Plain and simple. I went to "The Speaker Shop" in Buffalo, NY. Nice shop but little. They offer mainly KEF, Bowers and Wilkins, Monitor Audio and Paradigm. I live roughly an hour and forty five minutes away so i stop when i get a chance. I visited three times and each time was roughly an hour and half. That's really not much time compared to the amount of time that i have spent on here reading about speakers and amps. Mind you these impression
i went i heard the B&W CM9's and i really like them but i didn't like how thick, sweet and forward the mids were.I thought it made all music feel the same. The Sweetness and fullness was quite beautiful, especially with female vocals but it didn't seem to be a true representation of the music and they were a little lacking in the low end. They were ran by a marantz bluray player and receiver. That time i had actually only been there about 45 mins. This experience was all while being helped by an older bald guy that made me feel like i had to make a decision fast and that he didn't care what i liked because i wasn't there to spend $100,000.
The second time
started out not expecting to see the Golden Ear Triton 2 towers and was really quite impressed but unfortunately the way the store had them setup, i feel it wasn't ideal but it was a speaker i wanted to hear more of because the imaging was really neat on them. What i did get was that they seemed like a pretty flat speaker with highs that could image great and they had a lot presence to them and the mids pretty much the same. The mids also were very full and had a large presence to everything but didn't have any special characteristics to them like the CM9's. I think mids would be perfect for home theater application. The Bass was very punchy and able to probably make any basshead happy but what i didn't like about them was the radiators. It helped fill a lot of pressure in the room but it didn't seem to blend in with the rest of the speaker and actually seemed to be a nuisance. I also had heard the Kef Q900's but they were in a dark corner in the back and they were hooked up to rather ugly looking yamaha receiver and a crappy bluray player. I don't even want to comment on them because i don't feel it would be a fair review of them. I would like to hear them hooked up to better equipment and in a better listening environment. Then there were a pair of paradigms. I don't know what towers they were, nor do i care but i guess they were $1500 a piece. I do know that they were hooked up, once again like the Q900's and probably deserve something better than a crappy bluray player. Maybe not amp wise but def a better DAC. Anyways i didn't like them at all. The mids didn't have any body to them and they felt recessed and fragile and almost distorted. Nothing audiophile here for me to hear was my impression. This session was all while dealing with what seemed to be more of a car salesman who was only there to make a sale. Everything i said was just a fast yep.
The Third Time
They had Kef R900's hooked up to McIntosh gear. They fit the bill when it came to Mids campared to the other speakers i had heard. They had a little bit of body, super detailed, clean and a medium like presence to them. Good imaging too but i think it would be better if they had a better listening area. The Bass didn't seem to be as punchy laser gun like as the Triton 2's were but the presence seemed better suited musically than the Triton's bass. I was pretty sure that these where the speaker for me. I went back to the CM9's but they were in a little corner this time and i did not get the same feeling about them as the first time, quite worse actually but i knew it had to be because of the room placement. This time i had a taller gentleman helping me who really was an informative person and i was able to share with him what i heard. He gave me a lot of input on how tube amps and solid state amps work. He seemed like a true audio engineer. Thanks to you kind sir.
After i had pretty much made my mind up that i wanted the Kef R series i went home and thought more into it. I wanted to hear the R900 paired with same gear as the Triton 2's. I wanted that gear to be more something i could afford though. I thought it was reasonable not to compare the two to see what was the better speaker as i felt the R900's were clearly better but to see if i could settle with the Triton 2's as they are $2000 cheaper. I called up and the old guy that escorted me the first time answered the phone:
I asked the guy if he had any cheap class A/B integrated amps because i don't feel that cheap class D amplification does justice to the speakers i wanted to hear. He told me that he had a nice Anthem integrated for $1500 that was 225w at eight ohm per channel. Sweet that might be ideal i thought. Then i asked him if i could hear the Triton 2's hooked up to the same gear as the R900's and he got rude and said absolutely not. He said that he would bring the R900's over to where the Triton's were hooked up. He made it sound as if i was stupid for asking them to do that. Then he proceeded to tell me that he wasn't looking forward to seeing me again because he's not all warm and fuzzy about me like he was with our first encounter?! Well you haven't bought anything yet and you've been in here three times. I understood what he was saying but at the same time i wanted to buy what i wanted and nothing less. As a salesman i would imagine it's his job to keep a customer happy and not run them away. While i had not bought anything from there YET, i planned on it. I did however bring friends with me each time that did buy some of the stores merchandise. I brought them with ME and not the other way around. He then told me that he wasn't trying to be mean. He said that when i came in again, if the store wasn't busy then he would try to set the R series up for me but to not expect any special treatment after that!
As soon as i walked in i saw the old guy behind the desk and he turned and said something to somebody and shook his head and laughed. I knew it was directed towards me and it really made me quite mad. He was treating me as a nuisance. I said to him "What? do you not want me hear." He was suprised that i knew what he just done and just shrugged it off and said, "what do you want?" My friend was not impressed and turned around and was about to leave because he felt this guy was wrong and pretty angry. I on the other hand really wanted to hear the speakers with the gear i had planned on buying and decided to ask the the guy if i had done anything wrong. He said i had wasted 6 hours of their time all together and that i am pretty much an idiot because now i wanted to hear the speakers with different amplification. You're asking me to rearrange the whole store he said. WHAT! The way i look at is that i should have just said yes i am even though all he had to do was move two speakers. That's his job. I even offered to pay them twenty dollars for an hour of their time. I think he was just being lazy. Then he said that i was just thinking to far into everything and that i was an joke because i wanted to compare $5000 speakers to $3000 speakers. WOW. So i said in a calm manner i told him that i felt insulted and asked him if i did something wrong. He just laughed and couldn't answer. Then another worker at the store was listening to the conversation and nicely said "what do you want to hear?" I felt like he thought i was right and since i felt a little justified i told them that i wasn't going to bother them anymore and they weren't getting my business
Best Buy Magnolia:
Sweeeeet! Dedicated stereo listening rooms with acoustic paneling and everything. CM9's, Martin Logan Ethos, Definitive Tech Mythos STS and plenty of others. I found a couple of gentlemen that were more than happy to show me around and they even let me bring in my Peachtree audio DAC*IT to hook up to the speakers. First was the CM9's with my demo CD consisting of mainly HDtracks.com's 24 bit music in 96 and 192. Norah Jones Sunrise, hairs on my whole body standing up. Loved the presence of the mids but was lacking body in the lower regions. The Highs were nothing special. I did and do like them but i feel that they would only be good for me with jazz and female vocals. Still felt the same that they made most music sound pretty much the same. All the guys at the store were super impressed with my DAC as it took the music to a whole new level. Next where the Ethos. WHAT! WOW these things can image better than anything i have ever heard and the soundstage was CRAZY huge. There was center channel not being ran because we were in pure direct mode but vocals sounded like they were coming straight out of it. These speakers where playing tricks on me! I let everyone experience the sweet spot and they all ran up to the center channel to make sure it wasn't on. This was all after we hooked up my DACIT because they were being ran through a MAratnz Cd8004 and i didn't like it. at all. These speakers really showed the DACIT's capabilities. One worker even asked where i got it because he was going to go order one when he got home he was that impressed. Writing this now i remember that through my bluray player at home, you have to go into the settings and change digital output to 192HZ when playing the music of that quality other wise it is not automatic and usually the default is only 44. This should make it even better assuming it was only playing at 44. The highs of the ethos where amazing and i wasn't expecting the bass to be as good as it was. Bass hit like a laser and extended out all the way to you and super lower frequencies pressurized the room with authority. I was smiling ear to ear. These were the speakers for me with out a doubt except i felt the mids with female vocals were so detailed that it wasn't getting enough information to make it sound full. Large presence and super detailed but lacking a hair with female vocals ( I might go with a switchable tube pre-amp to help with this). Male vocals where fine though. Even high bitrate mp3's sounded great. 3 doors down sounded like they where right there playing with me. These speakers are so accurate that i had never heard a speaker that actually made instruments sound like real instruments. As if the other speakers couldn't do it properly so they voiced them with additives in different ways for different speakers like the cm9's being uber rich and smooth. I think with a tube pre-amp or tube analog out of a dac like the peachtree line offers, these speakers will never leave me wanting anything more. I might save and get the Montis but that's quite a bit more but i can only imagine but a bigger panel and larger woofer would do. I didn't get to hear the supertower mythos because for some reason they weren't working but i did plug the dac into the new ML soundbar. I was rather impressed. The highs were pretty good and the mids weren't as detailed as the electro's but they had more body while still having the clean accurate sound that the ethos had. Not as large a presence and at first i could hear the sound coming out of the driver instead of being in the air until i put my demo cd case under the front to lift it up a little and face it more towards me instead of my chest and i no longer heard the drivers, it was a little more airy. The bass didn't quite hit like lasers but they did have more body than i thought they would and they didn't move to much air but it was more audible than the cm9's bass was but with less shake. Also it rolled off pretty quick. Not a bad and it made me want to go hear the near motion 20's and 40's but i didn't have enough time.
Sorry if this was hard to read or comprehend but i hope my experience has helped someone.
who do i talk to around here about changing my title from "advanced member" to "specialED member"