Best way to ease into high end speakers? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I am new to home audio and pretty soon I will be buying speakers for a home theater setup. I am not looking for super high end speakers but I am looking for a decent mid-range bookshelf speakers. Part of my problem is that I am going from listening to a 5.1 HTIB setup to building a real home theater system and I have no experience owning and listening to high end speakers. I want to buy nice speakers but I don't feel like I completely know what I am doing. I understand how to read speaker specs but I am not a trained critical listener.

I had told someone in another forum my situation and they suggested that since I don't have critical listening experience that I should start with very accurate sounding speakers such as the CBM 170SEs from Ascend Acoustics because I could get used to these speakers and use them as a point of comparison to other speakers because they are so accurate and this would help build my critical listening experience. This approach makes sense to me but couldn't I just test out different speaker brands with some CDs I am familiar with and then pick the brand I think sounds best to me. I understand that critical listening is important but if I demo a bunch of speakers and like how one particular brand or model sounds, isn't that all that really matters. I am looking to get various opinions on this matter.
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 02:38 AM
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Go listen to as many different speakes as you can before deciding. Let your ears be the judge. Ascend is a nice speaker, but I'd listen to the Sierra-1 NRT as a reference point, it's more high end and would make a better reference point I think.
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 05:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave2441 View Post

I understand that critical listening is important but if I demo a bunch of speakers and like how one particular brand or model sounds, isn't that all that really matters. I am looking to get various opinions on this matter.

Critical listening is important if you're a connoisseur of sound. Critical listening is basically listening for fine detail. Critical listening is a learned (unnatural) behavior. Think wine snob vs somebody who enjoys a decent bottle with good company. Are you about the wine or are you about the company you keep? It's the same thing, are you about the sound or are you about the listening experience and sharing the experience with others?

Are you wanting to become a critical listener of music or are you simply wanting some kick butt sound quality in which to impress your senses when watching a movie? As to accuracy of sound, that's a concept that doesn't exist. There's a flat response and then there's how sound interacts with it's environment and how your hearing interprets the soundwaves. The simple choice of instrument, choice of strings or choice in stage amplifier will color the sound. Hence why I post, accuracy of sound is more a subjective concept then a quantifiable reality.

From here the question becomes, what's your budget? My recommendation would be, set a budget and then triple it if you're serious about quality sound.

It's a real simple formula:

A decent AVR with a room analyzer. Audyssey, MultEQ XT room analyzer at minimum. Audyssey, MultEQ XT32 is much better still. How big a budget, determines your AVR choices and which room analyzer you'll get with the AVR.

Decent speakers to reproduce the upper range with. Speaker sensitivity are an important consideration. Sensitivity affects how loud and the quality of the reproduced sound.

A decent pair of subwoofers to reproduce the lower end with. The better to impress your friends with.

And some 12AWG zip cord to connect everything (a bit of an under exaggeration but makes the point that wire is not as important as some want you to believe.

To give you a budgetary idea, if we had to start from scratch, knowing what I know and setting things up to mirror the way our system is currently spec'd out, our budget would be in the $6,500.00 - $7,500.00 range. If I wanted to seriously improve on what we have, I'd have to set a budget in the $20k range. But a decent system can be put together for much less.

I always tell people; Do you know why I drink half-way decent bourbon? It's because I can't afford decent bourbon. wink.gif

The above is not intended to impress or scare one away, but to give one a realistic idea that directly answers the question; how much? That being said, on your part, stating a budget helps answer your questions as there are many excellent choices well below the above stated budgets but at the same time, sound quality will suffer accordingly.

-
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 07:00 AM
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Go listen to many different speakers so you can get a feel for what styles you like and/or dislike. Also, for the ID brands, there are frequently owners in your area who would be willing to let you come to their house and have a listen.

Coming from an HTIB most things will sound great.

8 years ago I was listening to an HTIB (JVC TH-A10) and i thought it sounded pretty good, but wanted to move up (my wife couldn't understand why I wanted to change).

I went to quite a few stores, and luckily never heard anything I didn't like, and did hear many I did like.

My ultimate purchase was based on budget, but didn't last very long before I upgraded. I ended up with KEF iQ3 (3 across the front) and iQ1 for rears; did the upgrade because the line was being replaced and the selloff values were amazing; you could do something similar as the iQ30 and iQ10 are being sold off.

But go listen to a bunch of speakers before you make your choice...

...and then get used to the never ending cycle of upgrade planning and upgrading biggrin.gif

Have fun is key cool.gif

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post #5 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 07:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick240 View Post

Go listen to many different speakers so you can get a feel for what styles you like and/or dislike. Also, for the ID brands, there are frequently owners in your area who would be willing to let you come to their house and have a listen.
Coming from an HTIB most things will sound great.
8 years ago I was listening to an HTIB (JVC TH-A10) and i thought it sounded pretty good, but wanted to move up (my wife couldn't understand why I wanted to change).
I went to quite a few stores, and luckily never heard anything I didn't like, and did hear many I did like.
My ultimate purchase was based on budget, but didn't last very long before I upgraded. I ended up with KEF iQ3 (3 across the front) and iQ1 for rears; did the upgrade because the line was being replaced and the selloff values were amazing; you could do something similar as the iQ30 and iQ10 are being sold off.
But go listen to a bunch of speakers before you make your choice...
...and then get used to the never ending cycle of upgrade planning and upgrading biggrin.gif
Have fun is key cool.gif

Yes, and after you buy stay away from AVS!
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post #6 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys, I will take your advice and continue to test out different speakers in my area. In regards to my budget, I have $1,000 to spend on speakers and a subwoofer. I already have an older Sony receiver that works fine for now. I am buying speakers solely for home theater. Initially I was thinking of purchasing some KEF bookshelfs for $600/pair and then buying a Hsu Stf-2 subwoofer but I have been talking with friends who are into audio, going on different audio forums and thinking about it and I am not sure I should spend that much on bookshelfs considering my situation. I did audition the KEFs along with some B & W, Paradigm, Monitor Audio, Klipsch and Polk Audio bookshelfs and I liked the way the KEFs sounded the best. I recently graduated from college and am unemployed. I am hoping to find a job and get an apartment in the next 6 months so I don't have a ton of money to spend on speakers. I want a decent pair of bookshelf speakers but I feel I could spend less than $600/pair of speakers and still find some good speakers. Maybe $600/pair of speakers is too much money for me to spend on a pair of bookshelfs since I am just getting into home theater and since I will be living in apartments for a long time. I am also seriously considering buying used speakers because it would be cheaper and I would likely get a better deal. The only thing I am worried about is that I can't always demo used speakers (i.e. buying from audiogon or ebay) and I am afraid of getting burned.
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave2441 View Post

Hey guys, I will take your advice and continue to test out different speakers in my area. In regards to my budget, I have $1,000 to spend on speakers and a subwoofer. I already have an older Sony receiver that works fine for now. I am buying speakers solely for home theater. Initially I was thinking of purchasing some KEF bookshelfs for $600/pair and then buying a Hsu Stf-2 subwoofer but I have been talking with friends who are into audio, going on different audio forums and thinking about it and I am not sure I should spend that much on bookshelfs considering my situation. I did audition the KEFs along with some B & W, Paradigm, Monitor Audio, Klipsch and Polk Audio bookshelfs and I liked the way the KEFs sounded the best. I recently graduated from college and am unemployed. I am hoping to find a job and get an apartment in the next 6 months so I don't have a ton of money to spend on speakers. I want a decent pair of bookshelf speakers but I feel I could spend less than $600/pair of speakers and still find some good speakers. Maybe $600/pair of speakers is too much money for me to spend on a pair of bookshelfs since I am just getting into home theater and since I will be living in apartments for a long time. I am also seriously considering buying used speakers because it would be cheaper and I would likely get a better deal. The only thing I am worried about is that I can't always demo used speakers (i.e. buying from audiogon or ebay) and I am afraid of getting burned.

Note that the KEF iQ30 are being liquidated as they end that line, at KEF Direct for $350

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post #8 of 12 Old 10-23-2012, 12:37 PM
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The iQ30 is a nice option

Also, HTD Level three
http://www.htd.com/Products/level-three-speakers/Level-THREE-Bookshelf-Speakers

No need to spend $600

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Who and Where - is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-24-2012, 01:55 AM
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It takes time to hear the difference in better speakers.
See if you can rent some good ones.

If you have a small budget, put most of it into the two main speakers and get cheap everything else if you have to have the surround now.
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-24-2012, 05:51 AM
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Energy rc-10 are around $200/pair while they last. You could get two pair and still have money left over you could add to your subwoofer budget.smile.gif
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post #11 of 12 Old 10-24-2012, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

Yes, and after you buy stay away from AVS!

Next to listening to many speakers and picking what sounds best to you, this is the best advice so far (these forums cost me more money than I'm willing to admit)!biggrin.gif

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post #12 of 12 Old 10-24-2012, 09:16 PM
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If you want to home audition speakers for free, just use audiogon/e-bay. pick a list of speakers you would like to try, do research on their resell prices, buy at a good price, sell after a few months.
I had 6 sets of speakers in my home in a year doing this. Total cost is $0. Looking back I could have made some $$$ to help me pay for my current system. But I dont want to make money on fellow hobbyists.
This way you can figure out what kind of speakers you like before you settle down.

O yeah and there are companies that will let you try their speakers for free, even pay for return shipping EMP and Aperion are 2 of those.
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