Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

amplifiers, receivers and loudspeakers
Adamo0926
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Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by Adamo0926 » 23 Oct 2019 16:00

Just curious what people think about this.....

Is it possible for a speaker to sound too "refined" ? Meaning so smooth and detailed that it loses a certain rawness or edginess that is inherent in certain genres of music. That it can almost seem artificial and less engrossing in an emotional sense. I guess what I am saying is......is it possible for a speaker to make the music sound too good....so that it loses it's sense of being real and live ?

I know that sounds like an oxymoron but I thought this might make an interesting discussion.

I ask because there have been a few times that I have listened to very high end speakers at a high end audio shop and while I thought the speakers sounded fantastic, I got the feeling I was listening to something more technical than something with feeling.

I mentioned oxymoron.....or are these just the babbling thoughts of a moron ? lol

Umberto_V
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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by Umberto_V » 23 Oct 2019 17:05

Usually if a speaker sounds too refined it's probably not sounding accurate. My speakers sound accurate but they are not perfect. I have a set of Art Deco 8's. They are about 12 years old now so i'm guessing speaker technology has moved on but i haven't listened to any new speakers for years. The worst thing i could say about them is that the bass is not as "tight" or "natural" as it could be compared to listening to live music. They are certainly not fatiguing in any way and i'm happy with them.

Refined does not necessarily mean accurate.

lenjack
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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by lenjack » 23 Oct 2019 17:12

This is not fair. You're making us think. #-o [-X Yes, I think it's possible.

JoeE SP9
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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by JoeE SP9 » 23 Oct 2019 18:15

My answer is a resounding no!

To me the more refined a speaker is the more accurate it is. For the inevitable posters who will claim we don't know what accuracy sounds like, I beg to differ. Anyone who regularly attends live concerts of unamplified music knows exactly what higher accuracy sounds like.

Only live unamplified music can be a reference. Even then the recording process itself adds/subtracts something. However the reference to live unamplified music still applies.

IME: The closer one gets to replicating live unamplified music the better a system sounds on everything else.

lenjack
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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by lenjack » 23 Oct 2019 19:38

"The closer one gets to replicating live unamplified music the better a system sounds on everything else."

I totally agree, but, accuracy and refinement can be two different things. An accurate speaker, by definition will be refined, but a refined speaker may, or may not be, accurate.

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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by aardvarkash10 » 24 Oct 2019 00:20

REally? I mean, what do you even mean by refined?

"Meaning so smooth and detailed that it loses a certain rawness or edginess that is inherent in certain genres of music"

So, so smooth and detailed that it loses details?

At that point the entire argument falls in on itself, surely.

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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by jdjohn » 24 Oct 2019 03:36

Sounds like it just needs to be turned-up louder! :lol: Refined is a good start, but it's only when the speakers 'wake up' with more power that you get a true sense of their capability.

Listening rooms are not always the best environment with so many switches, long cable runs, etc. Also, you can get so caught up in listening for details, you can totally miss any emotion that may may not be there. It's really a home audition where you can relax and truly listen.

AsOriginallyRecorded
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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by AsOriginallyRecorded » 24 Oct 2019 05:27

Popcorn, please!

Both feet in here, and following a previous lead...my answer is a resounding....maybe. Bits and pieces from other comments here, but a speaker's unique character and signature "sound" is normally arrived at after much "refinement", at which point it is entirely conceivable that the developer may have ventured down one of the ubiquitous rabbit holes in pursuit of some variable they perceive as important in the development of that speaker. At this point, I believe one of the cardinal sins of development may be committed, wherein the builder has introduced artifacts that may not be part of the original live performance (as mentioned by others as a test), which I and many others view as the true test of equipments' effectiveness and value. Equipment should not, ideally, add or subtract anything from a performance, especially a live performance.
On the basis of these viewpoints (of course yours may vary considerably) I believe and support the suggestion that a speaker can sound too "refined". Next opinion please.....JMO... :wink:

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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by JoeE SP9 » 24 Oct 2019 21:03

I guess it depends on one's personal definition of "refined". For me that means accuracy.

Mr Pig
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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by Mr Pig » 27 Oct 2019 09:14

Adamo0926 wrote:
23 Oct 2019 16:00
Is it possible for a speaker to sound too "refined" ? Meaning so smooth and detailed that it loses a certain rawness or edginess that is inherent in certain genres of music. That it can almost seem artificial and less engrossing in an emotional sense.
Absolutely.

There is a seemingly common misconception that the smoother, more 'refined', a Hi-Fi system sounds the better it has to be. The word refined itself suggests the removal of impurities leaving a purer product. Sounds good, until you really think about it.

The worst, most underperforming system I've ever heard cost £60'000 ($77'000). The statistics were all big, the cartridge on the turntable was four grand and the phono stage the size of a small suitcase. It was easily the most boring record player I've ever heard in my life. In 'refining' it, removing 'distortion' the guy had sucked every ounce of life and soul out of the music. It was like one of those 3D pictures that you have to stare at for ages before you can see what it is? I noticed that the guy listened with his eyes closed, which made sense as you really had to concentrate to get anything out of this porridge in front of you.

Live, actual music is nothing like that. It's not a dull picture half a mile away, it comes out to grab you and will not be ignored. It is also virtually never free of distortion!

So let's be very specific. You have a few records which sound a bit strient at the top end. Maybe sibilance or just a less than perfect pressing but whatever, that bit of nastiness is there and importantly, it's on the records.

As a good Hi-Fi nerd you spot this and think to yourself 'That's wrong, that shouldn't be there' so you commit to removing it. How are you going to do that? There are several ways you could go but it doesn't matter. The point is that it's on the recording and is part of the audible frequency range so whatever measure you employ to remove it will have the same effect on the same part of the frequency range on every other record that you own!

So these 'bad' records sound more 'correct' but every other record sounds duller than it should!

A simplistic example but it's true across the board. Dynamics and 'life' are part of the music. Any product or change which reduces that is not an improvement, it is poorer.

Lots of speakers sound too 'refined'. Or to be more honest, are limited in their dynamic capabilities. They may be designed that way deliberately, for example some monitor loudspeakers, or just the limitations of the hardware used but they certainly exist and if you're not deaf you can hear them. Personally, I try to avoid them like the plague.

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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by JoeE SP9 » 27 Oct 2019 22:21

From lenjack's post.
"An accurate speaker, by definition will be refined".
This I totally agree with.

I also agree with another quote from lenjack, "a refined speaker may, or may not be, accurate".

This reminds me of the discussion about imaging and soundstage. You can have imaging with no soundstage. However, if you have a soundstage you automatically have imaging.

lapratho
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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by lapratho » 27 Oct 2019 23:22

Yes, it can! After some time, you get spoiled by the gear that is right for your ear.
Oh dear, that rimes ... not intended!
Anyhow, what you are missing is the pain and torture you experienced before you had what was right for you. Pain and torture are very powerful experiences, and they stick in memory, and something weird about humans wants to experience them again. I for one am aware, and never want to go back there again!
Save some of the old stuff, or get it again on the cheap, and do a direct a/b comparison.
You will know right away, why you dumped the old s&(t.

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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by pivot » 28 Oct 2019 00:50

Until the term "refined" is better defined one can't really state one has "too much" of it.

What does the OP mean by "refined"?

I have heard more than one system "that it loses (a) sense of being real and live". Generally these systems have some sort of fault resulting in lack of dynamics. One of the appeals of horn loaded systems is their ability to reproduce realistic dynamic scale. A system that lacks the ability to reproduce dynamics it will sound less exciting no matter how accurate the other aspects of it's reproduction. If one's taste run to very high sound levels in large rooms, speakers like electrostatics or magnetic panel not going to reproduce the same dynamic swings a horn based system will.

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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by JoeE SP9 » 29 Oct 2019 17:18

My Acoustats (ESL) are rated to produce 110dB @18' in a 14' x 22' x 8' room. That's plenty loud enough for me.

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Re: Can a speaker sound too "refined" ?

Post by rewfew » 29 Oct 2019 20:25

What I like about a good horn system is their lack of distortion for a cone loudspeaker. As for a higher sensitivity type, it only takes a watt or two to get them to a spl that lower sensitivity speakers are then starting to produce higher distortion levels to make that spl level the horn speakers are just getting going. Thus your lower powered tubed amplifiers are a natural match. Good stuff Maynard. Refined, relaxed and rip roaring to go. They're like a ballerina and pole dancer rolled into one.

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