Speaker upgrade suggestions

 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

St. Louis, MO USA

Post Number: 156
Registered: Mar-05
I've been getting back into my home audio setup more lately after a bit of a respite and some changes.

There's not what I'd call a *ton* of traffic around here these days, but I return here as I've received the most consistently good advice here (even if I didn't know it at the time it was given) over the years than I have in any other Internet forum.

I'm really liking where my system is at right now, but might want to re-think my speakers finally -- currently using Boston Acoustic VR2 floorstanders. I am actually still very fond of them and "believe" (although don't really *know*) them to be very underrated. For rest of my system, still using a Rega Mira 3 integrated amp which I love. My source now is a Logitech Squeezebox Touch (slightly tweaked and modded) which I have networked with my computer. I am actually as happy with this source as with any I've used in the past, including some Rotel CDPs and a Rega Apollo. I'm using VH Audio Spectrum analogue interconnects between the Touch and the Mira. Chord Rumour speaker cable to the VR2s. Have a power cord upgrade for the amp on the way and am also upgrading my power outlet. Also have a Rel T--2 sub on the way to replace my entry-entry-level Boston Acoustics PV400 sub.

Anyway, I'm actually still happy with my VR2s, but might want to be on the "long-term" look-out for some upgrades. I feel at this point they may (?) have fallen behind with the rest of my system.
If nothing else it's fun to think about, explore, and just shop around, even if for the time being it's only window shopping.

My max budget would be about $750 to be used in the used/secondary speaker market (although could stretch a tad more if needed for my "dream" speaker). Can anyone offer any suggestions? One brand I've been looking at is Totem. I know they are well-thought of around here, and I like what I read about them. Arros look nice but they might be too small for my area. My listening area is fairly large and wide-open, with high ceilings and an open layout living room/dining room/kitchen type setup. Sttafs look nice, too, and may be better suited to fill out my space, but may be outside of my theoretical budget (?).

I guess I would have to consider Rega R3s as well (again, big enough?), but I can't really get a handle from reading about them what their 'style' is.

For what it's worth I like the metal-dome tweeter sound of my VR2s as compared to some soft-dome tweeters. I think the Sttafs have metal dome tweeters as well?

Anyway, all thoughts, comments, and suggestions would be appreciated.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 970
Registered: Dec-06
If you are looking for a metal dome tweeter, in a speaker that can fill out a large-ish room, that is also relatively affordable, the Monitor Audio RX6 definitely comes to mind. It is over your budget new, but probably right around your price on the used market.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

St. Louis, MO USA

Post Number: 157
Registered: Mar-05
Thanks, Dan. For some reason I have never paid any attention to the Monitor Audio name when brought up in discussions. Don't know why. I don't see any up for sale right now, but I will keep an eye out for them. I like how a lot of them look, but on the other hand I don't like how I see a lot of discussion of them centering around home theater setups.

In your all's opinion, how big of an upgrade would the MAs or some Rega R-3s be over what I'm using now? I ask because I never see Boston Acoustics' name mentioned in the discussion with these others. So I'm thinking there may very well be a huge difference (hey I did my demo'ing of the BAs at a Circuit City, after all), or else the BAs are just somewhat of an underrated sleeper.

In the end, if I can find some MAs or Rega R3s cheap enough, I may just buy and take for an in-home test drive against my BAs. I see some Regas out there pretty cheap right now, but only problem is they are all in "cherry" (a very light one), and I would need a darker finish (specifically, the rosenut finish they offer) for my setup and WAF.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 971
Registered: Dec-06
Monitor Audio is pretty well regarded. They represent a really good value, which is probably why many use it as a home theater speaker. I'm sure others will add some suggestions though. Another possibility is the Focal 714v.

It's probably a good idea not to get too hung up on driver material. Not all metal tweeters sound the same, and not all soft domes sound the same.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Chriswild87

Holden, MA

Post Number: 83
Registered: Dec-08
I too have some BAs, the bookshelfs CR75, but I believe BA has a house sound well at least they use too. You mentioned the staffs and if you do appreciate the BA sound IMO they will be too warm for you. I find my BA to be detailed and lively, granted I am know using a Rotel integrated.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14027
Registered: Feb-05
Keep your present speakers and save up for a substantial upgrade, if you still feel you need one once the present jones passes. Meanwhile continue to do research as you go. Make live music a part of that research.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

USA

Post Number: 160
Registered: Mar-05
Just as an update and a follow-up, I did acquire a Rel T-2 which has abated some of my upgraditis.

http://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/672894.html

But I was still curious.... because EVENTUALLY I will want new speakers....

I'm still very intrigued by the Totem line, for several reasons -- including great reviews, nice "looks", and "style" decriptions that sound appealing -- but also because they've been around a while and it seems if you are patient you can get pretty good value on them in the used market.

Question though is -- could my Rega Mira 3 drive them? (Hawks, Forests, Sttafs, or Arros?) From what I've been reading, including some old posts here, I'm leaning towards 'no'. Would need something more like the Naim Nait 5i?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4353
Registered: May-05
Mr T,

It's pretty difficult to say what would or wouldn't work in a room that none of have been in. And just because a speaker would fill said room doesn't mean you'll like the sound anyway.

I like the Boston Acoustics line, for the most part. They don't get too much mention, probably because they are/were available in big box stores, which didn't help their street credibility. I've heard them side by side with several 'hifi' speakers several times and never thought they were out of place, dollar for dollar.

With that stuff said, the best question is what exactly ate you looking for in new speakers? More detail, bigger sound stage, more control in certain frequencies, etc.?

What other speakers have you heard? You mention Totems. They're excellent speakers. Have you heard them? They're a bit different than what you have. They're also not large living space speakers, for the most part. The Arros are one of my favorite speakers, regardless of price, yet they have their limitations and could be severly hindered in a medium to large room. With any speaker, the magic goes away when they're not doing what the designer had in mind for them. The bigger Totems will do better in bigger rooms, but it depends on the room. Liken it to a TV - a huge TV in a very small room will give you headaches; a small TV in a large room will get lost. Both may well be top notch TVs, but they're in the wrong place.

For your budget, I think you'll get different speakers rather than better speakers. The different speaker may be exactly what you were looking for, but I doubt it'll be a long term thing.

If you're set on the Squeezebox and have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, look into adding a DAC IMO. The Rega DAC is the best source I've ever bought. It's a good bit better than my Apollo was, and sells for $1k new. It's a bit too soon to see them second hand, but you never know.

Also, the Rega speakers are great and will pair up very well with your Mira, but they're not designed for very large rooms. If you haven't seen them in person, they're a bit small.

Your Mira should drive pretty much anything a Nait 5i will drive. They sound different, and I like the Nait a good bit better, but I doubt it'll be the answer to everything you're looking for.

The best thing you can do is hear a bunch of stuff and find out what you want the system to do.

If you have a very large room, I really like the Revel Concerta towers. Not the most detailed speaker in the world, but they can fill a large space with ease and have a very good presence. Had I had a room big enough for them, I'd most likely have bought them. They're about $1500 new.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

USA

Post Number: 161
Registered: Mar-05
Great post, Stu. Thanks for that. And you raise some very good questions for me to consider.

>>> the best question is what exactly ate you looking for in new speakers? More detail, bigger sound stage, more control in certain frequencies, etc.? <<<

That's a good question because I actually LIKE my current Bostons and *think* they work rather decently in their current situation.

But the reason I guess my eye is wandering for other lovers, if you will, is because I REALLY like what I've done with the rest of my system, and sometimes wonder if I've settled too far down the rung with my Bostons.

I fell in love with the Mira the moment I got it. I also fell in love with my VH Audio Spectrum interconnects after experiementing with them against other highly touted cables. And my Chord Co. speaker cable made a huge boost in performance the moment I installed it. I also do like my modded Squeezebox and feel it delivers great performance in my system (and I've used Rotel and Apollo CDPs before).

So like a successful and lustful (and a--hole?) young businessman in his 30s who married his highschool sweetheart at 18, I'm just wondering if there is more out there for me for the offering that I may have missed out on. :D

I haven't really heard anything else very high-end before to compare my current speakers with. Within the last two years, I have moved from a fairly large metropolitan area to a much smaller area, and don't think there is anything around me now that would be able to offer me very much in the way of auditioning. Plus, although I don't mind human interaction in the least, I just don't enjoy auditioning products that I'm thinking of buying with salesmen breathing over my shoulder spewing their company line. I'd rather just read reviews online and then take my chances buying blindly. But that's me.

Although I will say I think my Mira 3 and my Bostons mate rather well (again, for lack of hearing anything any different except for my Bostons through an HK AVR).

But I also appreciate all the room concerns you mention, especially as they could relate with the Totems. My setup isn't ideal for any home audio system most likely (I should take pics), but I feel my Bostons manage okay within their confines -- they actually do have kind of a "big", live, room-filling sound IMO. If the Totems are highly room dependent and wouldn't like bigger spaces with a semi-high ceiling, then maybe I definitely should turn my eye elsewhere.

Or else maybe I should just settle down and be happy with my high school sweetheart. ;-)

Thanks again, Stu.

Cheers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

USA

Post Number: 162
Registered: Mar-05
Wow, I'm really loving this Rel sub. After typing all that out above and enjoying the sound I'm currently getting, maybe I should just invest any spare money in power upgrades (power cable for Mira and power conditioner).
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

USA

Post Number: 164
Registered: Mar-05
Installed a Porter A/C Port today in place of an old A/C outlet. Got it off Audiogon for like $36.

Great, great stuff. I would say the equivalent of a decent interconnect or speaker wire upgrade.

Now to replace the Mira power cord (already got one in mind) and see if I can also snag a power conditioner cheap somehwere.

Onwards and upwards!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14055
Registered: Feb-05
Try the power cord first and skip the conditioner for now. Get used to the outlet and power cord and see if you really need the conditioner.

BTW, Epos has a new speaker out. I'm waiting to see what comments there are out there. Perhaps I could use a new speaker in the living room with the NAD amp. The Epic 2 is the one I find the most interesting.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

USA

Post Number: 165
Registered: Mar-05
Thanks, Art.

What should I do if I'm in need of a power strip-type solution? Are there good ones out there?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14057
Registered: Feb-05
I don't use a power strip at all in the main system. If you must use one I suggest a Wiremold. Don't use it with your amp or primary source.

http://www.audioconnect.com/html/wiremold_power_strip.html
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2133
Registered: Oct-07
Agreed. Amps generally don't like conditioners.
Nobody seemed surprised, but 2 of 3 amps I tried were somehow...different....and not in a good way.

I use a PSAudio Soloist on its own circuit. This plays well with my amp, however. All my low current stuff goes thru a regular power conditioner on one of the other house circuits.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4356
Registered: May-05
If you're looking for a good power cable that won't break the bank, check out the Shunyata Diamondback. $125 at Music Direct. I have one on my B60, and had a Shunyata Venom on my old DAC. Very positive results in my system.

I don't have the Venom on my Rega DAC because it uses a different connector, and I want to get used to what the DAC is doing (even though I pretty much am used to it) before I start changing things.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

USA

Post Number: 166
Registered: Mar-05
Added floor spikes to my speakers!
Never did this because mine have always (unfortunately) stood on hardwoods (do have some rugs and drapes in the general space as well, though).

Another great improvement. Was perusing and "researching" speaker stuff for my own amusement and came across posts from several people citing this as an important move for speakers even on flat surfaces.

And of course many of those posts came from posters in this forum, albeit from a couple years ago.

So thank you forum posters for your valuable contributions today and those years ago. Still valuable to this day.

Following this advice I added the spikes, set them on pennies, and bam! Much tighter notes.... much better decay, with the mid-bass bloom-i-ness almost eliminated. The VR2s REALLY needed this IMO. The tighter bass via the spikes is kind of what I was seeking when I got a sub. Still very glad I got it, but now I've truly acheived what I had been seeking.

Have two power cords on the way -- one for amp and one for sub. Would've just gotten for amp but had nice two-fer deal I couldn't pass up.

Those combined with the speaker spike upgrade, I think my upgraditis may be on idefinite hiatus. I might almost miss it

;)
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14084
Registered: Feb-05
Well done!
 

Silver Member
Username: Frostyda9

Calgary, AB Canada

Post Number: 130
Registered: May-05
A lot of times we get the urge to upgrade without really wringing all the performance out of our current setups. Room acoustics, equipment damping, properly tuning speaker placement - these things are beneficial and not terribly expensive.

That said, I am another RS6 owner, and have been very happy with their performance. The Salk Songtower's seem to be getting a lot of buzz, but they are twice the price of a used set of RS6's, and still about a third more than new RX6's.

Stu is also absolutely right about the Totem Arro's. I used to own a set and they are simultaneously some of the sweetest, and most frustrating speakers I've listened to. The RS6's have more authority and presence, but lack the gentle nuance and soundstage ability that makes the Arro so unique. Alas, the search for the perfect speaker continues, at least in the sub-$2000 range.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4363
Registered: May-05
Good to see you again, Frosty. For sub $2k speakers, check out Audio Physic. I ended up with Yara Evolution Bookshelves. All the things I loved about the Arros, and none of the limitations (relatively speaking). I went out looking for a speaker that would beat the Arro, and I found it IMO.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mrtomasulo

USA

Post Number: 172
Registered: Mar-05
Have had my two new power cables for a week now.

They are VH Audio Flavor 4s that were DIY'ed by a fellow hobbyist. He claims with his modifications they were better than the standard factory Flavor 4s. Whatever. Hope so.

Just two quick observations I've noted -- 1. there's a definite improvement with these, but the upgrade with changing the AC receptacles was more pronounced. 2. The sub actually seemed to improve as much if not more with the new cable than the amp, which surprised me. I only replaced the sub pc because i got a really good deal on 2 vs. 1.
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