Another test finds HomePod frequency response flat, but results potentially meaningless

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  • Reply 81 of 123
    jasenj1 said:
    1.  Is stereo still the goal of a home theater or listening room (I did some surfing)?
    Sometimes. There is a distinction in the audiophile world between a two-channel room and a theater room. Since the vast majority of music material is produced and distributed as two channels (CDs, records), for _serious_ listening a two-channel rig (or headphones) is the way to go. A theater room is for watching movies with their multi-channel sound effects and soundscapes.
    Ahh, I understand -- thank you for your considered response.

    2.  I’ve never experienced surround sound -- is it better than stereo or just an enhancement/variation?

    Have you been to a movie theater in the past 20 years? Then you've experienced surround sound. And for movies, yes, it is better. Helicopters swoop in from behind, over the audience and away. The sounds of the jungle are all around and then there's a *crack* off to the left. You get the idea. For music, there is far less multi-channel material, but there is some. Since in a live musical performance you are usually watching performers on a stage in front of you, there isn't much going on behind & around - other than room reflections, crowd noise, and other ambient things. But for a real live experience, those sounds can be considered important and there is some multichannel material.

    I guess I have.  My most memorable live audio experiences were:  1) listening to the French National Band play on stage at the Pasadena Playhouse;  2) watching the 1956 movie Around the world in 80 days at a special Panovision theater in LA;  listening to Segovia in Flint Center;  Doc Watson at the California Theater in Palo Alto;  David Bromberg at the Laundry Works in Mountain View;  Kingston Trio at the Hollywood Bowl...  and I Played trumpet in the band in the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.

    You are correct -- the ambient sounds are a big part of the experience.

    3.  Is the goal to tune a listening room and listening equipment to a single sweet spot target?

    For a two-channel system, I would say, yes. The sweet spot may cover a couple of listening positions, but you have two sound sources focusing on a single listening spot.

    For a theater room, the goal is to provide a good listening experience for all the seats. I expect there will be some "best" spot, but the goal is to provide a good experience for several listeners.

    I see.  I guess for us common folk the best we could expect is a so-called "Man Cave" -- I've never experienced pone.

    4.  If that is the goal, does tuning the equipment mean:  tuning many speakers (with associated amps, etc.) to one sweet spot?

    Yes. But again for a theater room the goal is to provide "good" sound to all the listening positions, but there will be some set of "best" positions. So you try to make the sweet spot bigger than a single seat.

    Sounds reasonable!

    5.  Doesn't tuning a room and equipment require special instrumentation, time and $?

    Yes. Home theater install companies have all of this. Many modern home-theater receivers come with calibration microphones and have a set up procedure to tune the speaker output. Audyssey is a widely used provider of such technology. See here for an example.


    Interesting link!  

    "Audyssey MultEQ® XT32
    MultEQ XT32 is Audyssey’s flagship room correction solution. The system collects data from ten thousand individual control points, allowing the finer details of a room’s acoustical problems to be corrected.'"

    It doesn't say how the system collects those data points.  Are instruments spread throughout the room, or are 3D point clouds (ala FaceID) created from a few, strategically-placed transceivers?

    6.  Could the speakers, with today's tech, be intelligent enough to tune themselves to the room and other speakers?

    Yes. You gave the example of the Beolab speakers earlier in the thread. Other manufacturers are adding this sort of DSP tech, but it's still pretty high-end. Right now all of the smarts is put in the receiver and it plays test signals through the speakers to determine EQ curves, timing delays, etc.

    Yes -- at $tens-of-thousands aa a crack -- and it appears they are targeting a small sweet spot for listening.

    > And the big question: If the goal in item 4 is true:  tuning many speakers to one sweet spot -- isn't that short-sighted -- shouldn't the goal be to tune many speakers to many sweet spots?

    I think physics starts to get in the way. You have all these sound waves bouncing around a room, they interfere with each other, propagate where you don't want them, etc. As someone else mentioned further up, if you are a _serious_ audiophile you have a listening room built - whether that be a theater with multiple seats or a two-channel room with a listening chair.

    If you really want to dive down this rabbit hole, Stereophile is one of the leading publications at the extreme end of this world.

    Again, thx for your considered response!

    After years of watching Apple, here's what I think they're about:

    The homePod is Apple dipping its toes in the water for audio.  It can be a reasonably inexpensive shelf-speaker for the average Josephine... want a little more oomph get a pair of homePods (with AirPlay 2) and get stereo that sounds good wherever Joe, Josephine and others are in the room -- no real sweet spot.


    Now for the audiophile and state-of-the-art.  I suspect that the homePod is only the first (product or iteration) of a disruptive audio technology:
    1. it has robust enough hardware that it sounds good
    2. they are inexpensive enough that multiples can be spread across a room
    3. they can act as instruments to measure the sound/noise they hear
    4. they can talk to each other to determine what they hear
    5. they are wide-bandwidth transceivers that can send/receive both digital audio and digital data
    6. jointly, they can create a 3D audio point cloud
    7. jointly they can compensate for room anomalies -- event when moved
    8. jointly they are capable of adjusting to a digital data profile of the sounds as they were meant to be heard

    To boil it down, I think that the tech in the homePod can bring good audiophile quality (as I understand it) to most homes without the need for expensive special rooms, special setups, special instruments, tuning time and big $.

    edited February 2018
  • Reply 82 of 123
  • Reply 83 of 123
     thank you for your considered response.

    You're welcome. I try.

    To boil it down, I think that the tech in the homePod can bring good audiophile quality (as I understand it) to most homes without the need for expensive special rooms, special setups, special instruments, tuning time and big $.

    Agreed. Unlike Google & Amazon's smart speakers, Apple is putting some serious computational power behind wiggling the drivers back and forth. The high-end folks know what this sort of technology can do, and that makes the HomePod worth taking note of. Imagine being able to say, "Siri, I'm sitting here." and have your HomePods tune themselves for that listening position and your room - and as others mentioned, tuning their output to your hearing profile.

    I seriously doubt Apple will go too far down the path of "audiophile" concerns. But it'd be nice if there was an API for third-parties to crank up the magic. The next couple years should be very interesting as the HomePod evolves.

  • Reply 84 of 123
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,472member
    lorin schultz said:
    Fine. What would you call it then? It certainly isn't stereo, either. We need a new term.
    I've thought about that for some time.

    The idea of traditional 'stereo' with separate information feeding two discrete speakers (more as time when on) was to not only further the pursuit of 'hi-fidelity sound, but also create an audio image or soundstage the reproduced the  sound of an actual, life performance, where we could hear the details of various instruments and vocals, along with their position in the performance.

    This had been attempted over the years mainly with more channels and speakers, and to some degree with DSP. This wasn't and still isn't possible with one traditional speaker.  But if an active speaker like the HomePod and anything similar can effectively reproduce that sound stage, is it still mono sound? 
     
    We're far from the time where technology can make a HomePod sound even similar to Maggies or Logies. That'll require some serious bending of certain laws of physics. But we may be entering an area of single speaker imaging superior to some multi-speaker systems and even (traditional) stereo headphones (which induce compromises of their own).

    As far as testing in an anechoic chamber is concerned, if a HP can't approach a flat response there, it will likely have a harder time in varying room environments. Having a level playing field in a chamber can only help deal with different rooms. Even a traditional speaker might suffer in the same manner, making it more difficult for a listener to 'tune' the room for a flatter response. This of course applies to someone who wants to perceive a balanced audio spectrum, and not just twist the Volume and Bass to 11.

    The HP's biggest problem is both defenders and detractors trying to make it something it isn't, whatever that is. I plan on getting one and will have 13 days to see how well I like it.  

    I really appreciate Lorin's contributions to this and other threads. Thank you for that.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 85 of 123
    jasenj1 said:
    >  thank you for your considered response.

    You're welcome. I try.

    > To boil it down, I think that the tech in the homePod can bring good audiophile quality (as I understand it) to most homes without the need for expensive special rooms, special setups, special instruments, tuning time and big $.

    Agreed. Unlike Google & Amazon's smart speakers, Apple is putting some serious computational power behind wiggling the drivers back and forth. The high-end folks know what this sort of technology can do, and that makes the HomePod worth taking note of. Imagine being able to say, "Siri, I'm sitting here." and have your HomePods tune themselves for that listening position and your room - and as others mentioned, tuning their output to your hearing profile.

    I seriously doubt Apple will go too far down the path of "audiophile" concerns. But it'd be nice if there was an API for third-parties to crank up the magic. The next couple years should be very interesting as the HomePod evolves.

    Yes!  Apple doesn't need to go too far down the path of "audiophile" concerns.  Rather, they can make a significant amount of money providing an immersive sound experience for the average listener at a reasonably-acceptable price -- an audio source and 1 or 2 homePods (for now).

    If Apple can develop a system to create a digital profile of the sound (music or video soundtrack) as the author meant it sound -- it could license it free to the authors and for a fee to audiophile system companies.  Once that was done you could get expected quality sound  whatever your desire/budget.

    As to individual listeners' profile that can be done easily with a phone and one or more homePods (the homePods may not even be needed):
    1. the user creates and stores an unique voiceprint ala TouchID or FaceID
    2. the use creates an unique hearing profile by choosing a or b among a series of sound tests -- and saves the profile
     In a listening situation, the profiled user says: Hey Siri I am Josephine... (or your phone could do it for you)

    Now, the homePods know your sound profile and where you are in the room (and if your phone is smart enough, where you are if you move)
  • Reply 86 of 123
    This has nothing to with this thread... but they're kinda neat:


    edited February 2018 tallest skil
  • Reply 87 of 123
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,809member

    Speaking of you, you haven't responded to my post asking you to please share your source(s) of information about HomePod-specific metadata for sound shaping/equalization. Is there a reason you don't want to?
    I did look for it -- spent about 40 minutes -- online discussions with Schiller and Eddie Cue, other forum sites (including Apple patents), even Apple developer docs/videos... when I came back to the thread, it had moved on (I hoped someone else would respond).

    IDK, maybe I just made it up ;)
    I wonder if Apple has patented the Hell out of this?   It seems like they should be able to patent a lot of it.  I don't know in detail how the Beolab 90 works, but it seems different enough from the HP.    But if Apple can't patent key parts of it we will probably see knock-offs next year.    I'm a little surprised that the GoogleMax wasn't a circular speaker.    Samsung will probably come out with that.

    The other thing I have wondered about and haven't read or seen any reviews on is how well does the home pod work when only the 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz band is available.
    I believe SONOS is limited (and that's why they sell the Boost).

    I'm waiting for the true Stereo Pairing and AirPlay support to come out, but am hoping that this is the start of family of HomePod products:  HomePodBar - Home Theater sound bar like the YSP 5600 for $999, HomePodBass ($699) and and bigger louder  HomePodPro with Optical, RCA, and 3.5 mm line-in inputs for $749
  • Reply 88 of 123
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,119member
    k2kw said:

    Speaking of you, you haven't responded to my post asking you to please share your source(s) of information about HomePod-specific metadata for sound shaping/equalization. Is there a reason you don't want to?
    I did look for it -- spent about 40 minutes -- online discussions with Schiller and Eddie Cue, other forum sites (including Apple patents), even Apple developer docs/videos... when I came back to the thread, it had moved on (I hoped someone else would respond).

    IDK, maybe I just made it up ;)
    I wonder if Apple has patented the Hell out of this?   It seems like they should be able to patent a lot of it.  I don't know in detail how the Beolab 90 works, but it seems different enough from the HP.    But if Apple can't patent key parts of it we will probably see knock-offs next year.    I'm a little surprised that the GoogleMax wasn't a circular speaker.    Samsung will probably come out with that.
    I was too since the original home was 360 sound. Google says they determined almost everyone puts a "bookshelf" speaker on a shelf or counter or table near or against a wall anyway and decided a front firing speaker served just as well for most uses.
  • Reply 89 of 123
    gatorguy said:
    k2kw said:

    Speaking of you, you haven't responded to my post asking you to please share your source(s) of information about HomePod-specific metadata for sound shaping/equalization. Is there a reason you don't want to?
    I did look for it -- spent about 40 minutes -- online discussions with Schiller and Eddie Cue, other forum sites (including Apple patents), even Apple developer docs/videos... when I came back to the thread, it had moved on (I hoped someone else would respond).

    IDK, maybe I just made it up ;)
    I wonder if Apple has patented the Hell out of this?   It seems like they should be able to patent a lot of it.  I don't know in detail how the Beolab 90 works, but it seems different enough from the HP.    But if Apple can't patent key parts of it we will probably see knock-offs next year.    I'm a little surprised that the GoogleMax wasn't a circular speaker.    Samsung will probably come out with that.
    I was too since the original home was 360 sound. Google says they determined almost everyone puts a "bookshelf" speaker on a shelf or counter or table near or against a wall anyway and decided a front firing speaker served just as well for most uses.
    Google is half right...

    There's little point in making a 360-degree speaker, but 180-degrees is still desirable.

    One of the challenges speaker designers struggle with is getting high frequencies to radiate evenly to more than one specific point in a room. It's hard to get high frequencies to disperse evenly from a tweeter. Thus, if the phase issues of using multiple tweeters aimed in various directions can be overcome, it's a good idea. That's a pretty big "if" in a product at this price point though. If it works, that makes the HomePod an unbelievable value. If it doesn't, only a small fraction of users are likely to even notice so it probably doesn't matter very much.

    I'm still waiting for my chance to audition one. One of the things I'll be checking is if there's any noticeable "swishiness" or other odd character in the highs as the listener moves from side to side.
    edited February 2018 dick applebaum
  • Reply 90 of 123
    [...] And the big question: If the goal in item 4 is true:  tuning many speakers to one sweet spot -- isn't that short-sighted -- shouldn't the goal be to tune many speakers to many sweet spots?
    I'm mostly staying out of this particular discussion, partly because home theatre isn't my particular specialty and mostly because Jasenj1 is covering it so well, but I want to chime in on just this one point, quoted above.

    Achieving equal coverage in more than one particular spot is as much a function of the room as the speakers.

    The speakers have to have fairly wide dispersion for there to be any hope of it working, and that's a challenge in itself, but even speakers with a perfect omnidirectional radiation pattern couldn't overcome acoustic issues like standing waves.

    This is an oversimplification, but think of it this way: When a sound wave hits a boundary (like a wall, floor, or ceiling), some of the signal bounces back towards the speaker. At certain frequencies the wave coming from the speaker will line up with the wave bouncing back towards it. Sometimes it lines up exactly, and that doubles the intensity of the wave at that particular frequency. Sometimes the waves line up perfectly but with opposite polarity. That cancels out the wave at that frequency. At all other frequencies there's some misalignment of the waves, which causes new, complex waveforms that color the frequency balance in unpredictable ways.

    Because the waves neither leave the speaker nor bounce back only in direct, straight lines, and boundaries at different distances affect different frequencies (because the back wall of the room is a different distance from the speaker than the ceiling, etc.), and some waves are partially reflected and partially diffused, the net effect winds up being really, really complex. Think of ripples in a pool as they bounce off the sides, then drop 20,000 pebbles all at once, each one slightly larger than the next, then expand that pattern into three dimensions instead of just two. There's a lot of interaction there. That's why I was so skeptical of claims that the HomePod would automatically correct for room acoustics, and probably explains why the tests we've seen so far seem to indicate that it doesn't. It might be making the sound better than it would be without whatever correction it's applying, but whatever it's doing doesn't seem to be enough to overcome the daunting challenge room reflections represent.

    The solution is to build a room with specific "sound friendly" dimensions and treat the surfaces of the room to control how sound is reflected and diffused. Because of the complexities of sound wave radiation, controlling it isn't easy.

    Bottom line: an equipment manufacturer can't accomplish what you're after unilaterally. It requires the cooperation of an acoustics consultant and a building contractor. That's why good recording studios cost what they do.
    edited February 2018
  • Reply 91 of 123
    k2kw said:.

    The other thing I have wondered about and haven't read or seen any reviews on is how well does the home pod work when only the 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz band is available.

    The HomePod works at either 2.4 or 5 GHz — tho it appears To buffer less at 2.4.
    edited February 2018
  • Reply 92 of 123
    [...] And the big question: If the goal in item 4 is true:  tuning many speakers to one sweet spot -- isn't that short-sighted -- shouldn't the goal be to tune many speakers to many sweet spots?
    I'm mostly staying out of this particular discussion, partly because home theatre isn't my particular specialty and mostly because Jasenj1 is covering it so well, but I want to chime in on just this one point, quoted above.

    Achieving equal coverage in more than one particular spot is as much a function of the room as the speakers.

    The speakers have to have fairly wide dispersion for there to be any hope of it working, and that's a challenge in itself, but even speakers with a perfect omnidirectional radiation pattern couldn't overcome acoustic issues like standing waves.

    This is an oversimplification, but think of it this way: When a sound wave hits a boundary (like a wall, floor, or ceiling), some of the signal bounces back towards the speaker. At certain frequencies the wave coming from the speaker will line up with the wave bouncing back towards it. Sometimes it lines up exactly, and that doubles the intensity of the wave at that particular frequency. Sometimes the waves line up perfectly but with opposite polarity. That cancels out the wave at that frequency. At all other frequencies there's some misalignment of the waves, which causes new, complex waveforms that color the frequency balance in unpredictable ways.

    Because the waves neither leave the speaker nor bounce back only in direct, straight lines, and boundaries at different distances affect different frequencies (because the back wall of the room is a different distance from the speaker than the ceiling, etc.), and some waves are partially reflected and partially diffused, the net effect winds up being really, really complex. Think of ripples in a pool as they bounce off the sides, then drop 20,000 pebbles all at once, each one slightly larger than the next, then expand that pattern into three dimensions instead of just two. There's a lot of interaction there. That's why I was so skeptical of claims that the HomePod would automatically correct for room acoustics, and probably explains why the tests we've seen so far seem to indicate that it doesn't. It might be making the sound better than it would be without whatever correction it's applying, but whatever it's doing doesn't seem to be enough to overcome the daunting challenge room reflections represent.

    The solution is to build a room with specific "sound friendly" dimensions and treat the surfaces of the room to control how sound is reflected and diffused. Because of the complexities of sound wave radiation, controlling it isn't easy.

    Bottom line: an equipment manufacturer can't accomplish what you're after unilaterally. It requires the cooperation of an acoustics consultant and a building contractor. That's why good recording studios cost what they do.
    I understand what you are saying, and don't mean to disparage your expertise or in anyway diminish the goal of consultants and building contractors creating the best recording studios possible...

    Some honest questions though:

    1)  For sake of discussion let's assume that there are 200 million homes that qualify as potential targets for homePod speakers -- or other, more expensive solutions.  How many (percentage) of these homes would  consider spending tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars to recreate that recording studio environment in the home -- which would. likely, be limited to a large room with very few listening sweet spots?

    2)  Consider live performances.  By definition, they are not recorded in recording studios. Wouldn't listing to these without the ambient sounds diminish the experience as @JasonJ1 suggested:
    For music, there is far less multi-channel material, but there is some. Since in a live musical performance you are usually watching performers on a stage in front of you, there isn't much going on behind & around - other than room reflections, crowd noise, and other ambient things. But for a real live experience, those sounds can be considered important and there is some multichannel material.

  • Reply 93 of 123


    There's little point in making a 360-degree speaker, but 180-degrees is still desirable.

    One of the challenges speaker designers struggle with is getting high frequencies to radiate evenly to more than one specific point in a room. It's hard to get high frequencies to disperse evenly from a tweeter. Thus, if the phase issues of using multiple tweeters aimed in various directions can be overcome, it's a good idea. That's a pretty big "if" in a product at this price point though. If it works, that makes the HomePod an unbelievable value. If it doesn't, only a small fraction of users are likely to even notice so it probably doesn't matter very much.

    I'm still waiting for my chance to audition one. One of the things I'll be checking is if there's any noticeable "swishiness" or other odd character in the highs as the listener moves from side to side.

    in most placements in a rectangular room, wouldn't 180 degree speakers be counter-productive?  Take the case of 2 homePods  in the corners of the room:
    • Wouldn't the homePods turn the volume down (or off)  on tweeters to the rear and the side against the wall (or adjust the phase if possible)? 
    • Wouldn't the homePods do the same for the tweeters pointed at the homePd in the opposite corner?

    In any case the sweet spots (sweet area) would be somewhat less than 45-degrees in front of each speaker.

    In my limited experimenting with 2 homePods you get immersive sound standing close to 1 -- tho the sound is more immersive  standing between and in front of them.

    IMHO, the true test will be the advent of Airplay 2 with 2 or more homePods listening and adjusting to each other.
    edited February 2018
  • Reply 94 of 123

    1)  For sake of discussion let's assume that there are 200 million homes that qualify as potential targets for homePod speakers -- or other, more expensive solutions.  How many (percentage) of these homes would  consider spending tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars to recreate that recording studio environment in the home -- which would. likely, be limited to a large room with very few listening sweet spots?
    I'm not suggesting everyone should build a listening room, I was just explaining how it's required if one wants even response in more than a single sweet spot. The point was that the goal can't be achieved by adjustments to the playback system alone. That means it's impossible for the HomePod or any other speaker to unilaterally "fix" room acoustics.


    2)  Consider live performances.  By definition, they are not recorded in recording studios. Wouldn't listing to these without the ambient sounds diminish the experience 
    The ambience *IS* there. It's captured as part of the recording. The goal is to reproduce the sound of the concert, not superimpose the sound of your kitchen over top of it. Most "high-end" recordings dedicate microphones specifically to capturing the indirect/reflected sound in the venue.

    And that's where we run into the purist vs. pragmatist question again. If the system isn't able to reproduce the subtleties and nuance of the recording, is there some benefit to making it more "interesting" (if actually less realistic) with artificial effects like bouncing the sound off the walls of the listening space in novel ways? Probably, for most people.

    Conveying the ambience of the original performance without polluting it is a difficult and expensive undertaking. Artificial spice may be a reasonable and cost-effective alternative for most people. It's just not as good, that's all.
  • Reply 95 of 123
    I find the tests performed sans-anechoic chambers to be the best test because I don't know about you but I don't listen to my music in a sterile environment. I want to know what my music is going to sound like in the environment I listen to my music in so the way I see it these tests are more important than "clean" tests.

    It's like saying a car drives so amazingly on a test track. The real world is where it's at. How many test tracks are designed like New Zealand roads? You want to test a car test it on NZ roads and then get back to us how awesome your car is.

    It's the same with music. I had a friend who had a massive $40,000 stereo system and frankly I don't see where the money went. I couldn't tell any noticeable difference to the Aiwa separate component system I was using at the time.
  • Reply 96 of 123
    I find the tests performed sans-anechoic chambers to be the best test because I don't know about you but I don't listen to my music in a sterile environment. I want to know what my music is going to sound like in the environment I listen to my music in so the way I see it these tests are more important than "clean" tests.

    It's like saying a car drives so amazingly on a test track. The real world is where it's at. How many test tracks are designed like New Zealand roads? You want to test a car test it on NZ roads and then get back to us how awesome your car is.

    It's the same with music. I had a friend who had a massive $40,000 stereo system and frankly I don't see where the money went. I couldn't tell any noticeable difference to the Aiwa separate component system I was using at the time.
    You didn't read the comment thread before writing that, did you? If you had, you'd know that there's already been extensive discussion of why testing in an anechoic chamber is useful, why publishing tests made in any particular non-anechoic environment are completely useless to anyone but the person in that room, and why the only test that matters in a meaningful way is listening yourself wherever YOU'RE going to use it.

    You can find the details elsewhere in the thread if you're interested, but the Cliffsnotes version is that every single room will have a unique affect on the frequency response of a speaker, and even moving the speaker within the same room will yield a different response. A test conducted in my house would tell you nothing about how it will sound in your house.

    Anechoic testing eliminates the room as an influencing factor so you can see what the speaker is capable of doing, and compare the results to other speakers using a level playing field. It's not supposed to be an indication of what your room will do to the sound because there's no way to test for that.

    The ONLY way to evaluate how a speaker will sound in your environment is to set it up and try it.

    Also, consider the possibility that your not being able to tell the difference between your Aiwa system and your friend's $40K rig may have more to do with your hearing and/or ear training than relative sound quality! :)
    edited February 2018 gatorguy
  • Reply 97 of 123

    1)  For sake of discussion let's assume that there are 200 million homes that qualify as potential targets for homePod speakers -- or other, more expensive solutions.  How many (percentage) of these homes would  consider spending tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars to recreate that recording studio environment in the home -- which would. likely, be limited to a large room with very few listening sweet spots?
    I'm not suggesting everyone should build a listening room, I was just explaining how it's required if one wants even response in more than a single sweet spot. The point was that the goal can't be achieved by adjustments to the playback system alone. That means it's impossible for the HomePod or any other speaker to unilaterally "fix" room acoustics.

    Aren't adjustments to the playback system to neutralize listening room anomalies, specifically what the Maggies, Wamms , Beograms  are attempting to do with their latest high-end speaker offerings?


    2)  Consider live performances.  By definition, they are not recorded in recording studios. Wouldn't listing to these without the ambient sounds diminish the experience 
    The ambience *IS* there. It's captured as part of the recording. The goal is to reproduce the sound of the concert, not superimpose the sound of your kitchen over top of it. Most "high-end" recordings dedicate microphones specifically to capturing the indirect/reflected sound in the venue.

    And that's where we run into the purist vs. pragmatist question again. If the system isn't able to reproduce the subtleties and nuance of the recording, is there some benefit to making it more "interesting" (if actually less realistic) with artificial effects like bouncing the sound off the walls of the listening space in novel ways? Probably, for most people.


    Pardon me in advance for paraphrasing an old joke:

    Consider a large room with two men standing against one wall, and a beautiful naked woman standing against the opposite wall...

    The men are told that they are allowed to advance towards the naked woman, by moving half the distance in each move.

    The first man, a purist mathematician, says:  I won't even bother -- I can never get there!

    The second man, a pragmatist engineer, says:  I can get close enough!
    edited February 2018
  • Reply 98 of 123

    Anechoic testing eliminates the room as an influencing factor so you can see what the speaker is capable of doing, and compare the results to other speakers using a level playing field. It's not supposed to be an indication of what your room will do to the sound because there's no way to test for that.

    The ONLY way to evaluate how a speaker will sound in your environment is to set it up and try it.
    Realistically, is it practical to interview, each in turn, the Maggies, Wamms, Beograms, et al in your own environment -- I think not.
    Also, consider the possibility that your not being able to tell the difference between your Aiwa system and your friend's $40K rig may have more to do with your hearing and/or ear training than relative sound quality! :)
    I don't think you meant it that way, but this, last, comes across as demeaning.  


    Re:  how it was meant to sound vs how it does sound --   wouldn't a better solution be to compare graphical sound waves of each?

    Would that even matter -- if it does sound good (or bad) to the listener(s), in his environment?
    edited February 2018
  • Reply 99 of 123
    Aren't adjustments to the playback system to neutralize listening room anomalies, specifically what the Maggies, Wamms , Beograms  are attempting to do with their latest high-end speaker offerings?
    Beats me. If they are it's a futile effort. The laws of physics are what they are. What I'm describing isn't even particularly advanced physics, just basic wave propagation. As with the HomePod, I suppose with clever engineering one might find a way to mitigate certain factors in certain situations, but ultimately it's like death and taxes.

    Realistically, is it practical to interview, each in turn, the Maggies, Wamms, Beograms, et al in your own environment -- I think not.
    I dunno. If I'm dropping five figures on a pair of speakers I'm gonna make DAMN sure they sound good where I'm going to use them.

    Obviously one can narrow it down by listening at the store and eliminating anything that outright offends the ear.

    I don't think you meant it that way, but this, last, comes across as demeaning.
    Why? Some people have better hearing than others, and some have learned to listen for things other people don't notice. There's no value judgement or malice in that.


    FYI:
    I'm gonna be offline for at least few days while I get an brain aneurism pinched off. Please don't be offended if something directed to me goes answered for a while.
  • Reply 100 of 123
    I find the tests performed sans-anechoic chambers to be the best test because I don't know about you but I don't listen to my music in a sterile environment. I want to know what my music is going to sound like in the environment I listen to my music in so the way I see it these tests are more important than "clean" tests.

    It's like saying a car drives so amazingly on a test track. The real world is where it's at. How many test tracks are designed like New Zealand roads? You want to test a car test it on NZ roads and then get back to us how awesome your car is.

    It's the same with music. I had a friend who had a massive $40,000 stereo system and frankly I don't see where the money went. I couldn't tell any noticeable difference to the Aiwa separate component system I was using at the time.
    You didn't read the comment thread before writing that, did you? If you had, you'd know that there's already been extensive discussion of why testing in an anechoic chamber is useful, why publishing tests made in any particular non-anechoic environment are completely useless to anyone but the person in that room, and why the only test that matters in a meaningful way is listening yourself wherever YOU'RE going to use it.

    You can find the details elsewhere in the thread if you're interested, but the Cliffsnotes version is that every single room will have a unique affect on the frequency response of a speaker, and even moving the speaker within the same room will yield a different response. A test conducted in my house would tell you nothing about how it will sound in your house.

    Anechoic testing eliminates the room as an influencing factor so you can see what the speaker is capable of doing, and compare the results to other speakers using a level playing field. It's not supposed to be an indication of what your room will do to the sound because there's no way to test for that.

    The ONLY way to evaluate how a speaker will sound in your environment is to set it up and try it.

    Also, consider the possibility that your not being able to tell the difference between your Aiwa system and your friend's $40K rig may have more to do with your hearing and/or ear training than relative sound quality! :)
    Precisely my point. The tests in "clean" environments aren't going to give me a clear idea of how it's going to sound in MY house either is it? I never look at the spec sheet as proof of capability. I've had 18 years in IT to prove that to me and it's no different with sound. They'll bombard you with a tonne of talking points and specs and TLAs that mean sod all to laymen and yet the proof of the pudding is in the eating. As you say you can only tell by listening yourself.

    Take my car analogy again. New Zealand has some of the most heinous roads in the civilised world. We have volcanic chip rock covering most of our roads, our road repairs often end up potted again thanks to an inordinate amount of trucks on the road. We even have roads where the camber goes opposite to the direction of the corner which I can assure you sucks if you're on a motorcycle. Taking a car from Europe and driving them on these roads makes the car a horrible ride because they're designed for the smoothness of the European roads not the harshness of the Kiwi roads.

    Now look at your average house. It's full of furniture. The walls are hard thanks to paint or paper. Some ceilings are high, others are low. Most ceilings (at least in New Zealand) are lined with insulation. If you build a speaker set for the average home where in the average home it sounds pretty good then you're doing better than speakers that are tested in nothing but anechoic chambers with nothing that can be found in the average home. The test is inaccurate because it's not how most people listen to their sounds.

    My point is that not everyone is an audio nerd and listens to music based on the equipment. My ears aren't trained, you're correct on that point but I can tell the difference between a crap unit and a good unit. The fact that my Aiwa didn't sound any different to the $40,000 one clearly states to me that the nuance is so subtle that only a seriously trained person will pick it up but hey they are in such a minority that their expertise is going to be completely useless to me anyway because no matter what they tell me I'm just not going to pick up on it.

    Not that I have time to just sit and listen to music these days with a wife and kid tying up my time leaving the only time I get to listen to music being when I'm sorting mail for my mail run and so it's background only anyway.


    edited February 2018
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