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  • odigg
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Blind tests on speakers
Has anybody done blind tests on speakers or there any articles on blind testing speakers?

Now, before you ask what I'm talking about, I'm not asking for blind testing to show that all speakers sound the same.  I'm wondering if blind testing has been done to see what speakers people prefer.  As with every other line of products for sale in this world, the general rule seems to be that people perceive more expensive products as better.  In the case of speakers, expensive speakers are "obviously" better than less expensive speakers.

In audiophile world, a more expensive speaker would have better clarity, soundstage, it would reveal details less expensive speakers could not, etc.

Have there been blind tests supporting such statements one way or the other?
  • Last Edit: 10 February, 2009, 11:57:14 AM by odigg

  • krabapple
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #1
Has anybody done blind tests on speakers or there any articles on blind testing speakers?



You betcha.

Quote
Now, before you ask what I'm talking about, I'm not asking for blind testing to show that all speakers sound the same.  I'm wondering if blind testing has been done to see what speakers people prefer.  As with every other line of products for sale in this world, the general rule seems to be that people perceive more expensive products as better.  In the case of speakers, expensive speakers are "obviously" better than less expensive speakers.


The JAES (Journal of the Audio Engineering Society)  has a series of articles from Floyd Toole and Sean Olive, from the past 20 eyars, that does just that -- explored the factors that determine speaker preferences.  Plenty of blind tests involved.

They aren't allowed to name brand names, though.

You can download JAES articles for $20 a pop, or find them at your nearest university science/engineering library (if they subscribe).

This article is free courtesy of Harman.

Or here's Sean Olive's blog


Quote
In audiophile world, a more expensive speaker would have better clarity, soundstage, it would reveal details less expensive speakers could not, etc.

Have there been blind tests supporting such statement one way or the other?


One such speaker touted as 'speaker of the year' in one of the audio rags, ended up placing last in blind speaker preference tests.
  • Last Edit: 10 February, 2009, 12:05:37 PM by krabapple

  • Fandango
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #2
This article is free courtesy of Harman.

Quote
4) There were clear correlations between listeners’
loudspeaker preferences and a set of acoustic anechoic
measurements. The most preferred loudspeakers had the
smoothest, flattest, and most extended frequency
responses
maintained uniformly off axis.

page 821, Conclusion, 4)

  • krabapple
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #3
maintained uniformly off axis.

is important too.
  • Last Edit: 10 February, 2009, 01:30:00 PM by krabapple

  • odigg
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #4
Thanks for the links to JAES and the article.  I'll print it off so I can read it.

I also found this on the PSB Speaker website. PSB Speakers blind testing

It's an short but interesting piece.  To quote the end.

"We designed it for a flat frequency response [in which no particular frequency range – bass, midrange, or treble – is emphasized] in the anechoic chamber. But thanks to blind testing, we realized that a perfectly flat response sounds a little too bright in an actual room. So we toned down the response a little in the 5 kilohertz [treble] range, and right away it became a winner. If you don’t do this kind of testing, you’ll probably never uncover those kinds of flaws.”

I'm not very knowledgeable on studio monitors, but the conclusion in the JAES article seems to support the idea that studio monitors have been getting it right all along.  Is this statement correct?

What exactly is smooth?  It sounds like an audiophile term.  Does it mean that the frequency response looks smooth (without jagged changes?).  I did a quick text search in the free article but did not find a definition.

  • DVDdoug
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #5
Quote
What exactly is smooth? It sounds like an audiophile term. Does it mean that the frequency response looks smooth (without jagged changes?).
Exactly!  A smooth frequency response curve...  No big or sudden dips or peaks.  Intuitively, I think peaks are more noticeable than dips.  Of course, a perfectly flat frequency response (like you get from a good amplifier) is also perfectly smooth.

P.S
  So, it's not audiophile terminology...  Its something normal people (including engineers and scientists) can understand! 
  • Last Edit: 11 February, 2009, 02:30:22 PM by DVDdoug

  • MichaelW
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #6
I'm not very knowledgeable on studio monitors, but the conclusion in the JAES article seems to support the idea that studio monitors have been getting it right all along.  Is this statement correct?

Just from reading the posts, and not from any real knowledge, but it looks like the clause "maintained uniformly off axis" is a point where near-field monitors, at least, needn't try too hard, so making it easier to hit the other desiderata.

  • krabapple
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #7
I'm not very knowledgeable on studio monitors, but the conclusion in the JAES article seems to support the idea that studio monitors have been getting it right all along.  Is this statement correct?

Just from reading the posts, and not from any real knowledge, but it looks like the clause "maintained uniformly off axis" is a point where near-field monitors, at least, needn't try too hard, so making it easier to hit the other desiderata.


And even as far as smooth frequency response goes, studio monitors by no means have been getting it right 'all along'.  Some have been notorious for coloring the sound.

  • krabapple
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #8
remove
  • Last Edit: 13 February, 2009, 12:52:23 PM by krabapple

  • Ron Jones
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #9
So, it's not audiophile terminology...  Its something normal people (including engineers and scientists) can understand!

Yeah, but I think most sticklers would prefer the more neutral-sounding term "flat" however

And even as far as smooth frequency response goes, studio monitors by no means have been getting it right 'all along'.  Some have been notorious for coloring the sound.

Very true. A few popular ones come to mind, but it seems that, for some mixers, the "best" studio monitor is one that helps them achieve a mix that translates as well as possible on typical consumer playback systems, or at least a mix that "sounds the best" across a wide range of typical playback systems.

  • HotshotGG
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #10
Quote
The JAES (Journal of the Audio Engineering Society) has a series of articles from Floyd Toole and Sean Olive, from the past 20 years, that does just that -- explored the factors that determine speaker preferences. Plenty of blind tests involved.


Sean Olive actually has an account on Hydrogenaudio here! He just signed up about three weeks ago and provided valuable links to the many blind-test he has done with speakers! I was very impressed.

Edit: Yes it was his blog actually
  • Last Edit: 13 February, 2009, 03:44:33 PM by HotshotGG
College student/IT Assistant

  • brownianm
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Blind tests on speakers
Reply #11
Quote
4) There were clear correlations between listeners’
loudspeaker preferences and a set of acoustic anechoic
measurements. The most preferred loudspeakers had the
smoothest, flattest, and most extended frequency
responses
maintained uniformly off axis.

page 821, Conclusion, 4)



Thanks for the links to JAES and the article.  I'll print it off so I can read it.

I also found this on the PSB Speaker website. PSB Speakers blind testing

It's an short but interesting piece.  To quote the end.

"We designed it for a flat frequency response [in which no particular frequency range – bass, midrange, or treble – is emphasized] in the anechoic chamber. But thanks to blind testing, we realized that a perfectly flat response sounds a little too bright in an actual room. So we toned down the response a little in the 5 kilohertz [treble] range, and right away it became a winner. If you don’t do this kind of testing, you’ll probably never uncover those kinds of flaws.”


Yes, it is an interesting piece, in that  it appears to contradict research that suggests people prefer a flat frequency response.  They even characterize a flat response as a 'flaw' 

I'll take mine flat, thank you.