Speakers for Jazz

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 2xUeL, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    New York, NY
    A moment ago, I was sure if I typed "jazz speakers" into the search bar here and selected 'search titles only' in the Audio Hardware Forum, that surely a post included these two words before and also, hopefully, addressed the topic of what type of speakers audiophiles generally prefer for jazz music. Well my search returned nothing so here it is.

    Right now I have budget Technics three-way floor speakers with 12" woofers (rest of equipment in my profile). I'm considering new speakers and I feel like I've heard murmurs about smaller woofer sizes being preferred for jazz, any truth to this? I also feel like I recently heard someone refer to some new JBL reissues as "legendary rock speakers". Surely the ideal way to listen to something like hip hop is with some big woofers to handle all the sub-bass. So how much of a thing are genre-specific speakers in general? Anyway, I'm wondering if there are any other speaker specs besides woofer size that audiophile jazz lovers tend to prefer. Thanks!

    By the way: Before you guys start recommending $1,000+ pairs of speakers, my budget is insanely low, which is why I am mostly interested in feedback related to specs like woofer size that apply to all speakers. Thanks again.
    frightwigwam likes this.
  2. Jeffreylee

    Jeffreylee Rock 'n' Roll Typist

    In my world there’s no such thing as genre-specific woofer size. That sounds like a punchline to a bad audiophile joke.

    But I do think that some speakers favor jazz and acoustic music. My Spendor SP-1s sound spectacular on jazz and just pretty damn good on rock. I use a Spendor subwoofer with them so the bass is fine. Who knows why this is the case but I lean toward the midrange being a factor rather than the bass. They’re classic British monitors.

    It sounds like you’re starting with a fairly low bar so maybe any decent speaker will work for you. Maybe check out some Wharfedale speakers. That’s about as cheap as the British sound gets.
  3. Danby Delight

    Danby Delight Forum Resident

    My general advice is to look for some '80s vintage Boston Acoustics speakers, preferably refoamed, in whatever size fits your space and budget. Since they were never a sexy, flashy speaker, they're still relatively inexpensive (well under $500), but like most of the New England-made speakers, they sound wonderfully transparent: they don't have a rock sound or a jazz sound, they just have a sound.
    Phasecorrect and Irish-Matti like this.
  4. searing75

    searing75 Forum Resident

    Western NY
    Used Klipsch Cornwalls. If these are too big, and or too expensive, the look for the Klipsch Chorus II or the Forte II. Hereseys are the little brother to The Cornwall, and sound amazing, but can be lacking in deep bass due to size.
    Ntotrar, Jimi Floyd and cadeallaw like this.
  5. Jeffreylee

    Jeffreylee Rock 'n' Roll Typist

    I’ve never heard a Klipsch speaker that sounded like music. Different strokes ...
    Blair G., timind and MichaelXX2 like this.
  6. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    United States
    The speakers you have now are just fine for jazz, but if you absolutely have to burn $1000, you should get a nice pair of Acoustic Research AR3-as. They're soft in the highs which will tame bright jazz records, and Miles Davis even endorsed them for their "lack of coloration," which in hindsight is a little hysterical...


    You want a nice big woofer for jazz. I wouldn't want to lose any of that upright bass.
  7. btf1980

    btf1980 Forum Resident

    Forget about woofer size. You should focus on speakers that will work in the size of the space. Since I've been in your apartment, I think a pair of the B&W 685 S2 would work well in your space. It's about to be discontinued because B&W has introduced the new 600 series range. It was $700 new, but because they are being phased out, you should be able to get great deals on them from Best Buy. They go for around $350 to $45o used.

    Short video from Cnet.

    Another recommendation is the Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary speakers. They will also work well for your space and will fit your budget.

    More info here - Wharfedale - Denton 80th Anniversary Bookshelf Speakers (Pr) | Shop Music Direct
  8. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    Speakers, hell ALL audio gear, should be genre-agnostic. Any speaker that's deemed ideal for Jazz likely just can't reproduce other genres like they should.
    Jacob29, macster, bhazen and 2 others like this.
  9. theron d

    theron d Forum Resident

    Baltimore MD
    see if you can get a nice pair ( used) Vandersteen 1c locally on Craigslist for $300-$500.
    bhazen likes this.
  10. cadeallaw

    cadeallaw Forum Resident

    Dayton, OH

    Or Klipsch Cornwalls used... horn on horn
    mr clean and Ntotrar like this.
  11. ukrules

    ukrules Forum Resident

    Union, Kentucky
    Jeff57 and Radio like this.
  12. layman

    layman Forum Resident

    New York, NY
    I don't really think that there are "Jazz" speakers per se. Jazz performed live is often unamplified, just the band and singers. Any speaker that is accurate with instrumental timber and voice reproduction should be high on your list.

    Speakers that are bad for Jazz are those with bloated, one-note bass (such as many so-called "Rock" Speakers), speakers that lack insight and realism in the mid-range and speakers that sound dull or rolled off in the treble.

    I don't think woofer size really makes much difference but rather the overall way that (the) speakers have been voiced. Speakers voiced for accuracy should do the trick.
    klockwerk, csgreene and basie-fan like this.
  13. Dougr33

    Dougr33 Forum Resident

    Twin Cities, MN
    A 'high-fidelity' speaker should play all types of music equally well. Add a subwoofer if you need to hip-hop your balls to the wall.
    FillmoreGuy, Adam9 and basie-fan like this.
  14. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    Erol Ricketts calls my speakers his Pharoah Sanders model. lol

    Don't know if that counts as jazz speakers. Honestly, I'm with everyone else on this, a good speaker should do it all.
    timind and Adam9 like this.
  15. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    I am going to join with others who say there’s no such rule on woofer size and good speakers are good speakers for any genre. That said IMHO small ensembles typical of jazz or chamber music really take a quantum upward leap in enjoyability if the system has an excellent sound stage. My system has larger woofers and three tweeters per side and I love it, but for enjoying a small jazz group it is entrancing how beautifully they spread and place the musicians on a good recording, even getting the verticality right. I’d just start auditioning speakers and systems with no preconceived notions such as smaller woofers. Take some recordings you love. Listen for tonality, precision, detail, decay, and sound stage as well. Also bear in mind that what you hear is the product of the entire chain from source to ears as well as the room and set up. Try to find listening situations that minimize as many of these factors as possible. For example a local store demos everything with digital source material and Parasound separates. They have an array of speakers so obviously not all are equally well positioned. Another local store tends to run everything through a Sphinx. The amp, preamp, source, etc. can color impressions in odd and sometimes contradictory ways. You’d think a better set of electronics would make everything sound better, but sometimes they lay bare a speaker’s weaknesses.
  16. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Quad ESL 57s.
  17. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    New York, NY
    These Technics speakers I have right now dampen the highs; I especially like how they handle surface noise with vinyl, and for jazz, yes I generally like a "smokier" sound when it comes to cymbal work.

    Apparently the lowest note on a four-string double bass is 41 Hz. Also, I have a big hip hop collection, and I did a little study of some of my favorite tracks with a psychoacoustic analyzer, and the lowest bass notes on those songs were around 38 Hz IIRC. So I definitely would like my speakers to handle those notes.
  18. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    New York, NY
    I was hoping you'd show up. Thanks for the recommendations, and for being price-conscious.

    Regarding the smaller woofer size, my understanding is that it's generally fine provided I'm not looking to crank my music super loud; I've owned numerous smaller speakers in my life with smaller woofer sizes and that's what I've found. Living in an apartment building, I don't generally crank the volume that nowadays--I'm actually a bit self-conscious of how loud the bass is right now with these big woofers on the floor and someone living below me (I'm constantly using the EQ on my amp to cut the bass). At the same time, isn't the general idea that larger woofers will handle lower notes better at louder volumes? The specs on my current speakers indicate that they extend all the way down to 33 Hz, guess I can't complain about that.

    Thank you for mentioning room size. I guess it makes sense that I don't necessarily need big, loud speakers for my living room. I can't say for sure that I'll be happy with speakers that don't extend down below 35 Hz but I'll keep an open mind about this and try to do some auditioning before ruling anything out.
    Dan Steele likes this.
  19. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident


    strike this part

    But you pay a pretty penny for this boys, now! In the vintage category, I would recommend Dahlquist DQ10 which can easily be found for under $400 (somes $200 or less because people don't want big speakers). Great with everything and jazz. And if you like bass, they deliver.

    If you're not a base head and want REAL clarity and quality, the Spica TC50 (avg. price $300-$400 but you can get lucky) are extremely clean sounding (yet not icy) and throw a huge soundstage that is astounding. For little speakers, you've never heard a bigger one. The technics you now have are junk and any decent vintage speaker will kill them. For cheap? Look for some old Advents or KLH or better AR. Good brands you could get lucky and snag: Spica, Snell, Allison, KEF. Stay away from Sony, Technics, Pioneer, Fisher, and most major manufacturers who DON"T ONLY MAKE SPEAKERS. Kef make great small speaker. Triangle titus.... just skim craigslist, skip the brand names and look up anything interesting. It's a treasure hunt!
  20. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Forum Resident

    That's the beauty of this hobby, different strokes for different folks. My nephew has a very minty set of Spica's, and I think they sound very thin and not realistic at all. They do image well, I would agree on that, but they have no soul whatsoever.
  21. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    He has them set up wrong or with the wrong gear. Spicas need to be room centric, way out front and center, a real kind of audiophile showroom of seating arrangement. When I first heard a pair down in the Village in NYC, they were in the CENTER of the room with a chair! If youre listening to Spicas you're listening for the deliciously clean midrange, instrumental soundstaging, and a massive floor to ceiling image. But if you don't set them up right....meh. But no, you're not playing Dr. Dre on them.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  22. bhazen

    bhazen Infinitely Baffled

    Newcastle, WA
    Wharfedale Diamond 225's or Elac Debut 2.0 6.2's have a fairly natural sound that may work well for you. The Elacs are around $300/pair, I think; the Wharfedales under $400.

    BTW when someone touts a certain speaker model as being great for a specific genre of music, I tend to mentally cross it off my list as a candidate for purchase.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    Tawaun A Williams likes this.
  23. BrentB

    BrentB Forum Resident

    Midwestern US
    My Cerwin Vega 311p sound fantastic with jazz. They are a 3-way 12" and are not the typical C-V sound. In other words they are very accurate and are not bloated with the one-note bass as so many of their models seem to be.
    2xUeL, frightwigwam and SandAndGlass like this.
  24. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    New York, NY
    In the grand spectrum of all speaker options, sure, junk, I'm aware of that and honestly don't take any offense. Ironically, overall I'm pretty happy with them, and I've heard speakers that cost a lot more...but to some extent I'm sure I simply don't know what I'm missing i.e. ignorance is bliss.
    Lucca90 likes this.
  25. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    New York, NY
    This is interesting advice and makes sense as a general rule of thumb, though surely there must be exceptions...?

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