Speakers; When is good enough, enough

ltucker305

Audiophyte
Vandersteen All The Way

Speaker listening is a matter of preference. I am new to high-end audio but I have listened to a number of speakers. In my opinion nothing compares to box-less setup as in vandersteen and b&w. Vandersteens are so open, airy and true. Take a listen to them. You will see what I mean. 3a signature with 2 2wq subs is phenomonal. Retail it would cost about $6000. $3500 for 3a and $2500 for the subs. After hearing this setup you will want to trade in.

So I do not sound crazy here is a list of what I have heard in demo rooms.

sonus faber amati, stradavari
harbeth - all models
spendor - all models
b&w - all models
paradigm - all models
jm lab - grand utopia signature, nova utopia be
epos - all models
axiom - all models

Sincerely,
Larry
 
C

calgarianperson

Junior Audioholic
going through this thread i found some setups that i liked and im currently looking at upgrading (i need 2 fronts, 2 surrounds, 2 rear, 1 center, and 1 or 2 subs)

For example I have Paridigm Monitor series all around. Monitor 7's up front, CC370 center and MiniMonitors rear.
  • a good front set (the moniter 7, 9, 11 or 90P)
  • good surrounds (ADP 370)
  • good rears (monitor mini, 3 or 5)
  • a center channel (CC 370)
  • and decent sub/subs (appears to be no monitor sub so if you can reccomend one that would be great)

These might be out of my price range but im not sure so if anybody has a list of the MSRPs or knows about how much i can get them for new i would appreciate it. I noticed that alot of people like these but if anyone reccomends something else let me know.

Thanks.
 
C

calgarianperson

Junior Audioholic
thanks... i figured out why i couldnt find them... im in canada and the canadian site doesnt list them... funny though since they are manufactured here.
 
F

Frick & Frack

Audiophyte
I've upgraded over the years and just bought a Paradigm Monitor 9 system from a defunct dealer. One thing I will say is that while the cost vs. performance (benefit) threshold may not have yet been reached by many of you, I am finding that that at my age (approaching 50) the equation looks like this.....

Cost ...............x........age =........what speakers you need
Performance...............hearing loss


But then again, I could be wrong... ;)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
JoeE SP9

JoeE SP9

Senior Audioholic
Speakers are good enough when you have no urge to upgrade. I have owned my Acoustats for more than ten years and still have no urge to upgrade or change them. :cool:
 
hyghwayman

hyghwayman

Audioholic
upgrading

So do you all think upgrading from my $65 HTiB 5.1 40w speakers [(DVD player and speakers)speakers are hooked up to a Pioneer VSX-816 receiver] to a $999 5.1 system from SVSound (SBS-01) will be worth the $$$ for improvement in the noise I hear?
From this:
see that whimpy speaker under the TV.
Here is the sub
it's also a 40w powered type:p


To this:
:D

Just wondering out loud,
hyghwayman
 
Tomorrow

Tomorrow

Audioholic Ninja
So do you all think upgrading from my $65 HTiB 5.1 40w speakers [(DVD player and speakers)speakers are hooked up to a Pioneer VSX-816 receiver] to a $999 5.1 system from SVSound (SBS-01) will be worth the $$$ for improvement in the noise I hear?
From this:
see that whimpy speaker under the TV.
Here is the sub
it's also a 40w powered type:p


To this:
:D

Just wondering out loud,
hyghwayman

Well, it depends on what you like. You're the one that has to listen to it and pay for it. :)
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm not the kind of guy who always needs to upgrade. I tend to have something for a long time and replace it when it fails or is absurdly obsolete. I've owned two pairs of main speakers in my life. A bookshelf set of EPI 100s from the late 70s that were fairly basic and got me through college, med school, and residency when I had tight budgets. While my budget when I upgraded to 5 channel surround wasn't unlimited it was well above average. I found my Vandersteens to be the most realistic thing I've ever heard. I can't imagine replacing them unless to upgrade to model 5A which is a lot of scratch. I acn think of better things to get with $15K including about a thousand CDs.

That said, I have two points. First, the Vandys are so good that many old vinyl albums I have or their reissue CDs from the 60s and 70s (jazz and rock) are unlistenable know because the Vandys ruthlessly expose the short comings of the recordings. Having heard redbook Mapleshade CDs sound better than any SACD I have yet bought I am convinced that the "rate-limiting-step" is the recording and is no longer the playback technology.

Second, while I'm sure the Paradigms are good speakers, and you've checked the driver manufacturers out bearthis in mind. The top speaker designers who do not make their own drivers use proprietary drivers from Vifa, Scanspeak etc. They are not available to you and I even if we could otherwise copy a good designs enclosure. That is not to say that one cannot build excellent speakers, my brother built a very good pair on his first try. I do think the experts out there with their own companies know a few things that most of us do not. Their best designs are better than any an amateur could make because they have access to drivers and manufacturing techniques that we do not
Actually those so called custom drivers have largely cosmetic changes only. There are lots of good drivers available to the amateur builder from the companies you mention. There is one highly touted speaker manufacturer on these forums who sources some drivers from a pretty low end Chinese company called Tangband.

I think there are huge advantages to designing your own speakers. In fact I think all serious audiophiles should try and learn the art. You like me are a physician, so have the ideal skill sets, especially to balance the sum of compromises.

My current speakers. I have a close colleague who has a 20K pair of B & Ws and he prefers these. He chose them because they sounded closest to these.

http://mdcarter.smugmug.com/Walberswick Studios
 
E

Exit

Audioholic Chief
I think you can gauge the sound of your system and room acoustics by listening to a very good set of headphones. That takes room acoustics and speakers out of the listening equation. If you can get your system and room to sound better than very good headphones, then I think you should be satisfied and not seek more expensive equipment. You should be able to beat the sound of headphones in very low bass and surround sound, but the real challange is stereo music where direct comparisons can be made. Just my $.02 worth. Very good headphones can be found at:

http://www.headphone.com/
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I think you can gauge the sound of your system and room acoustics by listening to a very good set of headphones. That takes room acoustics and speakers out of the listening equation. If you can get your system and room to sound better than very good headphones, then I think you should be satisfied and not seek more expensive equipment. You should be able to beat the sound of headphones in very low bass and surround sound, but the real challange is stereo music where direct comparisons can be made. Just my $.02 worth. Very good headphones can be found at:

http://www.headphone.com/
You have a good point. Good headphones are a very good check on the smooth mid and HF response of speakers. I use high end Sennheisers. I use them mainly in editing work. I don't do much continued listening with phones, as I don't particularly enjoy the perspective they give.

The ultimate head phones are the Stax electrostatics. They sound a LOT better than anything else. I have just felt I would not use them enough to justify the investment.

http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-Store/Stax-Headphones
 
J

Joe Schmoe

Audioholic Ninja
There is a slight possibility that I could be permanently satisfied with a pair of Magico Minis.:D (Of course, they cost more than a full year's salary, gross not net.)
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
There is a slight possibility that I could be permanently satisfied with a pair of Magico Minis.:D (Of course, they cost more than a full year's salary, gross not net.)
I have not seen those speakers before. The cabinets look beautifully made. I think the woofers are by Accuton, the tweeters are definitely from Scanspeak.

So they have about $1200 in drivers before building the cabinets, and crossovers. The caps are high priced German Mundorfs.

The frequency response is stated 40 Hz "in room". Translation, no diffraction compensation. If you like the human voice, and I think you do, these are probably not for you.
 
J

Joe Schmoe

Audioholic Ninja
If you like the human voice, and I think you do, these are probably not for you.
Thanks. I guess I will have to save that spare $29,000 I had set aside for something else.:rolleyes:
 
E

Exit

Audioholic Chief
I should modify my headphone standard to beating headphones in your economic class. (Sound for the masses) I will be happy beating $90 Senheiser headphones while others may target a much more expensive set of headphones. It just gives you a readily available means of music playback free of speaker coloration and room acoustics that you can compare to the same music played on your system. You don't have to remember what a potential upgrade set of speakers at an audio dealers sounded like.
 
J

Joe Schmoe

Audioholic Ninja
I should modify my headphone standard to beating headphones in your economic class. (Sound for the masses) I will be happy beating $90 Senheiser headphones while others may target a much more expensive set of headphones. It just gives you a readily available means of music playback free of speaker coloration and room acoustics that you can compare to the same music played on your system. You don't have to remember what a potential upgrade set of speakers at an audio dealers sounded like.
Headphones are great for analysis, but I never enjoy listening to them. By contrast, I always enjoy listening to decent speakers.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I believe at least one person has already said this, but your speakers are good enough when you can't spend anymore.:D

But it seems quite a few people believe that your speakers are good enough when you have the B&W 800D or 802Ds.:D
 
M

markw

Audioholic Overlord
Your speakers (and system) are good enough when you can concentrate on simply enjoying the music and not spend every minute agonizing about what you might imagine is wrong with them.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Audiophiles can look at the recorded media as a standard. Hi-fidelity is all about getting as close as possible to what the recorded media is all about. That means, one has to be exposed to so-called REFERENCE systems that eschew the wonderful qualities of Neutrality, Transparency and Accuracy in any of their components from the record all the way to your ears. If your speakers and the totality of your systems at home come close to those Reference Systems or do have them alright, then perhaps you've reach the zenith of your audiophilic journey, and have reached the point beyond which the law of diminishing returns apply.

Some audiophiles short cut the route by attending as many live musical events as possible from concert halls and studios to get a feel of what real music sounds like. (Not open air live event with crappy PA systems.) That way, their standard becomes LIVE music and coupled with their subjective assessment of what is LIVE from their recollections, they then fashion their sound systems to sound closest to such recollections. Never mind if the sound is nowhere near what the recorded mix had intended. So if your speakers and your gears in general do sound like what you remember from a live concert sound, then perhaps, you've reach the point where any further upgrade becomes meaningless.

Also bear in mind that some AV shops have accoustic treatments that can make a speaker sound impressive. Only to be dissappointingly anemic once you install them at home.
A live gig should never be compared to a studio recording although I have heard some really well recorded/mixed live recordings and gigs. That's a classic case of apples and oranges. Live can sound good or even great but it's far from being similar to a good studio and that brings me to another point- there's no reference for recording studios. A lot of them tend to use specific speakers pretty often but the rest of the equipment, the room size/treatments and effects/electronics tend to vary greatly.

Someone who has rarely if ever heard live music, never played an instrument and was never close to an instrument being played- they will never know how it really sounds. If they like the way their system sounds, great. If not, they have no real basis for knowing if it sounds "correct".

You bring up a great point about room treatments. Too many people are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment but completely neglect the room's acoustics. This is so far from being the right way to go about setting up a system, it's ridiculous. Only after the room is relatively neutral, can speakers be auditioned and selected. Any other sequence is backward. Good results have been gotten by doing it the standard way and then tweaking the room but it's a lot more efficient and logical if the room is correct in the first place.

You also mentioned diminishing returns- some people don't know what really sounds accurate or even good. Many who either have never heard a really great system or are new to trying to improve a system think loud=good, throbbing gristle bass=good, screaming treble=good or something equally absurd. I know someone who referred to my car stereo as sounding really "clean". It wasn't that clean at that point and it needed to be EQ'd better but it did sound good for some things, especially drums and guitar- bass was decent but it did image well. Nothing really special, though. For the ones who have no idea of what really sounds good, it ends up being a frustrating, expensive journey.
 

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