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Image focus (vocalist) question

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Joey_V

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Remember, I am super pro-ML... so I'm asking this in the nicest way possible.

I noticed that there are other speakers that focus a vocalist's image "better" (for lack of a better term) than even my Summits. Why is that? It cant be the amp because both used the same amp when tested (or perhaps it could be the amp simply because the Summits require a more powerful amp down the the single ohm range)...

Anyway, the speaker in question is the JM Lab Focal 918-Beryllium. The focus is so intense, kind of like a 2" ball in midair. Why is it that the ML cant focus that concentratedly (is this even a word?)?

Is this a "beaming effect"? Is this unnatural? Is this partially the reason why vocals coming from the Summits sound eeriely lifelike?

I've had my brother talk to me while I focused on his voice and it doesnt sound like a 2" focused ball... more like the ML (actually, slightly more focused).... but that 2" ball effect is so captivating and has such a "WOW" factor.

I'm wondering, without exaggerating, who among here feels that their ML focuses like a champ? Especially Vantage and Summit owners, did you feel that the "VOCAL FOCUS" improved (became smaller and more tangible) as you went up the amp ladder?

The reason I ask this is I remember going up the Rotel ladder (from an HK receiver) and I improved the vocal FOCUS of my previous Polk LSi9.... Mariah Carrey's voice had less "fuzziness" around her voice and was markedly more focused.

Now, I wonder if this is a weakness of an electrostat or have I merely hit "realism"? The problem is, I feel that I could use just a bit more focus... I'm hoping an amp upgrade will fix this last flaw in my quest for audio nirvana.

Joey
 

jfm

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I have a pair of classic Celestion SL6s that are renowned for their ability to focus or image, and I've heard any number of speakers with dome tweeters that can do the same (JM Labs, Sonus Faber, LS3/5a, etc.) but I like the presentation of my MLs better.

Perhaps what you are describing is the difference between a point source and a line source, the latter being what MLs are.

Theory aside, what I like about the ML vocal presentation, esp female vocals:
- The singer is connected to her body, and you can hear her body not just her mouth.
- It's easy to hear when she shifts from head tones to chest tones to middle tones (I loooooove listening to this).
- It's easy to hear her sway to and from the mike, left and right, etc.
- It's great to hear her in context, i.e., hear the recording venue and how big or small it is, how dry it is (like in a small studio), etc. I think this is what makes the MLs sound diffuse compared with speakers with dome tweeters, and I believe it is the correct presentation.

-------
As to the separate question of whether you need a new "component" (substitute "amp" for the meantime), the answer is always Yes. :)
 
D

dyazdani

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I've noticed this same issue, with more than one model of MLs. I believe it is due to the vertical dispersion, but I'm not an expert.
 

Jeff Zaret

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Joey,
I know I may get blasted on this but I did have the same preamp as you, so I know the sound of the preamp and I also at the same time a Rotel amp. I was powering my Sequels at the time and then my CLSiiZ's for a bit.

My suggestion is to try a tube preamp in your system and see what differences you hear. I think you will be pleasantly surprised and disappointed too. Surprised because it will be different and maybe more pleasing. It may be more open. I do not want to put words in your mouth, Just try it and see. Disappointed because if you like it you will be spending more money. :eek:

Jeff :cool:
 

Joey_V

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Dont get me wrong guys... the MLs do not sound diffuse.. not at all. I love the height of presentation, especially how the vocals sounds about 5-6 feet tall while the drums and the guitars are like 3 feet above ground.

Yet, I'm just wondering if the focus can be improved... it might be an amp issue, but if another speaker is able to focus dead specific into a ball about 2-3" in diameter with the Krell 400xi, shouldnt the Summits be able also? Or is it that the Summits need something with more power (stable across the impedence dips)?

The thing is, the Summits do not sound like the vocal comes at me like a line from the floor to 5/6 feet tall... the Summits project a ball-esque image at about 5/6 feet tall but I would like to remove the fuzz around the vocalist... is this possible at all or am I playing with something that:

1. Should be there in the first place.
2. Is an inherent weakness of an ML.

What have you guys experienced moving up the amp chain with pure regards to the vocalist focus?

I'm not asking for cleaner midrange or a more open sound (not sure if this was what you were trying to get at Jeff Z), I'm looking for that last piece... the very last piece of the puzzle, guys.

I just want a bit more vocal focus...

Do I play with my position? Do I move up amps?

Or am I just going in circles because it cannot be remedied?

I've always experienced that amps of a higher caliber will give you cleaner power and better dynamics, giving better resolution thus giving better stage width and depth, while, as a result, improving the vocal focus by making the background darker.

Now, is this possible with ML?
 

kwr

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Hi Joey,

I think you are hearing differences in presentation. All loudspeakers are an artifice - get thee to some live acoustic music and you will realise that the presentation of a live performance is far more diffuse than stereo speakers. This is where the polydirectional performance of Shahinian speakers are so much more realistic but they are still a minority taste.

If you really want that etched focus think large Krell, Levinson. There is a hyperreal element to the presentation. Some like that style of presentation. Jeff's suggestion of a tube preamp is a good one as I suspect that you will get the odd sensation of being easily able to identify where the vocalist is but with a greater sense of energised air surrounding them - focus with a diffuse edge if that makes any sense.

Kick back and relax and listen to some music and stop listening to your system. :D

Kevin
 

jmschnur

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Factors that affect imaging will include:
your room and reflections from all six major surfaces and all those little things on all those surfaces

the recording studio's refecltions (see above) or
the the place it was recorded live

the recording engineer's set up and mixing choices

then your speakers and electronics


To compare systems be sure to use the same CD then you will only checking out the listening rooms, speakers, and electronics.

I suggest you go to a few live performances of someone that you want to compare "reality" to listiening room imaging. Imaging in the live is not as focussed as you describe in most consert or club situations.

Then decide what you want in your home.

Joel
 

Jeff Zaret

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Joey,
I am only trying to nudge you towards a tube preamp. IMHO, there is a difference you will hear but that is entirely up to you and your ears. The other issues/suggestions presented so far are also very good and you should entertain those ideas as well.

For me, I have put silk trees behind my CLSiiZ's to give them a bit of a forward presentation and more focus. The sound was great but the vocals when centered sometimes appeared a bit back in presentation. Now because I have two very large wall units very close to each speaker I am not getting everything that is there as could be. With my solution it does give me that presentation and 3-d affect that ML's are noted for.

Personally, so you do not get disowned or seriously hurt by family and loved ones, I would slow down just a bit, listen and enjoy your system. The Summits will get even better. I would look for those "tweaks" that are cheap and easy to do before I lay down a bunch of cash so quickly.

Jeff :cool:
 

garmtz

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Because the ML speakers are not a point source, but a line source, they will in some situations simply not focus as precise as a coaxial or dome tweeter equipped 'normal' speaker in the same situation. Because a wave front is launched from different angles, they tend to interfere with each other a bit and 'smear' the sound. BUT...

You can probably improve your situation by:

1) diffusing or absorbing the back wave of the speaker (putting absorbing/diffusing panels on the wall behind the speaker)
2) place the speakers more into the room (with the panel at least 3 feet from the wall, minde are almost 4 feet from the wall behind them)
3) eliminate early side wall/floor/ceiling first order reflections which mock up stereo imaging, by absorbing them
4) angling the speaker foward a bit (tilting the back spike)
5) experimenting with toe-in. More toe-in will give you more focus

When you get these things right, they will focus BETTER than most other speakers, it's just that they need more attention to get to that point.
 
D

dyazdani

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garmtz said:
Because the ML speakers are not a point source, but a line source, they will in some situations simply not focus as precise as a coaxial or dome tweeter equipped 'normal' speaker in the same situation. Because a wave front is launched from different angles, they tend to interfere with each other a bit and 'smear' the sound. BUT...

You can probably improve your situation by:

1) diffusing or absorbing the back wave of the speaker (putting absorbing/diffusing panels on the wall behind the speaker)
2) place the speakers more into the room (with the panel at least 3 feet from the wall, minde are almost 4 feet from the wall behind them)
3) eliminate early side wall/floor/ceiling first order reflections which mock up stereo imaging, by absorbing them
4) angling the speaker foward a bit (tilting the back spike)
5) experimenting with toe-in. More toe-in will give you more focus

When you get these things right, they will focus BETTER than most other speakers, it's just that they need more attention to get to that point.
I agree 100%...
 

paulo m

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Jeff Zaret said:
Joey,
I am only trying to nudge you towards a tube preamp. IMHO, there is a difference you will hear but that is entirely up to you and your ears. The other issues/suggestions presented so far are also very good and you should entertain those ideas as well.

For me, I have put silk trees behind my CLSiiZ's to give them a bit of a forward presentation and more focus. The sound was great but the vocals when centered sometimes appeared a bit back in presentation. Now because I have two very large wall units very close to each speaker I am not getting everything that is there as could be. With my solution it does give me that presentation and 3-d affect that ML's are noted for.

Personally, so you do not get disowned or seriously hurt by family and loved ones, I would slow down just a bit, listen and enjoy your system. The Summits will get even better. I would look for those "tweaks" that are cheap and easy to do before I lay down a bunch of cash so quickly.

Jeff :cool:
Hi Jeff,

Just out of curiosity, how much of a difference did the silk trees make behind the speakers in terms of forward presentation? Was there a big change?

I am thinking about either putting some similar trees behind my speakers or some diffusion panels. Trees might be a problem if/when we move out of this apartment, but they look much better than panels...

//p
 

lugano

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garmtz said:
4) angling the speaker foward a bit (tilting the back spike)
We are passionate canasta players. This translates into consuming rather fast 2 decks of 55 cards - and these piles of worn-out 110 cards all around the house proved to be a very precise way of tilting the speakers. You start with 15 cards under each back spike and easily add or subtract cards, giving you an extremely fine degree of control for the tilting, at zero cost (at least for us). Right now 40 cards are under the single back spike of my CLS IIz's. YMMV.
 

roberto

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lugano said:
We are passionate canasta players. This translates into consuming rather fast 2 decks of 55 cards - and these piles of worn-out 110 cards all around the house proved to be a very precise way of tilting the speakers. You start with 15 cards under each back spike and easily add or subtract cards, giving you an extremely fine degree of control for the tilting, at zero cost (at least for us). Right now 40 cards are under the single back spike of my CLS IIz's. YMMV.
Hola Lugano...how different the rooms are!...the funniest thing here is that my spikes are at the front with a wood wedge, making my CLSIIz to be more like laid on their´s back...this array will give me, in my room, more high frequency extension. The focus and the air between instruments, the scenario, did open up for better. Also I made a special wood base, so they are lifted from the flor, about 10"...bass changed for better too. Room resonance is quit interesting thing. Happy listening,
Pura vida,
Roberto.
 

DTB300

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garmtz said:
You can probably improve your situation by:
This has become a great post on making improvements to the sound in your room by changing room treatments, speaker placement, and speaker angle. Two of the three changes have no cost involved - the best tweak!!! Room Treatment is one of the least understood, and/or least used tweak for us audiophiles. Finding a good product and using it correctly is a must for proper results. Then there is the "Better Half Acceptance Factor" with such devices.

Here is my take on the changes in my setup/room and the results:
1) diffusing or absorbing the back wave of the speaker (putting absorbing/diffusing panels on the wall behind the speaker)
I found absorption (Auralex) was better for the sound I was looking for rather than diffusion (fake Fiscus trees are a common diffusion item). I found the Trees brought the sound too forward for my tastes. While absorption not only tamed some of the brightness, it also helped with soundstage and instrument detail.

2) place the speakers more into the room (with the panel at least 3 feet from the wall, minde are almost 4 feet from the wall behind them)
I have my speakers approximately 3 ft from rear wall and sides are within 2 ft. While I would like to have better placement, the room is small and is also a living space, so some compromises must be made. I have experimented with them further out from the rear wall, and I like the improvement, but then it has a direct affect on the living space, so they must stay at 3 ft.

3) eliminate early side wall/floor/ceiling first order reflections which mock up stereo imaging, by absorbing them
This is my next project to tackle - side wall first reflection point, and reflection point on wall/bookcase behind my head (3ft behind). I have some Auralex behind me and liked the improvement, but I want to try some other treatments (GIK Acoustics looks like a great place!!!) which Steve D. suggested in another post.

4) angling the speaker foward a bit (tilting the back spike)
This is a biggie in my book. Since we have the opportunity to change the forward and backward tilt of our speakers, this is something EVERYONE should try out and see how they like it. It falls right in line with the next item on toe-in. BTW, I prefer my CLSIIz's tilted back from vertical.

5) experimenting with toe-in. More toe-in will give you more focus
Again like with cone speakers, toe-in to your liking makes all the difference to how a speaker sounds.

Dan
 
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lugano

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roberto said:
Hola Lugano...how different the rooms are!...the funniest thing here is that my spikes are at the front with a wood wedge, making my CLSIIz to be more like laid on their´s back...
Hola Roberto, you must be a basketball player :D The more you go up with the frequency the more directional it gets. I'm not a tall guy at all (5.64 feet) and my listening shell is quite low, therefore I need to tilt forward - the room has less to do with it, it's really where your ears are when you're relaxed. I am planning to build the whole situation (speakers, sitting position, a dummy) into a 3D space with Cinema4D (a modeling software i know quite well) and I will post some renderings. As soon as possible...
 

roberto

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lugano said:
Hola Roberto, you must be a basketball player :D The more you go up with the frequency the more directional it gets. I'm not a tall guy at all (5.64 feet) and my listening shell is quite low, therefore I need to tilt forward - the room has less to do with it, it's really where your ears are when you're relaxed. I am planning to build the whole situation (speakers, sitting position, a dummy) into a 3D space with Cinema4D (a modeling software i know quite well) and I will post some renderings. As soon as possible...
Hahahaha, you must be right...the truth is that I like big sound...I know it is more difficult to adjust, but what scenario when they start to sing!...my room is also small, but the sound is very clean, right with the size of the musical instruments, and what I like most...spanish guitar...I have the musician playing for me at any time I want...vocals are precise and right with timbre also...just love my ML sound...thanks for the tip, my friend...happy listening,
Roberto.
 

Joey_V

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Thanks for the tips....

I will play with more positioning (though I have gotten them as perfect as I could in terms of measurements (from side wall and back wall).... this will take me atleast an hour or two.

No one has answered this question though (unless I missed it)...

Will an amp upgrade (say to a Rotel 1090 or Plinius) bring about a more etched Focus, as I've noticed amps do on several conventional speakers? I'm talking pure experience here, no hearsay hearsay. :)

I want that brutal etched vocalist focus...
 

Jeff Zaret

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paulo m said:
Hi Jeff,

Just out of curiosity, how much of a difference did the silk trees make behind the speakers in terms of forward presentation? Was there a big change?

I am thinking about either putting some similar trees behind my speakers or some diffusion panels. Trees might be a problem if/when we move out of this apartment, but they look much better than panels...

//p
Paulo,
I was a small difference but noticable to me. It seemed to center or focus the vocal presentation a bit better for me. I already had the silk trees so there was no expense. I tried to see a difference again last weekend and removed them and the center was back more than I liked for my room. I do not have the problem of rear wall reflections because there is not one! It is open to the kitchen and the rest of the house ;)

Jeff :cool:
 

Jeff Zaret

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Joey,
IMHO, you will get more bang for your buck with a better quality preamp. Yes, the Rotel will be a little better but just that a little and a Plinius will sound even better, especially in class A, but I believe that a preamp will be the better money spent. You will achieve better overal focus and definition.

Jeff :cool:
 

Reverb

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I agree with what everyone has said so far. I believe Jeff is on the right track with the equipment. But I have to vote for the acoustic treatments, I think your back wave from the summits is getting in the way of the front wave and smearing the sound, making it unfocused.

My system before front projection was very good with the large TV, but the sound stage was very narrow. Changing to front projection and loosing that Big TV has opened up my sound stage considerably, but the sound has become unfocused. There is still a sweet spot, but the mids and highs are not tightly focused like before. I still have the tall audio rack on the left side next to the one ascent, just minus the TV. My left Ascent still sounds focused and the mids are more or less still crisp. The right speaker is just the opposite, sounding unfocused. I fixed one problem but created another? The solution I believe is to try and diffuse the back wave from the Ascents and hopefully retain that large soundstage but gain back the tightly focused sound.

Its all trial and error, never be afraid to experiment, write down the setting and measurements of your system before you start and if you don’t like the results, just refer back to your notes to restore it to the way it was before.
 
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