The discussion of Jay's collaborative design with Atomic Amps, along with some recent experiences of mine, got me thinking. I'm a bit hesitant to even ask the question posed in the subject header, because I can practically hear eyes (and not just Jay's) rolling in sockets already. WARNING: Long, rambling post ahead. My studio monitors are a decade-old pair of JBL LSR28p's. At the time, these sounded substantially better and smoother than the Mackie's or Genelecs that they were competing with price-wise. They still sound good to my ears: if I put music through them, I can hear everything. And it sounds... Good. Natural. Not hyped. Bass is strong but not boomy. Highs are not shrill. They sound musical. A recent post at the Fractal forum got me onto the idea of making corrective IR’s for speakers. The process as outlined uses a Behringer (!) measurement mic, a readily-available “correction file” .cal for it, and Room EQ Wizard shareware. The Behringer mic doesn’t look like a real measurement mic, and I hesitate to buy anything by that company, but it uses a pretty decent Panasonic electret capsule so it should be in the ballpark. What have I got to lose for the effort but $40 for the microphone? So for a couple of hours this weekend, I did two different experiments: one was to make a corrective IR for the SLS 1890 speakers I would like to use with the AxeFX as my bass-limited stereo monitors or as backline in small gigs. These are very small cabinets with a ribbon tweeter and an 8” woofer, all in a sealed box. There is a very clear bump in the low mids around 300-500Hz in these, and they have very little real low-end. My first crack at making a corrective IR made them sound slightly better…a lot of the low-mid mud was gone, but they now sound thin and with a distinct “caw” nasalness to them. They don’t sound as good with that as they do with the corrective graphic EQ curve I gave them. I have not compared these speakers side by side with my JBL monitors, though…or even in the same room. So my next step was to go where my JBL’s are and measure them. I’m attaching a graphic of what I measured with the mic placed about 40cm away, running only one of the pair for the measurement. This doesn’t look flat to me, but then I probably don’t know how to really read a measurement like this. In particular, the phase aspect of the measurement throws me. This measurement looks quite a bit smoother than the measurement I took of the SLS speaker, though. But if I had to describe what I see (open to being corrected), they look a bit scooped between 800-1200Hz, and like they have a fair amount of low end relative to mids in particular. I don’t know how to make REW draw a “best fit” curve to the measurement, but if I had to guess I’d say that there is around 10db of scoop in that midrange region relative to bass (80-200Hz) and to treble (5k-8kHz). It doesn’t look flat. But they sound good. And I’m betting if I put a 10db boost in that midrange region, they wouldn’t sound as good to my ears. So it got me thinking about why flat is the goal. Really, what I’m after is to get a system (my studio monitors) where I tweak my patches which sonically resembles a really good PA like some of the venues I play. Also, I would like the monitors or backline I use to sound similar…in other words, that I’d have a way of having the same patch sound the same across all three systems so that I don’t fight tone and can focus on making music. But if most PA’s aren’t set up to be flat because flat “doesn’t sound very good” (does it?) and the house curve features scooped mids, and I tweak patches to sound good on a perfectly flat system, I’d expect that my patches would sound very bass and treble heavy…scooped in the mids. Smoothness I can understand…if you have a speaker that has lots of peaks and dips in response, I know it ends up being nearly impossible to make it sound good because you can’t fine-tune the EQ to do so. So I wonder if there are really three primary goals: · Smooth speakers – ones for which corrective EQ is fairly easy to do when it is needed to compensate for changes in the room you’re working in. Tweaking global EQ at a gig is fine, tweaking individual patches is not. · Loud speakers – because especially for those of us using them as backline, we like that “shake the leg of my pants” feel that we get out of a real guitar cabinet, and want that out of our modeler speaker, too. · Speakers that represent well what is coming out of the PA – so that you know what everybody else is hearing. But does all that amount to the same thing as “flat?” So…thoughts? Am I thinking wrong? Does flat sound great to everybody but me? Or am I measuring wrong or interpreting the measurement wrong? There were definitely some issues I was having that made me nervous about the measurement process, such as not being able to get the speakers to “pink” very loudly without clipping the input device according to REW. But I'm also very interested in people's take on whether flat really sounds good or not, and whether it translates well to "typical" house systems. Thanks!