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Defining a Reference Loudspeaker

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Status HeroI normally wouldn’t take up review real estate like this, but in the rare occasion when a product comes to me for review that raises the bar of performance in our listening labs, I feel special notice must be given within the confines of the review itself.  The Status Acoustics 8T system is such a product.  This loudspeaker system has truly revolutionized what high-end audio means to me.  For years, I’ve let two-channel audio take a back seat to multi-channel. But, since I’ve had the chance to sit down and listen to these speakers that has completely changed for me.  I find myself wanting to get back to the basics again and for the first time in over 20 years, I’m also spinning vinyl records.  What’s even more at odds is the fact my wife has also taken notice.  She was just loving sitting with me listening to two-channel audio whereas in the past the only time I could get her to really sit down and enjoy high fidelity was if we were watching a Blu-ray concert disc or movie.  Now she is out scouring Amazon for deals on used and new records.

The Status 8T speaker system has truly revolutionized what high-end audio means to me.

People often ask me what a true reference speaker should sound like.  My answer has always followed with something that sounds as close to a live unamplified performance as possible.  This is much different than what most consider as reference, since so few people have actually had the luxury of hearing a phenomenal acoustical performance not destroyed by mediocre sound reinforcement systems (whose sole goal seems to be boosting the SPL to ear bleeding levels in a large concert arena).  Growing up in a family of jazz guitarists and musicians has afforded me such a privilege. Hearing a grand piano playing in a lively room or real acoustical drums not mixed through a compressor is an invigorating experience that often gets lost once it’s compressed to the nth degree onto a recording and then further compressed by a loudspeaker system not capable of recreating the full dynamics.

I don’t define a loudspeaker reference product by its ability to measure a flat frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz.  Most speakers never really measure that way unless the measurements are massaged to appear so, and if they did, they would actually be unpleasant to listen too.  I didn’t conduct any measurements of the Status 8T system until I was completely finished with my listening tests.  I didn’t want graphs to influence my subjective impressions with this product.  What I’ve found though nearly three months of constant listening to these speakers was that they set a true reference, NOT just as far as flagship tower loudspeakers are concerned but for ALL loudspeakers of any category in general.

Over the past six years I’ve been happily living with the $15k/pair RBH Sound T-30LSE system.  This system combines tremendous output and a huge soundstage for lifelike dynamics which until I received the Status 8T system for review was unrivaled in my listening space.  The Status Titus 8T system was designed not only to outperform the T30-LSE system in terms of sheer output, but also to eke out even more detail and fidelity. Until I was able to hear this for myself, I was skeptical just how much further the fine engineering talents from RBH Sound would be able to push the performance envelope.

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Status 8T Tower Speaker Installed in Audioholics Showcase Theater Room

From mids to highs, I’d say both systems had a very similar ability to effortlessly produce clean fidelity and dynamics, but the Status 8T system just did so with more intimacy and immediacy in the soundstage.  The sound seemed more precise and focused on the 8T system while it also seemed more uniform off-axis thanks to the fact that the 8T system employed a single tweeter over the multi-tweeter design of the T30-LSE system.  It was truly impressive to hear a single tweeter design able to take the punishment I gave it and it made me realize just how special and worthy this $500 beryllium tweeter really is. 

From a bass standpoint, the 8T system trounces the T30-LSE’s.  The Status 8T system not only has a lot more bass output capability thanks to the extra 10” bass driver and more port area, but it also has the advantage of radiating bass from several surfaces of the cabinet. This increases modal density loading in the room and allows for a much more linear and smoother bass response across the entire listening area.  With my T30-LSE system I always felt the back row had a bit of a boomy sound to it , which I could only smooth out with active equalization.  The Status 8T system needed no EQ at all and the additional subs I had were kept only for multi-channel usage, but even they weren’t really needed.  I had plenty of extension and output from just the Status 8T bass modules and they sounded great on their own no matter where I sat in the room.  Quite frankly, this was a real shocker for me. I was able to run the Status 8T system as a full-range tower for my theater rig, routing all bass and LFE to them, achieving theatrical levels of bass for truly satisfying movie watching and concert listening experiences.  I’ve never been able to do this with another loudspeaker system before because all others either lacked the depth and output capability or they were unable to produce such consistently good bass for every seat in my room.

Another aspect of performance that boggled my mind with the Status 8T system was the fact that I experienced no appreciable tonal shifts from seated to standing position or moving my head from left to right at my primary seating area.  Because of the asymmetry of my room I’ve often wrestled with this problem with virtually all speakers I’ve had in for review (especially multi tweeter designs like the T30-LSE’s), but the Status 8T system simply didn’t accentuate this issue.  I later realized that it perhaps had something to do with the fact that the very top and bottom midrange drivers of the 8T system were virtually equidistant from the ceiling and floor surfaces, respectively.  Perhaps this helped produce consistent ceiling and floor reflections.  Also this speaker allows a much higher proportion of direct sound to reach the listening area helping to mask room acoustical anomalies.  It was obvious to me that the Status 8T system was well suited for my listening space.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

haraldo posts on October 13, 2013 16:52
Rich Davis, post: 993231
I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?

The best way to measure speakers is probably in an anechoic chamber but the cost is prohibitive as in order to get good results way down in frequencies size of wedges and size of room must be enormous, I don't even comprehend what the cost is but it's probably way out of reach. lacking anechoic chamber, the outdoor testing is the only way to reliably measure a speaker I reckon, unless you want to measure the room modes and other influences of the room.

I guess Vandersteen Audio has facilities like this and for sure also Dunlavy Audio Labs used this as John Dunlavy could measure his speakers reliably in an anechoic chamber down below 20Hz…. I really don't see why Audhioholics should go the the step of putting so much money into this…. I believe what they do is industry leading and way better measurements than say… what they do in Stereophile, which is indoors at 50", many speakers don't integrate properly at such a short distance…. if Stereophile measures at bigger distance then room influence would take over…. There's been a wave of criticism from some manufacturers about this way of measuring, claiming that it just doesn't show reliably performance of some large array speakers…… I am not saying that it's this way or the other but just referring to what's been written and stated around Inet…

I reckon outdoors is way way better, Audioholics is the benchmark
gene posts on October 13, 2013 16:00
Rich Davis, post: 993231
I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?

I'll give you the benefit of a doubt seeing how you're a new member and obviously lacking in knowledge on measuring loudspeakers.

This speaker was measured both outdoors (for accuracy) and indoors (to see how they integrated into the room). The outdoor measurements most closely approximate an anechoic environment by removing all echos but the floor. A speaker this large would be difficult to measure anechoically even if we had access to a chamber due to its sheer size and capabilities down below 100Hz.

Outdoor measurements (aka, GP) are the best way to measure subwoofers which is not only an industry standard but it's also what we do. It has the advantage over anechoic since most anechoic chambers are too small and/or have insufficiently sized wedges to produce accurate results below 100Hz.

Hopefully you will will read up more on the subject matter before making such insulting and ignorant postings in the future.
fuzz092888 posts on October 13, 2013 15:12
Rich Davis, post: 993231
I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?

Outdoor testing is a perfectly viable way of gaining near anechoic measurements so long as you account for outdoor factors and don't test where it's noisy or on a windy day, gate your measurements appropriately, etc. If you don't know how to properly test speakers (based on your last sentence) then how can you criticize others on how it's being done? Besides, comparing being at an outdoor concert to what is being referenced is just silly. If you can't see why, then I'm not sure what to say.

As long as the cables aren't defective and are competently made they should perform near identically to higher priced cables. Although if you're buying these speakers I doubt you have any issue paying for Kimber Kable or the like.
Rich Davis posts on October 13, 2013 14:46
Why is there a test performed outdoors?

I laughed for about 5 minutes after seeing that photograph. does the mfg of the test equipment instruct the user to move the speakers outdoors when performing those measurements? That's not a good methodology for testing a speaker, plus I would use the cables that the MFG recommends for their speakers when connecting to other components such as amps and pre amps. The reason is the mfg uses equipment/cables in their listening rooms when designing and testing their equipment, so they might have recommendations for obtaining similar test results.

It is insulting to my intelligence that a reviewer would take home audio speakers and move them outside to perform measurement tests. Every time I've been to an outdoor concert, wind has a HUGE factor on various frequencies, so I'm sure testing home audio systems outdoors is, well, kind of stupid, IMO. Aren't you supposed to use an anechoic chamber for those kinds of measurement tests instead?
BoredSysAdmin posts on August 30, 2013 10:57
Weird, I clearly remember posting one of the first posts on this thread something like this: “Too bad Kimber cable interconnects weren't mentioned at all in the article” clearly referring to reoccurrence of Kimber brand 6 times on a single page.

Now I can't find that post anymore. hmmmm……
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