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Speaker advice please

 

Azkiwi
Unregistered guest
Hello All,

and thanks for your consideration. I've been surfing lots and reading up.

I have been looking to upgrade my speakers for some time from the 12 years on Cerwin Vega AT15s to something a litle more discriminating. I'll move them into the kids media space and turn them into the backyard when the neighbors want to listen (or not) but want something more 'involving' for my ears.

The new space demands speakers that work well when placed against a wall and effectively in corners. I want towers and they will be elevated about one foot off the floor (on hardwood. The room is about 30' x 25' with a step down living area and a 13' high wood ceiling. Quite a lot of angles and curves and things, so reflections should scatter.

I listen to all kinds of music, new age synthesizer, jazz, classical, rock, well - you name it - at various sound levels. No TV, so I don't care about HT, video shielding etc.

In the past I've enjoyed B&W, Wharfedale, Polk but found Infinity fatiguing. I'm living in rural Arizona so have extremelty limited opportunity to audition, so am trying to at least narrow the possibilities.

Gershman Cameleon looks intriguing, and perhaps Meadowlark E-series, Monitor Audio S8, Swan 6.1, or Polk RTi12. Ideally I'd spend less than $1500.

I'm attached to my mid-80's Nikko 440 amp (400/800 wpc 8/4 ohms) so power is not a problem. And a matching pre-amp with a Denon CD player.

I appreciate all the suggestions and comments you might have to offer. I'm really hoping to find something more open and transparent and not sure if I wil find that in a 2-way, so looking more at 3-ways. But I'm open!
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
If "open and transparent" and non-fatiguing is what you're looking for, I'd do a 30-day home audition of the Ascend Acoustics CMT-340s, those are exactly the adjectives I'd use in describing mine. I can listen to them all day and zero fatigue. Plus very appealing price point, $560 shipped. You can use the money left over on one of the excellent Hsu subs that Ascend carries to fill in the low end. If you are not happy, just ship it all back and you'll pay return shipping only which should be well under $100 for all 3 pieces. My bet is you'll love them!

If you didn't need to have the speaker up so close against the wall my next recommendation would be the Magnepan MMGs which your amp should power easily---I would've considered those but I only have a wimpy 8-ohm receiver.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 341
Registered: Jan-05
I recommend listening to as many speakers as possible in person, and picking the model you liked best.

By ordering online, you only judge one set, and merely are rating whether it is 'good enough', and within your acceptable range. More often than not, you'll probably like what you hear but...............

Why not listen to several in person(all of which may be acceptable), and pick the 'best'?? You will find that several sound good, but even within that grouping, some will sound better than others. To me, you're selling yourself short by simply ording a set on the web because you have nothing to compare and contrast them against. Sure, they might sound great by themselves, but they might only sound 'ok' if they were side by side with another competing set.

The propaganda floating around audiophile websites suggesting that the only way to properly evaluate a set of speakers is in your own home is way overrated, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
> Sure, they might sound great by themselves, but they might only sound 'ok' if they were side by side with another competing set.

EXACTLY...that's why I'd order a pair online, then either take them into a local shop (some will, just out of curiousity and also in hopes of persuading you to buy their stuff and ship back the Internet speakers) to compare against the others.

Getting a local dealer to let you home audition their speakers while you have the Internet speakers at home would be ideal, but if they don't then you can always bring your Internet speakers to them. The small shops are often the most cooperative though they'll generally give you the most sales BS...
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 350
Registered: Jan-05
Edster,
I dont deny the huge importance of how the speakers sound in your home environment. That has never been my point. I mean c'mon.....that's the ultimate verdict, right?? What I do NOT agree with is your means to the end.

Your last suggestion sounds a bit too @nal and excessivivly compulsive for my taste, and I doubt very few people(included yourself)take such extreme measures or follow through with your advice. Of course, there will always be one cook who will respond that he did, but that's besides the point, and not the norm. There are no doubt a few excessively compulsive audiophiles who feel the need to do exactly that.

Your last comment is right up there with 'Buying three sets of speakers' to properly evaluate inhome. Besides being excessively compulsive, it's flawed unless you have three identical amps/systems so you can run them all together to compare.

If you cant compare speakers and evaluate their output and rate them side by side in a showroom to determine which speaker matches your personal tastes/needs the best, you might as well buy cheap budget speakers, because you are hearing impaired.

Yes, there is value to 'inhome' evaluation to determine if your speaker selection measures-up. Im not denying that. My only point is that before I choose a pair to buy/evaluate in my home, I insist on listening and comparing face to face with several models side by side first......

If you want to take a blind 'leap of faith' and buy/home-evaluate a single pair based on a brochure, then more power to you. Before I 'home-evaluate/buy', you can bet I've listened and compared to several other models first.
I prefer to not use the blindfolded 'dart board' selection process by ordering online armed with a single dart. If you use my method, not only will you remove the blindfold, but you'll have a fistfull of darts, and have a much better chance at nailing the bulls-eye once those speakers finally arrive inside your home.



 

edster922
Unregistered guest
> Your last suggestion sounds a bit too @nal and excessivivly compulsive for my taste,

Oh come on this is really hilarious, coming from someone who swore that he left no stone unturned when looking to replace his 30 year old speakers and finally ended up spending a small fortune to have them reconed.

> Of course, there will always be one cook who will respond that he did, but that's besides the point, and not the norm.

That's funny, I thought you take enormous pride in bucking "the norm" with your crusty old Cerwin Vegas!

> Your last comment is right up there with 'Buying three sets of speakers' to properly evaluate inhome. Besides being excessively compulsive, it's flawed unless you have three identical amps/systems so you can run them all together to compare.

HUH? If you're comparing 3 different speaker sets at home, OF COURSE you're going to be using the same amp/source! Sure it's going to be a little bit of a hassle to connect and disconnect 3 sets of speaker cables to your receiver/amp (less if you have banana plugs) but that's still a hell of a lot more reliable than hoping that your aural memory from a couple of days ago when you heard speaker A, B, and C in store Z is going to hold up when you listen to speaker D and E in store Y, and of course both stores have different rooms and different amps/sources. If you honestly think that you're getting any type of accurate assessment doing that then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.

That's like a wannabe wine connosieur who claims to be able to make a qualified judgement on 5 different red wines while drinking them with 5 different kinds of food, out of 5 different types of glasses, and at 5 different drinking temperatures, and several days apart.

> My only point is that before I choose a pair to buy/evaluate in my home, I insist on listening and comparing face to face with several models side by side first......

This would only make sense if you were taking some huge RISK by ordering online-only speakers. However, with Aperion you don't even have to pay the measly return shipping fee...how much more can they possibly do than THAT? And what's so hard about carrying a pair of 20 lb. speakers from your house to a car to a shop? You CLAIM that you are a discriminating listener yet you're too lazy to do even THAT?

You know, it's entirely possible that you could try six different brands of Internet speakers and none of them could match your Cerwin Vegas...too bad that you'll NEVER know for sure! I guess what still baffles me is this: what on earth makes you so fixated on the idea that once Internet speakers arrive at your door they must NEVER EVER leave your premises?

And I haven't even mentioned the obvious and huge sound differences that certain types of speakers experience with certain types of amps: for example pairing a "bright" speaker like Klipsch with a "bright" receiver like Yamaha will sound like crap compared to hooking the same Klipsch speakers up to a "warm" receiver like an HK or Pioneer Elite.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Jim_mcbob

Post Number: 40
Registered: Nov-04
Both methods are flawed: side-by side comparisons in a shop will only tell you how good the speakers sound in that particular environment, and running with the shop's equipment. Testing at home does not easily permit side-by-side comparison (more on this later)--but you do get an idea of how the speakers sound in real conditions and running your own gear.

But, for my money, I'd rather go with the speakers that sound good in my own home, than the ones that sound good in someone else's room. Most audio buyers with a reasonably well-trained ear can discern the relative qualities of a speaker--the tightness of bass, the clarity of instrumental reproduction, the tonal quality of vocal performances, the presence of recording artifacts and effects--without the need to compare. In short, what sounds "good" is good. But it doesn't hurt to go to the local store to test two or three speakers in your range to get an idea of what you should expect for your money.

Really, though, I don't think it's an-al l to try an at home a-b test of two direct-marketed speakers, with the winners staying and the losers going back whence they came (that's why most 2.1 amps and receivers have outputs for two sets of speakers). When I buy a piece of audio equipment, it's a lifetime commitment; a little effort, therefore, is a good thing. This is how my brother-in-law came to choose Ascend 170s over Axiom m3t. And if you're a regular purchaser of hi-fi speakers and other goods, what's the big deal? You're gonna replace it in a few months or years, anyway....
 

steven truong
Unregistered guest
I need a really good pair of 3way front speaker for music and movie around $600. I have check and most of them sound pretty good to me but is about 1G. I can't afford those price tag, any thing good out there for that price .
newbie here
 

Silver Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 117
Registered: Feb-05
Here are some:

Wharfedale Diamond 9.6 open box buy
http://www.audioadvisor.com/store/productdetail.asp?sku=WHARFDB9.6B&loc=4

Wharfedale 9.5 new
http://www.audioadvisor.com/store/productdetail.asp?sku=WHARFD9%2E5B&product_nam e=Diamond%209%2E5%20Three-Way%20Tower%20Speakers%20-%20Pair

What are you going to use to drive them? If you have a basic receiver or some such, I would point you towards the chain stores- JBL, Infinity Primus, etc. 3-way floorstanders are availablein this price range or less and they will be less demanding of amplification.

Normally I would never advocate buying speakers online but sometimes, a deal is a deal and a good deal seems more important to you than ultimate sonic performance.

Good luck.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 358
Registered: Jan-05
Oh c'mon edster,

You're stretching every statement that I've ever made. For starters, the speakers are only 20 years old, and only cost $170 to have both reconed. Apparently you've been scouring too many speaker specs, because you're seeing double and reading extra zeros.

You've missed my entire point. In previous threads, my big complaint was that I went to the three major local retailers, and none of them had speakers that I liked. My point was that Im not willing to scour multitudes of 'botique' speaker shops, and that the big retailers carry nothing of interest. Of the three major retailers near me, Ultimate Electronics easily sells the best stuff.
http://www.ultimateelectronics.com/jump.jsp?itemID=1705&itemType=CATEGORY&iMainC at=1530&iSubCat=1705&sort=1&dpid=1651
I listened to the best they had to offer, and left shaking my head in disappointment. Bleh......The best they had was a $3500 front/sub combo, and when I listened to them, I thought.......'thats all you got'???

Oh by the way, I got a chuckle out of your 'carrying 20lb speakers' comment..... I would never consider such a tiny pair up front. My 100lb behemoths will blow away any tiny pair of fronts, no matter how much 'snake oil' they claim to inject into their construction. I suppose if I was a classical or jass enthusist, I might feel differently about speaker choice, but as it stands now, I have no interest in the botique speaker market.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 51
Registered: Feb-05
Well Azkiwi it appears that you got your money's worth here today. To both Paul and edster I believe that you both have excellent points. I think it's silly to dismiss excellent products like Ascend, Axiom, Aperion, Outlaw, Hsu, and SVS just because they are direct marketed products that cannot be auditioned at your local hifi store. These aren't "fly by night" operations. All of these products have been reviewed to critical acclaim by both professionals and consumers. I wasn't even familiar with Ascend Acoustics until I read edster's posts. I did my research and they appear to be great products with many loyal customers. That said, buying speakers without hearing them does not appeal to me. There are too many great products that I can listen to prior to purchase for me to bother with it. I may have considered it if I weren't so satisfied with my Paradigms. But with so many products in the same price class with the aforementioned direct marketed products I can't imagine that I would order without listening. PSB, Energy, NHT, Triangle, Monitor Audio, Paradigm......the list goes on and on. But I'll bet both edster and Paul's system sound great for the applications they are being used for.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Paul,

Hmmm that's really strange, I could've sworn I saw an extra zero in there somewhere---well, in that case there's no denying $170 for reconing 20 year old pair of speakers is actually EXTREMELY cheap after all. It makes me wonder if your habit of constantly bringing up your experience over and over again is your way of justifying to yourself how LITTLE money you spent, LOL. But that's just conjecture, so never mind...

FYI though I personally wouldn't choose a speaker based solely on its specs either---in my case I actually found someone locally who owned some Ascends and came to his house to audition them. My interest in the Ascends came from the massive amount of positive reviews they received from both individuals and audio magazines, and the fact that they never pretend to be full range speakers but rather are DESIGNED to provide the best possible mids and highs which are critical to the music genres I listen to, and of course can easily be used with a subwoofer to fill out the bottom end for HT applications. You see, there are LOGICAL things that one can pretty much deduce from online research, reading between the lines of individual and professional reviews to arrive at an EDUCATED GUESS of which speakers would probably suit my tastes, and if that educated guess proves to be wrong the money back policy covers my backside very well.

For instance I never seriously considered the Axiom line of internet-only speakers because I gleaned from both forums like this and other review sites that people who disliked them consistently said they were similarly "bright" like Klipsch speakers, which I have already heard in stores before and already figured I also disliked.

And like I said, after I got my Ascends and was already very happy with them, I did take them back to my local dealer anyway just to compare with his stock (PSB, Klipsch, Triangle, Monitor Audio) and even he had to grudgingly admit that nothing he had under $1300 (over double the Ascends' cost) could really beat them outright. I would love to take them in to my local Paradigm dealer to compare but they are still a bit sore at me for taking up their time but not buying anything from them---definitely a drawback of going to local dealers, they often try to guilt-trip you.

There are no Ultimate Electronics shops in my area but from the website they appear to be somewhere between a Tweeter and a Best Buy in terms of their stock quality and pricing. It's too bad that you went to only 3 "big box" chains and left it at that---looks to me like you barely got the tip of the iceberg. In home audio just as much as car audio I find that the best quality at the best prices are usually found from very small manufacturers often sold by small dealers and/or Internet dealers.

For example the Infinity Primus 360 that your U.E. shop carries is by no means Infinity's best tower but actually its low end so no wonder you weren't impressed. I'll bet that for what they'd charge you for them you could probably find Infinity's higher end tower for just a little bit more online. But first you have to wander into one of those little "boutique shops" as you call them, which are more likely to carry the mid and higher end of Infinity's product line, in order to see for yourself if there's enough of a difference.

I'd also bet that for what UE charges for that Primus 360 you could find a *FAR* better tower from an Internet-only maker. That's why it's worth it to look around extensively BOTH locally and online, and not hesitate to return things you buy but are not happy with. The big shops like Best Buy and Circuit City don't choose their inventory based on what's best, just on what they can get the best mass discount off of the manufacturer and sell to the average gullible Joe at the biggest profit margin---that's why they're full of so much Sony, Kenwood and Bose garbage.

> Oh by the way, I got a chuckle out of your 'carrying 20lb speakers' comment.....

True, I was think about bookshelf speakers. A mid-level tower speaker probably averages around 50 lbs these days.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Arthur,

> That said, buying speakers without hearing them does not appeal to me. There are too many great products that I can listen to prior to purchase for me to bother with it. I may have considered it if I weren't so satisfied with my Paradigms. But with so many products in the same price class with the aforementioned direct marketed products I can't imagine that I would order without listening.

I guess my shopping around experiences drew me to the opposite conclusion: that yes there were many excellent speakers I could find in stores but not at the same price point as the Ascends, though Paradigm did come the closest, its Monitor 5 was at the same price as the Ascend 340s but the 340s won me over in their transparency and warmth. In a few months I may just venture back to that local Paradigm dealer and ask them for a side by side matchup, out of curiousity. The local Ascend owner who let me audition his speakers claims that they are more comparable to the Paradigm Studio monitors which are almost double the price.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 359
Registered: Jan-05
Yep, $170 to repair two speakers is nothing, and I was suprised how cheap it was. I've never been to tweeters, so I cant really compare stores. Ultimate Electronics has been the best retail store that I've found though. They sell more of the higher end stuff like $4500 receivers and so forth.....

When it comes to doing home demos, more often than not, you're going to have to buy the product first unless you are shopping in the high end market. I just happen to use a different method of choosing which model that I will 'home-demo'.

I disagree with the 'audiophile-correctness' responses regarding various soundroom effects, powering with different amps...etc...etc...etc...I think the 'correctness' answers are waaaay overrated, and and overused. Yes, there is some truth those answers, but nowhere up to the level for which they are used as replies. Im not saying they are wrong because they're not. I do however think those effects discussed above are greatly exaggerated. Sizing up a speaker is not the rocket science that audiophiles make it out to be.

I could care less which 'comperable' reciever is powering the speakers. Whichever model chosen will either be my exact model, or one that is very close. When you push the speaker hard and listen up close......you'll know 'what its got' so to speak. It's not that difficult to size a speaker up. It's not as if it makes a mysterious metamorphisis when you bring it home.....and yes, I ignore room accoustics and the 'big picture' while in the sound room. You may think this is funny, but I literally, crank it up and stick my face right into the speaker to hear and FEEL it up close and personal. I know what Im looking for, and can easily pick it out of a lineup..................It just so happened that I listened to what they had, and nothing there met expectations.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
> When it comes to doing home demos, more often than not, you're going to have to buy the product first unless you are shopping in the high end market.

True, and that's why I think consumers owe it to themselves to take full advantage of the liberal return policies of the Internet-direct manufacturers. Boutique shops usually charge a hefty 15-20% restocking fee or allow you to return only for store credit; the ones that let you home demo will only let you do so with floor demos. Circuit City and Best Buy will let you return for a refund but they usually don't carry really good stuff anyway.

Both boutique and especially big-box shops usually hook up their speakers to their top of the line amps in order to make them sound their best---and I seriously doubt that speakers hooked up to my humble $600 Marantz receiver are going to sound as good as they do when hooked up to a $3000 dedicated amp, especially the mid and high frequencies when played at near reference levels.

> You may think this is funny, but I literally, crank it up and stick my face right into the speaker to hear and FEEL it up close and personal.

Yes I do think that's really funny, because I'm sure that when you're at home you don't listen to your CVs at such a close distance either. Listening position has a HUGE impact on what you hear from a speaker. Judging a speaker by having your ears six inches away from it is only going to reveal their absolute lowest bass extension...which appears to be the main criterion you're looking for anyway so I'm not surprised at your results.

I know this from all the experimentation I did with my Mordaunt Short bookshelves before I finally broke down and bought the Ascends. I played with putting them closer and farther apart from each other, toeing them in or not, elevating them an extra 2 feet, listening to them in my cavernous living room versus in my bedroom...every adjustment definitely affected different aspects of their sound.

Toeing the speakers in made the highs seem brighter, elevating them made the sound dramatically open up but softened the bass, putting them too close together flattened out the sound and too far apart thinned it out...it's not rocket science but it's not checkers either. For instance I've seen places like CompUSA have their tower speakers sitting in a row on thin metal shelves six inches off the ground---if used for full-range listening those six inches on a flimsy metal shelf will probably decimate bass response compared to having the towers sit flat on a floor, especially a carpeted one.

In short, if you were comparing your memory of your CVs' bass extension that you have sitting on the floor at home (and possibly near side walls) with the bass extension of store towers that are elevated and sitting smack in the middle of a huge showroom floor, then no way will you EVER get an apples-to-apples approximation.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 364
Registered: Jan-05
edster,

I feel the urge to quote the great Ronnie Reagan with his great quote...."there you go again".

Any good retailer will allow a return for a full refund with no restocking fee. I've returned big ticket items on more than one occasion(speakers&receiver), and it was as simple as reswiping the CC for the credit transaction. BTW, never pay in cash because a cash refund isnt quite as simple.

I cant speak for 'botique' shops though since Im not interested in the snake oil market. 15-20%??....c'mon. If so, I guess I have no regrets seeking them out.

Sizing up speakers is simple, and those who turn it into a huge complicated process, probably do that with everything they do.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
> I cant speak for 'botique' shops though since Im not interested in the snake oil market.

Sorry, but that's just a blatantly ignorant thing to say. If you seriously think that any audio equipment that is not carried in mass-market, big-box chains like UE, BB, and CC is by definition "snake oil" then you are truly clueless beyond words. The only thing those chains really have going for them is their return policies, otherwise their stuff is 90% overpriced or junk---or more usually, both.

LOL, I'll bet you actually bought your computer from one of these places---probably ended up paying some ridiculously inflated markup for some ridiculously pathetic Compaq or HP just because you were too lazy and/or close-minded to see what else is out there.

Oh well, the old saw that always comes to mind whenever I think of someone like Ronald Reagan is, "Ignorance is bliss."
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
PS. Ronald Reagan also famously said something which I think perfectly illustrates his mental level: "Facts are stupid things."
 

Azkiwi
Unregistered guest
I must say, I didn't expect to generate quite this debate. That said, a few good points raised and some further clarifcation from me.

I don't pretend to be, or aspire to being, a speaker snob or connoiseur. I know what I like, but OTOH I have cheerfully permitted my Cerwin Vegas to bang away for a decade and more!

My original inquiry was directed to gettng a short list of speakers that might pair with my favored amp and largish room and diverse music. I read numerous reviews where the sampling is mainly classical and jazz and there are veiled comments that those speakers would be sullied by rock and roll!

I thought I would probably have to take at least one trip to the big city and an audiophile shop or two and hear what they had that was on this "SHORT LIST". There are well made points though, that hearing speakers in the rare air of an audio room on some inevitably terrific gear is not representative of my own spaces. And that its pretty to tough to hear what you need to hear to make an accurate choice in an hour or so.

You only get so far with reviews because reviewers ultimately have to reward their sponsors and personal reviewers tend to justify their purchases. Whats a guy to do? Take it all collectively and play the best hunch.

I am dubious of mass market speakers and speaker outlets, because they spend more on marketing than product development. The only exception to this would be Polk who spend heavily on both. Its been a few years since I heard some Polk, but my remembrance is "that's nice".

As I said; I'm intrigued by Gershman Cameleons (but have not seen any place to buy them) Monitor Audio S8, Polk RTi12, Swan 6.1 and Dynaudio 82 (a little more $ than originally budgeted). Does anyone have opinions on these speakers with my setup? Anything else in this range?

I'm leaning away from Wharfdales because of the Made in China thing and personal wariness of the co-opting of old brand names for marketing gain.

My speakers can get at least a foot away from the wall, and I doubt they are going to be the base monsters my Cerwins are, so I'm not too worried about over-emphasis of the low octaves. Transparency and soundstage are my agenda, but then, isn't it everyone's? Do reviewers actually complain about excessive transparency or soundstage?

Ignorance IS bliss - if only I didn't know now, what I didn't know then! Facts are in short supply when it comes to speaker evaluation. Opinions are in abundance.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Azkiwi,

LOL this has grown into a lively debate hasn't it? Well that's exactly what forums like this are for, sharing info but also agreeing to disagree. I am happy that Paul and I have managed to more or less stay within the bounds of civility in doing so.

Well with a $1500 budget and the willingness to look beyond the big chains stores you would have to try pretty hard to really screw up, other than buying Bose (gag!).

I don't think that highly detailed, neutral and transparent speakers like my Ascends are at all "sullied" by RnR---mine actually do quite well if the recording is up to snuff, for instance my old Led Zepp CDs sound terrible on them but newer CDs of bands like REM, Coldplay, or Metallica do fine.

Good idea to stay away from Wharfedales. With the Polks the RTi10s actually sounded better to my ears than the RTi12s but again I think that unless you find them on sale (i.e. discontinued models), Polks do not represent the best value for your money at least not in-store. I liked the Monitor Audio speakers I heard especially the mid to higher end ones, though I feel that their tower speakers tend to sacrifice some mid- and high-frequency accuracy in order to provide a fuller low end...again I'd say that's just simple physics, you can't have it all in one box, which is why God invented subwoofers.

If you want truly versatile performance across a range of musical genres then I would advise going with a speaker like the Ascends (Paradigms usually come up) in conjunction with a subwoofer that is both powerful and musical (=fast and tight) such as Velodyne, SVS, or Hsu. You would still not have a problem staying within your $1500 budget.

You're right, speaker selection is ultimately a very subjective process, but I would still argue that there are better and worse ways of going about it. As for opinions, the best chestnut I've ever heard about them is that they are like a#@holes---everybody's got one! : )

If you are reluctant to try the Internet speakers then I would buy locally with the expectation that I may well need to do a return or exchange at least once rather than hoping to hit the bull's eye the first time (that puts way too much pressure on you), so make sure you are clear on each place's policies. The better places should allow you to do a few days' in-home demos of floor models with some collateral---usually a check or your credit card info, as well as photocopy of your drivers license.

Enjoy the process! : )
 

Silver Member
Username: Cornelius

Post Number: 102
Registered: Jun-04
Azkiwi - give the Meadowlarks a try if you're looking for a non-fatiguing speaker. I haven't heard the E-Series, but I do know that Meadowlark's time coherent designs are all very open and natural sounding. Most designs like the Meadowlarks conjure up a believable presentation through a solid, well thought out design (1st order crossovers, time aligned drivers).

When comparing brands, beware of models that can't handle older, less spectacular recordings.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 426
Registered: Sep-04
Azkiwi,

There are literally hundreds of quality brands of speakers. The best choice for you doesn't simply come down to sound quality or musicality - it's a combination of geography (i.e. if there's a dealer nearby), format (size, weight, looks), sonic presentation and sound quality. Any of these factors could include or exclude a brand or model from your list.

For every manufacturer of speakers, there'll be many proponents and likely as not just as many denigrators. This is true of most HiFi components, but transducers (speakers and cartridges) seem to attract even more strongly held views than the rest. Perhaps this is because they establish the ultimate voice of the system more strongly than any other component.

In the final analysis only you can decide which speaker is the one to last you another 10 years, and the only way to determine this is by listening to the options available to you in your location. I could wax lyrical about Totem Hawks or Shahinian Compasses, but I know that the Hawks are an acquired taste and the Compass doesn't do Rock'n'roll (beautiful on acoustic though).

That said, I know the Dynaudio 82 quite well and I admire it greatly since it is a big speaker which manages to sound less ponderous than many. It has fabulous resolution, particularly in the midrange (it has a dedicated midrange unit), but the bass isn't at all shy either (two bass units help here). The treble quality - as with all Dynaudios - is exemplary. It's a fast speaker and it can handle lots of power. Its 4 ohm impedance means that it needs an amp with a lot of dynamic headroom. From your initial post, it appears your amp has this in spades. My one concern would be placing the speaker just one foot from the rear wall. As is typical of all freestanding speakers (which make up 90% of the market), the 82 prefers to be 18 inches from the rear wall. If it's placed too close to the wall, it has a tendency to sound leaden in the bass and overblown. You may get away with just a foot, but it's not certain. Place the speaker in a decent amount of space and it will motor very well indeed. I wish Dynaudio used their midrange unit more in the rest of the range since it is a wonderful unit which gives a superb amount of articulation to voices and instruments. It's quite a lyrical speaker because of this in fact.

Dynaudios like to be placed square to the room with little to no toe-in. This gives them a big soundstage, very wide and quite deep if not as deep as some (such as Avalon).

The trick the Dyns manage though, is that they are very musical - they have a great sense of timing so it's not all about space and transparency with them. It's also about the musical message and that counts for a lot. So in answer to your question - no, it's not all about transparency and soundstage. There's a lot of HiFi out there which focusses on those attributes and loses the musical message, messing with the timing so much that you get a wonderfully vast soundstage with little or no involvement. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater!

Finally, there seem to be very few speakers that are designed specfically to go against the wall. It seems that most speakers designed like this suffer quite a bit in terms of the soundstage, producing a relatively flat image (little depth) by comparison to their freestanding brethren. However there are a few that are designed to be either close to or against the wall. Totems are designed to be as room-friendly as possible and the Hawks would appear to be in the same ballpark as you're looking. Naim Audio makes the N-Sat which is a small standmounter designed to use the back wall for bass reinforcement. They also make the Allae which is a floorstander designed to go against the wall. In fact, all Naim's speakers are designed to use wall reinforcement except their Ariva. Not sure on the pricing of these speakers though.

In the US, there are others such as Klipsch perhaps and the aforementioned Shahinians which can be very good in the right location.

I don't know if I've helped here - I hope I have.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Cornelius

Post Number: 103
Registered: Jun-04
Dynaudio is another great one to try, and Frank sums it up with the musicality issue. As mentioned above, the timing issue (which is why I mention time/phase coherent design) is of great importance.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 376
Registered: Jan-05
Azkiwi,

edster and I have grown to enjoy disagreeing with each other.

For example, in his last thread, he told another flubber........ because you 'can' have it all in one box.

Heh...
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 377
Registered: Jan-05
BTW, this didnt start with your thread. We've been tossing friendly jabs at each others opinions on several different threads for awhile now.

It's not your fault.....:-)
 

Anonymous
 
Well its very considerate of you two fücktards to bring your petty garbage into a thread where no one wants it.
 

Silver Member
Username: Cornelius

Post Number: 104
Registered: Jun-04
How'd you get those umlauts over the u?
 

Anonymous
 
You can copy it in from the character map.
 

Azkiwi
Unregistered guest
"Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 -
Well its very considerate of you two fücktards to bring your petty garbage into a thread where no one wants it."

Well, don't tone it down on my account. I prefer impassioned views (as long as we stay civil) - they get to the nub quicker :-)

Thanks Frank, for your contribution, especially with regard to placement. As you point out there are a variety of limitations - financial, geographic, and logistic - making the choices that much more complicated. I'll have to see whether I can tweak my room layout to improve speaker position. Of course everything I'm looking at is a good deal smaller than the monster AT15s, so I have to mentally readjust as well!

Very few of these speakers turn up on an internet vendor search, so a trip to Phoenix seems inevitable. At least I have a better idea where to start.
 

anony
Unregistered guest
With Frank's words(which carry a lot of weight), I might still suggest a look and listen to psb. I am a Canadian boy and have been to the factory, and have owned then long before. These people will back EVERYTHING they make, no matter where you are.

Excellent service.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 119
Registered: Feb-05
Paul is right. Too bad some folks don't recognize good advice when its given to them. OK try this: assign speakers to heads or tails and choose by flip of coin. That's about the same as buying sound unheard. Don't sweat it Paul. As they say, a fool and his/her money are soon departed.
 

Kent Wright
Unregistered guest
I have a Denon AVR-2805 but currently looking for a pair of good mains. Currently, I'm using an old pair of JBL N28II loaned out to me by a friend who's moving out of his parents place.

I have a few questions:

1. Would a pair of Magnepans be a good fit to the Denon?

2. or should I stick with the traditional box models?

thanks in advance,
KW

 

Kent Wright
Unregistered guest
Just to clarify point #2:

I was referring to other brands, not Magnepns, that have the usual box design.

KW
 

Bronze Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 58
Registered: Feb-05
Kent all Magnepans prefer lots of high current power. When I owned Maggies I tried to drive them with a receiver. It sounded ok but it wasn't until I bought a big high current power anp that that Maggies really sang. I eventually gave up on Maggies because they simply were not versatile enough for me. They sounded great on my classical and jazz music (which is 90% of my music) but didn't quite make it for my funk and rock. But believe me when I say that a good high current power amp will make 'em sing.
 

Kent Wright
Unregistered guest
Arthur,

Thanks alot for the reply. I guess I should have mentioned my music preferences too. I listen to a lot of 60s and 70s music, some light classical and 70s jazz (maybe not real jazz in your own definition). I like a well-balanced sound. I'm not too keen on deep bass. What I want is good set of spkrs that deliver clear voices (vocals?) and instruments. I'm talking about Beatles, CSNY, America, Elton John stuff. I wonder what speakers will best serve this kind of music.

thanks again,
KW

 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 127
Registered: Feb-05
Kent, it's admirable that you understand your preferences including not being too keen on "deep bass". However, there may come a time when you will listen to music with more dynamic range than what you suggested. Wouldn't you want to have a speaker that can handle it? Pipe organ music (which contains some of the deepest bass ) is not one of my favorite genres. But occasionally, I enjoy hearing some of it. It's nice that my speakers can realistically reproduce it. I guess what I'm saying is don't sell yourself short by purchasing speakers with a range so limited that you may ultimately despise your purchase.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 128
Registered: Feb-05
Kent, you really should go and personally audition speakers. You could make a mammoth mistake by buying sound unheard based on recommendations found in this or any other forum. But it's your money...
 

Kent Wright
Unregistered guest
Dale,

Thanks for the reply. Yup, I know what you mean by personally auditioning speakers. I've already listened to B&W 600's and 700's and the Paradigm Studio Series.

What I meant by "deep bass" is I despise artificial boomy bass. The music played by the bands that I mentioned previously mostly have good, "rounded" sounding bass (can't describe it properly here). in other words, solid but not overpowering thumping bass.

I don't know if I will linger on in this forum. There are these two kids who continue to interrupt people's legit posts. I hope Admin does something about it. This forum looks like a real good place to exchange ideas.

thanks,
KW

 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 131
Registered: Feb-05
No problem. I wish I could do more to help you on this topic. But there are so many variables. If one only has $150-200 to spend, maybe s(he) can get by with a recommendation without hearing the speakers. However, when you're about to drop a bundle of money (unless you are fortunate enough to have unlimited bundles), it just doesn't make sense to buy sound unheard. I know what you mean about excessive bass. Some speakers excel in this area but like you, I stay away from them. But in my younger college days...
 

Silver Member
Username: Larry_r

Naples, FL

Post Number: 789
Registered: Oct-04
Azkiwi: I can easily relate to your dilemma in trying to find speakers. My wife and I moved to FL from Sedona two years ago - and I well remember the drive "down" to Phoenix-Scottsdale to search for a number of items. Good hunting!

I might think that, for your purposes, either PSB or Paradigm speakers might fit your needs well. However, I think you'd be doing yourself a disfavor if you didn't "make the drive" and find some audio places where you could audition several brands.

Oh, yes - they will NOT sound the same in-store as in-home - BUT you will come away with a general impression. Crucial to this is that you take with you three or four of your "favorite" CDs - ones you know very well sonically and musically. That way, even though sound-memory is short, you'll have a better chance of honest comparisons.

Good luck! PS - we miss the West. . .
 

Kent Wright
Unregistered guest
I've narrowed down my choices to BW 704, 705, 603 and Paradime Studio40. Will audition them this week and make a decision. Dont get me wrong, I dont have an unlimited budget. Its just that I saved enough in the last couple of months for this one big upgrade.

Thanks to everyone in this forum for their input and first hand advise. Appreciate it all.

Regards,
KW
 

Kent Wright
Unregistered guest
Paradigm! not paradime.

Sorry folks.

kw
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 407
Registered: Jan-05
Heck, if you're going to pick something this tiny, anything will do.
http://www.uni-hifi.de/grafiken/boxen/BW_705.jpg

Geez, why bother buying anything if you're looking at 'micro' speakers. As if it will make a difference?

A boom box will probably do almost as good for a fraction of the price. That 'micro' stuff is junk unless you enjoy 'petite' sound. Unless you expect 'tiny' sound from your speakers, I'd look elsewhere. Heck, I cant believe people would throw good money away on over priced 'nothing' like that. Spending $500-700 on teeny tiny speaker stand/bookshelfs is throwing money away.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 440
Registered: Sep-04
Paul,

You do not need a big speaker to make a decent sound. The 705s sound a lot bigger than you'd imagine. Other makes of speaker have small models which really kick butt, such as Totem and Shahinian. Wilson benesch make the ARC which is a tiny standmounted speaker with more than enough clout for most people.

And then there are the advantages of small over big. You don't have to brace those large panels which hum along in big speakers. You don't have so much cabinet honk either.

If most powered subs can get into the low twenties of bass, and most subs are smallish boxes of similar internal volume as a large standmount, why do you need anything bigger?

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 136
Registered: Feb-05
Different sonic priorities.

Physics dictates that a 10, 12 or 15" woofer will make for increased output in the lower frequencies.

When a solid wall of sound and prodigious bass output at 100+dB is the primary factor, who cares about resonances from the cabinet?

Or if the entire drum kit sounds just like the kick drum? Or if Madeleine Peyroux sounds like she smoked a few packs of cigarettes before going into the studio.

:-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 166
Registered: Feb-05
Oh Yeah? Try to get a realistic kick drum sound from a 4 inch speaker, Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 137
Registered: Feb-05
I won't argue a 4" driver isn't capable of full range.

But my sonic priorities include the accurate reproduction of frequencies across the entire range, not just the thump of the lower octaves.

And I'd rather have a bit of the bottom octave missing than to have the rest of the frequency range coloured.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Tevo & Frank,

Good luck trying to talk some sense into Paul on the difference of finesse/accuracy versus brute thump, I've already thrown my towel in on that one! : )
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 444
Registered: Sep-04
Dale,

I did that and I also got what sounded like a real bass guitar out of a pair of Eclipse TD712sz. I just could not believe what I was hearing from 2 4-inch drive units! Well impressed.

Tevo makes a good point about the tune though. A thump is just a thump if your large cabinets make it sound like a thump rather than a timpany. No point in a timpany sounding like a cardboard box - better not to have it at all, or to have a smaller version of it sounding right in my opinion.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 445
Registered: Sep-04
Admittedly the Eclipse speakers are £4000...($7500!)
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 171
Registered: Feb-05
Frank, one not only hears a bass guitar or kick drum but the sound is palpable-at least that is my experience from all of the live concerts that I have attended as well as having my own band for many years while I was in high school. I have heard hundreds of speakers over the years, but I've never heard a 4 inch speaker realistically reproduce those sounds. If you know of one that can, tell me about.
 

Silver Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 138
Registered: Feb-05
edster,

My purpose here is not really to "convince" anyone of anything. Hi-fi is such a subjective thing and such a personal thing it's like trying to convert a Christian to Islam and vice versa.

I just hope the important points of listening for yourself and deciding for yourself is not lost amidst personal biases, preferences and tastes.

If a dance club or party room sound is what a listener wants, who am I to disagree?

I have my opinions, and I share them freely. Other posters can take them at face value and make up their own minds.

What I find irksome are the occasions where a poster feels their preferences and tastes are the only ones that matter and belittle the preferences and tastes of others.

In short, I try to bring balance to the Force. :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 140
Registered: Feb-05
edster,

My purpose here is not really to "convince" anyone of anything. Hi-fi is such a subjective thing and such a personal thing it's like trying to convert a Christian to Islam and vice versa.

I just hope the important points of listening for yourself and deciding for yourself is not lost amidst personal biases, preferences and tastes.

If a dance club or party room sound is what a listener wants, who am I to disagree?

I have my opinions, and I share them freely. Other posters can take them at face value and make up their own minds.

What I find irksome are the occasions where a poster feels their preferences and tastes are the only ones that matter and belittle the preferences and tastes of others.

In short, I try to bring balance to the Force. :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 140
Registered: Feb-05
edster,

My purpose here is not really to "convince" anyone of anything. Hi-fi is such a subjective thing and such a personal thing it's like trying to convert a Christian to Islam and vice versa.

I just hope the important points of listening for yourself and deciding for yourself is not lost amidst personal biases, preferences and tastes.

If a dance club or party room sound is what a listener wants, who am I to disagree?

I have my opinions, and I share them freely. Other posters can take them at face value and make up their own minds.

What I find irksome are the occasions where a poster feels their preferences and tastes are the only ones that matter and belittle the preferences and tastes of others.

In short, I try to bring balance to the Force. :-)
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Tevo,

hmm, I can't find anything to disagree with there... (scratches head) : )
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 173
Registered: Feb-05
Tevo, you are exactly right. Unfortunately, many posters want us to tell them what are the best speakers. They want us to substitute our own ears, brains and biases for theirs. And they get upset when you tell them to go listen for themselves. That's the absolute best advice but some of them just don't want to hear it. They then resort to name calling and to other churlish responses. If you don't want advice, don't ask the question.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 409
Registered: Jan-05
Frank,

I didnt say small speakers cannot sound good, or that they need to be large to sound good.

What Im saying that if you're designing a home "THEATER", and want it to sound remotely like the real thing(which means BIG sound), tiny little micro speakers will not cut it. Isnt the whole point to make it sound like the real thing???

tiny speakers = tiny pathetic soundstage

Dont even try to feed me a line of BS how tiny litle micros perched on stands can sound so 'really big' or how they can trick you into thinking they really are >100lb behemoths.

Yes, they can sound great, but at the cost of a 'petite' soundstage. I like my soundstage to feel as large as possible because the entire point is to make it feel like a movie theater.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
> Unfortunately, many posters want us to tell them what are the best speakers. They want us to substitute our own ears, brains and biases for theirs. And they get upset when you tell them to go listen for themselves. That's the absolute best advice but some of them just don't want to hear it.

The thing is, if I were asking people for restaurant recommendations and somebody simply replied "go and eat at X, Y, and Z and decide for yourself" I would think to myself that this person is at best not at all helpful, and at worse, kind of a simpleton who can't figure out that duh, no s--t Sherlock, it's THEIR (by definition) SUBJECTIVE opinion that I'm asking for.

So telling someone to "go listen for yourself" is simply belabouring the obvious, and if done in a presumptuous and overbearing manner is fully deserving of churlish responses.

I say freely dispense of your opinions, agree to disagree with conflicting opinions, and keep it all in perspective...this is fun but hardly life and death stuff we're dealing with here.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 175
Registered: Feb-05
Maybe the thought never occurred to you edster922, but often the most obvious advice is still the best. The problem is not the advice, but the fact that people don't want to accept it. It is useless for me to tell you that I like Acme speakers because they sound "real" to me. How does that really help you? I could just as well say I hate Acme speakers. Is that any more useful? We could debate about speaker sound all day and it would essentially be useless to the person who is interested in making a purchase that will satisfy him/her. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, some advice is better than others. But any individual is free to accept worthless advice if he or she chooses. My desire is to give the best advice whether you like it or not. I'm not on this forum to win friends or to change hearts. Name calling is a childish response to advice that you don't like.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 216
Registered: Nov-04
paul ive been reading some of your arguements with edster about behemouth speakers vs "botique" speakers. i have one question for you. why are you assuming that we are all looking for a realistic movie thearter experience? i have a 4.1 system, no center right now, and have no interest in getting movie thearter "bigness" or sound levels. if B&W speakers are so bad at producing HT sound then why does George Lucas use i believe it is the 800 series speakers in his editing studio or what ever it is called? i wouldnt think a man of his reputation or wealth would do it as a publicity thing for B&W. nor do i think he is an idiot to get them because they may look nice in his studio. i am sure that i would admire the "in your face" approach to you system but it is not what everyone is looking for just like the "on the edge of a knive" driving experience of some cars is not what all people are looking for. i would like to hear a deeper explaination as to you attachment to CV speakers outside of you recent audition and the banter about how big your speakers are literally and sonically.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 179
Registered: Feb-05
Paul is right on the money. I have never heard a small speaker reproduce certain sounds with the realism of the live performance. Now let's be candid here: the standard of reference is the live performance. Now I have heard some absolutely fantastic small speakers. But I have yet to hear one that reproduces certain sounds in a realistic fashion. But I must also state that this is very ironic because I have used certain quality headphones, notably from Sennheiser, that seem capable of such reproduction and they use small speakers. I'm no engineer and there must be a reason for this discrepancy.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 180
Registered: Feb-05
Now wait a minute Christopher. I wouldn't presume to answer for Paul. But if you aren't looking for a realistic movie theater experience what are you looking for? What is your standard of reference? If realism is not what you seek-if you don't mind a jet plane sounding like a toy plane-then just purchase the cheapest equipment you can get your hands on and enjoy.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
> It is useless for me to tell you that I like Acme speakers because they sound "real" to me. How does that really help you?

Why is that useless? Of course it helps me...if I haven't heard Acme speakers before and I post a thread asking about them, and 8 out of 10 respondents say they sound "real" I am more likely to put the Acme speakers at the top of my to-audition list, and go see if I agree or not. This is the whole point of Internet forums and Internet reviews---anybody who reads ONE review as gospel is an idiot, but anyone who reads 100 of them and cannot detect obvious consistent patterns in those 100 reviews is also an idiot. Nobody has the luxury to go audition 100 different speakers, so when they read forums and reviews they can narrow down the list to maybe 5 or 10 at most.

For instance I have read tons of reviews about Klipsch speakers which people seem to either hate or love---but I've never heard any pro-Klipsch person claim that these are "warm" speakers, therefore I can safely guess that they are probably NOT warm by a long shot. Now whether I like "warm" or "bright"---yes, that's entirely subjective and can only be realized by auditioning.

> My desire is to give the best advice whether you like it or not. I'm not on this forum to win friends or to change hearts.

Good for you, good for you. But if your advice is clumsily argued and full of holes and lazy half-baked logic then don't be surprised if nobody takes it seriously, especially if that advice is put across in an abrasive tone (see below).

> Name calling is a childish response to advice that you don't like.

I don't think that's why that person called you a "moron" and "smart aleck"---in case you didn't notice, your TONE left a lot to be desired. WHAT you said was not in any way offensive, but HOW you said it---condescendingly cute with the "choo choo" bit---obviously irritated him. I'd agree that his name-calling was a disproportionate response but not unprovoked.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 217
Registered: Nov-04
well who even says that the experience in a movie thearter is real? i would find replicating a live concert to be a better reference of realism than that of the movies, that i will agree with you. i personally dont necessarily need 100 dB of sound to enjoy my music or my HT though the extra decibels can add some enjoyment. dale, what is the difference between what a real airplane sounds like and what a toy one sounds like? have you actually heard them to make a comparison? a well made speaker will give you the differences regardless of sound level provided you had a system setup correctly. i think you two are mixing realism and "bigness" with loudness. im not denying that sound level will and does add to the realism of any sound reproduction but dont think that is the main emphasis. but i think many will agree that we dont have have to all like the same stuff or the world would be rather boring and we wouldn't be able to have these discussions. and no need to try and demote something that you disagree with or dont like. i am sure i can find something to do the same with you.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 412
Registered: Jan-05
Chris,

Im not saying that everyone should strive to have a HT that sounds 'big' like a real theater. Hey, it's your theater, and you only have to please yourself with regards to your personal soundfield.

For those who do though, buying small fronts will only create 'small' sound. Im not saying they sound bad, but rather that they sound SMALL. Those who claim to have a 'huge soundstage' and all they have upfront are 'bookshelf-towers' as fronts are kidding themselves. I recently tried to buy new fronts, and even the towers in the $1,000 per speaker range were all weak and 'botique'. If you want a 'BIG' sound, you have to buy a 'big' speaker!! Not a lightweight, skinny tower with tiny drivers in it. That's for darned sure. Did some sound good???......YES! Im only saying that they sounded weak and dainty. TRANSLATION:small soundfield.

B&W makes a lot of quality speakers both big and small, and if a small soundstage is what you're into, their bookshelfs are a perfect match.

BTW, have you seen the 800 series?? Trust me when I say those are no bookshelf speakers. You must have no idea what they are, because if you did, you'd know they are irrelevent to this discussion. They are, in fact, my dream speaker and quite massive.

Those 275lb behemoths will be first on my list when Im ready to spend $25,000 on a pair of speakers. Trust me...........the 800s are 'in your face' and probably the ultimate setup if money is of no concern.

 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 413
Registered: Jan-05
Im not mistaking bigness with loudness, nor do I listen to movies for extending periods at extremely high levels. I do often listen to movies at around 'theater' volume, and that's not 100db. Loud segments might very briefly approach or surpass that level, but most of the movie is much quieter. Im not entering the music discussion since my HT is used exclusively for movies and TV surround.

You could compare a 'botique' setup with a 'behemoth' seteup at the similar volumes and they would still sound quite different. After watching a single movie being played on each system, you'll know exactly what I mean when I say "BIGNESS". It has very little do do with volume, because most speakers are capable of being played at loud levels.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 186
Registered: Feb-05
Well Chris, yeah I've heard both a real airplane up close and a toy one up close. And the sounds are amazingly different from one another. But sorry you're wrong. A well made small speaker is simply not going to give you the realism of a well made large one. Now maybe realism isn't your thing and that's ok. Some people can be perfectly satisfied with an audio/video experience where NASCAR looks and sounds like the toy race cartracks that you set up in your home. But that is not realism. The standard has to be how close it comes to real life. and by the way, it's not only volume that influences the quality of the experience. A good speaker will faithfully reproduce the call of a robin or the sound of a flute.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 187
Registered: Feb-05
edster 922. It's useless precisely because it's based soley on my subjective opinion and my hearing ability. I truly hope that no one would spend a considerable sum of money based on my listening experience although having a background in music may give me an edge in determining, for example, what a clarinet really sounds like. Someone might hear that sound and to them it more closely resembles an oboe. That's why these subjective forays are useless. Do you really think it helps a prospective buyer to say Acme speakers suck? Now it might mean something to say they are made of cheap fiber board or the speakers rattle in their enclosures when pushed hard. But beyond that, things get much more iffy.
 

Silver Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 142
Registered: Feb-05
:::
But I must also state that this is very ironic because I have used certain quality headphones, notably from Sennheiser, that seem capable of such reproduction and they use small speakers. I'm no engineer and there must be a reason for this discrepancy.
:::

Headphones do not have to deal with room acoustics and interaction with the environment they are placed in. That and the proximity of the driver to the eardrum has much to do with why headphones are full range with such a small driver and loudspeakers are not even with 6+" dia. drivers.

Stuff a speaker into a corner and you'll get bass reinforcement along with loss of articulation.

Put a speaker that has a decent treble response in a room with hardwood floors and large bare windows with minimal furniture and there may now be a peak in treble response.

Put same speaker in a heavily furnished room with plants, heavy drapes and full carpeting and there might now be a measured dip in response at the listening position.

The inch or so of air between ear canal and the driver in a headphone makes them immune to room acoustics and any potential problems they might cause.

If you like deeper, richer bass, perhaps try some of the mid/high end Grados. :-)

By the same token, I have never heard a large mass market floor stander with more driver surface area in the woofer alone than both drivers in a "boutique" bookshelf reproduce certain instruments with full fidelity.

Particularly saxophone, french horn, clarinet, massed strings and massed vocals.

But, as another poster has said, fidelity is in the ear of the listener.

Cheers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 189
Registered: Feb-05
Thanks Tevo. I knew environment was a critical factor but it is really amazing when evaluating the difference between small speakers and headphones composed of small speakers.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Dale,

> That's why these subjective forays are useless.

Again you seem to miss my point: when I give a subjective opinion on ANYTHING whether audio or politics I am under no illusion that the reader is simply going to take *my* word as gospel and run to the nearest store with his wallet in hand.

The point is that an ACCUMULATION of subjective opinions from a range of different sources (individuals who've listened, individuals who've bought, and professional reviewers) can help the consumer narrow down his LIST of speakers to go out and audition. I think that most people are intelligent enough to filter out and distill a "big picture" approximation after they've done their homework, so that they can narrow down which speakers they'll go to the trouble of auditioning.

As I've already said several times over, I actually do agree with you and (gasp!) Paul that ultimately what they end up buying (at least if they go with a smaller shop that doesn't have the lenient return policies of big chains and internet-only brands)should be mainly based on their own ears.

For instance someone who's totally new to audio and has been hammered with all the Bose advertising propaganda all his life will quickly reconsider buying Bose if he comes to a forum like this and reads 20 different people ragging on Bose in no uncertain terms and maybe 2 people saying "well Bose isn't THAT bad."
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Tevo,

Excellent description of how absolutely crucial room accoustics and speaker placement are---in many ways it really IS a sort of art to get the best possible sound out of your gear and room.

Just a few days ago it suddenly dawned on my to turn my computer's subwoofer sideways towards the corner rather than at my back and wow---couldn't believe what a big improvement it made for such a cheap little thing like that.

Similar eye-opener when I put my old bookshelves on stands a few months ago, the extra 16 inches off the 16-inch horizontal cabinet made a night and day difference.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 193
Registered: Feb-05
edster922, your point is interesting and worthy of serious consideration. I guess the difference is really based on how we view life. My advice is based on the assumption that someone might actually take it and run. Yours is based on the assumption that the person will do some independent research and come to his or her own conclusion. Maybe you're right. But I'm not willing to take that chance. Good luck.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 219
Registered: Nov-04
please do not try to undermine me. paul what you are refering to are the 800D speakers which i assume are very similar to you CV speakers. what i was refering to being used in george lucas's studio was something like the 805 and the 804 which you would probably describe as bookshelf towers. they are both very different speakers as i am sure we can both agree on. i refered to the speakers as the "800 series" not specifying on the 800 itself. dale i think you are selectively reading my post. read it again and you will see that i said a "system setup correctly" meaning having a sub integrated correctly. have you really heard a boeing 747, a cessna 172 or model planes fly over head to make a comparison? im not trying to undermine you like you are to me, but could u be a pilot to get this "realistic" opinion. have you been to an indy 500 or what ever races NASCAR has to hear what the cars really sound like? the point im trying to hit home is you already have preconceptions of what they should sound like regardless of you experiences with the real things. paul i still want to hear you reasons like i requested before about your decision to like "big" speakers. again i dont want to continue the banter of how great "big" is but want to get something deeper. if anything try to convince me that i really am missing something.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Dale,

true, I may be guilty of giving people more credit than maybe they deserve, hell just look at the last presidential elections.

LOL now *that's* one road we most definitely don't want to go down...I'll say no more!
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 199
Registered: Feb-05
edster922. You're a trip as we use to say. What a great post. Take care.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 200
Registered: Feb-05
Chris, you're taking this debate way to personal. And yes, I have personally experienced those things. Plus I played in various bands from the time I was 9 years old. In terms of evaluating real live sounds, this gives me an advantage over someone who has only heard these sounds on tv or in the movies. My point is simple and I'm going to leave you to your own devices after again making it: the true standard for judging the accuracy of audio/video equipment has to be how close it comes to reproducing the actual event. Now you have to decide if that is important to you. You may not care if the wings of a humming bird sound like a mosquito. That's your prerogative and I am not criticizing your biases. But to be objective about this stuff, you must recognize that you have them.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Jim_mcbob

Post Number: 46
Registered: Nov-04
Point of clarification: There is no such thing as a 'bass guitar.' There is such thing as an electric bass, but it is analagous to an upright bass, reduced in size and reoriented for hand-held use.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 209
Registered: Feb-05
Come on Jim-Bob. Is that all you can add to the discussion? I suspect everyone in this forum understands what "an electric bass" is, even if it is referred to by its common nomenclature.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Jim_mcbob

Post Number: 49
Registered: Nov-04
Does this discussion really need more? Seventy-four posts doesn't cover the topic well enough for you?

Hope you wore hearing protection during those many years of playing in bands. Otherwise, your self-proclaimed 'advantage' has been severely mitigated.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 224
Registered: Nov-04
dale i think i can agree with you about how to judge av equipment and i do hold that as a rule of thumb. but i still dont think you need giant speakers to get the correct reproduction. i still dont understand how a small speaker would make something sound dinkier. if a speaker is designed properly i dont see why a humming bird would sound like anything else. i still dont see any correlation between big sound and big speakers besides the word "big". dale maybe you can give a shot at trying to explain this to me.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 212
Registered: Feb-05
Well we all lose something with age. But my hearing is just fine thank-you. Most of my time was spent in marching and concert bands. But I did have a few years in an R&B band. I would be willing to wager that I still know and can detect the sound of a clarinet much better than someone who has only sporadically heard one live if at all.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 213
Registered: Feb-05
Chris, giant is a relative term. It all has to do with physics. In order for a speaker to reproduce certain sounds, say for example, the lower registers of a pipe organ, the magnet must have a certain mass and the diaphram must be able to move a certain quantity of air. Small speakers simply are unable to do this. Now that is not to say that you can't get fine sound from them. But if you want that live reproduction of certain sounds, size does matter. For small speakers, the difficulty is generally at the lower end. If you look at specs for small speakers, even the very best ones, they tend not to go all the way down to 20hz even though they may approach the upper limits (20,000hz) of human hearing. That's because the small size prevents reproduction of those lower sounds. Does ths make any sense? This doesn't mean that you have to have a "giant speaker". But, as I indicated, size will definitely be a factor.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 449
Registered: Sep-04
Wow guys, take it easy, nobody died...

Dale,

Size is a factor, but so is environment, and this is demonstrated best by headphones. Going back to first principles, what is a speaker (or pair thereof) trying to do? It couples to the air volume in the listening room to generate a waveform that travels down the length of the room. So the volume of the room has an impact on the sound that any speaker (small or large) will generate. A headphone is exactly the same. Each drive unit couples to the air column in the ear canal to produce the waveform. Now since there is a very small amount of air in the canal compared to the size of the drive unit in the headphone, it is easy for the drive unit to couple well to the air column and produce sounds that go very deep (and very high).

By comparison, a speaker (even a large domestic speaker) is small by comparison to the air volume of the room , so it is more difficult for it to energise that volume and its performance is limited by comparison to the headphone. However, thanks to the lack of prximity to the speaker, we are able to listen stereoscopically whereas typical headphones don't allow for this (they would need to bleed the sound from one drive unit to the other to get stereoscopic sound and that is difficult to get right) so headphones always sound a little more artificial, or 'in your head' than speakers.

So one might surmise that large speakers are the way to go yes? Well, not necessarily. Once one starts to get bigger and bigger speakers, one has to deal with new problems that didn't exist previously. So, a large speaker has large panels making up the cabinet. The larger the panels, th emore they vibrate, generating a sound of their own. This is both inaccurate and often out of phase with the main signal, resulting in a warm but relatively tuneless mid-bass. Also, if we go to very large drive units, we now need an inordinate amount of power to drive them properly. Large drive units have many times the mass of small drive units which needs to be controlled by the amplifier. this means that amp has to have a very high slew rate in order to keep the drive unit in control. However, the sheer size of larger units (10 inches or above) means that you get cone breakup relatively early in the frequency spectrum simply because most materials aren't stiff enough (as well as light enough) so one begins to have problems in that department too.

So you now decide to use multiple smaller units since they can be stiff and light and can multiply up to the same 'effect' as a larger drive unit. Well, not quite but close. Multiple drive units (2x8inch units should be almost equivalent to a 12 inch one) introduce their own problems. First of all, it's difficult to make drive units that are exactly alike, so you now introduce anomalies in the soundscape that would have been produced fine by one bigger unit. You also have to have a much more complicated crossover to handle the different units which results in huge power loss. Most speakers are less than 5% efficient. In other words of the 50 watts you put in the speaker (rare) you get 2.5 watts of sound. Most of this waste (about 80%) is lost in the crossover! The simpler the crossover, the more likely you will have a better result.

The best speaker theoretically is one of infinitally small size, acting as a 'point source'. In this situation, the point source would radiate with no mass and no phase problems (another thing I didn't touch on that affects big speakers more than small ones). If one could make the smallest speaker possible that reproduced the full frequency range, then one would have just as effective a speaker as any other, provided it could couple to the volume of the room.

Most speakers (even big ones) can't come close to the 20hz end of the scale. Many will get down to 35hz or so (-3db), most will hit 45hz (-3db again). Humans have problems locating a sound below 100hz, so it is possible to get away with using a separate source for the sub bass frequencies - normally called a subwoofer (or sub). A good sub is as small as possible for the same reasons as explained above. A good sub will also be powered since the receiver already has enough to do driving the main speakers. If you power the sub separately, you get a very tight coupling between the bespoke designed amp in the sub and the drive unit (minimal crossover here). Most subs go down to the mid twenties. Some subs go all the way down to 18hz. The benefit here is that the cabinet of such a sub is only about the size of a medium sized box or a couple of standmounts - and very much less than would be needed to act passively in a full size speaker and still be efficient enough to be driven by an amp. So you now don't have anything like the cabinet colouration that you'd get from an all-in-one solution.

So a sub/sat system can work well if designed properly. Recently I played with a M&K solution that wasn't cheap. The satellites were tiny - about 7 inches tall, 3inches wide and the same deep. The sub was about the size of a small suitcase with two 7" drive units and no port (another thing I haven't touched on) giving a very clean deep drive. The M&K solution gives a full frequency bandwidth 20hz - 20khz response (-3db) in an average room and there are very few that can do this. What I heard was very impressive. I did not expect much since I had misgivings that the satellites would not reproduce lifelike midrange, and to some extent they didn't. The soundstage was big - very - and the steering was wonderful of course, since there was no cabinet distortion from those tiny satellites.

However, I have also heard larger or more ordinarily sized speakers with sub and again, even though the sub was only meant to be filling in the last 20hz or so, the result was very very convincing. I'm not advocating that all speaker packages should be sub/sat systems. I'm advocating that very large speakers have so many problems in their designs that a smaller main unit will often give a better result, simply because it will be more believable since there aren't so many distortions inherent in the design.

In large rooms, you can't get around the fact that you have a lot of air to shift in order to couple to the room correctly, so then you have no option but to go with a large speaker where you're more likely to lose the distortions present in the design, but if a large speaker is used in a smaller or average room, it may be more difficult to rid oneself of these inaccuracies.

I hope this proves an interesting read...if you made it this far! :-)

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 220
Registered: Feb-05
For me this is very interesting. I'm always willing to learn new things. But I believe when you distill your excellent dissertation down to its base ingredients, you confirm that size does generally matter in most applications.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 225
Registered: Nov-04
dale i understand your point but that doesnt clarify how a smaller speaker makes things sound dinkier. a smaller frequency range doesnt make things sound dinkier. it just limits the spectrum of output. a humming bird as far as i have known does not produce any noise under 50hz or even 80hz so that example that you gave is very poorly grounded and justified. pipe organ yes you will need something to register the very low frequencies, but isnt that what a subwoofer is for? people with large speakers still use subwoofers, they just happen to be even more massive than their speakers. frank has shown that size and speaker configurations do matter, but i think he has pointed that big doesnt mean better and smaller/ordinary sized with a sub correctly calibrated does better than big speakers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 225
Registered: Feb-05
Chris, the hummming bird/mosquito statement is meant to be an analogy referencing speaker accuracy. What is the purpose of a sub woofer? To reproduce the lower frequencies. That is why they are frequently paired with small speakers. If the small speakers could reproduce the full range, no sub would be necessary. People who use subs with larger full range speakers are generally seeking additional bass punch. Some folks tend to the extremes. Whether you choose to accept it or not, size does make a difference. And Frank's discourse confirms that fact when you are talking about reproducing the full audible range. If you're only talking about reproducing the mid to upper frequencies, a quality small speaker might do just fine. You're obviously not convinced. That's fine. As I have said in other places, some people just don't want to accept certain things. Don't take my word on this subject. Do your own research and you will see what I mean.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Frank,

Excellent post! I learn something from you all the time on this forum.

Your reference to the M&K system rang some bells for me because about a year ago I heard just such a system and was astounded at how full and rich the sound was, and the guy had in-wall speakers no more than six or at most eight inches in diameter, and a moderate sized sub probably about 10 inches, was running it off a so-so Sony ES receiver, and it was a fairly big room probably 25x50 with at least 12 foot ceilings! That was the first time I had ever heard of M&K and so I went straight home and googled them only to find them a bit out of my price range, argh!

Then just tonight I was at a customer's house who was showing me her new wall-mounted LCD TV and it was gorgeous...but running off one of those god-awful Bose 1-2-3 systems!!! I couldn't hear even a whimper from that ridiculous PC-resembling "bass module." But I held myself back, didn't utter a word, just concentrated on the TV...it sure made me appreciate my humble Marantz-Ascend setup when I got home though, LOL...
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 450
Registered: Sep-04
edster, I'm glad it proved interesting. Your observation about Bose (and many other under-specified speaker systems) is well made. I mean - the M&K system I was playing with was absurdly small! (They make larger satellites - I just didn't get the opportunity to play with them) but it did cost £3000 (about $5500). In my view you get a better surround result if you have a more capable 2-channel system than a really mediocre surround travesty.

Dale, as Chris rightly (and succinctly) pointed out, the point I was making was that large speakers introduce problems of their own, typically because of the distortions produced by having large vibrating cabinet surfaces and large cone breakup modes. These introduce so many problems that a smaller speaker may produce a better result overall. In terms of frequency response, there are very few speakers which actually do a full frequency response. Most 'only' go down to 35hz, a few down to mid twenties (-3db). I believe (though I'm prepared to be corrected on this) that there are no large single speaker systems that go down to 20hz (-3db). For that you need a sub - and a good one, since most subs don't go down to 20hz anyway! Once you're in this territory, you will reap big dividends by going with a smaller main speaker since this will be that much closer to the theoretical best of a point source. This all remains, however, subject to the size of the room since tiny midrange drive units will not be able to couple effectively to a massive room. A balance has to be struck.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 240
Registered: Feb-05
Frank, as I indicated to Chris, you're entitled to your opinion and I'll give it whatever consideration I think it deserves. You buy the speaker that you want and I'll but the one I want. I've grown tired and bored with this subject. I'd rather spend the rest of my time in pursuit of more productive endeavors.
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