General Review of several Brands of Speakers - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 8 Old 02-12-09, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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General Review of several Brands of Speakers

Well, I had an enjoyable experience while I was at Magnolia Hi Fi down a couple cities from me. I entered the store, knowing where stuff was from my visit last week. However last week, I had only brought my iPod and not a cable to connect it. They had a dock connector, but from what I can hear, that connector, always has much stronger mid's and actually muffles it. I always use my 3.5mm headphone jack when enjoying music and it has a much more balanced sound. But enough with that, now on to the review.

Although I had been there a week earlier, I hadn't yet had a chance to learn there control station for all the speakers and AVRs. After a minute or so, I was able to pick it up and use it briskly. I had brought my 3.5mm to RCA adapter this time, and plugged it into a Denon. For an hour I listened to AIFF versions of songs on my iPod the list includes;
-Kije's Wedding by London Symphony Orchestra
-Most of the album of Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater
-Rock Anthem For Saving the World and Halo Theme from the Original Halo Soundtrack
-Breed by Nirvana
-Under a Glass Moon by Dream Theater
-Ultimate Bass Test by unknown artist
-Delta Halo Suite from the Original Halo 2 Soundtrack
-Stream of Consciousness by Dream Theater
-Da Blow (feat Gangsta Boo) by Lil' Jon
-Fade to Black by Metallica
-Foreplay/Long Time by Boston
-976-Bass by Bass Erotica

I played certain sections of each song to get a Jist of the speakerís capabilities, as well as the characteristics, realism, soundstage, and quality.

Each had there own...characteristics per say, but none overly impressed me. Maybe the size of the room, where the speakers were located, the seating position, and what was in the room that may have varied my opinion of them over my own speakers. But in which case I will leave my opinion of my speakers out, and grade and critique each speaker as if that room was my own, and have that room as my basis of reference to the grading of the speakers.

Now, this is kind of a broad review of "brands" of speakers, rather than each model as I did not note these down, but rather each brand as a group of them, and an average of what each brand had in common. I had heard Martin Loganís, Vienna, Definitive, REL (subs), Martin Logan (sub), and Cremona.

As a general idea of the Martin Loganís, they were beautifully crafted, and were definitely original designs from my perspective. After a bit of research, I found that I heard the "source" and "purity". Utilizing Electrostatic speakers for the highs, the wind chimes, triangle, and drums in Home by Dream Theater were so realistic, crisp, clear and vibrant that it gave me pure shivers to hear. The percussion instruments were brought to life, and even thinking about it now gives me shivers. They were so beautifully reproduced; no speaker has come close yet. Furthermore, the Acoustic Guitar intro in Regression by Dream Theater sounded just as vibrant as the percussion had sounded.

But like all good things it must come to an end. I found the mid sound field was missing. James LaBrie's voice wasn't in the same league as the percussion and guitar; this is where I felt the Martin Loganís missed, in Vocals. Consistently it tarnished the voices of the songs I played. When you have a perfect 10 for the instruments, and just a 6 for the voices, it doesnít balance out. Moreover, when you stood up, or went outside the "sweet spot" I lost that beautiful vibrance for the highs. And was left with a muddled mid and lost highs. Which means these speakers are meant to be enjoyed with full attention, or you will find there beauty in a void, never returning. For a price of around 3K for a pair, these negative effects turned me off from purchasing them.

Vienna brand speakers, what to say about them? I felt disappointed over there plastic speaker design. The cone itself was a clear plastic, and seemed to me a little cheap for 1500$+ a pair speakers. And all 3 models at the store were;
Beethoven - Concert Grand
Beethoven - Baby Grand
Mozart - Grand

Overall, they had average High reproduction, the mid's were not clear, and lacking bass much. Throughout the songs, it seemed to lack depth, a wide sound stage, and vibrancy that would immerse me into the music. They didnít scream out to me, and make my experience wonderful, but instead gave me a bland experience. With offering mid drivers on the towers, they lacked depth, which means without a sub youíre out of luck. In the end, there overly inflated price tag makes them not a desirable speaker to change to.

Definitive speakers were in short in the demo room I was in, which happened to be a Mythos ST SuperTower. First may I say this was one of the best balanced speakers I had heard there. It was an unusual design to me, but it seemed to work well. It had an extremely balanced tone and great soundstage. It had clean sound from every area; high, mid, and low. The soundstage wasnít as wide as the Martin Loganís, but did have the ability to be heard well across the room. The Super Tower uses a long-throw racetrack subwoofer. Which I found the be interesting, it wasn't ported. Utilizing 2 passive radiators, of similar nature it was a good sounding sub. But with this design I did notice the lack of depth, since it wasnít ported and didnít use the roomís size to its advantage, the ultra lows were lost. The lows were alot louder than the ultra lows, and I guess a little anticipated with the chosen design. But overall, an independent powered subwoofer would remedy this problem. If you have a good sub, and a deep pocket, at 2000$ a pop, you can pick up a pair. And for this price, it does seem a little pricey, but a good speaker.

The REL Subwoofers I found were the REL T1, and T2. Both are at the top tier of REL's product list but they were by far the biggest disappointment I had found there. My first attempt to play a deep techno song resulted in the sales rep turning down the volume on the sub from 2/3 gain to 1/2, than turning down the gain on the AVR from -20db to -30db. Resulting in a loss in the bass I was playing. Although playing a 20Hz background beat frequently, it resulted in the sub compressing and bottoming out often. Which left me running it on 3 cylinders instead of the full 6. However, the low, and mid bass played great. Was very ballsy, and authoritative. It left a good impression for boomy bass, but not deep bass. The bass drum on Delta Halo Suite by Halo 2, was lacking realism and true depth. As a former Orchestra student, I know how a drum bass sounds in person, and it didnít reproduce it realistically, leaving me with a gap in realism from REL.

And for me the 10K price tag for Cremona had good sound, but nowhere near that price. I didnít give it much a chance due to such a high price tag.

All the speakers at the store seem to be Top Tier lines from each company. But the impression I got from most were extremely disappointing. The prices didnít match the quality they say they have. To my surprise for the first hour, not a single sales representative approached me. Which was a let down due to I may not need there help, but offering it would have been nice. After walking the store for another 20 minutes looking at stuff, they continued to walk by me here and there, not saying a word to me. Finally, when I was nearly done, and being there for about an hour and a half one finally approached me and asked if I needed any help at all. Which at this point was rather irritating, and un-needed. But yet again 5 minutes later he asked again, which brought the same response of no thanks.

I think thats about it for this review, until than thanks for reading this review. Feedback would be great, I look forward to it mostly.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-12-09, 06:54 AM
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Re: General Review of several Brands of Speakers

I moved this to Home Audio Speakers since it was a review of speakers.

Good listening... of course these types of reviews are always going to be subjective, just as my thoughts as follows will be.

Personally, I have never heard a better sounding speaker than Martin Logan's. I wanted them for years and just never bought, but once I did, there is no turning back now. It is simply not a sound that I have ever been able to get with any other speakers. The Source and Purity speakers you heard are their absolute bottom line speakers, despite their price tag. I suspect the listening setup was not the most desirable either, which will not help ML's. They need to be setup in the proper environment or things will not sound right, as you stated. As picky as those two speakers are, I am not sure why ML even bothers, but I suppose it will be for that person that had that picky setup area that is needed to get the most out of them. To me, a persons money would be much better spent on buying used and bigger ML's for the same money. For instance, the Ascent i's that I previously owned can be had for about $2000 on the used market... actually three pairs on Audiogon right now ranging from $1900 to $2200. These are not nearly as picky... huge sound stage, excellent depth, imaging and clarity... voices are spot on... the detail is unmatched by most any other speaker available (I am not saying all, just most). You can actually get up and walk around the room and still be in audio nirvana.

Is this store something like a Best Buy, Circuit City... or is it supposed to be a bona fide audio store?

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post #3 of 8 Old 02-12-09, 01:13 PM
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Re: General Review of several Brands of Speakers

Sonnie wrote: View Post
Is this store something like a Best Buy, Circuit City... or is it supposed to be a bona fide audio store?
Yes, Magnolia is inside Best Buy (but not all BB); they have a couple of listening rooms with a variety of speakers, subs, AVR's and projectors.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-12-09, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: General Review of several Brands of Speakers

No, this is it's own Magnolia. They do have there own stores in our area, around 5 i think. And none of the Best Buys have a magnolia in them around here.

But this was a completely dependant Magnolia, and had nothing but Denon's, Pioneers, Definitives, ML's, Viennas, and Sonus something. Thats all about they had around there. But I guess every store has several brands they carry a big line of.
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-13-09, 11:23 AM
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Re: General Review of several Brands of Speakers

That sounds to me to not relate to BB. BB magnolias, at least around here, carry, klipsch (a lot), def. tech, a few polk. Nothing too high end.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-28-09, 11:10 AM
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Re: General Review of several Brands of Speakers

I have just come off a 3 month search for a new set of speakers so the sounds of each is still fresh. I agree about the Viennas, and Sonnie is right on the spot about the MLs as they are Very picky about placement and I might add -upstream equipment also.

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post #7 of 8 Old 03-10-09, 01:20 PM
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Re: General Review of several Brands of Speakers

I have the good fortune to own a pair of EgglestonWorks Andras, and there is nothing even close that I've ever heard that I would trade them for (except the EgglestonWorls Ivys of course). I do think the Wilson Audio WATT/puppy is close to as good, but there is something very special about the 320 pound granite Dynaudio Esotar tweeter loaded Andras...Magic; simply beautiful musical magic!!!

I get up...I get the paper...I read the obituaries...if I don't see my name; I go ahead and have breakfast! George Burns.
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-11-09, 05:47 PM
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Re: General Review of several Brands of Speakers

I want to know your opinion on Mirrage speakers
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cremona , definitive , magnolia hi fi , martin logan , rel , review , vienna

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