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  1. #1
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    Feb 2004

    Yet another noob speaker thread (long comments)

    Hello All,

    Been lurking here on this board for a couple months now and finally decided to register. Many of you have some very insightful thoughts, and I wanted to get some general opinions on a new speaker purchase.

    Primary Listening Breakdown: 75% music (Jazz, Classical, Blues, Vocals), 25% HT

    Room size: 23x13, 20' sloped cathedral ceilings.

    Current speakers: 4x Bose 901 speakers (2x Series VI speakers, 2x Series II speakers)

    Preferred Available Budget: $1600.

    SubWoofer: None. Current thought: HSU 3 or Sunfire True-Sub. This is a secondary purchase.

    The problem: Now, before any of you start panning Bose products, please note that I have NO desire to go back to Bose. The 901's that I have performed with high excellence in my previous appartment largely because the apartment layout was ideally suited for the 901's reflective design. Make no bones about it, the 901's CAN work very well in the right environment.

    They are, however, pointless for any kind of surround application...and they are next to worthless in my new house. In fact, the best area for listening is on the 2nd floor "landing" looking down on the Living room. Ground level listening is near pointless...

    Hence my drive to find a new set of speakers. Perhaps my greatest "need" or desire is to find a set of speakers that exhibits very neutral response, with very high detail, yet still offers decent base response. As noted, I don't listen to rap, metal, etc. Mostly classical, jazz, some R&B, etc.

    My test CD's that I bring when listening to music are: Tchaikovsky 1812 with live digital cannon recordings (16-25hz reports...destroys the ability for most speakers to reproduce base at all while cannons are firing), Vivaldi 4-Seasons (tracks 10-12) violins backed by soft harpsichord (violins often drown out the harpsichord), and Sarah Brightman's "Time to Say Goodbye" for obvious vocal testing.

    Speakers I have listened to:
    Wharfedale Evo 20/30/40: Fantastic treble, but the base is tuned a bit high and gets very muddy, very quickly. Cannot handle 1812 cannons without disrupting the base at all. Can easily & audibly detect "crossover" points where certain notes simply are not reproduced in the midrange. Can buy the Evo 40's for $900usd.

    PSB Gold i's: Very good 1812 handlings, base woofer recovers quickly from cannon reports. Midrange & highs are VERY smooth, but very high-highs (Vivaldi) are soft, with Harpsichord almost being lost behind the Violins. At the time of listening, these speakers were hooked up to a large, Jolida 75wpc tube amp and the Tube may certainly have "tainted" the 10k hz sounds... Too large overall for my living area. Price is right at $1600 usd.

    Thiel CS 1.6: near immaculate sound reproduction. But at $2200, is right at the max limit of my budget for new speakers. I may have to bite the bullet on the price, but I am sure that something else out there must be available at a lower price. The first couple notes sent shivers down my arms...then again, so did the price.

    Definitive Technology: The "Big-uns" with the 12" amped sub built in. Worthless to my ears at any price. Good for Home Theatre, but a waste for symphonies. Base was muddy and the highs just weren't. DefTechs were described by the rep as "childish toys" and I have to agree.

    Vienna Accoustics: Bethoven model. Price: $4400. Too expensive, but wonderful highs and midrange. Bass notes could not be reproduced accurately, and the 1812 Cannons simply disrupted the speakers ability to reproduce any base.

    Martin Logan: sorry, can't remember the model numbers, but the midrange and treble seemed very shrill. Would require a sub to accurately reproduce any base. So far, electro-stats just haven't impressed me, but then I may be listening to the wrong ones.

    PSB Silver i's: haven't listened to yet, but they are about the right size and price ($1100). Dual 6.5 mid-base drivers leave me thinking base may be a bit dead. Any comments on these?

    That is a summary of my current foray into listening. What I am looking for are suggestions of other speaker companies to listen to. My current experience has led me to believe that floorstanders are the ideal way for me to go, as I haven't heard any bookshelfs that reproduce base adequately.

    Any thoughts? Your help much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    For a jazz and classical enthusiast, I'd definitely add B&W to your list. The new 703 or 704 might would fit into your budget and they are getting great reviews (if that's important to you):

    80% of all classical music is mastered on B&W's so they must be doing something right. The 703 has more bass than the 704 although the latter may be a more balanced speaker. It all depends on your taste. Honestly, the price difference isn't enough that it would deter you from buying one over the other. You really need a good front end to exploit their abilities so keep that in mind.

    Other candidates would be Dynaudio and Magnaplanar. The Maggies sound best in free space and are current hungry so factor that into your decision.

    Good luck

  3. #3
    RGA is offline
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    Nov 2003
    Well first the Audio Note E/D will reach 12hz and is a 2-way standmount's a very very big standmount nearly as big as my Wharfedale floorstanders but don't think a Standmount can't have bass - because that speaker will produce more bass than anything on your list thus far. Problem is finding a dealer is a nightmare because the company does not advertise nor do they want to get too big. But if you do come across one give it a try. It retails for $2700.00 in basic version but is internally upgradeable in a leveleed system up to the $35,000.00US version of the same. Yes it's over your limit but you can certainly talk them down to $2200.00. Not pretty to look at though but you choose - do you want sound or looks because most of the time I have experienced an inverse relationship to the two. GENERALITY there are exceptions. Driver integration is not a problem with these speakers - both drivers are of similar material both from Vifa.

    The AN J will hit 25hz(-6db) and is in your budget new. Speakers can be placed in a corner which will increase bass significantly. High efficiency should you desire tubes one day.
    This review compares the AN E D to some of the finer speakers ever's the cheapest speaker of the bunch - review takes a bit of time to load
    Blind listening panel
    My own review of the AN K their baby standmount which is rated to 50hz but which will give 36hz in a corner...If that piece from Tchaikovsky is your favorite then you may want more than my K can provide...but then Subwoofers are the same as buying a three way...excpet you control where the best place to place the 3rd way as well as the level.

    Why suggest it - because I found their speakers to be highly engaging non fatiguing speakers that sound of a piece from top top bottom which is the real strength of a good two way but with a wholeness of sound not boxy or etchy like typical contenders using metal tweeters and or cheap boxes.

    You could try JM Labs, Reference 3a, and a host of other speakers I have yet to hear like Von Sweikert, and others at

    Not a fan of the Thiel I's a recent discussion on the much ballyhood well reviewed CS (the thread continues at the bottom of page - just some things to watch for before you get too dazzled on a first impression.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2003
    At close to 4,000 cubic feet your room is large. The Telarc 1812 Ovature played at reference levels will kill most speakers, let alone subwoofers. IMO, you are going about this wrong. Either concentrate on those speakers that do 80Hz - 20KHz well and get an excellent sub, such as one from HSU or SVS, or increase the budget for the speakers. For example, you may be in complete audio nirvana with a pair of Magnepan MMGs and a SVS PB2-Plus or it may take something along the lines of the VMPS RM40. Or the Audio Note speakers may be just what the doctor ordered. Either way, a great sub will take care of any mid - low bass shortcomings a speaker may have.

  5. #5
    JSE is offline
    MIA - Until Rich is back! JSE's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    Listen to some more speakers but, if you still are the most impressed by the Thiel CS 1.6 speakers, then bite the bullet and get them. You will regret it if you don't. You will always say, man if I had just spent a little more and got the Theils. Wait a little longer if that is what it takes to save the extra money. From your description, this is the clear choice for you. However, I would still go listen to some more speakers. Have you listened to Vandersteens? I really like them and from what I remember, they were fairly similiar to the Thiels. Maybe look at the 2Ce. Think it's about $1500 or so. I was very impressed. I tend to think the Vandys are better suited for music over HT but if you only listen to 25% HT, they may work for you.


  6. #6
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    Feb 2004

    the Search will still go on...

    Everyone here makes some very valid points.

    I had considered the sub+speakers setup. So far it hasn't really paid off with any real consistency. It VERY well could be that the Bookshelf/satalite speakers just weren't set up in the demo room correctly.

    When I demo'ed the Evo10's, what I heard was the muffled base as it dropped off into mud around 60-90hz. A sub certainly would shore up the bass response, however it wouldn't correct the Evo10's inherent problem of muddy bass.

    Personal point of note: Perhaps the Evo10's (full range bookshelf?) just aren't as good as a sub-bookshelf system as others might be.

    Gonna have to explore that option.

    Ok, speakers added to the list to listen to:
    1. Vandersteen
    2. Magnepan w/ sub
    3. Audio Note
    4. B&W (if I can find a local dealer...)

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