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It's a very difficult task to evaluate speakers that are so different. They need to be placed differently, each one optimized based on measurements. And is one going to deal with the backwave from dipoles or not? If not, they will sound very different from a speaker with a baffle because of all the reflections that are coming off from the frontwall.
Well all things considered Sonnie and team have a dedicated room that is well treated and if you notice in the graph up top, very well controlled. That will lend its hand to being able to make an equal comparison to the best of anyone's ability. In the last evaluation they scrutinized every speaker as far as proper placement was concerned and no doubt they will do the same thing in this evaluation as well. They worked tirelessly and late in the night to achieve the best results possible and being in a room that is treated will help all speakers for the most part and level the playing field if you will. It will be a great evaluation and a very fair one at that. I'm really looking forward to this eval and the few to follow. I am intrigued by the emerald physics speakers but at the same time due to what was stated in the reviews at RMAF, I'm really looking forward to the SVS evaluation.
 

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This is going to be a great read, can't wait for the $250 dollar shoutout :)
I just picked up two sets of polk RTI A4's right there in that $250 dollar range! Bring on the $250!!

A DIY versus Manuf. evaluation would be incredible and would most likely let those of us building DIY speakers if there truly is fruit to be had of our labor. Although I can't afford a pair of $2500 speakers, this will be an interesting read. I enjoy reading listening impressions over interpreting graphs.
Absolutely would love the DIY vs. Manuf. Vote #2 here.

What! No Bose?????? Jim
Ha no bose!!

I have not seen this posted anywhere, although it may exist somewhere on the web. I would absolutely LOVE to see a blind comparison of the CABLES used in this test versus generic, if only a quick one. I notice that you are using XLR cables, which I always thought were only a benefit for longer runs between components, is that the case for this test? If you could at least test the speaker wires versus generic 12 gauge wire from Monoprice or whatever. Not sure how much of a premium the RAM cables command, but it adds up fast when you are running a 7.x or 9.x system. I realize that RAM is a sponsor, but I would hope that you could indulge us. Especially when it comes to digital cables, like HDMI, I fail to see how one cable could be better than another, so long as it actually works, since they transmit only 1s and 0s.
I read a really interesting article where the tester ( unbeknownst to the listeners ) swapped in a coat hanger to replace the pricey RCA cables. Not one listener noticed anything. I too would love to see a double blind on the cable debate / myth?!?!

If I may suggest - please include some information about the people doing the evaluation. I always find it helps me to know what the judge likes and listens to at home. Thanks for the coming evaluation!!

Dave
 

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Well, this would definitly be something to look forward too. Speakers look great and i would be happy to help out on this great ooportunity
 

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Wow, what a selection. Looking at just the features of the 6 my guess is for the CS2P's or the SVS Ultra's coming out on top. I was wondering, are there any plans to throw in the Arx A5's and give them a head to head against the choosen one from this competition? It might be considered counter produtive to what you are doind but would be very insightful.
 

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Nothing like putting people in the drool mode over all this great gear. Excuse me while I go and get my Lobster Bib to keep my clothes intact!
 

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That's such a cool event, and a great idea... I am secretly pulling for the MartinLogan's, but am quite interested to see how it finally plays out.

The detail in the $1,000 speaker thread was impressive, looking forward to seeing this!
 

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Nothing like putting people in the drool mode over all this great gear. Excuse me while I go and get my Lobster Bib to keep my clothes intact!
My thoughts exactly!

I commend you guys on this task. It wont be easy, but it looks like fun!
As a ML panel user and dipole fan i am quite impressd to see your selection.

Will be watching this thread!

Will the speakers be adjusted for ach listener? I know my panels angle in reference to my listening height is crucial and yet is rarely considered when people compare panels to conventical cones and domes.
 

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Discussion Starter #88
I suggest a future evaluation include some Active speakers in the price range like the Neumann KH310 too - so as to get a better idea how the studio/pro grade stuff compares to these hi-fi stalwarts...
We do want to have an evaluation on active speakers and have discussed it for a future evaluation. It is indeed an excellent idea.


With that in mind, I have to ask (and maybe suggest), because most of the time this company is overlooked (and I have to root for products coming from my adopted country!), but would it be possible to add some products by Usher?

Usher speakers have always surprised me as being up there with most of the greats, but seldom gets the attention. (I just own some Usher products, I have no part in the company! :)

Enjoy the shootout (that means no Halloween party ending too late!)
Absolutely... let's be sure to nominate Usher when we have our next nomination thread. I have read a lot about Usher, particularly back when I was helping out at Next Level Audio Video forum.

I forgot all about it being Halloween. Hmmm... maybe some more surprises are in order. :ponder:


Have you already nail down the materials to be use ?
(ie which CDs, ablums ?)

Materials chosen should be able to test out the speakers dynamics, vocal presentation, bass extension & etc ...
(comparing speaker to speaker in the same setup).
Not yet, although we have some favorites we will use that are pretty demanding... and we use the same music for every speaker. :T


You could go even further and not tell which speaker it is playing and let the listeners go in blindfolded and write down hearingimpressions after each listening. In that way the brain can´t add attributes to the speaker they have read articles about.
That is actually a good idea, although it might get time consuming. I thought I would have some bias towards some speakers in our last shootout. For example... never read anything but good about Vandersteen and fully expected them to do VERY well in the evaluation, however, while not bad, they were not nearly as good as the others.
 

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I'm glad to see that you chose to include the Paradigm Studio 60s v.5. I almost bought them two years ago, but elected to go with their bigger brother the 100s, primarily because I just couldn't except the look of the smaller drivers. It had nothing to do with the sound and shouldn't have influenced my choice, but what can I say. In hindsight, I should have gone with the 60s, because now I have the awesome SVS SB13 Ultra and probably do not need what the 100s provide over their little brother. Anyhow, I'm very interested in how they rate as the Studio line was my choice when I went through the evaluation process in 2011.
 

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Wow, I guess I am not alone in looking forward to this review! I have long thought that the team approach to audio review in a dedicated location should be the standard. I also feel that one should create an audition library to use on all reviews. Granted, this content can/should evolve over time but helps keep things relative.

While I am not in the market for this level of speaker I always want to know what to recommend for those who could be - we need to increase participation in this hobby. Thanks for doing this!
 

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Definitely a nice line up of speakers on the docket. I'd personally love to see some GoldenEar Triton's tossed into the mix. With all the positive press on the folded ribbon tweeters lately it would be interesting to see how the group likes them compared to the Magnepan's and MartinLogan's.
 

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Its not easy holding such an event, so I wish you guys all the best and definitely wish for its success.
We've had a few speaker shootouts with our local group here in Manila and these events are very interesting to say the least. Normally, you can gauge which would be favorable for you from the list of speakers being tested most specially if you've heard or auditioned them before.
However, its always best to attend these events with an open mind or clear thoughts ........ treat it as if you're listening to them for the first time. Just be mindful that the same speaker will always sound differently from one place to the other - even if they were driven with the same gear.

One memorable event for me was a blind shootout between 5 different brands of bookshelf speakers wherein a large wooden frame was covered with speaker cloth so we cant see what brand is playing. Only the host knows and we all have to turn around while he does the switching. Each of us was given a paper and pen to score. When it was done and scores have been tallied, the favorable speaker will be played again - then only will it be revealed.
Everyone was so surprised about the outcome as the brand was never expected to win :D Thats the reason why I love attending those events. It may move you and it may not, but you always leave with more knowledge than when you came in.

I cant wait on your results and Im also eager to know how the SVS Ultra towers will score. I use SVS M series 1 for my theater and have heard/auditioned the new Ultra towers as well.

Goodluck!
 

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Discussion Starter #93
Even if it's not a direct comparison between speakers, it's going to be most interesting to see an evaluation with similar criteria, equipment and ears, when auditioning electrostatic/magnetoplanar/quasi-ribbon AND traditional dynamic transducers. Even better news is the inclusion of measurements and having some context about the listening room. Combined with the subjective evaluation you're possibly offering lots of very valuable data for us people on the other side of the internet who possibly couldn't arrange any of this for themselves.

Subscribed!
Very well said... we may need to get you to help us write these up. :T


I will add to what others have already commented, I think that it would only be fair to attempt/spend as much time as reasonable, in optimizing placement. This is what a typical home owner would do with a set of $2500 speakers (For that much $$ I would spend a few days tweaking the setup, but I know that is not possible in this scenario). They will all have varying sweet spots, toe in, perhaps even height needs.

I think having a full post of the room measurements with a "control" set of speakers would be nice too so we can evaluate what the room itself sounds (or at least tests) like.

And maybe some comments on what subs/center/surround options are available or recommended to pair with the 2 channel setup?

And thanks for introducing me to the Emerald Physics line. Very interesting stuff...
Yes... we spent more time with placement on our previous evaluation that anything else. We also have ETC measurements for each speaker showing how the room interacts with the speakers.

Please be sure to tell Walter with Underwood HiFi that we introduced you to Emerald Physics... he is the owner. He will also make you a great deal on a pair. :T


I hope that the reviewers take measurements using say REW and post them.
Yes... we plan to use REW.


This is a great event, however, will this prove which speaker is truly better... Or that each speaker sounds differently? Comparing them is part of the fun of being an audiophile. The giveaway is fun too of course!
Not really (and we explain that in the first post)... the only way to prove which is better for you is to get it in your environment and listen.

:dontknow: I KNEW it wouldn't be long before someone would let the cat out of the bag. However, I thought it might slide for at least a few days. :whistling: Okay... back to being quiet about it. Only one disqualification thus far... better odds for you others.


What are the details of the $20,000 stereo system?
It cost $20,000... and... uhmmm... well... Now you know it's a surprise. :R


Have you done shoot-outs like these where a DIYer builds a set of speakers in the same price range that are then used in shootout and compared to the retail speakers? Or perhaps a restored vintage set that were either a) the same relative cost when new adjusted for inflation - or - b) similar in cost now if you take into account finding them, having them shipped if required and then the cost of rebuilding, re-foaming, etc?
We haven't gotten there yet, but these are all possibilities for future evaluations.
 

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Hi Steve, I'm curious about the 'big improvement" moving from Salk's to SVS Ultras as Salks have a very good reputation on speaker building. What part was a 'big' improvement (response, detail, imaging, etc.)? I really like the SVS Ultra looks and also SVS products, so not doubting you, just that Salks are made with some nice drivers/parts also with a good designer behind them.

I'm also very interested in this evaluation! I've heard some of the speakers on the list, but not a all (such as the SVS Ultras and the Emerald Physics). This should be interesting.
yeah, this has my curiosity as well. I have the ultras as well, but I'm a little shocked to here "big improvement" compared to the salks. now if he's talking about mid/low bass extension I can see that, the ultras are packed with bass with those dual 8"s.
 

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Dynaudio DM 3/7
Emerald Physics CS2P
Magnepan 1.7
MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL
Paradigm Studio 60
SVS Ultra Towers
This is certainly an interesting list of speakers y'all are going to be evaluating.
The only pair I have ever given any listening time to is the Studio 60s and even that was just enough to move on to the Studio 100's for serious evaluation.

It was a lot of fun to read the write ups for the first shoot out (evaluation) and I am looking forward to this one too and seeing how this collection is described.

There is such a tremendous amount of real work involved in putting an evaluation like this together I really do not understand the couch critics agendas.
Having said that, maybe I am a little warped (ok maybe medium warped) but I do get a kick out of reading about all the things that invalidate a speaker evaluation and if you don't do this or that or something else then you might as well not do it at all. I just find those posts very humorous. Most people live in places with real room compromises that have to be dealt with or ignored.
Sonnie does a real good job describing his room and the setup process for each speaker. The source material used for evaluation is fully disclosed so readers can weigh it compared to their own tastes.
All in all it really does not get a lot better than the way the HTS staff does a multi speaker evaluation.

Y'all did a very good job with the shoot out reviews, easily equal to any magazine write up I have read, really looking forward to this round.

I see reviews and posts regularly claiming speaker X performs better than speakers costing $$$ more.
My personal experience does not generally support claims like this.
Keep those ARX speakers close by and if time permits throw them on the system to see how they fare against speakers at >2x the price.
 

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The Paradigm studios 60 columns are speakers that really set themselves apart, because for the price , they offer a listening experience that is never tainted or halftone on a particular point. The designers have managed to find one of the best compromise between minimal space for a column, and offering a rigorous diffusion for one of the best stereo image i had the chance to listen to. Budget allowing it they will be my next acquisition
 

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Always nice to have a wide variety of opinions when it comes to speaker selections. I know that the listeners 'ear' is always something that can differ between listeners - however, if many agree that one speaker colors the audio too much etc that is nice to know!

My Speakers in my setup are a little older - and while they work and sound great (to me) - I am sure the day will come when replacement is necessary - so thanks again for having a review like this to look forward to!!!

PS - Now I am jealous about your other equipment. :p
 

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Great idea folks,

I love that this isn't a shootout. Audio is such a diverse and subjective experience, I like the fact that you are force ranking them. Perhaps as a part of this you can even make recommendations as to they best applications for each speaker combo in terms of Music Genre, Theater style, etc.

I'm always bummed all these events seem to happen out east. Would love to attend something like this on the left coast :)
 

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When I was auditioning new speakers I had to drive around town. By having all these great speakers in one place is so much easier. This one store had the KEF Q900 and Studio 60's together and for me and my son the KEF's SQ was better. Then I went to the next store and it had the Studio 60's and the SQ was much better in that store. It all comes down to the room that's what I've learn in auditioning speakers. I hope you guys have a great time because I'm jealous. :crying:
 

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I can't wait to see the results, I have a pair of 20 year old $2500.00 speakers ( when they were new) I would live to hear the difference in modern day speakers to compare.
 
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