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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

    Best Coast USA
    Gotta run for now... thanks to everyone who's weighed in so far. :agree:
  2. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    The minimum distance is 8-9 feet. I've read this a few times when researching time aligned speakers. Stereophile reviews of Vandersteen, Thiel, and Meadowlark speakers come to mind.
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  3. Slippers-on

    Slippers-on Forum Resident

    St.Louis Mo.
    From looking at you musical taste.....any thing Joseph Audio.
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  4. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    I disagree ... obviously better is also different ... but, it's a really better speaker.

    did you see the measurements? Much more flat even than some very good speakers like revel and active implementations.

    So, the ls50 are a tiny miracle because in that price tag it's almost imposible to achieve what the ls50 can do with a 5" midbass. That's the praise. You got absolutely reference drivers and cabinet design under 1500 usd ... only high engineering from a company that really invest in R&D can do that. The same company that made the drivers for the bbc ls3-5a.

    The R3 are 3 way with more advanced tweeter (12 iteration). Different animal completely, not only different. I listened to some "more hifi sound" speakers like graham or harbeth and founded less alive. Maybe in some music styles they're the real deal, but for an eclectic style, i found more appealing the R3 even they're cheaper.
  5. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL USA
    I can't recommend what I use, mainly because you already have an unwieldy list and it would just seem far fetched, but to mention them in passing Tekton Direct Impacts with crossover upgrade, they are really flexible per what you can do with them.
    But so are a lot of the good choices on your list.
    So, I saw a few months ago a pair of speakers that had been (I think they sold already) for sale in the classifieds a pair of Saulk Veracity tower speakers.
    So I read up on them and they looked REALLY nice, people had responded in the ad that they were an incredible deal at the price, etc.
    They do line transmission cabinets really well apparently and I saw zero negatives with regards to reviews and feedback.
    The seller was asking like 2900 and in beautiful condition.
    They retailed close to 5k a pair, from what I was reading and the fact that they were available at the time, I was real close to trying to sell the Impacts and buy the Saulks.
    In the end I'm happy with the DIs, but if they weren't so big and heavy (108lbs) I might have jumped to score the Saulks.
  6. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    The J/A Pulsars are an exceptional sounding speaker- super clear and refined but a touch "distinctive" meaning a sound of their own, a slightly more forward, enhanced presentation.
    The 30.2 are slightly mid bass heavy with some cabinet warmth with a clear natural midrange with a sight recess in the lower treble that makes them forgiving.
    I love each speaker but would give my personal nod to the Harbeths, of which I am a big fan of their sound.

    believe it rt not these videos with good headphones / earphones do a great job-

    Also the LS50s are a sweet magical speaker that are amazing with the right amp and room. I am not a fan of the R3 or the R series in general because they sound less refined and slightly metallic and do not bring the magic IMHO.


    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  7. PhotoMax

    PhotoMax Forum Resident

    Orcas Island
    A left field option to try if you have a dealer nearby: Linn.

    The Linn M140 floor standers matched with a Majik DSM is a nice combination. Gives you a one box pre/amp/streamer/DAC system. The onboard Class D amp will drive the M140s just fine. The nice thing about this system is using Linn’s Space Optimization system. You create a map diagram of the room with accurate dimensions, construction materials, listening position, etc. You then perform tests, moving the speakers around until you get the best sounding possible speaker position. Usually this position is inconvenient. You then move the speakers to your preferred position. The Space Optimization system will create a room profile and compensate for the differences between the optimal position and prefferred position. You can also tweak the base and treble response curves. This can reall help with more challenging rooms.

    There are more expensive Linn boxes as you move up the chain. But the above is worth a listen...
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  8. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident

    San Diego
    I know you know your stuff, way way more than me, and you’ve helped me a lot. I have the same near field requirements as you with my spaces. I am a Sonus faber Sonetto II fanboy, which seems to put me in a certain box (double entendre :buttkick:) . Of course though, I won’t be slighted in the least bit if you tell me my other options are far better. Seriously.

    What I found though, regardless of the maker I assume, for near field and lower levels
    • That front baffel bass port is a MUST
    • The bigger the Woofer the better...it helps so much to spread that sound wide. 165mm are the Sonetto II’s. Stick with that size or in that area. I found with small woofers, it’ too narrow, near field, and you’ll always be adjusting the toe-in or out.
    Really interested to see where you land and your reviews.:cheers:
    sotosound and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  9. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Lexington, NC

    Both the LS50s and R3s are fantastic speakers at their respective price points. And both have devotees that say one is better than the other...... In reality, both are great speakers with different sound profiles.
  10. Bananajack

    Bananajack Forum Resident

    Well, just my 5 cents

    - take the Graham out of your list, there is nothing Harbeths don’t do better. And Spendor
    - same for KEF, nothing is better
    - Vandersteens are indeed too big
    - ProAc and ATC ... may be worth a listen, but might activate your tinnitus (I mean it)
    - new Sonus Faber are not the real thing. They are bright. Go vintage, 2004 (F Serblin left) or earlier
    - Dynaudio... rather not, unexciting and uninvolving
    - B&W are cold ...
    - Visit a Tannoy dealer, check out Eatons. May fit your bill pretty well.

    so if you want to reduce time and driving, it’s Harbeth, Spendor and Tannoy to visit.
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  11. Yellow Rubber Jacket

    Yellow Rubber Jacket Well-Known Member

    New York
    If you can, why not throw the Wharfedale Elysian 2 on your list? I’m saying this rather selfishly, as I’m very curious to hear a report on how they sound!
    bever70 and ogdens_sliced like this.
  12. MattHooper

    MattHooper Forum Resident

    This of course is subjective.

    I have heard just about all the speakers in that list, or at least ones representative of the brand, with particularly extensive auditioning of the Harbeth, Joseph speakers.
    I currently own Joseph Audio Perspective speakers, Thiel 2.7 speakers, Spendor s3/5s and others. I also owned the Harbeth SuperHL5plus.

    Given your listening room size and your criteria, the Harbeth speakers (any of them) tick every box. They have one of the most natural midranges of all time in terms of being able to reproduce the organic sense of instruments and human voices. I regularly compare the sound of voices coming from speakers to real voice, e.g. family members (I've even recorded their voices) and none have come as close as the Spendor and Harbeth speakers to capturing the feeling of hearing a real person.

    The Harbeths have a very well balanced, even sound, and are generally not hard to place in rooms, not too finicky. They also, per your list, are excellent in closer near-field situations, and are not "head in a vice" speakers in terms of sweet spot.

    Personally I wouldn't think the Proac or ATC speakers would be on that list. The Proacs to my ear have an obiously sculpted "hi-fi" characteristics - a rich engaging lower mid/upper bass, but a peaky upper end that emphasizes transients in that "gee, listen to that sparkle" manner. The ATC speakers are more studio-monitor like and aren't so forgiving to listen to. Been a while since I've heard Vandersteens. Though whenever I did in the past I found them very competent, but didn't move me. Something sort of blanched in the timbre of their sound. I'd say the same for the Spendor tower speakers (e.g. D7s). They do NOT sound like the classic spendor speakers and I found them to have a tiring, wiry top end (and I'm not alone).

    As I like a big, rich sound, I'm a fan of the Devore "O" series speakers which produce just about the biggest, richest midrange around, but with a highly dynamic sound.
    The O/96s sounded like my Spendors, but on steroids. Would love to have them, but the Joseph speakers fit my room better (and I like aspects of both the Joseph and Devore sound). I'd put the smaller Devore O/93 on you list, given your criteria and room size. Somewhat more finicky in room placement, but could be worth it.

    As to the Joseph speakers, obviously since I bought some I'm a fan. Should they be on a list when you want to avoid a "hi-fi" type sound? Depends. They certainly sound different from a Harbeth or Spendor. They sound "modern" in the sense of being super clear, clean, resolved, images just hanging in space with no box sound at all - the type of thing one associates with well braced cabinets and modern metal drivers.

    They disappear and do crazy soundstaging and imaging and bass punch. And they do have a sparkly upper end that sounds particularly convincing with drum cymbals etc. So I can see how some people may interpret them as "hi-fi."

    However, Jeff Joseph nails it when he says in his promo literature: "Live, unamplified music has unmistakable presence and clarity. Yet, at the same time it also sounds relaxed and warm."

    And indeed Jeff has managed to balance just those qualities in his designs. You get the super clear, clean "modern" sound that can do all the gee-whiz stuff, and timbral sounds are revealed in a rainbow of variation. But it's all cannily balanced by a sense of warmth that comes both from the richness in the mids, as well as the utterly grain-free high end (soft dome). So you get super resolution, airy, sparkling highs, without the sound being fatiguing or lean. I'm constantly amazed at how rich and organic the Joseph speakers sound, especially for their size. And also, as someone with sensitive ears, I can't believe how loud I can play the Joseph speakers without discomfort.

    Expensive, but you-get-what-you-pay-for IMO.

    Hope some of that helps :)
  13. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Well I think ... If you change ls50 from the text with a blank space ... surely it's true with almost any high quality speaker name you fill in the blank.

    Speakers doesn't sound alone and the room / positioning it's a major factor in the results. The new dsp processors are spectacular and can improve your sound dramatically, the old room treatment methods are a pain in the ...
    So, I really like a flat speaker to later be adjusted to the room with dsp processing. I think many people will invest much less money in electronics / speakers in that way against adjusting frequency response buying and changing components until they find what goes better with what they want.
    head_unit likes this.
  14. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    Good question! Here is my random ideas, I mean, WISDOM :p
    - $500 is $500, so $2000 is not $1500. My impression of LS50 is a speaker that is somewhat over $1000 if I get it at a discount or lightly used. That might not be true, but that is my impression.
    - Yes the LS50 is cooler looking with the various enclosure and cone colors. That makes a BIG difference to the broader public. By contrast R3 is a boring-looking box, coming in the usual suspects of finishes.
    - Didn't LS50 come out first? And so gets more attention? It sure seems to get more of KEFs ad budget to boot.
    - Bandwagon effect, related to the previous point-it becomes "the thing to review"

    As a loudspeaker engineer I prefer towers to floorstanders all else being equal (which is not always the case). Why? Because normal people don't find speaker stands attractive, and they waste space that could have been used for enclosure volume which bugs my engineer brain). For cost, don't forget to figure the cost of good stands into the price of standmounts.
    --> From KEF, that would tend to lead me to R500 or R5 lightly used.
    - Not on your list but Monitor Audio Silver 300s are really good, albeit not quite as nice as the lovely Focal 936 my friend bought.
    - Let me also say that big speakers do NOT automatically overwhelm a small room. That is a cause/effect myth. It is the tuning of the speaker combined with random luck of placement in the room and the listening position.
    - When you say "small tower" what exactly do you mean by that? How many inches wide? Deep? Tall?
    - And what budget are you looking at? From your list I'm guessing $2k? Or more?
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  15. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    ...and maybe never get good results. I've posted elsewhere how my friend complained of no bass, gee look at how much his new active Buchardt A500 did in the way of room EQ. His speaker position is just very unfortunate versus listening position it seems. He could have spent years changing components and always had poor bass. As with any algorithm, room EQ is not perfect but sure can help in difficult situations:
    Mike70 likes this.
  16. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    I replaced a MA silver bookshelf with the R3. The R3 are in other league, but the silvers are amazing in their price (half price tag of the R3).
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  17. Tlay

    Tlay Forum Resident

    West Coast
    I haven't heard all the speakers on your list, but the first time I heard the Harbeth 30.1 I was very underwhelmed (very large room, Simaudio elec., digital source). But last week I heard them at another dealer's place with Naim electronics and a Well Tempered TT in a smaller room and it sounded absolutely wonderful. Great with voices and tone of course, and had enough low end in this medium room that I wouldn't need anything more.
    The employee helping me has a pair of larger Graham bookshelf speakers and said they were very similar and would love to do a shootout comparing them.
    Good luck.
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  18. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Perfect! ... Without the EQ will be another topic talking about the poor bass of the speakers.
    Is like blaming the car for a crash when you never learned to drive.
    head_unit and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  19. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    As mentioned earlier I’d pass on the Vandersteens because your room is too small and way to small for the Model 3s.

    I’d pass on the Joseph Audio for being “overly hifi”.

    I’d pass on the Harbeth and Spendor for not sounding great at low volumes. That is actually a hard criteria for most speakers to meet. Outside of the Klipsch Heritage range and more expensive and exotic horn designs I can’t think of any speakers that I would say provide a great low volume experience. There are few more that aren’t too bad. The Kef need some juice too but sort of make up for that with their coax design and your 7 foot distance. That’s the only way I think a 3 way design will work at the distance.

    ATC and Dynaudio make some that would mostly meet your criteria. The Special 40 and Evoke 20 would definitely be worth a listen.

    Honestly I would give the Heresy IVs a listen. A lot of your criteria are my own. I’ve pretty much narrowed my list down to the JBL L82 or the Heresy 4. At 7 feet a way you are going to want 2 way or a coax set up like the Kef.

    If you go with the Joseph or Kef or even the Dynaudio I’d definitely go for an amp with a ton of current.
    YtseJammer and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  20. MattHooper

    MattHooper Forum Resident

    Which is of course why this is so subjective. That said, like any good audiophile I did an unhealthy amount of research before making my purchase. And I have to say that of every speaker brand I've ever seen, the JA speakers seemed to garner the most consistent consensus for excellence. People with across all sorts of ranges of taste report being very impressed when hearing JA. Very hard to find thumbs down.

    Interesting. The Harbeths generally have a reputation for sounding good at lower volumes. Harbeth users tend not to be head-bangers to begin with. (Though I like Harbeths with rock as much as any other music). I found my Harbeths quite good at lower listening levels - they maintained a rich balance and good clarity.

    Agree on Dynaudio, and maybe Kef. The Joseph speakers are an easy load for tube amps. They are often demoed with tubes, and my Conrad Johnson Premier 12s drive them beautifully. (I have a Bryston Bryston 4b3 amp on hand too, and the CJ keeps up very well).
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  21. eirismania

    eirismania Forum Resident

    Berlin, Germany
    I would definitely add the new LS50 meta. They will probably work better in your room and at near field than the R3s. I have the R300 and they need space. Lots. I would also consider any of the bookshelf Spendor's and ATCs. Enjoy the shopping experience!
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  22. Noel Patterson

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

    Ontario, Canada
    Man it's so interesting hearing so many varied opinions on the same speakers. It just goes to prove that you simply cannot buy speakers on anyone's recommendations without thoroughly evaluating yourself. And while everyone is right, everyone is also wrong! Simply, there is no right or wrong answer! I guess too many variables at play; the equipment it's connected to, the room they will live in, and the ears they will interact with!
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  23. DavidR

    DavidR Forum Resident

    Knock the R3's of the list awful things, I have owned all the Harbeth's you have on the list, all gone now, the only Harbeth's I rate and kept for a second system was the P3ESR 40th's.

    Harbeth over Spendor and Proac all day long.

    What type of music do you listen to?
  24. The OP’s profile lists this. He likes quite a variety of music when it comes to choosing speakers.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  25. IainS

    IainS Active Member

    My room is almost exactly the same size as yours and our criteria match very closely. I auditioned all the Harbeths on your list. I only liked the SHL5 but felt they were a bit too big for the room. I ended up with the ProAc Response D20R's. They were not originally on my radar but upon listening I knew they were the right choice. You might also consider something by Focal. Good luck!
    Cyclone Ranger and sotosound like this.

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