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Timbre Matching - Consolidated thread

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Rick Moore, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. Rick Moore

    Rick Moore Auditioning

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    {Edited by Moderator - Neil Joseph]
    Please use this thread to ask questions regarding all speaker timbre matching. There have been several threads that have been combined into this main thread

    How important is timbre matching a speaker system? I am just starting to look around at home theatre equipment and I am going to start out with the audio stuff first. I have a great pair of Cambre speakers now and was considering either JBL are Paradgm. I do plan to audition them at home. Any one have any suggestions?
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    The general answer is, ‘very important’. Specifically it is most important for the front three speakers and most noticeable in the higher frequencies. It is important because you want the same sound to be reproduced around the room. Consider for example if sound begins ‘offstage’ right and moves to the left. If your spears are not matched you might hear a difference in the same sound as it moved around.

    This means that it is important for your speakers to have the same drivers (especially the front three) and especially the same tweeters and also the same crossover networks. Failing that, the speakers should all have been designed with the same philosophy in mind, so that the sound seems the same even if the individual components are not exact matches.

    For example, my surround speakers do not have the same tweeters as my mains, and the surround mid-range/woofers are slightly smaller versions of the ones in my mains. The crossover for my center channel is somewhat different than my mains, so there is another difference. But all of the speakers share the same design philosophy—so much so that even very critical listeners would be hard pressed to make differentiations in sonic reproduction in my setup.

    In your case, I’d not worry too much about the surrounds. I don’t know anything about Cambre speakers, but if you have a hard time matching a center speaker to them, you can always move them to surround duty and get three timbre matched speakers for your fronts.
     
  3. scott>sau

    scott>sau Stunt Coordinator

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    You know it is more than subjective if eveyone is doing it. (all speaker manufacturers at least agree on timbre matching).Speakers to be used together should have a similar timbre,or better yet the same timbre. This is particularly important for center channel speakers in relation to a sound system’s main front left and right stereo speaker pair. Without a close timbre match between the center speaker and main speakers, the sound from the center will sound unnatural resulting in a poor soundstage. For instance, a plane flying across the screen might first appear in the left speaker. You will hear its sound as it roars into the acoustic space. As it crosses through the center of the soundstage the center speaker will reproduce it. If the center speaker is very different in its timbre from the other speakers it will sound like the plane changes as it passes (for instance, its engine may sound high-pitched then change to slightly muddy or lack the original high-pitched sound). In order for the sound to remain consistent and create a convincing experience, the center channel speaker should have a close timbre match to the other speakers.
     
  4. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I don't believe that timbre matching is as important as some people believe.

    1) The goal for any speaker is to reproduce the input signal without any added coloration. If you choose a good quality speaker from manufacturer A, it will not sound that different from a good quality speaker from manufacturer B.

    2) If you think about matching between L, C, & R, even if you used the identical speakers for all three, which most people don't, the center is still going to sound different because it is placed above or below the TV, which affects the sound that you hear. The big flat hard surface of the screen itself causes unwanted reflections. (Projectors with screens obviously are a little bit different.) And think about this: a lot of speaker manufacturers offer a center speaker with the same tweeters and mids/woofers that the mains offer, but in the common woofer-tweeter-woofer setup. BAD!! Because the woofers most times handle the same frequencies, you get interference effects as you go off horizontal axis due to constructive and destructive interference (i.e., comb filtering or lobing). Timbre matched? Yeah, sure...

    3) If you think about the fronts vs the backs. Sorry, but your ears themselves affect how the speakers sound. Again, you can use identical speakers, and what actually gets to your brain will be different just because of how you ears are shaped in conjunction with your head.

    4) The room. Simply because each speaker is in a different location within the room affects how each of them sound. Walls, corners, windows, drapes, sofas, ottomans, bookcases, etc. I think it would be rare that each speaker would be able to "see" the same acoustic environment and hence sound the same at the listening position.

    My conclusion is this: Experiment! [​IMG] If you have speakers you like, and you find others from another manufacturer that you like too, mix and match and see what sound good to you in your room.
     
  5. Jim_P

    Jim_P Stunt Coordinator

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    As someone who has bought several different speakers in the last 3 years, I highly recommend that you take the cheap way out and do it right the first time.

    If anyway possible, buy the same speaker for all 5(or 7) positions. If this is over budget, get the front stage first and add to it later.

    If not possible, buy the same ones for the front stage and timbre matched for your surrounds.
     
  6. scott>sau

    scott>sau Stunt Coordinator

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    Tell that to Ray Dolby or Thomas Holman. Voice-matched speakers make a difference in multi-channel sound. Tests have been done in chambers with equipment that proves it. One company that suggests the L,C, and R be IDENTICAL is M&K Sound. see www.mkprofessional.com. Experimentation with speaker placement and room acoustic treatment is acceptable, experimentation matching multiple speakers can make, or bring the sound effects in your theater. Don't take my word for it. Search timbre match on any browser and you will find out of the many things audiophiles disagree on, they all concur with this idea.
     
  7. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Timbre matching *is* important, but it is naive to think it can't be done be done with speakers from different manufacturers. And it is also naive to think that all the items I mentioned don't have an effect and can actually easily swamp the effects of buying identical speakers anyway.

    I had a Def Tech system once where I had identical 1" tweeters and identical 6.5" mids/woofs in every speaker. The sound was pretty darn good.

    I now have a system with Vandersteen where, except for the matching surrounds & rears, all of the speakers are *different*. Yet I have a much better soundfield now.

    And, yes, I have mixed and matched in the past, and it can be done successfully if you know what you are doing.

    That's why I say: experiment.

    Sorry, but I listen to my system in my family room, not an anechoic chamber... [​IMG] And yes, I do have acoustic treatments in the room too, and I have used http://www.etfacoustic.com/ along with my PC to guarentee as flat a freq response at my listening position as I can.
     
  8. scott>sau

    scott>sau Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin is right, you can have a mix of manufactures, just try to use the same size drivers, (6" mid-bass, 1" soft dome tweeter), and similar speaker driver materials. But timbre matching is important is home theater. Here is another company that uses the identical cabinets L,C,R.
    http://www.triadspeakers.com/products/irplcr.html
    Kevin I am not naive that you use the same brand of speakers in your system, your Vandersteens must be timbre-matched. Has it made a difference? Good point chamber measurements are not the same as your room.:b
     
  9. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Scott- Cheers! [​IMG] And actually, a lot of manufacturers use the same drivers, Vifa from Europe? Scott is right in that using the same size drivers helps a lot, even across manufacturers.

    Remember, these are all guidelines and what works from one person might not work for another.
     
  10. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    I have identical mains and surrounds[the center features same drivers but different enclosure],yes the center sounds a bit different,but I can only tell on test tones,and it's not very obvious.I would recommend to go identical all around if feasible.You can maybe achieve good results with "mismatch" brands but you might end up spending more time to experiment then you enjoying it,Your call.
     
  11. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  12. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I never knew how important it was to be matched until my system became mismatched. I used to run Energy C6 mains and an Energy AC-300 center. The AC-300 isn't identical to the C6s, but it uses the same driver materials, but has slightly different woofs (6.5" vs. 5.5") and identical tweeters to the C6s.

    I recently upgraded to MB Quart QLS-1030 mains and the AC-300 stuck out like a sore thumb. I could totally locate the speakers when sounds panned from Left->Center->Right in a way that was way more obvious than before. I think it's because the AC-300 uses a 3/4" aluminum tweeter and the MBQs use 1" titanium. When I purchased the matching MBQ center, it blended so well I wasn't sure it was on until the dialogue came on (this was during a music-intro to a movie, the front soundstage sounded uniform again).

    So IMO, it is very important. But you don't need to get identical speakers. You can do well with speakers from the same make/model/line. You can probably do well too if they materials are similar from different brands but that's probably a lot more work and trial and error.

    Best of luck to you!
     
  13. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

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  14. Tom_Es

    Tom_Es Auditioning

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    To somewhat reduce the problem, you could also spring for a receiver that does equalization between the channels.

    Examples, Pioneer 45tx and up, 53tx and up - New Yamaha receivers will also do this, models 1400 and 2400 something.

    It certainly won't be perfect, but it will to some degree reduce the problem.
     
  15. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    That's more of a "band-aid" solution then a real "fix" IMO.
     
  16. Tom_Es

    Tom_Es Auditioning

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    Agreed, Lewis. As someone else said, ideally, get the same speakers for all channels (or at least the same tweeter, and fairly similarly sized woofers)
     
  17. Nathan Gillmore

    Nathan Gillmore Stunt Coordinator

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    I've recently upgraded my speakers to the very excellent setup of 4xAscend CBM-170's, a CBM-340 center, and a Hsu VTF-2 sub. My reciever (Onkyo TX-DS797) supports a rear center channel, which I've never used before. My question is this: How important is it to have that rear center channel be matched with the rest of my speakers? I'm thinking I might try using one of my older speakers, an Energy Take 5, to fill this gap, but wasn't sure... Opinions please.
     
  18. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I was planning on putting in-wall speakers in my new room for my 7.1 rear pair. How important is timbre matching in this situation? I won't use them for music 5.1 listening.
     
  19. Kevinkall

    Kevinkall Second Unit

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    I didn't think it was a big deal until I upgraded to Paradigm speakers and WOW what a difference...seamless sound all around!
     
  20. Chip Brogden

    Chip Brogden Extra

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    Can someone please explain this too me and tell me why it is important. Thanks.
     

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