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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?
Donnie Darko
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.
le Gimp
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.
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.

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.
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 : 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.
Donnie Darko
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.

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.
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. . .
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
Kirk, here is a dealer near where you live :

Uptown Audio
675 Brandon Ave (76 kms)
Roanoke, VA
tel: 540-343-1250

He's got a choice of products among the best :

I'm sure he can advises you properly if you bring him some CDs
le Gimp
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.
I agree : Bose is crap poop.gif
Do you like the Klipsch reference series Gimp?
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.
dis uncle still has portable picnic player

if you go down in the woods today,
you're sure of a big surprise.
le Gimp
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?
QUOTE(Kirk @ Dec 1 2005, 05:29 PM) *

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,

I can see that you know your business Kirk, that's an awesome stereo system that you had shock.gif
Donnie Darko
Yeah, Magnapans as ambience is pretty fucking high-end! I know a few people that will drop $600 for 3 feet of MIT silver cable. My boss has all that shit, even has a power synthesizer which generates a pure 60 cycle wave in case your AC outlet fluctuates. At that point you end up becoming so OCD about the techie stuff that you forget about the music.

I say get the B&Ws I gave the link for. I've never heard any B&Ws sound anything other than very satisfying, and I'm surprised at how inexpensive they are.

Onkyo receivers are OK, better than Sony, Pioneer, Panasonic and JVC certainly. I have a Harman Kardon which, while it has a dumb interface, nonetheless supplies good continuous power necessary for subtle details even at low listening levels. The only other receiver I've heard that was as good as the HK for the same price is Denon.
Which system speciffically were you looking at?

I was going to get a pair of the Klipsch RB 25 and a their smallest subwoofer
and try to rig it as a stereo with subwoofer using "bypass" on my Oinkio 5 channel
now I'm not sure if that is even possible.

The B& ws seem like a well loved speaker D, I'll have to go see them, thanks for the advice,
you definitely like them more than the reference series Klipsch?
Donnie Darko
I haven't heard the B&W 602s I gave the link for, but trust the 3 people I know who went gaga over them. I've heard the Klipsch and they're very good, especially for the price, but I've heard other B&Ws and those are better. What B&W has that seems to make a difference is the Nautilus tweeter. The high frequencies seem very transparent and yet not hyped.

The sub setup you're describing probably wouldn't work, since the speakers would still need power, and I don't think the sub will power them (or at least not power them very well) even if you're coming out of the sub's speaker outs, unless the Klipsch design incorporates 2 separate amplifiers into the sub.
This is getting complicated.
If I went with the B&w could I forget the subwoofer and run them like that?
How can I hook up a subwoofer to my Onkio 5 channel , is it practical?

I was just hoping to have a pair of great sounding speakers that I could put on my present 5 channel to listen to as a stereo (using the bypass setting on the Oinkio).
I hardly ever use the 5 channel, when I do it sounds like crap and I would like to improve that too but I'm only replacing the front 2 speakers and the subwoofer that came with my Blose.

Plus they have to fit on a shelf.
le Gimp
Why not run a powered sub woofer off the center channel? You will need to use a couple of resistors to divide the signal down to the proper level for the powered sub woofer, but it should be no problem.

The RB-25s look nice but I'd want to listen to them side by side with the B&Ws if possible before making a decision.
B&Ws are very good... I'm using a B&W center channel with my setup.

A couple of years ago I was in a frustrating predicament trying to replace my late 70's era Pioneer setup (still sounded good, but was constantly having to break the thing open to clean the pots). They actually made pretty good stuff back then, and I was looking at spending an incredible amount of money just to match the quality (still couldn't match it as far as construction.. there's nothing like a large, weighted throttle on the power amp).

I ended up going with Rotel... which was a very good compromise for the price as it has the modern muli-channel setup yet is still very "musical".

For the speakers, I gutted the Pioneers and replaced them with Speakerlab components (I'm not fond of modern enclosures), and I went with a Klipsch powered subwoofer + the B&W center. I'm very satisfied with the results.
Donnie Darko
To bypass the Onkyo you need self powered speakers (you're bypassing the mediocre amp in the Onkyo, right?), in which case the M&K THX series would be the way to go. You'd still need a sub with them (they're designed to work with the sub and cut off at 80hz), but if you're only getting 2 speakers plus sub it shouldn't be that expensive. I've heard them for extended periods of time, and they're transparent and deadly accurate.

I'm not sure if B&W makes self-powered speakers. It might be just as expensive to get passive Klipsch or B&W speakers plus a better receiver as to get the active M&Ks.

If you're getting bookshelf speakers, you'll probably need a sub regardless, since most bookshelves can't go below 60hz and sound good. Unless....

The other option that would solve all your problems are the Mackie HR824 studio monitors. You won't need a sub with them (they're flat all the way down to 39hz!!!), they're self powered so you can bypass the Onkyo, they'll fit on a shelf (although they are larger) and they're very accurate. The best place to get those would probably be from Guitar Center, since they're aimed more at recording engineers than home theater. (home theater enthusiasts tend to buy hyped sound rather than accurate sound). What's cool about them is they're so flat you're really hearing what the engineer heard when they mixed the album, and the low frequency frequencies are astonishingly good. I've never heard another 2-way speaker system that had better lows. What's crazy is it's flat up to 22.5khz too!
le Gimp
After reviewing the B&Ws on the Bowers and Wilkins Site, I think they probably are spec'd better than the Kipsch.

(you're bypassing the mediocre amp in the Onkyo, right?),

I don't have a power amp just the Oinkyo receiver at 200w.
When I said bypass I meant I select the feature "bypass" and it bypasses the 5 channel and plays as a stereo.
I have 5 Blose cubes and a Blose subwoofer for the 5 channels,
I was hoping to replace just 2 of the cubes and the subwoofer with a decent pair with a good subwoofer.
Donnie Darko
Oh, I totally misunderstood you. Just connect the LR outputs of your receiver to the LR inputs on the sub (make sure and get one that has them) and connect the LR output of the sub to your stereo speakers and you'll be fine. Make sure your sub also has a volume control, so it doesn't overload, since you're basically sending an amplified signal to an amplifier in the sub.

Get the B&Ws, but you're fine with the Klipsch sub as long as it has an adjustable crossover. Klipsch subs are really good. Many movie theaters use the bigger ones. If you get bookshelf B&Ws or Klipschs, you'll need the sub. If you get the floor standing units you probably won't need a sub.

Sorry for all the excess information, I misunderstood what you wanted to do.
Actually this has been a great help.
I gave up on good sound when they sold me the 5 channel
now I'm trying to find my way back from that debacle.
The salesman said I didn't tell him I wanted to listen to music on my stereo.
Donnie Darko

Salesmen are so used to people coming in asking for speakers that make explosions sound good, that nobody cares about detail and accuracy anymore. That's why Bose does so well. Some Bose are so bad I've listened to tracks I knew really well and couldn't hear entire notes from basslines. Plus the high frequencies are so sharp you could shave with them.
le Gimp
Shame is that Bose used to make some really nice bookshelf speakers like the original 501s. Bose gave up on qualitysound and went to marketing no-czechs3.gif when they came out with the first 901s.
harhar.gif Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Where I used to work we had a saying: "No highs, no lows - it must be Bose!"
(Which ones sound best...)

IPB Image
Bruno Rygseck
Bump. Bump, bump, bump, tssssh. Gradient Prelude from Finland. Great bass and all.

I never noticed this ancient thread until Bruno bumped it (Fredie - ouch), but I call bullshit on the Bose detractors.

I bought a pair of Bose 901s circa 1973, and I have never in my life heard speakers that sounded better. I never heard any "distortion" from them whatsoever. What I heard from Jethro Tull at the old Municipal Auditorium in NOLA, was exactly what I heard from those speakers in my house, only louder. There is no other test or specification that means a damned thing to me.
I can play this one without electricity.

Click to view attachment

Some day I'll figure out where and how, to hook up the TV & stereo in the new house.
Donnie Darko
I can't comment on older Bose speakers, they may in fact be fantastic, but the contemporary ones are all about trying to crank big sound out of a microscopic package so that nobody can see where your speakers are at the expense of accuracy. I can't imagine the band hearing their stuff sounding nothing like their original mix and being happy about it. That being said, the older Bose speakers could be killer for all I know.

The thing about that Bose comment above of "No highs, no lows, must be Bose" is actually backwards. The Bose sound cube series, for example, has an enormous hole in the low-mid frequency range, which is where a very important sonic range is (bass guitar, cello, etc). What Bose today does is they exaggerate the high end to make it sound "crisp and bright" (which to my ears makes it strident and sizzle), and then they boost the lows usually via a subwoofer that doesn't reproduce the higher low frequencies, and the smaller main speakers cannot reproduce that frequency range well either, so you end up with a big hole.

What Bose does accomplish is remarkable amplification technology using only acoustic design. Their speakers are literally sound cannons, and I'm amazed at the "room filling" sound they can make with such a tiny odd package. Modern Bose speakers are like a short guy who is good at basketball: everybody freaks out because this little dude outperforms expectations, but people forget that he's still out of his league.
Donnie Darko
By the way Artemis, don't download the new Skyrim update if you can avoid it. It corrupted all my wife's saves and now she has to start over from scratch! Or if you want a clean start, then go ahead!
I'm wary about updates. In fact I normally don't even let the box connect to the Internet at all. Thanks for the warning, but too late. It was connected a few days ago by somebody else and I noticed at that time that there was an update for Skyrim available. I ignored it, but when I told my daughter about it yesterday she said she had already downloaded it. I have three games in progress at various stages - I've only checked one since then and it seems to be okay.

and I'm amazed at the "room filling" sound they can make with such a tiny odd package

My 901's were actually pretty hefty, but not tall like "normal" speaker cabinets. The cabinets were shaped like pentagons. All the speakers, nine in each box, were the same size. There were four in each box pointed at the wall behind the speaker at roughly a 45 degree angle (probably something less than that, actually) inward and four in each box pointed at the wall behind the speaker at the same angle outward. Only one speaker in each box pointed straight out toward the listener. There was an equalizer that was an essential component of the setup. The idea was precisely to create that room-filling sound. You couldn't tell where the music was coming from - it seemed to just come out of the walls. What kind of walls you had, and how well you positioned the speakers, had a lot to do with it. Nobody who ever heard my setup (80-watt Pioneer amp, Technics turntable and Shure cartridge) failed to be amazed and thrilled with the sound except one guy who assured me that his Klipsch (spelling?) speakers were better, but he was in all respects a snotty asshole, and my equalizer was broken at the time, so I had no reason to take him seriously.

Years later, when Bose started asking $300 for that glorified alarm clock that Rush Limbaugh used to peddle, I assumed they had gone astray.
Kirk gets an amazing sound out of that little ancient tube amp in his shop, wired to satellite radio and I don't know what speakers, but they're little bitty things. I briefly switched it from the Blues channel to the old fogey rock channel over Eric's protests when we were in there drinking one night and Witchay Woman by the Eagles came on - it was great. Best I ever heard that song sound, but then it was a great song all along and I didn't realize it until then.
I had those Bose back in the late 70's, they were loud, clear and good looking too. They replaced a pair of Altec Lansing studio monoliths that were 10 times the size. I eventually replaced the Bose with a pair of magna planer triple panel, they were really nice looking, sounded clean but never would rock the whole house. I lost it all in a fire and decades went by before I could justify spending money on a stereo, it was Christmas time and I wanted to get my wife and kids the perfect stereo, I never forgot the way those Bose speakers sounded so I fell for a set, 5 cubes and a chipboard box with a woofer in it for like a thousand dollars. At the same time I had bought an Onkio to fire them with.
Christmas that year was a let down for me, those Blose sucked, so did 5 channel surround, when I complained to the salesman he told me "you're not supposed to listen to music on it"
After fiddling with it for a couple years I fixed the 5 channel by running the onkio through 3 circa 1979 Hafler amps and using Klipsch horn speakers, and when I listen to music I put it on "stereo" or "bypass" . Bose today isn't what Bose was. That little tube amp in my shop is a Dynaco knock off. 60 watts, hooked up to 2 small reference series Klipsch bookshelf speakers, it ain't real loud but the sound is beautiful. Once in awhile I put a turntable on it but it only has 1 input so I usually leave the radio on it.
I left that whole setup in the care of a friend 25 years ago. He's now gone and I assume his son has it, but I have never asked about it because I have no place to put it anyway and all my LPs were wrecked or stolen long ago.

All I have today is Youtube, but I do have a nice Sennheiser headset. I have a portable satellite radio, but there's no reception here so I let it expire. Music isn't what it used to be.
Donnie Darko
I use the Sennheiser HD 280 pro series headphones. Best damned headphones I've ever had, and sound better than others that are several hundred dollars more. I know guys who had super expensive custom fitted Etonics that sent them back because they liked the Sennheisers better even though they're kind of heavy on your head and make your ears sweat.

I used to use the Sony pro headphones but the high end on those was like being stabbed in the ear with an ice pick, and then I switched to AKG studio headphones, and those sound nice but have awful isolation and come apart after a week of use. These Sennheisers meanwhile are pretty much bullet proof and sound amazing. When you put those on the whole world goes away.
QUOTE(Artemis @ Feb 13 2012, 02:55 PM) *

(Fredie - ouch)


I'm still a bit sorry about finally chasing Dr. O away, but I'll never apologize for Fredie.
I use the Sennheiser HD 280 pro series headphones

Same here.
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