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Budget Bookshelfs: EPOS ELS 3 or Wharfedale Diamnond 9.1s?
I am helping to put together a system for my parents and am looking for some budget bookshelf speakers to pair with a certified factory refurbished Marantz SR4001 that I bought them for Christmas (the surrounds btw are just some low end Klipsch satellites that came with a Samsung HTIB they purchased a few years ago). I am primarily looking for bookshelf speakers between $200-$300. The list I started with consisted of Monitor Audio's BR1s ($199) and BR2s ($279), Tannoy Mercury F1 Customs ($235), EPOS ELS 3 ($296), and Wharfedale 9.1s ($269). I am in a very rural area unfortunately, and do not have access to audition any of these speakers myself.
My Dad mostly listens to Classical music (I think he is especially fond of the piano), while my mom is a big fan of the 50's music (Elvis in particular, as well as Fats Domino, etc.) They also love to watch college basketball on their HD plasma TV and watch a movie about once a week or so. I would say that their system use is probably 55 to 60% music. With all of that in mind (especially the types of music they enjoy) I was hoping you could provide me with some comparative characteristics of these speakers.
From everything I've read, the BR2s would be ideal, except that they are really too large for the area. The speakers are going to be placed on a knee/thigh high entertainment stand, approx 4 feet apart on either side of the TV. I have basically narrowed it down to the BR1s the EPOS ELS 3s, and the Wharfedale Diamond 9.1s. I contacted Marantz and they said the SR4001 would have no problem driving a 4 ohm speaker. I have heard that sometimes 4 ohm speakers can sound muddy when paired with an amp that is not qualified for 4 ohms speakers. Do you have any thoughts on the EPOS (4 ohms) with this Marantz? I should also mention that at some point (probably will be next Christmas) we hope to add a fairly inexpensive sub to the system. But since this may be a year or better, I am wondering how much I should take into consideration each speakerís low end (55Hz for the BR1s, 65Hz for the ELS3s, and 50Hz for the 9.1s).
Although they are pushing the upper limits for size, I am fond of the Wharfedales because of their build quality, the silk dome tweeters (which I feel would make them quite smooth), and the option for bi-wiring, as well as some really good reviews. Although a couple of comments have me just a little concerned that they may be too warm, or lacking detail or separation. What are your thoughts on that?
I am fond of the EPOS because of some rave reviews for them as well, not to mention all the good things that I have read about them on several forums. I guess my concern with them is if they will be adequate for HT use (weekly ball games and 2 or 3 movies a month) without adding a sub in the immediate future. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think these would not be smooth enough or be at all too bright given the types of music they will be listening to? Also, one reviewer stated that "speaker stands are a must", which gives me pause since they are NOT going to be on stands.
I have not found any reviews of the BR1s, but have read some impressive reviews about the BR2s (and even more impressive reviews about the SR6s, which I hope to purchase for myself in the next month or so).
I hope I havenít asked you to repeat too much of what you stated in your earlier posts. I certainly appreciate any experience/knowledge you could share about these speakers especially as far as how suitable their characteristics are for the types of music I mentioned.
Ultimately I am hoping to get my parents to listen to and enjoy more music and therefore want to make sure that I get them a speaker with exceptional musicality (for a budget bookshelf) and to make sure that they are not too bright or in any way fatiguing.
At the moment I am leaning ever so slightly toward the Wharfedales.
Thanks in advance.
Both would be good choices. I am not much help as I have only read about both speakers. I am more of a soft dome tweeter fan. I have read great things about the Wharfedale tweeter. I am sure they will be pleased with either. Nice of you to help bring more music into your parents lives.
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There are a lot of choices in the budget bookshelf arena. Ideally I would want to listen to something before buying it. Is there a circuit city anywhere near you? They sell the KEF IQ1 and IQ3 which are in your price range. These might be worth considering as well and may be superior to both speakers you are looking at.
And consider manufacturer direct route. Axiom and AV123 offer no risk, money back, in home listening, and have bookshelves for around $300 a pair. They will ship to you for free and you have 30 days to try them out.
I have not heard either of the speakers you mention, but I do own a pair of Wharfedale Emerald tower speakers. I have been told theese sound somewhat similar to the 9.1's. The Emeralds are a very good speaker in their price class, in my opinion and a very good value. As mentioned above they have a very nice sounding tweeter, silk dome, with a somewhat laid back sound. Very easy to listen to. The bass extension on the Emeralds is pretty good, but they are a 3 way design with two 6.5" drivers, so it is not the same as you are looking at. I would assume you will need a small sub to go with the 9.1 bookshelves.
There is a nice review of the 9.1's on Audioholics.com I beleive.
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D'oh! It seems as though I spoke to hastily. The Wharfedales, are in fact about half an inch to large. So I guess that leaves me with the EPOS as the front runner. Although one reviewer stated "Also, speaker stands are a must." Is there a sound reason (haha! pun intended) they would they say that?
Another person commenting on the ELS 3s stated that "I listen to mostly jazz/classical and some 60's/70's rock and am very pleased with them. Paired with a good sub(s) however and they sound phenomenal (for the price)." but went on to also say "if you have a 'bright' room they can sound awful and very painful to listen to regardless."
Well what am I to make of that!????
Maybe I can somehow make the Wharfedales work after all. Ahhhrrgggg!!!
This can be such a frustrating process...
p.s. Again, does anyone have any input on the MA BR1s or the Tannoys?
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Thanks for the suggestions zepman1. Although I personally have never been a big fan of KEFs. Although it could have had something to do with the source components, almost all of the KEFs I have heard seemed a bit bright for my personal tastes. And since I am anticipating them to be listened to for an hour or two at a time, I want to make sure that the speakers I choose are not at all fatiguing. I had rather err on the side of them being too laid back. Again, one of the reasons I like the 9.1s is because of the silk tweeter.
Yes, the KEF's can sound a bit bright, especially depending on the room treatment. Also have a very nice soundstage and midrange. I just threw it out there because maybe you could listen to them if there was a CC nearby.
Seriosly, I would check out the Axiom and AV123 options. I will be looking at them myself, and it costs nothing/ very little to audition them in home. Both of these speakers are well recommended in that price class.
Definitely avoid anything sounding fatiguing. I also generally prefer soft tweeters, although aluminum can sound good when properly implemented.
Stands are generally required because the speakers sound best at ear level a couple feet away from the wall. Usually you will kill the soundstage if they are not placed that way. I have heard the Axioms sound good wall mounted, but that is not usually the case. How were you planning on mounting/ placing these speakers?
I would buy the Tannoy Fusion 1 just for the easy of positioning. Soundwise Tannoys are very good (someone told me that the 1 sound beter than mine 2 so I think you will be impressed), maybe their bad point is the aestethics, a bit rough.
Monitor Audios are a safe bet too but aren't bass reflex front ported.
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They will be placed on a knee/thigh high entertainment cabinet, one on each side of the plasma TV, about 3 and half to four feet apart. They are also going to be close to the wall. You mentioned that the Axioms reportedly sound fine wall mounted but that is usually not the case. Do you know if any of the speakers I have mentioned are known to have exceptionally poor sound when placed to close to a wall?
Ideally you want the speakers at ear level and away from the wall. Most any speaker will not sound as good when it is on the wall or very close to it.
Also you mention that you are placing the speakers 3-4 feet apart on each side of the TV. You may want to consider magnetically shielded speakers if they are that close to the TV. I do not know if that is a problem with plasma or not... But ideally they would be spaced further apart. In the long run I think you will be happier with standmounts for better placement. You can always add those later though.
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Yeah ideally that would be best, but again, this is a system in my parents home, not mine, and my mother is not going to use any kind of stand whatsoever. I have already rearranged the furniture in order to get everything situated as best as possible, but with the locations of the doorways, fireplace, bookshelves, etc., I really don't have any other options. Trust me, I have tried to manipulate their furniture in a number of ways to best accommodate their AV system, which was no easy task in keeping my mother happy. I was even able to get a leather cigar chair taken out of the room to give me more space to work with, but their is little else that can be done, if she were to approve of it.
Anyway, you mentioned something about magnetically shielded speakers. I know nothing of these. Do you have any further suggestions about makes/models or where I could find out more info.
Gotcha. Sometimes you just have to work within the confines of the room. If there is any way to easily get the speakers up to ear level (angle them upward slightly?) I would try to do that.
When speakers are placed too close to the tv, the magents in the speakers can cause interference with the TV signal. This definitely is an issue with standard CRT televisions, but I am thinking it will not matter for a plasma, LCD or DLP because they should not be using magnets like the CRT. (Someone correct me if I am wrong).
To avoid the interference issues you need magnetically shielded speakers. This information should be given on the manufacturer website, or just call customer service. Like I said it probably shouldn't be an issue with a plasma TV... but don't take my word on it. I have an LCD, but my speakers are shielded, so I don't know from experience.
I would certainly consider a speaker that goes down to the 50Hz if your not using a sub.
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