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#190253 - 01/01/08 05:39 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: danmagicman7]
Wid Online   confused
axiomite

Registered: 06/22/03
Posts: 6722
Loc: The Peoples Republic of Il.
Teaser \:D
_________________________
Rick


"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." Sigmund Freud


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#190256 - 01/01/08 06:24 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: Wid]
St_PatGuy Offline
axiomite

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 7412
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
Geez, c'mon Dan!!!

We're waiting. . .(impatient sigh) ;\)
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"Nothin' up my sleeve. . ." --Bullwinkle J. Moose

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#190257 - 01/01/08 06:26 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: St_PatGuy]
CV Offline
Founder, Axiom Upgrade Club
shareholder in the making

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 11236
Loc: Richland, WA, USA
He's trying to be a master of suspense, but that just makes me imagine him in suspenders while he types up his comparison.

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#190258 - 01/01/08 06:34 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: St_PatGuy]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Ok...Ok...Here's half the review :-)



Yamaha RX-V557 vs. HK AVR 247

So, it's been said that Yamaha's are a more "neutral" sound and the HK's are a more "warm" sound. Let's test that assumption.

How I tested this is I literally unplugged the banana clips from the back of the yamaha then plugged them into the HK. I thought about connecting both the yamaha and the HK to both of the binding posts on the M60, but I didn't want to blow anything up, so I didn't.

To test the claim of the Yamaha's being more "bright" and forward and the HK being more "warm" and laid back...I picked some source material that I noted to sound pretty bright on my axioms. I switched back and forth and back and forth and back and forth between the HK and the Yamaha. The chips, voices, and high end sounds sounded just as "bright" on both of the receivers. I sat and listened for specific low and high sounds, tried to memorize them, then went back and listened to them again on the other receiver. I could hear no difference. I really was trying hard to listen for differences in "brightness" or "warmness" or what have you, but I found none.

On a non-sound basis, since the HK had an OSD function for it's menu system, they decided to completely neglect the ability to adjust any setting via the display on the front of the receiver. With my yamaha, I can change anything through the little screen on the front with relative ease. With the HK, not so. In comparison to the Yamaha, I found the general use of the HK to be much more confusing, especially when it came to sound field programs.

One thing I found on the HK that really set it off for me was that the "tone" controls are turned ON by default. There were some subwoofer settings and sound field settings that I couldn't change, and in frustration I went to the manual only to find I needed to turn the tone controls off. When I switched the tone controls on and off, I noticed that there was a huge improvement in sound quality when the tone control was turned off, even when the tone controls were set to 0db for treble in bass when the tone control was on. Yamaha will automatically bypass the tone circuitry when you set the bass and treble to 0db (you can actually hear it make an internal "click" when this happens). In addition, there isn't a huge difference in the sound quality when the tone control is on for the Yamaha. So Harmon Kardon, for that, you get a big slap on the wrist. Bad.

In general, Yamaha, in my opinion, had more superior sound field programs, and it was much more "clear" what you were doing (even from the tiny screen on front) than with the HK. My opinion. So, I'm glad I got my Yamaha. The only thing HK has a one-up on the Yamaha is the ability to set individual crossover settings for speakers. That's really it. Oh, yea, Yamaha has an included A/B switcher for main speakers too. Without that, I couldn't have done this review.

Ok, enough with the receivers. The sound was really the same.

HSU STF-2 vs. SVS 16-46 PCi

Music Sub Performance

Let me point out a big difference between the HSU STF-2 and the SVS 16-46 PCi (besides the fact that one is a box with a 10” woofer and the other is a towering cylinder with a 12” woofer) – the HSU has a woofer that directly throws sound waves into the floor while the SVS has a wood base that the woofer encounters first before hitting the ground. With my room, at least, that means the wooden floor vibrates a whole lot more with the HSU than the SVS. Because lots of homes have wooden floors on the first level, I decided to disregard this facet since I’m reviewing the sound of the sub, with all of its characteristics. To follow up, I’ll do a review in my basement about a month from now.

To start off, I’d like to say that neither the SVS nor the HSU was a slouch with music. Both sounded great. So, when I’m saying one has “more” than the other, it’s by a small margin. Either would definitely not disappoint in a setup. However…one had a definite edge when it came to music.

First, I tested out some bass-heavy rap/R&B/rock music. To boot, this was a remix version of a rap/R&B/rock album. That means lots of funky deep bass electronic keyboard sounds that sound...to me..."yummy" when they are reproduced just right. In addition, there is plenty of tap-your-foot “kick” factor that the beats have, so perfect testing material for a sub.

The STF-2 gave me the room-shaking bass I have been accustomed to for two years on these tracks. I knew all the deep bass grooves inside and out, and the yummy, funky electronic sounds sounded yummy indeed.

The 16-46 PCi lacked the kick and yummy texture that the STF-2 provided by a hair. There was just a little something that was missing. Since the whole floor shakes with the STF-2, I sat on my bed Indian style to take the “thump” factor out of the equation. The SVS still just didn’t sound as fun and punchy as the HSU did. In the beginning I calibrated the subs so they were the exact same SPL, and even then I found that I was turning the receiver subwoofer volume way up with the SVS to try to achieve the same “punchiness” as the HSU. However, once I got to a volume that I liked that almost achieved the same “punch”, I noticed that there was waaay too much bass going through the air. My ears felt that the SVS was turned up way too high.

I double checked the SPL readings between the two subs, and found they were still the same, so this confirms the “punchiness” wasn’t related to a volume difference.

To make sure this wasn’t a placement issue, I switched the sub positions. The 16-46 PCi sounded a hair better in its new spot, but the HSU sounded even better in its new location! So, it was obvious to me that the HSU had an edge.

Throughout my testing of other types of music, acoustical, rock, and alternative, the two subs were much closer in performance, but to my ears the HSU was still better. In the many breaks I took over the 3 days of testing, when I came back into the room for a listening session I completely forgot what sub was hooked up. There were times when I thought to myself “something is wrong with the bass, it doesn’t sound as good” then I’d look over, notice the 16-46 PCi was hooked up, then switch to the STF-2. The STF-2 just sounded more textured and blended better with either the M22’s or M60’s.

The one thing that the 16-46 PCi did do very well was the kick drum. On one song there was a kick drum beat that really shook the room with the SVS. While the 16-46i had more “impact” to the kick drum because of its low bass response, the STF-2 wasn’t far behind.

While on the note of low bass response, if you listen to pipe organ music, the 16-46 PCi would probably pull the STF-2’s pants down, but I don’t know anyone who listens to pipe organ music on a regular basis, so if you listen to normal music(sorry pipe organ music fans) I’d say the STF-2 is much more enjoyable.

You could say that I am biased because I have had the STF-2 for two years, and I’m used to that sound. However, I feel that if the 16-46 PCi sounded better I would have thought it did. In fact…the movie section shows my lack of bias, I guess.

So, in conclusion, I found the HSU STF-2 to be more textured, punchy, and fun to listen to than the SVS 16-46 PCi. I felt that the 16-46 PCi took more of a “back seat” approach to the bass. While it didn’t feel like anything was lacking when listened to alone, the STF-2 had much better punch than the 16-46 PCi did, even though the 16-46 PCi had a deeper bass response. In non bass-heavy music this difference is not as noticeable, but when bass heavy music comes out, the STF-2 really shines and calls attention to the bass line of a song without being overpowering. I was impressed with this little sub compared to a much bigger competitor.

Movie Sub Performance
Again, you all know I’ve had the STF-2 for a long time, yada yada, whatever.

This comparison was over quick. To say it eloquently, the 16-46 PCi pretty much pulled the pants down of the STF-2 and really made it feel “small.” The deep bass response really made a difference.

I only watched one movie – Star Wars: Episode I (Horrible screenplay, great bass sounds) – and that was plenty to make my comparison.

In a word, the 16-46 PCi was awesome. Explosions felt loud and were loud. While the same was true for the STF-2, it just couldn’t keep up with the deep bass response that the 16-46 PCi had. Even in quiet scenes, I was surprised with the amount of bass material I was missing out on.

For example, when the two Jedi first go looking for the underwater city that looks like spheres (I don’t know what it’s called) there is a ton of low, rumbly, swimming underwater sounds that really get cut out when I was listening to the STF-2. The room wasn’t really shaking with the STF-2 on, but when the 16-46 PCi I was surprised with all the subtle deep bass sounds I heard and felt – even in the “quiet” underwater scene.

I was surprised how the lightsabers sounded better with the 16-46 PCi too. Listening to the low sounds they made really showed a difference between the STF-2 and the 16-46 PCi. They just sounded cooler with the 16-46 PCi.

The Podrace scene was another defining moment for the 16-46 PCi. Everything just sounded throatier with the deep engine sounds shaking the entire room.

At this point in the movie I got tired of unplugging the subs and switching back and forth, so I just plugged in both and enjoyed the rest of the movie in awesome subwoofer bliss.

So, in conclusion…it was very clear. While the HSU STF-2 didn’t suck by any means for a movie, the SVS 16-46 PCi just blew it away with the low bass response. There’s a ton of sounds that I was hearing that I didn’t know existed when the 16-46 PCi was roaring. Enough said.

This is probably a lopsided review because the SVS 16-46 PCi ($649) is almost TWICE as expensive as the HSU STF-2 ($349). But it goes to show how HSU subs are just awesome for music. I’d be interested in pitting a comparable model from HSU (Like a VTF-3 MK 3) up against the SVS.


Edit: I did forget to mention that I did listen to the subs with all the speakers off. For normal music, the STF-2 was shaking and vibrating many more things around it in the room. The 16-46 PCi bass sounded a tad "cleaner". But...what really matters is what happens when the speakers are on.



Edited by danmagicman7 (01/01/08 06:47 PM)
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#190259 - 01/01/08 06:50 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: danmagicman7]
St_PatGuy Offline
axiomite

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 7412
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
Very good, Dan! Appreciate the time and effort you've put into this. I await your impressions of the speakers.
_________________________
***********
"Nothin' up my sleeve. . ." --Bullwinkle J. Moose

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#190260 - 01/01/08 06:59 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: St_PatGuy]
Wid Online   confused
axiomite

Registered: 06/22/03
Posts: 6722
Loc: The Peoples Republic of Il.

Very nice job indeed.
_________________________
Rick


"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." Sigmund Freud


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#190279 - 01/01/08 07:36 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: Wid]
Ken.C Online   content
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17789
Loc: NoVA
Excellent review. Much appreciated!

I'm really looking forward to your QS4/QS8 comparison.

I'll also have to check my H/K manual to see if I can bypass the tone controls...
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I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

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#190284 - 01/01/08 07:56 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: Ken.C]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
 Originally Posted By: kcarlile
Excellent review. Much appreciated!

I'm really looking forward to your QS4/QS8 comparison.

I'll also have to check my H/K manual to see if I can bypass the tone controls...


TONE OUT means you are bypassing them. TONE IN means the HK has its own tone controls. If you are using the HK for video, it shows up quite often when you change sound field programs - I think.
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#190290 - 01/01/08 08:24 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: danmagicman7]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Here it is...enjoy


M22 vs. M60 – Overall Musical Impressions with Sub

The first thing I noticed when I A/B’d between the M22’s and M60’s was the different soundstage and imaging characteristics.

The M22’s sounded up front with clear, accurate imaging right in front of me. At times it felt like the singer was sitting right in front of me on my desk with the M22’s. The soundstage was very upfront and close.

The M60’s were very..very different. When I first heard them I actually thought they were out of phase for a second. While they presented a soundstage, it was much…much more “open” than the M22’s. Things seemed to float outside and above the speakers, but there wasn’t really any precise imaging as heard with the M22’s. With the M22’s it was like, bam, that sound is coming from there. With the M60’s it wasn’t as sharp as that.

If I were to compare the imaging of the M22’s and the M60’s, the M22’s would be a slightly fuzzy laser pointer, and the M60’s would be a tight flashlight beam – that’s how different they were.

While the M22’s and M60’s definitely sounded similar, perhaps the individualistic qualities that came out were very related to the soundfield and imaging, I thought.

In comparison the the M60’s, the M22’s sounded thin, yet precise and pure. In comparison to the M22’s, the M60’s sounded full, warm, and bigger.

When switching from the M22’s to the M60’s, I appreciated the warmer, fuller sound, but quickly missed the clarity and upfront imaging that the M22’s gave. When switching from the M60’s to the M22’s, I appreciated the clarity and emphasis on the vocals, but missed the full sound of the lower bass instruments.

So, let’s do a top-down comparison of the tonal qualities of the speakers, putting aside any imaging or soundstage elements.

High end: The M60’s had a tad less “bite” when it came to the high end, but were still very similar to the M22’s. Since it was the same tweeter, not much differed here.

High midrange: The M22’s are definitely more “bright”. Not harsh, but brighter sounding. The M60’s, being more laid back, put less emphasis on vocals and instruments in the high midrange area. During some tracks, I picked up some new sounds I hadn’t heard before with the M22’s. When I switched to the M60’s, I could still hear those sounds, but I had to strain a little more to hear them.

Bass (Low midrange): This is where the M22’s don’t sound as full as the M60’s. Surprisingly, when I switched to some tracks and listened for the bass on the M22’s, some of the bass guitar sounds sounded a hair more textured and tight than the M60’s, but still lacked the full sound. A good example of some low midrange stuff I was missing out on with the M22’s was a cello (or viola, I wasn’t sure) amongst acoustical guitars, piano, and violins. With the M60’s, I could really hear the euphoric depth and warmness of the cello, however with the M22’s some of that was lost.

In light of the M22’s missing much of the low end, to my ears the pure clarity and imaging was a much better tradeoff. With the pairing of a sub, the M22’s by no means had an anemic bass response and do not sound empty or bass-deprived.

With rock music, the M60’s definitely rock harder and sound fuller, but I miss the clarity that the M22’s give the vocals and instruments when listening to the M60’s. So, it’s really a tradeoff of what you like.

For lots of music, the lack of the upfront soundstage of the M60’s compared to the M22’s makes a big difference between these speakers for me. When listening to an amazing acapella song sung by one of my favorite rock bands (great vocal singers), the M22’s pinpointed and effortlessly presented the vocalists in front of me, while the M60’s struggled to present it with the same purity and accuracy that the M22’s did.

So, here are my matchups with and without sub for music listening:

M22’s vs. M60’s (no sub). M60’s are a clear winner here. The bass is definitely a huge plus and the reason for getting the M60’s.

M22’s with sub vs. M60’s. M22’s with the sub were the winner for me. While the M60’s sounded a bit more “full”, but they don’t have the impact that the M22’s have with a good subwoofer.

M22’s with sub vs. M60’s with sub. M22’s with sub are my personal choice. For music, if I were to upgrade, I would upgrade to the M80’s for the clarity they give.

M22 vs. M60 – Overall Theatrical Impressions with Sub
M60’s hands down. They just sounded lusher, bigger and more “theatrical” from the bigger full range sound. Compared to the M60’s, the M22’s sounded smaller for a movie.

QS4’s vs. QS8’s
This one was over quick.
I did a direct A/B comparison between the QS4’s and QS8’s playing as “mains” in stereo with no sub on. First, I turned on the QS8’s, which sounded great. Then, I turned on the QS4’s.

They were much quieter. That surprised me. So, I turned up the volume so they were close to what the QS8’s were playing at. To get to that point, they started to sound strained to produce that sound.

That was disappointing. Whatever I did, they just sounded strained and weaker than the QS8’s. I thought there would be a difference, but not such a big one as that. I really couldn’t believe it.

Could it be that since the QS8’s use the same 5.25” woofer as almost all the other speakers in the Axiom lineup, the QS4’s 4 incher got neglected? I was thinking some sort of tonality change would be present, but there is a serious difference between the QS8 and the QS4. The QS4’s are by no means a crappy speaker they perform their quadpolar surround duties well in my experiences, but compared to the QS8’s…they…well…don’t really compare, especially for direct “non surround” sounds.

My reason for buying the QS4’s is that they are small and more easily transportable, which I doubt is reasoning for many other buyers. For such a small difference in price (~$100), I would have a very hard time recommending the QS4 to any buyer, as sad as I am to say it. Were my QS4’s part of a bad batch or something? Who knows. They were just not up to snuff as the QS8’s. I’d like to give a little recommendation to Axiom to perhaps...look over the 4” woofer again or at least the QS4.

For curiosity’s sake, I did a direct comparison between the QS8’s and M22’s…

QS8’s vs. M22’s
Surprisingly, the QS8 and M22 almost sounded exactly the same. Exact same tonal and sound signature. The QS8’s had a little more high end (two tweeters), less low end, and a diffuse sound. The QS8’s actually sounded pretty good as mains!

Now…where is that tradeup link…
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#190292 - 01/01/08 08:39 PM Re: My review: QS4vsQS8 + M22vsM60 + STF-2vs16-46P [Re: danmagicman7]
Ken.C Online   content
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17789
Loc: NoVA
Thanks, Dan. Thanks a bunch. Grr... ;\)

But seriously, I'm glad that someone validated what I've been thinking I've been hearing. Fortunately, due to the position of my QS4s, I don't have the option to go to QS8s. Fortunately, I guess...
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I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

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