I was asked to compare the Focal Maestro Uptopias to the ProAc k10s that are my new speaker. Here is what I texted to my dealer:
Finally got a minute. I’ve been thinking about how best to address this. The Focals are very nice but I always would have wondered “what if” had I not tried another speaker. The Focals work really well at medium to loud volume. They struggle at low volume especially old music. Just a little bright and thin at the same time. Like you desperately need to push the loudness button. The k10s don’t have this issue (but a loudness button helps all speakers at low volume). I listen longer with no fatigue. They are smoother, easy and just a pleasure to listen to. It’s like I have to make myself turn it off. All aspects are really nice. Highs, mids and lows are all spot on. Have zero complaint. The bass is more controlled but definitely not lacking. I think the k6’s would not have been “enough” speakers. These are just right. The only drawback is that the soundstage is very precise and small. When you are sitting dead center it is magical. If you move slightly either direction then you only hear one speaker. The solution for me, only sit in the middle. This may be a characteristic of the room and not necessarily the speakers.
Sounds like a positive step in the right direction, good stuff. Only 100 hours so far???, if I had such an expensive pair of speakers they would be left playing 24/7 on low volume to rack up some hours.
I have heard that with panel speakers there is a small sweet spot, but never with box speakers. Maybe you need to play with positioning a little to improve on that.
I always remember the thread you opened a while back about not being able to enjoy “Kashmir” on your Utopia’s, have you given it a go yet?
Great post! 100 hours and you’ve just scratched the surface of what your K series speakers can do. I get a pretty wide sound stage with my K6’s… as the drivers run in it should expand. Gaia supports will also help as they really open up the sound.
The one aspect I love about my ProAc’s is they can be delicate and detailed a low volume and play loud with no sense of compression, fatigue or brightness. A highly musical loudspeaker.
We played around quite a bit with positioning but that was very early on. I’m going to let them run in more and then maybe try moving them around. As for Kashmir it’s just not going to sound good on this Naim electronics. It’s sounds great in the suv. Desperately needs a loudness button.
I hear you there, back in the day I left the loudness button on full time. I think some of the newer integrated (retro looking) amps have a loudness button…like Luxman L-509x.
Edit, just looked and that one does not, I know I saw it on something I checked out lately.
It’s not like it’s terrible but it (Kashmir) does nothing to show how good the 500 series is. When you listen to it, there is nothing special. It’s thin, not rich, sounds better on my 78 Marantz with Klipsch speakers. But now play Dazed and Confused or any one of thousands of other songs and then you can see just how special the 500 series is (especially with the K10s). This is not a knock on the 500, it’s just my personal opinion on one song that I listen to many times in the 70’s. Electronics then were made a lot differently and Kashmir was recorded to sound great nearly 50 years ago when almost every single piece of equipment had a loudness button and separate bass and treble controls.
A loudness button is a crude device that is correct only at one volume level -and that is assuming it has been designed correctly which is questionable in many cases. What really is needed is loudness compensation to the correct degree across the spectrum, linked to the sound level at the listening position (i.e. initially calibrated for different volume control settings in one’s own system/room with a microphone).
Or set up for yourself using DSP
As for soundstage, the only suggestions I have are play with speaker and listening positions, including degree of “toe-in/out, and possibly room treatment.
I only want it at one volume and only on certain songs. Don’t see that as an issue. As for only on “cheap” equipment I beg to differ. Marantz, Kenwood, Sansui, etc., were not cheap in the 60’s and 70’s. The thing is, if you don’t want to use it then don’t. I just found it very helpful on lots of music especially from that time period. Now most of today’s music, does require it.
But are the settings does right for that volume? My point was that there is a very strong argument for hifi to have “loudness” compensation for all sound levels reduced from that at which the recording was mastered to sound right, and for that to be high fidelity requires a sliding scale of compensation. And, importantly, I think today’s technology makes doing it right perfectly feasible, though, sadly, it seems not yet to be recognised as appropriate by the likes of Naim, Chord etc.
What you would achieve with pressing a Loudness button for some things is selective bass boost, and if the settings were properly made, also treble boost, by a fixed amount and over a fixed frequency range which may be quite unrelated to the reduction of your hearing sensitivity at that sound level. Nothing wrong with so doing if you like it, though I think for anyone wanting to do that it would be better, because more flexible, would be bass and treble ‘tone controls’ of old, allowing one to tailor to the specific track and sound level.