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  1. #1
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Overwhelmed - too many speakers out there...

    ... and I haven't even started seriously looking yet!

    Looking for new front speakers that can stand alone in stereo mode. I want speakers that can stand on their own, whether hooked to a mono, stereo, 2.1, or on up amp. I don't mind using a sub, I just don't want to have to.

    I've lurked here enough to know I need to provide some data, so here goes:

    Music: Mostly vintage rock. 50s - mid 80s or so.

    Listening room: 16' x 24', system arranged along long axis. Carpet, plush furniture. Wood walls, but with lots of windows (shades, curtains). Acoustic ceiling? (paper tiles)

    Budget: $500 - 600 US, but could stretch that a little if absolutely necessary.

    I like the tight bass of sealed enclosures. I imagine some modern ported boxes can achieve this, but I've not seen this in any of the specs I have looked at. (Again, I've just gotten started - probably haven't looked at 1% of what's there.) Looks like a lot of them roll off at around 50 Hz or so.

    I guess they should be, what, at least bright if not brilliant? I find I always turn up the mid & treb controls.

    I'd appreciate it if someone could point me at a few possibilities. There are too many speakers to sift through.

    TIA
    -Jon

    One other thing: They can't look like frat guy speakers. SWMBO would not be amused.

  2. #2
    rockin' the mid-fi audio_dude's Avatar
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    hmm...tough one
    Last edited by audio_dude; 07-29-2006 at 07:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    What are "frat guy" speakers? Huge monstrosities? Ancient looking speakers? Whut?

    And: hmm...tough set of criteria.

    The two particularly vexing are "...sealed enclosure..." and "...don't need a sub...". Now, admittedly, a lot of "classic rock" (sorry) doesn't have much deep bass, but every once in a while, it does. So you're going to want something at least down to 40 or 50 Hz or so.

    Here's a thought (and I'm thinking out loud, which I liken to masticating in public, so apologies in advance): start with a pair of sealed speakers, and see how well they do. If not, add a sub later.

    In terms of tight bass, it is my understanding (someone else weigh in here if I'm wrong) that in general, designs go in the following order, from tightest to...uh...least tight:

    Sealed
    Transmission line
    Reflex
    Passive Radiator

    I don't know where open baffle falls in.

    But what I'm saying is, you may want to look at transmission line designs as well (PMC, etc. -- although PMC is out of your price range).

    In terms of bass reflex, try to make sure the port is on the front (first choice) or bottom (second choice). Bass ports on the back tend to sound boomy because they reflect off the back wall, so have a delay. But that can be okay in certain rooms. Yours sounds nice and big, but I hope your measurements are a little bit off, because 24 == 16 * 3/2 which [s]sucks[/s] is inferior because you don't want dimensions to be even multiples of each other, or even multiples of some other dimension. And most rooms are 8' high, so they're both even multiples of the height. You're definitely going to need some room treatments if that's the case. Pulling the speakers out into the room away from the walls will also help, but make them non-integral fractions of the room (like hitting a guitar string at the halfway mark or the 1/4 or 1/5 or 1/6 mark to get harmonics -- don't do that).

    That said, I have no specific suggestions, let me think about it some more.
    Eschew fascism.
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  4. #4
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Dusty Chalk said:

    A lot! Wow; especially about the room.

    Yeah, frat guy speakers are monstrosities that are either not fully grilled or have nearly transparent grilles, and generally huge.

    In reading your post, I'm pretty sure what I'm looking for is acoustic suspension (sealed). In terms of bass, think something like EL&P, Pink Floyd; that sort of thing (no other examples come to mind at the moment). Bass that will hurt you if you're not careful. Muddy or boomy bass won't do.

    Room geometry? I get to do math? I love it! Not exactly 16x24 - there is a 5x6 oe so chunk out of one corner (closet).

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Sealed
    Transmission line
    Reflex
    Passive Radiator
    Not familiar with that term. Is that electret (sp?)? The flat panels? I heard them once - blew me away! Out of my price range then; no doubt still are now.

  6. #6
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    gonna mentioned Polk RTi8's (should be in the $600+ area), cause they should be easy to find in your area. They're a tower with real wood (black oak or cherry) to help with the acceptence factor. Should have plenty of low end without a sub and if I remember right Polk went back to a silk dome tweeter. Whatever you do once you narrow it down, grab some cds/dvds ya know well and let your ears tell ya the ones for you. Just looked to see if you had a Phase Technology dealer in Austin, and you do. So I have to suggest those as a owner, Made in house in Florida with a great warranty.
    Last edited by 2chAlex; 07-28-2006 at 07:41 PM.

  7. #7
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tin ear
    Not familiar with that term. Is that electret (sp?)? The flat panels? I heard them once - blew me away! Out of my price range then; no doubt still are now.
    No, transmission line are just another way of loading the drivers. It's a really nice load on the driver. It's basically a long pipe, but for some reason (beyond the scope of what I am able to explain in ASCII), it does not work the same as bass reflex. Here's the Wiki.

    Oh, and the corner? Very good.

    So, these are frat boy speakers? Too bad, I've heard good things about them. (Also, they're >> US$600.)

    Actually, there are very few acoustic suspension/sealed speakers, so start there. I know there are others, but the Spendor S3/5 is the only one I'm aware of, offhand (and it is nice, but does not go loud well). It's more for nearfield listening. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And it's bass is to...do without. Definitely needs a sub.
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
    I remain,
    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  8. #8
    rockin' the mid-fi audio_dude's Avatar
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    no, this is a "Frat guy" speaker!!!

    hey, if you're into the whole flat panel speaker thing, look into the magnepan MMG, around $500!

  9. #9
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    http://www.psbspeakers.com/product.php?pId=68&sId=4

    These speakers get GREAT reviews and many people say they compete with speakers twice their price. $599 a pair, its perfect for you.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    A nice small speaker with good bass and is a sealed box is the NHT SB3. The bass is rated to 40hz. List price is $600. a pair. www.nhthifi.com

    http://www.nhthifi.com/p-ht-superaudio.html
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  11. #11
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    What does anyone think about Infinity Primus 360 for $400 a pair?
    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-E4tDrTf...2000&I=700P360

    Any reviews I've seen on these are glowing.

    edit: Maybe add some 150s or 160s for surrounds later?

    If Infinities have a characteristic sound, what would that be?

  12. #12
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    I didn't mention online because you kinda got to know that's what you want cause for the most part, once you buy their yours unless defective. Some speaker builders who sell direct do offer a period of time to listen and return if not to your taste. Just a heads up. There are good deals to be found online though. Guess the best thing is check to see if they are authorized.

  13. #13
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Alex, I'm having a lot of trouble finding any place around here where you can walk in and listen to a variety of speakers.

    Kinda looks like you buy what Best Buy or Circuit City has or go online. (Oh and a couple hifi shops aimed at the wealthy.)

    So I'm doing a lot of searching online -- at places I've dealt with befroe and I trust. Speakers that are highly rated by a large sample size of people seem like a pretty safe bet. At least I can be pretty sure I won't totally hate them like I do my present speakers.

    -Jon

    BTW, found 2 dealers nearby who sell the PhaseTechs. Unfortunately they are the type of places that don't just sell gear. No, they want to, through consultations with me and my architect, design an [sic] harmonious acoustic environment which will enlighten my soul and fully integrate with my lifestyle... etc. That's Austin for you.
    OTOH, if they have showrooms, I may go slouch on their furniture, plunk my feet on their coffee table, and give a listen.
    Last edited by tin ear; 07-30-2006 at 07:15 AM.

  14. #14
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Thanks, all. Lots of great suggestions! Burning up the net looking at them all.
    -Jon

  15. #15
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlumDragon
    http://www.psbspeakers.com/product.php?pId=68&sId=4

    These speakers get GREAT reviews and many people say they compete with speakers twice their price. $599 a pair, its perfect for you.
    Found a place in town that sells those. I think I've been there, maybe 15 years ago. I think that's where I heard the flat panels too. Thanks! I'd forgotten about that that place. Wish they had a decent website tho... Got this 'country boy' thing going & don't get to town much...

  16. #16
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Re: PSB

    Hey tin ear,
    You may want to take the time to get into town. I have a friend who snagged a pair of these and is quite happy with them. Given your budget and criteria I think you'd missing out if you didn't follow up...
    Happy hunting
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    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  17. #17
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    Hey tin ear,
    You may want to take the time to get into town.
    I'll do it! Thanks.
    The place is real easy it get to & I remember the merchant wasn't the least bit 'snooty'.

    Not snooty but he'll sell you whatever you can afford, I guess:
    6. Nordost Blue Heaven speaker wire($499/10' pair): Superb cable, should improve nearly any system by
    a substantial amount. Matched by equally nifty Blue Heaven interconnect ($199/1 meter pair.)
    Last edited by tin ear; 07-30-2006 at 08:20 AM.

  18. #18
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    Too bad about the local birck and motar stores. One of the places you might way to check out is www.onecall.com, They carry the likes of Boston Acoustics, Kef, Phase Tech etc. Saw a close out on Boston CR95 towers not sure how much shipping would be but they're at 149.99 each They ship Fed Ex which I see as a plus.

  19. #19
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2chAlex
    Too bad about the local birck and motar stores.
    Hmm... What I found was this:
    www.encompass-austin.com
    and this:
    www.austinavsolutions.com

    Thanks
    -Jon

  20. #20
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone's help on this thread, I have found a dealer I want to visit, who appears to sell a lot of the speakers mentioned here.
    http://www.audiosystems.com

    I can already see my budget going to hell, though. I see that if I err.. ahem.. double my budget I could walk out of there & fling a pair of Magnepan MG12s in the back of the truck.

    The best solution for a grand? I don't know. I do know they'll laugh these ~$200 / pair, 20-year-old KLHs right out of the house, though.



    Thanks, all; I'm back!



  21. #21
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tin ear
    I'll do it! Thanks.
    The place is real easy it get to & I remember the merchant wasn't the least bit 'snooty'.

    Not snooty but he'll sell you whatever you can afford, I guess:
    6. Nordost Blue Heaven speaker wire($499/10' pair): Superb cable, should improve nearly any system by
    a substantial amount. Matched by equally nifty Blue Heaven interconnect ($199/1 meter pair.)
    Yeah, sounds like a real winning strategy that this non-snooty store is suggesting -- spend $500 on speaker cables, and leave $100 of budget for the speakers themselves! And some audiophiles wonder why the audio industry is in such a state of decline.

    As for your original inquiry, the majority of speakers nowadays are ported speakers. Over the last 20 or so years, the quality of ported speakers has become a lot more consistent and as such, they dominate the market right now. Not a whole lot of sealed acoustic suspension speakers out there right now. Even well-known purveyors of the acoustic suspension design such as AR, KLH, Advent, and Boston Acoustics switched over to ported designs a long time ago. NHT makes some good acoustc suspension speakers, and you'll find a lot of subwoofer manufacturers that use sealed designs.

    I would not choose the speakers based strictly on the design. Even speakers built to a comparable box design could be voiced very differently. I think the first thing you need to figure out is the type of sound you're looking for. If you note some parallels between the sound you want and the design philosophy, then you can narrow down your list. But, the first thing to do is get out there and so some listening. Don't rely on reviews and recommendations alone, since everyone's got their own biases and those might not correspond with what you're looking for. The only opinion that's worth anything to you is yours.
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  22. #22
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    audiosystem looks promising, PSB are definately worth a listen IMO. You and your wallet have fun and let us know the outcome

  23. #23
    HWT F tin ear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2chAlex
    audiosystem looks promising, PSB are definately worth a listen IMO. You and your wallet have fun and let us know the outcome
    I will, thanks. They're closed on Sunday or I'd been there today.

    Woochifer:
    As for your original inquiry, the majority of speakers nowadays are ported speakers. Over the last 20 or so years, the quality of ported speakers has become a lot more consistent and as such, they dominate the market right now.
    Was that motivated by the listener or by the industry? I wonder... If a speaker won't faithfully (or reasonably anyhow) reproduce the full range of human hearing, then you need to buy more speakers to fill in the gaps, right?

    I would not choose the speakers based strictly on the design. Even speakers built to a comparable box design could be voiced very differently. I think the first thing you need to figure out is the type of sound you're looking for. If you note some parallels between the sound you want and the design philosophy, then you can narrow down your list. But, the first thing to do is get out there and so some listening
    No doubt, you're right. I now have a pretty good collection of possibles to go listen to, based on this thread. My guess is I end up with something mentioned here, or nearly so, but we'll see. I actually believe I'll be floored by what's out there now, not having shopped for speakers in 20 years or so.

    Again, thanks all!
    -Jon

  24. #24
    rockin' the mid-fi audio_dude's Avatar
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    Paradigm mini-monitors

    great little speakers, extension down to 40htz, i've heard them, its true!

  25. #25
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tin ear
    Was that motivated by the listener or by the industry? I wonder... If a speaker won't faithfully (or reasonably anyhow) reproduce the full range of human hearing, then you need to buy more speakers to fill in the gaps, right?
    More like improvements to the technology and cyclical trends. Ported speakers require a precise match between the driver characteristics, the cabinet volume, and the size of the vent. Once the Thiele/Small parameters were standardized starting around the mid-70s, manufacturers and hobbyists could accurately and inexpensively predict a ported speaker's tonal characteristics with different cabinet/vent combinations. Less trial-and-error and prototyping needed to get a ported design to sound right. The advantages of a ported design are their greater efficiency and more linear bass response down to the tuned port frequency.

    Acoustic suspension designs are generally more forgiving, which is why beginner DIY hobbyists will often go with a sealed speaker for their first project. Subjectively, some listeners note that sealed speakers have a tighter and more natural sounding bass because they have a quicker transient response and a more gradual dropoff at the low end. However, the dropoff in the bass also starts higher up in the frequency range compared to a ported speaker. I think a big part of the ported speaker's popularity is because the lower efficiency and bass dropoff that begins sooner put the sealed speakers at a disadvantage in a dealer showroom comparison. A ported speaker will likely sound louder, with more bass. A sealed speaker can go deeper, but it won't go louder. A lot of other factors are in play, but those are the general differences.

    As far as the full range goes, a lot of speaker design comes down to how far into that lower octave you want to go. n order for a main speaker to cover most of the audible range, they require very large surface area and/or large cabinets. It's difficult to get keep cabinets that large from resonating, which is why the full range speakers cost so much more. Subwoofers are a very cost-effective way of going into the lower octave because it only has to cover a limited range, only requires a single cabinet, and doesn't have to worry about how the bass response curve will affect the higher frequencies. More speakers won't give you more bass -- more capable speakers or a subwoofer will.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-A1030
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Sony UBP-X800
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
    Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR44 and WVB
    Logitech Harmony 700
    iPhone 5s/iPad 3
    Linksys WES610



    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

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