Speaker quest (listening reviews included) - Page 7 - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #61 of 110 Old 02-21-08, 10:04 AM
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

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Funkmonkey wrote: View Post
They are the ones I want to hear most, but am having the hardest time finding... isn't that always the case though.


Is that Vienna Acoustic??? I heard the Bach's but liked the Monitors better, Unfortunately I don't know much about their other offerings...

And thanks for the other info, John.

Cheers,
Greg
To bad you're not closer to Tahoe, there is a Revel dealer in Olympic Valley. Don't remember what models he had on display.
Dealer wise, the JBL Performance Series can be equally hard to find. With the most available source being the Harman online store. The PT800s used to be available at Tweeters, but I don't think they had the matching subs, for some stupid reason. Of coarse, Tweeters is no longer in SoCA or LV, but there are still 4 or 5 stores in Arizona.
Those of us that have the PS figure that they are a trickle down design from earlier Revels, which is a Harman Company, like JBL, Infinity.

As for VA, I remember liking the Beethoveens the best.
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post #62 of 110 Old 02-21-08, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

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Just for reference, here is the price list for Dynaudio's line -- at least as of March 2007. The focus 220's were $3000/pr according to the list.
JCD
Unless I denote "msrp" I have been listing the prices that the dealer quotes me, with no haggling. Those prices are pretty much in line with Msrp, though. Thats why the"≈". Most dealers will come down 10-20% from there. Thanks for posting that link...
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post #63 of 110 Old 02-21-08, 01:33 PM
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

Funky...if you haven't seen this site, you should. http://www.laaudiofile.com/dealers.html It's a pretty thorough listing of all AV dealers in Southern Cali. Hope this helps...Oh, and there is an Aerial dealer...go listen to the 7B if you get the opportunity.
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post #64 of 110 Old 02-21-08, 03:14 PM
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

Greg:
What I keep getting from you (amongst other things) is a desire for really tight, deep bass. I do hope you get to listen to Aerials...and another speaker that has an unreal bottom end and is just a fabulous speaker all around is the transmission line loaded Acoustic Zen Addagio which you can get for a really good price used, and they're manufactured in San Diego I do believe. See here http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ull&1208095764 and see if they interest you, but if you go in a store that carries them; by ALL means give them a listen...almost spooky no kidding!
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post #65 of 110 Old 02-21-08, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

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conchyjoe7 wrote: View Post
Greg:
What I keep getting from you (amongst other things) is a desire for really tight, deep bass. I do hope you get to listen to Aerials...and another speaker that has an unreal bottom end and is just a fabulous speaker all around is the transmission line loaded Acoustic Zen Addagio which you can get for a really good price used, and they're manufactured in San Diego I do believe. See here http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ull&1208095764 and see if they interest you, but if you go in a store that carries them; by ALL means give them a listen...almost spooky no kidding!
Cheers,
Konky.
Yes, "really tight, deep bass" seems to be where most speakers fall short, and what I want, along with the lush full mids, and the clear accurate highs. I am starting to think that I may have no choice but to go sub/sat. Only drag is I would have to get the new electronics first before I can enjoy the full sound, and I would rather not use a sub for two channel listening. I will look for both the speakers you mentioned.

What do you have Konky, I know that you have heard many, just wondered what you keep at home? was it the Vandersteen's?

I also contacted Revel today and they are going to try and find a dealer in the area who has the F-12's, so that I can hear them. I got to a 60 mile radius before I called Revel directly...
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post #66 of 110 Old 02-22-08, 04:05 PM
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

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Yes, "really tight, deep bass" seems to be where most speakers fall short, and what I want, along with the lush full mids, and the clear accurate highs. I am starting to think that I may have no choice but to go sub/sat. Only drag is I would have to get the new electronics first before I can enjoy the full sound, and I would rather not use a sub for two channel listening. I will look for both the speakers you mentioned.

What do you have Konky, I know that you have heard many, just wondered what you keep at home? was it the Vandersteen's?

I also contacted Revel today and they are going to try and find a dealer in the area who has the F-12's, so that I can hear them. I got to a 60 mile radius before I called Revel directly...
Powered subs have been around longer than multi-channel sound. I've had at least one sub in continual use since '79 (L212/B212 system).
For stereo, the trick is using a musical sub, even for HT, I prefer a musical sub, thus the reason for the Revel/JBL SUB1500s I've got. I've not heard the PS1400 that matches the PT800s, but from what others have said, it is a very good sub, though it doesn't go as low as the SUB1500s, they're considered VLF.

Two of my three systems have subs. Only the MB system doesn't have a sub. But as that pair of L212s are wall mounted(to the sides of this screen) they get plently of bass reinforcement, from the wall, but I have had a sub in here before.

As for the newer Revel subs, I would except no less than the pair I have now.
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post #67 of 110 Old 02-22-08, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

For subs I would lean toward SVS, HSU, AV123, or Outlaw (maybe) but really have not done much research on any of them. Only noticed that they get favorable mentions and offer a good bang for the buck. And yes I will choose a "musical" sub when I get there. I am in no hurry, and enjoying this journey immensely.
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post #68 of 110 Old 02-23-08, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

Speakerquest (Round 7)

Paradigm Studio 100:(≈$2600)

I brought a couple of different CD's with me, but mostly the same. One of the new ones was Quincy Jones "Big Band Bossa Nova." I am sure everybody knows the first track on it as it was used to death in the Austin Powers movies... much of the disk is a bit cheesy, but it is recorded well. The second track, however, is great, very dynamic, lots of sounds, truly a BIG band. As soon as it started playing on the 100's I thought "nice... definitely a wall of sound." I could hear the bells, saxophones, trumpets, drums, guitars... all distinct and separate. Saxophones and muted trumpets both had a nice tone. everything was very clear, very dynamic.

The Beatles "Come Together" had a full, warm, smooth bassline. Guitars and vocals were in balance and equally as full as the bass. I skipped forward to "The End," and the Paradigms sounded great. Vocals were nice and clear. Guitars were crunchy and I could hear the decay on the amp in-between the chords. Drums were good, but I failed to note anything about them. That is unusual for me, because it is the drums that I like best about that song, I guess I was too busy listening to all the other sounds going on... Cymbals, were very distinct.

Erykah Badu showed very nice bass impact from the Studio 100's. Rim shots sounded great. This set of Paradigms brought the vocals more forward with this music, and seemed to strip away some of the lushness of them. There is a definite edge to their sound.

Fela Kuti was handled well, another dynamic recording, on a dynamic speaker. Actually, I think that is the best way to describe the Paradigm Studio 100's. "Dynamic." They have a very nice separation of sound with this music, nothing gets muddled together. Horns have a definite edge to them, coming across a little bright. I think that along with the upper mid push that seems to run through the Studio line, that the 100's have a mid bass push too. I like the impact that it creates. I actually feel the bass lines with these speakers. Though, they do not move enough air to let me feel the kick drum like you would at a live show.

The second "new" disk I brought today was Stanton Moore "All Kooked Out." He is the drummer (one of the best out there right now, IMO) for the band Galactic and tends more toward jazz with his solo releases. On this one he is accompanied by Charlie Hunter who plays an 8(I think) string bass/guitar. He gets some great sounds going with his custom instrument and has an instantly recognizable style... (wait a minute I am supposed to be writing about the speakers! Sorry about the digression, I am a music junky... "Funkmonkey, the music junky." Man, sometimes I crack myself up ) The 100's actually sounded great with this recording. Nice full bass (again), highs are crisp, sax sounds true, and drums are solid. I don't notice any accents with this music.

Fu Manchu- guitars sound a little too edgy, bass has nice impact and fullness... I am feeling it again. Overall they sound good with hard rock but maybe a bit too crisp.

I get the impression that the Paradigm Studio 100's would make an outstanding set of fronts for home-theater/movies, especially with the way that they treat vocals. I really love their bass impact, and the depth that they reach with out sounding flabby. If I took these home I would have to use an EQ to tone down the upper mids/highs a bit because I ultimately feel that they are a bit out of balance. If the top end of these were more smooth, like the Dynaudio's, or the Usher Be's, I would buy them. I still may, as they are certainly in my top four.

I should also add that these are physically the largest speakers I have listened to, the Martin Logans stand taller, but the Paradigms have a bigger footprint and take up the most volume of space. They are also distinctive in their styling, especially with the grills off. Eight drivers and two tweeters can be pretty imposing to look at, for one pair of speakers.

I managed to do a quick comparison to the Dynaudio Focus 220's, as the place I went had both....

Dynaudio Focus 220(revisited)
Overall I thought that the Focus 220's were a much smoother sounding speaker than the Studio 100's. Less punchy in the bass and less crisp in the highs. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just a difference in sound from one speaker to the next, and each would have advantages with different kinds of music. For example, I liked trumpets better on the Dynaudios, but saxophones better on the Paradigms. Erykah Badu rattled the grill covers on the Dynaudio's today, and we had to remove them to listen. The sloppy bass issues I had the other day were gone, they sounded deep lush and defined. But, next to the Studio 100's the Focus 220's did not go quite as low. Overall I preferred the sound of Erykah Badu on the Dynaudio's, though I would want to supplement their bottom end with a sub. Quincy Jones had a bit less sparkle on the Focus 220's, but everything was still distinct and clear, just less forward. The same thing can be said about Stanton Moore, and Fu Manchu: less forward; in your face; not as crisp, or punchy as the Studio 100's. I still really like the sound of the Dynaudio Focus 220's, they seem to be content to blend into the background and let you enjoy the music. More refined and understated, in both looks and sound, than the "I am going to ROCK your face off" attitude of the Studio 100's.
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post #69 of 110 Old 02-27-08, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

Round 8

This trip out was a little different, as a local speaker builder invited me down to offer my opinion about some speakers that are in the later stages of development for release into the mainstream market. His name is Franklin Mack and he and his brother have been designing and building custom loudspeakers and drivers for several years. This is part of a PM that he sent me that explains his background and approach better than I can:

"At Audia Media Group we have an insatiable passion for music. But our focus has aways been to help our clients create the best sound system based on their budget. We offer this solution through our customizeable designs of Planar and Ribbon products we also design and build many types of drivers. Over the past 10yrs Audia has been an OEM Loudspeaker Manufacturer for many highend loudspeaker brands, based an our contracts I'm not at liberty to disclose names. ...we can build a speaker system around your electronic or personal wants or needs. Thats what we do. ...After reviewing your listening list it would be great information for my R&D team. We feel that our product is not only some of the best on the market at any price range, we also feel that for the money our speakers cannot be beat. People talk about Internet Direct dealers like AV123, At Audia you can consider our pricing structure to be manufacturer direct. Meaning we dont have the middle men to go through and can offer or products directly to our consumer..."

Franklin turned out to be a great guy, and we wound up talking about a lot of stuff yesterday revolving around speakers, music and our own personal interests and backgrounds as fellow musicians. His company is still constructing their website so they aren't on the web, yet, but Frank assured me a web site is coming soon... I should add that I was not payed in any way to do this. The manager of the store that carries the Audia speakers came across this thread and thought that maybe Franklin and I could help each other out, thanks Mike. I hope this helps...


Audia Sound Labs 8.6(≈$3000)


The speakers I listened to were still prototypes so there were a couple of "rough edges" regarding the fit and finish of the cabinets themselves. When I spoke to Frank about them he was already aware and has a good plan to resolve them. They were small details that would help to make these look as polished as their competitors at this price range. The smaller speaker, to the right, is another model they are working on that I did not listen to.

I started with Grant Green and thought that the tone of his guitar was pretty good though these speakers seemed to bring out it's distortion from the original recording. My first thought was that this was sounding smooth for a ribbon tweeter. The guitar seemed to be a little bit more forward on these speakers than on others, snare drums were crisp, and the acoustic bass was sounding good too. Saxophone proved to have a mellow tone that resonated nicely, accurate. I thought that the upper-mids were slightly forward with jazz, but this seems to be a very common voicing on speakers (because I feel like I say that a lot) When the vibraphone started playing my attention was jerked away from the couple looking at a sound system a few feet away from me. Wow, that sounded real, very forward but very real. I think that is one sound that ribbons do exceptionally realistic.

I put in Fela Kuti and the accent in the upper range became more apparent. Horns sounded a bit peaked in the upper register, though smooth in the lower. When there is a lot of brass playing it tends to be a little too "in your face." The low end and mids sounded good when not dominated by the upper range of the ribbon. I also note a touch of sibilence in the vocal.

Erykah Badu has the bass going pretty deep, but coming up a bit short of the music, also very common with the speakers i have been listening to. Rim shots sound a little thin here and her voice seems to be pushed a little higher, not sounding as full or lush as it should.

The Beatles "Come Together" sounds full but the music does not envelop me as fully as other speakers have. I can hear a lot of detail in the recording though, such as fingers sliding on bass strings in between notes. Cymbals are clear and forward. "The End" has drums sounding pretty good but missing a bit of impact. The high are a little edgy with this song, and seem to dominate the sound.

I brought some James Brown along this time and the recording I chose sounded like it was recorded in a hallway. Aside from the extremely narrow soundstage, I felt that the bass should be more forward and thicker. This is not a forgiving speaker to listen to, and shows the recording quality and most likely the limits of the electronics found upstream.

I also thought I would try some MC 900ft Jesus "If I Only Had A Brain." Highs were predictable crisp and tight, and his voice sounded little thin. Bass on this song includes a few sonic bombs that go very, very low and these speakers got a decent chunk of it, but not all.

By this time I already knew that this is not the sound signature that I am looking for but thought I would play Fu Manchu for sake of completion. It actually sounded pretty good on the Audia Sound Labs 8.6. The true-mids seemed to be recessed, but I think that is due to dominance of the ribbon tweeter. If there were some tubes backing this speaker I feel that it would sound better. Though slightly smoother than the Dali, it is still related with the ribbon tweeter sound, If you like that sound you might want to check out Audia Sound Labs. A pretty solid effort, though not a good fit for me.


The place I went yesterday stocked several other speakers and electronics including a set that was on my original list that I had not yet heard...

NHT Classic four(msrp≈$2000)


Grant Green sounded good on the Classic Four's. Bass is nice and full, guitar tone is very nice. I can hear the mild distortion in this recording but it is not distracting. Piano sounds are nice here too.

The horns in Fela Kuti are nice and smooth, bass has good solid impact and a full, rich sound to it. Trumpets and saxophone have a nice tone to them. Imaging is also pretty good with the NHT's. There is a nice balance to these speakers, nothing seems to stand out, fairly even sound.

The Beatles sounded good here too. Bass on "Come Together" was rich and smooth, though didn't have as much impact as it did with Fela Kuti. Guitars sounded right, again nothing standing out, "easy to listen to" speaker. On "The End" I thought the drums were tight, and guitars were in balance, though the highs were sounding slightly rolled off. Most likely residual effect of the long session with the ribbons.

Erykah Badu plumed the depths of the NHT's and though they went very deep, they came off sounding a little flabby. Her vocals sounded good, and I was noticing the imaging again. One thing that started to bother me was the sound of the rimshots, they came off sounding a bit plastic.

James Brown still sounded like he was in a hallway, slightly wider hallway, but still narrow sounding, and drums sounded like they were being played on a toy kit... I don't think I will continue to use this track...

With Fu Manchu I noted the solid sound of the kick drum. Guitars had the right growl to them, though I thought the highs were a slightly tame and "plasticy" sounding.

Overall I thought the NHT Classic Fours were pretty good speakers. Not as detailed as some, but they had a good solid bottom end, even if it got sloppy at the very bottom. I wouldn't be surprised if this speaker is rated to perform lower than any of the other ones I have listened to.
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post #70 of 110 Old 02-27-08, 11:37 PM
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Re: $1500-$2000 Fronts

Why don't you rank these as you go? Or maybe give us your top five.
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