Bookshelf speaker hunt = Epiphony
I've just gone through the tribulation of finding myself a good pair of bokshelf speakers and I would like to offer some feedback on the experience to any interested parties My price limit was $700 (accrding to my costs, not sale tag). My listening room is also the living room and I needed spaekers that could be kept out of reach of small children, hence bookshelf speakers and in a somewhat disproportionately large listening space.
I started out with a pair of Epiphony speakers, figuring that with a 30-day trial, what have I got to loose? I also ordered a pair of Europas, figuring they're a sure deal.
I wanted desparately to listen to the Tringle Titus, after listening to the floor standing Antels at a friend's home. At a local dealer of Triangle and Castle, I listened to the Titus and the Castle Durham with some gear better than my own. After hearing them with symphonic, the Who and Cash I felt that the Castle was much more musical and brought it home instead of the Titus. The clincher was Titus made the cymbols in the Who sound like static and the Durhams didn't, so the Durhams came home for comparison with the Epiphony speakers.
In this comparison I was originally in favor of the Durhams, until I grew tired of their boxy sound and relative lack of detail outside the vocal range when compared to the Epiphony. So the Durhams went back to a diappointed sales clerk.
Finally the Europas arrived. Now, the Europas and the Epiphony are such different speakers it's really a wonder that I ordered both, but I didn't know which sound would appeal to me more. I will try to describe the differences. I am around 200 hours into Europa burn in and the Epiphony have around 300-400 hours. I listen to orchestral, piano, calssical guitar, jazz ensemble, big band, punk, garage rock, psych, classic rock, post-rock, post-punk, disco, johnny cash and lots more.
The biggest and most obvious difference is the Europas produce a full thick sound, not muddy, but thick. Their is much less thickness in the Epiphony sound, resulting in more air around each instrument.
Neither speaker is boxy, both project very well with the Europas almost projecting surreally well. Maybe that's what a perfectly sealed stone cabinet affords. The Europas produce a stellar midrange, esp. around the vocals. In honesty, theirs an eiriness to their sound, it really leaps out. Europas image quite well, but not suprisingly, the Epiphony have a significantly wider and deeper soundstage. Roy mentioned to me that the Europas can sound like good Grado headphones, I agree with that asessment.
In terms of sonic resolution, the Epiphony produce more detail. The instruments do not sound as in-your-face, but they make up for this by sounding more believable and at a distance. This is especially apparent with precussion. The drummer does not sound nearly as real over Europas. This may be because there is a better articulation of dynamics by the Epiphony speakers. However I can say the same for brass, woodwinds, and almost everything else, except piano. Piano, if it's what you like the most, sounds quite wonderful over Europas. (Inwardly I fear that Europas may be more accurate because I grew up with piano, however, I console myself because I play guitar and grw up with viola, violin and cello, which I prefer over Epiphony).
When it comes to vocals, piano, and electronic music and soundtracks I prefer the Europas. When it comes to rock bands, jazz ensembles, and concert hall recordings I prefer the Epiphony sound. When I can't make a conscious decision between which I like better, the Epiphony sound seems to involve me more emotionally and it wins the vote. I don't know what more one could ask for in this price range than a speaker that can get you out of your mind and into the music.
I am going to continue listening to both until the Europas are fully burned in, but I doubt my opinion will change. I would still like to hear what a few other speakers can do - namely the Quad 12L, but if I don't do it soon I can live quite happily withe the Epiphony sound for a while. Oh, Klaus also offers a 20 year warranty, so I guess I'll have them for a long tiome to come.
My supporting equipement:
Darling tube amp or Marantz SM500 SS (I could do much better for a SS)
Passiveline 2000 for switching digital and vinyl sources.
digital: Pioneer PD-59 > LinkDAT III
analog: Phillips 427 / AudioTechnica MM > phono on B&K Sonata
For the rest: good cables and good wire, but nothing too expensive.
Good luck finding bookshelf speakers. I just got my B&W CDM 1NT's for around that price range, and I'll say those things are amazing! Geez... I've discovered so many details in songs I never knew were there! Only thing "wrong" with them is the lack of very deep bass, but who would expect that from a bookshelf speaker.
Well - if you're trying to figure out which speaker is being more truthful or accurate this article ran in Positive Feedback and offers some suggestions. http://www.audionote.co.uk/anp1.htm
Other than that only you can decide which of the two you'll like better - sounds like a close call.
oops. I meant to put that post on review board (nt)
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