Narrowed down speakers to 3...help me decide - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 41 Old 08-22-2013, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Upgrading from CSW (Cambridge Soundworks) megaworks 210d 2.1 system. I like the sub/sat sound, but looking for something bigger and cleaner in about $300-400 price range. Use for 100% music.

I tried the Swans M200 mkiii's but they were too laid back for my tastes.

I bought an outlaw lfm-1 sub which is really nice, but big. I'm tempted to purchase a used ML Dynamo (original) or Abyss and compare that to the lfm-1.

Here are the finalists.

1. CSW mc300 w/ sub...they sound pretty good and get louder than the 210d system, but not a night/day difference in SQ. Not great w/o sub. Might keep these for HT setup.

2. M-audio BX8 D2's, w/o sub...listened to them at GC and thought they were the best sounding monitors on the rack...on sale for 299 now. temped to bring them home and do a comparison.

3. Ascend CBM-170se's with (or without sub)....i'm very interested to hear these from all the good things I've read, but I'm not thrilled to pay the return shipping to CA (I live in AL) if they turn out to be a marginal increase in SQ. I took a gamble on the swans and lost, even though I heard only great things about the mkiii's, so i'm a little hesitant right now for ID.

Anybody hear any combination of these three speakers? Looking for something to help make a final decision. thanks!
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post #2 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 08:11 AM
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I'm a little confused by your speaker question......

The M-Audio Bx8 speakers are self powered "monitor" speakers, the Ascend CBM-170se are conventional passive speakers that require an external amplifier....kind of apples vs. oranges.

this is purely opinion (for what that's worth), but since you have a nice powered subwoofer I think the Ascend 170se's would be a very nice match.

What are you using for an a/v receiver or stereo amplifier ? Do you have room for the larger Ascend CMT-340's ?
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post #3 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 08:37 AM
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It sounds like you liked the M-Audio. I've never heard any of these but since you've heard it, and liked it then I would get that one.

I'm surprised you don't like the Swans as they're nice speakers from what I've read. Perhaps a more forward speaker would behoove you? It doesn't state specifically that you're in the market for recommendations but you could always try keeping your speakers in the Cambridge family and get the S30's. They have rave reviews, they're less expensive, and they sound incredible. They're small speakers and if you were forced to ship them, I imagine it would be quite inexpensive.
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post #4 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m_vanmeter View Post

I'm a little confused by your speaker question......

The M-Audio Bx8 speakers are self powered "monitor" speakers, the Ascend CBM-170se are conventional passive speakers that require an external amplifier....kind of apples vs. oranges.

this is purely opinion (for what that's worth), but since you have a nice powered subwoofer I think the Ascend 170se's would be a very nice match.

What are you using for an a/v receiver or stereo amplifier ? Do you have room for the larger Ascend CMT-340's ?

Very good point about the subwoofer.

What I may end up doing is trying the Ascends if I can find a used pair relatively near to where I live.

For now, the plan is to audition the BX8 D2's at home next to the mc300's and also the 210d's....if they don't present a substantial improvement, I've been assured they can be returned for the original purchase price.

The speakers are going be for near-field listening (PC). And I have an older AVR powering them (VSK-516K), the mc300's, not the BX8's.

I'll report back after I try the BX8 D2's.

I'm toying around with the idea of using the mc300's and outlaw lfm-1 for music/movies in our family room and just keeping the 210d for the PC setup...but I really want to hear the ascends compared to the mc300's and bx8's. I'm even considering purchasing a used Martin Logan Dynamo (original) or Abysss sub to go with the MC300's and/or 170SE's later on.
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post #5 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 03:52 PM
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If I remember from your last thread, you are struggling to recreate (or improve on) an audio signature you liked with previous CSW speakers. That's tough to do. Since you have already heard the M-Audios and you like them, I would recommend buying them and auditioning them at home.

Here's what I can tell about the CBM-170s, which I use. They have a very neutral response. Some people say that the very high end is rolled off a little. Instead, I find that the tweeter/highs are drier--doesn't have that sparkly (and often over bright) high sound, which makes them less fatiguing to me. Mids and midbass are very,very good. Fast transient response. I've compared them to a bunch of active speakers in the $500 or so range, and I prefer the Ascends. Lot of the others I heard either had muddier bass or less resolving mids. But that could just be me. Your tastes could like something different.

I also used to have the Cambridge S30s, and I found them a little fatiguing for desktop use. They are a great speaker, but I think the CBM-170s are an equal price/performance value, so a step up.
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post #6 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 04:34 PM
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Worcester Massachusetts was my hometown for more than 20 years ,I was a loyal costumer of Cambridge sound works for many years a underrated speakers with very good sound.


Well back to the topic ,you can also check the Emptek E5Bi Bookshelf Speakers http://emptek.com/index.php the emptek speaker are very praise by audioholics because of their midrange performance and value.

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post #7 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

If I remember from your last thread, you are struggling to recreate (or improve on) an audio signature you liked with previous CSW speakers. That's tough to do. Since you have already heard the M-Audios and you like them, I would recommend buying them and auditioning them at home.

Here's what I can tell about the CBM-170s, which I use. They have a very neutral response. Some people say that the very high end is rolled off a little. Instead, I find that the tweeter/highs are drier--doesn't have that sparkly (and often over bright) high sound, which makes them less fatiguing to me. Mids and midbass are very,very good. Fast transient response. I've compared them to a bunch of active speakers in the $500 or so range, and I prefer the Ascends. Lot of the others I heard either had muddier bass or less resolving mids. But that could just be me. Your tastes could like something different.

I also used to have the Cambridge S30s, and I found them a little fatiguing for desktop use. They are a great speaker, but I think the CBM-170s are an equal price/performance value, so a step up.

This is very helpful...I've been doing some reading about the s30's and I'm quite intrigued! I may have to include this on my audition short list and they appear to be a little more accessible than the ascend 170se's.

Thanks for the input on the 170's as well. How would you respond to this comparison of the s30's vs the 170's on amazon?
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post #8 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandtlj View Post

This is very helpful...I've been doing some reading about the s30's and I'm quite intrigued! I may have to include this on my audition short list and they appear to be a little more accessible than the ascend 170se's.

Thanks for the input on the 170's as well. How would you respond to this comparison of the s30's vs the 170's on amazon?

I think that person is in love with the S30s, and with all those bookshelves he says he has, probably someone always looking for the next FOTM. Plus, he's probably not using them nearfield. People that are describing the large soundstage and imaging like that have them setup for listening on stands at a distance, not three feet away.

Not sure about the bass comments he made. The CBM-170s definitely have better midbass. Not necessarily more. Just better smile.gif

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post #9 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 08:43 PM
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Well between the s30 and 170 comparison ,I will trust more cel4145 recommendation ,base on the very good reputation that he have here and he also owned the s30.

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post #10 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Found another here....interesting.

Although now I'm looking at the RC-10's...and now the Avaino-1's!!!! I hate my personality sometimes....
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post #11 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 09:42 PM
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If you can find some rc10s they are great speakers.I have some in a 2 chan. Setup and really like them.
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post #12 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by brandtlj View Post

Found another here....interesting.

You need to look at the picture of his setup. The soundstage/imaging--the "presentation"--this is what draws a lot of people to the S30s and what is being described in that comment and the Amazon one. But that's in a listening setup in a room with the speakers on stands out from the wall and you sitting back. Speakers respond differently in a nearfield setup with the speakers on both sides of a computer monitor. This is a picture I took a few months ago:


(Yes. I use books for speaker stands biggrin.gif)

I replaced the S30s with RC-10s in my setup, and I moved the S30s to my son's room for his desktop audio setup. When I eventually replaced the S30s with the RC-10s for him, he thought the RC-10s were better. For nearfield, what you want to focus on is the clarity and resolution.
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post #13 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 10:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Cel4145 - your insight is proving to be very valuable here...

Well, tomorrow I'll give the BX8's a listen for awhile...and may as well listen again to the BX5's too (strange that the woofer looks eerily similar to the s30).

In the meantime, I'll be keeping my eye on the following other options:
CBM-170se's
S30's
EMP Tek E41's or E5Bi's
RC-10 (mini's perhaps?)
and possibly some Aviano's

(head spinning)...rolleyes.gif
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post #14 of 41 Old 08-24-2013, 11:33 PM
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My recommendation stays with S30 but I trust cel4145's opinion a lot.

I think if you're going to go the RC-10's get the big one, the mini is :-/
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post #15 of 41 Old 08-25-2013, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Is it crazy for me to consider spending over $1000 to buy some 170se's,rc-10's,s30's and bx8's and trying to sell/return the one's that I don't keep?

Cel4145 - since you have owned the rc-10's, s30's & cbm-170se's, I'm assuming you favor the 170se's for nearfield since those are the one's you've kept?! Also, do you use a sub in conjunction with your bookshelves? if so, which one?

I should mention that I do like the upper mids/highs coming from the mc300 newtons, however the male vocals and below seem a bit weak/boxy and lack substance...this, however all goes away when I add my sub....it seems that I should be satisified...but I keep feeling like I'm settling every time I hear the speakers without a sub.

This new obsession is driving me nuts...
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post #16 of 41 Old 08-25-2013, 07:58 AM
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Is crazy but is the best and more secure way.you can ask on those thread if there is someone in your area that is able to do the favor.

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post #17 of 41 Old 08-25-2013, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Great....now adding a Boston Accoustic VS260 to the mix
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post #18 of 41 Old 08-25-2013, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandtlj View Post

Cel4145 - since you have owned the rc-10's, s30's & cbm-170se's, I'm assuming you favor the 170se's for nearfield since those are the one's you've kept?! Also, do you use a sub in conjunction with your bookshelves? if so, which one?

Yes. I like the CBM-170 SE. I have a sub, but it recently decided to die on me. But since I wasn't running the sub with bass management, the crossover in it was set to the low frequency roll of the speakers. I rarely turned it on because for a lot of music (other than EDM), the 170s extension was good enough for me.

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post #19 of 41 Old 08-25-2013, 08:59 AM
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You can try some active monitors , zzounds and american music supply offer payment plans without any credit check.

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post #20 of 41 Old 08-25-2013, 11:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Well the search for the perfect (for me) PC setup took another turn. Today, I brought home the pair of BX8 D2 active monitors. These things are massive (and I thought the Swans were big)! I'll have to post a pic of the setup.
First impression: these things will get LOUD! I had them up to 1/2 gain and started playing music and I couldn't believe how loud they were and proceeded to turn my system volume down to 1/3. The soundstage was great and I really liked the mids/highs...even the lower mids sounded very full and satisfying to me (i guess this is pretty obvious considering the 8" woofer) and that's were the newton mc300's fell short (4" woofer here).

The problem so far, in A/B comparison's with the 210d's, is the bass. At the store, the bass was full, punchy and tight! On my desktop, they are muddy and loose and don't dig as deep as the 210d's 150w 8" sealed sub. I'm pretty sure this is a placement issue as there is only about 6" of space between these monitors and the wall. I'm concerned at this point that I simply don't have enough room for rear ported desktop speakers with my desk fixed up against the wall. I will keep trying to improve placement and increase wall separation, but if the bass doesn't get better, these may have to go back or be moved to another room.

If these speakers end up going back because of placement issues, I am going to have to reconsider using the newton mc300's with a sub. I'm wondering if I can improve the midbass and lower mid-range by using a different amp (using pioneer vsx 516k), and possibly even a DAC. I may try the LP-2020A+ Lepai amp with the MC300's to see if that changes the sound...and maybe even an external DAC or soundcard.

If I don't get anywhere with the MC300's, my options may be narrowed down considerably as I will need a sealed or front ported speaker. Some of the following may be good candidates as they're front ported (trying to stay under $200 new or used):

Behringer 2030/2031 a & p 's (not sure if the 3030/3031's are avail under $200/pair yet)
Mordaunt-Short Carnival 2
Boston Acoustics E60
Usher S520

I'm not sure if there are any more to make this list, but if the BX8 D2's don't cut it with bass, I'll have to go with a bigger sub/sat system.

Keep you guys posted!
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post #21 of 41 Old 08-25-2013, 11:35 PM
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Little over $200, the Wave Crest Audio HLV-1. Front ported design, and designed by Dave F. of Ascend Acoustics smile.gif

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post #22 of 41 Old 08-26-2013, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Good suggestion on the HLV-1...I also see that the KEF Q300 is front ported, I may keep an eye on a used pair if it comes into my price range.

I think I have come to realize my tastes in speaker sound gravitate toward forward & warm/bright with emphasis on details and accuracy. I tend to EQ my music on the "rock" setting with raised treble and bass with slightly recessed mids. I REALLY disliked the darker sound signature of the M200 MKIII's...it seemed muddy and distant - but much less fatiguing on the ears! I think this is what one may call an newbie sound pallette smile.gif

I'm really starting to dig these BX8 D2's...music without a lot of lower bass is sounding great (classical, rock, etc) but I'd probably need to add a subwoofer if I decided to keep these, and that would put me over budget. We shall see...I wonder is there are any 3-way front ported bookshelves out there smile.gif

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post #23 of 41 Old 08-26-2013, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m_vanmeter View Post

I'm a little confused by your speaker question......

The M-Audio Bx8 speakers are self powered "monitor" speakers, the Ascend CBM-170se are conventional passive speakers that require an external amplifier....kind of apples vs. oranges.

this is purely opinion (for what that's worth), but since you have a nice powered subwoofer I think the Ascend 170se's would be a very nice match.

What are you using for an a/v receiver or stereo amplifier ? Do you have room for the larger Ascend CMT-340's ?

The powered subwoofer works the same with active speakers as it does with passive speakers. You still need a prepro or AVR with pre outs to send the signal to the active speakers. All modern AVR's and prepros have a sub out. Technically you could use something like an Oppo BDP-105 connected directly (no prepro or AVR) to powered speakers or to an amp using passive speakers.

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post #24 of 41 Old 08-26-2013, 08:48 AM
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The powered subwoofer works the same with active speakers as it does with passive speakers. You still need a prepro or AVR with pre outs to send the signal to the active speakers. All modern AVR's and prepros have a sub out. Technically you could use something like an Oppo BDP-105 connected directly (no prepro or AVR) to powered speakers or to an amp using passive speakers.

There are also powered subwoofers like the SVS SB-1000 and PB-1000 that have RCA line in/line out passthrough with an 80hz high pass filter on the line out. No need for an AVR or processor.
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post #25 of 41 Old 08-26-2013, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by brandtlj View Post

I'm really starting to dig these BX8 D2's...music without a lot of lower bass is sounding great (classical, rock, etc) but I'd probably need to add a subwoofer if I decided to keep these, and that would put me over budget. We shall see...I wonder is there are any 3-way front ported bookshelves out there smile.gif


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post #26 of 41 Old 08-26-2013, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


I replaced the S30s with RC-10s in my setup, and I moved the S30s to my son's room for his desktop audio setup. When I eventually replaced the S30s with the RC-10s for him, he thought the RC-10s were better. For nearfield, what you want to focus on is the clarity and resolution.


I was just reading over this thread again, and this quote really stood out. That's why I'm having such a hard time finding speakers to compete with the CSW 210D's M50 satellites..even though they do not have a huge soundstage, they are just so clean and detailed, ! Even the newton mc300's (made by the same company) seemed dull compared to the 210d's, but I'm hoping that can be fixed with a different amp...i just ordered the lepai. I guess this makes sense considering the 210d system was designed for nearfield listening.

After listening to the M-audio bx8 d2's, I've got to say they are WAYYY better than the Swan M200 MKIII's for my listening tastes. I got a great deal from guitar center @ $299+tax. But, I am convinced now that a sub/sat 2.1 setup is really the way to go far a few reasons. #1, less desktop real estate, #2-a dedicated sub will have more punch/ impact there by making my music listening more fun. I like to keep a relatively strict budget here so I'm planning to buy used...

~$150 for destop speakers-I need clarity and detail down to about 50-60hz. Still debated if front or rear ported is making THAT much of a diff here.
1.behringer truth 2030/3030 a or p (front ported, heard good things about the 3030 line, under $150 used)
2. m-audio bx5 d2's (i think the bx8 d2's sound pretty good and with a sub some used bx5 d2's could be had for about $150)
3. cambridge s30 (can be had for about $150, would like to try for nearfield)
4. RC-10's...seem to be on par with the s30's but offer a different sound....I'm wondering which of these two (s30 or rc-10) would offer more clarity and detail for nearfield listenning...may be really hard to find for $150 used
5. boston e6, vs240 and kef q300 ...hard to find a pair for under $200 used and may be hard to power with budget amp/avr
6. cbm-170se / wave crest hlv-1...proving hard to find used and around $150
7. Mordaunt-Short Carnival 2 ...interested in hearing these...maybe be hard to find used under 150

My family hates me right now...lol
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post #27 of 41 Old 08-27-2013, 03:12 AM
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I've gone down this path before, and as usual agree with cel4145's advice. I auditioned the RC10, S30 amd Carnival 2 at the same time and went with Mordaunt-Short. Of the three it worked best for nearfield listening. The Cambridge S30 is a fantastic little speaker, but I too found them a bit too bright. The RC10 was nice for desktop use but I preferred the midrange, clarity, imaging and forgiving nature of the Mordaunt-Short. That said, with your EQ preference the Carnivals may not be to your liking either. These days I hear the Aviano should be on everyone's audition list, probably with good reason.

Other thoughts:

The Kef Q300 and the Ascend CMT-340s are both too big for desktop in my opinion. The Q100 may be just the ticket, and while I haven't heard the Ascend 170s if the sound quality is anything like the 340s then they're winners (and with cel's endorsement a no brainer IMO).

Behringer Truth are very nice speakers. They're worth an audition. I haven't heard any of the other speakers in your list (that I haven't already mentioned).

You can go with rear ported speakers if you can get some clearance, and depending on the room rear ports may be a benefit. The rule of thumb is clearance distance greater than 1.5 x port opening, or something like that. cool.gif

If you like the BX8 D2's I'd say stick with them and add a subwoofer later. The most important aspect by far, especially for nearfield, is great midrange (again, my opinion). If you can find speakers with good sound quality and clarity in midrange without much fatigue from the tweeter then you have a winner, the bass can be filled in.

I'm really happy with my current setup, Emptek E41-B and SVS SB-1000 subwoofer. It's all good equipment, but I'm more content because I took a few chances and paid some extra shipping to find what's right. Speakers that are going to be 3' or less from you need to match your ears very well. It's no easy task. I think you're going about this the right way. If you're like me and spend a lot of time in the office and enjoy listening to music then compromise is not an option. Besides, auditioning is a heck of a lot of fun and very rewarding. I've blown more money elsewhere with much less enjoyment than going on speaker safaris. Just sayin' wink.gif

Good luck!

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post #28 of 41 Old 08-27-2013, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by brandtlj View Post

Upgrading from CSW (Cambridge Soundworks) megaworks 210d 2.1 system. I like the sub/sat sound, but looking for something bigger and cleaner in about $300-400 price range. Use for 100% music.

I tried the Swans M200 mkiii's but they were too laid back for my tastes.

I bought an outlaw lfm-1 sub which is really nice, but big. I'm tempted to purchase a used ML Dynamo (original) or Abyss and compare that to the lfm-1.

Here are the finalists.

1. CSW mc300 w/ sub...they sound pretty good and get louder than the 210d system, but not a night/day difference in SQ. Not great w/o sub. Might keep these for HT setup.

2. M-audio BX8 D2's, w/o sub...listened to them at GC and thought they were the best sounding monitors on the rack...on sale for 299 now. temped to bring them home and do a comparison.

3. Ascend CBM-170se's with (or without sub)....i'm very interested to hear these from all the good things I've read, but I'm not thrilled to pay the return shipping to CA (I live in AL) if they turn out to be a marginal increase in SQ. I took a gamble on the swans and lost, even though I heard only great things about the mkiii's, so i'm a little hesitant right now for ID.

Anybody hear any combination of these three speakers? Looking for something to help make a final decision. thanks!

No matter what anyone says, you are still taking a risk unless you can audition.

NHT has a free 30-day (free shipping both ways) trial. They had the Absolute Zero in sale for $175 each couple weeks ago, maybe they can extend you the sale. Always try it out risk-free.

They measure +/-0.9dB in HTM 100Hz-10kHz.
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post #29 of 41 Old 08-27-2013, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I've gone down this path before, and as usual agree with cel4145's advice. I auditioned the RC10, S30 amd Carnival 2 at the same time and went with Mordaunt-Short. Of the three it worked best for nearfield listening. The Cambridge S30 is a fantastic little speaker, but I too found them a bit too bright. The RC10 was nice for desktop use but I preferred the midrange, clarity, imaging and forgiving nature of the Mordaunt-Short. That said, with your EQ preference the Carnivals may not be to your liking either. These days I hear the Aviano should be on everyone's audition list, probably with good reason.

Other thoughts:

The Kef Q300 and the Ascend CMT-340s are both too big for desktop in my opinion. The Q100 may be just the ticket, and while I haven't heard the Ascend 170s if the sound quality is anything like the 340s then they're winners (and with cel's endorsement a no brainer IMO).

Behringer Truth are very nice speakers. They're worth an audition. I haven't heard any of the other speakers in your list (that I haven't already mentioned).

You can go with rear ported speakers if you can get some clearance, and depending on the room rear ports may be a benefit. The rule of thumb is clearance distance greater than 1.5 x port opening, or something like that. cool.gif

If you like the BX8 D2's I'd say stick with them and add a subwoofer later. The most important aspect by far, especially for nearfield, is great midrange (again, my opinion). If you can find speakers with good sound quality and clarity in midrange without much fatigue from the tweeter then you have a winner, the bass can be filled in.

I'm really happy with my current setup, Emptek E41-B and SVS SB-1000 subwoofer. It's all good equipment, but I'm more content because I took a few chances and paid some extra shipping to find what's right. Speakers that are going to be 3' or less from you need to match your ears very well. It's no easy task. I think you're going about this the right way. If you're like me and spend a lot of time in the office and enjoy listening to music then compromise is not an option. Besides, auditioning is a heck of a lot of fun and very rewarding. I've blown more money elsewhere with much less enjoyment than going on speaker safaris. Just sayin' wink.gif

Good luck!

Thank you nethawk. I really appreciate taking the time to offer your 2cents. It really validates what I'm trying to accomplish here, since I do spend a lot of time at my desk.

The BX8 D2's will be going back unfortunately-they just aren't exactly what I'm going after sound wise and keeping them would definitely be a compromise. Auditioning them has definitely made up my find about going to a 2.1 setup instead of a 2.0.

I'm going to bite the bullet and audition some speakers (absorbing the return shipping costs). Just to narrow things down again, I'm going to try the following:

Definitely:
CBM-170SE's
EMP Tek E41 (I guess the B-model is no longer available...I'm not sure what the difference may be). I am a little reserved at having to cross over the sub at 100hz or more. I'm worried this speaker might make lower mid-range sound thin like my mc300's.


On the fence:
Cambridge s30 (I kind of like bright sounding speakers b/c they seem more detailed, so I'm temped, but I may want to pass if the above 2 are in a different league, especially for nearfield)
MS-Carnival 2's (I'm might just pass these up, since the E41's may be better to begin with)


Not enough info (but may try if the above fail):
Behringer 3030a's
Emotiva (incl AM4, 4" mini)
NHT super zero's
Aviano 1's 2's
KEF q100's
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post #30 of 41 Old 08-27-2013, 11:04 AM
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SuperZero 2.0s are only $60 each right now. They are on closeout because they have an updated model. Those will need a sub. But another member apparently had NHT tell him they would cover return shipping if he didn't like them. You could call NHT and see if they would do that for you.

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