Arx A5 vs. HTD Level Three vs. EMP E55Ti tower shootout - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 125 Old 03-12-2013, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gtpsuper24 View Post

No. At least for my Onkyo, Pure Direct Mode shuts everything down, no EQs of any kind, Audyssey, loudness nothing, it also shuts off the lights and display menu. PCM is a codec similar to DTS HD and Dolby it just isn't compressed or needs decoded.
My Yamaha is like that; I cannot even access the onscreen menu IIRC. The Denon's on-screen menu is still usable and I could change subwoofer presence, crossover, and speaker size...not that it changed the audio until I switched away from pure direct.
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So, if I can summarize...
Not any more, although you are still correct that I did not think there was a loser.
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I'm pretty sure HTD has been using their planar tweeter for some time. Unless they are using a transformer and a true ribbon, they are likely magnetic planar tweeters. The Arx use a version of the HiVi 1.3 magnetic planar driver, which does not require an in-line transformer. The Ascend RAAL upgrade uses a true ribbon which requires the use of an in-line transformer.
HTD advertises a Kaptop Ribbon tweeter, but I did not notice any difference in sound between the Kapton Ribbon and the HiVi 1.3 magnetic planar tweeter. I did find the Arx a bit more forward in the highs. They had equal clarity, and the forwardness I sensed was not mentioned by anyone else.
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post #92 of 125 Old 03-12-2013, 11:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I want to thank Jon Lane again. He was the only one to give me advice on the shootout (and follow up again later with more advice). And I did inform EMP via email after ordering and HTD over the phone before I ordered. He even extended the trial period so I could properly break in and listen to all three sets! That kind of customer service is rare and merits extra recognition and appreciation. Even though I did not choose the Arx A5, you can be sure I will recommend TAI and the Arx line to others.
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post #93 of 125 Old 03-13-2013, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by MarsianMan View Post

So I have listened to the speakers for a couple hours with music and TV. I didn't get around to a movie tonight. I listened in Pure Direct mode for a bit, but realized that it ignores the sub so went back and forth between pure direct and stereo (with MultEQ, Dynamic EQ, and Dynamic Volume off...hopefully thats all I need to turn off rolleyes.gif). All three speakers had a much better sound stage which I attribute to a ambient noise during calibration (full length window spanning half of a wall which faces a busy street). At this level all three speakers disappeared at times, but my main two contenders were still the HTD and the EMP. The HTD still had a good wide sound stage, but now the EMP towers also had a nice sound stage. It was not as wide as the HTDs but more dynamic/richer. I was impressed with how the bass improved pianos and heavily distorted guitars on the EMPs. There was also more distinction in guitar distortion featured in metal/prog rock, and combined with the more prominent midrange it sounded better than the HTDs. In full range, the HTDs now had noticeably more bass than the Arx, but still not close to the E55Ti. They all blended fairly evenly with the sub, but now I thought the A5 and E55Ti blended better than the Level Threes. For TV they were pretty similar but the EMPs neutralness/richness combined with clearer mids/highs had me rethinking the vocally focused HTDs. The Level Threes now sounded a little flat in comparison and I noticed it the more I listened to the E55Ti.

I am now slightly in favor of keeping the EMP E55Ti over the HTD Level Threes. That assuages my concerns from last night about whether the HTD center would emphasize the lack of rich mids due to the dual bias towards vocals/highs (partially Level Three's natural focus and partially because that is what centers do to my knowledge). If I decide on the EMPs, not sure whether I should get the E56Ci or the E5Ci as the former is double the price of the latter.

Definitely the e56ci.

Also, you should try to run EQ/calibration on EACH speaker setup....then evaluate again if you haven't already done that. Maybe that's what you did, but I got the feeling that you're using the EQ that you ran with the HTD's for the ARX and EMP setups. If you already did that...then nevermind me!


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I want to thank Jon Lane again. He was the only one to give me advice on the shootout (and follow up again later with more advice). And I did inform EMP via email after ordering and HTD over the phone before I ordered. He even extended the trial period so I could properly break in and listen to all three sets! That kind of customer service is rare and merits extra recognition and appreciation. Even though I did not choose the Arx A5, you can be sure I will recommend TAI and the Arx line to others.

Yeah he seems like a nice guy and I wouldn't mind going with TAI products any day of the week. If the towers were a little larger and more aesthetically pleasing to me (main living room setup so WAF is taken into consideration lol) then I would have definitely given them a VERY hard look. Jon, if you don't mind me asking...do you know of any "design" flaws that would arise from using a 2" midrange (HTD lvl 3)? I swear I read a thread either on here or Audioholics about how a 2" midrange is too small for some reason

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post #94 of 125 Old 03-13-2013, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ousooner2 View Post

If the towers were a little larger and more aesthetically pleasing to me (main living room setup so WAF is taken into consideration lol) then I would have definitely given them a VERY hard look.

High component costs prevent us adding in a premium veneer and finish option to the product for under about twelve hundred dollars, at which level we'd be looking at instead growing the product with bigger woofers, again adding to cost. As-is the A5 is intended to be a high output, low distortion option for limited budgets and spaces, and in many cases the bass will be made up in a separate subwoofer, which the A5's damped F3 meshes well with. Even in black a bigger floorstander with 6.5" or 8" woofers is going to be easily a $1000/pr entry. These parts are not inexpensive, nor is a beefy reinforced cabinet.
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Jon, if you don't mind me asking...do you know of any "design" flaws that would arise from using a 2" midrange (HTD lvl 3)? I swear I read a thread either on here or Audioholics about how a 2" midrange is too small for some reason

Design is looked at as a point-and-shoot process sometimes, with drivers and crossover points selected before their real-world design agreement is known. Moving any multiway model to accept a 2" dome ideally requires reworking the product's entire design goal, and to both have bass and the high average sensitivity dome mids typically require from a complete speaker, you're probably looking at a four way. This in turn changes the tweeter crossover point and therefore the tweeter selection itself - I'd be thinking about two-row supertweeter but the new very high crossover point probably means havoc for the vertical polar and acoustic power responses. (I also have reservations about the vertical directivity of any tweeter longer than the one in the A5.)

Likewise you'll need a loud midbass driver and some serious bass energy to both balance and keep up with this new product's design trajectory. At this point we're looking at something in roughly a dual 8", single 6", 4-way speaker. For TAI to have a model in that class we'd need a dome mid much less expensive than the ATC class that performed as well. Every substitute we've considered has failed to impress. Meanwhile a new Dana model will use two nine octave 4" mids with a table-top flat amplitude response. A 3.5 octave dome at twice their loudness, multiples of their distortion, and less than half their thermal limits may throw too many monkey wrenches into the works.

Even if there were decent affordable 2" dome mids you're looking at what I personally wouldn't do in anything less than a large and relatively expensive model, plus one with the significantly compounded transfer functions between drivers, again upsetting the entire design nearly in all ways but one - basically you get a really constrained model that almost couldn't be further away from the purity of a simple 2-way or even a minimalist 3-way using wide bandwidth components. The A5's midrange is that wideband device, with low distortion and ample loudness, built on the same underpinnings as the XBL2 woofers, but without the actual splitgap. It easily fills in the range a 2" dome together with it's midwoofer would in a larger (and costlier and less flexible and less musical) four way model.

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post #95 of 125 Old 03-13-2013, 09:51 AM
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Yup...for comparsion scenarios it's the best course of action and usually in many/or some of those cases the warmer or more coloured speakers is preferred over the neutral sounding one....once the EQ is enabled the latter speakers likely still sounds the same but the warmer sounding speaker is somehow changed and not for the better...To the OP if you're going to use any RC/EQ you defineity own it to yourself to listen to each set of speakers on a individual bases with and without and make sure which of those speakers sounds best to you in your room.

Good luck and this thread was very informitive...thanks...smile.gif
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Originally Posted by gtpsuper24 View Post

Normally I don't use Pure Direct. But for the bookshelf comparison I did a year and half ago or so I used it just to make sure there wasn't anything messing with a speakers response. That was the only way I truly though would make the comparison fair without any electronic aides, for whatever reason.

For some 2ch lossless sound tracks I run the A5 towers full range and in PD, but other than that I use Audyssey XT32 all the time.

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post #96 of 125 Old 03-13-2013, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Billy p View Post

Yup...for comparsion scenarios it's the best course of action and usually in many/or some of those cases the warmer or more coloured speakers is preferred over the neutral sounding one....once the EQ is enabled the latter speakers likely still sounds the same but the warmer sounding speaker is somehow changed and not for the better...To the OP if you're going to use any RC/EQ you defineity own it to yourself to listen to each set of speakers on a individual bases with and without and make sure which of those speakers sounds best to you in your room.

Good luck and this thread was very informitive...thanks...smile.gif

Really the only thing I noticed going from PD to Audyssey XT32 is PD seemed to have much more bass and a more "powerful" sound. Then adding EQs just added more options on what to use, Movie (rolled off around 10K) Music (flat) loudness on or off? Dynamic EQ ect.....

IMO its a good idea to judge a speaker how it actually sounds with just a pure response and using the EQ that would be majority of the time. But both ways helped me get rid of the speaker with the most coloration ie shrill, strained, fatiging.
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post #97 of 125 Old 03-14-2013, 04:25 AM
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I am very shocked that the emp's produced more bass than the other two, I have always thought the bass response on mine was pretty anemic. Maybe part of that is psychological because you look at the speaker and see the impressive 3 woofers stacked on top of eachother and really expect greatness. None the less I am very happy with the emptek's, and I have dual 15's which give me plenty of low end. I do hope one day to get to compare them to a higher end speaker and see what the real differences are.

Thanks for taking the time to post your observations.
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post #98 of 125 Old 03-14-2013, 05:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slammin86 View Post

I am very shocked that the emp's produced more bass than the other two, I have always thought the bass response on mine was pretty anemic. Maybe part of that is psychological because you look at the speaker and see the impressive 3 woofers stacked on top of eachother and really expect greatness. None the less I am very happy with the emptek's, and I have dual 15's which give me plenty of low end. I do hope one day to get to compare them to a higher end speaker and see what the real differences are.

Thanks for taking the time to post your observations.

I echo this except I have the HTD level 3's. I also have a JTR Cap for my low end, so I too have plenty of that. In fairness, I've never heard the other 2, but I absolutely love my HTD and recommended them whenever I can. That said, it seems that regardless of any AVR corrections and despite some subtle nuances or slight differences, it sounds like you really can't miss with any of theses choices.

Job well done!
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post #99 of 125 Old 03-14-2013, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Jon Lane View Post

High component costs prevent us adding in a premium veneer and finish option to the product for under about twelve hundred dollars, at which level we'd be looking at instead growing the product with bigger woofers, again adding to cost. As-is the A5 is intended to be a high output, low distortion option for limited budgets and spaces, and in many cases the bass will be made up in a separate subwoofer, which the A5's damped F3 meshes well with. Even in black a bigger floorstander with 6.5" or 8" woofers is going to be easily a $1000/pr entry. These parts are not inexpensive, nor is a beefy reinforced cabinet.
Design is looked at as a point-and-shoot process sometimes, with drivers and crossover points selected before their real-world design agreement is known. Moving any multiway model to accept a 2" dome ideally requires reworking the product's entire design goal, and to both have bass and the high average sensitivity dome mids typically require from a complete speaker, you're probably looking at a four way. This in turn changes the tweeter crossover point and therefore the tweeter selection itself - I'd be thinking about two-row supertweeter but the new very high crossover point probably means havoc for the vertical polar and acoustic power responses. (I also have reservations about the vertical directivity of any tweeter longer than the one in the A5.)

Likewise you'll need a loud midbass driver and some serious bass energy to both balance and keep up with this new product's design trajectory. At this point we're looking at something in roughly a dual 8", single 6", 4-way speaker. For TAI to have a model in that class we'd need a dome mid much less expensive than the ATC class that performed as well. Every substitute we've considered has failed to impress. Meanwhile a new Dana model will use two nine octave 4" mids with a table-top flat amplitude response. A 3.5 octave dome at twice their loudness, multiples of their distortion, and less than half their thermal limits may throw too many monkey wrenches into the works.

Even if there were decent affordable 2" dome mids you're looking at what I personally wouldn't do in anything less than a large and relatively expensive model, plus one with the significantly compounded transfer functions between drivers, again upsetting the entire design nearly in all ways but one - basically you get a really constrained model that almost couldn't be further away from the purity of a simple 2-way or even a minimalist 3-way using wide bandwidth components. The A5's midrange is that wideband device, with low distortion and ample loudness, built on the same underpinnings as the XBL2 woofers, but without the actual splitgap. It easily fills in the range a 2" dome together with it's midwoofer would in a larger (and costlier and less flexible and less musical) four way model.

Looking at the mid and high on the htd, it seems to me that they are more incline at aiming high dispersion. Both the high and mid have some form of wave guide which should have better directivity. The planar high is narrower then the one you use, so it may have better dispersion up top. That just my guess, because the HTD is more for HT.
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post #100 of 125 Old 03-14-2013, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by slammin86 View Post

I am very shocked that the emp's produced more bass than the other two, I have always thought the bass response on mine was pretty anemic. Maybe part of that is psychological because you look at the speaker and see the impressive 3 woofers stacked on top of eachother and really expect greatness. None the less I am very happy with the emptek's, and I have dual 15's which give me plenty of low end. I do hope one day to get to compare them to a higher end speaker and see what the real differences are.

Thanks for taking the time to post your observations.

Yeah I was shocked to hear that too. The e55's don't accentuate the bass/midbass at all, so maybe he had them too close to a wall or they were in a perfect spot for a room mode or something. Who knows.

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post #101 of 125 Old 03-14-2013, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slammin86 View Post

I am very shocked that the emp's produced more bass than the other two, I have always thought the bass response on mine was pretty anemic. Maybe part of that is psychological because you look at the speaker and see the impressive 3 woofers stacked on top of eachother and really expect greatness. None the less I am very happy with the emptek's, and I have dual 15's which give me plenty of low end. I do hope one day to get to compare them to a higher end speaker and see what the real differences are.

Thanks for taking the time to post your observations.

That would have worked for me, but auditioning with my friends was done on a blind basis. I told them which speaker number I was switching to and didn't tell them which speaker is which. Granted you could probably figure it out eventually, but I don't think they thought that from visuals.

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Yeah I was shocked to hear that too. The e55's don't accentuate the bass/midbass at all, so maybe he had them too close to a wall or they were in a perfect spot for a room mode or something. Who knows.
They are all about 3 ft in front of a window with French blinds. The HTD is front ported while the EMP/Arx are rear ported. I spent last night calibrating each set of speakers for each song or movie scene I listened too. Often switching mid-scene/song just to have the closest comparison. I left Dynamic EQ on (I compared it on and off and always preferred it on) as that's what I will probably use in my actual listening. In every mode i listened to the the E55Ti were deeper and had more bass. Now that was true for full range it was less noticeable when crossed with the sub at 60Hz. But I also think its the EMPs here that are correct. Conversely, you could say HTD/Arx had less bass when I thought they should have more, which is why I have finally settled on the EMP E55Ti. I thought about the results with dynamic EQ but that ties it to the receiver and who knows what would happen if I changed receivers? In the end I like the room calibrated Dynamic EQ mode and the pure direct sound of the EMPs which made it my final choice. It's been a long, fun, and tiring road. Thanks for all the input and help. I certainly hope my process and hopefully transparency will help other people.
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post #102 of 125 Old 04-08-2013, 12:57 PM
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Resurrecting a 3 week old thread here, hope that's ok... smile.gif

I have looked at all three of these speakers, so thanks to the OP for doing the shootout.

Are the Level 3's and ARX A5's geared for larger rooms? My dedicated HT is 14x30 and am looking at one of these speakers to fill the room. (It's not extremely large, I know, but what I currently have, AV123 ELT's, fall on their face.)

Thanks!
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post #103 of 125 Old 04-08-2013, 01:44 PM
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What do you mean by "geared for larger rooms"? And how/where are the ELT's falling on their face (not enough extension down low, not enough spl, distortion before levels you like are reached, etc)?

The e55ti and Level 3 tower both have the same sensitivity (89db). The A5 is listed at 91db, which is likely not a HUGE difference, but it can be. They use smaller drivers, but the xmax/xmech are likely greater than that of the larger drivers used in the other towers. Whether the great xmax/xmech means more spl than the larger driver with lower xmax/xmech....I don't know. I'm sure they're all going to be about the same. My space is very open, roughly 19x24 w/ 10-12' ceilings. The e55's get too loud before they start to give in. And I like to listen loud! I'm sure they're all going to be just fine. Looks like those ELT's are around 86db, so you're going to gain almost twice the perceived volume with any of these 3 (the arx being the highest sens.)

Not sure what your budget is, but you might also look into some high sensitivity speakers (JTR, etc)

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post #104 of 125 Old 04-08-2013, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ousooner2 View Post

What do you mean by "geared for larger rooms"? And how/where are the ELT's falling on their face (not enough extension down low, not enough spl, distortion before levels you like are reached, etc)?

The e55ti and Level 3 tower both have the same sensitivity (89db). The A5 is listed at 91db, which is likely not a HUGE difference, but it can be. They use smaller drivers, but the xmax/xmech are likely greater than that of the larger drivers used in the other towers. Whether the great xmax/xmech means more spl than the larger driver with lower xmax/xmech....I don't know. I'm sure they're all going to be about the same. My space is very open, roughly 19x24 w/ 10-12' ceilings. The e55's get too loud before they start to give in. And I like to listen loud! I'm sure they're all going to be just fine. Looks like those ELT's are around 86db, so you're going to gain almost twice the perceived volume with any of these 3 (the arx being the highest sens.)

Not sure what your budget is, but you might also look into some high sensitivity speakers (JTR, etc)

Hey Sooner, thanks for the reply.

I should have clarified a little better in regards to falling on their face. smile.gif I like my movies loud, but not ear bleeding. The ELT's just seem to really lack in detail at higher levels. I have to almost strain to get any type of clarity out of the center channel. It's almost like I have to focus to try and understand dialog in a movie. Especially if there is music or theatrics going on in the movie along with it. I bought the ELT's about 3 years before building the HT, so I always knew they'd be replaced. My budget is right around $1,100 for LRC. For now, I'll keep the ELT dipoles and the SVS PC12 I have fills the room beautifully.

So, your room is larger than mine, and open at that. I have been looking at all three of these models and having a hard time pulling the trigger on one. I've been reading a lot and so far, no one has had anything bad to say about any of these.
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post #105 of 125 Old 04-08-2013, 03:00 PM
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Well the e55's won't be available until June-ish. I'm not positive on when the A2c center from ARX will be available

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post #106 of 125 Old 04-08-2013, 05:11 PM
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The ELTs are a small sealed 5.25" bookshelf right? If so the Arx A5 or HTD Level 3 would be vastly superior in output and dynamics. So far i've been very impressed with the midrange on the A5, effortless and very "snappy", over all it just has a great sound easy to listen to, dynamics, punchy midbass without being bloated.

A2c would probably be around May but theres nothing concrete or even a suggested release date. I had the A2 center non-c version and it is a very nice center, easy to understand dialog, plays loud, off axis is great. Cross it at 80hrz and you'll have no issues at all. I've had more expensive centers and it easily out performs them and one it out performed by a wide margin not even close and the A2 was less than half the price.
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post #107 of 125 Old 04-08-2013, 08:02 PM
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Thanks again for replying, guys.

My ELT's are the CSE versions. http://av123.wetpaint.com/page/ELT+Center+Special+Edition+%28Cse%29 It's basically the ELT center also used as the L and R channels too. In a smaller room, they work well, just in my HT, it really lacks.

All three of the ones mentioned here are in my price range. Unfortunately, my budget won't allow more. It's good to hear the great feed back on these though. Choices are good!

I also noticed that the towers from all three companies are pretty comparable but the center channel of the EMP is much more. (More drivers in it, I suppose?)

How much power are you guys feeding your setup? Are they power hungry?
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post #108 of 125 Old 04-22-2013, 02:29 PM
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After much deliberation, I'm pulling the trigger on the Level 3's this week. (Mains and Center). My three choices were the HTD's, the Arx A5 (along with the A2C), and the Emp Tek E55tiR (along with the E56CiR). Since I hadn't heard any of these, I went solely on reviews. Which all three seem to be on par with each other. However, my deciding factor - who had what in stock. HTD is the only one that had all three in stock. Arx's A2C is out of stock and Emp Tek's E55's are out of stock. So, I'm very hopeful for these speakers. I talked to a salesman at HTD and he was awesome. I was on the phone with him for almost an hour and he answered all my questions. I told him my comparisons and he said that the other two companies made excellent speakers as well, and that I couldn't go wrong with them either. (That spoke volumes to me.)
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post #109 of 125 Old 04-22-2013, 10:32 PM
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All three speaker sets were indeed good choices wink.gif Congrats and enjoy the HTD's!
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post #110 of 125 Old 11-30-2013, 01:37 PM
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I also have the HTD levle 3, Arx and Emptek as my three choices to upgrade. Emptek currently has a sale, which it is ending today. I am hoping they extend their sale next month as well. My wife likes the looks of the Empteks in red burl. After reading many reviews and talking to Sonnie from Home Theater Shack who did a review of the Arx, he recommended the Arx, but he hasn't review any Empteks yet.

I am looking for something that isn't bright with music as my Polk Audio Monitors are. Decision, decisions. At the moment I am thinking about buying the Empteks just because they will cost the least, but I am not sure if I should pull the trigger yet. I like the looks of the Level 3 towers. They look pretty well built, and I also like the empteks looks.

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post #111 of 125 Old 11-30-2013, 04:08 PM
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I don't think you can lose with the e55's or the ARX line. I tried to get Sonnie to get a pair of e55's for the review, but he said he didn't want 'glossy speakers' for the review. I dunno. Weird. He ended up keeping the A5's though and has nothing but praise for them. I'm constantly amazed at my EMP setup and I'm about to order a pair of their e1010i subs for the crazy price they have them at. Should be more musical than my rw-12d's for the same price I can sell them for.

I have heard my fair share of the Polk Monitor and TSi line...and it's not even fair to compare them to the EMP stuff. Not even close.

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post #112 of 125 Old 11-30-2013, 04:19 PM
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Given that Sonny and the guys agreed that the Martin Logan Motion 20's sound very very similar to the Arx 5, which they loved.... why not go listen to the Motions and if you like them then there is a pretty good chance you will like the Arx as much if not more.
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post #113 of 125 Old 11-30-2013, 05:36 PM
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Empteks sale ends today, and I don't have the necessary $$ to buy the front 3. I'm hoping they extend the sale to December.

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post #114 of 125 Old 12-07-2013, 10:19 AM
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I called Bryan yesterday, and he gave me the sale for the Empteks. However, they didn't have any in stock. He stated they building as the orders come in, and they have a lot of orders due to their sale last week. I won't be able to get the speakers in until after XMAS, which ins't a good thing. I told him to keep the order in place, and I'll decide during the weekend if I want to go with Empteks or the Arxs. The Arx have all of them in stock, so they would ship Monday. I was hoping to get them before my vacation, which start on Dec 21st.

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post #115 of 125 Old 12-07-2013, 02:10 PM
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With the things that have been written about the Arx 5 great low end, smooth, huge soundstage and with the 30 day return if you don't love them...if I didn't already own the Tekton Lores, that's what I'd buy!!!!
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post #116 of 125 Old 12-07-2013, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RN2013 View Post

With the things that have been written about the Arx 5 great low end, smooth, huge soundstage and with the 30 day return if you don't love them...if I didn't already own the Tekton Lores, that's what I'd buy!!!!

I ordered the A3rx-c and A2rx-c with a PSA-XV15.

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post #117 of 125 Old 12-07-2013, 02:58 PM
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Congrats! Make sure you report back in a month or so how you like the Arc and the PSA.
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post #118 of 125 Old 12-07-2013, 04:01 PM
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I will do that.

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post #119 of 125 Old 12-07-2013, 06:36 PM
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Congrats! Hope they work well for you and can't wait to hear your impression of the xv15 and the new a3's. Would love to somehow sneak that sub into my setup but its not to be...
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post #120 of 125 Old 01-21-2014, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
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I will do that.

Gus, have you posted your thoughts anywhere yet?
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