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Tom Martin fires a shot across the bow of his own magazine.

72.217.76.3

Posted on March 17, 2020 at 11:54:40
DustyC
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I got around to reading this editorial and can only nod my head and mutter "about time". Endless mixing and matching of components is the backbone of the magazines and for me it's getting old.
Taking a systems approach removes a lot of those chance variables that can get expensive over time.
I think he's ahead of the curve. A lot a twenty and thirty year olds at my office express interest in good sound but want a plug and play system that is high quality, not something that requires months worth of reading and planning.

 

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RE: Gail Sanders and the new Eikon IMAGE1 system, posted on March 18, 2020 at 06:15:55
tketcham
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I enjoyed reading about the new Eikon IMAGE1 speaker system in the latest edition of The Absolute Sound. It's likely to be a forerunner of good sound for a good price that's easy to set up and enjoy. The Eikon Image1 is a statement component at this price point (for most of us) but I can see the concept evolving into a more affordable system that, as Mr. Sanders points out, will attract not only a new group of audiophiles but also those of us that will want to simplify our lives (and music systems) as we get older. It's going to be the new paradigm of what a decent stereo looks like.

Tom

 

RE: Tom Martin fires a shot across the bow of his own magazine., posted on March 18, 2020 at 20:42:56
hahax@verizon.net
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It will be interesting to see if anything comes of the Eikon. There have often been very good audio speakers like ATC with active crossovers and built in amps that don't have room equalization like the Eikon but have merely a small following even though they are excellent speaker systems. Amplifiers are way happier when they don't have to drive passive crossovers which are often lousy loads.

By the way the last speaker that Gordon Holt purchased for himself was a powered ATC50A. He considered it one of the few systems that could approach a sense of live sound.

The use of digital active crossovers should make their design simpler. And it would be simple to add environmental equalization to them. Plus the latest high bit, high sampling DACs can exhibit superb sound.

I'm a fan but after decades of the failure of active speaker systems to make a dent in home audio(although they are prolific in pro monitoring) I'm not optimistic.

 

DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 19, 2020 at 05:33:35
Kal Rubinson
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As you say, DSP might make design work simpler and the addition of environmental equalization would be a decided plus. However, there are several other designs on the market which incorporate these features and more, such as controlled dispersion which makes their performance more independent of room acoustics and placement:
1. B&O Beolab 90
2. Dutch & Dutch 8C
3. Kii Three / BXT
and many more targeted at studio professionals from established and familiar names. A few are already beginning to appear at lower prices (<<$1000).

 

RE: DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 19, 2020 at 11:44:38
DustyC
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I remember reading Stereophile's test report of that Dutch and Dutch 8C speaker. That waterfall plot was one of the cleanest (and not just in the tweeter range) that I'd seen in quite a while.

 

More significantly......................., posted on March 19, 2020 at 12:33:13
Kal Rubinson
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they sound great.

 

RE: DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 19, 2020 at 19:32:01
tketcham
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Kal, what are your thoughts on the differences between the digital processing and speaker design of the Kii Three and Image1? They both appear to make it relatively straightforward to correct for the acoustic anomalies of a typical listening space, but I don't fully understand the technical aspects of either speaker.

Tom

 

But a DSP Speaker..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 02:27:31
PAR
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...surely means that any analogue input must be digitised by an ADC in the speaker. Or do I not understand it correctly?

Surely that will upset those dedicated to analogue sources? Or what about those with very high end DACs, they won't be hearing their output but whatever the speaker engineer has used instead ( which manufacturing costing suggests may not be an in speaker dCS, totaldac or MSB equivalent)?

The speaker may end up with a flat in room response but there is a whole new can of worms to consider.

"We need less, but better" - Dieter Rams

 

Dang! It's GAYLE. My apologies Mr. Sanders. /nm/, posted on March 20, 2020 at 05:34:40
tketcham
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My apologies to Mr. Sanders for misspelling his given name.

 

RE: DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 20, 2020 at 05:53:05
Kal Rubinson
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I am loath to comment because, although I am quite familiar with the D&D (as well as the B&O and Kii), I have no hand's-on experience with the Eikon Image1 and their documentation is lacking in substance.

I did see and hear it a bit at RMAF in 2018 and was disappointed at the need for the external processor/controller, the plethora of (analog) interconnections and, iirc, the need to upload measurement data in order to download correction filters. None of that, of course, says anything about the actual performance which I could not judge under the conditions.

 

RE: But a DSP Speaker..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 05:56:48
tketcham
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Digital processing is a given with these systems and in the TAS article Robert Harley mentions that vinyl aficionados may not be happy with having the analog signal converted to digital. So be it. But Mr. Harley mentions that the ADC processing probably wouldn't be a detriment for many vinyl lovers.

My attitude on the rest of the sources being digitally altered is that I'd rather have a speaker system that can broadcast a great sound in my listening space than the straight wire paradigm. I could be wrong but my hunch is that most of us have a compromised acoustic space and could benefit from a well designed active speaker system.

The other advantage Mr. Harley mentions is that the system allows for custom configurations that would allow the sound to be tailored for specific sources. If someone wants to hear exactly what is on a recording, that's fine, but we all know that quality recordings are not universal. I'd love to have the ability to customize recordings to suit MY listening space and personal sound preferences.

Plus, I like the idea of getting rid of a rack full of gear. Two speakers and a discreetly located source sounds pretty good to me. :-)

Tom

 

The D&D is indeed interesting..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 05:59:31
Doug Schneider
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Hi,

I believe we were the first audio magazine to receive the Dutch & Dutch 8c so we've learned a lot about it. I still have a pair here. In our review, you can also find measurements that I think are quite a bit more telling than Stereophile's as we go further off-axis, performance a distortion test, etc.

Kal mentioned DSP-based speakers being different -- and they are, or at least can be. It's possible that some designer will just tweak the crossover settings like they would a conventional loudspeaker, but D&D has done something more. Through acoustical design and through DSP, they've shaped a cardiod dispersion patter in the bass, which can limit the sidewall interactions. They've also designed the speaker so it performs best CLOSE to the front wall, which is counter-intuitive, but works.

You'll also be able to learn more about D&D in our upcoming videos. We visited the factory in December and are currently working on our first of two videos about the company and their 8c. You'll see those on www.YouTube.com/soundstagenetwork

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

Or Via Digital Input..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 06:03:19
Doug Schneider
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Many DSP-based speakers have digital inputs as well, so the entire chain up to amplifier conversion stays in the digital domain.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 20, 2020 at 06:12:04
tketcham
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I thought the external processors were a benefit in that upgrades would probably be easier to implement. The need for analog inputs could be potentially be eliminated (other than tape and vinyl) if Eikon incorporated digital sources in their processor. Perhaps something similar to computer expansion cards. But that's asking an industry that prides itself on individuality to agree on a common protocol.

Having uploading measurements makes sense in that they wouldn't have to keep thousands of processors current. Cloud computing makes sense in this case.

Tom

 

RE: DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 20, 2020 at 06:20:20
Kal Rubinson
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1. The processor does accept digital inputs but outputs analog to the speakers which are, physically, 4-way analog speakers without crossovers.
2. The original processor I saw looked like the Legacy Wavelet processor and I wonder how the snazzy new one differs.

 

Just to pile on......................, posted on March 20, 2020 at 06:24:30
Kal Rubinson
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In addition to my original Stereophile review, JA (the Elder) offers a lengthy and detailed follow-up on the D&D in the April edition just out now.

 

RE: Just to pile on......................, posted on March 20, 2020 at 06:40:08
Doug Schneider
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I think the piling on is justified -- D&D is doing something innovative. Not the only company that is, but one of the few currently. People should look into them if they're serious about cutting-edge hi-fi.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 20, 2020 at 06:44:17
tketcham
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I guess I missed the nuance of what was being described. The Eikon website has this entry in the specs for the controller/processor: 8 balanced output XLR channels. So the signal path to the onboard amps is external, requiring four interconnects to each Image1?

 

RE: DSP-based active speakers are different from conventional active speakers., posted on March 20, 2020 at 07:25:51
Kal Rubinson
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I suspect it is a single snake cable per channel with an 8-xlr break-out on each end.

 

RE: Or Via Digital Input..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 07:42:13
PAR
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Yes Doug. So I just keep my transport and discard my dCS Vivaldi DAC because it is obvious that the $10 chip in the speaker is going to be just as good :-).

As I said, another can of worms.

KEF introduced this concept (albeit sans DSP) back in the 1990s. A huge success. Not.

"We need less, but better" - Dieter Rams

 

RE: Or Via Digital Input..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 07:53:31
Doug Schneider
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I don't understand - what's the can of worms?

BTW, active has long been considered a good idea, but audiophiles have traditionally resisted it for varying reasons. But with modern DSP, designers like Kii and D&D and others are putting elements into designs that couldn't have been done years ago. It's made it a very compelling proposition if real performance is what you're after.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: But a DSP Speaker..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 08:28:33
DustyC
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My current amp converts all analog inputs to digital (including vinyl). The RIAA equalization is done in the digital realm. No complaints here.
The current crop of young listeners seems to be digital only in my experience.
Somebody that spent $20 grand on a phono stage will probably dismiss these developments but I think it's a good way forward.

 

RE: Just to pile on......................, posted on March 20, 2020 at 08:48:05
tketcham
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When I first read about the Dutch & Dutch 8C speaker system I was intrigued but didn't fully understand the approach they took. This thread has helped to better grasp the differences between different design philosophies and technologies. I'm curious now as to when we'll be seeing a system that is a bit more affordable but retains most of the advantages.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm ready to sell off the rack of gear and move to an active speaker system with one turntable and a single digital source. A stereo that can be more easily integrated into our living room and get me out of the audiophile cave in the basement. It's been fun but I'm ready to see the light. :-)

Tom

 

RE: That wouldn't be so bad. /nm/, posted on March 20, 2020 at 08:55:26
tketcham
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tom

 

We call it Simplifi..., posted on March 20, 2020 at 09:11:37
Doug Schneider
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It's interesting you bring up that point about simplifying your system. We saw the need for that a couple of years ago and started a site dedicated to such a pursuit -- we call it SoundStage! Simplifi. On it you'll find many reviews of active speakers, and some recent reviews where editor Gordon Brockhouse defines the terminology, which I think is helpful in this day and age.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

Thanks for the link. /nm/, posted on March 20, 2020 at 09:33:25
tketcham
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Tom

 

Already have one that is WAF approved, posted on March 26, 2020 at 11:41:37
E-Stat
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we call it the "home theater" located in the family room. Wifey loves to watch her recorded programs from the DVR and stream from Netflix, PBS, Amazon, etc.

No TT, but can stream content from the music server.

 

Our D&D video is now online..., posted on March 30, 2020 at 07:05:49
Doug Schneider
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Followers of this thread are probably interested in getting a little more insight into the Dutch & Dutch company. We just put a new video online. Please see the link below...

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: Our D&D video is now online..., posted on April 1, 2020 at 06:52:13
tketcham
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Thank you for the link. It does provide some background but many of us are probably more interested in the technical aspects of the 8c speaker design, specifically, how does DSP-controlled cardioid dispersion work to improve in-room response?

Eikon Audio provides a useful introduction to how their Image1 speaker system corrects for the acoustic anomalies of a room:
EIKON Space-Time Room Optimization

I read Bermt Böhmer's article on Wavelet Room Compensation but am still digesting what is presented. Nonetheless, it does make sense and is the system that seems most promising.
Böhmer Audio Room Compensation

Incidentally, I came across this statement made by John Atkinson about the Eikon Image1 system: "I consider the Eikon approach a portent of what will become standard in speaker system design in the next decade." (https://www.stereophile.com/content/gayle-sanders-eikon-dsp-optimization)

Based on the limited understanding I have of the current DSP-controlled speaker offerings (and my own experience trying to fit speakers into listening rooms), I have to agree. It's the approach I'm hoping will become more affordable before I get too much older. :-)

Tom

 

RE: Our D&D video is now online..., posted on April 1, 2020 at 08:04:29
Doug Schneider
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Hi,

Thanks for the feedback. We do have a second video we're currently working on, which gets into the technical aspects of the 8c more heavily. Look for that in about 1 month.

As for what was written in Stereophile, that's true about DSP becoming more and more prevalent in speaker designs, but that actually began long before Eikon came around. Interesting times!

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: Our D&D video is now online..., posted on April 1, 2020 at 10:05:42
tketcham
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I've been aware of DSP-controlled speaker systems but the Wavelet correction approach is unique from what I've read and that's how I interpreted Mr. Atkinson's comment. Do you know of other systems that incorporate Mr. Bohner's Wavelet analysis?

 

RE: Our D&D video is now online..., posted on April 1, 2020 at 10:58:34
Kal Rubinson
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Legacy Audio has used this system for quite a while.

 

RE: So the Eikon Image1 is somewhat unique?, posted on April 1, 2020 at 12:28:57
tketcham
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I remember reading about the Wavelet processor, but it was being used with the Legacy V speakers and they cost far more than my budget could handle. I now see that Legacy offers a Wavelet processor for non-Legacy speakers. And found this review:
Home Theater Hi-Fi - Legacy Audio Wavelet Review

So the Eikon Image1 is somewhat unique in that it incorporates on-board amplification? I'm wondering then, why such glowing enthusiasm for the Image1? I wouldn't think it was the amplification alone that sets it apart. If Bohner's Wavelet technology can be applied to most speaker designs, granted with variable success depending on speaker inputs, why isn't the Wavelet processor getting more attention?

 

RE: So the Eikon Image1 is somewhat unique?, posted on April 1, 2020 at 13:30:17
Doug Schneider
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Hi,

I would say that the praise for the Eikon is partly for the concept but also for the sound. At the Florida Audio Expo this year, I had to chance to listen to the system at length and really liked what I heard. I thought it was one of the best-sounding systems there. See the link below.

That said, from what I can tell, their technology is not radically new, nor are they doing things others aren't. That's no to downplay them as much as it is to put it into perspective. In the audiophile world, Dutch & Dutch, Kii Audio, and others, are all doing some very interesting things, but this is all based on technologies that have been coming to fruition for many years now.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

Yes, somewhat unique, posted on April 3, 2020 at 10:26:42
Kal Rubinson
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The system is focussed primarily on correction in the time domain rather than the more usual correction in the amplitude domain. Here's a link to the underlying technology.

 

RE: Yes, somewhat unique, posted on April 3, 2020 at 13:42:08
Doug Schneider
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Hi Kal,

Interesting. I hadn't realized that's the room-correction system they're using. What I can't help but wonder, though, is how similar it is to the RoomPerfect system, which is apparently time-based and bent on correcting room-effects only and leaving the response of the speakers alone.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: Yes, somewhat unique, posted on April 3, 2020 at 13:52:05
Kal Rubinson
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I did not know that the RoomPerfect system is more "time-based" than other systems as, I think, it is an outgrowth of the old Tact system. It uses somewhat random spatial sampling that, all by itself, biases it towards dealing with the space and less so the speaker. One samples randomly until the system gains sufficient "room knowledge" although it often helps to measure a few boundary positions.

 

RE: Yes, somewhat unique, posted on April 3, 2020 at 16:27:14
Doug Schneider
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Hi,

I'm not sure it's currently based on the Tact work. Last November, when I sat down for coffee with Peter Lyngdorf, he told me that in the early 2000s, he scrapped all the room-correction work they had done up till then, hired 30 developers, and rebuilt the software with what he referred to as a "time based" correction approach, which they weren't using before. Now, whether this "time based" approach is the same or even similar, I have no idea -- lots of people call different aspects of audio "time based." But this is to say, I don't think it's an outgrowth of the Tact system anymore.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: Yes, somewhat unique, posted on April 3, 2020 at 17:49:08
Kal Rubinson
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I have heard that but not seen any evidence yet.

 

RE: Yes, somewhat unique, posted on April 4, 2020 at 06:08:20
tketcham
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I've been reading through the articles at the Bohmer Audio website and also the manual on Legacy's Wavelet processor and thinking it would be a fun project to experiment using the processor with multiple speakers and subwoofers to create a rudimentary Wavelet-corrected speaker system. Obviously it wouldn't be anywhere near the quality of sound of the Legacy V or Eikon Image1 speakers but I think it would hint at the possibilities.

 

RoomPerfect and DSP Generally, posted on April 9, 2020 at 03:58:40
cawson@onetel.com
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My experience with RoomPerfect was dire but perhaps I was unlucky. I had a loan Lyngdorf TDAI-3400 amplifier that I was hoping would offer good things, specially as it included RoomPerfect. It was pretty good as an amp without RP engaged, but after running the microphone procedure a few times, I found the resultant effect was that the life was sucked out of the music. A weedy sound seriously lacking in bass.

My next amp may be a NAD M33 when it's released and this has Dirac. I'm somewhat sceptical of all these "room correction" systems, but I'll certainly give Dirac a chance to convince me. Apart from RoomPerfect, I've used a Micromega amp with MARS (this did make a small improvement with its properly calibrated mic) and Martin Logan 13A speakers with their included Anthem system (not convincing).

I wonder whether these room correction systems will lead to poorly designed speakers. A lazy manufacturer (or one without a big R&D budget) may think that as long as every frequency can be reproduced by one of the drivers he includes, why bother to even attempt to design the cabinet, crossover circuit, etc to achieve a linear result? Leave all this to DSP and this will not only resolve shortcomings of the speakers, but also the room. Job done with no real effort by the designer. I'm not suggesting that respected present-day speaker makers will do this, but it may offer opportunities for building "good sounding" speakers that are basically crap and totally dependent on DSP to sound anything other than dreadful. Discuss!

 

RE: RoomPerfect and DSP Generally, posted on April 9, 2020 at 05:24:12
tketcham
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Conversely, it may be that speaker designers, when freed from the constraints of passive speaker boxes and crossovers, might come up with a totally new approach that sounds even better.

Tom

 

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