• 08-31-2004, 12:51 PM
    fahertyps
    Bookshelf Speakers for under $500
    I am looking for recommendations on a pair of bookshelf speakers for use in family room setting. Listening to various genres from classical to classic rock. I was leaning towards a pair of Paradigm Studio 20 v4s, which I heard recently and really liked the sound of, but the price is a bit high for my budget ($725-$800/pr) plus the size is a bit bigger than is optimal. The speakers would be in book cases on either side of my fireplace and I?d like to stay below $500. I own a pair of Paradigm Mini Monitors and could go with another pair I suppose. I have purchased a Denon DRA-685 100 watt receiver to power them. Your thoughts?
  • 08-31-2004, 01:49 PM
    topspeed
    Without a doubt, if you can negotiate this guy to $500-550, you will be hard pressed indeed to find a better speaker at this price point. One of the best monitors I've heard, regardless of price. Of course, I own a pair so consider me suitably biased :).
    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....oni&1098667117
    http://vonschweikert.com/vr1.html
  • 08-31-2004, 02:40 PM
    RoyY51
    At the risk of repeating myself ( aah, why not? ), the Monitor Audio Bronze B2's are a great value. They have coated metal dome tweeters without a trace of harshness or brass, a midrange to die for, and bass that extends down to 42 HZ. Plus, they are front-ported so you will have less interaction with your cabinets than with a rear-ported design. These speakers have been extremely well reviewed in a number of hi-fi mags, and just as favorably praised on this sites consumer review section.

    I know that The Good Guys is carrying them, but if you go there to audition them make sure that they are hooked up correctly. Twice, when I was on my audition quest, I heard B2's that were wired out of phase, and the salesman never noticed the difference. I know that GGs is willing to dicker on the price ( I was offered them for 325.00, down from the retail of 399.00 ), but I ended up purchasing them from DMC Electronics in Garden Grove, CA. for 300.00. They also sell on line.

    Happy Hunting!
  • 09-01-2004, 05:43 AM
    goatspeed
    If you are interested in Monitor Audio, you can get silver series bookshelf speakers for less than 500 bucks. Here is a writeup in hi-fi choice on the S1's. http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=2543

    You can also get the silver S2's for under 500 dollars on www.digitalcraze.com. I couldn't find a writeup on those, but given how good the S1's are, I don't think you could go wrong with the S2's.
  • 09-01-2004, 07:15 AM
    fahertyps
    Thanks
    Thanks for the input. I'm leaning toward the MA B2 since they are front ported. I think the rear port on the Silver series may be an issue since they will be on a shelf in a book case. Any suggestions on where to purchase the Bronze 2? I emailed DMC Electronics and hope to hear back from them, but it never hurts to have some competition.

    I found a really good comparison on another thread. Though its for the B1. http://www.monitoraudiousa.com/revie...andvision.html
  • 09-01-2004, 12:40 PM
    goatspeed
    Yeah that's probably a good idea. Mine are a few inches from the wall, and I don't use the port plugs...they sound better without in my setup. The S10's I have up front have 2 rear ports, so positioning and plugging was tricky. I went with a foot away from the wall with 1 port plugged and 1 port open on each speaker.
  • 09-01-2004, 04:50 PM
    mustang
    BOSE 301s. Seriously, listening to classic rock, the BOSE, for $320, will show those speakers who's boss. If you truly listen to classic rock, the 8" woofer will rock the place far more than those 6.5"s
  • 09-02-2004, 03:31 AM
    eisforelectronic
    Totem
  • 09-02-2004, 04:11 AM
    N. Abstentia
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mustang
    BOSE 301s. Seriously, listening to classic rock, the BOSE, for $320, will show those speakers who's boss. If you truly listen to classic rock, the 8" woofer will rock the place far more than those 6.5"s

    Not really. Saying it's a better speaker just because it has an 8" woofer does not make it a better speaker. Besides, give me the $75 6" woofer in the Paradigms or Totems over the $12 8" paper Bose woofer any day.
  • 09-02-2004, 07:08 AM
    goatspeed
    Bose doesn't make anything that sounds better than anything Monitor Audio does on any level. I've owned both. It's not even close.
  • 09-02-2004, 10:01 AM
    kexodusc
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    Not really. Saying it's a better speaker just because it has an 8" woofer does not make it a better speaker. Besides, give me the $75 6" woofer in the Paradigms or Totems over the $12 8" paper Bose woofer any day.

    A $75 woofer? Not in those speakers, Totem's, like the Arrow, Sttaf, etc, use Peerless drivers, the woofers are the Classic line or custom made faceplated CSX-line woofers (sandwich-cone design is the giveaway, or tour the factory some time and you can see them). They're very popular to "clone" in the DIY world because the drivers are so readily available. In terms of performance, they're very, very similar to the Peerless drivers in the ar.com DIY that I have, especially the 812687 tweeter...probably in the $35-$45 range each. (Totem would get a volume discount no doubt) The woofers in my Studio 40's DO NOT stand up to those, so I doubt they're even that expensive (though I know first hand Paradigm will charge an arm and a leg for replacement drivers...bastahds). I know some Paradigms had Vifa drivers way back, I wonder if their profit margins have gone up since they started building their own? (I secretly suspect they aren't all built internally)

    Anyway exptrapolating to Bose, I'd be surprised if it was even an $8 woofer. You can actually do alot with a $12 woofer. :)
  • 09-02-2004, 03:48 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kexodusc
    A $75 woofer? Not in those speakers, Totem's, like the Arrow, Sttaf, etc, use Peerless drivers, the woofers are the Classic line or custom made faceplated CSX-line woofers (sandwich-cone design is the giveaway, or tour the factory some time and you can see them). They're very popular to "clone" in the DIY world because the drivers are so readily available. In terms of performance, they're very, very similar to the Peerless drivers in the ar.com DIY that I have, especially the 812687 tweeter...probably in the $35-$45 range each. (Totem would get a volume discount no doubt) The woofers in my Studio 40's DO NOT stand up to those, so I doubt they're even that expensive (though I know first hand Paradigm will charge an arm and a leg for replacement drivers...bastahds). I know some Paradigms had Vifa drivers way back, I wonder if their profit margins have gone up since they started building their own? (I secretly suspect they aren't all built internally)

    The only drivers that Paradigm outsources are the tweeters for their Cinema series speakers, and I think maybe for the Atom and Titans as well. If you look at some of the speaker manufacturers that make their own drivers, they are typically high volume companies. I would guess that Paradigm quit outsourcing their drivers once they achieved a high enough volume that it would make financial sense to internalize that part of the business. Their product literature claims that they make their own components in order to maintain higher quality standards, but having the driver fabrication under the same roof also means that they're not affected by interruptions in the supply chain and they can more quickly implement design changes (like when the v.1 Studio series tweeters had adhesion problems, it did not take them long to fix that problem). And yes, if the volumes are high enough, it's probably a lot more profitable.

    Also, I thought that Totem's woofers were made by Dynaudio, because Dynaudio at one point was primarily an OEM supplier, and gradually got more into making their own speakers, but still maintains some limited OEM capacity.
  • 09-02-2004, 04:47 PM
    kexodusc
    I'll have to look into that Wooch, I wouldn't doubt that Dynaudio makes a few drivers for them. I can guarantee you that Peerless makes the drivers for at least the the Arrow, sorry, "Arro", the "sandwich cone" is basically a CSX driver with a more narrow "custom plate" to allow for Totem's narrow speaker designs. Just looking at some their models woofers on the webpage right now, a few models certainly look like Peerless units are used as well, especially the Rainmaker and the Mani. I think they use some Seas drivers in a few models too, but I can't be sure.
    I was at a DIY speaker convention in Montreal earlier this year...met with a few folks from Totem and even go to see their facility there. (not as big as you'd think, but it's neat seeing hundreds of empty, speaker cabinets). Totem clones are popular in the DIY community (especially around Montreal) and they made no secret that the Arro uses Peerless drivers. The few encounters I've had with the Arro had me putting it somewhere in between the Studio 40 and 60, with better midrange and slightly less bass response. They were high on my audition list, but I chickened out of the 4 ohm speakers because I only had a 5 channel Yammie at the time and no power amps. They really squeeze out alot of bass in their designs...I guess that's their gimmick.
    I had a link to some guy's webpage that had a list of speaker models and the drivers used therein. I can't seem to find it anymore, does anybody else here have it?
  • 09-02-2004, 08:47 PM
    RGA
    Dyanaudio used to make all the drivers for all the Totems - Dyanudio no longer sells their drivers to Totem - Totem claims the new ones are better - not to my ear. Totem has been dumped by high end dealers and have moved into the big box chains. It's awful tough to get back into them - alla JBL. But JBL is huge Totem isn't
  • 09-03-2004, 04:01 AM
    kexodusc
    Which big box chains in Canada carry Totem? I haven't seen them in a Future Shop or A&B sound yet.
    Well, if there's no Dynaudio's in the Totem's I won't bother making any phone calls.

    I could easily believe the Peerless drivers are superior to the Dynaudio's, at the very least equivalent...they do make a lot of competing drivers. But if Dynaudio dropped Totem, maybe the problem you're hearing with Totem is a speaker that had to swap a driver or two, and therefore wasn't designed from scratch with a driver in mind? That's a big compromise...especially if the crossover remained the same.
    How long ago did Totem use Dynaudios? I only heard my first Totem last fall. I haven't heard all of their line, but I liked what I have heard, the Rainmaker and Mani, Arro and Sttaf especially. The only thing I don't like about them which would prevent me from buying them is the slight lack of bass you get for the price...they concentrate more on gimmicky small, but pretty looks, than maximizing sound for the budget. To each their own I guess.
  • 09-03-2004, 10:17 AM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RGA
    Dyanaudio used to make all the drivers for all the Totems - Dyanudio no longer sells their drivers to Totem - Totem claims the new ones are better - not to my ear. Totem has been dumped by high end dealers and have moved into the big box chains. It's awful tough to get back into them - alla JBL. But JBL is huge Totem isn't

    Depends on what chains you're referring to as big box. In the U.S., brands like Martin Logan, Vienna Acoustics, Sonus Faber, Krell, McIntosh, Mirage, REL, and Monitor Audio are now sold through chain stores like Tweeter, Good Guys, and Magnolia Hi-Fi. Those stores are not the 50,000+ square foot superstores like Best Buy or Fry's, or even Circuit City scale (which is about 30,000 square feet), but the data that I work with says that Good Guys stores are somewhere around 20,000 square feet, and in my visits the Magnolia and Tweeter stores are somewhat smaller than that, but still significantly bigger than a typical specialty audio store.

    It remains to be seen how those particular brands maintain their relationships with independent audio stores. A lot of those just pick up different lines because they don't want to compete directly with the larger chain stores; and a lot of companies have gone to tiering their speaker lines and who gets to sell them. I know that Monitor Audio only sells their Silver line at Good Guys and their Gold line through independent high end stores; conversely, Klipsch sells their Reference series through Good Guys and high end stores, and only distributes the Synergy series to Best Buy. Yamaha and Infinity do similar two-tiered distribution with their products. JBL never adopted a tiered distribution, and they got dumped by their independent dealers in droves once they moved into the chain stores. Around here at least, Totem has not gone into any chain stores and my local B&W dealer put the Totem Rainmakers on fairly prominent display.
  • 09-03-2004, 10:21 AM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kexodusc
    How long ago did Totem use Dynaudios? I only heard my first Totem last fall. I haven't heard all of their line, but I liked what I have heard, the Rainmaker and Mani, Arro and Sttaf especially. The only thing I don't like about them which would prevent me from buying them is the slight lack of bass you get for the price...they concentrate more on gimmicky small, but pretty looks, than maximizing sound for the budget. To each their own I guess.

    Keep in mind that Dynaudio started as an OEM supplier and didn't start making speakers of their own until later, so they very well might have supplied Totem from the beginning. My understanding is that as Dynaudio's speaker manufacturing business took off, they began deemphasizing the OEM part of their business in order to focus on supplying drivers for their own speakers. If RGA is correct, it's possible that they've now completely phased out their outsource supplier relationships.
  • 09-03-2004, 10:30 AM
    kexodusc
    I think another point I can't stress enough is that just because a 50,000 + sq.ft store sells a speaker doesn't mean it's bad, and not as good as a "high-end boutique's" comparably priced speaker.

    Granted, I can't really think of any great BestBuy/FutureShop speakers right now...they sell some decent Velodyne subs...but still. We live in an age where it's cool to be "anti-mainstream". Exotic is better etc. That's unfortunate.
  • 09-04-2004, 12:33 AM
    RGA
    Totem is now sold in A&B Sound.

    I am going to use Soundhounds as an example and I really don't want to get into a big arguement over this because not all dealers are lying thieves. Firstly, in the Vancouver, Vancoucer Island area there are four Major high end dealers. 3 of which started out as partners at Sounhounds in Victoria. They split and each runs their own high end store. Hi -fi Center and Soundhounds both carried Totem. Hi-Fi Center dropped them.

    Soundhounds still carries their name and are still listed as a dealer but they sold all of 6 speakers from the companies entire catalog in all of 2003. They do not compete with other speakers in the store and it's that simple. Yes they're small and yes they have a terrific gee wiz factor. "Wow look how impressive they sound for such small speakers." But I don't get it frankly. They don't play very loud before they severely sound thin and constrained. you can talk all you want about this driver or that and from who and where and the tweeter is smooth etc but $850.00 fort eh Totem Mite versus the B&W 602S3 and this is simply a joke right. The 602 may be a bit fat sounding but I'll take that over nasal and thin without any soprt of mictrodynamics to speaker of.

    I rememeber years ago that I liked the B&W CDM 2SE over the much ballyhooed Model One at nearly double the price. I said then wow what impressive bass for such a small speaker - that is a lot different than wow what impressive bass period.

    Totem is a good sounding style product but it's still just a style product IMO. The Rainmaker is not bad and the Mani Two is quite good but the money???? Sorry but it's too much for the sonics on offer.

    Soundhounds claims to have dropped them because they don;t sound as good. Or Totem got fed up of not being able to sell against the competition. A&B Sound has none except Bose and low priced Energy and Mission. I can't see too many people buying a Totem Arro over the Energy C-9 and they go for about the same price. I know which I would take. If you don't listen to trance or rock or above 90db maybe the Arro is ok.

    They may do a lot better in the U.S.
  • 09-04-2004, 03:35 AM
    kexodusc
    Hmm, yeah, Totem is priced above the competition, at least products that offer equivalent sound, and they do market their looks. They're almost non-existant in Georgia and Maine (last 2 states I lived in).
    Personally, I've always felt the small speaker gimmick might have back-fired for them. People would look at the speakers and lump them with Bose or other small speakers and not give them a chance.
    Psychology is funny.
    Good drivers doesn't necessarily mean a good speaker. A driver is generally not even 5% of a speaker's cost.
  • 09-04-2004, 12:49 PM
    RGA
    The thing is everyone markets the drivers it seems = B&W with Nautilus tube tapering etc. Peter keeps telling his designer friends at B&W that if they want their speakers to sound as good as his is to forget that and build a quality cabinets. But then they would not sell because of the way they look.

    I will say that not everyone places the Sonics above all else...I mean speakers can be viewed as a part of a person's furnishings so I understand the B&W 803 kind of look and the Totems etc. They can be fit in beside a person's wall unit or something and then pulled out into the room when you want to listen. They are sleek like a sports car, trim like we want our women, I guess, and then after they re-work all the tech no-babble to make this a superior technical advancement that you can't possibly live without. And then add in a Yellow driver and make it bullit proof (I guess for the folks buying speakers in the Middle East???) and you're set.


    Of course the drivers are cheap - They like to sell you lots of them and for each one you have to make corrections and more corrections to fix the problems created. IMO simpler sounds better almost all the time - if your set-up makes errors and then needs correction circuitry or a correective device the umm why not get the one that doesn't make the screw-ups in the first place?
  • 09-04-2004, 02:53 PM
    kexodusc
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RGA
    The thing is everyone markets the drivers it seems = B&W with Nautilus tube tapering etc.

    Yes, this is unfortunate, but that's really all that differentiates a speaker to most people.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RGA
    Peter keeps telling his designer friends at B&W that if they want their speakers to sound as good as his is to forget that and build a quality cabinets. But then they would not sell because of the way they look.

    Your friend Peter is wise. Too many "slightly inadequate" cabinets in commercial designs. I think the problem is the extra refinement would only yield minor improvements and move them out of a competitive price range to most. Funny thing is, a good cabinet built strong and sturdy, even tall, narrow, and pretty, in a speaker such as the AN J or Paradigm Studio 100's would cost probably 1/4 to 1/8 the price of the drivers in the speaker (at least, see my other reply to one of your posts about the cost of MDF). I think Audio Note would have you believe building a fundamentally superior cabinet is difficult and some form of trickery. It's not. And IMO, just like Totem is guilty of small, narrow fancy designs, AN is guilty of odd, fat-shaped gimmicky designs. Except they don't try to use a 4 inch woofer across the entire spectrum.
    And there's probably 1/4398 the amount of time and research that goes into cabinet design as in driver design. Now, the crossovers...that is the most critical part of a speaker IMO. Once you determine a cost for a design, you buy your drivers and box materials accordingly. The crossover is key here. A bad crossover ruins everything, or often forces a designer to spend way too much on a tweeter in order to work with a cheap woofer. I'm sketpical of any commercial design with nice, round crossover values of 2 KHz (ahem, Paradigm). What are the odds of that? Software programs will often determine the value to the nearest 10, or even to the last frequency if you're so picky.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RGA
    I will say that not everyone places the Sonics above all else...I mean speakers can be viewed as a part of a person's furnishings so I understand the B&W 803 kind of look and the Totems etc.

    True. Bose proved that years ago. I wouldn't quite lump Totem anywhere near them though (but I've only heard a few models). I basically figured Totem to charge a couple hundred premium for arguably fancier looks. If you didn't like the look, you'd never buy them though. Except they're new home theater speakers, and maybe the Rainmaker, I was quite impressed with that one awhile back.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RGA
    Of course the drivers are cheap - They like to sell you lots of them and for each one you have to make corrections and more corrections to fix the problems created.

    I'm not sure I follow what you're saying here. Drivers shouldn't have much problem when you buy them, it's only when you start substituting drivers into non-customized designs. And today, many speaker vendors will sell tolerance matched drivers in pairs to the public at no, or very little extra charge anyay. I think some manufacturers sell them pre-boxed in pairs as such too. I still think labor and distribution are the single largest costs in most commercial designs below $1000. Unless they're assembled in a line or by machines.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RGA
    IMO simpler sounds better almost all the time - if your set-up makes errors and then needs correction circuitry or a correective device then umm why not get the one that doesn't make the screw-ups in the first place?

    Yes, simple = good.
    Eventually I want to start building a transmission line speaker...mostly for the challenge, but for the extra work, time, and frustration involved, the good ol' 2-way is hard to beat. You can tinker to your hearts content to get that last bit of performance out of a design, but if your time is worth anything, why not build an MTM or a 2-way or even 3-way with better drivers...spend the money on quality components instead of tedious labor. Unless you absolutely love the T-line sound (which I do).
  • 09-05-2004, 09:35 AM
    RGA
    Then you might like PMC Transmission Lines - Audio Note's AZ are transmission lines though they call it something else.

    Labour is the biggest cost. SOundhounds is sending their repair person to Britain so that he can learn the computer system and how they match the speakers. Then Soundhounds can make the speakers K and J to the same standards. Terry said people keep coming in and they want the speaker but understandably at the "deal" price of last years models. So they will build them - they willnot crate them so you would take em in a blanket or somehting as it costs $50.00 just to crate the freaking things. These kinds of external costs are always thrown back into the retail price of the speaker - you have the manufacturer the distributer and the retailer each taking their 25%(and that's after talking them down) - so there is a 100% marke-up at least from the time you actually pay for them. It's simply cheaper than paying a Brit to make them. They estimate that the J would sell for about $3300.00Cdn which is a far cry from $4900.00.

    You of course can build it yourself but that is true of any speaker - and people have a tendancy not to charge themselves labour or gas, insurance, wear and tear going to get the ply wood, nor do they count the tools they bought for the job - soldering irons heating etc. If I charge $20.00 to myself suddenly it isn't so much of a good deal because it does take more than an hour to put it together.

    Crossover is big aspect - but you need the appropriate drivers to compliment the driver and the right wood.

    The J/L and the J/Spe use the same crossover and the same drivers, the cabinet and wiring are different - the former is more of an equivelant to MDF and it simply doesn't sound as good...still good but IMO definitely worth paying the extra for. More noticeable in the E but the E uses more of it.

    The Kit E is the equivelant of the AN E/D which retailed for $2700.00US and Soundhounds was selling last years models for $2,000.00CDN. They sold out very fast. I am surprised in one way that AN is Soundhound's biggest selling line given the price relative to the others.

    And no I'm not associating Totem with Bose - I personally think you can get just as good sound from speakers at half the price of Totem most of the time is all - I feel you are paying double for the looks. But you are still getting a quality loudspeaker in your home. Bose gives neither looks(and I mean more finish as art like Totem) nor sound and you can pay even MORE for it than Totem. I mean Bose has those cubes here for ~$3000.00 you could by RCA Cubes at Wal-mart and get the same sound and same small looks for $229.00 with mid/woofer module they call a sub and even include amp/dvd player (well maybe $269.00 for the one with the Built in DVD player.

    Totem is a real speaker more or less - but i'm not sure I can realistically say that the one should pay more for the Totem mite over the B&W 602S3 or Energy C5 or even the C3 - I like it a bit louder and more room filling than to get your friends to go "Wow cool look at how much bass you get from such a small box"
  • 09-05-2004, 12:54 PM
    matt39
    Hi fahertyps,

    Just thought I'd suggest a possible alternative to the Monitor Audio B2. If you have a PSB dealer in your area you might want to audition the new Image B25. It's in your price range at $450 and is also front ported. While I haven't yet heard this model, I auditioned it's predecessor the Image 2B extensively and they were very good speakers so the new model could be worth a listen. The Monitor is an excellent choice but the PSB could at least give you something to compare. One thing I was wondering, do you like your Mini Monitors? Seems to me they would compete directly with what you're considering. Good luck.
  • 09-05-2004, 09:55 PM
    jasmit
    fahertyps - you wrote: "I was leaning towards a pair of Paradigm Studio 20 v4s, which I heard recently . . . ."

    Would that be v.3 or has Paradigm snuck in another version?

    If you're talking about the Studio 20 v.3, yes they are a little more expensive and slightly larger than the MA B2's. I've heard both and, while the B2's are a very nice speaker and well worth the money, to my ears the Studio 20's sounded so much better -- much more than the difference in price between them and the B2's. But that's to my ears; you're certainly wise to audition as many speakers in or near your price range as you can.