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How Did You Choose Your Speakers?

Discussion in 'Home Audio (Stereo Systems)' started by H. Mac, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    How did you choose your speakers? Here’s why I’m asking:

    I’m upgrading my stereo system and despite the help of knowledgeable friends, I’m overwhelmed by the number of brands and models in my price range (around $1K for a pair and an additional $500 or so for a subwoofer). I have a pair of Polk Audios on a 60 trial that my friends recommended, and while they’re impressive, there are literally hundreds of offerings in this price range.

    Internet offerings generally consist of naratives, user reviews, and sound clips, which are helpful, but have limitations. Visiting audio stores injects variables (amps, room acoustics, limited selection, etc.) that do little to make a decision easier.

    So I’m wondering if any of you guys were in the same boat, and if so, how did you get out of it?

    Any stories, advice, or words of wisdom will be appreciated!
     
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  2. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Member

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    They chose me.

    If you are overwhelmed, and they all seem to sound the same to you (relatively speaking) pick the ones you like the looks of most.

    Fortunately for me, when I got the last pair of speakers I bought there was not this onslaught of ME TOO speakers brands and models out there.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
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  3. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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    Polk is a good starting point. Which ones do you have? What do you like and not like about them?

    Also, describe your room, your goals, and your general likes and dislikes.
     
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  4. fe911

    fe911 Supporting Member

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    Things have changed because of the internet. When I was younger, I made regular trips to hi fi shops, like a lot of us did with guitar shops. It was always fun for me to check out what was new and shiny. The brick and mortar audio stores went the same way as music stores. And I think using HiFi is similar to buying guitars and amps. You can't always trust others opinions, you have to see for yourself.
    With HiFi , speakers are the toughest to get right. They are what you hear,and all of them have different flavors. And, like guitar amps, it helps if you bring the right size for the room. Especially subs! I've found a good eight or ten inch sub is the right size for most rooms. Bob Carver sold many Sunfire subs because of the high wattage ratings, but what made the great was the smaller driver with the power.

    Anyway, I'm going in other directions. Back to how I shop for speakers. First, I listen to what a company makes. I read about what's hot and new. And, if I come across them setup, I check them out. I've found if you like speakers that a company makes, you'll like their other offerings. Some people love B&W's sound,. They'll probably be happy with just about anything the company makes. That's because the same people design all their speakers, and they make them how they like them to sound, usually the same.... find a company that makes speakers how you like them to sound. Find a set in your price range. Or buy used, and get about four or five levels up the range. Nothing depreciates like speakers.....
    Even easier, Craigslist.

    Nowadays, finding speakers to listen to isn’t very easy. Your pretty much stuck with what Best Buy has setup. Maybe you have some other places in Atlanta, but still slim pickings. Actually, you can get better auditions from Craigslist than stores. First thing, read reviews, read as much as you can possibly take. There’s good information, like everything internet, you have to wade through the fluff. But, the more you educate yourself, and the more information you have, you’ll be in a better position to make the right decision. Trust your ears.

    If I was going to buy speakers now. I would do the same thing I did ten years. There’s a local consumer audio show, called the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. You might check to see if you have anything like it local? There were literally a thousand pairs of speakers set up. Every manufacturer that you could think of had a display, and their own people to help. It was truly overwhelming, but unbelievable! I went two days, and I think I covered most rooms. The headphone room was really impressive, probably another thousand options right there.
    What was interesting, was that after a while, I started to walk away from setups immediately. I just knew I wasn’t interested, didn’t do anything for me. On to the next, you start doing that, next, next, next. Then, something would grab you, surprise you. You find a little magic, and start looking seriously at the price tags.
    And, you’ll probably find ten or so of these. I found the speakers I wanted that way. I couldn’t afford new ones, so I started searching and found a lightly used set for about one quarter the price. They are still that good.
     
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  5. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    Thanks, Jeff. I can distinguish between speakers in different price ranges fairly well, but they usually sound more alike than different. I may end up deciding on the basis of appearance, but sound, price, the recommendations of friends, and my own perception will be greater factors. It may be one of those decisions that’s made more on gut than anything else.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  6. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    Thanks, Steve. I have a pair of Polk RTI A9s and the only thing I don’t like about them is that their weight (about 75 pounds each along with a really nice but vulnerable finish) makes them difficult to move. The room is about 35’ by 65’ and mostly carpeted, and I’ve been trying them in different locations to optimize the sound. From dealing with guitar amps, I think that speaker cab placement is a major factor in tone production.

    Their high-end and mid-range detail is really good and although I plan to get a subwoofer, I could almost do without one. I prefer music at or near conversational levels for the most part, but like everybody else, I like to crank it once in a while.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  7. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    Thanks for the detailed response. You’re right about the decline of brick and mortar stores and about taking the opinions of others with a grain of salt. And as far as reading the available literature, I’ve found that the more I read, the more there is to read, and the relationship between words and actual sound is tough to figure out. And like you said, there’s lots of fluff.

    The idea about buying used is good, although I’d prefer new, as a trial period seems essential. I hadn’t tough of consumer audio shows, but will check into it.
     
  8. jnovac1

    jnovac1 Supporting Member

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    don’t forget magnepan!
     
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  9. jaded_musician

    jaded_musician Supporting Member

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    I’m totally addicted to Maggies! For the price they are amazing and a conversation piece.

    You should check them out.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. jnovac1

    jnovac1 Supporting Member

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    that’s the stuff right there. i took advantage of the trade-up plan, and now have the 1.7’s.
     
  11. Mister Natural

    Mister Natural Member

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    OP has a very valid question as(noted above) there are so few audio shops anymore. Gosh, when I was shopping, there were several locally, each with multiple brands to listen to. In the 1990s, we were on the road a lot and I would take a minute to visit a respected audio shops in Chicago, New York, Miami, etc. I learned what to listen for(and what to overlook) while auditioning speakers. Guess that I was very fortunate for those opportunities.
    I'd recco looking at speaker manufacturers that have been doing business for a long time. There is a reason they are still in business. I'd probably pass on companies who make lots of other audio equipment(Sony, Kenwood, etc - with the exception of Yamaha). There are lots of great companies making terrific speakers in your price range. That's a big room and will likely take big speakers & big amps to move the air in there.

    best of luck !
     
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  12. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Supporting Member

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    Floorstanders or bookshelf on stands?
    I had Polk Monitor 7s when I upgraded to the B&W DM7s, added the Infinity Kappa 7s in another room.
    For the mains I've switched to Focal Chorus bookshelf size on stands. And I really like the Focals better. I gave my old B&W DM7s to my daughter a few years ago, that's when the Focals came into the picture. WAF improved as well.
     
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  13. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    I chose my most recent speakers (Revel F208) based on research. I believe in science and worked as a recording and live sound engineer for over 30 years.

    Read this book: "Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms" by Dr. Floyd Toole (get the third edition, recently released). https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sound-reproduction-floyd-toole/1120650210?type=eBook

    https://www.stereophile.com/content/revel-performa3-f208-loudspeaker

    http://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/710918-revel-owners-thread.html
     
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  14. fataxeman

    fataxeman Supporting Member

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    I just wanted to make sure I understand you; the room you are putting these speakers in is 35 feet by 65 feet!!! ??? Did I read that correctly?

    Even if you just like, for the most part, "conversational levels", I wouldn't know what to recommend for such an immense space.
     
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  15. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    Thanks, Mister Natural. That’s good advice. The friends I mentioned in my original post also recommended going with an established manufacturer that has been around for a long time, has offerings in several prices ranges, and that has a good customer service record.
     
  16. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    Thanks, Rex. While your advice is certainly sound - the more education the better - I’d like to hope that at the home hobbyist level, a good pair of speakers can be purchased without doing a ton of research. Even reading the manufactures’ stuff on the web, user reviews, articles by experienced reviewers, etc. has been a bit overwhelming. But since I’m planning a trip to the library anyway, I’ll check into your recommendations
     
  17. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    Yep. That’s the size give or take half a foot or so. But I’m not looking for recommendations. I’m asking how you guys - who post here in the Home Audio section and have apparently made satisfactory speaker purchases - chose your speakers from the many offerings.
     
  18. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    The gist of it is, there is data that shows most people prefer speakers that measure well, i.e., flat response on and off axis. Very few speaker manufacturers have anechoic chambers to do the testing.

    Harman (now Samsung which includes Revel and JBL) has made an effort to produce and measure speakers that meet the goals. For affordable monitors, look at the JBL 3 series (305 or 308, now the II series, recently upgraded). For consumer speakers that have nicer looking cabinets, look at the Revel Concerta 2 Series. https://revelspeakers.com/productlist-rev/revel-list-products/rev-products/series/concerta2.html

    Every speaker from Revel and the JBL 3 and 7 series (705, 708) has the same design goals, flat on and off axis response. The higher up the line you go (more expensive), the more refinement you get-better drivers, crossovers etc.

    And of course, as they get bigger, you get better low end (bass) response, level and extension to lower frequencies. Some folks say it's good to use monitors (bookshelf size) speakers and two subwoofers so you can optimize the bass response in the room by placing the subs where they give the flattest response to the most listening area.
     
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  19. Mister Natural

    Mister Natural Member

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  20. fataxeman

    fataxeman Supporting Member

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    I read online Absolute Sound and Stereophile reviews as well as looking at myriad other websites that I can't even remember the name of. I actually heard the speakers that I ended up buying and thought they sounded pretty good not exceptional. They were just set up on a long equipment cabinet, kind of like a big TV stand. I knew they would sound somewhat to much better placed on metal stands which is how I intended to run them. I also know that I wanted the speaker to have a ribbon tweeter or quasi-ribbon design.

    I bought a like new pair off of ebay for a pretty good price and I love the speakers in the space I have them. I know you didn't ask for recommendations but they are the Golden Ear Aon 3 speakers at $1,000 a pair. Stands would be extra; they don't have a manufacturer-designed stand as such, so you would pick your own.

    I do not use a sub as they have excellent bass without one. Besides the tweeter, they have one 7-inch mid/bass driver and one 8-inch passive radiator on each side of the speaker (2 total passive radiators per speaker) and were designed by one of Polk's leading designers/founders. They are not ported which allows one to put the speakers closer to the wall when space is an issue (obviously, not a concern for you).
     
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