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05-15-2008, 09:41 PM
I have been thinking about the following front speakers to go with my Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver. I plan to add a sub later.
1) Sonus faber Concertinos.
2) PSB Image T55
3) Vandersteen Model1
3) Polk RTi a7
I have a large sized open living room where I want to place these.
Which speakers would be the best value for the money?
-Thanks in advance!

05-15-2008, 09:54 PM
Interestingly you have them in the order I would probably have them in. I recently listened to some Sonus Fabers and they're quite nice as usual. The Onkyo is not going to them justice but you have to start somewhere. Sonus Faber from your list would be the one's I would get. But the question is which ones sounded best to you?

05-15-2008, 10:50 PM
Interestingly you have them in the order I would probably have them in. I recently listened to some Sonus Fabers and they're quite nice as usual. The Onkyo is not going to them justice but you have to start somewhere. Sonus Faber from your list would be the one's I would get. But the question is which ones sounded best to you?

Thanks for your reply.. I have them in order of preference too.
One question, 1) Why do you say Onkyo is not going to do the Sonus Faber justice?
The SFs are 4ohms while the Onkyo is 8ohms, but I think it can be switched down to 4ohms (thought not very sure), though I believe the SFs cannot be biwired.

05-16-2008, 08:48 AM
I have a large sized open living room where I want to place these.
Which speakers would be the best value for the money?

Hold th phone gents. Part of "best value for the money" is going to include the speakers being capable of handling the specific job. The first sentence above sort of rules out the Concertinas, unless you plan on a seating position in the nearfield and listening at very moderate volumes.

The amp section in the Onkyo is strong enough to push either the Vandersteen or the PSB, though it must be said that they are very different speakers. You should probably audition at least the Vandies as they can be somewhat "disconcerting" to the uninitiated. In any case, I'm pretty sure you want to go with a floorstander in a large room unless you plan on adding a sub later.

Just some food for thought, and welcome to the forums.

05-16-2008, 12:50 PM

As bobsticks noted standmounts in a big room is problematic so near field listening is important. Standmounts have to work harder to fill a big room - they then tend to compress faster and sound thin. Definitely try and get a recommended room size in volume from the manufacturers because. My speakers for example meet spec if the room is no larger than 200sq meters.

As for amplifier - there is a difference between sound quality and power. I have owned several receivers and still have a surround sound receiver - they are more than powerful enough to drive the speakers - the don't do them justice in regards to sound quality in any way shape or form. If you have not heard of amplifier differences a quick test would be to take home a Bryston power amp (dealers let you try them before you buy so take one home for a weekend) and connect it to the preouts of your Onkyo. What this test will illustrate to you is the difference that a power amp can make over the internal power amp section of the Onkyo. This will show you why a lot of folks don't use receivers for serious music listening. And this is just the power amp section which makes less of a difference than the preamp. I had a top of the line Pioneer Elite and did this weekend session and it floored me. And Bryston isn't even really wonderful but they're easy to get access to in most places and are good enough to illustrate the point to you. Taking home a Rotel would do the trick too - depends what your local dealers have.

In fact I'd do that before I replaced your speakers. I was going to sell my Wharfedales but when I heard what the Bryston could do I realized that the culprit was not the speakers but the amp. The Pionner Elite was soon shooed out the door. Too bad really because it was by far the sexiest looking amp I ever had.

You don't really have anything to lose by giving this a try - my Wharfedales in fact are dead easy to drive which was more surprising to me that differences could be heard to such a huge magnitude. The Wharfedales are 8 ohm(mostly operating in the 10ohm range) 95db sensitive horn loaded speakers. 5 watts is enough to make them pound. The Elite was a true 125watts per channel RMS full bandwidth .000025% THD. The Bryston was in fact speced at 120watts. Hooked it up and immediately noticed was a drastically reduced noise floor - tighter sound and superior grip on bass lines - air space etc. Listening to the Elite again was like a cloth thrown over the singer's mouths dull one notedness to everything. From a measurements perspective it's difficult for me to reconcile because technically speaking the Pioneer ought to be as good. Alas over the years I've found that the specs largely don't help and often hinder the best stuff which quite often measures appallingly badly. The best CD playing system and one of the most revered in the industry has some of the worst if not the absolute worst measurements of any digital device going. And yet the sound is pretty much the only "good" cd replay I've heard.

BTW = I'm not recommending the Bryston for purchase just to test what I am saying - I have found better cheaper options than Bryston but do the listening and if you hear what I am talking about then you may in fact re-evaluate your upgrade path quite entirely.

05-16-2008, 06:09 PM
I think you will have no problem with the Onkyo 805 driving the Concertinos. Home Theater Magazine measured the minimum impedence of the Concertinos at 4.9 ohms.

The ohm switch on AV receivers is usually misunderstood by consumers. The general concensus is to leave it always at the higher 8 ohm setting and not at the 4 ohm setting regardless of the specified impedence of the speakers. The actual measured impedence can vary significantly. The better quality the amp in the receiver the more likely it will have no problem driving 4 ohm loads. The 805 should be fine. Be sure you have plenty of ventilation (even a fan if necessary) to prevent the 805 from getting too hot. However, it will probably get quite warm under normal conditions in the range of 5 ohms.

Audioholics comments on this switch:

......." What Doesn't Matter?

Impedance Selector Switches
This so called feature, used by some manufacturers, is designed to prevent overheating of the receiver or damage to its output transistors because of excessive current flow. The manufacturer accomplishes this in one of 2 ways: 1) Stepping down rail voltage supplied to the power amp or 2) feeding half the signal strength to a voltage divider of power resistors. Both of these methods severely limit dynamics and current capability of the power amp. This results in an audible decrease in bass capability and dynamics transient sound because the 4 ohm setting effectively increases the receiver's output impedance. Unfortunately many manufacturers put these features on their products to ease customer concerns with driving low impedance loads and for safety reasons when getting UL approvals. Note: In order to meet UL requirements, a receiver cannot be rated down to 4 ohms without having this switch onboard. Receivers without this switch are usually rated down to 6 ohms. In most cases, well designed receivers can easily handle 4 ohm loads safely and efficiently. It is highly recommend to keep the impedance switch set to 8 ohms regardless of your speakers impedance and make sure your receiver has plenty of ventilation."........

I disagree somewhat with other posters on the audibility of the high end amps connected to normally designed speakers of reasonable impedence loads. Yes it might make a difference in sound but much more subtle than than many high end shops would lead you to believe. If you do compare an expensive amp against the amp in your 805 make sure you have a friend to help you. What I'm saying here is have someone hook up the amp so you don't know which amp is driving the speakers. This is similar to the age old double blind testing which is a hotly debated subject. It leaves the comparison to your actual listening and not any psychological pre-conception of what sonic differences you think you should hear from a much more expensive separate amp. You will definitely want a sub with the Concertinos.


05-16-2008, 07:10 PM
You should know that I have conducted DBT in psychology participated in Blind tests - as did John Atkinson and Martin Colloms two of the most respected individuals in audio engineering - both of whom have realized their weaknesses. As an educator with some background in psychology the audio engineering society leaves a LOT to be desired when it comes to understanding the DBT as it relates to the psychology field which audio testing is. The testing environment is problematic in psychology and education whilst in medical sciences it is less so - the DBT was created for the medical sciences.

It is important though to match the 'level" because the louder unit can often sound better. As for blind - I'm not against it. Hi-Fi Choice magazine reviews products in a Blind level matched listening environment with panels of listeners who take notes. After they listen they decide which number sounded best. They also listen to speakers blind and level matched. Their results are not a whole lot different than sighted reviews although you will see several products with negative reviews. This magazine can be ordered in from Chapters and should not be confused with what Hi-Fi or Hi-Fi News.

In terms of level matching the easy way - you want a credible normal listening environment - listen to an entire album. Play at every level you can. Then switch over to the Bryston or power amp and listen to the same album at all the levels you can. It will be pretty clear as to what happens. If you do not hear a substantial difference then don't buy it. Not everyone will notice the difference and not everyone's systems will take advantage of it.

It's critically important to remember that the DBT is a tool - it does not can not EVER prove that A is equal to B - it is based upon probability theory and does not exactly reproduce the normal listening environment. It is also noteworthy to point out that most tests have an insufficient number of trials. 9/10 correct guesses meets statistical significance to the .05 level meaning that a person correctly picked one product over the other to a level better than chance. What they don't tell you is that if you get 6/10 (viewed as a failure if only 10 trials) TEN times with one miss for a total of 59/100 you meet statistical significance at the same .05 level as 9/10. Since more trials reduces type II errors it is always advisable to do more trials. I have yet to see the AES or any engineering society or group run proper number of trials. Even then it's not wholly valid to start with. These numbers produce reliability but not validity.

05-17-2008, 03:47 PM
.........."In terms of level matching the easy way - you want a credible normal listening environment - listen to an entire album. Play at every level you can. Then switch over to the Bryston or power amp and listen to the same album at all the levels you can. It will be pretty clear as to what happens. If you do not hear a substantial difference then don't buy it. Not everyone will notice the difference and not everyone's systems will take advantage of it.".............

Good stuff RCA. I didn't get into details. However, in a relaxed home atmosphere the only way to do this is to have someone else do the switching. My whole point is that it is essential to not know the identity of the amps during the listening test. It is human nature to let the mind imagine that the $5000 amp sounds better than the amp in the $1500 receiver (it better with all that damn money I just spent). Immediate switching is only for pro contolled set-ups. As you know even the slightest difference in level, as low as 0.1dB's can be subconsciously detected. Normally the louder amp sounds better.

In my opinion, those who submit themselves to a double blind test frequently come away with a different opinion as to the extent of the differences they actually hear or some times they even come away with a red face because they were unable to consistantly hear any difference.

It must be beautiful up at the Butchart gardens about now, what a fabulous place.


05-17-2008, 09:27 PM
I actually agree with you Road Runner (what happened to the other 5?) but bare with my post.

The problem is unless you actually do a double blind test other people's results no matter how many of THEM are tested is of no use. Having a buddy do the switching is not double blind either. If you can see your buddy it would not even count as single blind.

There are several biases that are assumed biases and they should not be. Price and looks bias and brand name recognition are valid bias complaints. That still depends on the individual - I for one do not expect a more expensive unit to sound better because my experience does not bare this out - nor does brand name or looks carry any weight with me. So the notion that a blind test would eliminate my bias is not really true because the very bias said to be there is based upon conjecture. Again it may affect many people so i understand the point. Still it holds more true for medical science.

We have a problem - it is next to impossible for people to conduct and be part of a true double blind test. So they read about them and look at other people's results - some guy could not tell the difference between X and Y in a 10 or 16 trial test and so that means all amplifiers are indistinguishable to all people in all circumstances. Wow that was quite a leap.

John Atkinson is pretty Audio science driven and he failed a DBT sold his pricey amp and lived with a cheapie - then after a long period of time realized the mistake. Florescent lights bother people over long periods of time while they would not in a short duration test. Yeah another analogy but not too far off.

I have heard differences in two units sighted failed the blind experiment - that SHOULD mean that I could not tell them apart so buy the cheaper one. BUT, I went back to the level matched sighted session again and preferred the one I preferred the first time around. While it's certainly interesting in terms of results it still doesn't make the poorer sounding one sound better sighted so unless I have a friend control the switch for the rest of my life and live behind my equipment rack at my beck and call it really isn't going to help practically.

That said - I'll be the first to say that one should have a healthy dose of skepticism whichis why I say try before you buy - especially with cables - make sure there is a full money back return. Precisely because as you note that once you paid you $5k you have a certain expectation bias. Reviews flatter your ego by telling you that you did a good thing etc. No question there are biases but the testing environment adds an element to the mix which is psychologically proven to be a very big detractor to such tests whether the folks on the audio circle board or AES want to acknowledge it is 100% fact they choose to ignore to bolster their case.

What "Hi-Fi Choice" does is in some ways a lot better. There is no "test" atmosphere of forced guesses. The amplifiers are brought in simply hey listen to these five amplifiers all driving their reference speakers - the panel does not get to see any of the amplifiers and all are level matched and they play all of the music. Each panelist writes about what they think.

Interestingly they even have manufacturers come in and quite often they have chosen a competitor as being better than their own. This is easier to set up and does the MAIN critical job that is good enough for this industry - they take out all sight bias, name brand price, build quality etc. Sound and only the sound which is why you see a 3 out of 5 rating for the Bryston B60 rather than the usual automatic rave.

So a lot of word to agree with you - listen without knowing which is which. Have the amps labeled a and b and have a buddy do the switiching playing at the same volume levels. And I would suggest having a third call S for same -- ie they sound too much the same so I'll stick with what I have.

05-20-2008, 04:48 PM
RGA, RoadRunner6 was my radio call sign when I was in Vietnam in 1969. It sort of sticks around. Brings back many memories. That was the year I bought my first audio gear. Pioneer receiver, Pioneer headphones, Dual 1019 tuntable (ADC or Shure cartridge I think) and a big pair of floorstanding Wharfedale speakers (maybe D70's or W70's?...no legs, sat flush on the carpet with removable grille) when I got home to the US. They were big and heavy with the sand filled cabinets and gorgeous dark oiled walnut. That started it all. I've lived in the State of Worshington every since.

RR6 :biggrin5:

05-20-2008, 10:01 PM
Hey Road Runner - great nickname. Is this the Wharfedale you had? http://www.hi-fiworld.co.uk/hfw/oldeworldehtml/wharfedalee70.html

I have the Wharfedale Vanguards which replaced the E70 in the late 1980s. They're kind of a classic in some circles and still trounce a lot of new speakers in a lot of ways. The Vanguard has one midrange driver and a better tweeter and goes to 40hz. It was upgraded due to technology but nevertheless the E70 does a lot of things well - a true rock music classic.

05-22-2008, 11:46 PM
(sorry about getting a little off the subject here, Coffee)

RGA.....I was in the US Army Military Police. I used to monitor MP convoy escorts on the road between Saigon and Long Binh Post. I thought the roadrunner was a neat bird and also cool cartoon on TV and so the name seemed appropriate. 6 referred to my rank.

After some searching I finally found the exact model number on my old Wharfedales, W70D.



Mine had a darker brown grill and they looked very classy. Sound was quite nice. My only complaint was that the mylar domed tweeter was slightly hissy or sizzling sounding, only noticible on some sources and at lower volumes. Only ended up keeping them for several years