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Upgrading monitors. Advice on these 3?
Old 5th November 2017
  #1
Upgrading monitors. Advice on these 3?

I am a film/tv composer, just moved into a new studio space, and feel it's time to upgrade monitors from my JBL LSR305's. My budget for the pair is $2k max, so I've been looking at 3 options:

1) Focal Shape 65
2) Adam A7x
3) Yamaha HS8

Studio setup: My new room is 20ft x 12ft x 7.5ft high. I'm in the process of treating it to the best of my ability, but I have low-end concerns due to the ceiling height (and room width). I thought this might be worth mentioning as I believe the room can be a limiting factor for the quality of monitors. That's also why I listed the cheaper HS8's as an option (why spend the money if I won't fully utilize the others?).

For what it's worth, my mixing engineer uses HS8's. I'm sure I'm off base, but I can't help but think my monitors should be different than his.

Thoughts?
Old 5th November 2017
  #2
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Discard that notion. Your speakers should be whatever best suits you. If that happens to be the same monitors as your mixer, it shouldn’t matter.
Old 5th November 2017
  #3
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As a composer, stay away from clinical or harsh.

Get something more along the lines of fun, pleasant...etc.

Right away that crosses the Adams and Yamaha's off your list.
Old 5th November 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
Low ceilings can really suck for audio. I've personally had studios and speaker setups in at least 15 different rooms, probably more, and the best always had high "cathedral" type ceilings without fail. The most you can do is get the best small monitors that are suited for very close listening at low to moderate volumes and use some sort of absorption or cloud on the ceiling where the reflections are worst. That will at least get rid of the mid-range comb filtering problems that arise in a low ceiling situation. And 7.5ft ceilings are really as bad as it gets. If you own the space you can do more, such as rebuilding surfaces at angles with proper construction techniques, but in most cases low ceilings are usually in rentals. Bass trapping often makes things worse, but it can help a little if there's one really bad frequency that affects every position in the room. Don't worry so much about measurements beyond the basics because the standard rules don't apply in obvious ways; things get counter-intuitive. Use your ears to discern the biggest problems and go from there.
Old 5th November 2017
  #5
007
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While not always possible, if there is any way you can try them first, that would be ideal.
That said, I'm a big fan of the A7X, and while I presently work on the JBL 305 (and honestly think they are phenomenal for the price), I've often worked with the former in other studios, and now eyeing a pair of A77X when I get into my newer, bigger room next year.
I know their sound and they have never let me down in translation, they just work really well with what I do.

Bottom line is any decent monitor can be 'learned', in the room you work in, just a matter of judicious listening, from commercial mixes you know to your own, back and forth, take notes, make adjustments, etc, and with time your ears simply adjust and know where to compensate.
Old 5th November 2017
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Vogel View Post
As a composer, stay away from clinical or harsh.

Get something more along the lines of fun, pleasant...etc.

Right away that crosses the Adams and Yamaha's off your list.
Must disagree there.

The HS-8s, while not great monitors, are in fact great for the money. And talk about money - up until recently when I upgraded, the Yams have helped me make a good living for a long time.

Cheers.
Old 5th November 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
n

Quote:
Originally Posted by 007 View Post

Bottom line is any decent monitor can be 'learned', in the room you work in, just a matter of judicious listening, from commercial mixes you know to your own, back and forth, take notes, make adjustments, etc, and with time your ears simply adjust and know where to compensate.
Partially true. A person with good ears and skills can match what is heard in the target mixes. But you can’t match what you can’t hear. If your monitors roll off below 60 hz, you will not match the bottom octave of your target mix.
If your room has severe peaks and nulls, you actually can match what you hear in the peaks, but you can’t hear into the nulls enough to match what is present or absent at those frequencies in the target mix. Likewise, if your room is reverberant, you will have trouble hearing and matching the wet/dry balance in the target mixes.
I think the result of people with good ears and audio skills trying to “learn” compromised speakers and compromised rooms (instead of correcting them) is that they get “mosaic” mixes, where the things they can hear are very well mixed, but they are patchworked in with the rougher sound of the things they can’t hear. And that is exactly what a lot of good, but not quite good enough, mixes sound like.

Last edited by Bushman; 9th November 2017 at 11:09 PM.. Reason: spacing
Old 5th November 2017
  #8
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Ron Vogel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Must disagree there.

The HS-8s, while not great monitors, are in fact great for the money. And talk about money - up until recently when I upgraded, the Yams have helped me make a good living for a long time.

Cheers.
I think they are fine monitors also, but the OP said he was composing. Already has a mix engineer. So why not get something that lies on the nice side?
Old 5th November 2017
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
And 7.5ft ceilings are really as bad as it gets. If you own the space you can do more, such as rebuilding surfaces at angles with proper construction techniques, but in most cases low ceilings are usually in rentals.
I own the space, but it's a basement space, so raising/angling the ceiling is probably a no-go. I will be putting 4in thick (probably 6pcf) clouds up. I know this won't do much for low end, but it's probably the best I can feasibly do. Still, this room feels like a considerable upgrade from my previous 12ft x 10ft x 8ft room.

That's one of the reasons the Shape 65's caught my eye: they seem to be really good at lower volumes and are optimally 1meter away from listening position (according to their engineers).

As I do more cinematic "sound design-ish" scores, I want more insight into low frequencies but am reluctant to go with a large speaker for the reasons you mention.
Old 5th November 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoliticalBonobo View Post
I own the space, but it's a basement space, so raising/angling the ceiling is probably a no-go. I will be putting 4in thick (probably 6pcf) clouds up. I know this won't do much for low end, but it's probably the best I can feasibly do. Still, this room feels like a considerable upgrade from my previous 12ft x 10ft x 8ft room.

That's one of the reasons the Shape 65's caught my eye: they seem to be really good at lower volumes and are optimally 1meter away from listening position (according to their engineers).

As I do more cinematic "sound design-ish" scores, I want more insight into low frequencies but am reluctant to go with a large speaker for the reasons you mention.
You best bet with the cinematic stuff is to use a the most decent quality cheap soundbar from BestBuy, WalMart, or Target because that's what most people are listening to cinematic scores on. Then you can check stuff on your audiophile stereo up in the living room above you (which I'm assuming exists, but if not, WHY NOT???!!!) haha.

Seriously though why are you building a studio in your basement when most of what you are going to be doing when mixing can be done very well in software on a laptop. All you really have to do is make a "super living room" upstairs. Then sound-proof the basement as best you can for playing music without annoying anybody else in the house or next door. You could also run controls from upstairs to downstairs and use the basement to record live instruments as well, keep your tracking setup (or even hardware aspect of your mixing setup) down the basement and mixing stuff upstairs. Then you don't have to worry about getting a close-to-perfect response from the room acoustics, you just have to make the instruments sound nice in the room and mic accordingly.

If you use hardware processors for mixing, there's plenty of VST controlled analog hardware out there these days. You could mix in the comfort of your supercharged living room, with all the high-end hardware hidden downstairs.

It's a cool idea. That's what I've been doing lately really. Track in the studio, mix on the couch. It really helps give you an objective perception of your room acoustics as well.
Old 6th November 2017
  #11
Here for the gear
 

I'd recommend a pair of Genelec M040's, I currently use them and they're fantastic.

Also if you're worried about acoustic problems have a look at the Sonarworks stuff, I use the Headphone version which is brilliant, and have heard plenty of good stuff about the room version. You could also have a look at the Genelec room correction systems, which you can get a pair of speakers with it for around $2,000.
Old 7th November 2017
  #12
NFL
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My thoughts: wouldn't changing room and speakers at the same time give two unknowns as to the sound and frequency response?

That sounds like unnecessary much extra work and troubles, I would think that keeping your old speakers half a year or so, after you've finished the treatment of your room, will make the switch much easier, then you will have only one unknown each time - first the room, and so later, the speakers.

And when going for speakers, why not include the purchase of a sub-bass?
It's easy to make wrong sound decisions for the low end - and composition of the low end when it comes to what sounds to choose and processing and so on - if one can't hear the low end.
Old 8th November 2017
  #13
Gear Nut
The Adam A7x's are brilliant. They translate so well (the bass translates especially well to other systems) and have a great overall balance to them.

I now have a bigger set of s series Adams, but I do sometimes wish I had kept the A7x for reference.

100% recommend them, you wont be disappointed.

They arent that sensitive to room anomalies either, i used them in several rooms over the years, never encountered a problem.
Old 9th November 2017
  #14
M32
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i suggest you also check out these: The Type 07 studio monitor by HEDD | Heinz Electrodynamic Designs
here's a review:
https://www.xlr8r.com/reviews/2016/0...udio-monitors/

They are made by the man who designed the Adams A7 , he left and started a new company together with his son. They are hand-made, similar in price range but outshine the adams both in low-end and mid-high clarity.

Recently they've also released a free plugin to use in your daw to give them a completely linear-phase response. Very interesting for mastering and acoustic purposes.
Old 9th November 2017
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by CodFreefall View Post
The Adam A7x's are brilliant.
They arent that sensitive to room anomalies either.
Can you give an example of a speaker that IS particularly “sensitive to room anomalies”?
Old 9th November 2017
  #16
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Can you give an example of a speaker that IS particularly “sensitive to room anomalies”?
From that I meant I have used the ax7 in a room with very low ceiling, a long thin room, a short.box room, and the sound was pretty consistent.

Some speakers can be more sensitive to this kind of thing than others.

Some examples I can think of (from experience) :
Adam S3xh have a tendency to really swamp a room with bass if not positioned right, and there is not adequate trapping.
IB1s seem quite sensitive to exact placement in a room.
Tannoy reds are sensitive to proximity effect in corners. Etc.

What I meant is the ax7s seem quite forgiving where acoustics are concerned..
Old 10th November 2017
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by CodFreefall View Post
From that I meant I have used the ax7 in a room with very low ceiling, a long thin room, a short.box room, and the sound was pretty consistent.

Some speakers can be more sensitive to this kind of thing than others.

Some examples I can think of (from experience) :
Adam S3xh have a tendency to really swamp a room with bass if not positioned right, and there is not adequate trapping.
IB1s seem quite sensitive to exact placement in a room.
Tannoy reds are sensitive to proximity effect in corners. Etc.

What I meant is the ax7s seem quite forgiving where acoustics are concerned..
Thank you.
Old 10th November 2017
  #18
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CodFreefall View Post
What I meant is the ax7s seem quite forgiving where acoustics are concerned..
Sorry if this comes of as an ******* comment, but you mean they can defy physics?
Old 10th November 2017
  #19
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Sorry if this comes of as an ******* comment, but you mean they can defy physics?
If you take “forgiving” in a religious context, physics may be considered irrelevant.
Old 10th November 2017
  #20
I would strongly suggest staying away from the A7X because of the two forward facing round ports. Round ports are terrible forward facing. That is why companies like Focal and KRK use very narrow rectangular ports when they are forward facing.

When I've demo'd the A7X's, I thought there was something wrong with them because I could hear noticeable amounts of distortion... trying to figure out what was going on... it was/is the ports. They start "farting" down around 80~90Hz. When you send sine waves through them down that low you'll start to hear the buzzing distortion. If you are using them with a subwoofer (like the Sub7) and the crossover is set to 100~120Hz then the A7X can be ok, but if you are not getting a sub woofer then I would suggest a different speaker design.

The Focals are good for the money money you are looking to spend. Dynaudio speakers are also good for the money you want to spend. Genelec is good for that money too.
Old 10th November 2017
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Since you're willing to spend 2k, forget about the HS8.

The A7x & Shape 65 are in a different league.

I'd go with the Focal Shape 65, however I'm a proud owner of their predecessors, the CMS 65
The A7x can have some port noise issues depending on the production batch, otherwise excellent speakers as well.

Lastly, your concern about room anomalies is precisely the reason you should stay away from the HS8.
The 8" driver will excite more room modes, and even worse, HS8 is rear-ported.

The Thomann US store is listing the Shape 65 for $659 - that price is a steal
https://www.thomannmusic.com/focal_shape_65.htm
Old 10th November 2017
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by varunbkk View Post
The A7x can have some port noise issues depending on the production batch, otherwise excellent speakers as well.
It has nothing to do with the production batch. It’s physics. It’s based on the size of the cabinets and the size of the ports and the depth of the tubes in the ports. It’s air flow noise in the reflex port. No way around it unless you use a rectangular shape of the port. That is why most round reflex ports are rear facing so you can’t hear the distortion.
Old 10th November 2017
  #23
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Sorry if this comes of as an ******* comment, but you mean they can defy physics?
Haha no of course not, but the design of a speaker does play a role in how it interacts with the room. I used a pair at a time that I was between studio builds and I didn't suffer any of the translation issues I was expecting.

Yes they can have a bit of port chuffing going on, but I never found it as bad as the guys mentioned earlier in the thread. I only found it really noticeable if you solo a sub bass line and turn it up.

My S- series Adams do it a bit too on occasion, as previously mentioned its the round ports.

Last edited by CodFreefall; 10th November 2017 at 08:38 AM..
Old 10th November 2017
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
It has nothing to do with the production batch. It’s physics. It’s based on the size of the cabinets and the size of the ports and the depth of the tubes in the ports. It’s air flow noise in the reflex port. No way around it unless you use a rectangular shape of the port. That is why most round reflex ports are rear facing so you can’t hear the distortion.
Nearly every kind of bass reflex port (rectangular or circular) will exhibit some level of port noise.

Furthermore there are many variables that influence the degree of severity of the port noise and how it will interfere with your work -

Variances in production batches
Your monitoring level
Your listening position
Tuning of the bass-port itself
Cabinet design, construction & materials

All the above influences the audible level of port noise that you will hear, at a given monitoring level (not to mention the amount of LF information present in your source)

To write off circular bass ported monitors altogether just because of this is idiotic.

A more informed approach is to evaluate a loudspeaker individually by:

1) Calibrating it to your preferred monitoring level
2) Playing back a chromatic sequence of a pure sine wave
3) Listening & evaluating carefully for anomalies such as port noise
4) If no anomalies are found, repeating this for reference tracks that you know well
Old 10th November 2017
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by varunbkk View Post
Nearly every kind of bass reflex port (rectangular or circular) will exhibit some level of port noise.
Really? Do me a favor. Smile and try to whistle at the same time? Doesn’t work does it? You need a cylindrical tube to whistle, so you have to pucker and tighten your lips into a small narrow cylinder. The turbulence/pulsing of air through that cylinder is what creates a pitch. Changing the size of the cylinder and the speed of air changes the pitch and tunes it.

Same goes with bass reflex ports. With a rectangular port the air noise/turbulence is non-existent for the same reason you can’t whistle while smiling.

Quote:
Furthermore there are many variables that influence the degree of severity of the port noise and how it will interfere with your work -

Variances in production batches
No

Quote:
Your monitoring level
Not really. The distortion is always there relative to the sound. Turning up the sound turns up the distortion but the ratio of signal to noise stays the same. At some point the speaker gets so quiet the the distortion, while still there, isn’t audible st distances away from the speaker... but then You aren’t really listening to the speaker accurately at that point anyway and it is a moot point.

Quote:
Your listening position
If you mean if you are sitting behind the port or completely beside the port then yes. But you could use the speaker that way (if the port was forward facing). This is why they usually put the port on the back.
Quote:
Tuning of the bass-port itself
It doesn’t stop it, it just changes what frequency the distortion starts at. The tiny ports on the A7X start distortion up around 90Hz. The low E string on an electric guitar is around 80 Hz and the low E of a bass guitar is around 40 Hz. So having port distortion at 90 Hz is always going to be noticeable, unless you are doing metal and active rock with distorted bass guitar... but even then your bass will sound more distorted on the Adams because of the additional port distortion than on other speaker systems.

Quote:
Cabinet design, construction & materials
The size of the cabinet will Change the frequency the distortion starts at, and the length of the tube going into the face of the port will too, as will the diameter of the face of the port.. But materials?? Making the cabinet out of MDF or Oak or Maple or Plastic has no impact. That’s like saying blowing over a glass bottle’s opening will make a sound but a plastic bottle won’t. The material is irrelevant, it’s all about the volume of air in the space and in the port/vent.


Quote:
To write off circular bass ported monitors altogether just because of this is idiotic.
I don’t write them off completely, but I do write off small forward facing ones.

Quote:
A more informed approach is to evaluate a loudspeaker individually by:

1) Calibrating it to your preferred monitoring level
2) Playing back a chromatic sequence of a pure sine wave
3) Listening & evaluating carefully for anomalies such as port noise
4) If no anomalies are found, repeating this for reference tracks that you know well
Think for a second... how do I know the A7X port distortion starts at around 90Hz???
Old 10th November 2017
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
Really? Do me a favor. Smile and try to whistle at the same time? Doesn’t work does it? You need a cylindrical tube to whistle, so you have to pucker and tighten your lips into a small narrow cylinder. The turbulence/pulsing of air through that cylinder is what creates a pitch. Changing the size of the cylinder and the speed of air changes the pitch and tunes it.

Same goes with bass reflex ports. With a rectangular port the air noise/turbulence is non-existent for the same reason you can’t whistle while smiling.
Providing a useless illustration of a physics phenomenon is irrelevant.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post

No
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
Not really. The distortion is always there relative to the sound. Turning up the sound turns up the distortion but the ratio of signal to noise stays the same. At some point the speaker gets so quiet the the distortion, while still there, isn’t audible st distances away from the speaker... but then You aren’t really listening to the speaker accurately at that point anyway and it is a moot point.
People monitor at different levels due to studio constraints such as room size / individual thresholds for hearing etc.

A bedroom studio producer who monitors at 74-77 db SPL C-weighted and hears no audible port noise doesn't and probably won't care about port noise audible at 85 dB SPL C-weighted...unless he wants to go deaf!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
I don’t write them off completely, but I do write off small forward facing ones.
'Small' is relative..what is small to you? KRK VXT4? KH120? A7x? Hedd Type 07?
I guess you've also written off the KH 120?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
Think for a second... how do I know the A7X port distortion starts at around 90Hz???
Think for a minute...based on your individual measurement of a set of A7X speakers, one should assume ALL A7X speakers in production have port noise (and that too at 90 Hz?)
Old 10th November 2017
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by varunbkk View Post

Think for a minute...based on your individual measurement of a set of A7X speakers, one should assume ALL A7X speakers in production have port noise (and that too at 90 Hz?)
Assuming your proposed production variances are not ridiculous - yes that would make sense.
Old 10th November 2017
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by varunbkk View Post
Providing a useless illustration of a physics phenomenon is irrelevant.

People monitor at different levels due to studio constraints such as room size / individual thresholds for hearing etc.

A bedroom studio producer who monitors at 74-77 db SPL C-weighted and hears no audible port noise doesn't and probably won't care about port noise audible at 85 dB SPL C-weighted...unless he wants to go deaf!

'Small' is relative..what is small to you? KRK VXT4? KH120? A7x? Hedd Type 07?
I guess you've also written off the KH 120?

Think for a minute...based on your individual measurement of a set of A7X speakers, one should assume ALL A7X speakers in production have port noise (and that too at 90 Hz?)
Ok...here we go...

The port reflex design IS based on a physics phenomena, so not sure how it is useless when it is DIRECTLY related to the subject and problem at hand...

The distortion from the A7 was noticeable with sine waves even down below 55~60dB SPL a-weighted.

Do the KRK VXT4 and KH120 have SMALL FORWARD FACING ROUND/CYLINDRICAL PORTS???? no... so they won’t have this problem. Does the A7X and Hedd 07? Yes... so they will have this problem.

It’s not the size of the speaker. It’s the size of the cabinet combined with the diameter of the port and the neck depth of the port. Small cabinet with a small diameter port puts the distortion up to a relatively high frequency (80 to 120Hz) and is audible.

Large cabinets with large forward facing ports push the distortion to very low frequencies, down to 15-30Hz, and so they aren’t that audible.

You are assuming I’ve only tested this with one set of A7X’s. I actually tested it with 3 different pairs. I was demo’ing a pair from my gear dealer and found this problem... brought them back and got s second pair... same problem, brought them back and then did the same tests with the pair in the show room floor... same problem.

Then!!!! I went to the NAMM show and went to the ADAM booth. I asked them to play some sine waves out of my phone into the A7 and their S3, both had the same problem but the S3 started having distortion at a slightly lower frequency because the cabinet was bigger. Tried it with the A77 too and same problem as the S3. The sales guy at the booth then said “well real sound engineers listen to music not sine waves”. I laughed and asked the guy if he had ever heard of Jean-Baptiste Fourier and the Fourier Transform, and then I walked away.

And by the way... I learned about the concept of rectangular ports from the engineer who designed the Expose speaker series for KRK. I met him 15 years ago and I asked why the E8 had a wide and narrow rectangular port on the front... and he told me it was to stop the distortion that is created from a round port. I wish I remember his name now.

Anyway, round ports are easy to calculate and very predictable, which makes the speaker cheaper to develop. Rectangular ports are/were harder to calculate and therefore required more experimenting and testing and so were/are more expensive to implement effectively.

And it’s a non issue if the port is rear or side facing. It only causes audible distortion in the listening position if it is forward facing.
Old 10th November 2017
  #29
007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
Ok...here we go...

The port reflex design IS based on a physics phenomena, so not sure how it is useless when it is DIRECTLY related to the subject and problem at hand...

The distortion from the A7 was noticeable with sine waves even down below 55~60dB SPL a-weighted.

Do the KRK VXT4 and KH120 have SMALL FORWARD FACING ROUND/CYLINDRICAL PORTS???? no... so they won’t have this problem. Does the A7X and Hedd 07? Yes... so they will have this problem.

It’s not the size of the speaker. It’s the size of the cabinet combined with the diameter of the port and the neck depth of the port. Small cabinet with a small diameter port puts the distortion up to a relatively high frequency (80 to 120Hz) and is audible.

Large cabinets with large forward facing ports push the distortion to very low frequencies, down to 15-30Hz, and so they aren’t that audible.

You are assuming I’ve only tested this with one set of A7X’s. I actually tested it with 3 different pairs. I was demo’ing a pair from my gear dealer and found this problem... brought them back and got s second pair... same problem, brought them back and then did the same tests with the pair in the show room floor... same problem.

Then!!!! I went to the NAMM show and went to the ADAM booth. I asked them to play some sine waves out of my phone into the A7 and their S3, both had the same problem but the S3 started having distortion at a slightly lower frequency because the cabinet was bigger. Tried it with the A77 too and same problem as the S3. The sales guy at the booth then said “well real sound engineers listen to music not sine waves”. I laughed and asked the guy if he had ever heard of Jean-Baptiste Fourier and the Fourier Transform, and then I walked away.

And by the way... I learned about the concept of rectangular ports from the engineer who designed the Expose speaker series for KRK. I met him 15 years ago and I asked why the E8 had a wide and narrow rectangular port on the front... and he told me it was to stop the distortion that is created from a round port. I wish I remember his name now.

Anyway, round ports are easy to calculate and very predictable, which makes the speaker cheaper to develop. Rectangular ports are/were harder to calculate and therefore required more experimenting and testing and so were/are more expensive to implement effectively.

And it’s a non issue if the port is rear or side facing. It only causes audible distortion in the listening position if it is forward facing.
This makes total sense, really don't understand all the counter-arguments.
It doesn't necessarily make the A7X a bad speaker, for I, myself, am a fan of them.
It simply explains why the distortion and port noise occurs, and very well at that.

Mic dropped.
Old 10th November 2017
  #30
Also to add to the discussion...

Big cabinets like the atc scm100 and 150 can have large diameter forword facing ports and it is not an issue because the air distortion happens at such a low frequency. But that is also why ATC had to move the port to the BACK for the SCM25... cuz the cabinet and port diameter were too small to be on the front and not cause noticeable distortion up in the 60-80 Hz range.

And you’ll notice PMC mainly uses rectangular forward facing ports for this same reason. They even use them on their big cabinets too!
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