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Unspeakables — Worst Speakers You Ever Heard, And Why?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cyclone Ranger, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Best Coast USA
    We’re seeing a lot of posts about specific bad speakers, but, in an effort to connect the dots... what do these speakers tend to have in common?

    In other words, what CAUSES terrible speakers? Is there a common thread? :oops:

    And are end-users, in part, responsible for this too... not just the speaker designers or bean-counters or marketers?
    Tim 2 and The Pinhead like this.
  2. I really was enthralled with the SL700 for a while. Fantastic sound for a relatively small size. Vocal dynamite.
    timind likes this.
  3. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    I have a bit different perspective-one of the things that sucked me into becoming a loudspeaker engineer is that even on cheap little speakers, I always here something new brought out in the music. Now I've heard some hideous SYSTEMS, especially some automotive walls of muddy boom, and Van Halen's excecrable original PA system. [Hmmm...piezo tweeters...hmmm]
    --> "There are no bad speakers, only bad speaker designers/users" "I blame society" :D
    hi_watt, Tim 2 and Cyclone Ranger like this.
  4. Randoms

    Randoms Aerie Faerie Nonsense

    The shop also had the Quad FRED's on dem and were used both with and without the stand subwoofers. On all material the ESL-63s simply made music sound exciting compared to the Celestion SL600.

    A few years later Richard Thompson used a small Celestion PA at the notoriously poor sounding Cambridge Corn Exchange and playing quietly produced one of the best sounds i've heard at any gig.
    timind likes this.
  5. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    Designers whose ears have heard better days.
    Tim 2, Cyclone Ranger and MusicNBeer like this.
  6. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    Another head scratcher was the debut of the (very expensive) PS Audio AN3 speakers. This video presents them as reasonable sounding but unfortunately they weren't.
    Tim 2 likes this.
  7. bobbradley

    bobbradley Active Member

    Eagle nebula
    Late 90’s Dogg Digital Audio Cinema Speakers....
    My buddy was at the grocery and a dude in an non- descript van pulled up and said, “want to buy some audiophile. Speakers for a huge discount?” We looked in the back of the van and there were several boxes unopened, with giant stickers on the box that read ... Dogg digital Audio Cinema speakers $1599 each! He negotiated the pair of 15 inch aluminum coned speakers complete with horns and tweeters for 220.... seller put on a huge show, let us know how bad we were screwing him. lol classic. The speakers sounded like you had snorted a a mound of bullet ants and sealed your nostrils with super glue.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  8. Big T

    Big T Forum Resident

    Well, the worst hi-fi speakers I've heard were the pair I built with scrap and throw-away parts bin stuff back in 1972. You could say they were the BigT Mk 1.

    Had built my own headphones before, but this was my first speaker attempt at age 17. Wanted something MORE for my Hendrix addiction.

    They were 3-way ported particle board boxes with no bracing and some thin fiberglas absorption!

    Got some 12" Utah woofers with the concentric tweeter, which I foolishly disconnected. A couple of 3" mid drivers from my ham radio neighbors scrap/junk box, and some "expensive" 1.5 inch cone tweeters which cost $15 that fitted out the drivers. The crossovers?............just some pieces of junk at the bottom of a box of parts at Lafayette for 55 cents. Well, hey, it did say "3-way speaker crossover" on the cover. Crossover frequencies? Who cared. I didn't even know what that meant.

    The 3-Way BigT Mk 1 only had one redeeming quality........they could play really loud without breakup. At the time, I thought that was fantastic!! About the time Captain Beyond was spinning on my turntable, with a 10-band Equalizer to "help" the crossover disaster, they didn't sound too bad after a few beers.

    They don't stack up against any reasonable Hi-Fi speaker ever made.

    Man, wish I still had them today.

    Big T
    drh, Helom, timind and 2 others like this.
  9. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    I endured 135 db from those during the 1982 World Tour:sigh:. Had to rip my ticket stub in two, chew it, and stuck it inside my ear canals to mitigate the treble.
  10. Al Gator

    Al Gator You can call me Al

    I'm glad to see my speakers mentioned on this thread!
    layman, bobbradley and VinylSoul like this.
  11. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    Poor design, crappy drivers and weak rubbish cabinets.
  12. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Best Coast USA
    Rebel Bonus Points!! :agree:
    Al Gator likes this.
  13. allied333

    allied333 Audiophile

    I do not think I owned a bad sounding speaker, but in my uninformed speaker days I bought a pair of Pyle 12" speakers. The sounded like a ping pong ball perhaps described as a 'ponk' ponk' sound on bass. The worst sounding junk I veer heard. Anything would have been better.
  14. Casino

    Casino Senior Member

    A friend of mine owned a pair of what I remember to be Avid speakers back in the 80's. Only about 8" or so wide and maybe three feet tall IIRC. Horrible - not much bass response with shrill, fatiguing treble. It was a chore to listen to them.
  15. Drew769

    Drew769 Buyer of s*** I never knew I lacked

    A buddy of mine wanted to go hear Vandersteen 2CEs. I totally did not get it at all - they sounded HORRIBLE. Muddy, bloated, and yet thin? How does a speaker even pull that off? I decided then and there that Vandersteens suck.

    A few years later and now I’m auditioning speakers for my then-new house. I’m looking at Quads primarily, and John Ruttan asks me why in that price range I’m not auditioning the Vandersteen 2s. “Because they suck,” I reply. Well, not taking no for an answer, John played some of my music on those 2CE Sigs, and damned if he wasn’t right. They weren’t the worst speakers - they were among the very best! And at $1650 including stands, a steal. I lived with those happily for many years before moving to Treos and now 5As.

    Vandersteens live and die on proper set up. I wonder how many people buy them used and never really hear them properly? The Model 2 can still hold its own with any speaker at any price, when set up properly.
    BD2665, hi_watt, timind and 2 others like this.
  16. Nephrodoc

    Nephrodoc Forum Resident

    Yep, the Vegas ruled the college party scene!
    hi_watt likes this.
  17. merlperl

    merlperl Forum Resident

    Omaha, NE
    Yeah well, that’s just like, their opinions man.
  18. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    I setup a pair of 2Ce SigIIs per the instructions, in a plenty large space. Wasn’t pleased so I then went through a painstaking process trying nearly every setup imaginable in my room and still couldn’t hear what all the fuss is with this model. One of the most underwhelming speakers I’ve had in my room out of a couple dozen. I subsequently swapped them out for some 1976 New Large Advents and was enjoying music again. It was perplexing because I didn’t have any struggle with the 1Cis, which I quite enjoyed. Maybe the 2Ces were simply incompatible with my room, IDK, but if a speaker is that difficult to dial-in I think the design could probably use a revision.
  19. allied333

    allied333 Audiophile

    Wow, full of distortion.
    avanti1960 likes this.
  20. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    I should add that the 2Ces weren’t terrible speakers, just not engaging, and lacking the strengths of their little brothers. Maybe the lesson here is that some speakers and rooms simply won’t jive, even despite being compatible in theory. The other is that one man’s bliss is often another’s agony.
    cut-out likes this.
  21. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    So true. The first time I set up the 2CEs in my too small room I thought, wth, these are terrible. Then I adjusted the tilt until I heard what they could do when set up properly. Whew, what a relief. They were still way too big for the room I had them in, but I got the best from them.
  22. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    I remember listening to those in a dealer's showroom. That's how I remember their sound too, especially when compared to a pair of Dynaco A-25 speakers with which I was comparing them there. Funnily enough, the salesperson thought the Avids were superior.
  23. rebellovw

    rebellovw Forum Resident

    I was in the parking lot of a Wells Fargo in Alameda, CA back in the 80's - approached by a man with some extra 'Accoustic R"somethings"' (drove a van - yes it was white) - I'm sure those would be on this list.
    Nephrodoc likes this.
  24. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Best Coast USA
    How large was the room in question?
  25. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    Probably 10x12. Way too small fro the Vandies.

    Let me answer with the worst speaker I've owned. One of my biggest disappointments was a pair Sequerra Met 7.7 Mk V speakers which were fairly well reviewed. I've heard plastic computer speakers sound better than these things.
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.

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