• 08-16-2015, 07:05 PM
    sjtm
    Help me choose my first (used) speakers
    Trying to assemble a relatively low cost but high quality sound system. This is for strictly listening to music in a relatively small music room ( I am still negotiating with my wife for the space). My tastes cover a wide spectrum, but listen mainly to blues ( Bonnamassa, Buddy Guy. Musselwhite), acoustic / instrumental / jazz ( Metheny, Andy McKee), and female vocals (Leela James, Bonnie Raitt). My budget is from $1,000 - $2,000 max for everything - the lower the better as I am currently funding two kids in college.

    I have identified some speaker options and plan to try to listen to them all, but no guarantee that they will be powered by the right equipment. So I am hoping that this forum might weigh in on which of these might work best for my needs and whether the price represents good value.

    The options are:

    Quad 22 L - $600. Right now I think these are my first choice, but not the most efficient speakers if I am reading specs correctly.

    NHT 2.5i - $375. My low cost option

    B&W 604 S2 - $400

    Tekton Lore S - $750

    Paradigm Studio 100 v.3 - $1,000 - this is really over my budget, but would stretch if they are far superior to the other options.

    PSB Imagine T Towers - $1,000 - same issue as above

    Polk Lsi15 Towers - $1,000

    B&W 683 - $1000 - I think these are too bass light for what I want

    I know this may be a wide range, but hoping for comments by those with direct experience with one or more of the above. I would also appreciate recommendations for an amp / preamp or integrated amp to work with one or more of these. Thanks in advance.
  • 08-17-2015, 04:19 AM
    Feanor
    Welcome to AR Forums, sjtm.

    In the budget range that you are considering, speakers are the most important component by far, i.e. if you are going to stretch your budget a little, they are the place to do it.

    Others might be better informed than I among the speakers you've listed. My first take would be that the Paradigm Studio 100 V3's are possibly the best, but most of the others are reputable speakers too. As for the Paradigms, they were at one time designated Class 'A' by Stereophile magazine. However they are large speakers that might deliver too much bass for a small room; the same might be true for some of the others.

    For deciding, it's always preferable to listen to the speakers in you own listening area. If that isn't possible (which will often be the case of course), then it's next best to compare speakers in similar listening spaces and driven by similar up-stream components.
  • 08-17-2015, 08:31 AM
    blackraven
    I agree with Feanor about the Paradigms being the best of the bunch but for your type of music the PSB's would be great. PSB's have a slightly warmer edge which is great for blues, vocals and acoustic music. I own a pair of PSB B6's and they sound great. PSB typically has a house sound. I listen to similar music and my vote goes for the PSB's.

    Read some of the reviews on the Imagine T-s on Audio Advisor-

    PSB Imagine T Tower Loudspeaker-Audio Advisor

    The Quads are supposed to be good speakers as well although I have not heard them. Here is a review on them that you should read-

    Quad 22L2 review | TechRadar

    I am surprised that you found the 683's lacking bass. They need good amplification. I have heard them on several occasions and find that they have good bass but they were driven by a Rotel amp.

    Picking out speakers is very subjective, just go with what sounds best to you.
  • 08-17-2015, 11:45 AM
    sjtm
    Thanks for opinions
    I did listen to a air of B&W 685's and, assuming the sound is similar to the 683, I also felt they lacked bass. I plan to audition the Quads in the next few days. As budget still plays a key role in this (and I think I can get the Quads for $500), I am still leaning towards these based on reviews. But hearing is the real test.

    Any thoughts on amp / preamp? My only music source will be a Marantz CD5004 and possibly lossless WMA files from my laptop.
    In the spirit of low budget, I have been looking at older NAD and ADCOM equipment.



    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    I agree with Feanor about the Paradigms being the best of the bunch but for your type of music the PSB's would be great. PSB's have a slightly warmer edge which is great for blues, vocals and acoustic music. I own a pair of PSB B6's and they sound great. PSB typically has a house sound. I listen to similar music and my vote goes for the PSB's.

    Read some of the reviews on the Imagine T-s on Audio Advisor-

    PSB Imagine T Tower Loudspeaker-Audio Advisor

    The Quads are supposed to be good speakers as well although I have not heard them. Here is a review on them that you should read-

    Quad 22L2 review | TechRadar

    I am surprised that you found the 683's lacking bass. They need good amplification. I have heard them on several occasions and find that they have good bass but they were driven by a Rotel amp.

    Picking out speakers is very subjective, just go with what sounds best to you.

  • 08-17-2015, 12:30 PM
    blackraven
    The 683's are towers and the 685's are bookshelf's. There is a big difference in the bass and weight of the sound with the 683's.

    That Marantz CDP has a nice sound and probably the best at its price point. NAD and older Adcom gear has a nice sound but read the reviews on the particular models you are considering. Each brand had some great models and some not so good. I would also look at Parasound and Marantz gear especially with that Marantz CDP. Marantz gear has good synergy with other Marantz electronics.

    Here is a good deal on a high current Marantz integrated amp, it has plenty of power and Marantz usually underrates their power specs. It should be able to drive any of those speakers. It also has preamp out so you can upgrade to a separate power amp if you decide to do so.

    MARANTZ PM8005 Stereo Integrated Amplifier | Accessories4less

    I helped a friend put together an all Marantz system with a PM5005 and a 5004 CDP all purchased from the above site, including a Pro Ject Cabon TT. It sounds great, very smooth and musical with a hint of warmth. No harshness what so ever.

    To play computer music you will need a DAC. There are some very good budget DAC's available.
  • 08-18-2015, 06:07 PM
    sjtm
    Appreciated the suggestion to pair a Marantz amp with my Marantz cd player. I happened to come across an open box PM7005 integrated amp with built in DAC for $600 and took the plunge. While I was hoping to find good used seperate amp / preamp for this price, much of the equipment was 20-30 years old and I grew concerned may need some repair with continued use (it seems everyone has been pulling their old NAD and ADCOM equipment out of storage recently and listing it on Craigslist). The PM7005 puts out 60Wx2 continuous, has the same heavy duty power supply as the PM8005, and, of course, has the DAC. I bought the CD5004 last week new(store display) for $170, so I am hoping my total system cost will stay under $1,300 including interconnects.
  • 08-18-2015, 07:00 PM
    blackraven
    Nice score. For good inexpensive interconnects check out Blue Jeans Cable -- Quality Cables at Reasonable Prices

    They make well built IC's and their Belden speaker wire is very good. I use their 10g bare ended speaker wire and terminated them with their banana plugs. I noticed no difference in sound when compared to a pair of $400 speaker cables.

    Let us know what speakers you decide to go with.
  • 08-19-2015, 05:46 PM
    Mr Peabody
    The Marantz integrated I'm sure will sound great. Probably not the amp to try to drive the Quads with though. I'm too late but I was going to suggest taking a look at the Cambridge Audio SR-20.

    I like the Studios and although fairly efficient they do like some current, I'd only buy if you have a return option.

    I don't know price and model by heart but I'd urge you to take a look at Golden Ear speakers who have been getting nothing but raves. They have both passive and some with amplified bass which would take some work off the Marantz and allow you to get the bass to your taste.

    I personally would trust old amps over old speakers. Speaker surrounds rot and depending on environment some quicker than others.

    You had some good choices on your list. I'm not a big fan of single driver speakers like the Tekton.
  • 08-19-2015, 09:16 PM
    sjtm
    Thanks for the guidance. The more I read up on impedance and sensitivity, the more I realize the Quads are not a great choice. I listened to them tonight - the owner was not present and his wife knew nothing about them. They were not set up, so we pulled the cables from his new Quad ESL's driven by a Quad 99 / 909 preamp / amp setup. At 140 watts, the sound quality was less than spectacular, although the positioning was far from ideal. I still would prefer floorstanders, but will think more carefully about the right pairing with the PM7005. Unfortunately, this unit was just introduced in the last 9 months and there are almost no reviews or forum posts anywhere covering its performance and opinions on what it pairs with well. I guess I am among the first to go this route.

    I also have tried to limit my consideration to speakers less than 10 years old. It does limit my options, but I have the same concern as you about age effects.
  • 08-20-2015, 04:44 AM
    Mr Peabody
    I've heard one Quad set up and it was very nice sounding, it was one of those sounds that you might be able to find faults with frequency or whatever but yet it was so nice to listen to. The gear is particular about what it has synergy with from what I understand.

    I have a Marantz HT receiver that pushes Revel in-walls for me, it's rated at 50 watts a channel. I think some of the speakers on your list would be fine like the NHT, PSB or B&W. Marantz typically has a full bass, I suspect the Marantz may sound decent with the B&W. I didn't like B&W bass either until I heard them paired with McIntosh, then I couldn't believe it was the same speaker, ARC & Rotel don't seem to do them justice although that's usually what they are paired with.

    You might also take a look at Wharfedale which new is a good value, price per performance. Musicdirect carries them and allows an audition. Just keep in mind most speakers require some break in when new out of the box.
  • 08-20-2015, 08:22 AM
    blackraven
    I agree with Mr. P about the Wharfedales. Music direct has great prices on them. They are a lot of bang for the buck. Here are some reviews on them.

    http://www.musicdirect.com/c-610-tow...randFilterID=0


    Wharfedale Diamond 10 Series 5.1 Speaker System Reviewed
  • 08-20-2015, 09:53 AM
    blackraven
    Just another thought on speakers. Elac has a new line of speakers coming out that were designed by Andrew Jones. They were the hit of the Newport Audio show this summer. Paired with high quality gear they astounded people with their sound.

    speakers ? Welcome to ELAC Americas

    ELAC Speakers Designed By Andrew Jones -- T.H.E. Show Newport 2015 Report
  • 08-21-2015, 05:04 AM
    sjtm
    I greatly appreciate all the input - it is very helpful. I feel like I am making all the newbie mistakes - did not buy separates; did not buy tons of power; getting enamored with brands before fully understanding how to match the parts of my system to both my tastes and budget.

    At the moment I realize I am struggling with straying from the original concept (which may have been flawed from the start). While my circumstances would allow me to spend more, I had started with the premise of "quality at LOW cost". I am only now beginning to understand the compromises this entails.

    I have put my faith in one brand at the moment - Marantz. I have no direct experience with the equipment and have gone entirely on its reputation. I hope I will be pleasantly surprised once I have everything together. While the time when I can spend $5k+ for an audiophile system is certainly in my future, now is not that time.

    So I have a good quality but modest power 60 watt integrated amp (with built in DAC) and a well thought of CD player. For the moment I have my Sennheiser HD700 headphones ( which I love to listen through despite some internet criticism of these). These HP's are indicative of the sound quality I would like to achieve with two speakers - clear, accurate, fast with great bass reproduction WITHOUT an overwhelming bass emphasis. All this from inexpensive and very efficient speakers.

    Perhaps I am starting to go in the wrong direction, but Paradigm Monitor 7 speakers seem they might fit the bill. I know they are "budget" speakers, but many people seem to like their sound. I have focused on the Monitor 7 v4 series, which was a design demarcation for this line - these represent the last generation to use 6.5 drivers for the mid and bass and recommend power of 15-180 watts with a sensitivity of 93db. And they are fairly cheap - less than $350 / pair. Later versions have similar specs but use 5.5' drivers. Not sure how much this matters though.

    There are a variety of NHT speakers available in my area, both floorstanders and bookshelf (NHT Classic 3) but they all appear to need much more power to drive them.

    I plan to audition a couple of pair of Paradigms this weekend. Of course these are all at least 5-10 year old speakers. Does this pursuit make any sense or am I interpreting the data / specs wrong. BTW - I found a website for PA speaker systems that had some layman's rules of thumb for pairing power and speakers ( I guess DJ's need this approach more than people on Audio Review forums). They recommended amp power should be 1.6x to 2.5x the minimum power handling of the speaker depending on the listening environment. Using this approach, the Paradigms should be driven by an amp with at least 22.5W - 37.5w per channel. Does this rule of thumb make any sense? I am presuming this is based on horn style speaker systems which appear to be very efficient, but the systems are also an order of magnitude larger in every respect.
  • 08-21-2015, 05:27 AM
    sjtm
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    The Marantz integrated I'm sure will sound great. Probably not the amp to try to drive the Quads with though. I'm too late but I was going to suggest taking a look at the Cambridge Audio SR-20.

    I like the Studios and although fairly efficient they do like some current, I'd only buy if you have a return option.

    I don't know price and model by heart but I'd urge you to take a look at Golden Ear speakers who have been getting nothing but raves. They have both passive and some with amplified bass which would take some work off the Marantz and allow you to get the bass to your taste.

    I personally would trust old amps over old speakers. Speaker surrounds rot and depending on environment some quicker than others.

    You had some good choices on your list. I'm not a big fan of single driver speakers like the Tekton.

    The SR-20 looks like it would have been an excellent option. Hope I made a decent choice with the Marantz as it appears to offer far less power thn this.

    The Goldenear Triton 7 seems to be their least expensive at $1400 / pair. These do not have powered subwoofers - those are $2,200 / pair. The 7's do seem to get high praise, but I do not think they have caught on in my area as I see none for sale.
  • 08-21-2015, 05:28 AM
    sjtm
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Nice score. For good inexpensive interconnects check out Blue Jeans Cable -- Quality Cables at Reasonable Prices

    They make well built IC's and their Belden speaker wire is very good. I use their 10g bare ended speaker wire and terminated them with their banana plugs. I noticed no difference in sound when compared to a pair of $400 speaker cables.

    Let us know what speakers you decide to go with.

    Thanks for this recommendation. I am starting do do my homework on this as well.
  • 08-21-2015, 05:38 AM
    sjtm
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    I've heard one Quad set up and it was very nice sounding, it was one of those sounds that you might be able to find faults with frequency or whatever but yet it was so nice to listen to. The gear is particular about what it has synergy with from what I understand.

    I have a Marantz HT receiver that pushes Revel in-walls for me, it's rated at 50 watts a channel. I think some of the speakers on your list would be fine like the NHT, PSB or B&W. Marantz typically has a full bass, I suspect the Marantz may sound decent with the B&W. I didn't like B&W bass either until I heard them paired with McIntosh, then I couldn't believe it was the same speaker, ARC & Rotel don't seem to do them justice although that's usually what they are paired with.

    You might also take a look at Wharfedale which new is a good value, price per performance. Musicdirect carries them and allows an audition. Just keep in mind most speakers require some break in when new out of the box.

    I came upon these Wharfdale 10.7 last night on Music Direct for $799. They are 6 ohm speakers with a sensitivity of 90db. Was not sure how well these would match or what the quality of Wharfdale is.
  • 08-21-2015, 05:50 AM
    sjtm
    One other thought. I was offered a pair of NHT 2.5i speakers plus a Parasound 75w amp from the same seller. He offered the amp for $50. Could I bi-amp this with my Marantz and overcome my power deficit ( these have separate posts for bi-amping)? Would using two different amp brands impact sound / performance positively or negatively?
  • 08-21-2015, 09:26 AM
    blackraven
    That Marantz amp will be fine. It will be able to drive most speakers rated at 4-8 ohms and 87db and above. It has good current behind it. Current is just as important in driving speakers. Those NHT Classic Three's will be easy to drive with the Marantz. I like the sound of the NHT 3's and almost bought a pair. Paradigm makes nice speakers and should be a good match for the Marantz as I have heard that pairing.

    I drive a pair of Monitor Audio S1 bookshelf speakers rated at 88dB Sensitivity to loud levels with a cheap Dayton Audio 20wpc digital amp and the sound is astounding. Don't get too caught up in the power game. Going from 60wpc to 75wpc won't gain you much more volume.

    Any speaker that you get that is rated with a Sensitivity of 88dB or higher will play at ear bleeding levels for the most part. And once you get to a Sensitivity of 90 or above you can use 10 watts or less. And for the most part, when you play music, you are usually using less than 10 watts until you hit some dynamic parts of the music. There are plenty of so called "Flea" amps (because they put out 1 to 5 watts per channel) that cost a few thousand dollars that people pair with high efficiency speakers and many prefer them to high powered systems.

    I also would not worry too much about bass. If your system lacks a little bass you can always add a small sub later. There are plenty of good budget subs or used subs that will do the job.

    The only mistake that you made in putting together your system was not picking out your speakers first. Your Marantz gear will give you that smooth pleasing Marantz sound which is forgiving of poorly recorded music. I would have also gone with the PM8005 as it has preamp out puts so that you could use it as a preamp if you wanted to use a stand alone power amp. It also has more power. The PM7005 does not have preamp out put. I do understand about it having a built in DAC but you could have added a good budget DAC later like the AudioQuest Dragon Fly or something similar. Sometimes it is best to buy the best that you can and add other pieces as money allows. I don't think that you will be disappointed with the Marantz sound. You won't get audiophile sound but you will get very good sound.

    Wharfedale makes some nice sounding speakers, they are smooth sounding with detail and some warmth. The tower speakers are supposed to put out nice bass although I have not heard the towers, only the 10.2's. But you should really buy speakers that you can hear unless you don't mind shipping them back if you don't like them.

    If you can swing it, I would go with the B&W 683's. They will pair well with the Marantz, give you plenty of detail and bass. But give them a listen. Best Buy Magnolia stores carry the 683's and Marantz gear. Bring a long some well recorded music to listen to.

    Those PSB's that you mentioned earlier have a great sound as well.
  • 08-21-2015, 11:47 AM
    Mr Peabody
    Wharfedale do have nice bass and MD allows a return if not happy. Auditioning a speaker with your amp and in your room is best. I only heard one Wharfedale tower and it sounded good with a friend's NAD receiver.
  • 08-21-2015, 03:02 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Your approach wasn't flawed. There is nothing wrong with integrated amps, in fact, they are the thing right now with many very expensive models as wellas people like Yamaha coming out with them again. Keeping to a budget helps you decide what to buy cautiously. Marantz is also very respectable in what they offer. Throwing money at audio doesn't mean you will get better or make you happier, you still need to buy wisely.

    In my opinion you are on your way to having a nice system. Also, in my opinion, if buying used, you'd be guaranteed happy if you found a set of Dynaudio in your budget.

    I think if the Paradigm bass was to your taste you'd like the sound of them. The mids & highs are lively, in a good way.
  • 08-22-2015, 06:11 AM
    sjtm
    Blackraven and Mr Peabody - you are keping me from feeling like I am completely in the dark - thanks. While I am trying to not rush this effort, it seems well priced, quality used speakers go quickly and some I have considered are no longer available. This weekend I am trying to evaluate the current choices:

    B&W 683 $900 floor model - may be gone

    Paradigm Monitor 7 v6 - $550. This appears to be the last version of the monitor 7 series to use 4 drivers (5.5" Bass / mid). I found a pair of M7 v4 (6.5"mid / bass) for $400 but they appear to be sold.

    Paradigm SE3 - new leftovers $900. Hard to find much about these, but very efficient and appear to share some of thedrivers with the Studio line. Marketed as the front speakers for a 5.1 line, but seem intriguing - no chance to demo.

    PSB T5 - new - &700. no chance to demo - online retailer. No returns. Seem bass light

    B&W DM640 - $150. ancient

    Quad 22l - seller offered at $450. still a little concerned that at 89db@6 ohms these might need more power to open up.
  • 08-22-2015, 06:25 AM
    sjtm
    Also considering one more - Focal Chorus 714 -$775. older version but new in box
  • 08-22-2015, 07:47 AM
    Mr Peabody
    This is just my taste but I would lean toward the Focal. I've heard them be slightly bright, not harsh, on some electronics but they can boogie. That's my pick from the lot.

    Next would be a toss up between the B&W or Monitor 7's, I'd have to hear them to decide.

    I would strongly urge you to pick the models you could get some type of audition of. Listen for balance, you don't want anything really jumping out at you like too strong bass or highs, especially highs as you may find yourself with listening fatigue down the road that will put you on the audio marry-go-round looking for another speaker. I like my speakers to reveal detail but sometimes there has to be a balance between detail and what you enjoy. The thing is while you listen, do you find yourself engaged in the music, being drawn in, like, don't bother me now or I can't wait to see what my next favorite recording sounds like.

    Also, keep in mind recordings vary wildly so play a bet of a variety and things you think sound good. Some of those Joe Bonamasa albums sound pretty good, I hope if you are a Blues guy you have some Joe.
  • 08-22-2015, 12:38 PM
    sjtm
    spent the day auditioning speakers, specifically PSB X1T ( seems to be replacement for T5); B&W683; B&W 685; Focal 706; Focal 714. Dealer also had the Wharfedale 10.5 but would not demo it because he did not like them. All of them were driven by a Marantz 80w reciever and source was a Marantz CDP, so I anticipate it will sound similar to my home setup.

    Hands down I preferred the Focal 714. Soundstage was great, definition and clarity was excellent. While the 706 could be acused of being too bright, The 714 was very balanced. The X1T was nearly as good, but lacked excitement. The 685 was just like listening to my car audio ( which is very good but still lacks presence) The 683bass response was not nearly as tightly defined as the F714.

    I found the prior model 714V at a good discount ($775) so I think this is the way to go. It is a bit more than my used options, but I still have not been able to hear the one real used alternative (Paradigm Monitor 7) and I have no question I like the sound of the Focals.
  • 08-22-2015, 01:40 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Yep, it's hard to put into words but the Focals have an "excitement". Get the 714's, their new and not much more than the used models you looked at. Your amp should sound better than the receiver. Have you received it yet? Plus, I bet the 714 would still have original warranty.

    I wonder what his issue with Wharfedale was, but I haven't heard them in a few years. It may just be the Focals and B&W just outclassed them, and a better value for you.