Maybe it's time to come out of lurking with a very long post looking for input. Hopefully that's OK in this thread as this is the commercial speaker I'm most intrigued by. Personally, I'm very interested in these because of our unusual living room arrangement and what I'm understanding about directivity. The small size of our living room combined with craptastic fireplace, door, & window placement designed before TVs has resulted in only one arrangement acceptable to the wife (I'll try to attach pics...and I really shouldn't blame her as I agree that my arrangement trying to get better sound wasn't really liveable). Basically, the sofa sits diagonally in one corner of our 16'x12' room, and our 'entertainment console' is in the opposite, directly facing the sofa, with large bookshelf mains each side of the plasma. I'm thinking--correct me experts if I'm wrong--that more directional waveguide speakers might sound significantly better in our room than more traditional speakers because of fewer early reflections when placed in this unusual diagonal arrangement (particularly in a room with fairly reflective surfaces and no acceptable way of hanging acoustical treatments that I can think of). I should note early on that I've never really liked 'PA sound' so if people think that any potential benefit of greater directivity in sound in our room would be made moot by sound that might be too harsh in a small reflective room please let me know. I do think it's possible that PA systems sound harsh to a lot of people simply because of the uncomfortable levels at which they are often performing, but it could also be something inherent with compression drivers- I just don't have enough experience with them. Our speakers play 2.1 music 95% of the time, often streaming last.fm at low levels in the background all day when I work from home (where a higher-sensitivity speaker might make an audible difference in dynamics at low volume? ...or really just a lower volume setting on the amp for the same output? Obviously I'm not an expert here...) But occasionally the wife and I like to open a bottle of wine, turn off the lights, and spend an evening cranking CDs (tracks like Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" or Holst's "Jupiter" from the Planets suite get played loud), and that's where I'd expect better speakers to really have a chance to shine. We sit about 12' from the speakers with a 100w/channel 5.1 receiver, so I don't think that higher-sensitivity speakers are absolutely required, but I am also intrigued by anecdotes like someone posted earlier that with these speakers you could hear the pages being turned in the sheet music. I'm thinking the only reason that could occur would be if the older speakers didn't reproduce that frequency range as well, or the newer speakers emphasized it, or the newer speakers are simply being listened to at higher levels (enabled more comfortably, perhaps, because they distort less?) Not sure I even want
speakers that I'm going to be tempted to further damage my already weakened hearing with
...or that emphasize distracting noises not meant to be readily apparent in the recording. But I am always intrigued by comments about speakers 'revealing' recognizable sounds that others didn't.
It shouldn't be too hard to improve on our old Sony 3-ways. No, I have never been impressed by the sound. I've been dealing with it for far too long simply because I bought what I could afford 11 years ago to get a complete 5.1 HT started (they did at least sound better than comparably-priced HT systems they were selling at Best Buy & Circuit City, & there was nothing even close in price at local stereo shops). The plan was that front speakers would be the first thing I'd upgrade (followed by sub), but work just consumes me and I've never had the time to really get out and listen (I'm just now finally beginning to prioritize things in life beyond my enjoyable but time-consuming work). I've been intently researching in my free time for almost 3 weeks now high-value speakers that would sound better enough to even the wife's ears to justify replacing speakers that she notes are "working perfectly fine." I've been essentially paralyzed by the sheer volume of widely-varying recommendations for speakers in the roughly $1000 or less range (for the front 3). Lately I've been particularly intrigued by 2 ideas: Pro10s or making the time to build 3 Econowaves in the Parts Express cabinet. I'd really love to know how they would compare. I'm pretty sure I could build E-waves for roughly $600 for the front 3--or even an active, highly-tweakable set with a dcx2496 for $800--vs $1000 for these. But if these sounded as good--or even really close--I would go for them...mainly because a Pro10 on its side would actually fit under the TV in the console, and my wife would probably freak the F out if I had an E-wave sitting out in front (not a good thing after taking the time to build 3 big, probably hard-to-sell speakers). And of course if anyone really thinks the less-expensive PA speakers mentioned in this thread would also sound really good for music then I would look into those, but as I said I don't think I've ever heard sound from a PA system in a club that I've really enjoyed (again maybe just because of the uncomfortable level). I should probably note that I'm willing to (and probably will) EQ any speaker I get (I have a 7-band passive), but I'd prefer a high-value speaker worth investing in that has a relatively neutral/flat response to start with.
My wife thinks I should go for the much different and smaller Usher S520, and they do get good reviews for roughly the same price as E-waves would cost to build. Obviously the design goals are totally different, but if people who've heard the Pro10 think the Usher's would sound even CLOSE to as good--for MUSIC--then that's what I might do. Please remember with suggestions that anything I get will have to sound significantly better than the current speakers--preferably even to the wife's less finicky ears--or they'll probably go back. There are even some super-budget options right now that I'm somewhat intrigued by at their potentially super-value price point: the Infinity P362 or P162 (probably P162 due to size) or Polk RTi4's. These are available from authorized dealers right now 3 shipped for less than one Pro10. I could have matching rears and even an Emotiva amp for the same price or less than 3 Pro10s. If people who've heard these different speakers think that's a better value
(sound close to as good as the others), then I'd of course be happy to spend less (the wife even more so
Please keep in mind the potentially compromising room arrangement when making recommendations as to what you'd do in our situation.
Unfortunately none of these speakers I've been intrigued in after reading are sold locally. I would love to audition them in our room--and I wouldn't even be opposed to return shipping costs if they weren't outrageous (probably significant for 3 Pro10s)--but obviously I can't even do that with E-waves (UNLESS someone reading this and local to southern AZ is willing to let me gently borrow a pair they've built...that would truly be awesome). So I'd really love input on this from people who've heard some of the speakers I'm considering- and even better some FR measurements. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would thank the poster tremendously for those. I'm looking forward to all of your input and thanks in advance.