Home Theater Forum and Systems banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First of all...don't ask my wife this question!

Growing up in the 60's and mid 70's, and being a musician with exposer to live music daily in school (Concert Band / Jazz Band), it was my opinion that bigger was always better in audio-stereo speaker selection.

A good friend even built a pair of Altec-Lansing "Voice of The Theater" speakers, with a huge 15" woofer and a sectoral horn that must have been 18 to 20 inches wide. These were huge! And they sounded great, even with a power amp of only 35 watts/channel (Dynaco SCA-80Q). And they took up a lot of space in his rather "smallish" sized living room.

Fast forward to today, literally decades later. There are no less than 4 sets of large tower speakers in my house. They get rotated into and out of duty on a regular basis, in different rooms.

1. VMPS Tower II SE's
2. VMPS Mini-Tower IIA's
3. BIC Venturi DV-84's
4. Klipsch R-820F's

The above are all very fine speakers.

But after purchasing a few sets of Klipsch "bookshelf" sized speakers, my thoughts on this have changed, rather dramatically.

1. Klipsch RP-160M's
2. Klipsch RB-81 II's
3. Klipsch RB-61 II's

Side-by-side, A/B listening has been done with all of these. I am shocked at how "big" these smaller sized speakers sound. Imaging, sound stage, depth, bass extension...it is all there, sound that can best be described as "clean". And at times, these are actually preferred for listening over my much larger (and heavier) towers.

BTW, if you can snag a pair of the RB-81 II's, grab them. They are that good!

Now some claim that Klipsch has a overly bright, edgy tone. I disagree. The sound is very clear, distinct, never muddied, and focused. But I flew jet aircraft for the past 32 years, and that certainly has impacted my hearing to a degree. Speaker listening is a very subjective experience, so you may have a different take on this.

To sum up, smaller speakers today often times have a very large sound. A quality sound that can rival speakers several times larger in size, and more expensive by several multiples.
 

·
HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Joined
·
3,283 Posts
1. VMPS Tower II SE's
2. VMPS Mini-Tower IIA's
3. BIC Venturi DV-84's
4. Klipsch R-820F's

The above are all very fine speakers.
I don't imagine too many would agree BIC's are fine speakers - serviceable perhaps - but the rest of the list is. How old are the VMPS speakers? Some of their models go back to the 1990's, don't they?


Now some claim that Klipsch has a overly bright, edgy tone. I disagree. The sound is very clear, distinct, never muddied, and focused. But I flew jet aircraft for the past 32 years, and that certainly has impacted my hearing to a degree. Speaker listening is a very subjective experience, so you may have a different take on this.
Pre-RP Series I think quite a large number of people would say Klipsch speakers are bright and irritating, especially after long listening sessions. The new ones seem to have tamed some of the harshness though and most of what I've read about them has been positive. Horns can be good, when done right, but until recently I'm not sure Klipsch did them right.


To sum up, smaller speakers today often times have a very large sound. A quality sound that can rival speakers several times larger in size, and more expensive by several multiples.
Back in the day size mattered but not quite as much today (for audio at least). Physics was more the deciding factor because quality drivers, powerful amps and DSP tuning didn't exist. While laws of physics are still immutable, modern drivers and electronics can bend them somewhat. A large speaker still has a presence no small speaker can match, but for sure the gap has narrowed. Makes bookshelf doable in a lot of situations where in the past they would not have worked.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
For the price paid, the BIC's are downright pretty good. Got them for a pittance on sale. No, not as good as the others on the list, but not bad at all. I can actually listen to them all say long.

The VMPS's are older, with the Mini-Tower's bought as kits and assembled by myself in the late 90's. The Tower II SE's were bought around 2007-2008, and were actually built by Brian Cheney. Piano Black Gloss finish...stunning!

The RB's actually have the exact same drivers as the RP's. They both sound very good to my ears. But again, that is a subjective value judgement.

When I was in my teens, bigger always meant better. But room acoustics play such a large part, and speaker placement/location is just as important. Yes, a larger speaker will provide more presence, and perhaps a larger sound stage. But with correct placement, a quality small speaker can come close...real close!
 

·
HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Joined
·
3,283 Posts
The RB's actually have the exact same drivers as the RP's. They both sound very good to my ears. But again, that is a subjective value judgement.
From what I understand the biggest difference was to the crossover so if that's all they modified - and the drivers are indeed the same - they scored a win with both cost and ease of implementation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,979 Posts
From what I understand the biggest difference was to the crossover so if that's all they modified - and the drivers are indeed the same - they scored a win with both cost and ease of implementation.


For some reason I thought they changed the tweeter and the tractrix horn too. Not though.

Also, fwiw I’m still a believer in “no replacement for displacement”. In my world bigger is better still too. speakers can get loud, but they still don’t deliver the same way as towers(real ones, not a 6-1/2” and a tweeter in a built in cabinet/stand lol) do. Driver quality has certainly raised the bar though.
Guess I’m old skool...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
For some reason I thought they changed the tweeter and the tractrix horn too. Not though.

Also, fwiw I’m still a believer in “no replacement for displacement”. In my world bigger is better still too. speakers can get loud, but they still don’t deliver the same way as towers(real ones, not a 6-1/2” and a tweeter in a built in cabinet/stand lol) do. Driver quality has certainly raised the bar though.
Guess I’m old skool...
According to Klipsch, same drivers. The only obvious difference between them is the port. The RP has a rear firing port, the RB has forward facing ports.

The speakers referenced here are the RP-160M, and the RB-61 II / RB-81 II.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,979 Posts
According to Klipsch, same drivers. The only obvious difference between them is the port. The RP has a rear firing port, the RB has forward facing ports.

The speakers referenced here are the RP-150M, and the RB-61 II / RB-81 II.


Interesting. Can’t remember where I heard otherwise but maybe I just missed something. In any case, I’ve read nothing but good ink about the RP line. The JBL Studio 5xx series(which is on its way out) is another one with a horn done very well with an actual compression driver.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Okay...here is the deal breaker!

Size is very important in a large room, such as a home theater. Ours measures 24' wide by 27' deep. The bookshelf speakers here are no match for any of my towers.

However, in a secondary bedroom that is used as a TV / music / radio listening room (14 X 16), the small speakers more than held their own, even against the much larger VMPS Tower II SE's.

Your mileage may vary.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,785 Posts
The RP160Ms throw a large soundstage in my 19' x 40' x 32' room surprisingly. I can't wait to see how the K402MEH compares to them. I know the other day I noticed that the RP160s throw a much larger soundstage than I thought they would, and demand a larger picture than a 65" FP does. I need at least a 150" screen to match the RP soundstage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
The RP160Ms throw a large soundstage in my 19' x 40' x 32' room surprisingly. I can't wait to see how the K402MEH compares to them. I know the other day I noticed that the RP160s throw a much larger soundstage than I thought they would, and demand a larger picture than a 65" FP does. I need at least a 150" screen to match the RP soundstage.
I agree, the RP's are very nice!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
First of all...don't ask my wife this question!

Growing up in the 60's and mid 70's, and being a musician with exposer to live music daily in school (Concert Band / Jazz Band), it was my opinion that bigger was always better in audio-stereo speaker selection.

A good friend even built a pair of Altec-Lansing "Voice of The Theater" speakers, with a huge 15" woofer and a sectoral horn that must have been 18 to 20 inches wide. These were huge! And they sounded great, even with a power amp of only 35 watts/channel (Dynaco SCA-80Q). And they took up a lot of space in his rather "smallish" sized living room.

Fast forward to today, literally decades later. There are no less than 4 sets of large tower speakers in my house. They get rotated into and out of duty on a regular basis, in different rooms.

1. VMPS Tower II SE's
2. VMPS Mini-Tower IIA's
3. BIC Venturi DV-84's
4. Klipsch R-820F's

The above are all very fine speakers.

But after purchasing a few sets of Klipsch "bookshelf" sized speakers, my thoughts on this have changed, rather dramatically.

1. Klipsch RP-160M's
2. Klipsch RB-81 II's
3. Klipsch RB-61 II's

Side-by-side, A/B listening has been done with all of these. I am shocked at how "big" these smaller sized speakers sound. Imaging, sound stage, depth, bass extension...it is all there, sound that can best be described as "clean". And at times, these are actually preferred for listening over my much larger (and heavier) towers.

BTW, if you can snag a pair of the RB-81 II's, grab them. They are that good!

Now some claim that Klipsch has a overly bright, edgy tone. I disagree. The sound is very clear, distinct, never muddied, and focused. But I flew jet aircraft for the past 32 years, and that certainly has impacted my hearing to a degree. Speaker listening is a very subjective experience, so you may have a different take on this.

To sum up, smaller speakers today often times have a very large sound. A quality sound that can rival speakers several times larger in size, and more expensive by several multiples.
Even the "baby" Klipsch are way more efficient than most speakers. At 97db, those RB-81 IIs are getting EIGHT times the power out of a watt compared to a typical minimonitor.

That means lower distortion and better "jump" factor. The horn-loading also controls directivity, which is important for good sound quality. They're the biggest sounding "small" speakers you're likely to find. and now that I've googled and realize they're on sale, I'm getting a pair for my new, smaller apartment. (Like you, I've had other Klipsch speakers in the past) >:)Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
You are talking about horn loaded loudspeakers... they are grotesquely under-equipped to deliver bass at frequencies below 30 Hz and most of them had very little DEEP bass in spite of 15" or larger woofers. Bass reproduction in horn-loaded loudspeakers has to do with the LENGTH of the folded horn inside the enclosure (if the speaker has a bass horn rather than a sealed or ported bass enclosure (acoustic suspension). But putting a long folded horn into a speaker cabinet that fits in a living room pretty much guarantees pretty weak bass output below 40 Hz.

On the other hand, a pair of Monitor Audio Gold 200 speakers that are a modest-sized tower $5000/pair will "out bass" most ANY horn-loaded speaker that has a horn loaded woofer. Which is why most "horn" speakers these days do NOT have horn-loaded woofers... they use sealed box or ported woofers, possibly passive radiator-equipped in some cases.

That said... you experienced a REAL psycho-acoustic effect comparing bookshelf speakers to tower speakers with more extended bass. The smaller the frequency range the speaker covers, the more your brain will "excavate" detail from the speaker's sound. A speaker that reproduces 150 Hz to 4000 Hz could sound INCREDIBLE if the content you play is limited to that frequency range. If you then add bass, by say, integrating a subwoofer to cover 20 Hz to 150 Hz... and you will SWEAR those speakers that reproduce 150-4000 Hz "sound better" re. detail, texture, harmonic richness, transient speed, et al WITHOUT the subwoofer... even though the subwoofer does not reproduce frequencies above 150 Hz and is doing NOTHING above that frequency range. The mere presence of the bass makes your brain focus on a wider frequency range that diminishes the "resources" your brain assigns to hearing 150-4000 Hz. By the same token, if you then add a tweeter to this hypothetical speaker with the tweeter covering 4000-20,000 Hz, you will think you are losing MORE detail/texture/harmonic richness et al. Because again, your brain has fixed resources to devote to hearing... and the wider the "operating range" of the sound, the thinner your "listening resources" are spread. This is a long-proven long-observed aspect of human hearing that even when we know it is only happening inside our heads and not in the product, we can't make it stop... it's like an optical illusion that you can't un-see.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,979 Posts
Even the "baby" Klipsch are way more efficient than most speakers. At 97db, those RB-81 IIs are getting EIGHT times the power out of a watt compared to a typical minimonitor.



That means lower distortion and better "jump" factor. The horn-loading also controls directivity, which is important for good sound quality. They're the biggest sounding "small" speakers you're likely to find. and now that I've googled and realize they're on sale, I'm getting a pair for my new, smaller apartment. (Like you, I've had other Klipsch speakers in the past) >:)Thank you!


Pretty sure I recall that klipsch uses an in room sensitivity measurement vs anechoic. Basically the 97db rating is more realistically 92 or 93. Still pretty good but inflated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Pretty sure I recall that klipsch uses an in room sensitivity measurement vs anechoic. Basically the 97db rating is more realistically 92 or 93. Still pretty good but inflated.
Good to know - and kinda sneaky on their part. So ... only four times as efficient as typical small box loudspeaker? But they're rated 8 ohms, so depending on the impedance curve and phase angles, they may be even easier to drive. Of course the gold standard for minimonitors, the BBC LS3/5a design, is only 82db (but easy to drive). It's modern successor, the LS50, is 85db.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,979 Posts
Good to know - and kinda sneaky on their part. So ... only four times as efficient as typical small box loudspeaker? But they're rated 8 ohms, so depending on the impedance curve and phase angles, they may be even easier to drive. Of course the gold standard for minimonitors, the BBC LS3/5a design, is only 82db (but easy to drive). It's modern successor, the LS50, is 85db.


Sneaky indeed. Not as offensive def tech and their inflated low end roll off specs.
I’m not a bookshelf guy, but if I were the rp160 would be in my short list. As for the ls50’s, I’ve never heard them but I understand they’re designed for near field. And while they supposedly sound fantastic, they wouldn’t do well as mains in an BT, for instance. I think a set of ls50’s in my bedroom 5.1 might be nice!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Hearing is an unusual sense in that when you hear something very simple with a narrow frequency range, we hear more detail, texture, harmonic content, et al in the sound. Our hearing "system" does not add resources when the music gets increasingly complex and increasingly full-range. So the total hearing resources once focused on something as simple as an a'capella female vocal with the limits of dynamic range and frequency range that has can later be focused on an entire 100-piece symphony orchestra with choir and organ with frequencies down to 16 Hz. You hear the relatively simple female vocal in great fidelity because 100% of your hearing capabilities focus on that "simple" (relative) sound compared to the symphony/choir/organ.

If you have a bookshelf and tower with the same tweeter and midrange, and the tower only adds bass extension, your BRAIN will THINK the bookshelf speaker sounds better because 100% of your sense of hearing is focused on a narrower range of frequencies. When you add bass, your BRAIN "THINKS" the bookshelf sounds better because there's more clarity... it's clarity you hear, it is the lack of bass in the sound giving your brain less sound to "decode" and "process". But if you MEASURE what is happening, the tower and bookshelf, they will be the same except for the added bass extension in the tower.

Old school horn loaded speakers may play loudly on very little power, but they are bad for reproducing bass because the bass extension they can make is entirely dependent on how LONG they can make the bass horn inside the speaker enclosure. All-in-one horn speakers use folded horns to try to get some half decent bass horn length, but it's just so space intensive, that getting bass below 50 Hz in a self-contained horn speaker is impossible unless the speaker is physically HUGE. The diameter of the throat is also a factor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
On the other hand, a pair of Monitor Audio Gold 200 speakers that are a modest-sized tower $5000/pair will "out bass" most ANY horn-loaded speaker that has a horn loaded woofer. Which is why most "horn" speakers these days do NOT have horn-loaded woofers... they use sealed box or ported woofers, possibly passive radiator-equipped in some cases.
Have you ever listened to any version of a tapped horn (positive, straight, or negative flare)? I seriously doubt any sealed or BR can compete with a properly built TH. Go over to data-bass.com. TH and other types of BP6's rule.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
You are talking about horn loaded loudspeakers... they are grotesquely under-equipped to deliver bass at frequencies below 30 Hz and most of them had very little DEEP bass in spite of 15" or larger woofers. Bass reproduction in horn-loaded loudspeakers has to do with the LENGTH of the folded horn inside the enclosure (if the speaker has a bass horn rather than a sealed or ported bass enclosure (acoustic suspension). But putting a long folded horn into a speaker cabinet that fits in a living room pretty much guarantees pretty weak bass output below 40 Hz.

On the other hand, a pair of Monitor Audio Gold 200 speakers that are a modest-sized tower $5000/pair will "out bass" most ANY horn-loaded speaker that has a horn loaded woofer. Which is why most "horn" speakers these days do NOT have horn-loaded woofers... they use sealed box or ported woofers, possibly passive radiator-equipped in some cases.
Nobody's repealed Kirchoff's Law, but the Klipsch speakers are bigger (and have a bigger woofer) than most bookshelf speakers. The Tractrix horn models I've heard and owned sounded pretty good; horns (and waveguides) reduce distortion where our ears are most sensitive and control off-axis response, which we now know is essential to good in-room behavior.

I haven't heard Monitor Audio speakers in decades, so won't comment. These days I listen to a DIY dipole with efficiency in the mid 90s. Dipoles are another kind of design that behaves well off-axis and plays well with your room.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top