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CD-R and Audio Hardware => Audio Hardware => Topic started by: q3cpma on 2019-01-31 16:02:00

Title: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-01-31 16:02:00
Hello,

I'm currently in the business of replacing my tiny Dali Zensor 1 setup
with something bigger, and I have trouble choosing among the five
candidates I picked. My use case would be only stero music (mainly
extreme metal and progressive rock with a bit of romantic period
classical and some rare video game OSTs), no TV at all, with a goal
of maximum fidelity.

The problem is that I can't really try them from where I am and most
reviews are just audiofoolery, so I'm here to ask your opinion about
these models and brands.


I attached the roster with the comparison.
(https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=117251.0;attach=14430;image)


      NOTES
   Tannoy XT6F
Most reviews and opinions are good, but I don't know anything about
it.

   Monitor Audio Silver 200
Seems like a well regarded brand, but its speakers are smaller than
the competition, and it's not a 3-way.

   Dali Opticon 6
The main contender, sincer my only experience with speakers is Dali,
and it is a very good one. A bit pricy, though.

   Focal Aria 926
Have heard a lot of good stuff about this model, but also that it's
not very neutral. The three grave/midrange speakers encourage me to
think that this isn't baseless.

   Yamaha NS-F 700
There's almost nothing on the net concerning Yamaha speakers. I know
that they make very good amps (I use an A-S300) and I only included it
because I trust this brand to offer no-nonsense reasonably priced
products with a very good quality.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: DVDdoug on 2019-01-31 18:19:34
All I can say is, this is difficult...

You're right, reviews are pretty-much useless unless you really trust the reviewer and manufacturer's specs are pretty-much useless because they all use different measurement methods and they sometimes "fudge" the numbers.    ...In your chart I don't see any +/-dB tolerance in the frequency response.  That's typical.   It would be nice to see a frequency-response graph.

If you can find independent measurements that could be helpful because they are using consistent testing methodology, but I don't know who does that for speakers (I've seen it for headphones).

Quote
but its speakers are smaller thathe competition
There is SOME correlation between cabinet size and woofer size (or total woofer piston area, ) and bass performance.   But, you can't always say the bigger speaker will have better bass.

Quote
and it's not a 3-way.
There are LOTS of ways to make a good speaker (and more ways to make a bad speaker :D ).   So again, we can't always say a 3-way is better than a 2-way.     Large woofers tend to roll-off at a lower frequency than smaller woofers so you might need a midrange, whereas a smaller woofer might extend high enough that you can cross-over directly to the tweeter.    This is one "advantage" to multiple-smaller woofers over a single-large woofer.    They can cover a wider frequency range and still pump-out the bass.   And, there's an advantage to minimizing the number of crossover points.  

The same goes for ported vs sealed designs.  You can't say one is always better than the other.   Manufactures usually tout their design decisions and choice of materials as benefits/advantages when in reality they are usually just design choices & tradeoffs.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-01-31 18:45:29
In your chart I don't see any +/-dB tolerance in the frequency response.  That's typical.   It would be nice to see a frequency-response graph.
Indeed, I had to scrap manufacturer websites to get them. This makes them pretty equal as far as bass extension goes (except the Yamaha).

┌────────────────────────┬─────────────┬───────────────┬────────────────┬────────────────┬─────────────────┐
│ Brand/Model            │ Tannoy XT6F │ MA Silver 200 │ Dali Opticon 6 │ Focal Aria 926 │ Yamaha NS-F 700 │
├────────────────────────┼─────────────┼───────────────┼────────────────┼────────────────┼─────────────────┤
│ Freq range (Hz-KHz/dB) │ 38-32/±6    │ 38-35/±6      │ 49-32/±3       │ 45-28/±3       │ 45-50/±10       │
└────────────────────────┴─────────────┴───────────────┴────────────────┴────────────────┴─────────────────┘


There is SOME correlation between cabinet size and woofer size (or total woofer piston area, ) and bass performance.   But, you can't always say the bigger speaker will have better bass.
Well, all things equal, I always though that bigger woofer size gave better bass definition (up to a certain point, of course).

There are LOTS of ways to make a good speaker (and more ways to make a bad speaker :D ).   So again, we can't always say a 3-way is better than a 2-way.     Large woofers tend to roll-off at a lower frequency than smaller woofers so you might need a midrange, whereas a smaller woofer might extend high enough that you can cross-over directly to the tweeter.    This is one "advantage" to multiple-smaller woofers over a single-large woofer.    They can cover a wider frequency range and still pump-out the bass.   And, there's an advantage to minimizing the number of crossover points.  
I agree, but intuitively, 3-way matches the grave/midrange/high sound ranges. And intuition is very important in this sea of marketing nonsense; at least when you're not dumber than a rock.
That's also why Yamaha seemed interesting, since the midrange speaker doesn't have the same size as the woofer.


Well, this is the reason I'm asking for personal opinions, too.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: dyneq on 2019-02-07 22:54:45
What are the characteristics of your listening room? What are your amplifier's power specifications?

Have you considered the option of keeping the Dalis and bringing in 1 or more subwoofers instead of replacing them?
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-08 01:17:36
What are the characteristics of your listening room? What are your amplifier's power specifications?
I haven't moved in yet, but it should be a decently sized (and open) living room. I don't think I'll have problems with the amp as it's 2x60W @8 ohms.
Have you considered the option of keeping the Dalis and bringing in 1 or more subwoofers instead of replacing them?
Not really. I prefer a better overall sound that just extending the bass.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: Apesbrain on 2019-02-08 02:02:21
Given that list, I'd suggest adding the PSB Imagine T if available near you.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: dyneq on 2019-02-08 20:02:16
Not really. I prefer a better overall sound that just extending the bass.

Can you describe what it is that you don't like about the speakers you already have?
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-08 21:09:18
There's nothing I "dislike" very much, the midrange/bass just lacks clarity compared to bigger (and maybe pricier) speakers. My parents have some 40 year old Cabasse speakers, and they're simply better if I omit the muddy highs.
I guess speakers as tiny as the Zensor 1 simply have a limit.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: DVDdoug on 2019-02-08 23:28:10
Quote
There's nothing I "dislike" very much, the midrange/bass just lacks clarity compared to bigger (and maybe pricier) speakers.
The main sound quality/character differences between speakers is frequency response.   And without a frequency response curves for each speaker (measured identical conditions) it's impossible to predict which speaker will have more or less mid-bass or other differences.

And, frequency response can be adjusted to some extent with equalization.   It gets "difficult" boosting the bass range because it can take an enormous amounts of power (a 3dB boost is double the power) so you can end-up driving the amplifier or speaker into distortion.      But in the mid & high range you can do a LOT with EQ.

If you don't have a hardware equalizer most software players come with one so it's easy to experiment without spending any money.  

If your problems are more in the bass range a subwoofer should help a lot.   And a subwoofer generally has it's own level-control so that's another adjustment you can tweak for better sound.   But get a good one, not cheap "boomy" one. 

If you want to "get serious" you an get a measurement microphone & free software and measure your speakers and room.   You can't fix all acoustic problems with EQ but it can help.

Measuring your room/speakers will also help to determine if you have problem with the mid-bass, or if you just have a particular preference.

And I think you said you're not in your new space yet, and you might like the way your old speakers sound in the new room!
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: 4season on 2019-02-10 17:56:17
Without knowing anything about the speakers you mention except for the specifications you provided, the Tannoys would interest me the most, with their (coaxial?) tweeter/mid driver. But these would interest me more:

Perhaps more complex than you anticipated, but I just thought I'd suggest speakers by the late S. Linkwitz:
http://linkwitzlab.com/ (http://linkwitzlab.com/)
If Mr. Linkwitz's speakers look peculiar, it's because frequency response both on- and off-axis was one of his major concerns.

Though less radical in appearance, the JBL also interests me because it's cabinet is one big waveguide, a dead giveaway that the designers were concerned with more than just on-axis frequency response.
https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STUDIO+590.html (https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STUDIO+590.html)



Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-10 18:32:10
Honestly, I don't know about "homebrew" stuff. It could be amazing, but as someone who can't even try big name brands easily, I'll probably pass. Would love to listen to them, though.

About JBL, I excluded the brand because it has changed hands a few time to just become a Samsung subsidiary and they're now mostly known for their trashy portable speakers and bass canon products. I also noticed that their floorstanding speakers advertised absurd power levels for their price.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: 4season on 2019-02-10 20:04:43
About JBL, I excluded the brand because it has changed hands a few time to just become a Samsung subsidiary and they're now mostly known for their trashy portable speakers and bass canon products. I also noticed that their floorstanding speakers advertised absurd power levels for their price.

While no one can predict what the future holds for any audio company, it appears to me that science is still happening at Harman Int'l:
https://seanolive.blogspot.com/ (https://seanolive.blogspot.com/)
https://twitter.com/seanolive (https://twitter.com/seanolive)

BTW, the other year I purchased a JBL Charge 3 bluetooth speaker, and for something the size of a jumbo drink can, I have no complaints about the sonics. I measured on-axis response @ 1M at one point and recall it being respectable given what it is and how it gets used.

I've also had the good fortune to calibrate my headphones and IEMs to the Harman target frequency response and the results IMO have been magnificent.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: evgenetic on 2019-02-12 21:31:31
JBL is the brand I would actually pay the most attention to precisely because of their constant research into what makes objectively good sounding speakers (tl;dr - mostly it's flat FR off and on axis and a wide spectrum coverage), quite a lot of it is summarized in the aforementioned blog. I think Olive's and Toole's work do a lot of good in the effort of de-stupidifying the audiophile culture, so to speak.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-13 11:49:09
Well, I tried looking at them better and I'm not impressed. Their catalog is quite tiny, and like all manufacturers, I can't find any FR graph on their website (including the spec sheet). I was looking at their Studio 270, mainly.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: Melomane on 2019-02-13 21:51:33
look at jbl Studio 580 or 590

really nice sounding speakers.
controlled directivity, very high spl , low distortion, very good frequency response linearity.

i have buy the 590 in 2013, no more sell in france but always sell in usa.



Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: spoon on 2019-02-14 13:49:31
You can only trust your ears not reviews...if possible go and audition the speakers, if you are paying $$$$ then the local dealer would let you audition in your own home.

I rate Bowers and Wilkins speakers very highly, I have heard most others.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-14 16:22:59
Obviously. I'll probably end up booking a visit at a store, but I still made this topic to collect some opinions from people who already tested multiple brands.

For example, does anyone have experience with Focal? Since I'm in France, it's a brand I'm interested in but, as I wrote in the OP, I have heard that it's not focused on neutrality.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: spoon on 2019-02-14 21:58:40
Often the higher priced the speaker, the more 'non-neutral' it will sound, you are then said to be buying the manufacturers sound which they like to capture customers for life.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-15 13:31:46
That certainly makes sense, but I have trouble believing there's not even one honest brand out there. Maybe I should look at studio gear more?
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: krabapple on 2019-02-19 22:06:36
Well, I tried looking at them better and I'm not impressed. Their catalog is quite tiny, and like all manufacturers, I can't find any FR graph on their website (including the spec sheet). I was looking at their Studio 270, mainly.

Look more.

https://revelspeakers.com/


and check out this article from Kal Rubinson

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


NB :" Harman documents Spinorama results not only for their own speakers but also for speakers made by many of their competitors; other companies, such as Bryston, now offer on their websites listening-window and total-sound-power frequency-response data, along with the traditional on-axis response. "

and:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/3038828-how-choose-loudspeaker-what-science-shows.html

An AVSF thread where both Kevin Voecks and Floyd Toole contribute...!
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: DVDdoug on 2019-02-19 23:31:26
Quote
Maybe I should look at studio gear more?
That's OK but you won't find many floorstanding studio monitors.   As with home speakers the trend is "smaller" (plus a subwoofer).    Also, most modern studio monitors are active so if they have to be "adapted" if you want to use a stereo receiver or home-theater receiver.  And, you usually don't get grill covers or nice-looking wood cabinets.    And, they are usually sold where they sell musical instruments and pro audio equipment so you probably won't find them at an audio/video store.

The JBL (your favorite manufacturer ;) ) LSR series has a great reputation and is VERY affordable.     But the largest of the series (LSR308) has an 8-inch woofer which probably slightly-less piston area than the dual 6-inch models you're looking at.  That, along with the smaller cabinet probably means less bass.    But, the active design does allow them to tweak the frequency response and extend the bass (to an extent).

I have NO personal experience with these monitors but despite the low price I expect they are good enough for pro mixing & mastering as long as they are properly setup with a good quality subwoofer in an acoustically treated studio.   And, they should be adequate for most home listening situations.

And, there are some popular competitors for "similar" 8-inch monitors in the same price range.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: Roseval on 2019-02-20 10:04:03
I agree with DVDdoug

In the past I would have looked for floorstanders too.
That is true HiFi, a lot of separate boxes connected with a bunch of wires and of course, some big floorstanders.
Indeed the HiFi enthusiast altar.
Somewhere in the 80’s they discovered that you can reduce distortion if you get rid of a passive monitor and use an active instead.
This means each driver is powered by its own amplifier and the crossover is done before the signal enters the poweramp.
Today this is almost standard in the pro-world. The usual suspects are Genelec, Adams, ATC, etc.
Slowly this concept is reaching the home.
The KEF LS50 wireless is a nice example, a very compact active speakers system.
Dynaudio XEO 2 is another example of a domesticated active as the pro-world won’t spend its money on the looks.
Dutch&Dutch 8c is a fine example of a moderns monitor.
You can place it close to a wall en simply use its DSP to compensate for the bass. Has a wave guide for controlled dispersion, etc.
Maybe this page of my website is of use ( or add to your misery as it increases your choices  :)  ) http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/HW/ActiveSpeakers.htm
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-20 19:13:23
Indeed, I'm looking a bit more at monitor speakers, and since my DAC has (only) an RCA output, I can use some speakers as is. But this world is entirely unknown to me and I don't know where to find reviews/measurements. On the plus side, that means I can use the wonderfull thomann.de store to do some shopping.
About design, there are some of these (Focal, Dynaudio or Yamaha, for example) that look very nice too.

Look more.
https://revelspeakers.com/

and check out this article from Kal Rubinson
https://www.stereophile.com/content/blind-listening-harman-international

NB :" Harman documents Spinorama results not only for their own speakers but also for speakers made by many of their competitors; other companies, such as Bryston, now offer on their websites listening-window and total-sound-power frequency-response data, along with the traditional on-axis response. "

and:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/3038828-how-choose-loudspeaker-what-science-shows.html

An AVSF thread where both Kevin Voecks and Floyd Toole contribute...!
I was talking about JBL itself, not Harman. That Revel brand does seem interesting, sadly, I can't find it in the stores I'm eyeing at (mainly son-video.com).

I want to add, though, that studies using "average joes" as subjects are mostly useless, and it's easy to see why: prefererence for inflated bass/mids and volume over quality is the norm. Probably because of conditioning by devices like car radio and and "modern" mixing.
I think this remark also concerns the whole "Harman frequency response target" thing.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-20 21:15:22
After looking at the whole thing, the Yamaha HS-8 with a cheap RCA <=> 6.3mm jack cable might well be my next speakers. I really wonder why studio gear isn't looked at more. Are they worse than "HiFi" stuff for non near-field usage? I doubt it, right now.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: Fairy on 2019-02-21 09:42:19
If I may advise, buy a measurement microphone like the UMIK-1 from MiniDSP. Setup Foobar2000 with the free Mathaudio RoomEQ plugin and measure how your current setup behaves and play a bit with the plugin to optimize the sound. Maybe the only thing you need is a sub (or 2).

I was a bit disappointed by my setup because of a vvery loud bassnote that occurred in many songs until I found out that I had some nasty room modes to take care of.

I now use the RoomEQ plugin and because I have a sub I am considering a MiniDSP 2x4HD or a DDRC24 module to 'fix' the curve permanently on all sources.

PS. I already have done the maximum (wife) allowed acoustic treatments in my living room (large self made absorbers behind the speakers). For optimizing room acoustics you could best get some experience with REW because it's more detailed than RoomEQ, but RoomEQ is very simple to use and a great start.

Sometimes a DSP module can be cheaper than new speakers and yield better results if the room is the main issue.

And please share the measurements with us :)
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-22 22:45:22
Thansk for the advice, but I can't do that. I'm on Linux on a setup that doesn't allow for Wine (Gentoo no multilib).
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: evgenetic on 2019-02-24 11:36:29
I want to add, though, that studies using "average joes" as subjects are mostly useless, and it's easy to see why: prefererence for inflated bass/mids and volume over quality is the norm. Probably because of conditioning by devices like car radio and and "modern" mixing.
I think this remark also concerns the whole "Harman frequency response target" thing.

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2008/12/loudspeaker-preferences-of-trained.html
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-24 21:47:53
Pretty interesting. Would have been better with more speakers and more types of signatures; none of the speakers exhibit a V (or U) shaped signature, which is mostly confined to headphones. And I think it's possible (even if unlikely) that the same study done today wouldn't yield the same results.

This kind of studies is exactly what the audio world need, though.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: DeadTrader on 2019-02-24 22:45:57
The Yamaha studio monitors will produce good sound and do adjust to a space a bit, With the music you listen to, you may be wanting just a little more bass. The biggest factor here is the room you want to rock out in. Is it an acoustic perfect space? Or something like mine which is about the worst configuration possible. With a lessor space the sound stage a speaker produces is much more important, wide angle sound dispersion at the cone will lead to more mixing of channels and give you a larger sweet spot in your room. 15 yrs ago I did a speaker shopping tour. I came home with Revel F-30 and Rotel amps. Amazing sound in an ugly room.  With rock music bass is important and there is nothing like a good 10"+ woofer. Check out used gear, you can stay in budget and get a fuller sound. I liked the F30's so much I got a pair of M20's for my computer speakers which would be in the same class as the yamaha's they sound great but could use a little more bottom than the 6.5" woofer can produce. I picked up a used Rel sub cheap and would dare say I have the best computer speaker system around. Its a shame you can't go to a store and compare.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: ajinfla on 2019-02-25 01:35:38
I rate Bowers and Wilkins speakers very highly, I have heard most others.

Often the higher priced the speaker, the more 'non-neutral' it will sound
Interesting. In blind listening tests, the near top B&Ws were spanked by a $350 (much better measuring soundwaves) Infinity.
I think you mean, the higher priced "audiophile" designer speakers. That certainly doesn't apply to non-audiophile, engineered speakers.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-02-25 15:05:36
@DeadTrader
Well, bass is not my priority, since I mostly listen to extreme metal that doesn't benefit that much from sub-bass. But since it IS still important, I thought the HS8 would be better than the HS7 for me, even with a quite tiny room; I don't listen to very high levels. I'll attach what is supposed to be my next appartment with two possible placements.

As for something else than the Yamahas, I looked at the Focal Alpha line (pricier), but it's hard to ignore the universal acclaim for the Yamahas' neutrality and quality. Plus, a manufacturer including FR graphs in their marketing deserves my money or at least attention.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: dneern on 2019-03-01 17:02:46
The HS8s are a good choice for that space. If you went with one of the smaller Yamahas you might want to get the matching subwoofer, but that's a matter of your taste. If it were me I would get the HS8s, if you don't feel the need to squeeze out that last bit of bass extension the HS7s with no subwoofer would be fine also. The distances from the monitors you show in your diagram are exactly in the range of where these speakers are designed to be listened to, so you don't have to worry about how they perform at the mid field.

There are two problems I see, though.

You have too many speakers in your diagram. You will definitely be producing more sound than you need with just 2 HS8s. They are very loud. With just 2 you will never have to turn them up more than half way or so unless you want to start doing serious damage to your ears.

The other smaller problem is that your room is a bit small, this will be a problem for whatever speakers you choose to put in there as it will necessitate you placing the speakers close to the walls, as per your diagram. The reason this is a problem is that the lowest frequencies produced by your speakers will be amplified by their proximity to the wall.

For any normal home speakers this would be a big problem, but since you have decided to get studio monitors, the solution is as simple as flipping a switch on the back of the speakers to attenuate the bass in compensation. The HS8s are designed specifically to work well in situations like this, and the instructions for setting all of the compensatory switches on the back of your speakers will be in your included manual.

Edit: I see now that you only intend to buy 2 speakers and that you are showing the two possible placements in your room. Sorry for the misunderstanding. One of the two placements in your diagram will definitely be better than the other due to the complex room shape, but I do not have the knowledge to be able to tell you which one. I'm sure someone here, or maybe a bit of googling will be able to help you find the answer though.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-03-01 22:37:16
Well, I always preferred 2.0 to 2.1 and the Yamaha sub, although very good, is priced in consequence. I think you're right, I'll make good use of the room compensation dial.

About the best placement, my intuition tells me the bottom one is better, since you get a quite symmetrical room at the other end.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2019-03-02 11:05:33
Adding a subwoofer (or preferably two or more) will improve any stereo system, but only if it is properly integrated. If not, it can be overpowering and boomy. This is regrettably probably the mental image for most people when they hear the word "subwoofer".
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: q3cpma on 2019-03-03 01:08:34
Why would you use more than one? Seems like a strange idea to me.
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: DVDdoug on 2019-03-03 01:18:55
Multiple subwoofers can reduce the effects of standing waves, depending on placement.    And of course, you can get more-deeper bass with more total piston area.

Quote
but only if it is properly integrated. If not, it can be overpowering and boomy.
And of course, it should be a good subwoofer.   ;)
Title: Re: Floortanding speaker comparison and advice
Post by: silverprout on 2019-03-03 06:41:54
Why would you use more than one? Seems like a strange idea to me.
The vast majority of the population is not really passionate by the music or the artificial sound rendering, they often have few seconds of attention to offer at a listening test and therefore these few seconds have to be very impessive. Then in their brain, these few seconds are stocked as the "good taste". Getting out of this mass paradigm requires some theorical and pratical competences, you have to explore the contraints of the creation of an artitificial soundfield, a multisub setup needs some measurements tools and can be considered as the part of the top level of knowledge about an artitificial soundfield.

more total piston area.
Surface is nothing if there is no impedance matching (this impedance is very low at these low frequencies).
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