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AR Live vs Recorded sessions, Opinions of people who may or may not have been there.


soundminded

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If the discussion moves away from first-person reminiscences to attempts at technical analysis or critiques, we can split those off from the nostalgia posts and create a new topic in the kitchen.

An AR live vs recorded demo in NYC was part of my earliest initiation into the world of "hifi." An uncle of mine (from whom I eventually inherited the turntable in my avatar) took me to it when I was 11. I really don't remember much about the music or the sound, and at the time I wasn't a very sophisticated listener of either. What I remember most was the reaction of the audience.

Years later I was invited by a friend to a demo that AR was staging for the BAS using 10pi's. Unfortunately I couldn't make it in time for the entire event and only caught about 10 minutes of it, but it was still impressive.

This place, especially the kitchen seems to have cooled down for awhile now. I have a theory that it's because a certain someone who was very active had to respond to 34,588,593,093,026 new postings on another web site and becuase he has 58,2038,614 pairs of speakers on order that he has to get ready to ship out. Either that or he's so tired from posting around the clock that he's had to take some time out to catch up on his ZZZZZZs. ;) Or maybe if we knew the truth we should just say RIP. :unsure: Just kidding. :lol:

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Naw, I am here, and the reminiscences are already gratuitously toxified by Howard in the first post, his purpose clear -- find and post more anecdotal evidence to discredit the scientific work of Toole et al., which all but dismisses the contrivances most dear to his outmoded perspective.

A quick review will reveal that this is precisely where we started months ago, and I can point to the exact post, in fact, in which Howard said precisely the same, initiating the ensuing uproar:

http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Boar...ost&p=77938

It's over Howard. Give it up.... ;)

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Naw, I am here, and the reminiscences are already gratuitously toxified by Howard in the first post, his purpose clear -- find and post more anecdotal evidence to discredit the scientific work of Toole et al., which all but dismisses the contrivances most dear to his outmoded perspective.

A quick review will reveal that this is precisely where we started months ago, and I can point to the exact post, in fact, in which Howard said precisely the same, initiating the ensuing uproar:

http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Boar...ost&p=77938

It's over Howard. Give it up.... ;)

I repeat what I posted earlier; if someone deisgned one that was right, there would never be a need to design another one again except to reduce cost, size, improve efficiency or reliability. Performace would reach whatever such a device was capable of. But even Floyd Toole's best effort, the Revel Salon Ultima has been superceded by a new and improved model which like all other new and improved models of anything corrects all the problems and limitations of the previous version. Now that he is retired and out of the way, the sharpies who took over when he left can "get it right." So Zilch versus Festler is really a proxy for Floyd Toole versus Roy Allison, that's what it boils down to. Too bad they don't post here and duke it out themselves, then we wouldn't have to get it second hand in this diluted form. That would add some heat to the kitchen.

Frankly, I can hardly wait to read Stereophile Magazine's review of a 40 year old pair of AR3as and how they compare to the latest crop of the best speakers in the world of the month that appear in that magazine every issue. Has Wilson replaced it TOTL $150,000 model with a new and improved version yet? How about Von Schweikert? What are you supposed to do with the old ones if you own them when they do, trade them in at a 40% loss? Well I suppose if money is no object. And about AR3a, what will they say, what can they say? It was good in its day? How do you sell ad space to someone if you said a 40 year old speaker that sold for $500 a pair back then is about as good as their current best effort...or better at 300 times the price? I haven't seen anyone including those two duplicate the LVR yet. Frankly, I don't think they're up to it and they'd have to prove to me that they are, not by talking about it but by doing it.

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I repeat what I posted earlier; if someone deisgned one that was right, there would never be a need to design another one again except to reduce cost, size, improve efficiency or reliability. Performace would reach whatever such a device was capable of. But even Floyd Toole's best effort, the Revel Salon Ultima has been superceded by a new and improved model which like all other new and improved models of anything corrects all the problems and limitations of the previous version. Now that he is retired and out of the way, the sharpies who took over when he left can "get it right." So Zilch versus Festler is really a proxy for Floyd Toole versus Roy Allison, that's what it boils down to. Too bad they don't post here and duke it out themselves, then we wouldn't have to get it second hand in this diluted form. That would add some heat to the kitchen............

With regard to your comment on "someone designing one that was right", the same could be said for cars, TV's, dish detergent, etc, etc, etc....... and yet those products keep getting upgraded endlessly. So, the question becomes is it a grand corporate marketing scheme to dupe the buying public (read consumers) into consuming ever more of these seemingly 'not right' products? or, is product evolution a true, natural process born out by man's endless search for perfection? [both perhaps?].

Your comment regarding the Zilch vs Ferstler proxy fight is so true.

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I know I’ve brought this up before, but I want to toss it out there again, mainly because the primary antagonists never seem to comment or acknowledge this one; they keep harping on the AR-3 LvR demos.

The 1976-1977 AR-10 Pi vs. jazz drummer Neil Grover demos were an entirely “different kettle of fish,” compared to the 15-years-earlier LvR demos.

Whereas the AR-3 demos could have been criticized by doubters as being too ‘easy’ (since a string quartet doesn’t have anywhere near the dynamics and HF content of a jazz drumset) the 10 Pi vs. Grover situation was completely different. SPLs were far higher. HF content was far greater. LF impact (from the bassdrum) was far punchier and weightier.

Also, by 1976, the recording technology and amplification was far superior to what was available to AR in 1962.

It was a far higher bar for AR to clear.

Now, let’s look at the 10 Pi (and 11), compared to the 3 (and by extension, the 3a, although the 3a never appeared in an LvR demo): the 10 Pi’s drivers were truly ‘flush mounted’ as opposed to the destructive effects of the window-frame molding on the 3/3a. When placed horizontally, the 10 Pi’s mid-tweeter were perfectly vertical, the now-agreed-to preferred manner to orient M-H drivers. Thus, the 10 Pi didn’t suffer from the 3/3a’s “near-field catastrophe of phase cancellations and driver interference” the way the 3/3a supposedly did. (Who came up with that “near-field catastrophe….” phrase? It’s so, well, colorful, very amusing, indeed.)

So it would seem that the 10 Pi was all set to correct the 3’s ills and give a good LvR account of itself in a much harder standard of comparison—a loud, nasty, dynamic jazz drumset, not a meek, polite string quartet.

Only AR didn’t follow their own script, and they mounted the 10 Pi’s VERTICALLY just behind Neil Grover’s set, so the mid-tweeters were HORIZONTAL. All wrong. Oh, no. Here comes that “Near-field catastrophe of phase cancellations and driver interference” again, brought about by the accurately predictable problems associated with side-by-side M-T drivers.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum, as the saying goes. The 10 Pi did GREAT in the demo, stunningly convincing. I was there, in the first row, 22 years-young at the time, perfect hearing, and I was a jazz drummer, to boot. I knew what this stuff was supposed to sound like. I knew the tricks that Grover was pulling off. I knew how different sticks affect the sound of cymbals. I was the most qualified listener imaginable, and my hearing was 22-years-old sharp.

The 10 Pi’s did GREAT. Even with their M-T oriented the ‘wrong’ way. Even though I was sitting no more than 10 feet from the speakers, as “near-field” as could be for this demo.

Really, the 1962 LvR demo is not that relevant to this discussion (if the discussion is ‘near vs. far field, and the importance/audibility of driver orientation and cabinet protrusions on lifelike sound as reproduced at the listening position’). AR’s 1976-77 10 Pi vs. Neil Grover demos should get the group’s attention and comments.

Steve F.

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The 10 Pi’s did GREAT. Even with their M-T oriented the ‘wrong’ way. Even though I was sitting no more than 10 feet from the speakers, as “near-field” as could be for this demo.

Really, the 1962 LvR demo is not that relevant to this discussion (if the discussion is ‘near vs. far field, and the importance/audibility of driver orientation and cabinet protrusions on lifelike sound as reproduced at the listening position’). AR’s 1976-77 10 Pi vs. Neil Grover demos should get the group’s attention and comments.

I think the reason this demo doesn't get as many comments is that it was conducted in smaller venues where the illusion of a full-on concert hall performance wasn't created (the BAS session I managed to get into for all of 10 minutes was in a space smilar in size to my current living room), and had much smaller audiences, which reduces the population of people with actual memories of the events who can comment. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't feel comfortable praising or critiquing demos that I never experienced.

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I think the reason this demo doesn't get as many comments is that it was conducted in smaller venues where the illusion of a full-on concert hall performance wasn't created (the BAS session I managed to get into for all of 10 minutes was in a space smilar in size to my current living room), and had much smaller audiences, which reduces the population of people with actual memories of the events who can comment. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't feel comfortable praising or critiquing demos that I never experienced.

Good points all, but many who comment on/criticize the 1963 AR-3 LvR sessions didn't hear them either. Yet that doesn't seem to stop them for a minute from denigrating those efforts.

I found the '76-77 sessions more relevant, because the smaller acoustic space was more representative of a home listening room, and it was certainly very reasonable and legitimate to hear how a pair of AR speakers could reproduce the sound of a live drumset in a smaller listening space. My drums were in my basement (a similar-sized area to AR's demo room), so the comparison was very apt. Apples-to-apples. As relevant and justifiable as could be.

If hearing the actual demo is a prerequisite for comment/criticism, then that certainly disqualifies a lot of people, doesn't it? Maybe they should just be quiet.

Steve F.

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Good points all, but many who comment on/criticize the 1963 AR-3 LvR sessions didn't hear them either. Yet that doesn't seem to stop them for a minute from denigrating those efforts.

I found the '76-77 sessions more relevant, because the smaller acoustic space was more representative of a home listening room, and it was certainly very reasonable and legitimate to hear how a pair of AR speakers could reproduce the sound of a live drumset in a smaller listening space. My drums were in my basement (a similar-sized area to AR's demo room), so the comparison was very apt. Apples-to-apples. As relevant and justifiable as could be.

If hearing the actual demo is a prerequisite for comment/criticism, then that certainly disqualifies a lot of people, doesn't it? Maybe they should just be quiet.

Which is one reason why this thread is now here...

I's harder to speculate positively or negatively on the later demos if you weren't at any of them and there aren't a lot of descriptions of them from people who were to base speculation on.

Maybe those of us who did manage to hear them (or just part of them) should consider being quiet about the experience as well... :)

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Which is one reason why this thread is now here...

It's harder to speculate positively or negatively on the later demos if you weren't at any of them and there aren't a lot of descriptions of them from people who were to base speculation on.

Maybe those of us who did manage to hear them (or just part of them) should consider being quiet about the experience as well... :)

My comments were certainly not directed at you; I was simply bringing up the fact that not being present at an LvR demo didn't seem to discourage many other people (well-known, highly respected authors/designers and "energetic" Forum members) from making disparaging comments about the AR-3 demos. So if those demos can be commented on in the abstract and we're supposed to take those comments seriously because of the so-called expertise of the commentators, then I was just calling for those same individuals to comment on the '76-77 sessions, since the 10 Pi did so well in a far more demanding test, even though it was set up "incorrectly."

I wanted the near-field/far-field people to comment on the excellence of the 10 Pi's performance, even though the M-T units were side-by-side (that supposedly sound-ruining "catastrophe" thing once again), and comment on the relevance of the smaller acoustic space and the realism/believability of a drumset being reproduced at lifelike SPLs with accurate tonal balance in that acoustic space by a pair of speakers.

They don't seem to have a problem commenting on the AR-3 LvR even though they didn't hear it; they should comment on the 10 Pi LvR, even though they didn't hear it.

Steve F.

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My comments were certainly not directed at you; I was simply bringing up the fact that not being present at an LvR demo didn't seem to discourage many other people (well-known, highly respected authors/designers and "energetic" Forum members) from making disparaging comments about the AR-3 demos. So if those demos can be commented on in the abstract and we're supposed to take those comments seriously because of the so-called expertise of the commentators, then I was just calling for those same individuals to comment on the '76-77 sessions, since the 10 Pi did so well in a far more demanding test, even though it was set up "incorrectly."

In that case somebody is going to have to tell them how those tests were set up. Perhaps this will help:

http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/pdf/bass...-05-09-7706.pdf (relevant article begins on page 18)

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In that case somebody is going to have to tell them how those tests were set up. Perhaps this will help:

http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/pdf/bass...-05-09-7706.pdf (relevant article begins on page 18)

Yes, that's pretty much as I remember it. This sentence from the BAS article was from my question that I asked them after the demo was over:

"One was the change that occurs as the varnish wears off a new pair of drumsticks. He had about fifty pairs of the same model stick to use, but it was important to use them at about the same point in their lives."

That's the advantage of being a drummer: you know the 'inside baseball.' I ran into Mr. Grover at an event some 28 years later and recounted the story of how I had asked about the sticks.

"So, YOU were the one! Victor and I had more trouble with the inconsistency in the sticks than with almost any other single factor, and it was a real struggle to get that right. We always wondered if anyone would pick up on that."

Steve F.

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The LVR demos were a marketing ploy, probative of nothing, and contrary to what many here suppose, quite common at the time. Howard can tell everyone about those of Gilbert Briggs and Howard Leak in the '50s, since they appear in his "Encyclopedia," and similar performances by other manufacturers have continued throughout the intervening years. Hal Cox did it with JBL Hartsfields and the SF Symphony, the side show further being produced and presented by a host of others, including the aforementioned Von Schweikert at CES 2004, with equal success.

Indeed, as Allison has observed, and Howard now reiterates, virtually any quality loudspeaker can do the "trick" nicely, including, doubtless, the Bose Wave Radio, even. Here Howard defeats his own argument with respect to the singular significance of Villchur LVR -- replicating not only the design performance, but also the showboat results, is all but trivial today, fully deserving the short shrift accorded it by Toole which has so offended him....

Of note, from the BAS Speaker issue linked above:

And last but not least, the loudspeakers: a single pair of AR-10's. Two-way speakers do nothave the power-handling ability required.Multiple-driver systems, such as the LST, don't work,apparently because of interference effects between drivers covering the same frequency range.The same problem exists when more than one pair of speakers is tried. So: a single pair ofthree-way systems, located on the wall behind the drummer, about four feet apart.
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Certainly the demos were designed as marketing tools. However, they were superb of their kind and were also done with great rigor, which cannot be said for the demos you list. The recording was done outdoors, anechoically, to minimize reflections that would make the recorded sound have reverb that live instruments would not have directly. And none of those other "concerts" you mention made any attempt to show that the speakers were subjectively identical sounding to the live instruments. I certainly would like to see some documentation from you regarding the "host" of other demos you allude to, particularly if they indicate that most or even some audience members could not hear differences.

You just dig yourself a deeper hole with every post, Howard. If it is necessary to use anechoic recordings to do the "trick," then:

1) It bears an even lesser relationship with how the speakers perform in typical listening spaces playing conventional recordings and,

2) How come those others were similarly successful without such contrivance?

As I have noted, neither you, nor Toole attended, whereas some people here did, and if you say that they were naive or foolish, or downright tin-eared, you are basically insulting them without any corroborative proof other than your own preconceptions and prejudices. You remind me of the "birther" crowd who, when shown certified proof of Obama's US birth demand "real" proof. There is no satisfying such people, and I am afraid there is no satisfying you, either.

Non sequitur, Howard; nobody said that. You obviously hunger for humiliation.... :)

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Thus, the 10 Pi didn’t suffer from the 3/3a’s “near-field catastrophe of phase cancellations and driver interference” the way the 3/3a supposedly did. (Who came up with that “near-field catastrophe….” phrase? It’s so, well, colorful, very amusing, indeed.)

I can't claim credit for that one.

"Festival of phase anomalies" is my version.... :)

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You just dig yourself a deeper hole with every post, Howard. If it is necessary to use anechoic recordings to do the "trick," then:

1) It bears an even lesser relationship with how the speakers perform in typical listening spaces playing conventional recordings and,

2) How come those others were similarly successful without such contrivance?

Non sequitur, Howard; nobody said that. You obviously hunger for humiliation.... :)

I'm sorry to have to tell you this Zilch but insofar as the necessity of using anechoic recordings for such an LvR demo, Howard is of course right. The reason is obvious. When a recording made in an non anechoic environment is played against a live musician, the acoustics (echoes/reverb) captured on the recording will also be reproduced and it will be impossible for the two to sound alike. With an anechoic recording, the acoustics of the room where the demo is conducted will treat both the same way and the failure or degree of success of reproducing the original can be revealed. Don't feel badly if you don't get it, a lot of others who tried LvRs never had a fighting chance because they didn't get it either.

I never said that the AR3 sounded exactly like the guitar or the nickelodeon but I did say they sounded very similar to my ears. This in itself was remarkable enough to be impressive since I never expcected it from a speaker that always sounded so dull and I never expected it from any other speaker either. Still, while it was impressive, extrapolating that highly contrived demo to the conclusion that the AR3 could reproduce anything and everything all accurately is a false assumption. In fact in reproducing commercially made recordings, it often did not do well. We've had a lot of explanations for this and I've got some of my own theories but as I finally became a "golden ears" of sorts starting about 20 years ago long after this demo, I've come to the conclusion that no speakers you can buy sound like live music as you'd hear it performed in your home and as for the way musical instruments sound at a live performance in venue, you're in such a different and far more complex realm that it is ludicrous to even think about how primitive the state of the art still is today compared to what it would have to be for an electronic recording playback system to have a fighting chance.

Carl, I knew someone would bring up the point you made. That's a poor analogy. There is a fixed goal here or there used to be. The other products you mentioned don't have a fixed goal. A better analogy would be a camera lens. If you were going to buy a camera lens and knew exactly how large you would blow up your images, what range of color the best film had, how far away you'd view it from, you could predict based on knowledge of eyesight how good a lens would have to be before any further improvement in any of its parameters would not be visible to the human eye. This is based on very detailed knowledge of what we can see and can't see as well as how we perceive light. We don't have a comparable understanding of hearing but even so, we know the distortions of many kinds are so great for all sound systems that the chances of creating an acoustic image that is indistinguishable from a live performace given the current state of the art is about a one in a million shot for people with normal hearing. Nobody is ever really fooled no matter how much audiophiles wish they could be.

Anyone who thinks it's easy to reproduce the sound of a particular string instrument accurately hasn't spent nearly as much time as I have comparing everything from Strads and Guanari del Jesus to cigar boxes. Not only is there a vast array of differences among them, they all fall outside of the range of what loudspeakers can do.

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Briggs was an excellent writer, as well as speaker designer, and between 1948 and his death, he published more than 20 books on topics as varied as pianos and other musical instruments (he was also a fine piano player), amplifiers, loudspeakers, antennas, and audiology. Besides his [Wharfedale] loudspeaker systems and writings, Briggs, assisted by Raymond Cooke and Peter Walker, may best be known for a series of live-versus-recorded demonstrations involving his speaker systems, a technique that was also utilized a number of years later by Edgar Villchur.

No rigor required to achieve the renown to which you ascribe technological significance; indeed, it was routine:

"Gilbert was already building quite a reputation for pioneering within what was now firmly established as the ‘hi-fi’ industry. His books were immensely popular and in the 1950s, he decided to take things a step forward by staging an audacious series of concerts comparing live with recorded music.

These concert demonstrations became very famous, using Wharfedale loudspeakers and either Quad or Leak amplification. In his book, Audio Biographies, Gilbert recalls the first time he worked closely with Peter Walker, founder of Quad, at their first demonstration in the Royal Festival Hall, London. They worked well together, a relationship between the companies that is stronger today than ever before under the umbrella of the ‘International Audio Group’.

The demonstrations continued into the late 1950s, visiting the Royal Festival Hall and Carnegie Hall, New York on several occasions as well as such exotic locations as Portugal, Canada and Hong Kong. A live band, or group of instruments would play first, being recorded as it happened. The acetate would then be played back to the assembled audience to impress upon them the similarity of the recorded music."

http://www.gearplus.com.au/products/wharfe...-wharfedale.htm

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....................

Carl, I knew someone would bring up the point you made. That's a poor analogy. There is a fixed goal here or there used to be. The other products you mentioned don't have a fixed goal. A better analogy would be a camera lens. If you were going to buy a camera lens and knew exactly how large you would blow up your images, what range of color the best film had, how far away you'd view it from, you could predict based on knowledge of eyesight how good a lens would have to be before any further improvement in any of its parameters would not be visible to the human eye. This is based on very detailed knowledge of what we can see and can't see as well as how we perceive light. We don't have a comparable understanding of hearing but even so, we know the distortions of many kinds are so great for all sound systems that the chances of creating an acoustic image that is indistinguishable from a live performace given the current state of the art is about a one in a million shot for people with normal hearing. Nobody is ever really fooled no matter how much audiophiles wish they could be.

Anyone who thinks it's easy to reproduce the sound of a particular string instrument accurately hasn't spent nearly as much time as I have comparing everything from Strads and Guanari del Jesus to cigar boxes. Not only is there a vast array of differences among them, they all fall outside of the range of what loudspeakers can do.

This will be my last off-topic post here.

I could't disagree more regarding my use of the afore-mentioned analogies. There can be a 'fixed goal' for any product. You just haven't given it much thought I guess. Too focused (sorry for the camera lens pun) on the perfect in-room reproduction of acoustic instruments perhaps? I suppose one could devote practically one's whole life to such an endeavor as you evidently have.

Take cars for instance. The 'fixed goal' for transportation is to get from one place to another quickly and safely. Cars are one of man's current methods. Not yet too quick nor safe. Man started with donkeys, then horses and eventually developed carbon-based fueled vehicles. Given today's clogged highways with ever-more agressive drivers weaving their way thru traffic, it's not hard to think outside the box to envision a solution to this problem. I see the next Bill Gates as being the person who invents teleportation. Sounds silly and Star Trekish? I don't think so. It won't happen in our lifetime. But I believe it will.

TV's are another example. Try thinking of an audio-visual system that almost literally puts you inside the AV experience. Just imagine yourself sitting in a drawing room with your favorite pianist playing one of your favorite pianos in a private session perfectly and artificially created by you. Wouldn't that be the ultimate quasi-reality? Don't laugh. People are already thinking of developing such systems. I personally met one of audio's legends a while back who's now a consultant. He posed exactly that notion at a gathering of audiophiles on purpose because he was working on such a project.

These are pie-in-the-sky ideas which, I'm sure, you will shrug off as you usually do, but most technical advances in our lives started out that way.

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As I return from vacation, I'm glad to see another debate in progress. Things had gotten a little quiet :)

So Zilch versus Festler is really a proxy for Floyd Toole versus Roy Allison, that's what it boils down to. Too bad they don't post here and duke it out themselves, then we wouldn't have to get it second hand in this diluted form. That would add some heat to the kitchen.

Its very presumptuous to assume that Toole and Allison would come to blows over any of these points. I am sure they would have more thinking in common than not. It is only those of us who take a few of their views in issolation and push them to extremes that get embroiled in the debate. (Yours truly included!)

Live vs. recorded demos are interesting but I'm not sure what the prove. Certainly, AR and others are to be commended for the effort needed to record a string quartet or drum set carefully and anechoically. The speakers would have to replicate the full dynamic range and be neutral enough not to reveal a shift in frequency balance. On the other hand, the speakers are placed as surrogate instruments and don't have to create a stereo soundfield. Most of the demos have been done in large music venues (in concert halls) so the hall will automatically carry the burden of creating a "realistic soundfield".

Since every well done demo of this kind, including the first by Edison, has had listeners leaving with the same comments we really have to question whether they provide proof of superiority of the speakers used. I know the Edison Diamond Disc players are considered among the best of their kind (of acoustical gramophone), but I doubt that any of us today would be fooled into believing they were live music rather than reproduced. They did set the basics of the live vs. recorded demo: record the musician anechoically (sing directly into the recording horn), choose the source carefully to match the limitations of the gramophone (voice only), play back in an appropriate acoustic space for the performance so that the system is offloaded of the need to create a realistic soundspace.

I've heard a few of my larger speaker designs (KEF KM1) playing back music in a large auditorium and they gave a totally different (and most impressive) presentation aided by a large natural acoustic. Is it possible that speakers are much better than we give them credit for, but the process of recording and reproducing a real soundfield, especially in a home living room, is actually the limitation?

David

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Here's another account, from the perspective of someone who was in the audience and had some knowledge of audio:

http://www.btinternet.com/~roger.beckwith/bh/tapes/btr2.htm

Based on these descriptions, the musicians were recorded during the demo, then the recordings were played back to demonstrate how realistic the recording was to the original and it doesn't appear that any attempt was made to convince the audience that the recorded sound was the real musicians. So the fact that the recording was not anechoic and was affected by the hall acoustics (not to mention the inevitable cough or sneeze from the audience that always seems to make it into a live concert recording) would not have posed as much of an obstacle to a successful demo as it would have for the AR demos. It also is not surprising that the Wharfedales fared well in this sort of demo, as their designers appear to have had the same desire to simulate the sound of nonamplified musical performances that drove AR's designers.

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Live vs. recorded demos are interesting but I'm not sure what the prove.

Possibly that if the recordings and playback setup are properly crafted, the speakers being used do not introduce flaws in the sound that are sufficiently grating as to announce themselves to an audience, and that over time the bar for "sufficiently grating" became more difficult to clear, at least until the 1970's?

I wonder if the fact that there are no manufacturers using this demo technique today indicates that they don't think their products can pull it off, or that they don't think their customer base cares whether speakers can fool them into thinking they're listening to original sound...? With smaller and smaller portions of the population having any exposure to nonamplified performances in concert hall spaces, it should actually be easier to fool a group of average people pulled off the street than ever before, perhaps even easier than in Edison's time.

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I wonder if the fact that there are no manufacturers using this demo technique today indicates that they don't think their products can pull it off, or that they don't think their customer base cares whether speakers can fool them into thinking they're listening to original sound...?

My feeling is that we Forum members are an insular group with very little—startlingly little!—understanding or appreciation for how the entire subject of “speakers” and “sound quality” is viewed by the general consuming public.

My daughters are 27 and 30. Their friends, spouses, and work associates span the range from their low-20’s to their mid-50’s. None of those people are involved in any aspect of the consumer electronics business in general or the speaker business in particular. Therefore, they are pretty representative of the so-called “general public,” and their opinions and reaction to ‘gear’ can be regarded as reasonably indicative of how the larger, non-enthusiast demographic might look at things.

Based on observing their reactions, I can say that this sample population is not concerned with any of the concepts that we take so seriously: Accuracy, fidelity, believability, etc. There is no thought of those concepts.

The things that matter to them are intelligibility, clarity, dependability, simplicity of operation, repeatability, etc. For car audio enthusiasts, add bass SPL. Not accuracy, just SPL.

When they go to a concert, the notion that it was “amplified” or “acoustic” does not enter the conversation. We saw Steely Dan a few weeks ago at the Wang Center in Boston. Steely Dan fans are well-acquainted with Fagan and Becker’s almost fanatical obsession with sound quality, both in their recordings and live. It was an “amplified” concert, but it was remarkably uncolored by the standard of most pop concerts. Our friends (in their late 40’s, a bit younger than us) said it was ‘clear.’ But they didn’t remark on whether they thought it closely approximated the sound of unamplified music or not. That wasn’t their concern. Their concern was that it was “clear.”

“Speakers” today (and there are fewer and fewer stand-alone component speakers being sold—the vast majority are self-powered and self-equalized as part of a system, whether that system is an iPod docking station, a pre-packaged home theater system, a CD/MP3 boom-box, etc.) are regarded as “sound delivery appliances.” Period. Do they work? Are they ‘clear” That’s it.

The notion of “choosing” and comparing separate speakers to each other would no more enter the mind of the average 35-year-old than would the notion of comparing separate component heating elements and then putting together your own toaster oven.

Comparing speakers? Are you crazy? No, you just buy the entire “thing,” and it includes speakers. As long as it sounds “clear,” it’s good.

Truly “lifelike and accurate” are notions that no longer apply. It’s just not relevant to the way today’s average consumer thinks.

Old hi-fi enthusiasts like us? A few newbie circuit heads out there? Sure. But not the majority, and it’s headed in the opposite direction.

Steve F.

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Hi from China...

The LvR's were wonderful events... brave, inspiring (to me personally), and brilliant PR.

But, they were marketing events, and yielded almost no useful new information about sound reproduction in the home, and EV, et al, knew this perfectly well.

Home reproduction accuracy is all about the scaling of space, dealing with boundary conditions, finessing double reverberation. The LvR's "only" proved that the AR's. with careful recording techniques and highly controlled, EQ'd playback conditions, made excellent PA speakers. None of what was learned in LvR ever made it into the design thinking for home speakers in any way.

I can't figure out why anyone is bothering to talk about them on this level, as if they proved something of meaning about speakers in listening rooms. They didn't. It's wrong to say they either prove or disprove the "power response" question, because that question only become interesting in a small playback room where the direct sound rapidly becomes the reverberant sound. I may, or may not, like FT's book. I don't agree with many of his omissions. But to propose the LvR demos as some kind of undermining of his premise is a profound misunderstanding.

-k

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My feeling is that we Forum members are an insular group with very little—startlingly little!—understanding or appreciation for how the entire subject of “speakers” and “sound quality” is viewed by the general consuming public.

Nah, I think we all know perfectly well that we're the odd ones out. All we need to see that is a five-minute stroll through our nearest BestBuy store. We just don't care what the general consuming public thinks. Heck, some in our insular group don't even care what each other think...

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Nah, I think we all know perfectly well that we're the odd ones out.

I think you give us too much credit. Most of us (myself included) take our opinions and our view of the audio world WAY too seriously. Most of us actually think that the achievement of the sound of "lifelike" instrumentation in our home listening rooms is both a worthy intellectual pursuit (it probably is) and a viable commercial goal for some enterprising company (it most definitely is NOT). Most of us still think there is a stand-alone component "speaker market" and an "audio industry." There is not, not in any truly meaningful sense.

But most of us are quite happy living in our little personal corner of the audio universe, blissfully unaware that we're a mere speck of dust in the vast expanse of reality.

That said, I love the sound of my 3a's and listen joyfully every day. So there.

Steve F.

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