Everytime I read another interview with Tony Andrews, the man behind the famous Funktion One (F1) or hear him talking about the problems with global audio quality or even bragging about their own sound quality and how totally bad all other speakers are I feel the need to put things into perspective, but I can’t comment on everything. He even mostly manages to make the stuff he says sound reasonable to the layman. So I had to do some writing on this and here it is.
Why don’t I like the F1? It is because my music sounds totally crappy on F1! What? Come on, why would I tell you that, since, it could easily be used against me. But i’ll come to that. Far more it is because I don’t like it if someone spreads wrong information and even more I don’t like if something is hyped. But my main reason is that speakers like Funktion One force musicians and producers to produce their music in a certain way, because most other ways don’t sound well on them.
If you think I’m an idiot now and your are convinced that F1 sounds great because you heard it yourself let me tell you, that I understand you. But there are two things left unconsidered:
1: It’s all a question of comparisons
First, I understand that so many people believe the F1 is a great system and are also rightfully convinced of that! It’s simple: if you only hear totally crappy PA-speakers all your life and then hear a F1 you will probably think it’s the fucking best system you have ever heard. How would anyone who hasn’t heard better, or not in a short period of time within each other, know that in reality the F1 is only average? How would anyone know what they are missing on top of that? To be honest: There probably even was a time at the end of the last millenium when F1 were among the top players in the business, but they forgot to go on, they have long been passed by many others but the hype and other terrible systems live on.
2: It’s not bad
Second, F1 does indeed have some unique properties, besides the awsome look, which make them particularily attractive for a certain kind of music and a certain kind of music production. In fact it is of course electronic music. But not any electronic music. Due to their transient response, that is how quick they can react to the music, F1s sound particulary great with music that is minimalistic and clean. The less different sounds, the better. Take a kick, a hihat, a lead and a snare, run it through an F1 at high volumes and you will experience something that maybe even no other speaker company can do. It, almost literally, blows your brain out and even makes it feel kind of good. The pressure and precision is just insane and it sticks out.
Wait? Wasn’t that supposed to be a rant? Wasn’t I to tell you how average the F1 is? Yea, I’ll come to that. But I also wanted to make it a point that I actually understand what I’m talking about and do have a differenciated opinion about those speakers. Btw. I do know what I’m talking about because of a couple of other reasons. 1: I have been building, fixing, renting out PA-speakers and speakers since I was 15 years old, 2: I have been producing and writing music for almost 20 years, 3: I have organized several festivals and therefore chosen and worked with various professionals and their systems, 4: I’m a trained electronician, became physics teacher later, so do know my way around tech a bit. 5: I have played on F1s with my own music myself several times, one time at Boom Festival 2008, where F1 and Andrews himself is involved a lot. 6: I go to damn festivals for over 20 years, fuck.
So now that you know I can appreciate the strengths of the F1 and probably believe that I do have some background, lets come to the point where I tell you why I critizise those speakers and think that we should all burn them! Just kidding. I only want to raise some awareness.
Well, as I said earlier: My music sounds like crap on them. What does it mean? Now you say: “sure he hates them because they make him look bad”. But look, why do I tell you that? I don’t have to. I could just avoid this fact and give you one less point against me.
As you can see in the comments already, is that people who lack good arguments will definitly use this against me, instead of using good arguments. So it would be a better strategy to just not mention it at all. But I still do tell you because my music can be used as a great example of the one great weakness of the F1-System. In short: Midrange resolution! You sure know what resolution is in a screen or a digital photo, it is how many pixels fit on the screen and therefore how well you can see details in an image. I and some others use this word for speakers just the same. How many layers of sounds can you play through these speakers at the same time and still hear them appart? And that is where F1 fails.
Produce Music so it sounds good on everything… and F1
See, I always hated to produce my music so that, I quote mastering engineers and producers from all over the world: “it sounds great on all possible speakers and even smartphones and laptops”. I mean, come ON! Why should I miss out the opportunity to create something wonderful, diverse, complex with miriads of sounds just so that you can listen to it on dumb laptop speakers? I’ve always made it a point in my production to just ignore a wide portion of crappy speakers on this planet and concentrate on the better ones. In my studio I have a pair of Dynaudio BM6A and Genelecs 1037B. Not the best speakers in the world, but those speakers have an amazing resolution. It’s wonderful, you can play any song and you will hear new details that you never heard before. And this is how I make my music: For great speakers. I compromise very little for bad speakers with low resolution. And this is why my music sounds like crap on the F1.
F1 is not good for music with millions of details and layers and sounds, F1 are low-resolution speakers, only music with low resolution will sound truly great on them. A lot of music, especially often electronic music, is produced for low-resolution speakers simply because of the fact that every experienced electronic music producer knows very well that most PA-speakers are low resolution and therefore they match their music to the crappy speakers to make it sound well even on your kitchen radio. Of course many also truly like it extra clean, and like that “low resolutionish sound” because of their taste or their sub-genre, or they simply grew up knowing nothing else.
In any case, if you take some kind of low-resolution music and play it on F1 which are tuned in well it can sound quite good because of their transient response especially in bass. Also with non-electronic music, if the sound engineer who mixes the band makes sure that especially few frequencies clash and in the midrange section everything sits especially well in its place it can sound very nice.
I give you an example. If you had an F1 and say, a top notch db J-system line array side by side and you would play this song, it could well be, that the F1 would sound more impressive (not better, more impressive). The J-system would also sound very good, but definitly not as brain-shaking as the F1. But if you would play this song, it would again sound very beautiful on the J-system but it would sound terrible on the F1. And that is because the F1 lacks the resolution for the second example. The first example has very little going on (all in the right place though) and that is excellent for the F1, it can capitalize on that with its transient response. How did you listen to the examples? Listen to them on great speakers or great headphones.
And this is my main point. Once you play music with a lot going on in the midrange or which is simply aimed for high-quality speakers it will shockingly show F1s weakness. But at the point where that happens, people are too much believing in the quality of the F1 system that they will blame themselves, the dj or the producer. So does Andrews himself.
Andrews comes across a bit smug
By now you know everything you need to know, but if you are otherwise bored let me tell you some more things. Andrews, in interviews and lectures, never stops blaming the audio itself for the shitty soundquality at festivals or even through his own speakers. If he hears his speakers sound bad, he just blames the DJ or MP3.
He sometimes ends up stating technical facts that are just plain wrong. For example at a lecture at Boom 2010 he said FLAC is a lossy file format only slightly better than MP3 and should not be used by DJs. In fact FLAC is a lossless file format with the exactly same audio quality as a CD.
Like many others, he still believes that an MP3 file can never be good enough, which is as also very arguably wrong if you make a distinction in the conversion quality. At the same lecture at Boom 2010 he demonstrated the difference between an mp3 and CD by playing a 128bit mp3 file throug a small F1 and then comparing it to a CD. Of course the difference was easy to hear, since a 128kbps Mp3 sounds of course terrible. He said: “See?” Proud to have made his point. The thing is: Of course he was right, everyone can hear a 128bit mp3, but it has been shown many times over that even professional listeners can’t hear the difference between a 320kbps mp3 and a CD. (Wanna try?).
So I then asked him why he didn’t demonstrate a 320kbps mp3 file converted in the best algorythm. His answer? “because we wouldn’t have heard the difference”… think about that answer for a moment… I mean, seriously? What was that supposed to mean? There are really only two things: Either he just said that his F1s were not able to transmit the difference or that he actually just unproved his own point by saying a well encoded HQ mp3 can not be distinguished from a CD. Either way it was embarassing.
Enter the digital Aera?
Furthermore Andrews for a long time came across as if he hated everything digital and DSP (digital signal processing). You need to know: modern, great PA speaker makers, have for a long time actually understood that there are physical limits to a speaker and they way multiple speakers are arranged. There are physical limits to a membrane, to an enclosure made of wood or any compound used today and they have started to use computers (DSPs) to correct that physical limitations before the sound even goes into the amplifiers. The results are remarkable. He thought it’s cheating. It seemed that Andrews had a very narrow minded and incomplete view of the digital world. But, as if to prove my point that Funktion One is obsolete, he teamed up with “the best audio engineers of the world” and and they created the VERO System, which is basically exactly what most others have been doing for almost two decades. By the way: They use the same Amplifiers as for example Kling & Freitag pros have been using for years. Which are digital.
Andrews writes on the Vero website: “It is very concerning that despite all the technological advances of the last 25 years, audio standards have actually declined, resulting in a somewhat corrupted communal appreciation of what good sound is“. Which I find very ironic, since it was most others who have advanced the technology while it were his old F1s who were corrupting the appreciation of what good sound is by simply riding on their hype instead of innovating. Now he jumps onto the same train, realizing he has been lazy and disses the others. Not exactly classy.
As a side note, there are however people avoiding digital who make far better points than Andrews.
But there is even more to come: There is one more reason why F1 is not only average but even obsolete. By creating the Vero Andrews is confirming the problem of F1: Sound distribution. Modern systems for example line arrays (the ones he created 10 years late), are able to distribute the sound evenly over a wide area. That means the front row won’t have bleeding ears just so that the last row can hear anything at all. It means that the volume is much more constant everywhere on the floor. That is done with those speaker-bananas you see hanging at big concerts. Those bananas have a actually a nice trick up their sleeves. All those single speakers are actually providing sound for one slice of the dancefloor. Horizontally they spread their sound relatively wide, however vertically they have a very narrow distribution of only 15 Degrees or so. That might seem to be very narrow and it means if such a speaker is pointed above your head or at your feet you won’t hear it very loud. But since you stack those speakers on top of each other and those speakers are curved it leads to each speaker delivering sound to another slice of the floor. The top most ones point to the back of the floor and the lower ones to the space directly bellow them. The top ones play of course much louder than the lower ones because they have to go farther. But not only that. In some systems the subwoofers don’t just point forward but also BACKWARDS with their phase inverted! They on purpose cancel out the sound that goes to the back and through precise phase shifting it no exactly 180° they actually can even shape the distribution of the bass over the dancefloor and make it less not only in the back but even on the sides. All digital of course. A modern Line Array can drastically reduce sound-pollution around the dancefloors.
I will cut the Point Source technique that F1 trys to apply some slack. You need to understand that whenever you have multiple speakers, those speakers will start to interfere with each other and this will reduce sound quality. Line Arrays try to solve this problem with their distribution angles and digitally, but run into limits with it. Point Source systems try to transmit all sound from just ONE POINT in order to not have interference. This is of course impossible, since LOUD speakers simply need space and can never be in one point. It can be approximated of course and from what I hear kv2 is doing quite a good job in doing so. The point source however can never address the problem of the front rows having bleeding ears, while in the back there is little volume or the problem with sound pollution outside the dancefloor. Except when the hang the speakers really high above the stage to equalize the distances to all people on the dancefloor. Some experiment with 4 point source speakers around the dancefloor, which then causes a new set of interference on the floor. There is almost religious level dispute between Line Arrays and Point Source systems and while I do advocate for Line Arrays here, I do believe that both kinds of system can sound brilliant, however so far the best I have heard are line arrays, all factors including sound pollution considered.
So what speakers are great speakers in my opinion? For our festival we rented first a d&b Q-system with Subs from their J-System and later a Kling & Freitag Sequenca. If we had more ressources I would try a full d&b J-System. But to be honest I’ve heard line arrays from Martin, Meyer, Clair and JBL all sounding better than an F1 without a lot of effort. That is why I say F1 is average at best. But hey, being average in 2016 with 1990s technology isn’t bad. I actually believe it needs a lot of skill, because I built my own speakers in the 90ties too and I would never have succeded to make them sound as an F1. So kudos for that Andrews! But it’s not the 90ties anymore. If you just want to beat your brains out with kicks and hihats I can totally recommend it. Just don’t ever think they are truly good speakers. Because good speakers can do more than that.
Thanks for your impressions about Funktion One. According to the fact that there is still a discussion taking place, the topic is still up to date.
We also bought some Funktion One speakers over the last years. Res4, Res5, F221, F218 is in our portfolio. We also own NEXO and L’Acoustic including line arrays (GeoS12, Kiva2, Kara). We work with Funktion One in several areas, From business events over NeoClassic concerts to Techno events is everything represented.
I also heard a lot of bad sounding Funktion One systems but I think most times it is an user error.
Let me explain: Other speaker companies released some easy to handle prediction softwares. You type in your venue, add your speakers and click on “calculate”. You get some results that work fine. Not the best but you have a acceptable system. Funktion One doenst have this prediction software (yeah, Projection is in the making but does not include the old speakers). So the most user just try to look, hear and work with the old manuals. Most times the results arent that good. In our company we work with EASE to predict Funktion One systems. Its a lot of work because you have to add all data manually but the results are really precise. This helps to get a good distribution. Also it is possible to insert FIR filters into the DSPs made by NST-Audio. This helps a lot for tuning the old speakers into some more “modern” sound. I think with some knowlege about sound and systeming you can get really good results with Funktion One systems. Especially in some indoor situation are the small dispersions of the Res4 and Res5 a significant advantage.
An interesting article, definitely caught my attention as I have lot of experience building speakers (my current home setup is a hand built smaller scale version of a Danley sound labs SH96 and 21″ tapped horn subwoofer), spent decades in clubs and festivals and have a PhD in physics so certainly can understand the detailed physics of sound reproduction.
While I agree with your points about the problems of sound distribution on large scales, where line arrays have the advantage of throw by beating the 1/r^2 fall off from a point source; they, as others have pointed out, suffer a lot of problems with phasing issues which causes lobing of the sound field which means they can sound great in some locations, but move around and the frequency response varies drastically. My personal experience is that while I certainly have heard some excellent line array setups (the main stages at boomtown festival for example used a D&B audiotechnik setup which sounded incredible) a lot of the ones used in smaller gig venues really suffered from mid range clarity for vocals and lead guitars / mid range instruments. Whereas smaller venues using point source speakers have a clear advance in mid range clarity and uniform sound distribution.
Specifically with regards to funktion one speakers, I have to disagree that they are ‘low resolution’ – they are extremely efficient speakers, requiring much less power than most to reproduce high SPL. With regards to mid range clarity – they specifically use a high crossover point between the mid driver and the compression driver, meaning all of the midrange is handled by a single driver so there are no phasing issues, and no distortion from pushing a compression driver to play low down into the midrange which results in a lot of distortion at high volume. This is a feature not many companies use to my knowledge, especially in line arrays, with the exception of Martin Audio who also used this concept. Further, funktion one use very strong neodymium magnets and their own designed cones, which results in the extreme impulse response that you acknowledged. Based on these facts, I don’t see how a speaker with well designed crossover points and drivers using very strong magnets, resulting in very fast and dynamic response, can be low resolution, as this is the exact recipe for very high resolution and well controlled sound.
My personal experience with funktion one in a wide variety of settings and musical genres being played is some of the best sound I’ve ever experienced. Obvious the room itself and the specific setup / arrangement of the speakers makes a huge impact on the overall sound, so while I’ve definitely heard funktion one systems not sounding great, the ones I’ve heard that are well set up and in a well designed room : festival stage have sounded excellent right across the frequency spectrum; with a notable example for non-electronic music with plenty of vocals and live instruments, being the Glade stage at Glastonbury festival set up by Tony Andrews himself, which had truly exceptional sound quality.
I’ve never heard a line array (or almost any point source non-funktion one) outperform a well set up funktion one system. In fact the only system I’ve ever heard which does out perform them is the four point Martin Audio system in room 1 at fabric in London, which has the greatest full range clarity, frequency extension, incredibly tight impulse response, uniform sound distribution over the whole dancefloor, and overwhelming physical impact of any system I’ve ever heard. This is partly due to the very high quality speakers used, and largely due to the incredible setup of the speakers and the room itself. I don’t believe any line array system could ever match that setup for clarity and uniform sound distribution; but I always listen in new venues with an open mind, and am willing to be corrected if I ever hear better sound than at fabric!
Hi, Thank you for your reply.
I agree with having heard great sounding F1s, but mostly they didn’t. Why?
However I have not once heard a bad sounding Kling and Freitag or D&B. Why?
In my opinion it is because if you optimize, tune well, you can make anything mid-class sound really good. However, something that is inherently really good, is hard to make sound bad.
Anyhow. As you understand your physics I have a little calculation for you, which was one of the final exam questions I had to solve for my physics-teacher exam:
Calculate the frequency shift which is happening on the cone of a speaker caused by the doppler effect. Assume a frequency of 500Hz and another one of 5000Hz. How much shift will the 5000Hz tone experience because of the cone movement of the 500Hz tone. Assume a peak to peak movement of 5mm.
It was something like that, I just invented any numbers. Anyhow, what you will find is, that it makes indeed sense to get into phase-issues from crossovers. Especially since it’s easier to correct for those with DSP algoryhtms, than the kind of distortion which happens from above situation. Imho this is probably EXACTLY the reason why I perceive F1 as low resolution in the midrange. It’s exactly what I said, F1 does badly: As soon as there is a lot going on in the midrange, they fail. If there is little, they excel.
And yea, Boom D&B J-System sounded incredible. But a bit “cold” imho. I prefer the Kling and Freitag sound. Just as good, but warmer.
the reason you’ve heard meany F1 systems that don’t sound great is almost certainly due to the setup – as you said, you can make even mid range speakers sound good if well set up (although I disagree that its hard to make good speakers sound bad – the room and setup has far more impact on the sound than the speakers, as an extreme example imagine putting some Wilson audio speakers costing £100k’s in a bathroom!). But given that, especially for dance music, F1 is the reference point for high end sound, and famous enough that people use it on the adverts for events to imply the sound will be good; there will be plenty of gigs / festivals where people will rent F1 for this reason, chuck them down assuming it will just sound good, but don’t actually know what they’re doing so don’t set it up well, or simply selected the wrong system for that room / stage. Kling and Freitag is a much more niche brand and much less well known, so its not that big an assumption to say that sound engineers who select such a system are more likely to know what they’re doing and set it up well than the average punter who just rents a F1 rig because they’re famous.
With the doppler effect (intermodulation distortion), this reduces as the inverse square of cone size, so a larger mid range cone (as used in F1 systems) should suffer this effect much less than smaller cones i.e. compression drivers which in most systems are made to play low down into the mid range. Further, since the drivers are all coupled inside the same cabinet, intermodulation distortion is almost unavoidable in any speaker, with the exception of the Danley Sound Labs synergy horns which have physical acoustic filters (from the ports) which mean the intermodulation distortion is not emitted from the speaker.
Line arrays have an advantage of throw, but have inherent and inescapable phase issues particularly in the mid range, so from a purely sonic accuracy perspective it’s almost impossible for them to out perform a point source system
I agree with your analysis why I didn’t hear bad K&Fs or D&Bs. The people using them probably really are just knowing more what they are doing. It’s more of a human-issue, than a technical one, is what you are saying, basically, and I have to agree with that. Good point! 🙂
Forgot to mention in my first post that I do also absolutely agree with your points about Tony Andrews himself – he says some rather wacky and sometimes straight up scientifically incorrect stuff about audio.
Also agreed that despite the mostly damming stuff said about mp3’s (sometimes with good reason), well encoded 320kps can be indistinguishable from CDs.
Also agree with your comments on digital amplifiers / DSP – all modern high performance PA systems use this to overcome the many limitations of different setups / rooms including F1, so not sure why Tony is such a public hater of this!
hi all function one are just meyer msl4 with a different paint . it is not bad but it s not good at all . on my side a good sound system can do the job whatever you do, jazz; metal, electro ….. i had mixed electro with vocals that was a bad system for that . from now many system worked better than this . on my side i prefer having d&b or msl 4 meyers sound . In electro i saw that many people cut there sound at 60 hertz and 10khertz. ..!! may be the problem is the source ……. or what?
I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on many points of the article. The first being that F1’s are of a low resolution. F1 speakers are completely horn loaded. Why is this important you ask?
A horn can be thought of as an acoustical transformer. It transforms that high pressure/low volume movement at the surface of the cone to a low pressure/high volume wave at the mouth of the horn. This means that the woofers and mids have far less excursion to create the same sound. The reason this is important, is much of the distortion of a loudspeaker is caused by nonlinearities in the movement of the cone, by being horn loaded, that is reduced. That lowers the noise created by the system that masks the smaller sounds in what you produce, allowing the more subtle things in the music to come out more.
A horn’s efficiency is many factors higher than a traditional enclosure. By working the drivers less, the internal voice coils heat less (which raises their impedance) preventing compression. In other words, the dynamics that a producer/engineer/musician come through more. As a musician, that can change things, and sometimes in a non positive way. I noticed this as a bassist, when my normal bass rig had gotten damaged, so I used one of my old JBL2226 powered double 15 cabinets. I had to adjust my playing style because the speaker was so much more dynamic than my normal cabinet.
The majority of their systems have the non radiating side of the driver enclosed into a chamber, where the majority of other cabinets, including line arrays are bass reflex enclosures. Bass Reflex enclosures reverse phase in the bottom octave where the majority of the sound comes out of the port from the back side of the enclosure instead of the diaphragm directly. At the point of the crossover point between the enclosure resonance and the direct radiance of the cone there is a significant narrow dip in response. Of course, having horns with different lengths requires very careful and specific time alignment, which many “engineers” don’t do correctly, causing similar crossover/phase problems, however precanned systems with controllers make it simple enough for most to get it right.
Inversely, the appeal of Line Arrays is that they can defeat the inverse square law, and “throw” farther. In reality, when you are close to a line array, the destructive interference is greater, but as you move farther away the relative angle (and therefor flight time) becomes less reducing the interference making the reduction of volume level much less, creating this appearance. However, interference also add timing problems (muddiness) into the sound, and lobing, meaning at different seats next to each other, the volume of various frequencies differs greatly.
The next problem is that this line array function causes the apparent decay of volume to be half of inverse square law, however, the problem here is that this function has a frequency limit based on the length of the array. In other words, a line array transitions to a point source gradually over the octave whose wavelength’s are between 2&4X the length of the array. In other words, for an 18ft long array that begins happening at 120Hz. The problem here is where in the venue do you tune the system to sound good? I’ll give an example:
If your array is 18ft long, and you tune it with an RTA/Controller from the FOH position, it will be flat(ish) there. This line array will only be a line array above 120Hz, and a point source below 120Hz. As you move toward he cheap seats the frequencies below 240Hz will disappear at 1/2 of Inverse Square compared to the frequencies above 240Hz. Also, as you get toward the stage, the frequencies below 120Hz will get louder at a rate of 1/2 of Inverse Square. Yuck! If your array is only 9ft long, the effect will happen at 240Hz and below… We have all heard systems like that, and it’s not pretty. You can always tell as you walk down the isle if your ears are trained.
Shading and properly forming the J can help some if there is enough intelligence in the system and the person operating it, but that seems to rarely be the case. Also, unless your subs are arrayed (horizontally usually) and an array long enough they will not “throw as well” as the array, so the front seats get too much bass, and the bass evaporates in the back of the venue. Rembert a 20Hz wave is 56ft long, so your bass array needs to be 112ft long to perform as a line array at 20Hz.
The next problem with line arrays is that the horizontal dispersion of the sound is super wide. In festival work that’s great, but inside, its not so good, especially in a narrow venue. So much sound comes out of the array destined to the wall, that ultimately reflects (delayed by the time in flight) that it muddies the sound even more. Check out the House of Blues in Las Vegas where the array is literally playing into a wall as an example of what not to do.
So why are Line arrays so popular? There are two reasons. The first is how easy they are to fly. There is minimal training required to properly fly a festival sized system, and it only takes a few people to do it. Traditional point sources systems were complicated to fly, and required real licensed riggers to do it. The second is marketing. Companies spent a ton of money marketing their new line array systems creating more demand for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve run some absolutely amazing sounding arrays at festivals, but sadly, that is not the norm. And most of the systems I see, sound lousy at best.
Thank you for your contribution to the discussion. You also raise important points and of course any soundsystem can sound bad, if used badly.
As for the horns, I get your point, and I want to add two things: 1: Many linearrays use horns. 2. that a horns efficiency comes from a trade off with frequency response. A horn is always designed to amplify a certain frequency range, but on the cost of another. Which of course can be corrected, but that again introduces of course the normal trade offs that come with such correction. Which I personally think is ok though.
As for your arguments about the problems with line-arrays, I have yet to hear a line array that sounds muddy. Never happened to me, but I don’t doubt that they are out there. Also I don’t think it makes sense to argue against one system or another, if the operator is to blame. For instance bass. All line arrays I heard in the past couple of years had carefully built horizontal bass arrays. For example a setup I have seen many times with K&F where they stack their nomos behind each other and spaced out to shape the bass distribution and throw it far and evenly. They call it “end fire”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rELGJ6GpR1U I was and played at the venue in the video and it was dammed impressive. Also overall the horizontal problems you mention never existed in any of the line arrays I heard. The opposite. You left the venue to the side and how quickly the volume went down was downright spooky. For example BoomFestival 2018 with d&B J-system.
I don’t doubt you have experienced something else, but I certainly didn’t, but the line arrays I heard were mostly k&f and d&b. Anyhow. I can in the end only speak from my personal experience and that is for example BoomFestival in Portugal which had F1 for 20years. It sounded terrible EVERY year, even though sometimes the boss himself was AT THE VENUE and could have corrected what ever was wrong. An then 2018, d&B J-system line array and it was just freaking incredible. I talked to so many people who were there and all knew the previous years and were under the impression the F1 is good, because they just didn’t know any better, and once they heard the J-system they were like: Why did they wait for so long! I had no idea. And this is simply something I have heard from so many people over the years who “thought” the f1 is such a great system. Once they heard a REALLY great system, the F1 was just average anymore. And that not only goes for line arrays, but also for people who heard a REALLY great point source like kv2.
So, bottom line being, I think it is important to point out, that I probably have not pointed out enough in the article, that this really is not about blindly promoting line arrays. Really it isn’t. You sound as if you had more experience than me and I believe you if you say you heard many line arrays like you describe. And this just goes to show, that it in the end is not the “kind” of system, but the quality of it and how it is operated. I certainly should have pointed this out more in my article. I stand by my point, that F1 is average. And do add, that before the pandemic I have heard three well tuned f1s in a row, all relied heavily on speaker management systems/correction.
The Boom story is the perfect example. Everyone I know who heard better systems than Funktion One before was complaining about the sound at Boom. Until 2018, then everyone, including me, was finally happy ❤
” Together with the curve of the “banana” it leads to the effect that the lowest hanging speakers that are pointed pretty much down to the floor close to them are actually playing less loud than the top ones that are, obviously, pointed far into the distance. Those on the top play far louder since their field needs to go farther.”
Sort of; not really. In an array there are more top speakers pointed to a given area & vertical angle/direction up top while there are fewer speakers lower on it pointed downward. The higher speakers’ combined output must cover a wider angle (horizontal and vertical) and also project further. Each individual speaker gets about the same amount of power, though there’s some EQing involved, not to mention other DSP stuff.
“enclosures combine to a coherent wavefront and not each enclosure for a slice of the dancefloor”
” What was talking about is the fact that each speaker of a line array has only a sound of field maybe 15 Degree or so. ”
Everyone’s a winner! The top speakers of an array acoustically sum more along their dispersion overlap, while the lower ones do not as much.
This whole thing is a tough subject. For one, definition and resolution of a sound system is a useless term since it has no functional parallel in any actual measurement. There is no video analogy one can match up to audio on this, either. The sound system doesn’t care if it’s one electronic synth line or a mass of real recorded strings that was producing that midrange. There’s just as much information in both from a math standpoint. Dispersion pattern, frequency response, linear distortion, nonlinear distortion, total dynamic range, transient response, and phase per frequency are all real things. Frequency response is probably the closest to resolution, but really isn’t and doesn’t sound anything like ‘detail’ to people unless you’re talking about halving the response when comparing, which would be an absurd claim no one is making.
Most of what people seem to think they’re hearing as a drop of resolution for a particular frequency range is either a sound system having the wrong dispersion pattern for an outdoors use case, the system interacting with an indoor venue in unfavorable ways, phasing issues occurring at different levels per band, the system being voiced for extremely high volumes and at lower volumes its Fletcher-Munson curve is all wrong, and/or said sound system is being driven too close to its edge. That last one is the easiest to deal with: just turn the system down until it stops sounding ragged or get a bigger system, but that leads to another issue…
I have been around indoor Funktion One systems that, as you describe, sounded bombastic and knock-your-socks-off dynamic when pushed to the levels they were set up for a specific type of music content, and then with completely different content ran at more moderate levels appropriate for that content sounded like useless mud. It came down to room treatments and changing the relative power to each part of the stack to compensate for the natural curve of the ear at a given loudness. The system components were not inherently more capable of one content type versus another, rather it’s the nature of the technologies involved that they require other more elaborate adjustments and compensations than other styles of systems that many find easier to adjust because of the way those are designed.
You’re correct that point-source Funktion One stuff is problematic in many large outdoor situations unless you can get the system very high up, and it’s easier to scale a line array for vertical coverage for distance when accounting for the necessary equalization. However, in many outdoor situations now, they’re issuing musicians earplugs as part of showing up with your e-ticket, and the people who are up front can now hypothetically put those in even deeper than the people in the middle, and the people in the very back wouldn’t even need to use the earplugs. So, point source for enormous outdoor events might even make a comeback. For very large psy trance events in Europe where most everyone doesn’t have musicians earplugs, I can certainly understand that point source is bad fit.
I don’t know why you keep implying that Funktion One’s Vero is just copying other line arrays. It’s substantially different than any prior designs, and as such clearly can’t be considered ‘too late’ to the market considering the faults of prior systems it attempts to, at least partially, address.
Hi, Thank you for taking the time to read my blog so carefully and your distinct and factual comment. I hope many readers will take the time and read your points, since I believe they add to and modify my post in a valuable way!
Feel free to elaborate on why you think my view of the Vero is wrong.
I have to disagree on youre statement regarding theres no difference between 320 mp3 and lossless.
I nevere managed to tell the difference on ear plugs, headphones or even high end home HiFi systems. With that said I A/B the same song between 320 and lossless 1440 at a high end festival sound system and the difference was mind blowing!
If youre a DJ playing on huge soundsystems you should make the move to lossless IMO.
iF fUNKTION oNE dANCE sTACKS ARE OBSOLETE… Then please tell me what is better so that i can please go to an outdoor EDM event and have my mind blown even more.
Hi, there are already tipps at the end of the post. Personally my go to is Kling and Freitag. Not the best there is, but available for good renting prices and very very well above average. I’m always very happy with any Kling and Freitag system which is well managed.
Very interesting information from both sides here! (and Im not on either side!) Enjoyed reading your opinions and scientific argument and I’d like to ask some question after giving some of my opinion.
First of all Im a normal producer and I dont have technical information about physics, how speakers are made.
one thing I like to mention, most people organizing events, dont have this knowledge, neither they and attendance care about!
90% of attendance (if not more) are on heavy use of substance (in electronic scene) that as long as there is music, they will dance to it!
I think few things should be considered before jumping on writing or arguing in this topic. otherwise is pointless and waste of writers and readers time and energy!
1- what is your target audience, space and music? (in my case is outdoor, electronic dance music, substance users)
2-How big is your event? ( majority of organizer at this town I live are tired of large events, so everyone planing their own 200/300 gathering events outdoor space)
3-what does the organizer is looking for? ( an easy to use, user friendly experience device, to be able to setup quick quick and have a fairly ok sound for the type of music they have?
I have not heard a lot of different companies. I did heard F1 in different electronic music events (minimal, deep house, psytrance etc) these music have been produced and focused on kick and bass which sounded very nice on F1.
I would never listen to F1 out of the event space myself because what for? In my experience, some of those minimal music had a wide range of mid range string instrument which were translated ok. I can understand the engineering or physics point of view of what you are saying. but that is very subtle in loud electronic music events.
all that being said,
for 200 / 300 out door events, all in one, user friendly experience system for electronic dance music. which one would you recommend because thats what 90% of people who are reading this looking for. and if you like to to help people (which I guess is the main point of writing in any kind) is that, while you can argue the technical and physics argument you can create a smart charts out of that and have a simple comments for majority of people like me to get to the point easier.
example: (this is not the correct chart just hypothetical)
Dance music (outdoor 100 – 500 attendance) F1
Dance music (outdoor 500 – 10k attendance) d&b
Jazz Music (Indoor 100 to 1000 attendance) Danley
and so on
so please go ahead and have a simple chart or at least a all in one recommendation for Dance music (outdoor 100 – 500 attendance) ?
Hi for such a chart there is also a lot of personal preference, price and availability in your location going into it. Depending on those factors the chart changes. The event size and the music, do not matter very much in my opinion. Because a good soundsystem is a good soundsystem, no matter where you have it and what music you play. Granted, the location maybe a factor for some systems, but not for really good one.
As you (could/may) have seen, on the link to my music I provided I come from the electronic music sector and personally I have been writing and producing psychedelic trance since 1997. https://www.subconsciousmind.ch.
My personal recommendation is this:
F1: Never, not for any size. Even though it can be made sound good for outdoor events in the 200-800p range. There simply is too much better stuff outthere.
From 10-10000 indoor and outdoor I personally now always choose and have mostly chosen Kling and Freitag. They have systems for all sizes, all locations and they sound good with any music.
So, for me it is really simple. But I totally see that Kling and Freitag is just one choice among many. Only F1, is not one of them. 😉
I stumbled across this article when trying to figure out the quantitative characteristics of a good sounding speaker. I have wondered for quite a while if Funktion One was just overhyped or not, at least for electronic music. My conclusion is that it is probably the peak for electronic music in venues with a low ceiling and designed for less than 1000 people. But it is not without competition.
I think it is important to mention that I am currently working on my bachelors thesis in physics. I have attended the electrodynamics lecture which is basically calculating waves in boxes and also I have a decent Idea about frequency superposition.
You described the Funktion One speakers to be low resolution in the mid ranges. I get what you mean by that subjective impression.
But from a physics point of view it would mean that if you input two similar frequencies, aka two narrow peaks on the frequency spectrum, it would output something that is similar to only one peak.
To me this appears to be odd because usually in physics frequencies don’t interact that much with each other. Excenpt if you have have some harmonic resonances of your surrounding. In this case that would be the speaker itself. I could only imagine that two similar frequencies would stimulate the same harmonic and that causes is to sound like a mess.
Do you or maybe someone else have an explanation or preferably a good article about sound resolution? Unfortunately information about sound online is like 80% bollox, very hard to find information that isn’t one sound guru giving his subjective opinion.
Wikipedia has a decent list about quantitiative audio system measurments: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_system_measurements
Frequency resolution is not on the list. I assume it can be explained by the effects mentioned in the wikipedia article.
Hey Leonard. Thank you for your interesting point of view. I understand what you say and from a theoretical physics point of view this makes of course a lot of sense. I do not have any good links to ressources about the subject of “resolution” in speakers. In my opinion the term does probably not hold up to scientific scrutiny, however it does have its justification in its use to describe speakers in a certain way, to give subjective experience of a phenomenon an expression.
I do have two interesting pointers though.
First of all I believe this is a engineering vs theory situation. Materials are much more complex, than theoretical models describe them. What happens when a speaker cone warps physically because of one frequency, while another frequency is also played on the same cone? Do you know what I mean. It is probably very hard to predict what really happens. Considering different materials and even coatings as well as mere size of the speaker etc.
Second, more like adding to that. If you play say a 400Hz sound on speaker chassis, and at the same time 1600Hz sound the 1600Hz sound will be distorted because of the dopplereffect. While the membrane is moving from one extreme to the other for the 400Hz sound it has a movement which is fastest in the middle. At the same time the same membrane is also vibrating at 1600Hz and that 1600Hz vibration is actually beeing moved from one extrem to the other. The dopplereffect realy does apply here. As a physics student, assuming a maximum range of the membrane, the time for a single 400Hz sinewave and the resulting top speed of the membrane and the formulas for the dopplereffect you will be able to calculate in fact how much distortion the 1600Hz vibration of the membrane will experience.
Thus you land in the middle of the dillema of either having as many speakers for seperate bands as possible, to avoid such effect but on the other hand introducing crossovers and thus introducing phase-shifts because of the crossovers.
And this is not even considering chaotic warping of the membranes.
Regarding physics: If two sources are not within a quarter wavelength to each other at a given frequency, they cancel. How much they cancel is dependent on how far from ideal they are. Sometimes this is caused by listener position with respect to 2 or more sound sources. Sometimes this is caused by the spacing of drivers in a single box or array. This affects any speaker, whether f1, kling & freitag, danley, kv2, etc. Sometimes the cancellation is intended, to collapse dispersion in lower frequencies. Sometimes unintended, from poor design
I would like to invite everyone who agrees with the writer of this post to come and visit us for a cup of tea and a listening session to whichever music they like on any of our Funktion One sound systems. We’re London based.
Get in touch:
That is a very nice offer. And a good move. However it is not very difficult to make speakers sound good in a controlled environment where you had weeks or years to get it the way you want it. It will very probably not be a situation anything like in real life.
In the end the thing that counts is what you experience in the field. People, reflecting walls or tents, suboptimal positioning, DJs cranking it up way too loud, people setting it up badly. The speakers who still sound good after all this, or have measures of any sort, that prevent such factors from influencing the quality are the ones that prevail in the end.
Nevertheless, the last three years, after I wrote this article, I have heard a couple of F1s sound pretty decent. I enjoyed it very much. However each and every time there were DSP driven speaker management systems involved and the speakers were tuned with measuring microphones, correcting for everything that’s wrong with F1 before it even hit the amps. So basically EXACTLY what most others have been doing for years and what Tony Andrews considers “cheating”.
If F1 riggers had done this for a decade or more, like the others, and Andrews had started using DSP correction 10 years ago to and hadn’t come across like a smug snob in his interview (which I linked in the post above) and at his speach at Boom 2010 where the F1 sounded absolutely mindblowingly HORRIBLE, well then I would never have written this post.
But, as it is. I have heard F1 from 2004 – 2016 at multiple festivals every single summer and not once they sounded anywhere near good. I was simply so fed up from these speakers spoiling so many festivals, that I had to write this and I had so incredibly many people reacting very well to it. So many people felt the same and they had fed up with the hype. Boom 2018 finally switched away from F1, to a d&B J-System and most people there were just blown away once they understood what they had been missing all these years.
Me in the meantime, have, as mentioned, heard good F1s in small venues in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and was very pleasantly surprised by the use of the same gear as most Kling and Freitag people have been using for so long. I was not surprised however, that the speakers sounded very well after that. It’s just, if Andrews hadn’t been so smug… missed such a chance. But well.
For you, I’d swap the cup of tea for a crate of beer, and I’ll drag the sound system out in the field!
I would like to point out that the use of DSP has always been an integral part of the Funktion One setup (XTA DP for ex.) Have a look at the User notes:
I believe you meant to say EQ which is a different element altogether (and could be a part of a DSP processor).
Hahahaha George, so many kudo’s to you. I’d love to visit, but this will probably never happen. If I’m ever in London I’ll take you up on your offer though!
And Raphael, also endless kudo’s to you. I agree with your remarks regarding mid resolution, but I do love Funktion One. This is, as you explained, mostly because of the music I listen to/play (techno). If I would see Funktion One speakers at a Rage Against the Machine concert or whatever I’d be very disappointed (and this is why I would love to do some tests George).
I actually read this article years ago and just ended up here after some EQ research for my headphone. Thought it would be fun to try and make them sound like Funktion One by boosting the mid low a bit. If you guys have thoughts on this I’m all ears!
Anyways, I just really liked your guys conversation. Cheers!
A few comments on the above article:
I’ve been in the business for over 30 years, have Tannoy Superduals in my office, Turbosound Floodlight (Tops and subs) in the living room and TSE111’s with BMS 4592’s and subs in the workshop.
I’ve met and had conversations with Tony and John on many occasions, including a Turbosound factory tour 20 years ago. I’ve also worked on Top of the Pops both at Elstree and TVC.
Almost any system can be made to sound good if it’s the right system for the venue/outdoor space AND it’s not being pushed to it’s limits. My personal opinion is that the Floodlight sounds better than a Res 4 – the 12″ is straight in the Floodlight and folded in the Res 4. My TSE111’s with flares from TMS3’s and BMS4592ND coaxial mid/HF units sound great indoors and outdoors in fields.
A horn loaded driver will always be more efficient and accurate than a direct radiating driver – i’ve heard a full range compression driver on a very long horn with a 6M x 6M mouth – that really was amazing.
I got called to a club as they said their system sounded awful – I plugged in my laptop with a good DAC and playing wav files – it sounded excellent and they couldn’t understand why it usually sounded bad – turns out their DJ’s were all playing MP3’s which had often been remixed many times.
Line arrays are good for controlling dispersion, horn loaded point source is better for sonic accuracy.
Excellent scene in the film ‘Once’ – after mixing the song in the studio they cut a CD and take it out and listen to it in a car whilst driving around – on the type of speakers that the average person listens to on.
Commercial sound systems are primarily designed to make the company money and be practical to transport and hang/stack.
Notting Hill carnival is a good place to compare a lot of different sound systems on the same day – if you’ve never been go next year
Most of the time when a systems sounds awful it’s because the drivers are being driven too hard which creates distortion and the coil suffers from power compression.
Finally I know I can’t hear higher frequencies as well as I could 30 years ago
Couldn’t agree with you more and it took me years to figure out just what didn’t sound right to me. F1 has an amazing wow factor with it’s deep horn loaded lows and bright (but slightly brittle piercing) highs but always felt the mids lacked a bit. Also, my main complaint with F1 is that it doesn’t always sound good in every situation. Outdoors and large venues they will work well but smaller venues make no sense with horn loaded subs and seudo Line array tops… just way too much and the sound engineer tends to do really od things with EQ and ducking low end since those rooms don’t respond well… wrong system for those venues… near field in that case would be the way to go IMO… I always looked at it like this, shotgun vs rifle… F1 is more like a rifle and it has a better function in certain cases but other situations call for a shotgun soundsystem… but F1 is what people want to “see” so that’s what is booked. A lot of my friends have only complained because of this… F1 glory days are in the past
Hi there ! I’m from The Netherlands so excuse my words and language.
Interesting and nice reading this. It’s subjective and about taste, experience and preferences.
In certain dance events here in The Netherlands F1 is being used, I have heard different F1 system setups at several indoor and outdoor events, have been in pro audio engineering and yes, I admit I’m a F1 hater but … for a reason ofcourse.
You may like it (or not), it looks like an outdated ’80’s hornsystem and it sounds like an ’80’s outdated hornsystem.
If you like the kind of heavy distortions coming with this by design, or don’t have experience with other types of (modern) sound reinforcement, F1 could be your taste.
Technical why’s and details as described by the author of this post (perfectly explained with physics and basic acoustical engineering) are all applicable; phase combing, resonant peaks, bad dispersion, it’s all in the F1 package. You can neglect bad sound, but not physics.
Using DSP is like using engine management in your car; it makes your car more efficient, more powerfull at lower costs. It’s called evolution, nothing wrong with that.
The point I’d like to add is that using such systems is in my opinion an insult to the audience paying lots of Euro’s for an event and getting ’80’s sound in return, compared with modern (line array) systems. But OK, that’s subjective.
More technical and objective, because of the outdated design it’s also not the most efficient system, spreading sublows and noise in a complete uncontrolled way, unlike modern (cardioid) subarray systems where projection of the (sublow) audio can be controlled so people living next to a festival don’t have to enjoy the noise. This can be a major issue when dealing with permits and tolerated dB’s. Hopefull is that F1 deals with itself in this way and will extinct within time.
Best regards !
That is a very useful and true article in the most part, but still… good sound quality is subjective when it comes to “analyze” speakers…
F1’s are not crappy dude, neither outdated. They just lack at specific kinds of music such as ANY other system on the market. Furthermore in any live situation, sound quality is in the hands of sound engineers and the speakers are the last to blame. A trully bad sound is 99% a producer’s/engineer’s fault (bad PA choice, bad current, bad area acoustics etc… and not a speaker’s fault or the company’s who made them. I sure agree that F1’s are way overrated and expensive but not dead or bad. And since we are talking mostly for trance/electronic/any heavy bassed music, you said “take a kick, a hihat, a lead and a snare and it blow your mind off”… and what you said my friend is the 80% of what everybody wants to hear in a live situation. The midrange res which I agree lacks a little in the F1’s, is not as significant as all the others you mentioned in a dance floor. What is however, is consistency, loudness, and clearness especially in the low-end. Which in my opinion F1’s have these specs for decades and are the reason they still thrive in electronic dance floors and sound horrible in a jazz gig with mics, natural based sounds etc…
My last argument is that you said “I’ve always made it a point in my production to just ignore a wide portion of crappy speakers on this planet and concentrate on the better ones”. You may have the genelecs to work with my friend and that’s an awsome speaker, but if you are only working with them and you don’t have 2-3 pairs of “crappy” speakers to listen to what the average person would listen then I ‘m afraid you’ ve got it all wrong.. and is mostly the reason why your tracks sound bad (2-3 200$ crappy speakers are better than a genelec of 1500$ in the mix/mastering phase) Now it seems to me that you have two options..whithout disregarding what you re doing.. Either you have to test some of your mixes in the top PA’s availiable to you included the F1’s so you can have a clear image of what you are doing wrong (I simply cannot accept the fact that a crappy track is crappy only in the F1’s, when I have heard productions from 20year old boys which sound awsome in almost every speaker availiable to me), and make your track audiable to all af these, even if it changes your tracks a bit(and yes this is a compromization that every artist in the world has done), or you can simply keep doing what you are and accept the fact that your music will sound bad (to you) in the, at least half of the systems availiable and not only in the F1’s.
Personally I prefer playing this kind of music in a well tuned OPUS soundsystem with an analog midas in FOH. Way more balanced sound than the F1’s for my ears. So good to what I want to hear that I’m on a pursuit of purchasing one for myself. Damn these things are hard to find
So for the writer, F1 systems exhibit too fast transient response (!!) and poor definition.
How could a system exhibit higher dynamic than original? only if the listener is formated to hear compressed dynamic music on its HiFi or in concert… Physically it is a non-sense. A system is NEVER too fast.
The writer prefers LAcoustic and D&B? exactly the systems used for mass-market concert where a low-dynamic music (variety, rock …) is diffused… The kind of system that gives a sound boiled without dynamics, without impact, but very often used. Considering in most concerts the sound is very compressed to deliver a powerful but bad sound, but since a very little of the listeners will complain, why should we do better?!?
Tony Andrews is an old-fashionned man because he doens’t like electronic processing? Bullshit. He thinks that a correctly designed system must sound great without electronic corrections. With analog and digital IIR filtering/processing, it is true that correction and filtering gives a lot of phase rotations at the expanse of pure transient response. Another point is that a strongly equalized system will distord a lot at high level.
It is the opposite way to bad systems strongly equalized to sound well at first hearing.
Now that FIR processing and Rephasing is affordable, it is indeed used in their last system VERO.
Note also than even 15 years ago, the F1 system were filtered by XTA digital filters, the state of the art in digital processing…
In fact Funktion One has the very good idea to design fully horn-loaded systems, a proven design/solution for either Audiophile and PA systems (like the very well known MARTIN AUDIO, for example).
Probably too good for people listening to dynamicless musics and systems?
There is so much wrong with this i don’t really know where to start.
1. D&B one of the worst things i ever heard. Metallic, scratchy … reminding of a diamond glass cutter tormenting your soul f. But hey it’s what Metallica tours with, lol… Kling&Freitag might be a little bit better, but still way to high and glassy and leagues aways from the organic driving Midbass the F1 brings to the table, if you know how to produce.
2. I suggest everyone to try playing high quality tunes of Psykovsky or Osom on their system and compare it to headphones and the F1. Most speakers will not be able to reproduce the sound as it is on headphones or the Funk1, that’s just a fact. Like the music or not , it is well produced and very challenging for any system, most of them completely rape the original tune. Which makes them really great reference tunes.
3. You link a segment of Tony Andrews saying he’s smug, where he uses the most humble terminology ever, and basically everything he say’s rings true, his interviews are a true goldmine if you know how to listen. He will always say most others suck , and he is afraid sound has gotten worse, already making it clear that it all is subjective in the end. I mean how much more political correct can you be when almost all systems on the market clearly sound worse then yours.
4. You my friend have never listened to a VERO system, and probably neither listened to andrews explaining it. From what he says it is a combination of point source and line array, and it took him some time to figure how to fix the clearly obvious problems with line arrays. And i tend to believe him after having heard it.
5. DSP is so bose …. that stuff only works with simple/crap music, it is beyond me that so many folks never seem to have truly listened
even they call audio their job.
Well, you are entitled to your opinion as am I. Except, that your opinion is less and less common, because people don’t fall for the F1 hype anymore. Neither for the 15 years too late Vero system. F1s days are over. However, I’ve heard a couple of good sounding F1s recently. They all used DSPs to make it so. What a coincidence.
Hell yes, F1s have a time and a place, but they have no place at a major festival, and the bottom end resolution is as lacking as the mid-range, They have too many folded horns with narrow bandwidths.
Sing Praise to the Era of Line Arrays
In my 30 years of dj-ing, clubbing, attending concerts and festivals I’ve heard countless PA systems from many different manufacturers.
I do know Funktion One and d&b Audiotechnik very well.
While there are definitely some valid agruments in your article, I do miss some technical details that may even back you up (a little).
One – if not the one – of Tony Andrews’ USP’s is “Paper across the vocal range” in order to avoid “nasty compression driver sound” and get this “warm, non ear-bleading midrange that you can listen to for hours on end”.
Funktion One strictly uses paper cone drivers up to at least 4000Hz, or even up to 17000Hz (in the Resolution 1), this is what the famous axe-head phaseplugs are used for.
For example, the Resolution 2 is a 3-way fully hornloaded loudspeaker with a 15″ woofer operating between 28-250Hz, an 8″ woofer from 250-6500Hz and an 1″ compression driver for the high frequencies.
In an average Hi-Fi, Studio or PA loudspeaker an 8″ cone midwoofer would probably be used up to about 2500-3500Hz, because after that the cone starts to break-up which yields distortion components. Moreover, a free radiating 8″ cone woofer would also “beam” around that frequency range. This results in a very narrow dispersion of sound, beacause the sound waves emit more and more from the center of the woofer where the dustcap is located.
To counter these effects and for other reasons (directivity ao), Tony Andrews developed phase plugs already in the 70’s, when he was still at TurboSound.
Tony definitely succeeded to get the desired acoustic properties he was aiming for and which made him famous. Evidently, there are some tradeoffs.
Now I get to one of you arguments: midrange density.
Imagine a piece of music full of layers (instruments as you wish) between 250-4000Hz with harmonics up to 12kHz. Imagine an 8″ or even 10″ (as in the Evo 7) paper cone vibrating 1000’s of times per second to produce all these densely layered details… This is indeed pushing the laws of physics. A compression driver would perform much better above 2500Hz, due to the much smaller and stiffer diaphragm that operates in almost perfectly pistonic motion at least up to about 8-10Khz.
Even though Funktion One came a long way optimizing their drivers and phase plugs, some music could very well be a little too challenging for some of their speakers. In these situations the midrange may sound blurred compared to other speakers, like the d&b J-series or the Danley Soundlabs/Pure Groove Synergy Horns.
I must admit, for minimalistic electronic music this is hardly ever an issue. And while the competition offers very nice and often much more affordable alternatives, for these types of music Funktion One is hard to beat.
In my 30 years of dj-ing, clubbing, attending concerts and festivals I’ve heard countless PA systems from many different manufacturers.
I do know Funktion One and d&b Audiotechnik very well.
While there are definitely some valid agruments in your article, I do miss some technical details that may even back you up (a little).
One of Tony Andrews’ USP’s is “Paper across the vocal range” in order to avoid “nasty compression driver sound” and get this “warm, non ear-bleading midrange that you can listen to for hours on end without your ears bleading”.
What this means is Funktion One uses strictly paper cone drivers up to at least 4000Hz or even up to 17000Hz, this is what the famous axe-head phaseplugs are used for.
If you take the Resolution 2 which is a 3-way fully hornloaded loudspeaker with a 15″ woofer from 28-250Hz, an 8″ woofer from 250-6500Hz and an 1″ compression driver for the high frequencies.
In an average hi-fi or PA loudspeaker an 8″ cone midwoofer would probably be used up to about 2500-3500hz, because after that the cone starts to break up which yields distortion components. Moreover, a free radiating 8″ cone woofer would also start to “beam” around that frequency range, which results in a very narrow dispersion of sound, beacause the sound waves emit more and more from the center of the woofer where the dustcap is located.
To counter these effects and for other reasons (directivity ao), Tony Andrews developed phase plugs already in the 70’s when he was still at TurboSound.
Tony definitely succeeded to get the desired acoustic properties he was aiming for and which made him famous. Evidently, there are some trade-offs.
Now I get to one of you arguments: midrange density.
Imagine a piece of music full of layers (instruments as you wish) between 250-4000Hz with transients far beyond. Imagine an 8 or even 10″ (as in the Evo 7) paper cone vibrating 1000’s of times per second to produce all these densely layered details…. This is indeed pushing the laws of physics. A compression driver would perform much better above 2500Hz, due to the much smaller and stiffer diaphragm that operates almost perfectly pistonic at least up to about 8-10Khz.
Even though Funktion One came a long way optimizing their drivers and phase plugs, some music could very well be a little too challenging for some of their speakers.
I must admit, for minimalistic electronic music this is hardly ever an issue. And while the competition offers very good and often much more affordable alternatives, for these types of music Funktion One is very hard to beat.
The best sound system unbeated yet is the kv2 audio vhd 5.0 it’s the perfect sound-system
Half the issues with F1 systems are that people think they’re some sort of panacea “Aah, it’ll be okay, just stick in an F1 system, everything will sound perfect”. The first time I heard an F1 system was in a venue that was waaayyy to large for the system they had installed and it sounded, not to put to fine a point on it, like shit. Most places just buy them used because of the name and no consideration for EQ or venue size, plug them into some cheapo amps and crank up the volume. Yes they probably would sound perfect if EQ’d and placed correctly, but then again so would any half decent PA. And you’re right, Andrews is at the (late) Steve Jobs level of self assured smugness 🙂
Very true, all of it! 🙂
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I don’t normally comment on articles but I must confess an interest in this so I had to. I will try and keep it brief although there is so much to say.. I’ll state my position from the off, I am a sound engineer who is employed by a company with a lot of F1 in all it’s various forms so I have a lot of experience in using it. I’ll start by saying I actually agree with a lot of what you say but where I have to disagree with you and probably have more in common with Tony Andrews is my dislike of DSP. I don’t know how old you are so I don’t know whether you would have grown up listening to vinyl or you started with CDs. There is a generation that have grown up listening to very clean,crisp,sanitized, digitized music which they feel is an accurate representation of live music. Personally the only place I want to come across clean, crisp and sanitized is in a hospital. I live in Ireland where there is a wealth of live music everywhere you look and believe me it doesn’t sound crisp, clean and sanitized. Now maybe you’re into electronic music so the digital sound is your thing but from a live perspective it’s just wrong.. As all old engineers will tell you you can show me all the algorithms and physics in the world the most important measuring devices are your ears. We use an analogue front of house with the F1 and I can get a decent sound out of them, although there are F1 combinations I think work and some definitely don’t. I actually was driven to comment on this,not because you dis F1 but because you champion DSP. As I said I actually agree with a lot of what you say but if you’re a decent engineer you can get a good sound out of anything. Rant over!
Thank you very much for your comment. I think you are making a very good and interesting point. I grew up still using tape decks to make mix tapes. So I definitly do have a sense for the analogue. Also I’m into electronic music, which is also music that often sounds really good on F1, as long as it is relatively minimal. I still use an analog Roland TB-303 synth and swear that it is never the same as any software emulation. No emulation can ever beat a real transistor. This is what gives my 303 character. And it’s that character that I don’t want in speakers. However, if the resolution was right, I would probably not mind.
I have edited my text a little bit and added an example in the middle of it. Two songs, both electronic.
I highly appreciate your well thought out and balanced response, I can see that you seem to have a very realistic relationship to F1 and I wonder how you would make my music sound on them!
Seems that you don’t really know what you are talking about and that you are just a hater.
What you tell about Line Arrays is just wrong, enclosures combine to a coherent wavefront and not each enclosure for a slice of the dancefloor.
That is basics for a Pro – so you aren’t one.
Don’t tell people that this are facts, this is only your personal opinion and maybe your songs really sound shitty on F1 but probably it’s not the fault of the Soundsystem!
Hi, thanks for your comment.
However it is definitly true what I say about the line arrays way of function. I’m however not sure if you might have understood it wrong. I updated the post a bit, added a picture and a link to an article explaining line arrays in depth. I’d recommend you read it, since it does a much better job in explain everything. I’m definitly right with what I said.
With “slice” there might be a misunderstanding. What was talking about is the fact that each speaker of a line array has only a sound of field maybe 15 Degree or so. Together with the curve of the “banana” it leads to the effect that the lowest hanging speakers that are pointed pretty much down to the floor close to them are actually playing less loud than the top ones that are, obviously, pointed far into the distance. Those on the top play far louder since their field needs to go farther.
Whatever you understood, I don’t know, but this is definitly true. And even if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t change any of the orther arguments made.