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Article: KEF LS50 (David) Versus JBL 4722 Cinema (Goliath) Speaker Comparison with Binaural Recordings


mitchco

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On 1/1/2019 at 11:34 AM, Archimago said:

Congrats Chris on the site refresh! All the best for 2019!

 

Mitch: Wow dude. You have outdone yourself with that binaural A/B audio track :-). Agree "the differences between David and Goliath (with subs) are not that big"! All the more remarkable considering that image of the LS50 sitting beside the 4722 behemoths... A beautiful demonstration of your skill and the power of DSP processing (and Audiolense particularly in this case) in achieving the intended sound.

 

Just add a screen between the listener and speakers, and you can offer the "Barnett Challenge" :-).

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

Thanks Arch! @Archimago  Happy New Year man. I have some plans for this binaural approach moving forward.

 

Keep up the excellent writings!

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On 1/1/2019 at 11:12 PM, STC said:

Mitchco, thank you for a meaningful comparison of different speakers. Meanwhile, the audio stops at 3:10 for https://cdn.computeraudiophile.com/article-images/2019/0101/mitch/JBL 4722 compare to LS50 plus dual subs.wav . 

 

I believe you changed the recorded sound at 3:00 but it stops after 10 seconds.

 

Hello @STC Each recording is a random length and have different start times... Perhaps I am misunderstanding your question?

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On 1/2/2019 at 7:14 AM, maty said:

With my second system. Speakers first and headphones after.

 

Kef LS50 plus subs vs JBL 4722 plus subs

 

 

foobar2000 1.4.1

 

With speakers or headphones is very easy to differentiate ALL files, too easy!

 

* KEF Q100 5.25" coaxial speakers tweaked and modded: it is very easy.

 

* Takstar ts-671 open dynamic headphones tweaked and modded: it is very very easy.

 

 

JRMC 24.0.72 64 bits

 

The same but more easy

 

 

By the way, amplification?

 

Note: I have my Win 10 Pro 1709 x64 very very very optimized to play multimedia. Before summer only very very :)

 

 

@maty Cool! Which recording did you prefer? You can find the amps I used in other articles...

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On 1/2/2019 at 6:05 PM, Milt99 said:

Mitch, you've nailed it again.

Love your observations & articles.

Rare combo of logical, straight forward writing. Explained so a chunkhead like me can understand & read the entire copy.

Sorry but, you can elucidate audio like Richard Feynman could explain astrophysics.

 

@Milt99 You are too kind, thanks. Fan of Feynman 🙂

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On 1/3/2019 at 12:36 PM, JR_Audio said:

Hi Mitch. Happy New Year. Once again, I appreciate your thorough work. Yes, it takes a while to read all the "pages", but it's worth every paragraph. Thumbs up.

 

Happy New Year Juergen @JR_Audio Thanks for the thumbs up. Yes, I write verbose 🙂 

All the best!

Mitch

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15 hours ago, Tin said:

I wonder what the effect is of sympathetic resonance with the sensitive JBLs present in the room when the small KEFs playing.

 

 

Hi @Tin When the KEF's were playing (even with subs) I put my ear up to the JBL cones and port and could not hear anything. If there was something, then it is too low in level and being masked by the SPL of the KEF's to my ears.

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2 hours ago, esldude said:

Man, your speaker reviews should be the gold standard.  They are the Gold standard.  

 

Binaural just doesn't work well for me.  I actually got a better sense playing this over a pair of speakers.  

 

Your results are very, very impressive.  I've got two suggestions/requests if you like. 

 

One is could you record both speakers up close and use that instead of binaural or maybe you've tried that.  

 

The other is just a different approach.  How about putting one speaker in one channel and the other speaker in the other channel.  Letting them play together.  You'll probably want to do that in the real physical world and do a binaural recording of that.  I think that might be the most impressive thing to show. Maybe alternate sections like you have between a matched pair of speakers and the two different speakers in each channel.  

 

Happy New Year Dennis! Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I tried the up close and did not sound natural and was bested by the binaural recording.

 

I got around to purchasing this mic pre and after a shootout, it still comes up on top against the more expensive ones. It's a discrete Class A design with 40 dB of gain before the tube stage. The binaural mics I use are high output and won't need the tube stage.

 

ART%20Pro%20MPA%20II.JPG

 

Thanks for the approaches. Good idea on one speaker in one channel and the other in the other channel...

 

Cheers! Mitch

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On 1/7/2019 at 10:20 PM, folzag said:

Thank you, Mitch.

 

The recordings were awesome and really took this review to the next level.

 

To my mind, if money and space were no object, the JBL's are hand's down the winner. Their sound felt more natural and balanced. The song coming out of them had less of a reproduction feel, like the singers were present in the room. In contrast, the KEF's I coldn't shake the feeling that the song sounded like a playback of recording made in a studio. A very good recording, but a studio all the same. It didn't make me feel "presence" for lack of a better word that the JBL did. A little too "clinical" may be.

 

Next, the KEF's with and without sub's were interesting to me because the difference is very similar to what I experience listening to my pair of Emotiva Airmotive 6s" powered monitors with and without sub's. Without sub's, it sounds nice and perfectly clear, but there's something missing... it doesn't get my body responding to the music. As soon as the sub's turn on, though, it's like the bottom half of the music comes alive and now I can feel it. At the same time, if I stop and consider it, it also feels a little made-up. Too much energy underneath. That is also something I struggle with on my sub's -- keeping the bottom from getting too strong where it starts to be fake. And again, I don't get that "fake" feeling from the JBL's.

 

I reckon the million dollar question is whether it's from the room and the speaker placement that could be easily solved, or something else, like directivity, that can't be captured without big boxes like the JBL's. In any case, I am looking forward to more reviews and more binaural recordings.

 

Many thanks and much appreciation,

Allan F.

 

Allan @folzag, thanks for taking the time to listen to the binaural recordings and your response.  It would seem our listening preferences are similar 🙂 I am still amazed at how much directivity difference there is between these two speakers, which is on the binaural recordings.

 

I feel confident that the differences are predominately directivity related. My room has enough treatment to make the decay time (RT60) not only smooth across frequency range, but within industry guidelines for my size room. It does measure towards the livelier side of the spec...

 

Thanks again,

Mitch

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12 hours ago, nefilim said:

ps. When I started with AudioLense early last year, I was looking for a mic preamp to go with my RME ADI2-Pro ... it seemed like many of them added some kind of signature or colouration which I guess is desirable to many recording engineers (can we still not add any of this in post?). One of the few I could find that seemed more suitable for accurate measurements was the Grace Design m101 ... pretty pricey but bit the bullet, been happy so far. 

 

The Grace Design m101 is really nice kit! Gets great reviews. It was a toss up between the Grace and the ART, and I just emptied my pockets on a sub upgrade, and went with the ART. I am happy to hear it is working well for you. Good to know. Thanks.

Mitch

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15 hours ago, isleofskye said:

Very interesting article -- a very welcome departure from the preponderance of cliched fluff pieces clogging up the 'net. Well done sir.

 

I am really intrigued by the JBL 4722, so have to ask Mitchco (or anyone in the know): what do you lose or gain from a speaker like the sub $4,000 4722 (pair) versus the $5,000 JBL 4429 or the $15,000 4765? (other than the looks)  I know these are "studio" monitors not "theater" speakers, but the similarities are so many: very high spl, huge dynamics, very high/ high sensitivity, horn, etc?

 

In other words, for listening at home, why not save a boat load of money and buy these 4722s instaed of the far pricier studio monitors? 

 

Thanks @isleofskye The 4722's ($2K US a pair) are bit narrower directivity than the 4429 or 4365. If you biamp the 4722's like I have, then you require digital or electronic XO. A multi-channel DAC, four amps, protection capacitors for the compression drivers. I upgraded the compression drivers on my 4722's based on a really long thread on AVSForum where one of the members tried several different compression drivers. Some DIY along with DSP is required to make these sound their best. Whereas, the 4429 or 4365's are ready to go as is.

 

The JBL M2's are the closest to the 4722's, as they use similar tech, but with upgraded components in the M2. If I had the dough at the time, I would have gone with the M2's. But if you have the space, like huge dynamic speakers and willing to diy a bit, the 4722's are a good choice, if you can stand how fugly they are 🙂

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On 1/16/2019 at 1:14 AM, Ragera said:

Thank you Mitcha for a great review! Since you have reviewed great speakers like Dutch&Dutch 8c, Kii3, Genelec 8351, LS50, I need your help for a 5.2 set up for movies and use the same for a 2.2 set up. My living room is 38 m2 and the listening area is 25 m2. My listening distance is 3,5 meters and the speakers will be 4 meters apart. Moreover my living room is very lively with large glass windows on the side. I have done some minimalistic room treatments with curtains but more I could not do due to WAF. 

 

Due to the room situation, I have to look for speakers with a great directivity index to prevent early reflections from the glass windows and use the room correction additionally. I had narrowed my LCRs earlier to Genelec 8351 (used with software GLM) or XTZ Divine Delta (use Anthem AVR or MiniDSP for room correction). With your review KEF LS50 seems to be back in the list and has the best WAF. Moreover I will be well within budget with LS50. I love JBL speakers especially M2, 708P but getting an identical center channel for my low board is difficult and the same goes for Kii/DD 8c. XTZ is a great price worth speaker with Accuton drivers providing great detail/clarity and very musical but they do not have a waveguide or horn like Genelec or JBL and I will have a difficulty in taming reflections with XTZ. Hence I am wondering to remove XTZ off the list. 

 

How do you compare Genelec 8351 to LS50 with respect to sound quality. What amps would you suggest for LS50? I did listen LS50 in two different stores. One was excellent whereas the other was mediocre. Probably it had to do with amps. I have also listened to JBL 4429 and love them (issue with center channel). 

 

Any recommendations/suggestion from you would be very helpful for me. 

 

Kind Regards, 

 Ram

 

 

 

Hi Ram @Ragera Thanks.. I have not reviewed the Genelec 8531, so can't comment. Ram, the main issue is that few speaker manufacturers publish their directivity specs. I don't see any listed for the XTZ for example. You can  get some ideas from Soundstage measurements from the NRC: https://www.soundstage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16  

 

While the LS50's are a steal for a grand, they are geared more towards near and mid-field listening and not best suited for your application given size of room and listening distance. Unless of course your preference is for more room sound, but you indicated you wanted to reduce  early reflections...

 

Tough to recommend due to lack of speaker manufacturer's directivity data. As a rule of thumb, which you already know, is speakers with waveguides tend to have a higher directivity index than domes... This is why I use JBL, not only for the waveguide, but they publish their directivity specs. Without the data, it is difficult to recommend...

 

Regards,

Mitch

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Hello @Kvalsvoll I see you just joined  CA and this is your first post. Welcome!

 

Thanks for your feedback. The only fair comparison is the LS50 plus sub vs JBL with sub as they have a similar frequency response, but very different directivity index. The LS50 standalone was to let people listen to what it sounds like without a sub.

 

Checking on the specs, The little speaker is rated at 106 dB SPL max output and 2nd & 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m) <0.4% 175Hz-20kHz with 85dB (2.83V/1m) sensitivity. I don't think the speaker was overloaded. at 83 dB SPL at the LP.

 

I follow these levelling best practices using pro gear. 83 dB SPL I do not find too loud and has the right balance of bass to treble. For overly compressed material I drop the level down to 77 dB SPL.

 

Kind regards,

Mitch

 

 

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@Kvalsvoll I think you are taking my article too literally 🙂 I said similar frequency response, not exact. As already caveated in the article, several times, the LS50's were placed in a room null whereas the JBL's were not. This accounts for the difference in the 50 to 60 Hz dip. Again, as noted in the article, had I moved the LS50's to the exact same spot as the JBL's, would have resolved this issue and perhaps a few others. Also noted in the article, the science shows our ears/brain are not too sensitive to narrow band dips in frequency response below Schroeder.

 

JBL 4722 Red Green KEF LS50 Blue Mauve both with subs.jpg

 

The JBL has a near infinite baffle whereas the LS50 does not. This will cause a different Speaker Boundary Interference Response (SBIR) above 100 Hz to around 400 Hz (directivity related as the polar response will be different for both speakers in this frequency range, aside from the fact that the LS50's were not in the same physical position as the JBL's...).

 

The JBL's "constant directivity" comes into play at around 400 Hz:

 

JBL 4722 Directivity factory.JPG

 

Where as the LS50's does not. The rest of the differences on up in the audio band are due to the directivity differences between the two speakers.

 

As Floyd Toole and Sean Olive have often said, one cannot eq directvity. So both the measurement and correction software are "blind" to directivity, as we are measuring and correcting the sound power in the room (i.e. steady state response).

 

The point of the article is to show that two speakers eq'd "similarly not exact" sound remarkably close, yet the big difference being how much room sound is let into the recording by the wide directivity differences between these two specific speakers that represent the near opposite ends of the directivity index scale. The intent is to have folks listen to binaural recordings to hear the audible difference and determine what one's preference is with respect to how much room sound one likes mixed in with the direct sound. It is nothing more than that.

 

Enjoy the music!

 

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Thanks @Trdat Yes, as the saying goes, "there is no replacement for displacement."  🙂 At reference volume, the LS50's are nearing there max output level before audible distortion sets in, whereas the JBL's are idling. But with new tech drivers like the Purifi PTT6.5, the gap is closing...

 

Yes, classical music concert halls where the sound is mostly diffuse, for un-amplified music. This is opposed to concert halls with monster PA systems for rock bands, etc. which are designed to cover the hall with much more direct sound versus reverberate sound. There is a concept called critical distance at play here...

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Hi @EMA the pics are from the old versions of the woofers, but the specs are the same. Perhaps this thread on AVSforum may be of interest: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/1925586-just-purchased-pair-jbl-4722n-speakers.html

 

No, I did not make a recording of just the JBL. However, I used an XO of 40 Hz to the subs, so other than the last low bass octave, the recording will sound the same without them.

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Hi @EMA I am pretty sure they will be black drivers... Also, you should be aware there are two versions of these speakers, one with a passive crossover network and one without. The one without means you need to "biamp" these speakers. Finally, I have modified mine with different JBL compression drivers. I would not recommend using the "stock" compression drivers. Please see the AVSForum link in my previous reply as you should know what you are getting into...

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The JBL 2226H are good old school 15" drivers. The JBL 2265H in the 4739 is the modern neo driver with dual voice coil. I have heard both over the years, I prefer the more transient response and smoother midrange of the 2265H. But that is just my preference, yours may be different. Both sound good.

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