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Too Many Speakers — Help Me Whittle Down the List

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cyclone Ranger, Nov 22, 2020.

  1. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Hey all, gonna put together a system sometime around year-end.

    Already know what sources I wanna audition, but which speakers to hear is the bear... so many strong contenders, and my budget, being super-flexible (can go low or high, depending how impressed I am/can I justify it to myself) ain't helping much in narrowing it down to just a few 'usual suspects'. :(

    Parameters:

    – Listening room will be mid-sized (11.5' x 17.5'), listening distance will be short-axis, about 7' away, almost nearfield. Seems like medium-sized standmount or small tower territory to me(?).

    – DON'T like overly 'hi-fi' sounding speakers, aka exaggerated/etched treble or excessive boomy bass (but do want a fair amount of quality bass).

    – DO want a great midrange that sounds very 'right', natural, and accurate.

    – CAN'T be 'one-man' or 'head in a vise' speakers.

    – MUST sound good at low-ish to medium volumes (playing real loud activates my tinnitus).

    – Probably am gonna use an SS power or integrated amp, but am open to tubes or at least a tube preamp.

    – Imaging and soundstaging? Not obsessed with it, 'pretty good' is good enough there.

    Here's the contenders (big list, yup):

    KEF R3
    Vandersteen 2Ce Sig3
    Joseph Audio Prism
    ATC SCM 19 (passive)
    ProAC DT8
    Harbeth CS7ES3 XD
    Harbeth 30.1 or 30.2 XD
    Vandersteen 3A Sig
    ATC SCM40 (passive)
    Joseph Audio Profile
    Harbeth SHL5+ XD
    Joseph Audio Pulsar
    whatever's appropriate from Spendor, Graham, Stirling, or Dynaudio

    You see the prob... long list.

    Unabashed opinions, thoughts and/or rants as to which ones deserve an audition, and which don't?

    Thanks in advance for any insight. :righton:
    .
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
    sound chaser and Andy Saunders like this.
  2. Diapason

    Diapason Active Member

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    I'd put Sonus Faber on that list given your preferences.

    I can't help whittle down the list as a lot of those aren't spotted in the wild over here very often. So basically my only contribution is to make your problem worse!
     
    MGW, PB Point, geodiak and 3 others like this.
  3. ogdens_sliced

    ogdens_sliced Walnut Plug

    Location:
    Albion
    I have a feeling that list will be longer after everyone piles in.

    I've only heard one speaker on your list and thats a Harbeth Compact 7 (non XD version) which I currently own.

    They tick all of your parameters.
    I run mine in a room size not too different to yours and sit 7 feet away. I have them sitting on top of ikea Oddvar stools.
    Great speakers.

    I'm also a heathen and drive them with tubes. :righton:
     
    Staxus and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  4. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    You're probably right.

    A lot of ppl will likely ignore the parameters in post #1, and the contenders list too, and just promote whatever their own favorite speaker or speaker line is.

    Ah well. That's what internet forums do. :)
    .
     
  5. How far away from the wall can your speakers be allowed to stand?

    Distance from the wall will affect the sound balance. It will also affect the choice of speakers.

    Some speakers need to be very close to the wall or even placed in corners. Some need to be too far out from the wall to be practical for anything other than a large room. Many, however, will be able to occupy the useful space in between those extremes.

    The inside corners of my Russell K Red 150 floor-standers sit 17” from the front wall of my lounge. They image OK but not pinpoint. They also sound good at lower volume and often call for me to listen if they’re on in the background.

    A pair of Edwards Audio Apprentice SP small floor-standers that I borrowed a while back were best, however, when placed just 12” out from the wall. Any closer to the wall and the bass got a bit bloated while the mid-range became recessed. Further out into the room and the bass became noticeably diminished. They imaged better than the Red 150s and their mid-range was slightly more overt, but some of this was probably because of their smaller dimensions and far lower levels of bass. They also sat a bit low for my listening position.

    So, if you choose floor-standers, make sure that they suit your listening height.

    My personal preference is a enjoyable sound more than technical perfection since the former is what evokes the desired emotional responses from me. So I don’t place too much value on detailed technical measurements. YMMV.

    I note that your musical tastes are quite diverse. The absolute best speaker for punk, rock and grunge might not be the absolute best speaker for piano-based jazz or classical, so you might have to compromise a little on this. Having said that, my own speakers do a good job for all genres, so any compromises might be small if you choose well. Neutral-sounding speakers might, therefore, be best. For speakers, neutral means that they let the recordings speak for themselves rather than imposing too much of their own character on things.

    You might get bigger quantities of “quality” bass from the right pair of floor-standers rather than from stand-mounts. When choosing something to replace my Monitor Audio GS60 floor-standers a couple of years back, I auditioned both stand-mounts and floor-standers but soon realised that despite the possible benefits to imaging and mid-range definition that stand-mounts can sometimes bring, I preferred the extra bass that floor-standers often bring. Which is truer to life I’m not certain, but which is better for my life I am sure. :)

    I would suggest paper drivers and soft dome tweeters might help you to avoid an etched or analytical sound.

    In recent times, a key ingredient for me has been a dealer who shares some of my preferences or who, at least, understands what floats my boat. My local dealer knows enough about my preferences, and shares enough of those preferences that he is able to suggest equipment that will suit me. This certainly narrows things down. Do you have such a dealer nearby?

    In the end, if at all possible, it should come down to home auditions for some well-chosen speakers. The chosen speakers might not be the ones that sounded best in the dealers’ listening room either. My own speakers failed the test at the dealer and only got a home audition after the speakers that I preferred at the dealer all failed to impress me at home.

    It isn’t easy.... but it can be fun.

    PS I’d suggest Russell K Red 150s but 1) You might not be able to obtain any and 2) My personal favourite is just that, I.e. a personal favourite.
     
    Sadcafe, bever70 and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  6. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Up to about 3 feet. Beyond that, the short axis of my listening room gets a bit shorter than I'd like. :thumbsup:

    Corner placement isn't an option, due to built-in bookshelves and an open pass-through to the kitchen (no Audio Note speakers for me, I guess).

    .
     
    sotosound likes this.
  7. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    I have the R3 and are fantastic ... simply fantastic ... really good price tag.

    I listened to them after hearing the ls50 and other hifi blockbusters, and reading the opinions and measurements in the independent site audio science review (KEF R3 Speaker Review )

    They measure like a great engineering product and are all that the ls50 wants to be plus great bass. Also sound very good at low volume, that's one of my requirements too.

    Listen to them and see what happens.
     
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  8. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Yes, that's my understanding on the R3s too... everything ppl like about the LS50s, but with considerably better bass.

    A real 'sweet spot' speaker in KEF's line.
    .
     
    Mr.Sign likes this.
  9. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    I'm obviously a huge Joseph Audio fan, so likely a little biased here. But for sure keep those 3 on your list. They pretty much fit exactly what you are looking for including soundstage and imaging. Also extremely flexible with amplification.
     
    Ivand and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  10. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Thanks GPA. Don't suppose you could give us a brief compare and contrast against some of the other contenders?

    Not many ppl have heard JA speakers.
    .
     
  11. xfilian

    xfilian Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    Spendor D7.2 for me. I can from Kef R series ( which were also great). The Spendors just do everything so well. Incredibly deep bass for their size, midrange clarity second to none and sparkling treble. Your own ears will obviously be the decision maker but they are definitely worth an audition.
     
    caracallac and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  12. Noel Patterson

    Noel Patterson Six pack of stout, and a stick of sensi

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The Harbeth 30.1 are wishlist speakers for me. Heard them on a couple different systems at a show and both times I was smitten! To my ears, they just sounded right. I believe they were the 35th anniversary edition.
     
    caracallac and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  13. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    Truthfully....I'll likely not be very helpful there. I often trade for various Harbeth models, but have not spent a ton of time sitting down to listen to them/comparing while they are here (other then testing for correct performance). I've not heard any of the other options on your list otherwise.

    The R3s are certainly nice speakers and deserve the merit they receive. Joseph options will provide a bit more detail and overall note separation, along with a slightly more neutral midrange (a little sweeter perhaps). Much larger soundstage as well (along with a huge sweet spot). But of course there's an obvious price difference b/t the KEFs and the Josephs, so they should be better for sure.

    The Josephs have an uncanny way of being highly detailed, but absolutely not fatiguing at all (not something you can say about a lot of speakers that provide excellent detail).
     
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  14. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Sidenote: One thing I wonder... the KEF R3s are allegedly quite a bit better than the LS50s, cost only $500 more... and yet, the LS50s get WAY more attention?

    Why? Styling? :sigh:
    .
     
  15. Tim 2

    Tim 2 MORE MUSIC PLEASE

    Location:
    Alberta Canada
    A photo of the room would give this thread some prospective.
     
    mpayan and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  16. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    by short axis do you mean your speakers will be in front of the long wall?
     
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  17. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    I've owned three of the speakers on your list, owned being the operative word, Kef R3, Harbeth C7ES3, and Vandersteen 2CE sigII.

    Eliminate the Vandersteen models immediately, as they are too big for your room. You can't get proper driver integration at your listening distance. Plus, those huge monoliths will over power your room visually.

    I know the R3 is a very popular speaker here, but for me, I could never relax while listening to them. I tried various stand heights, toe-in vs no toe-in, as well as distance from back wall. They always made me aware I was listening to an electronic device, not music.

    As for the Harbeth C7, yes another wildly popular speaker on this forum, I found them to have a very natural tonal balance with more bass than I expected. The problem for me was, I couldn't get any image depth from them. Nothing I tried could solve this problem. I started a thread on the Harbeth User Group forum and had quite a discussion with Alan Shaw. The conversation ended with AS basically saying they weren't going to image as well as the speakers I was comparing them to. I love image depth, so sold them.

    Although I haven't heard the latest Sonus Faber speakers, I agree with @Diapason's recommendation. Give them a listen if possible.
     
    Dave, Ivand, russk and 6 others like this.
  18. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Room is currently a disaster, sadly. Maybe be a bit before I get all the boxes and junk out of it (which is stacked high). :(
    .
     
  19. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Yes. And firing down the short axis of the room.
    .
     
    avanti1960 likes this.
  20. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    not better at all according to my ears.
     
    Helom likes this.
  21. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Thanks. This is exactly the kind of feedback I need. :agree:

    Kinda sad about the Vandy 2's being too big. What's the minimum room size and listening distance on those, you think?

    .
     
  22. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Harbeth 30.1, 30.2 or J/A Pulsars plus a couple REL subs at your convenience.
    Pulsars have stunning detail and very good bass, The Harbeths are more natural sounding.
     
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  23. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    I don't personally consider the R3s "quite a bit better" than the 50s. Just different. Both are good speakers, with the R3s having much better low end (which is likely why some consider them better).
     
    Ivand and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  24. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Thanks! Can ya expand on this at all?

    And why you like LS50s more than the R3s? Don't hear that take very often.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  25. caracallac

    caracallac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ireland
    That’s a nice list. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever feel short changed with speakers from Pro-ac, Spendor, Harbeth, ATC or Graham. Which model you choose will depend on your equipment, room and personal preferences. In my opinion the Proac Response series, the Spendor D series, The Harbeth 30.2, the ATC SCM 20 and the Graham Ls5/9 are firmly in the sweet spot for performance and value. But do try to hear them in your system and room if possible. The B&W 805d3 and the Sonus Faber Minima Amator II are also worth hearing, as is the Franco Serblin Accordo if you want to break the bank.
     
    bhazen and Cyclone Ranger like this.

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