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  • Dynamics and efficiency.

    Recently I've been pondering quite a few things related to audio. Tonight I threw on a couple of old chestnuts, the Moody Blues, which I had not listened to in forever because so many things didn't sound very good on a pair of home theater speakers previously dragooned into service as main music speakers.

    So I've been listening to the Moody Blues over and over again. It's a multi-track mix, it's not audiophile fare, and I can't stop listening to it as if I've never heard it before. Because I haven't. Not like this. I've never had a speaker this efficient in my system before. Hand in hand with that, never one as dynamic. The musical presentation is markedly different.

    So I've been doing a lot of reconsideration of what I thought I knew, the "commonly accepted wisdom" of what is supposed to constitute good design and good performance. When I get my thoughts a little more unscrambled I'll be adding to this thread, I have to pull out some Yes to further investigate this. While reference grade recordings tell one thing, not so artisanal recordings tell another.

  • #2
    sounds like your really enjoying those dragons.that is something ive read many times.about how dynamic tektons are.
    digitalphile here yay

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    • #3
      Pharoah - I've been getting a different perspective of a lot of recordings and not always for the better. Some recordings that were previously so-so are much more engaging, some that were on the edge have slipped over that edge into less enjoyable. One example is the Stones "Sticky Fingers" which always had a raspy quality inherent to the performance, now all the copies I have of the recording, have their faults more prominently brought to the fore. The hard panning in the mix, the rasp now a harsh edginess. On the other hand...

      The Reiner CSOs "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is a sonic spectacular, even though I don't especially like the composition. The massed strings sound more like many instruments played precisely together rather than a large homogenized violin sound. Gershwins "Rhapsody in Blue" though much sparser instrumentally, is sonically and musically just wonderful.

      So I'm positing that the efficiency allows the amplifier to just Idle along at less than a watt or so leaving virtually all its power available for transients. The speakers in effect are also just idling along, so they are capable of reproducing those transients without compression. There is no softening of the performance. No inherent editorializing.

      Which leads me to the thought that less efficient speakers by nature present a more dynamically restricted presentation and thus loose some of that what, "liveness"?

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      • #4
        High efficiency speakers, whether horn loaded or not, offer an expressiveness and liveliness that less efficient speakers can rarely match. I got turned on to high efficiency speakers by Art Dudley back in the Listener magazine days. Doubt I could go back to speakers with mid/low efficiency or sensitivity ratings again.
        Steve Lefkowicz
        Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
        -
        Analog: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 19a, iPhono2; Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Sumiko Pearl, iFi iPhono.
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        • #5
          Steve - I've been trying to come to grips with the increased dynamics and what it does to the reproduction of the performance, trying to quantify it in some manner. This has meant pulling a few classics out of the stack including a fair amount of piano performances. Had an uncle that was a music director for awhile, there was a grand piano in the study. Acoustically a piano is a formidable instrument, unlike any other instrument with strings it's all about third order harmonics, which is why it can sound quite harsh live and close up. Then there is the actual scale of the instrument.

          I'm finding greater dynamics in a speaker produce a much closer to the reality of the piano. This is leading me to believe far too many solo piano performances were faaaar too closely mic'd. I mean who sticks their head in a piano to listen, so why stick a mike in there. There also seems to be a bit of microphone overload happening here and there too. I'm looking through the stack for some misplaced Van Cliburn to further investigate.

          Yeah, I'm retired with entirely too much time on my hands.
          Last edited by Rust; 03-19-2016, 12:21 AM. Reason: Grammar are not always my strong suite

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Rust View Post
            ...

            So I'm positing that the efficiency allows the amplifier to just Idle along at less than a watt or so leaving virtually all its power available for transients. The speakers in effect are also just idling along, so they are capable of reproducing those transients without compression. There is no softening of the performance. No inherent editorializing.

            Which leads me to the thought that less efficient speakers by nature present a more dynamically restricted presentation and thus loose some of that what, "liveness"?
            I suspect the room's power deliver, the amp's power cord and power supply contribute heavily to an amp having the current that it needs when it needs it.

            To talk about efficiency is generally to talk about sound power output relative to power input - how much power is needed to reach a certain volume. In one sense, to say a speaker is inefficient is to say it needs more power. Here's an article that is easy to read.

            Look at "market leaders" in speaker offerings and so many are low/mid efficiency with low nominal impedance, typically requiring high-wattage doubling-down (expensive) amps to drive in order to achieve low-end dynamics and dynamic quickness. There is a world of 8-Ohm, high sensitivity speakers out there, but it seems few without colorations (horns) or the ability to do deep weighty and articulate bass. (Tell me the one's I'm not thinking of.)

            And you're absolutely right about the piano being a formidable instrument to reproduce well. Pianos and sopranos are really hard tests for dynamics. If you happen to do CDs and have the full soundtrack for Amadeus [Fantasy 3FCD-4403-2], try the delightful tune "Caro Mio Bene" by Giuseppe Giordani (sp?) - it features one of each and is a worthy assessment tool.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by tima View Post

              I suspect the room's power deliver, the amp's power cord and power supply contribute heavily to an amp having the current that it needs when it needs it.

              To talk about efficiency is generally to talk about sound power output relative to power input - how much power is needed to reach a certain volume. In one sense, to say a speaker is inefficient is to say it needs more power. Here's an article that is easy to read.

              Look at "market leaders" in speaker offerings and so many are low/mid efficiency with low nominal impedance, typically requiring high-wattage doubling-down (expensive) amps to drive in order to achieve low-end dynamics and dynamic quickness. There is a world of 8-Ohm, high sensitivity speakers out there, but it seems few without colorations (horns) or the ability to do deep weighty and articulate bass. (Tell me the one's I'm not thinking of.)

              And you're absolutely right about the piano being a formidable instrument to reproduce well. Pianos and sopranos are really hard tests for dynamics. If you happen to do CDs and have the full soundtrack for Amadeus [Fantasy 3FCD-4403-2], try the delightful tune "Caro Mio Bene" by Giuseppe Giordani (sp?) - it features one of each and is a worthy assessment tool.

              You can get away with some things with small wattage amps (or very efficient speakers?) but power cords are especially critical with large wattage amps. Many PCs (as do PLCs) strangle the dynamics of big amps. The AC receptacle also greatly affects amplifier dynamics.

              Piano is tough for many reasons not the least of which is FR (as is a harp). The Bosendorfer the late Ivan Moravec used goes down 28 Hz. His recordings on Connoisseur Society done in the '60s are among the best piano recordings ever done!

              One 8 ohm speaker that comes to mind is NOLA.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Steve Lefkowicz View Post
                High efficiency speakers, whether horn loaded or not, offer an expressiveness and liveliness that less efficient speakers can rarely match. I got turned on to high efficiency speakers by Art Dudley back in the Listener magazine days. Doubt I could go back to speakers with mid/low efficiency or sensitivity ratings again.
                I am with you on this one, I use a very low powered amp and very efficient speakers and the dynamics are what it is all about for me.. I have friends that play music in bands and have heard my system and say once they heard the dynamics they couldn't live without them!!!

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                • #9
                  tima - My current speakers are eight ohm 96 dB efficient, my old ones were 6 ohm 87 dB efficient. Meaning (approximated for easy numerical comparison) the new speakers will do at 1 watt that which the old speakers would do at 100 watts. Without getting into I2R heating of voice coils and the resulting compression. Which means at normal listening levels using less than a watt leaving enormous headroom for transients, and better control of the driver for those transients.

                  Myles - I believe the efficiency also lessens the power cord issue to some extent. No need to suck huge quantities of power out of the wall if the amplifier is essentially loafing along. It also means the fifty or sixty feet of cheap 14 gauge Romex strung through the walls is not being overstressed either. Upgrades for house wiring are under consideration but problematic due to the unusual high ceilings with no access or crawl space if there was access. It would require ripping drywall off of three walls and at least one ceiling. Residential wiring is stupid.

                  Aside from the better connections at either end of a fat power cord, I believe any other contributions of a cord are due to acting in some manner as a filter. It simply cannot draw more power than the rest of the wiring is capable of supplying.

                  Horn "colorations". After some consideration I believe that horn colorations are at least partially due to operating the driver out of it's comfort zone, and the design of the horn itself for the frequency it is operated in. I have heard drastic improvements in Klipsch La Scalas by way of replacing the midrange driver and alteration of the crossover. So it would seem to be a less than optimal implementation of the design rather than the design itself.

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