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  1. #1

    Behind Harman Testing Lab

    This past week I had a nice time chatting with well-known technology writer Robert Scoble who visited our Harman research and testing labs in Northridge, CA along with his geek-in-command Sam Levine.


    I talk about his visit in my recent blog posting Behind Harman's Testing Labs, which includes a video link to an interview he conducted with me after he completed a double-blind speaker test.
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member Blake's Avatar
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    Sean:

    Thanks for posting. This is very interesting. I always enjoying seeing what goes on behind the scenes with audio companies.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Blake View Post
    Sean:

    Thanks for posting. This is very interesting. I always enjoying seeing what goes on behind the scenes with audio companies.
    Glad you liked it. There's another interview with speaker engineer Charles Sprinkle, who I hired as an intern many years ago. He's one of our loudspeaker engineering stars: warning: extreme technical geek talk that may be unsuitable for kids with 30 s attention spans and liberal arts majors.
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com

  4. #4

    Nice to have you "listening in" here

    As a big fan of Harman products (see signature), I have been hoping that we would see new generations of Harman products incorporate computer front ends and your interest here bodes well for that.
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  5. #5
    Junior Member wgb113's Avatar
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    Sean,

    Thanks for the links, I appreciate the research and methodologies you guys use and I was glad to see it's coming to headphones as well.

    Does the JBL Professional series go through the same sort of testing as your consumer speakers?

    Bill
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
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    Dale dalethorn's Avatar
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    Interesting article at Harman, where most people preferred a more accurate or neutral sound. I hope someone continues to pursue this, because when you put loudspeakers in a typical room, it gets complicated.
    AKG K812/K712, Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by wgb113 View Post
    Sean,

    Thanks for the links, I appreciate the research and methodologies you guys use and I was glad to see it's coming to headphones as well.

    Does the JBL Professional series go through the same sort of testing as your consumer speakers?

    Bill
    Certainly the studio monitors (LSR) go through the same rigorous competitive benchmarking. The larger cinema and speakers simply do not fit in that listening room. However, they are designed and tuned using the same scientific methods, criteria and measurement equipment we use for our consumer speakers including JBL Synthesis.
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Dale dalethorn's Avatar
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    As far as I'm concerned, the only good double(?)-blind tests are when the testee has the volume controls and speaker switcher in hand, and the tester does everything else, especially keeping the gear hidden. Any tests where the tester does the switching or controls the volume would not yield a useful result.
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  9. #9
    Junior Member wgb113's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonmeister86 View Post
    Certainly the studio monitors (LSR) go through the same rigorous competitive benchmarking. The larger cinema and speakers simply do not fit in that listening room. However, they are designed and tuned using the same scientific methods, criteria and measurement equipment we use for our consumer speakers including JBL Synthesis.
    So do you benchmark the LSR series against other studio monitors, your consumer speakers, or both? What, if any, difference do you find in the target market's preference in sound? I know you said in the interview that you find, on the consumer side, that the majority of the people prefer the most neutral and accurate speaker and that's the job of studio monitors as well so I'm curious as to how the Infinity/JBL consumer lines stack up to the LSR range.

    Also, without giving too much away, do you see any implementation of the LSR room-correction capabilities making their way to your consumer lines?

    As someone who has finally gone through the effort of treating the room and measuring to get the ideal speaker/listener placement it would seem like room-technology like you offer would be the "icing on the cake."

    Bill
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Blake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wgb113 View Post
    Also, without giving too much away, do you see any implementation of the LSR room-correction capabilities making their way to your consumer lines?

    As someone who has finally gone through the effort of treating the room and measuring to get the ideal speaker/listener placement it would seem like room-technology like you offer would be the "icing on the cake."

    Bill
    Bill: the new Revel Performa3 subwoofers (B110 and B112) will feature built-in room correction for both the sub and the main speakers. These subs are set to be released to the public in March of 2013. I will be getting one as soon as they are available. So, at least some implementation is coming to the consumer level.
    MacBook Pro ​2012, i7, 16gb(Audirvana) > TotalDac D1 usb cable & filter > | Berkeley Alpha USB > Siltech HF-9 > | Bel Canto DAC 2.5 > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Jeff Rowland Capri ​preamp > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Blue Circle Audio BC202 amp > MG Audio Planus III > | Revel Ultima Gem ​speakers | 2 x Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers | Sablon Gran Corona power cords

    Headphone Setup: Dennis Had (founder of Cary Audio) IHA-1 Dragon Inspire headphone amp (NOS Brimar U52 + pair of NOS Sylvania 6BX7) > cans: Beyerdynamic T1 / Fostex TH900 / Audio Technica W3000ANV

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by dalethorn View Post
    As far as I'm concerned, the only good double(?)-blind tests are when the testee has the volume controls and speaker switcher in hand, and the tester does everything else, especially keeping the gear hidden. Any tests where the tester does the switching or controls the volume would not yield a useful result.
    In most of our tests, there is a single listener in the room who controls the switching. They can take as long as they like. The volume control is usually fixed and keep constant between tests unless the test is designed to test volume as a variable.
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by wgb113 View Post
    So do you benchmark the LSR series against other studio monitors, your consumer speakers, or both? What, if any, difference do you find in the target market's preference in sound? I know you said in the interview that you find, on the consumer side, that the majority of the people prefer the most neutral and accurate speaker and that's the job of studio monitors as well so I'm curious as to how the Infinity/JBL consumer lines stack up to the LSR range.

    Also, without giving too much away, do you see any implementation of the LSR room-correction capabilities making their way to your consumer lines?

    As someone who has finally gone through the effort of treating the room and measuring to get the ideal speaker/listener placement it would seem like room-technology like you offer would be the "icing on the cake."

    Bill
    LSR monitors are tested against other pro monitor competitors including Genelec. We have tested them against consumer speakers from time to time. Our best consumer models do well against LSR: why wouldn't they since we aim for the same performance targets in consumer/pro monitors, and both are designed and tested in the same facility.

    The main difference is that LSR's are powered whereas most consumer home speakers are not. The consumer speakers tend to have wider dispersion at higher frequencies because historically Pro speakers have steeper waveguides to maximize efficiency of the tweeter output. However, that is changing and the new LSR monitors previewed at AES have a high efficiency compression driver mated to a radically new designed waveguide that gives very wide dispersion in vertical and horizontal planes. The main benefit is you have a much wider sweet spot that allows you to move around the room with little change to the timbre. The reflected sounds are more similar to the direct sound as well.

    Regarding room correction, the new LSR monitor uses room correction based on our research, and it's the same as implemented in JBL Synthesis (known as ARCOS). So professional sound mixers can set them up in any control room, and calibrate them so that their mixes are more consistent from room to room. When consumers listen to those same recordings over a similar calibrated system, they get as close to hearing what the artist intended as you can get.

    Cool, eh?
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com

  13. #13
    Dale dalethorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonmeister86 View Post
    In most of our tests, there is a single listener in the room who controls the switching. They can take as long as they like. The volume control is usually fixed and keep constant between tests unless the test is designed to test volume as a variable.
    Excellent. This sounds (no pun intended) like a good way to test.
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    Junior Member wgb113's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonmeister86 View Post
    Regarding room correction, the new LSR monitor uses room correction based on our research, and it's the same as implemented in JBL Synthesis (known as ARCOS). So professional sound mixers can set them up in any control room, and calibrate them so that their mixes are more consistent from room to room. When consumers listen to those same recordings over a similar calibrated system, they get as close to hearing what the artist intended as you can get.

    Cool, eh?
    VERY cool indeed! When are these going to hit the street? I'd love to compare them to my Dynaudio studio monitors with and without the room correction.

    Bill
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    Junior Member Jsmith's Avatar
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    I posted some time back about the CA website offering seminars and workshops. Some of the feedback was negative towards anything that included manufacture support. I can already see this is a great thread with some real dialogue between those of use who use and those who build.

    Maybe it is just me, but I find this type of information extremely valuable. Don't get me wrong, I am always down for a good power cable fist fight, but this seems to be a bit more enlightened.

    If you agree, go show your support to Chris to get this type of thing going.

    OK - Now back to the Harman topic.
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    Matching speaker volume for blind tests.
    What do you use as a reference? Sine wave, wide-band pink noise, narrow band pink noise or what?


    added content
    Is the cal. mic or SPL meter placed near the speaker or at the listener position?
    Is the cal. mic or SPL meter omni or directional?

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by wgb113 View Post
    VERY cool indeed! When are these going to hit the street? I'd love to compare them to my Dynaudio studio monitors with and without the room correction.

    Bill
    Sometime this spring or summer I am told.
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
    Matching speaker volume for blind tests.
    What do you use as a reference? Sine wave, wide-band pink noise, narrow band pink noise or what?


    added content
    Is the cal. mic or SPL meter placed near the speaker or at the listener position?
    Is the cal. mic or SPL meter omni or directional?
    Level matching of speakers is done by playing pink noise measured at the listening position at around 80 dB B weighted slow with an omni mic )and adjusting the speaker input until they match within 0.1 dB. We recently started using an ITU R 1770 loudness meter which is similar to B weighting but flat at high frequencies and has as lower high pass frequency than B.
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
    Matching speaker volume for blind tests.
    What do you use as a reference? Sine wave, wide-band pink noise, narrow band pink noise or what?


    added content
    Is the cal. mic or SPL meter placed near the speaker or at the listener position?
    Is the cal. mic or SPL meter omni or directional?
    P.S
    I wanted to add that we also eliminate listener and loudspeaker positional effects or biases in the listening test by having each listener sit in the same seat and by moving the different speakers into the same location via a pneumatic speaker shuffler. We are the only audio company I know that has such a device.

    See Infinity's Multi-Level Listening Lab - The Final Test - YouTube
    Cheers | Sean Olive | Director Acoustic Research | Harman International | http://seanolive.blogspot.com