Best speakers (stereo) around ~$3000? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 119 Old 06-06-2012, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm coming from a Sennheiser HD800 headphone (which I really like), and I'm thinking about getting some nice speakers. Is it possible to get sound better than the HD800 from speakers from this price range (even in the treble), or is that just a silly dream?

This will mostly be in a relatively small room, hooked up to my computer for games, movies, music, etc. I prefer a flat sound signature. I'd like something that fills the whole sound spectrum ~ 20hz-20khz. I listen to all kinds of genres of music, but mostly classical, orchestral, jazz, and classic rock - and of course I want it to be great for movies and video games. I don't need it to play particularly loudly, because I usually listen relatively low volume.

Someone recommended the Selah Verita: http://selahaudio.com/id216.html . It looks really good, but then again, I know literally nothing about speakers (I've only been interested in headphones until now). Is this the best option for the price, or can I do better?
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post #2 of 119 Old 06-06-2012, 07:30 PM
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You wont match the SQ of headphones without a heavy does of room treatments added to the equation. Headphones dont have to interact with anything but your ears, speakers have to deal with all of the energy being reflected around your room also interacting with your ears.

I would wager that taking 1/3 of your budget and puting it into room treatments, paired with a $2k speaker, will sound better then any $3k speaker.
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post #3 of 119 Old 06-06-2012, 07:59 PM
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I second what Jay said. If you want the same kind of sound you get from a good quality pair of phones you will definitely need to try and remove as many early sidewall reflections that can cause smearing of the overall soundstage, but especially dialogue can become the victim of poor room acoustics, particulary at high volumes.
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post #4 of 119 Old 06-06-2012, 08:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, thanks for the advise. So, what's a good $1000-$2000 speaker set then?
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post #5 of 119 Old 06-06-2012, 10:17 PM
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You're not likely to get 20hz from any monitor type speaker, but these are probably your best bet

http://soundfieldaudio.net/Products.html

Smooth power response and 8" powered woofer.

Another more conventional speaker that wont have nearly as much bass capability, but still a very smooth response would be something like this

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-53406-wharfedale-jade-3-bookshelf-speakers-pr.aspx
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post #6 of 119 Old 06-06-2012, 10:24 PM
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SunByrne at the Ascend Acoustics forum posted this about going from Sennheiser HD595's to the Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 NrT bookshelf monitors:
I spent a little time as a headphone guy (when my light-sleeping son was an infant) and I have a very good headamp and decent headphones (the original higher-impedance Sennheiser HD595s). Headphones are generally inferior to speakers in things like soundstaging (of course), but winners in detail. When I'd switch from headphones to speakers with my old speakers, those were the big differences, but I never used to feel like I was taking a real overall sound quality hit when I went to headphones.

With the NrTs, I really dislike having to put on the headphones. The NrTs crush my headphones in every way, except of course the "waking people up at 1am" thing. But now I really notice a big SQ hit when I put on the headphones--even in detail, which is really impressive.

And like yourself, SunByrne's source is his computer:
Music is mostly lossless (ALAC) fed from the optical out on my Mac Pro into the outboard DAC built into a HeadRoom Desktop headphone amplifier, which routes the RCA outs to a NAD C740 receiver.

Sierra-1 NrT's go for under $1200/pair. The bass is reportedly good down to ~40Hz - there's also the Sierra Towers which go lower and louder for ~$2000/pair.
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post #7 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 03:11 AM - Thread Starter
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I'll take a look at those. I'm more interested in sound quality though than bass extension. I'd much rather get high quality sound without too much bass extension and then just throw in a mediocre subwoofer than get mediocre sound with bass extension without a subwoofer. When I said I wanted bass extension I just meant that overall the system I set up should reach 20hz, I don't care how it does so or how many speakers it takes.

Also, it's kind of disappointing that speakers would be less detailed than HD595s. From my position HD595s aren't exactly overwhelmingly hi-fi, and I'm not at all surprised you'd find speakers superior to them in every way. I have HD800s, which are several massive leaps beyond the HD595 in every way, and I really enjoy them for everything. I was told you can get speakers that beat the HD800s in every way, including detail. I'm probably not going to get speakers if I can't get ones that are better than the HD800, because otherwise I'd just be disappointed. Soundstage isn't that important, sound quality is. If this means saving up and waiting and getting electrostats or something exotic, then I guess that's what I'll have to do.
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post #8 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 04:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac500 View Post

I'll take a look at those. I'm more interested in sound quality though than bass extension. I'd much rather get high quality sound without too much bass extension and then just throw in a mediocre subwoofer than get mediocre sound with bass extension without a subwoofer. When I said I wanted bass extension I just meant that overall the system I set up should reach 20hz, I don't care how it does so or how many speakers it takes.
Also, it's kind of disappointing that speakers would be less detailed than HD595s. From my position HD595s aren't exactly overwhelmingly hi-fi, and I'm not at all surprised you'd find speakers superior to them in every way. I have HD800s, which are several massive leaps beyond the HD595 in every way, and I really enjoy them for everything. I was told you can get speakers that beat the HD800s in every way, including detail. I'm probably not going to get speakers if I can't get ones that are better than the HD800, because otherwise I'd just be disappointed. Soundstage isn't that important, sound quality is. If this means saving up and waiting and getting electrostats or something exotic, then I guess that's what I'll have to do.

Salk Song Towers with RAAL tweeter upgrade.
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post #9 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 04:09 AM
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fwiw, look into the magnepan 1.7( they will need some power to push them as they are 4 ohm load). they are around $2000

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #10 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 05:34 AM
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First off getting a speaker to play from 20hz to 20khz is basically out of the question especially at your price point. The only speakers that come close is powered towers with built in subwoofers like Definitive Technology Mythos and BP series. Not bad choices for music.

So for $3000.00 price range check out the Definitive Technology Mythos STS , they won many awards and earned everyone of them. They are an amazing speaker but do not cover the 20 to 20 range even as advertised. They really start to fall off around 28-30hz. Very usable bass up to that point. For music they are amazingly detailed and clean. They image wonderfully with nice depth. They are not harsh or bright. They do however have very good dynamic range.
For movies they are crazy nice. They play sound effects and movie back ground sounds like real life. Everything sounds natural and again very dynamic.
These are a wonderful choice in that price range not to mention you can find them for way less if you shop around.

Under $3000.00 check out offerings from Klipsch , Dynaudio , B&W and Totem. All these companies produce speakers that can really move you. Klipsch being the most dynamic and easiest to drive which can be a thrill in so many ways. Probably one of the very best double duty speakers made. They can play Jazz and then tear the house down with an Action packed movie sound track.
Dynaudio makes musical speakers that can be argued as the best in the world at all places. They are about as accurate as it gets for recreating music. They are one of those speakers that catches you in your tracks and puzzles you to the point of disbelief of how damn good they are. But they do have a down fall , they to me basically suck at theater. Not in sound quality but in sheer dynamic range and scare factor. When you watch action movies they recreate every single sound missing not a single detail but whats bothersome is the dynamic range. They tend to be more on the laid back side and don't give you goose bumps. What really puzzles me is when you listen to music , dynamics are full and rangeful yet put on a movie and they seem to run out of gas. I never understood that and I drove mine with 330 watts per channel power amp. On a bother movie note the accuracy is incredible. If you like your movies more laid back and love every single glass breaking detail , they excel and shock you on how much you can hear or how much as been recorded. Truly an amazing speaker.
B&W probably is another one of those speakers that can be argued that they hold the title pound for pound best in the world at all places. When driven correctly , calibrated and placed right , they are magical. They can take you to the performance like you where there live. They are so true to the sound some may call them sterile. I call them wonderful . The magic goes way past music , theater use they excel better then just about everything on the market. But the secret to any B&W speaker package is making sure you have plenty of power , correct placement and good calibration. Then the magic happens.
Totem is one of those companies that can bring much joy to ones home. They are small yet play bass like no other. They have this ability to fill a room with sound and off axis response is probably the best in the business. They nice thing is you don't have to sit front and center to get a wonderful musical experience. Truly magical in their own right. Shocking is how they do it at entry level all the way up to reference caliber. No speaker gets left behind. You can't go wrong with them but you do have to use high quality electronics as they will show off all their flaws and put them in your face so if you decide to purchase them , make sure your system is up to the challenge.

All these companies make speakers in your given price ranges and have the ability to thrill you for years and years to come.
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post #11 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 05:36 AM
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I forgot to mention to really get to 20hz , you'l need a big room and a powerful sub. I can't say this enough , most speakers made can not reach 20hz with any usable output. Even most powered towers struggle to produce such low frequencies.
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post #12 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 05:47 AM
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^^^^

powerful sub, yes...

big room, no... my room isn't big, and i'm flat down past 10hz... smile.gif

with 3k.... a pair of the sierra's and a 1k sub of the users choice wouldn't be the worst choice in the world... i used the original sierra's (no upgrade) with a "really good sub" for awhile and the results didn't suck...

that leaves plenty left over for an omnimic kit, which will help the user to optimize his system....

there's a TON of good monitors out there... imo, monitors + sub is the "best" direction for the op to go...

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post #13 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 07:08 AM
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The Selah Veritas you linked in the original post i'd say provides for the best-bang-for-buck among the recommendations listed so far, just as long as you don't require extravagant output from them. This is due to their sensitivity rating being relatively low at 83db, but that shouldn't be an issue for your stated purposes. The RAAL tweeter and Scan-Speak Illuminator woofer are some of the best drivers in the world and Rick Craig is a master at his craft. I have no doubt that if you take the effort to properly dial these speakers into your room (and vice versa), they will easily match or exceed the HD800's detail and clarity. Add a very capable, sealed sub for around ~$800 such as a Rythmik F12 or Emotiva X-Ref 12 and you'll have quite a setup for $3,000.

The Salk SongTowers with the RAAL tweeter upgrade is also a great suggestion, and i'd add Dennis Murphy's Philharmonic 2 or 3s into the mix as well.
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post #14 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac500 View Post

I prefer a flat sound signature. I'd like something that fills the whole sound spectrum ~ 20hz-20khz. I listen to all kinds of genres of music, but mostly classical, orchestral, jazz, and classic rock - and of course I want it to be great for movies and video games. I don't need it to play particularly loudly, because I usually listen relatively low volume.

You are not going to get 20Hz sound from any bookshelf / monitor speakers, but the Soundfield Audio monitors will come closer than any out there because it has a built-in powered subwoofer. And it does measure flat and accurate.

So if you don't want a separate subwoofer or big tower speakers like the Philharmonic 3 speakers ($3K), then the Soundfield Audio M1 is your ticket to full sound.
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post #15 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, then forget about the 20hz. Everyone is talking about my bass requirement. I don't care that much about the bass extension. I just want good quality sound. Once again, forget about the bass for now please. I am not a basshead. I'd rather just get good quality sound above all else, and I'll add in a subwoofer later if necessary.
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Originally Posted by loopaddiction View Post

The Selah Veritas you linked in the original post i'd say provides for the best-bang-for-buck among the recommendations listed so far, just as long as you don't require extravagant output from them. This is due to their sensitivity rating being relatively low at 83db, but that shouldn't be an issue for your stated purposes. The RAAL tweeter and Scan-Speak Illuminator woofer are some of the best drivers in the world and Rick Craig is a master at his craft. I have no doubt that if you take the effort to properly dial these speakers into your room (and vice versa), they will easily match or exceed the HD800's detail and clarity. Add a very capable, sealed sub for around ~$800 such as a Rythmik F12 or Emotiva X-Ref 12 and you'll have quite a setup for $3,000.
The Salk SongTowers with the RAAL tweeter upgrade is also a great suggestion, and i'd add Dennis Murphy's Philharmonic 2 or 3s into the mix as well.

This is what I've been hoping. If the Veritas is near the level of the HD800 in detail, and I'm sure better in many other areas, that's probably my best choice here (especially since it seems it's sold just barely above the price of the parts). I can't imagine how the other suggestions here from large companies can even hope to compete, because they probably have to sell for much higher price vs. the price of the components themselves.
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post #16 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 09:13 AM
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If you don't mind plain, pre-built cabinets, I think the Selah's are tough to beat for the price. I was considering the Tempesta as well as the Vapor Cirrus and some others, ended up ordering a pair of Supercharged Songtowers and a custom CC.
In the end, I found that the SCST's take up less room than a stand-mounted monitor, will go lower and with the custom veneer I ordered, will be beautiful and unique.
Another option I was considering was the Pioneer-EX series, the S-4EX is available in your price range from audiovideologic.com, they have had rave reviews and use TAD designed drivers.
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post #17 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 09:24 AM
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I'd also go with Salk SongTowers with the RAAL ribbon upgrade. They are more efficient than the Selahs and have a better crossover designer in my opinion.

Other great choices are Philharmonic 2's or 3's, Kef, Revel and Soundfield Audio.

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post #18 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saeyedoc View Post

If you don't mind plain, pre-built cabinets, I think the Selah's are tough to beat for the price. I was considering the Tempesta as well as the Vapor Cirrus and some others, ended up ordering a pair of Supercharged Songtowers and a custom CC.
In the end, I found that the SCST's take up less room than a stand-mounted monitor, will go lower and with the custom veneer I ordered, will be beautiful and unique.
Another option I was considering was the Pioneer-EX series, the S-4EX is available in your price range from audiovideologic.com, they have had rave reviews and use TAD designed drivers.

The standard cabinets at our lower price allow us to provide a superior-sounding speaker for less money. We do many custom cabinets for those that want something different. The SCST will not go lower though - I would ask for a groundplane measurement to verify the claims being made.

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post #19 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 10:23 AM
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The SCST will not go lower though - I would ask for a groundplane measurement to verify the claims being made.

I think he was talking about your Verita speakers, so yes, the SC-ST will go lower. They'll also go lower than the Tempesta, as the SC-ST's F3 is 34Hz. And Jim doesn't fudge his #'s. Are you claiming he does? eek.gifrolleyes.gif

By the way, a ground plane wouldn't provide enough resolution down low, so we'll assume you meant nearfield. wink.gif

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post #20 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 10:37 AM
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Ok, then forget about the 20hz. Everyone is talking about my bass requirement. I don't care that much about the bass extension. I just want good quality sound. Once again, forget about the bass for now please. I am not a basshead. I'd rather just get good quality sound above all else, and I'll add in a subwoofer later if necessary.

Well, try out the $200 NHT Absolute Zero for 30 days and if you don't like them, return and get full refund including all shipping charges!

The Absolute Zero’s listening-window response (a five-point average of axial and +/–15-degree horizontal and vertical responses) measures +0.94/–0.82 decibels from 200 hertz to 10 kilohertz. The –3-dB point is at 83 Hz, and the –6-dB point is at 72 Hz.

You won't get bass below 72Hz, but try beating this ultra-flat response of +0.94dB/ -0.82dB!
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post #21 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

I'd also go with Salk SongTowers with the RAAL ribbon upgrade. They are more efficient than the Selahs and have a better crossover designer in my opinion.
Other great choices are Philharmonic 2's or 3's, Kef, Revel and Soundfield Audio.
For that matter, the Ascend Sierra Tower w/RAAL...even a bit more efficient, and we can argue about engineering talent all day long. smile.gif

To the OP...get out a listen to whatever you can. People here are going to recommend their biases, even if they like others better. Get yourself some reference points.

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post #22 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 11:34 AM
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For that matter, the Ascend Sierra Tower w/RAAL...even a bit more efficient, and we can argue about engineering talent all day long. smile.gif
To the OP...get out a listen to whatever you can. People here are going to recommend their biases, even if they like others better. Get yourself some reference points.

No argument here - I agree. And they too will reach lower than the Selah's. smile.gif

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post #23 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 11:40 AM
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I would get two Philharmonic 2 speakers plus two rythmik FV12 subwoofers.
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post #24 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

I think he was talking about your Verita speakers, so yes, the SC-ST will go lower. They'll also go lower than the Tempesta, as the SC-ST's F3 is 34Hz. And Jim doesn't fudge his #'s. Are you claiming he does? eek.gifrolleyes.gif

The Tempesta and Verita ported versions share the same woofer and tuning. Having worked with Paul Kittinger on a few TL designs he did prior to the Salk TL's I am very familiar with how they work and perform. I have used the same woofers that are in the SC-ST and the claimed F3 is "optimistic" at best. Jim has never provided nearfield or groundplane curves and I stand by what I said. Some of the specs on the Salk site are obviously not correct with respect to impedance. And a tube watt is no different than a solid state watt.
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post #25 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Craig View Post

The Tempesta and Verita ported versions share the same woofer and tuning. Having worked with Paul Kittinger on a few TL designs he did prior to the Salk TL's I am very familiar with how they work and perform. I have used the same woofers that are in the SC-ST and the claimed F3 is "optimistic" at best. Jim has never provided nearfield or groundplane curves and I stand by what I said. Some of the specs on the Salk site are obviously not correct with respect to impedance. And a tube watt is no different than a solid state watt.

Prove it, Rick. Until then, here's a good response that I'll quote from Jeff Bagby. You can make false claims all you want, but all it'll do it hurt your sales and make you look foolish. And from a vendor no less - you should be ashamed of yourself. Do your devious antics and award winning smoke and mirror games net you many sales? rolleyes.gif Perhaps you should focus on sound quality instead of unfounded claims.
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Originally Posted by Jeff Bagby View Post


Between Dennis Murphy and myself response measurements have been taken on all of the Salk line of speakers, up to and including close-mic'ed nearfield measurements. These confirm that Thiele and Small were correct in their ability to predict the low end response. Seriously now, that's why we all use box modeling software - because it is well defined and accepted mathematics, and has proven itself time and time again. And having written a box model program of my own based on Theile, Small, and J.E. Benson's work I understand the math quite well. We do not post these as "proof", because we don't feel every measurement of a speaker needs to be posted and used as marketing gimmicks. Further, there is nothing to keep any company from posting anything they want, and none of that really proves anything. Jim's speakers are sold on the basis of how they sound and from the satisfaction of owners sharing their glee with others. But, suffice it to say, Jim is quite conservative in his claims. He is adamant that nothing be exaggerated in any claims on his speakers and Dennis, Paul Kittinger, and I back up all of our claims to him with proof beforehand. For example, with my Pharos design, even though we are using a 12" JBL woofer we state that is begins to roll-off at 44Hz and is -3dB at 40Hz. We are not exaggerating anything.


Moving on - the transmission line speakers were all designed for low end extension by Paul Kittinger using Martin King's Math Cad sheets. These are widely accepted as the most accurate transmission line modeling program extant, and our measurements of them confirm Martin's predicted extension as well.


Jeff Bagby

Jeff Bagby, Paul Kittinger and Dennis Murphy all back Jim's specs, because they've actually measured the designs, and the listed response is accurate. You go ahead and continue making your false claims if it makes you feel good about yourself, though. Congrats on derailing yet another thread. wink.gif

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No matter what measurements tell us, a loudspeaker isn’t good until it
sounds good. - Dr. Floyd Toole
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post #26 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Prove it, Rick. Until then, here's a good response that I'll quote from Jeff Bagby. You can make false claims all you want, but all it'll do it hurt your sales and make you look foolish. And from a vendor no less - you should be ashamed of yourself. Do your devious antics and award winning smoke and mirror games net you many sales? rolleyes.gif Perhaps you should focus on sound quality instead of unfounded claims.
Jeff Bagby, Paul Kittinger and Dennis Murphy all back Jim's specs, because they've actually measured the designs, and the listed response is accurate. You go ahead and continue making your false claims if it makes you feel good about yourself, though. Congrats on derailing yet another thread. wink.gif

I know Jeff and have a great deal of respect for him; however, I fail to see how posting a real life measurement is a marketing gimmick. The real problem is that listed specs often don't match up with further testing (such as the NRC where I have had the Verita measured). That makes it difficult for buyers to make a fair comparison.

There's nothing to prove or be ashamed of. There are some obvious problems with specs quoted on the Salk site. If you want a good example of an unfounded claim I suggest you read the claims made for the TL designs. Do you really think Floyd Toole (who you and I both respect) would agree?

Selah Audio

Thinking Inside the Box...
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post #27 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 01:11 PM
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Also as far as details are concerned, will you be listening in the near field (3-6 ft) or more in the far field? Obviously the closer you sit to the speakers the greater ability to distinguish details, which is why near field monitoring is useful in recording studios and other mixing applications. Of course you will lose some of that imaging and larger soundstage by sitting closer to the speakers. I still say that one of the biggest improvements and upgrades you can make is the room itself. I would still look at adding a few treatments to the room, especially to the sidewalls.
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post #28 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 01:37 PM
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My votes:

Speakers:

Swan T900F

500

http://www.lockwaresystems.com/t900f-121-239.html

Salk SongTower RT

500

http://www.salksound.com/songtower%20home.htm

Philharmonic 2

338

http://philharmonicaudio.com/philharmonic2.html

Subwoofers:

HSU VTF-15H

381

http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/vtf-15h.html

Good luck!

- Kh[a]os

 

Please tell me what happened in this night.
It's like the cat inside the box.
 
Please tell me what happened in this night.
You don't know if the cat in the box is dead or alive.
 
Please tell me what happened in this night.
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post #29 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Looks like a lot to decide between.

I can position the speakers wherever is best relative to my chair. For now let's ignore the room "treatment" though, because the topic I'm interested in speakers, and that is why I posted it on a speaker forum. I'll deal with treatment later I guess, assuming that's not inseparably tied to speaker selection.

As for cabinets, the more plain and simple, the better. I love the Verita piano black finish for example. I actually actively dislike elaborate and complex cabinet designs. If possible I want nothing to do with what I call "jewelry for guys" - i.e. audiphile etc. equipment that is as much about flaunting your extravagance than the sound itself. I just want great sound, in a package I can, ideally, ignore entirely. I even dislike wood finish (maybe I'm weird) because I prefer a cleaner modern look in my office / entertainment room etc.

Rick Craig's posts are not derailing this thread - if anything respectful debate here will only help my decision. As far as measurements go, it's really unfair to call posting measurements a marketing gimmick. If anything, it's the opposite. Failing to post measurements is extremely sketchy to me (ala Bose) as far as what it says about their marketing strategy. I'm sure the unmeasured speakers mentioned are highly respected and all, but saying that posting measurements is a gimmick because they can be forged is just... bizzarre.

As for the $200 NHT Absolute Zero, is this really worth bothering with? How can a $200 speaker compete with my $1500 headphones? I already said I'm looking something that will at least come near my HD800s detail if that's at all possible, in addition to the bonuses that obviously come with speakers. And once again, I'm not a basshead, bass extension isn't that important. Superb sound quality in the musical range (and something good for movies and games) is really my sole priority at this point.
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post #30 of 119 Old 06-07-2012, 01:55 PM
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If it were me. But it's not. And I was looking for an outstanding pair of speakers at your budget level. I'd buy a used pair of Dunlavy SCIV's in a heartbeat. They'll set you back around $2,000-$2,500 but nothing you will hear at that price point will touch them. (with perhaps one exception noted below) Of course this is only my opinion. OUTSTANDING speakers. http://app.audiogon.com/listings/dunlavy-sciv

If you really want to look at some monitors, then I'd suggest looking at a used set of NHT XD. They'll set you back about $2,500 in "as new" condition and are simply the most stunning speakers I may have ever heard. This is more of a "system" than a set of speakers. The system comes with speakers, custom stands, sub, and crossover. http://www.stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/1105nht

J Dunlavy:.. if you stop to think about it, no loudspeaker can sound more accurate than it measures ...
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