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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Rethinking speakers

    Sunday evening I had the pleasure of attending a concert and the Russian National Orchestra was performing. The music was incredible and I am familiar with the Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2" but heard for the first time Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 4". While listening to the music I thought about some of my stereo system choices.

    I have always enjoyed speakers with very good imaging. After this concert I have been thinking I might enjoy a pair of speakers with a more omni-directional radiation pattern. The Ohm Walsh speakers, The Shahinian Obelisks and even the Bose 901's crossed my mind.

    What I was wondering is does anyone have any suggestions or experience with omni speakers? I am only interested in a stereo pair. Having never shopped for any I am not aware what all may be out there in the speaker market.

    After the concert I played the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Lang Lang on piano. I was pleased but knew it was no live performance but this is the most listenable system I have owned. In the past I found it hard to listen to the stereo with the memory of the live performance.
    JohnMichael
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  2. #2
    RGA
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    I would suggest you look into the 360degree MBL loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=705

    I am not entirely convinced this is the only option - corner loaded speakers do the same thing like mine or from companies like Trenner and Freidl's RA Box or "Classic Audio" or even perhaps Allison if they're still around. They are further away from the listening position and "typically" the secondary reflected waves follows the initial wave at such a speed that no one can hear it - provided it has a very good stereo fill in the center (some do some don't) then you will have a giant stage without the typical "holes" you get from traditional free standing designs. Id well designed you get less room related issues as well - and of course added bass and sensitivity.

    If the speaker also has a wide listening window then directionality is not an issue either if the design is competent.

    Other options if corners are not an option would be the Even the terrific Gallo 3.5 which has a 180degree window with its unique curved tweeter. I am less thrilled by speakers using rear firing tweeters or the likes of Bose because they serve to be ambiance generators and it sounds cool for awhile but the drawbacks are plenty.

    The MBL kind of designs may be your best option but they're very expensive and they suffer in other areas - front to back dynamics just isn't there - so while they sounded quite spectacular on a stage and listening window front there wasn't the natural drive of instruments that you would get from say a drum set or stand up bass or a trumpet. In other words rather than instruments projecting forward in a believable way like a trumpet player on stage - you get this sort of stayed flat presentation. On the flip side to that though you get a greater sense of the stage - and you can pretty much sit or walk anywhere in your room and get a very similar effect. Pretty cool actually!

    I didn't get the pricing in the MBL room unfortunately so I don't have any idea of how much those kinds of speakers run - but MBL is far from cheap. Probably $50K+ is what I am guessing.

    The other thing to consider about speakers like the Bose 901 is that while they do create massive stages - they create massive stages for everything whether they have them or not. IMO they're not even remotely accurate to the recording - they have a signature "shaped" sound and they funnel all music through that "Shape" - ie forcing the triangle or the circle or the rectangle through the "square" - some other designs I feel do pretty much the same thing.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    I would suggest you look into the 360degree MBL loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=705
    You sure AN don't make an omni-directional speaker?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    I would suggest you look into the 360degree MBL loudspeakers http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=705

    I am not entirely convinced this is the only option - corner loaded speakers do the same thing like mine or from companies like Trenner and Freidl's RA Box or "Classic Audio" or even perhaps Allison if they're still around. They are further away from the listening position and "typically" the secondary reflected waves follows the initial wave at such a speed that no one can hear it - provided it has a very good stereo fill in the center (some do some don't) then you will have a giant stage without the typical "holes" you get from traditional free standing designs. Id well designed you get less room related issues as well - and of course added bass and sensitivity.

    If the speaker also has a wide listening window then directionality is not an issue either if the design is competent.

    Other options if corners are not an option would be the Even the terrific Gallo 3.5 which has a 180degree window with its unique curved tweeter. I am less thrilled by speakers using rear firing tweeters or the likes of Bose because they serve to be ambiance generators and it sounds cool for awhile but the drawbacks are plenty.

    The MBL kind of designs may be your best option but they're very expensive and they suffer in other areas - front to back dynamics just isn't there - so while they sounded quite spectacular on a stage and listening window front there wasn't the natural drive of instruments that you would get from say a drum set or stand up bass or a trumpet. In other words rather than instruments projecting forward in a believable way like a trumpet player on stage - you get this sort of stayed flat presentation. On the flip side to that though you get a greater sense of the stage - and you can pretty much sit or walk anywhere in your room and get a very similar effect. Pretty cool actually!

    I didn't get the pricing in the MBL room unfortunately so I don't have any idea of how much those kinds of speakers run - but MBL is far from cheap. Probably $50K+ is what I am guessing.

    The other thing to consider about speakers like the Bose 901 is that while they do create massive stages - they create massive stages for everything whether they have them or not. IMO they're not even remotely accurate to the recording - they have a signature "shaped" sound and they funnel all music through that "Shape" - ie forcing the triangle or the circle or the rectangle through the "square" - some other designs I feel do pretty much the same thing.


    Yes sadly the MBL's are out of my price range. The Monitor Audio RS 6's do create a soundfield that is wider than the speakers with some recordings. I guess I am thinking of speakers that would do this for all my classical recordings.

    Bose 901's are not really in contention but an example of some of what I want. I sadly do not have corners available for speakers. I am not as interested in pinpoint imaging as I have been. I want that enveloping sound of a live classical concert from one pair of speakers. I am not concerned about the technology that will get me to that point.

    I will check into some of the other speakers you mention. I am not sure if I will make any changes soon since my rock and jazz recordings sound so good with the MA RS 6's.
    JohnMichael
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  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Sunday evening I had the pleasure of attending a concert and the Russian National Orchestra was performing. The music was incredible and I am familiar with the Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2" but heard for the first time Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 4". While listening to the music I thought about some of my stereo system choices.

    I have always enjoyed speakers with very good imaging. After this concert I have been thinking I might enjoy a pair of speakers with a more omni-directional radiation pattern. The Ohm Walsh speakers, The Shahinian Obelisks and even the Bose 901's crossed my mind.

    What I was wondering is does anyone have any suggestions or experience with omni speakers? I am only interested in a stereo pair. Having never shopped for any I am not aware what all may be out there in the speaker market.

    After the concert I played the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Lang Lang on piano. I was pleased but knew it was no live performance but this is the most listenable system I have owned. In the past I found it hard to listen to the stereo with the memory of the live performance.
    I owned a pair of Ohm F's for several years. In retrospect I regret selling them more than any other stereo component I've owned. They had an expansive soundstage but image pretty well just the same, assuming you kept them 2-3 feet from any wall. And the good news was no sweet spot; you got decent imaging almost anywhere in the room.



    Ohm is still in business selling omni speakers direct online; see HERE. I haven't heard any of their recent designs, though. They offer a home trial of 120 days.

    Mirage, now sadly under the control of Klipsch, is still making various "Omnipolar" models; see HERE.

  6. #6
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    JM, have you listened to any Martin Logan? Although not my favorite match with Krell the ML's do present a very live presence to music.

  7. #7
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Yes sadly the MBL's are out of my price range. The Monitor Audio RS 6's do create a soundfield that is wider than the speakers with some recordings. I guess I am thinking of speakers that would do this for all my classical recordings.

    Bose 901's are not really in contention but an example of some of what I want. I sadly do not have corners available for speakers. I am not as interested in pinpoint imaging as I have been. I want that enveloping sound of a live classical concert from one pair of speakers. I am not concerned about the technology that will get me to that point.

    I will check into some of the other speakers you mention. I am not sure if I will make any changes soon since my rock and jazz recordings sound so good with the MA RS 6's.
    Soundstaging is generally recording dependent and I would rather the stereo reproduce the recording not artificially enhance albums because while a speaker may add some excitement with a big stage to some recordings it could disrupt the good ones.

    Omni-directionals are rarely stayed with in the lower price points. Probably why like other designs there are very few makers of them. They sound unique - they're interesting - but that "difference" while ear grabbing may become unsatisfactory long term.

    The Gallo 3.5 is affordable if you consider $5,995 affordable. My next page of the show report I discuss this speaker a fair bit. I think it has the advantages you seek in that it will create a large stage - and it has a big listening window - wherever I sat on the couch the sound was uniform. It has tremendous bottom end and very clean crisp stop start motion - iron grip timing. My only slight concern was that the treble was a little tipped up but frankly, I know I get beat up for it all the time, I felt it merely shows up the inherent weakness of solid State amplifiers which were being used in the demo. This rooms had less expensive front end kit and it did a disservice - and even then the result was still overall one of the best. They are being very heavily purchased by recording studios and IMO so they should.

    The other issue I have is whether their strength will be in classical - it "should" be good but I auditioned Folk "Loreena McKennit", pop "Sarah McLachlan" Rap and rock in that room. They can play at obscene levels without any compression at all and again iron grip and very deep bass. They were very open - sound was very big and because of the timing and impressive control it should handle any orchestra just fine.

    This is a speaker I didn't think I would like because I didn't love the 3.1 and I don't love the big slam kind of speakers. But this one had the treble pushed back - it was much more coherent top to bottom. It's worth a try http://www.sixmoons.com/audioreviews/gallo9/ref35.html

    The question will be whether they will have the lightness of touch on microdynamics required for the nuanced softer passages - on the macrodynamics and crescendos they will soar. I also happen to think they look cool which certainly doesn't hurt.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    If you want a live sound then consider Magnepan and Martin Logan but they have a totally different presentation. Magnepan rules with Vocal, Acoustic and Classical music. All you need a good preamp and CDP/DAC with a large sound stage and transparency to take full advantage of the speakers virtue's.

    Ohm's are great too!
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  9. #9
    abNORMal IBSTORMIN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    I have always enjoyed speakers with very good imaging.
    I was a fan of pinpoint imaging until I picked up a pair of used Magnepan Tympani 1d speakers. Each speaker is 4' wide x 6' tall and create a very wide soundstage. At first I missed the precise imaging and would switch speakers back and forth. The Maggies sound so detailed and true I fell in love with them and they are permanently in the main system. Live concerts on CD sound incredible. Someone in the "speakers to keep for life" posting called them a "wall of sound". I think it's more than that as they do image out to the sides of the speaker itself. I think the key to the sound is their size and three panel design and none of the newer Maggies are this large. You might look at picking up a pair of these.
    Last edited by IBSTORMIN; 03-02-2010 at 08:24 PM.

  10. #10
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    I heard a 3 piece Gallo set up more toward their entry level and it sounded good on a Jazz sampler. Funny the owner didn't know how they'd do with HT or heavier music material. I'd put them on the list to listen to though.

  11. #11
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    The link below shows a pair of speakers that were never offered commercially as there wasn't enough profit in their simple design. It's the closest to "live" sound I've heard. I just upgraded from the B200 to the new TB drivers. With OB as with a live performance the listening environment is the box.

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/r...roadtour5.html

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    I owned a pair of Ohm F's for several years. In retrospect I regret selling them more than any other stereo component I've owned. They had an expansive soundstage but image pretty well just the same, assuming you kept them 2-3 feet from any wall. And the good news was no sweet spot; you got decent imaging almost anywhere in the room.

    Ohm is still in business selling omni speakers direct online...
    I also had a set of Ohm Fs in the late 1970s that I regretted selling. I've never heard a speaker since that sounded quite the same. About six or seven years ago I auditioned a pair of the then-new Ohms (200 Mk II) for two months. They were quite good, but overall simply didn't have the magic I remembered from the F model. I ended up returning them.

    However, they do have a generous audition policy. You have 4 months to try them out and still return for a refund. (As I recall you pay shipping, but that's only fair in exchange for such a long evaluation period. In my case the current listening room is simply not suitable for a speaker with a strong side and back radiation pattern.)

    If one is truly on a serious quest for an omni speaker, I think you'd do yourself a disservice if you didn't try out one of the Ohms.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    These might be fun to try out. http://www.tektondesign.com/ob45.htm
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Rethinking speakers-ob453-2.jpg  
    JohnMichael
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  14. #14
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlsstl
    I also had a set of Ohm Fs in the late 1970s that I regretted selling. I've never heard a speaker since that sounded quite the same. About six or seven years ago I auditioned a pair of the then-new Ohms (200 Mk II) for two months. They were quite good, but overall simply didn't have the magic I remembered from the F model. I ended up returning them.

    However, they do have a generous audition policy. You have 4 months to try them out and still return for a refund. (As I recall you pay shipping, but that's only fair in exchange for such a long evaluation period. In my case the current listening room is simply not suitable for a speaker with a strong side and back radiation pattern.)

    If one is truly on a serious quest for an omni speaker, I think you'd do yourself a disservice if you didn't try out one of the Ohms.


    Yes for what I am looking for the Ohms with the Walsh driver may be just what I need.
    JohnMichael
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    Love the tektons but you can't expect lots of bass from a 4.5 inch Fostex.

  16. #16
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    Have you considered Castle Acoustics? The Howard and Harlech models both have the up-firing woofer. I have the Howard's and among other great things they throw a sound stage like you wouldn't believe. Definitely my favorite speaker i have ever owned.

    Years ago i borrowed my uncle's Bose 501 III's he's had since 1980 and they were decent but just didn't agree with my room. By no means would i ever recommend anything from Bose that is less than 25 years old.

  17. #17
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Sunday evening I had the pleasure of attending a concert and the Russian National Orchestra was performing. The music was incredible and I am familiar with the Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2" but heard for the first time Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 4". While listening to the music I thought about some of my stereo system choices.

    I have always enjoyed speakers with very good imaging. After this concert I have been thinking I might enjoy a pair of speakers with a more omni-directional radiation pattern. The Ohm Walsh speakers, The Shahinian Obelisks and even the Bose 901's crossed my mind.

    What I was wondering is does anyone have any suggestions or experience with omni speakers? I am only interested in a stereo pair. Having never shopped for any I am not aware what all may be out there in the speaker market.
    JM, you know me, so I am going to offer a different approach to this topic based on my perceptions as a engineer who has recorded many a live concert in an acoustical environment. Perhaps your answer is not a omni directional speaker, but a multichannel speaker system instead. I say this because the concert hall experience is not a front loaded listening environment, it is a multi-directional listening environment based on our hearing of multiple long and short complex reflections off of various surfaces coming from different directions. A two channel omni directional speaker based system would make the assumption that recorded reflections would be coming from a single direction, and our listening space provides the room "tone". That is not so in a multichannel system (or a concert hall either) where you can have specific imaging (maybe not as specific as a recording played back through speakers) emanating from the front, and a diffused location based ambience coming from the rear channels whether there are two or four of them. What you desire also must be measured by a "they are here" or "I am there" kind of listening experience/desire. The reality is, if the approach is a two channel with complex frontal reflections with your room tone, all recordings will exhibit the same room tone, even if there is a different pattern of "recording hall" reflections with a different room tone. A multichannel system can capture the "recording hall signature" much more accurately than a two channel system can.

    Keep in mind that a concert hall usually has a lot longer of a reverberation time, and a longer reflection path of early arriving signals to the ear than our rooms do.

    After the concert I played the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Lang Lang on piano. I was pleased but knew it was no live performance but this is the most listenable system I have owned. In the past I found it hard to listen to the stereo with the memory of the live performance.
    That is because a live performance involves the acoustical signature of the performance place, and the stereo incorporates the room signature of your personal listening space. They are so different, it is difficult if not impossible to get them to match, even with high resolution highly transparent omni-directional speakers and signal chain. It is not the reproduction chain in the case of high resolution system, it is the size of the space.
    Having a actual speaker and assigned channel in three direction across the front, at least one on the sides, and two in the back rear can map the acoustical signature of a live space much better than a two channel system can based solely on the ability to project direction, and more of the reflections of a live acoustical space.

    This is just my opinion, and I do not want to incite a multichannel versus stereo debate.
    Sir Terrence

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  18. #18
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    JM, you know me, so I am going to offer a different approach to this topic based on my perceptions as a engineer who has recorded many a live concert in an acoustical environment. Perhaps your answer is not a omni directional speaker, but a multichannel speaker system instead. I say this because the concert hall experience is not a front loaded listening environment, it is a multi-directional listening environment based on our hearing of multiple long and short complex reflections off of various surfaces coming from different directions. A two channel omni directional speaker based system would make the assumption that recorded reflections would be coming from a single direction, and our listening space provides the room "tone". That is not so in a multichannel system (or a concert hall either) where you can have specific imaging (maybe not as specific as a recording played back through speakers) emanating from the front, and a diffused location based ambience coming from the rear channels whether there are two or four of them. What you desire also must be measured by a "they are here" or "I am there" kind of listening experience/desire. The reality is, if the approach is a two channel with complex frontal reflections with your room tone, all recordings will exhibit the same room tone, even if there is a different pattern of "recording hall" reflections with a different room tone. A multichannel system can capture the "recording hall signature" much more accurately than a two channel system can.

    Keep in mind that a concert hall usually has a lot longer of a reverberation time, and a longer reflection path of early arriving signals to the ear than our rooms do.



    That is because a live performance involves the acoustical signature of the performance place, and the stereo incorporates the room signature of your personal listening space. They are so different, it is difficult if not impossible to get them to match, even with high resolution highly transparent omni-directional speakers and signal chain. It is not the reproduction chain in the case of high resolution system, it is the size of the space.
    Having a actual speaker and assigned channel in three direction across the front, at least one on the sides, and two in the back rear can map the acoustical signature of a live space much better than a two channel system can based solely on the ability to project direction, and more of the reflections of a live acoustical space.

    This is just my opinion, and I do not want to incite a multichannel versus stereo debate.


    I agree Sir T and if I had a dedicated listening room multi-channel would be the way to go. I have heard some very nice multi-channel systems. I do listen in the nearfield so some of the rooms tones do not interfere when I am in my listening chair. Since I am very decor concious two speakers are all I can tolerate in the living room. The only way I could have a multi-channel system is if I evict my roommate. Thinking....
    JohnMichael
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  19. #19
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    John, have you heard any Martin Logan? I had a religious experience with a pair of ESL's. You want room filling sound with a giant stage, they've got it.

  20. #20
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    I used to have a pair of Mirage M-790s bi-polar floorstanders which had woofer and tweeter in the front and a full range out the back.

    They did have a a nice full sound for the $800 bucks they cost at the time. I guess these were the precursor to the later Omni lines. It's been a few years and I replaced them with the Danes.


  21. #21
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Sunday evening I had the pleasure of attending a concert and the Russian National Orchestra was performing. The music was incredible and I am familiar with the Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2" but heard for the first time Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 4".
    Wasn't the pizzicato in the third movement incredible? I have the Maazel / Cleveland version from 1979.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    After this concert I have been thinking I might enjoy a pair of speakers with a more omni-directional radiation pattern.
    I think you'll find that most any dipole that is allowed to breathe in the room can achieve the ambience you seek with a wide range of recordings. They come in all flavors. One very popular model with a significant following is the Linkwitz Orion.

    rw

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    Those Tektons have a really interesting design. I'd be curious to see some reviews.

  23. #23
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    Eric's Tektons are fantastic as long as you pair them with his sub. He'll tell you as much.

  24. #24
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    John, I have been lusting after Tektons for some time. The open baffle and the Model 8. They are a terrific value. I suspect that with your Krell, they wwoouldn''t bee the greatest matcch in the worldd. You may allso havee issues blasting Prison Song, in which case I could always sing for you.

    "Following tthe rights movement you clamped down with your iron fist,
    ddrugs became coonveniently available for all the kkids"

  25. #25
    Forum Regular flippo's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
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    Mirage

    Mirage makes omnidirectional speakers

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