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Thread: We Took an Audio Expert to Assess the Sound at Portland Coffee Shops

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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    We Took an Audio Expert to Assess the Sound at Portland Coffee Shops

    .

    http://www.wweek.com/restaurants/201...-coffee-shops/

    excerpts:

    Portland cafes love the visual aesthetics of turntables and old box speakers, but the sound they're putting out is…bad. The most egregious offenders are the people making a conspicuous display of their auditory sensibilities while neglecting to tend to the most basic elements of listenability.



    The word Alpern used was "tragic." Proud Mary appeared to be trying very hard, and yet, because of the poor implementation, it turned into a "horror show."

    "You have paired speakers hung up as monitor speakers all over the place," says Alpern. "And then they used the thinnest cable possible—it looked like about 20 gauge—so that's not carrying enough bass energy anyway. Then they're placed all over the place, they're not firing in the right places in terms of the customers' ears. You were sitting against the wall, so you were getting some reflected bass energy—smeared, tubby bass—but I was sitting a few inches away, and I didn't get even that."



    Confession time: I am a big fan of Bose. The brand is loathed by audiophiles, but the sad fact is that most Americans cannot properly set up their living-room stereo. (In fact, my own living-room stereo is poorly set up, because my loving wife will not let me move the speakers.)

    Bose speakers are designed for the contemporary ignoramus, with direct and reflective elements built into the box. You cannot fuck them up, which is why the average American should just buy them.
    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    There is no shortage of poorly implemented audio systems, anywhere.

    I guess there is something to be said about systems like Bose where you can’t make them sound much better and, you can’t make them sound much worse.

    I am going off the rez here in saying that several places I go to for lunch have Bose pendants and LF units hanging from open architecture ceilings and they sound better than the majority of sound systems in places like this. They are designed for the application and properly implemented. It should be no surprise they outperform some of the systems shown in this artical no?

    Barry.
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

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    I'll stick my neck out here and counter..
    The worst aspect, for some time now in many establishments, would be the din' of hyper compression of the program.
    No longer are there the ebb and flow of the music tracks.
    I wonder if it is combined and stems from the 'perception perhaps that we should always be 'entertained (rather aggressively) in this way? And 'unfilled space in the ambient makes for a poor business model?

    'Poor tone, speaker placement,' pails in comparison. ..IMHO of course. :>)

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    I have long been amazed how outstanding the little JBL Control 1 can sound outdoors, even with poor placement. It's low distortion, my best guess, makes it a giant killer. I can't imagine it performing badly in a store or cafe. Of course, GIGO.

    Re: the feature -
    I heard those Elacs at AXPONA this year and when properly set up they are nice.

    "This whole thing where people say, 'I like vintage because it's warm,'" he says. "That's stupidity. They were never designed to sound like that." I agree, and I'll duck now.

    "I called a guy who is a turntable expert just to check and asked him, and he said that there's no cartridge in the world that's a 0.8 gram,..." The expert flunked out. The Shure V-15 Type III tracked fine, as designed, at half a gram. (You could also use it from .75 to 1.5, NO HEAVIER, but it worked fine at .5.) This is not off the top of my head, I used it for years and my late father had a hand in it. The production cartridge was second choice. Trackability was Shure's byword, and this time the cart they had to reject was probably the most advanced ever designed in that regard. It was also before modern heavy virgin vinyl pressings, and if the disk was not perfectly flat, the tone arm was sent skyward.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    even jbl's (L56's ?)
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    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

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    You don't need thick cables but should turn that installation into a 100 Volt System

    "... paired speakers hung up as monitor speakers all over the place ..."

    For each speakerbox you buy a transformer which can handle the power fed into the boxes (5 Watts), not the power the boxes can handle (100 Watts).

    These transformers come with taps which let you select the desired volume (e.g. 10 / 6 / 3 Watts).

    You need two bigger transformers which turn your amplifier / receiver into a 100 Volt amp.

    Ruediger


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Actually in the US we use 70 volt transformers. Regardless you are absolutely right, for long runs or large distribution systems going with a transformer coupled system is the best option. You do need to buy high quality transformers though which are fairly costly.


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1audiohack View Post
    I am going off the rez here in saying that several places I go to for lunch have Bose pendants and LF units hanging from open architecture ceilings and they sound better than the majority of sound systems in places like this. They are designed for the application and properly implemented. It should be no surprise they outperform some of the systems shown in this artical no?
    I’d go as far as saying that most of the products Bose has developed for their commercial line really do excel. We’ve bashed their consumer products for decades, but they know what their doing. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that if there was real money to be made making the type of speakers that we like Bose would be in that market and be doing an excellent job of it.

    All that aside we have plenty of coffee joints and bars down here with vintage sound systems and whether or not they are the right choice from a performance standpoint, it’s fun to see and hear them.


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    For each speakerbox you buy a transformer which can handle the power fed into the boxes (5 Watts), not the power the boxes can handle (100 Watts).

    These transformers come with taps which let you select the desired volume (e.g. 10 / 6 / 3 Watts).

    You need two bigger transformers which turn your amplifier / receiver into a 100 Volt amp.

    Ruediger

    Please don't. Constant (70v/100v) voltage systems sound like crap. There's no fidelity nor dynamic range. Spend a little extra and use large wire and multi-channel amplifiers. It doesn't cost that much more to do it the right way.

    Radley

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radley View Post
    Please don't. Constant (70v/100v) voltage systems sound like crap. There's no fidelity nor dynamic range. Spend a little extra and use large wire and multi-channel amplifiers. It doesn't cost that much more to do it the right way.
    You are right in that most applications use $5 or even $0.50 transformers that sound like crap. If you use audiophile quality transformers the system can sound very good. Like everything in this field it takes a bit of research and investment in the right parts.


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