Speakers - what and why

OVERKILL

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I've noticed there are a few individuals really into audio on here, sleddriver comes to mind for sure, knowing more than most. Some of his posts have been quite enlightening I've noticed, so hopefully he'll chime in here as I hope to delve into a topic that is technical and satisfying as well as one that can be deeply subjective and personal. Systems are, as the label implies, a collection of individual components put together to hopefully achieve what we are seeking. For some that is a low cost way to immerse themselves in the distraction of music, for others it is an often expensive hobby trying to create that "perfect" sound. The final piece in that puzzle is the loud speaker, putting a face to what lies behind it; turning whatever our source is into a presentation. Over the years I've heard all kinds of speakers. My ears are probably not the most discerning, given my primary listening material. A good friend of mine has a set of custom horns from these guys: Goodwin Speakers another has a set of B&W 802's, which I find sound glorious, although more "dry" or perhaps "sterile" than the warmth of some others from B&O or the custom ones above. My own two steaming piles are a set of old Cerwin-Vega D3's I picked up 1st year University at a local pawn shop. I promptly nuked one of the woofers and they have been through three or four sets since in search of better sound. They are cheap pressed particle board cabinets with bat-style installation and the original crossovers. Presently they have a set of Bravox woofers in them, McIntosh tweeters (made by Philips) and the original CV mids. They are far from audiophile grade but they have a reasonable presentation, create a surprisingly good sound stage, and are quite warm sounding while being very loud. The cabinets are front-ported with the port having absolutely no real finish to it, just a hole with a tube in it, no attempt to radius the edges in or out. Internal baffling is equally poor. Lower frequency material is provided by another mis-mash of parts featuring a McIntosh walnut sub cabinet, sealed, with a Bravox EDX in it. Considering listening material running the gamut from Mozart to death metal, what direction would you go for your mains and why? What do you presently run and your reasoning behind it. Discuss!
 
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I have a pair of DCM transmission line speakers for my fronts with 12" woofers. Definitely overkill. And they are huge. I have a set of Polk monitor 5 connected to my computer and I love them. Relatively small and sound great with tweeter 6inch speaker and 8 inch passive radiator I passive radiator is my favorite type of enclosure with the best trade off between sound, size, and efficiency I think the most important factor with fronts is how well they blend with your sub Speaker technology hasn't really changed in 30 years. Older is many times better. Craigslist is your friend.
 
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I love my Klipsch, settling on them after a nearly 40 year voyage into music, sound reproduction, and WAF. But I must say, that a good friend has a set of vintage Ohm pyramids that i would like to get my hands on someday. The topic is as individual as hairstyles and what beer you drink. There is no perfect answer, not even based on specifications. But if you search long enough, and try enough combinations, you'll eventually hit your own nirvana in that particular listening space. For me, and for a while, it's a restored slightly warmed up Kenwood KA-8006 and Klipsch, again, warmed over with rebuilt crossovers and Crites Ti domes in the horns.
 
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I'm partially deaf now, but for BIG sound without the box ( I used to own a pair of D9 CV for "parties") I would go with a USED pair of the larger maggies with a killer amp that will provide unlimited current at 3 ohms. Like a SUMO AB or a or Electron kinetics Eagle or a Musical Concepts modified Hafler. NO Carvers allowed! The maggies need a bit of room to breathe, but are not a picky as martin logan or Acoustat electrostatics. I spent most all of my money on audio search for the holy grail from the late 70's thru the early 90s. over 20 grand LOST buying, trying and selling stuff. http://img.canuckaudiomart.com/uploads/large/1147829-magnepan-17-with-mye-stands.jpg
 
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I'm a pretty poor judge of audio quality, but that doesn't stop me from wanting good speakers. I've built my last few set of speakers, mostly following instructions online. I enjoy the build, and hope that it turns out sounding at least as good as a store bought set at the same price. My current main speakers are quite a few years old, a 2-way built with 6.5" Dayton drivers and silk tweeters (I tweaked the design by keeping the baffle width and decreasing the depth to make them into a floor standing design, while maintaining the interior volume). It hits lows well, but mids aren't super great (good enough for me though). I don't listen to music much, so it's just the living room TV setup. There's a big sub that I built that's mostly there for movies. The floorstanders were built before I was married, so I've eyed a smaller, satellite sized full range driver design for the next build. Probably a 3 or 4" single driver, something with a phase plug only because I think they look cool...
 
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Originally Posted By: OVERKILL
Originally Posted By: dave123
Salk Sound best speaker for money.
Like these? http://www.salksound.com/model.php?model=Exotica+3 Seem to actually be deal! They are less expensive than the current B&W 802 models by a significant margin.
if that serious and spending that big of coin best to talk to the owner Jim as he will direct you in right direction you will not go wrong ever buying a pair of speakers from him I will say many going that big will go with the Soundscape series Jim Will do about anything if you have a pocketbook and time but value is unbelievably good Audio Circle site you can find much more about that.
 
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I'm partial to Klipsch; In my main system I run KG 4s as my LF and RF speakers with a RC-3 II center speaker and four RS-3 II surround speakers. I also have a Hsu Research VTF-3R powered sub. I'm very happy with the sound, whether I'm listening to CDs or watching movies. I have a couple of friends who are professional musicians and they have complemented the sound quality, so I think I have a pretty decent setup.
 
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I used to have a pair of these Jamo C607 sitting in my office in our old house. These are probably my best speakers I've owned thus far. They're currently sitting in storage. I was planning to build a home theater system around them, but it never materialized. I used to have a pair of Monitor Audio bookshelf speakers that I loved. Being bookshelves, they obviously needed a sub to round out the low end, but they were very detailed yet not tiring. If I ever seriously get back into audio, I'll be looking at some of their towers, probably from their Silver range... http://www.monitoraudiousa.com/products/silver If you like warmer sound, PSB would be another company to look at. They're Canadian. smile
 

OVERKILL

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Originally Posted By: dave123
Originally Posted By: OVERKILL
Originally Posted By: dave123
Salk Sound best speaker for money.
Like these? http://www.salksound.com/model.php?model=Exotica+3 Seem to actually be deal! They are less expensive than the current B&W 802 models by a significant margin.
if that serious and spending that big of coin best to talk to the owner Jim as he will direct you in right direction you will not go wrong ever buying a pair of speakers from him I will say many going that big will go with the Soundscape series Jim Will do about anything if you have a pocketbook and time but value is unbelievably good Audio Circle site you can find much more about that.
I'm not in the market for something in that price range, I was speaking more generally in terms of value relative to something like an 802 smile Sorry for any confusion. Personally, I've been looking at some B&W used stuff, there was a set of 704's that really caught my eye and were around the $1,200 range, which is reasonable. This thread isn't about what I'd buy personally, I'm more interested in what other people have or would choose for the scenario I outlined in the OP. The fact that it can be so personal and that everybody weighs things differently makes it a good discussion IMHO.
 

OVERKILL

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Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
I used to have a pair of these Jamo C607 sitting in my office in our old house. These are probably my best speakers I've owned thus far. They're currently sitting in storage. I was planning to build a home theater system around them, but it never materialized. I used to have a pair of Monitor Audio bookshelf speakers that I loved. Being bookshelves, they obviously needed a sub to round out the low end, but they were very detailed yet not tiring. If I ever seriously get back into audio, I'll be looking at some of their towers, probably from their Silver range... http://www.monitoraudiousa.com/products/silver If you like warmer sound, PSB would be another company to look at. They're Canadian. smile
Yup, so is Bryston, although they are on the dearer side of things price-wise. I was not overly impressed with the quality of the cabinets on the last set of PSB's I looked at shrug Seemed to be of similar material to my old CV's.
 
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Are your CV's sitting on the floor? If so, elevate on stands so the tweeters are at your sitting ear level. Note any differences. Viewing a LS as a system is crucial, on either end of the $$$ scale, as mis-aligned/designed $$$ LS is very dissapointing. It may look beautiful, but sound anything but. XO, cabinet, drivers and alignment must all be pointed in the same direction, and doing their job, to achieve excellence. A major defect in any of these will sabatoge the overall goal just as poor-quality underinflated tires, too soft struts/shocks, wrong/no rollbar, and wrong chassis alignment will make a disaster of any auto...$ or $$$$$$$. At this level of disaster, using PAO oil + a super-duper filter isn't going to make a difference! Neither is a new wax... Also critical, and often ignored, are room acoustics. If they're really bad, even an excellent LS will sound awful. Tile floors, expansive glass walls, high ceilings and large, open floor plans come to mind: Echo chambers. Setting up a system in a room like this is quite different than the opposite case. I'd suggest starting with Ray Alden's Speaker Building 201, then Vance Dickason's Loudspeaker Design Cookbook as primers to educate yourself on the fundamentals. I'd also suggest obtaining a test disc with warble tones, chromatic scales, cymbals/bells, close miked vocals, small jazz ensembles, spanish guitar, piano, etc. Stereophile made a couple several years ago, CBS made one, no doubt there are now others. Get familiar with the sounds on your LS's, then go play the disk and listen to the B&W's. This gives you a common reference while (or whilst) comparing. Major point being: If a LS is incapable of accurately reproducing these simple audio sounds, how in the world will it sound OK on complex music?? It won't. You can't walk, much less run, when you have balance problems. Testing subwoofers, or low-freq (first two octave) systems is quite different as the wavelengths now aproach room dimensions. One key point is most people have already heard a poor sub as misalignment is rampant: BOOOOMING Bass. You can't just guess at it...it needs to be verified by measurement. This is the dividing line between quality and junk. Even a quality, $$$$ driver in the wrong box will sound bad. Likewise an inexpensive $ driver in the right box, in the right place in the room, will surprise you. Think of it as a list of QC check boxes. If you start off with the right Q's, then make it through the list, the odds will be greatly in your favor.
 

OVERKILL

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sleddriver: Thanks for your excellent (as always) input. Personally, my setup was "calibrated" using the calibration mic that came with my DENON receiver. The setup is simple with everything aligned toward the listening space (couch) on the other side of the room. The ceilings are high but glass coverage is not huge, and the floor is wood, walls are plaster. I don't find the acoustics to be poor. Regarding my speaker placement, they are on the floor, though they are close (though a bit lower) than ear height for the tweeters when sitting on the couch. I'll play around with your suggestion. Also, thanks for the recommendation on the reading material, I'll give it a look. What are you running in your space, how is it setup?
 
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Not a B&W fan: slow, woolly, amorphous, resonant. That said, I haven't spent any time with the 600. Used boxes : Revel Performa F30 10" 3 way. New Bookshelf sized From Warfdale or Focal which you can augment with a fast small driver sub (Me, I don't need the octave below bass open E anymore). Then you need wonderful amp. Much of audio is just fair with few memorably stunningly good things crossing my path over many decades. (I will say its easier to get a good speaker for low $$ these days). When I was a lad it was the AR10 pi or 11. or Quad Electrostats. Sure Braun A/D/S 710 or CIZAK Model 1. were VERY decent but they were only 90% THERE. Then the Celestion SL6 with the copper dome tweeter and LASER driver motion and FFT analysis this research shaking up the mid size bookshelf regimentation. Then you ABSOLUTELY need a great amp chain. Sumo the 9 or Jeff Roland Model 7 also a great Preamp like a Spectral DMC10 or a conrad johnson Top ART. or Oh the list goes on a bit!
 
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Paradigm Titans! On my old Sony dolby 5 channel receiver. I keep on meaning to get a powered sub for them, but I guess I haven't got around to it in the last 20 years... They are now sitting on a concrete floor in the corner on carpet to boost the bass a little, but it makes things kind of muddy in mid range. They get some resonance going in the room for the movie rumbles to be audible atleast, and the rear port is full of straws so you don't hear them chuffing away like the little engine that could(n't). Best thing I can say is that they sure sound amazing compared to the TV speakers, LOL These days I stream alot of music off youtube, soundcloud, and I suspect my setup is similar in quality to the input signals... Setup properly at ear level in a smaller, narrower room, at reasonable volume, I was quite pleased with them. Some of the Beastie Boys instrumental stuff sounds like it was recorded in stereo in a studio, and that imaged amazingly well to my ear. Now with kids my cheapo sennheiser headset gets more use.
 
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When I used to DJ, I ran Cerwin Vega D9's. Why? They were big and loud! I still have them but run Klipsch towers with the built in amplified subs
 
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First you need 50 or 60 watts of clean, less than 1% distortion power per channel. As to speakers, google Parts Express and get their nice fat catalog of raw drivers and knock down cabinets. There's a wealth if info in that catalog. Then you can decide to redriver something you have or build yorself a new set.
 
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