General Speaker Advice and Recommendations

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by shotgunshane, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. fraggler

    fraggler The Cable Guy - Friend

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    The Andrew Jones designed Pioneers were all the rage a little while ago: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/pioneer-5-1-4-floor-speaker-each-black/5086937.p?skuId=5086937

    Added benefit of having matching center and bookshelves if you go full surround sound.
     
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  2. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    The Pioneers are voiced well and sound pretty good. They're not perfect, but I'm not sure if there's anything else that I'd take over them in the <$300 category. They do seem to need a bit of power to wake them up. They were a bit anemic with a Parasound ZAmp, but a mid level adcom 545 and a Crown XLS-1000 livened them up a bit. For reference these are in one of my dad's many systems.
     
  3. Mystic

    Mystic Friend

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    Those Pioneers we're actually the first thing I looked up, unfortunately looks like they have been discontinued.
     
  4. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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  5. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf MOT: Sonarworks

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    Well... I dunno about 94dB/W/m being enough for single digit watt amps.
     
  6. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Ornery Admin

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    What's funny is I'm running the Cicadas in their original cabinets now with the same woofers being used for the build until l can move to a fancier woofer.
     
  7. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf MOT: Sonarworks

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    Okay, I've got that big boy bass figured out. It pretty much like many of the guys have said, but first here's how I got there.

    My system is (1"+8")+(2x12"). Both bracketed arrays can be electronically crossed, time aligned, phase compensated... you name it. On the paper the 1+8 can go to around 40Hz, because the driver is pretty good and enclosure is ported. The 2x12 is a sub on the paper, but generally these drivers should play straight to around 1000Hz due to good linearity and light membranes.

    So, my idea was to play with the crossover point between these two boxes. What I found out was that the higher I let the 2x12" play, the more it sounded like a BIG speaker. Not much to anyone's surprise the transition point is around 100Hz, keep the big woofers below that and the soundstage goes from room encompassing to more precise and "only in front".

    Now, theory tells me that relegating "locateable" frequencies to the 1+8 array should be more correct, because I get a more pointy radiation point and the enclosure itself is highly engineered for minimum diffraction and other kinds of smart. However, this isn't a studio and liking the sound can trump "correct".

    I hope this helps.

    P.S. It's tremendously useful to be able to switch between the big-boi-bass and super precise studio sound at the click of a button.
     
  8. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Almost "Made"

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    Being OCD myself- I could not deal with the fact that voices do not come from the centre of the screen. :D
    Everything in my room just clicked once I moved those speakers behind the screen. I am hiding 3x 12" speakers behind my small 100" screen.
    Planning to upgrade to some 15" at some point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
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  9. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    My "big" speakers are a [(1x1.75" + 3x5") + 1x15"] with a [1x15"] sub. The tweeter+mid has a non-defeatable crossover component since it's a wonky synergy horn config, but beyond that the system is bi-amped tops and separate bottoms. In theory the 15" woofer on the tops can go down to 50Hz, but in practice it doesn't very good going below 80Hz. Likewise my sub specs say they can go up to 200Hz, but in practice they sit around 100Hz.
     
  10. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Has anyone here ever heard the AudioKinesis Swarm subwoofer system? Reviews overall seem positive.
     
  11. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf MOT: Sonarworks

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    Multi-sub is a good concept to cover a large sweetspot and combat room modes. However, with greater control comes greater complexity as each subwoofer has to be taken into account in the context of both the room and its three colleagues. I'd rather use a 4-channel amp and DSP to measure and tune each of them.
     
  12. riker1384

    riker1384 Acquaintance

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    From what I've read, one problem with single-woofer standmount speakers that makes them sound smaller and thinner is the "floor bounce notch". Sound reflected off the floor between you and the speakers is delayed and ends up out of phase and interferes with the direct sound, somewhere in the upper bass around 200 Hz or so. So you get a hole in the response there that makes it sound thin.

    Having a tower speaker with multiple woofers, or a woofer closer to the floor ameliorates this floor bounce notch. My PSB Stratus Goldis have a low-mounted woofer, and a high-mounted mid, with a 250 Hz crossover. That way, the floor-bounce notch of the woofer is moved up out of its passband due to the shorter path length of its floor reflection, and that of the midrange is moved below its passband due to the mid's longer reflection path. So neither driver has this hole.

    You also can get response holes from wall reflections, but those depend on your speaker placement and they can be avoided by moving the speakers away from walls. Although you still have the issue of room modes.

    There's also the issue of dynamics. Your 8-inch may have output at 40 Hz, but it's not as clean or loud as the 12's. When you cross over low, the mid/upper bass is pushing the 8-inch hard when you play at loud levels, so it's compressing and the distortion is also causing intermodulation distortion in the midrange that's coming through the 8. Crossing over higher takes the bass burden off the 8, giving you less distortion, compression and less IM distortion in the mids.
     
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  13. msommers

    msommers Friend

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    Finally had a chance to go out and spend some time auditioning some of the speakers on my list. I made some notes throughout the day which I'll expand on.

    I took the Pass Labs XA30.5 and PS Audio DirectStream Jr. out with my laptop, connected via a cheap 10' Amazon USB cable using JRiver 22 for playback. A whole range of music was tested, both high quality recordings and others that I knew would/should sound like sh*t. I tried to mimic the spatial restrictions and considerations of my home in the listening rooms: ~1-1.5 feet from the back wall, ~7 feet apart opening to a large open-concept living and dining room. This list is the order in how I listened to them throughout the day.

    Totem Sky Floorstander
    The first thing noted about the Sky is the immense air, beautiful decay and precise imaging - I can see some folks hearing this speaker as a bit too forward or bright (I didn't). Given other Totems I've listened to, I would say that this is one of their better designs in the high-frequency range and betters the Arros. There was a bit of low end bass-roll off and low-mid bass bump but nothing overwhelming - impact was surprisingly good. The upper mids sounded a bit recessed/sucked-out to me, which I commented on, apparently an artifact of the listening room being over-dampened.

    Focal Sopra No.1
    I didn't spend too much time with this speaker as I found the highs a little overwhelming or crispy. The sense of air and space here was phenomenal, imaging I would characterize on-par with the Sky but after a few songs it was becoming apparent that I could not handle these long-term. Overall a very detail-orientated, tight, forward, coherent speaker that grabs your attention and doesn't let go. Microdynamics throughout the range were fantastic (minus the lowest end) so if a speaker capable of resolving absolutely everything is what you want I would seriously put these on your short-list.

    Opera Seconda
    These are essentially the polar-opposite of the Focals. A little wooly, very warm, but not too stuffy allowing a fairly good sense of space and clear center image. Low-end extension was very good albeit not as good as I expected given the cabinet size, I was definitely hoping for more impact. High frequencies were very easy to listen to, very smooth, but decay ended a little too abruptly and microdetail was lacking for my tastes. One thing to note versus all the other speakers here is the incredible craftmanship - nothing even remotely came close! Admittedly, I'm a sucker for a great sounding, great looking speaker. This speaker got my foot tapping early on and overall just a fun speaker! Overall this speaker would cause me to tinker too much trying to extract more detail.

    Dynaudio Excite X38
    Having never heard a Dynaudio speaker before, the immediate familiarity coming from and listening to many Totems was staggering. And from there the Dynaudio was a very different flavour. The frequency range was significantly more coherent, it never felt like anything was missing. Bass was tight, highs were natural, moderately-well detailed and smooth with a beautiful midrange. Imaging was ok but not great - the image was there but it could have been more solid, but instead seemed like the sound was mainly coming from speakers than converging to a center point. Decay was too short and very neutral in its presentation where I prefer for a little bit forward presentation to keep me engaged. The lack of clear imaging and overall "neutralness" left me feeling a bit bored. Perhaps a different amp or preamp could spice things up.

    ATC SCM40
    The ATC was another very neutral speaker and was nearly ready to roll my eyes as I started to play my first song (Norah Jones - Feelin' the same way DSD64). But as I let things play out, I became more or more engaged, getting a sense of being "there" with the musician listening live. Most notably was as soon as I put on some acoustic guitar - I was floored. The body and dimensionality that the ATC brought forth was stunning. This was another very coherent speaker, nothing felt lacking except a some impact. I suspect the closed-box design is why this is. Highs were very well defined, decay was moderate to excellent, imaging was rock solid in the middle, mids were layered and detailed and lows very acute(?).
    The bass was present, I could hear it extend very low (Massive Attack - Angel anyone?) but it was very bizarre as I couldn't feel it. The ATCs are very revealing of your music played (and I suspect components too). The ATCs sounded significantly more, or less, dynamic depending on which files I played. Years ago I had a pair of nearfield studio monitors from Yamaha which triggered some familiarity. For whatever reason, I played with the EQ in JRiver and these speakers could easily be tweaked using that alone and do it accurately. Overall, this speaker is the most natural and realistic portrayal of instruments and voices with incredible body placed smack-dab in the middle. However, I think the get the most out of these I would need more power as I suspect these were not as dynamic as they could have been given my amp was being pushed out of Class A.

    Verity Audio Finn
    I had never heard of these Canadian speakers before but were brought in for a try. The cabinets are stunningly beautiful and very efficient relative to everything else at 91db. However this was the shortest audition (close to the Focals) because the highs were just too overwhelming. Either the audio designs of the speaker didn't agree with me or the synergy with my gear was missing but things ended quickly here. Maybe a SET tube amp would fair better for my tastes. I listened to a few songs but couldn't get over how overwhelming the top-end was, which could be characterized as incredibly detailed, forward very airy, textured but seemed to be lacking body and weight. If you enjoy the Focal Sopras and looking for some competition, try these as they might be right up your alley.

    Harbeth Super HL Plus
    Quite a contrast from the Finn, this was about the polar opposite again. I knowHarbeths are renowned for their vocal reproduction so I queued these up immediately and with female voices, I was not left wanting anything, but male voices seemed a little stuffy. Overall, voices were silky smooth with just enough detail to feel that I wasn't missing anything but the smallest of microdetail. Decay of instruments was a little short, imaging was very solid in the middle, and acoustic guitar had a wonderful weight behind it. I can see why these are often referred to as "polite". The bass seemed to stop a little too short and not getting quite low enough, and lacking impact. If I had any negatives, it's that I wish these were a bit more engaging and had more air to notes. It got me thinking that my tube preamp with some RCA Cleartops or Teles could open these up a touch. I spent a surprisingly long time with these, not because I absolutely loved them but because I just enjoyed listening to music on them. Going through the songs I was looking to pick things apart but ended up listening, almost singing along. I'd like to go back and listen to more Harbeths and fortunately the dealer had the 30.1 and 40.1 as well.

    Raidho XT-1 Stand Mount
    This little guy was on the showroom floor and only heard it in passing on what looked like a Hegel H80 or Hegel H160. This thing was incredibly musical, VERY detailed but for me, just smooth enough not to be irritating like the Focals or Veritys. Imaging was pinpoint and music seemed just flow. I walked throughout the store, standing in the "sweet spot" to being way behind or off to the left, and these things filled the whole showroom with a beautiful and engaging sound that never had me feeling like I was missing anything. Someone was auditioning them and potentially bought them so I didn't get a chance to listen. The low-end was surprising given the size but not overall fulfilling. The price on these is staggering as the cabinet is smaller than a 12-pack of beer but retail at ~$7,500.

    I was very eager to try some Audio Note speakers but the dealer said they're probably too efficient and recommends them generally for tube guys. Unfortunate but c'est la vie.

    Going forward, I'd like to try some Totem Forest Signatures, Monitor Audio Platinum 100 II, more Harbeths and ATC, with and without my gear to check on capabilities and synergy of gear. Maybe even cart my Arros around to do direct A/B comparisons because I hate taking home a bunch of gear, because as a younger guy, I usually get grief if I don't buy things. The point of going from an Arro up to say a Hawk or equiv. price range has made me realize that I don't want to spend money if it's not a significant upgrade. This will likely be a journey to finding the right one as I'm not keen on buying and selling a bunch of stuff to see how I feel about it. One dealer made me chuckle as we got chatting about this somehow, which turned into him trying to tell me about all the things I will be buying from him in the future.

    Thanks for reading.
     
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  14. msommers

    msommers Friend

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    Has anyone heard Graham Audio?
     
  15. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I've only heard of them because they make yet another clone of the LS3/5.
     
  16. msommers

    msommers Friend

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    What were you impressions? Have you listened to a similar size Harbeth? Which amp?

    I'm still not sure if the Pass has enough oomph to power the Harbeths properly after some online reading and seeing videos provided by Mr. Shaw.
     
  17. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Sorry I should have been more clear. I've only heard *of* them... :oops:
     
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  18. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Did you like the LS3/5A s? I owned the Chartwell versions way back.
     
  19. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    See my reply one post above yours...

     
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  20. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    one of my most short lived speaker purchases ever, booring. My Dynaco A25s were more interesting. But I am sure they do bbc announcer voices well, haha.
     
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