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 Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures

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MOSFET67



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PostSubject: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:08 pm

First and foremost, I want Michael Green to know how much I have loved my MGD Revolution 80i's. I have been an audiophile for thirty years and without a doubt they are some of the best speakers I have ever heard. They are amazing in SOOO many ways I could write 50 pages. Let me sincerely thank you for many years of musical pleasure. It is impossible for me to imagine a speaker with more going for it. Is there any chance the 60i, 80i and especially your center channel (I am forced to use another speaker brand for my centers) WILL EVER BE PUT INTO PRODUCTION AGAIN? I know this question does not belong here, but as I sense you read most of these, perhaps you could answer this as I REALLY want a center channel to go with my 80i's.

For 17 years these speakers have been the foundation of my main stereo and they sound just as good today as the day they arrived. It's worth noting that had I not heard them FIRST (at someone's house), I would have never (in a billion years) considered buying a speaker with only a SINGLE 8" woofer! I had cut my teeth with speakers of the 80's, and I had ALWAYS believed large diameter or multiple woofers were needed for serious bass impact. The 80i's TRULY shocked me with the quality and quantity of bass. And I was forced to revise my opinions of HUGE woofer speakers. Before the 80i's I was using a pair of Boston Acoustics T-950 (each speaker used a single 10" woofer and 6" midrange. AND BEFORE THAT (in college circa 1985), I used a set of Polychrome 1200's with a 12" woofer each (AND A HUGE 15" passive subwoofer I bought mail-order which did not make me very popular in my dorm, nor was there much space for the three monster speakers) . It's funny how the 80i's blew both of these away with both SQ (of course), but the bass output was much, much more.

These are truly incredible speakers in every way (staging, imaging, bandwidth, ect.). One of the first things friends notice when hearing them is just how much bass they produce given they have a single 8" driver each. Although I do own a M&K MX-105 subwoofer (pair of 12's) for home theater use, I almost NEVER turn it on, yet friends will SWEAR I must be using some type of subwoofer. when listening to my MG's with lots of low-end material.

I have heard THOUSANDS of speakers over the years. Though I would be lying to say the MG's sound better than ANYTHING out there, for what I paid for them (I bought them from Audio Adviser for something like $300 dollars for the pair!!!!),they are without doubt the VERY BEST audio purchase I have ever made (and that's saying a lot as I have bought and built dozens of Home Theater systems, car audio systems, computer systems, and high-end stereo listening systems for myself, family and friends for nearly 30 years.

Having said that, AT FIRST I was very leery of the "tuning aspect" of MG speakers as I believed that the best speakers were/are those that DID NOT RESONATE AT ALL. But MG did make an elegant, logical, and intuitive pitch regarding his tuneable speakers: musical instruments do indeed need to be tuned AND one's speaker is basically a kind of wooden "instrument". A violin or cello is basically a ported enclosure and the resonance of the instrument's body produces much of the sound we hear.

BUT......this is NOT how speakers produce sound. It is the up and down motion of the driver's cone that vibrates the air and produces sound. This is the key point: IF CONE VIBRATION CAUSES THE ENCLOSURE TO RESONATE, IS THIS NOT LOST ENERGY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED TO VIBRATE THE AIR (conservation of energy)?

The OTHER problem with enclosure resonance is that this resonance itself produces sound and can cause a whole bunch of not easily detectable sonic problems, such as phasing problems that will produce cancellation and gains at various frequncies, We never notice these "enclosure harmonics", of course, as the the sound from the drivers drowns out any audible vibration of the enclosure. HOWEVER, this does not mean this sound is harmless. It often effects subtle sonic cues, imaging and soundstage qualities.

This is why the VERY BEST speakers are made of aluminum or 2" oak precisely to prevent ANY enclosure resonance.

With MG's 80i's (and almost all speakers less than $4000), there is really nothing to be done about the small loss of energy by the resonance of the cabinet. HOWEVER, the truly ingenious thing is that the traditionally unwanted sonic artifacts of enclosure resonance CAN BE TUNED WITH MG SPEAKERS so that accurate sound staging and imaging can be achieved. So I have to say that MG has overcome the problems associated with enclosure resonance (effectively Tuning these subtle artifacts, often inaudible sound to prevent cancellation or other phasing problems with the main sound coming from the speakers). In fact, besides overcoming resonance problems, I believe MG speakers use speaker TUNED resonance to ENHANCE the sound experience.

Anyway, I can't recommend MG's speakers high enough. Although I own about 10 pairs of speakers, some costing much, much, much more, I almost always end up using the MG's as my primary speakers (they are being used as I type this).

Anyway, my post asks the question whether ABSOLUTE RIGIDITY of the enclosure (as used by super-high end speakers made of different metals) is superior OR is there truly something to be gained by enclosure resonance.

I know first-hand there is truly something to being able to tune the enclosure (however I will be the first to admit improvements are VERY SUBTLE when tuning). YET ON THE OTHER HAND I know that it takes far more energy to resonate a large wooden enclosure that a speaker cone. CLEARLY, isn't sound energy (watts) being redirected when the enclosure is resonating? AND, I hate to say it but if this was so effective, why does no one else offer tunable enclosures? DON'T get me wrong, I would NEVER part with my speakers and I DO believe that tuning adds something to my music. PROOF of this can be measurred as tuning helps me flatten frequncy response as measured on my RTA.

It seems we have two schools of thought here and I would be interested in what others, especially Mr. Green himself, have to say about this.

Cheers,

Nick

MOSFET67


Last edited by MOSFET67 on Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:09 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:25 pm


Hi Nick

Welcome to the Tune/Zone.

You have raised some issues that will exercise the brain. Sonic is, like you, a listener and no speaker designer so need to scratch my head a bit.... i am sure Zonees will each have their views. There is a mix of chracteristics in speaker design. You have the tuneable speakers -- Michael's are the only examples I know of -- light cabinets that flex (Harbeths, older Spendors and Rogers), low mass/high rigidity and high mass/high rigidity speakers.

In my experience, it is the speakers with the lighter structures that sound better and more musical. The complex high mass/high rigidity speakers using exotic materials are what I find the most disappointing in terms of naturalness. They sound so "perfect" for all the technology but ultimately unreal. They just sound like hifi, not a glimpse into real musicians playing music in real places at some time in the past.

Sonic
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garp



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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:46 pm

Nick,

I will add to Sonic's reply to you. As a 40 year plus music lover, I seek out lighter lower mass speakers, because they sound better than the usual high mass MDF based speakers to my ears. I own two pair of MGD speakers, a pair of cherry ply SAP coaxials as well a pair of Galante Rhapsody Cherry ply coaxials. I also own a pair of Tonian floorstanding speakers constructed of 1/4 inch ply which is my current reference for my flea sized amps. I drive the 95 db Tonians with a 2.5 watt amp to 90 db sound levels in my tuned 20' by 22' listening room.

If you haven't tuned your room, you haven't apporached what you might hear with your 80s.

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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:14 am

Hi Guys

Fun talking designs vs sound. If speakers really did work how EE and AE designers say they did and if sound really did travel in straight lines and not (when introduced to a wall) stimulate pressure, which then stimulates the ear. I would go along (like most) with what I read until hearing differently. However the hi fi version of sound and the reality of sound, as we hear it every day, are miles apart. Hi Fi has disconnected from science (and it's origin) and over the years created (magically) it's own language. It's not a language that works outside of the audio industry but it sure digs it's deep roots in to the audiophile sociology.

A speaker vibrating creating distortion has no more truth to it than an instrument vibrating creating distortion. Vibration out of tune to the plus or minus is distortion period! The audiophile world has embraced a falsehood that has crippled the industry almost into extinction. The industry is plagued with horrible sounding systems and it's all because the simple "method of tuning" has been hard for the engineer types to swallow. Products come out, like my own, that produce music but they also produce paranoia among the fading powers at be, hanging on to theories that never proved themselves in practice.

Question to all. Is there a reviewer on the planet that has plopped down a pair of speakers in a room that has instantly not distorted till the system/room or movement of speakers has taken place? Of course not. Same goes for anything that vibrates. Energy is vibration and has always needed to be tuned to make it efficient or more in tune.

Working on the new production as we speak!

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MOSFET67



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PostSubject: Good point.....   Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:45 pm

MG Said:

Question to all. Is there a reviewer on the planet that has plopped down a pair of speakers in a room that has instantly not distorted till the system/room or movement of speakers has taken place? Of course not. Same goes for anything that vibrates. Energy is vibration and has always needed to be tuned to make it efficient or more in tune.

AWESOME POINT I hadn't considered; we all "tune" our systems in a myriad of ways from adjusting bass and treble controls to speaker placement and the addition of tube-traps and Magio dots.

I guess my question was aimed more specifically at what would best be considered two schools of thought. We have all seen or read about aluminum speakers (like the ridiculous Moon Audio Titan's) and speakers made of other material or just plain super thick wood to ensure ABSOLUTELY NO enclosure resonance.

The driving principle here is that clearly if an enclosure resonates, it took energy to make it so. This energy can come from rapidly changing air-pressures inside the enclosure or sympathetic vibrations between enclosure and drivers.

What's important is the notion that if the enclosure is resonating at all, energy is being sapped from somewhere else to make this happen (first law of thermodynamics). If it is coming from rapidly changing air=pressures inside the enclosure, then (in an accoustic suspension type speaker for instance), the speaker drivers are LOSING a very small amount of back-pressure air "spring" ( the principle behind acoustic suspension) and therefore are not quite as efficient.

I believe (though I am no engineer or acoustic theorist) this is the argument you would hear from those who build speakers that have an ABSOLUTE RIGID enclosure.

Therfore, we are left with the original question. AS Mr. Green so accurately put it, music and music reproduction IS NOT about mathamatics and physics. It has it's own language and rules we audiophiles follow. It is absolutely true we make MANY tuning decisions like small movemments in the speakers, listening position, rugs, furniture, tone-controls, ect. There is no mathematical formula for this (well, unless you like your music to sound like the system has been tunes by an RTA and pink-noise to obtain a flat frequnecy response line, WHICH SOUNDS LIKE CRAP BTW). Therefor, by having a tunable enclosure, you give the listener yet another tool to help tune their system. A tool that I can say FIRST-HAND (because of my pair of MG Revolution 80i's) truly does add richness to the music, IMHO.

I suppose perhaps the biggest question is "If tunable enclosures are such a good idea, why do not more speaker makers employee this?". I'll bet some have (Mr. Green, you might shed some light on this). But I'll bet part of the reluctance comes from A) most customers do not want YET ANOTHER THING TO DO AND LEARN TO USE HI-FI and B) nobody wants to be too different from the pack. Though my hunch is mostly reason A as the complexity of televisions and home theaters have increased, many consumers already feel overwhelmed by technology. The last thing anyone like Polk or Bose would do is make their systems MORE complicated and MORE adjustable.

Anyway, just more thoughts on this topic. See you guys!!!

Nick
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:04 am

Hi Nick

A great thread BTW!

Why haven't more designers incorporated tuning? There are several questions I have had about the hobby, this is one of them. Another is, why are there not a lot of women involved in hi end audio? Somewhere in the sociology of audio the male ego became the dominate factor in what is and what isn't. As with most things the male ego rules for a while then the more excepting or artistic side of the hobby, sport or past time makes itself known.

When I did my first trade show I was surprised at how many techno-nerds there were as designers. I mean literally, do you know how many people wanted to see specs on my RoomTune before they could deal with them? At that time almost every one said they were too small till they heard them. Why? Because the audio engineers had made up rules for acoustics, electronic designs and speaker criteria. The fact is, with stereo only being a few years old there are still many laws not discovered by the many that should have been all along. One of the major ones has to do with what is distortion and what is true amplification. Designers can deal with amplification (voltage in, voltage out) of the electronics from a numbers side, but not from a vibration side. There has always been a disconnect in the thinking of vibration for techno-nerds. Engineers view frequencies, artist view notes. These two are very different and require different sensitivities.

Q) Why do we use anechoic chambers to measure efficiencies of speakers?

Q) Why do we use crossovers?

Q) Why do we use thick cable when a signal can pass through a very small gauge?

Q) Why do we use chassis on electronics?

Q) Why is it that music instruments are built to vibrate and most speaker designs are not?

Q) Why do we think we are hearing a speaker when we are really hearing the room that the speaker is sitting in?

Q) Does any model of speaker sound the same when put in different rooms?

The ego of the audio engineer actually believes that when they design something in their garage it performs the same in another room. The ego of the audiophile actually believes these designers know what they are doing.

For myself, I can't sit at a table with engineer designers very long. They know very little about sound. The mention of the word harmonics to them means something to get rid of, whereas the rest of the music world sees harmonics as something to gain or maintain.

Q) Why do speakers designers stuff their cabinets?

As they do this don't they hear the music disappearing? I have done this with many models of speakers with the same results. Take your garden variety speaker at any price and listen to how it changes as you take out and put back in the filler. Measure it if you want, but you will here whole pieces of the music disappear when you put the filler back in, and you will also hear how solid cabs distort the sound as you are taking it out. Why would I want a speaker that distorted when I put filler in it (the absence of signal) and distort when I take the filler out (no mechanical exchange)?

the fear

Q) Why is there a fear over tuning?

How many poor audiophiles are out there wanting to listen to music the way they want but are afraid someone will tell them they are incorrect? How many audiophiles are out there and still haven't found the sound they want after many years of buying and trying? Speakers are mechanical devices just as instruments are and will/should vibrate. There is no MDF or any other material on the planet that does not vibrate. Which brings me to another point.

I think that when people hear the word free resonance they think "vibrating out of control". In our world how much vibration is in the eyes of the beholder. The fact is a tunable free resonant speaker has better side wall control than does a regular cabinet. With regular speakers you have a movement that is pushing out constantly with nothing holding in the vibration, causing distortion. With a tunable cabinet you have a bolt that can be used on the outside of the cabinet to make the outer wall as tight as you want by applying pressure from the outside in. The tunable cabinet can be made to "boom" far less than an over built cabinet. We're not bulky just smart about how we deal with sound.

Fear, lack of teaching and designers who don't understand the 3 parts to audio, electrical, mechanical and acoustical, as relatives of each other is probably why the tuning revolution as a whole has not exploded. The question is, when it does explode, will any look back? When picking a speaker is more like picking a guitar will we say, what took us so long?


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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:40 pm

WOW. Great reply, Michael. You have touched on several things I feel very strongly about.

You know, in the early to mid 90's I was very involved with car audio. It was sort of the "Golden Age" for car audio as we had finally moved past the "booster-EQ and 6X9's" and started building truly audiophile quality systems in our cars; although there arose a large and unfortunate contingent who believed the best car audio was derived if you could be heard 6 blocks away. Anyway, because of the small airspace of a car's cabin and the private nature of it, it was possible to build truly remarkable sounding systems. By careful time-alignment of every speaker in the car, the illusion of sitting in the center of a room with natural rear-reflections could be achieved. ANY sonic obstacle could be overcome with patient speaker placement, and fancy DSP (phasing adjustments, EQing, and as I mentioned time-alignment).

I was so involved I competed in a new organization called IASCA (International Auto Sound Competition Association) where your car was judged using a variety of criteria mostly focused on sound quality (though installation quality and safety was important). I did very well in IASCA winning first or second in almost all competitions I entered. My car truly did sound amazing and I loved having people listen to it with their own music as they would inevitably hear things they had never heard before AND the volume and dynamics of the system gave almost all music a much more "exciting" quality.

BUT HERE'S THE POINT: Over time I realized I had stopped listening to music, BUT WAS ALWAYS LISTENING TO THE SYSTEM!!!! I was always listening for flaws. Always listening for new ways to improve it. At first I told myself my standards had been raised and once the system was "perfect", I would stop. But no matter how much it improved, I was constantly evaluating it and thinking about how to improve it. I didn't listen to music, I used music to evaluate my system. And, you know, the thing is that system REALLY was AMAZING (by ANY definition), it was like being inside the very best headphones you can imagine, like headphones for your entire body.

I became obsessed with tweaking and tuning and STOPPED enjoying music. I remember having this "epiphany" (it was 1998 and I had the same problem with my home system too as I was always trying different interconnects, Discovery vs.Cardas, and DAC's to go with my CAL CD transport). Just like in my car, when I listened to music I was really listening for more "detail" and greater expansion and depth of the soundstage.

I HAD STOPPED ENJOYING MUSIC!!! MUSIC!!! THE RULING PASSION OF MY LIFE!!!

The hobby of producing the music had become more important than the enjoyment of the music itself. Needless to say, I made some changes. First, I dropped out of IASCA. And for a time I always asked myself before I put in a CD, "Is this what you really want to hear? Or are you putting this in to evaluate some quality of the system?". Over time, I "rediscovered" music and the gear that produces it is STRICTLY utilitarian: employed for maximum enjoyment, NOT b/c of it's audiophile "street-cred".

The point of all this is that there are no doubt a lot of people like me. Stereo reproduction is a GREAT hobby, DON'T GET ME WRONG. But when it becomes more important than the music, well, then I believe something may be lost.

Certainly the desire to tune and improve one's system WILL lead to greater and greater enjoyment of music. The point is that it is possible to lose sight of what is truly important. Today I have a much more simple definition of what constitutes a "good" music system: does the listener enjoy the experience or not? The ends therefore dictate the means. If someone gets TONS of musical enjoyment listening to a set of worn-out mismatched speakers and an 8-track deck, well, MORE POWER TO THEM!!! I am not going to judge the quality of that system.

It took me a couple decades for this to really sink in. Perhaps like many kids, my first stereo at age 12 (a Sanyo receiver with built in cassette deck and a pair of speakers with a single "full-range" driver) sounded so inadequate a spark to keep improving it burned in me for many years. Perhaps I believed it was truly possible to build the perfect sounding system. In any case, I lost sight of what this was all REALLY about.

Now, on a completely different subject, why are there so few women who are into this hobby? I have thought a LOT about this as well. My wife, for one, loves music EVERY bit as much as I do. The proof is in her preternatural encyclopedic knowledge of every band, song, musician, date, ect. going back to the 50's. I swear, it's a little spooky.

AND YET, she has absolutely no interest in the gear that makes music, in fact I doubt she can even connect a pair of speakers.

Michael, I have to disagree with your assertion that it is the male ego that makes certain hobbies verboten to women. I truly believe it has more to do with the fundamental nature of how the male brain works vs. the female. You take any hobby that deals with technology or "gear" and you will find a predominance of males. There is something about the male brain that enjoys systems built upon systems built upon systems. We seem to enjoy creating complicated systems and paradigms and then creating within, discussing within, working within. ect. these paradigms.

I don't think it has much to do with ego at all. Women's hobbies, on the other hand, tend to be more holistic, focusing on the group or individuals within the group. Gear in women's hobbies have meaning as they relate to the larger group. In a nutshell, women are much more social animals than men. To be sure, women's social paradigms can be every bit as complicated as our own. The focus, however is exogenous and PRAGMATIC (real-world demands), it is NEVER as esoteric as the world of high-end audio.

Are women capable of understanding everything we do like technology? OF COURSE!! But do they ENJOY thinking about these things? Some do, but much, much fewer than men. Anyway, that is my working hypothesis as to why geeks like me are male.

I would love to read any other perspective!

See ya,

Nick
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:34 am


Hi Nick

Wonderful essay about what our hobby is about. Very insghtful. Sonic is going to carry out some self-examination, will look at my listening practices with all the tuning and for a while ahead, ask myself why am I listening to any recording I select for play, just like you have.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:50 am

garp wrote:
Nick,

I will add to Sonic's reply to you. As a 40 year plus music lover, I seek out lighter lower mass speakers, because they sound better than the usual high mass MDF based speakers to my ears. I own two pair of MGD speakers, a pair of cherry ply SAP coaxials as well a pair of Galante Rhapsody Cherry ply coaxials. I also own a pair of Tonian floorstanding speakers constructed of 1/4 inch ply which is my current reference for my flea sized amps. I drive the 95 db Tonians with a 2.5 watt amp to 90 db sound levels in my tuned 20' by 22' listening room.

If you haven't tuned your room, you haven't approached what you might hear with your 80s.


Hi garp

The industry would be so different if we would have seen more of these designs early on. I look at how vibrant the musical instrument world is as compared to the audiophile world and shake my head. How could the audiophiles miss the mark by so far I wonder. As I mentioned in an earlier post and many times before, I was amazed at how this hobby from a design perspective got so far off track. "87" was my first CES and I was in shock to see the horrible efforts. I can remember being confused for a while cause the music world was all about the opposite from what I was seeing and hearing from thee audiophile world. For some reason there was this hold of mythological thinking that went on that defied music that permeated the thoughts of many if not most hobbyist. I heard this jargon before from egotistical studio engineers but blew off those techies and went about making good sound. Good thing about my early audio jobs was I was paid to make great sound not play the engineer of the month club.

Even before "87" when I had my stores in Georgia I was busy buying up all the hi end audio lines as it was fascinating to me after reading Stereophile and The Absolute Sound. They talked a great story and I was all over owning the best. My store was a whos who right out of the recommended components list. Still, I always heard something missing in hi end. There was a huge lack in openness. I hung in there as long as I could stand it but ultimately had to start making instruments "sorry" low mass tunable hi end audio Laughing .

Question to the high mass guys, played any 100lb guitars lately? or Played any mdf guitars lately?

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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:38 am

please keep in mind that this info is probably something that Mosfet got from the audiophile text train and my answering is more of an in general one and not pointed at our tuning colleague

"IF CONE VIBRATION CAUSES THE ENCLOSURE TO RESONATE, THAT IS LOST ENERGY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED TO VIBRATE THE AIR (conservation of energy)."

Why is it that audiophiles believe this?

Pluck a string and you will not hear much. Pluck a string attached to a guitar and you will hear tons.

Suspend a speaker in air and play something through it and you will not hear much. Attach a speaker to a cabinet and you will hear tons.

Where is the disconnect in the audiophile mind that doesn't get it? The movement of air alone doesn't produce sound. There must be a mechanical stimulus. No matter what type of frame or box is used to attach the driver to it is a part of the driver itself (mechanically). All someone has to do is try it so why do audiophiles get so hung up on non-truths? I have never in my whole life not heard the mechanical effect of one thing touching another in this industry. it's what I have built my whole life on. In fact as we study molecules we can see how this exchange works to provide all forms of matter and energy. But wait, then the audiophile calls any vibration that happens outside of their understanding "distortion". What Question Who pulled this non-sense out of midair.

Let me be very clear to those who are questioning this. If you had a speaker hooked up in midair and you had nothing to resonant after the speaker moved the air you would hear very little. Don't take my word for it, do it. We did! The audiophile world is full of myths that have absolutely no legs. No logical or scientific foundation. It's talk, but enough are saying it that people have excepted (only in this little crowd) as truth.

So let me rewrite this.

IF CONE VIBRATION CAUSES THE ENCLOSURE TO RESONATE, THAT IS a gain of ENERGY THAT increases the amount of volume TO VIBRATE THE AIR (amplification of energy).

Simple experiment: take your electric razor and turn it on outside with no walls around, or trees, or buildings, or close to the ground and listen to it a yard away from your ear. Not much sound! Turn it off, take it indoors and turn it on. Huge jump in amplification. Now set it turned on, on top of the back of a guitar. Huge jump again. This is called amplification. This is not distortion!! Exclamation Idea Very Happy cheers

Amplification : a natural or artificial device intended to make a signal stronger

EE audio designers egos are so big they can't except what is being taught over in the physics class as reality. They have gone down the wrong path for so long that they have removed themselves from the hobby of listening to the whole picture and made their quest marginalized at best. They must find the answer to audio in some other way besides nature. I'm telling you guys the absolute truth here. Look around at who these guys are, their scary. The bulk of the talkers in this industry are not in touch with logic. they really believe that on a moving planet there are fixed answers and they have them and no one else does. They have the example of musical instruments (in their same field of music) to follow and they won't. Go to the shows and see for yourselves. When ever there is something wrong with the sound they are blaming someone else and not taking any of the blame. I know, remember I was Mr. tweak who had to come in and try to make their sound work. Over the years I've had to put up with a bunch of cry babies, no kidding. I've walked into peoples rooms with a simple setup and blown theirs away not to make them feel bad, but to make music happen when their system couldn't. I've try my absolute best to make bad sounding badly designed stuff sound at least full range all my life but the facts are still the facts. In tuning we do stuff that transcends systems way past what these fixed, limited engineered components and speakers can even dream of doing.

Keep in mind I tune. I don't claim that the way I may want the sound of my guitar is better than your way. I just show you how to tune and guide you to the most tunable products I can find. Sometimes I spend so much time biting my tongue that my friends wonder when it's going to fall off. I know that many thousands of people wanted to believe in all these stories of great expensive components being built and talked about by the industries audio lords to be true. Magazines were made into empires and climbing the latter to the top was the ultimate achievement. And then, reality hit and many found themselves with prototypes made into products before they ever delivered the "whole sonic picture". The pressure of audiophile guilt was applied so stepping back into the real world would be looked at as a down grade. The truth of it has turned out to show that most in the hobby bought boat anchors, pretty ads, glowing articles and globs of rubber.

I say thank God the myths of the 80s, 90s and early turn are all but gone. Fortunes were spent on junk but maybe a few will actually survive to find the truth of their hobby. This is about things that vibrate and vibration is a good and pure thing. We just need to learn how to free it up and play it. Our intellect doesn't go on the shelf we just get to explore more relevant topics like electrodynamics, electromagnetics, harmonic balancing, mechanical transfer and many more. Basically discovering tuning and how it increases performance. If I could click my figures right now and make it happen I would make your system so simple as compared to what they are and make them highly tunable without blockage. As much as we all talk on here I still see tons of blockage being listened to all for the sake of things that don't work and aren't needed. And if it's not needed it's hurting the sound.

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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:33 am

"The OTHER major problem with enclosure resonance is that this resonance itself produces sound and can cause a whole bunch of not easily detectable sonic problems, such as phasing problems that will produce cancellations and gains at various frequencies, We never notice these "enclosure harmonics", of course, as the the sound from the drivers drowns out any audible vibration of the enclosure. HOWEVER, this does not mean this sound is harmless. It often effects subtle sonic cues, imaging and soundstage qualities."

The more dense the cabinet the worse the problem.

As we were testing cabinets for the very first speakers we found and interesting fact. Thicker, more dense cabinets go out of pitch and cause far more phase problems than did the lighter weight thiner cabinets. The fact is the lighter we went in weight and density the bigger the soundstage and the more articulate the image. Keep in mind that these were cabinets built with tuning bar technology so there was a bolt keeping things under control. The thicker the walls of the cabinets got the more the notes disappeared and the out of phase sounds happened. Another example of the instrument world willing to teach us so much but our industry was not listening.

When I did internal testing on my cabinets I did them in comparisons to test that were made inside of musical instruments. This gave me a great understanding of tonality, pitch, wave cancellation and wave amplification. At the time I was the acoustician for UMI so having access to their facilities was priceless plus they and Martin guitar were kind enough to give me instruments to play with. Here's something I learned. If you have air moving around a driver (especially in a cabinet) you need supportive wave build up to avoid wave cancellation. When we put filler inside of the instruments the pitch went sharp and flat and became very unstable. Same thing happened to the speaker cabinets. Frequencies shifted upward and harmonics were lost. We play the instruments in the room, record them, and then tested the cabinets to see what it took to match the sound. We found that the more dense speakers and the filled speakers could not play the instruments in pitch and much of the musical content was missing. We did the same experiment with sound staging and found that the filled speakers could not make full size reproduction of the instruments and the free resonant cabinets did it to an astonishing space likeness. Another plus was we could tune the speakers to sound almost like the real thing. we then took a recording of the Indianapolis Symphony and played it. Some of the instruments in the recording sounded out of tune according to the musicians. on the over built over stuffed speakers they were stuck (the initials were W and B& something). On the tunable speakers we tuned up the instruments in the recording to the shock of the musicians.

Once again the myths of the audiophile experts put to death.

All of the stuff I do can easily be tested if someone cares to, but it all comes down to who pays the ads and keeps the lights on at the rags for one thing, and I would have to guess that the others who made their theories up didn't do their empirical testing necessary.

BTW if you guys read through the tuneland archives all this stuff is there but it doesn't hurt to bring it up again, especially if it helps someone get better sound.

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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:36 am


Michael is spot on about cabinet effects.

About the speakers W and B& (whatever these things you reconise them to be), Sonic has had encountered them.

Their big monitors were sterile and opaque. While you think they you could hear all the details, the musick sounded like they were played by robots on synthesizers, not human beings bringing a musick score to life in a real acoustic space. The monitors were also hard to drive. I had one amplifier designer advise me that these speakers had a complex crossover that soaked up power and I should stay aawy from them.

And after an audiophile bought one of them and after listening (system settling) went back to the rep saying there was a lack of drive, you will be told that the problem lay not in the speakers but your amp was underpowered, your cables couldn't do the job etc....so the audiophile threadmill starts turning...and the representative sees $$$ in their eyes.

This is a point I have noticed that some manufacturers make speakers with crossovers so complex that amps go unstable, efficiency is compromised-- why? Why make a device that is more complicated when simpler solutions do the job better at less raw material usage and less cost?

And this brand's smaller speakers are (to Sonic) excessively bright.

Why not simpler designs with simple crossovers or even no crossovers?

And why should there be $100,000 loudspeakers?

Are these things with supposed exotic materials really that much better or are they designers and designs that have lost the plot and peversely making buyers pay huge money for it?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:34 am

Michael, thank you for addressing those points I raised one by one.

I want to be clear about something, FOR 15 YEARS I HAVE LOVED MY REVOLUTION 80i's (I am listening to them RIGHT NOW) AND EVERY TIME I TRY ANOTHER SET OF SPEAKERS I ALWAYS PREFER MY MICHAEL GREEN'S. I guess I did not make this very clear but I am CONVINCED enclosure resonance and tuning TRULY adds a great deal to my listening experience. By careful tuning of my 80i's, there is an unquestionable improvement in soundstage width and depth. Frankly, it makes me wish every speaker enclosure had those adjustable tension points as I firmly believe most speakers could benefit b/c the manufacturer HAS NO IDEA what kind of room or where they are going to be placed. I've heard Michael make this point several times and it bears repeating, it is impossible to evaluate speakers in a vacuum. Speakers, along with the rooms they are in, form a "listening-system", like headphones. You cannot talk about one without the other.

I brought these issues up mainly as the "devil's advocate", as this is what my audiophile friends have said for years (and what I read). When I found this site I was excited at the prospect of hearing Michael himself address arguments I have heard for years. I guess a lot of it boils down to audiophiles telling me, "If tunable speakers are such a good idea, why don't more speaker makers employee this?". Yet all I had to do to change someone's opinion was listen to my 80i's. You have no idea how many people believed these must be $10,000 speakers. Despite this, however, many of my audiophile friends still resisted the idea that the tunable nature of the speakers had much to do with their greatness. So understand that I AM IN YOUR CAMP, MICHAEL. I simply want to know MORE about the tuneable nature of my speakers AND why the industry seems to resist this notion that seems so obvious, elegant and intuative.

I don't want to come off as a person who dismisses the tunable nature of speakers, rooms, ect. On the contrary, I am your biggest fan. Again, I asked the questions I did to get your thoughts on many of these issues.

Thanks,
Nick
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:56 am

This is a great topic for a thread, I have enjoyed very much reading as it progresses.

It is one of the main "pillars" a very important fundamental difference that separate what we do as opposed to "high end" -pretty much the rest of the audio world. Resonating, tunable speakers. The stuff that enables you to really hear the "body" of the guitar, the air around a cymbal splash, and oh my, if you have not heard a piano in a totally tunable system with a sonically functional room. Then I hope you own a piano and, have someone in your house that can play it.

I wonder how a Marshall amplifier would sound in a concrete, aerolam ... inert :having no inherent power of action, motion, I.E. inactive!
Bet that amp would rock !
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:44 pm

Hey, MOSFET67,

I concur that this a great thread because it's always fascinating to hear Mr. Green go down his personal Memory Lane and explain to us all how he first learned all these things he teaches us. I don't believe he missed your praise and the fact that you actually own and love a pair of his speakers. One great thing about The Zone has been the lack of "lurkers" looking for a "fight."

As for me, I NEED to have things repeated and often so that it finally sinks in. There are also cases where I don't comprehend something and sort of "put it on a shelf" until a later time when, say, the use of a different phrasing gets through to me. A recent example: getting your system to open up as wide as possible and then bringing it back down to where you want it. I guess I'm just dense, because that's what Mr. Green has been saying all along, but that particular turn of phrase is what got through to me.

So bring on those discussions. It IS a "forum" after all.

Robert
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:57 pm

Sonic, thank you much for the props on my little rant. I enjoy reading all your posts.

I didn't mean to be critical of audiophiles, our hobby, or high-end audio. I just recall that at one time in my life when I considered myself to be the MOST involved in high-end audio for the home and car, and was CONSTANTLY tweaking and trying different things, I had stopped listening to THE MUSIC and was listening to the SYSTEMS.

Do I still tweak? Sure. Am I still trying to improve my systems? You bet. Is hi-fi reproduction still a favorite hobby. Yes.

But now I approach it much like when I buy a new TV. When I make an improvement or change I become heavily involved with learning everything I can about recent innovations (like when I recently went shopping for new headphones and discovered what great advances in noise cancelling had been made), then I make my purchase or change, decide if I'm happy and if an improvement was really made, then, well....I forget about it for a while and just enjoy the results. If every time I turned on my TV I was watching for motion-blur and pixelization artifacts, I'm pretty sure I would drive my wife crazy and never enjoy anything I watched.

Like I said before, I had to remind myself my gear is a MEANS to an end, NOT THE END ITSELF.

Maybe I'm just crazy and anal and like to obsess about things. But, anyway, that's my story.

Nick
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PostSubject: OK, just to set the record straight....   Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:47 pm

Michael Green said:

please keep in mind that this info is probably something that Mosfet got from the audiophile text train and my answering is more of an in general one and not pointed at our tuning colleague

"IF CONE VIBRATION CAUSES THE ENCLOSURE TO RESONATE, THAT IS LOST ENERGY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED TO VIBRATE THE AIR (conservation of energy)."

Why is it that audiophiles believe this?


First, the last thing I want to do is turn this forum into some flame war as A) I deeply respect Mr. Green's knowledge and B) One thing I LOVE about this forum is the friendly, supportive atmosphere of it's members.

But.........my fragile male ego (you know us men and our ego's) was dinged and I wanted to set the record straight. FIRST, I have been on USENET news groups for over 30 years and if there is one thing I HATE is people who pass things they read or heard off as their own knowledge. Know that EVERYTHING I write is based on MY OWN personal experience. Does that mean it is always right? No, but it is based on something I personally have done or observed.

Let me explain about my background a bit, I am an audiophile in every way but have the very most hands on experience in the world of car audio. I have built MANY award winning systems for myself and friends. I have an MBA and also worked for Phoenix Gold/Carver in their marketing department when I lived in Portland (while there I also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Portland teaching Consumer Behavior to Undergrads and grads).

Working building car audio systems, while different than home audio, gives you extensive practical knowledge regarding the interaction of speakers, enclosures and airspace. KEEP IN MIND YOU ARE ALWAYS DEALING WITH RAW DRIVERS, NOT FINISHED SPEAKER SYSTEMS AS IN THE HOME AUDIO WORLD. Also, you are forced to be MUCH more creative as the enclosure spaces you must make due with ARE NOT OPTIMAL (that is a huge understatement) like car doors that ring like bells (thin sheet metal) and have dozens of "holes". Also, every car is different so you are constantly having to face unique sets of challenges. And yet I constantly strove to build audiophile quality sounding systems in cars that at first seemed impossible to work with. Needless to say, this experience gave me EXTENSIVE knowledge about the nature of drivers, enclosures (MANY built from scratch) and the space within the enclosures and without. Like many car audio installers, even without an EE or Physics degree, we become experts at predicting how speaker (X) will sound in enclosure (Y) just through continuous trial and error.

So with this preface in mind, let's go back to my first assertion that a resonating enclosure first requires energy to resonate (I think we can all agree on that). And second, I assert that this diversion of energy WILL effect (perhaps very small) a speaker's diaphram and the up and down motion. In other words, energy diverted from the driver (in the form of enclosure resonance) will decrease the driver's effeciency, even if very small. Now whether this degrades SQ or not is not the issue. I am simply making a straight forward physics argument based on the first law of thermodynamics.

OK, how does this relate to my experience? Well, obviously in car audio the car doors are often the main speaker enclosures. And........they make TERRIBLE enclosures! Being thin sheet metal, they ring like bells and are full of holes. We deal with this by adding mass to the doors and thereby lowering the door's resonating frequnecy. We use a product called "Dynamat" that is a petroleum product (originally used in roofing) that comes in addhesive sheets that can be applied to the sheet metal of the door and with the help of a a hair dryer it molds perfectly and it's black-tar center adds mass to the sheet metal. Dynamat sheets are also used to cover holes in the sheet metal of the doors to try and create as much as possible a sealed enclosure. Car speaker makers smartly design their drivers to work in infinite-baffle type enclosures as they have no idea how much air-space will be hind them. HOWEVER, just like in a home speaker, an adequate baffle is always needed to prevent rear-waves coming around and canceling out the 180 degree out-of-phase forward firing waves. We all know this problem becomes worse and worse as frequencies get lower as higher frequencies are very directional (they would not "come around" and cancel) while very low frequencies are nearly omni-directional.

ANYWAY, over time I discovered that adding additional Dynamat near the speaker's mounting location increased the driver's output. This is even after the enclosure is sealed so it is not a question of cancellation. In fact, by adding 4 OR MORE layers of Dynamat directly around the driver (let's say a 6" midbass driver), noticeable output increases could be measured on my SPL meter. CLEARLY, I OBSERVED THAT AS THE BAFFLE AROUND THE DRIVER BECAME MORE AND MORE RIGID (could not resonate or vibrate in any way), OUTPUT LEVELS INCREASED FOR THAT DRIVER.

It is THIS experience I draw upon, not something read, when I make my assertions regarding enclosure resonance. NOW, LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR. AS YOU POINTED OUT MICHAEL, THIS IS NOT THE WHOLE STORY. I understand the argument you made and the fact that although what I might say is technically correct, this is NOT how a musical instrument works and that this enclosure resonance IS NOT WASTED ENERGY. On the contrary, this resonance is critical in achieving the tonal characteristics we want in our music. I do see that. I also experience it every night with my wonderful 80i's.

Again, I do appreciate you taking the time to address these issues I raised one by one. But I simply felt compelled to explain these thoughts are born from my own experience working with drivers and enclosures, NOT FROM HAVING READ SOMETHING. I think it is safe to say that part of the disconnect for me is that it is possible in a home environment to achieve such a high degree of sonic "perfection" because of tuning abilities (you CAN create nearly perfect listening rooms). In a car, that is really never possible, only SIMULATED by fancy time-alignemnt and other DSP.

Anyway, thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

Take care all,

Nick
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:00 am

Laughing It's good to get it off the ole chest. In our car shop we did things differently than our home shop as well. However we also did one car where we tuned it like we do the home with all the free resonant designs I like to incorporate and it sounded terrible until we did one thing. We raised the car off of it's tires and grounded the chassis. This presented a whole new picture. The dynamic range was staggering and I could tune it just like I did a home audio system.

A question for you. In your testing did you use dense mdf or fiberglass as your speaker cabinet material when you did your tests with the dynamat? Also, were your test done in tuned rooms? The test results (both listening and in the mic) come out quite different depending on the testing criteria.

An example: Widescreen review did an article on the masters of tuning a while back featuring a well known computer room tuner and myself. Basically I setup the system and tuned it, then Bob did some computer tuning of his own. After the computer testing was a rap pretty much one of the reviewers said the highs were bright and not spacious. The computer could not fix the problem with generated signal. Seemed like the response was no where to be found by adding or subtracting, and the testing did not show the problem on the screen. I then simply tuned the rack to make the air, spaciousness and tonality appear. Needless to say jaws were on the floor and the writers didn't know how to put this into words except to say my products became their test room reference.

Hopefully you, I and the rest of our tunee band of wild explorers will have a chance to do much tuning together. As this happens the lines that may seem foggie now will become more and more clear. The great thing about tuning is we together get to take in the whole experience of a collective, which is something I enjoy very much. On top of this people are welcome to come tune with me as we explore the interaction of materials, signal and environments.

And your correct, you have become a part of a family of listeners that are very friendly and we are glad to see you share your experiences with us. Take off your shoes, kick those feet up and continue to make this your home.

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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:30 pm

Hey Michael!

Oh gosh yes, we used MDF and 'glass all the time in a myriad of ways. Obviously the most common use of MDF was building subwoofer enclosures.

But it was often used in other situations where great rigidity was needed as Dynamat is obviously not very rigid by itself. However, as I pointed out, it was most often used in conjunction with a car's sheet metal. Now metal is obviously VERY rigid however when thin as in car's door, it has a tendancy to resonate like a bell. Mutisheets of Dynamat would completely stop this resonance. For large holes in the door I WOULD use MDF as even multiple sheets of dynamat would flex.

Fiberglass is a FANTASTIC thing to use in a car. First, it is VERY light compared to MDF (which is important to those with performance cars) as long as it is shaped in any way expect flat surfaces, of course. I used it most often to build speaker pods in the kick-panels. This usually gave better sound that speakers in the doors b/c it puts the speakers further away from listeners AND better equals the distance between left and right speakers to the listener (think about door mounted speakers, obviously the driver's side door speakers are going to be much close to the driver than the passenger door speaker, time alignment will fix this but then you have only ONE good listening position). Ideally, I prefered a system with NO SPEAKERS behind the listeners. If I could get a tweeter and good size midbass driver (preferably 6.5" ) in the kick-panels, I then liked to put 8" subs in the front doors (or I might be forced to use a pair of 6.5"'s if I couldn't "build-out" the door enough with 'glass to accomodate an 8") and call it done (no speakers in the rear, just the natural rear-reflections from inside the car). Although a subwoofer is supposed to be difficult to localize, I could ALWAYS tell when a trunk mounted subwoofer was used (it seemed regardless of x-over point). Careful time-alignment helped (delay the front speakers a bit), but I found the ideal system was achieved when ALL the speakers were up front.

Anyway, that's a little more about my experience with cars.

Nick
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:39 am

Did you notice that the fiberglass sounded different from the MDF even with the Dynamat?

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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:24 pm

Did you notice that the fiberglass sounded different from the MDF even with the Dynamat?

Hmmm.....with subwoofer enclosures, no, I didn't notice a difference between MDF and 'glass. Now I had friends in the industry who thought 'glass almost always made better subwoofer enclosures than MDF because of the absence of flat surfaces. They thought flat surfaces (ESPECIALLY parallel flat surfaces) caused a number of problems, namely standing waves inside the enclosure. However, I could never hear a difference. Also, I'll tell you, EVERY INSTALLER in this country stuffs their sub enclosures with polyfill but I recall performing dozens of with/without tests and I was NEVER convinced polyfill helps. Yes, a sub might sound a bit DIFFERENT, but nothing ever convinced me that they sounded BETTER with polyfill, IMHO. With my own sub enclosures (in my life I have used about a dozen in my own cars), I never use it.

Now, how does MDF and 'glass differ with other speakers? Tricky question b/c it's kind of an apples/oranges deal (I mean, I would have to build a 'glass enclosure and an MDF enclosure and put the same compliment of drivers and the same airspace to REALLY judge this). I guess in all honesty, I didn't build enough non-subwoofer enclosures of each to really be able to make a definitive statement about the sonic merits of one vs. another. Subwoofer enclosures ('glass and MDF) are really the most frequently BUILT enclosures for cars. Then I would have to say kick-panel speaker pods. AFTER THAT, the rest of the time we generally made use of some element of the car's body as the enclosure. That might be the door, A-pillar for tweeters, spare-tire well, ect. We would use glass and MDF to complete or strengthen these, but the best systems were the stealthy ones and by using the car's own spaces, we could best integrate a system that hopefully looked as good as it sounded.

So I suppose except for subwoofer enclosures, I can't really answer that.

Nick
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PostSubject: Re: Speaker Tuning vs. Super Rigid Enclosures   Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:35 pm

The sonic difference between these two materials is huge affraid with subs and mains. If your folks are not hearing the difference it means that they have blockage upstream from the cabinets. This is why in our testing we are very careful to use ideal rooms (tunable) and spend a ton of time tuning the front end and electrical system. It's a nightmare walking into most audio designers workshops and listening rooms. If my clients visited those places they would not be to inclined to make purchases. Most claim their expertise but fall way short of even the basics. The question is "how much of the signal is missing if they don't hear a difference?". I would say the the rule of 10% is at play here with most designers unfortunately. This would also explain why there was a gain in volume with the dynamat applied. Most of the information was missing from the beginning and the absorption of the dynamat fortified what was left. In our tests with the product it decreased volume and made notes and their harmonics come up missing.

Poly fill or any dampening material used to excess will do the same thing. The key is to control without killing the fundamentals and their needed harmonics to present the whole.

And also as we have talked about earlier. Do these guys really know what goes on inside of a cabinet? Hardly so if they are filling it with poly.

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