Let me try to shed a little light here.
Jason is right. The M22s were the brightest, followed by the 80s, followed by the 60s and the 3s. Even someone with one ear would have agreed with this assessment
Now having said that, Ian and the gang apparently tweak these speakers every month. I don't know what the heck these speakers sounded like years ago.
Now to the audiobytes. You said you were 7 feet away. Is that on the diagonal? How far apart were the audiobytes?
The audiobytes are less bright on the highs than the 80s. I'd say they compare to the 3s in that regard. Using the WMP EQ, I've tweaked them a bit as shown below. Note the third slider. This takes away some nasty resonance on the low end. I don't know if this is natural resonance from the audiobytes or if it has to do with coupling to the surface below. I haven't had time to experiment with that. And then look at how I've knocked up the highs.
Now the forwardness is a different matter. I find that when I form the famous equilateral triangle, I lose the magic. I have to be closer to them and I suppose that's what Ian intended when he said that they solved the "near-field" problem or something to that effect. I work with my keyboard drawer out and I think this is "far-field" for these speakers when they are 32" apart as shown on my desk below.
When they are 32" wide and I'm 24" on the diagonal (keyboard tray stowed), I am "in the zone". The soundstage is simply incredible. I can pick out instruments between the speakers and outside the boundaries of the speakers. And the centre image is right there! I mean, if I close my eyes, I could swear that the singer and I can lip-lock if I was to move forward an inch. It really is amazing. When I form an equilateral triangle with them 32" wide and me 32" away (keyboard tray deployed), the centre image is still solid but more recessed and the sound collapses to the left and right. Now don't get me wrong. It still sounds marvellous and perhaps "collapses" is too harsh of a word. But not as marvellous as sitting close up. If I had bought the Future Shop flavour-of-the-month PC speakers for $90 I wouldn't be as critical. But these are audiophile-grade PC speakers and I want the best possible sound. And I'm not willing to sacrifice my keyboard tray either. If I can't find a solution to this, I am not so sure I'll keep them. It would bother me to no end to know that I am 8" away from Nirvana.
I've also found that the SRS sandbox does amazing things to the sound. I agree with Eric that it's all hocus-pocus and they fiddle with the frequencies but then again, Tom cheats too and uses capacitors, MOSFETS and DSPs
. My point is that all recorded sound reproduction is an illusion anyway so let's get the best tools to make the illusion as real as we possibly can.
I'd be curious to hear yours, Eric's and John's impressions on my soundstage problem. My wife definitely agrees with me on this point but she thinks that I'm totally nuts worrying about it
. I guess that's why I'm an engineer.
BTW, this isn't shown in the photo below but the audiobytes are now elevated by 4 or 5" on some CD cases to bring the tweets to ear level.