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Boston Acoustics A360 Sound Quality Tests

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Listening Environment for testing the Boston A360’s

Listening Environment

This is a rather large 24’ x 20’ great room with hardwood floors throughout.  The room itself is not acoustically treated.  A 12’ x 10’ area rug with thick foam padding are between the loudspeakers and listening position.  This space is pretty reflective but has worked very well for my reference open baffle dipole loudspeakers.  Traditional loudspeakers have a tendency to sound a little harsh in the high frequency range due to reflections, but reducing the listening distance reduces this effect.  The system signal chain for testing the A360s was an Oppo BDP-105 connected directly to an ATI AT6012 amplifier using unbalanced connections.  The volume control in the BDP-105 was used for all listening impressions.  For high-resolution music sessions, a MacBook Pro running Audirvana was connected to the BDP-105.  The speakers were approximately 8 feet apart and just slightly toed in.  I found listening 10-15 degrees off axis was much more enjoyable because the treble was a little too much for me directly on-axis.

Listening Tests

These listening tests were conducted in the mentioned listening environments without any form of room correction or high-pass filter for music. smDave_Brubeck.jpg

Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five
This track is legendary and for good reason.  On the right system, it sounds quite natural and easily characterizes a loudspeaker.  Firing it up on the A360s resulted in very precise imaging with a fair amount of depth.  It wasn’t hard to place Paul Desmond on the sax slightly left of center with Dave Brubeck’s piano off behind the right speaker.  While the bass and toms sounded pretty natural, the snare was artificially hot.  The sax was also a little laid back compared to other systems I’ve heard this recording on.  Even though it was not as close to a live performance as I’ve heard in other systems, it didn’t make me want to turn it down either.   

Angus and Julia Stone – Draw Your Swords
Since the response of the A360s does not lean toward what I would call natural due to the recessed midrange and low treble, I decided to try a well-engineered recording.  The processing of the piano in this recording can only be described as ethereal as it floats around in a way that almost confuses the brain.  The vocal processing creates a solid image in the center and then seems to decay slightly slower in the left speaker.  The Boston Acoustics did a nice job creating the soundstage on this recording.  Placed 1 ½’ to 2’ from the rear wall, the A360s bass response digs deep for a speaker of its size.  The bass response reminds me of a pair of custom speakers using four Scan-Speak revelator drivers costing over $200 per driver.  The treble sounded a little bright on the overtones in this recording.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mapsfever-to-tell.jpg
I have a collection of music that spans quite a few genres, many titles of which I miss because they do not mesh well with most systems I come in contact with.  The A360s are, in my opinion, not very aggressive in the midrange.  Since the majority of popular music is mixed down in a way that sounds harsh on systems that are closer to linear in the midrange, I’ve resorted to trading some of the fun for improved quality recordings.  The Boston Acoustics definitely have a warmth and a high frequency bump that is agreeable to the world that isn’t quite as pretentious about sound.  To confirm this, I had a few guests listen to the A360s and most enjoyed them much more than expected.  This song falls into that realm of poor recordings but the kick drum is simply fun and really does sound that way with the A360s.  I can crank this song and my ears are not too upset about it!

Tortoise – The Suspension Bridge at Iguazu Falls
I have no idea why it took me so long to find this album.  This song is enjoyable and has all of the elements of a good test track.  Deep bass, focused imaging, depth and dynamic range come together in a track you can just sit back and relax to.  Out of everything I listened to on the Boston Acoustics, this track was by far the most pleasurable listening experience of the bunch.  There is a point at which the electric guitar reverb causes a nice deep soundstage that the A360s easily reproduce.

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Hi-Res: Cat Stevens – Father and SonsmCat_Stevens_Tea_For_Tillerman.jpg
Do you believe in the merits of 24-bit 192kHz recordings from old masters?  Well, either way I have a copy of Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman and like the way it sounds.  Father and son had a nice bottom end and extremely clear vocals on the Bostons.  The top end is a little bit bright when the music comes to a peak, but nothing that I could not live with.

Blu-Ray:  Loopers
What can I say, I’m a sucker for time travel and this movie doesn’t avoid the paradox of meeting yourself in a different timeline.  A unique plotline and highflying action provides a pretty fun torture test for loudspeakers.  This disc has very clear dialog, extensively exercises all channels and incorporates some nice multichannel scores.  The action scenes were rendered very well by the A360s. The tonal colorations of and ability to produce adequate SPL provided an enjoyable movie watching experience.  One note here is that these are not very sensitive speakers so you may need significantly more amplifier power than the manufacturer’s sensitivity rating suggests. 

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Recent Forum Posts:

DCmoe posts on June 13, 2013 07:01
gtpsuper24, post: 972123
Like Klipsch who uses the tweeters sensitivty to falsely jack up the SPL.

Same thing for BIC speakers.
gtpsuper24 posts on June 12, 2013 13:49
Pablo Albino, post: 972120
82,7 dB? That really disappointed me a lot! Couldn't be a defective sample?
I was planning to purchase an little integrated amp (75 W) to feed that towers. However, that measurements has made me reconsider my original plan.

Or it could be accurate given how so many manufacturers falsely inflate their specs. Like Klipsch who uses the tweeters sensitivty to falsely jack up the SPL. When actually they are probably closer to 91-92 as a system.
gene posts on June 12, 2013 13:49
Pablo Albino, post: 972120
82,7 dB? That really disappointed me a lot! Couldn't be a defective sample?
I was planning to purchase an little integrated amp (75 W) to feed that towers. However, that measurements has made me reconsider my original plan.

you're gonna find that most manufacturers fudge sensitivity ratings on speakers. We measure sensitivity from 300Hz to 3kHz which is the IEC standard way of doing so. Most manufacturers simply do a fullrange test to give the illusion of higher sensitivity. We've measured Klipsch speakers to be a whopping 8dB less efficient than their published spec. Bryston's new tower speaker was measured by the NRC to be 4.5dB less sensitive than published spec.

You will probably be ok with the amp you want to use if you power these speakers in a small to medium sized room. Otherwise, you may want to get a bigger amp or go with a more sensitive speaker.
Pablo Albino posts on June 12, 2013 13:42
Sensitivity

82,7 dB? That really disappointed me a lot! Couldn't be a defective sample?
I was planning to purchase an little integrated amp (75 W) to feed that towers. However, that measurements has made me reconsider my original plan.
internetmin posts on May 15, 2013 10:22
Boston Acoustics

Ah, I had a pair of Boston Acoustics HD-series monitors back 20+ years ago. Those speakers got me into the high-fi hobby. I haven't listened to any of the recent speakers but I've always had a special sentimental affinity for BA.
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