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"Space Optimisation" and Harbeth speakers

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  • "Space Optimisation" and Harbeth speakers

    Some time ago there was a thread which pondered how Devialet catered for Harbeth speakers using their "SAM" system. I have just noticed that Linn have something called "Space Optimisation" and there is a catalogue of Speakers which they describe as "Space Optimisation Compatible Speakers. Amongst the speakers in the compatible catalogue are these from the Harbeth line-up :-

    Harbeth Monitor 30.1
    Harbeth Monitor 40.1
    Harbeth P3ESR
    Harbeth Super HL5
    Harbeth Super HL5 plus

    I have an idea of what this system purports to do, but have no idea about how it does it. Does anyway know more than I about how this? Is AS aware of this, and if so has he collaborated in any way with Linn?

    {Moderator's comment: AS has had no contact by phone, email or in person from any representative of the Linn company ever. Any users of the Linn system with Harbeth speakers are on their own and any Warranty claims will be scrutinised carefully. We have no idea what it does, how it does it or what could go wrong with it.}

  • #2
    Passives into actives

    Originally posted by Jeff_C View Post
    Linn have something called "Space Optimisation" and there is a catalogue of Speakers which they describe as "Space Optimisation Compatible Speakers.
    {Moderator's comment: AS has had no contact by phone, email or in person from any representative of the Linn company ever. Any users of the Linn system with Harbeth speakers are on their own and any Warranty claims will be scrutinised carefully. We have no idea what it does, how it does it or what could go wrong with it.}
    I have no idea what Linn is doing but - at the risk of people here saying I have active speakers on my brain! - this seems to be an attempt to turn Harbeth and other speakers into active speakers of sorts from the outside via bolt on additions.

    A car maker will not honour engine warranty if a third party turbo is installed even if the turbo charged model in their line up has warranty coverage. The Harbeth response is on the same lines.
    DSP for room response for example, if not implemented properly, can damage speakers.

    What I am curious about here is why any passive speaker would NOT be compatible as other speakers in the catalogue are claimed to be. I suspect only expensive speakers with a certain cachet are present there.

    Comment


    • #3
      Techno-marketing BS ...

      It's typical Linn marketing BS.

      The optimisation is apparently a process embedded in their digital streamers.

      Only Linn speakers are "SPACE Optimisation+ compatible" - see the small print at the bottom of the page
      http://www.linn.co.uk/systems/techno...tible-speakers

      All the others listed - just about every speaker ever invented - are merely "SPACE Optimisation compatible".

      So the all important "+" only applies to their own speakers, presumably as they know how they perform. All the others don't have a "+" as, presumably, they don't know how they perform, so whatever the algorithm does it does it independent of the speakers.

      Sounds like a great idea. Where can I buy it?

      Comment


      • #4
        ... or Techno-Marketing science?

        For those of you with absolutely nothing to do - I mean really nothing at all - you can read how Linn Optimisation set-up works here:

        http://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Exakt_Optimsation

        If after reading that you have not yet googled the Dignitas website, you can have another dose:

        http://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.ph...t_optimisation

        Can the experts tell if this is any different, for better or worse, than other forms of digital room correction?


        p.s. It seems you measure your room and the software does the rest. So if you are out by a bit, does it dampen the wrong frequencies? Does not seem to be as remotely scientific as AS and his microphone and oscilloscope at Bristol HiFi Show, and I seem to remember him saying that was only a fairly quick effort at room correction in a less than ideal hotel room.

        Comment


        • #5
          Just marketing talk

          Originally posted by ssfas View Post
          It's typical Linn marketing BS.
          Perhaps, perhaps not.

          My guess : The + thing works for active speakers that have an active crossover that is more amenable to DSP. And if the + compatible Linn speakers are of a typical active configuration, each driver has an amp of appropriate power dedicated to it, with driver dedicated DSP as well. If so, that will allow Linn to do more with them than they can with a passive speaker that takes amplified analog inputs into the passive crossover inside these before feeding its output to each driver. That limitation takes away the + tag, but Linn can still do some things with passive speakers in the area of room response tuning, as many other devices like the Anti Mode can.

          That's theory. Only an objective listening test can decide what outcome has been achieved with and without +.

          Including only some passive speakers as compatible is marketing.

          Comment


          • #6
            In the streamer?

            Originally posted by Kumar Kane View Post
            Perhaps, perhaps not.

            My guess : The + thing works for active speakers that have an active crossover that is more amenable to DSP. And if the + compatible Linn speakers are of a typical active configuration, each driver has an amp of appropriate power dedicated to it, with driver dedicated DSP as well. If so, that will allow Linn to do more with them than they can with a passive speaker that takes amplified analog inputs into the passive crossover inside these before feeding its output to each driver. That limitation takes away the + tag, but Linn can still do some things with passive speakers in the area of room response tuning, as many other devices like the Anti Mode can.

            That's theory. Only an objective listening test can decide what outcome has been achieved with and without +.

            Including only some passive speakers as compatible is marketing.
            The Linn list states that "SPACE Optimisation+ compatible" applies to most of their passive speakers, so it is nothing to do with whether the speakers are active or passive.

            Anyway, the DSP algorithm is embedded in the streamer, so it should make no difference if the amplifiers are inside or outside of the speakers, or how many there are of them. Also, Linn systems have for years encouraged bi- or tri-amping, which presumably still works with this new "technology".

            Comment


            • #7
              Room/speaker interface

              I've had a few experiences with 'Space Optimisation' now. The first was with a dealer in London. He was using simply the Linn Sneaky with Linn speaker cables and some Proacs-the new 118's or whatever they are called. The listening room was small and although small standmounts, they had some low end response. When 'Space Optimisation' was applied, it was clear to me, my girlfriend and the others there that it influenced the sound. Better? Well, yes. Low frequency boom had disappeared resulting in a tighter more tuneful low end. This also allowed less blurring as vocals were better projected. There just seemed to be a easy, clean presentation. Turning the Space Optimisation off result in a collapse of control. That's the only way I can describe it.

              This system will work in difficult rooms with speakers that interact too much. I wish I could of tried this feature when I had my Compact 7's on Skylan stands. I'd image it would of helped with the segregated low end which dominated. A change of stands and equipment help sort that out.

              I have tried both a Akurate DSM and a Klimax DSM with my Harbeths at home. The effect of Space Optimisation is not as apparent as it was with the Proacs, but the presentation is certainly clearer with a slight woolliness removed. It's a nice feature, but I was actually more impressed with the Klimax streaming and acting as a pre for my LP12-lovely.

              It's not BS. It's just another approach.

              Comment


              • #8
                The future is DSP

                Originally posted by 79kage View Post
                Low frequency boom had disappeared resulting in a tighter more tuneful low end. This also allowed less blurring as vocals were better projected. There just seemed to be a easy, clean presentation.

                It's not BS. It's just another approach.
                This is the usual performance boost seen in the all important mid range when a bloated bass is brought under control. Which is why in a no DSP situation it is better to have lower bass output in the first place compared to having it higher than the room can support and then attempting to tame it.

                Room response DSP is certainly going to get better in future - indeed on the speaker side of things it promises to bring about the highest levels of audible improvements in home audio, much beyond what is heard via the other kinds of tweaking that happens in speaker development now. And what is not even heard via all the tweaking of upstream electronics.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Bass issues and solutions

                  From what I understand this is indeed a room equalization system that measures room response. Your results match what can be expected of such systems. The room is indeed the elephant in the room, and room modes at lower frequencies on the hand produce nasty and boomy peaks at low frequencies, but on the other hand the upper harmonics of these peaks also degrade the sound at higher frequencies.

                  There are a few options, apart from getting a larger listening room to lower the room mode frequencies. The first is to avoid inserting too low frequencies. A large full range speaker that goes real deep will be horrible in a small room. How horrible depends on the speaker and the room, but the principle is clear: do not overdo it.

                  The second is absorption. Bass traps have existed for a long time, but at really low frequencies they are huge.

                  The third is equalization, most conveniently done with an automatic system. This will only work at the lower frequencies (up to 100-150 Hz), because at higher frequencies you can only get it right for one narrowly defined listening position. Fortunately it is precisely the lower frequencies that cause most trouble. A simple system would include something like the very affordable DSpeaker Antimode 8033 for subwoofers.

                  I have very good experiences with this system, as it tightens the bass, makes it tuneful, and improves the integration with the main speakers. I am not of the 'night and day difference' rhetoric, but this is such a case: I will not ever use a sub again without it. DSpeaker also have a more ambitious full range unit (plus dac and pre amp in one box), the Antimode Dual Core 2.0, and are about to introduce an even more ambitious and unfortunately rather more expensive unit, the X4. But the benefits are principally in the lower frequencies which is why the technology has mainly been used for (bigger) subwoofers like from Velodyne, B&W's top model, or the universal Antimode system.

                  If you have a higher frequency problem, damping the room is the better way (and more easily done than at lower frequencies). One traditional alternative is to use two subs or low frequency speakers, as the peaks and dips at one location may be evened out by the peaks and dips at another. But that is and remains a bit of a hit and miss affair.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Space Optimisation re-visited

                    Originally posted by ssfas View Post
                    The Linn list states that "SPACE Optimisation+ compatible" applies to most of their passive speakers, so it is nothing to do with whether the speakers are active or passive.

                    Anyway, the DSP algorithm is embedded in the streamer, so it should make no difference if the amplifiers are inside or outside of the speakers, or how many there are of them. Also, Linn systems have for years encouraged bi- or tri-amping, which presumably still works with this new "technology".
                    Last night we met up with friends. They have a Linn DS streamer, and he has previously attempted to set up space optimisation for his room and 38 year old Kef reference 105.2 speakers. (As the speakers are very old they are not in the Linn catalogue for Space Optimisation. So the system is just trying to compensate for the room). His previous attempt was not very successful - he explained that the results removed too much bass. He never demonstrated it to me.

                    Since then he has invested in one of those laser measuring devices, which he considers essential to get accurate measurements down to a single mm or two. He explained that you input a series of quite detailed distance measurements, provide information about your room layout along with construction materials. Now the interesting part. He showed me the graph that the system had calculated to improve the sound for his room. There were 3 steep depressions in the graph corresponding to 3 frequencies where correction had been calculated to be required. (I think the frequency scale only showed frequencies from 20Hz to 200Hz or 300Hz) :-

                    37 dB cut at 27Hz - the filter was very steep across just a few Hz
                    12 dB cut at about 60Hz - again the filter was steep over just a few Hz
                    15dB cut at about 80Hz - -again the filter was steep across a few Hz

                    As you see those levels of adjustment are in no way subtle. I wondered to myself how much the enormous cut at 27Hz would be audible, and how much programme material contained frequencies around 27Hz. I was only given an on/off demonstration. So it was an all or nothing room equalisation. I listened to about a minute of three tracks. Track 1 was played from the beginning with optimisation off for one minute, restart at beginning of track then on for one minute. This process was repeated for track 2 and 3)

                    I have to say I was impressed with the perceived improvement in sound. I can best describe it as a lot of "mush" being removed so that the detail in the music was much clearer.

                    I still have little idea about what Linn have done to make adjustments for specific speakers in the Space Optimisation catalogue, but I believe that the room correction part of the system seems to be based on good science, and to my ears was a noticeable improvement.

                    One final point. My friend told me that Bowers and Wilkins sanction the use of their model 802 speaker system with some dedicated electronics called an Exakt Box. Presumably this does the job that space optimisation does without the need of a Linn DS streamer. Anyone know more?

                    http://linnhifi.blogspot.co.uk/p/what-is-linn-ds.html

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OK, lets clear a few things up, given that many of the above posts contain guesses, incorrect information and quite a few assumptions, in addition to some facts:

                      SPACE is a processing algorithm that tackles room modes below 100Hz. There are 2 forms of SPACE:

                      - SPACE runs inside a Linn streamer (DS or DSM) and modifies the signal in the DAC stage before turning the signal analogue and sending it out of the streamer to the pre-amp. To apply SPACE, Linn only needs to physically measure the speaker so that they understand the physical position of sources of sub 100Hz information in the room. Hence there are many many speakers that Linn have measured and can be used with SPACE. Due to the processing limitations inside the DS, SPACE often makes some "engineering approximations" - for example, averaging the point in space source of 100Hz information between the bass driver and a front facing port.

                      - SPACE+ is only available when used with a Linn Exakt system. Linn Exakt uses an FPGA processor (1 or 2 per Exaktbox) and a DAC per speaker driver and therefore has much more processing power available to it. This means that SPACE+ can apply much more complex calculations to the signal and therefore uses actual point in space source 100Hz information - so for the above example, it will treat a bass driver and front facing port as 2 separate sources of energy and deal with them appropriately.

                      Both forms of SPACE are room optimisation algorithms, not room correction - Linn don't claim to correct for the room as that is, in the case of null modes, impossible, and they only tackle up to 100Hz as their theory is that processing needs to stay out of the vocal range. Some claim to correct the room but that's not really possible - you can't eliminate a null from a stereo pair by adding more output - the null stays the same or gets deeper. So SPACE only tackles the room mode peaks. First you must listen to your system with no SPACE optimisation to establish the best position in the room for the speakers. To set up SPACE you use the Linn software interface to describe the dimensions of the room, the materials from which the walls, floor and ceiling are constructed and add major features such as doors and windows. There is guidance on what to do with non-rectilinear rooms which tend to need some experimentation to get right. It is critical to get the room dimensions accurate to the millimeter as best as possible because the algorithm uses well known calculations to work out the room modes (you can play with what these look like in a room by adding your room dimension information at amroc.andymel.eu, its quite interesting as it tells you the room modes you have and where they "hang" in a little 3D diagram of your room). You also enter the listening position and the position of the speakers in the room. SPACE then calculates the room modes to be tackled and adds the notches noted in Jeff_C's post above. This is to try and reduce the major room mode peaks. It doesn't tackle all of them - choosing to ignore anything that would need less than 6dB of correction.

                      Note that SPACE never increases output at any frequency, it only ever decreases output and as such places no risk on the speaker, nor should it affect any warranty issue - unless a speaker manufacturer nulls a warranty if their speaker is used with any amplification that includes tone controls or a DAC or a particularly cartridge, which would be weird. The speaker manufacturer has to accept that a DAC has an output characteristic, tone controls manipulate the output, different cartridges have different frequency response curves - SPACE is no different.

                      Once calculated, the user can adjust depth, width and frequencies of the notches, remove them altogether, and add new ones. Many find that SPACE notches are often too deep and need reigning in a little, whereas SPACE+ is often much more accurate with the depth of the notches.

                      SPACE is available as part of a standard firmware update (online, applied by the user, no need for a dealer or device return) to all Linn DS and DSM streamers of all the range right back to 2007. SPACE+ is provided in all Exakt devices (Exakt being a completely different discussion).


                      SPACE is not:
                      - anything to do with an attempt to emulate active speakers
                      - techno-marketing BS. It is a room mode optimisation technology. How good it is or isn't is, of course, subject to marketing "interpretations"
                      - SPACE+ is not limited to Linn speakers, but it is limited to speakers that are Exakt compatible - being Exakt compatible is much more complex than being SPACE combatible as it involves electrical measurement of the speakers and the design of digital crossovers. At the moment this is nearly all Linn speakers (current and historic) and some limited examples from B&W, KEF, Kudos and PMC
                      - perfect - particularly the non "+" version which most users find needs some adjustments. But then, it is impossible to know if the user has a) measured the room accurately enough and b) correctly positioned the speaker in the room before they applied SPACE
                      - yet capable of understanding the effect of furniture in the room (but does allow the user to make adjustments, some of which will be required due to furniture)
                      - a miracle, despite what Linn might say

                      I like what SPACE+ does in my Exakt system, pretty much everyone with an Exakt system would say the same thing. There is more debate about SPACE with most finding they like what it does after some adjustment and a small number preferring to leave it switched off.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for this clarification. So it means the LInn system does not measure the sound but the dimensions of the room, and then calculates what the room modes are likely to be, and corrects them. Since no speaker is perfect, it also corrects for that, from archived measurement data. A room sound measurening system like the ANtimode models does not need that information, of course, since it just measures the actual in room response, affected by both speaker anomalies and room anomalies.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by willem View Post
                          Thanks for this clarification. So it means the LInn system does not measure the sound but the dimensions of the room, and then calculates what the room modes are likely to be, and corrects them. Since no speaker is perfect, it also corrects for that, from archived measurement data. A room sound measurening system like the ANtimode models does not need that information, of course, since it just measures the actual in room response, affected by both speaker anomalies and room anomalies.
                          Mostly, the only correction to the above is that SPACE does not correct anything about the speaker itsself - only for the peak room modes below 100Hz.

                          Exakt does correct for speaker drive unit tolerances and phase non-linearity, but that's a whole different discussion.

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