurements from a dozen locations in the room and specifies the order and positioning of the microphone for each which are used in the algorithm that calculates the EQ solution. It also allows tweaking of the results within the application.

    You should give one of the current generation EQ products a try. You may be surprised how far things have come.

    Of course, there’s no substitute for using a measurement system to confirm the results and to fine tune where necessary. I’m not a fan of doing it by ear - far to easy to make large errors and you never really know what you actually end up with. Every system I’ve measured that was done “by ear” had significant room for improvement.

    If you want a “fun” system instead of a reasonably accurate one, then sure, go ahead and wing it. I’d rather start with an accurate EQ, then modify it as the mood of the moment suits.
  13. bigshot
    Preference and adapting to the circumstances is what fine tuning response is all about. If you've calibrated, the next step is to see how well it works for your particular application and ears. No one should be afraid to set their response curve themselves... you just should start from a place of calibration. And there is no such thing as perfect calibration in the home unless you've built your room specifically for that purpose from the ground up. That is the big difference between a living room and a recording studio. If that auto-calibrated setting is fine with you, stay there. If you are listening to the recordings you like to listen to in the way you like to listen to them and you find that it isn't perfect- fine tune it. Just save the calibration point so you can get back to square one again. Don't wander aimlessly.

    Not all recordings are perfectly calibrated. Neither are all ears. Rooms have their own idiosyncrasies. Equalizers designed for non-professional use have limitations. You have to adjust to suit your particular circumstance. There is no perfect abstract response curve. Just because a black box says it is perfect, it doesn't mean that it's perfect. You have to adjust it to suit yourself and your situation. That isn't just "fun". That is your own personal calibration that takes your own hearing, your own room compromises, your own equipment, and your own recordings into account.

    The philosophy of "this electronic device will match what the Beatles were hearing in the studio" is bogus. There are too many variables to ever be able to do that accurately. A home stereo isn't the same as a mixing stage. There are things that matter more to studios, and things that matter more in the home. Home audio is always a compromise. I'm just saying don't be afraid to decide for yourself how those compromises are made. Don't trust a machine to make them for you. Use the machine as a starting point and then listen analytically to see if you can improve upon it.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  14. bigshot
    A small example... in my theater, I have an antique phonograph. The gears in the spring motor have a resonant frequency. A precise, narrow bass sound will make it rattle like a freight train. An inaudible super narrow notch filter takes care of it. I want to keep my phonograph in my music room. I want it not to buzz. No automatic EQ device is going to fix that. In fact, it might even get thrown off by it if it can hear the rattling. It isn't perfectly accurate, but I can't hear a difference in the music with the notch in and the notch out, and it sure makes the room quieter. And it's not just EQ... I play with the timing of the channels, the levels of each channel, the placement of the furniture, the listening positions, and the position of the speakers in the room. I started from a point of theoretical correctness for all those things, but I've been able to refine that to actual real world correctness. I know it makes dogmatic folks itch like a dog with fleas, but ultimately, what works... works. No one should ever be told to just do everything by the book without experimenting a little.
  15. bfreedma
    Again, I'm not suggesting simply taking the automated EQ solution as perfect and leaving it there, just using it as the reference point for any further tuning. Seems like we are in agreement there.

    It does seem like you're using a very dated auto EQ system. Current generation Auto EQ addresses channel timing and levels, the room including issues resultant from furniture and other objects, speaker positions, and multiple listening positions. Obviously, some issues may be so bad that no EQ, automated or manual, can resolve and may require physical changes to the room or speaker location.

    The antique phonograph issue is an edge case and fortunately something that not many HT users have to deal with. No doubt, we could list edge cases for all eternity, but as you frequently call out, edge cases need to be dealt with as outliers and not as part of a core solution.

    What auto EQ solution are you currently using?
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