I'm rebuilding my speaker system. I like the sound of the old DCM Timeframe/TimeWindow speakers. I've been using surround sound since the 80s. Purchased the original DSP1 from Yamaha and used the Aureal sound card on my computer before the not-so creative company drove them out-of-business. Both were really ground-breaking advances in music reproduction. The point here is that I don't mind having my music colored for a particular purpose but I want speakers that will faithfully reproduce the sound they receive from the system, colored or faithful. That is my single demand of speakers.
I have a good subwoofer (SVS) and a so-so center (Polk) channel speaker. I want to get new front and and surround speakers (dipole/bipole). I've looked and most floorstanding/front/tower speakes seem to be your basic bass-reflex speaker. The only difference seems to be in the number of drivers, the quality of the drivers and a few variations in crossovers . Everything is MDF with a choice of three glossy finishes, most are reinforced and magnetically shielded.
I have seen a couple of TL vendors but most of them seem be two or three guys in a garage making boxes you can't audition anywhere. I did notice that HTD (http://www.htd.com/cabinet-speakers/...-Speakers#more) claims to have a tuned-port TL on their level three tower. I find this incredible at that price range and figure if the compents are well-designed and of good quality the speakers probably sound excellent but where can you listen to them?
So anyone have any suggestions on some not so mainstream TLs and bipole/dipoles surrounds. I'll also entertain any suggestions that include some strong reasoning about the quality of construction and why the speakers have a balanced accurate sound even if they are garden-variety bass-reflex.
I'm living temporarily in Maryland's golden-triangle so if anyone knows a good place to audtion speakers, I would appreciate the suggestion. I tried the Worst-Seller place with very poor results. Budget is between 2k and 2.5k!
Many of the box speakers may look the same but some of the differences you named, drivers, crossovers etc. are big differences. The fact, they all choose one similar box technology doesn't mean they sound similar. Right off, I can't think of any company that use TLS. I saw where ESS is coming back to market and offering the classic Heil AMT speaker line. My choice in speakers is Dynaudio. They hand build everything in house that goes into the speaker from the drivers to the crossover parts. I listen to a wide variety of music from Classical to Metal and Dynaudio sounds good on it all. They have performed well with a variety of amplifiers as well. I call them the most neutral speaker I've found but most don't understand what I mean by that. What I mean is what I stated about being able to perform with a wide variety of music and equipment. Dynaudio is a well balanced sounding speaker able to reproduce great bass. They are honest though and will let you know if there are flaws in your electronics. That's the price of an accurate speaker that provides great detail though. Another line I like is Paradigm. They have lines that start at a lower price point than Dynaudio would.
SVS do make excellent subs, they are also building speakers now you can buy. Whether a demo of them or any other online retailed speaker, all will offer a 30 day return if not happy with them. Just keep in mind most good speakers require a break in period. So if you did bring a pair in you'd want to run them for some consistent hours in order to get a fair evaluation before your time ran out.
Another thing to consider is what amplification you will be using. If just a receiver it will limit your choices to speakers that are reasonably efficient (sensitive) and stable impedance loads.
If you like the Polk and care about good home theater, the logical thing would be to buy matching series to your Polk. If not overwhelmed with the Polk, I hope you plan to replace the center with a matching center of the speakers you choose.
Many here use Magnepan panel speakers. The point being to get away from the "box speaker sound". If you want good bass though as in a TLS speaker you'd need a sub with the Maggies, as well as a powerful amplifier. I prefer electrostat in this type of speaker but they would be out of your budget, look at Martin Logan if any interest.
Some very good suggestions. I think I agree with everything you said about quality.
I did try to audtion the Martin Logan and a few others at a local store. I think the Logans were too weak in bass reproduction but the demo wasn't very good. It was with limited music and the the CD/DVD player was defnitely not tracking properly. I also thought the Logans had sound windows where some sounds were missing or weak.
The one area where I tend to disagree with you is matching speakers. I do wish someone would build systems with matching left and rights and pre-test all their speakers for similar performance over the spectrum. I figure most of those are out of my range but if I could find a good deal on a pair of Polk LSI-15s I might consider them. I am considering the LSi9s paired with my SVS and the Polk LSiFx surrounds. That is pretty close to my buget and they're all matched.
I do hope to replace the center speaker but its on a budget basis so it may come later if the towers and surrounds take all the money.
I plan to us an HTPC as a preamp and run the outputs through a separate amp configuration. The amps need replacing but again it will be budget driven as to when they actually get replaced.
If you are on a budget look at www.emotiva.com Some here have their amps and they are an excellent bang for the buck. If you aren't opposed to used Adcom amps sell cheap on the used market. Not sure why, they are great for their price.
Not sure what you mean by "matching speakers". If it's my comments on a center speaker let me ask if you'd use different speakers for left and right channels? Basically, the same thing for 5 channel, or most critical the 3 front. Movie soundtracks have panning sound from side to side, and some center content is in the sides as well, like if music is playing or large scenes where the sound may be covering a wider viewing area than just the center screen. For optimum 5 channel sound the 3 fronts have to match. If they don't you will hear the content but the panning will not be smooth and sound from the center won't mesh with the rest of the sound stage. If the fronts didn't match you wouldn't be the first, the operative word here is "optimum". Most don't realize how important that front coherency is until you've heard it correctly.
Martin Logan, especially newer models, cover the frequency range well. There should have been decent bass if the program material was there and the amp could drive them properly. They also make amplified versions that have great bass. One thing that is hard to get used to with ML, and this could be what you are referring to, you do not get the same sensation with them. They don't move air like a dynamic driver would so you don't get as much physical feel as you do with a regular speaker. I auditioned a pair in my home and that was hard to get over. With all that being said the entry models without amplification that use only an 8" driver are not the last word in bass response.
I meant speakers that are matching right and left pairs. Which most MFGs only match as left and right in speaker-techno, it's called "tonal matching" or "voice matching". I would like to see this taken a step further with complete testing to match the drivers. For example, two midrange speakers built on the same assembly line will have slightly different characteristics. A good factory will test them at random for quality control and if they are within spec they'll continue production. If they're out of spec they'll look for anomalies in quality or production. When assemblers get them it would be great if they compared them to get the best matched pairs. That is way too much to ask but still with modern computerized testing the PC could probably do most of the comparison testing.
I'm not real excited about Polk and I may try the ML again but at this point I would like to hear as many other choices as I can. I'm planning on purchasing in the March timeframe so I still have some time to search.
Still I hope someone will read this thread who has heard the HTD, ML, Aperion, Polk, Energy, Definity, Magnepan, DCM or some other speaker they've heard that sounds very good with specs to match.