IF: If Neil McCauley was a speaker designer (which he plainly isn’t!)

Michael Vronsky writes:

Neil; if you were, say, a speaker designer then what would be more important to you when designing , the final subjective sound or the measurements?

Oh, I'm afraid very much the sound. I don't despise or ignore measurements which are essential in the course of designing the thing. They give you wonderful pointers when you're not happy with something. As an enthusiastic, inquisitive but not particular good DIY person I have modified things from what seemed to be measurements that were perfectly good and very acceptable to something perhaps less acceptable but more musical, so I think the musical thing has to take precedence in the final analysis. Although one has to be very careful not to violate too many measurement criteria.

Okay, back to you as editor, are you of the opinion that a ruler-flat response is the one dependable litmus test of a good loudspeakers design?


Would that imply that a poorly measuring speaker system can sound great and a ruler-flat response one might not?

Oh yes, I think so. The fact that it’s rule of flat means that it has one thing right in a whole number of things; many of which we're not quite sure how to measure even. This industry is fraught with complications. The ear/brain is challenging all sorts of things so that you can have a loudspeaker that has so many other things that are good about it and it's response is a bit wavy; but it might be infinitely preferable to listen to than one with a rule of flat response.

I've see ruler flat response loudspeakers with engineering people telling you it’s right because they have measured it and they know it's right, and if you don't think it’s right then there is something wrong with your ears. Well we all know what to do with that attitude.

How does this situation arise?

Engineers in lab coats with no musical appreciation! That how. {voice rises an octave or more)

Sounds like B&W?

(adopts a haughty, Ian Richardson type of voice) You might think that, but I can’t possibly comment.