Comorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4909 posts, RR: 14 Posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2057 times:
I'm in the market for speakers (actually a whole new system) and started to read up and visit stores in my neighborhood. I thought a budget of $1,500 sounded reasonable. I actually don't listen to music a lot, but when the urge strikes, it would be nice to have a system that can do justice to a listening mix from Coltrane to Booker T to Pink Floyd. I also live in an apartment so the speakers have to sound good at lower volumes, and at these prices, the speakers also need to look sexy.
My first stop was Park Ave Audio, where I was steered to a pair of Definitive Technology and Dali tower speakers, and steered away from KEF and Gallo. They did look nice and sleek. I had bought a pair of Kirksaeter speakers there 20 years ago, but they no longer carry the brand. I didn't get a chance to do a listening test, as they need an appointment to do that.
I then proceeded to Lyric Audio, where I tried out Magneplan and the new B&W CM 7 floor standing speakers. The Magneplans were amazing, but were 6 feet tall and not as good on Bass. The B&W sounded muffled, even thought the salesperson raved about them. I told the salesman that I grew up in times when the JBL L100 and Bose 901s were the ultimate sound machines, but he dismissed them - Bose stood for 'Better Off Somewhere Else' he said.
My next stop was Audio Innovation and they were in the middle of a renovation. There I was steered to two very nice looking speakers - LINN and T+A (not kidding). The T+A were very expensive as they were built by rich Germans. But the design was just beautiful. I will go back and listen to them next week.
So, dear readers, some questions:
1. If you can't play your music loud, is it worth buying fancy speakers?
2. Are floor standing speakers better than bookshelf speakers on stands?
3. Why are German speakers so expensive? (rant, not a question, actually).
4. Can I get European speakers cheaper in Europe; if so where?
5. Is $1,500 a sensible number for a budget?
6. What's a good CD for auditioning speakers apart from Dark Side of The Moon?
7. Will getting a Home Theater system be an Audio compromise?
8. Finally - what speakers do you recommend?
PS: I did search Non-Av archives as a matter of due diligence.
Molykote From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1344 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2048 times:
Quoting Comorin (Thread starter): 1. If you can't play your music loud, is it worth buying fancy speakers?
Yes. The tonal qualities and spatial presentation are worth the investment in my opinion (even if you can't blast them as you could in a stand alone home).
Quoting Comorin (Thread starter): 2. Are floor standing speakers better than bookshelf speakers on stands?
At this price I'd say you're better off with bookshelves. A good speaker stand matters but some of the prices in shops are outrageous. You can make a nice speaker stand based around sand-filled PVC pipe for hundreds less than a retail model offering comprable performance (and even paint/finish it to look decent).
Your limitations of #1 above seal the deal to go with bookshelves. If you'r in an apartment it's also likely that your room size won't be big enough to really open up a pair of floorstanders.
Quoting Comorin (Thread starter): 3. Why are German speakers so expensive? (rant, not a question, actually).
I don't know why this is the case but I don't think the value of many German speakers holds up to the price.
I run my system with a home theater pre-amp that has an integral analog bypass for use as a pure stereo preamp. Even with "separate" components retailing for about $7k (amp and processor) this system is compromised for pure music. Combine this with the fact that HT speaker setups are often different (geometrically) than HiFi setups and pure music is compromised further.
I found a compromise I can live with but it cost quite a bit of cash. My priorites were 80% music, 20% HT.
(1) Buy them new after listening to them yourself (ideally with equipment similar to your own).
(2) But something used (unseen/unheard) with a great reputation *only* if it's also a great deal. You can turn around and sell the speakers if you don't like them at minimal loss (check out audiogon.com).
Thanks for sharing your experience and expertise, and the detailed answers! Much appreciated. It seems speaker design has also moved towards separating the lows and high frequencies - so you could get relatively cheaper tweeter and mid range speakers and mate them with a sub-woofer. While sub-woofers are popular in HT setups, I wonder if they have a place in an audiophile system...