Best speakers for ~ $1000 for a fairly small room? - AVS Forum
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm selling my Sennheiser HD800 headphones to get a speaker setup instead. I know very little about speakers though.

So I have a few questions:

1. What's the best pair of speakers for a small room for around $1000? Right now I'm looking at the Ascend Sierra-1, possibly with the NRT upgrade if I can justify the additional cost.

2. Where can I go to audition Ascend Sierra-1's near the california SF bay area? Is this even possible? Or, as other suggestions arise, where can I audition these (if you know of any place)?

3. What kind of amplifier will do justice to something like Sierra-1's, while keeping costs as low as possible? Am I to assume something this cheap ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0049P6OTI ) is not enough? What is "good enough"? I don't know about speakers, but I know that headphone amps can get ridiculously expensive.

Sierra-1's aren't my only choice of course, it's just the best thing I seem to have found so far via online reviews and research. Feel free to post better options that I'm missing!
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:58 AM
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You could send me a pm....I have the Sierra 1s with the upgrade...

As to the amp, they recommend a minimum of 45wpc, I use amps with 250 wpc...that toy amp isn't going to cut it unless you listen at low volumes, then perhaps...
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:12 PM
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i'm assuming this is for 2 channel systemthe ascends are a very good choice as are the outlaw bls and the nht classic3 actually i auditioned all 3 and liked the classic3 the best but ended up with the outlaw bls because of the great deal i got for them. i had a 14x16 room which is'nt that small but not large either. also the sierras i auditioned did not have the newer nrt upgrade. the sierras and bls where quite similar in sound although the ascends did have a little more deep end roll off.the classic 3 had better overall sound from the lows ,mids and uppers. cant go wrong with either one imo . for a good 2 channel reciever i would look into the onkyo tx- 8050 or the harman kardon 3490 just some suggestionsl

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Old 10-07-2012, 01:11 PM
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I would go with the Sierra-1 without the Nrt since that can be added later.

Agreed that you will want a more powerful class A/B amp or receiver.
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:41 PM
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Interested in the HD800s. I will PM you.
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:33 PM
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Here's a good 2 channel receiver to pair with those Ascends: Harman Kardon HK 3490. It even has a built in DAC and optical inputs.

If you want something a little more compact, the Emotiva mini-X a-100 is much better than that Lepai.
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions so far. Yes this is just for a simple stereo setup. I like the simplicity of just two speakers with great sound, nothing elaborate.

The Sierra-1 really does seem like the best option I can find so far though, although I'll try to find more comparisons/reviews of various speakers.

smasher50: Do you know how the NHT Classic Three compares to the Sierra-1? The reviews don't seem as "rave impressed" as the Sierra-1, although that doesn't mean much unless I can find a direct comparison. Hmm. Any way I can audition these near the SF bay?

jcm2128: Doesn't adding the NRT require different crossover circuitry as well? How much cost/effort would the upgrade later come to, in total?

Edit: Thanks cel4145, that's exactly the kind of suggestions I was looking for! I love the look and compactness of that mini-X a-100, although it seems 50w/channel versus the HK 120w/channel. How would you say the sound quality of the mini compares to the HK? (I'll start looking up reviews now)

Regarding Amps: I suppose I'll start researching these, although suggestions are also welcome here for a bare minimum cost amp that would power something like Sierra-1's with good quality. I only need 2 channels because I'll just have the 2 speakers, and I do not plan on ever getting a sub or adding more speakers. Note that I really don't listen to music very loud, and these are going to be very close to my listening position in a fairly small room. I'm more interested in quality than power, for a reasonable price.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:46 PM
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the ascends and the classic3 again where quite similar in sound i thought they both had great low end but the classic3 a bit tighter and the mids just a bit more detailed both had clear crisp highs. again that was in my room with my furnishings. in a smaller or larger room with different surroundings they might sound totally different. thats why going off other peoples reviews are not always the way to go. the best way to do it was like i did and auditioned them in my room . when you go to a store to listen to a set of speakers they might sound great but when you put them in your room they just don't sound the same.fwiw, if your looking for a bare min. cost good quality reciever the onkyo tx-8050 can be had for $220 at accessories4less. 80 watts per ch. way more than enough of power in a small room with moderate volume listening

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Old 10-07-2012, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac500 View Post

Edit: Thanks cel4145, that's exactly the kind of suggestions I was looking for! I love the look and compactness of that mini-X a-100, although it seems 50w/channel versus the HK 120w/channel. How would you say the sound quality of the mini compares to the HK? (I'll start looking up reviews now)

Emotiva is well known for making good quality amps for the money, so I think you shouldn't worry about the quality. I have the cheaper priced HK 3390 (it was less than $250 when I bought it)--80 watts/channel, no DAC. And it gets plenty loud. It sounds great with my Xonar Essence STX sound card as the source, Energy V5.1 speakers with Mirage Prestige S10 sub.

And that is one thing to think about. What will be your source? If you have a good analog source, then you don't need the DAC in the 3490.

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Old 10-07-2012, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac500 View Post


smasher50: Do you know how the NHT Classic Three compares to the Sierra-1? The reviews don't seem as "rave impressed" as the Sierra-1, although that doesn't mean much unless I can find a direct comparison. Hmm. Any way I can audition these near the SF bay?

jcm2128: Doesn't adding the NRT require different crossover circuitry as well? How much cost/effort would the upgrade later come to, in total?



Regarding Amps: I suppose I'll start researching these, although suggestions are also welcome here for a bare minimum cost amp that would power something like Sierra-1's with good quality. I only need 2 channels because I'll just have the 2 speakers, and I do not plan on ever getting a sub or adding more speakers. Note that I really don't listen to music very loud, and these are going to be very close to my listening position in a fairly small room. I'm more interested in quality than power, for a reasonable price.

NHT has a factory showroom in Benicia.

Unfortunately you get better value in a receiver, they sell a lot more of those than integrated amps.

You might change your mind about subs....judge after you hear my setup.

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Old 10-07-2012, 08:44 PM
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NHT, Cambridge Audio S30, KEF Q300 also worth listening to (good cost-benefit ratio) for bookshelves. Really need a sub with these.

The HK receiver is good advise. I have a rotel RX-1050 that I quite like (8 or 10 years old) - could search e-bay for one.

Is $1k your total budget? If so I'd consider $300-400 on electronics and $600-700 on speakers - possibly with the idea that a sub comes later.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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My total budget I suppose can reach up to $1500 max for now. I don't have a particularly good DAC source any more, since I've sold my combo DAC/headphone amp along with my headphones. So basically this is a speaker setup completely from scratch.

Going with the HK seems to be the best route, from what I'm hearing. Then, I can get good speakers, and perhaps add a sub later.

I've read a lot of reviews, and the Ascend Sierra-1 looks the nicest right now, although I'm not sure whether I should get the tweeter upgrade for it though. If I get the HK receiver plus upgraded Sierra, that just maxes out my budget. The reason I'm considering the upgraded version is because I'm very picky about treble detail, because I'm spoiled from my HD800 headphone's astoundingly clean and detailed treble. I'm not necessarily against a solid quality smooth treble though, but I tend to prefer better crisp treble when possible.
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lespurgeon View Post

NHT, Cambridge Audio S30, KEF Q300 also worth listening to (good cost-benefit ratio) for bookshelves. Really need a sub with these.
The HK receiver is good advise. I have a rotel RX-1050 that I quite like (8 or 10 years old) - could search e-bay for one.
Is $1k your total budget? If so I'd consider $300-400 on electronics and $600-700 on speakers - possibly with the idea that a sub comes later.
I agree with the cost breakdown, however I would definitely buy used. You can find a good integrated amp made by NAD or Cambridge for that price. I had a pair of Sierras and got 700 or so for them. You may end up spending 100 or so more but you will have the best bang for buck system. If you need a cd player do some research on the original PS1 with analogue outs. You can buy one for less than $50.
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:20 PM
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Call Ascend and ask them how much it would cost for you to get the upgraded tweeter 30 days later after you've had a chance to decide on whether or not you like the Sierra-1s as is. Switching out the tweeter should be very easy. 4 screws and probably some clips that connect the wires.

lovinthehd is right about the sub, too. The Ascends appear to be tuned to roll off starting at around 60 to 70hz. If you like any lower bass heavy music with content below <50hz, you will eventually want a sub. So if you don't need the tweeter upgrade, you'll already have some money saved toward a sub.

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Old 10-07-2012, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Call Ascend and ask them how much it would cost for you to get the upgraded tweeter 30 days later after you've had a chance to decide on whether or not you like the Sierra-1s as is. Switching out the tweeter should be very easy. 4 screws and probably some clips that connect the wires.

lovinthehd is right about the sub, too. The Ascends appear to be tuned to roll off starting at around 60 to 70hz. If you like any lower bass heavy music with content below <50hz, you will eventually want a sub. So if you don't need the tweeter upgrade, you'll already have some money saved toward a sub.

Sierras are plus/minus 3db down to 44hz I did my own install on the upgraded tweeters, it's still a significant charge and I don't think you save anything but a small bit of labor by doing your own. It's not just a tweeter, but a crossover upgrade, still fairly simple (even tho I had first gen's with different crossover mounting, still not too bad a project). I use mine for music and home theater in a big room, they need the subs in the big room, might be okay for just music in a small room.

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Old 10-07-2012, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Sierras are plus/minus 3db down to 44hz

I was looking at where they start to roll off on their measurements: http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM1/srm1meas.html
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I did my own install on the upgraded tweeters, it's still a significant charge and I don't think you save anything but a small bit of labor by doing your own. It's not just a tweeter, but a crossover upgrade, still fairly simple (even tho I had first gen's with different crossover mounting, still not too bad a project). I use mine for music and home theater in a big room, they need the subs in the big room, might be okay for just music in a small room.

I forgot that the crossover had to be replaced.

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Old 10-07-2012, 10:05 PM
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Feel free to post better options that I'm missing!

Check out the Soundfield Audio Monitor 1. Big speaker sound in monitor size due to the built in subwoofers, subs that actually dig pretty deep. Very smooth sound, you can listen for hours without fatigue. The coincident mid/high frequency drivers help to overcome room anomalies.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1417246/soundfield-audio-monitor-1

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1423636/soundfield-audio-m1-impressions-review

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Old 10-08-2012, 12:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow that's a really unusual looking speaker. Basically it looks like rather than a woofer/tweeter, it's a subwoofer/woofer? How good is it's upper treble detail?

Most importantly I guess, is it better than a pair of Sierra-1's plus a $450 sub-woofer? Because at the price ($1300), that's essentially what I'd have to consider it against.
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I was looking at where they start to roll off on their measurements: http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM1/srm1meas.html

I'm confused as to the confusion here. That graph you linked to shows -3db at exactly 44 hz (the rest of the spectrum seems centered around 85db, so the 82db line crosses exactly at 44hz).
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:29 AM
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Just out of curiosity, what is your music source? This may affect your choice of amp.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Digital optical output from my computer (since it doesn't have a particularly stellar sound card built in).
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Old 10-08-2012, 07:38 AM
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Wow that's a really unusual looking speaker. Basically it looks like rather than a woofer/tweeter, it's a subwoofer/woofer? How good is it's upper treble detail?
Most importantly I guess, is it better than a pair of Sierra-1's plus a $450 sub-woofer? Because at the price ($1300), that's essentially what I'd have to consider it against.
I'm confused as to the confusion here. That graph you linked to shows -3db at exactly 44 hz (the rest of the spectrum seems centered around 85db, so the 82db line crosses exactly at 44hz).

Ooopsss. My eyes betrayed me. I didn't count the lines right redface.gif

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Old 10-08-2012, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac500 View Post

Wow that's a really unusual looking speaker. Basically it looks like rather than a woofer/tweeter, it's a subwoofer/woofer? How good is it's upper treble detail?

Most importantly I guess, is it better than a pair of Sierra-1's plus a $450 sub-woofer? Because at the price ($1300), that's essentially what I'd have to consider it against.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I was looking at where they start to roll off on their measurements: http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM1/srm1meas.html

I'm confused as to the confusion here. That graph you linked to shows -3db at exactly 44 hz (the rest of the spectrum seems centered around 85db, so the 82db line crosses exactly at 44hz).

Was looking at that Soundfield AM1, very interesting. It's essentially a sealed sub in the bottom of the cabinet and then a separate mid with coax tweeter. Nice looking and not too huge, nice amps for each sub. Not looking for such a speaker but sure looks interesting and lots of positive comments from those on the test circuit with the sample speakers.

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Old 10-08-2012, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
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For a receiver, I'm a little unsure as to what the best option would be. Does anyone know the major difference in sound quality between an Onkyo TX-8050 ($280) versus Harman Kardon HK 3490 ($330)? What about the Onkyo HT-RC360 ($300)? Edit: Nevermind, I just ordered the HK3490.

I just want something simple, with optical input, and stereo output + sub. Sound quality is the most important, but I don't know if there's any difference anyway. (I heard that HK has better customer service / warranty)

Edit: I do like the ability to adjust treble/bass that the TX8050 offers, although only if this works without reducing sound quality. Does anyone know if the HK3490 offers this? It's hard to tell from the specs.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:44 PM
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For 1K you can hunt down a pair of KEF R300s used, just saw a demo pair sold on e-bay for $900. You dont really need a sub with those for music. Look at audiogon, audiocirlces, you can find great deals there. Just be patient.
Another speaker for under 1k is KEF LS50 gets great feedback.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Should I assume the KEF R300s to be better than the Sierra-1 NRT in every way? It seems hard to find reviews on KEF stuff.

I'm definitely gonna keep an eye on Audiogon (and Audiocircles now that you mention it) for all of these options. If there are other good hifi 'classifieds' please let me know about those as well.
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:35 AM
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Should I assume the KEF R300s to be better than the Sierra-1 NRT in every way? It seems hard to find reviews on KEF stuff.

I'm definitely gonna keep an eye on Audiogon (and Audiocircles now that you mention it) for all of these options. If there are other good hifi 'classifieds' please let me know about those as well.

The thread's starting to go the direction of what's the best speakers for $2000.... smile.gif

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Old 10-09-2012, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I've pretty much narrowed down the results to the Ascend Sierra-1 [possibly with NRT], since it seems to be the best choice in this pricerange as far as I can tell from reviews. I know it's really subjective though so there's no such thing as a "true" best. Anyway, when I get a chance to hear it soon, then I'll hopefully be able to make up my mind. I've already heard some other speakers like Paradigm Studio 20, which I liked (although I found the treble a bit sibilant). From reviews/comparison comments it seems the Sierra-1 is on par or better than the more expensive Studio 20.

So it seems the $1000 category is more or less exhausted (all the mentioned <$1000 alternates to the Sierra-1 seems a bit inferior from reviews/comparisons) for me. So at this point, I'm not against recommendations for used $2000 speakers going for $1000 though, so long as they're considerably better than a Sierra-1 NRT (otherwise why bother?).
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:14 AM
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And that seems a good assessment. I think most people on AVS would agree that the Sierra-1s are equivalent in quality to other bookshelf speakers at that $1000 price point, even if each of us has individual preferences over which is actually the best.

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Old 10-09-2012, 01:20 PM
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I just got Paradigm S1s. You can get a used pair for around $1000. I'll give you some thoughts after I have a chance to listen to them for a bit.

You can't beat their measurements though. It is the flattest speaker I have seen thus far. Look it up on soundstage.

http://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/speakers/paradigm_signature_s1_v2/
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:34 PM
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I also heard the Dynaudio x12/x16 and thought those were good. Very smooth sounding speakers.

There are a ton of good choices in that price range.
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