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> Audio speakers, Which ones sound best?
Kirk
post Dec 1 2005, 02:41 AM
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I tried finding honest reviews on the web but spent 2 hours going in circles.
Is there anyone can here that will share there opinions on stereo speakers?
Where can I find honest side by side reviews?


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Donnie Darko
post Dec 1 2005, 03:52 AM
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Reviews are subjective. Take a CD or DVD you know really well to a store that has a good speaker selection and audition on everything until you find what sounds best to your ears.

It also depends on whether you're looking for a hyped sound or an accurate sound, and whether it's mainly for music or movies. If you've got the money and accuracy is your main concern, I still have yet to hear anything better than the Meyer X-1 speaker. That thing is fucking incredible and uses revolutionary technology I won't even get into. Their HD-1's that came out back in 1989 are still outstanding too. Duntechs and the high end B&Ws are also jaw-dropping, but those are mainly used in music mastering and are very high resolution and very expensive.

For a mid price speaker that sounds incredible, I highly recommend ProAc 100s. You'll need a good amp and good cable, but these are the absolute highest quality speakers you can get for a reasonable price. My boss has them and I get transfixed every time I hear them.

A great slightly cheaper alternative to the ProAcs are the Dynaudio "Audience" line, or the C1 or C2 series. They blew me away, and if I had the extra $ I'd get them in a heartbeat.

For cheaper speakers, JBL makes a respectable product as long as you get the larger ones (the small ones sound like paper), and I've even heard some Klipsch and speakers that sound good. Some mid-range Infinitys are also impressive, although their small ones suck. Avoid Polk, Sony, Pioneer or Cerwin Vega. I have a Polk center channel, with KRK studio monitors as my Left/Right, and the Polk sucks at high frequencies and it's about 6db quieter than it should be. I'm going to replace it as soon as I can. Also avoid Bose. That's right, Bose has a big reputation and slick marketing, but when it comes to accuracy, they suck. They're very uneven in the 300-800hz range, and they screw with the phase of the sound to create a "big" sound field.

At work I have Genelecs. If you like detailed high frequencies with punchy lows, and don't mind a narrow sweet spot, Genelecs are awesome.

Hope this isn't too much information... stupid sound guys...

Bottom line: Get either Dynaudios or Pro-Acs. They're worth the extra $ and you won't be sorry. If they're too expensive get mid-priced JBLs or Infinitys.

PS Ask Greenimp about tube amps. Once you hear your favourite record on good tubes, it's tough to go back to transistors.

This post has been edited by Donnie Darko: Dec 1 2005, 04:11 AM
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le Gimp
post Dec 1 2005, 03:55 AM
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Stereophile and Hi Fi Audio were pretty good magazines back in the day. They look like they have counterparts on teh web, so I'd start there.

What kind of speakers are you looking for?

If I could afford them, I'd get a pair of Klipsch K-Horns.
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Slackjaw
post Dec 1 2005, 04:08 AM
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It also depends on what you're plugging them into. The best sound comes from good clean power. High wattage (RMS, not peak) is important for headroom... NOT just how loud you want it to get. The best speakers should be as neutral as possible in the way of tonal influence, and need to be matched to what's driving them.

High end speakers which sound incredible when driven properly will sound like dog poop.gif on inferior amplification.


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justabob
post Dec 1 2005, 07:33 AM
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Kirk,

What are you planning to drive these speakers with? If it is a simple stereo amplifier, "not commonly used any more", Bose makes a respectable consumer product. I use Roland studio monitors with an old Kustom tube amp in my recording studio.

It seems most home audio equipment these days is 6 channel surround sound digital stuff, were the choices are endless. Ya get what ya pay for buddie, so trust your ear.


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Marc
post Dec 1 2005, 08:37 AM
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I would highly suggest JM LAB as their range goes from low-mid-price (Chorus range) till high-end-price (Utopia range), you won't be disappointed even by the Chorus range.
JM Lab is worldwide renowned for both audio and video : http://www.focal.tm.fr/gb/sommaire.htm Press reviews are unanimous.
It's a french brand so I don't know what is the availability in US.
I've visited many show rooms in Paris and apart from high-end speakers that I could not afford myself, I've fallen in love with JM Lab speakers, their sound is both round in the bass and precise in the shrill (not sure of the english terms), and many other points that I can't exress here because of my english language limitations.
I personally own stereo speakers in my office (home office) for music, and a 5.1 system in my living room for cinema and music.

Now, problem with stereo speakers is your personal ears, it's not a question of personal taste but of personal ears, so the best solution is still to visit 2 or 3 show rooms, give the sellers your budget, bring one or two personal CD you like the most (no MP3 !) and then close your eyes and listen, don't watch the speakers, just listen.
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Donnie Darko
post Dec 1 2005, 02:16 PM
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QUOTE(Slackjaw @ Nov 30 2005, 09:08 PM) *

It also depends on what you're plugging them into. The best sound comes from good clean power. High wattage (RMS, not peak) is important for headroom... NOT just how loud you want it to get. The best speakers should be as neutral as possible in the way of tonal influence, and need to be matched to what's driving them.

High end speakers which sound incredible when driven properly will sound like dog poop.gif on inferior amplification.


That's a very good point. I actually intend my next set to be self-powered, as that way the amplifier is perfectly matched to the nuances of the speaker. Just connect them to the pre-amp out of your receiver (hopefully your receiver has that) and you're read to go.

Kirk, I forgot to mention M&K speakers. Their THX speakers are outstanding, deadly accurate and worth every penny. They're self powered (actually each speaker has 2 amps, 1 for tweeter, 1 for woofer!) so amplification is no problem. http://www.mksound.com/thx_sys.php

If you don't want self powered, 3 different people have told me these B&Ws are incredible and I was shocked to find they're only $600 pr.
http://www.bwspeakers.com/index.cfm/fuseac...el%20DM602%20S3

This post has been edited by Donnie Darko: Dec 1 2005, 02:31 PM
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Kirk
post Dec 1 2005, 02:46 PM
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I have a 200 watt Onkio 5 channel.
I had an Onkio 60 watt stereo but when I got home with my bose speakers 5 years ago
they sounded so bad I thought it must be broke
so I let the salesman talk me into the 5 channel Onkio.
I got home, fired it up and the music sounded like crap,
my old Altec Lansings sounded much better but I don't have room for something like that.
I called the salesman and asked him why it sounds so bad:
"That system is not made for listening to music",
he could have told me that before he sold it to me.
Here we are 5 years later, I hate my stereo.
fapper almost had me sold on Orbs, until I went and heard them, sounds like. . .
Bose.
I liked the Klipsch RB25 but before I buy again I wanted to run it by my favorite group of aesthetes.
They are going in a small (12X12) room and I will use them for music and video, I am getting 2 speakers and a subwoofer.
Thanks for all the great advice.

I've seen a lot of people lust after the B&Ws


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Marc
post Dec 1 2005, 02:54 PM
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Kirk, here is a dealer near where you live :

Uptown Audio
675 Brandon Ave (76 kms)
Roanoke, VA
24015
tel: 540-343-1250
www.uptownaudio.com

He's got a choice of products among the best : http://www.uptownaudio.com/equip.htm

I'm sure he can advises you properly if you bring him some CDs

This post has been edited by mthuilli: Dec 1 2005, 03:44 PM
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le Gimp
post Dec 1 2005, 02:54 PM
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Bose is shit. The 901 series rely on nine mid range speakers with an equalizer to compensate for the poor efficency below 200hz and above about 12Khz. The first problem with them is the drivers are all mid range. The second is that the drivers couple to each other and can not produce a pure tone as seen on a spectrem analizer (similar to the way two idnetical oscillators will couple and push each other off frequency). The result is a very poor system.

I have a letter from an engineer at Klipsch that talks about the level of distortion from Bose 901 speakers being over 30% when driven to levels that can easily be produced with the old Heresy speakers (bottom of the line at the time).

In speakers, distortion is inversely proportional to efficency. Therefore, the more efficent speakers will distort less.

Flatness in the most part is determined by the quality of (1) the drivers used and (2) the cross over network, and (3) the enclosure design.

The 901 series, by design, is extremely inifficient at low and high frequencies, and this is what produces the distortion. The flatness is artificially achieved with an equalizer network. The enclosure is cheap plastic (not ridgid enough).

Slick marketing and ignorant consumers is what keeps them in business.

Back on the efficency vs distortion subject. High efficency speakers (say, above 96db/w-m) require much less power to drive, and therefore intrinsically have more headroom.

I think the old Heresy was rated at 96db/w-m, and would produce 115db at 1M with 80.6W of power. They were rated for either 100 or 150W, I don't remember which. A 100W amplifier would be sufficient to insure plenty of headroom with such a speaker.

115db is the threshold of pain and the level at which you WILL produce dammage to hearing.

The caviat of such speakers is that you need a really clean amp to drive them because the average power input will be very low. At normal room listening levels I measured the average power going to the Hereys at only 32mW (Yes, 32 thousandths of a watt!) while peaks were hitting the 5W range. I don't remember what Album I was listening to.

I used to use two albums for testing stereo equipment, (1)Inagaddavida by Iron Butterfly, and (2) Peer Gynt Hall of the Mountain King, by Grieg.

Unfortunatly, someone stole the Inagaddavida album

With integrated technology the way it is today, I would recommend spending two to three times as much on speakers as you do on the amplifier that is going to drive them.
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Marc
post Dec 1 2005, 02:59 PM
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I agree : Bose is crap poop.gif
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Kirk
post Dec 1 2005, 03:05 PM
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Do you like the Klipsch reference series Gimp?


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Kirk
post Dec 1 2005, 03:29 PM
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When I was a young man I did my duty,
I spent enough money to support a small country on my stereo.
I won't bore you with the details but it was a real pyle,
A B and O stylus on
a Denon turntable hooked up to
twin David Hafler pre-amps driving
twin David Hafler power amps
for 2 4' high Altec studio monitors
backed up by a pair of 6' magna pans for ambiance,
The speakers fit well in one 12x12 room, the power and all that in another.
Somehow between then and now I lost my will to live for my stereo.

This post has been edited by Kirk: Dec 1 2005, 03:32 PM


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celticgent
post Dec 1 2005, 03:34 PM
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dis uncle still has portable picnic player

if you go down in the woods today,
you're sure of a big surprise.


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le Gimp
post Dec 1 2005, 03:39 PM
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I really havn't kept up with their products Kirk. My experience with them is that they made quality products in the past. I toured the plant in 1979.

I was hoping to give some general advise on what to look for, more than recomending specific speakers so hopefullysomeone else here will have experience with them.

I just visited their web site and am glad to see they still have the speakers I am used to. On the other hand, they appearantly have transitioned into the modern Home Theater Surround Sound Dolyb 5.X age.

As for the Reference series I'm not sure how to intrepret the specs on efficency with self powered speakers.

In the low frequency speakers it appears that they are going class D powered speakers on the upper end and class a/b on the entry level units. A/B is not bad, but when you want lots of power it tends to generate a good bit of heat. Class D is more efficent, and they are going to that on the higher power units. Class D is good in that a proper design will match the amplifier to the speaker so that it can be optomized. Class D amplifiers are switching amplifiers and are noted for good flatness and frequency response, but requre good post amp filtering to keep switching artifacts out of the audio stream.

The mid range and high frequency speakers are still classical multi speaker sets with cross over networks. Efficency is lower than 96db/w-m, however these are small bookshelf speakers meant for use with a surround system and not the larger speakers I was speaking about. I think the 90+db/w-m secs are reasonable.
Which system speciffically were you looking at?
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