Suggestions for a Nomadic Audiophile?

A

ariasinger1

Audiophyte
Hello forum members!

This is my first post here, I'm new to the forum, and relatively new to the hobby. I have a basic Sherwood integrated, and some Fluance bookshelves and I'm ready to upgrade.

Considerations:
1. I move almost annually, because of this, I am not currently considering surround sound as an option, I would prefer a simple two channel system that can handle home theater and music duty. I would be willing to consider bookshelves plus some smaller subwoofers, but my preference is truly full range towers.

2. I'm a young, strong guy. In spite of the fact that I move frequently, I don't mind the heavy lifting, the reason for the simple setup is so that I can have happy speakers in a variety of room acoustic settings, given that I will hang panels for first reflection points in any given room. I may not always be able to manage a surround sound setup in a new apartment or home, and I prefer the simplicity of two channel systems.

Preferences: (I realize you can't have everything, so I'm expecting to give up one or two of these)

1. I would prefer to not need to use a subwoofer(s). I don't need room pounding or high SPL bass, but I would like something that fills a small / medium sized room and actually extends down to a respectable 32-30 hz F3.

2. My sonic preference is just on the forward side of neutral. Lively and dynamic, but not fatiguing.

3. I would prefer something that is 84 to 88 db efficient and can handle a ton of power to push it to high volume, or something that is 89 + db efficient.

4. I am mentioning this because I know I will be asked otherwise. I am a professional classical musician, so reproduction of an orchestra is obviously very important to me. I am an operatic tenor, and so reproduction of voices is even more important. Secondary music preferences include arena rock, metal, hip hop, and folk music. This system will be approximately 50/50 music and home theater duty.

The budget:
About $3,000, all-in (pre, amp, dac, speakers, cables, etc)

Questions:
1. Given what you have read above, what would you recommend for speakers, amplifiers, and pre-amplifiers for me to consider auditioning?

2. Having never owned audiophile equipment, I don't have a real appreciation for soundstage or imaging. This is mentioned in almost every review of every speaker I read. Is it actually an objectively noticeable phenomenon, or do you personally chalk this up to placebo effect or wishful thinking? How important is soundstage and imaging in high-quality speaker selection?

3. What questions have I failed to ask? What should I know before purchasing or auditioning the speaker from a company?

Thank you so much for your time and expertise and making recommendations to me as I put together my first high quality system!
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic General
OK, are you looking to replace the Sherwood too, or just the speakers? You can get a mid level AVR and there is no need for a separate pre/pro, amp, dac, etc. This lets you put more money into the speakers which will have the largest influence on your sound quality of any component.

The JBL 590's have been getting a lot of love lately. Admittedly, their looks aren't for everyone.

I'm also going to throw these out there: https://www.audioholics.com/bookshelf-speaker-reviews/bmr-philharmonitor-1 They were designed by a classical musician and very well regarded speaker developer. You can purchase them here: https://salksound.com/model.php?model=BMR+Monitors

Since you are a professional classical musician, I'm sure you have an appreciation for soundstaging and imaging already. Imagine if every instrument or group of instruments in an orchestral piece sounded like they were coming from the exact same place. That would be a distinct lack of soundstaging and imaging that I think would be very noticeable to you.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
OK, are you looking to replace the Sherwood too, or just the speakers? You can get a mid level AVR and there is no need for a separate pre/pro, amp, dac, etc. This lets you put more money into the speakers which will have the largest influence on your sound quality of any component.

The JBL 590's have been getting a lot of love lately. Admittedly, their looks aren't for everyone.

I'm also going to throw these out there: https://www.audioholics.com/bookshelf-speaker-reviews/bmr-philharmonitor-1 They were designed by a classical musician and very well regarded speaker developer. You can purchase them here: https://salksound.com/model.php?model=BMR+Monitors

Since you are a professional classical musician, I'm sure you have an appreciation for soundstaging and imaging already. Imagine if every instrument or group of instruments in an orchestral piece sounded like they were coming from the exact same place. That would be a distinct lack of soundstaging and imaging that I think would be very noticeable to you.
I agree with you for the recommended speakers. You didn't mean a lack of soundstaging. did you?
 
A

ariasinger1

Audiophyte
@NINaudio
Thanks for the reply!
I am looking to replace my Sherwood with something a little more flat/true (mine is +- 3db from 20-20khz). Those 590s look interesting! They don't quite plunge the depths as much as I'd prefer at an F6 of 35hz, but they do have some glowing reviews. The Philharmonitors have always been interesting to me, but at 2500 bucks from Salk now, they would be making me stretch the electronics portion of my budget pretty far, and I'm not sure how well they would tolerate extended high output being 85db efficient with a max recommended input power of around 100w. Thoughts?
Some other speakers I had looked at were SVS prime pinnacles and PSB X2Ts. Klipsch 8000F and Tekton Lore/Pendragon were on my list of considerations until I started seeing posts around about them not measuring up to specs, and that off-axis performance for tekton tends to suffer.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
The SVS Prime Pinnacles look interesting. Also the Monoprice Monolith THX-460T are interesting. If you could listen to them at home and have the possibility to return them if not satisfied, that woulld be ideal.

But here is Audioholics review of the SVS:

 
A

ariasinger1

Audiophyte
@Verdinut
Thanks for linking the review of the Pinnacles! I had not heard of these Monolith Towers, thank you for drawing my attention to them. It looks like they directly compete with the Pinnacles in most aspects, interesting!
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic General
@NINaudio
Thanks for the reply!
I am looking to replace my Sherwood with something a little more flat/true (mine is +- 3db from 20-20khz). Those 590s look interesting! They don't quite plunge the depths as much as I'd prefer at an F6 of 35hz, but they do have some glowing reviews. The Philharmonitors have always been interesting to me, but at 2500 bucks from Salk now, they would be making me stretch the electronics portion of my budget pretty far, and I'm not sure how well they would tolerate extended high output being 85db efficient with a max recommended input power of around 100w. Thoughts?
Some other speakers I had looked at were SVS prime pinnacles and PSB X2Ts. Klipsch 8000F and Tekton Lore/Pendragon were on my list of considerations until I started seeing posts around about them not measuring up to specs, and that off-axis performance for tekton tends to suffer.
What kind of volumes and distances do you listen at? With 100 watts and an 85 dB sensitivity, you can reach peaks of 100+ dB at 10 ft, that's plenty loud for most people, especially in a home environment, and enough to really piss off your neighbors if you live in an apartment building.

You may want to check out this article: https://www.audioholics.com/tower-speaker-reviews/tower-speaker-under-2k It was my jumping off point when looking for my next set of speakers. Out of them I've listened to the Paradigm and the Klipsch. I was not a fan of the Klipsch, but did really enjoy the Paradigm.
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Audioholic Chief
I owned the Klipsch RP-280F's (predecessor to the 8000F's with only a very small generational difference). I found their horizontal dispersion way too narrow for my tastes. You really, REALLY have to be sitting far away from them, like close to 10 feet, or even small shifts in your listening position can throw the image out of whack. Since you move a lot, you could wind up in a place that makes them unfavorable.

You probably won't go wrong with Revel though... you might have to buy used to stay within budget, but they put real science behind their speaker designs and are almost universally loved. Performa F30's, even though almost 20 years old, were the second best speakers I've ever owned. They resolve nicely in small rooms and large rooms, and the midrange (where the magic happens) is breathtaking. Measurements aren't everything but if you look at their's, it was impressively flat. If my best friend ever decides to sell them, I will buy them back for myself even if I wind up not using them much. I can only imagine what Revel's newer and better models sound like.
 
TheWarrior

TheWarrior

Audioholic Ninja
I'd look at a pair of JBL 705P's. They're self amplified so you can connect them to anything with an RCA output. No need for preamp unless you have alot of sources to switch between.

It's everything you need in two boxes.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
It's typically you either can get very dynamic speakers (like JBL Studio 590), or you can get an extended bass you desire. Getting both, unfortunately, is unlikely even at your fairly generous budget.
The rule of thumb with budgeting for an audio system is the more you spend on actual speakers, the better sound quality you can generally expect. Electronics, cables have minimal effect on sound quality. So you should look closely at BMR speakers are they are despite the price (few more years ago these were cheaper directly from their creator, Dennis Murphy since retired) these still represent fantastic price/quality product.
You'd sacrifice some of the dynamics of a larger speaker, but you gain low bass as well flat ruler response.

I'd also call-in our inhouse recording engineer/classical music fanatic Dr. Mark aka @TLS Guy who could provide better insight for you.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Spartan
I was just thinking here is another Awesome set of Speakers that would fit your Wants and Needs. These are Disconnected but if you could find a pair, again I think they are Outstanding

Polk Audio LSi15
41yAgQO+i0L._AC_SL1500_.jpg
 
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S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
I would be looking at bookshelf speakers and sealed subs. I get that you are a strong guy and all, but consider that you may end up moving into a space that doesn't have a lot of room. Also consider storage area just for the packing materials alone. And if packing materials aren't something you can hold onto, consider getting something with a rugged finish that you don't mind if it gets scuffed or scratched during moving. Bookshelf speakers and some sealed subs are a lot easier to move around and are more flexible in their placement options due to their size.

For speakers, look at offerings from KEF, Revel, Outlaw Audio, Monoprice Monolith, SVS Ultra, to name a few reliable brands. One terrific speaker is the Outlaw BLSv2, it is a great well-rounded design. Pair that with a Hsu ULS-15, Monoprice Monolith sealed 12", or SVS SB-2000PRO. Get a decent Yamaha, Marantz, or Denon AVR. You could have a great system for well under $3k.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
The budget:
About $3,000, all-in (pre, amp, dac, speakers, cables, etc)
The Philharmonitors have always been interesting to me, but at 2500 bucks from Salk now, they would be making me stretch the electronics portion of my budget pretty far.
These comments worry me. There is a lot written about how important your DAC is, etc. It is pretty much all BS generated either by those who make DACs or by those who are paid to review electronics by the companies that make DAC's (or hobbiests who have read too many of these articles). The bottom line is a good mid-level AVR has a very nice DAC and you will not hear any audible difference between DACs. You would pay a lot to get separate Pre, amp, and DAC that is not getting you better sound quality! Speakers are where the rubber meets the road for sound quality and where you should put as much of your budget as possible. That said, my current recommendation would be this (refurbished) Denon 3500 AVR for $700.
It provides good power and gives you a lot of flexibility for tuning your system (should you want/need it)!
 
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VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
Here is what I would consider if I was in your situation:



 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
Why would you select the 4500 over the 3500?
The reason I would go with the 4500 instead of the 3500 is 20% more power and a 3 year warranty instead of a one year. In addition, it's a newer revision. The 3500 might be fine but I would prefer the 4500. Here's a detailed comparison:

 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
The reason I would go with the 4500 instead of the 3500 is 20% more power and a 3 year warranty instead of a one year. In addition, it's a newer revision. The 3500 might be fine but I would prefer the 4500. Here's a detailed comparison:

20% more power is less than 1 dB difference which is close to being meaningless.
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
20% more power is less than 1 dB difference which is close to being meaningless.
Denon AVR-X4500H has more channels, more power per channel, more channel processing, more analog pre-outs, more zones, bigger power supply and higher signal to noise ratio. It supports Auro3D and IMAX Enhanced. All that for $300 plus 2 more years of warranty and a newer design. The extra 2 years of warranty is worth $60+ by itself.

Check out the comparison for details:
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Audioholic Chief
Denon AVR-X4500H has more channels, more power per channel, more channel processing, more analog pre-outs, more zones, bigger power supply and higher signal to noise ratio. It supports Auro3D and IMAX Enhanced. All that for $300 plus 2 more years of warranty and a newer design. The extra 2 years of warranty is worth $60+ by itself.

Check out the comparison for details:
OP said he's only looking for a 2 channel system. He's shopping for a Civic and you're trying to sell him a Tesla. ;)
 

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