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This excellent exercise (thankfully not a juvenile shootout format) validates in spades my view that virtually all competently designed & built speakers today are 'similarly good'. Some enthusiasts out there detest that notion & phrase but that is exactly what I found when I auditioned a bunch of brands & models before I finally settled on my Axioms. I could have easily lived with any of the units that I heard.

It's nice to see that common sense can still prevail in some places such as HTS.

Well done guys...

TAM
 

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This excellent exercise (thankfully not a juvenile shootout format) validates in spades my view that virtually all competently designed & built speakers today are 'similarly good'. Some enthusiasts out there detest that notion & phrase but that is exactly what I found when I auditioned a bunch of brands & models before I finally settled on my Axioms. I could have easily lived with any of the units that I heard.
I've been to a few high end shows, where I assume the great majority of the speakers were competently designed and built. Given this, it was clear to me that speakers in the $3000 ballpark generally were not 'similarly good' to speakers costing ten times that amount. Sure, given my budget I could settle with the lower priced speakers; but even the word "settle" connotes an attitude which is quite different than a "gotta have it!" feeling. In the former one sifts through speaker options which appear 'similarly good'. In the latter one is captivated by a particular speaker's presentation, especially for the price. Both scenarios of course are relative to to one's own ears, experience and preference (and certainly room and equipment). This makes life more interesting and might veer us away from an absolutist viewpoint.

A big thank you to all the evaluators for the time and care taken for an illuminating evaluation process! I learned much from it.

Mark
 

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I think these evaluations have helped us understand what to expect from a speaker at a certain price point. Beyond that I think it has proven that placement & room treatments really bring any speaker to its best showing.

Hoping to see the bookshelf speaker eval soon!

Great job guys!
 

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I think these evaluations have helped us understand what to expect from a speaker at a certain price point. Beyond that I think it has proven that placement & room treatments really bring any speaker to its best showing.

Hoping to see the bookshelf speaker eval soon!

Great job guys!
I would also like to read about a bookshelf evaluation.
 

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Mark:

I admit that when I was shopping for speakers, I did not audition speakers in the $30K range. Even though I could afford to buy up in that range, it wouldn't have been a very efficient use of my time checking them out as spending that much on speakers is just not logical to me. Within the reasonable price range that I explored, 'similarly good' was indeed valid.

As I've gotten older (matured?), the 'gotta have it feeling' doesn't strike me very often anymore. Thankfully, common sense prevails now...

TAM
 

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I think you are in the same place as many of us, exlabdriver. While I could afford any of the speakers that we evaluated, my decision comes down to deciding at what price can I get the enjoyment out of the listening that I want. While I am intrigued with the subtle improvements beyond that, I don't feel the need to spend that much. It is fun to experience it, however, and it gives new perspective to the lower priced products. I hope that we have shared something valuable that allows others to experience the speakers through our ears and eyes to some degree. If others gain some enjoyment from what we do, gain some perspective that is useful, or learn about some products that they want to seek out and experience themselves, I am satisfied that the effort is worth it. If not, it is a weekend where the four of us share some fun and each other's company.

I think it is likely that we will do the bookshelf comparisons, next, and my preference is for the high value price ranges of $500 and under first. This is a product class that many people buy in and where solid reviews might be really useful.
 

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Mark:

I admit that when I was shopping for speakers, I did not audition speakers in the $30K range. Even though I could afford to buy up in that range, it wouldn't have been a very efficient use of my time checking them out as spending that much on speakers is just not logical to me. Within the reasonable price range that I explored, 'similarly good' was indeed valid.

As I've gotten older (matured?), the 'gotta have it feeling' doesn't strike me very often anymore. Thankfully, common sense prevails now...

TAM
I can relate TAM, not in affording speakers in the 30K range :gulp: but rather being relatively free of the 'gotta have it' feeling. (That's a phrase used as a summary evaluation of great products at a certain other AV website.) I actually love window shopping, listening to incredible speakers at shows. Very fun and informative. I full well know what I'm missing out on, but at the same time I don't have to own it to appreciate the stuff.

Alternatively I know there there is a certain very fine satisfaction owning great value speakers which you know are getting you 80 percent of the way 'there' compared to speakers costing ten times as much and which get you 95 percent there. Right now I've got budget speakers which get me perhaps 50 percent of the way there, and which satisfied for a while, but I want to get to the 80 percent mark, which to me are speakers in the 1K to 3K range. My sweet spot for value is shifting ...

Mark

PS I cringe at quantifying things like 50 or 80 percent on something so varied and qualitative, but you get the idea.
 

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Mark:

I thought that the phrase 'Gotta Have It' was familiar, ha!

Since I live on Vancouver Island, far away from large urban areas, I never have the opportunity to go to the trade shows so I'm restricted to what the local AV Dealers have in stock. Actually, some of their product is quite nice & pricey. On the other hand, perhaps that is an advantage as I really don't know what I'm missing by not experiencing the high end stuff!

My 3 sets of Axioms (1 x HT, 2 x audio only sets - 1 SS & 1 Tube Amp driven) throughout my house provide me & my wife with great pleasure & I think they present really good performance for what they cost me while I acquired therm over the past couple of years...

TAM
 

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Discussion Starter #249
That "Gotta Have It" bug really does infect different listeners in intriguing ways. Interesting that for most mortals there is usually some value or bang for buck element to it even though the actual expenditure limitation can be much higher, and a satisfaction in achieving a high Bang/Buck ratio. This is very much in evidence with loudspeakers, a more personal audio equipment choice than most.

The speakers in the price range evaluated offered so much that I have a hard time ever seeing myself owning a pair with an MSRP much higher than that range. As we have said before, the best audible driver/technology choices are there and a great deal of what you see in the higher-priced differences is more or bigger drivers for deeper bass and higher volume levels.

Having heard a number of $10K+ speakers at audio shows, some mighty fine sounding specimens, the sonic gains beyond the $3K bracket were not huge, in many cases were hardly worth mentioning, and our experience says those differences could have been mostly due to room and setup anyway.

Then there are several standout examples from even lower price brackets we have evaluated that push the Bang/Buck envelope even farther. The Arx A5 keep getting mentioned as leaders in that category. A couple of A5 owners have said they are "done looking," hear all or most of what they want to at an incredible Bang/Buck point.
 

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Then there are several standout examples from even lower price brackets we have evaluated that push the Bang/Buck envelope even farther. The Arx A5 keep getting mentioned as leaders in that category. A couple of A5 owners have said they are "done looking," hear all or most of what they want to at an incredible Bang/Buck point.
Yep I have a pair of A5s and they do everything I want. I actually went from more expensive Axioms to cheaper but "similarly" good Arx speakers. I would say the Arx A5 is "similarly" good to many other brands more expensive models, like Axioms M60HP at more than double the cost but its "similarly" good at $798. Its great that the discussion is about $3k tower speakers but the $800 Arx A5 keeps getting mentioned.
 

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When it was time to replace my 70's era speakers I did not have a predetermined max budget.
My requirements were pretty simple, the new speakers had to be an upgrade.

I was somewhat shocked that nothing did it for me until I got up to the Paradigm Studio 100, B&W 804S, and Klipsch RF-83.
I drew the line there because it was way more money than my uninformed prediction.

Luckily before any purchases were made the Klipsch were offered for one weekend at 50% off MSRP and I took the deal (they even discounted the RS-42's 50%) so in the end I feel like I couldn't have done better for the actual money spent.
Nothing I heard (IMO) priced at $1500/pr came close to the RF-83 speakers.

I shopped every price bracket up to $4k very hard and for the most part I thought the the speakers were competitive to each other in the same price range.

Even at $4k/pr all I had to do to hear better sound was listen to the next model up the chain.
Worth it? ?? That's for each individual to decide for themselves.

I found no speakers that jumped a price point much less two price points but I did find some complete duds at every price point.

Every speaker sounded different, not always better or worse compared to similarly priced competition but always different.

At MSRP I would have been satisfied with any of the 3 that were finalists even though the B&Ws were $1k more they were also the #1 choice by a small but worthy margin.

It pays to listen to everything you can multiple times and to be patient
 

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I have to apoplgize to everyone. I just noticed that my Polk impressions were not in the post. I really thought I had uploaded it a while back. Not sure if I forgot to save or what. Anyway, it is now there.
 

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I have to apoplgize to everyone. I just noticed that my Polk impressions were not in the post. I really thought I had uploaded it a while back. Not sure if I forgot to save or what. Anyway, it is now there.
It seems, or sounds like the Polk timbre character, was not for you.
 

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True, but as I said in the review, there were no obvious shortcomings. They did just about everything well. Just not my preference.
 

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I have wondered about this before, and thought it might spark some discussion since things have slowed down around here. A couple of speakers in this evaluation seemed to stand out for one thing or another, but three or four models seem to not quite have the "magic" that draws the listener in to listen more and more.

In what ways (if any) do we want a speaker to stand out? Are there some ways of standing out that impress at first and become annoying after living with a speaker for several months? Are there other ways of standing out that are good over the long haul?

On the other hand, regarding the speaker that does not stand out on first listen, how does it fare several months down the road? Does it remain "boring" and unengaging, or does one come to appreciate its simple, unassuming way of going about things (this absent any significant flaws, as all the speakers here seem to be)?

Obviously this is rather subjective, depending on what the listener wants from a speaker. Some people want things to stand out or be emphasized, which might be considered by others who are "purists" to be an alternate version of reality or hyper-real, or whatever. Just wondering, for those of you who have listened to and, more importantly, lived with for a long period of time, several different pairs or sets of loudspeakers.

What has your experience been? Have you ever bought a pair of loudspeakers because they sounded exciting at first blush, but ended up realizing they were fatiguing or annoying much later? Or have you ever bought a loudspeaker and found several months down the line that you've become bored with them and wanted to move on to something more exciting?
 

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These are very good questions. My experience has been that often, on first listen, a speaker sounds good but after listening to a wide range of music, I find that it exaggerates something or there is a character that is not to my liking. Only a handful of speakers have ever called me to listen more after a wide range of listening. None of them sounded any less appealing months later.

What I generally find appealing is excellent detail and very low distortion. But there must be something else that I have a hard time quantifying. The Polks had detail that I expected and very low distortion. The just did not do much for me, and I am not sure why.
 

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Interesting insight Leonard. Thanks.

In case it wasn't apparent, the question was not just for those who evaluated in this event, but also for anyone with experience and an opinion on it who also cares to share. :T
 

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bkeeler10, great questions! I love my speakers however when I'm bored I'll reposition them. I'll move my room treatments. Eventually my speakers and treatments go back to their original position which always sounds best to me.
There is no chance of me moving my home theater speakers around. I hate to say it but the home theater is all about the WAF!
 

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Just wondering, for those of you who have listened to and, more importantly, lived with for a long period of time, several different pairs or sets of loudspeakers.

What has your experience been? Have you ever bought a pair of loudspeakers because they sounded exciting at first blush, but ended up realizing they were fatiguing or annoying much later? Or have you ever bought a loudspeaker and found several months down the line that you've become bored with them and wanted to move on to something more exciting?
Both types after a while - fatiguing and boring > that is why I have
extra bookshelf speakers.

However, since I just bought the former MB Quart VS05B bookshelf
speakers, from a crazy good deal - I am becoming more content.

I want the box speakers to be transparent, revealing, refined/clean
and for the imaging and soundstage presentation to call me in. To
give me the more you are there, sense and feel.

Brightness that is sharp/edgy and harsh, is not the only thing that
brings ear fatigue to me - the mushy/boomy and thumpy bass, will
also give me ear fatigue (wear me down).
 

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I find it ironic, yet somewhat not surprising, that you guys found the speakers with the flattest frequency response unengaging. Not to mention that they were very accurate, detailed and had no real weaknesses.

A lot could be taken from that and discussed about the objective and the subjective.
 
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