Ole Witthøft

Readers' verdict on the Q113 speaker - part 1

As many as 92 of Ingeniørens readers have rated the sound of the speakers in the Q113 project. This is probably the largest listening panel ever involved in the development of loudspeakers. The results are really interesting.



Exhibition of parts and components designed and developed in the project.


First, a big thank you to the guests who chose to spend an afternoon/evening sharing their impressions and opinions at the three Open House events. A special thank you to the 92 readers who participated as test subjects in the comparative listening tests. It has been crazy exciting. All your ratings and grades are included afterwards, as the provisional verdict on the project.


Built by the readers and some experienced forces

Prior to the Open House events, a group of Ingeniørens readers, as well as the regular people at System Audio A/S have been working on tuning the sound of the speakers, partly by means of acoustic measurements, but also on the basis of many listening tests. The task has been to get as much sound out of the constructions as possible, and always have a respectful disregard for SA2K. The loudspeaker that this project is supposed to surpass. The engineers who have done the measurements have not participated in the listening tests, because it gives disqualification to be colored by the idea of the beauty of the design and what SHOULD sound best. Indeed, measurements and listening impressions do not always point in the same direction, and a knowledge of the measurements will automatically colour the experience. I have painstakingly refrained from giving my own opinion on the sound, nor have I passed on the team's opinions. No measurement results were published prior to the Open House events, so the 92 testers had no reason to have preconceptions about the sound.


Prices disclosed for the first time

Guests at the Open House were the first to get the prices of the four speakers. The project so far has been about the designs, from a technical point of view, but now some preliminary prices have been calculated, to give an economic sense of all the decisions and choices made during the project. I am not only referring to the price of the partially custom-designed loudspeaker units, but also to the price of cabinets, crossovers, packaging and the overall price implications of the characteristics of the loudspeakers. We have consistently looked for solutions that move, and we have not looked at the price of the many good features. The Engineer has made a short video from the Open House. Watch it here.


Now it's time for exams

I'm sure I'm not offending anyone when I say that you don't exactly represent Mr and Mrs Denmark when you choose to be a test pilot in a loudspeaker project. You have experience, curiosity and - not least - a professional background in the field when you choose to show up. At least that was my expectation when I invited you to the Open House. Ingeniørens readers are called Denmark's sharpest minds, so what could be more natural than to ask about their relationship with loudspeakers in general and the Q113 in particular? Just to break the ice and get a measure of the people who will be judging the project in a moment. So the testers were given a questionnaire to serve as an indicator of their preferences and interests prior to the listening test.


Before listening to the speakers, the testers are asked to fill in a questionnaire about their interest in the project.


Test subjects are on the drug

The last four questions of the questionnaire are specifically about the blog on the Engineer's website. Here, 75% of the test persons answer that they follow the blog. 90% of them think that the length of the project is adequate. 80% think that the amount of blog posts is adequate and 85% of them think that the length of the articles is adequate. In other words, these are subjects who are into the material. They are not in doubt about what the project is about and they know all the steps that have been taken.

They are most interested in the DIY speaker

The first question of the questionnaire is about which of the four Q113 is most interesting for the respondent. Here, 35% say they are most interested in the DIY version, closely followed by the floorstander, which 29% of testers are most interested in. The compact speaker is of most interest to 21% and the wall speaker has captured the interest of 15%. The low interest in the wall speaker is worth noting, as it was the wall speaker that was the winning format in last year's poll.



In the exhibition room, guests could have a look and a talk about the different parts developed in the project.


Speakers used mainly for music

Question two asked respondents how they use speakers at home, with 52% saying they use them to listen to music. 31% have a dedicated home cinema, while only 17% use speakers in a combined music and TV system.



The exhibition in Roskilde


Listening to music so you can hardly talk
How do you like to experience sound at home, is the third question. Here, 32% say they listen to background music, while a whopping 56% play music at a reasonable volume (so you can barely talk to each other).
Small majority sits and listens
56% say they sit in their listening chair when they listen to music, while 44% are around the house.



One listening test is a comparison between SA2K and Q113 Evolution.


Most would place compact speaker on stand Fifth question is specifically about where the test subject would place a compact speaker at home. A whopping 49% would place it on a stand, while 29% would place it on the wall using a bracket. Only 11% would place it on a shelf, 6% on a shelf and 6% would hang it from the ceiling using a bracket.
White is the winner When asked which finish the tester prefers on their speakers, white wins with 37%, followed by wood at 35% (of which the majority answered light wood) and black accounts for 21%.
Speaker sizes are definitely adequate In the last question, the tester is asked to share his opinion on the size of the four Q113 speakers based on the options: too big, too small or adequate. 88% find the DIY version adequate, 92% find the compact speaker adequate, 73% find the wall speaker adequate (22% find it too large) and 90% of the testers find the floor speaker adequate. What difference do testers find between the wall and floor-standing speaker? Read part 2.
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Ole Witthøft
Ole is the founder of System Audio. His 3 greatest passions are music, design and technology. Every day, Ole is working on some kind of projects, and you find him in the workshop, in the production, behind a computer or on one of his many presentations around the world.

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