SURVEY: How important is flat frequency response to you?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Arnel Enero, May 24, 2002.

  1. Arnel Enero

    Arnel Enero Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    To me, this is the most important MEASURABLE characteristic that I look for in a speaker. IMO, if this is not flat, you're not really hearing the true timbre of instruments. Because high-end audio is about reproducing the recording with complete honesty, the tonal response should be neutral, doesn't it?

    I'm not saying it's the only important design parameter, but definitely it should be the starting point, and is very basic.

    Unfortunately, and I wonder why, there are many ultra-expensive speakers that don't even meet this basic criterion. This is not an anti-brand post, but here's some examples:

    Sonus Faber Amati - it's got a problematic response-peak in the midbass

    Krell LAT-1 - the FR graph looks like a roller coaster ride!

    Krell LAT-2 - midrange response is prominent, then shelved-down below 500 Hz

    Wilson WP6 (and most other Wilsons) - through its many iterations, this "monitor" speaker never really achieved monitor-quality flat frequency response... its FR graphs always being rather rough. Then there's a bass lift centered at 100Hz, and above 15KHz, it's got serious dip and then peak!

    Why can't ALL speakers that cost above $5000 at least level with the well-behaved FR of really "honest" speakers as Revel, B&W, JMLab and Dynaudio, for example?

    So does all this matter to you at all?
     
  2. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2001
    Messages:
    667
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I tend to take a flat FR for granted. Obviously, if it isn't there, like Bose with its +/-10 dbs, then I wouldn't even consider the speaker. But most mid to hi-fi speakers have relatively flat FR's, so I tend not to give it too much thought. Bottom line, it all comes down to listening...
     
  3. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 1999
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Relying on frequency response measurements is essentially useless. Forget the fact that frequency response does not even come close to telling the whole story (most current amps and CD players have very similar frequency responses yet have totally different sonic characteristics), but you are forgetting the most important part of your system.

    That part is the listening room. Every room is different and will change the frequency response of any given speaker. So even if you found a speaker with a flat frequency response, once you put it in your listening room all of those flat lines would be moot.

    /Jeff
     
  4. Brian Fellmeth

    Brian Fellmeth Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2000
    Messages:
    789
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A flat FR is over rated and impossible to acheive anyway. Not only does an untreated room mess up what would be flat in an anechoic environment, but whats even worse than that- your ears are not flat ! Everyone's individual audiogram has peaks and valleys. To hear something truely flat, you would need to plot your audiogram and use an equalizer to shape the signal to the inverse.
     
  5. Arnel Enero

    Arnel Enero Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  6. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2001
    Messages:
    1,591
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've got to agree with Arnel. While we all have different ears, real music does have a "flat frequency response." I'll stick to my +/-3dB.
     
  7. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1999
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I would never buy a speaker based on the flatness of its FR. How it sounds is all that matters.
     
  8. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 1999
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Very simple. They have realized it is not as important as you are making it out to be. Instead, they have built their success not by obsessing about specifications, but listening to the product they build and improving it that way.
    I honestly think shopping for any audio equipment by specification alone is a true sign of someone who doesn't appreciate what the system is all about. Listen with your ears and throw away all the preconceptions that come with specifications. You'll learn a lot.
    /Jeff
     
  9. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2000
    Messages:
    870
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think it is a good starting point but a lot depends on how the speaker is measured. If you look at the measurements of electrostatic speakers, they look not too great but they actually sound very good. That being said, if two speakers are measured in the same manner, and one has serious FR abnormalities then it is probably one that would go lower on my list to audition. Many times, a brief audition will not reveal FR abnormalities if they are over a limited range of frequencies and may be audible only with certain material. That is why home audition should be prolonged.
     
  10. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2001
    Messages:
    667
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have to disagree with Jeff on 2 points. No doubt, a room will defeat a flat response curve everytime. However, speakers with wild curves will generally be worse in a given room than speakers that start out flat to begin with. Better to start out with something close to perfect before adding room interference than to start out with something like Bose. Also, although you cannot get an acoustically perfect room, you can do things to your room to reduce the degree of room interference with the FR. Sometimes it may mean adding acoustic tile, or something as simple as moving a piece of furniture or moving a speaker. The goal is never a perfectly flat FR because that is impossible outside an anechoic chamber. It is to have the best FR possible under the circumstances.

    I do agree that there is much to a speaker that is not told by the FR, which is why FR is a starting point only. However, no serious audiophile is going to say that it is *totally* irrelevant whether a speaker is +/-10 db or +/-2 db around its useable frequency spectrum.
     
  11. Roger Kint

    Roger Kint Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2002
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  12. Sebastian

    Sebastian Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2002
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    IMHO, I believe that a flat FR in speakers is very important. As for peaks and valleys are concerned, that is what an EQ is for. Creating peaks or valleys at a certain frequency until you think it sounds good. Who wants a roller coaster speaker to start of with? Especially when the room acoustics are going to be messing with the FR to begin with.
     
  13. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2001
    Messages:
    1,591
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Your ears can tell the difference between the initial sound coming from the speakers and the reflected sound coming from your room (except bass). A speaker with a perfect anechoic frequency response making the sound of a piano in your room will sound like a piano in your room. If you make deviations in frequency response, the initial sound you hear coming from the speaker will be inaccurate.

    So I don't think arguing that the room makes frequency response invalid is a good idea.
     
  14. jehremy

    jehremy Extra

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2002
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Didn't Harman Int. conclude that in their blind listening tests that listeners prefer a flat FR and that it was the most important factor in choosing what they thought was the better speaker? IMHO it would be nice to audition all speakers in blind conditions, but we know dealers would never set it up due to the fact that they would lose sales on higher priced speakers.
     
  15. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 1999
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    What!?! Find me a speaker that has a perfect frequency response, then perform blind tests in 100 completely different rooms and tell me if your listeners think it is the same speaker every time - it ain't gonna happen. The room is the most important part of your system, period.
    /Jeff
     
  16. Sebastian

    Sebastian Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2002
    Messages:
    361
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yeah, typical sales person trying to talk you out buying good quality speakers and what you want to buy. J/K
    Let talk subs specifically. You still do not look at the specs?
    Lets say we have a sub tuned to 25 HZ and it sounds awesome but 60 to 80 Hz it sucks, (not as loud). there is another sub that is also tuned to 25 HZ and is rated at +/- 3DB it sounds awesome across the whole frequency range 20Hz to 120 HZ or whatever.
    Which one are you going to choose?
    The second sub right? because it sounded good to your ears, right?
    but why did it sound better to your ears? because it has a flat frequency response and the other one does not. Specs do mean a lot but if the a speaker has the best specs in the world and you hate the way it sounds, who cares about them.
    Usually a sub that has good specs usually sounds good. I personally use specs as guideline for buying stuff, but if I don't like they way it sounds, I am not buying it.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Roger Kint

    Roger Kint Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2002
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  18. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1999
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well stated, Jeff.
     
  19. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2001
    Messages:
    6,394
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Lee
     
  20. Norm Strong

    Norm Strong Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 7, 1999
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Frequency response is quite important. It's one of the few ways to rate a speaker. And a way that doesn't require a golden ear.

    It has not escaped my notice that audio professionals, who make their living based on their ability to separate the good from the great and the poor from the execrable will never be caught making public comments on the sound of any piece of audio gear whose identity they do not know. This goes for speakers, amplifiers, CD players, and especially wires. The chances of looking ridiculous are just too great.
     

Share This Page