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Old 02-16-2014, 09:33 PM   #81
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If I'd realized this thread had veered into discussion of obscure loudspeaker technologies, I would've been here sooner. Probably doesn't happen every day on E-R, does it!?
Oh, I think we've had more than one thread here praising planar speakers. Planar owners are pretty hard-core in their love of those speakers. Over the years I've posted regularly on a few different forums, and somewhere along the line, the planar-people come out of the woodwork in each of them. It's just the way it is!

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The reason most planar speakers don't make much bass isn't because of backwave interference, it's because they simply don't move their drivers (the sheet of mylar or whatever) enough to be able to push enough air to create a big bass wave in the first place. Most planars have only a few millimeters of excursion and a few square feet of panel to work with.
Clearly, excursion limits are a factor, that's basic physics. But a 'few square feet' of a panel (3.07 for the 1.6s) is almost 4x that of a 12" woofer, and about 2.5x what a 15" woofer has to work with. I couldn't find excursion specs for the Maggie 1.6s, but I know they are published for standard woofers.

Regardless the reason, a 1.6 sized planar just does not do deep bass, no getting around it. But it isn't bad bass, and everything else is so wonderful, I manage to overlook it.

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.... (emphasis mine)
Now, a way to enhance the bass of the planars would be to use a wall as an infinite baffle. One simply cuts a rectangular hole in the wall for the speaker to fit in. Now, the back side would radiate just as well as the front, so you can enjoy music on both sides of the wall. Nice!
Hmmm, now I'm well aware of 'infinite baffles', and was considering building a (not quite infinite) baffle for a DIY subwoofer, using the basement as the 'back side'. Now I'm wondering why I never thought of 'simply' cutting a hole in the wall for my Maggies! I guess I'd need to build an insulated frame and a door outside, so the rain/snow wouldn't blow in. Might not be real comfortable listening in hot/cold weather (though a class A amp could compensate in winter). It might attract birds/bats - and the closest house to me is on that wall, not sure mu neighbor would be thrilled (although he should - I have excellent musical taste, just ask me!)

Maybe I should ask a Real Estate agent what an infinite baffle does for resale value? It's a heck of an improvement, right?


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PS. Well, there's a Paragon on eBay with an asking price of $75K. For me, the true price of these speakers would be in the 7-figure; I would need to move to a mansion with a large enough living room for these speakers.
A friend of mine has a very large, very $$$ pair of speakers. The size of a not-so-small refrigerator but heavier. One advantage of my Maggies, is they are very light. Even with my marginal back, moving one around is child's play. So I can experiment with room placement, and it really does make a difference. He would need two strong men to move his.

For serious listening, I pull them a few more feet from the wall. DW doesn't like them sticking out in the room, so I just slide them back when I'm done. EZ.

-ERD50
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:55 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
The larger these speakers are relative to the wave length of the bass note, the less deleterious effects that ERD50 talked about.

If I take the 15" woofer out of its enclosure, its bass response becomes weaker than that of a puny 2" inside a proper enclosure.

Now, a way to enhance the bass of the planars would be to use a wall as an infinite baffle. One simply cuts a rectangular hole in the wall for the speaker to fit in. Now, the back side would radiate just as well as the front, so you can enjoy music on both sides of the wall. Nice!
Radiator geometry (size, curvature, excursion) is exquisitely intertwined at the size, scale, and energy levels of ESLs in normal rooms. I believe you will find, if you try putting the smaller Maggies in an "infinite baffle", that the bass response will be noticeably improved. But it will still be quite weak for reproducing many of the sounds some of us like to listen to. (In the lab back when I was in school, our experience in experimenting with adjustable baffles was that we observed measureable improvement with baffles of about twice the width of the radiator. The returns diminished quickly thereafter.)

Full-range ESLs do get a nice boost from the naturally larger baffling, plus the benefits (and drawbacks) of curvature in most models. But, generally speaking, the simple increase in displacement is the dominant factor that increases bass SPL within the regime we are discussing.

I wish I could do the math for you to derive it from first principles, but I am too lazy to crack open the physics books and spend two months remembering all that I have forgotten. Hehehe. Instead, I will present a cruder argument: if it were so easy to get good bass delivery with a $1k panel by adding some baffling, why don't we all have OSB planks clamped onto our planar loudspeakers?
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:07 PM   #83
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Regardless the reason, a 1.6 sized planar just does not do deep bass, no getting around it. But it isn't bad bass, and everything else is so wonderful, I manage to overlook it.
Yes, and our brains are remarkably good at filling stuff in, too. After listening for a while, even the much lower amount of bass from a planar will act as a stimulus for me, such that I find myself painting in the details in my head. (I suspect this psychosensory silliness is also what permits $20k speaker cable manufacturers to remain in "business.")

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For serious listening, I pull them a few more feet from the wall. DW doesn't like them sticking out in the room, so I just slide them back when I'm done. EZ.
In your picture, are those your "pulled out" position? I wonder if you have tried experimenting with listening even more in near-field. Just bring those panels up right next to you, like giant headphones. You can even run a small Class A at that point and not feel like you're destroying the planet.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:14 PM   #84
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...Hmmm, now I'm well aware of 'infinite baffles', and was considering building a (not quite infinite) baffle for a DIY subwoofer, using the basement as the 'back side'. Now I'm wondering why I never thought of 'simply' cutting a hole in the wall for my Maggies!
...
Now you are talking, heh heh heh...

It occurred to me that I could cut a hole in the floor of house #2, and use the entire crawl space (basement) as the speaker enclosure. Not quite "infinite" but close to it for practical purposes. Heh heh heh...

In house #1, there's a wall between the family room and the master bedroom that can be used as a baffle. I would need to close the door for it to approximate the infinite baffle. Heh heh heh...

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...
I wish I could do the math for you to derive it from first principles, but I am too lazy to crack open the physics books and spend two months remembering all that I have forgotten. Hehehe. Instead, I will present a cruder argument: if it were so easy to get good bass delivery with a $1k panel by adding some baffling, why don't we all have OSB planks clamped onto our planar loudspeakers?
Surely, a larger surface area of the radiating element helps, everything else being the same.

However, a open baffle would have to be sufficiently large relative to a note's wavelength to be effective. For a 30-Hz note, that's 36'! A mid-range speaker efficiency may not improve much if mounted on a baffle larger than a 4'x8' sheet, but that sheet of OSB is nowhere near large enough for a woofer.

By the way, I have been toying the last couple of weeks with my speaker collections (none are that expensive). I have found that I could not really hear below about 40Hz, and not above about 13KHz.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:23 PM   #85
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Now you are talking, heh heh heh...

Surely, a larger surface area of the radiating element helps, everything else being the same.

However, a open baffle would have to be sufficiently large relative to a note's wavelength to be effective. For a 30-Hz note, that's 36'! A mid-range speaker efficiency may not improve much if mounted on a baffle larger than a 4'x8' sheet, but that sheet of OSB is nowhere near large enough for a woofer.

By the way, I have been toying the last couple of weeks with my speaker collections (none are that expensive). I have found that I could not really hear below about 40Hz, and not above about 13KHz.
I set the crossover to the subwoofer at 80hz, so it rarely kicks in--never noticeably. The Mosaics are smaller than most mid-tower speakers and the Infinity subwoofer is there only if the movie or music material demands it. I can never localize it, unless I turn off the power. Best of both worlds.
Up here in the study, I have bi-amped Jamos with 10" woofers in the towers, but the downstairs sound is much better.
And you don't hear below 40 hz, you generally only feel it in your chest.
Great posts.
In a pinch, you can just connect Sennheisers, which I do when the DW goes to bed.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:39 PM   #86
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...Up here in the study, I have bi-amped Jamos with 10" woofers in the towers, but the downstairs sound is much better...
I have not played with bi-amping, although I have two subwoofers with passive crossovers. Just recently, it occurred to me that old 5.1 surround receivers like the ones I have (bought 20 years ago) can be bought dirt-cheap on craigslist. The reason is that they only switch composite video signals, which makes them obsolete with HDMI equipment. The center and rear channels can be turned into the bass amps for bi-amping. I do not watch much movie, and do not care for surround effects anyway.

So, I downloaded the schematics of the receivers that I had to see if I could break into their signal paths. Yes, it's doable, with different levels of difficulty depending on the circuits. I also downloaded the schematics of a couple of typical receivers that I could get on craiglist for about $50-70 each, in case I do not want to mess up the receivers that I currently use.

And after all these years, I finally hook up my o'scope, signal generator, and PC (for data acquisition and analysis) to my amps and speakers to play with them. I found that my generic 20-yr old 100W/ch Sony AV receiver response is flat from 6Hz to 60KHz! No reason to doubt that the "craiglist specials" would do any worse. Heh heh heh...

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...
And you don't hear below 40 hz, you generally only feel it in your chest...

In a pinch, you can just connect Sennheisers, which I do when the DW goes to bed.
Yes, I do use my headphone quite often. But up in my boonies home, I can crank the amp up even at midnight, so I can feel the bass. Of course I still keep all the doors closed. Heh heh heh...
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:40 PM   #87
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Now, a way to enhance the bass of the planars would be to use a wall as an infinite baffle. One simply cuts a rectangular hole in the wall for the speaker to fit in. Now, the back side would radiate just as well as the front, so you can enjoy music on both sides of the wall. Nice!


The approach you suggest may indeed increase the perceived bass (I'm not entirely sure this is so as planar physics appear somewhat mysterious because of the way standing waves work in a room i.e. bass is sometimes stronger as the speaker moves AWAY from the wall).

In any event, the magic of Magneplanars happens to a great extent because of the back wave from the speaker reflecting from the front wall and all of the other room furnishings etc. That's what makes the planar approach sound so realistic. I'm pretty sure a Maggie built in a wall cutout would loose most or all of that Maggie magic.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:53 PM   #88
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What you said could very well be true. I have been experimenting with speaker response out in the open as measured in free-air on a stand in my backyard, then inside the home. Wow, what's a difference! So, I am still experimenting and learning.

Anyway, as reported in another thread, I found 3 of my 4 big vintage speakers have dead tweeters by the frequency sweep, and I need to resurrect them first before I started to haul them back out to the backyard to do more frequency sweep. I probably will drive the neighbors nuts, particularly here in my suburban home rather than up in the boonies home. Heh heh heh... And when I sweep them indoors, DW is going nuts! Heh heh heh...

And then, I have several pairs of smaller bookshelf speakers that need to be frequency swept, just for the records. Heh heh heh...
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:54 PM   #89
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...

In your picture, are those your "pulled out" position? I wonder if you have tried experimenting with listening even more in near-field. Just bring those panels up right next to you, like giant headphones. You can even run a small Class A at that point and not feel like you're destroying the planet.
That picture was another poster. Mine are normally just about 2' from the back wall, and ~ 3' from the side wall. Pulling them out another foot really seems to improve things, but I have not A/B'd that in a while, so I can't say exactly how. IIRC, it smoothes out a mid-bass hump, and that makes everything sound better. I just feel better with them out, so I do it that way for 'serious' listening!

I might just play with the 'giant headphone' placement later. I really need some room treatments, I have early reflections that mar the sound (it was significantly better with wall-to-wall carpeting, but that got replaced with HW floor and an area rug). So a headphone placement might be a good thing. Funny, as I was searching for excursion specs for my MAggies, I came across a thread about some planar dipole headphones. They looked pretty cool.

But right now that room is a disaster, I have equipment strewn all over as I attempt to archive/digitize about a dozen old cassettes that have some recordings of sentimental value. Some are Fostex 4-track multi-track recordings I made when I had a small recording studio set up (80's). I'm a marginal musician, so nothing really worth keeping other than as a window into what I was up to some 25+ years ago. Some recordings, I can still pretty much 'air keyboard' every note, others I can't ever remember even learning the song, or where I heard the song. Pretty strange to listen and say "Is that me?".

-ERD50
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:57 PM   #90
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And by the way, I found that my vintage speakers have THD of about -40 to -45dB. I thought that's pretty good, although manufacturers never talk about that. What's the THD of planar speakers?
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:09 PM   #91
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And by the way, I found that my vintage speakers have THD of about -40 to -45dB. I thought that's pretty good, although manufacturers never talk about that. What's the THD of planar speakers?
From what I've read, pretty high in the bass and fairly low in the treble
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:04 AM   #92
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Nice to see that there are some audio enthusiasts here.

In the spirit of the thread, how much have you guys bumped up your spending on this stuff?
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:11 PM   #93
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Nice to see that there are some audio enthusiasts here.

In the spirit of the thread, how much have you guys bumped up your spending on this stuff?
Well, since I retired on 1/1/2003 I've spent about $13K on the audio hobby, $4k last year so not huge amounts of money but I keep telling my wife much cheaper than a lot of other things...
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:34 PM   #94
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I'll try this post again...got a database error while trying to upload pics.

I'm currently researching this kind of frivolous spending item...my 1996 vintage outdoor 6 person Jacuzzi bit the dust 2 years ago. I am not going to put any more repair money into it. I am looking for a free standing, side drain type (garden hose attachment) for my downstairs family room. Door entry width is 30 inches, so it has to fit through there on its side. Piece of cake.

I can easily imagine the feel of that fabulous hot water massaging me right now, with a few candles lit, maybe a nice glass of wine in my hand.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:14 PM   #95
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Nice to see that there are some audio enthusiasts here.

In the spirit of the thread, how much have you guys bumped up your spending on this stuff?
Through my life, I have not spent that much on audio stuff. My guess is $3K-$5K total, but that included money worth a lot more in the old days. In 1984, I bought my 1st CD player which I still have. It cost me more than $500 back then.

I had not been spending any additional money until recently. In the last month, when I started getting into this again, I have spent about $300, mostly on things to fix-up my beloved 70-vintage speakers like new tweeters and L-pads. Oh, and that included another pair of bookshelf JBL's that I picked up from craigslist yesterday. I found these good deals too hard to resist.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:49 PM   #96
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The distortion of the planars is high in the low frequencies. The mid-range to the higher frequency distortion is indeed excellent. Forget about this guy's measured THD+N level of 0.28%, as that would be -25.5dB, an awful number. Where does that noise come from?

So, I looked at the 1KHz measurement, and saw that the 2nd harmonic was -58dB down, and the 3rd at -78dB down. My vintage Sansui measures -50dB THD at 1KHz, but that happened to be a nice spot. From 100 Hz to 20 KHz, its THD bounces between -40 and -50 dB. The output level is about the same as the guy's measurement of the planar. However, I measured at 1 meter distance, while this guy measured at 2 m.

The 50Hz measurement is something else entirely. For the MG 1.6, the 2nd and 3rd harmonics are down -15 and -20dB respectively. My "Kabuki" speakers with their 15" woofers did -27dB down.

One thing that still confuses me is that Magnepan specs for the MG 3.6 claim 34 to 40 KHz, +-3dB. That's not at all weak bass, and the measurements as shown in the following site prove that out. So why the complaints, other than the higher distortion?

And I saw that the response curves vary quite a bit with off-axis measurements, and the variations can be as high as 10-15dB. Could that be due to phase cancellation between the high and low frequency drivers, as they cannot be stacked upper/lower as is usually done with dynamic speakers?

See: Magnepan MG 3.6 1.6, CC3 surround speaker system Measurements | Sound & Vision.
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:01 PM   #97
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The measurements show that Magneplanars do not have weak bass per se, particularly the larger models. The nature of the bass is different however. Maggies generally do not have the "sock it in the stomach" nature that regular speakers can have (Maybe the Maggie 20.7 does - I've never heard it). Some people say that the Maggie bass is more natural as live music on unamplified acoustic instruments (as opposed to electronically amplified live music) generally does not have that sock it in the stomach quality either.
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:38 PM   #98
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Very impressive. I'm always wondering what audiophiles hear that I don't. I like music but generally have to listen multiple times before I get the melody. Some people seem to pick up on melody immediately. Then there are those that create melody and that is something I will never be able do.
I am not an audiophile but I enjoy listening to the intricacies of a musical performance. The melody, the harmonies, the bass line, the rhythm section, all of them have something to say, and if you listen for them on different playings of the same recording you will hear something different each time.

Years ago I was hanging out with a group of friends that included one guy who worked at a high-end audio store. He took us into the store, after hours, for some private A/B testing of the store's best equipment. I was surprised at how much I could tell the difference between the $2K and $10K speakers. The $10K speakers sounded so much better in all aspects. But the $2K still sounded awesome, and more than sufficient to my ears. The difference was not worth $8K to me, but I'm sure it would be for many (rich) audiophiles.
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:44 PM   #99
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I'll lump a few responses w/o multi-quoting here:

I really have not spent that much on audio equipment in the past (though far more than many other people do), and my spending seems to be going down. A cast off laptop and a $120 DAC and maybe an external USB drive covers me for source material. No pre-amp required, the DAC has a volume control and outputs a decently high level. So I'm saving money in not having to replace CD players, pre-amps and/or receivers. Simpler and less shelf space. The amp to drive my Maggies was bought used.

Distortion: It's really hard to get objective about distortion. The magnitude is less important than the 'quality' of the distortion. The tube amps that so many love have much higher measured distortion than some awful sounding low distortion solid state amps.

A distortion component that is 20db down is going to be hard to hear if it blends in with harmonics already present in the music (or if you would expect those harmonics - your brain fills it in). A bass guitar has harmonics, it's not a test tone. They usually say that even harmonic distortion is more 'musical', and odd harmonics are more noticeable and grating. I'm not sure that's a good explanation - many musical instruments have odd or even and odd harmonics. Reed instruments (clarinet, sax) have mostly odd harmonics - if you want to simulate these on a synthesizer, you start with a square wave (all odd harmonics in a 1/n amplitude pattern). String instruments have odd & even harmonics, also 1/n, and that is simulated with a sawtooth wave (which simulates the bow/string interaction).

I don't think I can quantify why I like the sound of planars, they just always seem more open and natural to me. I think it may be the sound coming from a large panel rather than a more point-source of a typical driver. It's at a point where numbers don't matter to me as much as what I experience.

Bass: I'm guessing that 99% of people really don't know what 'good bass' is. They hear a speaker pumping out lots of mid-bass, and figure that is 'good', there is lots of it. But it's 'artificial' - they trade off lots of mid-bass for true low-end bass. One reason I love to attend the Chicago Symphony is that it is all acoustic. When those basses play, or the tympani responds, it doesn't thump, it doesn't hit you in the chest, but there is a very solid bass that is just 'there' - it's in the air and you feel it. But it is effortless, not forced at all. Nothing is affected by amplifiers or speakers between you and the music. Hard to explain unless you have experienced it.

-ERD50
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:01 PM   #100
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The planars have typically been the most phase coherent design, with a squarewave signal actually looking like a squarewave at the listening position. For me, the imaging and depth of the sound image was a big key. You could really hear the (or at least a realistic) space where the performance occurred. I replaced my mid-price old Maggies with Dunlavy IV's, which were the only cone speakers that could touch their strength's.

As far as low-frequency response, I think the response was pretty decent if you kept the volume down. The 1812 Overture played loud was pretty much a disaster without a subwoofer and a highpass filter for the Maggies. They would bottom out. Could be why mine rattle a bit now...

When we shopped for 5.1 A/V speakers we really missed that image depth of the planars. Everything sounded very flat. The Definitive Technology bipolars (but cones) were an easy selection once we heard them. Not as clean perhaps as the Maggies, but I could place them closer to the wall and get some depth to the sound, and play them loud. We really hated all the standard stuff we had listened to before then.
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