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 Post subject: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:00 am 
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Our review of the Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec is the first time that the acoustic analysis capability of the SPCR anechoic chamber and advanced acoustic analysis tools have been used for speaker testing. Happily, the test results have been helpful, shedding light on subjective impressions and putting the review on a more empirical footing. It was also a good excuse to revisit the AudioEngine A2 speakers, reviewed just before the anechoic chamber came into service.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:25 am 
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Ooh cool. Thanks for the review Mike.
It's always nice to see a review of "cheap" computer speakers against their bigger brethren.

I have this feeling that one day someone might make a killer of a product that costs a tenth of the price of the equivalent "hi-fi" product but with close to the same performance.

That being said, from your review, it looks like this suffers from the same thing as most satellite / "fake sub" combos.. thin, tinny sound from boxes that are too small / inadequate drivers.

But keep the reviews coming! I'm curious about these as well - even cheaper :!: - http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=567_602&products_id=16512. They look alright.

fyi my setup at home is not really high end but i enjoy it -
computer room - b&w 601s2s on stands with cyrus amp, xonar d2
lounge room - kef floorstanders with an unnecessarily hefty rotel class ab power amp, xonar essence stx (with my preferred opamps). M&K Sub as well with the crossover set really low
All grills off of course!!
And yes i have all FLAC as well where i can
All movies with DTS if i can, even got a rip of "Red" with that "DTS HD" (lossless) track. I think the audio bitrate was 1/3 of the total bitrate (4000/12000 kbps) :)


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:17 am 
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Interesting. I'm imagining a similar analysis of some high-end audio equipment, and I can't stop an evil grin. Migth be hard to get donations, though. :>

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:03 am 
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Enjoyable review Mike!

Typo patrol!

Page 3: "With the Rockus, the satellites are not producing any bass, [Aalmost] all of it is coming from the woofer box at my feet."

Page 6: "It should; the Rockus most likely has [power] powerful [amplfiers], and there are probably three of them, compared to the A2's two."

On the satellite speaker magnets -- the shielding is why they are so big, I think? They add a second magnet as large as the main on, and then enclose them both in a steel shell.

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Last edited by NeilBlanchard on Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:06 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Enjoyable review Mike!

Typo patrol!

Page 3: "With the Rockus, the satellites are not producing any bass, [Aalmost] all of it is coming from the woofer box at my feet."

Page 6: "It should; the Rockus most likely has [power] powerful [amplfiers], and there are probably three of them, compared to the A2's two."


Hey, that's my job! :twisted:
(And you missed about a dozen or so grammatical and spelling errors :P )

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:09 am 
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rpsgc wrote:
NeilBlanchard wrote:
Enjoyable review Mike!

Typo patrol!

Page 3: "With the Rockus, the satellites are not producing any bass, [Aalmost] all of it is coming from the woofer box at my feet."

Page 6: "It should; the Rockus most likely has [power] powerful [amplfiers], and there are probably three of them, compared to the A2's two."


Hey, that's my job! :twisted:
(And you missed about a dozen or so grammatical and spelling errors :P )

Thanks guys, I really appreciate the typo help -- should not have been trying to finish it with a headache and a bad keyboard at 3am. The entire article has received another complete going over, there should not be any more typos.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:33 am 
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I MUCH rather have 2 way speakers than a sub woofer.
my setup is 2 bose 301 book shelf speakers and a T amp. Amazing bang for the buck. I run it from a good quality 12 volt power supply, but in retrospect I should have wired a harness from one of the computer's power ports.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:52 am 
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MikeC wrote:
...there should not be any more typos.

Sorry, Mike, but I question your living room's "flass" doors.

Really nice review, and the measurements are especially impressive for a first attempt. Keep up the good work.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:01 pm 
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HammerSandwich wrote:
Really nice review, and the measurements are especially impressive for a first attempt. Keep up the good work.

I think if you examine every other "PC speaker" review, they don't even come close. I haven't found a single credible one yet, not on computer tech hardware review sites. I just came across a 2.1 spkr roundup review in THG -- and the test setup is just... SO WRONG!!! http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/pc-speake ... 093-7.html

Quote:
Most PC speaker reviews are limited to subjective opinions. While those are quite useful, this is Tom’s Hardware. We’re going to try to go a little deeper than that with some objective measurements, too. [what a joke!!!]

Our measurements are taken with a calibrated Apex 220 measurement microphone that has a phantom power supplied by TubeMP preamp. The measurement software we use is TrueRTA audio-spectrum analyzer level 4, found at http://www.trueaudio.com. Testing is done in a 25’x15’ room with the microphone pointed upward 30” from the satellites and subwoofer.

1. if you take measurements in a live room, which this is, the reflections (echoes) make a complete hash of all freq. response tests. NONE OF THE THG FREQ RESP. GRAPHS CAN BE TRUSTED. They all lie. The only way that FR testing in a live room can be done accurately is to time-limit the signal or the capture -- ie capture only the first -- say -- 50ms of the white noise. Short enough so that most of the room reflections don't have time to get to the mic.

2. Nowhere is listening setup indicated. What room, what position, what distance between speakers & listener, etc, etc. Speaker positioning is so utterly pertinent to the end result you hear. (For example, if atop-the-desk, mid-to-loud conditions was the only way the Audioengine A2 was auditioned, I would not be recommend it. Period. Yet, the same speakers at modest volume in place of the big NHT 2.9 speakers in the conventional stereo does an amazingly credible job.) The reviewer blithely tells us of his subjective impressions without a single word about the setup for each speaker system. That's just a joke.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:12 pm 
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Question: Is all the emphasis on frequency response worthwhile? Certainly, frequency response is one of the most significant variables for audio quality (and one of the easiest to measure), but, thanks to modern software EQs built into almost every audio program, it's also one of the easiest to fix. You mention yourself that's it's easy to tweak to taste. And, given that every room will affect the speakers differently, even a flat speaker won't be flat in ordinary use. If setting up a sound system in a room is *always* going to require some external equalization just because of the nature of room acoustics, is there any point in judging a speaker by its flatness?

I don't really understand why frequency response is considered the most significant measure of audio quality.

I would think that an unchanging frequency response across a wide dynamic range is important (though only with dynamic audio sources ... with most audio sources compressed into the top 10 dB or so, I can't imagine this is that significant).

Just playing devil's advocate ...


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:43 pm 
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Devonavar wrote:
Question: Is all the emphasis on frequency response worthwhile? Certainly, frequency response is one of the most significant variables for audio quality (and one of the easiest to measure)...

Not easy to measure correctly -- if it was, everyone would be doing it. You MUST have the right gear, the right test environment.

How relevant is it? Absolutely flat response is not essential, especially in the bass where room interactions dictate much. However, there is no substitute for a fundamentally smooth frequency response w/ no big anomalies. This, in combination with quickness, translates to a speaker that has the potential for real transparency. The first arrival signal from the speaker -- the direct path from spkr to ear -- is the one that "fixes" the core quality of the speaker. If that first arrival signal is not frequency linear, the results will be inconsistent.

Naturally, intelligent room-interactive design is essential, too. The idea of a speaker that you can place anywhere w/ equally good results is usually complete hype. The best designs always stipulate position, even room size/dimensions. It's the nature of room/speaker interactions.

EQ works in a PC desk speaker, but it always introduces phase distortion, which in a more transparent system become audible. And EQ cannot make fundamental fixes caused by design errors or shortcomings elsewhere. (simple example -- there is a dip at 200 Hz. Why? let's say it's because the xover is rolling the woofer upper response off quickly so its breakup modes won't affect the mids... and the chosen mid driver doesn't have enough power capacity there so its low roll off is also quick. You compensate by increasing gain at 200 Hz... which is OK unless/until the drivers are overloaded there -- and that will happen at a lot lower volume because of that additional boost.)

Good speakers are about consistently accurate/good results with a wide range of material and volumes -- flatter freq response definitely is an important part of this consistency.

Another huge issue is directivity -- A constant dispersion pattern over the entire frequency range -- that is the ideal, imo. If it varies a lot with frequency, results are inconsistent and not as convincing. Either dipole or omni is better than simple forward firing.

The most fundamental problem with 99% of conventional speakers is that they are omnidirectional in the bass, but much more directional higher up in frequency. 20~100 Hz tones fire in every direction almost regardless of bass driver/enclosure design, but by middle C (260Hz, center note on the piano), on most box speakers, it is usually not better than... maybe 3~6 dB down 45 degrees off axis, and at least -10 dB by the time you get to 90 deg. This varying polar radiation "excites" room resonances in different ways at different frequencies, and we human beings easily hear the discontinuities. It's one of the reasons that you can usually tell in seconds whether the music is live or canned.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:09 pm 
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Nice one, congratulations! :wink:
Will audio equipment testing be a regular part in SPCR's future?

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:59 pm 
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Parappaman wrote:
Nice one, congratulations! :wink:
Will audio equipment testing be a regular part in SPCR's future?

I think so, but we will be selective -- ie, try to screen out obviously ordinary products.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:32 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
The reviewer blithely tells us of his subjective impressions without a single word about the setup for each speaker system. That's just a joke.

That's true about most reviews of audio equipment, even high-end stuff. The gear gets referenced, but not the room configuration.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:41 am 
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MikeC wrote:
Parappaman wrote:
Nice one, congratulations! :wink:
Will audio equipment testing be a regular part in SPCR's future?

I think so, but we will be selective -- ie, try to screen out obviously ordinary products.

May I recommend something from the GigaWorks lineup, like the T20/T40/HD50? :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:31 pm 
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Nice review, definently a lot more factual info and proper measurements than pretty much every other pc speaker review I've read the last 10 years.

Probably off topic, but I have to say that buying new pc speaker kits today, when you can often find a decent pair of used bookshelf speakers and a small integrated amp for roughly the same amount of money is wasted, but thats just my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:44 pm 
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Wibla wrote:
Probably off topic, but I have to say that buying new pc speaker kits today, when you can often find a decent pair of used bookshelf speakers and a small integrated amp for roughly the same amount of money is wasted, but thats just my opinion.
I definitely agree with you, but I think the majority of consumers for this type of product want compact speakers and enclosures, for whatever reason. That and the fact that the average consumer probably couldn't be bothered to use "non-PC speakers" with their PC.

Cost is another factor, of course. I was looking at getting a pair of Paradigm SE1 bookshelf speakers and a Paradigm SE Sub, powering it with something like a NAD C316BEE. Even with a little package like that I'd still be looking at ~$1500 CDN after you throw some quality interconnects in there. Few average consumers, gamers, or even audiophiles would want to shell out that cash for a PC audio system.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:03 pm 
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I recently saw a pair of decent B&W bookshelfs going for less than $100, and a nad 319 going for $200-250, its a larger investment than a pc speaker set, but also liable to last for years, and the sound quality would be miles ahead of a pc speaker set costing the same.

My "pc speaker" setup was around 15500 NOK / $2500 CAD new, but by buying used, it ended up at $1400...

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:34 pm 
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Wibla wrote:
My "pc speaker" setup was around 15500 NOK / $2500 CAD new, but by buying used, it ended up at $1400...
Very nice. What gear are you running?


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:20 pm 
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Falkon wrote:
Wibla wrote:
Probably off topic, but I have to say that buying new pc speaker kits today, when you can often find a decent pair of used bookshelf speakers and a small integrated amp for roughly the same amount of money is wasted, but thats just my opinion.
I definitely agree with you, but I think the majority of consumers for this type of product want compact speakers and enclosures, for whatever reason. That and the fact that the average consumer probably couldn't be bothered to use "non-PC speakers" with their PC.


I think an interesting approach would be to continue reviewing PC speaker kits, but instead of comparing them to other PC speakers, compare them instead to bookshelf speakers + amplifier at a comparable price point. I've read some good reviews about this $60 amp/speaker bundle from Dayton Audio so once you get in the $250+ range, I'm sure there are a lot more options for comparison.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:53 am 
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Falkon wrote:
Wibla wrote:
My "pc speaker" setup was around 15500 NOK / $2500 CAD new, but by buying used, it ended up at $1400...
Very nice. What gear are you running?

Tannoy Sensys DC1, Pioneer VSX-1015K amp and an old MTX Thunder2000 12" in a 30 litre closed box paired with a 250W Zachry mono amp for a little added oomph down low. pic

Hazelrah wrote:
I think an interesting approach would be to continue reviewing PC speaker kits, but instead of comparing them to other PC speakers, compare them instead to bookshelf speakers + amplifier at a comparable price point. I've read some good reviews about this $60 amp/speaker bundle from Dayton Audio so once you get in the $250+ range, I'm sure there are a lot more options for comparison.

+1

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:50 am 
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I can't say I really understand the market for computer speakers that cost more than $50 USD. In my case, I use my computer to stream media to my TV (where my TV sound system takes over). While I'm at my computer, I'm usually either gaming or surfing the web. Gaming I use a headset, and for surfing I have some cheap $20 speakers.

I guess I can understand spending more money on desktop speakers if you absolutely hate using headsets..but otherwise I don't really get it.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:03 am 
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Wibla wrote:
Tannoy Sensys DC1, Pioneer VSX-1015K amp and an old MTX Thunder2000 12" in a 30 litre closed box paired with a 250W Zachry mono amp for a little added oomph down low. pic
Good stuff, I've always liked Tannoy's dual concentric sound.

RoGuE wrote:
I can't say I really understand the market for computer speakers that cost more than $50 USD.
It really only applies to music lovers and/or audiophiles.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:42 am 
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50$ is a pretty poor budget to get any good sound. I think spending up to 150$ on some PC sets might not be a bad investment (for example, one could get a good 2.1 with optical input, which is a nice touch to overcome the awful, poppy and cracky integrated audio chip you can find in lesser motherboards). Higher than that, it's just pure wasted money, as the budget could be spent on a nice amp+proper speakers combo, or a pair of VERY good amplified monitor speakers. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:20 am 
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Very nice review, Mike, and an outstanding technical analysis. I don't claim to be a speaker guru, but I've built more than a few pairs, and I hang out online with guys who really know everything about DIY. Can't say that I disagree with any of your methods or conclusions. Looking forward to more reviews like this, perhaps with some more slightly upscale desktop speakers. I would tend to emphasize more the importance of a flat on-axis frequency response, but you correctly mentioned the importance of the off-axis response. There is a guy on the board at http://www.partsexpress.com
who specializes in omni-directional DIY speakers. He's no working on a low-budget design that has very flat off-axis response, and he says the imaging is incredible. I'll probably build those.

Thanks again. Great work.
joe

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:31 pm 
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Wondering, did the white 3D LED on the control flash on and off during playback? or does it stays on even when there is nothing playing? mine flashes randomly...


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:01 pm 
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hakkafusion wrote:
Wondering, did the white 3D LED on the control flash on and off during playback? or does it stays on even when there is nothing playing? mine flashes randomly...

I have not paid attention... I don't recall. I hear a little thump when the system goes into standby when there's no signal for a little while. I also usually don't have the system on -- I use the remote knob to keep it in mute until I turn it on deliberately.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:24 am 
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wow. this is a great review. I've personally purchased a set of speakers based on this article and to be honest, i'm not disappointed at the product at all. I'm not a hardcore audio guy, so i needed some convincing before making the leap of faith, and your review did it for me.

as for the speakers, i think the investment was great. not only do i have my computer set up to use these, i also have my xbox360 set up on my monitor and use the optical input. Now i play games and watch my netflix stream using these speakers. and i have to say that they sound really good.

can someone explain what everyone is talking about in terms of the frequency response?


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:18 am 
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vonster wrote:
can someone explain what everyone is talking about in terms of the frequency response?
Ideally, an audio system would neither emphasize nor diminish any frequencies. They all do, of course, and even more so when they interact with a room's acoustics. These errors mean that certain notes can be accented by the system, rather than by the artist.

Too abstract? Imagine that we record a lead singer holding a note & another singing a 3dB quieter harmony part an octave above. Now imagine that we play this back on a speaker which plays the lower note 2dB too softly and the upper 2dB too strongly. What happens? The lead is too quiet & the harmony too loud in an absolute sense, but - even worse - the harmony is now 1dB louder than the lead.

Even easier: play music a home-theater system with the subwoofer running too hot. That boom! you hear is a major error in frequency response.

Finally, as a longtime Dunlavy owner, I'll point out that if a speaker plays the correct intensity at the correct time, all frequencies are at the proper level. However, a speaker that reproduces all frequencies at the correct level can have timing errors. Many people have debated this area's importance, but frequency response is just part of a much larger picture.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 by Antec
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:40 am 
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Hi All.

Do higher quality speakers like these make less of that annoying hum that the cheapie ones make when plugged in but turned off? I have to keep switching mine off at the power board because the hum annoys me so much, which is a hassle.


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