Stereophile Dishes Out the Good Measurements

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by Josh Ray on May 15 '06

 Images Archivesart 506Sf.1

Another Monday, another update from the Stereophile crew. And what an update it is. If you're a regular reader of Stereophile, you'll know the reviewer's opinion and performance measurements rarely jibe. The reviewer says the speaker is the greatest thing ever but the measurements come in jumpier than a 5 year old on Red Bull.

The planets aligned and Stereophile updated with two reviews of speakers that, gasp, actually have good measurements. The first is the Sonus Faber Amati Homage Anniversio (pictured above) dressed up in Sonus Faber's famous Italian cabinetry. Calling a speaker sexy is, uh, kinda creepy but with the Sonus Fabers, I'm definitely tempted.

Reviewer Atkinson says this of the $27,500 speaker: "for me, it doesn't get much better than this." Then goes on to give the speaker a "clean bill of health" where measurements are concerned. Does perfection only arrive at $27,500?

The second speaker up is the $1800 Dynaudio Focus 140 (pictured below). Dynaudio is a Danish brand known for manufacturing drivers for many different companies and then pulling the OEM plug when they wanted to make their own speakers. Reviewer Phillips loves what he hears and, as far as I can tell, says the Focus 140 is better than Dynaudio's Special 25 speaker at $5200. Interestingly, he calls this a non-audiophile speaker in that it isn't fickle and temperamental to make sound good...sad, sad, sad for the audiophiles.

In any case, the Focus 140 has "excellent measured performance" aka about as good as two drivers in a box can perform. What does this all mean? We've all seen speaker after speaker get slapped down and here's a $1800 speaker with near perfect measurements. So is the Focus 140 as good as the Amati Homage? Is it better than other speakers quadruple the price with bad measurements? Are measurements the last word in speaker reviewing? No, no and no. I have an article in the works about measurements and different tastes in the audio world, but what do you think about this numbers game?

 Images Archivesart 506Dyne


"Better"? Guess not. "Differently excellent" perhaps? It would be ludicrous to pretend the Dynaudios be equal to the Sonus, starting with the obvious differences. It probably goes more towards a quantitative measure of technical/acoustic excellence - as in, $1800 worth of excellence vs. the "more of" excellence, proportionately speaking, that $25K buys you. God knows if that really makes sense.
I don't think that we know what to measure, we don't in concert hall design and we don't in speaker reviewing. How do you measure an abstraction? There are some things that can be measured strait forwardly, how something sounds is not one of them. Like politics, the question attracts dogma on both sides. Naturally I land on the side of using your subjective hearing apparatus. Next up: The myth of absolute sound..... Gregg
That's "Amati" (no N), after the cremona violin maker Stradivarius apprenticed to.
Nice catch. Amanti is my favorite coffee shop :)
And that's "jibe" (to agree; to harmonize), not "jive" (to cajole or mislead)!
And now everyone knows the difference between blogs and print publications :) Thanks for the correction! Really, I appreciate it. Without education, how will I ever reach the level of Clark Johnsen? It's okay, you can remain anonymous :) May the phase be with you.
Thanks--and may the phrase be with you!
In case anyone missed out on the Johnsen/Phase reference, I'm speaking of the Audio Asylum Critics bloodbath currently taking place between Johnsen and one George Louis. Dear Lord, forgive my soul for witnessing such things...
Josh, can you please point me to that bloodbath on Odious Asylum? (may your parental deity forgive any unvirtuous exposure on your part to those mental cases) As an atheist I think that I can handle reading it.