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  1. #1
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    Philosophical question: Do I want speakers that are aggressive, accurate, or laid ba

    Maybe a philosophical audio question for discussionÖ

    Iím looking to build a system up from scratch. Iíve pretty much got nothing now. This will be for 95% music plus the occasional movie. Iíve started with speaker shopping. So far Iíve heard speakers from Sonus Faber, Linn, Paradigm, Klipsch, Dynaudio, Jamo, Totem, B&W, and ATC. (That may be enough for now.) Some of the speakers were just not great (Klipsch, Paradigm). Others (Sonus Faber, Dynaudio) struck me as dull and not very inviting- fine, just not for me. ButÖ

    Some speakers like the Linns (Ninkas) and Totems (Forest) I liked right away. I might call these more aggressive speakers. They have a wonderfully crisp, clear sound that I really, really enjoyed. Every song sounded great. Put a smile on my face right away. Super.

    The ATCís (7 and 12) sounded more accurate that anything Iíve ever heard. These are the only speakers in which the bass drum actually sounded like what a real bass drum sounds like- not just a low thump. However, some of my recordings sounded like crap. The accuracy is fun, the poor recordings were unpleasant to hear.

    And then there are the laid back speakers. When I first heard the B&W (703) I was not impressed. Sounds fine in all regards, but didnít suck me in and compel me to listen too much. But then I listened longer and it sounded a little better. And longer and it sounded even better. I liked them more, the more I heard them.

    SooooÖ Now Iím not sure what Iím after. There were speakers I liked right away. But will I get sick of listening to those on a longer time scale? There were the accurate ones which were nice- and different- in some regards, but didnít sound good in others. Then there were the laid back ones. They didnít pull me in right away, but maybe that is better for, say, 1-3 years down the road?

    Iím curious as to what you serious music people look for in speakers. It seems Iíve found 3 different flavors. And Iím not sure which way to go. Obviously I have to do some more listeningÖ And this is fun. :-)

  2. #2
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    It all comes down to you

    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    Maybe a philosophical audio question for discussion?

    I?m curious as to what you serious music people look for in speakers. It seems I?ve found 3 different flavors. And I?m not sure which way to go. Obviously I have to do some more listening? And this is fun. :-)
    I'm one that craves accuracy and all else be damned. Poor recordings really show up their flaws in my system though. A lot of my CD collection is relegated to (mostly) car duty because of it. On the other hand, in my HT setup I've got speakers that are much more "laid back" because I've found that a truly accurate (flat) speaker would become painful after two or three hours at theater levels.

    I don't like the idea of speakers that have to "grow" on you. To me, speakers that you really like above other models when you audition them are usually the ones that are best for you. I was lucky in that once I had heard my speakers for the first time I absolutely knew that they were the ones for me.
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  3. #3
    RGA
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    JonW

    I would not assume that because some of your recordings are reegated to sounding harsh that you are listening to a more accurate speaker that is revealing poor recordings - while it is true many recordings are not great neither are they as bad as some sepakers make them out to be. I have heard too many dealers use the excuse when there is a harsh sound that "well these speakers are super accurate and they are bringing out all the faults in the recordng or upstream equipment." It sounds very logical after all, but if you start listening longer to a lot of gear I don't fint it to hold much merrit.

    For instance if another speaker(let's call it B) is hitting the same upper frequency in a complex violin passage as speaker A), but Speaker A sounds fatiguing or has an echo or an airy noise(detail?) then what is this supposed to mean that it is revealing a fault in the recording while speaker B is not detecting it? Yet if speaker B is producing the instrument in a full extended way then what exactly is that "air" one is hearing -- "air" is not heard at any live event and it is not there when someone just plays the violin in your house. That air which is called detail is grain.

    none of this is the least bit important though because you have a choice you can buy a speaker you enjoy or you can buy a speaker that is deemed by OTHER people or magazines as accurate. Accurate to what -- the live event, the recording. Do you listen at live volume levels. I mean if I put on an Aerosmith album what exactly i am supposed to compare the recoridng to? If I was not at the recording session then I have no way to know what the intended recording sounded like. Am i going to compare it to when they came to my town and played their song -- well your system better be able to 125decibals minimum and you better feel the drum in your chest (and here you will be simply compairing your system to whatever amplifier and speaker they were using at the concert in a massive auditorium to your living room.

    The article that is in my signature will apply to all the speakers you are evaluating and is another way of conducting auditions that make sense -- no experience and no golden ear telling you what you should or should not like.

    The only thing that is of prime importance in listening to the speakers you listed is that they all need to be evaluated in the same room with either the same equipment or equipment that is best complimentary to them. So Paradigm also Makes and often matches Anthem to their speakers -- the designers at Paradigm should then stand by their products and say that one is probably getting the most one can get out of a paradigm when using Anthem Amplification. Anthem however will probably suck donkey balls on my speakers - therefore it would be fitting to use what is recommended byt the maker of my speakers as an amplifier - their own amps. This way in the same room you are hearing what the manufacturer more or less slightly what they intended you to hear. (taking room size recommendation and placement into account as well). My speakers for example are supposed to be placed in corners toed in and preferably use SE amplifiers and preferably from the company making the speakers. So it is not adviseable to if listening and compairing them to other speakers place them in the same position as what is good for a B&W - 3 feet from back and side walls with little to no toe in running a high watt SS amplifier.

    Linn I always felt was an underrated speaker maker.

  4. #4
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    For instance if another speaker(let's call it B) is hitting the same upper frequency in a complex violin passage as speaker A), but Speaker A sounds fatiguing or has an echo or an airy noise(detail?) then what is this supposed to mean that it is revealing a fault in the recording while speaker B is not detecting it? Yet if speaker B is producing the instrument in a full extended way then what exactly is that "air" one is hearing -- "air" is not heard at any live event and it is not there when someone just plays the violin in your house. That air which is called detail is grain.
    Accuracy is a pretty simple matter; How much distortion does your speaker produce at your listening level, and how well does your speaker match a frequency test. Although I've seen laughable near field measurements of my speakers (who listens to 6' tall speakers at 1 meter anyway?!), in MY room they are, at my listening position of 14' on axis, +/- 2 dB across most of the range . The THD from my speakers has been measured at less than 1% at my listening levels also. That is what I call accurate. It has nothing to do with my speakers being planar, or dipole for that matter. Many other speakers archive such measurements, and I really like those too, the Totem Mani-2 Signatures for one (incredibly flat across the meat of the midrange, like +/-1dB!), and there are others too, although the prices tend to go up from there (Yes I have heard E-Stats speakers, although not his specifically). Accuracy can't be faked, and once you know what it sounds like you can't forget it. If I was spending the $$$ that this guy wants to spend, then accuracy would mean a whole lot to me.
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  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    "Detail" and "Air" versus "Grain"

    Ah, words! Some posters seem rather suspicious of "detail" and "air", suggesting these things are often just "grain".

    "Detail" is the resolution of subtle sounds; "air" is (a) the convincing reproduction of spatial clues and/or (b) a life-like sense of the ambiance of a performance venue. "Grain" is a harsh, serrated edge to the higher frequencies mainly.

    It is true that the inexperienced listener might, for a time, confuse the sharpness of grain with detail or air. However over time grain is fatiging and disagreeable. Genuine detail and air, on the other hand, grows on you very much.

    To me, detail and air are essential if a speaker is to be considered accurate, and equally as important as accurate tonal balance.

  6. #6
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    For me a laid back speaker I would like the least. I think I would have to place myself in the accuracy camp as well for most important speaker attribute. Particullary tonal accuracy is what I like most about my Studio 100's.
    I have to agree with Feanor's defenition on 'air' of a speaker. I recently used the term airiness to discribe what my Bryston 3B-sst added to the sound. And that defininiton is exactly what I meant.

  7. #7
    Tyler Acoustics Fan drseid's Avatar
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    I agree with Geoff, in that it comes down to your preferences... It does appear that you tend to like more agressive sounding speakers... While that preference may not jibe to what I or some others prefer, all of that does not really matter. The only thing that really matters is what *you* prefer. You have auditioned a wide spectrum of brands, so I think you can trust your ears as to what you like, and then go for it. Like Geoff, I have found that first impressions usually hold true in the end... If you did not care for a speaker (assuming the conditions were right), chances are you won't have a major revelation and do a 180...

    A couple other brands that might be up your alley based on your preferences are some used speakers from Legacy Audio, and Dali (the Helicon line). This is not to imply the ones you like already should not be bought... I like Linn quite a bit, for example.

    Good luck,

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Ah, words! Some posters seem rather suspicious of "detail" and "air", suggesting these things are often just "grain".

    "Detail" is the resolution of subtle sounds; "air" is (a) the convincing reproduction of spatial clues and/or (b) a life-like sense of the ambiance of a performance venue. "Grain" is a harsh, serrated edge to the higher frequencies mainly.

    It is true that the inexperienced listener might, for a time, confuse the sharpness of grain with detail or air. However over time grain is fatiging and disagreeable. Genuine detail and air, on the other hand, grows on you very much.

    To me, detail and air are essential if a speaker is to be considered accurate, and equally as important as accurate tonal balance.
    Thanks Feanor for a splendid explanation,

    When I am in acoustic performances, I hear the air around the instruments, afterall all the players are not sitting on top of each other, however I do not hear grain . On piano, I hear the air between notes and oh so sweet detail.

  9. #9
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Do I want speakers that are aggressive, accurate, or laid back?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    Accuracy is a pretty simple matter; How much distortion does your speaker produce at your listening level, and how well does your speaker match a frequency test. Although I've seen laughable near field measurements of my speakers (who listens to 6' tall speakers at 1 meter anyway?!), in MY room they are, at my listening position of 14' on axis, +/- 2 dB across most of the range . The THD from my speakers has been measured at less than 1% at my listening levels also. That is what I call accurate.

    Accuracy can't be faked, and once you know what it sounds like you can't forget it. If I was spending the $$$ that this guy wants to spend, then accuracy would mean a whole lot to me.
    I have to agree with Geoffcin. Sometimes the audio-world does itself a huge injustice by overcomplicating things. Whenever I'm struggling with a difficult decision, I often take a negative of the situation. That is, let's take the opposite of each option available and examine those. Do I want speakers that are NOT aggessive (laid back), INaccurate, or NOT laid back?

    You can see how the choice of agressive vs. laid back is subject to a degree of personal subjectivity. But who in their right mind would shop for a speaker from scratch that can be characterized as "inaccurate"? What would the benefits of this be - other than second guessing every sound you heard, whether it was good or bad? If your speakers are inaccurate, how would you judge the music, or the gear you use with it?

    The measurements don't lie. We are quite good at quantifying some very important figures. The problem is there's still a lot of traits for which we haven't yet developed measurements.

    Accuracy is tough to define, however. Everyone tends to use that word just a bit differently. If you limit the definition to frequency response and THD, that's fine, but there's more to a speaker than that. It's pretty easy to get a $300 speaker to be accurate, with good THD numbers and a good, flat frequency response that doesn't stray far from the input signal. Yet most $300 speakers probably don't sound as good as most $3000 speakers. Why? You'll have to add some more measurements - transient response is one of my personal favorites, off-axis response can be EXTREMELY important IF you place a lot of value in soundstaging and imaging. Many do not. Some, speakers, such as RGA's Audio Notes might not posess perfect off-axis measurements in anechoic conditions, but it doesn't matter. AN recommends corner placement and significant toe-in for a reason. This is an integral part of the speaker design. When used as such, they perform quite well and present good imaging and soundstage characterstics. Who listens to their speakers in anechoic conditions anyway? Some measurements aren't relevant to the speaker...some are relevant to all speakers.

    So now we have a few more measurements, each becoming increasingly more complex to obtain and interpret. Back down that slippery slope of trying to create that perfect measuring speaker...overcomplicating things.

    Resolution is much tougher to define. I'm not aware of any universally accepted measurement for resolution. But people sure know it when they hear it. I have 2 pairs of speakers I built recently...both measure about +/- 2 dB in room at 2 meters, similar THD numbers for the most part at volumes I'd use them at, but one contains much more information than the other. It should, it cost 4 times as much. Detail, resolution, whatever you want to call it. It's not captured well by measurements on paper. Or at least the small differences you see on paper are misleading, the real sound differences are much more than the measurements imply.

    Again, back at overcomplicating things...let's not go there.

    Sounds to me like you're on the right track. Listen to speakers for yourself. Don't pay too much attention to the adjectives used to describe them. Do pay a bit of attention to the measurements, just to help you explain what you're hearing, not to pick the speaker. If a number stands out as being grossly inadequate, you'll probably hear it. If you start comparing to FR plots to each other to help you decide, you're probably over doing it.

    I would suggest finding speakers that you do like, and then putting into words for yourself what you like about them, from both measurements, and qualitative evaluation. Then you can use that explanation as a starting point for evaluating other speakers. Often, picking speakers is just a crapshoot. People don't always hear the same speakers the same way...(the shape of ears contributes a great deal to sound perception). In the end, what you hear matters most.

  10. #10
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    Really great posts so far. About the only thing I'd add is that you may want to listen to different types of speakers while on your journey. So far, everything on your list has been a dynamic speaker. Expand your horizons and audition some planar/'stats (Maggie, Martin Logan), bi-polar (DefTech, Mirage), transmission line (Von Schweikert), and even line arrays (VMPS). Every design presents specific merits and faults, it's up to you to decide which best suit your tastes.

    Hope this helps.

  11. #11
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Ditto

    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Really great posts so far. About the only thing I'd add is that you may want to listen to different types of speakers while on your journey. So far, everything on your list has been a dynamic speaker. Expand your horizons and audition some planar/'stats (Maggie, Martin Logan), bi-polar (DefTech, Mirage), transmission line (Von Schweikert), and even line arrays (VMPS). Every design presents specific merits and faults, it's up to you to decide which best suit your tastes.

    Hope this helps.
    Listen, listen, listen. After that, listen to more. It's a great time, and will pay off for years. There are as many oppinions as there are listeners. Pick what makes your ears sing. Everything else will take care of itself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    I'm one that craves accuracy and all else be damned. Poor recordings really show up their flaws in my system though. A lot of my CD collection is relegated to (mostly) car duty because of it. On the other hand, in my HT setup I've got speakers that are much more "laid back" because I've found that a truly accurate (flat) speaker would become painful after two or three hours at theater levels.

    I don't like the idea of speakers that have to "grow" on you. To me, speakers that you really like above other models when you audition them are usually the ones that are best for you. I was lucky in that once I had heard my speakers for the first time I absolutely knew that they were the ones for me.
    Sure, there were speakers that grabbed me right away. Kind of like "Now THAT'S the sound I'm after!" within hearing 10 seconds of the first track. But will I grow sick of that later?

    Interesting that you don't like speakers that have to grow on you, but you like accuracy. The speakers I found most accurate (ATC) had to grow on me. Hmmm...

  13. #13
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    Sure, there were speakers that grabbed me right away. Kind of like "Now THAT'S the sound I'm after!" within hearing 10 seconds of the first track. But will I grow sick of that later?

    Interesting that you don't like speakers that have to grow on you, but you like accuracy. The speakers I found most accurate (ATC) had to grow on me. Hmmm...
    Speakers that "grab you" right away have a tendency to be fatiguing after a while. Make sure you try listening to those same speakers for an extended period of time, preferrably thru a home demo, to ensure they don't become grating. While I'm never for anything that has to "grow on you," there is merit to the theory of psychoacoustics whereas your brain has to be given ample time to recalibrate to the new sound.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    JonW

    I would not assume that because some of your recordings are reegated to sounding harsh that you are listening to a more accurate speaker that is revealing poor recordings - while it is true many recordings are not great neither are they as bad as some sepakers make them out to be. I have heard too many dealers use the excuse when there is a harsh sound that "well these speakers are super accurate and they are bringing out all the faults in the recordng or upstream equipment." It sounds very logical after all, but if you start listening longer to a lot of gear I don't fint it to hold much merrit.

    For instance if another speaker(let's call it B) is hitting the same upper frequency in a complex violin passage as speaker A), but Speaker A sounds fatiguing or has an echo or an airy noise(detail?) then what is this supposed to mean that it is revealing a fault in the recording while speaker B is not detecting it? Yet if speaker B is producing the instrument in a full extended way then what exactly is that "air" one is hearing -- "air" is not heard at any live event and it is not there when someone just plays the violin in your house. That air which is called detail is grain.

    none of this is the least bit important though because you have a choice you can buy a speaker you enjoy or you can buy a speaker that is deemed by OTHER people or magazines as accurate. Accurate to what -- the live event, the recording. Do you listen at live volume levels. I mean if I put on an Aerosmith album what exactly i am supposed to compare the recoridng to? If I was not at the recording session then I have no way to know what the intended recording sounded like. Am i going to compare it to when they came to my town and played their song -- well your system better be able to 125decibals minimum and you better feel the drum in your chest (and here you will be simply compairing your system to whatever amplifier and speaker they were using at the concert in a massive auditorium to your living room.

    The article that is in my signature will apply to all the speakers you are evaluating and is another way of conducting auditions that make sense -- no experience and no golden ear telling you what you should or should not like.

    The only thing that is of prime importance in listening to the speakers you listed is that they all need to be evaluated in the same room with either the same equipment or equipment that is best complimentary to them. So Paradigm also Makes and often matches Anthem to their speakers -- the designers at Paradigm should then stand by their products and say that one is probably getting the most one can get out of a paradigm when using Anthem Amplification. Anthem however will probably suck donkey balls on my speakers - therefore it would be fitting to use what is recommended byt the maker of my speakers as an amplifier - their own amps. This way in the same room you are hearing what the manufacturer more or less slightly what they intended you to hear. (taking room size recommendation and placement into account as well). My speakers for example are supposed to be placed in corners toed in and preferably use SE amplifiers and preferably from the company making the speakers. So it is not adviseable to if listening and compairing them to other speakers place them in the same position as what is good for a B&W - 3 feet from back and side walls with little to no toe in running a high watt SS amplifier.

    Linn I always felt was an underrated speaker maker.
    Hey RGA,

    Thanks for the thoughts. Good points- how do I know what is accurate if I wasn't there?

    I was thinking that the ATC speakers I heard were more "accurate" because the bass drum really sounded like a bass drum does in real life. Not just that thump. But it was on a recording I had never heard before. That same speaker also made a recording that I thought fine, sound quite poor. But the other songs sounded fine. So that was my basis for saying "accurate," be it correct or not.

    Unfortunately, most of these speakers are being heard at different shops. I can't find one place with a full complement of speakers from each of these companies. And this must make a big difference. Heck, the Totems were run by a $750 Jolida tube amp. The B&W's by about $15,000+ of McIntosh amps. That can't be a good comparison. And I am really wondering: the incredibly tight, powerful, deep bass I heard came from the B&W 703, but it's only rated down to 38 Hz. Conversely the Totem Forest is rated as "<33 Hz" and had almost no bass at all. Is that the amp, room, placement, etc? That's probably a topic for a new thread I'll post soon.

    Yes, I read the article in your signature prior to hearing any speakers. That's a pretty anitseptic approach to it all. What I'm wondering is, at least in part, is that the way to go? Or should I get what moves me right away? Or should I be concerned about what moves me now may become annoying later...?

    -Jon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    Accuracy can't be faked, and once you know what it sounds like you can't forget it. If I was spending the $$$ that this guy wants to spend, then accuracy would mean a whole lot to me.
    So how do I hear some accurate speakers, to know what that sound is?

    And would most people agree that it's what you will want, once you know it? In other words, is an accurate speaker enjoyable to listen to?

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    Quote Originally Posted by drseid
    I agree with Geoff, in that it comes down to your preferences... It does appear that you tend to like more agressive sounding speakers... While that preference may not jibe to what I or some others prefer, all of that does not really matter. The only thing that really matters is what *you* prefer. You have auditioned a wide spectrum of brands, so I think you can trust your ears as to what you like, and then go for it. Like Geoff, I have found that first impressions usually hold true in the end... If you did not care for a speaker (assuming the conditions were right), chances are you won't have a major revelation and do a 180...

    A couple other brands that might be up your alley based on your preferences are some used speakers from Legacy Audio, and Dali (the Helicon line). This is not to imply the ones you like already should not be bought... I like Linn quite a bit, for example.

    Good luck,

    ---Dave
    First impressions hold true, eh? OK, good to know. I'm just concerned the speakers will be like music- the songs you like right away, you get sick of. The songs you hate right away you hate almost always. But some songs in the middle don't knock your socks off right away, but become the mroe meaningful, long-term favorites for years. You know what I mean.

    OK, I'll have a look at those other companies if I can. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wireworm5
    For me a laid back speaker I would like the least. I think I would have to place myself in the accuracy camp as well for most important speaker attribute. Particullary tonal accuracy is what I like most about my Studio 100's.
    I have to agree with Feanor's defenition on 'air' of a speaker. I recently used the term airiness to discribe what my Bryston 3B-sst added to the sound. And that defininiton is exactly what I meant.
    You like accurach as well, eh? Hmmm... I haven't listened to Studio 100's. But I have heard 20's, 40's, and 60's. To me, they all sounded far from accurate. Like all the detail was not coming through. And they didn't grab me at all. But then put the Linn's or Sonus Fabers in the same room run from the same amp, etc. and there was a big improvement in clarity. The Sonus Fabers were much clearer, but not inviting- just boring. The Linns has something I really liked, in addition to increased clarity. But that's just to my taste.

    OK, another fan for accuracy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I have to agree with Geoffcin. Sometimes the audio-world does itself a huge injustice by overcomplicating things. Whenever I'm struggling with a difficult decision, I often take a negative of the situation. That is, let's take the opposite of each option available and examine those. Do I want speakers that are NOT aggessive (laid back), INaccurate, or NOT laid back?
    Interesting way to look at it. But I actually don't know that answer. I could forget accuracy and all that. And just go for what sounds nice now. But will I be sick of that a year from now? And want something different? Obviously no one can answer that for me, but I enjoy getting perspectives from you all.


    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Sounds to me like you're on the right track. Listen to speakers for yourself. Don't pay too much attention to the adjectives used to describe them. Do pay a bit of attention to the measurements, just to help you explain what you're hearing, not to pick the speaker. If a number stands out as being grossly inadequate, you'll probably hear it. If you start comparing to FR plots to each other to help you decide, you're probably over doing it.

    I would suggest finding speakers that you do like, and then putting into words for yourself what you like about them, from both measurements, and qualitative evaluation. Then you can use that explanation as a starting point for evaluating other speakers. Often, picking speakers is just a crapshoot. People don't always hear the same speakers the same way...(the shape of ears contributes a great deal to sound perception). In the end, what you hear matters most.
    Actually, I have been taking notes on my impressions as I listen to each speaker. What words come to mind. How it compares to the last one I heard, etc. I've had a couple sale guys tell me not to take notes- just go for what moves me. But I'm in the (pleasant) situation where I could be happy with many of the speakers I've heard. So I'm trying to figure out which one is the best for me. I am really enjoying this. Although it's becoming more difficult than I expected to find a clear winner. I didn't expect such different sound from the different brands. Some I say, right away, are not for me. But of the contenders, what I like about each is different. It's interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Speakers that "grab you" right away have a tendency to be fatiguing after a while. Make sure you try listening to those same speakers for an extended period of time, preferrably thru a home demo, to ensure they don't become grating. While I'm never for anything that has to "grow on you," there is merit to the theory of psychoacoustics whereas your brain has to be given ample time to recalibrate to the new sound.
    Yes, this is a big concern here. I don't have a stero system to which I can connect speakers. And I live 2-3 hours a collection of decent shops. So it makes in home auditioning tricky. But I need to consider it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Really great posts so far. About the only thing I'd add is that you may want to listen to different types of speakers while on your journey. So far, everything on your list has been a dynamic speaker. Expand your horizons and audition some planar/'stats (Maggie, Martin Logan), bi-polar (DefTech, Mirage), transmission line (Von Schweikert), and even line arrays (VMPS). Every design presents specific merits and faults, it's up to you to decide which best suit your tastes.

    Hope this helps.
    Yes, great posts. People here are quite helpful.

    Thanks for the list. Yes, I'll try and have a listen to those.

    I wonder how long I can hold out... Listening to speakers from, say, 25 different companies...

  21. #21
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    I think you need to hear the Forest again

    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    Heck, the Totems were run by a $750 Jolida tube amp. The B&W's by about $15,000+ of McIntosh amps. That can't be a good comparison. And I am really wondering: the incredibly tight, powerful, deep bass I heard came from the B&W 703, but it's only rated down to 38 Hz. Conversely the Totem Forest is rated as "<33 Hz" and had almost no bass at all. Is that the amp, room, placement, etc? That's probably a topic for a new thread I'll post soon.
    -Jon
    All of the Totem products that I've heard have very good bass when driven correctly. Vince Bruzzese of Totem even apoligized to me that the Hawks needed an amp with more reserve power to sound their best, and he was using a 200 wpc amp! (that amp sounded just right on the Rainmakers though!) Try the Forest with an amp that can deliver at least 200 wpc into 4 ohms and I'm sure you'll hear a big difference.

    The 703 is no slouch in bass, but there's very few amps that have the sheer balls of the "Big Mac's", which I'm sure added it's signature to the demo. I think you'ld do best to audition with gear that's similar, at least in power, to the one you are intending to use.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    All of the Totem products that I've heard have very good bass when driven correctly. Vince Bruzzese of Totem even apoligized to me that the Hawks needed an amp with more reserve power to sound their best, and he was using a 200 wpc amp! (that amp sounded just right on the Rainmakers though!) Try the Forest with an amp that can deliver at least 200 wpc into 4 ohms and I'm sure you'll hear a big difference.

    The 703 is no slouch in bass, but there's very few amps that have the sheer balls of the "Big Mac's", which I'm sure added it's signature to the demo. I think you'ld do best to audition with gear that's similar, at least in power, to the one you are intending to use.
    It's really tough to audition any of this gear with even close to similar conditions. Rrrr...

    I could hardly believe the bass from the B&W 703's. My leather on the chair was fluttering, 15-20 feet away. Yes, you could easily call that "slam." And I was underwhelmed by the Totem bass- but everything else about the Totem was great. So would you attribute most of the bass difference to the amps? Sounds like maybe yes.

  23. #23
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Be careful with manufacturer quotes for frequency range as there is no standardized method for obtaining the readings. Is it 38hz at -3dB down or -6dB? Was it measured in anechoic conditions or in-room (thereby benefitting from wall re-inforcement)? Statistics are useful to a degree, but always trust your ears. Also remember, most music that isn't orchestral won't have much useful information below 35hz or so. IOW, if you listen to pop, jazz, rock, or blues, the frequency response of the 703's should be plenty.
    So would you attribute most of the bass difference to the amps? Sounds like maybe yes.
    Amps can absolutely have an effect of bass, just not to the degree that speaker design and room acoustics can. Like Geoff said, Macs are like Krells in that they are reknown for their bass, however it sounds like the Totem may have also be suffering from poor placement. The dealer may have put them out in the room to emphasize their imaging and midband at the expense of better corner reinforcement for the bass.

    I know home auditions are difficult at best. With that in mind, it's worth it to find a dealer that is willing to accommodate you as your room acoustics are going to play an integral part of this whole process. If nothing else, only work with a dealer that has a good return policy in case the speakers just don't like the room you put them in.

    One last thing, if you liked Sonus Faber but felt they were missing that certain something, you might try Vandersteen as they are very similar in their presentation.

    Good luck and enjoy the ride.

  24. #24
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    Hey RGA,

    Thanks for the thoughts. Good points- how do I know what is accurate if I wasn't there?

    I was thinking that the ATC speakers I heard were more "accurate" because the bass drum really sounded like a bass drum does in real life. Not just that thump. But it was on a recording I had never heard before. That same speaker also made a recording that I thought fine, sound quite poor. But the other songs sounded fine. So that was my basis for saying "accurate," be it correct or not.

    Unfortunately, most of these speakers are being heard at different shops. I can't find one place with a full complement of speakers from each of these companies. And this must make a big difference. Heck, the Totems were run by a $750 Jolida tube amp. The B&W's by about $15,000+ of McIntosh amps. That can't be a good comparison. And I am really wondering: the incredibly tight, powerful, deep bass I heard came from the B&W 703, but it's only rated down to 38 Hz. Conversely the Totem Forest is rated as "<33 Hz" and had almost no bass at all. Is that the amp, room, placement, etc? That's probably a topic for a new thread I'll post soon.

    Yes, I read the article in your signature prior to hearing any speakers. That's a pretty anitseptic approach to it all. What I'm wondering is, at least in part, is that the way to go? Or should I get what moves me right away? Or should I be concerned about what moves me now may become annoying later...?

    -Jon
    Well for a start it is very very difficult to hear every speaker in the same room with "fair" equipment driving it. The room and equipment can affect bass response -- how it was measured to start with and the ratings of the speakers. Many makers will provide a number such as -6db or +/-3db etc after with the low frequency -- if none is provided assume it is -10db (because it probably is)

    The other thing is some speakers quite simply sound like they have more bass and can do it louder. In lieu of same room auditions you can make inferences. Many dealers carry B&W and bryston in my area and the two are a popular match. If I hear a B&W?Bryston in one shop against say a Jamo and Like the B&W better by a mile and then in shop B I listen to B&W and Dynaudio and Dynaudio is better then B&W then I am pretyt confident that Dynaudio is going to be better than the Jamo -- Even though i have not heard them side by side I have heard all three.

    And to note what I was saying earlier because some take things and overblow them (sort of like I was saying with speakers). If you read the article in my signature they explain what they mean by Resolution versus Detail or grain. A speaker isn't broken down to frequency response and distortion -- if it were then most speakers would be very good even completely different designs - and it is not the case.

    In the end it isn't always about trying to find the absolute best -- you won;t klive long enough to hear it all and with every combination of gear room acoustics. etc. The main job is to find something you like and will be able to listen to all day all the time and not upgrade outside of the company line.

  25. #25
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Not the right analogy??

    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    First impressions hold true, eh? OK, good to know. I'm just concerned the speakers will be like music- the songs you like right away, you get sick of. The songs you hate right away you hate almost always. But some songs in the middle don't knock your socks off right away, but become the mroe meaningful, long-term favorites for years. You know what I mean.

    OK, I'll have a look at those other companies if I can. Thanks.
    I'd say it's not like getting tired of a song; that's a different process I think

    First impressions are more likely to be valid for the experience audiophile than for the newbie. It's not that their hearing is better, only that they know what to listen for.

    Nevertheless there are different priorities among audiophiles, e.g. RGA puts a high priority on dynamics, whereas I prefer more on detail and air. Each of us, though, will immediately listen for these qualities in any new loudspeaker we listen to.

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