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 Posted:   Mar 25, 2020 - 1:24 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

Feeble attempt to bring back on track -

Look at The Swarm of speaker measurements I posted!

And:

Did Goldsmith write "The Lollipop" as a joke? It seems like corny cliche Saturday morning cartoon music, way beneath Goldsmith's skills. I literally wonder if it was an ironic jab at how Goldsmith felt about Allen's film (a Saturday morning cartoon), which probably flew like a bee right over Allen's head.

IIRC, it's tracked into the opening of the picnic scene, where it seems even more corny. Assume Allen did that all by his lonesome. Says a lot of about Allen's sensibilities, if so.

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 12:43 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)



As a comparison, check out this measurement on Soundstage for the Zu Cable Druid, which list out at $10K per pair:



Wow, I have not seen such a frequency response in any of the higher end speakers in a while. Not familiar with the brand, but if people pay $10,000.- for it, there is likely to be still something that these speakers have that people buy them. I work in marketing, and believe me, I know marketing can only go so far. :-)


Well, I have read up on these speakers now and they got good reviews all around. So they have their appeal, and I'd say it is not based on design. I also find it unlikely that a small speaker manufacturer has the cash to bribe them all (would not be a good business model anyway smile ).
The Zu Cable Druid seem to have a very high sensitivity and work particular well with low watt tube amplifiers. So they seem to have their strengths.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 2:13 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

For those who are interested, what makes a good speaker is also the way the rear wave of the loudspeaker is "worked" inside the cabinet and re-emitted in front of the speaker with the front wave of the loudspeaker.

If the cabinet itself must be free of resonance to not hamper the loudspeaker own vibrations, what happens inside the cabinet is another matter.

Here is a schematic drawing of the best speaker I have ever heard:



The rear horn is made with different materials which each neutralises unwanted frequencies and dynamic irregularities.

I was told that Peter Gabriel was amazed by these speakers when he heard them in an international Hi-Fi show. They actually don't sound "Hi-Fi", they just make music.

They were made in very low quantities, since only the cabinet maker knew exactly how to make the rear horn with its different materials, and especially how to assemble and glue them.

There are also some specifities within the chamber compression.

John's graphics are interesting, but it's only the tip of the iceberg: they don't show the full acoutic wave with all its harmonics, the way they sound together, and some other essential characteristics of the sound.

You can't see in a graphic the depth of the soundstage, the air between the instruments, the attacks or the softness of the notes played etc.

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 3:35 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

I think the loudspeaker discussion is very interesting, and THE SWARM discussion is very interesting, and the discussion about the benefits and evil of MQA is very interesting. They actually all deserve their own threads, but that's the way things go sometimes, it is now all here. :-)

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 1:46 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)


As a comparison, check out this measurement on Soundstage for the Zu Cable Druid, which list out at $10K per pair:



Well, I have read up on these speakers now and they got good reviews all around. So they have their appeal, and I'd say it is not based on design. I also find it unlikely that a small speaker manufacturer has the cash to bribe them all (would not be a good business model anyway smile ).
The Zu Cable Druid seem to have a very high sensitivity and work particular well with low watt tube amplifiers. So they seem to have their strengths.


It's easy enough to check out - do a double blind listening test with them against, say, a cheap Revel tower like the F36. I would bet real money the Revel would win. Seriously. I have an acoustically transparent black screen in my garage and the ability to do level matching, and the challenge is open to anyone who wants to bring a speaker. The Zu speaker probably costs around $500 or so to build, yet sells for $10K per pair. There is some money to go around.

Having been a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association and the CEA - and worked the a/v industry on the sales and manufacturer side for both pros AND consumers - that most online / magazine reviews are almost worthless. If you look at many of the so called "respected" reviewers, most of them are in their 50s, 60s and 70s, and their hearing is shot due to them attending loud rock concerts a good portion of their lives (lest I be accused of being ageist, I'm in my mid-50s myself). When the Canadian NRC and Harman did their validation testing, they would have all the listeners take a basic hearing test. Those with massive HF hearing loss demonstrated that they were very inconsistent with their speaker scoring (the same speaker might get a score of 8 in the morning, and a 2 in the afternoon). This is not surprising - it's like asking color blind people to judge the colors on television sets.

There are also advertising dollars that get allocated or withheld based on what a review might say. Check out the HUGE ad spends Golden Ear does in all the magazines, and correlate that with the rave reviews in the same magazines.

There is also this kind of craziness that exists in the "audiophile" press, a credulousness that causes them to embrace woo products such as cable elevators and expensive aftermarket power cords. On top of that, there is also a romantic - but erroneous - idea that some boutique company with their resident mad scientist working in a garage is going to magically stumble upon some radical speaker design that miraculously produces good sound. They are almost philosophically opposed to a company like Harman, which has the largest acoustic research facilities in the world and the budget for true scientific R&D. Somehow, this makes them suspect.

Lastly, there is the tendency of reviewers to be almost entirely subjective in their reporting. Very few of them put any type of scientific controls into place during their listening tests or comparisons. One of the things well documented in the research is the effects of confirmation bias, sighted listening bias, and the placebo effect. The human brain is very easily fooled. That's why employing double blind protocols are so important, so all you are left with is pure sound, not appearance, brand or price.

I've also worked with CUSTOMERS in the high end space who believe the same bogus claims. I've seen and heard some outrageously expensive systems that just sound horrible. As a musician, film mixer and composer that does home theater as a sideline, I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about smile

Speaking of being a film and music mixer, think about the Zu graph pictured above. If I'm going to mix a film, for example, how in the world can I be assured what I'm creating is going to sound even reasonably good when my Zu Cable Droids are imposing that massive EQ curve on top of everything I'm listening to? Because that's exactly what you are looking at - a giant graphic EQ curve that you CAN'T get out of the signal path.

That brings me to "Audio Circle of Confusion" problems, a topic for another day. smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 3:27 PM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Did Goldsmith write "The Lollipop" as a joke? It seems like corny cliche Saturday morning cartoon music, way beneath Goldsmith's skills. I literally wonder if it was an ironic jab at how Goldsmith felt about Allen's film (a Saturday morning cartoon), which probably flew like a bee right over Allen's head.

IIRC, it's tracked into the opening of the picnic scene, where it seems even more corny. Assume Allen did that all by his lonesome. Says a lot of about Allen's sensibilities, if so.


It's actually when a little kid comes into the principal's office lobby and stares at Fred MacMurry while licking his big ol' lollipop. It's cheesy, but the music nails what was intended there - doesn't feel ironic, just apt.

It's light pre-echo of later so-called tragedy when we see the same child bee-stung to death outside the school with the lollipop lying next to him.

To me, both scenes fail, as does just about every scene does in the worst-of-the-worst movies, but the score is just doing its job.

I don't know what the hell movie Slim Pickens thought he was in, but his moment of genuine pathos is a better performance than all the other actors combined.

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 4:00 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

For those who are interested, what makes a good speaker is also the way the rear wave of the loudspeaker is "worked" inside the cabinet and re-emitted in front of the speaker with the front wave of the loudspeaker.

If the cabinet itself must be free of resonance to not hamper the loudspeaker own vibrations, what happens inside the cabinet is another matter.

Here is a schematic drawing of the best speaker I have ever heard:



The rear horn is made with different materials which each neutralises unwanted frequencies and dynamic irregularities.

I was told that Peter Gabriel was amazed by these speakers when he heard them in an international Hi-Fi show. They actually don't sound "Hi-Fi", they just make music.

They were made in very low quantities, since only the cabinet maker knew exactly how to make the rear horn with its different materials, and especially how to assemble and glue them.

There are also some specifities within the chamber compression.

John's graphics are interesting, but it's only the tip of the iceberg: they don't show the full acoutic wave with all its harmonics, the way they sound together, and some other essential characteristics of the sound.

You can't see in a graphic the depth of the soundstage, the air between the instruments, the attacks or the softness of the notes played etc.


Not trying to be contrary, but as I mentioned before, there is an 86% correlation between how the speakers measure in the graphs and listener preference during double blind listening tests using tower speakers, and a whopping 99% correlation using smaller, bookshelf speakers. This is backed up by decades of double blind and peer-reviewed testing of literally thousands of speakers. The only reason for the disparity between the 86% figure and the 99% figure is that a very good speaker with extended bass response will outperform another good speaker with less bass extension. This bass response variable is eliminated with a bookshelf speaker. And to make a further note - this research has been replicated around the world, which means these same preferences track across different age groups, nationalities and ethnicities. http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2010/07/are-there-cross-cultural-preferences-in.html

The qualities you mention above are all reflected in the graphs, actually (actually, most of it, because harmonics are in the recording, NOT something that a speaker should mess with, add, or alter, otherwise it is changing the timbre of the recorded sound).

"Air" between instruments are also shown by the graphs, since they reveal resonances and frequency response (which are what affects "air"). Depth of soundstage is also revealed in the Spins, because it shows the total Sound Power in the room, as well as dispersion. And depth of soundstage is also affected by how far the speaker is from the rear wall, plus how much acoustic energy the speaker emits out the back (also reflected in the graphs).

Where you have a partial point is in dynamics. The Spinoramas do not show dynamic response. This is where the Revel Salon2 at $22K per pair will beat the Revel F36 at $2K per pair in the double blinds. Better driver motor assemblies, better quality drivers. But it's amazing how close they sound in overall timbre.

If you think about it, it all makes sense that the most neutral loudspeaker will win the listening tests. If you are in a room with me playing the piano and record my performance, your ear / brain combination "expects" that the recording will sound the same as what you experienced in real life. The Spinorama graphs show how close a speaker can get to reproducing natural, uncolored sound. From there, further tweaks can be made (such as improving dynamics). But no matter how good the dynamics, a speaker that measures like this, at $10K per pair (the Paradigm Persona 3F):



Will lose to a speaker like this, at $2K per pair, even if the $10K per pair speaker has better dynamics than the $2K speaker (the Revel F36):



Now, someone participating in the double blinds might say that the cheaper speaker lacks the dynamics of the more expensive pair, but what will be FAR more noticeable is the giant suck-out in the upper midrange of the more expensive speaker, which is right where the human voice resides (and where our hearing is the most sensitive). This is why the cheaper speaker would ultimately win the listening test. In decade after decade of these controlled tests, no speaker that has measured badly has ever done well during the double blinds.

Both speakers ultimately would lose to this Revel model, the F228Be, which is also $10K per pair, and has the improved dynamics, better motor systems, etc:



Kal Rubinson at Stereophile is one reviewer who decided to take this challenge, and he wrote an excellent article about it here (which is where I stole the images above from):

https://www.stereophile.com/content/blind-listening-harman-international

Last note - it should come as no surprise that about 80% of movies - and over half of all music - is mixed on Harman speakers (JBL primarily). Speaking as a mixer myself, I want to KNOW that the speaker I'm mixing on is reproducing what is actually in the recording, and adding no sound of its own to what I am hearing. Otherwise, how will I know what I need to do to correct any problems in the recording? For example, if I were to mix using the Paradigm 3F shown above, I might start boosting frequencies in the upper midrange to make up for the "hole" in the speaker's response. Then, when you play my mix on a neutral speaker like the Revel F228Be, you will notice that the upper-mids are unnaturally emphasized (this is the Circle of Confusion mentioned earlier). For me to mix properly - and for you to hear what my intention was when I created the mix - you must have a speaker that accurately reproduces sound, which is exactly what the Spinoramas reveal smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 4:04 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

Did Goldsmith write "The Lollipop" as a joke? It seems like corny cliche Saturday morning cartoon music, way beneath Goldsmith's skills. I literally wonder if it was an ironic jab at how Goldsmith felt about Allen's film (a Saturday morning cartoon), which probably flew like a bee right over Allen's head.

IIRC, it's tracked into the opening of the picnic scene, where it seems even more corny. Assume Allen did that all by his lonesome. Says a lot of about Allen's sensibilities, if so.


It's actually when a little kid comes into the principal's office lobby and stares at Fred MacMurry while licking his big ol' lollipop. It's cheesy, but the music nails what was intended there - doesn't feel ironic, just apt.

It's light pre-echo of later so-called tragedy when we see the same child bee-stung to death outside the school with the lollipop lying next to him.

To me, both scenes fail, as does just about every scene does in the worst-of-the-worst movies, but the score is just doing its job.

I don't know what the hell movie Slim Pickens thought he was in, but his moment of genuine pathos is a better performance than all the other actors combined.


LOL at that last, re: Slim Pickens. Agreed! Except I did find Fonda's performance during his (SPOILER) death scene quite good (and it's actually a pretty good scene overall).

Sorry, should have been more clear. I know the music was written for the lollipop scene, it just seems so much like "composer amateur hour" that I've got to think Goldsmith wrote it that way on purpose. Even when I saw the film in the theater back in the 70s, that cue stuck out like a sore thumb. I thought - there is no way Goldsmith wrote this. Yet there it is, on the soundtrack. Which leads me to think that Goldsmith wrote it under pressure from Allen, or as an ironic tribute to Allen's filmmaking obviousness.

It sounds like a Hanna Barbera library cue.

IMO, of course smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 4:09 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

Here is a schematic drawing of the best speaker I have ever heard:



The rear horn is made with different materials which each neutralises unwanted frequencies and dynamic irregularities.


Forgot to ask - can you get a pair of these? Would love to do a double blind here (I have the facilities), or have them measured by either Amir at Madrona Sound or one of the researchers at Harman. If they do everything you claim for them, it will show up in the Spins.

An honest inquiry. smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 4:26 PM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Ah, I get it, John. It just sounds to me like other comedic moments in Goldsmith scores - from The Prize and SPYS, to Gremlins & Explorers, to Star Trek the Final Frontier & Dennis the Menace, etc. He did this kind of thing even a bit more often than I expected over the years, so never too surprised when it pops up. Sure, he may be thumbing his nose a bit, just like with the crazy "bees amok!" sound.

You know, as I was writing about Slim Pickens I did flash back to Fonda's serum scene. He sure sells the hell out of it, but it's so damned stupid I just can't praise any part of it. The world's expert tests himself first? He get worse, then better, then worse? What kind of morons put this thing together!?! mad

You gotta love the weird see-sawing between posts about The Swarm and audiophilia.

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 4:38 PM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)


It's easy enough to check out - do a double blind listening test with them against, say, a cheap Revel tower like the F36. I would bet real money the Revel would win. Seriously. I have an acoustically transparent black screen in my garage and the ability to do level matching, and the challenge is open to anyone who wants to bring a speaker. The Zu speaker probably costs around $500 or so to build, yet sells for $10K per pair. There is some money to go around.


This just might not be the perfect time to gather large amounts of people into one close listening spot to do double blind testing and drink a Corona (good beer… just had some the other day), but I'd really love it if this were happening. So if this ever happens: let me know, I’d be interested how it goes.

However, as I already mentioned, "blind" testing only gets you so far. You might as well "blind" test your future spouse or your future car or your future house or your future pet or your future dinner... if the looks and smell and feeling are way off, no one’s gonna dig it, no matter how well it sounds.



Having been a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association and the CEA - and worked the a/v industry on the sales and manufacturer side for both pros AND consumers - that most online / magazine reviews are almost worthless. If you look at many of the so called "respected" reviewers, most of them are in their 50s, 60s and 70s, and their hearing is shot due to them attending loud rock concerts a good portion of their lives (lest I be accused of being ageist, I'm in my mid-50s myself). When the Canadian NRC and Harman did their validation testing, they would have all the listeners take a basic hearing test. Those with massive HF hearing loss demonstrated that they were very inconsistent with their speaker scoring (the same speaker might get a score of 8 in the morning, and a 2 in the afternoon). This is not surprising - it's like asking color blind people to judge the colors on television sets.


Not so sure, since that seems to be also the age group most likely to fork over five or even six figure amounts of dollars for speakers, don’t you think? big grin


There are also advertising dollars that get allocated or withheld based on what a review might say. Check out the HUGE ad spends Golden Ear does in all the magazines, and correlate that with the rave reviews in the same magazines.


Yeah, hah, well, that may all be, I don’t even question that. At all.. But there is no way that any amount of marketing gets people to spend 10,000 Dollars on any loudspeaker that sounds to them personally much worse than a speaker for 500 Dollars. And I say this not from a listener's perspective, but from a marketer's. If any marketing god could do that, no matter what the bribes, I would listen and learn, but neither David Ogilvy or P.T. Barnum could sell bad sounding expensive speakers over good sounding cheap speakers. Of course SOME could sell SOME this way, but as a scalable and sustainable business model, that would be doomed. You overestimate greatly the power marketing and image could have.



There is also this kind of craziness that exists in the "audiophile" press, a credulousness that causes them to embrace woo products such as cable elevators and expensive aftermarket power cords.


Yep, but that market is largely reserved for people who have few other options. If there are no more expensive amps or speakers you can buy, you might as well go for $16,000.- pure silver cables. But these are not mass products. And not really the type of stuff we’re talking here when we discuss $500.- to $2000.- loudspeakers.


On top of that, there is also a romantic - but erroneous - idea that some boutique company with their resident mad scientist working in a garage is going to magically stumble upon some radical speaker design that miraculously produces good sound. They are almost philosophically opposed to a company like Harman, which has the largest acoustic research facilities in the world and the budget for true scientific R&D. Somehow, this makes them suspect.


Not sure what you mean, to whom would they be suspect and why?


Lastly, there is the tendency of reviewers to be almost entirely subjective in their reporting.


All reviews by anyone of anything are almost always subjective, that is their point. Anything else can be listed as fact. You can measure a frequency response or speaker sensitivity, those will be facts. “Sounds great” or “terrific soundstage” or “excellent detail” will always be subjective.


Very few of them put any type of scientific controls into place during their listening tests or comparisons.


Not sure, but I was under the impression that most hifi magazines also do controlled measurements? Not sure, because I only sporadically come across them (mostly German and British magazines).


One of the things well documented in the research is the effects of confirmation bias, sighted listening bias, and the placebo effect.


No doubt those are real.


The human brain is very easily fooled. That's why employing double blind protocols are so important, so all you are left with is pure sound, not appearance, brand or price.


Bind protocols are definitely important and very interesting. I agree that they tell a great deal. No doubt the brain is easily fooled. However, as I have already pointed out, even when it comes to loudspeakers, sound only goes so far. Let’s not forget that while the primary function of loudspeakers is to provide good (natural) sound, their sound is not the only criteria when selecting which one to buy.

If the best sounding speakers costs 500,000.- and you cannot afford them, no need to listen to them. You won’t buy them.

If the best sounding speakers would never fit into your living room from a design perspective, no need to listen to them. You won’t buy them.

If the best sounding speakers are too large to fit into your room, no need to listen to them. You won’t buy them.

If the best sounding speakers are from a brand that’s on the edge of bankruptcy, you may not need to listen to them (warranty issues etc.). You won’t buy them.


I've also worked with CUSTOMERS in the high end space who believe the same bogus claims. I've seen and heard some outrageously expensive systems that just sound horrible.


Let’s not forget: sound horrible to you… but possibly not to someone else? I don’t know, but sometimes you sound as if you want to say that if it is scientifically proven that if 86% of listeners prefer a certain type of sound in a speaker, everybody should prefer that same type of sound in a speaker, but that is obviously not the right conclusion, since 86% is not everybody. So I don’t think that is the right conclusion to make, and I am not even saying that is the conclusion you make. Just saying you make it sound like it at times. ;-)


As a musician, film mixer and composer that does home theater as a sideline, I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about smile


No reason to doubt either your experience or your preferences.

Speaking of being a film and music mixer, think about the Zu graph pictured above. If I'm going to mix a film, for example, how in the world can I be assured what I'm creating is going to sound even reasonably good when my Zu Cable Droids are imposing that massive EQ curve on top of everything I'm listening to?


Heck if I know, but that is not your problem, but the problem of the person with the Zu Cable Droids. Or the benefit. Maybe he will like it just the way it turns out to sound.


Because that's exactly what you are looking at - a giant graphic EQ curve that you CAN'T get out of the signal path.


I think using science and clear, measurable evaluation to compare the quality of various loudspeakers is certainly the right and most lucid point of reference and should be the “butter & bread” of any audio testing and comparison. It is the most important point of reference. But, and that is a slight but very important but, it should never be overlooked that it is not the only point of reference.

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 4:44 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

Ah, I get it, John. It just sounds to me like other comedic moments in Goldsmith scores - from The Prize and SPYS, to Gremlins & Explorers, to Star Trek the Final Frontier & Dennis the Menace, etc. He did this kind of thing even a bit more often than I expected over the years, so never too surprised when it pops up. Sure, he may be thumbing his nose a bit, just like with the crazy "bees amok!" sound.

You know, as I was writing about Slim Pickens I did flash back to Fonda's serum scene. He sure sells the hell out of it, but it's so damned stupid I just can't praise any part of it. The world's expert tests himself first? He get worse, then better, then worse? What kind of morons put this thing together!?! mad

You gotta love the weird see-sawing between posts about The Swarm and audiophilia.


LOL! I love it because I'm primarily responsible for it. Wonder how many people have me on ignore as a result? smile

I guess I just don't hear that kind of "comedic conservatism" in Goldsmith's other "comedic" bits. His comedy stuff is usually at least a bit fun and even a little "groovy," lol. The Lollipop sounded dated even in 1979.

Funny, the serum scene is almost verbatim from the novel (about the only thing that is). I did find it suspenseful back in 1979, so to me the scene "works." Certainly nothing else in the film even comes remotely close to being suspenseful, tense, or exciting.

I take that back - it can be considered suspenseful whenever Michael Caine starts raising his voice, because almost inevitably it turns into hysterical shouting. Imagine being married to the man, or growing up with him as your father - you'd constantly be on eggshells. As one reviewer pointed out, it's weird when the hero of the film can best be described as "vaguely menacing." lol.

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 4:51 PM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

I can't help it: I love THE SWARM. I love the score by Jerry Goldsmith. I love the movie by Irwin Allen.

The score I love purely on its own, it is great monster killer bee music.
The movie I love probably not for what Allen intended it to be, but it is just such a great comedy... I can't almost not understand how anyone cannot see this in the same way as one would watch AIRPLANE. It is hilarious. (Try to figure out all the negations... hehehehe).


And within the movie, the music works just as Elmer Bernstein's purposely serious score worked for AIRPLANE.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 5:01 PM   
 By:   TruPretender   (Member)

Ah, I get it, John. It just sounds to me like other comedic moments in Goldsmith scores - from The Prize and SPYS, to Gremlins & Explorers, to Star Trek the Final Frontier & Dennis the Menace, etc. He did this kind of thing even a bit more often than I expected over the years, so never too surprised when it pops up. Sure, he may be thumbing his nose a bit, just like with the crazy "bees amok!" sound.

You know, as I was writing about Slim Pickens I did flash back to Fonda's serum scene. He sure sells the hell out of it, but it's so damned stupid I just can't praise any part of it. The world's expert tests himself first? He get worse, then better, then worse? What kind of morons put this thing together!?! mad

You gotta love the weird see-sawing between posts about The Swarm and audiophilia.


I am pretty sure Allen advised Goldsmith to scoring the scene that way. Allen was a smug AF director, and no good at all at it, with no reason to be. You can see each choice he makes with the scenes as ridiculous as it was, because he thought it was going to be a masterpiece! His ego was so inflated by Poseidon and Inferno that it got the best of him.

If there are any glaring, obvious moments in Goldsmith's genius score, it was because Allen told him to do it so.

Every piece of Jerry's score for this film is a masterpiece to me. Totally unadulterated and aggressive. It's pure art.

Having said that the film itself is a smug, good for nothing piece of garbage. Allen had his directorial privileges revoked after the equally disastrous "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" - and though it's sub-standard disaster fare, "When Time Ran Out" (if you view the shorter cut, and what an AMAZING Schifrin score) is tolerable and even a bit entertaining by comparison for that reason alone.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 5:04 PM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

Last note - it should come as no surprise that about 80% of movies - and over half of all music - is mixed on Harman speakers (JBL primarily). Speaking as a mixer myself, I want to KNOW that the speaker I'm mixing on is reproducing what is actually in the recording, and adding no sound of its own to what I am hearing. Otherwise, how will I know what I need to do to correct any problems in the recording? For example, if I were to mix using the Paradigm 3F shown above, I might start boosting frequencies in the upper midrange to make up for the "hole" in the speaker's response. Then, when you play my mix on a neutral speaker like the Revel F228Be, you will notice that the upper-mids are unnaturally emphasized (this is the Circle of Confusion mentioned earlier). For me to mix properly - and for you to hear what my intention was when I created the mix - you must have a speaker that accurately reproduces sound, which is exactly what the Spinoramas reveal smile


I agree about neutral speakers. But the electrical signal passes through electrical and electronical components which are not necessarily neutral, from the source to the speakers (and through your mixing console).

The problem of modern mastering lies in what you are saying, though.

And also because people/customers are now used to hear a "Hi-Fi" sound instead of the natural sound of the instruments (and recordings, which should only require minimal adjustments, if any).

Today, if a recording is not mastered for a "super mega deluxe interstellar" edition with a big "Hi-Fi" sound, people won't like it.

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 5:31 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

Nicolai P. Zwar - thanks so much for thoughtfully engaging me in these discussions. It's genuinely appreciated smile

I didn't quote you since I am already guilty of cluttering up this thread with long posts. Just a couple of fairly quick points:

Totally agree with you about aesthetics, size, etc being a MAJOR factor in speaker choice.

Good point about now not being the ideal time to gather people together for a listening test, lol. We have a standing offer for anyone to bring in any speaker to shoot out blind any time. About half a dozen have taken us up. So far, I've been batting 1000 in predicting which speaker will win. smile I've also been out to the MLL at Harman where they do the double blinds and participated many times. Maybe that's made me overconfident or arrogant, apologies if so.

We did a large scale speaker shootout back in August of 2017, complete with the participation of Dr. Toole, the pioneer of this research. Almost 20 people from all over the country attended. We may do another, and I'd be happy to let you know. Google my name and you will find my contact info (you might even find a link to the shootout).

You are correct that most of the people that have the money for high end speakers are 50+, but that's not always the case. And some of us have taken steps to protect our hearing. But you are mostly correct.

I do think marketing (and confirmation bias, and placebo effect) has a far bigger influence on us that we realize. Case in point: I used to do a test where I would switch between high end speaker cables and cheap Radio Shack lamp cord, telling people which cables I was using. People would SWEAR the higher end cord sounded better. I am talking 80% of the listeners. But you know what? I never changed the cables. They were listening to the same cables all along. Yet people swore they heard differences. The power of suggestion is strong, and what is marketing but harnessing the power of suggestion? After switching to blind listening, the level of correct guesses as to which cable was which came out to 50% (the rate of chance).

Basically my point is this - I honestly think that if people were given the opportunity to compare speakers under scientifically controlled listening conditions (which is almost never the case), they would choose the more accurate loudspeaker almost every time. And the actual research would seem to bear that out. Having worked the retail side of this for quite a while, most people follow the herd (how else do you explain the success of Bose? As we say in the industry, "Better Sound Through Marketing"). When I worked retail, literally anyone who took the time to compare a Bose product to a speaker from almost any other brand would choose the competing speaker. I actually took the time to level match them (extremely important) and play a variety of music cuts (also very important). 90% of salespeople or buyers don't take the time to do even basic leveling of the playing field, which is critical.

Same reason why LCD TV sets sell better than OLED sets - they are brighter on the sales floor. But level the playing field, and OLEDs win every shootout (Google "Value Electronics TV Shootout").

"Sound great” or “great soundstage” or “excellent detail” will always be subjective." YES, this is correct. But I think it misses my point. The research I keep referring to started out by testing the speakers that did the best SUBJECTIVELY in the listening tests and then correlating that with how they measured. In other words, they would bring in tons of different speakers, and then have people rate them on a scale from 1 to 10. The ones that got the highest scores were then measured to see if there were commonalities. After doing this for several decades, they found that the speakers that people described having the characteristics you just listed all tended to be those with flat frequency response and broad, even dispersion. So it was a matter of taking what was subjective - people's listening preferences - and then seeing how they lined up with measurements. And voila! The Spinorama was born. And it shows that between 86 - 99% of listeners prefer accurate sound. It's not a matter of they should, it's a matter of they do.

Are you in LA by any chance? Be happy to take you to the MLL facility next time I'm out there. smile

I'm sorry if I'm coming off as strident or arrogant. To me, this is all good news - if someone is going to buy a good sound system, they need spend crazy money to get good sound. And they need not worry about "high-rez." And they need not worry about fancy speaker cables. Follow the science and you can get good sound without breaking the bank. smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 5:34 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

I can't help it: I love THE SWARM. I love the score by Jerry Goldsmith. I love the movie by Irwin Allen.

The score I love purely on its own, it is great monster killer bee music.
The movie I love probably not for what Allen intended it to be, but it is just such a great comedy... I can't almost not understand how anyone cannot see this in the same way as one would watch AIRPLANE. It is hilarious. (Try to figure out all the negations... hehehehe).


And within the movie, the music works just as Elmer Bernstein's purposely serious score worked for AIRPLANE.


Totally agree! My wife and I find the film even funnier than AIRPLANE! It's amazing the hilarity sustains over almost three hours on the new Director's Cut Blu-ray.

And Goldsmith's End Title is one of the best ever!

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 5:37 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

I agree about neutral speakers. But the electrical signal passes through electrical and electronical components which are not necessarily neutral, from the source to the speakers (and through your mixing console).

The problem of modern mastering lies in what you are saying, though.

And also because people/customers are now used to hear a "Hi-Fi" sound instead of the natural sound of the instruments (and recordings, which should only require minimal adjustments, if any).

Today, if a recording is not mastered for a "super mega deluxe interstellar" edition with a big "Hi-Fi" sound, people won't like it.


Nono, thanks so much for indulging me. Like to Nicholas, I apologize if I came across as being smug or arrogant.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 5:40 PM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

I agree about neutral speakers. But the electrical signal passes through electrical and electronical components which are not necessarily neutral, from the source to the speakers (and through your mixing console).

The problem of modern mastering lies in what you are saying, though.



An interesting quotation from Joe Gastrwrit interviewed by Chris Malone:

In July 2009, engineer Joe Gastwirt detailed the challenges faced in mastering Brainstorm and early
digital recordings:

“Eric Tomlinson did a fine job recording and helped make the mastering process go smoother. As in all
projects of that day, I chose to use an all analog mastering chain, maintaining as much character from
the original recording as possible.

The final mastered master was also recorded to a JVC 900 two track digital recorder, which sounded
much smoother and had less digital artifacts then the competing Sony 1630 of that time. The
designers at JVC also had the insight to design a box to transfer the JVC format to the Sony format
keeping the sonic integrity of the JVC equipment.

In those days it was always a great challenge to create a warm dynamic master with a product that
was captured directly to a digital format. I took great pride in my signal chain not sending the signal
through any device that would increase the metallic harshness inherent in digital recording. I also
spent countless hours listening to every type of transistor, resistor and capacitor that went into my
mastering console, keeping it big warm and musical sounding.”

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2020 - 5:46 PM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

An interesting quotation from Joe Gastrwrit interviewed by Chris Malone:

In July 2009, engineer Joe Gastwirt detailed the challenges faced in mastering Brainstorm and early
digital recordings:

“Eric Tomlinson did a fine job recording and helped make the mastering process go smoother. As in all
projects of that day, I chose to use an all analog mastering chain, maintaining as much character from
the original recording as possible.

The final mastered master was also recorded to a JVC 900 two track digital recorder, which sounded
much smoother and had less digital artifacts then the competing Sony 1630 of that time. The
designers at JVC also had the insight to design a box to transfer the JVC format to the Sony format
keeping the sonic integrity of the JVC equipment.

In those days it was always a great challenge to create a warm dynamic master with a product that
was captured directly to a digital format. I took great pride in my signal chain not sending the signal
through any device that would increase the metallic harshness inherent in digital recording. I also
spent countless hours listening to every type of transistor, resistor and capacitor that went into my
mastering console, keeping it big warm and musical sounding.”


Interesting - thanks for sharing! Only disagreement I have is that there is no harshness "inherent" in digital recording, per se. What the intervening years have shown is that digital recordings have shown up other flaws in the recording chain (problems with mics, A/D converters, etc). Nowadays you can emulate the sound of an analog recording using digital plug-ins (in other words, there's nothing magic there).

Thanks again for the civil and thoughtful discussion!

 
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