One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 363 Old 01-21-12, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

The title says it plain - I am a speaker newb / novice / insert many other terms here. After starting to read some of Nuance's speaker "VisionQuest" (ahhh the 80's movies), I thought it might be good to start a thread from the perspective of someone who has no clue what a good speaker really sounds like.

For the last several years, I have had the Bose Acoustimass 10 and felt I was living on top of the world as I had "surround sound". When I decided early last year to start looking into building a dedicated HT room, I thought I was already set for speakers. HA! I discovered a whole world of floorstanders, bookshelfs, centers, bipoles, dipoles...... the list goes on.

So, I did what every potential DIYer does - I started to read everything I could get my hands on (so glad I finally found HTS!). Since I can only work so late into the evening (kids are light sleepers ), I thought I would spend some time trying to understand what I should be looking for when I start auditioning speakers.

Let me just say now - I HIGHLY recommend auditioning speakers. Not from a experienced point of view - as I said, I have no experience at all. It is more from the excitement - I am as giddy as a schoolboy thinking of the next couple months just listening to as many speakers as I can.

So, the first thing I suggest - read! There is a great post right here in this forum - check out this sticky if you have not already.

I started out by doing the wrong thing first - I started trying to find shops where I could go audition speakers. The reason this was wrong? If I went to the shop, what would I use as a comparison to determine if one speaker was better than another? IMO, the first thing that needs to happen is to create your audition tracks - your collection of music / movie with which your are intimately familiar so that you know when you go in what you are listening to and what you expect to hear. I don't expect to sit for an entire movie - I will only have a small part from a movie I enjoy and promise to keep my eyes closed the whole time.

So, if you have stayed with me this long, thanks for listening. My next post will be for what I am looking for from a speaker and what I have decided on for an audition list.

If anyone wants to chime in with suggestions for speakers to have a go at, please do - I am keeping a running list. If you have suggestions for what you think I should be looking for, I am all ears.

Thanks all!

ALMFamily Speaker Audition List


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post #2 of 363 Old 01-21-12, 12:56 AM
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

I don't know what speakers are available to you locally so I won't comment on that.
My problem with listening to speakers in-store is just that! They are not in your listening environment. (plus the distraction of all the glitz and "buy me now")


Cheers,
Bill.

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DIY completed:

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post #3 of 363 Old 01-21-12, 09:13 AM
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

Hello,
Ah Vision Quest... Tom Cruise was a Wrestler or something if memory serves. Well, Pardon the pun and the actual Native American significance of a Vision Quest, but switching from a Bose Acoustimass to a quality Speaker Array will be something similar. If you could give us your budget, it would help greatly as it is impossible to deduce.
Cheers.
JJ

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post #4 of 363 Old 01-22-12, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

Quote:
robbo266317 wrote: View Post
I don't know what speakers are available to you locally so I won't comment on that.
My problem with listening to speakers in-store is just that! They are not in your listening environment. (plus the distraction of all the glitz and "buy me now")


Cheers,
Bill.
Point well taken Bill - my ultimate goal is to pare the list down to a select few and then do my best to audition those in my own room.

Quote:
Jungle Jack wrote: View Post
Hello,
Ah Vision Quest... Tom Cruise was a Wrestler or something if memory serves. Well, Pardon the pun and the actual Native American significance of a Vision Quest, but switching from a Bose Acoustimass to a quality Speaker Array will be something similar. If you could give us your budget, it would help greatly as it is impossible to deduce.
Cheers.
JJ
Very close Jack! Matthew Modine was VisionQuest - Tom Cruise was All the Right Moves. Both movies I watched a number of times.

I apologize for not giving more detail about what I was looking for - it was late and I just wanted to get my thoughts out before they all left me - it seems the first thing to go has been my mind.

Here is what I believe I will be looking for - these parameters are of course subject to change as I gain experience and knowledge (hopefully!):

Budget - I am planning for a 7.2 system, and I have already purchased my subs. I am not sure if it matters what the subs are, but just in case I have 2 PB-13 Ultras. After reading the fine sticky in this forum and many other posts by the fine people here, I understand I may need to build over time. That said, I would like to spend $5k or less.

Speaker Parameters - this is where my lack of experience really comes into play. After reading through a few threads and as many articles as I could Google, here is what I think is important to me:

1. They must "disappear" in the room. I really don't like the thought of being able to centralize where the sound is coming from.

2. I will not be able to go with 3 towers across the front as the speakers will be on the stage and a tower center would block a portion of the screen. That said, the L / C / R will be visible so I would like something aesthetically pleasing. I know this is highly subjective - I just want to steer clear of speakers that look like this.

3. This room will be predominantly used for movies with a smattering of sporting events and some music listening. I would say probably a 70% movies, 15% sporting events, 15% music split. So, the L / R should be able to handle 2 channel reasonably well for music, but if I have to give something up, this is definitely the one as movies are most important for me.

4. I am an avid instrumental / classical music lover (well, I like all types of music except Rap) so I want a set of speakers that I can "hear" the strings, horns, etc. and be able to pick them out while also being able to handle my Iron Maiden / Metallica fix.

5. I want to hear content as it was meant to be heard - is this is what is referred to as flat response? I suppose no speaker is really able to manage a completely flat response - I would love to be able to understand this better so any book / article you might suggest would be great! But, as I said, it would be nice to be able to hear content as it was meant to be heard.

If there are any other considerations I may have missed, please let me know.

Thanks all!


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post #5 of 363 Old 01-22-12, 08:08 PM
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

Serious subs youve got going on there and you definitely have that covered. $5k just for speakers, you have power and processing covered already? Maybe its well below what you have budgeted but I have been drooling over the recently released Martin Logan bookshelf speakers, the LX16s. No pro reviews yet but ownership of six or seven electrostats for $2k, from a name like ML, very much has my attention. Dale was saying theyre a little hungry so probably be best driven with a dedicated amp, additional $1k to the price...

Their product site made me laugh, "Minimalistic Design Featuring Luxurious Real-Wood", apparently that refers to the gorgeous finish as these bookshelf speakers are 3/4" MDF.

http://www.martinlogan.com/motionSeries/motion-lx16.php
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post #6 of 363 Old 01-22-12, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

So, on to my audition list. No laughing now!


TV Song - Blue Man Group

I selected this song for it's many different percussion levels. It really is quite amazing what they are able to do with some PVC. The "drum wall" used in this song is amazingly low bass.

August's Rhapsody - Soundtrack from August Rush

This is one of those orchestral songs I really like - lots of string work with some horn and flute work showing up at specific points. The cello work here is one of my personal favorites.

Peter Gabriel - Don't Give Up

This is one of those points where most will go "What are you thinking about Joe?!", but I really love Peter Gabriel's vocal range. I selected this song because the melody is very simple and all background - the vocals carry the song. An added bonus is Kate Bush's vocals - she has more of what I would consider an "alto" tone.

Queen - Who Want to Live Forever

I added this based on a suggestion from Andre in post #38. I had also heard this song many time before as it is in one of my favorite movies (Highlander) and Freddy really does have the ability to stretch the male vocal range.

Lift the Wings - Aine Ui Cheallaigh - Riverdance soundtrack

Again, an entry from a show I saw live and have been enamoured with ever since. This is the 1st of 2 from that soundtrack. She has a hauntingly beautiful voice and amazing vocal range and this song also includes an orchestral background.

Riverdance - Riverdance soundtrack

This one has quite a few things going on - high soprano voice, choir vocals, and quick, lively instrumental work.

The Clairvoyant - Iron Maiden

My metal selection - this one has loads of heavy guitar action and some nice percussion as well. Plus, I have always had a soft spot for Bruce Dickinson.

Angel - Sarah Mclachlan
I added this song based on the advice from Kadijk in post #25 - have one song that is an absolute "must" in any speaker audition session, and once you listen to it you'll know why. It has rich midrange, some bass extension, and some high range. In home theater, and music, good clear midrange is critical, and I think this song will demonstrate a speakers ability or lack of it quickly. Get to know Sarah McLachlan's song Angel. Play it soft, play it LOUD. Enjoy and have fun. I have heard this song many times, but of course forgot about it when compiling my list. Added!

The White Tree and Minas Tirith - Return of the King soundtrack

I noticed a decided lack of any music in my audition list that included a good portion of a horn section. Fortunately for me, Howard Shore does an excellent job in the LOTR soundtracks and I picked two that had a good amount included.

L.P. (for Les Paul) - Lee Ritenoir's 6 String Theory

I added this track based on the suggestion of Tonyvdb in post #28. I did not have a good jazz tune in my line-up, and after listening to a bit of the album, this track really felt like a good combination of string, percussion, and piano to me. As Tony stated, good variety and dynamic recording.

That's it - am I way off base or have I covered most of what I should be?


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Last edited by ALMFamily; 01-25-12 at 07:44 PM. Reason: added to audition list based on thread suggestions
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post #7 of 363 Old 01-22-12, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

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TypeA wrote: View Post
Serious subs youve got going on there and you definitely have that covered. $5k just for speakers, you have power and processing covered already? Maybe its well below what you have budgeted but I have been drooling over the recently released Martin Logan bookshelf speakers, the LX16s. No pro reviews yet but ownership of six or seven electrostats for $2k, from a name like ML, very much has my attention. Dale was saying theyre a little hungry so theyll probably be best driven with a dedicated amp...

Their product site made me laugh, "Minimalistic Design Featuring Luxurious Real-Wood", apparently that refers to the gorgeous finish as these bookshelf speakers are 3/4" MDF.

http://www.martinlogan.com/motionSeries/motion-lx16.php
Thanks for the reply Ty!

I do - I already have the Onkyo 809 as well as an Emotiva XPA-5. My original thought was to have the XPA-5 driving the L/C/R anf the surrounds and have the 809 power the rears. I also have a UPA-2 that I plan to use for 2 channel duty driving zone 2 in my future workshop.

Fortunately for me, the closest store to me - University Audio - carries Martin Logan's so I should be able to give them a listen. Thanks for the suggestion!


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post #8 of 363 Old 01-23-12, 06:52 PM
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

Hey ALMFamily, Ikarius pointed out that these Martin Logans are NOT "electrostats" as I incorrectly labeled them. The tweeter is actually called a, "High Velocity Folded Ribbon." Sorry for the rookie mistake.
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post #9 of 363 Old 01-23-12, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

That is good news to me - I had been reading that the electrostat ML's can be a bit tricky to get good sound on...... Thanks!!


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post #10 of 363 Old 01-23-12, 08:09 PM
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Re: One Newb's journey to find his "perfect" speaker

High Velocity Folded Ribbon is Martin Logan marketing speak for the good 'ole Heil AMT driver. The patent recently ran out and several companies pounced on the opportunity.

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