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What are the world's best speakers to bring the philharmonic into your living room?

Discussion in 'audio' started by louballoo, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    You make a good point but in practice some of us are after recreating a convincing illusion of having a piano in front of us. A full orchestra is tricky, at least until one closes ones eyes.

    I have found that dipoles get one much closer to this than any box speaker I have heard but it is not until one hears omni MBLs or German Physiks properly positioned in a room that one realises just how convincing hifi can be. Dipoles seem to disappear but the image of a musical instrument can sound very slightly two dimensional compared to a genuine omni where it is difficult to believe the original performer isn’t there in front of one. It may be that the small diameter of the drivers helps, but in the last analysis it is the relationship of a speaker in its room that we hear. Modern cardioid designs aim to reduce the room effect but that, IME, starts to take the sound towards, but thankfully not that close, to the effect of an anechoic or semi anechoic chamber.

    As ever it is about finding a balance between studying the sound or recreating the music as convincingly as possible. I go for the latter but that is not to decry those who prefer the former.
    marshanp, Colin L and Big John like this.
  2. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    There seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment for disingenuous comments about ATC speakers. Odd considering how good they are; perhaps that’s the problem!
    AndyU likes this.
  3. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    From my PoV the question in the title is the wrong question. I doubt the reasonableness of reproducing an orchestra as though it were in my listening room. YMMV, of course but for me, better is creating a credible window onto a performance space (often more as created in the mixing/mastering suite than a real space).

    In doing this, something that is often omitted from discussion is preserving the music's dynamic range. Classical music often has peaks 15 dB above the mean level. Electronica perhaps 20 dB. Preserving the frequency response is often uppermost in people's minds but IMHO preserving the dynamics without undue compression is perhaps more important.

    John Atkinson measured the true peak level of an orchestra at 108 dB SPL in mid-hall (with special kit, not a standard level meter). Without trying out loudspeakers at home, finding out for sure whether they will do the job cleanly without too much distortion obscuring low-level detail is very difficult. Even when a manufacturer's figures are given (e.g. the Steinway Lyngdorf's 132 dB SPL - but only down to 120 Hz it seems) there's never enough detail of how it's tested to be sure.

    Professional studio monitors above a certain size should be capable. For the consumer, the B&O Beolab 90 for example will do around 120 dB SPL over most of the audio range (source: Keith Howard in a HFN article). They should be good at John Atkinson's measured peak. And there are a few others too.

    But for sure don't forget preserving the dynamic range.
    Miss Ariel and PJD like this.
  4. PJD

    PJD pfm Member

    Just dipping in so haven't read the thread.. but do you really want the Philharmonic in your lounge?

    As I just posted elsewhere, have listened to PMC MB2S XBD in console room setting, the engineer was quite keen to escape from time to time.. it's imposing to have full scale reproduction of a band in a small space, let alone an orchestra!

    So I would go for PMC MB2S XBD, but for a 2nd system in my 10 bedroom mansion..
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020 at 3:27 PM
  5. PJD

    PJD pfm Member

    Agree. Well articulated.
  6. Romulus

    Romulus pfm Member

    Yet we are responding to his thread; so what does it exactly mean he is banned (not banned from this thread)?
  7. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    No I don’t want the Phiharmonic literally in my room; get far too sweaty. I do want to be able to close my eyes and feel they are in front of me in much the same way that I would from the stalls in a concert hall. For a string quartet or leider recital I want a convincing illusion of them performing at the end of my lounge. Some of my speakers get incredibly close!

    As for having a grand piano in my living room, about thirty years ago, former owners of my house actually had a baby grand in the room that I listen to music in now.
    PJD likes this.
  8. PJD

    PJD pfm Member

    How about a Steinway Spirio - imagine you have one in your room - and it's replaying EXACTLY Lang Lang's every gesture?

    I could see this concept being a hit, for exclusive coctail venue type spaces in metropolitan cities.
  9. Alastair

    Alastair Member

    I’ve not heard enough systems but my inclination would be for a large speaker by default..assuming it can be optimised/properly accommodated in the space music is being played back in. The last really big speaker I heard was the top PMC ones, I think at Bristol in a large auditorium/cinema type room. The film played back was staggering with the bass impact. I’d not recall (sadly) that music was played in that dem, which is going back maybe 20 plus years, but I could be wrong. I’ve subsequently heard smaller PMCs since and they were pretty amazing, I think MB2s.

    All that aside, I do believe that using 3 front speakers (say with Trifield or Dolby processing with 2 channel content) is an interesting option and one I’ve recently been experimenting with and critically enjoying. I realise that could be an unpopular point of view regarding sonic excellence, truth, purity to the original recorded content or whichever way you view it. However, similar to the thread about audio snobbery, I think it’s a case of giving things a go and trying to park bias to one side. I’ve definitely been a snob historically and not gone with what what my ears are telling me, along with being guided by reviews....but I like to think I am now being a bit more honest with myself!

    Oh and I would also say that perhaps the organ is one of the hardest instruments to reproduce regarding its frequency range...although I totally agree with what a work out a piano can give a hi fi!
    mega lord and camverton like this.
  10. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    You can literally see how powerful they are, they've squashed your dog flat into the carpet!
    Sue Pertwee-Tyr likes this.
  11. lagavullin10y

    lagavullin10y pfm Member

    And he was blown back by the airflow of the bass reflex ports.
  12. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Stop giving me ideas!!!
    Not sure I’d want any of Lang Lang’s pianistic gestures in my room though, however reproduced. Pollini, Barenboim or Gilels, yes please!
    PJD likes this.
  13. eisenach

    eisenach #JeSuisProf

    It seems to me that the better my kit gets, the more the compromises shift to something else. The speakers are ESL 63s, which I thought I knew really well. I've just bought a Primare A60 power amp, which is a revelation.

    It's wonderful with all kinds of music. I listened to a CD of church choral music from Magdalen College this afternoon, which has always been a bit problematic, and I'd assumed that the recording is maxed out and distorted. It's not, and for the first time the high climaxes don't distort. Brilliant !

    But then, with the Decca CD "The Jazz Album" of Shostakovich pieces, it is really hard to find a comfortable volume setting. The quiet parts lack presence, but get that right, and the loud stuff blows you out of your seat and you fear for the speakers ! Some learning to be done, I think.

    I've written all kinds of drivel on this forum and others over the years, but really, I think I don't know anything about HiFi any more. I thought I knew how 63s sound.
    Robn and marshanp like this.
  14. marshanp

    marshanp ellipsis addict

    A pianola is the analogue version. I generally prefer digital, but not in this instance...

    The pianola is not merely a reproducing device. It allows its player to have all the technique of Lang Lang, without the years of practice. I can play anything LL can play - Gershwin, Liszt, Debussy - as long as I’ve got the piano roll... and it is me, not the pianola, that chooses the basic tempo and provides the rubato, the attack, the sustain and the phrasing.

    In the 1920s, every middle class household in America had a piano... and 70% of all pianos were pianolas. It was a long time before recordings caught up with the pleasure and fun to be had by making your own music - with a bit of help :)
    AndyU likes this.
  15. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Big tannoy Westminsters in a massive room made a decent stab at it
  16. Beobloke

    Beobloke pfm Member

    I have bought far more classical music that I ever have since we bought our B&O Beolab 90s, purely because they are the first speakers I have owned that I have found
    can properly handle the dynamics of large-scale orchestral material.
  17. Robert Sinden

    Robert Sinden Trade: Gecko Home Cinema

    The best speakers placed in a room wont faithfully reproduce music because of the errors in timing, frequency response and power response the room creates. Steinway Lyngdorfs boundary woofers and room correction remove these errors.

    This video shows the response of the composer and musician Anders Trentmoller listening to his album played through a Steinway Lyngdorf LS system. He says he's hearing things in his own recordings he's not hear before.

    I have this system here if you'd like a listen.
    Steve356 and Cereal Killer like this.
  18. FLORIAN35

    FLORIAN35 Member

    Look for the speakers with big drivers like Tannoy,Jbl and so on.Forget about speakers with 5inch drivers
    Fatmarley likes this.
  19. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Robert, great to have you on board to respond to technical points but do you not think that some of your posts are becoming more of an advert, perhaps best placed in the trade section?

    Just out of interest, what is the price of the Lyngdorf LS system? It would be useful to know what sort of speakers it is in the company of.
  20. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    i personally can see why you'd call it an ad, in the context of the thread and its title.

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