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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I am trying to make an educated decision on buying a 3.0 Speaker set. I was wondering what makes a Speaker a Good/Quality, Is it the parts used for the speaker itself, the Material for the speaker driver??

Is it the Magnet of the speakers that makes a difference, size wise is bigger/heavier better??

Also the Cabinet does it matter if it is made of MDF or Say Bamboo?? I am just looking for the Baiscs of what makes a Quality speaker to make a more informed decision. Because If I put up a thread I'll get tons of different suggestions on what mkaes to buy I guess we all have our Favorites..I would just like to make a more informed desicion if applicable..

I was at an Audio store and they had some speakers that where 19K a piece?? is there platinum in there or something?? I am not saying a more expensive speaker are bettet but what makes them so expensive?? is it just marketing and for some rich guy to say I have "X" Speakers??

I mean the cheaper speakers sounded as good as the more expensive one in my opinion.. also I am a firm believer in the 80/20 rule. so what is the makings of a Good/Quality speaker?
 

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Hello,
There are certainly some amazingly expensive Speakers out there at the Ultra High End. As for what makes a quality Speaker, the quality of the Drivers is a major factor. Companies like Focal, Dynaudio, Paradigm, are all at a major advantage as they build their own drivers and can tailor them to the specific enclosure of a model being designed. And Cabinet Construction is also quite important as resonances in the cabinet can be quite distracting. Companies like Wilson Audio go to practically insane lengths to make an as inert cabinet as possible employing some pretty crazy materials to accomplish this.

The Crossover Network is another area of importance. Companies like Thiel spend hundreds of hours sweating out every detail to the point that they have never even offered anything other than a single Binding Post. And of course there is testing in all manner of ways and many other details.

When it comes down to reasonably priced Speakers, it is all about balancing the compromises that need to be made to reach a price point. This is an area where I believe Paul Barton of PSB is an absolute genius. Harman International led by Floyd Toole and his prodigies are also excellent in this respect. And companies like Focal and Dynaudio are some of my personal favorites as they custom design every driver like I referred above. Same with Paradigm. Focal and Dynaudio also do a brisk business selling drivers to many usually Ultra High End Speaker Companies.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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First of all, in the grand scheme of audio and speakers, $19,000 for a speaker is nowhere near the maximum they can cost. I've heard speakers that cost more than $60,000 a pair that I'd buy in a heartbeat if I could afford them. I've also heard speakers that cost $2,000 a pair that you couldn't give me. All things considered, with the cabinets, taking into account their construction and quality they can be expensive. If as in the case of Wilson speakers (for example) heroic methods are used to combat vibration and resonance such as the use of special laminated materials with automotive (Rolls Royce class) finishes used, the cabinet cost can skyrocket. Add in the cost of the very best tweeters (+$2,000 each) with Diamond or Beryllium coated diaphragms and the best woofers and tweeters with the same high prices the end cost is understandable. The capacitors in the crossovers can be just as expensive. I have a friend who replaced the crossovers in his Magnepan MG-3.6R speakers with some custom built external ones that are in boxes the size of amplifiers and cost close to $1500 in parts alone for each crossover. The retail equivalent for them would be over $5,000 each at minimum.

With all that said, it comes down to pleasing your ears and only yours. IMO and some others the only way you can make an educated decision on what speakers to buy is to actually listen to them. No one can substitute for your ears.

I don't know how long or how much listening you did at that store. If it was a very short time and you were just wandering aimlessly around I doubt you heard anything expensive or bargain priced to it's advantage. Perhaps you might get better results if the sales people were asked to demonstrate various speakers.

If you were treated to a decent demo and still think the expensive speakers didn't sound better than the bargain priced ones you should be happy. You'll be able to get the sound you want for a low price. I suspect most of the posters here would like the higher priced ones. With speakers it's almost a given that the more you pay the more you get.

In any case, pleasing your ears is all that matters. I'd be interested in knowing what brands and models of speakers you actually listen to and what you think of them. If nothing else, verbalizing your thoughts may help with a buying decision.

With audio equipment and speakers; "The nicer the nice, the higher the price!"
 

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Hello,
Wow you and I are like minded. I changed from "heroic" to "insane" in my description of Wilson Composite Materials like the "X" used in the Alexandria XLF and other Models. Wilson uses custom designed Focal Beryllium Inverted Dome Tweeters. I owned Watt/Puppies (Series 6) in 2001 and loved them. This was back in the height of my SACD and 2 Channel insanity. My HT is relatively tame compared to my 2 Channel rig.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Question: I know it is best to listen to speakers before you buy... What do you do when you are looking at building a kit speaker? Do you just pick the one that looks the best to you and live with it?

tia,
Ron
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes I seen the $900,000 Pair of speakers too, they are just beyond my reach..;)

Well like I said it is hard to get a good demo and I did have a salesmen showing me some speakers. I heard Wilson Audio about 3 pairs. now while it sounded good it was not set to my Optimal listening settings.. It lacked some bass probally due to improper setup but I got a good listen with Saint Saens Organ Symphony #3 CD..

I did get a demo in the HT room with a pair of $3800 Speakers which sounded as good as the Wilsons.. Now that is just my Opinion but I didn't hear much of a Difference.. IT could have been that they had a nice Subwoofer in the HT room and it did Help balance out the sound more then the other rooms where setup.. I know the Wilson Audios with the Berylium Tweeters where expensive but I should have played with the settings but not sure they would have let me do that..

It is hard to test speakers in a Different environment as compared to them being in MY Room and Configured as I like them too be nothing will replce that and that is something I just can NOT do..

This is gonna be a listen to a few out there to get an idea of what the diffent Brands had to offer. I guess the Question has been answered it probally depends on the Quality of the item like a Berylium Tweeter probally very expensive to make..

That and the Cabinets like using Bamboo or some Exotic woods....

OK Lets try this List me 5 of your Reasonably priced speakers say about $700 for a Single Speaker that you like the best..I guess what I will do is look at your lists and see which one ranked the most.. I will then look at those speakers and try and get a listen to them..

My List from what I have seen so far in NO Order..:

1. Polk RTi series..
2. Bostan Acoustic..
3. PSB.
4. Klipsh
5. B&W
 

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Hi All,
I am trying to make an educated decision on buying a 3.0 Speaker set. I was wondering what makes a Speaker a Good/Quality, Is it the parts used for the speaker itself, the Material for the speaker driver???
Yes, those are all important factors. My opinion on what makes a good quality speaker is... the designer / engineer of the speaker and how well he/she integrates all the components. You can use a ton of high quality and high cost parts in a speaker but if it's poorly designed a well designed speaker costing $99 will sound better.

Of the five in your list I'd suggest you start with the PSB speakers. For your budget I'd also suggest speakers from;

RBH Sound 61-SE $999 pr.
Revel Concerta F12 $1300 pr.
Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 $848 pr.
RBH Sound MC-616C $898 pr. or MC-6CT $1369 pr.
Monitor Audio Silver RX-1 $675 pr.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, those are all important factors. My opinion on what makes a good quality speaker is... the designer / engineer of the speaker and how well he/she integrates all the components. You can use a ton of high quality and high cost parts in a speaker but if it's poorly designed a well designed speaker costing $99 will sound better.

Of the five in your list I'd suggest you start with the PSB speakers. For your budget I'd also suggest speakers from;

RBH Sound 61-SE $999 pr.
Revel Concerta F12 $1300 pr.
Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 $848 pr.
RBH Sound MC-616C $898 pr. or MC-6CT $1369 pr.
Monitor Audio Silver RX-1 $675 pr.


WOW some really Good speakers thnx for the links.. I really like the Revel F12..
 

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My personal choice for speakers in the roughly $1000 range reflects my personal selection of panels for myself.

IMO: A pair of Magneplanar MMG's and a Hsu Research VTF1 Mk2 sub woofer for ~$1100. This combination gives panel sound and the kind of bass the OP seems to desire. MMG's are IMO inadequate without a sub woofer.

If the budget can be stretched I recommend a pair of Magneplanar MG-1.7's and a Hsu Research VTF-2 MK2 sub woofer. This combination of speakers that are widely considered to be the best buy in audio and a sub woofer that will play both very loud and very deep will cost around $2600. However, it's a combination that will be good enough to satisfy the most ardent audiophile and more than likely any kind of component upgrade you'll ever consider. Many people would be satisfied with the bass from the 1.7's alone. The OP's comments about bass prompt me to suggest a sub woofer to go along with the 1.7's.
 

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Hello,
Wow you and I are like minded. I changed from "heroic" to "insane" in my description of Wilson Composite Materials like the "X" used in the Alexandria XLF and other Models.
Dave Wilson is second only to the wire folks as a huckster in audio.

It's amazing. He takes common countertop materials you can buy at any Home Depot, gives them DARPA/"Skunk Works" sounding names, and audiophiles just eat that stuff up and don't even notice how similar that cabinet is to the corian countertops you replaced with granite when corian became unfashionable.

He spends more time naming materials than designing speakers, because that he still hasn't come up with a good sounding one. Or a good looking one.

The former is because Wilson hasn't read the Harman papers or Toole's book that show convincingly "better" sound comes from response that is tilted down on-axis with broad and even dispersion. Get that and everything else follows.

As for why some speakers cost more than others, it is because they are furniture that makes noise. Nobody seems to think it strange that you can get a small wood dining table with four chairs from IKEA for $150, or a table and four chairs from Crate & Barrel for $1000, or a table and four chairs from Design Within Reach for $8000. Because it isn't. They're built differently, they look different, though as places to eat they perform basically the same.

I think that in Harman's blind testing the two models that consistently come out on top are the biggest Revel...and an Infinity tower regularly available for $200 per pair! The Revel is probably better technically, and has more woofers, but the biggest difference in terms of cost and value is in the cabinet. The Revel looks nicer than the Infinity one.
 

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Dave Wilson is second only to the wire folks as a huckster in audio.

It's amazing. He takes common countertop materials you can buy at any Home Depot, gives them DARPA/"Skunk Works" sounding names, and audiophiles just eat that stuff up and don't even notice how similar that cabinet is to the corian countertops you replaced with granite when corian became unfashionable.

He spends more time naming materials than designing speakers, because that he still hasn't come up with a good sounding one. Or a good looking one.

The former is because Wilson hasn't read the Harman papers or Toole's book that show convincingly "better" sound comes from response that is tilted down on-axis with broad and even dispersion. Get that and everything else follows.

As for why some speakers cost more than others, it is because they are furniture that makes noise. Nobody seems to think it strange that you can get a small wood dining table with four chairs from IKEA for $150, or a table and four chairs from Crate & Barrel for $1000, or a table and four chairs from Design Within Reach for $8000. Because it isn't. They're built differently, they look different, though as places to eat they perform basically the same.

I think that in Harman's blind testing the two models that consistently come out on top are the biggest Revel...and an Infinity tower regularly available for $200 per pair! The Revel is probably better technically, and has more woofers, but the biggest difference in terms of cost and value is in the cabinet. The Revel looks nicer than the Infinity one.
I could not disagree more. While some of his materials are based off this and that, unlike Speaker Cables, they are measurable differences in the inertness of his cabinets. And Wilson uses Focal Tweeters which are some of the finest out there. This is massively oversimplified.

Wilson has its detractors. Most of whom seem to like to bash those who own them at AVS's Ultra High End Audio Subforum. However, to compare Dave Wilson's Speakers to Speaker Cable is ludicrous. In addition, Wilson is one of the few CE Companies that actually are Made in America.
 

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And here is a partial list of applications where these "huckster" Speakers are used.

2005 Lilo & Stitch 2, Star Wars Episode III, The Pacifier, The Interloper

2004 Robots, Chicken Little, Pooh's Heffalumps Movie, Christmas with the Kranks,Princess Diaries 2, Collateral, The Village, The Terminal, Mr. 3000, We Don't Live Here Anymore, Whole 10 Yards, Harry Potter 3, Forbidden Warrior, Passion of the Christ

2003 Paycheck, Peter Pan, Raising Helen, Elf, Gigli, Hidalgo, Bruce Almighty, Mystic River, Destino, Dreamcatchers, Holes

2002 Star Wars Episode II, Minority Report, Scorpion King, Treasure Planet, Signs, Tuxedo, Catch Me If You Can, Jungle Book II, Jeepers Creepers II, Holes

2001 Dragonfly, The Palace Thief, Snow Dogs, Princess Diaries, Cats & Dogs, A.I., Heartbreakers, Jeepers Creepers

2000 Unbreakable, Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis, The Replacements, The Patriot, Remember The Titans, Vertical Limit

1999 Star Wars Episode 1, Toy Story 2, Sleepy Hollow, The Runaway Bride, Inspector Gadget, The Sixth Sense, Toy Story 2

1998 6 Days 7 Nights, A Civil Action, A Perfect Murder, A Simple Plan, Dance With Me, Godzilla, Instinct, Paulie the Parrot, Psycho Saving Private Ryan, Snow Falling On Cedars, Soldier, Stepmom, The Avengers, Virus

1997 Titanic, Men In Black, Lost World, Liar Liar, Seven Years In Tibet, Amistad, The Devil's Advocate, Flubber

1996 Courage Under Fire, Devil's Own, Flipper, Extreme Measures, Jillean, Mars Attacks, Metro, Mission Impossible, Mother Night, One Fine Day, Ransom, Sleepers, Space Jam, Toy Story, Trigger Effect, Twister, Warrior of Waverly St., Wild America

1995 Amelia, Apollo 13, Balto, Braveheart, Casper, Cry, The Beloved Country, Dolores Claiborne, Eye for an Eye, Jade, Jumanji, Mulholland Falls, Nixon, Outbreak, Pie in the Sky, Primal Fear, Sabrina, Spitfire, Grill, The Juror, Things to do in Denver, To Die For, Waterworld

1994 Clear And Present Danger, The River Wild, Legends of the Fall, Wyatt Earp, Just Cause, Little Women, The Specialist, City Slickers II, Junior, Terminal Velocity, Braveheart

1993 Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Indecent Proposal, Dave, Nightmare Before Christmas, The Man Without a Face

1992 Patriot Games, Batman Returns, Far and Away, Home Alone II, Alive, Dracula, Unlawful Entry, Sneakers, Captain Ron, Falling Down

1991 Hook, Cape Fear, Prince of Tides, Dying Young, Rocketeer, Only the Lonely, Kindergarten Cop

1990 Dances with Wolves, Ghost, Pretty Woman, Dick Tracy, Edward Scissorhands, Awakenings, 48 Hours II, Flatliners, Jacob's Ladder

1989 Always, American Tale, Batman, Dad, Field of Dreams, Glory, Honey,I Shrunk the Kids, In Country, Mountains of the Moon, Night Breed, Parenthood, Prancer

1988 Cocoon II, Everybody's All American, Land Before Time, Red Hot, Willow, Winter People, Young Guns

Now I could certainly understand if it was Cables that were used in these applications not mattering one way or the other, but we are talking places like Skywalker Sound, Sony/Epic Studios, and many other top shelf places.
 

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I haven't read anything Wilson or any of his ilk for that matter but I believe another important consideration in designing and building inert cabinets is a triad of materials. MDF and Baltic Birch have always been popular. I happened to find 2'x2' butyl rubber sheets at a local discount store and if they were to have Corian on hand I would buy that as well. Starting with MDF and then rubber glued in place finished with Baltic birch in prep for a nice Burl Laminate sounds right with minimal internal bracing but add a layer of Corian or any of the other polyester resin stone counterfeits and drop the resonant frequency to inert could be interesting with a pair 12" subs in the lower portion of a 3 or 4 way speaker. What is there to complain about.

When I look at all of the great speakers out there I get locked onto a few that seem to be leading large groups of builders and designers. I've seen the Seas top of the line speakers in some interesting places Joseph Audio, many builds on Madisound.com, and recently in Salk SongTowers. Salk speakers are very impressive..., using select real wood and choice wood laminates. I'll bet Salk uses ClarityCaps or Solen. What is it about Seas top speakers is it the Copper Phase plug the Cast Basket, the silver plate copper coil(I just made that up..., that's what I want).

Have you noticed that since Focal came out with their neodymium magnet array in the top "W" series woofers, ScanSpeak immediately started using the same magnet structure in their tweeters. I believe the only better or equal tweeters are Focal's Beryllium or Acuton's Diamond Tweeter. I believe they are both at $2500 where did you find them at $2K I might try buying from that company..., not the diamond but maybe a nice Seas driver or ScanSpeak.

My top five in no order:

Focal
Dynaudio
Totem
Salk - I have not listened to a pair but I'll bet they are worth every penny.
Home Build using Focal, Seas, ScanSpeak, Dynaudio and BlackHole cabinet lining.
 

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Yes, those are all important factors. My opinion on what makes a good quality speaker is... the designer / engineer of the speaker and how well he/she integrates all the components. You can use a ton of high quality and high cost parts in a speaker but if it's poorly designed a well designed speaker costing $99 will sound better.
Precisely. With speakers, the whole is definitely more than just the sum of the parts. You can have a speaker that uses some of the best drivers in the world, but with a poor cabinet design/construction and/or a poor crossover design, it would sound like . It's the synergy that produces optimal results.
...Harman papers or Toole's book that show convincingly "better" sound comes from response that is tilted down on-axis with broad and even dispersion. Get that and everything else follows.
This is what you're looking for when you ask "What makes a quality/great speaker?". Harman has conducted lots of tests with many different speakers and identified the common traits and characteristics found in the speakers that routinely are rated the highest by both educated, trained listeners as well as untrained listeners (so it's not just a matter of the trained listeners being trained to like a specific speaker 'sound').

The common traits are:
a) Smooth frequency response, with minimal deviation, i.e. no major peaks or dips in the frequency response
b) Smooth off-axis response, i.e. the off-axis response looks pretty much like the on-axis response with a smooth overall frequency response (usually with a smooth progressive rolloff of the higher frequencies as you get really off-axis)
c) A declining in-room power response as frequency increases.

In other words, the ideal speaker's measured in-room response looks like a smooth slope that descends as the frequency range increases. Optimally it would look more or less like a straight line from ~40-50Hz all the way to 20kHz, but sloping downwards so that 40Hz is about 6-12db higher than 20kHz (ideally, the low frequency response would extend down to 20Hz, but their studies seem to indicate that the peak in the FR should be around 40Hz, and decline as frequencies go lower, otherwise, folks might perceive the sound as being a little 'muddy' or 'boomy' for music).

Interestingly enough, this descending response naturally occurs when speakers with an anechoically flat FR (flat Frequency response when measured in an anechoic chamber) are placed in regular rooms, due to cabin gain.

The better a speaker measures, the better it will sound in a wider variety of rooms.

To see what a good speaker's on and off axis frequency response measurements look like, check out Stereophile's reviews, where John Atkinson routinely produces some very informative measurements.

Here are some speakers with pretty impressive measurements
http://www.stereophile.com/content/...ence-ii-professional-loudspeaker-measurements
http://www.stereophile.com/content/revel-ultima-salon2-loudspeaker-measurements

compare those measurements (especially the speaker 'contour' curve graphs) to something like this for instance
http://www.stereophile.com/content/wilson-audio-sasha-wp-loudspeaker-measurements

or this, where the speaker can't help but color the sound you're hearing
http://www.stereophile.com/content/zu-essence-loudspeaker-measurements

Yes, it's true that you should use your ears to listen for yourself, but bear in mind that sub-optimal setups can mar a speakers optimal performance, likewise a carefully prepared audition can make folks think something is better than it actually is (like the folks being fooled by the special Bose cube demo booths).

Here are more speaker measurements to browse:
http://www.soundstageav.com/speakermeasurements.html


Max
 

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I could not disagree more. While some of his materials are based off this and that, unlike Speaker Cables, they are measurable differences in the inertness of his cabinets. And Wilson uses Focal Tweeters which are some of the finest out there. This is massively oversimplified.

Wilson has its detractors. Most of whom seem to like to bash those who own them at AVS's Ultra High End Audio Subforum. However, to compare Dave Wilson's Speakers to Speaker Cable is ludicrous. In addition, Wilson is one of the few CE Companies that actually are Made in America.
I'm not bashing Wilson, I am "bashing" the pure hucksterism of renaming a slab of common countertop available to anyone within driving distance of a Home Depot as "X material." And I'm pointing out the crazy gullibility of people who just lap that kind of thing up and even repeat it as if it is a miracle and a revolution that someone could - make up a stupid name for countertops. (The same line of reasonsingly applies to people who use another marketing point, product placement in studios, to make any performance claims for a speaker. That argument is just gullibility trumping reason. But as an aside Skywalker Sound does not list any Wilson speakers. They list custom monitors and ATCs as well as some older Genelecs and Tannoys.)

It is a fact Dave Wilson makes up names for common countertop materials to make them sound like they are a new innovation from DARPA, when they're _just_countertops_. Sometimes they are countertops painted using auto body shop materials. In that respect, Wilson is no different from the speaker wire hucksters that make up all kinds of esoteric terms for things that are quite common.

As for whether or not these countertop materials make better speakers, I don't know. I don't even know if in the end they are more expensive. Corian and the like are more expensive than MDF or birch. But they also lead to reduced finishing costs compared to other construction methods because of the way seams meld together and because the outer surface is - a countertop! Countertops by definition don't need surface finishing. The contractor lays down the slabs, fixes the seams, and collects payment. If countertops really made better panels for speaker cabinets, they would be in wider use. Maybe others do use such materials, without resorting to Wilson's stupid huckster terms for their countertop-based speaker cabinets.

I've read that the ideal material for speaker cabinets, because of its self-damping and stiffness, is thick polyurethane sheet. But that material is much more expensive than MDF, or the countertops Wilson makes up stupid names for. And it is only made in Germany right now. So it is not widely used.

As for the sound quality of Wilson speakers, Wilsons, like Martin Logans, do pretty well in sighted listening. They look out there and listeners typically know that they are very expensive. But if the Harman research has taught us anything, it is that when a listener doesn't know the price and can't be influenced by the looks, well designed speakers do well regardless of appearance or price, and badly designed speakers do badly regardless of appearance or price. Wilsons, like Martin Logans, fare poorly in blind listening. Fancy countertop cabinets and supposedly impressive tweeter notwithstanding, they are designed very differently from speakers that people generally prefer when listening blind.

And made in America, so what? I don't care where things are made as long as they are good. I am also not going to pick an inferior product over a superior one just because the inferior one is made in America. Or Germany, or England, or the moon.

But I want to note that many other speakers, including my Phase Techs, are made in America too. Phase Techs are even more made in America than Wilsons, because the drivers don't come from Indonesia and other places. Unlike Dave Wilson, whose loudspeaker innovation stops at renaming common countertop materials to sound fancy and pushing price tags into the stratosphere, Phase Tech's Bill Hecht invented and patented the soft dome tweeter. Phase Tech also holds some patents for flat-piston drivers. They continue to make their own drivers in house. The midrange and treble domes, as well as the flat-piston woofers.

The end result isn't as sci-fi looking as Wilson's stuff. The cabinets are nicely veneered curved MDF, with a felt pad on the front to control diffraction from the tweeter and midrange. But the price is in line with the appearance. Also, unlike Wilson's speakers they are high performance speakers, designed according to the Toole criteria - flat on axis response and wide even coverage. They do that by using drivers small enough for broad dispersion in the midrange and treble, and good crossover engineering.

So unlike Wilsons, which are very expensive but fail to meet the Toole criteria (Wilson uses too large midranges, with tweeters too far away, for even coverage) The Phase Techs are pretty good speakers. There are others that are equal or better, I'm sure. I am not saying everyone should go buy Phase Techs. But if you want an honest speaker at a fair price from a company that avoids noxious hucksterism like calling common countertops "X material" and inflating the price beyond all reason to trap gullible people who think that higher price and fancy marketing words lead to higher performance, you could do much worse too.
 

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So what if Wilson uses Corian or something like it for their cabinets. The only real issue is whether it's effective as used. It is, as you don't hear or feel vibrations from Wilson's cabinets. As for where the individual drivers come from, who cares. They sound good. That's what matters to most people. With Toole's blind testing, how about a big "whoop ti do". I'm underwhelmed with most of the speakers that are the result of Toole's testing. Not only that, I prefer Martin Logan's over any alternative you've mentioned. Furthermore I buy speakers and other gear that sounds good to me. What a panel of anonymous listeners prefer means diddly squat to me.

Wilson speakers were mentioned as an illustration of "heroic" and expensive (driver wise) measures used by a speaker manufacturer.

What happened? Did Dave Wilson kick you in the shins and tell you to go home?:R
You sure seem to have a bug about Wilson and his product line.

This response is from someone who has heard every Wilson speaker ever sold including the original WAMM's. I'm even honest enough to admit I've never really liked WATT/Puppy's or the new Duette. I've also heard enough Phase Tech products to know they're not in the same category.

So you like your Phase Techs. Big deal. Having heard Phase Techs and Wilson's I know which ones sound better to me. Here's a hint. The initials aren't PT.

The only reason Wilson speakers were mentioned in this thread was to help illustrate why some speakers cost a lot of money. None of the responses boosted, suggested or pushed Wilson speakers.

Frankly, I don't understand all the vitriol on your part.

The only thing that matters about Wilson's or any other speakers is how they sound. Guess what? You've been outvoted. Most listeners think Wilson speakers sound pretty good. If you want to buy speakers based on what a panel of other people think, well you just go right ahead.
 

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I'm not bashing Wilson, I am "bashing" the pure hucksterism of renaming a slab of common countertop available to anyone within driving distance of a Home Depot as "X material." And I'm pointing out the crazy gullibility of people who just lap that kind of thing up and even repeat it as if it is a miracle and a revolution that someone could - make up a stupid name for countertops. (The same line of reasonsingly applies to people who use another marketing point, product placement in studios, to make any performance claims for a speaker. That argument is just gullibility trumping reason. But as an aside Skywalker Sound does not list any Wilson speakers. They list custom monitors and ATCs as well as some older Genelecs and Tannoys.)

It is a fact Dave Wilson makes up names for common countertop materials to make them sound like they are a new innovation from DARPA, when they're _just_countertops_. Sometimes they are countertops painted using auto body shop materials. In that respect, Wilson is no different from the speaker wire hucksters that make up all kinds of esoteric terms for things that are quite common.

As for whether or not these countertop materials make better speakers, I don't know. I don't even know if in the end they are more expensive. Corian and the like are more expensive than MDF or birch. But they also lead to reduced finishing costs compared to other construction methods because of the way seams meld together and because the outer surface is - a countertop! Countertops by definition don't need surface finishing. The contractor lays down the slabs, fixes the seams, and collects payment. If countertops really made better panels for speaker cabinets, they would be in wider use. Maybe others do use such materials, without resorting to Wilson's stupid huckster terms for their countertop-based speaker cabinets.

I've read that the ideal material for speaker cabinets, because of its self-damping and stiffness, is thick polyurethane sheet. But that material is much more expensive than MDF, or the countertops Wilson makes up stupid names for. And it is only made in Germany right now. So it is not widely used.

As for the sound quality of Wilson speakers, Wilsons, like Martin Logans, do pretty well in sighted listening. They look out there and listeners typically know that they are very expensive. But if the Harman research has taught us anything, it is that when a listener doesn't know the price and can't be influenced by the looks, well designed speakers do well regardless of appearance or price, and badly designed speakers do badly regardless of appearance or price. Wilsons, like Martin Logans, fare poorly in blind listening. Fancy countertop cabinets and supposedly impressive tweeter notwithstanding, they are designed very differently from speakers that people generally prefer when listening blind.

And made in America, so what? I don't care where things are made as long as they are good. I am also not going to pick an inferior product over a superior one just because the inferior one is made in America. Or Germany, or England, or the moon.

But I want to note that many other speakers, including my Phase Techs, are made in America too. Phase Techs are even more made in America than Wilsons, because the drivers don't come from Indonesia and other places. Unlike Dave Wilson, whose loudspeaker innovation stops at renaming common countertop materials to sound fancy and pushing price tags into the stratosphere, Phase Tech's Bill Hecht invented and patented the soft dome tweeter. Phase Tech also holds some patents for flat-piston drivers. They continue to make their own drivers in house. The midrange and treble domes, as well as the flat-piston woofers.

The end result isn't as sci-fi looking as Wilson's stuff. The cabinets are nicely veneered curved MDF, with a felt pad on the front to control diffraction from the tweeter and midrange. But the price is in line with the appearance. Also, unlike Wilson's speakers they are high performance speakers, designed according to the Toole criteria - flat on axis response and wide even coverage. They do that by using drivers small enough for broad dispersion in the midrange and treble, and good crossover engineering.

So unlike Wilsons, which are very expensive but fail to meet the Toole criteria (Wilson uses too large midranges, with tweeters too far away, for even coverage) The Phase Techs are pretty good speakers. There are others that are equal or better, I'm sure. I am not saying everyone should go buy Phase Techs. But if you want an honest speaker at a fair price from a company that avoids noxious hucksterism like calling common countertops "X material" and inflating the price beyond all reason to trap gullible people who think that higher price and fancy marketing words lead to higher performance, you could do much worse too.
Please get it right. Last I looked, Wilson uses Focal Drivers that are made in France. And a company like Wilson that pays its employees a living wage does mean something to me. As the US hardly builds anything anymore, it matters. Same reason I appreciate my Aragon Amplifiers and Martin Logan Speakers. (pre ShoreView merger and made in Kansas)

And Wilson used to use Corian in the early Watt Models. The X and M Materials were co-developed by BYU.
And from a Fortune Magazine Article: "Wilson makes use of exotic materials, such as phenolic resin-based ceramics, the same stuff that's used by Intel to reduce tremors during chip fabrication. The ceramics are 14 times as expensive as fiberboard.

I have great respect for Floyd Toole, but he is not the only talented guy out there. Some people like to bash on Wilson just because of how expensive it is.
 

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Please get it right. Last I looked, Wilson uses Focal Drivers that are made in France.
The Wilson Sophia uses an Aluminum Scanspeak Revelator woofer made in denmark, SB Acoustics Satori midrange made in Indonesia, and a focal titanium tweeter. Pretty good drivers all around.

As for the best sounding speakers, it's complex. Nova hit the nail on the head - the designer has the most impact on the sound of the speaker. There are two major factors pretty much solely dictated by the designer

1) Objective measurements - Driver selection, off-axis response, listening window response, and dynamic capability are pretty much the main ones.

2) Subjective voicing process (usually just modifies .5 to 1db of response over a broad bandwidth - it might look close enough on a graph, but be enough to give a more palpable tonality)

Once a speaker gets the above correct, the final preference boils down a listener's preferred instruments and demo material and of course - BUDGET!
 
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