How much better do better speakers actually sound? Where's the breaking point of value/performance?

MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
23
#1
Hey all,

Forgive me, this could be an exhausting subject for some, but for some it is very important because it's the difference between spending thousands of dollars on equipment and thinking everything is really better when maybe it's just different. And when you're on a budget, that's the last thing you want. I have kids so I'm all about value these days and I'm not chasing that 1% "better" unicorn out there. It's fun to look at and talk about, but it just won't end up in my living room. So I'm truly curious, how much better do speakers actually sound? And does the size really matter? Complex question, I'm sure, but I'll try and break it up with some context.

For context, I spent a lot of time on nightshift and after my kids were born, I mostly used headphones to keep from waking infants and angering the house beast. I'm sure many of you can relate. My loudspeakers and subwoofers were set up and chilling out. I actually started to wonder if they even still worked. I keep a pair of bookshelves in my office, but it's near field and low volume with no sub. Again, mostly headphones during these years to avoid causing problems with all the other people in my house. So, I went through 40+ pairs of headphones just trying different things. It's easy with headphones since they're small, inexpensive, can be traded readily, bought and sold, etc. I tried nearly all of the midrange headphones over a few years and different DAC/AMP options along the way. Just playing mostly. Ultimately I ended up with a few pairs that just "sounded right" without having to tinker with them. I ultimately ended up with a pair of Hifiman HE-500's when they were released and had them custom recabled with speaker taps so I could use standard amplifiers for speakers instead of little headphone amps. I have it plugged into an Emotiva A-100 (50 watt) amplifier and it's happy on there, and my Maverick Audio D2 tube DAC gives it the signal. I literally stopped trying other headphones. It's been years now. I still have this setup and it hasn't changed. It just sounds right on my head and the response is flat and so natural. I use this for 99% music. Moral of the story? I realize that after trying lots of cheap headphones (which many were really good sounding despite the cost),dozens of midrange headphones (also sounding great and had better builds and cables, etc),ultimately I ended up with a higher end headphone (at the time, now they're not that expensive). I auditioned it against other similar level headphones (LCD2, etc) that I had at the time too. Ultimately went back to the HE-500's. It was the sound, not the idea of them being expensive or anything. Anyhow, I don't care if they were cheap headphones, they just sounded excellent. This all came from actually listening to lots of different headphones though. Judging things we haven't listened to, to me, is pretty impossible from the subjective standpoint. It's easy to look at measurements and say it will do the job, it will, but will you enjoy it? That's the hard part!

So where am I going with this? I'm using speakers again. Finally. Kids are older. I live in the country with no neighbors. We watch movies all the time. I'm using loudspeakers again and we have a great time. Kids enjoy playing games even on them for the big sound they're not used to hearing from a tablet or something. And I play too with them. But mostly I'm talking about movies.

I have budget speakers. Not bottom of the barrel, but only one or two small steps higher up than bottom. And I have no had the chance to listen to higher quality speakers. My experience with headphones has been that the incremental increase in quality and price is not proportional, as in, after a breaking point, you're not getting better, just different, or at least maybe that last 1% that you can chase forever. But I'm not sure where that breaking point is in speakers. We enjoy our setup right now. We get the big sound experience. But I am always teasing with getting better speakers. They're not even that much more expensive. But I do keep my ears in the bronze and silver land with speakers since I'm not ready to drop thousands of dollars just to experiment with one set, let alone many. So I'm curious... how much better are better speakers going to be? Very subjective, I'm sure. But I'm curious of other's experiences with this. Not just self-validation of a purchase. But later, after the honey moon phase has worn off, the objective "looking back" experience. Was it better? Or just different? It's a lot harder to off-load expensive, large speakers after all, so many people are often "stuck" with them once purchased.

My current budget setup:

Pioneer VSX1121-K (recently gave up the UE22 ghost; getting a new AVR/AMP now)
Polk Monitor 70 Series II (towers) x 3 (I drive these with A.S. AMP100 150 watt monoblock set amplifiers, not the AVR)
Polk Monitor 50 Series II (tower) x 4
Polk Monitor 40 Series II (bookshelf) x 2
Polk Monitor 30 Series II (bookshelf) x 2
Polk Monitor CS1 Series II (center) x 1
Fluance AVBP2 (dipole bookshelf/surround) x 2
Polk PSW505 (sub) x 2
BIC F12 (sub) x 2

I didn't buy all that at once, I mostly accumulated it with deep sales over the past few years when they were in production. I think everyone would recall those sales. They were inexpensive budget speakers that sounded good and easy to drive. I still have them because they do the job, they're still good, and I have a lot of speakers to play with for different arrangements. And my kids cannot complain other than its too loud when four 12's fire an explosion off in Lego Marvel Heroes or how intense it can get in a lot of movies.

I mostly use all the towers. The 70's are the mains. I used that 3rd 70 as my center for a while, but it didn't work out how I thought it might, so now it just sits as a backup in case my kids ruined one over the years or if I needed parts if one blew or failed. I originally was sing the 40's and 30's as my surrounds and rears, but then moved to the 50's (towers) for surrounds because it was simply easier to use (speakers on stands around kids is a bad idea). The 50's as towers are lot less prone to being knocked off a stand, since that cannot happen, so I used them. They're not ideal as surrounds because they're too low usually (not tall enough) but they have worked so far just not optimally. I use the 30's as near field stereo in my office (and honestly they sound fantastic and I've yet to bother looking for better ones due to that).

What I like about the above: It's inexpensive and I already have a lot of speakers. They sound good mostly. I'm not suffering in bass at all, I'm actually quite satisfied with the bass my above setup handles in movies. The best of the bunch of the Monitor 30's in near field configuration in my office for music. The rest are setup in a 7.4 configuration and some are not in use at all currently. Mostly using the M70's as a reference point for this thread in general and that's where I'm exploring replacement. So far, the above sound good for movies, games and music. Mostly interested in how they sound for movies.

What I don't like about the above: I find there to be a metallic, tinny sound to the mids and dialog/vocals. Less of a natural sound. I'm not entirely sure what it is. Bass is great, but I feel like the system isn't producing natural sounding voice and in general I don't feel like the mids and lower treble well produced. I'm not sure if this is a room problem or not though. I've equalized them for improvement to correct for it, and it's better. But it's still not the same. I think the room plays a big role in this. And this is why I'm concerned that better speakers won't be much better in a room that may not allow them to be their best in the first place.

I've seen lots of reviews here on Audioholics for budget speakers. Really, I've yet to see a "bad" review of anything on the website. Even recently seeing the review on Monoprice speakers being great values where most of the article is very positive, whereas I'm sure on a forum people are much more likely to refer to them as junk outside of extreme budget setups. So there are lots of excellent reviews for lots of speakers out there. But, I'm always curious.... how much better are they than something else?

Without the ability to really listen to a lot of speakers, especially better ones that are even harder to find local or in a store, there's really no way to figure things out and it's just a blind purchase.

I'm truly curious:

How much better will a new set of speakers be than my Monitor Series II above? For example, going to an RTi A7 or A9, how can one judge that its significantly better for the money? Or pick another brand, I'm not a loyalist at all, just familiar with Polk's line. How about going to some SVS Primes? Fluance Signatures? KEF Q Series? BIC Acoustech PL89 Series? Nothing rare here, just common mid range stuff, probably better than my Polk Monitors. But, how much better? At $300~500, they're still entry level items from that stand point. But, from a listening stand point, how entry are they? Or how much better are they than something truly entry? Where's the breaking point where you can expect a real difference in quality and after that its all diminishing returns? Currently I feel like my 70's in my living room sound tinny, a little metallic, there's a weird treble or upper mid frequency range that seems to sound too metallic and pronounced. I've equalized the speakers with software and I like it a lot better that way, but was that the room or the speakers signature? This is why I'm curious if better speakers will be better if its the room.

What's the value/performance breaking point in speakers (per speaker) for a typical room for movies? $300? $500? $1,000? At what point does the performance increase fall off sharply for the value? Diminishing returns are of course a real thing. But where is that point in speakers? I know that's relative. But maybe it can at least be generalized? Surely some $150~300 for the pair tower speakers are considered totally entry, the most budget you can go really. So, what about $600 and $1000 for a pair? Is that going to capture enough of the entry speakers out there that one could truly ascertain that they're going to be much better than the cheapest? Or is that price point higher? I know for some this is going to be trivial and all of these are considered entry. But for others, maybe they've not heard anything better and cannot go that far in the first place. And for some, maybe it's all objective and will tell me that any speaker will sound good if set up right and corrected for the room?

Do towers matter? More woofers per speaker cabinet? Or how about some good bookshelves? I of course also wonder, why towers in the first place? I like the look of towers. I like that I get more woofers per cabinet. I understand that more speakers doubling up, quadrupling up, etc, increases SPL and helps handle various responses, which is very helpful for larger rooms and increased listening distances. So it makes sense for me to look at towers with our 12 foot listening distance in a 22'something by 18~20'something living room. But, I used to use bookshelves in a slightly smaller space and they were great too. I could also explore simply replacing the towers with simply better bookshelves (referring to my mains at least). My Monitor 30's sound excellent, their low end response at my listening distance is so good I don't even bother using a sub and vocals sound natural, but they're also near field and not being subjected nearly as bad to the room being close to me. But I've not flirted with getting better bookshelves for my near field because these just sound right and I don't feel like something could be "way better." Granted, I don't know better as I don't have better. With my towers and ultimately my surround configuration, I do feel like it's possible to do better. But, maybe it's the room? Ultimately for home theater in a larger room, should I be looking at towers still? Or do bookshelves stand a chance in a living room at 12 feet distance?

The room matters. But can better speakers really be better in an untreated room? This is a burning concept in my mind. I constantly wonder, would my current speakers sound better if I treated the room (it's a living room, not a dedicated space for audio, so there's tons of limits on this). And that said, would better speakers really sound much better in a room that cannot be treated or a room that shares space with others room, and so room correction and placement is not optimal? I totally get that speaker placement and the room matters a ton. So this makes me really question whether good speakers can be worth it in a room that is not already treated or optimal for good audio so that the better qualities of a good speaker's reproduction is even realized?

My above setup already can get way too loud, without even going past half-way on the volume knobs for listening even at 12 feet. So I don't think I'm power limited, everything is very efficient, and lots of drivers push that SPL up. I've thought about getting high powered power amps in the 200watt range, and I still might eventually. I'm currently looking to replace my VSX1121K with a Denon X3400H and then eventually supplement with a Monolith 200watt x 3 power amplifier in the future. But having tested things so far, and information from another thread on the subject, it looks like with my current speakers and situation, I don't need more power.

What I'm looking for? Ultimately I just want more natural sounding voice & instrumentation. I feel my current home theater arrangement sounds a little too metallic. I can't seem to put my finger on it. Maybe it's the room. Maybe I need to put more effort and time into placement, correction, etc. I would also like to hear a full range of frequencies at low volume. Currently when I turn it down to low listening volume, I feel like it gets real thin real fast unless I put the subs on.

Too much thinking.
Set me straight?

Very best,
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
5,044 11 6
#2
Welcome MalVeauX. Your post is long, but readable. Thanks for that.
What's the value/performance breaking point in speakers (per speaker) for a typical room for movies? $300? $500? $1,000?
Your central question is difficult to answer, because there are two variables – price and sound quality. What price is affordable for you will be different for others. And there are widely different opinions about sound quality. I can only answer what works for me, with my experience, taste, and finances.

I find that the price range of $2000 per pair ($1000 each) is where I find many good sounding tower speakers. Below that price, there may be some fairly good speakers, but it's hit or miss. For stand-mount speakers, that price range is about half, roughly $1000 per pair.

By good sounding, I mean speakers with a neutral overall response, neither bass heavy nor treble heavy, with reasonable ability to produce high volume sound, and a frequency response that is as smooth as possible both directly in front of the speakers (on-axis) and off to the sides (off-axis). And as you pointed out, these speakers should produce realistic sounding human voices and unamplified musical instruments.

I don't know what your Polk Monitor 70 speakers cost, but from what you say, they were probably a lot less. Your description of their sound as "tinny, a little metallic, there's a weird treble or upper mid frequency range that seems to sound too metallic and pronounced" is a common complaint about Polk speakers in general. I doubt if its due to the room.

As I said above, your preferences, tastes, and wallet contents will almost certainly vary from mine.

I find stores that still exist are not good for speaker shopping. There are many good speakers that are only sold by Internet Direct. Audio trade shows can be a good way to see and hear them. Good luck searching.

In my experience, the room does matter, especially for bass below roughly 250 Hz, but better speakers really can sound better in an untreated room.

As to your question of towers vs. book shelf speakers, I'll have to pass on directly answering that. Even though I prefer towers, I know there are good sounding book shelf speakers that do satisfy their owners.
 
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ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
1,556 3
#3
I pretty much agree with what Swerd said.

My experience last year in the US market had me looking at towers up to $1500 each. This is still *gulp considered 'entry level' by those who have 6-figures to drop on a system. :p But somewhere in there, imo, is where the point of diminishing returns hits. My experience with Monitor Audio Silver 300 and 500 towers was excellent. Based on review alone, I had the feeling that these were hitting that demarcation line, so to speak: that to get any meaningful step up in perceived quality you would have to spend around to $2000-2500 per tower. The one mass market speaker I auditioned in this bracket did sound great, but not $1000, each, better. :)
Ultimately, I went the Internet-Direct route. My original mains and center are large standmounts (Philharmonic Audio BMR) that compete with, and best, those mass market towers.The pair cost me what one of those towers would have, <$1400. The BMRs are now being made by Jim Salk / Salk Sound here in the US, but at a higher price. Their new price is in line with the Towers I think they out-perform... so still a good deal! Just not the amazing value at the cost they were originally being sold for.
Regardless, that experience showed me the level of hair-splitting that begins to take place once you get above that price range. What begins separating speakers is more expensive finishing, or real wood, or some custom/proprietary driver or other technology, perhaps more premium crossover components... All of this is recipe for multiplying the cost for incremental improvement. :)

Understanding that these might not really be available to you due to shipping and such, it is at least an informative tour of what good speakers can/should be: Salk Sound. Jim builds amazing speakers. All (or mostly all) designed by the gentleman that designed my speakers, Dennis Murphy / Philharmonic Audio, Jim's speakers exhibit very accurate and flat FR, very high SQ, and the attention to detail in the XOs that make these an absolute joy to listen too. By all accounts, the Song Towers, at the 'bottom end' of his line up are phenomenal!
Another guy, here in California doing ID speakers is Dave and Ascend Acoustics. Again, I've heard nothing but good things from owners of his speakers.
After my experience with Philharmonic, I will never buy another speaker that doesn't perform up to the quality and accuracy that these speakers have set as a benchmark.

Best,
R
 
B

baronvonellis

Junior Audioholic
Ratings
22 1
#4
As far as room treatment, think of an untreated room as looking at a painting through dirty blurry glasses. A great painting will still look good with blurry glasses, a bad painting will always look bad. With room treatment your glasses will be clearer and more in focus. So the bad painting you will see the flaws more easily, and the good painting you will see the good parts better.
Your speakers are- "tinny, a little metallic, there's a weird treble or upper mid frequency range that seems to sound too metallic and pronounced" so with room treatment you will just hear those flaws more easily. It wont improve the sound of the speaker.

You can spend more money and get accurate speakers that sound natural with good bass. $2000-$4000 is a good range for high quality accurate towers. About half of that for bookshelves. You will get around 95% perfect there, of course you could spend your whole life chasing that extra 5% and some people do.

There are tweeters that cost $400 for example that are more expensive than your whole speaker. So you have room for improvement with better drivers, crossovers ect.

Towers have a bigger cabinet volume so they will always produce more bass than a small speaker. It's just the physics of speakers. It will also probably get louder than the bookshelf, depending on what the sensitivity of the given speaker is.

Yea, try to go a speaker convention if you can to hear lots of different kinds of speakers at different price points. I heard $20,000 speakers that didn't sound better than $3000 speakers, perhaps just different sounding.
 
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AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,030 23 6
#5
I wrote down some of the speakers I used to own on my signature at the bottom (like Revel Salon2, B&W 802 D2, Philharmonic 3, etc.).

There was a time when I was listening to people saying that certain speakers were this and all of that. :D

At one point, I had most of those speakers in my house at the same time.

One of my brothers (who is an Electrical Engineer who worked on projects like the Stealth-B1 Bombers) listened to all my speakers, including the cheap Infinity Primus tower that is pretty famous for having better on-axis/off-axis response than the B&W 800D. :D

He listened to all my speakers and said, "These cheap speakers (Infinity) sound good to me". :eek: :D

Moral of the story - You will see a lot of opinions about which speakers are the best, but if your speakers sound good to you, then they are good.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
1,556 3
#6
You gotta admit, @AcuDefTechGuy , for the price, those Phil 3s are pretty special! ;)

You nailed it though... everybody is different, and what sounds great to one, is just 'meh' to another!

I've said it before: your ears, your system, your ducats... you gotta do what's right for you.

In the end, there's no shortchanging the education process, though, and experiencing different speakers is important. You can't get the sound from a story in a magazine. I like to share the Murphy/Salk style (ascend, too) because it was so different from everything else I had been exposed to. For me... it goes beyond eye-opening. And I'm learning the DIY path because I expect I would never be able to upgrade within that style unless I do it nyself. :cool:
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
23
#7
Thank you all very much for taking the time to read all that. I find it difficult in any language to really express a complete thought. Maybe one day we can communicate neuron to neuron. Until then, diatribes barely encompass the full expression. Again, thank you all for taking a moment of your time. I do appreciate it.

I find that the price range of $2000 per pair ($1000 each) is where I find many good sounding tower speakers. Below that price, there may be some fairly good speakers, but it's hit or miss. For stand-mount speakers, that price range is about half, roughly $1000 per pair.

By good sounding, I mean speakers with a neutral overall response, neither bass heavy nor treble heavy, with reasonable ability to produce high volume sound, and a frequency response that is as smooth as possible both directly in front of the speakers (on-axis) and off to the sides (off-axis). And as you pointed out, these speakers should produce realistic sounding human voices and unamplified musical instruments.

I don't know what your Polk Monitor 70 speakers cost, but from what you say, they were probably a lot less. Your description of their sound as "tinny, a little metallic, there's a weird treble or upper mid frequency range that seems to sound too metallic and pronounced" is a common complaint about Polk speakers in general. I doubt if its due to the room.
Thank you, if the difference going from $300 to $500 to $1,000 means finally passing a threshold into very natural and neutral sounding speakers, then so be it. That's where I had to go with headphones, into the $1k range, to find that with a little bit more sugar on top. Since I don't need every speaker to be this level, mainly just the mains and center, I'm really just looking at three speakers and I can likely get away with much lesser speakers for surrounds I assume. My primary thing to improve is dialog naturalness and various instruments to sound more natural. While I would enjoy the frightening experience like someone else is in the room speaking, I don't think I'm prepared to go 6 digits into that any time this lifetime, hah.

Interesting that you mention a common complains about Polks is the sound described. Perhaps a good reason to explore other ranges in the future. My goal is just a natural neutral sound.

My experience last year in the US market had me looking at towers up to $1500 each. This is still *gulp considered 'entry level' by those who have 6-figures to drop on a system. :p But somewhere in there, imo, is where the point of diminishing returns hits. My experience with Monitor Audio Silver 300 and 500 towers was excellent. Based on review alone, I had the feeling that these were hitting that demarcation line, so to speak: that to get any meaningful step up in perceived quality you would have to spend around to $2000-2500 per tower. The one mass market speaker I auditioned in this bracket did sound great, but not $1000, each, better. :)
Thanks, I definitely should have helped to clarify range of price, I figured the speakers mentioned would set that but it's helpful to state it. I'm certainly not a 6 figure speaker kind of guy, hah! I'm not opposed to working towards a $3k~4k goal for end game. I would be ok with $1k towers and a center. I think primarily I'm most interested in the mains and center since that's where the bulk of a movie is produced for and that's where the main signal and dialog will come from, so looking for a natural sound and neutral response there without a weird signature to it. Definitely not looking to explore past the obvious points of diminishing returns, I'd like to stay right at that line or near it.

Your speakers are- "tinny, a little metallic, there's a weird treble or upper mid frequency range that seems to sound too metallic and pronounced" so with room treatment you will just hear those flaws more easily. It wont improve the sound of the speaker.

You can spend more money and get accurate speakers that sound natural with good bass. $2000-$4000 is a good range for high quality accurate towers. About half of that for bookshelves. You will get around 95% perfect there, of course you could spend your whole life chasing that extra 5% and some people do..
Thanks, so perhaps it's not just the room altering frequency response and the speakers just sound that way on their own. I questioned myself over it because the M30's do not sound this way to me, they sound pretty natural. The M70's however sound that way, as described. It made me wonder if it was a poor matching synergy between components or the room or just the speakers themselves or what. Again, M30's sound great to me and vocals are natural, so I've yet to think about replacing them with something better and they're pretty entry based on cost. Definitely not looking to chase the last 5% or 1%. I got to the 5% area in headphones and stopped. Not even curious about that last 1%. So with speakers and a far larger budget needed to get there, I'll be good in that 95% camp for sure.

One of my brothers (who is an Electrical Engineer who worked on projects like the Stealth-B1 Bombers) listened to all my speakers, including the cheap Infinity Primus tower that is pretty famous for having better on-axis/off-axis response than the B&W 800D. :D

He listened to all my speakers and said, "These cheap speakers (Infinity) sound good to me". :eek::D

Moral of the story - You will see a lot of opinions about which speakers are the best, but if your speakers sound good to you, then they are good.
Thanks, I totally agree, what sounds best is what is good to the individual. If I were totally happy with my current arrangement, I wouldn't be here for sure other than casually reading what's new. I'm happy enough with them that really if I couldn't change anything and had to live with it, I'd be ok with that. But, given the opportunity to change it up to something better and have a better more natural reproduction and being able to afford it would be a nice goal to set and reach. If that means $3k~$4k to get there I'm ok with that. I'd much rather buy once than buy twice and hurt twice. And as you pointed out, I could likely audition all kinds of speakers and not pick out the best in the bunch but rather just what sounds good to me (and I've certainly done that with headphones). I would be happy with my current speakers if the dialog sounded more natural, but as it is, it sounds a little metallic and tinny, which I'm not used to from the little M30's or my HE500's. So this started me looking at maybe seeking out if it's worth exploring new speakers, or if it would take a realistic budget too high for what I'm looking for to be feasible. It's easy to recommend super costly material and skip all the inbetween and go straight to end-game. But, that also comes with prices that are not in every budget. So, looking for that value point where diminishing returns are steep.

So far, it seems the $1k range per speaker seems to be where that diminishing point is so far, give or take (more give towards $1,500).

That leaves me wondering...

What are good target towers for Left, Center & Right for a natural sound to voice and dialog and instruments in movies in the $3k range?

Thank you all again for your time!

Very best,
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic General
Ratings
669
#8
What I don't like about the above: I find there to be a metallic, tinny sound to the mids and dialog/vocals. Less of a natural sound.

How much better will a new set of speakers be than my Monitor Series II above?

What's the value/performance breaking point in speakers (per speaker) for a typical room for movies? $300? $500? $1,000?

Do towers matter? More woofers per speaker cabinet? Or how about some good bookshelves?

The room matters. But can better speakers really be better in an untreated room?

What I'm looking for? Ultimately I just want more natural sounding voice & instrumentation.

Too much thinking.
Set me straight?

Very best,
Welcome to Audioholics!

Well, you had a lot on you mind and I've certainly been in that mode myself.

Don't like...For person that will use this system mostly for movies, you have a fairly keen ear or your speakers are really on the thin side.

How much better...my 1st suggestion would be to sit down and listen to some nice music that you know well on a good (neutral) pair of speakers...don't be afraid to listen to something that's above your budget. Your objective here is to hear what you've been missing from your existing speakers...then you can answer this question yourself.

Value/performance...some of the best value/performance speakers are brands you might not have heard of, but to apply a dollar figure to is challenging...too subjective for me to answer that one for you. For instance...I replaced a pair of 20 yr old B&W speakers that were about $3k bought new on closeout for $2700 or so I think. So I started demoing speakers that were in the $2500 to $3500 a pair and didn't really hear much difference from my old speaker...I ramped it up to $4k to $6k per pair and I started to hear the upgrade.

Tower matter?...in a movie setting with a sub likely in the mix...not that much, but the if the room is on the large side, it could matter a little more.

Room...I think it matters a great deal. It seems like you're saying the room isn't going to change so is it worth investing in a speak upgrade if nothing can be done to improve the acoustics of the listening space. That's a very good question. My suggestion is to demo some speakers and there are some companies that will allow in home demos and let your ears make that call.
 
Ponzio

Ponzio

Audioholic Field Marshall
Ratings
974 2 2
#9
I've had this conversations with friends and other audiophools :) and for me, from making the rounds to brick & mortar shops in 2012/2013 the cutoff seemed to come around $12K ... yes, it's an arbitrary figure ... everything above that was incrementally better.

So if you have the cash to burn, why not?
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,030 23 6
#10
So far, it seems the $1k range per speaker seems to be where that diminishing point is so far, give or take (more give towards $1,500).

That leaves me wondering...

What are good target towers for Left, Center & Right for a natural sound to voice and dialog and instruments in movies in the $3k range?
Tower for CENTER also? :D

Definitely plenty to choose from. I'll recommend one. The RBH SV-6500R Reference tower for under $1,500 each.


 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,682 20 47
#11
Might want to check out SVS Ultra series, both tower and bookshelf. They do free in-home trials, too. Many satisfied customers of both from what I've read.

The JBL Studio 590s I have and like a lot, particularly if you can get them on the occasional sale price of $500 each delivered....
 
B

baronvonellis

Junior Audioholic
Ratings
22 1
#12
I'd check out Salk Sound. The Song 3 towers are $3300 and for a couple hundred extra you can get any custom finish you can imagine. His less expensive towers are really good too from what other owners have said. I just ordered a pair myself , and am getting a 5 channel Salk system. You can return them if you aren't satisfied. I don't think you need a tower for your center. The Supercharged Song Center would match well with it. The Raal ribbon tweeter they use are amazing, it's the clearest tweeter I've ever heard. Cymbals are super bright and natural, and it's not harsh at all. I went audition them at another owners house, I listen to music for 3 hours and everything sounded amazing on them.
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
23
#14
Thanks all,

Well, you had a lot on you mind and I've certainly been in that mode myself.

Value/performance...some of the best value/performance speakers are brands you might not have heard of, but to apply a dollar figure to is challenging...too subjective for me to answer that one for you. For instance...I replaced a pair of 20 yr old B&W speakers that were about $3k bought new on closeout for $2700 or so I think. So I started demoing speakers that were in the $2500 to $3500 a pair and didn't really hear much difference from my old speaker...I ramped it up to $4k to $6k per pair and I started to hear the upgrade.
Room...I think it matters a great deal. It seems like you're saying the room isn't going to change so is it worth investing in a speak upgrade if nothing can be done to improve the acoustics of the listening space. That's a very good question. My suggestion is to demo some speakers and there are some companies that will allow in home demos and let your ears make that call.
That seems to be the way to go, I need to simply listen to some other speakers. I'll have to see if I can find a brick and mortar store in driving range that can do auditions or demos just to get an idea of things.

I've had this conversations with friends and other audiophools :) and for me, from making the rounds to brick & mortar shops in 2012/2013 the cutoff seemed to come around $12K ... yes, it's an arbitrary figure ... everything above that was incrementally better.

So if you have the cash to burn, why not?
I can respect that, and if I had endless funds, then sure, why not? But I don't, so... I'll have to keep it reasonable for now.

Tower for CENTER also? :D

Definitely plenty to choose from. I'll recommend one. The RBH SV-6500R Reference tower for under $1,500 each
I was using a tower as a center for a while, but I'm thinking its not very ideal. I'll probably get an appropriate center in the future when this change up is made if I go that route. It was an option because my viewing screen was high up. Next time around, I doubt that will be the case. Also, I'm not sure the coverage of a single tower as a center has the same field as a speaker horizontally placed, not sure how those angles work out in terms of actual listening.

Any particular reason you suggest the RBH?

Might want to check out SVS Ultra series, both tower and bookshelf. They do free in-home trials, too. Many satisfied customers of both from what I've read.

The JBL Studio 590s I have and like a lot, particularly if you can get them on the occasional sale price of $500 each delivered....
SVS series are lovely looking, very interesting that they do in home trials. I'll check that out.

I'd check out Salk Sound. The Song 3 towers are $3300 and for a couple hundred extra you can get any custom finish you can imagine. His less expensive towers are really good too from what other owners have said. I just ordered a pair myself , and am getting a 5 channel Salk system. You can return them if you aren't satisfied. I don't think you need a tower for your center. The Supercharged Song Center would match well with it. The Raal ribbon tweeter they use are amazing, it's the clearest tweeter I've ever heard. Cymbals are super bright and natural, and it's not harsh at all. I went audition them at another owners house, I listen to music for 3 hours and everything sounded amazing on them.
I'll definitely look into Salk. I'm sure I will learn of many new brands/makes which is a good thing!

West central Florida, near Cedar Key & Trenton, or around the Gainesville/Ocala area after a drive.

Thank you all again for your input and time!

Very best,
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,682 20 47
#15
SVS series are lovely looking, very interesting that they do in home trials. I'll check that out.
They have a very good customer service program with quite a few options in general; they do factor return shipping into their offer, some do not. RSL is another that does. Many will still accept returns for no other reason than you didn't care for them, but will ask you to pay freight in one or both directions.
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
23
#16
They have a very good customer service program with quite a few options in general; they do factor return shipping into their offer, some do not. RSL is another that does. Many will still accept returns for no other reason than you didn't care for them, but will ask you to pay freight in one or both directions.
I was just reading what they offer. That's pretty wild. Quite interesting.

But of course the real question is... do the primes/ultras sound natural with dialog?

The Prime series is very affordable.

Very best,
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
1,556 3
#17
West central Florida, near Cedar Key & Trenton, or around the Gainesville/Ocala area after a drive.
Ha. I was off. I must have confused you with another recent poster. :) Well that makes it easier.

If you get the chance to listen to truly flat/neutral/accurate speakers, it is worthwhile. If something in Jim Salk's line-up interests you, email him and discuss if there is a local customer that would be willing to host you for an audition. I mentioned his colleague Dennis Murphy, and that is how I got to hear his speakers. Jim will do the same. I drove 2hrs each way to spend an hour listening to Dennis' flagship speaker. I went all in on his sound and am not looking back! :)

SVS Ultra and Prime (including Prime Pinnacle) are supposed to be great. Many people seem to enjoy them quite readily. Because of their generous costomer service strategy, you get 45-days to listen in-home, you can upgrade within a year, and shipping is included... BOTH WAYS! (Yes, that is assuredly built into their price!)

The other forum has some avid Emotiva Airmotiv fans. Not the prettiest speaker, but they seem well liked and are very budget friendly. A recent review was very positive toward the T2 towers.

I mentioned Ascend earlier, too... the towers are supposed to be stunning, though they may press your budget if you upgrade to his Raal Tweeter. Dave has some other new designs in the works as I understand, and it may be worth checking out!

If I were to ever buy a mass-market system, Monitor Audio would be where I spend my coin. But that is not to say the likes of KEF, ELAC, Wharfedale (from England are bad: hey are not... I just really dug what I heard from MA.) :)

PSB, Revel, RBH... all get good press. :)

Fluance Signature is supposed to be a good, budget oriented option, too.

Cheers!
 
MalVeauX

MalVeauX

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
23
#19
If you get the chance to listen to truly flat/neutral/accurate speakers, it is worthwhile. If something in Jim Salk's line-up interests you, email him and discuss if there is a local customer that would be willing to host you for an audition. I mentioned his colleague Dennis Murphy, and that is how I got to hear his speakers. Jim will do the same. I drove 2hrs each way to spend an hour listening to Dennis' flagship speaker. I went all in on his sound and am not looking back! :)

I mentioned Ascend earlier, too... the towers are supposed to be stunning, though they may press your budget if you upgrade to his Raal Tweeter. Dave has some other new designs in the works as I understand, and it may be worth checking out!

If I were to ever buy a mass-market system, Monitor Audio would be where I spend my coin. But that is not to say the likes of KEF, ELAC, Wharfedale (from England are bad: hey are not... I just really dug what I heard from MA.) :)

PSB, Revel, RBH... all get good press. :)

Fluance Signature is supposed to be a good, budget oriented option, too.
Thanks, Salk looks quite interesting. A single pair is possible. Not sure I could do the whole 7.2 in that setup though. Beautiful looking stuff. I appreciate seeing the non-mass-market stuff to get an idea of what's out there.

Thanks, I'll read through, I appreciate you taking the time to link all that.

Very best,
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,682 20 47
#20
Thanks, Salk looks quite interesting. A single pair is possible. Not sure I could do the whole 7.2 in that setup though. Beautiful looking stuff. I appreciate seeing the non-mass-market stuff to get an idea of what's out there.



Thanks, I'll read through, I appreciate you taking the time to link all that.

Very best,
LOL just a little search-fu. Lots of existing information on AH if you don't use the built-in search which generally sucks.
 

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