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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all.

Upgrading my home theatre system this year to the new Pioneer SC85 AVR (when it comes out in September) and my speaker system from a mish-mash of oooooold op-shop B&W 330 fronts, no-name centres, Dick Smith speaker-kit rears and 16 year old Yamaha avr.

Trying to decide between the JBL TL260, JBL Series L890, HIVI Swan Diva 6.2. or the Wharfedale Diamond 10.7...
Once I decide on a brand and model I will go for matching rears and centre.

Haven't heard any of them, yet. I'm going by reviews, which seem positive on all of them, for the most part. Only the Wharfedales and the Swans are available here in Sydney to hear, as far as I can find from internet searches, though haven't called every shop by any means.

I'm familiar with all the cogent advice about hearing them and deciding on one's personal preferences, but I do think opinions from those who have heard or own some of these can be helpful in leaning toward one brand or another.

From reading other forum pages with similar questions to mine, I know the multitude of other brands that will be offered as alternatives by many of you, while pointing out that my choices here are rubbish, but while I would indeed love a pair of B&W Diamond 800's, Paradigms, Soundlab, Martin Logans, etc. they are all out of my price range or unavailable in Australia.

So, while I don't in any way mind suggestions of brands I might not have heard of, I am primarily interested in opinions of those who own, have owned or demo-ed any of these brands.
Basic set-up of my home theatre: garage theatre (7 metres by 14 metres:roughly 22 x 44 feet)(cinema across short length), screen size 11 foot wide; 16/9 ratio, Epson 4000 projector, PS3, Oppo 83, Toshiba HD.
70% movie viewing, 30% music.

Bring on your sage advice.

Sharkane
 

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Hello,
Of the list provided, I would probably go with the Swans. However, JBL makes some great Speakers and have much love for them as well. I do think it is important to audition any Speakers you are interested in, but your list is solid.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks JJ. I'm hoping to audition the Swans and Wharfedales in the next two weeks and will keep trying to locate the JBL's, but they're not that common here in Australia. Thanks again for the advice. Sharkane.
 

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Hello,
No worries. Personally, I would place a higher priority of checking out the Swans and JBL's over the Wharfdales. In my experience listening to Wharfdales, I have never been that drawn to them. I know they are really popular in the UK and I would imagine there is wide distribution in Oz as well, but unless right down the street, I would not travel to far to audition them. I must state this is merely my experiences listening to Wharfdales and I have a number of friends who own their Speakers.

If Paradigm and SVS are available in Australia, I would highly recommend adding them to your list. Also, Focal, Dynaudio, and B&W are some of my personal favorites. Especially the first two.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Welcome to the Forum. Have fun. Dennis
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I would place a higher priority of checking out the Swans and JBL's over the Wharfdales. In my experience listening to Wharfdales, I have never been that drawn to them.

I haven't yet heard the particular Wharfedale model that I'm looking into, but I agree that the couple of different models I've heard didn't impress me but they were not in a proper demo room, just open department store electronics department.

If Paradigm and SVS are available in Australia, I would highly recommend adding them to your list. Also, Focal, Dynaudio, and B&W are some of my personal favorites. Especially the first two.


I'm by no means an audiophile whether you are talking equipment ownership, electronic knowledge, or acute aural discernment. I do know that in the several music and home theater systems that I've had over the last 20 years I never felt that they had the sound quality I'd like. Like all people, I suppose, I am searching for a system that produces deep clear bass, rich, full midrange and crystal clear highs. Not having the funds to purchase a system that can create the sound my mind imagines, I am left with a conundrum.
I have read many speaker reviews that like the speaker's overall sound, but claim that the speaker lacks bass so that if buying it, it is suggested you add a subwoofer to the system. As I am the only person amongst our friends who owns a home theater system (unbelievable in today's modern world, I know), my experience is limited to my subwoofer which is an Infinity BU-1. I've never liked the way it sounded on movies( bit weak but boomy and distorted) and thought it added little to nothing on music. It simply couldn't compete with a speaker with decent bass. Plus, you could hear it hum when music wasn't playing.

So my question is, within my price range, can I get a better sound buying a bassier speaker that perhaps doesn't have quite the level of clarity, dimensionality and soundstage that a more expensive speaker does, but that doesn't require the assistance of a subwoofer. With many of the really top end brands, by the time you are reaching speakers with sufficient speaker size to not require an additional sub you're talking $8000 a pair or more. Simply out of my price range, particularly as I plan on using an AVR as my power source. I know you get a much better, bassier sound out of a two channel amp, but at this time I have neither the room nor funds to have a two amp set-up.

Years ago, I went for one of those "white van in the parking lot- "we're installers and we bought an extra pair of these expensive speakers that we will sell to you half price" deals. Yes, I only had an old Sony receiver and I'm sure that they were cheap speakers compared to quality ones, however they did significantly increase my system's bass and didn't sound bad to my novice ears.

I presume that subs are much improved since I bought mine nearly 16 years ago,but since a decent one in Australia will cost me around $1000 and if I am using it to produce the bottom end of the sound spectrum for a particular channel I feel that I would have to have a sub for each front main. So I would spend up to $2000 just for the front mains bass low end. Add that to the cost of a lower/ mid level Paradigm or B&W speaker and they cost be getting somewhat costly.
Back to the question: Am I better off paying $3000 for a bigger speaker of a considered "lesser brand" that doesn't require a sub or getting a smaller speaker of a "better brand" that does require a sub?

I know that in a top notch home theater system subs are considered de'riueur and regardless of what speakers I end up choosing I will eventually incorporate a pair, but I have not been using mine in the last year or so and the system sounds at least ok.

I just figured with this amp upgrade from my 15 old Yamaha to the new pioneer elite (SC85 here in Australia, can't find the internet article that gave the US model number) coming out in September I might as well upgrade my speakers too (much to the chagrin of my wife...fortunately, in the end we both have a "whatever you want dear" attitude).

Sorry, bit of a ramble and with phone interruptions kinda forgot my point.
Thanks JJ
Sharkane

Sharkane
 

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In regards to using bassier speakers without a sub:
If you want a decent movie and music sound experience, you need a separate subwoofer to carry the LFE (Low Freq Effects channel). Even if you found good big speakers that reaches down to 30hz, you'll still want a subwoofer that reaches below 20hz.

The easiest set up is to use bookshelf size speakers and 1 sub (multiple subs can sound better but can also be harder to set up).
Use all the same model of bookshelf speakers for mains, center, and surrounds. This speaker would need to play cleanly down to at least 70hz. Use a quality sub that has a top range of at least 100hz, and can play down to below 20hz.
Then in the AVR use a crossover of 80hz for the main, center, and surround speakers (this will send all content below 80hz to the sub). The sub will play all content below 80hz from the smaller speakers, it will also play all of the LFE channel content which can have freq above 100hz.

I haven't heard the speakers on your list, so I cannot comment on them. But I am partial to the JBL since I have the S312's and love them.
 

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Are there resources for speaker building in Oz? If so I would consider going the kit route. I don't worry about the surrounds matching the L/C/R and do favor a sub. I found kits using the ScanSpeak drivers to be about the best speakers I've heard and much cheaper than assembled.
 

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I would place a higher priority of checking out the Swans and JBL's over the Wharfdales. In my experience listening to Wharfdales, I have never been that drawn to them.

I haven't yet heard the particular Wharfedale model that I'm looking into, but I agree that the couple of different models I've heard didn't impress me but they were not in a proper demo room, just open department store electronics department.

If Paradigm and SVS are available in Australia, I would highly recommend adding them to your list. Also, Focal, Dynaudio, and B&W are some of my personal favorites. Especially the first two.


I'm by no means an audiophile whether you are talking equipment ownership, electronic knowledge, or acute aural discernment. I do know that in the several music and home theater systems that I've had over the last 20 years I never felt that they had the sound quality I'd like. Like all people, I suppose, I am searching for a system that produces deep clear bass, rich, full midrange and crystal clear highs. Not having the funds to purchase a system that can create the sound my mind imagines, I am left with a conundrum.
I have read many speaker reviews that like the speaker's overall sound, but claim that the speaker lacks bass so that if buying it, it is suggested you add a subwoofer to the system. As I am the only person amongst our friends who owns a home theater system (unbelievable in today's modern world, I know), my experience is limited to my subwoofer which is an Infinity BU-1. I've never liked the way it sounded on movies( bit weak but boomy and distorted) and thought it added little to nothing on music. It simply couldn't compete with a speaker with decent bass. Plus, you could hear it hum when music wasn't playing.

So my question is, within my price range, can I get a better sound buying a bassier speaker that perhaps doesn't have quite the level of clarity, dimensionality and soundstage that a more expensive speaker does, but that doesn't require the assistance of a subwoofer. With many of the really top end brands, by the time you are reaching speakers with sufficient speaker size to not require an additional sub you're talking $8000 a pair or more. Simply out of my price range, particularly as I plan on using an AVR as my power source. I know you get a much better, bassier sound out of a two channel amp, but at this time I have neither the room nor funds to have a two amp set-up.

Years ago, I went for one of those "white van in the parking lot- "we're installers and we bought an extra pair of these expensive speakers that we will sell to you half price" deals. Yes, I only had an old Sony receiver and I'm sure that they were cheap speakers compared to quality ones, however they did significantly increase my system's bass and didn't sound bad to my novice ears.

I presume that subs are much improved since I bought mine nearly 16 years ago,but since a decent one in Australia will cost me around $1000 and if I am using it to produce the bottom end of the sound spectrum for a particular channel I feel that I would have to have a sub for each front main. So I would spend up to $2000 just for the front mains bass low end. Add that to the cost of a lower/ mid level Paradigm or B&W speaker and they cost be getting somewhat costly.
Back to the question: Am I better off paying $3000 for a bigger speaker of a considered "lesser brand" that doesn't require a sub or getting a smaller speaker of a "better brand" that does require a sub?

I know that in a top notch home theater system subs are considered de'riueur and regardless of what speakers I end up choosing I will eventually incorporate a pair, but I have not been using mine in the last year or so and the system sounds at least ok.

I just figured with this amp upgrade from my 15 old Yamaha to the new pioneer elite (SC85 here in Australia, can't find the internet article that gave the US model number) coming out in September I might as well upgrade my speakers too (much to the chagrin of my wife...fortunately, in the end we both have a "whatever you want dear" attitude).

Sorry, bit of a ramble and with phone interruptions kinda forgot my point.
Thanks JJ
Sharkane

Sharkane
Hello,
What is your budget for this upgrade? Indeed Subwoofers have made some great strides in 16 years. Something like Infinity's Primus Series Bookshelf Speakers for Mains and Surrounds and the matching Center Channel Speaker coupled with something like SVS's PB-10NSD Subwoofer would provide you with fantastic sound.

The thing with getting the most Bass out of your Speakers is that it is exceedingly rare that the placement where you get the most Bass out of a pair of Speakers is the best place for the Highs and Midrange.

By adding a quality Subwoofer with smaller Speakers, you can place the Subwoofer in a place where it will sound its best (often in a corner) and place your Speakers where they will sound their best (often a few feet out in space).

I know on the whole AV equipment costs a great deal more in Australia so it does make it more difficult for many of us in the States to have knowledge about prices and product availability there.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Haven't heard any of them, yet. I'm going by reviews, which seem positive on all of them, for the most part.
Find me a speaker, I'll find you positive reviews of it :whistling:

As far as third party information, measurements are 1000% more useful. You want speakers with very good response out to 60 degrees and more, flat +/- 2db frequency response in the midband, and low power compression. I actually prefer JBL Professional over JBL for this very reason as they actually provide much of this info as 1st party information through their market department.

From reading other forum pages with similar questions to mine, I know the multitude of other brands that will be offered as alternatives by many of you, while pointing out that my choices here are rubbish, but while I would indeed love a pair of B&W Diamond 800's, Paradigms, Soundlab, Martin Logans, etc. they are all out of my price range or unavailable in Australia.
This is understandable. What exactly is your budget?

I'm by no means an audiophile whether you are talking equipment ownership, electronic knowledge, or acute aural discernment. I do know that in the several music and home theater systems that I've had over the last 20 years I never felt that they had the sound quality I'd like. Like all people, I suppose, I am searching for a system that produces deep clear bass, rich, full midrange and crystal clear highs. Not having the funds to purchase a system that can create the sound my mind imagines, I am left with a conundrum.
Your best bet is to go with speakers with flat response and a sealed box in order to blend well to a subwoofer. A $1000 rythmik subwoofer for example will have better deep bass than even some $10k floorstanders. Your best friends for bass from 20hz to 80hz are measurements, EQ, and multiple subwoofers.

So my question is, within my price range, can I get a better sound buying a bassier speaker that perhaps doesn't have quite the level of clarity, dimensionality and soundstage that a more expensive speaker does, but that doesn't require the assistance of a subwoofer.
Absolutely unlikely. Just consider that the average "bassy speaker" might have, I dunno, a pair of 6.5 inch "woofers". The name of the game with bass is moving air.

Consider this. In order to produce 95db at 40hz, for example, two sealed 6.5 inch woofers would need around 5 to 6mm of excursion. that is a LOT of excursion for these small drivers and is normally about the outer limit - in other words it's around this point that distortion from most non-high end woofers starts to become rather audible. Compare that to a single 12 inch woofer in a subwoofer - it will only need around 3mm of excursion to have the same output. Less movement will keep the behavior of the driver under check.

This does not even factor in intermodulation distortion. The more bass you ask for out of those drivers, the more "smeared" their midrange will get.

What about 3-ways with bigger drivers, you say? Chances are, their crossover is passive and uses iron core inductors on the woofers. Another big source of measurable distortion.

I think multiple subwoofers, for 90 percent of setups, are absolutely they way to go. You want good subs, you want to take the effort to equalize them, and you want to place them appropriately too. These things make a world of difference.

That doesn't mean you should go with wimpy 2 driver bookshelf speakers. There's still a lot of demand placed on the midbass driver in the region from 80hz to 300hz such that you want speakers which don't lose their composure with mid bass. But there's just a very high chance that multiple subwoofers will get you better bass than "bassy speakers" (which, by the way, tend to have a very high Q unnatural bass centered around 90-150 hz.)

I presume that subs are much improved since I bought mine nearly 16 years ago,but since a decent one in Australia will cost me around $1000 and if I am using it to produce the bottom end of the sound spectrum for a particular channel I feel that I would have to have a sub for each front main.
Bass below ~100hz should not be localizable; if it is there is a lot of distortion or a poorly integrated system at play. However multiple subs are strongly recommended not for a stereo effect but because they effectively work together in rooms to improve frequency response. Two sealed subwoofers, perhaps rythmik or SVS, will work wonders in smaller rooms, and vented subs will get you more low end in larger rooms.

Back to the question: Am I better off paying $3000 for a bigger speaker of a considered "lesser brand" that doesn't require a sub or getting a smaller speaker of a "better brand" that does require a sub?
Your best bet is DIY, you will thank yourself later when you've got the type of speaker that puts $10000 speakers to shame, all for around 1800 dollars, and throw in $1200 worth o subs and you're at world class tier. :sn: :devil:

But seriously, I think with a 3000 dollar budget you really can be able to put together an outstanding 2 speaker 2 sub system with a crystal clear midrange, detailed highs, tight low Q bass, a coherent soundstage with appropriate depth and image definition, wide sweet spot. I will research what you have available in australia and get back to you.
 

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Here are some more better-than-average bookshelf speakers to keep in mind just in case you can audition any of these:
Dynaudio Excite X12 http://www.dynaudio.com/eng/systems/lines/excite/excitex12.php
Monitor Audio Silver RX1 or RX2 http://www.monitoraudio.co.uk/products/silver-rx/rx1/
JBL L820 http://www.jbl.com/EN-US/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?PID=L820-H
JBL L830 http://www.jbl.com/EN-US/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?PID=L830-H

I would say the most popular really good subwoofers are these:
Hsu http://www.hsuresearch.com/subwoofers.html
SVS http://www.svsound.com/products-sub-box.cfm
This subwoofer shootout article is several years old but gives good info on what to listen for:
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/tests-reviews/speakers/2007/05/shootout-five-mid-price-subwoofers

My advice: don't sweat this decision process too much (I know it's hard not to, been there, done that). In the end, any of these better-than-average speakers is going to sound great (I don't mean just my speaker suggestions, I mean everyone here). All reviewers will nit-pick the differences between this speaker and that when they are compared side-by-side, and at this level when someone picks one speaker over another, it doesn't mean that the other one sounds bad.
If you do get the chance to audition speakers and you can't make up your mind between 2 or 3 of them, that means they all sound good to you and you should choose the cheapest one. Also, don't be afraid to go with one that you haven't been able to audition, unless you have specific audio tastes any good speaker is going to make you sit back and smile.
If you ask which sub is better, HSU or SVS, you'll get 100 different responses. These are both so good that it doesn't matter which one you get, you will love it (I prefer the HSU).
Speakers is where you want to spend the money, they will sound great for the next 20yrs.
 

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Hello,
I would jump on the Dynaudios should the opportunity present itself. They are one of my all time favorite Speaker Manufacturers and unlike the vast majority, actually build their own Drive Units which allows them to Custom Design each Driver for the given Enclosure thus maximizing the given Speaker. Focal, Paradigm and a handful of others offer such an advantage.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Hey. I recommend going to this distributor: http://www.advanceaudio.com.au/ and auditioning their speaker options from Revel, KEF, Nola, and Def Tech; whatever is in your price range. Revel makes some very neutral, well designed speakers, and I've heard very positive things on the other three brands. The KEFs for example have probably the widest vertical and horizontal sweet spot out there thanks to the very smartly designed dual concentric drivers they use; and that also makes them very room independant.

Also, while JBL's home speakers aren't by any means weak, I honestly think their professional LSR studio monitors are absolutely outstanding, not only in performance but in value: http://www.globalsound.com.au/2328p-biamplified-powered-studio-monitor-pair-p-10182.html and they're the type of speakers that despite not being floorstanders will blend very well with subwoofers thanks to their high output, low distortion capability. The measured response is exceptional. If you bought them right now without an audition, i'd be pretty confident that you could live with them for a lifetime, although of course I am a proponent of auditions regardless.

Also consider SVS' nice speakers from http://www.deephzaudio.com/ - and their subwoofers are obviously an excellent choice with low distortion, great build quality, smart DSP, and high output/extension.

Visit this place to audition some Soundlabs - unlike "box" speakers these electrostats will give a VERY different, arguably more lifelike presentation: http://acousticsupplies.com/ - sometimes people say once you go 'stat you don't go back ;P

This shop carries Tannoy and PSB speakers. Regularily praised brands although I personally have not them: http://www.ordio.com.au/categories/Speakers/Floor-Standing-Speakers/

This shop carries Opera speakers which i've heard rather good things about: http://www.sydneyhificastlehill.com.au/prod149.htm

Use this distributor to find a shop nearest you carrying the aformentioned dynaudio speakers: http://www.ozhifi.com/

Finally, while I have my reservations that they'll have much within your price range, go audition PMC speakers: http://www.neotec.com.au

Also, do consider ordering internet direct speakers from outside australia - the type of value they represent may be worth the shipping. The Salk Sound Songtowers for example.

Go audition using quality recordings you are familiar with :T and then come back and tell us what you liked in your price ranges and what sounded fundamentally wrong (and many speakers will sound "wrong" - it's a speaker's job to reproduce and the more it's changing from the original recording the more wrong it is... i don't believe speakers are truly as subjective as others might think... if there's coloration or a dependancy on room treatments to sound right, that's a very concerning issue in my opinion). You may also find, that recordings you may not have thought to be poor, don`t shine on better speakers and are in fact weak recordings. Be patient, and try to audition on enough different speakers to decide for yourself which speaker you can see yourself living with. As long as you don`t rush, and even consider multiple auditions (in home being the best as your room acoustics will certainly make some level of difference.. quality dealers will set up in-home auditions upon request).

:Avoid: buying into any electronics upselling if you do visit their showroom and find one of those speakers to be the right choice. Amps have potential to make a difference but hi-fi dealers have a tendancy to not understand "when and why" and thus are not a great source of information in electronics... anyone who subjectively thinks x amp ``sounds better`` without knowing why is not helping you to maximize your budget.

Where possible, search for third party or request first party measurements of

1) Impedance, Sensitivity and Phase Angle - this will tell us what kind of amplification might be necessary
2) On-axis frequency response - this will warn us of any `trickery` at play in selling you a speaker that seems to sound great but actually will be difficult to live with. Preferably, make it a high res, minimally smoothed graph.
3) Off axis frequency response - this will tell us a lot about things like sweet spot and how the speaker will interact with the room
4) Waterfall - this will tell us if the speaker has any other issues with resonances and cone breakups that might tell you to steer clear
 

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Hello,
Nice find. Also, Opera's are some excellent Speakers and the entire list looks to be excellent. I am afraid of the prices as I know AVR in OZ are substantially more expensive than in the States to the point where some Australians purchase their Electronics in Hong Kong to save a considerable sum of money knowing full well that a Warranty is not in the cards due to the Local Distributors not getting a taste of the action.

Is there an Australian equivalent of Audiogon? Relatively new Speakers are a pretty safe used purchase provided they are from a quality Brand.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, I think the best option given a lesser budget and greater ambition, would be to construct one's own speakers using a proven DIY design:

Maybe a pair of these, these, these, these or these. Parts are not going to be too heavy so shipping, even from outside Australia, should be managable, and then heavier construction supplies like MDF can be purchased locally.
 

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I don't think this has been mentioned in this thread yet.
You don't have to buy all speakers at once.
For those that like the sound of quality, it is worth buying more expensive speakers but fewer of them.
Start off with a 2.1 set up. Wait a few months and buy some more. Wait a few months and finish off the set.
For a few months, 2 or 3 really great speakers is much more enjoyable than a cheaper so-so 5/7.1 set up that you can afford all at once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Swan Diva Review, finally

Well, I finally was able to get down to Sydney to do a listening test.

We got a late start so I didn’t have quite as much time as I would have liked.

I’ve not yet found a truly great audiophile quality store which pulls out all the stops to demonstrate products for customers. Maybe Len Wallis does, but they don’t carry the brands I wanted to hear ( mainly because most of what they carry is out of my price range…except the Bose, but who wants that).

We first went to Digital Cinema to hear the Wharfedale Diamond 10.7 speakers. They didn’t have them in stock (which he insisted he had told me on the phone, but I sure don’t remember that and wouldn’t have driven all that way), but it did give us the opportunity to listen to the Klipsch RF-42, B&W 603, Dali Concept 6, and KEF Q500.

We heard the Klipsch first through an AV7005 Marantz amp and listened to a variety of cd cuts, from Frank Sinatra, Fatboy Slim, Dwight Yokum, One Giant Leap, to Dr. Steel.

The Klipsch had fair highs and midrange but, no bass to speak of.

After turning on the amp and switching the computer control to the Klipsch, the salesman had left the room, so I retrieved him and had him switch to the Dali Concepts.

The drop in quality from the Klipsch was quite noticeable, again no bass and a severe drop in the midrange and treble levels. Same for the Kef and the B&W 603's were the worst of all. It was like listening to a set of bad bookshelf speakers.

We mentioned the lack of bass and the salesman said “Well, you can adjust it.” However, he didn’t offer to try to adjust it (the lack of customer care I mentioned above) and since I assumed that the amp would be set to “neutral” at a minimum (meaning no additional sound coloration), my conclusion was that none of the speakers was producing a sound I really liked.

Certainly they were not at a quality comparable to the sound of our current setup. As my wife said, I think what we have sounds much better.

So we headed off to Oceanic Distribution to hear the Swan Diva 6.2 system.
What a difference in every way! James, the salesman, warmly greeted us and led us to a beautiful, dedicated theatre room (the sound room at Digital Cinema was utilitarian in comparison).
My, those Swan are physically beautiful speakers and as stated by others are quite large.

I don’t know the model numbers, but the amp setup we heard was an Onkyo pre-amp and Onkyo –Integra power amp.
We put on the same cd and immediately noticed a massive difference in sound quality. In every way there was an improvement. The soundstage was much wider, the tone richer, warmer and fuller. Finally, there was some noticeable bass.
Sure, with the other speakers, you might have been able to pick out the bassline, but in no way was it “there”. You couldn’t feel it and I don’t mean in a thumping, doof, doof, sort of way. I just mean in a full, deep-presence kind of way like the Swans had.

We listened to David Bryne’s Indepence Day from his Roi Momo cd and Sting’s Fields of Gold from Ten Summoner’s Tales and in both cases my wife said “I don’t think they sounded this good live.” and then she said “I’d have to say that this is finally a sound that is an improvement over our current system.”

The highs were crisp and clear without being harsh or abrasive. I don’t think listener fatigue would be an issue with these speakers. There seemed to be good, clean and full midrange and the bass was rich and tight without being boomy. Overall we listened to it in 2 channel stereo, multichannel stereo, and surround sound. Even in 2 channel, without benefit of the subwoofer, the bass was excellent.

We put on Blu-Ray copies of Armageddon and the Incredibles and the sound on explosions and rocket engines could go from low listening levels to ear splitting with no distortion or coloration.
I did notice on a few scenes in the Incredibles that the dialogue seemed a trifle low in the mix, however I don’t know what the EQ settings on the Onkyo were and I do know that on my old Yamaha surround amp that I sometimes have to adjust the centre volume from movie to movie. Overall though the sound experience was quite fulfilling.

So, was this the life-changing, sounds of angels singing, voice of God, nothing could sound this good, experience I was hoping for. I think you all know or can imagine the type of experience I’m alluding to.
In all honesty I would have to say no, I didn’t hear the sound of the Cosmos, Gabriel’s trumpet, however you want to put it . They weren’t quite that good.

However, the Swan Diva 6.2 are very good speakers and at this price point (a 5.1 system for $3815) from what I’ve heard so far, they can’t be beat. I think anyone getting these would be satisfied.

I, of course, haven’t heard all speaker brands (who has?). I haven’t even heard what I would call really high-end speakers with one exception. About 17 years ago I went to a high-end shop in Los Angeles and heard a pair of $6000 speakers with five 3 inch woofers in them. Don’t know the brand.
This was at a time when all of us low-end people existed only in the “12 inch woofer is the minimum” mentality, so I was shocked at how good these tiny woofers sounded and I had never heard such wide soundstage before or since.

So, I have no idea what a $12,000 or $50,000 pair of speakers sounds like. I have no idea whether some exponential ratio exists where (for the most part) a $3000 speaker sounds twice as good as a $1500 and a $6000 sounds twice as good as a $3000, etc.

No one can hear everything that is available (even within a stringently set price range).
Even with a short-list of brands and models you are unlikely to find them all at one shop to compare them in the same environment and amplification. And you can’t really do much, if any, EQ set up or changes on the amp to accommodate the differences in speaker qualities ( the demonstrator should do that, but I’ve never seen it happen. Maybe at the best shops??).

Unfortunately, when you hear one or a couple of speakers in one shop and then drive across town and hear the next set hours later in a different room with different amp, it’s hard to say that you’ve had a comparable comparison.

Therefore, in the end, any of us shopping for new speakers and seeking the best in our price range really end up shopping and testing a very narrow strata of what is available and testing it very imprecisely at that. Even in my audio ignorance I realise that.


There is one ray of hope though. Since we all know that, at a certain level of quality, short of a side by side comparison, there is very little noticeable difference between products, we should be satisfied with our final choices. It won’t matter that there are brands we never heard of, or never tested, because we were ignorant of their existence in the first place…and ignorance is bliss.

I’m still hoping to hear the Wharfedale Diamond 10.7’s before that final slap down of money, but put it this way: throughout my past weeks of internet searches and forum discussions my wife has been saying “I thought you were just getting a new amp. Why are you looking at speakers, we don’t need new speakers.”

After the Swan demonstration though, while I’m thinking “They’re really good, but maybe I should try a few other brands and really think it over.” she says, “I think we should just go ahead and get them.”

Remember fellows, this is a $3800 system we are talking about here (and this is using money set aside for our backyard deck build).

Prior to hearing them she was certain we had no reason to upgrade our speakers because she felt our old ones sounded excellent. I think that says something about the Swans.

I have found another shop that has the Wharfedale 10.7’s and will give them a listen next weekend before making that final decision of the Swans.

While far from an audiophile magazine review, I hope this in some way helps anyone thinking about the Swans….and my apology to any and all who have Dali, Kef, B&W or Klipsch and think I’m out of my mind with this review of their products.

I know all of these companies make good products and quality varies within all of their individual ranges. After all, the KEF bookshelf speaker and the MUON range are worlds apart. I also know that this shop's demo procedure was sub par. But I can only report what I heard that day and as it stands none of them was up to the quality of the Swans. Go, Swans! (And I say this as a complete non-sports fan).
Sharkane
 

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Great writeup on your experience, I loved reading it and look forward to reading your experience with the Wharfedales. I had a pair of Wharfedales about 9yrs ago. But I can't remember which model (they were slim towers), and I only got to listen to them for a day and didn't really get to compare them to anything else. They arrived physically broken from shipping so I returned them and decided not to get replacements.

After that I went on a local search for my next set of speakers. In my price range of speakers, I didn't find that "AHHHHH!!!" set (that's the sound of angels) . The JBL ES line did sound the best to me though, so that's what I decided on.
But always looming nearby were the next step up set of JBL's, the Studio line. Originally I didn't even want to listen to them because I was afraid that they would sound good enough that I would want them, but they were out of my budget. Just before pulling the trigger on the ES line, I decided to listen to the Studio's just for giggles. Holy Crud!!, this was my "AHHH!!!" moment. The sound of the bass, mid, and treble wasn't greatly better than the cheaper speakers, what made all the difference that was very noticeable was the imaging and sound field. All other speaker's sound was localized to coming from the 2 speaker boxes, not very dimensional. Then switching to the Studio's, the sound opened up, the speaker boxes disappeared, there was a wall of sound, it was very wide and very deep, very 3 dimensional!
I decided to go with 2 of the JBL S310's (and buy the rest later). But that's not the end of it. Looming beside those S310's (10" woofers) were the S312's (12" woofers). I listened to the S312's and said, "That's the sound I want!" So the JBL S312's is what I did go with and have been grinning wildly for the last 9 yrs.
I know there are better speakers than mine, but I don't care.

Sorry you didn't get your "AHHHH!!!" moment.
 

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Hello,
I am glad you had the opportunity to audition some Speakers. There are some important considerations about the Store that had the Klipschs and B&W's and is what was driving those Speakers? Also poor placement of Speakers can have a tremendous effect on Bass and overall SQ.

Going to a Store that is using a Power Amplifier is wonderful, but there might be a letdown if not using something as powerful as at Home. Regardless, the Swan's are fantastic Speakers. Also, did the first Store also use quality Source Material like David Byrne and Sting as without good Source Material, it is hard to get a good idea of a Speakers true potential.

There does come a point in Hifi where you start hitting the point of diminished returns. It definitely takes some spending, but it does occur. I am really glad you got to Audition some Speakers.

Another consideration is whether you are using a Subwoofer. If so, the Bass in Speakers in not nearly as important. Regardless, I am again so glad you and yours spent some time Auditioning.
Cheers,
JJ
 
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