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Author Topic: Meeting pics in the Gallery  (Read 6477 times)
Wardsweb
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« on: May 19, 2007, 10:18:10 PM »

Here you go from today's meet

http://lonestarbottleheads.org/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=35
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FredT300B
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2007, 11:19:59 AM »

Nice pics Luther, and thanks for hosting. Paul started a thread about the meeting on the PE Tech Talk forum, and somebody asked for comments about the ART Arrays' sound. I would appreciate it if anybody who heard them at the meeting would post their impressions. Please be biased toward honesty rather than politeness - somebody might decide to build a pair (or not) based on the responses. Here's a link to the request:

http://www.pesupport.com/cgi-bin/config.pl?read=353806
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jb
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2007, 12:55:08 PM »

I would appreciate it if anybody who heard them at the meeting would post their impressions. Please be biased toward honesty rather than politeness - somebody might decide to build a pair (or not) based on the responses.

I heard the ART Arrays at LSAF in your room and the Dallas Audio Club room and I have to agree with Paul O’Neal. I heard little bass and the treble was hard and gritty. Other then Paul and me, your speakers have been highly praised by all who have heard them; including Wayne Parham, a professional speaker designer. What’s going on?

Among Internet audiophiles there are two standards of evaluation. Inexpensive equipment, especially from small builders and even more so for DIY, is universally praised while expensive gear is usually panned. The reason for the former is encouragement and the latter is ‘sour grapes.’ Without an honest critique, how are the DIY and entry-level designers going to improve?

I drove 600 miles to attend LSAF for the same reason I drove 300 miles to attend RMAF last year and 1700 miles to attend VSAC before that: To calibrate the rave reviews I had been reading about the equipment that would be featured at each show; equipment I would not be able to hear otherwise. I can’t say the trips were a total waste because I like to drive and I re-learned an important lesson: Don’t trust what anyone else hears. At VSAC and RMAF, with the exception of one vendor, nothing lived up to the hype. Maybe it was show conditions because nothing, with the one exception, impressed me, yet nothing, with two exceptions, sounded really bad.

LSAF was different. Only one of the rooms I visited presented what I consider acceptable sound. The others were awful. It seems none of the exhibitors cared because they knew they would get rave reviews in the e-zines and audio forums. Most of the audio sources I heard were laptops or mid-fi CDPs. Speaker wire was zip cord, braided Cat5, and the like. No one appeared to even try to mitigate the acoustic problems of the rooms. I later learned that one exhibitor used digital EQ at the source to even-out the frequency response of his speakers. I think that is dishonest, especially if the listener is unaware of it.

I think the whole Internet audio scene, as exemplified by the Audio Round Table forum and reviewers like Bill Epstein and Srajan Ebaen, is just one big mutual admiration society. No honest appraisals, just mutual promotion to keep the Internet audiophiles excited and the money flowing in. I read Bill Epstein’s LSAF review in Dagogo. He didn’t go to the same audio fest I did. I visited Srajan when he was living in Taos, NM. His audio system is on a par with what I heard at LSAF.

That’s enough ranting, for now.
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FredT300B
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2007, 06:06:42 AM »


I heard the ART Arrays at LSAF in your room and the Dallas Audio Club room and I have to agree with Paul O’Neal. I heard little bass and the treble was hard and gritty. Other then Paul and me, your speakers have been highly praised by all who have heard them; including Wayne Parham, a professional speaker designer. What’s going on?

Among Internet audiophiles there are two standards of evaluation. Inexpensive equipment, especially from small builders and even more so for DIY, is universally praised while expensive gear is usually panned. The reason for the former is encouragement and the latter is ‘sour grapes.’ Without an honest critique, how are the DIY and entry-level designers going to improve?

I drove 600 miles to attend LSAF for the same reason I drove 300 miles to attend RMAF last year and 1700 miles to attend VSAC before that: To calibrate the rave reviews I had been reading about the equipment that would be featured at each show; equipment I would not be able to hear otherwise. I can’t say the trips were a total waste because I like to drive and I re-learned an important lesson: Don’t trust what anyone else hears. At VSAC and RMAF, with the exception of one vendor, nothing lived up to the hype. Maybe it was show conditions because nothing, with the one exception, impressed me, yet nothing, with two exceptions, sounded really bad.

LSAF was different. Only one of the rooms I visited presented what I consider acceptable sound. The others were awful. It seems none of the exhibitors cared because they knew they would get rave reviews in the e-zines and audio forums. Most of the audio sources I heard were laptops or mid-fi CDPs. Speaker wire was zip cord, braided Cat5, and the like. No one appeared to even try to mitigate the acoustic problems of the rooms. I later learned that one exhibitor used digital EQ at the source to even-out the frequency response of his speakers. I think that is dishonest, especially if the listener is unaware of it.

I think the whole Internet audio scene, as exemplified by the Audio Round Table forum and reviewers like Bill Epstein and Srajan Ebaen, is just one big mutual admiration society. No honest appraisals, just mutual promotion to keep the Internet audiophiles excited and the money flowing in. I read Bill Epstein’s LSAF review in Dagogo. He didn’t go to the same audio fest I did. I visited Srajan when he was living in Taos, NM. His audio system is on a par with what I heard at LSAF.

That’s enough ranting, for now.


If I may summarize your comments, the ART Arrays don't sound very good, expensive gear is panned by DIY enthusiasts because of sour grapes, only one system at VSAC and RMAF impressed you, all but one room at LSAF sounded awful and most used non-audiophile sources and cables, Bob Brines' use of an equalizer was dishonest, and the whole internet audio scene is just one big mutual admiration society motivated by money. This is a mouthful to respond to, but here goes:

The ART Arrays were designed to satisfy five objectives: inexpensive ($350-$400), relatively easy to build, high sensitivity, tube friendly, and full range response making a subwoofer unnecessary. I don't find the bass weak at all down to the F3 limit, which is in the mid 40's, but I agree about the treble. Better sounding tweeters are available, even at the $25 limit imposed by the cost target, but none are sensitive enough or have a low enough resonant frequency to fit the design. Several point source two way designs I have built in the $400 price range used more expensive drivers and have greater resolution and the "high end" sound I usually associate with higher quality alloy cone/dome drivers and high order crossovers. But their low sensitivity low impedance design can't be used with a three watt amplifier. 

There is more than a grain of truth to your comment about DIY designs receiving more praise on the internet than they are due, while some really excellent but expensive designs are panned. Saying the word "Krell" on an internet forum will prompt at least one page of negative comments, many from individuals who haven't heard Krell's new Evolution series components. Here's the link to a white paper that examines the psychology of this phenomenon: http://www.dagogo.com/Borden07154.html

I didn't attend VSAC, but I was at the 2006 RMAF, and if only one room impressed you, you set a very high standard for the threshold of good sound. Some of the exhibitors at LSAF could have done a better job of arranging the room to reduce the midbass peak imposed by the room's dimensions. The sound of some of the more expensive speakers I heard did not justify their prices; some did. No system sounded "awful" to my ears.

Bob used an equalizer to tame the worst room peak. To my knowledge he made no attempt to conceal this, in fact he played the system for me with and without equalization. I prefer not to use equalization because the inexpensive equipment I can afford (Behringer DEQ2496) tames the room peaks but flattens the soundstage. I agree Bob's room would have benefitted from a better quality source than a PC sound card. But the bottom line is Bob was forthcoming about using equalization and this isn't dishonest.

And finally, the internet audio scene is one big mutual admiration society characterized by dishonest reviews and motivated by egos and money. (Hope I paraphrased this accurately). I would agree that comments and reviews of inexpensive equipment, especially DIY, get a break from some reviewers when they say it sounds "great" but don't qualify that statement with "considering its cost". Also, some manufacturers' forums take on almost a cult status, where everything the manufacturer sells is wonderful, and any negative statements generate pages of rude and angry responses.

I disagree with your "mutual admiration society" characterization. In fact, I find the internet ezines are often more honest than the mainstream audio magazines. As in the mainstream press, the internet reviewers give some really excellent products the praise they are due along with honesty about their shortcomings. The difference between the two is that the internet mags are more forthcoming about calling a dud a dud. Read the Stereomojo review of the Quinpu A-1.0X integrated amp for an example.

Your post does reveal some truths about the internet audio scene and the non-internet audio scene as well. There is a huge amount of ego in most audiophiles' feelings about their equipment, especially if they built it themselves. Listeners are influenced by many subjective factors, most of which they are unaware. DIY'ers do prefer the sound of DIY equipment, even if it is inferior to some expensive mainstream equipment.

Finally, given your orientation toward very high quality equipment combined into a well integrated system I'm surprised you joined a DIY forum. The audio values of my friends in the other audio group I'm active in, the Houston Audio Society, would be a better fit for your preferences. HAS members' orientation is toward the optimization of high quality (and expensive) systems, some of which are among the best I have heard. See this post for an example: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/houstonaudio/message/1484
 

 
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Wardsweb
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2007, 07:14:14 AM »

First off, thank you two for stating your personal opinons, making specific points and not turning this into a flaming attack fest.

There are many roads to audio nirvana. I think the important point may not be the ultimate destination but enjoying the journey. Remember the only person who has to like your sytem is you.
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jb
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2007, 11:34:32 PM »

Remember the only person who has to like your sytem is you.

I agree but all to often it seems DIYers are more interested in pleasing the masses with the hope fame or fortune by providing plans or selling PCBs and kits. For example:

The ART Arrays were designed to satisfy five objectives: inexpensive ($350-$400), relatively easy to build, high sensitivity, tube friendly, and full range response making a subwoofer unnecessary.

It appears Fred’s goal was to design speakers that were attractive to others and not to satisfy himself. Good sound is not one of the objectives. What’s the point of designing a speaker to satisfy some arbitrary objectives if it doesn’t sound good?

A few years ago I tried my hand at DIY speakers. I made a two-way inspired by the Rauna Freja with inexpensive SEAS drivers and a cabinet made from OSB scraps. Total cost was less than $150. I currently use it in my HT system and drive it with a 1.5 watt SET amp. It doesn’t do everything but what it does do it does very well.

I also made a Nagaoka-designed back-loaded horn for a 4” Fostex driver to experience the full-range concept. Yes, small full-rangers have excellent coherence, which makes for a magical midrange, but I couldn’t accept the limitations in frequency range, dynamics, and the poor integration with the rear horn. That’s why I was surprised Bob Brines was willing to forgo the potential magic of his speakers in order to compete with two- and three-way systems in frequency response.

For the record, Bob did not mention the use of equalization when I twice visited his room and listened to his speakers. I did let him know I thought his digital source was unsatisfactory. In an exchange he and I had on Audio Circle it’s apparent he uses EQ to improve the response of his speakers and not just the room. http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?topic=40572.msg364828#msg364828

For me, the room is the room and I let it speak for itself. I think most audiophiles who truly appreciate music would rather listen to good live music in a bad room then listen to a digitally doctored recording of the same performance. In this age of digital audio, the closest thing we have to the sound of the original performance are the samples on the disk. Each additional layer of digital signal processing, be it upsampling or equalization, sucks more life out of the music until it sounds as lifeless as a digital synthesizer.

When Mr. Brines says, “I just got a laptop computer and decided to use it as my music source. I didn't have any time to play with it so I used Windows Media Player.” And, “While the DAC in the SoundBlaster is not the world's greatest, it's not all that bad, and a pure digital stream directly to the DAC is acceptable given the venue.” He is really saying, “A laptop I haven’t had time to play with and a SoundBlaster is good enough for those DIY yahoos in Dallas.” Don’t you think he would have used a better source, one he was familiar with, if he were in a more prestigious audio show? That attitude was prevalent in many of the other exhibitors. As you noticed, many of the rooms were poorly setup and some equipment didn’t sound as good as you thought it should. By the way, when anyone says something “is not all that bad” or “sounds great considering the cost” that’s just a polite way of saying it’s not very good.

I disagree with your "mutual admiration society" characterization.

Let me give you two examples. In many of the recent posts on Audio Round Table the LSAF participants are congratulating each other for a fine show. I have no problem with that. But what you won’t see is my post wherein I voiced my disappointment with the show. ART doesn’t tolerate dissension, only happy talk and my post was deleted.

I am a ‘horn guy’ and I was looking forward to hearing the Pi speakers. I was sitting in the sweet spot waiting for Wayne to start my CD when two guys walk in. One is apparently a friend of Wayne’s. “Hi, how are ya.” Blah, blah, blah. The three of them are standing right in front of me talking as if I’m not there. It turns out the other guy is a big-shot audio reviewer so he gets preferential treatment over me, a mere potential customer. Or maybe Wayne has been doing business via the Internet for so long he has forgotten how to behave with a real live customer, face to face. I think the proper thing would have been for Wayne to excuse himself from the conversation, start my CD, and than step outside with his visitors.

Finally, given your orientation toward very high quality equipment combined into a well integrated system I'm surprised you joined a DIY forum.

I joined this forum because I believe DIY is the best way to get high quality components to create a well-integrated system. High quality and DIY are not mutually exclusive. If this group doesn’t share those views, I'm in the wrong place.
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FredT300B
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2007, 03:19:02 PM »

I joined this forum because I believe DIY is the best way to get high quality components to create a well-integrated system. High quality and DIY are not mutually exclusive. If this group doesn’t share those views, I'm in the wrong place.

Sorry I made that comment. I apologize. I don't believe you're in the wrong place at all. Our members have built some very good sounding speakers and components that rival the sound of some of the better mainstream products. But many of our members are budget constrained, and their objective is to obtain the best sound at some relatively low (by high end audio standards) price point. I  believe the ART Arrays satisfy that objective, but not everybody is going to like their sound, just as I find it hard to live with the limited dynamics and lower treble peakiness of most of the Fostex and Lowther based speakers I have heard.
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2007, 10:53:24 PM »

Before this gets out of hand, I must interject: there seems to be quite a bit of tension here. JB there is a lot of negativity in your posts. It's one thing to speak your mind and it's another to just keep being negative. I can find something positive in most systems. Are they all perfect, no. Will they all appeal to everyone, no. Do we have all the facts, no. Are there two sides to every store, yes.  So, please try to ligthen up a bit.

I have heard all the speakers that Fred has built. Some are better than others and no they are not for everyone. Although I do own a pair. I still prefer my own DIY horns. The big difference being money. The ones I bought from Fred were around $250. The ones I built I put almost $2000 into. Not a fair comparison.

Like my Grandmother always pointed out: the glass is half full.

Now did I take the blue pill or the red pill... Undecided
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jb
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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2007, 10:18:12 AM »

Fred asked for honest opinions from anyone who heard his Art Arrays. I heard them and I gave him my honest opinion. If he hadn’t asked I would not have said anything. I agreed with Paul O’Brian, who heard them and said the bass was weak. Fred says the bass is fine. I also said the treble was not good. Fred agrees that the tweeter was less than he desired but he could not find a satisfactory replacement that didn’t compromise his design goals; goals that did not include good sound. When I do DIY, good sound is always the prime objective and I will never compromise on that.

In 2001 I began what turned out to be a three-year odyssey making speaker cables and interconnects. After trying and rejecting most of the popular DIY recipes, I experimented with designs of my own. When I thought I had perfected a speaker cable I demoed it to anyone and everyone who would take the time to listen. Everyone said it was the best they had heard. Buoyed by the positive response I contemplated producing the cables on a big scale. I hired an audio consultant to do a thorough market evaluation and his review was also positive.

In the meantime I sent a cable to an audiophile/dealer friend who has the best ears in the business and whom I knew would give me his honest opinion because he’s ‘negative’, just like me. After using them for a couple months he said he didn’t like them. He said they were “lightweight and thin” and “didn’t properly convey the weight and authority of a full orchestra.”

When I got the cables back I listened very carefully but I didn’t hear anything like he described. On the other hand, I don’t listen to very much orchestral music. So, in the interest of science, as they used to say, I revoiced the cables to enhance the bottom end and, what do you know, everything sounded better.

The moral of the story is: The more ears the better even if you don’t always agree with their assessment. The most valuable feedback is negative.

This past December I went to Dallas to hear the Axiom amplifiers. I had been following the development of these amps for many years and wanted to hear them. I brought along my own amps for comparison and also brought my speaker cables and interconnects, just in case. After the listening session was over and I was packing up my gear, I asked my host if he cared to listen to my ICs. He obliged and while he and another guest were hooking them up, I left the room to take my amps to my truck. When I returned and was just outside the door of the listening room, I overheard them discussing my ICs. They didn’t like them; said they were very noisy. But as soon as they saw me their opinion changed. My host said they were among the best ICs he had ever heard.

Well, thanks for nothing. Their private comment about noise had me concerned, but as I was leaving I noticed that there was a cell phone tower less than 50 yards from the house. That explained the noise. My unshielded ICs are very susceptible to RFI. I don’t have RFI problems where I live: Radio and TV reception is difficult and cell phones don’t work at all.

The moral of the story is: Positive feedback, especially if it is insincere, is worthless unless you need your self-esteem boosted.

Luther, it appears that you want this forum to be a happy place where there is no disagreement and every DIY creation is universally praised. I’m sorry I butted in with my ‘negativity.’ You may delete my user ID.
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Wardsweb
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2007, 10:03:40 AM »

JB no need to delete your ID. You are free to post or not. The door is always open.

I totally understand honest opinions; good or bad. Case in point, the last meeting of the Lone Star Bottleheads was held at my house. A very nice gentleman brought his huge DIY speakers to show the fruits of his year long labor. To me they were a bit over powering with boomy bass. I told him this and we talked about what was different here than his home.  The room here was was quite a bit smaller than his listening room, so we took the speakers out to the patio. We also changed amplifiers. They were wonderfull there.  It helps when you can talk in real time to trade info back and forth. It's tough to make a good decision when you don't have all the information.  Now having said that, he did email me later that he changed the port lengths to lessen the bass even in his home.
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Wayne Parham
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2007, 05:19:23 PM »


I saw this thread while helping Melissa find links for a post on ART, and I felt the need to reply.

First off, hotel rooms aren't the best places to setup gear, but they are representative of real world environments, not quite worst case but not too good either.  But I would say that most high-end audio sellers that setup their rooms to look like they've mitigated room conditions don't do much real analysis of the room.  It's like a placebo, when audiophiles see absorbent materials on the walls and bass traps scattered around, they think they've been intelligently placed when in fact, they usually haven't been.  Nine times out of ten, an audiophile listens with his eyes.

Second off, audiophiles are often times guilty of arrogance in believing their ears to be detecting things they can't possibly hear.  The whole reason we use a logarithmic scale (the decibel) to describe sound loudness is that our ears are not linear.  You can be fooled by your ears just like you can be fooled by any other of your senses.

I think JB is right about the "mutual admiration society", but I think his target is skewed.  If you want to see deception, a lack of "truth in advertising", then look no further than profit motive.  The greater the profit potential, the greater the incentive to deceive or at least manipulate.  An anonymous poster that attacks a design like Fred's ART arrays might just be a shill for a commercial product with sales that are eroded by it.

That brings me to JB's comments about "big-shot audio reviewers", his being a "mere potential customer" and his expectation of how others should act in his presence.  I'm going to assume he is not a shill for a commercial interest and respond to him as if he were legitimately interested.

LSAF is like all trade shows, big or small.  It's a place to see a lot of gear at once, to meet representatives of the companies and to be among a group of like-minded individuals.  It is not a private screening.  Interruptions happen and there are lots of distractions.  There are occasionally brief periods of calm, but generally not.  It is not the right venue to expect to be able to do any critical listening because the environment is not right for it.  It is a place to cull out those items that might merit further inspection, perhaps arrange a private screening or bring home an evaluation unit.  Maybe if DIY, a person can decide what next to build but nobody expects to have the same experience at a trade show that they would have at home, after living with the equipment for a while.

The "big-shot audio reviewers" that were at LSAF are hobbyists turned reviewers, just like those that write for most ezines.  They're just like JB claims to be, passionate audiophiles.  Two of the three that were there are personal friends of mine and so wouldn't review my speakers.  It wouldn't work - they're friends.  I don't know if what JB said about my greeting them was true or not, but I know that I would have greeted my friends warmly, that's for sure.  I would do that because they are my friends, not because they get "preferential treatment" as reviewers.

Should I treat a stranger with more respect than my friends?  Is that what it takes to make JB happy?  Is he so used to going into boutique audio shops that roll out the red carpet for the "potential customer" that he doesn't know what real friends act like around each other?  I know those kind of dealers, they treat the prospective customer like a king but then joke about him when he leaves.  Honestly, that's what it sounds like JB expected.  He didn't want reality, instead, he wanted a place where snobbish critiques with no basis in reality pass for elite company.  You know the golden ears types that use all the popular catch phrases while describing the Emperors New Clothes of the latest offerings of some high-end boutique audio shop.

Sorry if I come off as negative.  I don't mean to offend JB or anyone else.  But I must say that I think his views are narrow minded and, well, wrong.

If you want to compare equipment, get out the signal generator and the scope.  If you want to compare speakers, use LMS, Praxis or TEF.  If you're using casual listening sessions at trade-shows to compare speakers, then you are self-deceived at the very least.

Fred's speakers cost something like three hundred bucks to build.  They measure pretty well on LMS.  Rather than listen to the opinion of some "golden eared" audiophile's opinion - which is no more reliable than a reviewer on an ezine - how 'bout measuring it to see how it compares.  Only then will you know how it truly rates.
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