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Author Topic: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics  (Read 4393 times)

TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2016, 09:59:35 pm »

Is a powered speaker-given the factory tuned processing for that speaker-signifcantly better than a passive speaker in an install.  Assuming the system is professionally tuned?  I have done the best I can with this system and I know the room-but I'll be the last one to claim it is professionally tuned.  For less money than the 3 Bose speakers I can have a professional tune the system-but that is seen as less of an investment than buying something new and shiney.

I would love to find a way to do a blind A-B-C demo.
Overall sound quality is influenced by these factors in decreasing order of influence:

1 On-stage talent
2 Stage volume
3 Room acoustics
4 Speaker quality/system tuning
5 Mics
6 Everything else

If you have items 1-3 well sorted, you can absolutely tell the difference between an average-quality speaker/tuning and a great quality speaker/manufacturer-provided amp and DSP combo.  The latest generation of focused/FIR-tuned speakers, whether the amps are inside the boxes or external as part of a manufacturer-matched system, sound CONSIDERABLY better than speakers of 10 years ago, and with the JBL SRX800P series and Yamaha DSR series, this great sound extends down pretty low on the food chain.  This level of tuning isn't really reproducible by the masses.  If you have cruddy acoustics, it might make very little difference.

FWIW, Danley has not yet embraced FIR tuning.  Their boxes sound good based on good physical design.  In my opinion, at least some models would sound better with some FIR work.  Other horn-loaded boxes like the EAW Qxi series have embraced this tuning, and won out in a head to head demo at my church.

I think a demo would be a good idea before spending any money.  In a highly-reverberant room $3000 spent on sound treatment is likely to make a bigger difference than $3000 spent on new speakers.
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Jeff Carter

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2016, 11:36:32 pm »

How do I explain why the sound is not "crisp" to a musically savy, sharp eared person that is convinced we can fix anything with technology?
Standing in the middle of the room and listening the reverberation in response to an impulse (maybe popping a balloon?) might illustrate the point.
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2016, 02:49:01 pm »

I know the "engineer" has never been in our building and probably never seen pics-yet he works for a highly regarded midwest outfit that I have spoken highly of quite often.

I don't care where he's from or how many successful installs he's had, there is NO WAY that any engineer's "solution" can be validated if he has never seen the room and never experienced how it is to be used -- or never looked at the plans.

There is some engineering design work that can be done from plans, and that's an acceptable way to do it. Good acoustic/audio engineers do it all the time for buildings that haven't been built yet. Even so, it comes down to demoing in the actual building. What looks good on paper doesn't always translate into what sounds good in real life.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2016, 01:03:21 pm »


Is a powered speaker-given the factory tuned processing for that speaker-signifcantly better than a passive speaker in an install.  Assuming the system is professionally tuned?  I have done the best I can with this system and I know the room-but I'll be the last one to claim it is professionally tuned.  For less money than the 3 Bose speakers I can have a professional tune the system-but that is seen as less of an investment than buying something new and shiney.


There is a lot more to it than that.

A powered speaker, with all the processing in the world, is only going to try to make it sound by itself-in a particular situation.

As soon as you put that speaker in a room, additional processing will need to be made to help it work best IN THAT room.

It also depends on the particular speakers in question.

In a lot of cases, a processed powered speaker will still not sound as good as a well designed passive speaker-mainly because of the acoustical layout/design of the speaker.

Yes this will vary quite a bit.

So you CANNOT simply say a powered/processed speaker vs a passive speaker.  Not all of either are the same-or even close.

You MUST specify a specific model of one vs another.

Other than that, it is like saying  "Is a gas engine better than a diesel?"  It depends on a LOT of SPECIFIC factors.  And unless you know those factors and the specific case in how they are being considered, you will get a lot of useless ideas/suggestions.

They may be valid for some cases, but not for others.

What makes a product great for one usage, ALSO makes it COMPLETELY WRONG from another usage.

The NEEDS HAVE to be considered first-such as looking at the room.
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Don T. Williams

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2016, 01:38:48 pm »

I'm just wondering why the "sales engineer" didn't mention the Bose Room Match series, which could possibly have a model that works in your room?  I think they do some room modeling to determine which model (there are a bunch) would work in your venue.

Disclaimer:  I have never heard a Bose Room Match system, and I'm not a Bose fan.  If you pastor is really "stuck" on that brand, at least try to get a product that works toward solving the problem.  Your "sales engineer" sounds more like a "salesman".

Quite a few years ago, a sales team came to my area and sold a bunch of churches the "banana" systems.  It created wonderful sales opportunities for the serious pro audio companies to in and install proper gear a few months later.  That "rule" about buying 3 systems proved pretty accurate!
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2016, 08:02:18 pm »

There is a lot more to it than that.

A powered speaker, with all the processing in the world, is only going to try to make it sound by itself-in a particular situation.

As soon as you put that speaker in a room, additional processing will need to be made to help it work best IN THAT room.

It also depends on the particular speakers in question.

In a lot of cases, a processed powered speaker will still not sound as good as a well designed passive speaker-mainly because of the acoustical layout/design of the speaker.

Yes this will vary quite a bit.

So you CANNOT simply say a powered/processed speaker vs a passive speaker.  Not all of either are the same-or even close.

You MUST specify a specific model of one vs another.

Other than that, it is like saying  "Is a gas engine better than a diesel?"  It depends on a LOT of SPECIFIC factors.  And unless you know those factors and the specific case in how they are being considered, you will get a lot of useless ideas/suggestions.

They may be valid for some cases, but not for others.

What makes a product great for one usage, ALSO makes it COMPLETELY WRONG from another usage.

The NEEDS HAVE to be considered first-such as looking at the room.

I understand that you have to consider the application.  My question was more theoritical-in other words, is a powered speaker just a speaker with a built in amp, or does the engineered processing bring with it the potential to be better than a comparable speaker plus an amp tuned in place in the install?  The sales engineer involved made it sound like we were in the dark ages for still using passive speakers.  All to often, IMO, the conversation is powered vs passive rather than speaker A vs speaker B, but I am trying to learn and understand the pros and cons.

To Don's point, that is the other thing that bothered me. From what I have read on here, I feel like line arrays have a place, but in a very reverberant room in particular I am gun shy.  I saw line arrays used at our state GOP convention at a reverberant hall at the state fairgrounds. I kept my mouth shut to see what others thought, but it didn't take long for the complaints
to start-one out of three speakers was completely unintelligible where we sat ( back row, center).  I know that a significant part of it was deployment, I had cringed when I walked in, still it was a bad experience.
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Steve Swaffer

Ivan Beaver

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2016, 08:20:03 pm »

I understand that you have to consider the application.  My question was more theoritical-in other words, is a powered speaker just a speaker with a built in amp, or does the engineered processing bring with it the potential to be better than a comparable speaker plus an amp tuned in place in the install?  The sales engineer involved made it sound like we were in the dark ages for still using passive speakers.  All to often, IMO, the conversation is powered vs passive rather than speaker A vs speaker B, but I am trying to learn and understand the pros and cons.

To Don's point, that is the other thing that bothered me. From what I have read on here, I feel like line arrays have a place, but in a very reverberant room in particular I am gun shy.  I saw line arrays used at our state GOP convention at a reverberant hall at the state fairgrounds. I kept my mouth shut to see what others thought, but it didn't take long for the complaints
to start-one out of three speakers was completely unintelligible where we sat ( back row, center).  I know that a significant part of it was deployment, I had cringed when I walked in, still it was a bad experience.
Any processing that is available in a powered speaker is also available in a separate DSP for a passive speaker.

The term "powered" and "passive" are starting to take on different meaning these days.

Some people consider anything that does not have the amplifier inside the cabinet to be "passive", whether or not it has a passive crossover or not.

In a highly reverberant space, there are a couple of things that will increase the intelligibility.

Being able to a ACTUALLY control the pattern of where the sound goes is the biggest. 

Yes, line arrays can narrow the vertical pattern, something that actually happens (that the marketing department does not want you to know) is that there are "lobes" that shoot out the top/bottom/rear etc that will bounce around the space-lowering the intelligibility.

Also line arrays have almost no horizontal pattern control-so the sound just sprays off the sides all over the walls.

Large horns offer the most consistent pattern control.

The other thing that greatly helps intelligibility is having ONE SOURCE of sound.  NOT the different arrivals of a line array-where the sound comes out of each of the different cabinets at different times.

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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2016, 10:41:54 pm »

I understand that you have to consider the application.  My question was more theoritical-in other words, is a powered speaker just a speaker with a built in amp, or does the engineered processing bring with it the potential to be better than a comparable speaker plus an amp tuned in place in the install?  The sales engineer involved made it sound like we were in the dark ages for still using passive speakers.  All to often, IMO, the conversation is powered vs passive rather than speaker A vs speaker B, but I am trying to learn and understand the pros and cons.

To Don's point, that is the other thing that bothered me. From what I have read on here, I feel like line arrays have a place, but in a very reverberant room in particular I am gun shy.  I saw line arrays used at our state GOP convention at a reverberant hall at the state fairgrounds. I kept my mouth shut to see what others thought, but it didn't take long for the complaints
to start-one out of three speakers was completely unintelligible where we sat ( back row, center).  I know that a significant part of it was deployment, I had cringed when I walked in, still it was a bad experience.
Whether the amps are inside the speaker our outside has less to do with final sound quality than a manufacturer-integrated system vs a speaker with a blank DSP/amp system.  While it's true that any speaker will need some tweaking for the room it's in, starting with a system that due to hundreds of hours of manufacturer work is well-behaved in the time, spacial, and frequency dimensions is far, FAR easier to produce an excellent result than trying to handle both box tuning and room tuning, at least for all but the most elite system tuners.  In addition to sound quality benefits of "integrated" amp/DSP/speaker systems, manufacturers handle the driver protection work, meaning you can access more of the boxes' theoretical output without worrying about damage.

Line arrays are not a panacea, and for a permanent install where you have the luxury of choosing the correct speakers for the space from a catalog, usually point source systems will give better results for less money than a line array - especially for small and medium rooms.  BTW, the Bose F1 is not a 'line array' by any definition accepted on this forum.  It's not even a dash array.
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2016, 12:24:10 pm »

Post a picture or two of the room and the system in there now.

Just asking here, have you confirmed that all the system drivers and components are working?
Just had to ask because I get at least four service calls and or system upgrade proposal request a year where the problem is blown drivers in the system, many have been that way for years and finally someone decides somethings not right!!
Maybe half the time system speaker system was actually right for the job but issues up stream were the main cause of the untimely blown drivers.

Stephen Swaffer

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Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2016, 02:51:09 pm »

Any processing that is available in a powered speaker is also available in a separate DSP for a passive speaker.

The term "powered" and "passive" are starting to take on different meaning these days.

Some people consider anything that does not have the amplifier inside the cabinet to be "passive", whether or not it has a passive crossover or not.

A keeping in mind TJs comments on factory set DSP-seems obvious that it should be better than the average guy can do in his shop.

Is the potential improvement enough to overcome manufacturing tolerances?  I'm assuming that speakers are mass produced and programming is just downloaded-but there are tolerances in any manufacturing process-how precise is the programming?  Yes I'm splitting hairs.  I'm not trying to start an argument, or am I? ;D  This is probably the audio equivalent of the theological debate"how many angels can dance on the head of a pin."

I'll put a pic up later-the current cluster is a set of large EV horns under a single cabinet-biamped.  I replaced the drivers a couple of years ago-reasonably certain they are still functioning correctly.  This is more a case, IMO, of we are going to do something-just trying to steer it the right direction.

I might be a wrong, but I feel like part of the issue (in the dissatisfaction) is that last November we replaced our A&H GL3800 with a QU-32.  I basically unplugged the 3800 and plugged the QU in to the existing DSP.  I didn't think it would make much difference, but the highs were really harsh, so I rolled them off-just a quick make it better for now.  Long story and church politics involved, but the last time I carefully went through the system EQ was on the 3800-I feel like, either the 3800 had a degraded HF response, or there was just a big difference in the two desks on the high end.
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Steve Swaffer

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: "Engineers" and Pre-SR acoustics
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2016, 02:51:09 pm »


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