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Subjective Listening Tests

As I mentioned many times before, objective measurements don't always correlate to subjective sound quality. Overall, the 5.1's had a fairly flat frequency response, but that did not lead me to pronounce the set as "hi-fi." On the contrary, the satellites succeeded in mangling the human voice to a moderate degree. In the 300Hz-3KHz all important vocal range, the response bounced up and down, yo-yo like, even though the total range of error varied no more than 7dB.

The dual center channel quality suffered a similar fate. Definitely on the "muddy" side, what should have been clean, clear midrange ended up sounding more akin to AM radio than full range as JazzSpeakers' webpage claims. To confirm or deny midrange listenenablilty, several Dolby Pro Logic movies were dusted off and popped into my Sony professional editing VHS deck. Over several days of surround effects, I have come to one conclusion. Broadcast engineers need to use more of them. Many times, the only cool sounds emanating from the rear pair amounted to only heavily reverbed main channel incident sound. Note to self: PBS nature specials sound the coolest.

The highs measured extremely well from such large drivers. But, just as in the case of the dreadful Diamond Audio 3025's, attempting to push a large driver a full octave beyond it's intended range creates a high frequency distortion and compression that effectively renders anything upwards of 10KHz a moot point.

I feel for the poor, overworked 4" subwoofer. Now, I usually think of a subwoofer as a driver of at least 12 inches in diameter; however, with computer audio's new math, the foot long boomers shrink to a fraction of their intended size and are forced to vibrate through all sorts of low end boosting contraptions, both front and rear loaded. This was the most incredible 4" driver I ever heard. It pumped sound out like nothing I've ever felt. The problem was, it barely pushed out anything below 95Hz--hardly considered as subwoofer quality. Below 85Hz, it simply gave up. The sub should have been at least a 6" unit minimum, period.

Movie sound over the long term was only moderately acceptable. At least I didn't get any audio headaches, which has happened a few times with an unclear midrange. Classical music was an embarrassment. The ROCCO's weren't up to timpani much less cymbals.

Conclusion

It must be emphasized that these units have no U.S. distribution channel. An equivalent web price might well be cut down to half in the online market but I have yet to find any mention of JazzSpeakers products in any search engine I normally use. One thing is for sure: the ROCCO 5.1's offer high quantity to the buyer. Sporting two Dolby standards in addition to normal stereo playback, this setup can easily fill a 500 square foot area with a 110dB total sound output. I believe that this is a company to watch for an eventual U.S presence. If their designers are allowed to tweak the 5.1's midrange drivers and add a proper subwoofer, we just might have a great product in the near future.

William Yaple
12/09/00

 





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