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  1. #1
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    How long do speakers have to be broken in?

    I just bought a pair of Monitor Audio S6. The manual says to give them 60 hours before they are broken in. Will it hurt the drivers to play loud music through them while still not being broken in?

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    Play your speakers as you see fit. You will not harm your new speakers by playing them as you would any speaker. Personally, I have never seen any difference in audio quality from the first moment I used a speaker and any time in the future. Remember folks, I said personally. If you have seen a difference so be it. I am not arguing the point.

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    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Just play the speakers and listen as you would normally. There's nothing magical about break in, no special way to do it, it just happens. If you want to speed things up, just leave the music running all day.

  4. #4
    RGA
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    Break in on speakers is theoretically possible as they are moving parts - so if any part of the chain is going to exhibit the notion of break in it will be Speakers - and possibly the needle in a turntable and tubes.

    However I suspect the real reason for break in was for people who owned 1970's muffled speakers that went out into shops and heard MANY not ALL speakers usiung metal tweeters that have a sizzle quality to the treble - ie they soudn very bright compared to the old ones the person was used to listening to for the last 20 years. When yuo're used to something anything else can sound wrong at first - we train ourselves.

    So the manufacturers kept getting returns because it would sound bright - slim lines typically don't fill rooms with bass - it's tight. So the makers came out with 30-100 hours or whatever of break-in which is basiclaly letting your EARS break in or get used to the sound of the speakers - this of course usually exceeds the return period too conveniently.

    On the other hand some speakers do exhibit a slight change over time which has been measured - the truth probably lies in the middle - the speaker changes AND we get used to what we're hearing.

    As for the playing - you can play it loud - if the theory holds playing loud will break the spekaer in faster because you are making the drivers really work - which is the point.

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    However I suspect the real reason for break in was for people who owned 1970's muffled speakers that went out into shops and heard MANY not ALL speakers usiung metal tweeters that have a sizzle quality to the treble - ie they soudn very bright compared to the old ones the person was used to listening to for the last 20 years. When yuo're used to something anything else can sound wrong at first - we train ourselves.

    So the manufacturers kept getting returns because it would sound bright - slim lines typically don't fill rooms with bass - it's tight. So the makers came out with 30-100 hours or whatever of break-in which is basiclaly letting your EARS break in or get used to the sound of the speakers - this of course usually exceeds the return period too conveniently.
    It's not funny anymore...it's just sick. I think you may need professional help.

    As for the playing - you can play it loud - if the theory holds playing loud will break the spekaer in faster because you are making the drivers really work - which is the point.
    Actually, some manufacturers recommend against excessive volume levels until the break-in period is over. Break-in is usually recommended at moderate to low volume levels, with the duration of play being more important than anything else.

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    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    However I suspect the real reason for break in was for people who owned 1970's muffled speakers that went out into shops and heard MANY not ALL speakers usiung metal tweeters that have a sizzle quality to the treble - ie they soudn very bright compared to the old ones the person was used to listening to for the last 20 years. When yuo're used to something anything else can sound wrong at first - we train ourselves.
    You suspect wrong. Period.
    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    So the manufacturers kept getting returns because it would sound bright - slim lines typically don't fill rooms with bass - it's tight.
    Where on earth did you get this notion from? I hope AN is passing this off as factual evidence in support of their marketing efforts. The ability of a speaker to fill the room with bass is a function of volume (ie: output) and wavelength of the given frequencies.
    Some bass frequencies' wavelengths are actually huge, and if powerful enough will easily fill any room regardless of the shape of the box. In fact, your room size often limits bass extension.
    Do you even know of the reasons WHY slim-line cabinetry was adopted over fat box?
    Please don't respond with something along the lines of looking pretty.

  7. #7
    RGA
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    Ohh there are lots of technical reasons for slim lines being adopted for improving a number of specific things - throwing the baby out with the bathwater though isn't an upgrade.

    There is no question that break-in is largely a factor of our ears breaking in or getting used to the speakers. Current speakers are brighter than older ones was the main point - and I'm not using brighter negatively here it's just a lot of folks had those 3inch paper tweeters - people owned crappy speakers - you go to something much better like even a cheap Paradigm Atom and it's going to take a bit to get used to that sound. I am thinking of spekaers not that old like the Cerwin Vega D9 very popular around here - that speaker had a thunderous fat bass that rumbled and was bloomy - comparable stuff was all over the place in the late 80s. Then come the Totem and other slim lines which were not at all bloomy nor did they have the rumbly sound - ie better focus on soundstage and imaging. On the other hand the macrodynamics dissapeared and when the volume went up the speakers often fold up like a cheap tent. Microdynamics are poor as well and the need to turn it up to be satisfied with the results - keep turning it up and the speaker can't do it.

    And slim - also so buyers can fit more speakers into their smaller and smaller apartments. It's style first sound second and then back justified with lingo. (ie; marketing engineering)

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    Lightbulb Slim lines and dynamics

    RGA,

    Some of your comments never seize to amaze., so a speaker needs to be wide to have good dynamics. Playing along, all those slim lines with massive 10 inchers, where will they fit in your theory ?

  9. #9
    RGA
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    TAH

    Sorry TAH of course there are some exceptions the Dynaudios seem to get beyond it for the most part. Most of the ones I speak of relate to ~6 inch drivers - indeed it may ultimately be that aspect rather than the slim line.

    Basically I'm thinking of specifc speakers - Totem slim lines, Paradigm, Energy, Polk, some B&W's, PSB, etc. Invariably I always end up seeking to turn UP the speaker in order to get it to begin to sound as though I'm getting what I know is on the disc. some Elecctrostats gave me new info as to what was being missed by most of these boxed speakers.

    So certainly I don't want to lump them ALL in together - just lump the ones I've heard - I'm really excited because I plan to go to next year's CES and I can start to hear the non by the numbers speaker lines so I can get a hold of cutting edge slim lines that may impress me - just so long as they can be driven with 9 watts to loud levels with crystal clear treble and powerful bass and not have to blame the amp for running out of power and claim that the AMP doesn't have bass when it's the ineficient speaker I will be happy as a pig in...

    I understand even the danes while 4ohm are not too hard to drive so I would be very interested to see a combo - somene here uses Jolida successfully so that might change my comment about the Dane 42 needing lots of power.

    Generally when people start saying you need to use a more powerful amp - that ois cloaked for your spekaer sucks. 50 Quality watts should drive 99% of speakers to deafening levels with aplomb.

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    RGA, I think that pretty much sums it up. I'm beginning to realize how trends, reviews, and marketing are a bunch of BS (most of the time).

    I heard a pair of Maggie 1.6's today and that experience just summed up what I've been thinking for some time now - most speakers do the same mediocre thing to music and they have to rely on turd polishing their designs with heavy marketing. I liked the Maggies - not enough to buy, but in a lot of ways they outperform any box speaker that I've heard in that price range. The only exceptions are time coherent designs (haven't heard AN yet). I'm sticking with my Ohm Walsh series, they do a lot of what the Maggies do (some things better), and can fit in my apartment.

    Getting back on subject, as far as break-in, Ohm allows a 4 month return policy, so the break in thing is not an issue. I think I noticed a difference in sound over time (I've had them for about two months). Because the main driver covers all of the way up to 8k, they sounded pretty rolled off at first. Also, the bass seems to have filled out a little more too. So yeah, I'd say speakers need some time to break in.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular 46minaudio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA

    However I suspect the real reason for break in was for people who owned 1970's muffled speakers that went out into shops and heard MANY not ALL speakers usiung metal tweeters that have a sizzle quality to the treble - ie they soudn very bright compared to the old ones the person was used to listening to for the last 20 years. When yuo're used to something anything else can sound wrong at first - we train ourselves.
    Thats a crock of **** and you know it..You must be quoting peter again...

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    - slim lines typically don't fill rooms with bass .
    So with this logic if you put the woofer on your ANs on the narrow side the bass would not fill the room...

  12. #12
    What, me worry? piece-it pete's Avatar
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    Although most everyone's in agreement, I'll add that I refoam drivers all the time and there is absolutly a break in period. If you're in a hurry you can wire them out of phase, put the faces close together and run white noise through them for a day or two at moderate levels.

    I'm with RGA on the ear break in, too, from my experience. Your "in the middle" comment rings true to me.

    Don't know about the thin speaks, though. I hope not, to fit the new room and happify the SO it looks like I'm going that way!

    Pete
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  13. #13
    RGA
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    pete

    my speakers use foam surrounds - some recommend 500 hours for mine. I did not want imply break in does not exist - just that there's more to it psychologically. And of course not all speakers use foam.

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    How long does break in take? Simple answer.

    Until either the speaker sounds good or just before the return period expires.

    If, by the time the return period expirition date approaches, if they don't sound good, they never will. In spite of what others say about how good they are, ditch 'em. It's your ears listening to 'em, not theirs.

    Question. After a speaker goes through "breakin", is it "broken"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Ohh there are lots of technical reasons for slim lines being adopted for improving a number of specific things - throwing the baby out with the bathwater though isn't an upgrade.
    Could you be more vague?


    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Then come the Totem and other slim lines which were not at all bloomy nor did they have the rumbly sound - ie better focus on soundstage and imaging. On the other hand the macrodynamics dissapeared and when the volume went up the speakers often fold up like a cheap tent. Microdynamics are poor as well and the need to turn it up to be satisfied with the results - keep turning it up and the speaker can't do it.

    And slim - also so buyers can fit more speakers into their smaller and smaller apartments. It's style first sound second and then back justified with lingo. (ie; marketing engineering)
    The notion of fitting more speakers into a room is probably the most rediculous statement you've made to date. In fact, I think many of us would prefer corner placement, with speakers a bit closer to the walls than protruding into the room, strictly from an esthetics point of view. Speakers went slim long before people got into home theater, and quite honestly, if a few more inches one way or another presented a problem, the speaker is too big for the room anyway.

    You'll have adequately define what you mean by "macrodynamics" and "microdynamics" so I can understand which traits specifically you are referring too...I've heard these terms used more than a few ways now...

    Having listened to many of Totem speakers, I can tell quite quickly though you are just wrong about their crapping out at higher volumes though, Totems are well suited to any volume within their design capacities.
    The fact that you lump Totem in with other "slim line" designs proves your ignorance. You obviously know nothing of the design philosophy of Totems cabinets...start reading up on pseudo-isobarik loading, then come back and tell me they are anything like other "slim line" cabinets.

    It's not right for you to wrongly imply that wider baffle designs are better in anyway. They aren't, the characterstics you are hearing and enjoying in your AN speakers have so much more to do with the crossover design, the separation between drivers, and the drivers themselves than the wide box cabinets. In fact, having heard Fostex drivers in golden rule cabinets, I would now happily argue that the AN's sound good IN SPITE of the cabinetry.

    I'd invite you to read any books by, and listen to any speakers designed by, Joe D'Appolito...Including some that use the same (and similar) Fostex or Seas drivers you can find in AN speakers.

    Considering the impact the cabinet has, and on WHICH FREQUENCIES it actually it actually affects differently as the cabinet dimensions change, your slim line/fat box arguments are unsubstantiated by anything real, other than the propoganda marketing efforts of Peter Q and co.

  16. #16
    RGA
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    Kex

    It is supported in the listening and it always has been. You are correct that I have made an assumption between slim line fat box(and I refer to one speaker maker in the fat box camp because cerwin vega is a fat box too). Can it be a host of "other " reasons coupled with the fat box as you say better crossovers, maye it is the larger spacing between drivers(which according to the "industry" is a bad idea), the non curved corners (which according to the "industry" is a bad idea). I use the term slim because that;s the way they look - deeper than they are wide.

    The Totem Model One lacks presence in a small room and certainly in a big one - for half the price the B&W CDM 2SE was easily more lively entertaining and musical - the Model one sound like someone threw a wet blanket over it. It's a fine speaker but not for the money. WHich is a problem with every Totem speaker. The Arro and Staff compared to Energy Veritas A/B'd presented a notable lack in the midrange - considering the drivers are so close they sure don't sound as one.

    Macrodynamics - large scale dynamics - impact - microdynamics the small scale dynamics going on behind or in the background the individual brush on a cymbal - Totem seems to miss large chunks of what was on the disc.

    A lot of new apartments with fireplaces don't have accessible normal corners - the free standing design for current speakers I don't get - I can read the advertising hype but the sound is what matters.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Kex

    It is supported in the listening and it always has been.
    I've got to disagree with you here...I listen to the same speakers you do, yet I hear completely different things. Totem speakers are far better sounding than you claim, even at their price points, some of which I argue are value leaders (the Arro is alot cheaper here in NB than any of the Veritas, and it's midrange sounds quite a bit more natural and smooth to me than my Studio 40's or the Verita 2.2's, and is easily as competitive in the other areas, but alot cheaper The Mani is also another incredible value IMO. Not a huge fan of the Sttaf.

    And this is honestly what baffles me...I cannot speak for many other posters, but as someone who has heard several AN models (some quite often) I feel quite familiar with their offerings, and I am baffled how you can listen to some other speakers I like, the Totem Mani for example, and yet arrive at the conclusions you have then go home and listen to the AN K's or the AN E's at a store and not hear the obvious colourations in the bass or higher frequencies that AN's are noted for. Personal preference, I can accept, but your justifications I cannot, especially when I hear the opposite of what you say.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Can it be a host of "other " reasons coupled with the fat box as you say better crossovers, maye it is the larger spacing between drivers(which according to the "industry" is a bad idea), the non curved corners (which according to the "industry" is a bad idea). I use the term slim because that;s the way they look - deeper than they are wide. .
    In the crossovers? Yes, very much so. The larger spacing? Easily compensated for in the crossover (though I'm of the opinion it's better to not have to compensate at all), this isn't really a big deal at all though, not sure who ever implied it was.
    And there's been no conclusive evidence that rounded corners add any audible benefits, I'm not sure who's coined that as a "bad idea"...alot of designers prefer it, does AN actually market that?

    Truth is AN does pretty much what I'd expect anybody to do with the quality drivers they have. It's much easier to start with a high quality speaker, launch it into a box and make it sound good than to start with $12 woofer, an $9 tweeter, stuff it into particle board, and make it sound better than an alarm clock radio for under $250. I think AN takes too much credit for the great Fostex woofers they use.
    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Macrodynamics - large scale dynamics - impact - microdynamics the small scale dynamics going on behind or in the background the individual brush on a cymbal - Totem seems to miss large chunks of what was on the disc..
    What disc? I've demoed the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Beethoven's 5th by Kleiber on Totem, one of the most detailed and demanding recording ever, always with me when I enter a store - there's no missed dynamics coming out of ANY of Totem's speakers, some are more limited than others, but no chunks are missing. Instead you are hearing colourations of what never was in the AN's and wondering why it's not there on a speaker with a more faithful playback. Big difference.

  18. #18
    What, me worry? piece-it pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    pete

    my speakers use foam surrounds - some recommend 500 hours for mine. I did not want imply break in does not exist - just that there's more to it psychologically. And of course not all speakers use foam.
    Whoops - my brain to words function must be out of whack again - I was dropped repeatedly as a baby - and as an adult .

    I said the bit about foam breakin as a general statement. I agree with you about the ear breakin, from my experience, particularly when I first hooked up a pair of maggies - it was almost like my ears/brain (there's that pesky brain again) were confused for a bit.

    Now I leave new equipment in my system through at least a couple of listening sessions before passing judement on them.

    Pete
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  19. #19
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I've got to disagree with you here...I listen to the same speakers you do, yet I hear completely different things. Totem speakers are far better sounding than you claim, even at their price points, some of which I argue are value leaders (the Arro is alot cheaper here in NB than any of the Veritas, and it's midrange sounds quite a bit more natural and smooth to me than my Studio 40's or the Verita 2.2's, and is easily as competitive in the other areas, but alot cheaper The Mani is also another incredible value IMO. Not a huge fan of the Sttaf.
    Well I won;t disagree that people will hear it differently - I did an A/B with the Totem arro against an admittedly more expensive speaker - the Arro was hurting in the midrange against it - doesn't have particularly great bass - and you know it ain't my cup of tea - I am not a huge fan of the 40 either but I would probably take it over the Arro.

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    And this is honestly what baffles me...I cannot speak for many other posters, but as someone who has heard several AN models (some quite often) I feel quite familiar with their offerings, and I am baffled how you can listen to some other speakers I like, the Totem Mani for example, and yet arrive at the conclusions you have then go home and listen to the AN K's or the AN E's at a store and not hear the obvious colourations in the bass or higher frequencies that AN's are noted for. Personal preference, I can accept, but your justifications I cannot, especially when I hear the opposite of what you say.
    Others' notes I'm not really interested in because others' notes are invaruiably with others' amplification and cd playback - admittedly to the "it all sounds alike" crowd i put those reservations back upon the front end and not the speaker. i have heard the AN E and K with Rotel and Teac front ends - and if that had been my first audition it would not have been overly impressive with a slight treble zing and a flat two dimensionality to the proceedings - and the bass was heavy err I guess a bit as some might call boxy on the E. That is utterly non-existant with the OTO and the 3.1 however. And a teacher in my town heard the E and traded in his 5 year old Mani-2's...when I was in Soundhounds he simply said it was no comparison and he's not looked back yet. Soundhounds can't sell Totem because most tend to agree - the difference is hearing it in the same room with the same gear - rooms and equipment still have a function in the sound you get. My main issue with reviews is that even with the best intentions there is no mention of system synergy. Consider this paradox - if one amplifier can sound better than another amplifier then it also must sound "different" from the other amplifier. If the amplifier sounds different then it will sound different for different speakers - which as we all know speakers sound different from other speakers. So to judge a speaker fairly is a difficult trick indeed because you MUST take the amplifier and source to task as possibly being a poor match - reviewers don't mention this - so does that then mean the amplifier and source has no effect? Ahh but that's not what those same reviewers say. And then there is the disc itself - all of which Peter describes in Audio Hell.

    This is the exact same kinda stuff i read all the time - well the OTO has a rolled off treble and runs out of bass - well no kidding the reviewer complained but he was using a Thiel loudspeaker - the AN was coloured yeah maybe you should try somehting other than the Rotel - what a world of difference it makes - so is it the SS device, is it the speaker - well if it doesn't occur with the OTO or the Meishu but it's a problem with the Rotel Teac well I think i know where the colouration is - but then maybe not because other highly resolving systems may be happy to accomodate that Rotel - and then we have not even got into the speakers positioning - and some will argue for cables.

    I have been listening to Audio Note gear for a few years now in stores and in my home and geenrally always with pretty good gear or AN gear - all the way up the lines and to competitors for 15 years - I don't buy it - my personal opinion is that companies damp speakers heavily to get rid of a kind of sound that they think is undesirable - and with doing that they also take out sound I want to hear. AN if we go by this logic leaves out the damping so you get the sound you want to hear - but some will say you also get some sound you don't want to hear. The totems sound thin and nasal in the vocal band - and I felt that way before I had ever heard of Audio Note speakers and this was a HUGE reason when i first heard them I was drawn in - they don't sound constipated and on instruments especially acoustic piano or cello they both have the full decay and woody intrument resonance - that is something ALL Totems, Paradigms and B&W's I have heard LACK. I can't imagine how anyone can hear that instrument decay as a colouration. And if it were distortion it would show up in the distortion and frequency response graphs - but it does not since the distortion is under 1% across the entire audible band at 90db tested. That is inaudible. The frequency response is better off axis than it is on axis and never dips out of the standard +/-3db figutre from 25hz-20khz.

    Still I believe Peter's philosophy holds up on the comparison by contrast where it is less evident on others - On Phil Collins' But Seriously album - somehting not overly tricky I have heard happenings on these kinds of discs that exists in space that Totem's Arro completely shuts it in to the point where i'm straining to make out exactly hat is happening with the backing band. There is an audible step similar to the B&W's. Then again my above notation could be true of these speakes in that it could be a bad match of equipment - so that step or brightness or whatever other issues i have may ALSO have to do with the SS amplifier or source etc - But thn Totem should tell me what amplifier and cd pllayer works the best with their speaker - unless they think they all sound the same!

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    In the crossovers? Yes, very much so. The larger spacing? Easily compensated for in the crossover (though I'm of the opinion it's better to not have to compensate at all), this isn't really a big deal at all though, not sure who ever implied it was.
    And there's been no conclusive evidence that rounded corners add any audible benefits, I'm not sure who's coined that as a "bad idea"...alot of designers prefer it, does AN actually market that?
    I first read this in UHF magazine in the early 1990s when they were touting the Totem Model One! The idea is that rounded corners reduce standing waves and that one should avoid hard corners or rectangualr or square boxes - it's been in manufacturers literature and mention in other magazines I have purchased over the years as well. AN doesn't mention it. WHy do you think when I never wanted to listen to Audio Note in the first place - virtually everything they do is anti-everything I have read is supposed to be the case. Obviously there was no conclusive evidence because there cannot be in this field on subjective things. Maybe that is part of the reason AN impressed me so much - they managed to sound better to my ear despite doing everything that every other company doesn't say is correct - and because of that I tend to put more stoock into what Peter has to say - even if at times it sounds to me a bit out there. I give him more benefit of the doubt because his stuff in the same rooms kick the snot out of the other guys stuff. The other 5 guys all have basically the exact same approach to sound. If you think it's good or right you don't need Audio Note or anything else - if a person is like me and hears them the way I hear them - well then enter AN and others - of course that is subjective there is no shame in that.

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Truth is AN does pretty much what I'd expect anybody to do with the quality drivers they have. It's much easier to start with a high quality speaker, launch it into a box and make it sound good than to start with $12 woofer, an $9 tweeter, stuff it into particle board, and make it sound better than an alarm clock radio for under $250. I think AN takes too much credit for the great Fostex woofers they use.
    First of all AN is the one that came up with what they want - SEAS makes the woofer for AN but this is not some off the shelf driver that SEAS tweaks to AN spec - if AN didn't buy them the driver would not exist - and this goes for a lot of other componants they purchase - AN basically kept black gate in business all by themselves buying over 80% of what Black Gate put out - there are also certain tubes AN uses that no one else uses.

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    What disc? I've demoed the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Beethoven's 5th by Kleiber on Totem, one of the most detailed and demanding recording ever, always with me when I enter a store - there's no missed dynamics coming out of ANY of Totem's speakers, some are more limited than others, but no chunks are missing. Instead you are hearing colourations of what never was in the AN's and wondering why it's not there on a speaker with a more faithful playback. Big difference.
    Once again this is not going to go anywhere because I don't buy it. The Totem is not responding to what is on the recording because it isn't fast enough to respond to it. This a guess but the Model One versus the CDM 2SE had the latter present a better out of box presentation with drum kicks deep fast and tight - the Totem was restrained small and lacked the big scale dynamics of the disc I had brought - this was a long while ago but it was striking. The Model one had a smoother treble and was not as sloppy but there is no question that I would take the 2SE.

    And it should be noted that I'm not downing the Totems - like Castle I know why people like this kind of sound - if it's the kind of sound you like - then that's all that matters - and if you perceive the AN as presenting colour while I perceive it as instrumental decay then hey it's your money in the end and the perception that matters is your own since you're the one who has to listen to it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    First of all AN is the one that came up with what they want - SEAS makes the woofer for AN but this is not some off the shelf driver that SEAS tweaks to AN spec - if AN didn't buy them the driver would not exist - and this goes for a lot of other componants they purchase - AN basically kept black gate in business all by themselves buying over 80% of what Black Gate put out - there are also certain tubes AN uses that no one else uses.
    I won't argue the origins of the woofer/tweeter designs of AN with you because I don't exactly know their history. I don't really care, but, I do know there are slightly "modified" or "similar" versions of commercially offered products now, and I suspect they always were, whether SEAS ripped-off AN or vice-versa doesn't matter to me. AN wouldn't be the first company to have their driver designed stolen by the guys that made it. Especially if they saw something good in it. If memory serves though, AN does use a stock Fostex driver as well, my guess is the tweeter since you've corrected me that AN uses a SEAS woofer...The origin of the drivers wasn't my point though, the fact that they are high quality drivers to start with was.

    RGA, I'm not arguing the merits of AN's speakers, don't for one minute think I don't really like them, I do, alot. I'm only arguing the unsubstantiated arguments that you, and probably Peter and the rest of the AN fan club, pass off as reasons for their performance. Whether it's "slim-line" designs, metal tweeters, dampening, etc, I really don't think you have a grasp of the fundamentals to comment specifically as to why you like AN more than other speakers, or rather, what you perceive as flaws or detriments in other speakers. It's much harder to screw up a good driver than to make a cheap driver sound good, IMO. A simple crossover, half-decent cabinet, and standard baffle placement will still sound okay except for a few nuances because the bulk of the midrange, bass, and high frequencies are not impacted substantially by the other factors.

    If I used an anology with cars, I'd argue it's easier to start with a big-block V8 to get 300HP than 2.2L, 4 cylinder engine, then add RAM air intake, turbo chargers, lock-up torque converters, etc, to acheive the same performance. I think you can accept this point.

    And taking Peter's word as gospel is dangerous as he's been proven to "exaggerate" and get carried away often enough when promoting his own beliefs that it's sometimes hard to separate the good from the bad. It's easy to believe what you want to believe. I think I tend to buy into some of his ideas about his own speakers, but few of his opinions about others. Why even bother with the negative adverstisement?

    The fat box is plagued with a few problems, phase, resonance, colourations, etc, all of which need to be corrected, I would argue at an added expense. Sometimes you can ignore these altogether and still have a pretty decent sounding speaker. Which is fine, if the end result is competitive with other offerings, which I feel AN speakers are for the most part...competitive.
    I would almost always start with a better quality driver and a sturdy, well constructed cabinet as AN has done, than cheap drivers and a particle board box. I shudder to think how horrible Paradigm's entry level drivers would sound in a particle board fat box design...yikes. But at some point the crossover, cabinet etc must employ some corrective measures to fine tune the sound.

    To me, AN's lower-end speakers, the AX's and even the AN K are just not good speakers for the money...Well, the K isn't bad but I find it lacks a certain tonality that does Blues and Rock music (electric guitar heavy) credit. Not so with the J or E's I've heard, different crossover I assume. Other than a boxy ish bass (which really isn't as boxy as some would suggest) and some issues where the tweeter takes over from the woofer, I don't mind it, but I don't think the x's sound good at all. The J and various E's however are "cost no object" designs. At least compared to the way I think Paradigm makes speakers, that is, with a price range and market in mind. This serves AN well. If AN offered all their speakers in Kit form (forgive me if they now do), you'd be hard pressed to top them for the money, no doubt.

    I'm not sure why the rounded edge boxes was ever considered a benefit. If your box dimensions are unequal, you shouldn't have a problem with standing waves...if it was perfectly round, that wouldn't be good either. Rectangles are fine, and I would thing structurally more solid from a construction point of view.

    As for instrument decay, well, that's a bad terminology to use. If the decay creates a sound, it is captured by the recording, it is reproduced by the speaker, period. Dampening the box really won't hurt this presentation, but not dampening could often cause phase cancellation, especially in the lower dynamics of instrument decays. Not that I'm in favor of excessive dampening -a bit behind the woofer on the back wall is usually enough. The woofers and tweeters do not decide which occurances of frequenceis they will playback at which level. One test I have been personally shown that demonstrates some undesireable colourations on the AN E's is is to listen to some music heavy on nylon string guitars. Try on your AN J's, I'd be curious to hear your honest impression. Most decay on stringed instruments from pianos to guitars, cellos, and even on brass instruments is controlled by the musician through sustain or compression techniques and I've heard few speakers that can be decent at the attack while simultaneously being bad at the decay.

    To me this intentional colouration is synonymous with DSP "Jazz Halls" and the likes, some like it, they can sound good, but they miss as often as they hit.

  21. #21
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    To answer the org question,dont blast them for a few hours and then its good to go. Its alot more simply then most the above posters try to make it out to be,really.
    Look & Listen

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    "The totems sound thin and nasal in the vocal band - and I felt that way before I had ever heard of Audio Note speakers and this was a HUGE reason when i first heard them I was drawn in - they don't sound constipated and on instruments especially acoustic piano or cello they both have the full decay and woody intrument resonance - that is something ALL Totems, Paradigms and B&W's I have heard LACK".

    Yes!! I'm amazed at the popularity of those speakers - utterly uninvolving.

    "If I used an anology with cars, I'd argue it's easier to start with a big-block V8 to get 300HP than 2.2L, 4 cylinder engine, then add RAM air intake, turbo chargers, lock-up torque converters, etc, to acheive the same performance."

    I like to use that analogy too! However, when one is talking about speakers, putting band-aids on most designs discussed here, the "same performance" is NOT achieved! For example, once you mess with the time domain, it's a real uphill battle (time to spend some money) to try and get it right.

  23. #23
    Forum Regular 46minaudio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Well I won;t disagree that people will hear it differently - I did an A/B with the Totem arro against an admittedly more expensive speaker - the Arro was hurting in the midrange against it - doesn't have particularly great bass - and you know it ain't my cup of tea - I am not a huge fan of the 40 either but I would probably take it over the Arro.



    Others' notes I'm not really interested in because others' notes are invaruiably with others' amplification and cd playback - admittedly to the "it all sounds alike" crowd i put those reservations back upon the front end and not the speaker. i have heard the AN E and K with Rotel and Teac front ends - and if that had been my first audition it would not have been overly impressive with a slight treble zing and a flat two dimensionality to the proceedings - and the bass was heavy err I guess a bit as some might call boxy on the E. That is utterly non-existant with the OTO and the 3.1 however. And a teacher in my town heard the E and traded in his 5 year old Mani-2's...when I was in Soundhounds he simply said it was no comparison and he's not looked back yet. Soundhounds can't sell Totem because most tend to agree - the difference is hearing it in the same room with the same gear - rooms and equipment still have a function in the sound you get. My main issue with reviews is that even with the best intentions there is no mention of system synergy. Consider this paradox - if one amplifier can sound better than another amplifier then it also must sound "different" from the other amplifier. If the amplifier sounds different then it will sound different for different speakers - which as we all know speakers sound different from other speakers. So to judge a speaker fairly is a difficult trick indeed because you MUST take the amplifier and source to task as possibly being a poor match - reviewers don't mention this - so does that then mean the amplifier and source has no effect? Ahh but that's not what those same reviewers say. And then there is the disc itself - all of which Peter describes in Audio Hell.

    This is the exact same kinda stuff i read all the time - well the OTO has a rolled off treble and runs out of bass - well no kidding the reviewer complained but he was using a Thiel loudspeaker - the AN was coloured yeah maybe you should try somehting other than the Rotel - what a world of difference it makes - so is it the SS device, is it the speaker - well if it doesn't occur with the OTO or the Meishu but it's a problem with the Rotel Teac well I think i know where the colouration is - but then maybe not because other highly resolving systems may be happy to accomodate that Rotel - and then we have not even got into the speakers positioning - and some will argue for cables.

    I have been listening to Audio Note gear for a few years now in stores and in my home and geenrally always with pretty good gear or AN gear - all the way up the lines and to competitors for 15 years - I don't buy it - my personal opinion is that companies damp speakers heavily to get rid of a kind of sound that they think is undesirable - and with doing that they also take out sound I want to hear. AN if we go by this logic leaves out the damping so you get the sound you want to hear - but some will say you also get some sound you don't want to hear. The totems sound thin and nasal in the vocal band - and I felt that way before I had ever heard of Audio Note speakers and this was a HUGE reason when i first heard them I was drawn in - they don't sound constipated and on instruments especially acoustic piano or cello they both have the full decay and woody intrument resonance - that is something ALL Totems, Paradigms and B&W's I have heard LACK. I can't imagine how anyone can hear that instrument decay as a colouration. And if it were distortion it would show up in the distortion and frequency response graphs - but it does not since the distortion is under 1% across the entire audible band at 90db tested. That is inaudible. The frequency response is better off axis than it is on axis and never dips out of the standard +/-3db figutre from 25hz-20khz.

    Still I believe Peter's philosophy holds up on the comparison by contrast where it is less evident on others - On Phil Collins' But Seriously album - somehting not overly tricky I have heard happenings on these kinds of discs that exists in space that Totem's Arro completely shuts it in to the point where i'm straining to make out exactly hat is happening with the backing band. There is an audible step similar to the B&W's. Then again my above notation could be true of these speakes in that it could be a bad match of equipment - so that step or brightness or whatever other issues i have may ALSO have to do with the SS amplifier or source etc - But thn Totem should tell me what amplifier and cd pllayer works the best with their speaker - unless they think they all sound the same!



    I first read this in UHF magazine in the early 1990s when they were touting the Totem Model One! The idea is that rounded corners reduce standing waves and that one should avoid hard corners or rectangualr or square boxes - it's been in manufacturers literature and mention in other magazines I have purchased over the years as well. AN doesn't mention it. WHy do you think when I never wanted to listen to Audio Note in the first place - virtually everything they do is anti-everything I have read is supposed to be the case. Obviously there was no conclusive evidence because there cannot be in this field on subjective things. Maybe that is part of the reason AN impressed me so much - they managed to sound better to my ear despite doing everything that every other company doesn't say is correct - and because of that I tend to put more stoock into what Peter has to say - even if at times it sounds to me a bit out there. I give him more benefit of the doubt because his stuff in the same rooms kick the snot out of the other guys stuff. The other 5 guys all have basically the exact same approach to sound. If you think it's good or right you don't need Audio Note or anything else - if a person is like me and hears them the way I hear them - well then enter AN and others - of course that is subjective there is no shame in that.



    First of all AN is the one that came up with what they want - SEAS makes the woofer for AN but this is not some off the shelf driver that SEAS tweaks to AN spec - if AN didn't buy them the driver would not exist - and this goes for a lot of other componants they purchase - AN basically kept black gate in business all by themselves buying over 80% of what Black Gate put out - there are also certain tubes AN uses that no one else uses.



    Once again this is not going to go anywhere because I don't buy it. The Totem is not responding to what is on the recording because it isn't fast enough to respond to it. This a guess but the Model One versus the CDM 2SE had the latter present a better out of box presentation with drum kicks deep fast and tight - the Totem was restrained small and lacked the big scale dynamics of the disc I had brought - this was a long while ago but it was striking. The Model one had a smoother treble and was not as sloppy but there is no question that I would take the 2SE.

    And it should be noted that I'm not downing the Totems - like Castle I know why people like this kind of sound - if it's the kind of sound you like - then that's all that matters - and if you perceive the AN as presenting colour while I perceive it as instrumental decay then hey it's your money in the end and the perception that matters is your own since you're the one who has to listen to it.
    Again and Again on and on.RGA hits us with another AN advertisment..I thought this was about the myth of speaker breakin..Yet RGA turns this topic(and just about every other) into a AN ADD...Shill

  24. #24
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 46minaudio
    Again and Again on and on.RGA hits us with another AN advertisment..I thought this was about the myth of speaker breakin..Yet RGA turns this topic(and just about every other) into a AN ADD...Shill
    Kinda seems that way, doesn't it?

    The length and sonic nature of breakin effects varies greatly. I'm told my new Sound Labs speakers will initially sound dark and somewhat bass heavy and will take a couple hundred hours before they are sounding optimum. I'm just planning on playin' them a bunch!

    rw

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    Topic: Yes most of us agree speakers require a break in period due to thier moving parts. Materials change form over time from movement. Energy on a flexible material can eventually modify the material. Movement will generally result in friction that will be given off as heat which over time can modify the materials properties, ever so slightly.

    As far as the psychological aspects. Until someone performs some double blind control tests of brand new speakers versus speakers with a few hundred hours, we will not know the answer. I've never seen measureable experiments performed that were posted on this board. In fact if I was running the experiment, I might even take the brand new speakers and add dust and scratches on the side to make them appear older just to get better results. I'm sure a few people on this board would be predetermined to always pick the older looking speaker as the better sounding rather then the one that is actually broken in.

    Nonetheless it would be a facinating experiment and I wish someone would do it already so I don't have to see this debate on every speaker thread. There are many published experiments on the phenomenon known as habitulation - which is closely related. That's the effect of sitting in the room with a fan and after a few hours you no longer realize it's on and tend to tune it out.

    habitulation - a form of nonassociative learning characterized by a decrease in responsiveness upon repeated exposure to a stimulus.
    -------------------------------------
    Now the second topic on this board, various speaker qualities:

    I was in the market for a set of affordable and quality bookshelf type speakers for my bedroom. I went to In Living Stereo (http://www.inlivingstereo.com) for a listen to the Totem Acoustic's, Triangle Titus ES (Brand new model this month) & Opera. In living Stereo is apparently the exclusive dealer of these three brands in Manhattan.

    I was able to listen to three different Totem's versus the new Triangle Titus. They had everything on the same source and NAD receiver. It was no comparison, the Triangle put the Totem's to shame. The Totem's were thin in character, dry and were not nearly as open as the Triangles. The Triangles really showed thier true colors when asked to perform some piano, saxaphone or jazz. With Diana Kroll, no doubt once again the Triangles excelled in the female vocals.

    To be quite honest I was expecting so much more from the Totem's from all I read. There may be some truth to the design philosophy of Triangle that if you want to get the sound out of the box then produce a thinner box. The thick housing of the Totems seemed to trap some of the sound in the box. I did find a slight flaw in the new Titus that I felt they were trying to do perhaps to much in the midrange dynamics, but I still love that open and airy & refined signature sound.

    Next the dealer played for me, in the reference room a pair of $3,000 Opera Speakers. WOW, I have never heard a bookshelf speaker in my life that could compare. They filled the room with ease and were percise on every note. Bass was tight and controlled. A beautiful presentation of the source with a flat sound wall with lots of personality. I really can't describe the sound, all I can say it was something special.

    In the end I ended up finding a dealer on Audiogon that still had a pair of the Titas 202's for $420 bucks. I'm a big fan of the highly regarded Titus 202's. I don't understand why manufactures has to constantly mess with a good thing. Do they actually think they can improve the Titus from a Class B speaker to a Class A? Highly unlikely in that price range - I just don't see stereophile ever giving this honor to a Sub $1k speaker. Perhaps Triangle should of just left the line alone or maybe they's should do what Coke did and bring back Coke classic.
    ------------------------
    Bottom line: If the speakers don't sound good the first week, they will sound worse a year for now, and will eventually end up on audiogon...Just my 2 cents.
    Last edited by astravitz; 02-10-2005 at 10:17 PM.

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