PBN Audio/Montana Owners Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 61 Old 12-09-2009, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello!! I am wanting to get some feedback from others who own these speakers. I recently purchased my first pair of SPI's from a local dealer and I have to say I am impressed. I went from Paradigm Signature S8 V1's to the Montanas. In my speaker hunt I tried several other brands until I found a dealer who was willing to let me audition these in home. What an eye opener! I believe the Paradigms are very good speakers but next to the PBN's they seemed overly aggressive on the top and bottom. I would compare it to looking at a new LCD right out of the box (paradigm) and then watching the same set after calibration (PBN). Everything was just easier to listen to and enjoy. Who else owns or has experience with this brand and would like to chime in? Congrats PBN from a very satisfied, proud new owner!!
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post #2 of 61 Old 03-23-2011, 01:03 PM
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This thread is not very active, but chalk me up as a very happy PBN owner. I have the PBN EPS speakers and the Montana Monitors. I'm looking for a PBN SPC center channel to round out my system. I also have the Sierra audio Whitney amplifier which is made by PBN audio. I use that to power my EPS speakers and it is a very transparent amplifier.

PBN does not have a lot of dealers, but they have a loyal following among those that have heard them. I've listened to many high end speakers since getting the PBN's and I think they are hard to beat for the money.

I really want to hear the new PBN Sammy's that have the beryllium tweeter but $30k is a bit out of my range right now.
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post #3 of 61 Old 05-18-2011, 10:05 AM
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Still surprisingly little action here--anyone know another brand that would be a good match for these speakers? B&W? Higher-end Swan?

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #4 of 61 Old 05-18-2011, 10:37 AM
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I've used Tyler Acoustic Taylo speakers with my PBN EPS because they used the same revelator tweeters. The were decent but did not compare to the PBN's. I've since went to all PBN speakers.

Not sure what would go with your SPI but I would stick with PBN if you can. I bought all my PBN's used - EPS, EPS Center and Monitor. I waited for a center channel for a few years so I used the Tyler in the meantime. I also used a B&W Nautilus center and 805 Nautilus rears for a time with the PBN's. The Tyler center was better than the Nautilus center it replaced.

What are you looking for specifically? Center channel? Rear Speakers?

If your looking for a center, you might want to contact Peter at PBN. I posted a want to buy ad on audiogon and he contacted me and had some demo models. I got a great deal on a custom EPS Center from him. Peter is a great guy and great to deal with.
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post #5 of 61 Old 05-19-2011, 05:51 AM
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I will eventually need a center and surround, but as I purchased the SPI's at an unimaginably good price I'm not sure I will be able to afford additional PBNs, so I was looking for possible alternatives.

I am a child welfare worker "in real life" with law school loans to pay for, so it'll be a while before I buy anything else... nearly all of what I make goes to pay the loans! LOL. Too bad it turns out I don't like lawyers and think abusing kids is wrong, right!?

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #6 of 61 Old 05-19-2011, 06:32 AM
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Perhaps insufficient information has been provided to warrant a response to this thread. I will post some pictures from the website, pictures of my own speakers once they arrive, and links to any reviews or information I can find on them outside of their website--because you don't have to put forth any effort to visit that... just click the link.

http://sierraaudio.com/

SPC-2 Center


Mini Monitor


Monitor M2


SSW Subwoofer


SPi


EPS-2


KAS-2


XPS


WAS-2


Master Reference


REVIEWS:
I have yet to find much out there insofar as reviews for PBN's new even-higher-level speakers, but here are some pictures and details anyhow. It's amazing--you so often see speaker companies put so much emphasis on the exterior of their speakers, but PBN lets you take a look inside too! They seem to have put a great deal of time and effort into make these as solid performers as possible!

THE INNERCHOIC SPEAKER LINE:



Sammy


Liberty


Lucy

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #7 of 61 Old 05-19-2011, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDudeAbides View Post

I will eventually need a center and surround, but as I purchased the SPI's at an unimaginably good price I'm not sure I will be able to afford additional PBNs, so I was looking for possible alternatives.

I am a child welfare worker "in real life" with law school loans to pay for, so it'll be a while before I buy anything else... nearly all of what I make goes to pay the loans! LOL. Too bad it turns out I don't like lawyers and think abusing kids is wrong, right!?

--TDA

Just be patient and wait for the right deal. It took me several years to find a great deal on the center speaker. I picked up all my PBN's used for a great price. While I do not have to be as cautious about what I buy now that was not the case when I originally bought my EPS speakers.
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post #8 of 61 Old 05-20-2011, 09:21 AM
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LOL. I went ahead and spoke with Peter at PBN and have a center on hold for myself. It's ferrari red, so I'll have to put a cloth over it, but the price was amazing!

I couldn't help myself... will wait on the surrounds to be sure, however... I may have over-extended myself a little bit to get the front 3 speakers set-up

Will post pictures of the center when it arrives also (probably a month or two), and pictures of his legendary packing efforts as well... wood crate and all!

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #9 of 61 Old 05-20-2011, 09:44 AM
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Porsche Grey and Ferrari Red should look good together. My EPS are Jaguar Red. Sort of a dark maroon color. My monitors are gloss black.
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post #10 of 61 Old 05-20-2011, 09:58 AM
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I'm SO excited... getting an astoundingly good deal on all of this. Never thought piecing a system of PBN's together would be remotely possible for me. The mere opportunity to have these in my home is exciting--keeping them here is beyond anything I could have hoped for. I think the set should look nice... Porsche silver and Ferrari red? I'll have an auto-shop in my HT!

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #11 of 61 Old 05-20-2011, 10:00 AM
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Actually--if the SPi's get here in time, I can to an A/B/C between Orb Audio with a HSU Research sub, Quad 22L2's (from my office system) and the SPi's. I'm fairly confident there will be little to no comparison, but it'd be fun hear the difference up-front and personal, and be able to write something about it.

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #12 of 61 Old 05-20-2011, 10:01 AM
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The problem now is that you are going to start questioning the worthyness of the other equipment in your system. You'll start wondering whether your amps, processors, sources are good enough.
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post #13 of 61 Old 05-20-2011, 11:45 AM
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I'm prepared for that--no worries there. I figured I'd have to upgrade the amp eventually anyway. It's nice and all, but I'd prefer a 200w/ channel XPA-5 Emotiva to my current UPA-5, but that's well into the future. These sound like really efficient speakers, so I am not overly concerned at the moment.

I have a Denon Blu-Ray player and Integra processor, with Monster Power Center, so should be fairly smooth sailing... but I'm sure I will be bitten (or is it smitten) by the upgrade bug sooner than later

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #14 of 61 Old 05-29-2011, 05:53 AM
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Now that they're up, I am quite pleased with the results. My wife was happy with the looks and is getting used to the sound, though she is quite partial to the Quad 22L2 sound, her most recent comment about the SPi's is "wow, they sound great!" As she was at one point a semi-professional jazz vocalist, this is high praise in my home

I am curious what the recommended watt per channel rating is for these. I am currently using an Emotiva UPA-5, which has 125w/ channel. I am thinking at least 200w/ channel would make these sound even better... or if I should just shoot 125w into each set of posts... Another factor I am dealing with at present is the bi-wiring... I have a single wire going through both sets of binding posts, but I am guessing there are far better options available. Any suggestions?

I would certainly consider purchasing a 200w/ channel amp or higher, if there would be a significant performance increase (though they sound quite lovely now)...

Thus far I have listened to two Norah Jones DVDs, a Pearl Jam concert DVD, and the first 20 minutes of the second Lord of the Rings Special Edition DVD. I am very happy with the performance thus far, to be sure, and am anxious to get a center channel hooked up to really make home theater pop!

Any suggestions regarding the amp or recommended watts/ channel would be welcome. Beautiful product (appearance and sound) well done indeed!

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #15 of 61 Old 05-29-2011, 09:33 AM
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The paint-job is certainly first-rate, as is the build quality. The speakers are a shade under four feet high and weigh about 80 pounds a piece--they are dead solid, right down to the stands, each of which attach in three parts and are an extremely heavy solid metal. The carpet spikes attach to each of the stand feet and are equally hefty--they are extremely solid and stable.

My wife may actually like the appearance of these more than I do--she actually prefers them in appearance over my Quad 22L2's, which are in a beautiful birdseye maple... so you know these are first-rate in aesthetics

I was thinking about hooking up the turntable from my office system and seeing how these pan-out for music-only. So far, things are extremely promising! I was actually most impressed thus far with their performance on Lord of the Rings, but as-stated, haven't tried them on music-only. Will throw some DVD-A's and higher-quality CD's at them and report back eventually.

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #16 of 61 Old 05-29-2011, 09:34 AM
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Sorry, it'll be an attachment. I don't have a Picasa account yet

--TDA
LL

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #17 of 61 Old 05-30-2011, 02:47 AM
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Watched "The Incredibles" on Blu-Ray. I must say, these image as a stereo pair as well or better than any 3.1 or 5.1 system I have had to date... they throw an immense sound stage and the imaging is impeccable. I can't find any complaints to lodge against these in HT... very exciting. Can't imagine what a 5.1/ 7.1 will sound like!

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #18 of 61 Old 05-31-2011, 03:01 PM
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Yes the imaging on the PBN speakers is amazing. One great test is Alison Krauss and union station live. I have the SACD of that and was listening and could place each person on stage. I picked up the SACD and there was a picture of the performance on the cover and each person was exactly where I was hearing it.

My amp is the Sierra Whitney which is a 120 watts into 8 ohms and 240 into the 4 ohm load of the EPS. Doesn't sound like much but it is much more powerful than the specs would suggest. It has 188,000 microfarads of storage capacitance which is huge for an amp of that size. The capacitors look like red bull cans. I'd like to upgrade to the Sierra Denali or one of the Olympia amps someday.
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post #19 of 61 Old 06-02-2011, 06:40 AM
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So I received the speakers last Friday evening. My wife watched the first few minutes of the unpacking process, then gave-up and went outside to garden. Basically by the time she decided to go outside, I had "undressed" one of the speakers. All she said was "wow, those aren't what I expected." My wife's been extremely patient with me over the course of my home theater dealings--Klipsch were the first, then Ascend Acoustics, then a full set of Quads, followed by some Orb Audio speakers--which, while fine, were likely the worst performance-wise in comparison to the others listed (I have a rather large room and the speakers were mounted straight out, rather than toed in, which admittedly probably limited their performance). I did however enjoy their stay in my home and was impressed by their performance for their size; my wife however, did not.

So a little about my Lovely Bride. She sang in high school, was "the best high school female vocalist in California" at least one of the years, opened the Monterey Jazz Festival (for Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie... you get the idea). Needless to say she has over the years, developed a "golden ear" of sorts, and I place a great deal of weight on her opinion of my audio gear. She enjoyed my initial foray into home theater with a Technics amp and processor (yet another, separate processor for digital decoding!), Toshiba DVD, and Klipsch speakers. These were of course nothing to write home about--just really good, solid performers with the characteristic horn sound.

After several years I upgraded to a Pioneer Elite receiver, which produced great results, but I also found I had reached a point of diminishing returns for my speakers, and sold them in favor of Ascend Acoustics. This was my first taste of what was available; my wife really liked them for movies--I LOVED them for movies. They also sounded remarkably good for DVD-Audio. She enjoyed the Ascends as much or more than I did--which is something--they excelled at home theater with crystal clear voice reproduction. We were quite happy with the Ascends and I had no plans to upgrade from them. I eventually traded out the Pioneer Elite for a Sherbourn 7 channel amp with an Outlaw 990 processor and this made the Ascends absolutely sing--I think I got the most I could out of them at this point, and we were VERY happy.

I found a great deal on Quads and couldn't help but trade out the Ascends. The Quads turned out to be an excellent purchase--they are amazing for music, not so much for home theater (in comparison to the Ascends). The center channel was terrible--I could never seem to make voices sufficiently clear or audible, no matter where it was placed or how it was set-up by the processor--it was lacking. I sold the center with a pair of 12L2's (these are the standouts of the set, in my opinion--they beat the 22L2's I kept!).

I bought a Blu-Ray player, sold the Outlaw 990 in favor of a Onkyo Professional Unit (believe it was the 886P). Great unit--very clear, extremely versatile... was fantastic--no complaints.

I tried to go out on a limb and buy an Orb Audio set because they are easily wall and ceiling mountable and could be placed "out of the way" for my wife's peace of mind. I also ended up selling the Sherbourn and Onkyo at this point in favor of a Pioneer receiver--trying a more cost-conscious approach to home theater. I described the Orbs to my wife, showed her pictures, it was all good until I installed them. The Lovely Bride didn't appreciate the aesthetics once wall and ceiling mounted, she didn't like the sound, either. I found them to be sufficient, but certainly nothing to compare (long term, at least) to the Quads or Ascends for music (HT was pretty solid!), which I was incredibly happy with... so I started looking. In the mean-time, I figured I should give the Orbs a better shot with more power, so I bought the Onkyo's Integra-equivalent, a new Blu-Ray player (Denon), and an Emotiva UPA-5 amplifier. The new set-up with extra power (and separates) helped the little Orbs eek out a bit more power, clarity and oomph, but their inability to travel into the low-frequencies was just killing me. The crossover on my HSU Subwoofer was maxed-out and I still had a bare spot in the frequency range.

Long story shor... well, this has become a long story. I found an astounding deal on a pair of PBN SPi's and pounced on it from a great, honest seller... it took a while for them to arrive (not his fault--he was FANTASTIC), but they finally got here. Each package weighed in at around 90 pounds and they were about 4.5 feet high--exciting box-porn. The SPi's were wrapped in commercial plastic wrap, about 4 inches thick of bubble wrap, and surrounded by an additional 2 or so inches of packing peanuts; it was rather labor-intensive and time-consuming to unwrap them... but oh, was it worth it!

As stated at the outset, my wife, who's not a huge fan of large speakers, said "oh they're not what I expected." I felt a little bit of me died inside, but asked what she meant; she said she thought they were going to be finished like the Quads, in birdseye maple... a little bit more of me died... and then she said "I really like the look of this one!" Needless to say, this was the last thing I had expected while unpacking these monoliths of sound, but I was ecstatic... they are significantly larger than anything I've ever had, but she thinks they're great!!!

I plugged them in and listened to a few select tracks... and loved the sound, but the wife wasn't terribly impressed. I re-worked the wiring a bit and brought her back into the room... she still wasn't sold. I couldn't believe it--she loved the looks of these hulking beasts, but not the sound! WHAAAT? So I tinkered some more and toed them in very slightly more and gave it another whirl with her seated directly in the middle. "Well this is great--night and day better than anything I have ever heard before... what'd you do?!" She's actually ASKING to watch movies with me... the other night she watched one by herself after I went to bed! These things have completely revitalized our catalog of music, DVDs, and Blu-Rays. They are great... and I think we've only yet scratched the surface.

I have already contacted PBN for a center channel... and am likely to pursue bookshelves for surround duty. I can't imagine better sound coming out of a couple of speakers. The clarity and imaging from these things is astounding. I am not a huge fan of The 5th Element, but I (finally) made it through the entire movie last night--I usually only use it as a reference disk, but once I started it, I just had to sit in awe and finish the thing. I don't wish to over-state this, but just the pair of PBN's perform home theater duty better than any 5.1 or 7.1 systems I have had or heard in a home--while they can't make sound seem to appear from behind you, they certainly provide an amazing soundscape, and of sufficient quality for surround channels not to be missed (that's not to say they won't be there eventually, of course!). I can't wait to get all channels firing! My excitement for home theater and music is completely renewed... I want to see what different electronics will do!

Frankly, I'm left wondering why PBN didn't just call it quits with the SPi's. I have yet to hear any of this company's higher-end models, and understand the Sammy's may be something else entirely (other worldly, perhaps)... but it seems like it would be to their detriment to offer this much quality within the "lower" 1/3 of their product offering.

I can't say much more, except that I am (quite honestly) going to go watch another movie right now... and I know whatever I watch will be like the first time, but better. Thanks for making speakers Peter

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #20 of 61 Old 06-02-2011, 06:41 AM
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I watched The Dark Knight last night. I could actually feel pressure in my ears in the beginning sequence when the two crooks blow out the window of the office building and shoot what amounts to a grappling hook across the street to the bank; it was rather amazing. I could also feel the rumbling of Batman's car's wheels as he spun around during the primary chase scene.

It's not only that I can hear things I couldn't before with any of my other speakers, it's also that what I hear has bottomless depth, precision, and accuracy. I really could not be happier with these speakers!

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #21 of 61 Old 06-02-2011, 06:44 AM
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BTW SM2000, would you mind posting pictures of your speakers? I'd like to see what you have!

I will post some of my set-up and the center channel when it arrives.

TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #22 of 61 Old 06-08-2011, 02:57 PM
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I'll have to look through my pictures to see what I can dig up. My speakers are all packed away in the crates right now while I'm building my theater / listening room.
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post #23 of 61 Old 06-08-2011, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDudeAbides View Post

BTW SM2000, would you mind posting pictures of your speakers? I'd like to see what you have!

I will post some of my set-up and the center channel when it arrives.

TDA

This is all I could find at the moment, but I do have some better pictures somewhere. This is my old theater room - the room was painted a light color because the house was for sale at the time.

Not the best photos to show the speakers but you can see a bit of the color on the EPS's. The second picture has the monitors on stands in the background. The center in this picture is the Tyler Taylo Reference but has since been replaced by the Custom EPS Center. The subs were DIY subs. The new theater will have an infinite baffle subwoofer with 4 18" woofers. I have a photo of the center channel on my theater build thread in my signature. The amp under the center channel is the Sierra Whitney made by PBN.



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post #24 of 61 Old 06-11-2011, 11:49 AM
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Wow! It makes me completely envious to think you're upgrading from that... the subs look excellent! I nearly asked what kind they were, but I see they are DIY, and I believe you have an entire thread on them, so I will read that again before I ask questions

Nice set-up! Are you keeping the chairs for the new set-up? They seem really nice and comfortable... we just shopped for furniture, so I have an eye for it at the moment (not to suggest that I have taste as well).

--TDA

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals."
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post #25 of 61 Old 06-11-2011, 12:09 PM
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I just had to comment; wow, I'm not often impressed with a lot of high end speakers these days, and while not having heard these I've just got to say that the designs are gorgeous! They all appear that they would perform magnificently. As a lifelong hobbyist woodworker (including several pairs of basic speakers), these designs just stand out to me. Thanks for posting the pics, Dude! .
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post #26 of 61 Old 06-13-2011, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by TheDudeAbides View Post

Wow! It makes me completely envious to think you're upgrading from that... the subs look excellent! I nearly asked what kind they were, but I see they are DIY, and I believe you have an entire thread on them, so I will read that again before I ask questions

Nice set-up! Are you keeping the chairs for the new set-up? They seem really nice and comfortable... we just shopped for furniture, so I have an eye for it at the moment (not to suggest that I have taste as well).

--TDA

I don't have a thread for the subs - I built them about 4 years ago with Acoustic Elegance AV-15 drivers. DIY is not a bad way to go for subs. They are usually pretty simple to put together and you can outperform commercial subs for significantly less money. My new system will have 4-18" high excursion subs. When all is said and done I'll have about $2200 into the subs, amp and the triple layer infinite baffle chamber, and that is including $500 in soundproofing (Green Glue). If I had another room to put the sub in I could have done it for half the cost. I'm pretty sure that there is not a commercially produced sub at any price that will do what the IB will do.

I still have the chairs, but I need another row of chairs for the theater, so I'll probably go with something different. I'm not crazy about the brown color - I got them for a good deal. Haven't decided what seats I'm going to go with in the theater.
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post #27 of 61 Old 06-13-2011, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by dbx123 View Post

I just had to comment; wow, I'm not often impressed with a lot of high end speakers these days, and while not having heard these I've just got to say that the designs are gorgeous! They all appear that they would perform magnificently. As a lifelong hobbyist woodworker (including several pairs of basic speakers), these designs just stand out to me. Thanks for posting the pics, Dude! .

Yes the build quality is great.

Here are some cabinet shots of the new Sammy. It is made out of a series of stacked CNC'd MDF





The Traditional Montana Line.





Their Electronics are impressive also.



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post #28 of 61 Old 06-14-2011, 05:40 PM
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TDA,

Thanks for posting the pics above. It's been maybe a year or more since I last checked the PBN website and I hadn't realized all the new speakers Peter has developed.

As for me, I have a pair of the older-model XPs, not XPS, and the SPC-2 center channel. I have not really had a big enough room to do them justice and think now and then of selling them and starting over.

One thing that has disappointed me about my XPs are the bass seems a little weak. I have tried positioning them as best I can but I seem to want more out of them. I should probably look at getting a different amp, probably one that delivers higher current. I'd love to audition a pair of Bel Canto monblocks with them.
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post #29 of 61 Old 06-15-2011, 09:28 AM
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TDA,

Thanks for posting the pics above. It's been maybe a year or more since I last checked the PBN website and I hadn't realized all the new speakers Peter has developed.

As for me, I have a pair of the older-model XPs, not XPS, and the SPC-2 center channel. I have not really had a big enough room to do them justice and think now and then of selling them and starting over.

One thing that has disappointed me about my XPs are the bass seems a little weak. I have tried positioning them as best I can but I seem to want more out of them. I should probably look at getting a different amp, probably one that delivers higher current. I'd love to audition a pair of Bel Canto monblocks with them.

What amp are you currently driving the XP's with? Forum member Emaych has the XP's and has tried lots of high powered amps with them. I think they do require lots of power to be at their best. You might want to PM him and see if he has any recommendations. That being said, I've never had any complaints about the bass response from My EPS even running them with 200w Aragon amps. I run them now with only 240 watts from the PBN made Sierra Whitney. The majority of the time though I am using them with a sub.
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post #30 of 61 Old 06-17-2011, 06:16 PM
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I currently run them with the Butler Audio TBD 5150 but just using three channels at the moment.
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