August 6, 2006

Speaker Comparison

So a poster at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity asked for speaker recommendations in the sub-$3000 range. I originally suggested he go and listen to a bunch of speakers, but he's interested in getting some more brand names under consideration, I guess. So I replied again with some of my speaker impressions. I've decided to copy that portion of my second reply into my blog.

For myself, I have Monitor Audio Silver S8/LCR/Sfx 7.1 for my home theater. They are overall a little warm, and have some cabinet resonances. The LCR isn't superb, but it's okay. The S8's aren't as precise in sound reproduction as I'd like (maybe cabinet resonances or just the drivers) but they sound pretty good overall. The Sfx speakers are okay. All of them roll off more than I like as they approach 20kHz. However, all of my friends are not audio enthusiasts so everything sounds exceptional to them.

I also have Castle Avon speakers, graciously given to me by JJ, which I also enjoy. Their cabinet build is a better than the S8s, so there is less resonance. But there are only two drivers, the tweeter is located a little low (which is okay because of how I listen to them with my head kind of low) so normally would need stands, and doesn't have as good off-axis response as the S8's, I think. But because of how I use them, that doesn't really matter.

When I auditioned the S8's a few years ago, I also listened to Klipsch speakers in the same room. They seemed too bright and harsh for me. Possibly the horn design being a bad choice in my price range. Possibly the tweeter construction. However others think those Klipsch speakers are perfect for them.

I listened to some B&W 805 (I think) speakers about a year or so ago at a boutique store. They were nice, and did the job very well. I don't have a lot of opinion on them though, as I didn't spend a lot of time listening and was mostly interested at that time in finding an amplifier.

I also helped a friend set up a Hsu VT-12 system. For the money, they are a great deal, but noticeably lower in quality than the other speakers I've mentioned. Especially at high volumes. The sound isn't as realistic or enveloping to me, maybe due to tweeter response. His room has more reflections than mine as well. I pretty much don't have any first-order reflections except off the front wall which is covered in velvet drapes, and my sofa back if I slouch. He's quite happy with them though, as far as I know.

If I were to buy new speakers today, I'd be looking at either the AV123 Onix Reference line or asking James Salk about a Veracity HT3 with higher efficiency (maybe by including a second woofer). And a ribbon tweeter is a requirement for me now. However, I haven't heard any of these speakers or a ribbon tweeter, so I still need to do some of my own listening research. Both of these are outside your price range though.

If I were to buy speakers that I feel are equivalent to my Monitor Audio Silver speakers, I'd be looking at the AV123 Onix Rocket line just to save money by going Internet Direct. But I don't feel the Rockets are a significant upgrade from my current system to justify a purchase. Also, this is not based on personal listening and I'm sure they would sound different than my current speakers but would be relatively equal in compromises. The Rockets are in your price range.

Posted by josuah at August 6, 2006 8:44 PM UTC+00:00

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