General Speaker Advice and Recommendations

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

  1. Sylafari

    Sylafari Acquaintance

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    I was blown away by the Massdrop JBL LSR30X, so unfortunately I am now immensely curious about higher priced speakers and the sound they produce.

    I am looking at another two channel setup but am not sure if I want to go active or passive.

    I do know that if I go the passive route, the most probable amplifier I will probably buy is the Schiit Vidar.
    I am a bit apprehensive of the active route as it seems silly to send a signal from a DAC back into the AD of the active speakers.
    Also I want the size to be about the same as the JBL LSR 30X, so pretty much 5-6" drivers as I plan on using them for just nearfield monitoring.

    The sound I'm looking for is a neutral sound with great imaging and extreme clarity. The LSR 30X does all of this very well in my opinion, but I just want a speaker that does it even better (greater detail retrieval, more clarity, tighter bass).

    Some options I'm looking at as well as some concerns I might have about them:

    JBL 705P : Unfortunately it just released and there is not much information about it, but I was so impressed by the JBL LSR30X that I am considering these anyways. Concerned about the quality of the AD converter in the unit, though it has a digital AES input (Does that mean I can send a digital signal straight from my PC into the speaker?).

    KEF LS50W or LS50 : Either the active version or a Schiit Vidar into them, which makes both options about the same price. Active version apparently extends lower in frequencies compared to the passive version.

    Amphion One15 : A very good neutral speaker based on impressions from the web and this site as well.

    Unfortunately the only speaker I can probably audition are the KEF LS50 which I plan on doing soon.

    Was wondering if I am on the right track with my choices. I am also looking for recommendations into other options as well.
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Are you sure that you want them to be that small? You're limiting yourself pretty heavily, especially in terms of the bass quality you're going to get. The LS50 is still really only mid-fi*. In terms of active vs passive each has its advantages. I would still opt for the passives most likely, but the actives have a better frequency and phase response.
    I haven't heard the others, though.

    *Technicalities are not on par with the best headphones.
     
  3. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Misconception. Active does not mean Includes ADC/DAC/DSP. It just means it includes dedicated internal amplification in each speaker. usually two, one for the tweater and one for the woofer. In theory, and, no doubt, according to the marketing departments, that amplification is the most perfect possible amplification for those drivers in that box --- because it was designed to be. I'm not trying to say that is not true: if I ever got to spend multiple thou $$$ on top end monitor speakers, I'd very much hope that it would be true! And true or not, it still doesn't tell us whether we, personally, with our ears, will like that sound. Especially as the market for higher-end active monitors has, up to now, been studio pro users who are not necessarily looking for the hifi sound or the sound of their personal taste.

    Please note also, just because you see some knobs on the back of active speakers does not mean that they are doing DSP. Think tone controls on an amplifier (if your memory goes back that far!). All analogue.

    Yes, some active speakers are going to do that DSP whatever you feed them. You may not want this. You can avoid it. Plenty of options to spend vast amounts of money on purely-analogue active speakers :)

    Well... physics. but I would be a lot kinder about LS50 because, according to me, subject to what speakers of their size can do, they do it well. These speakers seem to arouse strong feelings. Must be the colour!
     
  4. Sylafari

    Sylafari Acquaintance

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    Although I would like to venture into larger sized speakers, I currently just graduated from college in Electrical Engineering and will most likely move into a one bedroom apartment (probably in multiple apartments til I find a job I settle down in), so I believe that getting bookshelf sized speakers are probably the best option for me currently. Also most likely the speakers will be next to my computer monitors so I need them to be about the size of the current speakers I own, the LSR 30X. I am under the assumption that through nearfield use, some issues of the size of the speakers can be mitigated. I understand that its physics that smaller speakers have a limit to what they can do (especially the lower frequencies), I'm just hoping they do enough for me. :)

    As for the bass, I feel the LSR 30X has enough bass for me in terms of the thump that I feel but it lacks the snap of the bass I hear when I'm using my HD 800 (Forgive my poor sound vocabulary). If a speaker can just have bass characteristics similar to the HD 800 (I enjoy the bass of the HD 800), I would be pleased.

    To me the most important aspects of sound I am looking for from the speaker is imaging, detail, and clarity as well as being non-fatiguing (starting to feel some slight fatigue when I play certain songs on the HD800, maybe it is just the song?) and I was hoping that these smaller monitors can do that at the cost of bass quality.

    I'm leaning a bit towards the JBL 705P in hopes that it is just a better version of the LSR 30X with the same house sound (Unfortunately, it is a new product but someone has to roll the dice?).

    I'm also starting to maybe realize that I just have to take a chance on a set by making the best educated guess I can and just learn from the experience.

    Lastly, Mid-fi is A-ok to me as long as the sound satisfies what I'm looking for. Thanks for the advice. I'll keep digging.
     
  5. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    You may want to consider some 'pro' monitors then, something like Eve Audio SC205 has had pretty good reception and they're about the same size, and based off my friend's comments it does seem to have what you want. I believe @Kattefjaes has one.
     
  6. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    Small box speaker will never do that kind of bass.
    At least 10'' light membrane in 50+ liters, perhaps gets close + offers perks that HD800 lacks in bass (bass dynamics, belly conduction).
    I'm sure that all the goodness of HD800 snap in bass can only be had from open baffle, like what @Serious has.
    From off shelf offerings I'd look into pro audio speakers of 12'' or bigger bass driver. I have heard a relatively cheap ass 15'' paper cone do superb bass in flimsy enclosure.
    i.e. you can't escape size for quality bass.
     
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  7. Sylafari

    Sylafari Acquaintance

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I guess I will just have to accept that the bass quality won't be as good as I want it to be as I am still set on speakers with drivers being <7".

    The KEF LS50W that I'm considering has a subwoofer output, this should allow me to use a subwoofer in the future to make up for the current shortcomings I have (I'm assuming how this works is you set a Hz for the subwoofer to operate at). I'm guessing this can probably be done with the other speakers, it is just they will acquire additional components to work this way.

    I'm also starting to lean towards active speakers as I feel I have already a bunch of audio equipment (Headphones, Headphone Amplifier, DAC, USB Isolator, and a bunch of cables) and it would make it easier for me in the short term, but the lack of upgradability would be the difficulty in the long term. Also the price of a passive speaker setup adds up real quick (speaker amplifier, even more cables) :(

    I feel like I might be a bit too stubborn in having speakers of a certain size but I am fairly sure that a speaker with about a 5-6" driver is the best for my current situation as well as for the next couple of years.
     
  8. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    Having personally listened to my own music on @Serious open baffles as well as with his ultra-modded HD800 and my Utopia via the Ragnarok, I can attest to the veracity of this claim. Good god the bass is exquisite and gorgeous. No hint of any box bloat or colouration. From what I sampled, no box speakers could compete with that kind of bass definition irrespective of how low they go.

    That said, whilst I am now firmly in the open baffle camp, as I prepare to build my PureAudioProjects, I have truly enjoyed the Monitor Audio GX100 bookshelf speakers for several years.

    There IS always something better in the horizon BUT the thing you now have is a joy to behold.
     
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  9. Cos

    Cos Acquaintance

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    If there is nothing wrong with your (relatively new) Massdrops 30X AND you already have a killer headphone(HD 800) AND you are limited with your space / anticipate needing to move often, an option may be to keep what you have and not worry about the grass being greener somewhere else. I know it's hard to contain the itch for more stuff and the need to reward yourself for graduation, but sometimes less is more. You can always save the cash and put it towards a nicer setup for your music room once you settle!
     
  10. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Or get a bass shaker for your chair. It's dumb, but sometimes a little subtle addition to try and trick the brain is better than trying to wrangle a whole new speaker/sub integration.

    Semi-related, my computer desk has a small 2.1 setup. It's not nearly the last word in resolution, but I enjoy it for what it is. A neat little trick that I've found with the subwoofer though, is that placing it underneath my desk in the corner actually turns my entire desk into a sorta extension of the sub. Sitting down, I'll feel decent output down to 30 Hz. Slide away from the "throat" of the desk and the sound drops off rapidly, which is perfect for not bothering people. This is by no means clean bass, but for the zero investment beyond a half hour of my time fiddling with placement, more than worthwhile.
     
  11. Sylafari

    Sylafari Acquaintance

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    After much deliberation and consternation I have decided to try the KEF LS50W.

    Main reasons I'm going KEF LS50W is:

    - Active means there is no upgrade bug to try out new speaker amplifiers, new DACs, to see if I'm getting the best sound out of the speakers (If I love it great, if not move on...) .
    - Fits size profile I'm looking for and is below the budget I have set for myself
    - Amazon.com will take my return without charging me some exorbitant restocking fee

    Thanks for all the help. I might post some impressions when I receive them, we shall see.
     
  12. jayeshrc

    jayeshrc Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    @Thad E Ginathom already mentioned this, but I will repeat on his behalf: Active does not always mean there is Digital to Analog conversion inbuilt. The LS50W happens to have it, but be aware that your next choice may not.

    That being said, enjoy your purchase! I hope you enjoy them
     
  13. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Cheers. On the other hand, I have not been looking much for a year or three. I'm getting the impression from some posters here that active-speaker DSP is becoming more and more common so it is something to be careful about before buying.

    Another thing that cannot be said too often when "studio" (quotes because even the lower-end stuff) is being talked about is that those speakers are usually priced each, not per pair. This may seem really strange to the domestic listener, but it is just the way that it is. I'm sure it's caused a few disapointedly-cancelled plans. And it must have happened that some poor guy saved up for their new $,000 speaker system, bought it, and was horrified to find only one in the box.

    (Duh... maybe the people who tell us that, actually, mono is better?)
     
  14. jhaider

    jhaider Acquaintance

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    I think in a blind test the 705 will surprise a lot of people with its bass quality and quantity. Combination of a driver designed for long excursion, DSP-assisted bass alignment, excellent driver integration, and well-implemented limiting. My experience is with the 705i, but the fundamentals are the same in the 705p.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yeah, it surprises. But 5" drivers in a small volume won't have the same extension, lack of compression, transient response, ease, low distortion, and effortless presentation as 12" or 15" drivers in 4-10 sq. ft. enclosures. Which was @Priidik's point. In a relative sense compared to lesser implementations, the small JBL self-powered monitors are impressive (well actually not quite since the cabinet is pure shit). On an absolute scale, nope. Go 12"+ or mulitple 12"+, or so home for real bass. Lots of people have never heard a good implementation of 15" drivers. Hint hint: vintage JBL lie this.

    [​IMG]

    Go big or go home.

    Also, I don't think you need to blind test to assess bass quality or even speakers. The differences and errors are quite gross and easily seen in measurements. Suggesting the need for a blind test in this case is utterly moronic.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
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  16. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

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    Or, get serious about bass reproduction and buy a separate subwoofer, instead of using a 2 channel setup. It takes a little work to integrate, but the result is so worth it and greatly outperforms any monolithic tower.
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    A subwoofer won't give you "quality" bass from 55-150Hz.
     
  18. murphythecat

    murphythecat Friend

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    having lived with 15 and 12 inch tannoy and 12 inch woofer in the jbl lsr32, I agree nothing touch big woofers for bass. its like another dimension compared to 6.5 or 5 inchers. My harbeth shl5+ can get quite close to 12 inchers but cannot be comnpared with my 15 inch Tannoys.

    I think that big woofers while better in bass can compromise the bass to mid integration since they have to be crossed around 300hz. the otherproblem is that in the commercial realm, good speakers with big woofers are way too expensive. I honestly dont like big woofers up to 800 or 1khz and then crossed to a horn. I dont like horns at this point, I can hear them no matter the horn design. some are very happy with horns, i have a love and hate relationship: no tweeter can do the transients response of hi hats or cymbals like compressions drivers, but I hear the horn coloration every time. every system is truly a set of compromise and you have to pick which compromise you cna live with!

    I think a big sub up to 80hz crossed to a solid 2 way is my preferred compromise: its techincally a 3 way but if well integrated, Im happy with the sub+mains integration. the bass is certainly compromised compared to 15 inch, but so far its the best approach for coherent (as fast) seemless top to bottom integration.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
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  19. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I have some PA speakers where the 15" woofers only handle 100-215 Hz. They can play down to the 50's, but sound better if you leave that part to a sub.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    LOL. You've just described my two speaker setups:
    1. Fostex 6" BLH + subwoofer + supertweeter (xover at 50Hz)
    2. 12" Beyma woofers + Altec horns / CD (xover at 500Hz)
    The setup with the 12" woofers has better bass and gets a f***ton louder. The Fostex has better extension and subbass, but more easily gets congested (compression and distortion) at moderate / high volumes.

    Subwoofers are not mutually exclusive. The lower the mains can go, the better the subwoofers work. Get the speakers with the best and biggest woofers that will fit within your budget and into your room (and be acceptable to your wife). Then consider a subwoofer. Planning from the get-go that you need a subwoofer (for music, not HT) is asinine. It's like planning from the get-go that you need a supertweeter. If you go in this direction, you want to be at the point where the need for a subwoofer (or supetweeter) isn't pressing.

    IMO, crossing over a sub 80Hz is way too high (for music / hifi) with typical slopes such LR12. I'd rather shoot myself in the foot. Or put a turbo on a Prius. Actually I would just throw those speakers in the garbage. Or just run the subs lower and hope the gap is taken up by a room mode (which does sometimes happen!). There'a reason for the "sub" in subwoofer.

    But anyway, my point was pertaining to small woofers in small boxes. Everytime I hear someone say my 5" woofers make good bass, I want to puke. BTW, few audiophile speaker companies make speakers with big woofers, so very few people have heard what they can do. In 2017, big woofers is largely the realm of vintage gear or DIYers.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017

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